He's late. Well, technically it was the plane. He still hates air travel. No matter how many times he's done it now with the Glee Club, it still feels foreign to be suspended in air from a giant metal contraption.
If God wanted us to fly, we'd have wings, right?
But he'll do just about anything for Mercedes, and they've only seen each other once since she left for Cali, so he booked a flight for her birthday weekend. He wasn't even supposed to get here until tomorrow, but she'd called and said the girls had canceled on her: Maria had to work late at the restaurant, and Sam didn't remember what had kept Lana, but he remembers how sad Mercedes had sounded on the phone that morning, and how upbeat she tried to sound when she said "I'll see you tomorrow."
Tomorrow, the day after her birthday.
So Sam had checked his bank account, half-heartedly protested when Puck wanted to loan him the rest (and offered to take Sam's shift at the garage), and he changed his flight for that afternoon.
But he arrived later than he'd meant to, and he wasn't even sure if Mercedes hadn't made other plans, or where she'd be.
He's here now though, and no matter what it takes, if he has to trek all over this damned city, he'll find his girl. He gives the cab driver her address as they pull away from LAX, and he checks his messages as the sun goes down and the sky grows darker.
"Hey, babe. I guess you're at work... I'm tired, and I already Skyped with my folks, so I think Imma head to bed early, maybe watch a movie. If... if you get this, just call me before you go to bed. I love you."
She sounds so lonely it breaks his heart. But then he smiles, picturing her curled up in her old sleep shirt, with her faded blue blanket tucked around her, and how she'll look up from her movie (maybe it's Sleepless in Seattle, maybe it's Soul Food, maybe it's The Bodyguard) and jump up to greet him. This cab can't go fast enough.
"That'll be 14.65, buddy," the cabby is saying, and Sam shakes himself. Finally, fucking finally, he's here. He shifts to dig out his wallet, counts out the required bills plus tip, barely makes sure they connect with the driver's hand, and scrambles out of the backseat with his duffel.
He hadn't thought this part through. Should he buzz her to let him in? He doesn't want to stand outside all night waiting on someone else to let him up. The point is to be with Mercedes. But he also wanted to see the surprise on her face when he walks in.
Stupid. This isn't Ohio. He's got to get through at least two doors to get to her.
Should he call her and pretend he's had something delivered? Nah, no games.
He walks over and presses his thumb to the buzzer next to her apartment number: 8. It takes almost a minute before he hears her voice, rough with sleep, tired.
He reaches up and rubs the back of his neck with one hand.
"Sam?" she breaks in. "Sam, is that you?" her voice sounds clearer. Eager.
"...Yeah," he answers, now completely unable to keep the grin off his face, or out of his voice. "It's me."
"How did you, what're you--" he can hear her take a deep breath and release it. "I thought you were coming tomorrow, babe." Her voice is almost a whisper at the end, but he can hear the smile in her voice, too.
"I couldn't wait to see you," he replies. Because sometimes it IS that simple.
The buzzer buzzes. It's answer enough for him. He grins again as he pulls on the outside door just a millisecond too early, waits, pulls again, and bounds up the stairs. He takes a deep breath as he turns the corner from the stairs onto her floor, and there she is, leaning up against her doorway. In his old McKinley football jersey. One bare foot sliding over the other. Red toenails. And a smile that could light up all of Hollywood.
He drops his duffel. Who cares, he'll get it later, or not. He walks towards her slowly, watching her face, no make-up, still shining. Her smile doesn't dim, but it softens. By the time he's in front of her, she's barely got a hint of it, her neck craning up to look at him, and her eyes are focused solely on his. Well, that and his mouth. He feels heat flow to the tips of his ears, to his neck, and his stomach clenches.
Her apartment smells like cinnamon, or maybe that's her.
He grabs for her the same time she reaches for him. His hands are on her face, her neck, in her hair (he's surprised he takes the time to notice it's natural, curling all around her face and soft, almost to her shoulders), her hands are on his back, his hips, his arms. And then their lips touch, so gently. He smooths his tongue over her bottom lip, and suddenly, it's not enough, and any space at all between them is too much. She must feel it too, as she tugs on his collar, pulls on the sides of his face, until their faces, their bodies, their lips are crushed together. He lifts her against the doorway.
Sam blinks, pulls back, just the tiniest bit, and looks at Mercedes. Her eyes are still closed, and he brushes his thumbs over her cheekbones and down to her chin.
"Uh... maybe we should move inside," he whispers as he leans his forehead against hers.
She blows out a breath, a laugh. "Sure." And she opens her eyes, smiling that soft smile again. She slides her hand up from his shoulder, down his arm, and to his hand on her neck. Linking their fingers together, she leans back and tugs him in through the doorway, pushing the door closed with her hip.
He spares a glance around the room. Something is still on the tv, flashing soft light around the room, but it's silent. The Spinners are on her stereo. 'Could it be I'm Falling in Love.'
She pushes at his back towards her couch, and he turns around again to look down at her, into the face he loves most.
"We have all night,” she says. And they do.