A/N: Tear! So this is it! We've reached the end of the line. I cannot express to you how much love and gratitude I have for all of my readers. You guys made the experience of writing this story so incredibly amazing in every way, and I really just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Sigh. I'll stop the babbling now and get on with it. I briefly considered breaking this chapter up, but since the past three chapters were originally supposed to be one I decided to just let the end be extra long. I hope you like it.

Without further ado, here is the conclusion to Falling into Place.

Disclaimer: Seventeen chapters later and I still don't own anything. Boo.

glee

The rest of the evening was spent almost entirely in celebration mode. New Directions had gone out to a celebratory dinner with the parents and siblings as one huge group, taking up almost half of the Wolfgang Puck Café located in Downtown Disney where they splurged on large savory meals like Chilean Salmon, Tortilla Soup, Rigatoni, Crab cakes, Ravioli, Ceaser Salad, Margherita and Barbeque Chicken wood-fired Pizza, and California Rolls. And after a lengthy discussion of which dessert to have, they decided to get one of everything to be shared: Crème Brulee Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie, Chocolate Lava Cake, Carrot Cake, Double Chocolate Mud Pie, and sugar free Cheesecake topped with raspberry puree and fresh berries…

After the meal, they practically rolled back to the hotel, too full to do anything but climb in to bed and dream of the day to come.

glee

It seemed as if they had only blinked before New Directions was back at the performance hall dressed in their costumes and about to perform once again. The atmosphere felt different, they realized. The familiar buzz of excitement had dimmed and now they stood in silence, the reality of the situation setting in. This was the end of the line. There was no other round to advance to; whether they won or lost this was it. They were going home tomorrow after the official award ceremony as winners or losers and no matter what went down, this really was their last performance of the year.

"I'm not going to give you guys a speech." Will said finally stepping up to face the group. "There's nothing left to say that hasn't already been said before. But you guys have done everything you could to the best of your ability and as both your teacher and friend, I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to be here with. So just… go out there and be those people and kick ass."

"Mr. Schue!" Puck looked at his teacher with wide eyes and a newfound appreciation, which caused the older man to go scarlet.

"Don't say it." he warned. "Just go. Get in order and go." He chuckled as the wide-eyed teenagers laughed and did as instructed. "Go!"

Emma grinned as they headed back to their places in the audience, baby Maddi still firmly in the grasp of the redhead. "This is going to be something else. Glee club history in the making, right here."

"They can do this." Will muttered to himself as the room once again went black and Emma's hand slipped into his. "They can do this."

"Ladies and gentlemen, once again please welcome from Lima, Ohio," said the announcer, "William McKinley High School's New Directions!"

Slowly the opening chords to the secret weapon song were played, a spotlight shining down on each person as they stood side by side across the stage and began to sing.

"Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand

Six Hundred Minutes
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand

Moments So Dear…
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand

Six Hundred Minutes
How Do You Measure - Measure A Year?

In Daylights - In Sunsets
In Midnights - In Cups Of Coffee?
In Inches - In Miles
In Laughter - In Strife?

In - Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Six Hundred Minutes
How Do You Measure
A Year In The Life?

How About Love?
How About Love?
How About Love?
Measure In Love…

Seasons Of Love
Seasons Of Love…"

Santana stepped forward to sing the first solo.

"Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Six Hundred Minutes
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Journeys To Plan…

Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Six Hundred Minutes
How Do You Measure The Life
Of A Woman Or A Man?"

As Santana stepped back in line Puck moved up front to take the next part.

"In Truths That She Learned
Or In Times That He Cried,
In Bridges He Burned
Or The Way That She Died!"

The kids all began to grin and clap as they neared the end of the song together.

"It's Time Now - To Sing Out
Tho' The Story Never Ends!
Let's Celebrate
Remember A Year In The Life Of Friends!

Remember The Love…
Remember The Love…
Remember The Love…
Measure In Love…"

Mercedes took the final solo and sang the last part with every fiber in her body.

"Measure, Measure Your Life In Love!"

It was almost unreal how amazing these kids sounded together and as they wrapped their arms around each other and sang the last few words, Will Schuester had tears in his eyes.

"Seasons Of Love...
Seasons Of Love!"

glee

There were no words spoken after the number, they weren't needed. Each of the twelve kids knew exactly what was felt and the silence was enough for the moment. After such a long and rigorous journey, the last few hours were spent huddled backstage in a tight cluster, almost in prayer, waiting as the remaining teams gave their performances. The kids of New Directions refused to pay attention to their competition; the speaker in their room was turned off. Whether or not another team sounded better or worse didn't matter anymore. They had given absolutely everything they had and nothing was going to change that. The outcome would be whatever was decided and worrying about the competition would only make the wait even more excruciating than it already was. Finally, a knock on the door burst the kids out of their bubble and a short woman with a headset stuck her head in the room.

"McKinley High School? We need all teams on stage to announce the results."

Several deep breaths were let out around the room before Will stood and looked at his kids bravely.

"Let's go." And so the kids of William McKinley High School did exactly as their leader requested and stood, hearts beating wildly, taking the hands of their friends and heading to the stage linked together as one. Madeline Puckerman rested in her father's arms, Emma Pillsbury grasped Tina's hand firmly at the back of the line, and Mr. Schuester headed the front of the line with his right hand firmly connected to Rachel Berry's left. The room was silent enough to hear a pen drop, even the baby had gone silent, as one of the judges stepped up to the microphone holding a sealed envelope.

"Before we announce the winners, I would just like to say that on behalf of the entire judging committee this decision has not been easy." The grey-haired woman said. "And also, that it has been a true honor getting to see each and every one of these groups perform. By all standards, every single person here today has a gift and you are all winners." She sighed. "However, we do have some trophies to present, so without further ado, the third runner up in the National Show Choir Competition… from Orange County, California- Riverside High School's Lyrical Vehemence!" A small trophy was presented as a round of applause was given for fourth place.

"The second runner up- the bronze- goes to Andover Prep's Choral Coalition from Westbrook, Maine!" Another round of applause was heard before the judge went somber.

"The 2010 National Show Choir Runners Up, with the silver, from Lima, Ohio- McKinley High School's New Directions!"

For a moment, it was as if the kids had been frozen. No one uttered a sound or moved an inch as McKinley received its own applause and the parents gave a standing ovation. To absolutely no one's surprise, Rachel Berry was the first to regain the ability to speak.

"Second place." She said. And then, louder, "SECOND PLACE! WE GOT SECOND PLACE!"

"Thank you God!" Mercedes shouted. The rest of the team followed, cheering and screaming praise and words of joy as the large silver trophy was handed to Artie.

"And now, the moment you have all been waiting for. The grand prize winners and 2010 Show Choir National Competition Grand Champions are: from Washington D.C. - Cherrywood Academy's Sonant Severity!"

Balloons were released from nets high above the ceiling as screaming and clapping filled the room. All seven of the teams were huddled into their respective groups, the winners full of happiness and excitement while the others mourned their loss and months of hard work. Tears were all around.

"Take that Sue Sylvester!" Will shouted from the center of the group.

"Kiss my ass Karofsky!" Rachel screamed.

Finn grinned. "Who's the losers now?"

It sure as hell was no longer New Directions.

glee

After the trek back to the hotel, the kids of New Directions changed out of their costumes and back into the comfort of their street clothes before heading to Magic Kingdom to celebrate their victory. The remainder of the day was spent acting like children, running around the park high on sugar, riding rides, and taking pictures with Disney characters. The day ended with the entire group getting matching Mickey and Minnie Mouse ears with each of their names stitched in silver across the back.

"This day has been amazing." Rachel said that evening as she and Finn lay lazily spread over the comforter on his hotel bed. Matt had ran off with Santana somewhere, doing only god knew what, leaving the room to just the two of them.

Finn nodded. "This whole trip has. I still can't believe that when we get back to Lima we'll have a second place trophy to show off." His eyes suddenly went wide as a thought occurred to him. "Grab your ears."

Rachel laughed as he scrambled off the bed and began to dig into his suitcase with urgency, finally producing his laptop.

"Finn, what are you doing?" she asked, setting her ears to perch proudly on the top of her head.

Finn put his own ears on and began to power up the computer. "I just remembered someone that we have to talk to." He climbed back on the bed and leaned against the headboard, pulling Rachel to sit between his legs as he logged online and began hitting various icons. Not a minute later Sean Fretthold's face was staring at them through the monitor.

"Finnster, please tell me you did not set up the webcam just so I can watch you and the Mrs. do the nasty." The boy teased.

Finn rolled his eyes. "Shut the hell up dude."

Sean laughed. "Whatever loser. Hey Rachel."

"Hi Sean." Rachel grinned at the screen.

"Nice ears."

Finn pretended to look confused. "What do you mean?"

"Cut the crap, dumbass. I've been waiting on you forever. How'd it go?" Both Finn and Rachel had made sure to keep Sean clued in on every detail concerning Glee club. They'd both been texting him regularly throughout the trip with updates but because of how busy they'd been, Sean had yet to know the final results of the competition.

"Well, we didn't win." Finn said finally.

Sean frowned. "Damn it, that sucks. I'm sorry."

"Yeah." Rachel nodded solemnly before a wicked grin stretched across her face. "I guess we'll just have to settle for being runners up."

"ARE YOU SHITTING ME?" Sean's eyes went wide as Finn and Rachel began to laugh. "You got second? Guys, that's awesome!"

"I know, right?"

Sean laughed. "I see the simplicity of normal civilian language is beginning to rub off on you Rachel."

The brunette shrugged good-naturedly. "I'm working on it."

"Good to know." he smiled. "Damn, second place. Not bad at all."

"Sean, did I just hear yelling?" The caring voice of Mrs. Fretthold was heard in the background, causing Sean to glance away from the computer screen.

"Yeah mom, I'm talking to Finn and Rachel. They came in second."

"Really?" Sean's mother soon appeared on the screen next to him. "Congratulations kids! That's great news!"

Finn and Rachel smiled. "Thanks Mrs. F."

"Thank you very much Mrs. Fretthold."

"The next time you two drop by I'll make sure to have some cookies out to celebrate."

Rachel nodded happily. "That sounds great."

"You guys got a trophy to show us or what?" Sean asked.

Finn shook his head. "We got to see it earlier but they're presenting it officially tomorrow at some sort of ceremony."

"Nice. Well, send me a picture as soon as you can and bring it over next time you drop by." Sean demanded. "Tell Schuester I need to see this thing in person. If he still seems iffy, show him my picture and cry."

"Sean!"

"Mom, this is important."

Mrs. Fretthold rolled her eyes. "I'm going to finish the laundry. Congratulations again kids."

"Thanks Mrs. F!"

Sean frowned. "Yeah, I should probably go too. I'm worried that if I hold you guys up too long you'll start making out in front of me or something and I really don't wanna have to see that."

Rachel gasped. "Sean, we would never do that!"

"Oh yes we would." Finn chuckled and kissed her cheek. "Later buddy."

"We'll see you soon." She promised.

Sean smiled just before the screen went black. "Bye guys."

"Finn, that was mean." Rachel scolded lightly as her boyfriend moved to put the laptop away again.

"I was just messing with him, kinda." Finn laughed.

"You're terrible." Rachel said. And she meant it, but that still didn't stop her from leaning up and kissing him.

Finn grinned down at her. "I know. But you love it."

And as much as Rachel hated to admit it, she really did.

glee

The awards ceremony the following day was pretty standard. All of the Glee clubs that had participated in the competition were present, each of the kids dressed out of costume in nice clothes and there were bigger smiles on some club's faces than others. More speeches were given from sponsors of the competition and a few Nationals Committee members, each of them saying how proud they were of every participant and that this year had been the best and most impressive competition yet, and they couldn't wait to see everyone next year. Finally, they got to the presentations.

The three teams from the top ten groups that had not placed were given small trophies for their hard work and dedication. Lyrical Vehemence was presented with their fourth place trophy and Choral Coalition was given the bronze. When the large silver trophy was presented to New Directions, the co-captains had accepted it together, passing it to Mr. Schuester with grins they were sure not a thing in the world could wipe off their faces. Once Sonant Severity had been given the gold- and New Directions gave a hearty round of applause and congratulations, they were extremely humble and even shook their competitors' hands using the show choir manners Rachel had been drilling into their heads over the past few weeks- pictures were taken.

Not only did the parents want to get photographs, it turned out, so did all kinds of newspapers and magazines and websites. After the professional photos were taken the parents were given time to go wild with their own cameras, taking photos in every pose imaginable with every combination of people: boyfriends and girlfriends, each child with Mr. Schuester and Ms. Pillsbury, and mixtures of everything else in between. The kids themselves got a few pictures with other Glee clubs, mainly the other winners, and it was a surprise to all when Mickey Mouse and his friends wandered in near the end of the assembly for photos too.

A week after returning home to Lima, an assembly was held in front of the whole school to celebrate New Directions' victory. The local paper interviewed them and Principal Figgins surprised everyone by presenting the club with a brand new trophy case just for their Nationals award. As a final treat, the club performed the three numbers that had won them the title in Orlando at the assembly. Three days later final exams were completed and the Glee club was back in the choir room for the last hour of school before the final bell rang and summer vacation officially began.

"So this is it." Rachel let out a huge breath and glanced around at the circle of what were now her best friends. "We're really finished for the year."

"I can't believe it's all over." Tina mused. "We've just all been through so much, it doesn't seem real."

"Cheer up guys, we'll be back next year." Mr. Schuester said encouragingly. "And I really believe after what happened last week, next year is going to be your best yet. Everyone knows you're serious now."

Finn shrugged. "It doesn't really matter what they think anymore, Mr. Schue."

"Finn's right. After everything that we've been through, I think it's obvious that the support of the school is just a small detail for us at this point." Kurt pointed out. "But it will nice not to be slushied every day."

Rachel nodded. "I second that."

"Okay this is sweet and all but we need to get on with it." Santana finally spoke up.

Mercedes laughed. "I gotta agree with Santana on this one. Come on guys."

Will frowned as the twelve kids began pushing the chairs back and moving around the room. "What are you guys doing?"

"We have a surprise for you Mr. Schue." Artie explained.

"A little something to say… well, you'll see." Matt shrugged, causing the rest of the kids to laugh as they got into position.

"Hit it Brad." Rachel smiled at the piano player as she stood at the front of the group to sing the first part of the song.

"I'm nothing special, in fact I'm a bit of a bore
If I tell a joke, you've probably heard it before
But I have a talent, a wonderful thing
'Cause everyone listens when I start to sing
I'm so grateful and proud
All I want is to sing it out loud…"

The entire group joined in for the chorus.

"So I say
Thank you for the music, the songs I'm singing
Thanks for all the joy they're bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me…"

"Mother says I was a dancer before I could walk," Mike sang.
"She says I began to sing long before I could talk."
Mercedes joined in.

Kurt took the next part.

"And I've often wondered, how did it all start
Who found out that nothing can capture a heart
Like a melody can
Well, whoever it was, I'm a fan…"

By now everyone was standing in a half circle facing their teacher as they sang.

"So I say
Thank you for the music, the songs I'm singing
Thanks for all the joy they're bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me…"

"I've been so lucky, I am the girl with golden hair," Quinn sang.
"I wanna sing it out to everybody
What a joy, what a life, what a chance!"
Brittany and Santana happily added.

"Thank you for the music, the songs I'm singing
Thanks for all the joy they're bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me

Thank you for the music
For giving it to me..."

End.

glee

A/N: The two songs used in this final chapter were Seasons of Love from the musical RENT and Thank You For The Music by ABBA. I don't own any of it, just in case you were wondering.

Thanks again for opening yourself up to the joy of this story with me.