Chapter 1: One
"Tonight, tonight. There's only you tonight!" A pause, then, "Your turn, Blaine."
"Kurt, I really don't feel like it," said Blaine, shifting awkwardly in the passenger seat of Kurt's Navigator.
"Come on, Blaine," said Kurt as he checked his blind spot over his shoulder and changed lanes. "You're Tony now! The directors might have a problem if you don't actually like the song. Not to mention that Rachel might murder you in your sleep - actually, she might do that anyway," he added with a wry glance at Blaine. "Now sing with me! What you are, what you do, what you saaay... Go, Tony."
"I do like the song. That's why I don't want to sing it too much right now; I don't want to get sick of it before we even start rehearsing," Blaine answered evenly.
"Killjoy," Kurt teased, rolling his eyes with a fond smile pulling at his lips. He sighed melodramatically and continued Tonight, now humming it instead of singing the lyrics. They didn't talk again for several minutes, though the silence wasn't uncomfortable. Blaine leant his head back onto the car's ridiculously comfortable headrest and closed his eyes to the sound of Kurt's soft humming.
He couldn't bear to sing anything from West Side Story right now. Not while he knew that Kurt was still down about the casting. Kurt had tried to hide his disappointment when they checked the list, but Blaine could tell that it had still upset him. It wasn't that Blaine thought that Kurt wasn't happy for him - he let his fingers gently trace the petals of a rose in the bouquet Kurt had presented him with - he did. But he hadn't masked his sadness completely, even as he'd enclosed Blaine in a fierce congratulatory hug. Rachel's sudden decision to run against Kurt for president can't have helped, either, and Blaine didn't want to flaunt his success whilst Kurt was still smarting from betrayal.
Kurt moved on from Tonight and started America. Blaine smiled, eyes still closed.
"I think this is my favourite," he murmured. In response Kurt's humming increased in volume. Santana was going to do a great job as Anita, Blaine could tell. And Mike Chang as Riff! Of course everyone had known he was a fantastic dancer, but he had a wonderful voice on him. Blaine and Kurt had hardly been able to believe their ears when they snuck in to watch Mike's audition.
Blaine was looking forward to this production so much. He hadn't been involved in the drama program at Dalton; auditioning for the Warblers had been intimidating enough after his transfer and he hadn't wanted to spread himself too thin. He'd dabbled in musicals as a freshman at his previous high school, but McKinley's West Side Story would be his first lead role.
He was brought out of his musings when the comforting rumble of the Navigator's engine stopped. He opened his eyes, not having even noticed that the car was stationary. Blinking, he realised that they were outside his house. Kurt was smirking at him, eyebrow raised in amusement.
"Welcome back, Sleepyhead," Kurt said.
"I wazn' asleep," Blaine mumbled, tongue strangely heavy in his mouth. Kurt fixed him with a level stare.
"Blaine, you lay there for almost a minute before I turned off the engine. You were asleep," he said.
"Oh," said Blaine in surprise. He gave a nonchalant shrug, "Oops?" he said cheekily, collecting his things from the floor at his feet and opening the door.
"Good to know I'm interesting enough to keep your attention," Kurt groused playfully.
"Well, I didn't want to say anything..." Blaine joked, leaping out of the huge car to escape Kurt's hand as he aimed a poke at Blaine's ticklish side in retaliation.
"I know where you live, Blaine Anderson! I know where you keep your gel!"
Blaine laughed, one hand unconsciously making its way to his hair as if to make sure it was still there. "And if anything happens to it, I know where your Julie Andrews CD/DVD collection is, so I'd be very careful what sort of threats you fling around, Mister Hummel!" he retorted. Kurt let out a scandalised gasp, and they laughed. Blaine closed the door and walked around to Kurt's side, pursing his lips against the window expectantly for his goodbye kiss. Kurt lowered the window and obliged, threading his fingers through Blaine's hair as much as he could.
"One day you'll learn that less is more," Kurt whispered when they parted, stroking Blaine's hair. He softened his complaint with a smile and a kiss to Blaine's nose, which Blaine found utterly adorable. He grinned back at Kurt and leaned against the car door.
"You can come inside if you want," he said, gesturing toward his house with his head. "No-one's home. You can help me pick out the right vase for these," he held up the bouquet of roses, burying his nose in one and looking up at Kurt over the top of them. Kurt pouted.
"Augh, you have no idea how much I'd rather hang out with you than help Finn with his chemistry homework," Kurt whined, flinging himself back in his seat. "Unfortunately I promised him I would be free tonight to go over kinetic theory. Sorry."
Blaine shrugged. "S'okay," he said.
"But we should do something on Saturday to make up for it," Kurt said quickly with a smile, knowing full well that they probably would have decided to do something that weekend regardless. "I don't know what, though."
"Yeah, okay. Do you want to come over and we can decide from there?" Blaine asked.
"Sure. But will your parents mind?" Kurt asked, concerned. He had been over a few times but never run into them. He didn't want to interrupt when Blaine seemed to get so little family time as it is. Blaine dispelled his unease with an unruffled hand wave.
"Don't worry; no-one will be home."
"Sounds good, then."
"Great!" Blaine beamed. "It's a date!"
Kurt made the flustered face he did when he didn't want to show just how pleased he was. "I suppose it is," he remarked. Blaine just grinned.
"I'll see you tomorrow at school, then - or probably tonight online, let's be honest," Blaine added with a laugh. IM and Skype were quickly becoming two of Blaine's favourite programs.
"Probably," Kurt agreed with a self-deprecating eye-roll. "See you then." He turned the key in the ignition and the Navigator rumbled to life.
"Bye. And thanks again for the flowers! They're beautiful." Blaine said. They were - and they smelled just as good as they looked. He put them up to his face again and inhaled. Kurt turned in his seat to look at him properly, propping his arm on the windowsill.
"You're welcome," Kurt said with a pleased smile. "I'm so proud of you, Tony. Love you," he said in a rush, barely audible over the sound of the idling engine. Blaine took Kurt's hand from where it lay slightly out the window. Lifting it to his lips he placed a kiss to the back of it.
"I love you," he answered. He squeezed Kurt's hand before releasing it and finally stepping back to give Kurt room to drive away. "See ya."
"Bye Blaine." And with that, Kurt pulled away from the curb and was gone. Blaine watched the car drive away for a few moments before heading towards the house.
With two storeys plus basement and attic, expansive back and front yards, and twice as many bedrooms as needed, his house was pointlessly large. It was a nice house, though. Blaine could appreciate the imitation classical period columns which held up the porch in front of the house's limestone façade, enjoyed the aesthetic of the neatly trimmed lawn and well-tended roses. However the shear size of the thing always felt like too much to Blaine. Still, it was home, and Blaine was glad to be out of school. He inserted the key in the front door and turned it with less force than it usually needed.
It was unlocked.
He opened the door, noted that the security alarm was off, and called out, "I'm home! Tegan?"
He could have sworn Tegan had said she'd be working until late that night. He was glad that Kurt hadn't come in now. That might've been awkward. Kurt, meet my nanny. She looks after me because my mom's dead and sometimes Dad's away for years at a time. Wanna go up to my room and make out? He'd mentioned Tegan by name before, of course, around Kurt and with the Warblers.
He'd never lied to Kurt, per se - just allowed him to make his own assumptions about his family. Kurt thought his parents were divorced and that Tegan was his stepmother - probably because Blaine had never let on that his mother had passed away, even when Kurt talked about his own mom. It was partially true: his parents hadn't been together when Blaine's mom died, though it wasn't after a divorce since they'd never been married in the first place. They'd split up when he was young though and Blaine hardly remembered it.
"Tegan? Are you here?" Putting his bag at the foot of the stairs to take up to his room later, he made his way to the kitchen.
Blaine didn't regret keeping Kurt in the dark. When they'd first met, Kurt had needed someone to be strong for him and with whom he could empathise. Sure, it was one thing they had in common, but Blaine didn't trust his ability to stay level-headed when it came to talking about that. And truthfully, Blaine didn't want dead mothers to be an subject he bonded over with anyone.
Once Kurt had found himself, gained more confidence and he and Blaine had reached that point where Blaine knew he could be vulnerable with him, there never seemed to be a good time to bring it up. Plus if Blaine talked about his mom, he'd get into a conversation about his father, something he had absolutely no intention of doing if he had a choice. I don't see him much; he lives in Wales where he works. I don't really know what he does but he pays my private school fees and put me up in a huge house which I'm sure he thinks makes up for never being around!
So he lived with Tegan, who his dad paid to look after him while he was gone, and who wasn't answering him.
"Tegan?" This was getting weird. The door had been unlocked when he'd got home, something Tegan never let happen if she was leaving the house. She was oddly obsessive about that sort of thing; always checking the back seat before getting into a car, ensuring that the security alarm was on when no-one was home - she'd been some sort of security specialist when she worked in Wales with his dad. She didn't seem to be around, though, which was troubling.
Footsteps echoing from the back of the house made Blaine start. That wasn't Tegan! They were too heavy, too measured and conspicuous - too intimidating. Tegan walked like she'd been a ninja in a past life. He was alarmed, now. There was someone in his house! Whoever it was must've heard Blaine calling, so it was too late to pretend he wasn't there. Looking around the kitchen uneasily, he picked up a frying pan and tested its weight.
He crossed the kitchen to stand by the other door, putting the island between him and the one he'd entered through. He silently turned the door handle and pushed it open so that he could run if he needed to, then he turned back to see who was approaching. At the last second he pulled a carving knife from its holder with his free hand for good measure, though he lowered it out of view. Adrenaline rushed through his body, delivered by his frantically pounding heart, beating in double time to the footsteps that were almost at the door.
Blaine tightened his grip on the handle of the frying pan, prepared to throw it if the need arose. He wasn't stupid enough to engage an intruder in close combat, but a stainless steel projectile would be a handy distraction if he had to run. Movement at the door made his breath catch in his throat. He unconsciously stepped back into the wall.
"Blaine." Stunned, Blaine dropped his knife at the sound of his name. It slowly dawned on him who was standing there in the entrance of his kitchen. He wore the same blue shirt and braces combination as always, the same RAF coat swung behind, despite summer only just having reached its end. Same clothes, same hair, same smile, same everything. Blaine's voice, which had abandoned him since he heard the footsteps, made itself known again as he chocked out a shocked,
He debated throwing the pan anyway.
"Dad." Blaine's tongue couldn't seem to form words past this one syllable. To even say that Jack Harkness had been absolutely the last person he'd been expecting to turn the corner would be an understatement. Yet here he was in Blaine's kitchen, looking at the frying pan in Blaine's hand with a raised eyebrow.
"Planning a fry-up?" he asked, nodding towards it. Blaine put it down on the centre island in embarrassment, pursing his lips.
"I thought you were a burglar! How was I supposed to know?" he said defensively. He fidgeted for a moment before picking the knife up from where it had clattered to the floor. He put it back in its holder, unable to think of what to say next. "What are you doing here?" he finally blurted.
Jack smiled bemusedly. "What, no hug?" he quipped.
"I haven't seen you in over two years, Dad," Blaine answered coldly. Jack sighed.
"I know, Blaine. I'm s-" Blaine didn't let him finish.
"And it's only little under two years since we last spoke on the phone," he forced through gritted teeth, his shock now giving way to fury. "You said you might be 'out of touch for a while.' Two years!" The last two words gained a shrillness by which at any other time he'd be embarrassed were he not so enraged. "Two years with no way to contact you. We didn't know what had happened. I thought-" he cut himself off, ducking his head in an attempt to get his breathing under control. It wouldn't do to turn into a hysterical mess. He was getting more emotional than this man deserved. "I thought you were dead," he whispered to the floor. He heard his father sigh again before those heavy confident footsteps made their way toward him. Jack stopped a few feet from him, seemingly unsure of what to do next. Hesitantly, he reached out an arm and gripped Blaine's shoulder in what Blaine assumed was supposed to be a comforting gesture.
"Hey, don't worry, Soldier. That's not going to happen," Jack said assuredly. Blaine shifted again in embarrassment; his father hadn't called him that since he was seven. "Not for a while, at least," Jack added. "Promise."
"I don't know how you can still say that and expect me to believe you," Blaine mumbled. He used to think Jack just didn't feel like explaining his work to him when he said it was safer not knowing. He scuffed the toe of his sneaker against the tiled floor. "You go AWOL for years at a time and don't even pick up a phone… What else am I supposed to think?"
As Jack put his other arm around him, drawing him against his chest, a familiar notion entered Blaine's thoughts: of course, there was another option. It was possible that his father just didn't want to call. Maybe he was having a ball in Wales, had the capabilities to contact Blaine but just couldn't be bothered to do so. After all, why would he feel the need to talk to a son he spent as much time as possible away from? For the most part Blaine hadn't seen Jack for more than a few days here and there since he was five. Since then, their longest time together had been three summers before, just before his freshman year started. Jack had taken a whole month off and spent the entirety of it with Blaine.
Of course, that was the summer Blaine had to open his big, fat mouth and come out, resulting in a strained nod, several weeks of "bonding time" over a car and a casual, You can like girls too y'know, Blaine.
That had been the last time Blaine had talked to Jack in person. Maybe it wasn't so surprising that he'd stayed away so long.
"So… public school, huh?" Jack asked casually, voice resonating through Blaine's chest. Of course his father knew about that. He wriggled out of his grasp and went to the fridge. Maybe if he just went through the motions of his after school routine he could pretend that his dad wasn't here. Grabbing the milk, Blaine faced away from Jack and poured himself a glass, trying to keep his voice even.
"Tegan tell you?" he asked as he walked into the adjoining dining room, scooping up the roses from the kitchen island on the way. It figured Jack would speak with Tegan about the mundanity of school first before deigning to let Blaine know he was alive. Or maybe she'd contacted him somehow? Was this why Jack was back - because he transferred to McKinley?
"I haven't talked to her yet - the prospective student literature gave me an inkling," said Jack, following him. He nodded at the pile of forms and booklets Blaine had left on the dinner table. Blaine made a non-committal noise and opened the china cabinet to look for an appropriate vase. "I thought you were liking it at Dalton," Jack continued. "From the way you raved about it on the phone, it seemed perfect. It sounded a lot better than Riverton, at least. The records say you only transferred three weeks ago. What happened?" He leant against the high back of one of the dining chairs, concerned.
"Nothing bad. I guess I just needed a change," Blaine said with a shrug, by now used to Jack's unusually fast ability to hunt down personal information and pry his unwelcome nose into Blaine's business.
He selected a vase with a wide, square base that spiralled into a cylindrical neck. It was unique from the others; sharp where the others swelled, slim where they broadened. Kurt would approve. He put the roses in the vase and went to the kitchen sink to fill it with water, leaving his dad behind. When he returned he put the arrangement on the dining table as a centrepiece.
"Change can be good," said Jack. He took a seat at the table and motioned for Blaine to do the same. Blaine waved it off, too antsy to stay still. Jack looked at the roses and observed casually, "Nice. I like the colours. They from someone special?" Blaine couldn't take this cool politeness anymore.
"Why did you come back?" Blaine asked softly, fiddling with the bouquet even though the reds and yellows were already perfectly arranged.
"What? Blaine…" Jack sounded confused at the reception he was receiving.
"Just- Things have just started going well for me again, Dad," Blaine said, trying to put his feelings into words.
"That's… That's good, though."
"I'm back on track again. Finally - after Mom and Riverton and the dance fiasco. I feel like I've finally found my feet again, and honestly I really don't need this right now." He knew he was working himself up, but he couldn't stop the flood of irritation towards Jack.
"This?" asked Jack, though judging by the expression on his face he knew the answer.
"You. Being here. I know how this goes: you decide you have time for me and come visit, then everyone's lives grind to a halt in order to accommodate you." He shook his head. "I'm not going to let you interrupt mine just because your schedule's opened up a convenient time to slot in being a father."
When Blaine was a boy, he'd somehow got it into his head that his daddy never got any older. In his mind, his father's hair never changed and his face stayed smooth and unlined - not like other kids' daddies. As Blaine grew up a bit, he acknowledged the ridiculousness of this notion and realised that Jack just had the good fortune to age well. Looking at Jack's face now, though, Blaine could see how much older his father had gotten since he'd last seen him; there were a few lines around his eyes and next to his mouth that hadn't been there before, but most of all he just looked weary.
Tegan often described Jack as the liveliest man on the planet, but the shell standing before Blaine – burnt out and pained – was undeserving of any such classification. Guilt started to creep uneasily into his stomach. Nevertheless, he had to stand up for himself. Too long had he let his life be dictated by the whims of others - from bullies to his father to the gutless administration at Riverton. For once he needed to make his dad understand that his constant absence wasn't okay. Courage.
"I'm sorry, Dad. I don't mean to hurt your feelings or anything - but you can't just waltz back into my life after two years and act like you just ducked out to the store for ten minutes."
Thank you for reading.
Chapter 3: Three
Whilst the majority of this story is from Blaine's perspective, I wanted to devote a little time to Jack's side of the story.
SPOILERS: In addition to previously stated spoilers, there is a tiny reference to the Doctor Who episode The End of Time.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Jack had been away too long. Away from his family, from friends, from Earth. Of course, when Jack first met the Doctor he'd already been an expert in running from his problems. It wasn't much effort or concern to move from place to place (to time to time) as a Time Agent with no family ties. After the 456 disaster, he'd spent six months trying to make things right but ultimately knew he couldn't stay on Earth anymore. He had to get away from what he'd done and a cold fusion freighter had been just what he needed.
Before he'd contacted Gwen to track down his vortex manipulator, Jack gave his youngest son a call. He warned Blaine that he might not be able to call again for a while, and not to worry if he didn't make contact. Blaine had been elated to hear from him; he explained to Jack that he'd just transferred schools and was loving it so far. Jack had been so caught up in the sound of his son's voice as he chattered about his life (Steven loved telling Uncle Jack all about his day) that he'd not realised that he should have been asking questions straight away. It wasn't until the phone had been finally passed to Tegan that he'd even thought to ask why Blaine needed to change schools. She told him that he'd become a target for bullies and had been severely beaten after a dance. He was still bruised and hurt from his injuries and his date had been hospitalised.
It made leaving that much harder, but Jack just couldn't bear to stay on the planet another second and he ran like the coward he was. He hitchhiked for a while, drifting through various spaceports before he met a woman who knew a sentient tree who knew a guy on Algol 7 who specialised in time travel technology. Jack had known that getting his vortex manipulator repaired would be a bad idea, but he'd done it anyway. With the manipulator and teleport functions fixed, he set out to locate the 456. He made sure to stay in Earth's future; as tempting as it was to prevent their visits to Earth, Jack had been a Time Agent long enough to recognise a fixed event, and the 456's second visit was not something he'd be able to change without catastrophic consequences.
It took him the better part of eighty years to track down the species. He hadn't got a great look at the things, after all, and didn't even have a name for them to begin with. He learnt that the race as a whole was relatively peaceful. The children operation was run by desperate junkies and the dealers who controlled them. Jack was relieved to learn that not only was the trade a capital criminal offence and embarrassment to the species, but that as far as anyone could tell, only one ship still remained out in the universe holding planets at ransom for their kids.
He eventually found it. They had been busy, and not just with Earth. They'd hit several planets and kidnapped thousands of children of different species. It seemed that there hadn't been any demands filled of the sort of magnitude they'd asked of Earth, however. Jack wondered whether the 456 just hadn't tried asking for millions since then, or whether those planets had fought back as Earth eventually had. Jack spent days on their ship as a stowaway conducting reconnaissance. What he saw sickened him.
Every child on board was hooked up to one of those creatures, a shell of a tiny body. With a jolt of disgust, Jack even saw a few human orphans, recognising the Holly Tree Lodge uniform from 1965. It wasn't so surprising, he supposed; the 465 always said that the sacrifices lived forever.
After examining one of the creatures and the barely conscious child attached to it, Jack came to the realisation that he wouldn't be able to disconnect any children from their users without killing them. Each of the 456 was hooked up directly to a child's brainstem and any attempt to sever that connection would shut off all brain activity. Despairingly, Jack wondered briefly whether the 456 had been telling the truth when they said that they felt no pain. He decided that it didn't matter. Even if these children went hundreds of years without ageing or dying, they weren't living.
Living forever was overrated. He destroyed the ship and everything inside.
Afterwards, familiar needles of self-doubt pricked at him. Had he done the right thing? Was this how he avenged Ianto's death? Steven's? By letting even more children die? He jumped back in time again to just under two years after he left Earth. Nostalgia, he supposed. A way to be closer to the planet he'd called home for so long without physically being anywhere near. He drowned his sorrows for weeks in a nondescript space station pub, knocking back as many hypervodkas as he could manage - and a man could manage quite a few when dying didn't slow him down. He was in a maudlin mood, and the note passed to him by the barkeeper, reading, "His name is Alonso" had served as a welcome distraction.
Alonso Frame had been good for him. Once he'd gotten past Jack's "psychic powers" he was surprisingly easygoing. He had a nice body, plenty of stamina and smiled like he had a secret. Sometimes he reminded Jack of Ianto. They spent two days fucking until the maintenance check on Alonso's ship was completed. As they headed their separate ways Alonso handed him his wave number, just in case Jack was ever in the neighbourhood, as his ship regularly stopped in at the station. Jack smiled and thanked him, saying that he'd keep it in mind.
Alonso's answering grin almost knocked him over with memories of almost a century ago – Alonso's private smile was much like Ianto's, but his toothy grin was entirely Blaine. Blaine, the son he'd left alone for so long. With a start, Jack realised that he hadn't thought of him for a long time – years, even. He was overcome with shame. He'd been so obsessed with revenge and his own grief towards Ianto and Alice and Steven that he'd effectively forgotten that he had another child ("Don't forget me." "Never could.")
The last time he'd spoken to Blaine, he hadn't been able to get off the phone fast enough - especially when Blaine started to excitedly recount how a few other boys in his class had started speaking in unison with the elementary students. He'd killed his grandson and his daughter hated him and he'd been too self-obsessed to appreciate the enthusiastic, loving, breathing boy who just wanted to talk to his dad.
He keyed the coordinates into his vortex manipulator and jumped to Earth. He needed to see his son.
Blaine's mother Iska was borne to Filipino parents who immigrated to the UK when she was a baby. She grew up in York, where her intelligence became immediately apparent to her teachers. She excelled at school, breezed through her GCSEs and was a military surgeon in no time at all. She was recruited by Torchwood in 1993 when their previous medic was killed by a Krillitane. Jack was attracted to her immediately. They'd slept together off and on for years until she fell pregnant in 1995 and their no-strings sex arrangement had a big problem. Alex had been livid.
Only Tegan's resignation had prevented him from firing and retconning Iska immediately. Tegan, then thirty-two years old, had been at Torchwood as a field agent and security expert for four years and was ready to get out of the system. They were able to time it so that her retirement coincided with Iska's due date, and she became the perfect nanny when Blaine was born.
Intentional resignation was a rare occurrence in Torchwood - operatives tended to go crazy, turn rogue or die before they could officially quit - but there were procedures set in place for when someone had had enough. If an agent left out of anger, fear, stress, or conflict with other members, they were retconned instantly. If there were no hard feelings, they had the option to keep their memories if they consented to a memory trigger. The trigger prevented an ex-operative from divulging information about Torchwood accidentally and wiped their memory clean in a manner similar to retcon in the event of mind tampering, torture or conscious betrayal. It allowed Torchwood to keep useful operatives around for consultancy purposes or in the event of a global emergency. Jack could think of no-one better to look after his child.
They fell into a routine of sorts - at least as much of a routine one can have when working for Torchwood. Tegan would arrive at Iska's house in the mornings (or whenever Iska was called in to Torchwood suddenly) and look after Blaine during the day until he was old enough for day care. Jack and Iska hadn't ever been serious about each other when they were sleeping together, but decided to make an effort to give Blaine some stability. It was decided that Jack would still live at the Hub in case the rift played up, but he spent as much time as he could with Blaine. He'd learned his lesson with Alice. He and Iska officially ended things between them when Blaine was young though, and try as he might, Jack didn't see Blaine as often as he'd have liked.
Then the new millennium rolled around and Alex murdered every employee at Torchwood.
Jack would never forget stumbling from body to body, Alex's blood still drying on his face, praying to a God he didn't believe in that the next person he found might still be breathing. He found Iska in the med bay. From the looks of things she'd been at her desk, probably hunched over the microscope when she'd been shot. The bullet hadn't killed her instantly, though; she'd managed to crawl to the supply cupboards, blood marking her journey around the autopsy table, but it seemed she'd bled out before she could get to the bandages.
It wasn't until later that he'd seen the search Alex had been running through the mainframe. It churned out the details of every living former Torchwood employee in existence and their families. His gut clenched at the sight of Lucia, Alice and Steven's names on a piece of paper Alex had printed. The computer had gone through their witness protection files and was displaying them for all to see. There was a red circle around Lucia's name with "London" and "heart disease class III - 10yrs max" written above in Alex's precise handwriting.
There were more sheets of paper detailing the families of Jack's now-deceased colleagues. Their tech expert Danny (dead in the conference room) had an ex-wife and two children living in Belfast. Tegan's file outlined her family and current address, and the one on Jack documented his entire career at Torchwood, including his children (cross-referenced to other employees when necessary). Alex had certainly been busy while Jack had been out tracking down his 'millennium bug.' It became clear to Jack that Alex had had more "mercy killings" planned before Jack had interrupted his pause for the New Year's countdown.
Jack panicked. He wiped his file and put in calls to every ex-employee he could find urging them to relocate. Who knew what Alex had already done with the information he'd dug up? Most refused. Lucia Moretti, for example, was in her sixties and wasn't going to be ordered around by Jack Harkness and certainly wasn't going to pull up stakes in her condition.
Finally, Jack made arrangements to move Blaine and Tegan to the US. Tegan hadn't been thrilled with the idea, but when Jack told her in no uncertain terms that Blaine would be going – with or without her – she'd grudgingly agreed to join him. Not for the first time, Jack thanked whatever force in the universe that that decided to send him such a fiercely loyal woman to whom he could trust something as precious as his son.
So he'd shipped them off to Ohio and recruited four new agents and tried to start Torchwood anew. After two years, all of his recruits bar Suzie were dead and he'd only managed to visit Blaine four times for a couple of days apiece. They spoke on the phone every now and then, but it was hardly the same. As the years passed, he and Blaine became more and more distant. Blaine visited Cardiff during the summer between his fifth and sixth grade but they still hadn't been able to spend much time together due to Jack's work. He was still very carefully keeping Torchwood a secret from his son whilst at the same time hiding Blaine's existence from his crew.
There hadn't been much opportunity for father-son bonding. Sure, there'd been a few days here and there spent shopping or sightseeing together, but aside from the usual rift shenanigans and the bizarre "ghost" appearances, Torchwood One collapsed and Jack's team had been the ones to pick up the pieces (Jack had been very interested in the reports of a blue wooden box and Blaine's holiday had been the least of his concern). The visit had to be cut short, and in the end Blaine returned home more despondent than when he'd left.
So it was really no wonder that Blaine was frustrated, was it? Whenever Jack visited, Blaine set aside weeks for the opportunity to spend time with him - yet when Blaine visited Jack, he was brushed to the side and virtually ignored. It had been so long since Jack was a teenager, but he still remembered how it felt to walk into a room and have his mother stare right through him as if he weren't even there. His mother's indifference had made him feel more alone than its catalyst of his father's death and brother's disappearance.
Looking at Blaine now, Jack realised that he barely knew the young man standing before him. Despite his vow that things could be different than with Alice, history seemed to have repeated itself regardless.
I hope you've enjoyed reading about Jack's activities and motivations. Let me know what you think!
Chapter 4: Four
What interested me in the original prompt was the challenge of sustaining a significant misunderstanding between two characters over an extended period of time. I was drawn to the idea of them having two entirely different conversations at once.
The content of the next couple of chapters is an exercise in misunderstanding and how to communicate this to the reader, the success of which is entirely open to debate!
So to do this I decided to switch back and forth between POVs. I feel it’s usually clear when it changes but please let me know if it is confusing.
"Blaine-" Jack started, then paused, unsure of how to continue. He wanted to reach out and grab his son around the shoulders and squeeze, as if it could make up for so many years of neglect. Blaine had picked up the milk he'd poured himself and was talking long sips, a handy excuse not to look at his father. Jack tried again, "Blaine, I know I haven't been around…" Blaine let out a huff of air into his glass in response and turned away even further. "No, listen. I haven't done right by you. I know that, Blaine. I blinked and you… you grew up. I'm so sorry."
Blaine tightened his grip on glass in his hand and resisted the urge to throw it at the wall or do something equally melodramatic. If nothing else, his time at Dalton had certainly improved his self-restraint. For years he'd waited to hear his dad apologise for abandoning him, for some sort of acknowledgement that his actions - or inaction, as the case may be - had left their mark. However now that it had finally come it felt like too little, too late, and the words rang flat. He was almost embarrassed that Jack, always so fucking observant all the time, could tell just how much his absence had affected him. Blaine shrugged a shoulder.
"You didn't miss much," he replied nonchalantly, though still didn't make eye contact. "The world doesn't end because you don't show up, Dad." He tried inserting a bit of teenage bravado into his voice and an eye-roll for good measure, but the gesture felt transparent even to him. He hated it.
The world doesn't end because you don't show up, Dad.
How could Jack respond to that?
"Actually son, sometimes it kinda does," was the response his old team would've expected. They'd scoff and roll their eyes. Owen would tell him very loudly exactly where he could shove his overinflated ego. Kinky, Jack would say with a wink. Sounds like my kind of night, maybe second date material. He hadn’t thought of Owen in a while. He gritted his teeth.
The world doesn't end because you don't show up, Dad.
How could he also respond?
"No, but it almost ends when I do show up." How close had Cardiff been to complete ruin when Gray came to town? He’d thought about the devastation Hart and Gray had caused thousands of times, and every death and potential death caused by them lead back to Jack. How many situations over the years had been exacerbated by his mere presence?
Draining his glass, Blaine let out another soft sigh; once again his father had nothing to say to him. He was conflicted - that much was obvious - but Jack's speechlessness was another familiar aspect to their relationship and Blaine was tired of it.
"I appreciate the effort," he said, passing Jack to wash his glass in the kitchen sink. "But I'm fine, really."
"Three schools in two years doesn't sound like 'fine' to me," Jack shot back, lips a thin line of worry. This time he did approach Blaine, placing a hand on his son's shoulder and gently turning him to face him. "I know I wasn't there for you when you were attacked before, Blaine. I wasn't in a very good place myself at the time. I know it's not an excuse-"
"I already told you, I didn't switch to this school because of bullying," Blaine muttered in irritation. Didn't his father listen? He took a step back out of his father's grasp, but Jack just moved forward with him.
"I know, but I want you to know that… that if anything like that happens again, I am here for you. And I'm not going anywhere." Jack put his other arm around Blaine in a hug and closed the gap between them.
"Don't say stuff like that. It's not fair when you leave," Blaine said, making a half-hearted attempt to move away again. Jack held fast.
"I know. I'm sorry. But I mean it. I want to stick around for as long as I can."
"How long will that be?" Blaine asked, unable to keep the derision out of his voice completely.
Jack bit his lip. How long would it take for him to be drawn back into the fight? On one hand, Earth had lasted two years without him – and it wasn't like hostile aliens took breaks just because Jack Harkness was indisposed. UNIT was still around, along with various other government organisations. Obviously someone had picked up the slack in Cardiff after Torchwood Three's dissolution. Still, it was easy enough to say that he had quit for good, but an entirely different matter to ignore a global emergency should one arise. He'd kept so much from Blaine, but he couldn't lie to him about this.
"Honestly, I don't know," Jack said into Blaine's hair. "It might be a few months. It might be over a year. It might be longer than that - I hope so." He felt his son sigh into his coat; he knew probably wasn't completely satisfied with his answer, but it was the best that he could give.
"I hope so too." The reply was almost too soft to hear, but Jack caught it. He tightened his grip and rested his chin on the top of Blaine's head. Blaine was letting him hug him for the moment and Jack was going to make the most of it. He'd already learnt so much about the man his boy was becoming. Now Jack noted how much Blaine had grown since he'd last seen him. He wasn't tall by most male standards, of course, but compared to his height the summer before his freshman year, he may as well have turned into a giant from his growth spurt. His shoulders had broadened significantly, and his arms now carried some definite muscle mass that was somewhat unexpected; Blaine had always seemed more interested in music and reading than sports or weightlifting. God, Jack had missed so much. He loosened his hold slightly before Blaine started to get fidgety and brought a hand up to his son's hair. He brushed a few strands back against the gel, watching in amusement as they immediately sprung back into place.
"This is new," he commented, trying to keep his tone free of judgement. He didn't succeed, it seemed, as Blaine immediately let out a groan of frustration.
"Not you too!" he grumbled, slapping Jack's hands away from his hair. "Why is everyone so obsessed with how I do my own hair? You're as bad as Kur-" the word stopped short, denied air as Blaine's posture stiffened in Jack's arms. Then Blaine turned and left the kitchen.
"What? Bad as who? Blaine!" Jack asked as he followed. Blaine didn't stop in the dining room this time, though; instead carrying on up the stairs, headed toward his bedroom. "Blaine, talk to me. Is someone giving you a hard time?"
"No," came the short reply from Blaine as he walked into his room. He turned left to sit at his desk with his back to the door. Jack followed, however refrained from crossing the threshold. He leant against the doorway and surveyed the room. A lot had changed since Jack had last seen it. The walls were now wallpapered in a dark green pattern instead of the previous sky blue paint. The beige carpet had been pulled up to reveal the floorboards underneath and a rug lay at the foot of the bed.
The smaller differences were what interested Jack, though. There weren't any posters on the walls like there had been when he was last in town, but a picture demonstrating fencing positions and artworks of people playing polo. Next to the bed rested a notebook and pen. Was it a diary? Maybe a dream journal or lyric book? Jack couldn't tell. On a set of drawers were trophies for singing and polo and fencing, and clothes and books scattered here and there – however the room was surprisingly tidy for a teenage boy. Jack wondered whether that was Dalton's influence or just Tegan's.
"Wanna tell me what's going on?" he asked. Something definitely had his son spooked.
"Nothing," Blaine answered, fussing with some papers on his desk. "But I was given a lot of homework today so…" He gestured at the papers purposefully, the dismissal obvious. Jack didn't feel like playing Blaine’s game.
"You left your bag downstairs. Hard to do your homework if it's in another part of the house, isn’t it?" Blaine clenched his fists, the urge to slam them on the desk overwhelming as he turned to face Jack again. Clearly his father wasn't going to let him get out of the conversation with ease.
"I'm fine, Dad! And even if I wasn't, I can handle myself."
"I know you can," Jack placated. "But I'm your dad, y'know? It's kinda my job to worry about you." Blaine made another slight exhalation, which Jack was now recognising as his version of a scoffing. Pfft! "I know I haven't always shown it-"
"You don't have to explain yourself to me," his son snapped, before the frustration disappeared again behind a mask of indifference. Blaine didn't know why he was so angry again, just that he wanted to scream and rage and throw things like a child in a tantrum. He took a deep breath to try to calm himself down. "Your job is important. I get it. All I'm saying is that a phone call might have been nice." Not that Blaine knew what the job was - only that it required absolute secrecy and that back in Cardiff Jack carried his Webley revolver around at all times. UK gun laws were stricter than in the US, so Blaine figured that in a country where most police officers didn't even carry guns it had to be a fairly big deal.
"I know I haven't always shown it," Jack repeated, moving towards him. "And I know you're angry, but I'm trying here. I can't change the past," - Not for something like this - "But I'm trying to make things right. Give me a chance. Please." He stepped closer and tentatively placed his hand on his son's shoulder.
Blaine stared up at his father. Seated like this, it was hard not to feel like a little kid again. When he was younger, it'd seemed that nobody could be as tall as his dad. Jack was larger than life and Blaine had thought the world of him. He knew even then that his dad was an important guy from how others interacted with him. Blaine used to amuse himself by imagining that his dad was some kind of superhero, though it had been a long time since Blaine felt that way. As time went on the admiration had turned into resentment as Jack put aside less and less time for him, mixing with worry when he disappeared altogether. If he were honest with himself, after almost two years and no contact of any kind Blaine was missing Jack something fierce.
He just wanted his dad back.
Jack was still standing over him, waiting for some sort of sign. "What do you say?" he asked quietly. "Can we start over?" Blaine looked down, blinking back the sting in his eyes. He let out a shaky breath and nodded.
"I'd like to try," he whispered. His father's arms were around his shoulders again, and this time Blaine stood and returned the hug, arms slowly encircling Jack's torso. "Stay. Please stay," he pleaded, closing his eyes against the reality of his dad's usual visiting habits.
"As long as I can," Jack promised, wishing that he could commit to more.
They stayed like that for several more moments. Jack rubbed comforting circles into his back like he used to when he still lived in Wales and his mother was alive. Blaine could get used to this, he decided; he and his father had probably hugged more in the last half hour than they had in the last six years.
"So," Jack began quietly, the rumble of his voice vibrating through his chest against Blaine's cheek, "Are you as hungry as I am?" Blaine let out a surprised laugh at the non-sequitur. It was a welcome tension breaker and Blaine nodded even though in truth he was too emotionally drained to tell.
"Come on," Jack said, releasing his grip and turning around towards the door. "What time's Tegan home? We could get started on dinner - hey, who's this?" He stepped away and crossed the room to Blaine's dresser. He picked up the photo frame Blaine kept in front of his mirror.
It was the black and white photograph Kurt had used for his "understated and elegant" campaign poster. Blaine had downloaded the picture from Kurt's Facebook page when it was still his profile picture, cropped out the words and framed it. When Kurt had seen it sitting on his dresser last week, he'd gotten flustered and questioned whether it really matched the décor. Despite Kurt’s effort to hide it though, Blaine knew that he was pleased by the way his eyes would periodically flick back to the picture and he'd duck his head to conceal a smile.
Given the artsy greyscale of the photo, Jack was prepared to bet that perhaps it was in lieu of the posters absent from Blaine's room. Maybe it was a celebrity crush whose picture Blaine had cut from a newspaper or magazine. It certainly had a stylised, magazine cover photo shoot air about it and the young man was undeniably good looking. Jack held it up and met his son's eyes in the mirror with a grin, not above teasing him if this was the case.
Blaine didn't look embarrassed. Though from his guarded body language and the conflicted look on his face he was obviously uncomfortable. Not quite sure what he'd done to spoil their progress, Jack kept the smile on his face and turned to face him with a questioning, "Hmm?" raising his eyebrows in an attempt to keep the mood light.
Blaine took a steadying breath and met his father's gaze dead on. "He's my boyfriend," he said shortly.
Jack blinked, then stared at the photo. "You're dating him?" he asked, not quite able to keep the surprise out of his tone. Seriously, the guy in the picture looked like a model, all sharp lines and flawless, possibly airbrushed skin - not to mention the fiercehot stare. Of course Blaine was attractive in his own right, was charming and likeable – nothing like those 51st Century pheromones to get you what you wanted - but damn. Trust Blaine to find possibly one of the best-looking boys in the state to be his boyfriend!
When Blaine didn't respond he tore his eyes from the picture and looked back up at him, but Blaine's expression had closed off completely. His eyes were hard and his jaw set in a grim line.
It appeared that once again Jack had said the wrong thing.
Blaine crossed the room and snatched the frame out of Jack's hands. "Yes, I'm dating him," he said shortly. Even after all these years – after the awkward coming out and after the shit was kicked out of him for being gay – his father was still so incredulous that he was dating a guy? No, Blaine decided; at this stage the forced denial was really just a way to pretend that Blaine was the perfectly normal, straight son he obviously wanted.
Jack held his hands up in surrender when the photo was taken away. The sudden change in Blaine's attitude was baffling. Blaine must have been offended by Jack's tone after all. Jack wanted to kick himself. He hadn't meant to imply that Blaine wasn't worthy of an attractive boyfriend.
"He's cute," Jack said, hoping that the compliment would put Blaine's vexation to rest. According to the deepening furrow in Blaine's brow however, it did quite the opposite.
"Aw, look at the little lovebirds, boys!"
"Leave us alone."
"You faggots seemed pretty cosy in there, did your mommies teach you how to slow dance?"
"M-my dad will be here any minute to pick us up. You guys better-"
"Better what? We just wanna talk to you! Hold them."
"Hey, let- Stop it! Get off him!”
"Check it out; Anderson's trying to protect his widdle boyfriend.”
“N’aw, how cute!"
The patronising epithet was the last straw. Did Jack think that Blaine didn't know what he actually meant? How dare his father talk about Kurt like that? Kurt hated being treated like a child at the best of times, so Blaine found himself enraged on his behalf. He took the photo to the table beside his bed and set it down far away from Jack. He bit his lip to keep it from trembling.
He just didn't understand; his dad talked about making things right and fixing the mistakes of the past, yet Blaine's orientation was still a source of disbelief and mocking. What made Blaine sick to his stomach was that he wanted his dad back so badly that he was prepared to look past it. Perhaps it was naive to think it, but maybe if they spent more time together they'd be able to work through the issue of Blaine's sexuality together. Right now though he was just too angry and upset to think straight, let alone discuss anything rationally. Defending himself might result in tears, which was too mortifying to contemplate. He took a deep breath and busied himself with the papers on his desk again.
"I really do have homework, Dad. I think… I think you should go now. Please."
Jack didn't know what had happened. Minutes ago they were hugging and vowing to work things out, and now he was getting the cold shoulder again. He considered the request. Maybe giving Blaine some space was a good idea; clearly Jack's return had been overwhelming. Blaine probably needed some time to process things. Jack nodded to himself. They could talk about it all in the morning. Without a word, he turned and left the room, shutting the door firmly behind him.
Chapter 5: Five
Warning: This chapter contains non-consensual sexual propositioning.
"… And that you're sober enough to remember it the next day!" Blaine was so disoriented - moments ago he'd been pressed up against his boyfriend, body loose and enjoying a lovely buzz, the thrill of being impulsive (for once in his life) thrumming under his skin - and now Kurt was upset and shouting and Blaine didn't know what had happened.
"Why are you yelling at me?"
"Because I've never felt less like being intimate with someone, and either you can't tell or you just don't care." Kurt's agitation was catching, and Blaine felt himself getting riled too. So Kurt thought he knew Blaine's feelings better than Blaine did, himself, did he? Kurt seemed to be gearing up for an argument, but all at once Blaine just felt so tired. He was not in the mood to squabble in the parking lot of a not-so-scandalous gay bar, plus he didn't want to say anything he'd regret. He pushed out of the car completely, not looking at Kurt as he passed.
Kurt made a sharp noise, calling after him, "Where are you going?" he seemed so upset, but Blaine could not deal with him at the moment. He hadn't even wanted to go to the stupid bar in the first place and now Kurt was angry that he'd enjoyed himself after all? That he'd stepped out of his comfort zone and liked it?
"I'm sorry if I'm trying to be spontaneous and fun," Blaine snapped, raising his arms up in mock surrender. Kurt's look of distress and confusion made him pause for a moment. His annoyance didn't disappear completely, though, and he did not want to spend a tense car trip home comprised of snipping at each other. He put his hands on his hips as all of the fight drained out of him. "I think I'm just gonna walk home," he said in defeat. So what if they'd taken Blaine's car - Kurt had seemed perfectly content to drive it a few minutes ago with Blaine lying in the back. He could take it to Blaine's house where he'd left his Navigator and Blaine could get home by himself. He turned again and walked out of the parking lot, ignoring Kurt's dismayed cry.
He got as far as the next block before he had to lean into a trashcan outside of a closed convenience store to puke. His stomach was lurching something fierce - the alcohol was catching up to him. That was all. He took a few steps away and slid down the shopfront wall, trying to clear his head. He spat a few times to get the acidic taste out of his mouth, but it was no use. God, how had things gotten so messed up? And how was he going to get home? He had a vague memory of how he'd gotten to the bar, but Kurt had been giving the directions and the details weren't clear enough for his fuzzy mind to backtrack. He undid another button of his shirt and slipped his bow tie out from where had been resting undone under his collar for most of the night. He put his head in his hands and massaged his temples for a moment, too queasy to move.
The sound of glass smashing and raucous laughter brought him back to the present. It spooked him a bit, a little too reminiscent of the night of the Sadie Hawkins dance. He couldn't see the source of the noise, but decided that he really shouldn't be hanging around alone at this hour. He fumbled in his pocket, looking for his phone so that he could call a cab. Groaning in frustration he remembered that he'd hooked it up to his car stereo for the drive over and that it must still be in his glovebox. He stood up shakily, and after a moment's indecision he headed back in the direction of the bar. Maybe Kurt was still there.
He wasn't looking forward to begging for a ride home, but since the next option would be waking up Thad or David or - God forbid - his father, he knew that it was the best option. If only Tegan were still at home! Unfortunately, she'd decided to use the opportunity presented by Jack's return to make a long overdue trip back to Cardiff to visit her family. If she were home he'd be in for the scolding from hell, sure, but it was far more favourable than the awkward questioning that Jack would likely put him through. What would he say to Blaine's illegal visit to a gay bar?
He shuffled back into the parking lot and realised with a pang that Kurt had taken his car and left. it made something in Blaine's chest tighten uncomfortably; he had a lurking suspicion that their fight had been his fault. What had Kurt been yelling about? Something about Blaine not caring and about not liking him dancing with-
Sebastian! Blaine sighed in relief. Maybe he could give Blaine a ride home! Not too long before Kurt and Blaine had left, Sebastian had disappeared into a corner with a man he'd met by the jukebox. They hadn't wanted to interrupt so had decided not to say goodbye - perhaps he was still in the building? Blaine had to at least check! He was waved straight through by the bored looking bouncer and found Sebastian nursing another beer in a booth near the corner, alone. A grin spread across his face when he saw Blaine coming towards him.
"Blaine!" he called with a smirk. Blaine sank down into the seat next to him, exhausted.
"Hey," he said softly.
"Where's the old ball and chain?" Sebastian said in a joking tone, but Blaine wasn't in the mood for teasing.
"He left," he said shortly. "Can I get a ride home from you when you leave?"
"Trouble in paradise?" Sebastian asked, smile still fixed across his face. He rested his chin in one of his palms.
"I don't want to talk about it," Blaine snapped. The smile left Sebastian's lips. His eyes dropped to the table, looking almost hurt. Blaine felt like an ass. "Sorry," he said, contrite. "It's just… between Kurt and me." Sebastian shrugged and waved him off.
"Hey, it's okay. It's none of my business." He reached out and took Blaine's hand across the table. "But if you wanna talk, I'm happy to listen."
Blaine's lip quirked slightly in thanks, appreciative of the sentiment. "I'm sure it'll blow over by tomorrow," he said with a roll of his eyes. He moved his hand back, only for Sebastian to grip more firmly and keep it in place.
"I'm sure it will," he said, looking at him from under his eyelashes, "But you can always get a ride from me, Blaine. It would be my pleasure." He held onto Blaine's hand a second longer, then released his grip. Blaine withdrew his hand and put it in his lap.
"Thanks," he muttered awkwardly, looking down at his hands. The innuendo was clear, and Blaine wasn't quite sure how to respond. Of course he knew Sebastian was into him; he'd said as much the first time they'd met. However Blaine also believed what he said to Kurt about him being harmless, plus Blaine wasn't a cheater. Still… was it right for him to be sitting here without Kurt while Sebastian offered to "give him a ride" whenever he wanted?
"Holy ass-fucking Christ." Blaine looked up from his hands at Sebastian, grimacing a little at the vulgarity. The other boy's gaze was fixed over Blaine's shoulder towards the bar. "Don't look now, Blaine, but I think possibly the sexiest guy I've ever seen just walked- I said don't look!" He slapped Blaine's shoulder, making him snap his face back toward Sebastian. "He'll know we're checking him out!"
"I'm not checking anyone-"
"Whatever, I'm going to go talk to him."
"What about taking me home?" sure it was a favour, but Blaine didn't think he could take another hour in this place. He just wanted to go home.
"Yeah, yeah. After I've rocked this guy's world," and with that, Sebastian slid out of the booth and was strutting confidently away. Blaine put his head in his hands to muffle his moan of frustration. He was going to be stuck in this lame dive forever, like some sort of queer purgatory. Still, he smirked a little, it would be interesting to see how others react to Sebastian's… assertive brand of flirting.
He moved into the opposite seat so that he had a clear view of the bar, Sebastian and… a man in a long, military coat.
Blaine knew he was still drunk, so he almost didn't believe his eyes. Sitting on a barstool in Scandals, not five metres away, was his father. What could he possibly be doing here? Blaine quickly snatched up the drink menu on the table and opened it in front of his face to hide, hunching down in his seat. Damn it! Had Jack had found out that he'd stuck in and come to collect him? Had Kurt called his house? He could be in big trouble. He peeked over the top to check if his father was looking for him, but Jack was leaning on the bar, perfectly relaxed. His attention was on Sebastian, now lounging on the stool beside him.
They'd hardly spoken since the afternoon that Blaine had come home to find Jack waiting in his house. It had only been a few weeks, but with all the drama with rehearsals and the presidential campaign, not to mention the Troubletones making the rest of glee club nervous, it felt like months had passed. And every day Blaine and Jack's stilted exchanges would last only as long as it took for one of them to find some excuse to make themselves scarce. Blaine doubted Jack even knew that West Side Story opened tomorrow night, though something did seem to be bugging him.
At breakfast that morning Jack had been tense. He'd taken one sip of his coffee before grimacing, then tipped the rest down the sink. He'd asked how Blaine was doing in school, but Blaine was still mad at his reaction to Kurt's photo so hadn't said more than a short, "Fine". There was a restless energy about him that Blaine had been surprised to witness; throughout his childhood, Blaine couldn't remember his father ever appearing anything but unruffled and easy-going. On the other hand, he hadn't actually seen him terribly often even when they were living in the same city. Sitting a few feet away on one of the barstools, there was no sign of Jack's earlier restlessness. He had a bad feeling - Sebastian would probably take this as some sort of sign.
Blaine couldn't tell what Sebastian was saying because the boy had his back to him. However, having been propositioned by Sebastian before Blaine knew the sort of thing he thought was an appropriate introduction. Blaine cringed a little; being on the receiving end of Sebastian's advances had been awkward enough, but it was just embarrassing to imagine him saying them to a man over twice his age - and mortifying when that man was his dad.
Sebastian shifted in his seat, brushing one of Jack's legs in the process. The movement appeared accidental, but Blaine knew that Sebastian's every action was calculated precisely. Sebastian followed it up by touching Jack's forearm as he laughed at something Jack said. Jack himself didn't appear as uncomfortable as Blaine thought he'd be if approached by a young man in a gay bar. Though Blaine did recognise the smile on his face from when he was a child talking about his day at school; it was Jack's tolerant smile. It was the expression Jack used when he was amused by, but not actually interested in what someone was saying.
Sure enough, when Sebastian's hand got bolder, sliding onto Jack's thigh, Jack gave a quick laugh and shook his head. He removed Sebastian's hand and placed it on the bar. Sebastian said something else, leaning into Jack's space, but Jack just sent him that condescending smile again and shook his head once more. He patted Sebastian on the cheek and said something else in dismissal. He then drew some money from his pocket and leant over the bar to speak to the man serving drinks behind it. Was he asking about Blaine? Checking to see if he'd been here? Was the money to accelerate the discussion?
The barman served Jack a glass of something clear and colourless and took an order from his next customer. Blaine exhaled, thankful; it seemed that Jack was going to look around before asking any questions - perhaps not as efficient as one would expect from a man with a secret government job, but whatever Jack's reasoning was, all the better for Blaine; now all Blaine had to do was leave without being seen. If Jack questioned him, he would just deny, deny, deny.
Sebastian slid back into the booth with a pissed expression on his face.
"What happened?" Blaine asked. Sebastian rolled his eyes.
"He asked me how old I was."
"And?" Blaine chanced a peak over the menu and saw that Jack had his back to them, talking to a drag queen dressed as Lady Gaga.
"I said I was legal but he didn't believe me. He said I wasn't what he was looking for and that I should go home because I probably have school tomorrow."
"Which you do," Blaine reminded him, then winced because that meant he had school tomorrow too - and opening night, damn it! Jack was definitely searching for Blaine, then. He really had to get out of here.
"Whatever," Sebastian sniffed, the very picture of indifference, though Blaine knew that his pride had taken a battering. He got the impression that Sebastian wasn't used to hearing the word No very often. Sebastian started peeling the label off of the beer he'd left on the table. "Upon closer inspection he's way too old for me anyway," he asserted, "It's not like I wanna have to deal with him having a heart attack mid-fuck.”
And wasn't that just the most perfect image to round out Blaine's awful evening? He rubbed his sore eyes and snatched Sebastian's beer out of his hands, finishing it off in one hit as though he could wash away the thought.
"What's up with you?" Sebastian asked. The last thing Blaine wanted to do was explain that Sebastian had been hitting on his father, so he went for the simpler answer.
"I'm just really tired," he mumbled. “I’ve had way too much to drink tonight." It was true. His head was still spinning from the booze and his stomach was roiling from both his fight with Kurt and the fear of being caught by his father.
He looked over the menu again and saw Jack talking again to the man behind the bar. The barman checked his watch and said something, which made Jack nod and step off the barstool. Had the he told Jack that Blaine had been there? It wasn't like there had been many guys his age in tonight. Chances were the man told Jack what time Kurt had dragged Blaine out of the bar. Thankfully, he probably hadn't seen Blaine come back in as he'd headed straight for the back. Blaine's shoulders sagged in relief and he slumped back in his seat; Jack was now sweeping out of the bar, cat work boots clunking confidently as he walked. Blaine closed his eyes and just breathed.
"So you wanna get out of here?" Sebastian's voice broke through the fog of alcohol that had settled in Blaine's mind.
"God yes," he said in relief. Finally!
Sebastian had started a tab before Kurt and Blaine had even arrived so they couldn't leave immediately. Once he was able to flag down one of the barmen to pay they stepped out into the night air.
"The car's over there," said Sebastian, throwing Blaine his keys and walking away. "Red Lexus."
"Where are you going?" Blaine called after him, unable to completely keep the frustration from his voice. He was tired and drunk and miserable and he wanted to go home!
"I have to piss," answered Sebastian without turning. He was headed towards the alley behind the building.
"And you couldn't have used the bathroom inside because…?" Blaine asked in annoyance.
This time Sebastian did turn around. "Do you know what goes on in the bathroom at Scandals? Going in there to pee would be completely counterproductive," he said with a leer.
Blaine walked away in disgust, clicking the remote on Sebastian's keys. A car in the far corner of the parking lot lit up and he headed towards it. Blaine wasn't exactly a brand buff, but even he could tell that this was a nice car. It was streamlined and sat close to the ground, the paint spotless and shiny. It was the kind of car that Kurt would lie up against, itching to see under the hood and groaning in envy despite the, "Stupidly pretentious and unnecessary spoiler," as he would doubtlessly huff.
The thought made Blaine smile slightly as he leaned against the hood. He loved seeing Kurt around cars. It brought out something in him that was totally unexpected and contrary to most people's expectations. Kurt - who didn't know the first thing about football or boxing and whose hobbies included pressing flowers and dancing and bedazzling anything he could get his hands on - knew his way around an engine inside and out, and could change a tyre in five minutes. Kurt, whose interest in fashion was surpassed only by his dislike of mess, was equally at home in a pair of filthy overalls as he was his favourite Ralph Lauren cardigan (picked up in a thrift store for an absolute steal).
Thinking about Kurt always improved Blaine's mood and he smiled properly to himself, warmth spreading through his chest. Kissing Kurt was like flying. The only other feeling that even came close was what he felt singing. Every day Kurt did something to make Blaine fall for him a little more, and Blaine never wanted to screw that up. Thinking back to their argument, he was beginning to see why Kurt had been so upset. He wished he had his phone; he had some major grovelling to do and a precursory apologetic text couldn't hurt smoothing the way.
He was planning the colour pallet of his apology card when Sebastian returned. The other boy slid up to him and pressed their shoulders together, leaning in like he had a secret.
"You will not believe what I just saw," he said, breath puffing across Blaine's neck. He started snickering against his shoulder.
"Dumpsters?" Blaine asked flatly, rolling his eyes. He did not want to hear about Sebastian's alleyway adventures. He tried to put a bit of space between them, but Sebastian abruptly latched onto his arm.
"No - well, yes. But no - no, that guy, the guy with the coat? Was getting his dick sucked - by the barkeeper!" Sebastian erupted into fit of laughter.
"What." What had happened to his voice? He couldn't seem to make more than a hitching rasp. He couldn't move.
"So much for keeping it to the bathrooms!"
"What did you just say?" He could hardly breathe. "You saw…" He turned away, blinking rapidly. Sebastian snorted against Blaine's collar.
"Come on, Anderson. I figured you and the princess were virginal but this is ridiculous!" he teased, slapping Blaine's thigh and squeezing.
"Cut it out," Blaine said curtly, brushing him off and taking a step away. He felt sick. He put his elbows on the roof of the Lexus and ran both hands through his hair. He had to think. What did this mean?
Hands settled on his hips as Sebastian whispered in his ear, "I can give you a demonstration, if you're up for it." Blaine spun around.
"What?" he spluttered. Sebastian stayed where he was, crowding him against the passenger door. Blaine put a hand on Sebastian's chest to keep him away. "No, Sebastian. I told you, I have a boyfriend."
The smile on Sebastian's face was the same one he'd worn in the Lima Bean. "And I told you. He doesn't need to know." He pressed closer.
"Stop it. Get off."
"That's kinda the idea," Sebastian laughed. Standing so close, the smell of alcohol was much more evident. How had Kurt phrased it? "You can certainly help people make fires with your breath!" How had Blaine missed how much Sebastian had been drinking? He seemed so put together.
"You can't drive like this," Blaine groaned. "I can't believe I waited around for you." He could've called a cab from inside the bar and be halfway home by now! He planted another hand on Sebastian's shirt and pushed him back, but the other boy just grabbed his hands in his own.
"I'm sure we can think of something else to do in the car." Sebastian leaned in, trying to kiss him. Blaine turned his head away and kept him at arm's-length.
"Let go of me." Blaine was getting mad, now; Sebastian was too used to getting whatever he wanted. Blaine clenched his fist where it was holding the other boy back. He wanted to punch the know-it-all smirk right off his face.
"Don't you get tired of your hand, Blaine? Kurt's never going to give it up. Just let m- whoa!" Sebastian cut off mid-sentence as he lurched backwards and away from him. Blaine looked up. Dragging Sebastian backwards, holding a fistful of Sebastian's popped collar was Jack Harkness.
Jack let go abruptly and Sebastian stumbled, almost falling.
"He said no, kid. Go home," Jack ordered in his most authoritative tone, putting his body between the two boys and blocking Blaine from view. Blaine could not believe this was his life. He did not want his father getting involved in this.
"This is none of your business. Leave us alone," Sebastian retorted.
"It's my business when you're not taking no for an answer," Jack said sternly, arms crossed. Sebastian rolled his eyes.
"Oh come on," he scoffed, every inch the teenager he was. "It wasn't like that. I was just joking around." Blaine was torn between his earlier urge to hit him and privately agreeing; Sebastian might be a dick, but forcing people into sex didn't seem his style.
"Well I'm not. You're done here," Jack said, unmoving. Sebastian made a face, but soon seemed to realise that he wouldn't get anywhere with Jack. Blaine's irritation increased. Jack seemed to have decided to fight Blaine's battles for him - apparently between sexual encounters with other guys. Who was this man?
"Pfft. Whatever," said Sebastian with another eye-roll. He walked back to the car, though he gave Jack a wide berth. "Can you believe this guy?" he asked Blaine, jerking his head in Jack's direction. Blaine said nothing. Without waiting for an answer, Sebastian grabbed his car keys from Blaine's hand and walked around to the driver's door. "You coming?"
Blaine stared. "You are way too drunk to drive," he said levelly.
"I'll give you a ride," Jack spoke from directly beside Blaine, startling him. "You can pick up your car tomorrow."
"Seriously?" said Sebastian in disbelief. "Dude, how dumb do you think we are? We're not getting into a car with you." Blaine cringed in embarrassment; Sebastian thought Jack was cruising for jailbait. Then Blaine's gut twisted in horror - maybe Jack did. How often did his father come to Scandals and end the night in similar circumstances?
"Sebastian-" he started, rubbing his eyes.
"Come on, Blaine," Jack commanded, walking away towards a group of cars where Blaine could now see Jack's SUV parked. Sebastian gaped.
"You know him?" he asked, astonished. Blaine might have found his expression gratifying if he weren't so busy hoping that the Earth would swallow him up.
"Yeah. I'll explain later," he answered, "now come on." He reluctantly started following Jack to the car. Sebastian let out a snort.
"No way, Anderson." And with that, he got in his car, started the engine and sped out of the parking lot before Blaine's brain could even catch up to offer any objection.
"Idiotic bastard," Blaine muttered. Sebastian was going to get himself killed.
He arrived at the car where his father was waiting. Jack put his hand on Blaine's shoulder.
"What was all that about?" he asked with a confused smile. All Blaine could do was stare as he tried to remain calm.