"Coming!" Sebastian wiped his greasy hands on the shop towel as he moved to the front door where there was an insistent knocking. "Hang on!" The knocking slowed, and he decided that it must not be the UPS guy with his manuscripts from the office.
Kurt stood on the doorstep panting. He'd tried the handle, like a thousand times before, but Mrs. Snively must have locked it on accident. He glanced over his shoulder, hands starting to shake when the teenage voices got louder behind him. He started bouncing on his feet in the doorway, knocking louder. "C'mon... hurry up..." He was muttering under his breath, panting and starting to sweat. Soon they'd turn the corner and see him, and if he wasn't out of sight, he'd be toast. Finally the door swung open, but where Mrs. Snively should have been, there was a tall, well built twenty something man, grease stained and messy, wiping his hands clean. Kurt was confused. He double checked the number on the door, but he'd knocked on the right one.
"Can I help you?" The kid at the door looked like he was about to have a heart attack or something, and then he was glancing over his shoulder nervously.
"Uh... Is Mrs. Snively home? I usually come sit in her apartment and do my homework after school, and if I'm not in before the guys get here, well, it won't be pretty."
Sebastian was genuinely shocked. "Um... Come on in. Mrs. Snively is my Great Aunt, and she's actually out of town, but you can do your homework or whatever if you want. My name is Sebastian, and I'll be staying here for a while for work while she's gone."
Kurt was nervous, but with a quick glance at the man, then over his shoulder, he decided that the man was the safer appearing of his two options, after all, he knew that the one behind him would lead to bruises and humiliation, so he was willing to take his chances with the stranger. "I'm Kurt. I live down the hall, in unit 7, with my Dad, but he's at his tire shop working until late normally, and the last time the boys from school caught me when nobody was around... let's just say that it was ugly. So Mrs. Snively said that I should come over and she'd hide me. I can figure something out for tomorrow, or whatever, until she gets back I guess, but thanks for letting me in today. I'll be quiet, I promise." Kurt was breathing fast, and a solid hand on his shoulder stopped him. He looked up to meet the stranger's eyes.
"Hey, deep breath, kid. It's fine. You can hang out here. I'll be working from the apartment most of the time, so you can keep coming by so long as you don't mind me being here too. Right now I'm working on the leaky faucet, but normally it'll just be me, a manuscript, and a red pen."
Kurt followed him down the hall, noting the bare feet and threadbare jeans. "Okay. That sounds okay, but I'll probably have to tell my Dad. Why did Mrs. S leave? I mean, she was here last week, and she didn't say anything about going anywhere."
Sebastian turned, smiling and reaching for a chunk of hardware, wiping it clean while he answered. "Did she ever mention Francie?"
"Sure. Her granddaughter. She said that she lived in Florida, right?"
"Right. Well, Francie just had a baby, and asked if Aunt Dot could come and stay with them for a few weeks, and I just happened to be coming into town for business, and rather than getting a hotel or something, she asked me to stay here while she's gone. No big deal, but she's excited for the new baby. Woman has always been magic with children."
Kurt smiled, leaning against the doorjamb, not realizing until Sebastian grinned again that he'd been staring. He shook himself, moving to the table. "I've never seen her with any kids."
"Yeah, well, all her kids and grandkids moved away, and she's pretty determined to stay in this place, since this is where she and Uncle Roy lived together until he passed, so... But you should see her put an infant to sleep. Woman's seriously gotta be working witchcraft or something." Sebastian reached for the sink, screwing the bits into place, making sure the replacement washers were intact. "So why do those guys hassle you?"
Kurt blushed, looking down at his feet, hoping that the Sebastian fellow didn't look up. "It's nothing. I just... They like to shake down the resident f-"
Sebastian's head jerked up. "They what?"
Kurt glanced up, but then scuffed his shoe on the tile. "It's nothing. They just don't like something about me, and they make sure I know it. Look, maybe if I go in through the fire escape they won't notice me coming in, and I won't need to hang out here. It's fine if you want me to go."
Sebastian tilted his head to the side, genuine confusion coloring his features. "Why would I want that?"
Kurt bit the inside of his cheek for a moment to stop the tears that threatened in a kneejerk reaction. "I would understand if you don't want me around. Mrs. S is pretty awesome about letting me chill here, but if you want your privacy, especially from the tragic little gay boy, I'd understand."
Sebastian emptied his hands, moving back to where Kurt stood in the doorway, looking ready to flee. He put a hand to his shoulder, glancing to make sure he wasn't going to wipe him with a grimy hand before gripping the curve of young adolescent bone and muscle. "It's fine, Kurt. You're not the only one who got beaten up for being gay in high school. Not to make light of it, but you can survive it. I did."
Kurt was expecting to be let down gently, then was stunned by Sebastian's words. He turned shocked eyes up to him. "You- I mean... Really?"
Sebastian smiled, faint smile lines spreading from his eyes. "Yeah." With a pat to the shoulder, he moved back to the sink. "So you gonna do that homework?"
Kurt shook himself and moved to the kitchen table, opening his bookbag and getting his homework out. He smiled at Sebastian softly, feeling as if he might have just made a friend. It felt good.