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Fíli didn’t want to go to Bofur’s annual end of year party at all.  He was tired of people, tired of being surrounded by so many loud and rowdy teens looking for an excuse to get wasted.  His friends thought he needed to relax, let loose and go on some dates, get laid, in Dwalin’s words.  But honestly, dating was the last thing on his mind. Fíli wanted to spend his days off writing music and recording new tracks, getting his art out there for the world to see so he might actually have a shot at making a living off of it.  He had maybe fifty Youtube subscribers, most of them friends from school and family members his uncle had shared videos with.  He appreciated the support, but it just wasn’t enough to make it big.  He knew it was going to be a long and difficult journey, and while his friends were excited to take a much needed break between finishing highschool and starting college, Fíli knew he couldn’t just sit back and wait.

“It’s one night Fíli, one night!  It’ll just be a few people, from class.  Come on, please?” Bofur pleaded with him as they walked home from their last exam.  The blond sighed wearily and began to reconsider, and when Bofur insisted that the party wouldn’t be the same without Fíli’s melodious guitar strumming, he caved and agreed to show up for an hour or two at most.  He hoped he wouldn’t regret it in the end.

Fíli arrived with his acoustic strapped over his shoulders and winced as soon as the heavy thumping music hit his ears, already dreading the evening ahead.  He made his way through the crowd of tipsy teens, holding his guitar close as he searched for a quieter space inside Bofur’s home.  It looked like a few hundred people were packed into the modest home, and there were several faces he didn’t recognize at all. Word must have spread to the other schools in town and Fíli rolled his eyes when he caught sight of Bofur grinning at him through the crowd of dancing people.  Just a few people, he said. 

Fíli was hard pressed to find any place within the house that didn’t have a cluster of half-drunk kids, but he managed to snag a spot on a sofa downstairs.  It took some effort to drown out the background noise, but Fíli focused on the notes he was hitting, casually going over a few chords he had started stringing together before easing into something more familiar.  The notes came easily to his fingers, and Fíli closed his eyes, letting his hands do the work from memory.  He was completely immersed in his playing, and hardly even noticed when the cushions sank down at his side.    

“Blackbird, right?” a low voice came from beside him, and Fíli’s eyes opened quickly as he turned his head to the side, fingers halting over his guitar strings.  He meant to confirm the onlooker’s guess, but instead his voice caught in his throat as he took in the sight beside him.  Dark eyes peered at him curiously, framed by fierce eyebrows and the most compelling features Fíli had ever seen.  The other teen had wispy dark hair, a gorgeous smile, and Fíli’s heart skipped a beat at the sight.  He didn’t recognize him immediately; they certainly didn’t go to the same school, but there was something about him that jogged Fíli’s memory. Like he’d seen him before in passing without realizing it.  Fíli paused at the thought, wondering how he could have ever passed someone like that by and simply forgotten.  The guy was breathtaking.

“Sorry, I…,” the brunet started, glancing down towards his crossed legs shyly.  “I shouldn’t have interrupted you, it’s just…it’s one of my favourites.”  The two sat in silence for a moment, and Fíli struggled to come up with something to say, still enraptured by the vision the other teen made.

“I’m Kíli,” the brunet finally offered, and he looked up then, just in time to catch a glimpse of Fíli opening his mouth to speak.

“Fíli, I know.  Your friend over there won’t stop talking about you.  Says you’re the best guitarist he’s ever met,” Kíli blurted, and he seemed to realize he had interrupted again as a light flush appeared high on his cheeks.  Fíli’s gaze passed over the somewhat thinned crowd, meeting Dwalin’s across the room.  His bald friend offered him a thumbs up and Fíli snorted, before returning his attention to the brunet at his side.

“What school are you from?” Fíli asked, still eyeing the other teen in awe. 

“Greenwood Arts Academy,” he muttered, and his gaze slipped to the side. Fíli’s eyebrows rose and he sat back against the cushions, setting his guitar down on his lap.  It was a prestigious school, one that required a recommendation and an audition to get in.  Fíli would never have guessed it based on the other teen’s looks.  Kíli had longish hair, and it was messy in a stylish way.  His eyebrow was pierced too, and Fíli wondered if he was even allowed to wear that to classes.  He didn’t look like the type to wear a standardized uniform all day long.  He looked like the type to break rules, to be creative and do everything apart from the norm.  He was…unique.

“I want to be a singer. I’m not that good though, but hey, you never know,” Kíli added, and he smiled brightly, though it looked a bit more forced than before.

“You have to be pretty good to get in there,” Fíli commented, his head tilting to the side. “I feel like I’ve seen you before.”  Kíli nibbled his lip and tucked a few stray hairs away, and Fíli’s eyes followed each movement painstakingly.

“Oh…maybe Youtube?  I post some videos there,” Kíli mentioned, tugging on the trinkets laced about his neck.  Fíli narrowed his eyes, watching as several little silver stars caught the low lighting in the room, and suddenly it hit.  His eyes widened in recognition, and his breath hitched as he imagined Kíli with bold costume makeup on his face and an even more alternative outfit.  Something strappy and black, that revealed the tattoo Fíli knew sat beneath his pectorals.

“S-Starling?” Fíli sputtered, and his palms began to sweat as he realised he was sitting beside an internet sensation.  Kíli shifted awkwardly and tugged his feet up on the sofa cushions as he pulled his bangs down over his eyes.

“It’s…embarrassing,” Kíli whispered under his breath, and Fíli gaped at him for a moment, trying to imagine the brunet with Starling’s ever present confident aura.  He could envision the almost sorrowful tone of his ballads, the way he stared into the camera like his words were meant for every viewer.  It was incredibly difficult to connect that persona to the seemingly shy individual sitting beside him. Chatty, but definitely shy.

“You…you have five thousand times the number of followers I do, how can you think you aren’t that good?” Fíli asked, his eyebrows scrunching up a bit in disbelief.  Kíli didn’t say anything for a moment, and he pressed his face against his knees and stared up at the blond from behind a curtain of hair.

“Followers aren’t everything.  If…the big names don’t like it then, what’s the point?” Kíli wondered.  He grimaced and sat back, letting his legs fall down off of the cushions.

“Sorry, it’s just, I didn’t get accepted anywhere I applied so, you know,” Kíli said with a shrug, and he blew out a heavy breath of air. “I thought the auditions went well but…it’s maybe the look.  No one was biting.  I don’t know, I’ve been thinking about giving it up.”

“Don’t!” Fíli immediately spat out, and he reached out without thinking, grabbing onto Kíli’s arm a little more forcefully than he meant to.  He couldn’t let Kíli just abandon his dream.  It was clear that singing was his passion, and Fíli hated seeing such a hopeless expression on his face.  The other teen stared at him wide eyed, and Fíli let go of him with an apologetic smile.

“You have so many fans already, from around the world.  It’s not what those stuffy Profs think anyway, it’s about making an impact, on people as a whole.  And you…there’s something so entrancing about your voice, a-and your look,” Fíli stuttered, and he rubbed his hand across the back of his neck as a flush ran up his skin. “I can tell you love singing.  Just keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll be selling out shows in no time.  Please don’t give it up.”

Brown eyes stared up at Fíli quizzically, the irises flitting about as though taking in every detail on his face.  Fíli swallowed nervously, wondering what had compelled him to suddenly say so much to a practical stranger.  He was never one to vocalize his thoughts like that.  The two of them blinked at each other in silence for a moment, and Kíli closed his eyes and leaned into his side slightly.  Fíli’s entire body heated at the small hint of contact, and his gaze dropped slightly to catch the movement of Kíli’s tongue as it flicked out and moistened his lips. He was hit with a sudden urge, and without thinking Fíli started to move, bending his neck slightly as he leaned a little closer.  A group of giggling girls took that moment to run through the room, one of them tripping over the edge of the sofa and startling both teens out of their stupor.  Fíli sat upright against the sofa back, tugging his guitar a bit tighter over his legs, while Kíli stiffened and pulled a cushion into his lap.

“T-thanks,” Kíli whispered a moment later, his face just as red as Fíli’s, and the two shared an awkward nod as they watched the party unfold around them.  It was strange how for a moment it had felt like they weren’t there at all, but instead entirely by themselves in another world entirely.  A part of Fíli desperately wanted that feeling back, but he also feared it was all in his head.  Perhaps Kíli was simply being friendly, and Fíli was reading into his actions more than he had any right to.  A second longer and he might have…kissed Kíli.   His jaw tensed and he cleared his throat, glancing across the room restlessly.  He needed a distraction.  Fíli searched the crowd anxiously, looking for a familiar face to help ease his nerves.  He spotted Dwalin, but his friend was engrossed in dancing with someone, and clearly a few shots beyond the point of no return. 

For a moment Fíli considered just getting up and leaving, screw his promise to Bofur, but it didn’t feel right leaving Kíli alone without any kind of explanation, so he started strumming again instead.  Music had always been how he coped with stress. 

It was a lighter tune, more upbeat, something he had written himself and was still working out the kinks in, and when he glanced to the side he saw Kíli watching him with avid eyes.  Their gazes met again and Fíli’s heart soared when Kíli grinned at him playfully and snuggled into the sofa to show he had no intent to leave.  Fíli played the rest of the song without looking away from Kíli, and he was surprised when the brunet started to hum along, even adding in the occasional lyric or two.  It was like Kíli knew exactly what Fíli wanted to say with his music, without even having to ask.

“Hey, would you maybe want to do a collab or something?”  Kíli asked a few songs later. “We could post it on both our channels.  Maybe even do like a…weekly update or something.”

“For real?” Fíli gawked.  He couldn’t believe that Starling wanted to work with him, but the brunet smiled at him and started tossing ideas his way. Before long, far more than his agreed upon two hours had passed, but Fíli didn’t much care.  He could have sat at Kíli’s side for an eternity and still not have wanted to leave.  They spent hours sharing videos, going over ideas, planning gigs, like there wasn’t a party going on around them at all.  Even as the crowd dwindled they sat side by side in their own little world, bonding over their shared love of music.  Kíli was so enigmatic and full of life and Fíli wanted to soak in all his energy and listen to him talk about anything and everything.  Fíli didn’t even have alcohol to blame when he actually did lean over to kiss him like his life depended on it.  He muffled whatever words the brunet might have said, and placed a hand at the side of his face, tilting it back to get a better angle.  When Fíli pulled away he wasn’t sure what he expected exactly, but it certainly wasn’t for Kíli to sigh happily against his mouth and kiss him back. 

Fíli hadn’t intended to end the night with his guitar all but forgotten on the ground, and his lips pressed against another set of equally eager ones.  He hadn’t intended on finding a boyfriend, encasing his hands in said boyfriend’s dark hair, and making out on his best friend’s sofa surrounded by a bunch of passed out partygoers.  And when he set out to Bofur’s annual after school party, he certainly hadn’t intended to meet his soulmate. But hey, you never know where just one night might lead.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise