Title: The Lonely Warbler

Note: Special thanks to canuckpagali, i-found-you-justine-time & perktxgirl for their work on this chapter.

Summary: At the beginning of Kurt's senior year at McKinley High, he skips class to avoid a bully and ends up meeting the most interesting boy he's ever laid eyes on.

Chapter Twenty

"I know it was ridiculous, but I couldn't sleep last night and ended up watching a marathon of it on..." Kurt stopped speaking when he realized Blaine wasn't paying attention. He eyed him warily, the way he was staring off into space while idly stirring his coffee, his crossed leg tapping at the air nervously. "But then I found out they canceled the next season of Sonny's Top Five and will be replacing it with a reality TV show about bedazzling cats."

Blaine's face twitched before his eyebrows drew together and he shook himself out of whatever he was lost in.

"What?" he asked dazedly.

Kurt chuckled.

"Where'd you go?" he asked and Blaine's cheeks flushed in embarrassment, the colour not nearly as obvious on Blaine's skin as when it shows up on Kurt's.

"Sorry, Kurt," said Blaine with a sheepish smile. "Are they really cancelling Sonny's Top Five?"

"Do you think I would be sitting so calmly if they were?" asked Kurt, eyebrow arching.

"Touché," responded Blaine with a laugh but still looking embarrassed.

"So," started Kurt, ducking his head to try to catch Blaine's eye. "What's on your mind?"

Blaine licked his lips and Kurt could tell he was mulling it over, trying to decide how to put his thoughts to words. Kurt waited patiently. He took another sip from the coffee cup warm in his hands.

"I really want to make a good impression on your father," Blaine finally said. "And I worry that I already haven't because of... everything."

"He'll love you once he gets to know you," replied Kurt, almost flippantly because of his confidence in the matter.

Blaine didn't look convinced.

"Relax," laughed Kurt, reaching with his free hand to take hold of Blaine's across the table. "This isn't a firing squad, Blaine; this is dinner with my family. They just want to get to know you, not judge you."

"Wait until your turn," sighed out Blaine in near exasperation. "It'll feel much more like a death sentence than a dinner when you have to face my family."

Kurt's smile widened at Blaine's words and he struggled to keep it at least to sane proportions because it wouldn't do to look like a mental patient when he was supposed to be supporting his boyfriend. He was sure he would be very nervous when he finally got to meet the Andersons but he just couldn't help but notice how 'forever' this felt; talking about meeting each other's families and wanting to make good impressions for the betterment of their futures together. Kurt sighed happily.

"So, should I bring anything?" asked Blaine.

"Just your dreamy self," replied Kurt, not missing a beat even though Blaine's voice had pulled him from his reverie.

"Six thirty?" asked Blaine seeking confirmation and Kurt chuckled because he had already confirmed it for Blaine a number of times that day.

"Yes, Hun," replied Kurt, grinning. "Six thirty, tonight."

Blaine smiled brightly and squeezed Kurt's hand where they were still clasped on the table between them. Kurt's grin didn't falter but his brow drew together in mild confusion at Blaine's reaction.

"You called me Hun," explained Blaine.

Kurt blushed.

"I did," he confirmed, his cheeks beginning to ache from their little moment of ridiculous mutual grinning and coy eyelash batting.

"I like it," replied Blaine bashfully.

Kurt wanted to reach for him but they were in the Lima Bean. Instead, he just gave him a private smile, the one that spoke of love and shared confidences and of nights of shared skin. Blaine returned it, his face softening but eyes darkening before he finally had to look down as if the intensity were too much.

"See you soon?" he asked, fumbling with his cup before looking up.

"Six thirty," replied Kurt giving Blaine's hand a quick squeeze before standing to go.

It was barely two hours later that Kurt found himself pacing between the living room and kitchen, glancing out the living room's large bay window every few moments between his putterings in the kitchen. Burt was watching with barely suppressed amusement where he sat in his armchair in the living room, the local news playing on the television. Carol, too, was chuckling as she bore witness to Kurt's display from where she worked in the kitchen.

"You'll be nice to him, right?" asked Kurt, more as a demand than a question.

"I'm always nice," countered Burt with a grin and Kurt finally stopped in his pacing, but only long enough to give his father a dark glare.

"Dad," snapped Kurt, his nerves causing his words to be much more biting than usual. "You have to be nice to him. He gets nervous around new people as it is. If you scare him off, I swear..."

Kurt stopped talking, his entire body stiffening when he heard the faint sound of a vehicle. He whipped around, then, and stalked to the window to see if the sound was Blaine arriving. It was Finn getting home from football practice Kurt groaned and checked his watch. 6:20 pm. He still had ten minutes of nerves to deal with.

Moments later, Finn stumbled into the house, feet heavy and movements clumsy. His gym bag thumped loudly against the floor to soon be followed by the 'thunk, thunk' of kicked off shoes and rustling of a coat being taken off and dropped. Kurt gritted his teeth in annoyance.

"Brr," complained Finn as he made his way into the living room. "Why is it so cold in here?"

"It isn't cold," replied Kurt with a shrug as he tried for nonchalance.

He had turned down the thermostat the moment he had arrived home from his coffee date with Blaine at the Lima Bean. He knew Blaine would be dressed in layers to keep the attention paid to his back to a minimum and didn't want him to be uncomfortable at the heat.

"Now that you bring it up, it does feel a little bit chilly in here," said Burt, shifting his weight around in his chair like he was about to get up. "Perhaps I should check the thermostat."

"No," exclaimed Kurt before forcing his voice normal. "No, I think it is just fine in here, besides, we don't want it to get too hot with the oven on."

"Kurt, Dude, I don't think you have to worry about it being too hot," said Finn, giving him an incredulous look. "It is freezingin here."

"It is not!" exclaimed Kurt in exasperation, before he started pushing Finn out of the living room. "Now go clean up the mess you left in the entry, we have a guest coming for dinner!"

"No, seriously," said Finn as he allowed Kurt to push him backwards. "I think I can see me (my) breath."

"Oh, you cannot," argued Kurt. "It isn't even that cold outside."

"That's what I'm saying!" exclaimed Finn. "It is COLD in here!"

"Then put a sweater on!" cried out Kurt before shutting the pocket door on Finn's face, keeping him in the porch. "AFTER you clean up your mess."

Carole was smiling too brightly at Kurt when he entered the kitchen and let out an infuriated sigh as he plunked down on one of the stools at the counter. Kurt glanced at the microwave's clock and sighed again before making eye contact with Carole.

"What are you smirking at?" asked Kurt, his tone much warmer with her than it had been with Finn or his dad.

"I've never seen you so worked up," said Carole with a short laugh. "He must be really important to you."

Kurt couldn't help the blush that instantly stained his cheeks. He bit his lip and looked down at his hands before giving her a minute nod. She let out a little squeal at that and moved swiftly across the kitchen to gather him in a hug. Kurt laughed fondly, feeling some of the tension drain out of him.

It was then that the doorbell chimed throughout the house and Kurt stiffed for half a second before catapulting off the stool toward the entry. He had to get to the door before...

"Hey, dude," he heard Finn say. "You're kind of a small little guy aren't you?"

"Oh g*d," Kurt said under his breath.

He opened the pocket door of the entry just in time to see Finn letting Blaine in and clapping a hand to his back in a show of brotherly camaraderie or whatever it was that spurred guys to do that. Kurt winced.

"Thanks," said Blaine weakly. "Finn, right?"

"Yep, and you're Blake, right?"


"Right, right," said Finn nodding.

Blaine looked toward Kurt and a smile grew on his nervous face.

"Hey," he breathed and Kurt smiled brightly in response.

"Cool," muttered Finn as if happy to lose the responsibility of showing the new boy into the house.

He grabbed his gym bag and stepped past them, leaving them alone in the entry.

"Can I take your coat?" asked Kurt, giving Blaine a meaningful look.

Blaine's smile turned tentative but he nodded. Kurt pulled it from his shoulders and turned to hang it up for him while Blaine bent to take off his shoes. Once Blaine had straightened and pushed his shoes to the side with his toes, Kurt engulfed him in a tight hug.

"He didn't hurt you pounding you on the back like that, did he?" whispered Kurt with worry.

Blaine chuckled and shook his head, hugging Kurt back.

"No," he replied.

"Okay, good."

Kurt paused then, still not letting Blaine go from the tight hug.

"I'm so glad you're here," he finally whispered before turning to press a kiss to Blaine's jaw.

"I'm glad, too," said Blaine. "Nervous, but glad."

After one more squeeze, Kurt finally let him go. He grinned brightly at Blaine before taking his hand.

"C'mon," he said. "I want you to meet my family."

Carole had been warm and enthusiastic upon meeting Blaine, pulling him into a hug that Kurt knew had to make him uncomfortable. Finn had disappeared up to his room. Burt had regarded Blaine warily, but gave him a firm handshake and told him to 'call me Burt, son'. When dinner was served, Finn came clambering down the stairs dressed in a baggy hoodie just like Kurt had suggested –well, not just as he suggested. Kurt would never suggest a bulky, baggy McKinley High hoodie for a dinner party, even if it was just family dinner night. He would have suggested a nice sweater, perhaps something like the beautiful, wool, cranberry-coloured cardigan Blaine was dressed in.

They ate supper together; Carole making conversation with Blaine by sweetly asking him about himself and his family, not realizing that some of the subjects she touched upon were sore spots . Blaine was a perfect gentleman, as Kurt knew him to be, and replied easily with a semi-confident smile and polite demeanor. He managed to skirt around the topics Kurt knew were much too dark and too private to share so openly upon first meeting new people. Burt was mostly quiet, asking a few questions here and there as they came to mind. For the most part, his demeanor remained neutral, even a little warm, but there were moments when Kurt really wanted to stomp Burt's foot under the table. Finn mostly concentrated on his meal. He perked up, though, when Burt asked Blaine what he thought about football.

"I think the Buckeyes have been failing in their defense," spoke Blaine, honestly, when prompted for his thoughts on the current season.

"I know, right!?" exclaimed Finn and Kurt rolled his eyes as the three men jumped into a discussion about the team and what they thought would better their chances at winning.

Kurt shared a fond but exasperated look with Carole who smiled and shrugged before turning her attention back to her food. Despite having no interest in the current dinner conversation, Kurt enjoyed how Blaine's body language changed during the discussion. He was loosening, his body sitting less rigid with nerves. Kurt reached under the table to place a hand on Blaine's knee. Blaine faltered in conversation for a millisecond, his eyes flicking to Kurt's and the corners of his mouth twitching before he recovered and got back into the discussion. Kurt ate with his right hand, letting his left stay resting on Blaine's knee. He was happy to remain silent and just enjoy hearing his boyfriend converse animatedly with his step-brother and dad, enjoying the warmth and amazing growth of his family. That was when his contented calm was shattered, though.

"Why don't you come over next Friday for the game?" asked Burt. "I'm closing shop up early so I can be home in time to watch it."

"Yeah!" exclaimed Finn. "It's at four. You gotta come, Dude!"

Kurt's heart leaped into his throat. He had been so distracted by everything that had happened over the last few weeks that he had completely forgotten how close March 18th had drawn. It was the day of Blaine's Pre-Op appointment; the one where he and his doctor went over everything before his wing removal surgery. The food in Kurt's stomach suddenly felt very heavy.

"He can't," said Kurt, suddenly and all the eyes around the table were drawn to him. "He, um, he has an appointment next Friday. Right Blaine?"

"Let the kid speak for himself, Kurt," said Burt, shaking his head and turning to offer Blaine an apologetic smile. "Don't mind him, he's always doing that. He gets really protective of the people he lov... of people."

Kurt's face flooded with heat and he glanced sideways at Blaine who was smiling at Burt's slip.

"That's alright, sir," he said, obviously trying to hide his grin. "I know full well of how he gets."

Blaine smiled over at Kurt, then, and Kurt's stony expression softened. Burt cleared his throat a moment later, breaking their sappy staring.

"Actually, though," said Blaine, turning to Burt to smile politely but then glancing back at Kurt. "I am free next Friday. The appointment was cancelled."

Kurt's heart stuttered in his chest when Blaine gave him a meaningful look.

"Really?" asked Kurt.

"Really," replied Blaine, and his hand snuck under the table to grasp Kurt's where it was still lying on his knee.

Kurt wanted to leap from his seat and grab Blaine up in his arms. He wanted to run around the room yelling and waving his arms. He wanted to stand on the table and belt out a joyous song. Kurt smiled softly at Blaine, instead, before turning back to his supper.

"Great," said Burt with an approving nod. "I'm looking forward to it."

"Awesome!" exclaimed Finn before looking back and forth between his mom and Burt. "So, if Kurt is bringing a friend, can Puck come over?"

"Kurt is not bringing a friend," replied Burt with a grin and a wink in Kurt's direction. "Blaine is Kurt's boyfriend, and I really don't think Rachel would be interested in football. Besides, Iinvited Blaine."

Kurt beamed at Burt.

Later that evening, long after the family had finished supper and had their dessert in the living room; it was time for Blaine to head home. Kurt walked him out to his mother's car.

"I'm so glad you came tonight," said Kurt as they walked together slowly.

"Me too," replied Blaine, easily. "Your family is really great."

"Thank you," whispered Kurt, smiling brightly. "I like them."

Blaine chuckled fondly. Kurt grabbed Blaine's hand and the other boy turned to him curiously.

"So... you cancelled your appointment?" asked Kurt. "Does that mean..."

"Yeah," answered Blaine, eyes bright with the sheer amount of emotion behind his bird-like irises. "I..." deep breath. "I'm going to keep them."

Kurt cried out with joy and relief, tears pricking at his eyes. He threw his arms around Blaine and jumped into his chest. Blaine caught him, laughing.

"When did you decide?" asked Kurt. "Was it because of Wes and Nick in the alley?"

Blaine shook his head, chuckling warmly at Kurt.

"It was when you said you wanted to love me... with them."

Kurt's lip began to tremble and he swallowed a few times to try to keep the emotion from stealing his voice. Finally, when he felt like he could speak, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes.

"I was so proud of you tonight," he ventured, opening his eyes to gaze into Blaine's. "I'm so proud of you all the time, but tonight and, well, this past week, you just... you make me so proud to be with you."

Blaine bit his lip, his eyes moist.

"Good," he half choked, half whispered. "I want you to be."

"You've grown so much, Blaine," said Kurt, rubbing his hands up and down Blaine's upper arms. "I remember when we first met, you were so nervous of everyone. You always seemed better with me, for some reason," Kurt mused before getting back to his explanation. "But you weren't open. You didn't even tell me you were gay until long after we met –even when you knew Iwas gay."

Blaine laughed softly at that.

"Tonight, you spent the evening with my family," continued Kurt. "You weren't just your gentlemanly self, you were much more open and friendly, and dare I say, even relaxed, with them than I've ever seen you with strangers."

"They aren't strangers," argued Blaine. "They're your family.

"They were to you," answered Kurt, before leaning in to give Blaine a soft kiss.

"And you were so great at The Flock meeting and again when we had coffee with Nick, Jeff and Wes," continued Kurt. "You've decided to try to go to school in New York when you graduate; you even brought it up with your parents. And now... now you're telling me that you've decided to keep your wings. Blaine, can't you see how much you've grown?"

"It was you," replied Blaine, tenderly returning Kurt's kiss before drawing back to speak again. "You've done all this for me, you've changed me."

Kurt shook his head.

"I may have given you a little push," said Kurt. "But this was all you, Blaine."

He leaned in to kiss Blaine, again. Blaine's hands rose to push through the hair at the back of Kurt's head as Kurt wrapped his arms around Blaine's shoulders.

"All you," breathed out Kurt. "You're the bravest person I know."

"I love you," spoke Blaine in response, his breaths coming out a little ragged after their kisses.

"I love you, too," replied Kurt, smiling. "So much."

They kissed a few more times until the porch light began to blink. Kurt laughed coyly and let Blaine go.

"Coffee tomorrow?" he asked.

"Tomorrow," replied Blaine with a nod. "And every day after that."

Kurt grinned and waved as Blaine got into the car. When Blaine flashed him one final, bright smile, Kurt's heart fluttered in his chest to match the movement of the butterflies in his stomach. He hoped those butterflies would never go away.

Author's Note: Thank you so much for taking this little journey with me. I so appreciate you reading along and leaving comments. I want to say a very special thank you to Elizabeth and Justine who helped so much with this story when I hit a block about halfway through it. Without them, this story would not have finished. Thank you to deewani for her help with some betaing, and again, to Elizabeth and Justine for going beyond my request for brainstorming help to also help beta. And a very big thank you to Margaret who was absolutely fantastic at betaing each chapter for me despite her busy life. Her fantastic skills have definitely made this story so much better than what it started out as. So, yeah, props to these four lovely people for bettering my words and making this story what it is today. I hope you all enjoyed it. Thanks to my lovely readers for sticking through to the end.