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Do You Believe in Magic

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Spoilers: Up to 2.16
Warnings: Homophobia, classism.
Disclaimer: RIB and FOX own everything ever.
Beta: rdm_ation on LJ

 

Wes was becoming increasingly convinced that Kurt Hummel was a Disney princess. It was insane and, as ideas went, indicative of unhealthy thought patterns, but once it occurred to him, he couldn’t make it go away. All of the signs were there. Kurt had cartoonishly good looks. He had big, sparkling eyes; preternaturally amazing, poofy hair; skin like fresh-poured cream. He had a voice like a bell and used it to deal with his emotions through song. He had a loving father and a deceased mother. He had been forced away from his tiny town because he was too amazing for them to handle and had dreams too big, so they had treated him like a freak. He had an unsettling ability to wrap people around his finger given half a chance. He even had, effectively, a Prince Charming; Blaine was not unlike a Disney character himself, with his attention-grabbing eyebrows and ability make everyone like him.

But the final nail in the coffin was Pavarotti. Kurt had a faithful, singing animal sidekick, and that right there was just not natural.

Pavarotti was entirely David’s fault, for the record. There was a long and proud tradition among the Warblers of giving the newest member a canary, but Blaine had moved to make Kurt the exception. He claimed that Kurt had enough on his plate without a pet he hadn’t asked for. Thad said that Blaine was right, and incidentally very generous and caring to have thought of it. Wes almost had a heart attack, and cradled his gavel. David patted his hand and said that Kurt would feel left out if they made him the exception and he found out about it; Kurt would want to feel like part of the group, and a little friendly hazing-by-canary was part of what helped the Warblers bond. Anyway, it was condescending to assume that he couldn’t deal with a bird, even this one. They sat in their cages and chirped all day, what was to deal with?

So whereas Wes would have been horrified but probably would have caved, and Thad had no spine whatsoever when it came to Blaine, David managed to swing things back around to tradition, albeit by ignoring everything they knew about Pavarotti. This made the bird sidekick issue his fault.

And Pavarotti was, for the record, an angry, miserable, mean little old man of a bird. Wes, in the four hours he’d been in charge of him before handing him over to Kurt, had been pecked five times and almost lost the vicious little animal twice while trying to feed him. Kevin, the last Warbler to be saddled with Pavarotti’s ownership, had handed him over with a sigh of relief and a sad but genuine, “I really tried to make him happy. I feel bad for Kurt, man” that had made Wes have second thoughts about handing him over to someone who had just transferred. Just not enough second thoughts.

Wes thought saying anything would just bias Kurt against the bird and make Blaine unnecessarily worried, so he didn’t. He later regretted this.

Wes genuinely did like Kurt. He just wasn’t sure why, since Kurt wasn’t really what he thought of himself as being attracted to in a potential friend; Kurt didn’t care about tradition or appropriate venues for given styles of humor or performance. And worse, he was making Blaine think the same way. You’d think Blaine had been in New Directions, the way he kept referring to them and how they did things.

And Wes couldn’t find it within himself to care, which was bothering him. Those were things that he should care about. He shouldn’t like Kurt. Yet he did, and couldn’t stop, and neither could Pavarotti, previously the most evil of canaries. Conclusion: Kurt was a Disney Princess.

x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x

Once, in the first week after Kurt transferred, Wes saw him after practice. Blaine had been asked to stay and work with Nick on his solo, and Kurt was alone; he was struggling with Pavarotti’s cage, a binder of music, some loose paper, his bag, and now his cell phone, which had just gone off.

“Let me help you with that,” Wes offered, reaching for the binder. He was faintly annoyed with Kurt at the moment, since his angelic stylings in rehearsal had distracted him from Blaine during one of Blaine’s solos, but that wasn’t, he told himself, really Kurt’s fault. He couldn’t help having a voice genetically engineered for unearthly perfection.

“Oh, thank you,” Kurt said, not looking up, “it’s my dad, he’s picking me up and I’m late,” and he handed over the bird cage. Shifting the binder under his arm with a sigh of relief, he answered his phone. “Hey, Dad. No, I’m coming, I’ll be right out! I’m on my way.” He hung up, but promptly opened his binder and started trying to stuff the loose pages in, which meant Wes couldn’t hand back the bird cage.

Pavarotti hopped closer to the side of the cage nearest Wes’s leg. He extended his arm to keep himself safe.

“I’m sorry.” Kurt sounded hassled. “I can take him back in just a second –”

“It’s fine,” Wes found himself saying. “Let me walk you to your car? I can hold onto him until then.”

“Really? That would be fantastic.” Kurt stopped trying to fix his binder and started walking. “So I’m not failing a secret test by letting you take him for a second?”

“No. We don’t have secret tests. That would be ungentlemanly. The test was just to take care of him, which you’ve already proved yourself more than capable of doing.” Wes frowned. “You don’t actually have to take him to every practice, you know.”

Kurt looked puzzled. “But then I’d have to leave him alone for longer.”

“Yes,” Wes allowed, as this was indeed the case.

“He doesn’t like being alone,” Kurt said, and smiled at the cage.

Kevin used to complain that Pavarotti tried to peck his eyes out if Kevin intruded on his privacy more than three times a day, or if one of those three times was not directly related to serving the bird in some way. “Really,” Wes said, and peered into the cage. Maybe Kurt had killed the real Pavarotti and replaced him with a cheaper, less evil counterpart.

Pavarotti launched himself from his perch and bit one of Wes’s fingers, which had strayed too close to the bars.

“Hngm,” said Wes.

Kurt looked at him. “Are… you okay?”

“Pavarotti,” said Wes, and checked the cage. Pavarotti was sitting on his perch, preening his feathers. He seemed cute and not at all like an attack-bird. “He startled me,” Wes offered. “Kurt?”

“Yes?”

“Has Pavarotti ever… viciously attacked you without provocation?”

Kurt looked at Wes the way you look at someone whose sanity is in some question; since, of the two of them, Kurt was the one with a tiny wooden animal head pinned to his lapel, Wes felt this was unfair. “Nnnno,” Kurt said. “He hasn’t.”

“Oh. Well, you’re probably very good with birds,” Wes said. “Do you have a lot of experience with pets?” Kurt didn’t look like he had a lot of experience with pets, but stranger things had happened.

“No, not a lot,” Kurt said, faintly defensive. “But he’s fine, he was just molting before.”

“He seems very chipper,” Wes agreed. “I imagine you did a lot of research, then? On how to take care of birds, I mean.”

“Not really. He needs food – not glitter – and water and a clean cage, what’s to research?” They reached the door, which Wes held for him. “Thank you.”

“No problem.”

“Wes?” Kurt waved at his father across the parking lot and managed to jam his papers securely enough into his binder that he could take the cage back. “I promise I’m taking care of him.” He looked nervous. In fact, he almost looked scared. “I really like Pavarotti,” he added, with the air of one hinting at something.

Wes figured out what, and that this was all his fault, and was plunged into the depths of despair. “He’s yours,” he said, surrendering the cage. “No one’s going to ask for him back, believe me.” He patted Kurt’s arm. “We want you to feel welcome,” he added fumblingly.

“Oh. Okay. Well, thank you. I feel very welcome.” Kurt beamed at him, and everything was right with the world. “See you tomorrow. We both will!” He whistled to Pavarotti and took off across the parking lot. Pavarotti whistled back at him, and then gave Wes the evil eye when Kurt wasn’t watching. Wes knew that birds did not think in these terms but still felt, very strongly, that he was being told in no uncertain terms to fuck off. And Wes didn’t usually even think in such vulgar terms, so plainly the bird was at fault.

Kurt’s dad got out of the car to help him, and Wes’s mouth dropped a little. He had seen people like Burt Hummel on television. He had on a baseball cap, jeans, and a flannel coat over a thin t-shirt. Wes had had a book when he was a child with an illustration of a trucker; he was pretty sure Burt Hummel was that trucker. And this was Kurt’s dad.

He opened the back door of the car, and Kurt put his bag and binder down inside before setting Pavarotti carefully on the seat and buckling the cage in place. Then he turned to talk to his dad. Who hugged him. Wes saw it very clearly; his dad initiated the hug. Kurt laughed and kissed his cheek, and stole the car keys. His dad shook his head, but opened the driver’s door for him and closed it behind him.

Blaine walked out just as they drove away. “Oh, man, did I miss Kurt?”

“Yeah,” Wes said, a little dazed. “Do you know Kurt’s dad?”

“Well, we haven’t been formally introduced, but Kurt talks about him a lot. He sounds fantastic,” Blaine said, tone going a little funny. “They’re close. I mean, like – this. It makes more sense for Kurt to just drive himself, but sometimes his dad drops him off and picks him up, just so they can spend time together in the car. Talk. You know.” He was starting to sound a little strangled, and stopped, then added, “I think it’s nice.”

“Huh. He didn’t look like… the type.”

Blaine shrugged. “Sometimes people surprise you for the better,” he offered.

“Yes. Yes, they do.”

x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x

The first time he tried to broach the subject with someone else, it was with Thad.

“Warbler Thad,” he said, “does Kurt ever bother you?”

“No,” Thad said, puzzled. “He had trouble fitting in at first, but he’s a very nice boy. Blaine adores him. Of course he doesn’t bother me. Does he bother you?”

“No. Don’t you think that’s strange? I mean, don’t you think maybe he should bother me? You remember how much I disliked Jeremy.” Jeremy had been a little like Kurt in his lack of reverence for tradition. He used to sneak his girlfriend onto school grounds and wear tie-dyed socks, and worse, spoke out of turn at meetings. He hadn’t lasted long as a Warbler. He said they were too stuffy, and that Wes kept giving him bitchfaces.

“I do remember that,” Thad said. “But Kurt… is… Blaine adores him.”

“Yes, thank you. It’s just – don’t you think he’s oddly good-looking?”

Thad shrugged. “He’s very pretty. Lots of people are pretty, Warbler Wes. You have to adjust to these things in life. I’m very pretty. Blaine is very pretty. It doesn’t mean anything.”

“I suppose.” Wes sat in silence for a moment, then tried again. “But doesn’t he sing suspiciously well?”

Thad frowned. It was sort of the same look Kurt had given him after the question about Pavarotti. “I don’t think there’s anything suspicious about singing very well. Blaine sings very well.”

Wes sighed and gave up. He didn’t know how to articulate the difference, which essentially boiled down to this: When Blaine sang, he thought of rainbows and puppies. When Kurt sang, he thought of Aurora and Snow White and Ariel.

x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x

It wasn’t until after Valentine’s Day that Wes found himself alone with Kurt again. He stepped outside and there Kurt was, sitting on the stoop. He looked cold and irritated and didn’t have Pavarotti, which Wes was beginning to see as akin to seeing one of those Golden Compass characters without their dæmon.

“Hey, Kurt,” he said. “Do you need help with something?”

“No, I’m fine.” Kurt smiled tightly.

Blaine wasn’t there either, which was actually, Wes thought, worse than the Pavarotti thing. He’d been starting to think Blaine and Kurt needed each other’s oxygen to survive or something. “Are you sure?”

“No, everything’s okay. I’m waiting for my brother to get here and pick me up.” Kurt sighed. “He’s an idiot and his phone’s dead, so I have to wait here for him or I won’t know when he gets here, and then I’m going to have to run in and get Pavarotti from Blaine, because it’s too cold for him to just sit out here. I love Finn, but….” He shook his head.

“Oh.” Wes considered that this meant Pavarotti was inside Dalton without the direct supervision of Kurt Hummel. “Oh. Say, Kurt, would you like to go in and look after Pavarotti? I can wait for this Finn fellow and show him to you when he arrives.”

“That’s… sweet of you, Wes, but this isn’t your problem. I can wait.”

“No, really, I insist.” Wes groped for an explanation that wouldn’t make him sound crazy (“The pet bird I gave you is evil and may well kill the boy you’re pretending isn’t your boyfriend” was out) and said, “You know, I don’t think Blaine really gets birds.”

Kurt was giving him that look again. He’d been getting that look way too often lately, and it was all Kurt’s fault. But Kurt also stood up warily and said, “Sure, okay. I’ll just go… do that then. Thanks, Wes, this is really nice of you.”

“It’s no trouble at all. Oh, Kurt? What does Finn look like?”

“Trust me,” Kurt called over his shoulder on his way in, “you’ll know him when you see him. Just look up.

Wes thought this a distinctly unhelpful instruction, but it turned out to be apt. A car blasting Journey pulled in, and a teenage boy approximately the height of a telephone pole got out. He was wearing a letterman’s jacket, which gave Wes pause – hadn’t Kurt been having trouble the with the sports teams at McKinley? And when another boy got out the other side of the car, he got downright nervous. This one was wearing the same thing, was built like a small truck, and had a mohawk. There had to be more than one tall guy at McKinley; maybe this wasn’t the right one.

Except… that was the mohawked guy from Breadstix, wasn’t it? He was in New Directions. The tall one hadn’t been there, but Wes thought he might have been singing at sectionals.

He decided to risk it and walked over to them. “Hello,” he said. “Are you looking for someone?”

“Oh, hey,” the tall one said, puzzled. “Uh, yeah, I’m here to pick up Kurt.”

“Yeah, tell the fairy princess her chariot awaits,” the mohawked one said, banging the top of the car.

The tall one – Finn – glared at him. So did Wes, who felt this was different from thinking it.

“Not cool, Puck,” Finn snapped.

Puck looked abashed. “I didn’t mean it like that,” he said. “I’m working on stuff, Finn.”

“Yeah, well, work harder or I’m telling Lauren you said that.” Finn turned back to Wes. “So where’s Kurt?”

“I’ll take you to him,” he said warily.

When Wes had said that Blaine wasn’t good with birds, he hadn’t been lying. Blaine had a deadly combination of flaws: He loved animals, and was incapable of accepting that they did not love him. He anthropomorphized them and could not come to terms with the fact that they saw him only as a potential source of food or praise. Or, say, an escape route.

“Blaine let him out again,” said Kurt the instant Wes appeared.

“I didn’t,” Blaine protested. “I mean, I didn’t let him out. I opened the door to pet him, and he bit me and ran away.”

“Birds don’t bite, Blaine,” Kurt said gently.

“This one does,” Wes muttered. “Anyway, it’s fine. You… seem to have it under control.” This was true. Pavarotti was perched on Kurt’s fingers, preening.

“It was amazing,” Blaine said. “I was afraid he was going to attack me or dash his tiny, tiny brain out against the window, but Kurt came in and he just went right over to him.”

“Hm,” Wes said.

“That’s normal for Pav,” Finn said with a shrug. “He’s barely ever in his cage at home. He just follows Kurt around.” He glared at the bird. “He pecks me when Kurt’s not looking. And I think he steals my warm milk when I look away.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Kurt said, and went over to hug him with his free arm. “Hi, Finn. I have a charger in my bag; you can charge your phone on the way home.”

“Sweet!”

“And, um… hi, Puck.” Kurt looked between them.

“Hey, dude.” Puck held his fist out; Kurt bumped it gingerly. “What up?”

“Nothing much. What are you doing here?”

“Lauren said she was busy washing her hair. I needed a ride home.” Puck shrugged. “What’s a few hours extra, right?”

“Puck,” Kurt said patiently. “Does your phone work?”

“Yeah?”

“So why couldn’t – ugh, never mind.” He turned to Blaine. “Blaine, this is Finn, my stepbrother, and this is Puck. Guys, this is Blaine, and this is Wes.”

“It’s really great to meet you guys,” Blaine said enthusiastically. Wes nodded and smiled and watched Pavarotti, who was squinting at him like a gunman at forty paces.

“Now, shall we go before one of you embarrasses me?” Kurt gestured to his things. Finn grabbed the cage, and Puck his bag, without question.

It was an imperious gesture. Kurt acted like royalty sometimes. Wes was just saying.

“I’ll call you later,” Blaine said in the manner of one besotted.

“Okay,” Kurt said, beaming, and guided his entourage back out.

Blaine and Wes watched them leave from a window. Kurt hadn’t bothered to put Pavarotti back in his cage. The bird took a fluttering loop around the parking lot, then dive-bombed into the car after Kurt, who was holding the door for him without a trace of alarm. He perched on Kurt’s shoulder and nuzzled his chin.

“Oh, come on,” Wes said.

“Adorable,” said Blaine.

x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x

The second time Wes tried to talk to someone about his very serious concerns, it was David. “Warbler David,” he said over lunch, “do you think it’s a little strange that Kurt has such complete control over a vicious wild animal whose previous reaction to human attention was a constant desire to inflict pain?”

David looked across the cafeteria. It was one of those days; Blaine had let Pavarotti escape that morning, and ever since attempts to recapture him had been unsuccessful. This wasn’t really a problem, since all he did was follow Kurt around. Right now, Kurt was absent-mindedly feeding him bread crumbs while talking to Blaine. He would hold them out in his fingertips, and Pavarotti would delicately extract them without harming him.

As they watched, Kurt dumped a handful of crumbs on the table to keep the bird happy and got up to get back in line for something.

Pavarotti followed him.

David shrugged. “He’s good with birds. I’m a little more puzzled as to why no one has told him that you’re not allowed to let pets fly around campus unrestrained like that, especially in a food preparation area.”

“Yes! Exactly.” Wes leaned forward. “Why hasn’t anyone? Go do it, right now.”

David raised an eyebrow. “No. He’s happy, Pav’s happy, they’re not hurting anything.”

“But it’s against the rules.”

David frowned. “That’s true. It should bother me more. Huh.” He shook his head. “You go talk to him.”

“It doesn’t bother me as much as it should either.”

“Could’ve fooled me.”

“But – look at that bird. I swear it just kissed his cheek. Birds don’t have lips, David. They can’t kiss. And this is a cantankerous dinosaur with a yellow coat on! None of its behavior makes sense. It’s acting like an animal sidekick in a cartoon. You know how I feel about animal sidekicks in cartoons, David.”

“I do know,” David agreed. “And I think you’re the one being unreasonable here. You hate the anthropomorphization of animals, but you’re the one anthropomorphizing it. Look, Wes, animals do weird things sometimes. You’re the one ascribing human motivations to those weird things and letting it bother you.” He took a bite of his meatloaf and then added, “Anyway, Blaine likes it.”

“I know Blaine likes it,” Wes said darkly.

“Blaine says that it’s adorable. He says that animals like Kurt because of his purity of spirit and goodness of heart,” said David, with the air of one pouring lemon juice liberally over someone else’s paper cut.

“Argh,” said Wes, and left the table.

x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x

Kurt’s hand shot into the air, and Wes’s stomach sank, which was disorienting because it happened simultaneously with his mood lifting at the prospect of hearing Kurt’s voice.

Blaine, still on his feet from his latest crazed proposal – that they wear non-standard-issue ties for their next performance – looked relieved.

“Yes, Kurt?” said Thad.

Kurt stood up. “Blaine has a point,” Kurt said. “As much as I love wearing exactly the same thing every single day and knowing that I will blend in perfectly with everyone around me, and as flattering as the uniform is to all of us, they could really stand a little color.”

This suddenly made perfect sense. Of course they could use color.

“And if we’re going to perform in the not-at-all-sappy venue of a children’s hospital, I think we should consider the idea that the uniforms look a little bit intimidating and way too serious for kids. A little color could go a long way toward making this fun for everyone.”

Wes nodded. This was plainly true. He had no idea why he hadn’t seen it before. Blaine, who was now smiling at Kurt (speaking of sappy), had been putting it all wrong. He glanced at David and Thad and could see they were in accord. “All in favor of child-friendly, brightly-colored ties for the performance at the children’s hospital,” he said, and raised his hand. So did everyone else.

x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x

Pavarotti was usually very attentive to where Kurt was at any given moment, and Wes was unprepared for the sight of him outside the Warblers’ room some time after their meeting, looking bereft. Wes had been contemplating yellow as the color for his festive tie, and promptly dismissed this notion when Pavarotti dived at him out of spite.

“Where is Kurt?” Wes said, and had a small existential crisis when he realized he was talking to a bird. He went to the door and opened it a crack, intending to poke his head in and see if Kurt was there.

“… it had to be me,” Kurt said miserably.

“Because he was jealous,” Blaine said. “You’re everything he wants to be and is terrified of. You’re the bravest person I know, and he doesn’t even have the courage to be himself.”

Kurt sniffled. “In terms of ‘I want to be you when I grow up’ a surprise kiss attack in the locker rooms is a really sucky way to say it. And ‘I’m going to kill you’ –”

“I didn’t say his methods made sense.” Blaine reached over, out of Wes’s line of sight, presumably to touch Kurt in a comforting fashion. “I’m so sorry you went through that.”

They were quiet for a while, and then Kurt laughed, if a little thickly. “And I’m sorry I keep falling apart on you.”

“I don’t mind,” Blaine said. “I just want to be here for you.”

“You are,” Kurt said. “Always. I know –”

Ow,” said Wes, who had just been pecked on the calf, and he flung the door open. “Kurt! There you are. Pavarotti is looking for you.”

Pavarotti zoomed into the room at ankle-level, then turned several loops around Kurt’s head before settling on his shoulder, chirping.

“Oh, god! Pavarotti, how did you get out?” Kurt cooed, more indulgent than concerned.

“Hi, Wes,” Blaine said, and didn’t look suspicious, exactly.

“Hi,” Wes said, and then, “I have to go.”

x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x

The third time he raised his suspicions, he cornered Trent because Trent was the first Warbler he saw immediately after accidentally overhearing that conversation, and Blaine was too far gone. “Warbler Trent,” he said, “I need to talk to you.”

Trent narrowed his eyes. “To me? Why?”

“Because Kurt Hummel is a snake charmer.”

Trent blinked. “Is there anything he can’t do?”

“No – I mean, possibly – no, he’s not a literal snake charmer! I mean he charms people. As well as birds.”

Trent nodded, but was giving Wes that look, albeit as respectfully as possible. “Warbler Wes,” he said, “I think that maybe Kurt is just a nice person who’s good with birds.”

“Warbler Trent, when was the last time we voted unanimously to do something that was not in strict accord with tradition?”

Trent shrugged. “The last time Blaine suggested it.”

“Right. And did we decide it was a good idea when Blaine brought it up?”

“I did.”

“Did everyone else?”

“Well,” Trent allowed, “Kurt made a lot more sense when he said it.”

“Did he, though? How many times does that make it that we’ve done something because Kurt wanted to?”

Trent considered this. “Three? The GAP Attack, the ties, and then there were the feathers at that performance last week.”

“And do you remember how easily we dismissed his suggestions his first day, because they weren’t how we do things? His power is growing.”

“Maybe the way we do things needs to change. It makes Blaine happy, too, when we do things differently, and we get more varied experience as performers. I don’t see a downside.”

“The downside is that Kurt is insidiously taking over our minds. Just seeing him smile is reward enough to agree with anything he says, it’s not natural! He has his jock friends wrapped around his finger and his trucker father at his beck and call. And, Warbler Trent – can you keep a secret, for Blaine’s sake?”

“Of course.”

“I have just learned that the bully who drove Kurt out of his last school didn’t hate him for being strange and flamboyant. He was attracted to and jealous of Kurt. What are the odds of that?”

“Did you hear that theory from Blaine?”

“Well… yes.”

“Blaine thinks everyone is attracted to or jealous of Kurt.”

“But this person acted on it! It’s not Blaine’s suppressed, irritatingly subconscious crush! There was proof.”

Trent screwed his mouth up, thinking this over, then shrugged it off. “McKinley probably doesn’t have many beautiful, brave gay boys to be jealous of and attracted to. He was a regrettable but natural target. Anyway, Wes, that doesn’t explain all the other bullies that attacked Kurt and his friends just for being losers. In fact, they disprove your theory. And I like Kurt because he’s nice and funny. It’s normal to want to make people you like happy. I don’t think it has to go deeper than that. I never took you for a conspiracy theorist.”

Wes, who had never believed a conspiracy theory in his life, was left gaping at the unfairness of the world.

x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x

The fourth and last time Wes addressed his very serious suspicions, it was to Kurt. He walked past one of the labs after-hours and, hearing Kurt’s voice, doubled back to check.

Blaine was sitting on a counter, reading off a list of instructions. Kurt was walking back and forth between two counters, checking two different vials; every time he switched counters, Pavarotti fluttered along behind him. It was like watching a puppy chase its own tail. It was adorable. It was not normal.

Kurt and Blaine were partners in chemistry, he remembered, and meant to leave. Somehow he got stuck watching Kurt, Pavarotti following him back and forth, and Blaine’s equally predictable glances. Hell, even Wes was looking at Kurt. It was as if Kurt were magnetic.

“Wes,” Kurt said, spotting him. He froze. “Could you come in here?”

Wes could, and did.

“Listen,” Kurt said, “I don’t know how you found out about the doves, but I swear, I learned my lesson. No glitter. I admit that I’m not much of an animal person, and past attempts have been less than successful because animals are unsanitary and don’t like me. And yes, in general I believe that birds belong either outside or dead on a table with their feathers in a hat and/or boa. But I really like Pavarotti. He’s very important to me. Please don’t take him back.”

Pavarotti, oblivious to the psychotic ravings of the giver of food, fluttered around Kurt until he was offered a few fingers to perch on.

“I’m not going to take Pavarotti away,” Wes said. “Why would you think that still?”

“Kurt,” Blaine said, “why didn’t you tell me this was bothering you? I could have told you, no one would even try to take away Pavarotti unless we got a new Warbler – and even then, in this case no one would try to transfer him, because he’s only happy with you.”

“Oh,” Kurt said, mollified, but then added, looking at Wes, “Then why are you sneaking around staring at him all the time, especially when he’s out of his cage? It’s not because you think I’m an unfit owner?”

“No! I think you’re an amazing bird owner.” A little too amazing, he almost added. Instead, he looked into Kurt’s big, hopeful eyes, and… didn’t. “Could I speak to you alone for a moment?”

“Of course,” said Kurt; “Why?” said Blaine.

“Just for a second.” Wes took Kurt’s elbow and guided him just outside the lab. “I want to apologize,” he said, which was true. “I have been watching you. Blaine is very important to the Warblers, and we can’t afford for him to get his heart broken. More than that, he’s a friend of mine, and I don’t want him to get his heart broken.” This was also true. “You’ve become a big part of Blaine’s life very quickly, and I admit that it caused me some concern.” This was true as well. Wes teetered for a half second on the edge of following that with, “I’m also concerned by your ability to wrap anything with a heartbeat around your little finger.” (Pavarotti, as if to prove his point, wrapped his tiny, tiny talons tighter around Kurt’s pointer.)

Instead, he said, “And I want to apologize for that because you are clearly a kind, caring person, and I need to stop worrying about ridiculous things.” Like what would happen if you used your powers for evil.

“Oh,” Kurt said. “Wes, Blaine is… a big part of my life, too. You really don’t have to worry about it.”

“I see that now.” Wes patted his shoulder. Pavarotti pecked his hand as he drew it back, and he gritted his teeth and accepted that this was a very strange bird. “Just take care of him.”

“I will.” Kurt smiled dazzlingly, and all was right with the world just because he was smiling.

Blaine poked his head out of the lab. “Hey, guys, what are you talking about? Because our solution just turned green.”

Kurt frowned. “Is it supposed to do that?”

“Not… really, no.”

“Oh, damn.” He rushed back in and started his circuit between the two counters again. Pavarotti followed him like a puppy. So did Blaine.

Wes, who liked to think of himself as graceful in defeat, gave up on fighting the love. It felt good. It had, he reflected, always been futile to resist the power of Disney.