Chapter Ten

Puck turned to Finn, tossing a basketball in his hands. "Dude, I just don't see how some pansy-assed jump rope shit's gonna help us with vertical leaps. I mean, wouldn't leaping the stadium stairs be…" He paused. "Well. Shit."

Gulping, Finn turned around, his heart pounding in his chest, because the squelch and squeak of sloppy footprints behind him was unmistakable, but there was no way they'd do that to Kurt. He and Puck would give a patriotic wedgie to anyone who dared, and…

"Rory?" Mike said. "What... what happened?"

Finn placed his hand over his mouth, hoping he could mask his relief as a yawn, yet raised an eyebrow quizzically as Rory merely shrugged his shoulders. Shaking his head in confusion, Finn noticed Rory seemed a lot more laissez-faire about being covered in lunch products than he would have expected. In fact, Rory almost looked relieved, as though he'd been expecting worse.

Reaching out, Finn swiped his index finger across Rory's damp cheek, sucking it into his mouth. "Is that...?"

Rory smiled, and wiped his face with his shirt sleeve. "Irish stew," he said, stepping back from the gray puddle pooling around his feet. "Guess I dug my own grave when I said I wanted a taste of home, eh?"

"Um... yeah," Finn replied. "That sucks, man."

"Care to help me clean up, Finn Hudson?"

"Dude," Puck muttered, shaking his head before burying it in his locker, although it did little to muffle the raspy echoes of his laughter.

At least Mike had the decency to be somewhat diplomatic. "Finn really needs to talk to Mr. Schue before glee rehearsal. Don't you, Finn?"

"Yeah, uh, sorry?" Finn said, although he couldn't help but notice Rory seemed more disappointed over Finn's reluctance to join him in the locker room than his sodden clothing. "I have some spare kit you could borrow, though?"

"Not to worry," Rory said, eyes twinkling as he accepted the outstretched sports kit from Finn's arms. "By the way, I'm going to watch a filum tonight. If you're not too busy, well, gimme a ring, eh?"

He waved goodbye, stew and diced carrots dripping from the tips of his fingers, and, oh god, did Rory just wink at him?

"Guess the luck o' the Irish is a myth, huh?" Puck muttered, as Rory's wet footsteps squeaked away towards the locker room.

Finn shook his head. "Seems he ran out of luck when he ate all those four-leaf clovers to impress Brittany," he said, under his breath. "Look, he's a nice guy, but... he doesn't make it easy for himself, and Coach is aware of what's happening, so I dunno what else I can do. And what the hell is a fil-um?"

"A film, I think. Like, a movie?" Mike nudged Finn's shoulder. "The guy's only fifteen. Remember what Kurt was like around you when he was fifteen, huh? And you guys are so tight now."

"I'll say." Puck waggled his eyebrows at Finn. "Have to say he's been a lot tighter with you since he said bye to the Hobbit."

Mike shook his head. "Is there something you want to say, Puck?"

"No need, man," Puck said, meeting Finn's eyes and smirking. "And when they built you, brother, they broke the mold."

Finn felt his fingers twitch, and he steadied them around his US History textbook before closing his locker with a violent slam, his left eyelid throbbing, all set to take off in flight.

"Woah, chill out! Just singing some classic Springsteen to you, huh?"

"That song's about death, dude!" Finn said, through gritted teeth, and it would have been so tempting to just slam Puck back against his locker, knock that smug, knowing expression from his face, but... he took a deep breath.

It was just Puck's way of winding him up. Walking away, his cheeks burned, and he faintly heard Mike mutter something like he's under a lot of stress right now, okay? Finn couldn't help but chuckle lightly at that, because stress didn't even begin to cover his emotions.

000

As Finn had predicted, Mr. Schue didn't object to letting Tina sing in rehearsal. However, he hadn't predicted that the rest of the club's members would have reacted so favorably.

Well. Except Blaine, but he seemed to shoot down any idea Finn had the temerity to suggest, so that was a given.

"Pop a Xanax, Beethoven," Santana said with a click of her fingers. "Yeah, so she dresses like she's been dipped head-first into a schizophrenic cotton candy machine, but whatever, slant-eyes can actually sing."

Blaine stood up. "I'm not denying she can sing, and Time after Time is an outstanding choice, truly, but..." he tilted his head up, challenging Finn with his eyes, "don't we think it needs a bit of an extra lift?"

"From you, you mean?" Finn muttered.

"An extra lift, huh?" Santana said, with a smirk. "Like those elevator shoes you claim not to wear?"

"Will you two let me talk?"

"You were talking," Finn replied, leaning down to clutch the chair in front of him with such force his fingertips turned white. "It's all you ever do. No! No more talking. If we don't decide on this today, there's no point us even turning up to Sectionals."

Rachel stood up and nodded at Tina, before turning to Blaine, hands on her hips. "Finn is right," she said, taking such a deep breath it was audible. "Tina, that was beautiful, and I would be happy to relinquish mine and Blaine's duet."

"Mr. Schue? Don't I get a say in this? Can't you see he's... he's manipulating her?"

Standing up, Santana pushed Blaine's head down, forcing him back in his seat. "Like you didn't see that coming, jheri curl," she said, "and, yeah, I hate Finn rot as much as the rest of you losers, but for all of Tina's weeping, which, by the way, makes Halle Berry's acceptance speech look stoic, she isn't half bad. Not half good, either, but..."

"Yes, but it is missing something," Quinn said, tapping her pen against her knee. "Some depth."

Finn took a deep breath. "Okay, Blaine. How would you feel about singing backup?"

"I - I don't really... Well, I suppose I could..."

Kurt looked up from filing his nails. "Kind of you, Finn, but it's clearly not in his range."

"Who else would you suggest, then," Blaine said, his eyes narrowing, "Finn?"

"Actually," Kurt said, tipping his chin in the air, "I think Santana would be a perfect choice."

"Now that, I can do," she said, with a flick of her hair. "No opposition from Berry?"

"Well," Rachel paused, chewing on her lip. "It's more of an alto part, possibly a mezzo-soprano, but... as I already have a solo, and out of the kindness of my heart, and I must stress, kindness, because as we know my range is versatile and extensive, I do want to ensure New Directions doesn't falter without my talent because as you all know, I'll be singing lead in NYADA next year, and..."

"Okay, Rachel," Finn said, interrupting her with a shake of his head. "So, we're settled, then? Anyone opposed?"

Blaine raised his hand slowly, but it barely reached his chest before he put it back down, resting it on his thigh. Was Blaine deferring to him? Blaine? Finn subtly attempted to pump his fist, hoping he didn't seem like too much of a douche for doing it, because he couldn't help but grin.

"Great," he said, with a nod, trying to contain his euphoria which all but threatened to bubble over, because he felt like dancing a freaking jig. "It's settled, then."

As the bell rang, Mr. Schue clapped his hands, a spotlight grin etched on his face. "Great teamwork, guys! Let's do a run-through tomorrow and get this thing down."

Nodding enthusiastically, and trying not to notice how his teacher's bright smile was mainly directed at him, Finn gathered his bag and walked to the door. He sighed, turning around as he heard the familiar echo of insistent footsteps behind him.

"Can we talk, Finn. Please?"

Rachel. She was wearing a white cardigan and a dark green mini dress that day, the colors contrasting against her tanned skin, hair spooling around her shoulders in bouncing curls.

"You look really nice today," he replied, then stared at the ground. "Um, but, I can't talk now, I... Look, I'm kinda busy this week, we're going to pick out, like, a huge Christmas tree and decorate it, and Kurt's gonna teach me how to bake my Mom's favorite holiday cookies and kind of... it's cheesy, but I love that family stuff, you know?"

Rachel nodded. "I forgot how much you love Christmas," she said, her face sad and wistful. "It's... nice. Okay, how about after rehearsal tomorrow, at the Lima Bean? There's... something I need to give you, okay?"

"Sure," he said, nodding. He glanced up, and felt like he'd just won the lottery, because Rachel hadn't mentioned - well, hadn't noticed - they were standing under the mistletoe , but he sped off as quickly as he could just in case and shot her a glance from over his shoulder. "See you later, Rach!"

"I'll look forward to it," she replied, yet her eyes suggested anything but as she clutched her cardigan tightly across her chest like a security blanket.

000

Grumbling to himself, Finn opened the door. Between rehearsal, and Mike's best attempts to teach him the fundamentals of Algebra II in an hour, his Wednesday had left him more than a little exhausted, flashcards still dancing in front of his eyes.

"Kurt?" he called out, slamming the door behind him, immediately walking through to the kitchen, the scent of apples and cinnamon making his mouth water. "That smells amazing. You home?"

"No," Kurt replied, tersely, the back of his sweater covered in a snowy dusting of flour as he frantically stirred a bowl full of what appeared to be cake batter. "I'm clearly not."

Finn smiled, and wrapped his arms tightly around Kurt's waist.

"Mmm," he said, glancing at the recipe Kurt was poring over. "I have, like, no idea what a charlotte is, but I'm kind of glad you're making it."

"Don't you have something better to do?" Kurt said, leaning into his touch all the same.

"Someone, you mean," he said, pressing a kiss against Kurt's clothed shoulder. "And, nah, not really. Good to see you, too."

"Likewise, I suppose," Kurt replied. "Did you have a good day?"

"Yeah," Finn said, reaching a finger into the bowl and frowning as Kurt swatted it away with a feral hiss. "I had an appointment with Ms. Pillsbury. Did you know that beyond the crazy, she's kinda cool? She, uh, she told me I didn't have any math disability, but kind of gave me some stuff to think about, you know?"

"Oh?" Kurt said, turning around, the pink tip of his tongue sweeping out to suck cake batter from the edge of his finger. "Such as?"

"Not fair, man. Why is it okay for you to do that?" Finn frowned, then took a deep breath. "Anyway. Uh, what would you say to us both being in New York?"

"Chef's prerogative," he replied. "And Buffalo's not in New York, Finn. Didn't we establish this?"

"No, dude. Like, New York, New York. Yours and Rachel's New York."

Kurt arched his eyebrow warily. "What on earth prompted this about turn? I thought you'd settled on Kent State?"

"That was before I realised that to do anything but massage someone and, like, walk them to appointments needed, like, a million years of schooling. Why the hell didn't you tell me, man?"

Rolling his eyes, Kurt patted him on the shoulder. "It's nothing personal, Finn. What I know about physical therapy fits on a postage stamp, and you just sounded so happy and excited, like you hadn't in a while, that I assumed you'd done the research, and…" Kurt paused. "Then again, I suppose this idea of yours has only been three weeks in the making."

"Look!" Finn said, walking over to the table and rummaging in his backpack, extracting several brochures and thrusting them under Kurt's nose eagerly. "These places look so awesome, don't they?"

"Calm down," Kurt said, shaking his head. "I don't want a papercut in my eye right before Sectionals, the Sherlock Holmes look is rather a la mode, but I'm not sure I have time to source a monocle before Friday, and I just don't think I…"

"There's CUNY! They have a college in Brooklyn, you know, and, and... here, there's one in LaGuardia, and one in Long Island, and maybe I'm not good enough for NYU this year and it's hardly NYADA, not that I want to go to NYADA, but..."

"Breathe, Finn. Are you... sure about this?"

Finn nodded. "I think, I mean, I guess... she said I should take some classes at the community college next year, just general ed stuff, make sure it's really what I want, save up a bit more for college and maybe even transfer if I'm up to it?" He paused. "Kurt, you look like, like a deformed goldfish cracker! It's not that stupid an idea, right? I know Rachel's been jonesing for New York since before she could breathe, but..."

Kurt tiptoed up and wrapped his arms around Finn's shoulders before pressing a kiss against his jaw.

"Finn. It's a great idea."

"You're not gonna, like, lecture me on not being New York great, or...?"

"Look. Rachel bought tickets to an expired Broadway show from a man wearing nothing but a burlap sack, and asked the waitresses in Sardis if they had to pass an audition to work there. That was, when she wasn't twirling around Central Park wearing a curly blonde wig and reciting Carrie Bradshaw quotes. I love her, I do, but her Dads... Well. She's more than a little naive."

"And I'm not?"

"Well, in certain respects, Finn, but it's an endearing quality of yours, and if anyone has the tenacity to stand up to the Big Apple, it's you."

"Tenacity? That's good, right?"

"Yes Finn. It means that sometimes you can be a little, well, more than a little persistent when you set your mind on something, but, well, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Just believe in yourself, Finn, and you'll be amazing in New York, or Ashtabula, or Lima, or wherever you decide to make a home for yourself."

"I kind of... want to make a home for myself in New York, though," he looked at the floor, embarrassed, because he didn't quite know how Kurt would react to the thoughts that were churning through his head like those infernal flashcards of Mike's. "I kind of want to make a home with you."

Looking up, he gulped, because Kurt's eyes were wider than saucers.

"Finn? You want us to, to live together?"

"Well. Yeah," Finn nodded, patting him on the shoulder. "It's worked out pretty well for us this past year. Wouldn't that be the plan?"

"We've been... doing this for a week, Finn. A crazy, brilliant roller coaster of a week, but a week nonetheless."

"Yeah, but even before... the thought of being apart from you, it just..."

"I know," said Kurt with a nod. "The idea does have a certain... appeal. As long as Rachel and Blaine don't move in across the hall, that is. I can't stomach a musical theater version of Friends."

"Okay. That, yeah... I agree. But what if I don't like New York? What if I'm not destined for, for the Big Apple? Then what? What's gonna happen to us?"

"I'm not sure, but we'll deal with that when it comes, Finn." Smiling, he swept the tips of his fingers along Finn's jaw. "We'll deal with it together."

"Cool. You are just so awesome. I kinda feel like this needs a toast, or something. Fancy some sparkling cider?" He raised his hand for a high five, and Kurt batted it away. "What? Come on, I know it's left over from when Rachel came over last month, but... I put a cap in it and it can't have gone bad or anything, right? Wait. Can sparkling cider go bad?"

Kurt slapped a hand to his forehead. "Never change, Finn," he muttered. "Never change."

"Never change what? Anyway, I have to go meet Rach."

"Don't be too long," Kurt said, as he tiptoed up to press a quick kiss against Finn's lips. "We're decorating the outdoor tree this evening, remember?"

"Of course," he said, shaking his head. "God, this family stuff is awesome, but... it also kind of sucks."

"What do you mean, it sucks?"

Finn placed his hand on Kurt's shoulder and waited for Kurt to close his eyes before pressing a gentle kiss to his forehead. He shivered at Kurt's happy sigh before he moved his head towards Kurt's and traced his... boyfriend's, yes, he supposed, boyfriend's, lower lip with his tongue.

Breaking away, he smiled, and tilted Kurt's jaw upwards with the tips of his fingers, trying not to smirk as he noticed Kurt's bright, glassy eyes and slightly open mouth.

"It means I can't do this as much as I'd like to," he said, bracing his other hand against Kurt's lower back.

"Mmm," Kurt said, delicately, in a manner that vibrated want throughout Finn's body. "You know you'll keep Rachel waiting all evening if you keep doing that, yes?"

"Yeah." Finn sighed, removing his hand regretfully. "That would suck, too. Well. Um, I'll see you later, okay?"

"Good luck, I suppose." Kurt walked over to the refrigerator and opened it, sniffing derisively before handing Finn a can of Mountain Dew. "And, yes, this will rot your pearly whites, and I wouldn't normally condone it, but I think this is one occasion where I won't protest your need for caffeine. You look like the walking dead."

"Later," Finn said, stifling a yawn and extracting his car keys from his pocket, because, yes, that wasn't exactly complimentary, but he had to admit Kurt had a point.

000

"So," Finn said, sitting down next to Rachel with trepidation, because she was stirring her soynog latte so vigorously the foam was spilling over into the saucer. "What did you want to tell me?"

Finn took a sip from his drink, and tried to meet her eyes, because he had more than a few suspicions about what she would say. And the tinny rendition of Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) making itself known through the speakers was hardly going to help matters.

"Well..." She replied. "I wanted to talk about us."

"Us?"

"Or, more specifically, you. The you I saw in the choir room this week was, well, the Finn I knew before," she took a sip from her latte before setting it back on her saucer. "You're such a leader, and you stood up for all of us. Well, except Blaine, but..."

He shook his head. "No. I'm not gonna take the credit for that. I mean, you were pretty great, too. There's no way you'd have given up a solo back in Junior year, huh?"

Rachel merely met his eyes and gave him a smile which brimmed with optimism. "People change, Finn."

Nodding, he reached for her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. "Yeah," he replied. "I, uh, I guess they do."

"Kurt said you had a meeting with Ms. Pillsbury today," she said. "About your dreams, and, well, perhaps it's not my place, but can I help at all? Didn't we say we were going to make some new ones for you? Back when... well." She blushed fiercely, lowering her voice. "Back when we were intimate."

"Oh? Was this before or after you called me a bad boyfriend and, and a loser?"

"Finn. I can't apologize for that any more than I have already."

"It's okay," he sighed. "Kurt's helped me figure things out, and I'm kinda hopeful for the future, now."

"Oh? You're going to take over Burt's tire shop?"

"No!" He banged his fist on the table. "Why does everyone always assume that's what I want to do, I…" Pausing, he frowned. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have yelled like that, I'm happy working for Burt at the moment, and maybe for a year or two, but it's just… it's something else."

"It is?"

"Yeah, I'm… I think I'm gonna give New York a try, Rach."

Her hands fluttered together, waving to an imaginary audience. "Oh! Oh my god! Finn! This is wonderful! We can be…"

"No," he said, reaching out for her palms, stilling them. "I'm not making this decision for you. It's... uh..."

Rachel clearly wasn't listening, and stood up, rummaging in the pocket of her coat and Finn gulped as she placed a small silver box festooned with light blue ribbon in front of him.

"Though I'm sure you wouldn't have remembered, today's the first day of Hanukkah, and I... it's just a small good luck token for Sectionals tomorrow."

"Rach, please. This... this isn't appropriate," he said, but he saw Rachel's eyes begin to water, and that made his chest burn with emotion, so he fumbled clumsily with the ribbon holding the box together. Opening it, he looked down at the gift with trepidation, but then couldn't help but grin.

"Wow! These are, these are just awesome!" He picked up one of the cufflinks, holding them up against the light. Drum kit cufflinks. They glimmered festively, dark blue enamel the color of the December sky, a perfect facsimile of his kit at home. "Did you pick these yourself?"

"You told me you never felt quite like yourself when you were performing, and I thought it might be nice to get you a little good luck token, like this," Rachel said, gesturing to the star necklace he'd saved three months' allowance for the previous year. "Actually, it was Kurt's idea, but..."

Finn sighed, placing them back in the box, the gift seeming somewhat tainted. He stood up. "I... I can't accept these, okay, Rach? I have to go now, I..."

"Wait! You have a -" Rachel trailed her finger along his bottom lip. "There," she said, with a smile and a nod of her head.

"Rachel," he repeated, "stop this, okay, I..."

Leaning up on tiptoes, she pressed a small kiss to his mouth, before breaking away. "I'm still in love with you, Finn. Madly, and melodramatically so. Can we be together again? Please?"

"No," he said, shaking his head fiercely, "we can't, okay?"

"Why not?"

"Rachel," he tilted her head towards his. "Look at me. You know hurting you is the last thing I would ever want to do, but I have to be honest with you, okay? I'm, uh, I'm kinda with someone else now."

"What? But we only broke up a month ago!" She narrowed her eyes. "Did I really mean that, that little to you, when I gave my greatest gift to you, and you just, managed to forget about me already? How could you! You said we'd be forever, Finn, and you go and throw this in my face?"

"I didn't plan it okay! Look, it just... happened."

Gesturing towards her drink, Rachel gritted her teeth. "I have half a mind to throw this in your face, Finn. Who is she?"

He shook his head, his heart pounding in his chest with increasing intensity.

"Is it some, some fling? One of the Cheerios?" She paused, beginning to pace around the table in circles. "Finn, your silence isn't exactly reassuring. Oh, my, it's not Tina is it? I knew it! Those bright dresses, and, and speaking up for herself, it's like she's been trying to plant herself as..."

"No!" He said, swallowing the lump in his throat at Rachel's shocked expression. "I... I can't tell you, okay. It's gonna hurt you so much, and, oh god, it's... it's better if you hear it from both of us, okay?"

"It's not okay, Finn. But, I'm adjusting to single life. I've been spending a lot of time with Quinn lately, and she's adamant that there's more to me than being Finn Hudson's girlfriend, so..."

Finn bristled with anger, because quite frankly, the main problem with their relationship was that he'd spent most of his time being no more than Rachel Berry's boyfriend, but he took a deep breath. Rachel was hurting, hurting so much that any rational thought she'd possessed had vanished before she'd even said a word that evening, and he had the feeling there was nothing he could say to make things better for her. At least, nothing he could say that wasn't a lie.

"You've been spending a lot of time with Quinn, huh?" he said, trying desperately to add some levity, to break the tension.

"No!" She laughed. "I'm fully cognisant of fluid sexuality, but that would be analogous to you and Kurt."

Finn took a beat to process what she'd actually said, and felt the color drain from his face once he'd realized what her words meant.

"Oh, my god, oh, my god," Rachel was pacing back and forth now. "Finn? You and Kurt?"

"What?" He paused, taking a deep breath. "I mean, no, but, uh... what would you say if you found out we were?"

Rachel reached for her coat, shaking her head, and her lips turned down into a fierce scowl. "Don't even dare try to throw me off the trail like that, Finn. I'm going to find out who she is. Don't think I won't." She stared up at him, her gaze steely. "And don't think this is over between us. Our story is not going to end here."

"That's where you're wrong, Rachel, because we're done here, okay?"

"You'll come back to me, Finn. You always do. It's all you ever can do."

As she walked away, Finn wished she'd turn around, almost wished she would have accused him of being in love with Kurt, because he hated that she had so much anger towards him without even knowing why he couldn't take her back, not that he would have even without Kurt being in the picture, but by the time he'd composed a way to articulate that, Rachel was already out of the door.

Finn bit his lip, and shook his head, realizing she'd left her gloves on the table. He placed them in his pocket, then placed his head in his hands. He knew he wasn't in the wrong, but hurting her was like a knife to his gut all the same.

000

Wednesday had been tiring, and Thursday exhausting, but both days combined were like a stroll in the park on a breezy summer's day compared to Friday. Standing on the stage, the spotlights hurting his bleary eyes, Finn wished the show choir rulebook had allowed him to prop his eyelids open with toothpicks or something. He'd been up before five, and his legs ached so much it felt like he was having another growth spurt - and he really hoped he wasn't, but his Mom had told him some of the guys on his Dad's side of the family had hit 6'6" so it wasn't too far beyond the realms of possibility - and he just wanted to wrap Kurt in his arms and sleep away the entire weekend.

As he'd clutched Brittany's hand, his palms had slipped with sweat, and he'd reeked of Black Orchid or whatever Kurt's weird aftershave was called, but still.

They'd won.

Yes, having Blaine and Rachel on either side of him while Sam, in his cheerily oblivious way, belted out With a Little Help from My Friends was so awkward he was sure it would be hanging on a frame somewhere in a hall of awkward fame, but they'd done it.

"It's nice to be back on top, hm?" Kurt said, thinking back to their disappointment at Nationals back in Junior Year.

"Yeah," Finn nodded, as he looked around and realized his cheeks were beginning to hurt, but he couldn't wipe the smile from his face all the same. "It is. Look, Kurt, I'm beat... the drive to Lexington kind of took it out of all of us and this after party isn't up to much. You wanna slip away to the hotel and celebrate in private?"

"Sounds like a plan," Kurt replied, reaching for his hand, and Finn looked over his shoulder, scanning the room for some dark, abandoned corner where he could tell Kurt exactly what his celebration would entail, but a click of Santana's fingers stopped him in his tracks.

"Well lookie here, Kurt," she said, her voice slurring slightly, "looks like you and Bandersnatch gotta get your mistletoe mack on, eh?"

Kurt shook his head and began thumbing the handkerchief in the pocket of his waistcoat, and Finn merely frowned. Were they that obvious? Did he have a neon sign above his head, or, oh god, a post-it note on his back announcing it to the world? Grimacing, he reached his hand behind his back and fumbled around searching for a traitorous slip of paper. Okay, no post-it or kick me sign; that was good. And mistletoe was tradition, right? And Kurt was big on traditions like that.

"Santana! They're... they're brothers!"

"Defensive, much, Tina? And it's not like they're blood-related," she replied. "Anyway, like I care. It's not like anyone wants to see the Munsters suck face."

Brittany raised her hand. "Actually..."

Yet, before Finn could ponder the social mores surrounding a piece of shrubbery, Kurt leaned towards Finn and pecked him chastely on the lips, before breaking away with a smile. Finn glanced behind him again. Aside from Santana's bemused expression and the 'aww' which escaped from Brittany's lips, everybody seemed too wrapped up in their own celebrations to care. Especially Blaine and... was that Rory? Finn shook his head.

"Whatever you do, don't look behind you," Finn muttered.

"Not planning on it," Kurt said in response and flicked his tongue against Finn's neck anything but chastely. "So what do you say we skip this after party, hm?"

"I can't think of any party I'd rather skip," Finn said, reaching for Kurt's hand, and squeezing it so tightly he could feel his pulse. "All I ever wanted was to celebrate this with you."

"Not with the guys and a mini keg?" Kurt replied, playfully punching his arm.

"No. With you and some room service nachos."

"Really, Finn? I'm on par with processed cheese? Touched, really."

"Yeah," he said, kissing Kurt softly, briefly, before breaking away with a soft smile. "More than."

He took a deep breath, and yes, he hadn't planned this, but for some reason, nothing felt more right to him at that moment. "I guess it's... it's so soon, and so stupid, but... I'm kind of in love with you, Kurt. Like, a lot, and you don't, I mean, I... God, what was I thinking, I... I wanted this to be perfect, this is all wrong, Rachel was, like, crying over there and..." He swallowed the lump in his throat. "I just had to tell you, okay?"

"It's okay, Finn. You don't have to justify the way you feel," he replied, looping his arms around Finn's shoulders. "Not when I feel the same way."

"Cool," he said. "That's... yeah. Kurt?"

"Hm?"

"We're going to have to tell 'em soon, aren't we? I mean, I kind of think Puck already knows, and... probably Tina and Mike, and Santana doesn't miss much, does she?"

"Yeah," Kurt replied. "We do, and we will, and it's going to be more than a little messy when we do, so can we just deal with that later and enjoy tonight for now?"

"Sounds like a plan even I can follow," Finn said. Smiling, he met Kurt's eyes, his stomach all but flipping over because he'd never seen Kurt appear so at ease, and he realized things weren't going to be easy when they went back to school after winter break, but for now? Well. His mind was more than a little occupied with other thoughts, mostly concerned with whether he could keep on getting Kurt to lick his lips like that.

"Shall we blow this gin joint?" Kurt said, as he grinned brightly and slung his arm around Finn's shoulders. "I do love a good plan, and I suspect this one will work out... favorably for us."

"Yeah," Finn replied, reaching up to lace his fingers with Kurt's. "Life always kinda does, doesn't it?"