Devastated beyond description Burt and his son did tried their best to carry on on their own and care for each other. Kurt, who never cared for his father’s occupation, would help around the shop. As he grew older, he started singing in taverns and on the streets to bring in some extra money - he had an expensive taste to feed. However in the last couple of years, his father’s health has come to deteriorate and he can no longer keep the shop open. The money Kurt made singing was not enough to sustain them both, let alone to buy medicine and pay doctors. Desperate to save his father, Kurt turned to something that had often been suggested to him before: prostitution. He wasn’t sure what people saw in him but they paid. Some of them paid really well. It impossible to refuse. He lied to his father, telling him he earned all his money singing, and he did feel guilty about it. But keeping him alive was his main concern.
Despite his hard life, Kurt has not given up on his dreams of becoming a well-known and well paid singer in a theatre or in rich saloons He curses the society he lives in everyday, because it’s not just him. All around him he sees the poor becoming more miserable every day and the bourgeois wealthier and more distant - almost indifferent to the suffering. So, he shares what he can, helps who he can, and he is a fierce supporter of the revolution. Even if he hates the violence of it. Being a loyalist doesn’t make you less human, does it? But it doesn’t hurt to sing the song of the people around the authorities either. And if it angers a policeman… Well, a dozen francs and Kurt will release anyone’s tension...
Artie’s cheeks glowed red as he stammered an apology, mentally cursing his own stupidity. He was so bent on delivering the message quickly that he hadn’t even been looking where he was going; great rebel spy he was. Artie brushed his shirt with one hand, as if to clear off some dust or debris. But his gaze lifted as Kurt - he was almost positive that was the boy’s name - spoke. “P.. Porcelain..?” A small smirk quirked at Artie’s lips; maybe, he supposed, the boy was joking. “Ha, that kind of sounds like a..”
The words on his lips faded as he was yanked in the direction of the tavern. The move took him by surprise, causing him to gaze at Kurt with blank confusion for several moments. His brow furrowed, heels digging into the ground slightly. “Where are we, uh, going?” His blue eyes widened in comprehension, glassing slipping down the bridge of his nose. He glanced from side to side, trying to gauge his surrounding.
“Hey, um, Ku-Porce-Whatever, I’m not really sure about this.” He made a weak grab for his hat, standing awkwardly near the boy. “I mean, no offense to you or anything, but this isn’t- isn’t really my thing. I guess that ‘boy fun’ might be, well, relaxing to some people but I.. I kinda find other things more relaxing. Like, for example, um.. Reading! Yeah, reading a good book.” Artie offered him an awkward smile, his weight shifting from foot to foot. “Look, I wouldn’t mind just hangin’ and having a drink.” He nodded slowly, agreeing with his own thought. “Or… Yeah.”
Artie was adorable with his nervousness and innocence. Kurt was little jealous that he still had that. But also he could see the boy was uncomfortable. As much as he needed money, he wasn’t about to insist. “Ah, we’ve got an educated gentleman then.” He said with a kinder smile as he pulled a chair. “Do have a drink and stay for the show. If you can afford books than you can surely tip a poor singer…”
Kurt started to walk away, swaying his hips the way he learned to do when a man’s eyes were on his back. Maybe Artie was convinced he preferred girls, but Kurt was versatile and had a long experience with men who shared that belief. In that case all this boy needed was a little encouragement. He turned back on his heels and addressed Artie once more. “If you change your mind about some extra fun… It wouldn’t cost you more than a couple of books either. And I assure you I’ll make you feel better than paper and ink ever could.” He winked, Artie’s way and then set off to get a drink for himself.
A little perk of working around taverns was paying less for a cup of rum. However, they also took a bit what he earned signing and whoring. Nothing in life was ever free or selfless and that often tired him of living altogether. He leaned against the counter in an exhibitionist pose and watched the first customers of the evening walk in a pick their seats. Soon they would be too drunk to appreciate his singing or discern who they were hooking up with. As long as they had money the evening would stretch on.
His drink was over much too soon and music sounded from different ends of the room, where sat other artist as broke as him. But his audience wasn’t quite drunk enough. Sober men tended to focus more on femininity of his voice, rather than on his undeniable talent. So there was time for a bit of fun. And for introducing someone else to it. He strode back to where Artie said and offered him his hand. “It’s okay for a well-read gentleman to dance every now and then.” He said invitingly.
Artie leaned against the banister, glasses slipping down the bridge of his nose as he looked down. He tilted his head slightly in an effort to hear his mother’s yells; the noise of the street, though, drowned them out entirely. With a sigh, Artie trotted down the stairs into his parents’ shop, sticking his head into the next room. He nodded absentmindedly as his mom spoke; she was probably telling him to go pick something up at the market. He’d deal with that later. “‘Kay, mom,” he began, cutting her off. “Sounds good, mom. I’ve got to go, so, yeah, sounds good!” With that, Artie offered a wide, cheesy grin and turned to run out the door.
Artie slipped his cap onto his messy hair, tugged down his sleeves, and made his way down the street. There was a certain urgency in his pace; his head remained down, gaze caught on the cobblestones at his feet. It was a wonder, Artie thought, his parents hadn’t yet asked him what he spent so much of his time doing. Though they were, in many respects, quite reasonable, he figured that joining a rebellion wouldn’t be well received.
His thoughts were broken as he stumbled over a loose rock, bumping slightly into the man next to him. Murmuring an apology, Artie glanced up sharply. He never liked delivering messages, often because it involved traveling into the worse parts of town. The Abrams family wasn’t particularly high class, but the store provided a steady source of income; Artie and his parents lived good lives. The buildings around him sported chipped paint, broken doors. He shuddered slightly as a woman glared at him from behind a cracked pane of glass. Artie increased his pace, determined to deliver the message and leave.
Artie sped around the corner, eyes narrowed with urgency. But suddenly— “Ow!” he yelped. “Oh, I’m so sorry.” He held out one hand toward the boy he had just crashed into. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t looking where I was going. Totally my fau-” Artie stopped, examining the person in front of him. He looked strangely familiar. “K… uh.. Urt. Kurt?” he questioned, searching his mind for the name of this boy. “I’m Artie. I swear we’ve met before somewhere..” With a helpless shrug, he trailed off. “Maybe I just made that up.”
Kurt yelped at the impact and got ready to snap at whoever it was. But the boy looked so apologetic and embarrassed that it was impossible to be mad. He also looked quite familiar, but Kurt couldn’t quite remember him. But apparently the boy was familiar enough to know his name. “Call me Porcelain, cutie.” He replied in suggestive tone, noting that… Artie really was cute. And didn’t look so poor as to belong in these parts.
It was a good chance and Kurt was always on the hunt. He took his arm and started walking him in the direction of the tavern. “If you like a fun night you probably know me… Do you have any plans for tonight? How about a show? Some booze? A warm bed to forget about loneliness? All for a small bargain, what do you say, Artie?” He asked sweetly, pulling him into the tavern and trying to lure him into staying. And paying. It was a skill developed over years of selling out.
He took Artie’s hat and approached a table with his elegant walk. “Surely you need to relax… You’re bumping into people on the street! Sit down, have a drink. And you since you’re here it would be rude to leave without seeing me perform. Besides, you might like what you see… And nothing is more relaxing than a little… boy fun?” He made innocent eyes Artie’s way. Of course it was innocent, he only wanted what was best for the boy. As long as he could pay. And well, if he didn’t have the money, Kurt could always snatch and sell his good clothes.
Kurt wandered about the poor streets of Paris, as he often did. The night was coming and with it the time to work. There was a tavern where they let him sing even though very few ever paid attention. To the singing that is. They paid attention to other things. And paid money too. So that’s where Kurt was eventually headed, but it was early and he decided he could afford a little time for himself. Between selling his voice and his body, and taking care of his dad, he didn’t usually have the luxury to stop and think and pretend to promenade like bourgeois did.
Only they did it in the good streets of Paris, where there were no signs of misery. Here it was all around. But being a positive person, Kurt chose to focus on little bits of happiness. Like how children still played when they were told to work; or how someone who was better off might share some of their bread or hand the beggars some coins; or how some people sung and hummed as they went about their business; how the ladies would still try to look their best even in raggedy dresses (and some did quite and impressive job!); and how everyone greeted and smiled and just went on despite all their hardships. Kurt was certain they, the little people were actually the strongest in town. Smiling can’t be that hard when life is easy, right?
He stopped in front of the tavern, where he would perform and… keep company to some lonely souls. Maybe he wouldn’t go in just yet and walk some more around the block… He could pretend some more than he didn’t have to do what he did. He imagined with it would be like to be just in passing, to see this part of town for the first time and wonder into the tavern with money for drinks and even a meal. Wouldn’t it be sweet to just be able to leave by the end of the night and go home to servants and more food and more comforts? Maybe one day…