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Life in Technicolor

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“No. In Spanish, no. In French, non. In German, nein. Need I translate further? This isn’t happening.”

There’s a firm, decisive click of the heel of one pump on the tile in the hallway and it makes Kurt turn around to face the woman behind him. Tina’s crossed her arms, one perfectly arched eyebrow raised, and there’s a dangerous don’t fuck with me scowl on her face.

“It’s happening, Kurt, so suck it the hell up.”

Kurt can’t even help but laugh at that, and Tina’s expression softens as well, just enough so that her stony glare isn’t so cutting.

“Ugh, but you guys couldn’t find me a less awful Oscar date? Like… Blaine Anderson? I’d much rather show up with him than—than—”

Tina sighs, sliding one arm through Kurt’s and beginning to walk down the office hallway again, practically dragging him with the swift pace she’s keeping. “Blaine’s out, but he’s not out-out to the media. Being seen with one of New York’s most eligible bachelors is like asking for the attention he’s been avoiding. Plus, he’s not going to the Oscars—Grammys yes, Oscars no. Sebastian, on the other hand—” Kurt gags at the name and Tina pinches his side “—also one of New York’s most eligible bachelors, very much out to the media, nominated for an Oscar as of this morning, and needs a short-term paparazzi romance.”

Kurt stops again at that, blinking down at the girl on his arm with his jaw dropped. “Oh, no, no, no, no, hold on. You did not say romance before, you just said Oscar date. I am not going to fake-romance the biggest asshole in the film biz for buzz.”

Tina doesn’t even let Kurt stop all the way before she’s dragging him back down the hall by the arm she’s got captured.

“Tell that to your publicist, hon,” she says as they reach the door at the end of the hallway. Behind it, Isabelle Wright is sitting behind her desk, glancing down at her laptop screen with a focused expression on her face. When Kurt and Tina step in, she brightens and sits up straighter in her chair.

“Kurt! Was just finishing rereading the latest email from Sebastian’s publicist. I take it Tina’s briefed you on what’s going on?”

“I tried, but he spent half the cab ride with his fingers in his ears chanting la la la not listening la la la,” Tina replies, nudging Kurt into the chair across from Isabelle’s desk.

Kurt glares up at her when he sits down, then he huffs and looks at Isabelle. “I know you guys want me to fake-date Sebastian Smythe, I just don’t know why you’re submitting me to this torture.”

Isabelle only laughs, folding her hands together on top of her desk primly. “It’s simple, really. Emma, his publicist, is one of the best in the business, but there’s only so much she can do. Sebastian’s… Well, he can be somewhat of a wild child with his hookups, so before any rumors or stories can get out to the press, she wants to nip it in the bud. And what better way to do that than by letting the press think he’s dating Broadway’s golden boy?”

When Kurt doesn’t respond, just stares at her dumbstruck, she continues. “It’ll have to start soon, the Oscars are in less than two months, but the idea is to have the two of you papped a few times hanging out, get Twitter sightings going, generate some buzz. You won’t be his Golden Globes date—those are a few days away and he’s bringing his best friend because the media loves them some Sebtana—and the other award shows aren’t a big deal date-wise, so you won’t be there, but when you show up in L.A. the day before the Oscars, rumors are gonna fly, and bam. Press goes wild when you show up holding hands, you gush about each other in red carpet interviews, cuddle a little for the cameras, share a kiss if he beats out Firth and Miller for best actor, and that’s it. After that, you can have a clean, ‘we’re still friends’ sort of breakup and never see each other again if that’s what you want.”

“Ezra Miller! That’s who you could’ve gotten me a date with!” Kurt tries, but Tina brandishes a pen and threatens to scribble all over his brand new blazer with it, so he backs down. “Right. You two know best, whatever. Do I at least get to wear McQueen to the show?”

Isabelle grins at that. “There’s my Kurt!”

It’s the worst idea anyone’s ever had, Kurt’s sure of that the minute he shows up to Emma Pillsbury’s office to work out the last details of the arrangement before his first scheduled “outing” with Sebastian. Why anyone would think that hopeless romantic Kurt Hummel and Sebastian “King of the Ten Minute Relationship” Smythe would be an acceptable pairing is beyond him. They’d met a few times, when Sebastian was still on Broadway, the Moritz to Jesse St. James’ Melchior in Spring Awakening, and to say they didn’t get along would be a sizable understatement. Sebastian was brash and blunt in all the ways Kurt couldn’t stand, a cocky son of a bitch with a nasty way of figuring out just what made people insecure so he could use it against them.

So when he opens Emma’s door to find Sebastian lounged in one of the seats across from her desk, greeting him with a “hey Snow White,” he’s about ready to maul his face off because he’s gotten enough from directors about how he’s got too high a voice, like a girl, like a little princess, and he sure as hell doesn’t need it from this asshole.

He refrains, though, fixing Sebastian with a hard look and a brusque hello while he settles into his own seat and smiles politely at Emma.

“See! You two can be just darling when you want to. This can work out, Sebastian!” she says in that sweet voice of hers, then extends a pair of papers to them. “Just called you boys in here to sign the contract and you’re on your way. Nothing fancy, nothing legally binding, just so we can get it down on paper that you know when you guys are meeting up, where the paparazzi are being called to, things like that.”

Both Kurt and Sebastian glance over their papers momentarily, already having been briefed several times on what exactly is to happen on their “dates” whenever any press people are around. They sign and hand the papers to Emma at the exact same time, glaring at one another.

“Oh, boys!” Emma chides. “You’re an Oscar nominee and a Tony winner, I’d think you were better actors than that. Now go on, you’re due at Cookshop in half an hour. Remember—no PDA yet, just show up a few minutes apart, keep close, and look interested.”

She shoos them out of the office before either can complain, and when they’re walking back to the elevator, Kurt turns his full glare to Sebastian.

“You’re the one whose reputation is in danger and I’m being punished for it,” he spits, quiet enough that the interns bustling about the office can’t hear.

“As if I’m not being punished too,” Sebastian fires back, his gravelly voice sharp and low in his throat. “Of all the gay men in showbiz! I ask for Zachary Quinto, they give me Kurt Hummel, bitch queen extraordinaire.”

“You are un-fucking-believable,” Kurt growls, impatiently jabbing the elevator button. He steps in when the door opens, holding the open button so Sebastian can join him, but he stays outside, leaning against the wall. When Kurt clears his throat impatiently, he bristles.

“We’re supposed to show up separate. It’s gonna be too obvious if we leave my publicist’s office together before our publicized first date. Think for one damn second, Princess,” Sebastian snaps, and Kurt doesn’t even dignify it with a response before he’s shutting the elevator door.

The fucking nerve of this guy, as if he’s the one being inconvenienced here when Kurt’s the one being dragged into this arrangement without any real perks, just to cover Sebastian’s ass. Kurt had been fine being single, nursing a miniature crush on singer-songwriter-dreamboat Blaine Anderson since they met at his concert in Madison Square Garden over the summer, occasionally dating around with guys his costars introduced him to. The great thing about being on Broadway instead of in movies was that the gossip pool was much smaller and nobody outside of NYC really cared, and he loved it, but now he’s on his way to be photographed on a date with America’s latest boyfriend.

The cab ride is luckily long enough for Kurt to simmer down just a bit, though he’s still on edge when he catches a paparazzo hanging around the corner, just waiting for Sebastian to show up so he can get his shot. He manages to ignore the guy, since he’s not bothering anyone quite yet, and he slips inside the restaurant, claiming the reservations Emma had made earlier. The hostess keeps staring at him like she sort-of recognizes him, but he only smiles and doesn’t confirm anything as he orders two waters and taps away on his phone until Sebastian enters.

The sound of flashbulbs after the opening of the door a few minutes later lets Kurt know he’s arrived, though the Sebastian walking into the restaurant is almost a completely different person than the one from Emma’s office. His posture is straighter, eyes wide, and he grins politely at the hostess, who most definitely recognizes him, guiding him to Kurt’s table with a look that can only be described as star struck painted across her face. Even when he looks over at Kurt, Sebastian still smiles brightly, though that probably has everything to do with the fact that their table is near the window and there are photographers lurking outside still, waiting for a shot of them together.

“Hey Princess,” Sebastian says as he picks up his menu, flashing a smile that looks genuine enough, but Kurt can see the condescension behind it, maybe because he’s actively looking for it.

“Hey you,” Kurt responds in the flirty voice he generally reserves for dates, but when he’s sure nobody’s listening, he drops his voice down low and grits through his teeth, “Quit it with the ‘princess’ shit, asshole.”

“Oh, this is gonna be fun,” Sebastian mumbles, grinning, before he blinks innocently at his menu. “So I hear the shrimp salad here is amazing.”

Kurt hums noncommittally, but Sebastian, ever the actor and maybe a little too entranced in his role of the gentlemanly lunch date, reaches over the table and touches his hand.

“You’re so quiet, babe.”

It’s such a Kodak moment that one of the photographers outside has probably popped a boner over the money they’re gonna make off it. Kurt is sure he’s going to get a thousand calls from his friends later today when the pictures end up online.

But if Sebastian can play this game, so can Kurt—he didn’t win that Tony last year for nothing. So he lets his thumb brush Sebastian’s fingers and slaps on his best puppy dog eyes, feeding him some bullshit answer about being distracted. It goes on like a game all through lunch until they’re about finished with their meals and both of their phones vibrate with texts at the same time and they move to answer them. Kurt glances down at his own phone and sighs.

From: Isabelle Wright
Great job so far! Couple of Twitter sightings and Just Jared, E!, and Perez all are interested in buying the pics. :) Get a cab together when you’re finished and you’re done for the day. xx

Sebastian seems to have gotten a similar text, because he sighs as well.

“Jesus, this feels like public prostitution, doesn’t it?”

Kurt involuntarily snorts at that, almost choking on some tea and narrowly avoiding spitting it in what’s left of his fries. “I don’t think it’s that dramatic,” he laughs when he finally recovers.

“Eh, maybe not, but it’s still shitty.” Sebastian steals a fry and rummages in his wallet, dropping enough money on the table to cover the food. “You ready to blow this place or what? Emma called me in early today to meet with her and I still have about a thousand tux fittings before I can go home.”

“Fine with me. You sound like me before the Tonys last year,” Kurt replies, noticing the way communication is much easier now that they’ve dropped the fake-mushy act. When they’re speaking like this, Kurt can almost pretend he tolerates Sebastian.

The hostess manages a stuttering goodbye as they leave, and then the paparazzi are in full force again, flashing their cameras obnoxiously while Sebastian hails a cab. Kurt stays at his side, giving a perfect bitch glare that betrays the fact that the photogs have been called here for their benefit and ignoring the questions they’re hounding him with the way Isabelle told him to.

There’s one, though—the guy who had been there when Kurt entered the restaurant—who won’t give it up, stepping way too far into Kurt’s personal bubble than he’s comfortable with, and it’s Sebastian who steps forward, glaring harshly until the man steps back and the taxi cab has pulled up to the curb. Kurt shuffles in first, followed by Sebastian, who’s shaking his head.

“You give them what they want and they still ask for more,” he growls as Kurt rattles off the address to his building. “I stayed in New York instead of moving to L.A. to avoid this kind of shit, and they still—”

Kurt quiets him with a raised eyebrow that says our people called them, remember? , but Sebastian nods toward the driver, who seems invested in listening to their conversation. Kurt groans internally, having thought the act was up once they got into the cab.

“It’s fine, honey.” He places his hand on Sebastian’s leg, feeling the other man tense uncomfortably before he pulls it back and the car is plunged into an awkward silence that stretches on until they reach Kurt’s building. He doesn’t exactly know how they’re supposed to part, so he mutters a small “bye, see you later” before darting inside, through the lobby, and into the elevator until he hits the top floor.

He’s ready to sit down for an afternoon of lazing around the house, but the second he opens his door, Kurt is greeted by a familiar voice.

“Why were you on a date with Sebastian Smythe?” Rachel Berry commands, standing up from her seat at the counter and stomping his way in her thick-heeled boots.

“Why are you in my apartment?” Kurt counters, mildly horrified, but Rachel ignores him.

“We constantly gossip about what a douche he is, and now I see this!

Rachel brandishes her iPhone and shoves it into his face, its web browser already open to the offending gossip article. There’s not much of a caption, just a few sentences of context and a reminder that there are more photos in the gallery.

Just Jared: Fri, 18 January 2019
Sebastian Smythe & Kurt Hummel: Lunch Date!
Sebastian Smythe and Kurt Hummel, both 24, grab lunch in Chelsea, NYC earlier today (January 18), sparking rumors that the two are dating. The actors arrived separately, but got increasingly closer over the meal and left together afterwards.

“Oh, and that’s not it!” Rachel continues on. “Perez Hilton appropriately drew dicks all over Sebastian and hearts around your head, E! News is going to do a speculation piece later tonight, and JBI’s got even more photos of you two looking cuddly and disgusting—well, he looks disgusting, I really like your coat.”

Slowly, Kurt reaches out and puts both hands on Rachel’s shoulders, watching her with a raised eyebrow. “Calm yourself. I thought getting engaged would mellow you out. Does Jesse have you on uppers? Is he sneaking them into your food?”

Rachel, in all her five-foot-three glory, shoves at Kurt, glaring. “Answers, Hummel.”

He doesn’t respond, though, his eyes drawn back to the phone in his hand—more specifically, the photos attached to the Just Jared article: Kurt entering the restaurant, Sebastian getting out of his cab, a couple of him walking back with the starstruck hostess. These don’t get much of a reaction out of Kurt, but then his gaze falls upon the last photos: a bunch showing his and Sebastian’s hands clasped across the table while they spit sarcastic niceties at each other, and just a few of Sebastian giving the overzealous paparazzo a death glare passed off as protectiveness. If anything, Kurt thinks, Emma was right about the guy being a damn good actor because the photos make it look like there’s genuine affection between the men, not at all a forced and rocky acquaintanceship over an agreement they had no say in.

So it’s no surprise that when he turns to look at Rachel’s glaring face to say, “It's not real,” she looks stunned, like he’s just told her that she’s been inceptioned or that she’s not the most talented woman in the world.

“He’s not a fan of keeping it in his pants and his team doesn’t want word to get out, so his publicist and mine have chosen me to be his oh so lucky PR boyfriend. Because I’m squeaky clean or something.”

It’s murderously quiet for a moment while Rachel blinks her big doe eyes, processing what she’s been told, but Kurt finds himself wishing for the silence once more when she actually does push him over, tackling him so they both fall over the back of his couch in a pile of tangled limbs.

He’s assaulted both physically—Rachel’s not only tackled him, but has also resorted to intermittently smacking him across the face with the too-long sleeve of her sweater—and verbally—a litany of oh my god and I hate you and I don’t actually hate you, but oh my god! —before she finally calms down and rolls her tiny self off of him, smoothing down her sleek brown hair and daintily crossing her legs while she sits.

“So,” she tries casually, though her voice is still laced with remnants of her freak out, “your life is a romantic comedy. Why do your agents plan these things for you and not me? I could totally handle the pressures of a PR romance.”

“Because you’re already engaged to Jesse St. I-get-a-Tony-nom-every-year,” Kurt answers, blinking over at her as if she doesn’t already know this. “And my life is definitely not a romantic comedy. If it was, I’d be laughing.”

“No, no, see, that’s exactly it! The stunning ingénue—who should be me, but we’ll go with you in this case—starts out unhappy, but always ends up falling for the annoying yet persistent love interest in the end. Haven’t you seen 10 Things I Hate About You? 27 Dresses? They bang in a car in 27 Dresses, though, please be a little more sanitary than that.”

Rachel’s got to be out of her mind if she thinks that’s what’s going to happen, and Kurt schools his expression into one that says precisely that.

“You won’t have to worry about that because I am not banging him, and especially not in a car.”

Rachel hums to herself at that. “Well, yes, I suppose you can fall for each other without having sexual relations, but I still reserve the right to an ‘I told you so!’ when you do. Does this mean he’s your date to the wedding? I’m sure I could fit him in at our table as long as we’re not within three chairs of each other.”

Ugh. Kurt hadn’t even thought about what this situation meant for Rachel and Jesse’s wedding, but now that it’s on his mind, he realizes he’s screwed. The wedding is set for the day after Valentine’s Day, the week before the Oscars, and knowing Rachel and Jesse’s flair for the dramatic, there will be some sort of press coverage. Judging by the timeline Emma gave him earlier, he and Sebastian will pretty much be a confirmed couple to the press by then (their first photographed kiss is set for the first of February, and they’re supposed to spend Valentine’s Day together), and it would probably look suspicious if his “boyfriend” didn’t show up to his best friends’ wedding.

So yep, he’s gonna be stuck spending even more time with Sebastian.

When he nods and mentions that he’ll run it by Isabelle and Emma, Rachel appears to be barely holding back an amused and completely evil cackle before she reaches over to the coffee table to grab the remote and pop on an episode of My Fair Wedding for background noise.

“Anyway, I’m still torn on the last name issue. Rachel St. James makes me sound like a lawyer, and Jesse Berry is much too cutesy. We debated hyphenating it, but Rachel Berry-St. James is too long for a theater marquee. At this point, I’m either keeping Berry, or there’s always the ever-popular St. Berry…”

Kurt stays mostly quiet during the show, letting Rachel talk and talk until her own wedding planner calls her about a wine tasting and she hightails it to meet Jesse after his rehearsals so they can go together. It’s only then when Kurt finally gets a minute to himself to flop backwards onto the sofa cushions and stare at the ceiling, wondering how the hell this became his life.