The thing that scared Sebastian as Kurt explained the events from the night before was how still everyone in the club was. He had never seen them so silent or so scared. But there they were, crowded into Sam’s living room and quiet as ghosts. He figured that’s what they were, ghosts of the happy teenagers they once had been with fear and threats shrinking them down from the brilliant dreamers they once had been. But now they could be free, if only they risked the chance to be caught. They could never have the future they once wished for, show choir superstars and famous on Broadway or in the record stores, but they could be free if they wanted.
He was ready to take that chance, to break free from the system and the fake future that it held for him. He never really wanted the half-life he would have been forced to live in America, only truly living when he was with Kurt and a second class citizen the rest of the time. Now was the time to be brave and leave it all behind. He had said his good byes to Kurt last night, with his body if not verbally. He could let Kurt go and be free to love, just the way he should have been. Sebastian just hoped he could find a separate corner of the world before Kurt fell in love again because he just didn’t think he could watch it.
Kurt finished up the explanation. “So we only have a few hours to get ready. We should leave by about four. Sebastian and I packed last night so we can help you. But tonight is our only chance.” He took a breath and glanced around the room. “So who is going to come with us?”
Santana piped up. “Do we even have a choice? Maybe they do.” She gestured towards the bulk of the group. “But I don’t think Rachel and I have much choice.”
Rachel nodded in agreement. “I think that we have to go or else they’ll keep punishing the rest of the group.”
“We don’t even know what they’ll do,” Puck snapped. “Screw waiting to be punished. I’ll go right now, clothing be damned.”
Kurt rolled his eyes. “For my sake, please bring at least one change of clothing. We don’t know how long it will be before we can get new stuff.” Puck snorted but didn’t respond.
Brittany stood and shook her head. “I can’t just leave like that.”
Santana jerked her head to look at her. “Excuse me?” Her voice was soft and pained. “Didn’t you hear him? I won’t be with Rachel anymore. We can be together Brittany.”
“I can’t. I don’t want to leave my parents behind. And I don’t think it’s wrong. I like the system.” She flicked her eyes around the room as she explained. “I know you all think I’m dumb for just following the system like this, like I’m too stupid to get why you all want something different. But I like it. I don’t have to worry about who I’m going to marry. I don’t have to think about being tricked into a relationship I don’t want, or having my heart broken by someone I love cheating on me. I was happy with Mike because I know he’s a great guy. And even if I hadn’t know him before, I still would have been happy with who they picked because I trust it. Why not let someone else choose for me? They have my interests, goals, and everything. What’s wrong with trusting them?”
She stepped closer to Santana and kissed her briefly on the cheek. “I still love you but I’m not going to leave. I’m sorry.”
Brittany walked to the door and Sebastian shot his hand out to stop her. “You can’t-” he started to warn, but she cut him off.
“I won’t tell anyone about where you’re going. I’m not that mean.” She gave the room one last look, lingering on Santana’s watery eyes. “Good luck.”
Brittany was gone.
Kurt swallowed and turned to the rest of the group. Sam and Mercedes were whispering furiously in the kitchen while the rest of the group stared at the floor. Rachel had her arms wrapped around Santana’s waist and was whispering softly to her, occasionally bringing up a hand to wipe away her tears.
Finn spoke up next. “I think I’m going to stay.”
“What?” Kurt gasped at him.
“No, just listen,” Finn pleaded. “She had a point. Not about the system because that’s crazy. But about her parents. Kurt, I can’t ditch Mom and Burt like that. I mean, Burt would be cool; he’d totally respect how you have to leave. But I don’t want to leave my mom behind. She’s not as tough as you two are. And someone has to tell your dad why you just left. As much as he trusts you, he’s going to be super messed up over this.”
Kurt twisted his fingers. “I know,” he whispered and Sebastian couldn’t help the hand that reached out to rub his shoulder, boundaries be damned. “But I still have to leave.”
“I totally get that dude. Which is what I’ll tell him when I see him tonight.”
Kurt argued, “But I don’t want him to know. They’ll hurt him or punish him.”
“Yeah, but nothing they could do would hurt as much as him not knowing where you are or if you’re safe. What if he comes looking for you?”
Kurt’s mouth snapped shut. Finn moved next to him, clapping him lightly on the shoulder. “I’ll make sure he’s safe. No matter what. We’re family Kurt, remember?”
Sebastian’s hand fell off his shoulder as Kurt was tugged into a hug by the taller boy. As he pulled back, Kurt was muttering instructions. “Don’t let him order Chinese when Carol’s working late and no bacon in the house, no matter how much you want it too. And check the garage for mayo packets; he likes to go to Wendy’s for lunch even though he knows he shouldn’t.”
“Relax Kurt. I’ll take care of him. And so will Mom. Nurse, remember?”
Kurt gave a short laugh. “Ok. I trust you. Mostly.”
Finn moved away and dropped on the couch. He reached out with his foot to tap Artie’s wheel. “How about you?”
Artie sighed. “Man, do I want to come. But I think it would be better for the world in general if I stayed. I like the idea of those rebels. I always have. But I was scared of contacting them. I still want to help. I won’t ever be matched because of the chair, so I think I want to stay and help from the inside. You always need more people on the inside, right?” He smiled hopefully. “I just want to feel like I’m doing something important. So you go and tell them that if they need anything, someone to get info or to help with a plan, I’ll be here to help. Give them my information.”
Sebastian regarded him seriously. “You know the inside man is always the one in the most danger, right?”
Artie shrugged. “I know. But he’s also the most valuable. I could use being valuable.”
“You’re worth everything to us,” Rachel assured him.
“I know.” He winked at her. “But now even more people can benefit from the awesome.”
Kurt turned to Sam and Mercedes, who had just walked out from the kitchen. “Are you staying or going?”
“Going,” Mercedes stated, folding her arms resolutely. “I’m not raising a kid here if I can help it.”
“But,” Sam interjected, “we’re going to get married again when we get there.” He ducked his head and ran his fingers through his hair. “We never told anyone, but we actually put in a request to the system to be matched. We didn’t tell anyone because we didn’t want to make a big deal out of it if it didn’t happen. But we picked this.”
“I chose him before,” Mercedes added. “I’ll choose him again.”
Santana glared at them, a little calmer than before. “I always wondered about the age different between you two. Sam shouldn’t have been matched until next year.”
“Yeah, usually,” Mercedes agreed. “But we went in for DNA tests for compatibility and everything. I don’t even know all of the tests they gave us. I think we only got it because we had a high chance of pregnancy.”
“And just look at you now,” Santana laughed.
Kurt huffed a laugh, but held his hands up. “Ok, calm down. It’s almost noon now and we have to leave in four hours. Do you know what to bring?”
Puck spoke up. “Of course. Socks and underwear for Mexican babes to slather all over me.”
Sebastian rolled his eyes as Santana reached out a hand to slap him.
In the end it only took them two hours to pack up all five of them, with Kurt and Sebastian driving people home so they could back and return to Sam and Mercedes’ home. Kurt and Finn shared a long hug before he surrendered Finn to Rachel. She came into the house ten minutes later with tear tracks on her face and a determined glint in her eyes. Artie left too, giving the girls and Kurt hugs and a dual handshake hug to the guys. Sebastian was shocked when Artie open ed his arms for a hug for him as well.
“It’s not cause I’m gay right? Gays and girls get hugs?”
Artie rolled his eyes. “No, it’s because we were never really bros like I was with the guys. But we were friends, so shut up your snark and give me a hug good bye.”
Sebastian smiled at him and moved in close. He had never really had friends and hadn’t realized just how much the club meant to him. He had sworn they were only Kurt’s friends. But it was with a shock that he realized they were his friends as well. He would miss Artie and Finn and even Brittany for all her deluded visions.
They killed the final two hours with a movie and then they were finally on their way. Sam and Mercedes drove their own car with Puck sprawled in the backseat. Rachel drove her car with Santana in the front and Kurt and Sebastian crowded in the back. The tiny trunk hadn’t been big enough so Kurt was stuck in the middle with a duffle bag next to him and Sebastian’s arm slung casually around him. It had taken almost twenty minutes to convince Kurt that he couldn’t bring his vehicle, that they had driven it too many times to the same place. It was too big of a chance that someone would recognize it. So they dropped the keys in an envelope with Sam’d address for his father.
They weren’t too late for the drive, and arrived at the center just after 8:30. It was deserted and cold as they climbed out, stretching as they did.
Santana glanced around. “So where are they?”
Kurt shrugged. “No clue. But we should put our stuff in the building.” He grabbed his bag and hauled it to the visitor’s center, unlocked just as promised. They had just dropped all of their bags when they heard the crunch of tires outside.
“Must be them,” Rachel whispered.
They all stepped out of the building and froze on the spot.
It wasn’t the Warblers.
An officer moved forward from the collection of two dozen, flanked by ten cars, and guns drawn. “You’re under arrest for attempted treason against the state. You have the right to remain silent…”
They were caught.