Disclaimer: I do not own Glee. This is purely for fandom purposes. If I did own Glee, I'd be off somewhere making goo-goo eyes at Darren Criss, not sitting on my fat-ass, writing fics.

Kurt couldn't believe it. Barely a week into his time as a Warbler, and he was already screwed. There was no way they were going to keep him around after this; there was no one they could overlook such a huge indiscretion. It wasn't as if he'd lost his school pin, or forgotten a song's choreography; no, this was much, much worse. Pavarotti was sick-maybe even dying-on his watch.

Kurt was a bird murderer. A birderer.

Could he do nothing right? He thought that transferring from McKinley-getting away from the bullying and the overall homophobic atmosphere-would be better for him. He thought he'd come to Dalton, and not only would he be appreciated for his musical talents, but for who he was on the inside, too. He thought he'd be happy, maybe even popular, but that dream was out the window now. Not only were his ideas for Sectionals shot down, but now he could kiss any hope of being well-known and adored goodbye. Instead of having his name in lights, he'd have it on the bird-murdering offenders list.

"Come on, Pavarotti," he begged quietly, getting so close to the cage that his nose was almost brushing against the bars, "Sing." The thrush just cocked his head to the unnatural angle that only birds could manage and shuddered, another tuft of bright yellow feathers detaching and settling to the bottom of the cage. He hardly had any left. What had once resembled sunshine, now looked more like margarine. He was pale, less filled out, and he looked just plain…tired.

Kurt didn't want to admit his failure to anyone, but if he didn't act fast, he really could have a dead bird on his hands, and that was unacceptable. With shaking hands, he pulled up the contacts list on his phone and opened a blank text to Blaine. First floor commons, he was barely able to type, Come quick. Emergency. As soon as he sent it, he felt a little bit better. Blaine would come-he knew he would-and everything would be okay. Somehow. Blaine would make it okay.

Less than five minutes later, he heard the quick fall of feet on the tiled floor and he let out a breath of relief that quickly turned back into panic when he heard the urgency of his classmate's voice. "I got your text; what's wrong?"

"It's Pavarotti; I think he's sick," Kurt said, trying desperately to keep the waver out of his voice. Blaine had seen him so close to the edge so many times already, but he'd been very good about keeping the tears inside. This was his chance to be the strong one-to be brave-and he wouldn't make himself weak in Blaine's eyes. "I'm taking good care of him, but he won't sing and he's losing his feathers."

The way Blaine sat down on the edge of the couch and leaned toward the cage with examining eyes sent mixed emotions through Kurt. That was either a good sign, or a bad sign. That kind of calm was always one of the two extremes.

The older boy smirked a little and said, "Oh, he's just molting. He's growing a new coat of feathers, so his body has to shut down a little." Kurt felt instantly idiotic. He didn't know a whole lot about birds, but that was something he should have been able to figure out. Stupid. "Don't worry about it," Blaine continued with that easy grin, "He's got food, water; he seems to like his cage. Just give it a little while; he'll be singing again in no time." As he said this last part, he gave his classmate a subtle, knowing look.

As the gaze lingered, Kurt felt himself flush a little. "What?" He asked very quietly, feeling more self-conscious than he ever had at McKinley. Something about being around Blaine set him on edge-made him desperate to keep from making a fool of himself.

Blaine bit him lip, like he was debating over whether or not to say something, and Kurt couldn't help but notice that it was probably the most adorable thing he'd seen in his life. He'd never seen Blaine apprehensive about anything; it was kind of a nice change. "I heard you, you know," he said slowly, carefully, "At Sectionals? I heard you talking to your friend about us."

"My friend…?" Kurt wracked his brain, and then it dawned on him; Blaine had come to retrieve him when he was talking to Rachel in the theatre lobby. Now if only he could remember the details of the conversation. "Oh, Rachel. Um," he looked down at his hands, "What did I say?"

"That being one of us has made you question yourself," Blaine told him, one eyebrow raised, "About us not appreciating your individuality."

Kurt felt himself turning even redder-if possible-out of guilt. "I-I'm sorry, it was just-"

"It's okay," Blaine cut him off, placing a hand on his knee, "We all understand that this is a big transition for you."

His chest tightened. The Warblers could say they understood all they wanted, but when it came right down to it, those were only words. "I just," he cleared his throat, but he couldn't seem to make his voice come out any louder than it was, "I don't know how this is going to work. You guys are all about the banter; I'm about the monologue. It's the only thing I've ever known."

Blaine opened his mouth to reply, but promptly closed it again and smirked instead. "Come on," he took Kurt's hand and stood, pulling the younger boy up with him.

"Where are we going?"

Blaine didn't answer; he just held tight to Kurt's hand and led him down the hallway, making several twists and turns and climbing two flights of stairs before finally stopping them outside of the Warbler practice room. He dropped Kurt's hand to push open the door, and Kurt couldn't help but feel a knot of disappointment in his stomach at the loss of contact. But more than that, he felt confusion. "Blaine, what are we doing here?"

"Call it a lesson," the other boy said with a clever smile, settling himself behind the piano in the center of the room. "Come sit with me."

Kurt slowly lowered himself into the free space on the stool and let his bag fall to the floor. "What kind of lesson?"

"You're used to the spotlight," Blaine told him, fingers playing over the keys absently, "You're used to putting your emotions out there, leaving nothing to interpretation. Big and flashy and-"

"Gay?" Kurt muttered helpfully.

Blaine laughed and shook his head, then continued, "But what you don't understand is, there is more than one way to express yourself." He leaned over to collect a binder from his bag, "You just have to find your happy medium. You have to find the music that makes you feel something-and makes other people feel something-but that you can still reign in. Power doesn't always have to be powerful," he said with a little nod, handing the binder to Kurt, "Power can be understated, and it can still move people to tears. Here, pick something."

Kurt opened the notebook to find it filled with piano sheet music. With trembling hands, he flipped through the pages, trying to find a song that fit Blaine's description. Something simple-understated-but something that he could still connect with. Something that fit.

"Um, I guess I could try," his finger trailed over the title on one page, "This one? But up a few octaves."

Blaine craned his neck to see the page, and smiled, "Yeah, that's kind of a low one." He played the first note and raised an eyebrow at Kurt, who shook his head. Moving his fingers to the right a little, he played it again, higher this time, and Kurt nodded. With that, Blaine began to play, watching his classmate encouragingly. Kurt took a deep breath. Reign it in, he chanted in his head, Reign it in, reign it in, reign it in. He opened his mouth, and sang as evenly as possible.

"Happiness was just outside my window
I thought it would crash, going eighty miles an hour
But happiness is a little more like knocking
On your door - you just let it in

It was different. Kurt wasn't used to singing slowly, to such a simple melody. He wasn't used to this tightness in his chest, or this swelling in his eyes. He liked to think he was usually emotionally connected to the songs he sang, but this was on a whole other level; he was examining-feeling it-as he sang.

"Happiness feels a lot like sorrow
Let it be - you can't make it come or go
But you are gone - not for good, but for now
And gone for now feels a lot like gone for good

Happiness is a firecracker sitting on my headboard
Happiness was never mine to hold
Careful, child - light the fuse and get away
Because happiness throws a shower of sparks

Blaine was still watching him, glancing down briefly as he changed keys, but then fastening his eyes back on the singer. He was transfixed; he'd never seen Kurt's face so tight, so involved. He was usually relaxed and completely at peace with himself in his music; he could tell that this was a foreign experience for him. He could barely contain a smile as he joined in.

"Happiness damn near destroys you
Breaks your faith to pieces on the floor
So you tell yourself, 'that's enough for now'
Happiness has a violent roar

Happiness - it's like the old man told me
Look for it, and you'll never find it all
But let it go - live your life, and leave it
Then one day, you'll wake up and she'll be home

Blaine's vocals stopped, but he continued playing lightly as Kurt's eyes closed and he sang through the end of the song.

"She'll be home"

As Blaine played the last few notes and Kurt's voice trailed off, they both opened their eyes and looked at each other, and for the briefest of moments, everything was okay. Kurt's doubts and concerns were on the back-burner, and the combined affect of the music and the shine in Blaine's honey-tinted hazel eyes soothed him to the core. Maybe he could do this. Maybe he could fit in here-do things the way the Warblers did-and everything would be fine. Maybe he could feel like this all the time.

"That was amazing," Blaine finally said, his voice quiet, and a little rough with emotion.

"It felt amazing," Kurt admitted bashfully, smoothing his hands over the sides of his legs.

Blaine watched this modest display and, before he could stop himself, he was leaning forward. Slowly-softly-he pressed his lips against Kurt's left temple, fingers resting on his forearm. Kurt froze, sensation coursing through his entire body, and he decided that this moment couldn't get much better.

"Come on," Blaine said-for about the sixth time-as he pulled away, a slow grin crawling across his face. "You take Pavarotti back to your room, and then we'll get some lunch."

Kurt nodded, fighting with his muscles to keep from beaming like an absolute idiot, "Sure. That sounds great."