Disclaimer: As awesome as that would be ... I don't own Glee (;. If I did, I wouldn't be anxiously awaiting tonight's season premiere, now would I? (I'd have already seen it.)

Rated T, because I've written 'goddamn' in it somewhere I think. I don't mean to offend, so I'm sorry if it does.

A/N: I've been terribly neglecting my drabbles, which I'm sorry for :( but I got a oneshot out of it! This started as a drabble, actually ... but it's gotten quite a bit bigger as you can see. (Not very long, I know, didn't even quite hit 1500 on the actual story word count ... but long for a drabble, no doubt, IMO.)

I'm not really a Rachel/Finn shipper. Not in fanfiction, at least. (Watching the show, I quite like them together, actually.) Puckleberry will always be my OTP as far as writing is concerned (I love Puck so effing much!). But this one just worked better as Finchel, I think ... and I'm more comfortable with them having this kind of angst (;.

Oh, yeah, almost forgot; warning: ANGSTY!

Established future Finchel; will be explained in actual story, no fear.

Sorry for the long AN, I tend to do that a lot. Now on with the ficlet!

I hope you enjoy!


It's not like she doesn't love him.

She does; she has since her sophomore year of high school, she thinks, back when they were up on stage in the auditorium singing You're the One That I Want for the first time together. (Perhaps not as meaningful for her as something from West Side Story would have been – she's always had a very strong connection to the part of Maria, you know – but all the same, she feels like it fit perfectly. Because he's that one that she wanted; he's the one that she wants, right now.)

And it's not like she came here unwillingly. While OSU certainly wasn't her first choice after high school (and she can still see the dark black ink on her Julliard acceptance letter, telling her of the scholarship offers and all the features of their program – as if she wasn't already fully aware of every detail since freshman year), this is the choice she made. Finn got that football scholarship he worked so hard for, and he said I love, and she said I love you back … and before she knew it she was pulling up to the OSU campus in Cincinnati with him by her side. She spent four years there with him, and in Cincinnati she's remained, perfectly content with her life with him in their quaint little apartment down the street from where she works as a dance instructor with voice lessons on the side in her spare time. She's doing what she loves still, and she's with him, and that's all that's supposed to really matter.

Only maybe she hasn't been as content on the inside as she has been on the outside for quite some time. Maybe when she lays awake at night in his arms she can't help but imagine that the dimmed city noise outside their window is the hustle and bustle of someplace else instead; of the city that never sleeps, or so she's heard. Maybe sometimes when she's demonstrating a particularly challenging or advanced move for one of her senior ballet classes, she pretends that she's twirling on a different hardwood floor; one on a stage, on Broadway, with people applauding and cheering for her in the audience (having an audience, period) … instead of the small downtown studio with students that are dreaming dreams as bright as she dreamed when she was their age.

(And God, she feels old sometimes when she sees them all alight in all their youth, struggling with the teenage problems that seem so trivial now. She always thought that she'd … have done more, somehow, with her life by the time she reached twenty-eight; something more than be a dance instructor in Cincy with a Bachelor's degree in music from OSU.)

She's not exactly sure what she's doing.

She just knows that the ring Finn pulled out at dinner last night is featuring heavily on her mind, and not in a good way. She never thought she'd say I need some time to think things over when she was proposed to (by Finn of all people). And he wasn't expecting it either, she thinks, if the look on his face as he'd absorbed her words was any indication, before he'd smiled gently at her and said sure, kissing her forehead. That's just the kind of guy that he is; sweet, and caring, and supportive … she could go on. It's not like she has a bad life here, with him. It's nice and quaint and perfectly sweet at the end of the day.

But she's Rachel Berry, goddamn it, and she has dreams that are bigger than sweet and nice and quaint in a small apartment in Ohio. (It's not Lima, but it's still too close to her childhood for her liking … and not nearly close enough to the east coast and the Statue of Liberty and everything else waiting just out of her reach.) She's been imagining herself walking down First Avenue (on her way to rehearsals for a phenomenal, sold-out show) since she was old enough to pronounce Phantom of the Opera. And she hates to think it, but right now it's like her entire world is crashing down on her and Finn just isn't enough anymore.

She hates herself for it, so much, to be doing this. This isn't who she is; a girl who strings along the boy she's loved for years, straight from high school through college and into her late twenties, before saying sorry and skipping town. But yet, here she is; duffel bag packed on the couch beside her, just waiting for him to get home from work so she can break the news to him.

She doesn't want to leave, exactly. That's not it. She just … can't be here any longer. She's stifled, and trapped, and she really just doesn't want to end up a bitter woman in five years – before she's even middle-aged and with any right to be at all bitter – because she never got the chance to fulfill her dreams. (She doesn't want to eventually hate him for holding her back from the things she's always wanted.)

In the end, she isn't even courageous enough to stick around long enough to say goodbye. She doesn't know if she'd be able to go through with it if she has to see his face, so she grabs a sheet of paper and lets the pen flow over it with all the words she needs to say. The letter is at least two pages long after only five minutes, and she knows she has to end it somewhere … she just doesn't know where she can.

When she folds it up neatly in another five minutes, leaving it in plain view on the desk, and walks to the door, she doesn't look back. She just walks out the door, locking it behind her and dropping the key in their (now just his) mailbox in the lobby of the building.

It starts with Dear Finn and ends with I'm sorry and she thinks about it with tears in her eyes as she's in line to buy a bus ticket. When she gets to the front she wipes her eyes futilely and says, "I need a ticket to New York, please." And really, it's always been a need. She can't survive without New York; she can't go on without getting her crack at making it on the Big White Way. (Better late than never, she supposes.) She'd never get over it if she didn't get her chance at shining like a star in the spotlight, her name up in lights. She doesn't know how she ever thought she could.

The man behind the sheet glass window must have said something, because he's raising an eyebrow at her when she rejoins the land of the living from that of her thoughts, so she murmurs, "Pardon," thoroughly embarrassed and nonplussed.

He responds with, "Return?" in a monotone, and she shakes her head. She doesn't need anything more than a one way ticket; not any time soon. She's going all-in now, leaving her life (and her guy – he'll always be hers, no matter what) behind in her wake during her pursuit of finally getting to be the star she's been hoping to one day be since before pre-school.

She's upset with herself the entire way there and the whole first week as she's apartment hunting and getting the run of the whole, big neighborhood that is downtown, the awful feeling in her gut only slightly dulled to more of a numbness than a pain by the excitement of finally being in New York after all those years of wishing on shooting starts and giving up precious opportunities practically served on silver platters.

She's finally here, goddamn it; even if Finn's back in Ohio, pissed and heartbroken. This is her time, she can feel it, and this might be the only time that she can get.

She never meant to end up hurting him. She loves him, she does. But she never wants to hate him, either, and this is really her only option. (She truly believes that, even if maybe no one else ever will.) And maybe one day in the future, when she's found herself again and if he's managed to get over the hurt, they can go back and try again. (Here or there, wherever it works best.)

But for now this is where she has to be, flying solo and making it or breaking it on her own.



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