Zach had limited notes from the sound check, just a few things she should watch for when sitting at the board that night. Most of the concerns didn't pop up until after the Warbler's entrance so she decided to hang back and sit out the beginning of the show backstage.
When everyone but Darren and the Warblers went on to start the show she texted Darren and asked him to meet her in the room they'd set up as an office. He came in with a grin, expecting her to be looking for a quick make out session before the show but the look on her face stopped him in his tracks.
"Did you tell Chris what happened?"
"Not yet, but I will tonight. I think he knows anyway. Look, I was wrong this afternoon. Telling you I was staying with him because he needs me and you don't…"
"I was thinking about that too," he crossed the room and cupped her chin in his hand. "I do need you. I didn't want to say it because I know you always want to take care of everyone and I wanted you to know that you don't have to take care of me." He sat next to her now on the small sofa and took her hand, caressing the inside of her arm gently, "I want to be your safe place, the place you can let go of all of that and just be you, not superwoman. I thought in order for you to relax into that I would have to be strong for you, not let you know how much I need you." He took a moment, blinking his huge eyes slowly then, his voice breaking just a little, "But I do. I don't want to go back to not having you in my life. I can't pretend to not be hurt when you hold his hand or disappear off behind a closed door with him."
The room they were in was dark and chilly. She hugged herself against the cool air and took a minute to find her center. When she closed her eyes though she saw Chris, offering his hand and telling her they were going to be okay.
"You want me because you hurt when you see me with someone else. That sounds like a little kid who wants his toy back because someone else is playing with it."
"I never gave you away. You made that decision." There was an edge to his voice.
She pulled her hand away and sat back. "We BOTH made that decision after I found out you had a girlfriend."
"Which you promised not to bring up again."
She sighed. "I love Chris. I can't do this with you. It's not just that he needs me. It's not that I want to help him take off his training wheels so to speak, I love him. I want him. I want to be with him and here's the crazy part, I'm HAPPY when I'm with him. I don't cry. We're honest with each other. I don't know why but I can tell him things I can't tell you."
"You can tell me anything."
"No. I can't. Or, I suppose I can, but you can't relate to them. You've always been this…this. You said it yourself, you're happy, you've got friends, and family you've always been the guy everyone wanted to be around." She closed her eyes again, taking a breath, "I'm getting off track because really, none of it matters. There are a million reasons and no reasons other than this: I'm in love with Chris. I'm going to do whatever I can to make things work with him if he'll still have me after I tell him about today. I want to still be able to work with you; I can't be friends with you, not now anyway. No more letters, no more texts or phone calls. I know how you feel, you told me, but I think you're romanticizing us because you're used to living in this Disney Prince world of yours."
"Kiss me once more, just once and if you can say that you love him more then I'll walk away for now."
"No, it wouldn't be fair to Chris but even more because I have no desire to kiss you. I can't decide whether you're a hopeless romantic or a manipulative asshole but I know I'm done."
"I'm probably both but I still believe we were meant for each other, and if things don't work with him I'll be here for you. I'm not giving up on us."
"I'm asking you to."
"I'll leave you alone, but I'll still be waiting."
"You should go after Mia, she loves you and she's a wonderful girl."
"I'd just be hurting her, and in the long run you're hurting Chris. I believe in us."
She shook her head and left the room.
There was clarity inside her now, she felt no tug back toward Darren, she knew there was a chance she'd lose Chris when she told him what had happened but it would be better to be honest and alone than to keep him and build a relationship on a lie.
She decided that in addition to working on Don't Stop Believing with Cory and Lea there was a lot of work to be done with Kevin on Safety Dance. Even the track, which she regretted not staying to supervise, wasn't up to par. It would have to be rerecorded. She felt as if she were hearing the show for the first time and had finally snapped fully into work mode.
After the show she and Chris went to their room, showered and got into comfy pajamas. Chris ordered mac & cheese for himself and grilled cheese for her from room service. She was finally ready for food.
Settling in the middle of their bed, food and hot chocolate nearby, Issey switched the tv on and fixed it on the nature channel. "These walls are never as thick as you'd hope and this conversation has the possibility of getting loud and personal."
Chris agreed and so she began. "I'm not going to read Darren's letter to you, I don't think there's a need. The jist was that he believes that he and I belong together. That we were meant for each other and are two halves of the same whole. Basically the letter said all the things that I felt and had said to Mia the night before. It was mind blowing how much we felt the same. So I went to him and I slept with him."
Chris swallowed a much too hot mouthful of hot chocolate and fanned his mouth for a minute before responding. "I gathered there was sex from the whole, you're not going to be happy thing. I take it this time you didn't have to stop him."
"No, I didn't and it was, oddly comforting. It felt like all the things he'd said in the letter were true."
"So far you're right, not loving this." He pursed his lips and she stole a kiss. He let her and that gave her the courage to continue.
"So after we talked and he asked me to be with him and I told him I was staying with you." Here she paused and looked at him with worried eyes.
"Somehow I thought the worst of this was over but it isn't is it?"
"Not really. Just please, remember what I asked, and hear me out to the end."
"Go on." He said warily.
"I told him I was staying with you because you need me, because I knew it was a matter of time before you leave me for someone else but that for now you're just getting confidence about being in a relationship. I told him I'd rather see him behind your back and wait out you leaving on your own."
Chris moved his food to the night stand, his appetite gone. "So I'm a charity case. Poor Chris can't find anyone on his own so I have to pretend to be with him."
Issey set her food aside as well and turned to him, tilting his head up to look at her, "I have no idea why I said it. Maybe I was still drunk, maybe I believed it when I said it. I don't know. After though, when bought the bus because for some reason it seemed like the only thing that would make me feel better, I realized I was buying that bus for us. Darren didn't fit into the equation at all. I couldn't wait to tell you that we wouldn't have to spend another night apart."
"I'm guessing from the fact that you bought this bus you're going to say no to Ryan's offer."
"I'm taking him up on it. I want to be wherever you are, but this is my career. There will be tours after Glee, there will be hiatus' tours and it's a business expense so it doesn't even matter. I can even rent it out to other tour managers or coaches or whatever if I find I don't need it for an extended time. I like having a place where I know we can be together on the road and we don't have to sleep apart. I hate sleeping away from you."
"Is I'm scared that you want whoever is in front of you in the moment. Are you sure you don't want this bus to stop yourself from having time to think about him? So you can be with me all the time and not have time to miss him?"
She shook her head, "I don't need time. After our talk today I went to talk to Darren while you were on stage. I told him in no uncertain terms that I'm over him, and I meant it. Maybe I just needed to finish what I started with him to know that it wasn't what I wanted."
"You've told him that before."
"No. Before I told him I loved him but I chose you. He asked me to kiss him last time and I did and I melted. My heart ached for all I was giving up because it hurt just to look at him. This time I told him that I didn't want to be with him, that I thought he might be in love with me or he might just be an asshole but that either way I didn't want him anymore."
"And did you kiss him again to be sure?"
"He asked me to. I couldn't. Not because I was afraid of what I'd feel but because I didn't want him, didn't want him close to me, I knew what I wanted at last. If you'll have me after all the mistakes I've made up until now, what I want, all I want, is you."
(A/N: Thank you all so much for reading this and sticking with me through all the ups, downs and long hiatus'. A special thank you to those of you who reviewed extensively and those of you who threatened to keep me in a room until I got the next chapter out. Issey has learned how it feels to really want something so it was time to end this story, but getting what you want isnt always what its cracked up to be. Watch this space for the next story in this series "What it means to have".)