Kurt sat at the kitchen table looking over all his bills. Ever since Rachel moved out, he and Santana had to split the loft rent in half since they didn’t want to add another roommate. The bills in front of him proved that he needed to get another job.
NYADA was great for experience, but just because it looked great on your resume didn’t mean that a part would automatically be yours. Thank the flying troll behind the moon that he still had his job working under Isabelle. He was getting paid more now that he had been there for five years, but looking at the notices and calculator in front of him, he knew it was still not enough. At least I’m not taking coffee orders or going on take-out runs anymore, he thought.
Santana breezed by, still in her skimpy tank and barely-there underwear, causing him to roll his eyes.
“Ya know, I know we have real walls and everything now so I don’t have to actually hear you and Dani having sex anymore, but could you at least throw a robe on when you leave your room?” Kurt asked snidely over his shoulder as he took a sip from his lukewarm coffee before grimacing at the taste.
Santana plopped down in a chair adjacent to him and pulled her leg up to her chest while cradling her own mug of fresh, steaming coffee.
“What’s got your panties in a bunch, Ladyface?”
Kurt mumbled a “Whatever, Santana” as he stood to dump is coffee and mug into the sink. He didn’t notice that Santana has started to shift through all of the bills that he left on the table.
“You know, if you need a second job, I heard that Runaways is hiring a new bartender. You could work with all your little fashionistas during the day and still have money to pay rent and look your own version of Kurt-Hummel-Fabulous.”
“Santana, how many times do I have to give you the ‘privacy and your roommates’ talk?” Kurt asked as he snatched a credit card bill out of her hands.
“Cool your nuts, Hummel. I’m just trying to help,” she said as she sauntered back to her room and shut the door.
Kurt sighed for what felt the 19th time that morning. Maybe it’s time to dust of those old bartending skills.
Granted, his college education did net him a wonderful opportunity to be prepared for all the trials of audition after audition, what it also got him was a ton of other experiences he never knew he would be called upon to use later in his life. One was obviously the experimentation with all the over-stressed students to enhance and blossom his sex life. Now the fun times he had mixing drinks would allow him to pay his growing debt.
Kurt swallowed his pride and walked over to Santana’s door and knocked gently.
“Hey Tana? What time would they be open for me to put in an application?”
Kurt leaned against the abused bar top while filling out his application. He noticed that even with all the nicks, grooves, and scratches along the surface, it was incredibly clean. In fact, the whole bar was almost immaculate.
He remembered how filthy he felt the instant he and Dave walked into to Scandals his senior year looking for adventure. He vowed to his once-best-friend to never again visit a bar he suggested. But, New York had helped Kurt not look at every bar in disgust since then and he had never seen one empty before.
The floors were spotless and there didn’t seem to be a sticky table top in sight. Kurt couldn’t even smell the stale and sour scent of old, spilled liquor. If he could get this job, he at least knew that he wouldn’t have to get a series of shots if he leaned against the wrong surface.
The bouncer who let him in was even nice and friendly. To be honest, he expected an even more jumped-up version of Puck. Frank was nice though. Maybe a bit too muscular for Kurt’s normal tastes but a nice enough piece of eye candy.
Kurt glanced up from the last page of his application when he heard what appeared to be Frank’s robust laughter from near the front doors. He then saw a long and lanky figure walking backwards throwing out a “We’ll see” before turning and staring at Kurt.
“‘We’ll see’ what?” Kurt asked.
The guy looked to be about 10 years Kurt’s senior, with a smirk to rival the most evil of Disney’s villains.
“Oh, you have got to be kidding me?” The man’s smirk dropped to an open-mouthed stare of incredulity. “Are you even able to legally serve alcohol, Milkmaid?”
Kurt stiffened and raised his chin in the air defiantly.
“I’m 25. What are you? 50?” Kurt retorted, over exaggerating what he thought the man’s age to be, and saw the man’s mouth morph into a small smile.
“Interesting,” he said and held out his hand for Kurt to shake. “I’m Sebastian. Not everyone would back-talk the owner of the bar where they’re applying to, but I like the change of pace. Shows that you have spunk.”
“Well Sebastian… I’m here for a job, not patronizing comments about my appearance. While I look young, I assure you I can handle myself, and probably you too.” Kurt stayed firmly in place, not willing to back down to an obvious challenge while his new would-be boss looked him up and down again.
“Well at least your snark will be able to keep you from having a problem behind the bar.”
“Wait. Does that mean I’m hired?” Kurt asked, very confused.
Sebastian just nodded and hummed in the affirmative as he pulled Kurt’s application towards him and stuffing it in his bag.
“You’re not even going to look at my references? Make sure I am a legal citizen? Nothing?”
“What were you expecting? An audition?” Sebastian sighed out. “You’re of age to serve, or so you say. I need someone to work tonight since Hunter sprained his ankle last week. And to be honest, your school boy face and bitchy attitude will probably make me a ton in sales tonight. That is if you can manage to make drinks without fucking up.”
Kurt’s eyes narrowed further as Sebastian’s condescending tone elevated.
“Come on now, Shirley. If you can handle tonight, I’ll have you come in to sign the paperwork to put you on the payroll come Tuesday afternoon.” Sebastian winked before heading to a door to the right of the bar that Kurt assumed led to an office. As he reached it, he turned to Kurt and looked him up and down again. “You might want to wear pants that are a little looser than those so you can move tonight. It gets pretty busy. Other than that, just put on a black top and whatever comfortable shoes you want. Be here at 7.”
Kurt nodded mutely, but Sebastian had already turned his back to him and walked through the door.
After getting back to his and Santana’s apartment at a little after 4, Kurt decided to take a small nap. He didn’t know how long Sebastian expected him to work tonight since every time he had been at a club or bar in the city, he left well before last call.
When was last call on a Saturday night? Is it later than the other days of the week? Kurt had no idea and since Santana had left the loft empty by the time he returned, and had no one to ask.
He tossed and turned for over half an hour before rummaging under his bed for his boyfriend pillow. Soon he was fast asleep and, in what seemed like seconds, he was startled awake by the siren of what had to be several ambulances zooming by.
The loft was soon quiet once more but the sun was coming in from an angle that Kurt was sure meant that he was going to be late. As he disentangled himself from ‘Bruce’ he reached for his phone.
Swearing, he jumped out of bed and searched for his old black Chucks to wear. It was already 6 and there was no way he had time for a shower to make himself look his normally flawless self. In fact, he was pretty sure that he would still have the imprint of one of Bruce’s buttons on his cheek when he walked in the bar’s door tonight. He kept on his tight jeans from earlier, again not having time to think about changing into anything else and quickly snatched a black t-shirt to throw on after wiggling out of his button-down.
Still swearing to himself under his breath, Kurt managed to hop into his shoes while crossing the loft to get his bag and light jacket from the hook near the door. Just because he was running late, he wouldn’t leave without his bag and something to ward off the late summer chill once he left Runaways. Plus, he never went anywhere without his pepper spray, a promise he made his dad when he first moved to New York.
Kurt was well aware of the fact that he looked like one of the crazy people he normally avoided on the subway with the way he was frantically trying to fix his hair by running his hands through it and muttering curses when he saw his reflection. This wasn’t how he wanted to make an impression on his new boss and coworkers. Even if his first thought of Sebastian was that he was a grade-A ass, he wasn’t about to burn bridges if it led to a steady paycheck, which was topic number one to discuss when he talked to his new employer.
“Fuck,” Kurt huffed as he looked down at his watch as he trotted down the sidewalk near Runaways. He refused to break into sprint to make it to the doors on time. Showing up drenched in sweat and panting like a dog was worse in his mind that walking in a couple of minutes late and being somewhat composed. Granted he didn’t really want either, but he chose the lesser of two evils.
The doors and the small sign above them came into view. Kurt slowed down to a brisk walk to catch his breath and noticed Frank standing outside and leaning against the brick façade with one foot propped up on the wall under him.
Frank smiled at him as he let out a huge breath and jerked the door open. Kurt thought that he heard Frank chuckle a little too as the door was sliding closed but didn’t think more of it.
The last of the sun was streaming in from between the buildings across the street and bouncing off the mirror behind the bar. It was slightly blinding, but seeing the light bounce off the different ambers of the high-end liquor on the shelves was beautiful. Kurt was forced out of his small amusement by the harsh sound of glass breaking and a couple of muttered curses and giggles.
“Dammit Link!” Kurt heard through the door of Sebastian’s office behind the bar. Shortly after that the man came out.
“You’re late,” Sebastian said taking in his appearance and Kurt assumed he was making sure that Kurt was dressed appropriately for tonight. Before Kurt could appeal that he was only one minute late, Sebastian was already walking to the far side of the club to a door Kurt didn’t notice before and yelling down what appeared to be a set of stairs.
“If that was top shelf, your ass is grass!”
“Nope. I promise. It was just a small case of Goose that someone marked as empty!” Came a cheery reply.
“Well, you and Nick need to get up here and meet the new guy. We got rules to go over before opening.”
Kurt watched as a blond and brunet came up the stairs with a couple of cases of random bottles each and stowed them behind the bar before turning to him and smiling.
“Kurt, meet Jeff and Nick. You’ll be working side by side with them tonight,” Sebastian said. “Just a quick run through of the rules, since some of us need a refresher course and Kurt is a newbie…
“Don’t use your real names. I don’t know how many times I have to go through this with you two. Kurt you will be introduced by me later and then I expect you two to keep to it this time,” he said pointedly at that two behind the bar as they hunched their shoulders shamefully.
“Kurt, this is for everyone’s safety. Trust me. Sometimes we get crazies in here that like to chase you guys, and its better if they can’t stalk you with Facebook and all that. Got it?”
Kurt nodded; stunned by the amount of information flying at him so quickly.
“Right. So, Jeff is the blond,” to which Jeff raised a hand and grinned widely. “You will call him Link while you are in this building. No excuses. Nick is Moby. You can draw your own conclusions as to why.”
Kurt watched as Nick, Moby, blushed and turned around and attempted to look like he was doing inventory of the alcohol.
“When Hunter gets back, you will call him Doc.”
At that Jeff snickered and added, “To his face at least.”
“What do you mean?”
It was Nick that answered. “Sebastian has some more colorful names he likes to throw at Hunter from time to time. You’ll just have to wait and see.”
Kurt nodded and just accepted that he might not last long enough to learn them and didn’t particularly care at this point. Already this job was looking like it was going to be a handful. Adding to that was the fact that he would be receiving an unknown nickname to be addressed by, and even if it was for his own protection from rabid patrons, it didn’t sit well with him.
“Can I ask a question?” At Sebastian’s straining nod he continued. “Do we seriously need the nicknames? I mean, I can take care of myself and it’s not like any of my social site stuff is public.”
“Let me put it this way,” Sebastian stated. “The last guy that didn’t follow the rules ended up having his apartment violated twice and then had to move to Maine to escape. He now lives under an assumed name in a lighthouse.
“Now, continuing. You will have your own register.” Sebastian gestured to the counter on the other side of the bar. There were four different touch screen registers under the mirrored shelves. “All the prices are simple and the screen recognizes almost any drink and its aliases for pricing.”
Sebastian walked behind the bar and motioned for Kurt to join him at the right middle machine. He tapped the screen and gave Kurt his employee code for the night.
“For now, you will be on your own. If you can handle it later, we will give you a runner that will take orders out on the floor for you to fill and you get more tips. The rest of the guys have two runners on most nights.”
Kurt was beginning to feel like a bobble-head doll. Information was flying at him and he was lucky to catch it all.
“Last two rules and then you can make me a drink, Shirley.”
“Oh dear god, please don’t let that be my nickname,” Kurt mumbled.
Kurt watched as Sebastian smirked, having obviously heard him.
“Every piece of money you get goes in the drawer. Even your tips. It’s easier at the end of the night when you ring out to count everything at once. And if you’re lucky, you’ll have too many tips to keep shoving them in your pockets all night.”
“Alright. And the last one?”
“Once you walk through that door every night, you become single. I’m not saying that you can’t have yourself a boyfriend or whatever. But you are a product as much as the booze in this joint. And if you have one, don’t have them come in here. You are to appear available, but never act on it. I can’t have some jumped-up boytoy coming in here and putting a claim on one of you guys and busting up my costumers heads. Got it?”
“I don’t think that will be a problem,” Kurt said clearly. The last relationship he had ended almost 3 years ago and he had been so busy between Vogue and auditions that even a one night stand felt like too much effort.
“Alright then Newbie. Why don’t you make us your first drink as a Runaway.”
Kurt quickly took down four bottles, lined up four shot glasses and poured perfectly. Every one reached for a glass and raised it.
“To tonight’s Foursome,” Kurt said as he raised his shot in salute to his coworkers for the night. As the liquid slid smoothly down his throat he hoped that he would make it all the way through his shift without embarrassing himself and that Sebastian’s nickname wouldn’t be too bad.
Kurt was sweating bullets. It was only 11 and he knew that whenever he finally got home tonight, he would have the biggest and most painful blisters on the back of his heels. His Chucks were by far the most comfortable pair of shoes that he could wear to be on his feet for an indeterminate amount of time. What he didn’t think about was the fact that he wouldn’t be standing still.
He watched as Nick and Jeff sashayed between bar top customers and their runners. They even danced around with one another if a particular song struck a nerve with them. Each time the duo started to dance together, regardless of the amount of people waiting for drinks, Kurt noticed their tips immediately afterwards looked like more than what was normal. So Kurt took a small chance and just swayed a little. Then he rocked his hips a little more in time. If anything the movement was to keep his feet from aching.
He received tips steadily throughout the evening but he wasn’t able to stop long enough to even attempt to figure out how much he may be walking out with tonight.
The bar started to allow patrons at 8 and soon it was near capacity. And in the 3 hours that Kurt had been a professional bartender, he managed to only spill one Long Island Ice Tea and turn a strawberry daiquiri into a margarita when he added tequila instead of rum, which the customer didn’t seem to notice. He thought that if he kept to making less than one mistake an hour for his first night, then maybe he would be allowed to come back next week and be on the payroll.
Kurt watched as Sebastian walked out from his office with a microphone and fiddled with a switch near his office door. The music in the bar lowered and he climbed onto the bar top.
“Good evening everyone,” Sebastian said majestically. He spread his arms in welcome and gave a small bow to raucous cheers. His face beamed at the sound of his happy patrons. Then he turned to Kurt and his smile turned into another one of his condescending smirks.
“I’m sure you have noticed that Doc is missing tonight.”
This received a chorus of ‘awe’s and ‘where is he?’s before Sebastian waved off the crowd so he didn’t have to yell into the mic.
“I know, I know. You love him.” More cheers.
“But who am I to deny you all some fresh blood every once in a while?” Even more cheers.
Sebastian gestured for Kurt to climb up beside him. “This ladies, gents and all those in middle, is…” he paused and looked Kurt up and down as if trying to find the best name for him. He then made a motion with his hand for Kurt to do a spin, which he complied with to a roar of his own cheers.
The smile on Sebastian’s face grew exponentially before he interrupted the crowd.
“This is Temple. Please worship him appropriately!” And with that the customers cheered again. They both climbed off the bar and Sebastian disappeared into his office again before turning the music back up to full blast and the crowd surged against the bar to try to get Temple’s attention.
Kurt didn’t know whether to be offended or flattered. On one hand, he had a bar full of eligible and attractive guys trying to hit on him and worship him as suggested because of the new nickname. But he knew that on Sebastian’s part, it was just a jab. At his young looking face, the fact that he probably thought of Kurt as an uptight prude, and who even knew what else. And it stung just a little more than he thought it would.
If there was ever a time that Kurt Hummel wished that he owned a pair of flip-flops, now was it. Moreover, he wished that he had them in his bag so that he could peel off his shoes and soaked socks and wear them home instead of putting more pressure on what he knew was several already popped blisters. He was thankful that he had a box of Epsom salts and a bubbling foot bath that he could use as soon as he got home.
As it was, he was perched on a barstool while counting out his register drawer. Nick had gone through and showed Kurt how to access his sale receipt for the night and also showed him which numbers to look at to find what he owed the house for the night, explaining that everything else was his for his tips for the night since he didn’t have a runner to separate for and share tips with.
It was 3:27 and Kurt’s shoulders were slumps as he counted out twenties into neat stacks and made sure they were all facing the same way. Sebastian had called out for ‘Last Call’ at 2:30 and there was only a small rush at the end of the night. Thankfully, the bar emptied out pretty quickly after that. Kurt wasn’t sure if he would make it back on the subway without falling asleep and was seriously considering using his tips and taking a cab so that he wouldn’t miss his stop.
Kurt knew that a good night of tips could start to get him out of the small financial hole he had fallen into after losing a roommate. He double checked the amount he pulled out of his register before wrapping the bills in the printed receipt and shoving it into a standard letter size envelope. He then sealed it and wrote his name and date on the top and tossed it over to Sebastian who was leaning against the end of the bar chatting with Frank and enjoying a beer.
Sebastian picked up the envelope and lightly tossed it up and down in his hand as if trying to gauge its weight.
“Not bad for a first night, Temple.”
“I just want to go home and get out of the shoes. That and pray to the fashion gods that I didn’t permanently damage my favorite pair of jeans with the all the sweat and liquor I know is drowning me right now,” Kurt groaned before pulling his drawer back over to start counting out his tips.
Kurt hadn’t realized through the night how many he had collected. Now it was staring him in the face. Olive green bills against the stark black of the drawer. There were still several 20’s still in their own designated slot. His mouth started to gape.
The most he had ever gotten on a shift during his short stint as a server at that crazy Broadway diner was just over $87. A quick thumb through of just the twenties, and Kurt knows that he just blew that number out of the water. He can hear Nick and Jeff snickering a little at his amazement.
“I just love the look newbies get when they see their ‘first night tips’,” Jeff gushed with his hands grasped over his heart like he was having a proud mama moment.
“Is it always like this?” Kurt asked.
“No,” Nick stated simply before grinning widely. “Tonight was a little slow.”
Kurt slowly took out all his tips and put them in another envelope and placed it carefully in the zippered pocket on the inside of his bag. He stood gingerly and waved goodbye to everyone. Once outside, Kurt did splurge on a cab.
When he got home that night, he would shower, set up his footbath, count his tips and know that he would definitely meet more than his minimum monthly payment on his credit card.