Disclaimer: I do not own Glee and I make no money from this artistic venture, it is done for the pure enjoyment of writing about one of my favorite shows. Constructive criticism from readers is greatly appreciated and I hope that you enjoy this chapter.

In general, Dave Karofsky's birthdays almost always turned into flaming disasters. Not the fun, hot-guys-in-multicolored-Speedos flaming, either, but the horrifying today-is-the-day-you-discover-the-taste-of-napalm sort of flaming. In other words, never fucking good. When he was five the neighbor's dog had gotten loose and bitten him on the leg; that was five stitches and a lifelong fear of chow chows. When he was nine the new bike his parents had bought him had a flawed chain and he'd been unable to stop before speeding down a hill; that was twelve stitches and his first concussion. At thirteen he'd gotten his first hint that he might be gay when a game of spin the bottle had him kissing Elle Perkins and wishing it had landed on her brother; that was the start of depression that followed him through his teens. Seventeen…seventeen was the worst of them and had gotten him expelled, but that wasn't really why it bothered him.

Given all of those shitty, shitty events Dave could hardly be surprised that day he turned twenty-seven became a topper for his birthday debacles.

The day had started out rough to begin with just because of where he was waking up; LA was perhaps Dave's least favorite place in the world to visit and his definite least favorite to attend Con in. Usually he could tolerate the innate craziness of the geeks and freaks that came out, because, for the most part they were all just overenthusiastic—overgrown—kids who wanted to show their appreciation. Granted some appreciation was goddamn creepy (he was thinking specifically of the huge guy dressed as Simon Denny who asked for a lock of his hair) and the LA Comic Cons had always seemed to breed that sort of stuff better than any of the other conventions put together. The boiling LA weather did not help things either particularly when combined with the…ripeness of so many con-goers. LACC 2020 had not an exception to the rule by any means.

He had wanted to leave on the 19th, the day before his birthday, right after his and Kyle's (his best friend and creative partner) last panels had been taken care of. Annabeth, their handler/agent/editor/semi-constant-pain-in-the-ass, however, would not even hear of Saladin Comics' most prominent duo skipping out on the LACC closing festivities. The not hearing part was literal too; she had actually shoved her fingers into her ears and started singing loudly when Dave brought up leaving early.

Kyle, usually one to sit back and enjoy Dave's con-related anguish—the bitch—had surprised him by swiping the return tickets from Annabeth and getting them bumped from the noon flight on the 19th up a few hours to the three AM red-eye. Well, Dave's and her own tickets, anyway. As an extra little gift for Dave, Kyle had also gotten Annabeth's ticket switched from premium to coach on the eight PM flight. He thought the last part was a tad excessive, at least until Annabeth got bombed at the closing party at the Hilton and began to rant on what a waste a man like he was on the gay community. At that point he was only too happy to slip out with Kyle, head back to their lodgings, grab his bags, and hit LAX. He also may or may not have sent a picture of Annabeth making out with another uppity blonde to her boyfriend; he hadn't used his phone to do it so no one could prove anything.

LAX proved to be a beast of epically new proportions, though, which was saying something considering Dave already imagined it as a Chimera in his head. First he got slight wood during the pat down which the guard, a mediocre piece of ass at best, noticed and promptly had a female coworker switch him places. Dave nearly killed himself on the spot, especially when the new security guard, brushed a hand over his…problem, and referred to him as "big-boy" for the rest of the humiliating experience. By the time he caught up with Kyle—who was grinning like she knew what had gone down—Dave felt like he'd been molested. Which, horrifyingly enough, did not kill his boner. He spent almost an hour in the men's restroom trying to fix that, which made jacking off a very productive activity considering their goddamned flight had been delayed four hours.

The two hours between the worst masturbation of his life and boarding the plane were occupied with keeping Kyle awake. Trips like this messed his BFF up more than anything else (not including her pixie-stick and espresso binge their sophomore year) and if she fell asleep before boarding nothing short of a damn earthquake was going to get her up. At least not until the Sandman was paid his nine-hour dues, anyway. It was a thankless job as sleepy-Kyle was the grumpiest of all Kyles and would occasionally throw a petulant kick to his shins. Dave came dangerously close to drugging her with an Ambien and bribing an attendant to stow her ass in with the pets, but he managed to grit his teeth and remember how nice she'd been with the tickets. Plus he only had like sixty bucks in his wallet; you couldn't bribe a fucking girl scout with that.

Once they finally made it onto the plane though, things quieted down…For about half the trip. Both Dave and Kyle got into their seats and conked out at once sleeping through take off and a few bumpy patches. Dave's bladder woke him up somewhere over Indiana and after taking care of business he found it impossible to drift off again. Mostly thanks to that chatty cunts in the row behind them who wouldn't shut up and he kicked himself for not taking an Ambien himself. His one consolation was that his silly, silly best friend had worn a bustier with a low cut tank top and had stuffed a set of waterproof markers into her bag along with her sketchpad.

Kyle's just-in-case-I-get-an-idea kit morphed into Dave's I'm-going-to-put-some-temporary-tattoos-on-these-G-Cups-because-it's-my-birthday-so-she-probably-won't-kill-me kit. Dave's drawing skills were no way near Kyle's level of perfection, but he thought the flaming heart he drew right in the center was pretty damn good and his Pegasus didn't look too much like a dog. There was going to be a shit-storm for it but because Kyle slept like the dead and had worn a jacket which he could conveniently zip right up over his handiwork, there would be some time to savor the prank. The best part was one of the stewardesses asked Dave if he'd like a drink while he was in the middle of the Pegasus so he was able to doodle a few stars while sipping rum and coke.

The last hour or so of the flight Dave managed a light doze (probably thanks to the drink) coming around again when Kyle started stretching. She didn't notice her jacket had been done up at all, nor did she move to take the zipper back down, Kyle just asked the waitress for some coffee and laid her head on Dave's chest, muttering on how glad she was to be the fuck out of Hell A. He hugged her with one arm and agreed with a straight face any professional actor would have killed for.

November had never felt so good in New Haven as far as Dave was concerned. It was like a whole different world full of red, gold, orange and cool air, a much better alternative to LA's ungodly heat wave and smoggy concrete. If he wasn't so damn drained and eager to get home, he would have kissed the pavement.

"So you called Jude and let him know our schedule got weird, right?" he asked as he and Kyle shuffled through the baggage claim. "He'll be picking us up?"

Kyle's dark gray-blue eyes shifted away from his as she bit her plush lower lip. "Um…"

"God dammit, Kyle!" he groaned, both palms going to his face as he fought down the urge to eviscerate his BFF. Murdering her before they completed the Dead Gods Saga would earn him fan wrath and that was not something he really wanted to tangle with.

Kyle pushed his arm and rolled her eyes. "Chillax, baby, I made arrangements when you had your little security issue yesterday." Dave turned red, instinctively moving a hand to block view of his crotch. His best friend cackled and Dave again fought down his most basic of throttling impulses. Kyle either did not notice or did not care (most likely the second one) her concentration more focused on grabbing her bags off the belt. She succeeded and captured Dave's as well, tossing it to him easily despite the bulk; the woman was no shrinking violet, sequined flats and doe-eyes be damned. "Though, Jude isn't our ride."

"Okay…well, who—" Dave's query was cut short as a very fluffy bronze head attached to lithe frame crashed into his right side. His suitcase toppled over, all focus going to keeping his body upright and not hitting the linoleum like a sack of potatoes. He smiled down at his tackler despite the slight pain in his side.

"Davey!" Bryce, his and Kyle's longtime friend, practically squealed, hugging at Dave like they hadn't seen him less than a week ago. The other man kissed both of his cheeks before leaping over to Kyle and attempting to give her the same welcome. Bryce got about an inch a way before Kyle had both palms flat against his chest, a warning glare in place that would make a shark think twice.

"Down, boy," she ordered. Kyle was always grumpy after she just woke up and it generally lasted a few hours into the "morning", or until a half-gallon of espresso went in her. "We've been over this before, Bryce, do not make me get out the newspaper and whack your fuckin' nose."

Bryce was hardly put off by Kyle's bitchiness; like everyone who knew her well enough, the brunette had long ago discovered the more dickish Kyle's attitude toward someone, the more she loved them. That was why she gave Dave and Jude so much crap. It was also possibly why everyone who loved her had slipped her a sleeping pill at some point.

Bryce's brown eyes grew to a comical size and his best impression of a puppy took over. It was a pretty good impression. "But—but, Kylie! I love you! I've missed you! Scratch my ears! Rub my belly! Love me! Love me!" He got a little loud on the last bit, dropping to his knees and wrapping both arms around Kyle's legs. The look on Kyle's face suggested she was contemplating the benefits of murder in the middle of an airport and the stares of at least two hundred people while Bryce rubbed his cheek against her hip. Dave, of course, was laughing his ass off.

"Ugh-oh was there a hug fight?" a new, but still familiar voice, interrupted Dave's cackling. He turned to his left, where the newcomer, a tall dusky-skinned man with chiseled features and neatly trimmed facial hair, better known as Rafe (or Ro-Blow, depending on how may drinks had been had), stood. Dave gave him a "no shit" smirk and Rafe just shook his head before the two of them bumped fists and man-hugged (one arm and little chest bumpage). "Welcome home, Horse. How'd the west coast treat you?"

It was Dave's turn to shake his head. "Man, fuck L.A., that's all I've got to say. I'll take Connecticut snow and sanity over that shithole's sun, silicon, and utter idiocy any time." They both chuckled, Dave for a slightly different reason; Kyle had given up the fight and allowed Bryce to hug her—which he did with way too much enthusiasm for someone who wasn't into pussy.

"Speaking of sun and silicon," Dave turned back to Rafe with his left eyebrow cocked, "what are you doin' here? I thought you and the little mister," he gestured to Bryce, "were goin' to Sydney until after Turkey Day?"

Bryce's attention was off of Kyle in less than a second and he rushed to explain before Rafe had done more than open his mouth. Kyle, just relieved to have been released from the "Hugbox", swayed a bit and straightened her hair and jacket, shooting Dave a glare that dared him to joke as she did it.

"Oh that's a fun story," Bryce's tone was instantly snotty as he trotted in between his husband and Dave. By the way Rafe was flinching and rubbing the back of his neck Dave would bet that it indeed was. "Someone," the word was punctuated with the dramatic waving of Bryce's arms, "is on the No-Fly list now because he has to argue with air marshals on whether or not he is allowed to have his laptop on during take-off."

"Dude," Kyle murmured exactly what Dave was thinking as she made it over, luggage towed behind her. "For real? I know you're a workaholic but…"

"He's an idiot that's what he is," Bryce growled, arms crossed tightly over his chest as he glared at Rafe who was staring down like kid getting dressed down by a teacher. "The only thing saving his ass from jail time was probably the fact the guy was jumpy and tasered him without real cause—"

Dave couldn't help himself. "Aw, they tased you, bro?"

"Oh my God, YES!" Kyle laughed maniacally, fist bumping him. "That just earned you a lap dance at Chip 'N' Dale's next time we go!"

Feigning shock Dave put at hand over his heart. "Hey, two, don't forget one's coming for my birthday!"

"Ooh-ho, someone's pushing for a double-team," Kyle said with a wink.

The lewd reply Dave was going to make was cut off by the petulant stomping of Bryce's foot. "Dammit, you two! This is not funny! He can't fly for business until we clear up the mess and, most importantly," another glare went to Rafe, "I did not get my romantic anniversary on a moonlit beach!"

The taste of brimstone was palpable through the burning light in Bryce's eyes, like sirens warning of the imminent core meltdown of a nuclear power plant. Angry wasn't something that Bryce got very often. He fit the definition of gay so goddamn well, happy, parade-marching, cock-loving, that Dave, Kyle, and a few of their other friends had once drunkenly called the Webster's people to have the guy's picture put beside the definition (it didn't work out). But when Bryce did happen to go off it was something Dave wished no one to be on the receiving end of. So, to save Rafe (and more importantly secure that ride home for his jet-lagged ass) he stepped in.

"So, I got to meet Alexander Skarsgard in L.A.," Dave said putting an arm over Bryce's shoulders. "Got you his autograph."

Bryce was putty in his hands within a nano second, bouncing on the balls of his feet and demanding every detail about the encounter in a high pitched, fluttery voice. Out of the corner of his eye Dave saw Rafe let out a breath, mouthing a "thank you" to him; Dave wordlessly kicked his suitcase and handed his carry on over to the taller man. Rafe made no arguments, and, with Kyle giggling at his heels, lead the way to the car, Dave's luggage carefully balanced in his arms.

The relatively short drive from New Haven to West Haven was spent less appeasing Bryce, who had gotten a phone call from his sister and therefore had to take it, and more sorting through mail. Dave's email was comprised almost entirely of birthday tidings from "The In-Laws", as he referred to Kyle's family who had pretty much adopted him into the clan, and friends. As much as Dave dreaded his birthdays it was hard for him not to get all warm and fuzzy when there were pictures of his pseudo-nephews holding up a finger-painted sign that read "Happy B-Day Unkle Davey!". The warmest and fuzziest of them all, though, was an angry rant from Annabeth that was headed with the eloquent "You Assholes". Dave didn't read it but Kyle and he, who'd discovered it on her phone as well, shared a devious glance and chuckled over it. There was only one thing that bothered him as he went through his inbox and voicemail, a message from Nathan was in neither.

Nathan was a lot of things, depending on who you asked. To Dave he was his boyfriend of little over a year. To Kyle he was a snooty, manipulative little shit who needed a reality check. Though, to be fair, Nathan had never assumed Jude or Maggie was Dave's housekeeper upon meeting or drank Claire or Vince's clearly marked chai tea lattes from the fridge at midnight without asking, so… To Dave's other friends, well, they usually just kept their mouths shut when it came to Nathan, because unlike Kyle most of them did need to voice opinions about things they didn't have a say in. None of them, however, ever bothered to correct Kyle so Dave was pretty sure his inner circle wouldn't be waving a flag for his boyfriend any time soon.

Arguing that Nathan wasn't occasionally an arrogant little cunt wasn't something that Dave could do because, honestly, he was. Truth be told, that was part of the appeal; femme guys with a 'tude had been Dave's kink since his first fucking crush in the sixth grade and if Nathan did anything well it was look cute while throwing a bitch-fit. Naked. While riding Dave.

Despite the explosive sex, though, Dave liked to think that the two of them had more going on than just that, hence the clench in his chest when he found no messages from him. It didn't help that their last conversation had basically been an argument thinly veiled as bathroom fucking over a week beforehand. Dave had been trying to convince Nathan to go home with him for the holidays, home being Kyle's parents' house in Nevada. Nathan had protested the idea vehemently, citing a thousand bogus sounding excuses before they'd gotten carried away and had to go relieve the tension with humping. Dave was on the verge of becoming a complete ass-hat and calling his boyfriend to ask what was going on with him, but his pride (what little he was able to keep in his relationships) would not let his thumb hit "send"; he was not going to be a groveling little bitch on his birthday.

At about the exact same time Dave shut off his BlackBerry to avoid any further temptation a cry of "Hallelujah!" filled the cabin of Rafe and Bryce's Lexus. It was from Kyle, of course, as they had just turned off of Baker and onto Fulton, their street. Dave realized this and held off on cuffing his BFF right in the back of the head; they were home at last.

"Oh God, I have missed my bed," Kyle moaned, pressing herself against the rear passenger window like a five-year-old, as if she could somehow will herself to the door.

"Preach it, Sister," Dave said.

"Kyle, get your face and hands off the glass," Bryce said. "I just made Rafe wash them."

Kyle snorted and Dave saw her eyes roll despite the steam on the window. "So? Make him clean 'em again. I don't think he's quite worked off that second honeymoon mishap, yet."

"Bitch, I will kill you," Rafe growled giving Kyle a death glare through the rearview. Kyle only winked at him; Rafe, like Dave and like all of their manly ilk, was all talk and no show ninety-nine percent of the time. And since that other one percent was reserved for life or death situations she was safe.

Before they'd even pulled into the driveway Dave was already breathing in the familiar scents of home. Rosemary, ginger, and a thousand other spices in the kitchen from the herb garden grown at the big window. Oranges and Fabreeze in the living room. The weird, almost chlorinated scent of the downstairs basement, courtesy the air purifier and mold sprays that they always took care to wipe the baseboards with down there. And that strange musk that permeated everything and made it so wonderful in the first place, something that was just home.

Rafe went up the drive extra slow, doubtlessly to torment Kyle who could only whine against the power of childproof locks. The car had stopped just short of the garage before Rafe finally relented and cut the engine, popping the child locks. This caused Kyle, whose hand had been hovering on the handle, to jerk and push at the worst time and tumble right out of the door. Dave knew she was alright when she started to swear profusely, so he allowed himself to enjoy and laughed heartily at his best friend's expense.

"You dumb cunt!" he all but howled, shaking his head. "You dumb, dumb, dumb cunt!"

"Cock-suck! Fuck nuggets! Bitch!" Kyle's Tourette-esque explosion only further confirmed she was just fine. She struggled to her feet, jeans covered in gravel and her wavy hair falling out of its pigtails. "I'm good! I'm good!" And she held up both arms like a gymnast who'd stuck an awesome dismount.

"Good, yeah, that's the word for that, alright," Dave teased as he unbuckled his seatbelt and slid out of the car maintaining far more grace than his partner.

Bryce, who along with Rafe, was nearly crying from laughing so hard, managed to quip, "Do it again! I've got my phone this time; we'll get so many hits on YouTube!"

"Shut up and pop the trunk, asshole." There was no real malice in Kyle's words as she dusted off her jeans and adjusted her jacket; she too was giggling at her idiocy. It was probably for that reason Rafe didn't continue to goad her for giving his husband more punishment ideas and did as she asked. Dave, having not fallen on his stupid face upon exiting the car, was already waiting for the "pop" and pulled both his and his partner's luggage from the confines of the trunk.

A playful gleam lit Kyle's eye as she nudged his shoulder with her own. "Aw, look at you, being all gallant and shit. I think I might have to make it up to you." She grabbed the handle of his suitcase as well as her own (they were the rolling kind) and her carry on.

"How hard d'you hit your head?" he teased, nudging her back after closing the trunk and slinging his bag over his shoulders.

Kyle only stuck out her tongue in response, prompting Dave to gnash his teeth as if trying to bite it. The customary bawdy commentary that always followed such an exchange was, however, interrupted by Bryce's whine.

"Okay, I need to take a piss like five minutes ago. One of you assholes let me into your house right goddamn now." By the way he was bouncing on the balls of his feet and that dangerous flash had returned to his big brown eyes, it was obvious now wasn't the time to fuck with Bryce by pointing out he was a guy and could piss in their shrubs. Kyle still did that, because that's just the little ball of sunshine she was, but Dave spared himself the tirade on how Bryce wasn't "a fucking savage" who did his business out in the open where anyone could see or wild raccoons might come along, and went to unlock the door. Bryce was yelling the best part at Kyle, where he claimed raccoons and their grubby-little people paws could tear a dick off with almost no effort, when Dave finally got the security code punched in to the alarm pad and unlocked the door.

Debating on whether or not he should actually tell Bryce that the door was open or if he should just let the other man piss himself while he preached raccoon phobia (in a voice that became successively higher the more terrified he became), Dave slid his arm up the wall to flick the lights on in the main foyer. The wall sconces came up, throwing their soft, welcoming amber light over the room where half a dozen people stood expectantly. Dave's brain hadn't even registered what the fuck was going on before the scream of "SURPRISE!" hit him along with a few face-fulls of silly string. He caught up pretty quick after that.

"Oh, my fucking God!" he laughed, wiping away the few errant ropes that had hit his cheek and neck. "I—shit!"

"Jesus, I hope not," a thin, tattooed man with dark, untidy hair said as he moved toward Dave. "You're not even drunk yet, Davey, you can't crap yourself until after at least half the bottle of Jack is in you!"

Dave snorted as they hugged. "Jack Daniels? Jude, you dick! If you're gonna get me wasted you should have got the Kraken!"

"Ugh you have no taste." He kissed Dave's cheek. "Which was why I did get that nasty swill. Happy birthday, Athos."

"You're a good man, Aramis," Kyle answered, again reading Dave's mind, as she wrapped her arms around him from the back, winding over top of Jude's thin limbs for a threesome hug. Cherry chapstick lips smacked against the scruff of Dave's jaw then the corner of Jude's mouth, the slighter man pressing super close and leaning over Dave's shoulder to give Kyle access.

"Thanks, Porthos."

"You knew?" Dave asked Kyle, left eyebrow flagged high. Usually, Kyle (and Jude too, for that matter) couldn't keep secrets from him to save their lives; part of the package when you're so close that you almost had telepathy. "How long?"

The answer came by Bryce, interrupting again, as he shoved the three of them out of his way to charge into the house. "A month. Now fucking move, my emergency was not part of the act!" And he barreled down the hall to the half-bath, nearly knocking Maggie and Claire over in the process. Laughing, Dave's two best friends released him so that the rest of his local nearest and dearest could get a turn.

Since all of his friends were as busy as he and Kyle were with work, Dave was truly touched by the effort put into their little surprise. Green and blue party decorations are spread out all over the first floor of the house. In the kitchen the big island counter was transformed into a little buffet that included some of his favorite foods including mini quesadillas and hot wings with soda, whisky, wine and Dave's beloved black rum set out on the smaller one. The cake was a Chocolate Chipper from Cold Stone Creamery adorned with twenty-seven little candles that Maggie and Claire carefully lit before they, Kyle, Jude, Vince, Rafe, Bryce, Darren and Neil serenaded him with a wonderfully out of tune version of "Happy Birthday". He had the most perfect birthday in creation amazing cake, great food, possibly the most wonderful people on the planet surrounding him, Kraken, there was only one thing missing and Dave felt ashamed for not noticing until he'd eaten his slice of cake. His boyfriend was missing.

Nathan wasn't all that fond of Dave's friends and the feeling was mutual, but he figured that they could have at least tried for this. Or, specifically, Nathan could have been less of a bitch and taken the invite because he knew that one would have been extended. His friends were a lot of things, but they were not petty or meddling. Even Kyle, who was a breath away from sticking Nathan's picture on the dartboard in the rec room, would have made damn sure that Nathan knew what was going on that night. And since it had been Maggie—sweet, caring, attentive-to-everyone's-needs-over-her-own Maggie—he'd discovered to have taken charge of the planner, there was not a single doubt in Dave's mind that Nathan had gotten an invite. Probably in a scented, popup card hand delivered by the little redhead.

Dave did his best not to think about it, telling himself that Nathan did not deserve even his thoughts. It was his birthday so he should be enjoying it, not wasting his time on shitty boyfriend drama. So Dave did his best not to. He danced with his friends, ran from Kyle when she discovered is "artwork", ate good food, and did his best to utterly annihilate on the newest version of Mario Kart. He also started slamming back Kraken at a pace that he knew was probably unwise. It was hard to care though, once the warmth of the buzz had settled around him, making Dave impervious to all negative things.

Had he not noticed the vibrations of his phone, for at least another hour or so, birthday twenty-seven would have technically been pretty good. As Dave reached into his pocket though, it was destroyed.

It was from Nathan, a text message, and just reading that part bolstered his spirits to the height he had been pretending most of the night. It gave him the hope that maybe, as fucked up as it seemed to be, the year he'd spent with Nathan had not just been a waste of time. That maybe, just maybe, something could be learned here. His boyfriend could apologize, he could forgive, and by some magical means Nathan would get his irritating shit together so they could be more of a couple than just exclusive fuckbuddies who attempted to do things together without a fight and obligatory make-up sex after each date.

Then Realism punched Dave right in the balls as he read that message.

i hope ur birthday was good u deserve 1. wish i culd hve ben their. n Athens w/ mom. btw maybe not teh best time b i want 2 c oher peeple. no hard feelings.

3 Nathan

Realism went back for seconds and Dave found himself vomiting on poor Claire's shoes after he'd thrown his BlackBerry at the potted plant.