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Baby, You Can Drive My Car

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Sebastian loves his car.

He loves everything about it; the shiny finish, the way the roof rolls back, the speeds it can reach, letting the wind rush through his hair, and the way he can experience the glory of all of things at once from a plush leather seat…

According to his father, it’s a 1995 Ford Convertible Mustang, but all he knows for sure is that it has two doors and is the most delicious red color he’s ever seen on four wheels.

There’s something special and poetic about a joy ride on the first day of his summer and that poem is made brilliant by the way he must look right now, with his gorgeous car and celebrity-huge sunglasses. His high school years are officially behind him, but all he can feel is the sun on his back, the wind sweetly beating against his face, and appreciation at how there’s nothing but open road ahead. Some unseemly fixtures of Ohio dot his periphery - gross gas stations, chain restaurants, and dinky apartment buildings - but all Sebastian needs to do is focus on the track with his trademark single-mindedness.

That is, until his engine starts gulping like a dying fish. It only lasts for one terrifying moment before it subsides, and he decides that it was probably nothing. Perhaps it’s just cheering for him - it’s not like he graduates every day.

It’s not the second, but the third time that it emits that “Hurgle Gurgle” noise (he gives the noise a name the minute he realizes that he should probably do something about it) that Sebastian decides it’s not so celebratory.

He pulls over to the nearest parking lot and, the second he’s parked, pulls out his phone. When his first search of ‘I think my car is using mouthwash?’ yields nothing particularly useful, except for deep amusement at the fact that the first search result under ‘I think my car is’ auto-fills with‘cursed’, he tries a different approach.

‘Mechanics near me’ was probably what he was supposed to look up in the first place, so he pretends that he hadn’t honestly considered car mouthwash as the problem as he peruses the results.

It surprises him initially that most of the suggested garages have ‘Lima’ in their name, and it soon becomes apparent that he’s driven further from home than planned.

When he sorts the results by customer reviews (only the best for his baby), the number one result amuses him - possibly more than it should. Hummel Tires & Lube.

Haha, Lube. Now that’s something he’s familiar with. He’s sure that people don’t put sex lube in their cars, but he’s ready to be surprised. He considers, for a moment, making another search for ‘difference between car lube and sex lube’, but decides against it. Instead, he searches for a towing company he can use to get there.

Twenty minutes later, Humphrey, the very judgemental car-tower arrives to get him where he needs to go. Before they get anywhere, the hulking man warily asks him what he was doing in the parking lot of the shadiest Victoria’s Secret known to man. Sebastian’s first urge is to respond with, “I’m actually gay, so I have better taste in my lingerie,” but decides that, without knowing the climate of the town, it wouldn’t be the best move. Sexual liberation is generally frowned upon in Ohio - that’s one of the most obnoxious things about it.

Before answering, he curses the ability of homophobia to wreck his one liners. He drops into a voice he hopes sounds straight and replies, “I wanted to look at the posters.” He delivers it with the shame and pitiful energy of someone for whom that is their only option, which apparently is enough to get Humphrey off his back and get him all the way to his garage of choice, even if the ride is awkward enough that Sebastian is stuck in a perpetual wince throughout.

The first thing he notices about the exterior of Hummel’s Tire & Lube is that it’s shedding. The paint is peeling off in long, thick strips, and it’s enough to make Sebastian wonder if he’s in the right place at all. He can’t tell if it’s just the lucky recipient of pity-inspired five star reviews, or it’s one of those “so trashy it’s good” locations. There’s a large set of shutters that have been hoisted open at the front, exposing a world of confusing hunks of metal and cars seemingly being dismantled. The sight makes him fear for his baby, but with a fortifying breath, he moves on.

Then, as he and Humphrey part ways, he registers the smell. It’s strong and deep, things he might like in a man, but not a scent. It’s not unpleasant enough for him to leave, but unpleasant enough to put him on edge; it’s the kind of discomfort that makes him feel off-kilter. He’s not nervous, of course - that would be ridiculous. He’s the customer here, the one wielding the personalized checkbook, so he’s in charge, regardless of how unfamiliar he is to this process.

A cheerful bell rings when he opens the door, and some scrappy kid (early twenties, if he had to guess) gives him a wan, tired smile.

“Hello! Welcome to Hummel Tires & Lube, how can I, uh, help you?” he asks, his face pinched as if he’s trying to remember a script.

Sebastian wishes he could have a copy of that script. He raises his sunglasses off of his face and into his hair as a means of stalling his answer.

“My car needs fixing.”

“Duh,” the other man replies drily, before adopting a horrified look on his face. “Uh-- Sorry,” he continues, visibly cringing. “I meant, more specifically, what the problem might be?”

Sebastian, honestly, can’t put a name to that problem, and so he does what he does best: he deflects. “Whatever. There’s an easy way to make it up to me,” says Sebastian, the cogs in his mind turning at light speed.

“Um, sure. What do you need?”

“Do you have any hot mechanics? Preferably gay, but being straight is not a dealbreaker?” It’s his typical brand of wisecrack, and he honestly doesn’t expect it to go anywhere.

The look that appears over the kid’s face is that of intense alarm, and his eyes shoot over to the garage area, before looking back to Sebastian and leaning in towards him.

“I don’t know who you are, but if you’re trying to fuck with Kurt, please leave.”

“Kurt?” Sebastian quirks a brow, now drumming his fingers impatiently against the reception desk. This guy must be an idiot, if he doesn’t know a joke when he hears one. “I don’t know who that is - and I don’t know who you are either, but if you want me to keep my complaints to myself you’ll hurry this exchange along and get me a mechanic I can work with. Understood?”

“I, uh, okay? Are you serious about the gay thing, though? Because we do have a gay mechanic but if you’re just going to be homophobic, or something-“

Sebastian pauses. Of course he wasn’t being serious, but he can see how his general impatience might have given the opposite impression. Then, there’s a pause in his mind. They actually have one? Could he-- no, if they have a mechanic who’s gay, the mechanic would also probably be forty, or something. Maybe Sebastian could come out of this car trouble with a gay Yoda, though…

“It was a joke, but if there is a gay mechanic, I’m not gonna turn them down. Supporting gay mechanics and all seems… Important.”

Sebastian notices then, just barely, the faintest twitch at the corner of the other man’s lips - it seems the jig is up. It’s obvious that he has no idea what he’s doing. “...Sure, sir. I’ll be one moment.”

With that, he rises to his feet, and heads into the garage. Sebastian can hear a faint peal of laughter in the background as he waits.

 

Kurt is not having a good day.

First, he gets stood up on his celebratory graduation brunch with Blaine, and then he gets yelled at by not one, but two different elderly men who insist they know their cars better than he ever could, despite all the blatant signs of misuse. He couldn’t so much as check the oil without hearing a panicked, ‘careful with that, sonny!’

Kurt hasn’t been this passionate about there being an age ceiling on car ownership in weeks, since the last time a bunch of geriatric assholes got on his case.

He’s taking a water break between clients when he hears Chris, one of their newer hires with a penchant for pissing off customers, calling him over. He’s laughing about something - Kurt can only hope it’s not another juvenile dirty joke he found on Reddit that he just has to share.

“Kurt? You’re free right now, aren’t you? I’ve got a guy out there who’s very interested in your services,” Chris snickers, in a way that tells Kurt he’s not going to find the situation half as amusing.

“Is Gerald coming back to apologize, or something?”

“No, this guy is way younger. And gayer, I think. Either that, or he’s Gerald’s grandson, here to seek vengeance. I do see some resemblances in attitude, actually…”

Great. The only thing worse than somebody twice his age talking down to Kurt like he’s a fumbling toddler is somebody his own age doing it. Having Blaine talk down to him over the phone today is enough, he can’t handle another one.

He lets out a withering sigh as he sets his water bottle down. “Send him in, but keep watch for a minute or two. If it’s some homophobic asswipe, I don’t want to have to kick him out on my own.”

“Alright,” says Chris. He makes his way to the receiving area with a badly-stifled smirk, and when Kurt strains his hearing a bit, he can pick up on Chris asking the mystery man how his day was, and a gruff, indecipherable response.

Then, he hears footsteps against the concrete, and Kurt can see Chris leading in his newest client. His newest client, who looks to be around his age, and a total dreamboat.

Tall. Tan, but not to the extent that he looks orange. He has these eyes that seem to be forever set to the “smoldering” setting, and legs for days. Kurt chastises himself for so much as thinking these things - but then he remembers exactly how dismissive Blaine had been that morning, and he decided to indulge in a little eye candy. It’s only fair, after he had to skip brunch.

“What are you in for?” Kurt asks, hoping he doesn’t sound flirty. Even if he has the primal need to flirt within an inch of his life with this guy, he tries to hold himself back.

Before he actually answers the question, Sebastian turns to the man who saw him inside. “Good job,” he tells him - because he’s delivered exactly what he asked for. It turns out that, after drab-looking buildings and run-down infrastructure, Lima’s number one export is hot young mechanics who just might swing his way. Maybe his car’s done him a favor after all.

“I tried to do an oil change, and after driving it for a bit, my car started making some weird noises, so I figured I could get my work checked by a professional,” he says, making no secret of his wandering eyes. Sebastian’s never thought of blue coveralls as a flattering look before now, but then again, he’s never seen them bring out somebody’s eyes so perfectly.

“Sure. Chris, can you wheel it into the shop?”

Chris nods, and says “I need the keys, so I can put it into neutral.”

Sebastian pulls his keys out of his pocket, but not before nailing Chris with an intnese glare. He’s grasping the keys tightly in his hand. “Will you promise to me that you will not hurt my baby? I love that car more than anything.”

“Uh, totally. You’re in good hands here at Hummel Tires & Lube,” Chris replies, and it sounds like another scripted line to Sebastian.

Instead of responding with words, Sebastian tosses his keys at Chris, not breaking his stare for so much as a second. Chris scurries off once the keys are in his hand, leaving Kurt and Sebastian alone.

Kurt soon realizes that this could be dangerous for his monogamous lifestyle, being alone in a room with a guy who’s this hot, has been checking him out, and adores his car, which is easily one of the hottest things a guy could adore. Blaine didn’t understand Kurt’s adoration for his beloved Nav, and this stranger, in comparison, seemed like he’d totally get it.

The man, from Kurt’s cursory glances, could get it in many ways.

Sebastian, since giving up his keys, has been checking out his mechanic. There’s a beat of silence before he notices something over his chest, glimmering unlike every other oil-coated surface in the joint.

“Are those rhinestones?” Sebastian asks before he can stop himself. They stick out to him, and his lips twitch into their signature smirk. His tone is mocking, but it’s not intentional - his voice has always had that cadence to it, and his smirk usually matches it.

“Yeah,” answers Kurt, masking his alarm. Attractive as this guy is, Kurt wouldn’t put it past him to either be some confused bully (which he has way too much experience with) or one of those self-hating gays. In a flash, his usual defense mechanism kicks in. He gives the man a quick once-over, sets his eyes in a mean, critical gaze, and quickly latches on to the biggest fashion faux pas he can find on his person. “Is that a popped collar?”

It is, in fact, a popped collar. Sebastian realises this, and quickly reaches to flatten it.

“Uh, yeah. My- my collar got popped up in the wind.”

“It’s windy outside?”

“It’s always windy in a convertible, babe,” Sebastian replies far more smoothly, glad for the chance to change the subject.

“Wait. You-- you have a convertible? For real?” Kurt asks, shocked enough that he breaks out of his guarded stance. His head whips sharply over to where Chris walked off, eager to see for himself. The car, already halfway to the garage area, is still out of sight.

“Yeah. If you think having a convertible is a turn on-”

“Which I do not,” Kurt interjects, but his voice is distracted and a bit disingenuous, still looking towards the entrance of the garage.

“-you are going to flip your shit when you see the rest of my car.”

As the car in question slowly rolls into view, Kurt’s eyes widen to the size of its tire plates.

It’s sleek, in near-perfect condition externally, and as Kurt eyes the license plate (a vanity plate which reads: 5EBAST1AN) he immediately recognises the make.

There’s no concealing the excitement in Kurt’s voice. “Is that a-”

“V8 Convertible Mustang, in red? Yes.”

“Oh my god. This is amazing. This is a dream come true.”

“Want me to pinch you?” Sebastian offers with that typical lecherous smirk, for which he receives a swat on his arm.

Kurt quickly recoils when he remembers that this person is still a customer, and probably doesn’t appreciate being swatted. Even if he thinks the plate is a bit tacky, everything else so brilliantly outweighs its cheesiness. This guy is hot, and his car is hotter. Kurt wonders if this is some fidelity test, like in those Catching a Cheater shows. If Sebastian is the honey trap, Kurt is going to become Winnie the Pooh if these sweet reveals keep hitting him.

“Sorry-- I’m sorry, I’ve just been dealing with so many Ford Fits and Honda Civics… This is a true breath of fresh air.”

Sebastian finds that hard to believe with that weird odor still lingering around them, but he likes how excited his mechanic is, and the way he’s already gravitating towards his prized vehicle. While his dad probably didn’t buy it for him under the impression that it would be a total babe magnet, it’s a definite perk of having a cool car.

“I’m sure these are pretty hard to come by, at least in this town. Go ahead, open it up-- I still need it fixed, you know.”

“The issue is an oil change, right? I’ll pop open the hood and check it out,” Kurt says as he walks closer, feeling the ‘awesome’ radiating off it in waves. He pops the hood open, careful not to mark up the shiny outside with fingerprints.

One look at the engine is enough to break him out of his reverence. Kurt swiftly realizes that this guy must have seriously fucked up the oil change if his engine is looking like this.

 

“What brand of oil did you use on this?” Kurt asks, wondering if he used a type that was incompatible with the older car.

“Uh, the grocery store standard, I think.”

Kurt slowly turns back to face him, trying to keep his expression neutral. Customer service is key, he reminds himself, with a voice in his head that sounds disturbingly like his father’s.

“They sell oil in grocery stores now? What stores are you going to?”

“Uh, literally every store?” Sebastian scoffs, folding his arms over his chest. This poor grease monkey really must not get out much if he’s asking questions like that. “What kind of grocery stores do you go to, if they don’t have basic vegetable oil?”

Kurt feels like there’s a record scratch reverberating through the room. The words repeat in his head, sounding more and more manic and high pitched as he hears them. Vegetable oil? Vegetable oil? Vegetable oil? Vegetable oil?

Before he knows it, Kurt is laughing like his life depends on it. There’s something about being stood up, yelled at, and flirted with by a cute guy who thought that he could use vegetable oil for an oil change that makes him lose it. How is this day real?

“What are you laughing at?” Sebastian asks, and Kurt can only laugh harder. He’s clutching his stomach now, nearly doubled over with the force of it.

Kurt keeps gasping out the beginnings of sentences that he can’t finish for his laughter. “Why would you”s and “You can’t”s keep wheezing out, but they go unfinished.

“I just-” begins Kurt, and he takes a deep breath to fuel the rest of the sentence, “I cannot believe that you did that. That’s hilarious.”

“Why? Oil is oil,” says Sebastian, crossing his arms even tighter as if in defense.

This makes Kurt laugh somehow harder, so hard that Sebastian wonders how he’s still standing, and has to fight the urge to take his arm to help keep him upright.

Kurt, meanwhile, is just thanking his lucky stars that he didn’t make any serious considerations of flirting with this guy, of all the guys. Sure, he’s cute, but he’s clearly a few screws short of a working engine. He’s definitely an actual oil change away from one.

For some, beauty is at the cost of pain, but for this kid, beauty is at the cost of being a total doofus, and Kurt can not get over how hilarious that is to him.

“Will you stop laughing and tell me what’s wrong with my engine?”

“What’s wrong? What’s wrong is that you put vegetable oil in it! What’s wrong with your engine? The real question is what isn’t wrong with it, now that you- I can’t even say it.”

Sebastian can feel his skin flushing. It starts at the tip of his ears and spreads, slowly but surely, until his face matches his car perfectly.

“I Wikihow’d the oil change process, and they said nothing about the oil types!”

“No, stop,” gasps out Kurt, “I can’t take it-- this is too good! You used Wikihow?”

“Well, maybe you should Wikihow on how to talk with customers, because I think you’re doing a pretty bad job right now,” says Sebastian, hoping that the heat beneath his skin isn’t too obvious. He’s a little bit charmed by the tinkling sound of Kurt’s laughter, but his embarrassment far overshadows any attraction brought on by the moment.

“Fine, fine, I’ll fix it, but it’ll cost a fair bit, considering that I’m going to need to get rid of all of the oil and give you an actual oil change. You know, with… With motor oil,” Kurt manages, barely, stifling another fit of laughter through it.

With a quick, furtive glance at the room around them, Sebastian realizes Kurt’s amusement has caught a few eyes-- scratch that, every eye in the room, even over the whirs of engines and the clattering of tools.

An older man, working on a car from across the room, barks out a “Be nice, Kurt! The customer is always right.”

The older man is bald and has a kind nature about him, and Sebastian assumes he’s on his side against this gorgeous bully.

“Dad! This kid put vegetable oil in his car!” yells Kurt.

“He what?” Says the old man (Kurt’s dad, apparently), and he begins to laugh too. It’s louder, more bellowing, but similar enough for Sebastian to see the family connection through his malcontent.

The laughter gradually dies down, but the red hue on Sebastian’s face does not. Kurt, noticing this, feels the need to put him out of his misery.

“If you want, you can go get some food or something and I’ll take care of your car,” he offers with a smile. It’s an olive branch of sorts.

“As if I’d leave anyone alone with my baby,” Sebastian snipes, effectively slapping that branch right out of his hand.

Kurt is affronted for a moment, but if this customer insists on sticking around, it’ll pay to have him in a decent mood. With that, Kurt decides on offering a bigger branch his way. “Okay. If you want you can pull up a chair and watch me work, but it’ll be pretty boring. If you want to pick some music to play while I work, you can,” he suggests. Music privileges in the shop come at a high premium, since all of the mechanics have different tastes.

“I think I could do that,” Sebastian huffs. He was very much enjoying his playlist before the oil change of doom cut his journey short. “Do you have a dongle?”

“Chris!” yells Kurt, “Give the man your dongle!”

As Chris and Sebastian work out the sound system of the garage, handling the many cords and buttons involved, Kurt begins looking at the engine, cleaning it up as best he can. Right before Sebastian presses play, Kurt turns to him.

“Before the music drowns me out, I feel the obligation to tell you that this is, in fact, not a V8 engine,” says Kurt with the soberness of a doctor delivering a grave diagnosis.

“What? It’s a V8. ” Sebastian replies, completely certain of it. He’s already been made out to look like a total fool, but he knows what car he has, at the very least. It’s his car. His baby.

“I am looking at the engine, and it really isn’t. There’s nothing wrong with having a V6, but I wouldn’t recommend flexing the fact that it’s a V8 if it isn’t-- wait. Do you know the difference?” Everything Kurt’s heard so far tells him he doesn’t.

“Of course I do.”

Sebastian does not.

“Do you want me to explain the difference? Because I can explain it and show you why this is a V6,” Kurt offers, genuinely looking to be helpful.

“Nope, that will not be necessary, because I know for a fact it’s a V8. I mean-- Look at it!” Sebastian gestures towards the vehicle, as if that proves his point.

“I am looking at it, and it is a V6,” says Kurt, and instead of answering, Sebastian just presses play. Sebastian pulls up a chair as the opening to ‘Drive My Car’ floods the garage, much to the confusion of the majority of its staff. There’s something very unusual about Kurt letting a customer play music, judging by their reactions, and Sebastian finds himself feeling very special for having that privilege.

Despite his deep and sudden, yet fluctuating hatred of the mechanic who is fighting him on everything, he still makes sure to sit somewhere that gives him a good view. Sebastian may be an idiot who doesn’t know the difference between oil types, but he knows a pretty thing when he sees one.

Kurt, however, knows a fucked up engine when he sees one. It’s not pretty under the hood, but he’s seen worse and salvaged it before. He gets to work, tapping his foot to the beat as he goes.

He ends up with grease all over himself, but when the job is done he’s proud of his work. He turns back to Sebastian who’s sitting in his folding chair with those ridiculous sunglasses now perched on his face with so much swagger he looks like a child emperor. When Kurt looks at him, he slides the shades down his nose, revealing his eyes (still set to smolder, much to Kurt’s chagrin), and hits him with a smile.

“How’d you do, babe?” asks Sebastian, his voice slow and decadent. Having his say in the music playing overhead combined with the sight of Kurt bent over his engine has mellowed his mood considerably.

“It should be good as new, if not better. You can work out the bill with Chris up front,” says Kurt, rubbing his hands on his coveralls, leaving behind tracks of grease.

Sebastian stands up, nodding slowly as he observes the way Kurt’s hands move. He must be good with them to get his oil changed so fast. He takes a few steps closer, keeping his pace slow, like he’s approaching prey. “And, how would I go about leaving you a tip?”

Kurt laughs, nervousness on his breath as he huffs it out. He hesitates before he gives his answer. Sebastian’s probably just flirting for the sake of it, but even with Blaine gunning for the douche-of-the-week award, Kurt can’t go leading anybody else on. “Chris can handle that too. I’d appreciate it; I’ve been hoping to take my boyfriend somewhere special this weekend.”

Boyfriend. Kurt places enough emphasis on the word for Sebastian to know that they’re having two conversations at once - one for business, and one for pleasure. Pleasure that won’t happen anytime soon.

They make eye contact, and it carries a mutual understanding, as if they’re screaming “did you feel it too? Am I crazy?” with their eyes. Sebastian knows this understanding and accepts it for what it is - a missed opportunity in a car garage that he’ll never visit again. Good mechanics are like doctors, says his dad: the less you see them the better they are at their job.

Sebastian feels an ache to see Kurt again, because something about this encounter feels heavy to him, feels significant. He figures it just feels that way because it reminds him that he’s grown up - he fucked up that oil change all on his own, thank you very much, and now he’s had it fixed in the very same way.

“Got it,” Sebastian replies, albeit reluctantly. When he first transferred to Dalton, he might have pushed that boundary further, just to see how far he could get - but unfortunately, he’s matured since then. “I’ll do that. Thanks again, Kurt.”

As Sebastian turns and walks towards the front desk, Kurt tries to count how many customers have remembered his name correctly since he began putting in shifts at his dad’s shop. He also wonders, more quietly in the back of his mind, if he’ll ever hear Sebastian putting that spin on it again.

The heat must be getting to him, thinks Kurt, if the way an almost-stranger says his name is making his heart hurt. He wipes the beads of sweat off his forehead and tries to forget how much he used to crave romance. He has romance - with Blaine. One bumpy patch between them didn’t change that.

 

As Sebastian turns his keys in the front door lock of his family’s home, the events of the day continue to play on his mind. Drive My Car has been stuck in his head for hours straight, as has the snide, mocking, melodic sound of a certain mechanic’s laugh.

From the light emanating through the edge of the doorframe, Sebastian can see his father is in his study. There’s one more thing that’s yet to settle in his thoughts, and he knows his dad has the means to put it to rest.

“Dad?” Sebastian says, gently nudging the door open. As he peeks his head through it, his father turns in his seat to face him.

“Yes?”

“What kind of engine does my car have?”

“That would be… A V6, I believe,” his father answers, relieved for the distraction. “Why?”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. That’s what was written in the papers I signed for it.”

“Cool. Settling a bet with a friend.” says Sebastian, in lieu of the embarrassing truth. He can only hope that he doesn’t look too beaten down, even if Kurt has so clearly bested him with basic engine knowledge.

“What the hell kind of bets are you and your friends getting into? I used to bet on sports games and horses, and now you’re betting on engine types?”

Sebastian can’t tell if it’s a genuine question, or just his dad’s diversion from work, so Sebastian just shrugs and steps away. His first instinct is to call Kurt and say that he checked the documentation, which totally says it’s a V8, but he soon remembers he didn’t take a number.

Instead, as he shrugs and leaves his father’s study, he resolves that if he ever causes any damage to his baby again in Lima of all places, he’ll go back to HT&L and tell Kurt then.

Chapter Text

The next time Sebastian thinks about HT&L it’s in the aftermath of one of the least pleasant sounds he’s ever heard in his life. Much like denim-on-denim is not a good look, metal-on-metal is not a good sound.

Especially not when it’s accompanied by a harsh jolt, the kind that sends his body careening forward before being stopped by his seatbelt.

He’s not seriously hurt and, aside from some scathing words from Sebastian, neither is the driver who nearly got him decapitated. There’s a soreness lingering around his neck, and having to exchange insurance information with someone in the parking lot of a gay bar is an experience unique in its awkwardness but no real harm has been done, he thinks - that is until he checks his car over.

He takes the name and number of his fellow would-be Scandals patron in case he ‘needs to sue,’ but it’s more revenge via intimidation for the unsightly blemish left on his bumper than a real threat.

There’s a dent and the telltale scrape of missing red paint from the impact. He decides that Scandals would be a lost cause considering that a ruined car isn’t the best way to get guys and that his anxiety over how he’ll fix his baby up would occupy all of the brain space he would usually reserve for examining and playing the field.

Nobody wants to get handsy in the backseat of a car that’s balding. There is no swag in getting to second base in a dented car, so he flops back into the driver’s seat and resigns himself to another boring night. That’s when it occurs to him: there might be one bright side to his collision.

He looks up the operating hours for Hummel Tires & Lube, and there it is - his silver lining. A much brighter silver than the ugly shade now exposed beneath his car’s beautiful coating.

The car hasn’t become ugly on the inside though; the engine purrs the same way it has been ever since he left HT&L a week or so prior. 8 days. Not that he’s been counting; it’s just one of those days that sticks out in his head, and he can’t help but link back to it when he has nothing else to think about.

Luckily, by the time his phone says he’ll get to HT&L, they’ll have half an hour to work on his car. Sebastian’s (historically lacking) common sense tells him it shouldn’t take that long to patch it up, so he boots up the directions and sets off on his not-so-merry way.

 

Sometimes, when the shop is quiet, usually post-rush hour in the midweek, Kurt’s dad leaves him in charge. It’s been a slow day in general, so as the last hour approached, the few other mechanics began packing up and filing out. His father’s down the street at home, sorting out supply shipments and only one dial away if Kurt needs him, so he’s perfectly content to handle closing.

It’s the kind of summer night that’s begging for a date, and Blaine’s arrival is ticking on the clock in Kurt’s mind. He’s hoping it’ll be the perfect chance to ease some of the tension that’s been amping up between them with the increasing talk of colleges amongst the now-graduated seniors. It’s forty-five minutes away, just enough time for the operating hours to wrap up, including locking up, and some extra time for Kurt to make himself presentable.

The sun is about to set and as he looks out of the window, watching the sky morph from blue to purple, to red, to orange, he sees a car enter the parking lot.

Correction: he sees the car enter the parking lot.

Sebastian Smythe’s ridiculous Mustang in the flesh - or at least, some of its flesh. He doesn’t realise that until it’s parked, and suddenly the horror of such beauty being marred distracts him from how badly he doesn’t want to see any more clients this evening.

He rushes out through the shutters as Sebastian exits his vehicle, and yells out at him as he crosses the parking lot.

“What did you do this time?”

“I got rear-ended at Scandals, and not in the way I planned,” says Sebastian, and Kurt realizes that Sebastian almost certainly has a condom in his front pocket. It’s blatantly visible because his jeans are ridiculously tight - another thing Kurt notices when he turns to shut the door behind him. He can’t tell why this makes him feel a bit winded, and he certainly wasn’t staring.

When that distraction loses its hold on him, his eyes widen. “You-- Rear-ended? Are you okay? You didn’t get hurt, or-- Why didn’t you go straight to a doctor?!”

Sebastian holds both of his hands up in mock surrender. “Relax,” he says, gesturing down at his body. His smile isn’t mocking - more… Endeared. He doesn’t get fussed over like that often. “I’ve got all four limbs still attached, and my head’s still screwed on to boot. I’ve got precisely one bruise - it’s on my ego. Fix my car, and you’ll fix that too.”

After a sigh of relief, Kurt hesitates, biting his lip and tapping his foot impatiently as if it’ll hurry his own mind into a decision. He has plans, and just from a glance, he can tell it’ll be a push to leave on time if he wants to fix it. From the roar of its engine just moments ago, Kurt can tell Sebastian’s prized gem is working fine, and the size of the dent corroborates that - he could send him home for the night and ask him to come back the next day. Then he thinks back to his first scare on the road - thankfully nothing really happened, but he nearly hit a tree after swerving to avoid a cat - and that was frightening enough. Even though Sebastian’s smile is as smug and teasing as it was the last time Kurt saw it, he’s sure his nerves are shot.

Reluctantly, Kurt gestures behind himself towards the open shutters. “Drive the car into the garage, I need to call my boyfriend and tell him to pick me up. This might take a while.”

“Hot date tonight?”

“We’ll see. What’s clear though, is that I can’t handle this and drive to the Anderson residence in time to make our reservation.”

“Going somewhere fancy?” Sebastian asks as he re-opens his door. He checks Kurt out and can see that even if he’s in his coveralls, there’s a nice shirt hinted at below the grease-stained collar.

“...Breadstix,” Kurt admits, with an air of defeat he wishes he could mask better. He likes Breadstix if he’s being honest-- correction: he likes their cheesecake, but even that gets stale after long enough.

Sebastian chuckles, more at the way Kurt says it than at the restaurant’s name itself as he rolls his car inside. As he’s driving, he can see Kurt pull out his phone and type something out, and he presumes it’s a text to the Mystery Boyfriend.

When Kurt’s done with his lengthy, apology-saturated text requesting that Blaine picks him up instead of the other way round as planned(and receives “K” in response), he follows Sebastian inside to find that he’s already trying to connect his phone to the AUX cord. Kurt can only laugh at his presumptuousness. It’s not as though customers get that honour on the regular. The resident HT&L dongle is in his pocket, but he’s having too good of a time watching Sebastian trying to fit one plug into another to hand it over.

Sebastian, frustrated, and still a little scatterbrained from the shock of his minor collision, turns to Kurt with a look that’s almost pleading. “I don’t know how to do the thing,” he says, gesturing to the tangled mess of wiring. “Where’s Chris when you need him?”

Kurt’s sympathy begins to outweigh his entertainment, so he relents. He tosses Sebastian the necessary wire before turning back to the afflicted vehicle, examining the dent with a closer eye.

“I can fix the dent tonight, but I can’t fix the paint. You can come into tomorrow to get that half done,” Kurt informs him, and he’s surprised to see Sebastian isn’t all that bothered by the news.

“Alright,” he replies, placated by his renewed privilege of playing music (and the chance he’ll get to do so again the next day) as it starts filling the shop once more.

As Kurt gets started on the fix, Sebastian starts dancing, his restless feet moving with the beat.

“The Scandals dance floor is alright, but I kind of prefer this,” says Sebastian, “better acoustics. More space.”

“This isn’t your dive bar, Smythe,” Kurt chides him playfully, but he isn’t in any hurry to stop him. They’ve got plenty of space to themselves, and it’s not getting in the way of his access to the tools. Yet.

Sebastian takes a stray long rag (it looks mostly clean) and uses it as a microphone, a guitar, or even a trumpet depending on the song. Soon, even Kurt is swaying to the beat.

It makes the time pass faster, which is a blessing, because it makes staying a smidge over the scheduled closing time bearable. So much so that he’s not thinking about what he’s got scheduled after. When Kurt finishes the un-dentifying of the car, he starts cleaning up his work space, adding in the occasional dancey spin that invariably elicits a “Whoop!” from Sebastian.

Their music-filled silence is so comfortable that it shocks Kurt out of his skin when Sebastian takes a break from playing Rock Star to tell him the one-liner he’s clearly been sitting on for the last ten minutes.

“Being rear-ended sucks, but at least I got to spend some time peeping a nice rear end tonight,” says Sebastian, sounding far too proud of himself. He gives Kurt one of those ‘eh?’ looks, for which he receives nothing. No, not even a tiny twitch of a smile - even though Sebastian’s about to insist there was one.

“Kurt?”

It’s Blaine’s voice, and when he hears it, Kurt has an out of body experience imagining what this looks like to someone who hasn’t been a witness to all of their previous interactions.

Kurt is in a garage, at night, alone with a gorgeous guy his age who has a condom very visible in his pocket. ‘Fooled Around and Fell in Love’ is on at a high volume, and said gorgeous gay guy just made a joke about appreciating Kurt’s ass.

One look over his shoulder is enough to tell him that Blaine is connecting dots, and they’re painting a picture far different from what’s really going on.

“Hey Blaine,” he says, hoping his wide smile is sincere enough to buy him some time.

“Who’s this?” Blaine asks, his voice leaking with accusation. Sebastian stands off to the side, his eyebrows high and the rag still in his hands. He tries not to laugh - is Kurt’s boyfriend unaware of how businesses require customers to function?

“Sebastian Smythe. And you?” Sebastian asks, looking over Blaine with a quick, appraising glance.

“Blaine. I’m Kurt’s boyfriend,” says Blaine, putting emphasis on ‘boyfriend’, as if Sebastian didn’t know.

“Kurt has told me so much about you,” Sebastian replies smoothly, with his classic smile. “All good things,” he adds, even if it’s less than true in his opinion.

Kurt is shocked by Sebastian’s attempt to clear Blaine’s misunderstanding, and more than a little eager to mitigate any resulting drama. “Yeah, I’m, um, mostly ready to go, but I do need to lock up-”

“And change out of those coveralls,” says Blaine, inspiring a new awkward silence in the room. There was a standoff, where nobody knew precisely what to say.

“I’m going to close up and change,” says Kurt, not making any eye contact with anyone in the room as he hurries off to his end-of-day duties.

This leaves Blaine and Sebastian alone together in the room with little more to do than look at each other, and wait for the other to make the first move.

“So that’s your car?” asks Blaine, with a jerking nod to the Mustang acting as a centrepiece between them.

“Yeah. I got him for my graduation present.”

“Red is an… interesting color choice,” said Blaine, with a taut smile that somehow deals more offense than just spitting at his car would.

Sebastian’s been in plenty of awkward situations like this. He’s always the guy getting in between - sometimes on purpose, sometimes not - either way, he’s got his own tactics to navigate the awkwardness. A joke, he knows, is the best way to do that. It’s put plenty of insecure significant others at ease before. “Thanks. I was really going for slut energy, you know?”

“Is the home wrecker energy just incidental, then?” Blaine asks, his tight smile unwavering.

Before Sebastian can even process that, Kurt walks back in, looking gorgeous outside of coveralls. Love me a man who can do both, thinks Sebastian. His gaze flits quickly between the two, trying to assess the situation to see if that terse atmosphere persists between Kurt and his uppity little boyfriend as well.

“Blaine, are you ready to head out?”

“Yes, of course,” says Blaine, looking ever the perfect gentleman. Sebastian feels like he’s at risk of whiplash for the second time that night.

“And Sebastian, you can come in tomorrow and I’ll finish up with the paint. We open shop at 9,” Kurt informs him, as if Sebastian hasn’t been ‘coincidentally stumbling onto’ their webpage and reading that for himself over the past 8 days. He just… really likes their web-page design.

“I’ll be there,” Sebastian assures him, flashing a charming smile that Kurt reciprocates, glad to be done with his working day. Blaine does not. He scowls, and it’s heavily laced with scrutiny.

He takes the moment to get into his car and carefully leave the garage, watching as Kurt closes the shutters all the while. He makes sure to slowly so that by the time he passes by the main parking lot, he can see Kurt and Blaine, hand in hand, headed straight for a big BMW.

Small man, big car, Sebastian notes. The jokes write themselves.

Once they’re in the car, it takes a while for Blaine to speak up, but once his resolve for stony silence between them dries up, Kurt soon starts to miss it.

“So you spent the whole day making small talk with guys who have crushes on you?” Blaine asks with a light and airy tone, but when Kurt turns to him, he can see that his jaw is clenched.

Never a good sign.

“Sebastian doesn’t have a crush on me, that’s just how he talks.“

“And you’re on a first-name basis with him? I’ve never heard about this guy, and suddenly you two are friends?”

“He’s my customer, Blaine,” Kurt forces a short laugh, trying to alleviate some of the unnecessary seriousness. “I fixed his car, that’s the height of our relationship.”

“Do most of the guys you fix cars for comment on your rear end?” Blaine asks, his eyes stuck on the road ahead. Kurt can see the tension he’s holding in his whole body, and it puts him even more on edge than he usually would be in moments like this.

He’s familiar with angry Blaine, and hurt Blaine, but jealous Blaine was a beast he never knew how to tackle.

Kurt pinches the bridge of his nose and looks out of the window. It feels like every conversation they have starts like this, lately. Always with some sort of accusation. “He likes practising one-liners on me. He got rear-ended tonight and decided to make a bunch of jokes about it while I fixed his car. Nothing more, nothing less. Can we talk about literally anything else?”

“Fine. You spend too much time at work as it is - it’s nice you want to focus on something else for a change.”

“In other topics that don’t make me want to jump out of the car: What do you think of the new Vogue cover?”

 

The next morning, when Kurt gets out of his car in the parking lot, bone-tired and with his new heart-shaped sunglasses blocking the bright light of the hot morning sun, he’s greeted by the sight of Sebastian sitting in the parking lot in front of the Hummel Tires & Lube building.

Sebastian has his own sunglasses on. The roof of his car is rolled all the way back as a vaguely familiar song blares through its speakers, and its driver is sipping on the straw of an iced coffee like his life depends on it. He lounges back in his seat, turning his music down as he sees Kurt getting out of his car.

“I’m here,” he spreads his arms open wide. Sebastian, surprisingly, is a morning person - and this is his kind of morning. “Paint me.”

“You’re early,” Kurt says, as he shuts the door of his Nav behind him. He doesn’t have it in him to sound sarcastic so early in the morning, but the smirk on Sebastian’s face shows he’s amused regardless. Kurt stifles a laugh of his own, shaking his head as he looks down at the tarmac between them. “Too early for you to be that weird, with no caffeine in my system.”

Sebastian gets out of his car at the same time and-- oh, his iced coffee has a twin. Sebastian shoves the full cup, its condensation dripping down his hand, at Kurt the minute he’s at arm’s reach.

Kurt looks at it like it’s some kind of puzzle before he looks up at Sebastian with the same expression.

Buying somebody coffee isn’t weird, right? Suddenly, Sebastian feels like it’s weird.

“It’s a bribe,” he blurts out, holding the coffee out further. “Just to keep you from cutting my brakes or something for putting you to work so early.”

“Thanks,” says Kurt, only a little less hesitant. The Starbucks logo on the side of the cup tells Kurt that it’s not poisoned unless Sebastian keeps a travel case of arsenic in his car, or maybe he bribed the barista. He takes a small sip, and Sebastian watches keenly - particularly focusing on the bob of Kurt’s Adam's apple.

“I didn’t know what your coffee order was, so I just got basic iced,” Sebastian explains as Kurt seems to contemplate the taste. He doesn’t know why he’s so concerned about the reaction he’ll get for it.

“Mm…” Kurt hums, with a slight tilt of his head. With a teasing smirk, he adds, “not my favourite, but it’s cold and it’s caffeinated.”

“Judging by your heart eyes, I think you’re underselling it,” jokes Sebastian, reaching over and tapping Kurt’s sunglasses before looking back to his car. “Should I drive my car into the garage?”

Kurt’s nose scrunches up as Sebastian touches his eyewear. Customer, he reminds himself, although the provision of his first coffee of the day makes it easier to contain his distaste for the action. “The shutters are still locked up, so you can drive around. Wait a second or two, and they’ll open up,” says Kurt before taking another sip, much to Sebastian’s delight.

Sebastian takes a long gulp of his own drink once he’s back in his car, watching and waiting as Kurt lifts the shutters. They must take some muscle to lift, which is something he hasn’t thought of much before. Being a mechanic is manual work - the kind that builds muscle… could Kurt pick him up like that? Now that he thinks about it, all that arm muscle that would look perfect with Kurt’s-- oh, god, he’s been sitting here for close to 3 minutes just thinking about it. Kurt looks confused and impatient. He’s still in his civilian clothes, with his coveralls draped over his arm.

“Get in here, space cadet! What were you even thinking about?”

He drives in, rolling up his roof to protect it from the imminent paint-spritzing, and realises he needs something to say before Kurt asks too many questions about the thoughts he’s just snapped out of. Barely.

“Your boyfriend has a douchebag car,” is his mind’s first solution.

Kurt frowns and crosses his arms. “That’s- BMWs are perfectly fine cars.” Kurt pauses at that, only continuing where Sebastian looks unconvinced. “They’re sturdy. Reliable. And-- Spacious,” he rattles off, before striding away.

Sebastian’s still smirking when he returns a few moments later, and it ticks him off a little. Kurt’s in his coveralls now, equipment in hand, and it is a professional workspace, damn it - not one where customers get to dance around or tease him. More importantly than that, however, they definitely don’t get to badmouth his boyfriend.

Kurt reaches into his pocket and tosses Sebastian the connecting wire once again. “Play some music and stop talking,” he instructs sternly.

“Yes sir,” says Sebastian with a smarmy smile, the kind that easily covers up the way that being told what to do by someone as cute as Kurt flusters him.

Kurt gets to work, ensuring the paint is properly mixed, and Sebastian gets to… Lingering.

“Do you always do this?”

“Do what?” Sebastian asks, hoping that Kurt isn’t a mind reader. If so, he’s in some deep shit.

“Hover over people’s shoulders while they do things you’ve paid them to do. I should be charging extra for my company.”

Sebastian’s smirk stretches out like the Cheshire Cat’s might. “Well, if you’re in that business, I--”

“Don’t. Do not. You know that’s not what I meant,” rambles Kurt, lifting one free hand to point an authoritative finger at Sebastian.

Sebastian chuckles, settling himself in the same folding chair he used during his first visit. “Well, I thought we were having a conversation,” he drawls. He’s having fun now, pushing buttons. “About your boyfriend’s douchebag car.”

“Shut up,” Kurt huffs, “I have good memories in that car. When me and Blaine first got together, he used to brag that it was an M3, which it totally isn’t, and I find it funny that he still occasionally talks about what a great model it is.”

“Even after you told him that it was a different model?”

“Oh, I haven’t told him yet.” Kurt says plainly, which makes Sebastian double-take.

“You told me that I was wrong about my car within minutes of knowing me, and you’ve been with this guy how long?”

“A year-- anyway, it’s because you are my customer, Blaine isn’t. It’s easier to correct you, anyway. When Blaine gets corrected it becomes a thing.”

“A thing?”

There’s a lingering silence as Kurt begins spraying the bare section of Sebastian’s car. When it starts to bug him, Kurt sighs and tries to word it in a way that makes it seem rational. “He gets all… Hurt,” Kurt begins; the words starting off careful, “and then the next time we disagree on anything, that’ll tip it in his favour. I’m done with letting him pick every movie we watch. Sometimes a boy can’t take yet another Marvel date night.”

He makes it sound like a joke, but Sebastian isn’t laughing with him.

“That’s…” Sebastian pauses, searching for a delicate way to phrase it, before he remembers who he is and his own intolerance for bullshit. “Fucked up, actually.”

Kurt’s nose turns down, and his focus goes back towards his work. “It’s not your place to comment on my relationship dynamics. Anyways, it’s an adult relationship, and sometimes you need to make sacrifices.”

“It doesn’t sound like he’s sacrificing,” Sebastian retorts, and something about it stings.

Kurt lowers the painting apparatus, turning to look at Sebastian with a steely gaze. “I’m not here to have my relationship bombarded. If you want to talk shit about Blaine, take it up with my dad.”

“What does your dad think of him?”

Kurt turns in the direction of their back office, where he knows his father will be until more customers turn up. “Dad! Kurt yells, his voice bouncing off the walls, “How do you feel about Blaine?”

A loud groan comes through the door separating the boys and Kurt’s father.

Sebastian stands up, looks towards the door, and says as loudly as possible: “Finally, someone I can agree with!”

Sebastian gives the door another discerning look, then he flashes a smug grin at Kurt and starts walking towards it.

“What are you doing?”

“Following your directions, sir,” says Sebastian, his grin growing impossibly wider with every step he takes.

Kurt watches in disbelief. When Sebastian disappears through the doorway, Kurt remembers he has a job to do - and the sooner it’s done, the sooner Sebastian will leave and stop meddling in his personal affairs.

Three minutes later, while Kurt’s still up to his elbows in bright red paint and all the delightful fumes that come with it, Sebastian and his dad are yucking it up. So much so that his dad’s doing that thing where he’s slapping his knees and kind of wheezing - loud enough for Kurt to hear it. How kind of them to bond over Kurt’s misfortune.

...Not that Blaine’s a misfortune.

Kurt’s frustrated, and he can’t drink while he’s handling the equipment, so he blames his growing headache on caffeine withdrawal. It motivates him to work through the task, and soon enough, he’s free to pump himself full of coffee to his heart’s content.

By the time Sebastian emerges, leaving Kurt’s father lingering in the doorway with a speculative look on his smiling face, the paint job is well on it’s way to drying. The coffee Sebastian bought him is empty, and Sebastian looks obnoxiously pleased with himself. Kurt can’t tell if it’s because of the car looking better, Kurt finishing the coffee Sebastian bought, or something that came out of the conversation with Burt, and the lack of certainty does nothing to soothe Kurt’s nerves.

“All done?” Sebastian asks, and Kurt feels no desire to prolong their interaction. None whatsoever. Why would he want that? Sebastian’s solidified himself as a smarmy bastard, and Kurt doesn’t need anybody like that sniffing around his relationship. It’s been a constant in his life for over a year - he sees no need for anybody to interfere.

“You can pay in the--”

“Already sorted,” Kurt’s father supplies from his doorway.

“...Right,” Kurt nods, flashing Sebastian a customer-service smile, solely for his dad’s benefit.

Sebastian recognises how ingenuine it is, and bats down the flash of worry that it gives him. Why is he this invested? Even if Kurt’s arms are probably miraculous, the chances that Sebastian will be seeing him again again are tiny. It was a freak coincidence this happened twice already, and unless he starts intentionally messing with his car, there wasn’t much of a chance.

Now that’s an idea, thinks Sebastian, before quickly pushing that thought away. He will not hurt his baby just for the chance that a hot mechanic would get out of that relationship, find Sebastian attractive, get over the relationship, and then dick him down.

When Sebastian climbs into his car, now damage-free and perfect as ever, he waves Kurt over, just before leaving the garage.

“Yes?” Kurt says, standing at a respectable distance as Sebastian rolls his roof back.

“Just out of curiosity… What coffee do you like?”

The question throws Kurt a little, much like the easygoing smile on Sebastian’s face does, and something about that makes him cagey. “I can’t see any reason you’d need to know,” he answers with a shrug. “Drive safe,” he adds, a little quieter.

“You too, Kurt,” Sebastian replies, before he realises Kurt’s literally at work for the day. Smooth recovery, stat. “Can’t have that pretty face getting into accidents.”

Sebastian drives off, and Kurt watches on until he’s turned onto the main road, stifling his laughter until he’s out of sight.

“Idiot,” he mutters under his breath before turning back to the shop, only to walk head-first into his father. “Dad! What’s-- what’s up?”

”I like your friend,” says Burt, his arms crossed and his eyes appraising on the road, even though Sebastian is long gone.

“He’s not my friend,” Kurt replies quickly, arms folded as he pouts. Burt chuckles gruffly, the sight reminding him that regardless of how much he’s grown, his son is still his son.

“Fine, fine - but just so you know, I like him anyway,” Burt says. “Maybe if he keeps coming we can give him Customer of the Month.”

Kurt, instead of responding, opts to heave a sigh and flounce off. Soon, he’ll have less smug customers with cars that need his attention more desperately than a set of green eyes ever could.

Chapter Text

The ‘Sebastian Smythe Two Weeks After Summer House Party’ is booming, Sebastian’s head is swimming just a bit, and he’s pretty sure that as epic as the ‘How I Met The Hottest Mechanic In The Midwest’ story feels, he’s probably making a fool out of himself by spilling his most recent infatuation with so much enthusiasm.

Him and some of the Warblers are sitting on the stone circumference of the hot tub in the backyard, their pant legs rolled up as they put their feet in. It’s too hot for them to actually hop in, so they settle for sitting on the edge and talking over the bubbles.

Sebastian finishes his story with a laugh, and when he looks around, he finds that his friends are fascinated by the story.

“Sebastian,” Trent asks, and his face is so earnest that Sebastian is immediately uncomfortable, “Have you fallen in love?”

Everyone looks at Trent like he’s an alien (not for the first time that night - the kid wore his Dalton uniform to the party because he thought that was the dress code for a “Warbler Party”), and Sebastian barks out a laugh.

“I’m not capable. My body doesn’t do that,” says Sebastian. It’s a simple matter of fact. Trent merely rolls his eyes.

“When are you going to see this guy next?” David asks as he bobs his head to the music playing inside. The sound of “So Emotional” by Whitney Houston is muffled, but David hums along, making the melody more clear. The Warbler Hive Mind, even if dulled by alcohol, gets everyone grooving, swaying to the song while they look at Sebastian, waiting for his answer.

“I don’t think I’ll see him again,” he says with what he hopes is a calm look on his face.

“What? No! You need to see him again,” says Nick.

“I can’t just go and see him… Who the hell turns up to a garage with a fully functioning, undamaged car? I may be thirsty, Nick, but I’m not desperate.”

There’s a pause in his whining when he hears a low, rumbling chuckle, and he turns to look at Jeff, who’s otherwise been completely silent since his lamentation began.

Sebastian has come to learn that Jeff gets particularly mischievous when he drinks rum - which is precisely why he made sure to buy plenty for his ultimate summer kickback. When Jeff gets mischievous, he gets good ideas. “You could always fuck up your car,” Jeff supplies, with a wicked grin that spells all kinds of trouble.

All of a sudden, Sebastian’s legs stop swishing through the far-too-warm water. “Oh my god,” Sebastian whispers, reverent, his voice barely carrying over the blaring speakers from inside the house. “I could fuck up my car.”

“No,” Wes cuts in less than a second later. He looks at Sebastian as seriously as anybody can when they’re three Tequila slammers in. “You absolutely could not.”

Sebastian frowns, opening his mouth to object immediately, but upon seeing the looks of disapproval surrounding him he reigns it in, opting for a pout.

“Okay, but-- Hear me out,” Jeff whispers, as if he’s letting them all in on some genius master plan - in Sebastian’s eyes, he actually is. “I’m not talking about cutting the brakes or getting crumbs all over the seats,” he clarifies, dazzling the group with his strange mishmash of priorities. “How about…”

“The wipers?” Nick suggests with the same enthusiasm as before, looking to Jeff for validation. He gets it, in the form of a clumsy arm slung around his shoulders that nearly sends both them and their drinks toppling into the water.

“No, don’t do something so obvious,” Wes scoffs, ever the voice of reason. “If you’ve got screwed up wipers and you drive all the way to Lima to get them fixed, it’ll be so obvious that you did it on purpose. Plus, you might get pulled over…” He pauses for a moment, stroking his chin like a wise old wizard. Sebastian thinks he would make a good one, if he could actually grow a beard. “It’d make more sense to mess with the wiper fluid.”

Everybody exchanges a look, and as soon as Wes realises he’s given them all a hive mind eureka moment, he sighs in defeat.

“How would one even muss-- Mess with wiper fluid? Isn’t it just water?” asks Trent, their resident lightweight.

“Obviously not, right? I mean why would they call it wiper fluid if it’s just water?” Nick asks, looking to Jeff, who just shrugs.

“Maybe they just do that so they can make it more expensive,” says Jeff, speaking entirely out of his ass.

“Capitalism,” says Nick in response, and the pair nod sagely at one another.

There’s another collective pause as everybody tries to find the answer, and then Jeff stands up. He looks at Sebastian with a smirk that rivals his own, before he yanks Sebastian’s bottle of Courvoisier right out of his hand.

“Well… I think it shouldn’t be just us humans enjoying the good stuff tonight. I mean, you guys have seen Cars, right?” he asks, as if it’s perfectly obvious where he’s going with it. “You just know they party.”

“Do you think Mater can be considered white trash? Because he’s very much a- wait… do the cars have races? Oh my god, is that what brands are? Like, do you think the Subarus have societal privilege?” Thad asks, his eyes widening.

Sebastian tunes out the following discussion of which brands correlate to which races, and consequently whether or not the characters have skeletons, slowly rising to his feet. “You’re a genius, blondie,” Sebastian tells Jeff sincerely, before he grabs his precious Courvoisier by the neck and hops off the edge of the hot tub.

The Warbler’s quickly get the message and follow him, creating a parade of drunken prep school dumbasses working their way through the crowd, forming a special kind of heat-seeking Conga Line, following the leader to see his next step.

When Sebastian reaches his precious baby, parked in the best spot the driveway has to offer, he begins fumbling with the hood until it finally pops open. David swiftly pulls out his phone and opens up Snapchat.

“Really, David?” Wes chides him, arms tightly folded - even though he’s watching Sebastian with the same rapt fascination as everybody else.

“Really, Wesley,” David slurs back, which only adds to his grimace. He gives his fellow councilman a pointed look. “I need me some clout.”

The party behind Sebastian cheers, even if the majority have no idea what they’re cheering for.

Sebastian fiddles through the mass of machinery in front of him, before finding the tank of wiper fluid. He uncaps it, and proudly holds his bottle in the air.

“I am a genius!” he says, with wide, happy eyes. “I’m so going to get laid.”

With fanfare, and the soundtrack of chanting behind him, Sebastian begins pouring his signature drink into the tank as “POUR, POUR, POUR!” hammers his ears. The cries of sheer joy that erupt when he holds up the now empty bottle are deafening in the best possible way, and the celebratory tone it sets for the rest of the night feels like a Dalton legend in the making.

 

Sebastian wakes up the next morning with a splitting headache and a Post-It saying “go get ur mans ;)” on his chest. He feels less like a Dalton legend, and more like a hungover idiot with expensive alcohol in his wiper fluid reservoir.

He groans and pulls himself up to get breakfast, even if it involves stepping over the occasional passed out teen on his floor.

As his coffee brews, he can’t help but smile. He’s excited to see Kurt today, to try to make him smile.

 

Blaine is having the worst month of his life. It’s the summer before his senior year, for crying out loud, but he’s been pushed to the sidelines for the millionth time since he transferred to McKinley. He made that huge sacrifice for Kurt, and now it’s coming back to bite him in the ass.

It’s especially clear to him now, thanks to an enlightening conversation with one David Grant after seeing his recent Snapchat posts.

BlaineyDayz Hey, David! Long time no talk. Looks like a wild party, who’s the dumbass screwing up his car???

D4V1DGR4NT: It absolutely was wild!!! Wish you could’ve been there. And that’s Sebastian! He transferred to Dalton like, right after you left lmao

BlaineyDayzD4V1DGR4NT: He’s such a good singer tho, and has good choreo ideas.

BlaineyDayz I know his face, because I’ve been seeing it sniffing around Kurt basically every time I pick him up from work! [snake emoji]

D4V1DGR4NT: dw he totally has a crush on this mechanic dude, so whatever “Sniffing” he’s doing around Kurt is nothing to worry about

That’s enough to leave Blaine seeing red. He’s still wound up over it, and it’s getting worse by the minute, because Kurt won’t answer his texts. His shift at the shop should have started half an hour ago, so he’s definitely awake - there’s no excuse for him to ignore Blaine’s questions. Not if he doesn’t have anything to hide.

The things I have to do for love, thinks Blaine as he looks up Hummel Tires & Lube online and dials the office number.

“Hummel Tires & Lube’s office speaking, how can we help you today?” The familiar voice of Burt Hummel greets him, and Blaine smiles. It’s nice to hear him in a good mood for once.

“Hi, Burt. It’s Blaine here,” he replies, and frowns at the subsequent heavy sigh he hears. Maybe he’s not in such a good mood, after all.

“Kurt’s working.”

“Let me guess, is he working on Sebastian’s car?”

There’s a pregnant pause, and Blaine expects that Burt is checking for him.

“I can’t give out client information, whether Kurt’s working on them or not,” is his eventual answer, much to Blaine’s disappointment.

As far as Blaine can tell, that’s a big fat yes.

“He is there, isn’t he? Well then, you can tell Kurt that--”

“Blaine,” Burt interrupts, speaking slowly as if Blaine wouldn’t catch the words otherwise. “Kurt’s shift ends at 4pm today. Could you do me a favour and call him then?” Before Blaine can even respond to the request Burt adds a brusque “thanks,” and hangs up.

“Never go to a Hummel for a straight answer…” he grumbles to himself, flopping back on his bed with a loud groan.

Worst. Month. Ever.

 

Sebastian walks into HT&L with two iced macchiatos in hand, his big movie-star sunglasses on his face, and a blinding smile as he says hello to Chris at the front desk.

“What now?” asks Chris, in lieu of any other greeting.

“Issue with my wiper fluid. Is Kurt available?”

Conversely, Kurt has been toiling away at HT&L for an hour already, using each buzz of his phone as another little burst of energy. Spite has always been his greatest motivator - he realised that when he wrote his first musical short at the tender age of 10 about his 5th grade teacher being eaten by caterpillars after grading his butterfly mosaic a C-.

(The musical short was a resounding A+, after changing the name of the teacher to Mr. Evil instead of the factual Mr. McPherson.)

He’s trying to ignore the part of his brain that’s demanding insect-themed justice against Blaine for objectifying him at least 10 times that morning alone. He has absolutely no idea where these notions of Sebastian trying to ‘steal’ him away have come from, but he’s done with going around in circles over the issue. Every time Kurt graciously reminds Blaine that he’s not a possession in the first place, he’s shut down for avoiding the issue. Sometimes he wishes his relationship could be fixed as easily as an engine.

His day simultaneously improves and becomes a disaster when Sebastian’s car rolls into the garage the minute he finishes an oil change.

Sebastian steps out with the smarmiest possible grin, and walks over with two drinks in hand, one of which he passes to Kurt.

“Is this closer?” he asks, before taking a long sip of his shaken-up caramel macchiato.

Kurt takes an experimental sip, even if he knows the answer.

“Getting there, but not quite. What did you do to your car this time?” Kurt asks, turning to the (still gorgeous) red Mustang. It’s an easy way to hide his first smile of the day.

“I didn’t do it. My friends did,” says Sebastian, a little bit too quickly.

“And what, pray tell, did your friends do?”

“They put some, um, mystery liquid in the wiper fluid tank.”

Kurt gives him a long, deeply troubled look.

“Is it- is it semen?”

Sebastian damn near spits out his coffee, but he manages to hold it in. At least there’s one fluid staying in its rightful place.

“It’s not semen, I know that for sure. It’s also, without a doubt, not wiper fluid. It’s a mystery that you’re going to have to help me solve.”

Kurt huffs out a quiet breath that’s filled with relief, which worries Sebastian a tad - he’s going for his own personal brand of empowered thot energy, but he doesn’t want to be a person who seems likely to use spunk as a cleaning product.

“There’s only so many pee balloons one can handle before the words ‘mystery liquid’ become the shortest horror story in the world,” says Kurt with a sigh, walking over and popping up the hood. Kurt can hear his phone buzzing in his coveralls, and he declines the call before anyone else can hear.

“...Pee balloons…?” Sebastian whispers, horrified to his core by the concept. It’s enough to distract him from Kurt fiddling with his phone.

“Public school,” explains Kurt as he bends over and takes the cap off the tank. “Believe it or not, I was not their favorite person. They also glued lawn furniture to my roof, and--” He stops himself there, worrying his lower lip between his teeth. A memory flashes in his mind, of Blaine telling him that he ‘talks too much about that stuff’. Kurt feels insecurity brewing, and when he catches a whiff of the ‘mystery liquid’, he decides that it’s time to change the topic.

“What on earth kind of cheap booze have your friends been dumping into your car? Do they know how dangerous that is-- Or should I say, how flammable it is?”

Sebastian gasps, the offence as blatant on his face as it is personal. “That’s not cheap booze. That’s the finest cognac money can buy!”

Kurt looks at him for a long moment, with one eyebrow elegantly arched.

“Your… Friends, huh?” He says, a smile creeping across his face as the embarrassment works its way onto Sebastian’s. It’s his turn to smirk, just for a second - but he’s too merciful to lord the slip-up over him forever. “I’m onto you, Smythe.”

Sebastian goes into panic mode. His mind becomes a flurry of oh god oh fuck he knows I’m into him FUCK. “...You are?” He replies casually, with a smile so forced it hurts.

“I am,” Kurt nods, and Sebastian braces for impact.

He braces for the way Kurt will sigh and say ‘I’m sorry, but…’. The pity. The rejection.

“You’re embarrassed,” Kurt begins, so slowly that Sebastian feels like his heart will give out before Kurt can actually damage it. “This is just vegetable oil part two!”

“...Come again?”

The winning smile on Kurt’s face fixes everything in an instant. He walks over to Sebastian, setting a hand on his shoulder as he looks up at him. His expression is mostly condescending, but also fond, and Sebastian can only smile back. He’ll take what he can get. “Just because your fancy rich-boy drinks have alcohol in them, doesn’t mean they’re substitutes for cleaning products.”

Sebastian feels the tension leaving his shoulders in one fell swoop, and he meets Kurt’s gaze as sheepishly as he can. “Yeah, that’s right. You caught me.”

“Also, I saw you on David’s Snapchat story,” says Kurt, flippant as he turns back to the car. “I’m just confused as to why everyone was so supportive of it, cheering you on like that. How was nobody sober enough to stop you? Not to mention the comedic brilliance of you yelling ‘I’m a genius’ right before doing that.”

“W-what? How do you-”

“Blaine’s friends. He was kind of the star Warbler. That’s actually how I met him-- I was doing some show choir reconnaissance,” says Kurt, getting to work on the tank while Sebastian reels behind him. Kurt lets out a quiet, wistful sigh, audible to nobody but himself. He wasn’t having an easy time at school at the time, but things between him and Blaine were so uncomplicated back then...

“So you-- You sing?” Sebastian asks, snapping him out of his reverie.

“I’m going to NYADA for singing, so yes. Acting and dancing too… Musical theatre, really.”

There’s a lot to process here. For one thing, Kurt thinks he’s comedically brilliant - at least when he’s wasted - and he can sing. The man with the most elegant, melodic speaking voice he’s ever heard has a singing voice to match. Not to mention that voice is apparently good enough to get into NYADA. NYADA, which is in the same city as Columbia, where Sebastian himself will be studying, come fall. They’ll both be in New York after the summer, Sebastian realizes, and something about that sparks hope in the back of his mind.

“I’m going to Columbia,” he says dumbly, and it shocks Kurt enough for him to bump his head on the Mustang’s open hood. He sputters, whirling around to face him fully.

“What-- Wait-- Whoa, okay, you… Sebastian ‘Vegetable Oil’ Smythe got into Columbia for… What’s your major?” Kurt looks like he’s about to faint.

“Pre-med,” Sebastian answers, frowning at the hand Kurt’s pressing against the spot he bumped. “Speaking of which, maybe some ice--”

“Are you shitting me right now? You put cognac in your , and you’re going to be a doctor?”

“I’m aiming for some type of surgeon, but yeah.”

Kurt shakes his head. “That’s insane.”

“I’m actually kind of book smart,” says Sebastian, feeling the weirdest (and frankly, unprecedented) urge to explain himself. “I’ll have you know my grades are second to none, and I’m very good with my hands.” It never hurts to throw that detail out there.

He swears Kurt’s ears are turning red, but he cunningly distracts Sebastian once more with his words before he can tease him about it.

“That’s insane. Hey, at least I’ll have someone in New York rich enough to buy me coffee… If you have enough time between classes to get it to me, that is,” says Kurt, giving his macchiato a playful wiggle as he picks it up to take a sip. Sebastian surprises himself with the way those words make his heart beat faster.

“Whatever, I’ll buy you plenty of coffee once I know your order… And I’m sure NYADA’s pretty insane too. What if you don’t have a spare second to drink my gifts?” he rebuts, pulling his usual folding chair over. He sits down on it with a dramatic thud, and a contemplative smirk. “Here’s an idea... You’re a NYADA level singer - sing me something...Please?”

He wants to hear it. He’s heard Kurt sing, but it’s always so quiet and muffled by the shop’s speakers.

“Is it not enough for me to fix your car? Must I also put on a show?” Kurt sighs, although there’s an undeniable fluttering in his chest at the request. He’s so used to fighting for a chance to perform, and here’s Sebastian, pleading to hear him sing out of nowhere.

“We can make it a duet if a whole song is too much work for you.”

While Kurt believes in the inherent homoeroticism of a good duet - not that there’s anything homoerotic about his relationship with Sebastian - the prospect is oddly exciting.

“Alright,” says Kurt, with a shrug. He turns to the rest of the garage. “Any requests?” he yells, and it makes Sebastian worry that he’s about to be overshadowed on volume alone.

“I’ve had ‘Every Breath You Take’ stuck in my head for the whole damn week,” offers a burly mechanic, who Sebastian would have expected to have very different tastes, from across the garage.

“Your wish is my command, Donald,” yells Kurt, and he pulls out the boombox. “Let’s get this party started!”

As the music starts to play Kurt begins moving, tapping his feet along with the rhythm as he approaches Sebastian’s car. By the time he takes out the reservoir, Kurt’s singing the opening lines, his voice clear and casual as if it requires little to no effort to sound like that.

Sebastian is so taken aback by the refined, brilliant force of Kurt’s voice that he almost forgets to sing. He joins in, barely meeting his cue, and the way Kurt meets his eyes and smiles when he does almost throws him off-key.

Kurt’s not just smiling, Sebastian realizes. He’s dancing now, doing the occasional shoulder shimmy and getting into the song. For all his boasting over his choreography, Sebastian remains seated throughout because his knees really aren’t up to the task.

Kurt’s in his zone, and Sebastian’s heart is beating so hard that he can hear it better than his own voice. The song is so close to ending, and Sebastian wishes it could just go on forever. He can still feel the pounding of his heart, loud and intense, and he decides that this is way too much of a reaction to just a cute guy singing and dancing.

Holy shit. Is Sebastian Smythe having a heart attack?

As the music dies down and the rest of the garage’s staff politely applaud before they get back to work, Sebastian swallows thickly, resting a hand over his chest.

“I know you’re a mechanic,” he says warily, “but by any chance are you also a nurse? Or an EMT?”

Kurt shakes his head, looking a little confused. “I thought you were the aspiring med student.”

“I just-- How would I know if I’m having a heart attack? Totally unrelated to the current events. Just-- Just curious.”

There’s a hearty guffaw from around the corner. “Trust me kid, you’re fine. I know what a heart attack looks like.”

Kurt looks between Sebastian and the source of his father’s voice, rolling his eyes at whatever weird banter it is they’ve struck up.

“Sorry to disappoint, Smythe, but I only have one job that features in porn,” he says, with an exaggerated frown and a gesture down towards his coveralls.

In that, Sebastian sees a perfect opportunity to distract himself from his imminent cardiac arrest. “Wait, so you don’t moonlight as a taxi driver? Or pizza deliverer? Or even a plumber? That’s a dealbreaker. I need a man who can do it all.”

Kurt feels the urge to object, to remind Sebastian that Kurt is nowhere close to being ‘his man’ but he abstains, figuring it’s harmless. He’s clearly joking, and he didn’t even say anything that alluded to Kurt being a possession - that’s just Blaine-rhetoric from earlier, bothering him more than it should. “I’m also not going to take these coveralls off. Or make any deals with you-- Except maybe a deal where you stop doing stupid shit to your car.”

“No dice,” says Sebastian, with an exaggerated sigh. “Can’t stop, won’t stop.“

“Next time you put something edible into your car, I’m taking away your music privileges,” warns Kurt. Sebastian gasps.

“You wouldn’t.”

“I would.”

He wouldn’t - but Sebastian doesn’t know that. All he has to go on is Kurt’s poker face of steel.

Then Kurt’s phone starts buzzing again, cutting their battle short, and this time he can’t catch it before Sebastian notices. The sound has started to exhaust him, and so he gives in, hoping that giving a response will make it stop until he’s at least out of work.

“Who’s calling?” Sebastian asks, purely to satiate his curiosity - although it seems to piss Kurt off anyway.

Kurt doesn’t answer him; he turns sharply on his heel, raising his phone to his ear apprehensively, as if it’s about to blow his hand off.

“Hello?” he answers, hoping against hope that it’s not who he, deep in his heart, knows it is.

“Kurt? I’ve been calling and texting you all day!” snaps Blaine, without a moment’s hesitation.

“I still need you to work on my car, Kurtie-Kins,” drawls Sebastian, and Kurt winces.

“Is that Sebastian?”

“Yeah,” Kurt’s lips quirk into the slightest smile. “Would you believe it? The idiot put vodka-”

“Cognac!” interrupts Sebastian from behind Kurt.

“-cognac where the washer fluid goes.”

Kurt waits for Blaine to laugh or at least mock Sebastian for his blunder, but it doesn’t happen. He can practically hear Blaine fuming over the phone.

“You’re with Sebastian,” Blaine states, and his tone leaves no room for questioning.

“Yeah, because I’m at work, and he’s a customer. It’s not anything more, Blaine. I keep telling you that! Nothing is going to happen!” says Kurt, unsure of how many more ways he can say it.

“Kurt, hand me the phone,” says Sebastian, holding his hand out as he pulls himself up. This breaks Kurt out of his little fight-bubble, and he stares at Sebastian like he’s grown another head.

“What?” Kurt snips, totally bewildered.

“He’s not listening to you, is he?” Sebastian asks, with a wicked smirk. “Maybe he’ll listen to me. He keeps saying my name, after all.”

Kurt bites his lip, hesitating. He’s tired. It’s an awful thing for him to think, but he’s so tired of Blaine berating him over every move he makes without giving him a chance to explain any of it. Blaine might as well hear it from the ‘boyfriend stealer’ himself.

“Do your worst,” he mutters, setting his phone in Sebastian’s palm.

The resignation in Kurt’s voice, the sheer defeat he can hear behind each word, makes him want to lay into Blaine so harshly he’ll regret ever picking up the phone.

He can’t do that, though. Kurt’s suffering enough if Blaine’s really been complaining about him all this time. There’s a pang of guilt deep in his chest, because he knows Blaine’s right, in a sense - not that Kurt’s an object with no agency, ready to be swooped up by the first decently handsome guy who needs his car fixed - merely the fact that Sebastian’s interested. Even if he doesn’t have a chance in hell with Kurt, Sebastian likes being around him, and he can’t help but wonder if repeatedly indulging in that is making things worse for him.

“Sebastian?” Blaine asks.

“It’s me. The man, the myth, the legend. What’s your damage?”

Kurt barks out a chiding “Sebastian!” from where he’s working on flushing out the tank with water.

“You’re trying to steal my boyfriend,” says Blaine, cold and bitter over the phone.

“I can't steal him, he’s a person. If he leaves you, it’s not because I picked him up and caveman-carried him away, it’s because he decided, with his own brain and decision making skills, that he’s sick of your bullshit. Stop talking about him like he’s a thing, and maybe you won’t have this issue anymore,” says Sebastian, trying to keep the anger out of his voice.

“You want him. I know it, everyone knows it,” bites out Blaine.

“Actually, I want my car fixed,” Sebastian replies coolly. Blaine’s complete lack of wit is making itself apparent, so much so that Sebastian almost feels sorry for him. Almost. “That’s your boyfriend’s job-- Did you know that? It seems that you don’t because his phone’s been buzzing like a bee in mortal peril since I got here.”

“I don’t need you to be telling me about how much he needs this job, I hear enough of that already. I'm sick and tired of it. It’s always ‘saving money for New York’, and ‘what I’ll be doing in New York’. What about me? I’ll be all alone after this summer, is it unfair for me to want to spend time with my boyfriend?”

“You’re sick of hearing about his needs?” Sebastian scoffs, shaking his head in disbelief. “You must be a fantastic lover, Blaine…”

“Sebastian!” Kurt snaps again, whirling around to look at him with wide eyes. Sebastian smiles apologetically before he continues on his tirade.

“God forbid that your boyfriend be excited about his future. Not to mention that he’s a damn good mechanic,” says Sebastian, sneaking another look at Kurt, who’s almost done with the wiper fluid tank.

“I don’t care how good of a mechanic he is, because he’s being a really shitty boyfriend right now,” Blaine says, and Sebastian is so taken aback by this that he doesn’t notice Kurt coming up and nimbly snatching the phone away, which he grasps for and misses.

“Let’s talk later,” Kurt mutters down the line, his eyes squeezed tightly shut. “Okay? I’m sorry, Blaine,” he adds hastily, before ending the call.

Kurt feels like crying, for a mix of reasons. It’s frustration and just plain sadness that has him on that brink, brought on by the way Blaine had spoken to him, and how readily Sebastian had come to his defence. If a regular client could stick up for him and have faith in him, why couldn’t his own boyfriend?

“Damn,” says Sebastian. “I should’ve told him something funny, like that I couldn’t give you the phone because you were tied to my headboard.”

“That wouldn't have been funny,” says Kurt, his words blunt and deflated. “I finished fixing the wiper fluid.”

Sebastian looks to his car, and then at the slump in Kurt’s shoulders. “I’m sorry if I crossed a line.”

The simple act of someone apologizing, something that Blaine was so bad at, pushes Kurt even closer.

“It’s-- Fine,” he breathes, forcing a polite smile. “Sorry, he’s just been really set on that idea all day today, and…”

When Kurt trails off, Sebastian feels the need to clarify something. “You don’t need to apologise, not to me, and not to him.”

That gets Kurt thinking - why did he apologise before he ended that dreadful phone call? It’s a heavy question for him to be asking himself in the middle of a shift, but it swallows him whole for a moment and leaves a silence hovering between them.

“Do you, uhh… Need a hug?” Sebastian asks to break it, his face and posture a picture of pure awkwardness.

Kurt smiles at him and huffs out a laugh. It helps him shake off the more sombre lingering thoughts. “I’m good. Is there anything else you did to your car that you need me to fix?”

“Afraid not,” says Sebastian.

“Then you can pay up front,”

Sebastian puts his hand forward, and Kurt takes it in a handshake that’s awkward and lasts a few seconds too long. At least it’s warm and gentle; Kurt’s been needing more warmth and gentleness lately.

When he gets to the desk, Chris is there, wearing a shit-eating grin. “Damn, kid, you get Customer of the Month for telling that douche off.”

“Do I get a plaque?” jokes Sebastian.

“I’ll ask Burt,” says Chris, before progressing into the usual routine of payment. Before Sebastian picks up his card, Chris looks around surreptitiously, before he whispers, “By the way… You’re on the right track with the espresso. That’s all I’m at liberty to say.”

Once it’s done, Sebastian gets back on the road, with nothing but blue eyes and that voice on his mind. The knowledge that Blaine is friends with the Warblers is intriguing, and he resolves himself to looking into those connections.

What can he say? He wants more reasons to hate Blaine. He gets petty like that when he truly cares.

Chapter Text

The Warblers are, despite their tendency towards being a hive mind, pretty divided on the issue that is Blaine Anderson. 

Trent lights up like a particularly flammable Christmas tree with faulty wiring at the mere mention of Blaine. Without much prompting, Sebastian gets a few minutes worth of effusive compliments on Blaine’s… everything, really. Looks, voice, manners, brains, ‘vibes’, nothing goes uncommented on. The fact that Trent compliments his dancing is a particularly worrying sign since Trent pitches a moonwalk for every single number (even the emotional, slow covers), and Sebastian gets the feeling that Blaine might have been the one to plant that seed in his mind.

Thad, on the other hand, shares many anti-Blaine opinions, most having to do with his blatant disregard for tradition and authority. This is where Sebastian gets the full story of the Gap Attack, including a link to the lyrics of the song Blaine sang. While his rendition of the story sounds vaguely melodramatic, when Sebastian fact-checks it with other members, he finds that Thad didn’t lie about any aspect of the story. Eventually, somebody sends him a youtube link, but by that point he’s already convinced, and he feels like he’s been looped into a collective fever dream. There’s no need to subject his senses to that.

David’s always been one of those, ‘look for the best in others’ types, and while Sebastian can’t relate, he hears him out anyway. Admittedly, there’s something to be said for a person who always has ideas as Blaine apparently did, but Sebastian takes that with a grain of salt - ideas aren’t always good, or helpful, or presented with any room for anybody else’s thoughts. It vividly reminds him of all the moonwalking he’s witnessed over his short time with the Warblers.

Wes, ever the sensible soul, seems to think along the same lines. His response to Sebastian’s ‘So… thoughts on Blaine Anderson’ text is a simple ‘Talented but also insufferable. He used to speak over my gavel, Sebastian.’ On reading that, Sebastian is surprised there isn’t a gavel-shaped dent in Blaine’s gel-met.

Nick and Jeff have similar takes, albeit with less personal offence past ‘we would audition for solos and he’d just get them handed to him’. Most of their gripes, solo-based and otherwise, tend towards ‘this thing just didn’t rub us the right way’ and, as Sebastian quietly suspected, a lot of the stories they include are about Kurt and Blaine’s toxic relationship. 

By the time Sebastian finishes his sleuthing, he’s furious. It started with pure curiosity and snowballed into the morbid kind, and now he’s slamming his car door shut with so much vitriol he’s surprised the window doesn’t shatter. Ignorance certainly sounds blissful at the moment, and there’s no way to get it back. Even if there was, he couldn’t take it, because there’s still something grotesquely fascinating about the fact that Kurt’s been putting up with that cockroach as a boyfriend for so long. 

Sebastian takes a good long look at his car, his gorgeous, beautiful car, and then does something unthinkable.

He kicks the door.

“Fucking-- Ow!”

It wasn’t a smart idea to begin with, but as Sebastian clutches at his toes, he remembers just how solid metal really is. He inspects the area of impact between his (now aching) foot and the beautiful red of his car and sees that it had no effect. Thank goodness. Then again, when he leans down, he swears he can see the slightest scuff, the barest hint of a scratch…

It’s barely visible. There’s no way anyone would go to the mechanic for this, but he’s planning to go and see one anyway. 

Once again, the idea he has isn’t particularly smart - but it has its merits. If he has a larger problem to deal with, he’ll have longer to discuss the Blaine Conundrum with Kurt. 

He digs into his pocket and pulls out his key. The silver is beautiful, glinting from the harsh sunlight. The light on it seems to wink at him, like an absinthe hallucination telling him that the idea really isn’t that bad. 

“I’m sorry,” he whispers, without a soul in sight to hear it. With a gentle kiss to the blade of his key, he proceeds to use it for evil. 

Using the minuscule spot of grey from his foot’s collision as his starting point, he drags the toothed metal across the surface of the car, wincing at the sound it makes. It’s like a cry of pain.

What’s done is done.

Considering the price tag that came with it, his car is worryingly easy to scratch. That doesn’t do much to alleviate the guilt stirring in his gut, but he remembers that it’s all for the sake of satiating his curiosity.

Curiosity may have killed many cats, but Sebastian’s pretty sure that at worst, his curiosity will only kill his car. 

His resolve is strengthened when he thinks about what coffee he’ll get Kurt today, and decides to get some vanilla lattes on the way to HT&L.

Once he gets past the reception after some friendly small-talk with Chris and pulls his car into the garage, he holds out one iced latte and hopes it’ll soften the blow of what comes next.

“I want to talk about your dirtbag boyfriend.”

Kurt blinks. He looks up from his phone and takes the coffee, slowly curling his fingers around it as if Sebastian will give up on the idea by the time it’s in his grip. He’s sitting on one of those foldout chairs, and he puts his phone into the dinky cup holder at his side. His eyes flash to Sebastian’s car, in what he figures is now his designated spot in the garage, and Sebastian can see Kurt’s eyes widen to the size of saucers at the long grey slash in its red paint.

“Is your-- Did you-- Your car! Did he do that?” Kurt points at the scratch, profoundly horrified at the sight of it. “Is that what this is about?”

Before Sebastian can even try to come up with some sort of an excuse, Chris walks in, waving a disposable camera in one hand and the HT&L dongle in the other. Sebastian reaches to take the dongle, but before he can, Chris pulls his hand back and out of reach.

“Before you can play music, Sebastian, you need to do me a quick favor,” says Chris, with a devious smile.

“Uh-- sure?”

“I need you to be in the Hummel Tires & Lube Customer of the Month picture. I feel like you ought to be in it too, Kurt,” says Chris, and at this, Sebastian’s face breaks out into an overjoyed expression, while Kurt’s falls into annoyance.

“Chris, we both know that this shop doesn’t have a Customer of the--”

“Chris? I’d be honored,” says Sebastian, putting his hand to his heart. He shuffles closer to Kurt, and flashes the camera a cheesy smile and thumbs up, while Kurt gives it an intense glare. There’s a flash and a click, and Sebastian feels a sense of victory.

“Why are we rewarding him for damaging his car so much?” Kurt asks as Chris, finished with the picture, tosses Sebastian the dongle, which he makes quick work of hooking up to the radio to play his music. 

“It’s great for business!” says Chris over his shoulder as he retreats to the reception desk, leaving Kurt and Sebastian back to their work.

“As for your earlier question, Kurt, Blaine didn’t scratch my car.”

“Who keyed it, then?”

“It wasn’t keyed, that would imply that the scratch was on purpose--”

“I know what a keyed car looks like, Bas. I once had to fix 30 of them in a row, it’s basically been keyed into my long-term memory.”

“What?”

“A few years ago, a few of the New Directions keyed all of the Vocal Adrenaline cars, and they came here, of all places, to get it fixed,” Kurt smiles as he recalls it, and Sebastian is only mildly intimidated by Kurt’s fondness for vandalism. “They said something like... ‘only the best of garages for the best of performers’.”

“But, about your--”

Kurt cuts him off succinctly as he squats down to inspect the scratch. “It’s pretty funny, though, because now this is where all the Vocal Adrenaline kids go, and it means that I’ve seen every inch of Jesse St. James’ car.” 

Sebastian, despite his need to know about Blaine, has to admit he’s curious. Jesse St. James is a bit of a legend amongst the show choir crowd of Western Ohio for his stunts and performances, and the idea of Kurt not only meeting him but getting that insight into his private life was too intriguing to ignore.

“What’s in it?”

“For one, a lot of sheet music. But the funny thing? No one sheet matches another, and there’s a lot of it. Half of his trunk is just loose paper, and every time I see him it’s different. Different songs from different things, it’s crazy. I don’t even know where he gets it all from.” 

“That’s fascinating,” says Sebastian, genuinely wowed. “But I was serious, I want to talk about--”

“And you’ll never believe this. He keeps an ‘emergency unitard’ in his glove compartment. Why? I couldn’t tell you. Don’t ask me what kind of emergency constitutes a unitard either, he never gave me a straight answer…” Kurt laughs, but there’s no humour in it. “What else… Oh! There’s also his Stardust drink. It’s a quad shot of espresso and an entire can of Redbull, with a full Vitamin C flavoring packet. He keeps two cups in his car at all times, and he offered me the recipe like it was a huge, sought after secret. I think that was his way of making a pass at me, because the way he offered it was just… bizarre, really--”

“Speaking of people who have made a pass at you, I’ve been doing some research into your boyfriend.”

Kurt stills, and Sebastian can see the way his fingers tense over the scratch. 

“Honestly - as much as I want an itemized list of every single item in that man’s car, and I expect one later because it’s genuinely fascinating - I heard some pretty weird stuff. I’m not sure what to believe, and I was hoping you’d be able to help me out.”

Sebastian reaches for his phone, still hooked up to the radio, and pulls up his list of ‘Things To Fact Check’, manoeuvring his seat along with him so that he can read and keep the music playing.

Slowly, Kurt looks over his shoulder, as wary as a man can possibly be at a man who’s scooching along the floor in a folding chair. “Fine. I’ll tell you what’s true and what isn’t. I’m sure a lot of them are lies, he’s not that bad, and the Warblers gossip as much as the New Directions.”

“The Gap Attack,” Sebastian begins simply, and the way Kurt groans tells him everything he needs to know.

“True. Yes, the guy was fired, yes the guy was 20, and yes, Blaine outed him publicly to the entire store.” Kurt shakes his head, and the exasperation on his face makes Sebastian feel a little bad for asking. “Somebody had to have sent you the link, I don’t know why you must put me through the ordeal of having to remember it.”

“I know about the link, I just don’t want to watch it. Sounds like a cringe-fest.”

“That’s because it was,” Kurt replies quickly, eager to get it out of his mind. “Next item?”

“Did he really perform at Six Flags every summer?” Sebastian asks, looking up expectantly from his phone.

“True again,” Kurt nods. “I don’t see what’s wrong with that. It’s a summer job - not every rich kid spends the summer blowing their allowance on car repairs. I’ve been to one or two of those performances, and they’re kinda cute. I mean, he’s pretty enthusiastic about his songs about how much he loves eating vegetables and riding roller coasters.” He doesn’t sound entirely convinced of his own pride, but he sticks to it.

Sebastian just writes ‘True’ next to the fact, and moves on.

“Did he actually ask you to be your boyfriend while you were working on your pet’s casket?”

“You make it sound way worse than it was. The casket was already made, I was just bedazzling it, as Pavarotti would have wanted…” Kurt trails off, his hand stilling in the middle of cleaning the area around his car’s injury. He’s still sad about it, Sebastian realises, and it makes the idea of Blaine choosing that particular moment to make his move feel even ickier.

“So he saw you grieving and was like, yes, this is the appropriate moment to stick my tongue down this guy’s throat. I’m totally going for it. There is nothing wrong with this.”

“He didn’t stick his tongue down my throat,” scoffs Kurt. “He was very respectful of my pain. He even went to the funeral with me...” He pauses again, and this time his face scrunches up at the memory. Sebastian doesn’t need to know that Blaine asked him if his pet bird’s funeral reminded him of his mother’s, and he doesn’t need to think about it. 

“Okay, okay. Next thing,” Sebastian pipes up, because he can see that Kurt’s train of thought is destined for a wreckage. “Did he actually take all the solos without auditioning? Like, even if other Warblers had to audition? Or was that just Jeff and Nick being bitter?”

“Yes, he did get special consideration, but it was because he really was--”

“Sorry,” Sebastian scoffs, shaking his head, “but I’m not going to listen to anybody defending that, not even you. It sucks. Next question: did he really tell you, at one of those auditions, to try not standing out?”

That one’s been really grating on Sebastian since he heard it. It’s just so… Backwards. Spiteful. Petty. Jealous. Every ugly, sour word in the book comes to mind. 

“Yeah, but he was just trying to help me...”

“Didn’t he get every possible solo? And chase the spotlight? And generally, you know, stick out?”

“The spotlight found him, really, he actually was the one who got me a solo at regionals that year!” defends Kurt, looking away from his work for a second to scowl at Sebastian.

“You mean a duet? Where he sang with you as opposed to you singing alone like he usually did at competitions? And with a break-up song, no less?”

“It’s still a love song, of sorts,” Kurt turns away quickly, picking up a piece of equipment Sebastian couldn’t name if he tried. Whatever it is, he rubs it very aggressively over the scratch. “It was good enough for second place at regionals.”

You were the one that got it to second place. If it was a solo, I could see first.”

Kurt is quiet for a moment, and the only sound between them comes from him sanding the door down. Sebastian just sounds so completely sure of it - that’s not how these things usually go, at all. He’s far more used to being laughed out of solo spots.

“Okay, next question. Does he really gel his hair like that every single day?”

“Yes, he does, but no, it doesn’t look that bad,” says Kurt, hoping that his voice doesn’t sound as weak as his belief in the statement is. 

When he looks to Sebastian, he gets the feeling that Sebastian sensed his lack of conviction. Perceptive bastard.

“Oh, here’s a fun one,” Sebastian grins wolfishly at his phone, and Kurt can only brace for impact. “Did he really, honest to god, unironically use the word 'sexified' to pitch a number?”

Kurt groans. “That was the least of it,” he admits, his head dipping in exasperation.

“What else did he do?” Sebastian asked, unsure of how it could get worse. Was his Sexified™ song something stupid? Did he pitch weird sexy choreography? How bad could it get?

“Let’s just say that that week started with him saying I looked like I had gas pains when I was trying to be... ‘Sexy,’ and ended with him telling my dad to give me the sex talk-- behind my back, no less. That week was layers of mortifying.” 

Sebastian’s jaw all but hits the floor. That was miles past what he thought ‘worse’ could include.

“I-- You’re joking, right? Tell me you’re joking.”

“It wouldn’t be very professional of me to lie to you, Sebastian,” Kurt sighs, forcing a smile as he channels the bitter embarrassment into his work. Kurt is a bit impressed at his own ability to work this fast, if he’s being honest. 

“Oh my god. Please-- okay, there’s one more thing on this list, and I’m 99% sure it’s a petty rumor, so-- Can I just ask it now?”

“Go ahead,” sighs Kurt.

“Did he promise you that he wouldn’t audition for Tony in West Side Story and then sing a Tony song? And when asked to, read for the part?” Sebastian’s shaking his head in disbelief, laughing under his breath at the mere thought, because people just aren’t that shitty. For Kurt, that only makes it sting more.

“Fuck, I knew I shouldn’t have told Jeff about that,” mutters Kurt.

“Kurt,” says Sebastian simply, looking horrified. Something about the way it sounds makes Kurt feel out of place, like a wounded animal laying at the side of the road as opposed to a young man, capable of fixing the scratches that animal left on the vehicle. 

“Just stop it, would you?” Kurt snaps, his shoulders tensing in an instant. 

Sebastian recoils a little; he’s never heard Kurt sound so pissed off. “I’m sorry,” he says, a little quieter. “It’s just… A whole parade of red flags. Why did he--”

“I just-- I don’t want to talk about Blaine anymore!” Kurt stands upright, the sander falling to the floor beside him. “I get the ‘dump Blaine’ speech from plenty of people, and even if I could break up with him--”

Kurt clamps his lips together, catching himself on his own slip just as Sebastian takes notice of it.

“What do you mean?” Sebastian asks, leaning forward in his seat. All at once, fear and anguish flood Kurt’s eyes, and he has to order himself to not get up and hug him. 

“I-- Listen. Guys like me… We don’t get lots of shots at love. I’m lucky to have Blaine, really, he’s clearly out of my league-- I’ve heard that from enough people to know that’s true. I mean… No, he’s not perfect, but nobody is.”

“He doesn’t have to be perfect,” Sebastian replies, his eyes locked on to Kurt’s even though he refuses to meet his gaze, “but he shouldn’t make you feel that way.”

Kurt shuts his eyes tight. It’s not like the thought has never occurred to him - his search history is a testament to that - but it feels different hearing it from somebody else, not just the back of his own mind over a sleepless night. It doesn’t instantly fix all those thoughts, the ones that tell him he’s insane, or cruel for questioning Blaine at all, but it still feels good. There’s somebody, for once, explicitly in his corner, who has no ulterior reason to be there. After all, it’s one thing to hear “you deserve better” from his dad, but another to hear it from a guy who’s as close to a neutral third party as Kurt’s going to get in Lima. 

“Also, you’re like, a total 10, so… you don’t really need to worry about that part,” says Sebastian, breaking the long silence from Kurt’s inner monologue. Kurt looks to him and bursts out laughing, and if it sounds a little watery Sebastian spares him of any teasing over it. Maybe that’s because he’s smiling so honestly that it’s infectious, so genuine that it dazes Sebastian a little.

“You’re right, you know,” says Kurt, in between gasps of laughter. “All else fails I can hit up Jesse St. James, have him make me his special Stardust drink and see where the night takes us…” Kurt says as he kneels back down to his work.

Sebastian’s nose scrunches up at the thought (he may be a bit miffed at the implication that, upon the breakup, Jesse would be Kurt’s first stop on the big End of Klaine Western Ohio Celebration Tour), but it’s progress.

“I’ll probably need it if breaking up with him goes the way I’ve always thought it would,” continues Kurt, and Sebastian’s eyebrows rocket up to his hairline. Kurt sucks in a deep breath after he says it, and the world doesn’t split beneath his feet. He’s alive, so is everybody else who’s puttering around the shop, and Blaine hasn’t physically manifested to scream his head off for so much as suggesting it.

“So you’ve thought about it?” Sebastian asks, letting himself feel hopeful.

“A lot, if I’m being honest,” Kurt admits, still apprehensive, but liberated at the same time. “More often each day since I got my acceptance letter. He wasn’t even the slightest bit happy for me, you know… I think that was the first sign I couldn’t ignore, no matter how hard I tried.”

Just as he finishes the sentence, he finishes the fixing of the scratch, and pulls away, inspecting his work. He sees no flaws and basks in the accomplishment of it for a second before looking back at Sebastian. “All fixed up! You’re welcome. And… Thanks.”

Sebastian shakes his head as he gets up, standing by Kurt to get a good look at the scratch for himself. “No, don’t thank me. This was all you,” he smiles, setting a hand on his shoulder. “I’ve never thought I’d be this deeply proud of my mechanic, but… Here we are.”

Kurt looks at him, his traitorous mind noticing the lovely way Sebastian’s green eyes smile with the rest of his face, and he’s not thinking too much as he speaks.

“I still have no idea how I’m going to do it,” he sighs, shrugging the worry off. “Wanna come by tomorrow? I’ve got to paint the front of the shop, and it’ll be boring to do alone. It’ll be like… A really messy strategy meeting,” he suggests, promptly raising a finger to keep Sebastian from making the dirty joke he’s clearly about to. “Messy because of the paint.”

“Strategy meeting it is,” Sebastian agrees, lowering his hand from Kurt’s shoulder and quickly stuffing it into his pocket. “I’ll see you tomorrow with all of my most devious ideas. For the sake of my idle at-home brainstorming, is live streaming it off the table?”

“Very much so. I don’t want to make a scene!” Kurt calls out as Sebastian makes his way to the front desk, receiving nothing more than a wink in response.

Sebastian’s lost in his own head a little as Chris rings him up. He can’t help but think that, under slightly different circumstances, he would have jumped at the chance to offer himself up as a rebound - but he couldn’t manage it. It has to be some mix of his disgust towards Blaine, and how exuberant Kurt had become from him simply backing up his idea to end it. 

Kurt needs a friend, and as Sebastian laughs with Chris at his customer of the month photo and waves at Burt on his way out, he realises he’s in a little too deep to ask anything more of him.

Chapter Text

Blaine <3
Hey babe! So… Breadstix tonight? I can get you some cheesecake…

Kurt stares at the text. He locks his screen, opens it again to look at the notification bar, and repeats three more times before he actually opens the conversation.

Is it against the laws of the universe to leave your own boyfriend on read, even if you’re seriously considering ending the relationship? Kurt worries his lower lip between his teeth, staring ineffectively again. It doesn’t count if he hasn’t closed it yet, right?

It was the first thing he saw when he woke up this morning, and with yesterday’s conversation with Sebastian weighing heavy on his mind, it’s hard to put together a response that doesn’t feel like a lie.

Blaine <3
Kurt? I know you can see this… your Snapchat status says you’re on your phone haha

Shit. Kurt almost forgot how savvy Blaine can be about these things. It’s been just under five minutes since he got the first message, but Blaine never likes to wait.

 

Blaine <3
if you can’t come that’s fine just don’t ignore me… I get that you’re always busy but that doesn’t just give you permission to ignore me. I’m your boyfriend.

Kurt
Hey, sorry, just finished sorting out my mess of a bedhead! Could I give you a ‘maybe’ for now on Breadstix? I’m a little under the weather… :(

His reply is a lie after all, but it also isn’t - his stomach is tying itself in knots as he waits for Blaine’s response, and the impending doom of change is a headache waiting to happen.

Blaine <3
totally! Just keep me updated, so i know when to book the reservation. Love you!

Kurt isn’t sure how he feels about that response. It sounds understanding, but there’s that expectation hidden just beneath it-- or maybe Kurt doesn’t have a right to complain. He’s not exactly being honest.

There are certain parts of that text that he can’t bring himself to return, because that lie feels cruel.

Kurt
<3

Blaine <3
<3

Kurt stares at the emoji, and all of a sudden it looks wrong. In a sudden flash of distaste he switches over to his contacts, and opens up Blaine’s information.

Blaine <3 becomes Blaine Anderson, and Kurt becomes less of a liar. It still makes something in his stomach feel like it’s burning, but he takes it with a wince and a silent hope that it’ll fade with time.

-

An hour or so later, Sebastian rocks up to HT&L with his roof down and his sunglasses on, playing his music at a volume only a truly confident man can turn the dial to.

Kurt, still feeling his phone like a lead weight in his pocket, approaches the side of the car, only to be stopped short of actually greeting Sebastian.

“Shots, shots, shots!” He bellows, thrusting a paper cup out towards him.

Kurt looks at the cup, and then back down at Sebastian’s grin. He can’t help the flush that must be adorning his face right now, a mix of “this guy is unfairly cute sometimes” and “oh my god if this idiot drove with alcohol in the cupholders” at the front of the mind.

“Dork, dork, dork!” He chants, but he takes the offering anyway. He gives the contents a sniff through the hole in the lid, and confirms that Sebastian isn’t that stupid. At least not yet. “Espresso?”

“We’re in for a hard day of manual and emotional labor… I figured we could use the hit.”

“You more than me,” says Kurt, thinking of the hours he’s spent this summer fixing cars and lifting boxes for his dad. Painting, at this point, sounds a bit like a break to him.

“As the great Troy Bolton said, we’re all in this together,” Sebastian counters, before tapping the lid of his coffee against Kurt’s. “Come on, bottoms up. I won’t even make the obvious joke.”

Kurt rolls his eyes, but raises the drink to his lips nonetheless. With one gulp, it’s gone, and he lowers the emptied container with a satisfied hum.

The look on Sebastian’s face is equal parts unexpected and priceless. When he lets out an indignant “BLEH!” Kurt all but loses it, laughing unabashedly right in his face.

“Good lord, how do people drink this on purpose?”

“It’s a delicious blend,” Kurt supplies, still recovering from the hilarious shock of it all. “You could have gotten it watered down with sugar like your usual order! I wouldn’t have been offended.”

“No,” Sebastian tries to pout, but the sound of Kurt’s laughter lingers too perfectly for it to stick. “If I’m tough enough for espresso, I’m tough enough for a whole day of menial tasks.”

“But you’re clearly not tough enough for espresso,” says Kurt, taking a step aside as the car door opens.

With that, Sebastian steps out of the car, and the pair walk into Hummel Tires & Lube together, set to the music of Kurt crowing at Sebastian’s inability to drink coffee that doesn’t taste like a milkshake and Sebastian’s weak, smiling defensiveness.

-

The first obstacle to the Great Paint and Break Up Strategy Meeting Extravaganza for Kurt and Sebastian is the way that, for some ungodly reason (that absolutely involved impressing Kurt), Sebastian wore nice clothes.

“Son,” says Burt, giving him an up-down look and trying to hold back laughter, “You understand that if you get paint on your Gucci-”

“It’s Balanciaga, actually, but continue.”

“On your Balance-cigar-- Whatever. .If you get paint on your nice clothes, my son will be upset with you? I got some ketchup on one of his… designer socks, whatever that means, and he nearly disowned me.”

“I still don’t know how you managed to spill it that far! It’s both impressive and exasperating,” Kurt huffs.

Even if Sebastian cannot imagine a son disowning Burt Hummel, of all possible dads, he nods, and looks to Kurt.

“Should I, um, borrow one of your jumpsuits?” he asks, heart beating a bit faster at the possibility. Would he be spending the afternoon wrapped up in the coveralls that hugged those biceps so tenderly day in, day out?

“All his others are in the wash. You can borrow one of mine, though,” says Burt with a shrug.

“I’ll warn you now,” says Kurt with a wry smile. “They will smell like Slim Jims and taxes, but I can make sure you get the ones that he hasn’t had a heart attack in.”

“A what?!” Sebastian yelps, but before he can get any sort of clarifying response, Kurt’s already inside rummaging around for an acceptable pair.

Less appealing, but Sebastian could try to find a way to romanticize it. Such are the ways of a man with a crush on his mechanic.

When Kurt emerges with his father’s spare jumpsuit, grinning from ear to ear, Sebastian figures it won’t be so hard to romanticize after all.

-

With that roadblock cleared, and the necessary tarps set up outside of HT&L, Kurt and Sebastian get to work, pouring and preparing paint to the tune of Sebastian’s playlist, which he insists on playing even when his car isn’t getting fixed.

“So, you’re dumping your boyfriend!” Sebastian blurts out as he lays down the first stroke of paint, with all the nuance of a children’s book. Kurt’s First Big Break-Up is the title, and he’d like to leave it on the shelf for a little while longer.

“Woah woah woah, slow down tiger,” said Kurt, a hint of reedy anxiety in his voice. “We need to build up to that one.”

Sebastian’s eyebrow quirks up at the nickname, but he plows on, figuring that questioning terms of endearment could only get him in more trouble. “That’s the point of this, right? A strategy meeting for the dump?”

“I feel like we can use more graceful terminology.”

“The big ‘He Hit It, It’s Time to Quit It’? Maybe we can go through a more old school route, like the ‘Drop the Load and Hit the Road’?” offers Sebastian.

Kurt’s eyes roll yet again, and he points his brush at Sebastian. “The whole concept of a strategy meeting is way too over the top for us to dive right into it! Where’s your subtlety?”

“I don’t know,” Sebastian smirks, and Kurt can sense the oncoming punchline, “every time I see one of your boyfriend’s outfits a little piece of my ability to be subtle dies.”

Kurt snorts, and then draws his lips together tightly, like he can retroactively take the sound back. After all, Blaine is still his boyfriend.

“See? The sooner you retire the horse, the sooner you can appreciate my zingers.”

Kurt holds back on admitting that he already appreciates Sebastian’s zingers a bit too much for convenience. It’s a flawed argument, but there’s a point to be made about the way Kurt knows he’s stalling; his intent is already declared, but the thought of following through is terrifying.

“Alright… I need a plan of action then. I think the most obvious question to start with is the method of delivery. I mean-- It’s not acceptable to dump somebody via text, is it? At least not after being together for a year… right?”

“I think it’s perfectly acceptable, and it has the potential to be a hysterical story later on. You can’t really use a one-liner to call it off in person, can you? All this painting gives us plenty of time to come up with the perfect message. Not to mention that the chance of him causing a scene in person is… pretty high.”

Even though Kurt knows from every conversation he’s had with his friends that breakup-via-text is considered a dick move, he’s being swayed. At least he can block Blaine if he starts being difficult, right?

“I see the appeal of a text, but I want us both to walk away from this with some dignity intact.”

Then, a voice breaks them out of their conversation, and Kurt’s immediate surprise at his dad being there is soon eclipsed by realizing that his dad had witnessed at least a part of the conversation.

“Kurt, kiddo, I don’t care if you send the boy a damn carrier pigeon-- but could you please get a move on with the whole ‘painting’ thing? I can send somebody else out if you two are too busy, uh…” Burt casts a knowing glance between the pair, and if it wouldn’t embarrass him further, Kurt would tell his father to knock it off. “...Planning.”

Burt walks off, leaving Kurt and Sebastian to their mutually mortified stares.

“Right! Yes-- He’s right,” Kurt manages after a beat, clearing his throat as he turns back to the wall. “Painting. We’re here to paint.” He dips his brush back into the bucket, and gets back to work. He can feel Sebastian’s eyes on him, but before too long he follows his movements. They paint in silence for what could either be a few minutes or a few seconds before Sebastian speaks up again.

“At least it’s not the most embarrassing time I’ve been walked in on by a parent,” Sebastian says.

Kurt can tell Sebastian’s trying to make him feel better with that anecdote, but it’s having the opposite effect. Not because it’s not entertaining, but because it puts forth a question he’s never thought about in depth before: just how many guys has Sebastian been involved with before? And why is that something that concerns him at all? He’s pretty sure that Sebastian isn’t taken, even if that absolutely doesn’t matter, but what if Sebastian has been going on dates? Or hooking up? Why does that make Kurt feel just a bit off?

“Burt never walked in on me and Blaine, um, doing anything, but Finn did once. It was awkward but so, so funny,” Kurt has a pause, wondering if this is a weird thing to share. He’s never told anyone else, having been sworn to silence by Finn and feeling uncomfortable talking about that part of his life with anyone else, but he figures that if anyone else would get it, it would be Sebastian. “Basically, he walks in, right? And me and Blaine are- I’m just going to say that it’s horizontal, basically, and for a moment I’d swear that Finn had seen a ghost. Like that screaming kid from Home Alone, minus the noise, that’s Finn’s face. And then he’s like- ‘I’m so sorry gays- GUYS. I’m sorry guys. It’s cool that you’re gays, though! Gay guys… yeah… Being gay and… making out,’ and then he did finger guns, and said that dinner would be ready in five minutes before running out. And me and Blaine- we- we’re frozen, right? Hands still on my ass, like a statue. But, yeah… that’s my, um, ‘getting walked in on’ story.”

Sebastian lets out a less enthusiastic laugh than he means to. Kurt is still taken, even if it’s on a very technical level, and even if he wasn’t, Sebastian knows it’s not his place to be weird about it. He came over to be a friend, or at least to provide Kurt with some vaguely helpful advice and the little nudge he needs, but now it seems his most selfish side is rearing its head.

As necessary as it is for the day’s agenda, thinking about Kurt getting it on with another guy just sucks. Especially when all he’s seen that guy do is stress Kurt out, or make him miserable.

There’s a long breadth of silence, and Sebastian can practically hear Kurt overthinking. That’s not good, he thinks, and so he decides that direct action is necessary.

He starts painting with renewed fervor, but not just for the sake of covering the walls. Words form with each stroke, and in Kurt’s confusion he stops what he’s doing to watch. By the time Sebastian steps back with a big proud smile, he’s put together a whole sentence that just barely makes sense.

“How’s this?” he asks, gesturing to the words written on the wall.

SRY BLAINE, U DON’T MAKE ME HAPPY + BAD KISSER :(

“Is that your... pitch for what I text Blaine?” Kurt asks, not sure if he should start laughing or screaming. “It’s… certainly a collection of words.”

Sebastian takes this as a challenge. He starts painting again, this time a little more concisely.

SOWWY BITCH!

This time it’s followed up with a... drawing, of sorts.

“...Is that a dick with four balls?” Kurt asks, because he can’t see it as anything else. Despite himself and the situation plaguing him, a smile is growing on his face.

“No! It’s a middle finger! The ultimate display of rage via text,” Sebastian replies, with the perfect amount of defensiveness to kickstart another laughing fit.

While Kurt, ever the connoisseur of class and grace, can’t imagine breaking up with his boyfriend of over a year with a text saying, in all caps, “sorry blaine u dont make me happy + bad kisser :( sowwy bitch” followed by a middle finger, he loves imagining that he would.

“If we’re going to be funny about this, I’m at least sending him off with proper grammar. That’s the decent thing to do,” Kurt decides, raising his own brush to the wall.

I think we should end it. I’ll be moving to another state and I don’t think either of us are ready for long distance.

“Counterpoint,” said Sebastian, before lifting his brush to the wall right below Kurt’s message.

2 OLD 2 FAKE ORGASMS. ITS OVR SOWWY NOT SOWWY

“I’m not ending an era with ‘sowwy,’ Sebastian!” Kurt insists, but he’s still laughing as he works on his next addition.

Sorry, you can no longer contact this user. If you’d like to inquire about this issue, please redirect your concerns to: my ass. Thank you.

Kurt bites his lip, looking at Sebastian as if he needs permission to laugh at his own joke. Sebastian gasps, high and melodramatic. “That is cold, Kurt! At least ‘sowwy’ cushions the blow!”

“Oh, come on! Baby-talk doesn’t cushion anything. You just want me to text him like he’s a toddler because you think he dresses like one!”

“Anybody with eyes thinks he dresses like one,” Sebastian objects, already working on his next masterpiece.

I REGRET 2 INFORM U THAT SOCIETEA HAS MOVED PAST THE NEED FOR KLAINE PLZ LOSE THIS NUMBER THNX

“You misspelled society-”

“It’s symbolic of you spilling the metaphorical tea,” says Sebastian, slow and philosophical like a professor.

“If that’s your idea of a metaphor, I’d rather just tell it like it is.”

Your meat game is simply not on point.

Sebastian splutters, his eyes wide as he looks between Kurt and his newest addition to the wall. “That’s how it is? Wow. Yeah, this break-up’s been a long time coming.” Sebastian resists the urge to bring up his own “meat game”, figuring that it’s at least a few days too soon.

They pass the next hour or so in a flurry of paintbrushes and snickering, trading blows against Blaine far too cheerfully considering one of them is still dating him. The wall grows closer to the end goal with each joke they crack, until Sebastian decides to be a freak about it.

I KNO IM DUMMY THICC SO U SHUD B ABLE 2 HEAR THE CLAP CLAP CLAP OF DEEZ CHEEKS OF ME WALKING AWAY FROM WH ERE U R BYE!!!

And, of course, it’s Kurt’s god-given responsibility to flick paint at him, saying “Shut UP! If my dad walks out here and sees that you think I’m ‘dummy thicc’, he will kick you out!” in between gasps of laughter.

Sebastian squeaks, recoiling from the splatter even though it all lands on the coveralls that are far too loose for him to feel any of it. “I won’t get kicked out for stating facts!” he declares, along with a paint war.

The paint from Sebastian’s brush hits his shoulder, but a little patch lands firmly on his neck, trickling lower. It’s enough to make him shiver, and to incite a playful rage. In the absence of Burt, Kurt decides that the only way to defend his honor is to flick even more paint at Sebastian, running his finger across the paint roller in earnest and tossing a splatter at Sebastian.

“Shut up about my ass you deviant!” Kurt yells, firing out weaponised blobs of paint with the best aim he can while shielding his face. Sebastian is doing exactly the same thing, and both of them are making a complete mess of themselves. At least Kurt can hope they’re getting some of it on the wall.

“First Amendment!” is all Sebastian shouts, before brandishing the paint brush like a dueling sword and swiping across Kurt’s sleeve. “My dad is a lawyer, so I know that!”

“You’re free to say whatever you want, and I’m free to tell you it’s awful!”

 

“And I’m free to do this,” yelps Sebastian as he sticks a dot of white paint on Kurt’s cheek, before backing away again.

Kurt reaches up to touch his cheek, mouth agape as he looks from the white smudge on his fingers to the culprit that put it there.

“Coward! You get back here!” He demands, chasing after Sebastian with enough determination to keep him from hearing the car rolling up nearby. In a rush of energy, athleticism and vengeance, with a hand coated in white paint, Kurt makes a running tackle, latching one arm around Sebastian’s shoulders and the other aiming for his hair, digging in and marking his hair with white as Sebastian rebalances. Within a few seconds, Kurt is in a lopsided piggy back ride on Sebastian, with one hand in his hair and the pair of them giggling so hard that the structure proves unstable.

It is in this position that Kurt hears the last voice he wanted to in that moment.

“Kurt?” Blaine asks, and in that initial burst of shock, Kurt can see himself through Blaine’s eyes. Breathless from laughter, tangled up with another man, the both of them covered in matching smears of paint and exuding the kind of joy he hasn’t shared with Blaine in months. Then, to top it all off, a literal mural of breakup texts behind them, and even if none of them have Blaine’s name on them, they might as well have his name, date of birth, and Social Security Number.

All Kurt can do is watch Blaine’s eyes as he starts reading the bitter words; every last shift in his expression is another stab of guilt.

Kurt doesn’t know when he climbs off of Sebastian, only that his feet are on the ground again and his breathlessness feels more like a crash than a high.

“Your meat game… Is simply not on point,” Blaine reads aloud, his voice broken and defeated.

Sebastian knows it isn’t his relationship to fix or destroy, but the tension is as unbearable as the heartbreak in Kurt’s eyes.

“That was me,” he lies, the desperate attempt to make things the tiniest bit easier for Kurt fully transparent. “It’s about… My butcher?”

Blaine doesn’t even acknowledge the statement, but with one venomous glance, Sebastian can tell he’s been noticed.

“With him?” Blaine spits, his jaw setting tight.

Kurt tries to straighten his posture, as if that will make him look any more dignified. “Sebastian’s become a good friend to me.”

“That’s what you’re calling it, now?” Blaine says, his voice mean, and he tosses a cruel glance to Sebastian before turning the full force of his anger onto Kurt again. “You told me you were under the weather!”

“I was, this morning!” Kurt tries, his voice cracking with his own shame. He feels it in full force that moment, embarrassed to the point of queasiness. “It wasn’t enough to blow off a full day of work, but--”

“But it was enough to blow off me, right?” Blaine interjects, his rage twisting into a cruel, vindictive smile - like he’s been proven right. “And don’t even get me started on your work, Kurt! Every time I’ve stopped by here for the past few weeks, you’ve been getting cozier and cozier with this guy who doesn’t even work here,” he jabs a finger in Sebastian’s direction, “and I’ve had enough of it!”

“I know it doesn’t look like it, with the writing and the... “ Sebastian looks down at his paint-smattered jumpsuit, resigned. “But it’s Kurt’s job to get this place painted today. Maybe if you come back when his shift--”

“This is pathetic. So, so pathetic, Sebastian, or whatever your name is,” Blaine sneers, scowling at Sebastian with an intensity that makes him feel a foot shorter. “Do you really think helping out with this shitty shop is going to make him like you?”

Kurt feels his blood run cold. There was always an inkling in the back of his mind that Blaine looked down on his family’s business, but it’s never been so blatant on the surface before. Defending that can come later though, because in the moment, he’s overwhelmed with a million different insecurities at once.

“There’s nothing going on between me and Sebastian,” Kurt says, his voice cold as ice.

Sebastian, watching on and feeling useless, tries to not let it sting.

“Oh really?” Blaine scoffs, “then why is he always here? Every time I want to give my boyfriend a romantic surprise, like I did today, you’re busy with him! Only this time I had to stop by your house first, because you lied about being well enough to be here!”

Sebastian fights the urge to say something about how Blaine needs to revise his understanding of a romantic surprise, and instead opts for stepping a bit closer to the wall, his eyes wide and darting between the sparring couple. He’s not the only one watching anymore either; the commotion seems to have drawn out the other mechanics who watch on with careful stares, ready to intervene the second Blaine crosses a more severe line. Burt, at the centre of them all, may as well be on fire with his fury, his arms crossed and his gaze murderous.

Kurt takes a deep breath and crosses his arms, just like his dad behind him, and Sebastian has the sudden confidence that Kurt can handle this one on his own.

“I’m breaking up with you,” says Kurt, his voice slow and dangerous. His eyes are blown wide and his fists are clenched.

Blaine is stunned into silence for all of five seconds before he insists on pushing his luck.

“I transferred schools for you, Kurt,” he begins, taking a step closer. In response, Kurt takes a corresponding step back. His words are quieter now, but all the more menacing for it. “I gave up that solo, made it a duet. I waited for you when you weren’t ready to take things further, I almost gave up Tony, and I’ve spent this whole summer dancing around your schedule, even though you’re the one that’s leaving at the end of it!”

Another step forward, another step back. The posse of angry mechanics has their hackles raised, and Sebastian can see two cups of iced coffee on the table that Kurt is backing up to, cups that Burt had brought out what feels like ages ago.

“I never asked you to transfer for me,” says Kurt, taking another step back. Sebastian can see the plan now, and as discreetly as he can, he raises a hand to halt the shop’s staff in their tracks. “And you don’t deserve a medal for not pressuring me into sex, Blaine, even though you did-”

“I was drunk, Kurt, you never forgave me-”

“No, and I’m not about to.”

Sebastian sneaks a glance to Burt, who’s gone from angry to murderous at the intimation. Sebastian has no idea what went down, and he doubts that Burt does either. He wonders, for a second, if either of them will ever hear that story.

Kurt’s back hits the wall, and in a split second Blaine goes from the most pristine one standing outside to a waterfall of cold brown liquid cascading over him. The iced coffee spills out over Blaine’s head, and all Sebastian can focus on is the way Kurt’s hand shakes around his white-knuckle grip on the cup.

Blaine’s recoil shudders through his whole body, his horror evident in his disgusted glance towards his stained shirt and the shift in his stance, stock-still with the shock of the ice.

Sebastian swears that he can see every emotion pass over Kurt’s face in the seconds it takes for him to speak: he rushes through horror, shock, anger, elation, regret, fear, and then finally acceptance.

“We’re over, Blaine,” Kurt says, with no more room for doubt. “This is it.”

“I don’t believe this,” Blaine sputters, looking up from his stained clothing to the crowd around them. He makes a dire mistake then, opting for his usual habit of trying to get as many of the nearby crowd as possible on his side. “Can you believe this?!”

Blaine only receives a gruff chorus of “yes” in response. Chris, the scrawniest of the mechanic bunch who lingers at the back, mutters “could be worse… I mean, there are people dying...”

When he doesn’t immediately move, Burt steps forward, and for a moment Sebastian swears he’s about to physically throw Blaine back to his car himself.

“You can go ahead and get the hell off my property now,” Burt says, less calculated than his son, but every bit as chilling in his anger. “If you’re going to struggle with that much longer, I’d be happy to show you out.”

With that, Blaine takes a step back. His eyes sweep his audience, and with one last huff, he turns around and walks to his car.

A strange, surreal silence passes over the group who remain, their faces a mixture of confusion and disbelieving of the confrontation they just witnessed.

Burt pats Kurt’s shoulder, firm and affectionate, before he ushers the rest of his staff inside.

“You always knew how to make it go out with a bang,” says Burt, his voice undeniably fond.

“Thanks, dad,” Kurt replies, leaning against him for a moment. Burt seems to sense a need to reassure his workers, and so he lets go with one more squeeze.

Once they’re alone again, Sebastian speaks up.

“To be fair, nobody with a car like that has good meat game.”

Kurt laughs, dry and quiet, before flashing Sebastian a watery smile. “My biggest regret is not using the phrase ‘meat game’ once in that breakup.”

Joking around lessens the sting somewhat, but there’s no denying the presence of pain. For every bit of Kurt that knows he’s done the right thing for himself, there’s another with regrets, offering up unhelpful memories of what it felt like to be in love with Blaine.

Burt steps out again, the picture of Caring Worried Dad™. “Do you need a breather?” he asks, looking towards Kurt. “I bet me and Sebastian over here could get some of it done while you, um… wash your face?”

Another laugh, this time a little more genuine. “Yeah, dad,” he nods, before turning to Sebastian. “Do you mind? I--” he pauses to wipe quickly at his eyes. “I won’t be too long. Just… Yeah.”

“Go ahead. I want to cover up my bad spelling,” says Sebastian. He feels more than he sees Burt’s curious eyes on him as Kurt nods and walks away.

Sebastian averts his gaze from Burt to the paint bucket, a brush handle still sticking out from it. “He could probably use your company,” he suggests, hoping he’s not overstepping. “I’ll keep going out here.”

Burt’s nodding when Sebastian looks up again, and although he’s understandably still perturbed by everything he’s just heard, the offer reassures him. There’s a deep kindness beneath the lines of worry on his face, and as much as Sebastian wants the best for Kurt, he realises he wants that for his family almost as much.

“Yeah… I’ll do that,” Burt huffs, managing a half-smile at Sebastian before he trudges inside.

-

When Kurt walks back out, all his tears cried out and his soul comforted by a high quality dad hug, he can’t help the wariness that creeps up on him. While he’s pretty sure Sebastian is better than that, what if he walked away once he was left alone? It’s not like he has any obligation to Kurt, or the Hummels by extension… if anything, he’s already doing them a big favor, and weathered a very unnecessary discomfort by being caught up in Hurricane Blaine.

Half-convinced that Sebastian has already left, Kurt emerges from the garage ready to finish the job. To his surprise, however, it’s already finished, and Sebastian certainly isn’t gone.

Sebastian’s coveralls are so thoroughly covered in eggshell paint that he looks like he’s hatching from them, and he’s beaming with the sort of pride that only comes from a job (mostly) well-done.

“I, uh, spilled one of the buckets while I was going for the high spots,” he explains sheepishly, as if it could make Kurt think any less of him in that moment.

Kurt is in awe, and he has to fight his own speechlessness that comes as instinct. “Thank you,” is all he can say, hoping it doesn’t sound as choked and genuine to Sebastian as it does to his own ears.

“You’re welcome. I nailed it,” Sebastian beams, looking so content that the feeling is contagious. Kurt’s chest aches with it, in a completely different way than it had been aching moments earlier. It’s not something he can contain, and so he moves closer, knowing he needs to do something to give that sensation some closure.

“Can I hug you?” Kurt asks, because at this point it’s all he feels like he knows how to say.

“Definitely,” Sebastian answers instantly, and for a few moments as Kurt is walking closer he swears he can hear his own heartbeat, until Kurt’s arms wrap around him and his mind becomes a simple oh.

It feels right. It’s warm, and good, and everything a hug should be - but it’s also something more. Sebastian’s arms tighten just so, and it makes Kurt feel more wanted than he has in months. It’s not an intense, burning, passionate moment, but a slow simmer. Something that it’s most likely too soon to feel. It’s grounding, simple, and Sebastian doesn’t know how he’s gone so long without it.

“You missed a spot,” Kurt says, muffled against the warm press of Sebastian’s shoulder, even though he can’t even see the wall from where his head rests.

“What? Where?!” Sebastian pulls back enough to snap his head round to search for it, and what the fuck, it’s not fair for anything he does to be that endearing.

Kurt stifles a laugh, dragging his finger quickly through a blob of paint on Sebastian’s back - how he even managed to get it there, Kurt can’t begin to guess. “Here,” he answers calmly, before wiping that very finger over the tip of Sebastian’s nose.

It takes a superhuman restraint for Sebastian to not say “fuck it” and ruin the friendship right there with something stupid like a kiss when their eyes meet, and the scariest thought that comes with that is a strong conviction that he isn’t going to mess up with this one.

Instead, he gasps, the sound dramatic and sharp, but not enough to overshadow the peals of laughter coming from Kurt. He drops his hands from Kurt’s waist, where they had fallen during the hug, and takes a step back as his face morphs into exaggerated offense.

“I have never worked a day in my life, and on my very first, you make a fool of me?” Sebastian sounds so very deadly serious, and yet all Kurt can do is keep laughing, almost wrecking his composure completely. “You know what? Fine… You win this time. But I will get you back for this betrayal, and it’ll be just when you least expect it. The French have made surprise and art, and you, Kurt, will know that better than anyone else when I’m through with you, and that is a promise, Kurt Hummel.”

There’s silence, just for a second, and then once again, Kurt breaks out into a laughing fit. All Sebastian can do is smile, feeling more accomplished with every second that Kurt keeps smiling.

“You need to get changed,” Kurt manages once he’s mostly caught his breath, before looking down at himself. “...And so do I, now that I’ve hugged you.”

“I don’t know, I feel like I’m kind of rocking this reverse canvas look,” says Sebastian, looking down at his coveralls.

“It’s incredibly powerful, but I refuse to be the one cleaning out your car’s beautiful seats after you drive home like that.”

“Wait… I thought the point of coveralls was that I could just climb out and be clean,” said Sebastian, and his smile turned to soft horror. “Are you saying that my Balenciaga has paint on it now?”

“I’m saying that you need to climb out of them inside, because they’re still my dads, and the quicker they get that paint soaked off the better,” Kurt replies, amazed that he’s not the one who’s most concerned about clothing for once. While most of it can be chalked up to Sebastian’s lack of knowledge about coveralls physics and common sense, it’s still quite refreshing.

“Right,” Sebastian blinks, remembering all at once that they weren’t his own clothes to sully. “Your dad… That’ll be a fun talk,” he half-jokes, flashing Kurt a smile before he makes his way inside.

Burt approaches when he’s halfway out of the coveralls, trying desperately to keep the wet paint off of both himself and the surfaces around him. They make startled eye contact for a moment - Sebastian is worried the reaction will be enough to get him banned from HT&L for life, whereas Burt hasn’t seen so much paint on a single person in his life before this moment.

“Hey. I’m sorry I got these… Kind of messy,” Sebastian winces, well aware that kind of doesn’t even begin to cover it.

“Jesus, son, how bad is your aim?” Burt asks, his head tilting as he tries to comprehend how there was enough paint left to coat the walls. “...Just stick it in the laundry. I’ll take it from there.”

“Are you sure? This is probably going to be hell to clean up…”

“Trust me, kiddo,” Burt gives him a dismissive wave and a warm smile. “You’ve done plenty for us today. That reminds me,” he rummages in his pockets, pulling out an envelope. “I’m not about to put you on my payroll, but I won’t skimp out on an honest day’s work either.”

Sebastian stares at the offering, unblinking as he tries to process it. Some would say it’s just an ethical gesture, but it means a little more to him than that. The sentiment, that is - not the money itself. He doesn’t exactly know how to say politely that he is, in fact, stacked.

“Sir… you know that- I- you don’t have to, really, and this isn’t one of those things where culturally I need to refuse a gift at least once before I’ll accept it,” he rambles.

Burt nods slowly, thinking it over. “...Alright, a compromise: I’ll take this off your next bill,” he pauses, clearly trying to fight off his knowing smile. “Something tells me you’ll be back with more car trouble by the end of the week.”

Sebastian’s eyes are wide, feeling a bit like he’s been caught red-handed, even though he knows he’s never been exactly subtle about how often he finds new reasons to stop by HT&L. After a moment, he nods. “My car is very testy,” he says.

“Hey, I’m not about to complain about a loyal customer,” Burt chuckles, stretching an arm out as Sebastian finishes maneuvering out of the coveralls.

“What can I say… I am gunning for Customer of the Month.”

-

When Sebastian gets back outside, he finds Kurt packing away the last of their equipment with fresh tear tracks over his cheeks. Wearing a silent, lopsided smile, he follows Sebastian over to his car trying to figure out why seeing him off is only making him sadder.

“Let me guess- next time you’re over here, it’ll be because of paint on your seats?” Kurt asks, and the hint of hopefulness in his voice isn’t lost on Sebastian.

“I can always just throw you a Bachelor Party before then,” says Sebastian, and Kurt’s eyes widen as if he’s been caught missing him before he’s actually left.

“A-- Bachelor party?” Kurt raises a brow, eager to focus on the topic at hand. “As in, the kind guys have before they get married? ...Don’t go cracking cruel jokes on me now…”

“No!” Sebastian rectifies quickly, “I mean, a party to celebrate your newfound status as a bachelor! I can, umm, invite some gay guys! Sluts, even,” says Sebastian, before biting back the words, visibly mortified.

“I don’t think that’ll be necessary, but I do appreciate the offer. I don’t think I need… Sluts,” Kurt laughs, the sound soft and oddly comforting. “Maybe… If some of our mutual Warbler friends want to catch up, that could be fun?”

“So you do want sluts at your party,” Sebastian quips, and his grin only widens as Kurt playfully smacks his arm.

”I was a member of the Warblers and I promise- unless things have changed a lot in the past year, that is one of the least slutty clubs an all boys school could offer. The most action they’re getting is banging the gavel.“

Sebastian snorts, reluctantly opening his car door. “Well, I’ll be sure to tell Wes you said that. You’ll get an earful about it on… Saturday night?” He suggests.

“Saturday night,” Kurt nods - he would get a day or so to mope, and then a night to lift his spirits with his friends - some old, some new. “I’ll see you then. And-- Sebastian?”

“Hm?”

Sebastian looks up from the rumbling of his engine, smiling so easily up at Kurt that his heart hurts all over again.

“...Thanks.”