"Hurry up, hurry up! I want this party to be perfect!" I was totally manic and I knew it, but I couldn't calm myself down. This was the first real birthday party I had had in years. Dad always took me out to dinner, and the guys at the garage would have a cake and sing for me, but this year I had actual friends my own age, and I wasn't going to mess this up.

Finn rolled his eyes, but he climbed the stepladder again, holding the banner against the wall. "Here?"

I stepped back and eyed it critically. "Can you go a little further left?"

If I ever doubted that Finn loved me, I should probably remember this moment. He had moved that ladder and held up the banner no less then 20 times, sliding it left and right, up and down in minute increments until I'm sure he wanted to scream. But he pressed on patiently. There was the occasional huff or puff, but he scooted the ladder again and climbed back up. "What about now?"

"Perfect." I passed him a handful of thumbtacks and he put them in carefully, managing not to injure himself in the process. "Now, the balloons…"

He groaned quietly. "Do we have to?"

"Yes, we have to. Don't worry; I already know exactly where to put them." I wanted to give him a kiss, but I wasn't sure how it would be received. Things are still awkward between us; worse then they had been in the very beginning. Now we knew what we could have and had the confidence in our abilities that we had lacked then. We just didn't have the confidence in each other.

Dad had brought the balloons this morning, but they were all loose and bouncing gently against the ceiling. "I want them tied in bunches of five."

"Ok." He pulled some down and tied them expertly. "Like this?"

A few months ago, it would have taken him at least 30 seconds and several tries. Even though I knew that he was working hard and that the medication had helped a lot, I seldom saw such an obvious improvement. If he kept trying, Finn was going to be ok, with or without me.

With. Don't think about it being without.

He shook the bouquet of balloons at me. "Kurt? Like this?"

"Exactly like that." This time I did rock up to kiss him on the lips. It was just a quick one, but he smiled into it. Slowly but surely, we were finding our footing again.

There was a part of me, though, that wanted to find our footing a little faster. Or maybe I just wished that I could sleep with Finn and not have it shatter our fragile peace. Just like Puck, a quick fuck and a cheeseburger and we would never have to speak of it again.

Because I was desperate. I had gone almost 16 years without sex and barely noticed. But now I knew what I was missing, and I was missing it bad. I didn't care who was on top, who did what, or where we did it, but I wanted to get laid and I wanted it right fucking now!

"What time is everyone else getting here?" Finn was too busy tying balloons to notice I had not only mentally undressed him, but we were halfway through the act.

That cooled me down considerably. "Two hours! I still have to get the food set out, and take a shower and get myself dressed and…" I flapped my hands helplessly.

"Umm…I guess I could put the food out so you could do the other stuff. Is there anything else?"

That was going to have to work. "Do you know where to put it?"

He raised an eyebrow. "Yeah. You have a diagram."

My face heated a bit. "I just wanted things to look nice, and I can't do that without a visual aid."

"I like it. It makes it easier." He was a little more comfortable getting close enough to bump my shoulder with his. "Go on. I can fix it just like the picture."

"Ok. Thanks, Finn." I was almost through the door before his voice tentatively floated back to me. "Hey Kurt?"


"Your Dad is gone, right? He's not going to come in while you're downstairs?" He was trying to sound unworried, but I could read it clearly in his eyes.

"Dad is outside in the workshop, and he will not bother you, I promise. If he comes in and you're uncomfortable, just come downstairs. You don't have to talk to him if you don't want to."

"Ok. It's not that I'm scared of him or anything. It's just that…I just don't want there to be a fight."

Except it was that he was afraid of Dad, and I didn't know what to do about it. Dad did want to apologize for what had happened, but Finn wouldn't come to the phone. Even when Carole invited Dad over to their house, Finn managed to somehow disappear until Dad finally had to go home in frustration. If he was afraid to even be in the same house with Dad, how were any of us going to survive New York?

"There won't be a fight. Just come downstairs if you need to." And join me in the shower. If I can get that, screw the party.

He gave me a relieved smile. "Ok."

I made sure to shoot Dad a text from the privacy of the basement, letting him know that Finn was alone upstairs, and not to come in and get him all upset. He replied that he understood and would stay out of the way. It wasn't much, but at least they were on the same property. Small steps, always small ones.

Since I was sure that Finn could handle the food preparations (and if he couldn't, he would just make something up), I took my time in the shower, making sure I looked as good as possible. The entire Glee club was coming, even Puck. He still shot me dirty looks, but he seemed to have accepted that Finn had made his choice, no matter how stupid he thought it was.

Even with my thoughts whirling, I remained aware of the time, and made it back upstairs with 15 minutes to spare. Finn was fussing with some decorations, moving them a little back, then forward again. It melted my heart, because I knew he couldn't care less about how the decorations looked. He was just trying to arrange them in the way he thought would make me the happiest. "Looking good, Finn."

He jumped and spun around, his eyes wide. When he saw that it was only me, he relaxed. "I think I got everything right."

Everything was right, plus the addition of a present on the coffee table, neatly wrapped in silver paper. Finn saw me looking and ducked his head shyly. "It's for you. I wanted to do it in Dior Grey, but then I thought that silver is like grey's fancy cousin, so I used that instead. Mom wrapped it though, because I accidentally super glued my fingers together when I tried."

That begged the question of why Finn had been using superglue instead of scotch tape, but there are some things you're just better off not asking. "It's beautiful. Is this something I can open in front of everyone else, of will I be embarrassed if I do?"

"No, it's not like a sex thing or anything." He lowered his head and peeked up at me. "Do you want it to be a sex thing?"

We hadn't talked about this at all. We were back together, and he would put an arm around me or give me a quick kiss, but that was it. "I…I wouldn't say no."

He stepped closer, into my personal space. "Would you say yes?" His hand came out and cupped my chin, gently pulling my head up.

"I would say yes." It was like he had hypnotized me. "I would definitely say yes."

"Really." He leaned down to kiss me, pulling my body close to his. "Because I would say yes, too."

Before I could reply, he was kissing me, hot and hungry. Usually, he was gentle with me, but eagerness made him sloppy and rough. I gave as good as I got, biting his lip and forcing my weight forward to push him back. We slammed noses, slammed chins, stumbled over each other until Finn's back hit the wall. Oh, my God, this was actually happening.

Thank God, this is finally happening!

I was actually undoing Finn's belt buckle when the first knock at the door sounding. Finn gave a frustrated groan. "Don't answer it. They'll think we're dead."

"Mercedes would just use her key." It was like a bucket of cold water had been thrown over me. What was I doing? I wanted Finn back, but not like this. I didn't want something cheap that happened up against a wall and lasted for 45 seconds. I wanted love, like we had had before.

"Ok, ok." He shook his head to try and clear it. "Right. It's your birthday and we're having a party."

I shoved him towards the kitchen. "Fix yourself and get back out here! We can't let anyone know about this!"

I ran my fingers through my hair, trying to fix it. "Coming! I'm coming."

I was pretty sure that I heard Finn grumble "No you aren't." from behind me, but I chose to ignore it. I had bigger fish to fry.

Mercedes and Tina were the first arrivals. They each bore a gift and made sure to give me a big hug. "Happy birthday, Kurt."

"Thanks." I gestured to the living room. "You can toss the gifts on the coffee table and grab something to snack on from the kitchen.

Finn popped out. "Hi, Tina. Hi, Mercedes." He was quick and wide-eyed, looking as innocent as possible.

Tina smiled and replied back, but Mercedes gave him the evil eye. "Finn." Her voice could have frozen fire.

I gave the evil eye right back. She didn't have to like Finn or the situation, but she did have to be polite.

Luckily Finn wasn't in the mood to fight today, so he ignored her and started up a conversation with Tina about some video game. He's usually pretty nonconfrontational, so I wasn't terribly worried. Mercedes on the other hand… I grabbed her by the shoulder and hissed. "Knock it off! It's my birthday and I want everyone to have a good time. You and Finn can fight it out after."

She made a face like she wanted to say something, but was interrupted by the next set of arrivals. It was Brit and Santana, which means that Puck and Santana are on the outs again. Santana just shoved her present into my hands and went to go get some food. Brit, though, gave me a huge hug. "Thank you so much, Kurt, you're the greatest."

I was confused. "Thank you for….." She usually didn't get this excited about a party.

"Getting Coach back, silly! She didn't say it was you, but I know that it was." She gave me another squeeze. "Just so you know, she's pretty crazy right now, though. We're going to be practicing until midnight."

I could barely bite back a squeal. Whatever Mr. Shue had done after leaving Glee early yesterday, he had managed to fix things. Nationals were back on! I was going to get my chance after all.

I wanted to grab Finn and share the exciting news, but the rest of the football team was arriving, and I had to be a good host. Puck tossed a large box into my hands. "Tell Finn that this is for him, too."

His smirk said it all, and I made a mental note not to open this one in front of anyone, including Finn. I could only guess as to what was inside, but none of the guesses were anything good. Chances seemed high that there was sexy underwear in there. And that was the least offensive thing that I could think of. "Thank you." No matter what it was, at least he had gotten me something.

Mike and Matt both gave me envelopes, which I assumed contained gift cards. I thanked them and did a quick head count. Who was missing? I knew that Artie wasn't going to be able to make it, which left Quinn and Rachel and who knew if they would show up?

Quinn is so unpredictable these days. She and Puck are barely speaking, and I have no idea what their plans are for the baby, or even if they have any. I think Puck wants to be a father to it, but I think that even he recognizes the futility of it all.

And Rachel? Who knew? She seemed to have completely accepted that Finn and I were a couple, and things had actually been going well between she and I. But then I broke up with Finn and she broke up with Jesse, and suddenly he was an option again. Finn hasn't said what, if anything had happened between them and I don't know if I should ask or not.

He never showed up cover in pink glitter, so I think you're alright.

Speak of the devil, Rachel had just pulled up and she had Quinn in the passenger seat. Good, everyone was here. I was greeted with a kiss on the cheek from Rachel and a tired smile from Quinn. I clapped my hands. "Ok, everyone who hasn't gotten something to eat do so. There's chips, fruit, a cheese tray, some veggies. Drinks are in the fridge. "

I had set up karaoke in the living room (after pulling Rachel aside and threatening her with death if she critiqued anyone). "I thought it would be fun to see how far we've come since the beginning of the year."

What I was thinking, but didn't say, was that our chances to sing together were probably getting limited. We could rally and fight the good fight. We could claim that 12 is just as good as 20, and that it was ok that we didn't have professional choreographers, or music, or costumers because we were scrappers, and we wanted it more, but this was close to the end of the line for us. There was no way we could beat Vocal Adrenaline. They had been training for at least 4 years (don't think I haven't heard the rumor of the 8 year seniors). We had been together for a few months, and not always as a full team. Rachel stomped in and out. Finn had almost missed Sectionals. People spied, people fought. As much as I loved my team, or chances of winning Sectionals were pretty much zero.

No one else had really voiced that thought, though they had to be thinking it. And I'm not an idiot. I know that when it's over, parties like this weren't going to happen any more. Glee was the glue hat held us together, but when that was gone, most of the team would be, too. Puck, Santana, Brit, Quinn, Matt, Mike, they would all vanish back to the lives they had had before. Where did that leave the rest of us?

I grabbed a cupcake and shoved it into my mouth, trying not to think about it. This was my party and everyone else was having fun. I wasn't going to ruin this.

Finn appeared at my side, leaning against me. 'You look worried. What's wrong?"

I pressed against his side. "Nothing. Just a cold chill."

"Are you sure?" His voice said that he didn't believe me at all.

"I'm sure. Want to pick a duet for us to do?" Distraction is the name of the game with Finn. If you can get his mind off of something for a second, he usually won't circle back around to what was bothering him to start with.

Sure enough, he gave me a huge grin. "Ok!" He spun to the side, ready to find the right thing on the machine. "But we're still going to talk about this!"

Why had I wanted him to go on meds that improved his focus and multitasking ability again? "After the party."

That was acceptable to Finn, and he bounced off to pick a song. I had to smile to watch him go. Mercedes sidled up next to me. "So, things seem to be going well with Loverboy."

"They are." It was better to just say less right now.

"That's good." She saw what I was doing and mimicked it. "You'll tell me if things aren't going well?"

"Of course." Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Finn come back with a few pieces of music in his hand. By an unspoken agreement, we both hushed. This was between Mercedes and I, and we didn't need to bring Finn into it.

She melted away as Finn held out the music. I looked and laughed. "No, Finn."

"But it's a cool song." He gave me his most winning smile. "Come on."

"It's also a borderline rape song, and it's for a man and a woman, not two men." If he kept pushing, I would probably give in.

"They're all for a man and a woman. Besides 'Summer Lovin'" is a classic. It's Grease!" He held out his hands, as if framing something. "No, wait, it's Glease! It's better."

I couldn't hold back another snort of laughter. "Let's try another one."

Unfortunately, Finn was right. All of the duets were for a male/female pair, not two males. It wasn't that I couldn't hit all of the notes, but it was the principal of the thing. I like my voice, by I wasn't a girl and I didn't want to be treated as one. "Maybe no duet."

He smiled. "I would sing the girl part if I could."

Even though there was no way for that to happen, I appreciated what he was trying to do. This time when I kissed him, it didn't feel awkward or frenzied. "That's very sweet of you."

We each took few songs by ourselves, but we both turned down offers to sing duets with anyone else. Every time he got up, Finn returned to my side, offering me snacks or drinks, anything he could do to make my party happy.

Puck wore out first, clapping his hands. "How about the birthday boy opens his presents?"

That was the last thing I wanted to do, especially since he was still giving me that creepy smile. Whatever was in that box, it was going to be humiliating. Puck was still pissed about what I had said about Finn (and he probably had a point, just like Mercedes did), and he had an opportunity to twist the knife. But everyone else was cheering, so I all I could do was pray that this wasn't going to be too bad.

Brit and Santana had gotten me things that I would need for Florida, and if I continued on with the Cheerios. I don't know if I want to or not, but I appreciated what they were actually saying. They were telling me that I was wanted with them, and welcome for as long as I wanted to stay. For someone like Santana, that was a pretty big deal. "Thank you guys."'

Santana nodded with a quick jerk of her head, but Brit gave me a tight hug. "We love you, Kurt."

"I know you do. I love you, too." I set the box aside to look through more closely later.

The next few presents were gift cards, which are the best gift ever if you ask me. Shopping for whatever I want with someone else's money? Perfection.

Dad was saving his present for later, which left just Finn, Puck and Rachel, all three of whom were watching me intently. Nervously I picked up Rachel's gift. It was heavier then it looked, and I bobbled it for a second before getting a good grip. I carefully peeled back the paper (covered in glittery stars, naturally). The heavy part of the present was a silver paperweight, with the words 'Don't Stop Believing' etched into it.

It seemed like an odd gift, but we both knew that it wasn't. Actually, she and I might be the only two that knew that for sure. The paperweight was a tangible reminder of the club, and what we had had. This was a parting gift, even if we both hoped that it would never be needed. "Thank you, Rachel. I love it."

Finn leaned over my shoulder. "Hey, that's pretty cool. And it's got our best song on it."

I had never been so grateful for Finn and his literal interpretation of the world as I was right at that moment. He had just taken the groups attention off of the oddness of the gift, and set off a lively debate over just which song had been our best. I kept out of the fray and nodded at Rachel, letting her know that I got it. She nodded back. "There's another part to it."

I looked over and saw a second package with matching paper. It was very light, and when I opened it, only a few pieces of paper were inside. I laid them out and examined them. "It's a map of New York City."

It was sweet, but I had been to New York before. I knew where things were, and was actually pretty good at travelling on the subway. She noticed my confusion and hastened to clarify. "I marked the places that you and Finn might want to go. Some of them are just regular touristy stuff, but some of them are nicer places to eat that you might want to go on a date or something. My Dads said that all of the places were really nice."

'Nice' meaning non-homophobic. "Thank you, Rachel."

I really was touched by the gesture. Not only because of the time it must have taken for her to make this map, but because it was her. By doing this, she was telling me that she was giving Finn up and that she was happy for us, even if she was sad for herself.

Who would have thought that Rachel Berry had such depths to her?

Probably everybody but you. You were too busy giving her the stink eye and making up situations in which she was stealing your boyfriend. Never once has she made a move on Finn when she knew that you were together, and I'll bet that she kept her hands to herself when the two of you were having your little spat. You were just pissy because she got him first.

The last two gifts remained on the table, mocking me. I wanted to save Finn's for last, both because he was so important to me and because I didn't want Puck's gift to be what stuck out in everyone's mind.

"Ok, Princess. Two presents left." Puck was all but cackling with glee. "Mine or Finns?"

"Yours." I picked the present up and put it in my lap to open it. Finn breathed down my neck, his hot breath distracting me. Ok, Kurt, just do this quick, like pulling off a band-aid.

Finn snorted when I first pulled up the lid. "Dude, don't get Kurt clothes. Trust me, you don't know how to do it right."

"Oh, I think I did it right." Before I could stop him, he reached out and held the outfit up for everyone to see. Though I must say that 'outfit' was a rather generous term for the slutty French maid concoction that he had bought. "Finnster, this is for you as well. Don't say I never did anything nice for you."

Finn didn't respond, though I heard his sharp intake of breath. When I glanced back, his eyes were transfixed on the box instead of what Puck was holding. I gave him a quick poke, and his terrified eyes swung to meet mine. "Um, where are you supposed to stick that?"

I couldn't help but look down as well, so I could get a perfect view of the sparkling purple vibratror still in the box. No, make that huge sparkly purple vibrator. Humiliation made me irritable. "Where do you think you're supposed to stick it Finn, it's a sex toy!"

"Well it's not going up my butt!" He seemed to have forgotten that we were at a party and the rest of the club was staring at us with open mouths.

"It's not going up anyone's butt! Puck is going to take his presents and return them or keep them for himself." I looked over. "Thank you, Puck, your message is received and the thought is appreciated."

He shot me a thumbs up. "Glad you get it, Princess."

Finn nudged me and whispered in my ear. "Does he have to take the outfit back? I think it looks kind of fun."

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Puck and Matt slap hands, and I knew that they had overheard. I snatched the outfit out of Puck's hands and scowled at him. "Thank you, Noah." It came out through gritted teeth. "The party is now over while I die in a corner somewhere. Everyone feel free to take some food when you go."

"Aren't you going to open my present?" Finn looked so hopeful that I couldn't deny it to him.

I had forgotten about his present. I picked the box up and smiled at him. "Can I shake it, or will it break?"

"You can shake it."

The box was extremely light, and made no noise when I shook it, beyond a slight rustle. I peeled the paper back and popped it open, coming face to face with a sea of Styrofoam peanuts. I swished my hand through it several times, but didn't feel anything solid. "Finn, are you 100% sure the present is in here?"

His brow furrowed as he thought. "Yeah, it's in there. Maybe it fell all the way to the bottom."

I swept my fingers one last time and finally hooked an envelope. "Is this it?"

He grinned at me. "Yep!"

"Why did you put it in a box then instead of just handing it to me?" Finn's brain is a murky place, and I had no idea what went on in it sometimes.

He looked confused as if my brain was as mysterious as his. "Because then you wouldn't have had a box to open. It wouldn't be as fun."

I could see the logic in that. It was definitely Finn-logic, but logic all the same. "That was very thoughtful of you."

He stared at me, all but wiggling like an overexcited puppy. "Open it!"

His enthusiasm was sweet. "Ok, ok, chill out."

Finn had carefully written my name of the front of the envelope in rainbow letters. I broke the seal and let the two pieces of paper fall into my hand. "What are these?"

When I flipped them over and read the fronts, I froze. There was no way. No way Finn had done this. The paper blurred as my eyes filled with tears.

Finn's face fell. "It's wrong. It's not the right one, is it?"

Mercedes pulled the tickets out of my hand. "Alright, let's see what it is. Oh my God."

The fact that she saw it as well, and I wasn't making things up broke the spell I was under. I vaulted out of my chair and into Finn's arms, knocking him off his feet. Puck had to catch us both before we slammed to the ground. Not that I really noticed, as I was far too busy smothering Finn's face in kisses. "Thank you thank you thank you thank you." I leaned up to whisper in his ear. "We're keeping the French Maid thing and you can do whatever you want to to me in it."

His eyes glazed over at what I'm sure were some very X-rated thoughts.

"Well?" Puck was impatient enough to snatch the tickets for himself. He read over them and whistled. "I got to say it Finn, you know how to apologize in style."

I grabbed them back before they could get torn, lost, or ruined. I slid an arm around Finn's neck and let him hold me off the ground. The trust had come back without me realizing it, and I relaxed against his body.

And, just because I could, I looked over them again, reading the words I never thought I would get to. WICKED. Great seats, too. The kind of seats that ran around $600 each. Finn had spent a ton of money for my birthday and I had no idea how to repay him. I was going to get my dream trip to New York, and I was going to get it with Finn.

He eased me back to the ground. "It's the right play? Because I don't think I can return those tickets."

"It's perfect Finn. I couldn't have asked for anything else."

"Good." He tipped his head back and smiled at me. "That's what I wanted."

The only other person in the room who understood what a big deal this was was Rachel. They thought that it was a nice gesture and a cool present, but none of them knew either how much this had cost or where the money had come from. Because I knew full well that Finn had to give all the money he made at Sheets and Things to Ms. Corcoran to replace those tires he and Puck had slashed. This was the money that Mr. Fabray had given him, almost all of it. Out of everything he could have done with it, he used it to buy a present for me.

"I think we should all leave so that Kurt can give Finn a proper thank you." Puck was laughing at me again, and I was torn between punching him in the face and wanting him to help me shove everyone else out the door. Whatever Puck considered to be an appropriate 'thank you', I was pretty sure that Finn deserved at least three of them.

Everyone got the hint and started moving towards the door. I kept one hand on Finn at all times, sliding my fingers under his shirt to caress the skin over his ribs. He squirmed, especially when I dipped down into his jeans instead and rubbed his hip. "I thought we weren't doing this because it was cheap and trashy." He swallowed hard and tried to hold still.

"Right. We aren't doing this because it is cheap and trashy." Which made so much sense. Which was why I was going to move my hand right now, and quit all but groping Finn in my living room.

He's not exactly pushing you away, you know. Get the stragglers out of here and you could have Finn flat on his back in 30 seconds. 10 if you don't wait for him to get his clothes off.

Five if I just knocked him down right here and gave everyone who was left a peep show. It was tempting, but I couldn't. Was it wrong to want things to be special? I dropped my hand away. "We can't."

He gave a sad sigh, but I sensed some relief as well. I don't think that Finn wants the responsibility of rekindling our sexual relationship. It's a sweet gesture, but it puts a lot of pressure on me as well.

Once everyone was gone, he gave me a quick look. "So I didn't want to say it in front of everyone, but you don't have to go with me if you don't want to. There aren't any names on the tickets, so you could go with your Dad if you wanted to."

"Why wouldn't I want to go with you?"

He looked down. "Well, when I bought the tickets, I didn't know if we would make up or not, or if you would still hate me. I just don't want you to feel like you have to anything with your present."

I kissed the side of his neck, which is as high as I could get without standing on my tiptoes. "That's sweet." Then what he had said sunk in. "Wait, you spent all of that money on me when you didn't even know if we would be together."

"Yeah." He nodded. "If I bought something for me, then I wouldn't be able to have any fun with it, because I would always know that I bought it with bribe money. I wouldn't be happy. But if I got this for you, and it made you super happy, then I would be happy, too."

This was why I loved him. Finn has a big mouth that runs much faster then his brain does. He can be thoughtless and fixed on himself. He lets Puck lead him around and never tells him no.

But he also has the biggest heart in the world. He would spend over $1000 on something that he'll probably spend most of his evening spacing out through, just because he thought I wanted it. He's held the Glee club together more times then I can count, starting with our very first performance. He does his best to keep a sense of humor about things, and he works so hard at things, even if he doesn't succeed. I laid my head against his shoulder, and he rested his cheek on top of it. "Did you have a good birthday?"

"The best."