On the arm of Quinn Fabray, the Head Cheerleader and hottest girl in school, Sam had seemed to reach all the goals he had set forth for himself before the school year began. While he had suffered his share of slushie facials for being in glee club, he was still one of the most popular guys in school, someone that girls smiled at in the hallways (but he only had eyes for one) and that the guys either silently resented or respected.
It all came with the territory he supposed, but it felt great and a fantastic way to springboard into the New Year. They had visited his relatives over the festive period, and they had badgered him with questions about his new school, his friends, and his life.
He had regaled them all with the stories; being QB of the football team, his amazing girlfriend who he had given a promise ring to (showing a picture of Quinn to his grandmother had caused her to begin crying tears of joy), winning a glee club competition the first week he was in the group (his cousins had given him some light ribbing about that one but he had laughed it off, insisting that glee could actually be kind of cool) and their win at the Sectionals competition which he had led with Quinn and Santana.
They had been impressed, exclaiming their delight and it had put Sam onto an all time high for the New Year.
Until all those plans were crushed to dust.
At first it was the small things he noticed. Quinn seemed more and more distant, making plans and then cancelling with only one or two hours' notice. So he had backed off, deciding to give her some space, calmly telling himself that she was probably just tired or stressed because of schoolwork. If it had been something he had done she would have told him, right?
If it had been something about them she would bring it up, right?
Before long his worries about Quinn were pushed to a secondary slot in his mind, when he began to notice his parents also behaving out of character. His father would leave early in the morning and not return until late at night while there had been one or two times he would be called up, leaving school, his mother hastily asking him to pick up his siblings from school because she had things to do.
Actually, if he was being honest, he hadn't thought much of it until the hushed conversations behind closed doors began. It was one night when he was thirsty and he shuffled out of his bed at two thirty in the morning for a drink from the kitchen. Quietly he descended the stairs but found that the living room light was still on. Curious, he poked his head around the door, to see his father hunched over the coffee table, letters piled all around him as he desperately wrote something on a sheet of paper, his mother reading something silently.
Then the louder arguments began. He hadn't been around for many of them, deciding instead to get Stacey and Stevie out of the house when they began. He picked up certain words when he ducked out of the house though. 'Homeless', 'recession', 'unemployed' flew around like bullets to his ears.
On some occasions he had tried to confide in Quinn but he had always bit his tongue. There was the fear that she would think differently of him if he was found out; if anyone found out. So he found shouldering the problem was better. Keeping it all bottled up was a more desirable option than asking for help. Asking for help was a sign of weakness, a sign of the dorky guy who used to sit in the corner reading his comic books. It wasn't a reflection of the man he was now, the man he had grown into over the summer.
If Sam Evans had known then, that he was nothing more than a boy in man's clothing at this point, he would have been shocked. To find that he had more to learn, to discover and take from life would be an inconceivable bombshell to the young man.
But that is the key to all great stories is it not?
While she held nothing against Blaine, her best friend Kurt's new best gay friend from his new school, Dalton Academy, Mercedes was sure that if she was told he would be 'tagging along' to one more bowling night, or movie night or any other sort of outing, she would implode.
With Tina blissfully in love with Mike, Brittany and Artie stuck together like glue, Santana being…well, Santana (Mercedes wasn't quite sure what that girl was doing these days) and Rachel off in drama-land with the newest Finn Hudson crisis, Mercedes had found that the number of her friends without some sort of significant other was dwindling.
Sure, she wanted nothing more than Kurt to be happy, to find love that he deserved, but she would often miss the nights when they would flick through magazines drooling over the hot guys they could never have while mockingly bemoaning their lack of a love life. They would joke that they didn't care and even while they knew that they both did, it didn't worry them as much, because at least they had each other to lean on.
Now she was sure she was losing that as well.
His attempt to set her up with Anthony Rashad had been done with only the best of intentions in mind but in the end disastrous. The two had had nothing in common and even though Anthony had suggested they 'do this again sometime' (An hour of uncomfortably staring at their coffee cups while trying to make small talk) she was sure they never would again.
And she was fine with that. She wasn't a girl who would stumble her way through something fake and half-hearted just so she could say she had something , at least not anymore, not since the mess with Kurt the previous prided herself on that, as a matter of fact, and saw it as a sign of growth within herself. She was waiting for something real; and she would carry the heartache of waiting for as long as she had to. She clung to the phrase, 'good things come to those who wait' like a mantra and deeply held belief.
Anyway, as she had made clear to Kurt on the numerous occasions he had asked her opinion on his potential boyfriend, she liked Blaine. He was funny, likable and tried to make sure she felt included, even if she felt like the awkward as hell third wheel in most of their conversations.
But she had begun to feel Kurt pulling away and this was only emphasised when he moved to Dalton, for understandable reasons, his bullying at the hands of a jock reaching alarming heights.
With Kurt at another school the New Year heralded nothing but loneliness for Mercedes so she began to throw everything she had into other activities, outside and inside of school. She tutored, practiced for her choir at the local church every day, handed in all assignments on time.
Her academic prospects had never been higher, which delighted her parents and brothers to no end, but left a void in her chest. She was missing out on her teenage years and because of what? Because of people who couldn't give her the time of day anymore.
A love story wouldn't be a love story without a great voyage of self-discovery, would it? And as Sam Evans would find out what it really was to be a man, Mercedes Jones would find herself too. She would embrace who she was, not shy away from it; demand the spotlight she deserved and had so quietly craved for years, in the shadow of those deemed more talented, more conventionally beautiful, and so on and so forth.
But in between it all, the confusion and different directions life would pull you in where did you find this? It would come to be it would be in different ways, avenues which would pull and pick at their insecurities and make them battle with the hard questions and decisions. But all roads lead back to love, and that it is the story here in the end.
However before we can reach the end we must find the real beginning of the story.
Where exactly did the love story of Sam Evans and Mercedes Jones begin?
It was not the day on the football field when their eyes met for the briefest of seconds, no, that was much too early and it was not the night he asked her to dance at the junior prom because that was much too late, for it had already begun before he had reached out his hand and she had hesitantly placed hers in his.
It was the moments that happened in between those two.
When Sam Evans lost it all, and felt he had nothing to give, and Mercedes Jones was looking for someone, someone she could show, with her kind heart, that nothing could be everything.
And that is where our story really begins.