It’s their third fight.
They’ve fought about dumb stuff just picking at each other because they’re tired and don’t get to talk to each other nearly enough and it always leaves Mercedes feeling hollow and angry to see the disappointed look on Sam’s face.
She’s just so damn busy.
And tonight when they were chatting away on Skype, he let it slip that he’d been hanging out a lot with Sugar.
Sugar Motta of all people, she thinks. That girl is ridiculous.
“Oh really?” Mercedes asked, feeling her eyebrows arch somewhere up along halfway to her hairline. “What did you two do?”
“Nothing, Mercedes,” Sam replies, scrubbing his hands over his face.
“Maybe we should just say goodnight here, Sam, before one of us says somethin’ we both will regret.”
She can see him lean forward on the desk in Kurt’s old room - the Hudson-Hummel’s had kept him willingly to finish out school there - his elbows on the golden colored wood.
“I don’t wanna fight with you.”
“That’s all we been doing lately,” she whispers.
“I miss you so much, Mercedes” he replies.
And when she hears the catch in his voice on her name, she knows. It’s now. It’s time.
“That’s all we’ve been doin’. Missin’ each other, I mean.”
She looks down, running her fingernail over the pattern on her fuzzy pink pillow, and grabs it up, holding it to her chest. Tears are near and close but she swallows them back down and looks back up to the screen of her laptop.
“Maybe just a short while,” he says, nodding at her.
He’s got his head turned to the side and she can’t stop reaching out and touching the screen. Sam, her first in so many ways. Sam Evans who chased after her and made her feel so much everywhere and all the time. She lets the pads of her fingers trail down the screen, dropping onto the keyboard.
“I’ll be home for Thanksgiving.”
“Call me when you get in,” Sam says, nodding.
“You might be busy.”
He looked at her then. She can see the tears in his pretty eyes and when he shoulders the tears off on his jersey, she has to turn her head.
“Look at me,” he whispers. “Please, look at me, Mercedes.”
Her bottom lip is wobbling, but she grits her teeth together, sticks her chin out and turns towards the laptop again.
“I will always have time for you. Let’s just...we’re just....you know that I love you.”
“I love you, too, Sam.”
“I don’t wanna fight with you. Why don’t we just see what happens and talk at Thanksgiving?”
Her nose is burning with those tears still threatening to creep up and spill out and she just nods her head feeling her ponytail bump up and down on her back absently.
“Okay,” she replies. “Okay.”
“Okay,” he says.
They both nod and reach for their keyboards at the same time and then the screen is black. Her chin is still stuck out when the tears come, finally, and she tries to swallow them back down again but it doesn’t work. She thinks about him; his face, his arms, his eyes, his smile, and that’s it, she loses it. Rolling over, she clutches the pillow to her heart and cries.
Tisha, her roomie, comes in with ice cream and a box of kleenex.
“I kinda overheard.”
Mercedes sniffs, wiping her face off with the back of her jammie sleeves, and sits up.
“Yep, it does. Chocolate cherry chunk?” Tisha asks, holding out the carton of ice cream.
“Yes, all of it.”
“Girl, it sucks right now but y’all will get back on track when he graduates.”
Mercedes stops with the spoon half-way to her mouth and then puts it back in the carton.
“Why do you say that?”
“Because that boy loves you enough to let you go...just for now.”
“Is that what he’s doing?”
Tisha sits down, leaning back against the headboard. “What do you think?”
She knows Sam, the real Sam and it sounds just like something he’d do. Just so she can enjoy her recording contract and meeting new people and …. living life free of feeling guilty of enjoying things without him.
“I think that Thanksgiving is a long ways away.”
Tisha sits back up, knocking their elbows together. “Well, better keep busy. Time goes by faster that way.”
“It does,” Mercedes says, replying.
Sam looks at the calendar on the fridge. Two months, he thinks, flipping the page marked November back down. His phone buzzes and he pulls it out of his back pocket.
SMS from MERCY ME: Good luck tonight! I’ll be cheering on Lima!
He grins and thumbs back an answer.
SMS to MERCY ME: I miss your pom-poms shaking for me. And thanks. Miss you.
It’s about two minutes later when another message comes in and he puts down the spoon in his cereal bowl, wiping his chin off on his sleeve.
“Sam, really? Use a napkin,” Carole says, putting one in front of him.
“Thanks,” he replies, bashfully.
SMS from MERCY ME: UR shameless. Miss you too. Kick some ass tonight, Sammy.
He grins wide and pockets his phone again, just lifting his right ass cheek from the chair, and Carole looks at him again over the National Enquirer. “Mercedes?”
“Yeah. She’s just wishing me luck for tonight.”
Sam only nods in reply, mouth full of cereal.
“Sugar coming to the game?”
“You and my mom in league together?”
Carole laughs and rolls the magazine up and swats him lightly on the arm. “We’re just...concerned.”
“It’s my Senior year. I’m just having some fun, Carole.”
“Yes, well, that’s what we’re worried about.”
Sam doesn’t know what to say to that. He just nods his head again. It was weird being the main focus of a mom. He’s used to have to sharing his time with Stevie and Stacy and then last year with Kurt and Finn.
And Carole doesn’t miss shit, he thinks.
“I’ll be careful.”
Besides, his heart was still all full of something else, someone else. And honestly, there wasn’t much more room for anything than Mercedes’ smile in there. She took up every bit of room in there and made herself so at home he wasn’t sure how anyone else would squeeze in.
Shaking his head, Sam tucks back into his cereal.
Get here, November, he thinks. Just get here already.
Her days and nights are running together as she and Tisha stroll out of the studio at three a.m. They walk the short distance to their apartment and fall in bed after sucking down a smoothie.
She crosses off another day on the calendar, kissing MJ’s cheek, and checks her phone one last time. Closing her eyes, she hears the familiar buzz of an incoming message.
SMS from SAMMY: I miss you.
SMS to SAMMY: I miss you, too.
She leans up on her elbows waiting for another incoming message and when the screen lights up, she grins softly, swiping her thumb across the screen.
SMS from SAMMY: It’s the worst in the middle of the night.
She sighs and ducks her head to the side, imagining that she was leaning into his arm, into his side, and she rolls over, thumbing out an answer.
SMS to SAMMY: I know. Me too.
SMS from SAMMY: Get some sleep, Ms Pretty. One month to go.
Mercedes almost gasps. She knows she’s been counting down the days, literally, looking back over at her MJ calendar.
SMS to SAMMY: Sweet Dreams.
Putting her phone back on the nightstand, she pulls her pillow close and buries her hands under it, breathing deeply.
One month, she thinks. She can totally do that standing on her head.
Everyone is meeting up at the Lima Bean and Sam follows Blaine in through the door. The little dude is nearly bouncing out of his skin.
“Chill, B,” Sam says, chuckling. “You saw Kurt last night.”
“Not nearly enough of him,” Blaine replies, waggling his eyebrows.
“Oh god,” Sam groans. “Do not want deets, ever, for the record.”
Blaine laughs and stands in line for their coffee order. “Is that ‘cause we’re boys kissing, Trouty?”
Sam laughs out loud at that. If there was one thing he’d been thankful for this year, it was getting to know Blaine better. He’d known that Blaine was cool and stuff, but it was always as Kurt’s boyfriend and less than Sam’s friend as they hadn’t always seen eye to eye on everything. But, this year, they’d been in charge of New Directions and had not only learned how to get along but somewhere they’d figured out how to be friends, too.
“Hell, no. Kurt’s like my brother. And trust me when I say this, I don’t wanna hear about my brother getting busy with anyone...ever.”
Blaine laughs loudly, tilting his head back, and Sam has to shove him up towards the counter because it’s their turn to order. He orders a white chocolate soy mocha and blowing on it, he turns, looking.
Blaine walks off towards the group, the gang. He can see Santana and Britt sharing a huge chair while Finn is leaning forward telling Kurt something as Artie wheels his chair to the low table in the middle, sitting his cup down.
But, Sam only has eyes for the girl with her feet tucked up at the end of the sofa. Then, just then, she looks up and their eyes meet.
The smile on her face dies as she her eyes travel from head to toe and then back up again.
She looks thinner, tired, he thinks. And all he wants to do is take her away from everyone, drive off in his truck, and find the nearest park, pull in, and kiss her freaking senseless.
But he doesn’t know if that’s what she still wants.
And it hits him that no matter how much time goes by, six months or five years, he’s always going to want to kiss Mercedes.
He can only watch as she stands up, grabbing her drink and purse, and walks his way. She waggles her fingers at Santana and fist-bumps Artie as she keeps walking his way.
He holds his breath until she’s standing in front of him, with a soft smile on her face.
“Wanna get outta here?”
“Yeah,” he replies.
They don’t talk at all as they climb in his truck or as he drives down the road towards his house. They pile out and walk in the door and down to his room.
She dumps her purse in the chair in the corner and tosses her coat idly over the arm while he shuts and locks the door with a tiny click. It’s way against the rules but considering that Blaine had bunked on their sleeper sofa upstairs four out of the last five nights, he figures that on ‘holidays’ the rules at the Hummel-Hudson home were relaxed just a little bit.
Plus, Carole loves Mercedes, too.
So he only feels a little guilty for locking the door. Yeah, just a little, Sam thinks, when Mercedes turns back around and puts her palms together and then rubs up and down on her arms.
“You cold? It’s always a little cooler here in the basement. Kurt says its good to sleep when it’s a little cooler and Finn thinks Kurt’s insane but we both know that they’re insane, right? I mean, Kurt has this bedtime routine. What guy has a routine? Unless it’s like working out and stuff because that makes sense -”
“Sam,” Mercedes interrupts. “You’re babbling.”
He chuckles, ducking his head, scrubbing his hand over the back of his neck. He looks back at her again. “I’m nervous.”
Her voice is soft and sweet. It was one of the first things he’d loved about her. Mercedes Jones was always meeting the world head on with her chin stuck out but the Mercedes he knew with the door closed and just them in a room, talked soft and sweetly with a voice that turned his insides into melted chocolate and made his stomach do a triple-gainer.
“You,” he replies, simply. “You.”
“Sam,” she says.
He strides forward, two short steps, and then she’s in his arms. That full feeling that he’s been missing for months as her arms sneak around his waist sending goosebumps up his spine is back full force. Hands, his he thinks, rub softly up and down over the back of her shirt and he kisses the top of her head.
He leans back at the waist, hands coming up to frame her face, to tilt her chin up. “Hey, hey,” he whispers, “Lemme see your face.”
There are tears in her eyes and he knows she’s been missing this as much as he has, missing him, and that rock that had been sitting in his belly since her flight landed in Ohio, implodes.
He scans her face, eyes roaming over every bit of it to make sure nothing has changed in these last months, and he leans in. And finally, fucking finally, they’re kissing, twisting this way and that, opening up to let it deepen and he can feel her hands fist his shirt at the sides. They stand there finding each other again in his basement bedroom and when they pull back, he leans his forehead on hers, rubbing his lips together.
“Are we done with this now?”
“Sam, we need to get through graduation and then see where we’re at.”
“Screw that,” he says, leaning back to look down at her. “Seriously, Mercedes, screw that.”
“Sam, I can’t deal with another Sugar Motta incident.”
“I was being stupid. I just can’t compete with -” He bites his tongue, not finishing his thoughts because it’s not fair to her, he thinks.
“No, finish,” she says. “You can’t compete with what?”
“Your dreams,” he replies. “I can’t make you not follow your dreams. You were meant to shine, babe.”
He runs his thumbs over her cheeks, reverently.
“Did you stop and think for a minute that maybe my dreams can’t compete with you ?”
Shocked, he stops, backs out of her arms, and sits on the bed.
“What? What does that mean?”
She kneels in front of him then, hands on his knees.
“Every day, I missed you. I’m loving what I’m doing, don’t get me wrong, but there wasn’t a day that went by where I didn’t wanna share all of that stuff with you. Where I wanted to call you and tell you how it felt to hear my voice played back at me. Or that I was tired. Or lonely. Or was just missing you so much I was sick with it.”
“Lord, boy, you just don’t have a clue, do you?”
“No,” Sam says, shaking his head.
“There’s nothing in the world that can compete with being kissed by you, Sam Evans. Being loved by you is the best dream I ever had and never thought it would happen ‘till it did.”
“Okay, okay,” he whispers. “We’re done being apart then?”
“I’m done with it if you are.”
“I’m done,” Sam says.
“Good,” Mercedes replies, grinning.
“Good,” Sam smiles, leaning back down and kissing her again.
Her parents had a fit knowing that Sam was moving out there and in with her but she figures it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Because when she crawls in bed and he wraps her arms around her, she knows that everything is right where it’s supposed to be.
“They’re gonna shit eggrolls,” Sam says, chuckling.
“Shut up,” she replies, smacking him lightly on the belly.
Her wedding ring catches the light and she flexes her fingers, just looking at it.
“Mrs. Evans,” he whispers, squeezing around her waist.
“Mr. Evans,” she teases.
And then, he turns off the lights, and they forget about the months they were apart, and pretty much anything else but each other.