ASK ME TO STAY

"Ask me to stay."

She'd spent years, actual years, willing herself to have the strength to ask that question. She had spent years wishing that someone would make the decision that would change three lives. She wasn't sure if it was the champagne she'd been drinking for most of the night that lent her the courage or just the realization that they were in a now or never kind of situation. Regardless before she could over think them the words are out of her mouth.

The words hung in the silence between the two of them and when she couldn't stand it anymore, and when he couldn't look her in the eye that she slipped out of his bed. If silence was his response then he'd made the decision for them. By actually putting the words out there she had been forcing them to finally make a decision, and she had laid all that responsibility on him. It didn't matter that he didn't say the words, she knew what it meant, and the silence hurt as much as the words would have. She slipped from the bed allowing the sheet to slip from her body, she had already laid her soul out there in front him so what else did she have to hide?

"You've been avoiding me."
"No, I haven't I've just been really busy with Glee and finals and you know, SAT prep.""Cut the shit Berry. Tired of making out in dark hallways? Then fine, balls up and say it. You don't need to dodge me in the hallway."
"It's not that. Finn asked me out and it's what I've wanted for so long but it's never been right – I owe it to myself to try."

Could she really blame him though? She was the one who had showed up at his hotel room on the night of her own engagement party in tears because she had realized that she'd made a mistake. She wasn't ready to get married. Or maybe it was that he wasn't the person she was ready to marry? She wasn't sure, all she was sure about was that she had been surrounded by all of their closest friends and family and she'd felt like the world was closing in on her. So she had showed up there expecting him to fix it; he'd been the one to fix her life the last couple years of high school, he was the one she counted on. And now, on the night when she had gathered all of their friends and family members together to celebrate her engagement she'd realized that she needed the most fixing.

"I'm going to miss you, more then I think you'll ever know Noah Puckerman."
"Oh come on crazy-girl, is this graduation party getting you all nostalgic?"
"Come on Noah, we may never see each other again and..."
"And what? And maybe we won't be put in positions like this where it's a little too close for comfort? You know, your boyfriend doesn't look too happy right now."
"Don't. Please don't make this more than it is Noah, I just wanted to say good-bye and thank you for everything. I know we haven't always don't the right thing but..."
"I get it Berry. Trust me, I get it."
"Good-bye Noah."

She could feel his eyes on her as she searched for all of her missing undergarments and the beautiful black off the shoulder cocktail dress that she had spent hours shopping for. It was all just part of her efforts to make the night as beautiful and perfect as possible; and it had been. The food and the atmosphere reaffirmed her decision that the Italian restaurant where Finn had proposed was the best place to hold the engagement party. Her fathers and Finn's mother had driven in from Ohio and even members of the old Glee club had shown up to wish them the best of luck. It had been perfect and when he'd walked in the door it had been all she could do to keep herself from running from the party screaming.

"This was a mistake."
"Which part?"
"Me being here. Seeing you, not seeing him. What we just did."
"Twice."
"Wipe that damn smirk off your face Noah, what we did was wrong. How can you just not care?"
"You think I don't care that the first thing you do when you're home from school is end up in bed with me? I care, more then you could even imagine, but right now I'm enjoying the moment."

She'd forgotten how strong her feelings were for him when they were apart. She was the master at pushing things away and living in the moment, living the life she had. It was easy to push away how his lips on her skin felt like fire when she had Finn waiting for her at home with an easy smile. She forgot how much passion they had when she allowed herself to get wrapped up in a relationship with Finn that had always come so easily. It had been easy to push all of these thoughts aside when Finn was there and Noah was not. Even when he'd walked into the room she'd found it hard to breathe but she blamed that on her excitement and her flushed cheeks on the champagne that had been flowing easily.

Not that any of that mattered now because in the end she had still ended up there; but she understood what he was saying through the silence.

"I'm sorry." She'd been struggling to zip up her dress when he'd finally spoken and facing him was harder than she'd thought it would be. Watching him lay in the bed she'd just left, looking like the gorgeous god she'd been in love with since some undisclosed time in high school made every part of her ache. "I just can't do that to him, not again."

"I'm not coming back here."
"You've said that before. Several times in fact and yet you always seem to find your way back."
"Not this time, Noah. I can't be this person that I've become. Finn is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with and in a couple months I'm graduating from college and I can't live in the past anymore. Please, say something."
"You've made all the decisions here, Rachel, what else do you want me to say?"
"I'm sorry, I'll try to stay away. You won't have to see me around, I promise."

She swept her hair off of her neck, attempting to fix the mess of the twist it had been at the party, because now she had to go back to their apartment. Because she was that much of a coward to go from Noah's bed to Finn's home because she'd never been able to make a decision. "I understand." Maybe that was why it hurt so much, because she did understand that he wasn't asking her to stay not because he didn't want her there or because he didn't feel the same way. He wasn't asking her to stay because he was trying to do the right thing. "Good-bye Noah." She couldn't look at him anymore, couldn't be in the room with him anymore because otherwise her resolve would disappear. If she lost her resolve to leave and begged him to pick her over his best friend she wasn't sure what he would pick or if she was strong enough to know the answer.

"Rach."

She'd almost made it out the door before he called her back. When she turned back to face him she could see his resolve fading and her pulse raced because if he asked her, she would throw it all out the window. The life she'd created, the seven year relationship with the sweetest boy she had ever met - all of it, for him.

"What the fuck are you doing here Berry? The last time I saw you was a year ago when you walked out the door and never looked back. So what the hell do you want now?"
"I wanted you to hear it from me, not from Finn or anyone else."
"Then just say it already."
"You already know?"
"Finn call this morning, but you're here. You have to say it."
"Finn proposed last night. I said yes."
"Of course you did."

His silence had been the right choice so she had to step in and save him from saying the words that would destroy both of their lives.

"Don't. You're right, it's too late." With that she shut the door, leaning against it for support because she couldn't trust her legs to support her, let alone carry her away from the hotel room. She took a couple deep gulps of air because she had made her decision by choosing Finn when she was seventeen. She had made the decision then and Noah had made the decision now. The decisions had been made and it was time to accept them for what they were.

It was finally over.

A.N. Thanks so much for reading and please review! This was just a mini side project from Things Unsaid (which by the way if you loved the angst in this you'll *love* the angst in that!) Anyway thanks so much for reading and if you've read anything else you know I'm a review whore so review to please!