A/N: Well, my speculation was way off on this Quinn/Finn thing, huh? Phew! My head feels like it could explode!

If you're feeling down about the massive "Silly Love Songs" spoiler, I offer you Finchel Reconciliation! Right here, in this chapter!

My original plan was seven chapters, but the characters kind of took over and derailed me from my outline-resulting in only six chapters. Finn and Rachel just would not be delayed any longer.

Enjoy my happy ending!

Rachel was last to wake up. She smelled eggs, and it made her stomach churn. One good thing about going vegan was that she was never a lover of eggs and meat. And now that it had been almost a year since she became a vegan, the foods didn't even appeal to her when she was starving with a rumbling stomach like she was at that moment.

She put on her fuzzy lavender robe and went upstairs, yawning all the way. She hadn't slept well the night before. Once Rachel's sniffles in the dark were over, Kurt shared his frustrations with Blaine. He knew Blaine liked him, but how much, Blaine never lets him know. By the time it was four in the morning, Rachel began to babble about her frustrations in the early days with Finn, trying to commiserate with him. Eventually, Mercedes had had it and snarked for the two of them to go to sleep because at least they enjoy entertaining the possibility of boys liking them. Mercedes, on the other hand, didn't see anyone at all interested in her and was irritated to hear about something she thought she couldn't have. So, Rachel shut up and went to bed. It was probably around 5:30 in the morning.

The journey of becoming friends with Mercedes was proving to be more treacherous than her path to friendship with Kurt was. Neither were as easy to be with as Finn, but with them, she wasn't constantly wondering what they were thinking about what she was saying, how she looked, etc. That part was nice of hanging out with friends as opposed to a boyfriend was nice.

Anyway, Mercedes did not have as much patience with Rachel as Kurt did, so Rachel was trying to tone herself down as Mercedes was learning to count to ten before responding. Fortunately, even when they neglected these new habits, their friendship took damage much better than a precarious romantic relationship would.

Rachel followed the breakfast smell to the kitchen, cheerfully greeted by her friends. Kurt offered her some Eggs Benedict he had made. She blushed, having to refuse, informing him that she was vegan. She then took out her own vegan breakfast she had brought, anticipating Kurt's home would not have anything vegan.

"We only just started breakfast. We were starving and weren't sure you'd ever wake up!" Kurt said just before he delicately drank his glass of milk with his pinky jutted out.

"It's almost 10:30, barely five hours after we finally fell asleep! What time did you two wake up?"

"About an hour ago. I couldn't sleep because I was too hungry, so I had something then decided to just stay up," Mercedes explained. Then she jumped when her phone pinged. She looked at it and furrowed her brow.

"Your parents already?" Rachel asked.

"Yeah," Mercedes answered with a flicker of guilt. Rachel raised her eyebrow.

Kurt interjected, "Actually, it was Tina. Tina is coming by soon to take Mercedes shopping. Mercedes was just trying to be sensitive to you and not make you feel left out."

"Oh!" Rachel interjected, embarrassed. Disheartened. She wouldn't have minded the distraction of shopping with the girls instead of going home to face her internal gloom through song. Cut after cut after cut until the video was perfect and she was emotionally spent.

"Yeah," Mercedes said, clearly ashamed.

"Well, last night was fun," Rachel said, trying to start cheerful conversation though she felt anything but cheerful.

When you're smiling. When you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you.

Kurt raised his eyebrow at her.

"Well, okay, I was fending off deep depression—and failing … But thank you for being there for me. I never thought I'd have friends like this."

Kurt gave Rachel a gentle smile that filled her with warmth. She recognized this smile; she had seen him grant it to Mercedes a few times and once to Quinn. She knew this was a very special smile just for her.

"No problem, girl," Mercedes contributed with a smile. "It's gotta be hard to see Finn move on so fast."

Though Mercedes spoke gently, the statement stung at Rachel's core, making her mood dramatically sink, no longer able to avoid the reality of what happened the night before.

Well, who can blame him? she thought. She's gorgeous, knows the right things to say at the right time, and everyone at school admires her.

Rachel was silent the rest of the conversation. Burt stopped by during breakfast to chat, and then the three tired friends all took turns taking showers. Once each had finished his or her morning routine, they talked somberly and listened to music for two hours straight in the living room. Then Tina came.

Tina untangled her windswept hair, wet from the snow, and cheerfully told Mercedes and Kurt about the sales they should go to. Rachel's mouth dropped open.

"Wait. You're going shopping, too, Kurt?" Rachel said.

Kurt bowed his head.

"Yeah, that was the plan for the sleepover. But Tina—"

"Look, Rachel. I didn't sleepover with you guys because I'm just not sure about you. Kurt tells me you're actually cool to hang out with, and that's fine. We hang out at school when Mercedes is with us. But a sleepover? I just wasn't sure."

Rachel was stunned. Kurt took over:

"I'm sorry, dear, but it was easier for me to warm up to you once I was separated from your terrible behavior in Glee club. When it's just you, me, and Mercedes, you're actually normal, and, well, no one else in Glee club can conceptualize that."

Rachel took a breath to begin to protest, but Mercedes beat her to the punch:

"I'll say this as gently as I can, Rach. In Glee club, you're in, like, hyper-diva mode, like you gotta remind everyone what you can do all the time, and it is annoying as hell. No one believes me when I say you're not like that outside of school. It's painful to watch you embarrass yourself in Glee."

"Do I really say such bad things?" Rachel asked in earnest.

"Earlier this week," Tina chimed in, her voice unsympathetic, "You volunteered to generously let me and Mercedes sing back-up for you because we 'had really very sweet voices, which you thought were ready to complement your own leading lady brass.' Mercedes and me do not sing sweet back-up."

"I-I meant it as a complement…" Rachel squeaked.

"It felt like you were condescending us. You don't have to go around saying 'Look at me! I always sing the solos, and the only way anyone else will get any recognition is if I recognize them!" Tina explained.

Kurt crossed the invisible line Rachel felt form between her and Mercedes and Tina, who were standing together.

"Rachel, don't cry … Mercedes and I are still your friends, despite the things you say to make other people hate you. We don't hate you," Kurt said as he slowly, awkwardly rubbed her back. Kurt's nurturing nature was limited, making the gesture stilted, but it soothed Rachel a little.

"I'm sorry, Rachel. Tina, maybe this wasn't a good time," Mercedes said, also crossing the line. Then she looked at Tina and said in a low voice, "Did you hear about how Finn kissed Quinn after they won the game last night? In front of everybody?"

"No," Tina answered, her demeanor softening. "Ouch."

"It's okay, Tina," Rachel announced, trying to put on a brave face. "As painful as it is, I understand what you mean. I suppose I can be … overbearing about my talent, at times."

All three of the others nodded eagerly, and she was reminded of the first day back to school when Jacob had interviewed her and Finn. How eagerly he had also agreed that she was annoying in Glee club!

Maybe he realized what a joke I was in Glee. What does a boy who cares about his reputation want with a girl with verbal diarrhea? He may always love her, but will he want to actually be with her again?

Rachel's tears began to flow again (as if she hadn't dried herself out last night!). She tried to stop them, and she knew she was being irrational, but she couldn't help it!

Then Kurt spoke again:

"Well, I feel like a certified piece of crap for breaking the heart of a girl who already had a broken heart. But it had to be said, and it was said, so let's move on. To apologize, I'd like to offer my services for your video project for that summer New York program. I'll lend you my new microphone I got for Christmas. I doubt any mic you have is as good as mine. And I'll film it for you and yell 'Cut!' when you look constipated and save you the time of finishing and re-watching."

"A microphone to attach to my video camera?"

"That's right, my dear," Kurt said, looking entirely too pleased with himself.

Rachel nodded meekly, the last tear that had clung to her eye slipping down her cheek. She wiped it away and sniffled. Mercedes hugged her.

Rachel had one mission the Monday after the weekend McKinley won its regional football championship: not speak during Glee club, but listen. Also sneak a peek at Finn and Quinn …

Who were not sitting next to one another…

After that one look, she didn't allow herself another. She could hardly bare to think of it. It made her feel as if her stomach were in knots and had acid poured over it.

Not speaking during Glee club was incredibly hard. First, Brittany kept forgetting what a coda was, and Mr. Schue had to explain three times. Then Santana said that, during Regionals, they should sing "Sexy Back" where the Cheerios dance and use the other girls as chairs.

And it was especially hard not to answer Mr. Schue between takes what everyone thought when everyone's A's weren't tall enough, and she simply agonized over the fact that she could not show them the right way, reminding them to follow her lead, as she worked hours every week on proper vowel placement.

Everyone noticed, too.

"I haven't heard Rachel say anything yet. Has she duct-taped her mouth again?" Artie asked when Glee practice was almost over.

"Nope. Hello! Here I am!" Rachel said as everyone gaped at her.

Despite the struggles, she made it through without commenting or suggesting anything that whole rehearsal. Mercedes and Tina gaped at her as she hurriedly trotted out of class before everyone else.

The next day, the second of their three Glee rehearsals each week, was Phase Two. At Mike's suggestion, the club was performing a group rendition of "Starlight" by Muse. Rachel has a solo at the beginning. When the song finished, Mr. Schue suggested a few tweaks, then called on Rachel, who had her held straight up for almost four minutes, and she said:

"Mr. Schue. I think … Everyone sounded great on this, first of all. All we're really lacking is …"

She knew Mercedes's eyes were tightening on her. She felt it.

"… We should all try to really listen to one another. Balanced and tight harmonies are vital to this performance," Rachel finished with a pant.

Mr. Schue's eyebrows shot up—so did, she couldn't help but notice, Finn's.

The rest of the week, Rachel spoke more and more, choosing her words carefully. It was easier now that she knew she was in the presence of friends. Puck was still being nice to her; Finn didn't seem to hate her; and Tina and Mercedes—and even Mike—were full of warm looks just for her if ever she needed them.

Her friends also gave advice. Mercedes told her to never use the word "I." Tina's advice was not to recommend new song, detailing herself as the soloist. Both friends' advice worked like a charm. Her week's mission managed to distract her from fretting and mourning over Finn. Further, it dulled that perpetual ache she knew she would never be rid of. (At least, not until she graduated and got out of Lima—though even then, she wasn't sure.)

Before she knew it, it was Thursday and the last Glee rehearsal of the week, and she had managed the whole week of Glee without opining negatively or saying "I" once. Mr. Schuester announced that next week's assignment was Valentine's Day songs. At first, she huffed in defeat and rolled her eyes. She wondered what song Finn would sing for Quinn…

But then, Mercedes placed her hand over Rachel's white knuckles and said, "You wanna be my Valentine?"

It was Monday, and she was excited. Sure, she and Mercedes had clashed a bit that morning when Mercedes dismissed the YouTube video performance of "Your Daddy's Son" by the Broadway Goddess Audra McDonald Rachel posted on her Facebook profile as "all right," but Rachel caught herself and stopped letting it bother her. The rest of the day, she and Mercedes giggled most of the day, like usual, Rachel acting coy as Mercedes tried to drag out clues about what song Rachel was going to sing for the assignment at Glee on Tuesday. Rachel managed to successfully keep her mouth shut until Glee Tuesday afternoon. Then, it was time.

Rachel steadily made her way to the front of the class, her stomach dropping when she realized she would have to feel Finn's eyes on her—and actually look at the face that held those eyes. She made sure to look at Mercedes first. Mercedes nodded and took her phone out. Then her eyes reached their utmost in periphery.

…And Finn wasn't sitting with Quinn. More than that, Quinn was sitting with Sam! And everyone's gaze at her was one of gentle eagerness—even Santana's expression.

"As you all know, I'm currently single. But I'm not without a Valentine. Mercedes," Rachel began, grinning and wrinkling her nose at her friend.

Mercedes smiled.

"In the past month, I've learned how complicated love is. It has lots of different ways of appearing in your life. It's not always the romantic kind. Until Mercedes and Kurt—oh! Say 'hi," Kurt!"

"Hello, all," Kurt's voice sounded from Mercedes's cell, which was on speaker phone.

"Thanks to them, I've learned about the love between friends, which is actually quite potent, too. The message of this song is basically what I got from my friend … Hold the phone high, Mercedes, so Kurt can hear!" she said, giggling nervously. "Okay, well …"

Then the song began with the innocuous line Rachel never understood: Do you ever feel like a plastic bag, drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?

Finn remembers the moment Kurt found out about him and Quinn. He got a text at 9 in the morning the Saturday after the football game that said, "If you hurt Quinn's feelings using her as a rebound, I will cut you."

"U sure like to threaten, dont u, pipsqueak?" Finn texted back. Then he got serious and followed that text immediately with, "Dont worry were both reboundin. dont u evr worry a/b me?"

"Of course, I do. But you're already a wreck. Not much more damage can be done."

Had he been that obvious?

He remembers the moment he realized dating Quinn wasn't going to get Azimio and Karofsky off his back—nor make him happier. Quinn claimed she was now better off, but Finn couldn't agree about his own situation. He only noticed that the underclassmen didn't dare gang up on Finn with Karosky and Azimio. What would it take to get Karofsky and Azimio off his back besides converting into a complete homophobic jerk?

He had no damn idea anymore. All he knew was that it took one week of being elbowed in the ribcage and glared at continually by Quinn to realize this fake-dating would not work. Quinn wasn't very nice to him, and he felt like a joke, a sell-out. He wasn't getting any benefits except that the frosh girls looked at them starry-eyed when they passed and random guys winked or gave Finn a high five.

Finn remembers the moment he knew he wanted Rachel back.

(Can you believe this was all one weekend? Busy brain weekend!)

On Saturday night, Finn and his mom watched Deadliest Catch together and played Jenga. He had proposed they bond a little that night, but his ulterior motive was to get some advice.

He had no idea how to approach the topic of Rachel. He didn't want to ask her what she thought about Rachel or about what Rachel did to him. As mad as he was at Rachel, Finn didn't want to hear his mother say bad things about her. Luckily, before he had to think of the perfect approach, his mother breached the topic for him:

"Kurt tells me you and Quinn are dating again? That you're using her for a rebound and she is, too?"

"Huh," he said, as if this were new information to him. He stared at the little wooden block in his hand.

"Kurt was very protective of Quinn, but, honey, you dating her again makes me wary."

"We're not having sex, if that's what you mean,"

"Finn, I'm not worried about another pregnancy. I'm worried about you. Finn, she .. well, she's not very understanding of you. I don't want you to get hurt again."

"It's not really like that, Mom. We're just dating at school for show. We're trying to get more popular again."

"You didn't care about that when you were with Rachel."

"Mom, what does Rachel have to do with this?" he responded irritably. Though, he didn't know why it irritated him. Hadn't he wanted to talk about Rachel? He was so messed up ...

"Well, honey, you going to Quinn when it didn't seem you were even over Rachel seems like an attempt to escape making a decision."

"A decision? What does this have to do with a decision?" Finn asked, not liking where this was conversation was going. What decision did he have to make? Just decide to stop breathing so he didn't get that pain in his chest when he was reminded of Rachel? Dull though it was now, it was still there.

"It's all a choice, honey. You clearly don 't want to get over Rachel."

"She hurt me, Mom," he said quietly.

"I know, honey."

Finn took a moment. His eyebrow furrowed, deep in thought.

"If I took her back, wouldn't you, like, hate her?" he urged.

"Well, I'm not going to excuse what she did, Finn, but people do worse things-such as cheat repeatedly and lie all the time about it. Oh, but, honey, it's definitely serious, what she did. Listen, I don't want you to go near her if you think she'd do it again. But that's not what I'm trying to say. Finn, you need to choose. You need to choose to get over her, or you can choose to pick up where you left off with her. You gotta choose happiness. Do it for yourself, Finn. You know, in your heart, which you want."

"You mean, I've been choosing to be miserable for almost two months?"

"Well, maybe not the whole time. But you've been avoiding the issue most of the time … You need to look inside yourself and think, Is she worth it?"

"Why are you so understanding about all this?" Finn was in awe. Maybe she was onto something.

"I can pretend I know who Rachel is all I want, but I really don't. At first, I was so mad at Rachel for what she did to you. I thought you would move on like you did with Quinn. But you didn't."

After a pause, she continued: "But then Burt told me how sweet and smart Rachel seemed to him when she slept over and how much Kurt loved her. Burt couldn't help but really like her, too. And, well, you know, when Burt gets excited about things, I can't help but get excited about them, too. He told me he thinks that, deep down, she has a heart of gold—'a diva with a heart of gold, just like our quarterback with the heart of gold,' those were his exact words. He said you and Rachel, you're still just kids. Just like Burt understood and still had hope for you after that disaster when you shared a room with Kurt, he thinks there's hope for her yet, too. And after a week of talking me to death about it, Burt has me inclined to believe him."

"Burt said I have a heart of gold?" Finn gaped.

Carole nodded then leaned from her seating at the ottoman they had pulled up to the living room coffee table and hugged her tall son.

"He loves you, honey." Finn breathed deep the moment, feeling his mother's small hands rub his back up and down. He closed his eyes. Then when they parted, he realized he felt lighter in spirit than he had in a long time. As if his mom had rubbed them out of him-burped him like he was a baby. She burped him of his troubles.

"It's a choice?" Finn wondered out loud.

"Yes. As Mama Bear, I'd like to tell you that you have every right to protect your heart, but that also means you need to make a decision: will you move on or will you try again?"

"I love you, Mom."

On Monday, he approached Quinn's locker to tell her he couldn't pretend-date her anymore. So, he supposed he was … fake-breaking up? As she approached her locker, he saw a group of four girls anxiously wave at her, and she smiled back. The pit of his stomach fell. He began to feel guilty as he stepped to her. He was going to make her upset about becoming invisible again. She would hate him.

And they'd just become friends.

"Quinn, I have to tell you something," Finn's words poured out of him against his will.

"Me, first," Quinn said, her eyes bright. "Sam and I made up. It was another huge scene at another party. I ran into him and Santana. Sam looked absolutely miserable with Santana, so I, a little intoxicated, took her by her hair and pulled her so that she literally flipped head over heels over the couch!"

Finn's eyes widened.

"Then everyone in the room started applauding," Quinn informed him, sounding giddy. "Girls were cheering for me. I think everyone had been waiting for someone to floor She-Satan for a while… Then Sam and I kissed. A bunch of the girls kept yelling about how romantic it was! After the party died down, Sam and I talked. I apologized, told him we were a team, and I lost focus of that. I put too much pressure on him."

"Ya think?" Finn said, not even realizing he had really said it till he heard it. What was with all these involuntary words when he was with Quinn? He used to be so hesitant in speaking with her.

But that was a year ago. So much had changed.

"I promised him I would be better," Quinn affirmed. "Besides, football season is over. Fresh start. So watch out, Hudson." She spoke playfully the last bit playfully.

"Well, that's a relief. Not much had changed. Azimio and Karofsky are still always on my tail, so I was actually gonna tell you it wasn't worth it for me."

"Friends, though?" Quinn said. God, the starstruck bubbly look she had in her eyes was almost scary. Was there something he didn't know that she knew?

"Sure," Finn tilted his chin up with a smirk to show solidarity. "Friends."

He strutted away to Biology through the heart-decorated hallway.

When Glee started up again that week, he was watching Rachel again (actually, did he ever stop?). Though this time, he didn't feel frozen by anger or choked by angst. She was chatting and giggling away with Mercedes and Tina. Was this new? Sure, she talked with everyone during Glee, but not like this. Not with these secret smiles and tactful pauses—and so much laughter!

Wait, no. Scratch that. It did make him miserable. Though, not in the way he thought it would. She looked so happy, and he just wished he could plop down beside her and laugh with her and her … friends. They got her infectiously energetic presence, and he didn't.

She was different. She didn't have as much of her normal cute/snobby commentary. She hardly spoke about herself.

Something good was happening. He was happy for her. He was. But.

But he just … Just what? He really had no idea. He was too chicken to approach her that week. She must think he's a heartless bastard for going back to kissing Quinn—and right in front of her!

That day, after he and Quinn had fake-dumped on another, Finn sat two chairs away from Rachel. He watched as she grinned and popped out of her chair when Mr. Schue announced Rachel had a song to sing to her Valentine, Rachel.

Finn was entranced. She sang a beautiful rendition of that sweet Katy Perry song he always liked but never told his guy friends he liked. It was super cheesy, but who wouldn't want to be told that they can spark and transcend who they are trapped into being? He sure as hell would like to be told that sometimes.

But the song was to her new friends. (Finn couldn't help but be jealous a little bit.) Kurt was on speaker phone, and Mercedes got most of Rachel's expressions. When the song ended, she looked at Mercedes with tear-filled eyes. Mercedes couldn't clap because she was holding a phone, bu Kurt's loud clapping through the phone more than made up for it.

When Glee ended, he approached Rachel, who was standing by the drum set with Mercedes, Tina, and Mike.

"Hey, Rach, can we talk?" he paused when he saw Rachel's eyes pop at his using her nickname. With a hug, Mercedes let them alone, followed by everyone else. They began to walk together, then they paused, just looking into one another's eyes.

He realized they had stopped at the piano, and the choir room wouldn't be empty for a while. Brad and Mr. Schue were still hanging around, putting away music. He continued to leave, motioning for her to follow.

Once they reached the bench beside the water fountain in the hallway, he sat down. She sat, too.

Her eyes were huge. They glistened as they looked up at him.

He had to think about breathing.

"Things have changed, haven't they?" he asked.

"Yeah," Rachel said in a surprisingly light voice.

"For the record, I knew you were cool way before they gave you the time of day," Finn muttered.

"I know. But I learned that I was pushing them away. I was so insecure, I assumed they didn't want anything to do with me. So, it was self-fulfilled prophecy, so to speak," Rachel explained.

"You're not changing who you are?"

"Well, I suppose a little. Mostly, it's just my mentality. My confidence and my … self-esteem. I'm less likely to overreact when one thing in my life goes wrong like …"

Finn knew she was going to say "like when you kissed Quinn at the game." He knew. He winced in anticipation.

But she moved on in the conversation.

"Well, I just think things have gotten more .. stable," she said with a shy smile.

"As long as you're not compromising who you are for them, okay. I-I'm happy for you, Rachel. And I need to tell you that Quinn and I.."

"Don't," she burst out quietly, then shook her head gently. "I mean, you don't have to explain things to me. It's my fault you're free to see her, after all."

"No, Rachel. We only pretended to date because we wanted to improve our reputations."

"What do you mean? What's wrong with your reputation?"

"I get ragged on by Azimio and Karofsky. They follow me in the hallway and make gay jokes, call Kurt my boyfriend. That kinda stuff …"

Then Rachel was crying. Sobbing, really. Finn almost jumped out of his socks when the site of her processed.

"Whoa, whoa. Are you … crying?"

"I'm sorry. It's just … Since .. Since Sectionals, you've always looked so sad, and I had no idea you had a bullying problem, too. I can't believe—I never could think that someone like me—a nobody like me had such gravity in your life."

"How could you think that? Rachel … You were my—whole world. If your hamster or parrot or something died, I'd probably have been just as sad because it made you sad."

"I know that now. I'm so sorry, Finn. Truly. It hurts me to know I hurt you," she said as she sniffled and wiped away the last two tears.

"Believe it or not, Rachel, you have a family here at school, and we notice. Not just me. Everyone in that choir room. They all can be upset or happy by what you do. Believe it or not; they care."

"Oh, Finn, do I ever know that now. Mercedes set me straight. She's been so helpful-if not a little bit harsh, but I probably deserve it."

"I'm not so sure about that," Finn said while staring at her puffy, red eyes. Then he cleared his throat: "So are we okay, then? No more weird moments and avoiding one another?"

"We're cool," Rachel said, dropping the 'l' like Puck and Artie say. Then she reached out to fist-bump him. Her tiny knuckles brushed half of his, and then she tilted her head at him.

"Wait. What's wrong, Finn?" Rachel said as she did her adorable head-tilt.

"What do you mean?"

"You didn't explode your fist-bump?" she inquired, flicking her eyes to his still-closed fist rested on his thigh.

"Oh. Quinn told me it was lame, and I needed to stop."

"Why on earth would you do that?" Rachel said loudly.

"'Cause it's not cool?" Finn answered, startled by her animosity.

"Finn, if it's what you do, and you still like it, it's cool. Don't let anyone, I don't care if it's your mother or Kurt or your girlfriend or your faux-girlfriend—don't let anyone try to change you, Finn Hudson! You say I shouldn't change. Well, you shouldn't either."

Then Finn was on her, pulled in by her tantalizing anger. (It was pretty hot!) He leaned over her, his letter man jacket engulfing her shoulders. He plastered his hands to the sides of her face. And he kissed her. His tongue plunged in straight away, and with a whimper, Rachel's tongue joined his. Then he pulled back, sucked, then took hungrily plowed his tongue again. For a few minutes, they did this, breaking up their panting kisses to suck loudly and quickly, like a pulse point. He realized he must be ridiculous because he kept making some kind of NOM sound when he pulled back, like he wanted to swallow her whole.

When he pulled her back to break from the kiss, he looked at her, unable to look away. A tear leaked from her eye. He wiped it away with his thumb.

"So, it's agreed. We're not changing. That means I'm still in love with you. That means I feel like I can-no, I know-that I can trust you with my heart," Finn declared gently.

"You believe that?"

"Yeah. And it's not 'cause you changed."

"No," she said slowly, playfully, shaking her head the limited amount she could move it while encased in Finn's hands.

"No. It's 'cause you're more yourself. More confident and with friends to be yourself with."

"And I'm not getting back with you because you've changed, either."

"Wait. Do you have a right to say that?" he asked with a bemused, playful smirk.

"Parallelism, Finn," she said staunchly. "Anyway. As I was saying, I'm getting back with you, not because I know I will never overreact again, but because I'm a selfish girl, and I want everything. I may not deserve it-the friends, the talent, the bright future…. you. But I'll have it. I will."

"You know what? I take that back. I have changed. I can't promise not to freeze when things get tough, but I can promise to tell you you're more beautiful than Santana every day."

"Already such a liar!" Rachel teased as she brushed noses with him.

A/N: Thank you to Boo (shipper-swabbie) for being my beta!

And thank you to everyone who has been reviewing! You all have me grinning like a fool! I don't deserve such wonderful praise. And such good, insightful readers.