It is a well-known fact that phone calls from unknown numbers at some insane time in the hours between too late and too early rarely ever brought about good news. It usually was terrible, horrible life-changing news. Sam couldn't think of a single time in his life when the phone rang at 3 AM and it was about something good. As he sat staring at his still ringing phone, he had a feeling that this wasn't going to be one of those times either. Especially since the area code was for Tennessee and there was only one person he knew in Tennessee. And despite the fact that Puck kept weird hours even now that he was done with basic training, he never called at 3 in the morning. And this wasn't the number he usually called from. Because Sam had that number stored and this wasn't it. So this was inevitably going to change everything. And life was going so good too. He should've known that it was all going to change.
A few months ago during one of their weekly Skype sessions, Puck asked if he could put Sam down as his next of kin and medical proxy. After a major falling out after Finn's untimely death, Puck and his mother weren't on speaking terms and it wasn't from a lack of effort from her son. His mother just apparently had enough with him and was focused only on raising her daughter. To the best of Sam's knowledge, Puck hadn't spoken a word to his mother or sister in over a year and a half. So naturally, she wouldn't be a great candidate for next of kin. The next obvious choice was Jake but he was still under eighteen and Puck loathed the idea of putting that kind of responsibility in his hands. So he asked Sam and Sam agreed because why wouldn't he? Sam no longer called himself the closest thing to a best friend Puck had. He knew that he was Puck's best friend. And if it gave Puck some peace of mind to know that Sam was there in case of an emergency then he would give him that peace of mind. But he didn't think he would be called upon to act in that role so soon (or ever really).
Sam summoned the courage to pick up the phone right as it was about to go to voicemail. His hands were trembling and a cold feeling was building in his stomach. "Hello?" his voice was trembling.
"Is this Samuel Evans?"
"Yes." He wished to everything holy that he wasn't Sam Evans at that particular moment.
"Mr. Evans, my name is Dr. Taylor Green. I'm calling from the hospital on the McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base. You're listed as the next of kin for Second Lieutenant Noah Puckerman, correct?"
Sam felt his stomach twist. "Uh, yeah, I am. Is he… is he, ok?"
"Mr. Evans, I'm afraid there's been an incident on the base. Lt. Puckerman was injured. We need to you to be here to sign some paperwork."
"What kind of incident?" Sam asked, swallowing the lump in his throat. "How badly was he injured? Is he ok?"
"I can't discuss his medical condition at this point. He's currently being prepped for surgery. But we need you to be here in case certain decisions need to be made."
Decisions? He remembered the paperwork that Puck had to fill out when he first signed up for the Air Force. One them was filled with a bunch of questions regarding his views on life support and resuscitation. A copy of that paperwork was in the file cabinet Blaine insisted they needed when they first moved in together. He knew that he needed to get that. He needed to get a ticket and get out to Tennessee. He needed to do something other than just sit there numbly, unable to speak or move or think.
"Sam?" he blinked as there was suddenly a warm hand on his shoulder. He felt the phone being pried out of his death grip. And then Blaine was taking over. He was asking the question that Sam should've asked. He was saying the things that Sam should've said. Because Sam was Puck's next of kin but Sam couldn't do anything. Maybe he should've picked Blaine. "Sam?"
Blaine's warm brown eyes smiled at him through the dim lighting in his room. He couldn't remember Blaine turning them on in the first place. The hand on his shoulder squeezed gently before guiding his head to rest on Blaine's shoulders. Sam didn't realize he was even breathing wrong until he could feel the steady beating of his roommate's heart against his ear. He focused on those quiet, normal beats and forced his own breaths to slow down and match them. Once he was calm, Blaine shifted back to meet his gaze. He kept his hands on the blonde's shoulders and offered him a smile.
"It's going to be ok, Sammy," he assured him. Sam read the hesitancy in his voice though. He knew Blaine well. He knew that Blaine didn't believe that any more than he did.
"Apparently there was a shooting at the base," Blaine shrugged helplessly. "That's all she would tell me. I don't know but he, uh, he was definitely shot."
Sam ran a hand through his hair. "I have to go there. They want me there in case… in case something. I'm his medical proxy too. I have to make decisions for him. I have to…."
"You have to breathe," Blaine finished, soothingly. "Now slow down, take some deep breaths and let me handle the tickets, ok?"
"You don't seriously think I'm going to let you do this alone, do you? In case you're forgetting Puck is my friend too. I don't think I could focus on anything here. So it's a waste of time to have me here. You're not the only one that can't lose him too."
Sam patted the hand that still rested on his shoulder apologetically. "I know that you guys are friends. I'm sorry. I just meant you have a lot going on right now… with school and Kurt and everything."
"School can wait," Blaine answered, squeezing Sam's shoulder. "And Kurt knows how much you both mean to me. I'm sure he'll understand why I need to go with you. Besides you're definitely going to need some help with Puck's Mini-Me."
"Oh god, Jake!"
Sam's eyes widened and he could almost feel himself slipping back into a blind panic. How the hell was he supposed to tell Jake that his brother was in the hospital? Sam knew that the two brothers had grown very close in the past two years. Jake saw Puck as the father figure he never had. And Puck saw Jake as both the younger sibling he always wanted (because Sarah was just a clone of their mother) and the child he lost. It was an odd dynamic but it worked. Between Puck's long distance brotherly influence and surprisingly Kitty's right there in his face influence, Jake was doing great in school. He already received three college acceptance letters, one in Tennessee, close to the base and the other two were in New York. Jake was happier than he had been in years. He was stable. Losing Puck would ruin all of that. And Sam had to be the one to tell him.
"How am I supposed to tell him about this?" Sam asked, his voice breaking at the end.
"It's Jake. Just call him. Tell him what we know for now. Tell him that I'm working on getting him a flight too. There's no way he's just going to sit back and wait in Ohio. If we don't get him a ticket, he'll try and hitchhike his way to Tennessee."
Sam laughed for the first time since his world was rocked. The stubbornness of the Puckerman brothers was legendary. Jake definitely would attempt to hitchhike. It certainly wouldn't be the first time he tried. So keeping in mind that it needed to be done, Sam held his hand out for his phone. Blaine gave his shoulder one last squeeze before placing it back in his hand. It started ringing as soon as it touched his palm.
"It's Jake," Sam read aloud. Blaine frowned in concerned response. "Hello?"
"Tell me he's ok."
"Jake? What's wrong?"
"What's wrong?! It's all over the news!" Jake hissed. His voice was slightly hysterical. "Mom was working at the diner and she called me to tell me that she saw the news. She told me there was some kind of shooting on the base. It's crazy. A lot of people were injured. Some of them are dead. Please tell me that my brother isn't dead. He's not answering his phone. I can't reach his roommates. I can't get through to him at all. So please tell me that you know something. Sam, please just tell me that he's ok."
Sam blinked away tears as he listened to Jake's frantic words. Blaine wordlessly left the room, only to return with his laptop in tow a moment later. He sat down on the bed next to Sam so that their shoulders were pressed together. He was quietly grateful for the grounding contact.
"They called me," Sam admitted. His words felt heavy in his mouth. He felt like he was talking slower than normal. "The hospital that is. They called me. They told me that he's in surgery and they want me to come out there. Blaine is going to book the two of us a flight." He heard Jake take a breath ready to speak. "Don't worry. He's getting one for you too. I wouldn't leave you out of this, ok?"
"He's going to be ok, right? Because I don't know if I could….."
"Jake, it's going to be ok. It's Puck. He's not leaving us," Sam found himself saying. His voice was steady. He almost believed it. "He's going to be ok."
He sat on the phone with Jake for another few minutes before the younger man finally calmed down enough to pack a bag. During that time Blaine managed to find flights for all of them. Jake's flight was later but he had less distance to travel and none of them wanted him to land in Tennessee alone. His amazing (other) best friend managed to arrange it so that Jake's flight would land about an hour after theirs. That would give them enough time to pick up a rental car and figure out how to get to the base. Sam was already appreciating Blaine presence on this trip.
"Tell me that everything is going to be ok."
Blaine placed his hand over Sam's prompting the blonde to turn his hand over so that their fingers intertwined. "Everything is going to be ok," Blaine promised. "We're going to get through this. I don't know how or what's going to happen. But we're going to get through this. And I'm going to be there every single step of the way, ok?"
Sam took a deep breath, drawing strength from the hand still tangled with his. "Ok."
Sam knew that it was going to be bad but he really didn't expect all of this. Once they arrived at the airport, they found every news channel was running a story on the shooting. It felt almost surreal. He never paid too much attention when stories like this happened. Sure, he felt terrible for the people involved. He felt sadness that lives were lost but it never hit until right now. This time it was personal. Sam wanted nothing more than for the reporters to stop speculating on who did it and why. He wanted them all to shut up. Especially since they didn't seem to have any further information each time they went to report on the events. The basic structure that Sam seemed to get was that there were multiple shooters, several casualties, even more injured and one of the shooters was dead. He was apparently taken down by the final victim. Given that they weren't reporting anything new, it was extra annoying. Although Sam supposed in this case, no news was good news.
Before they left for the airport, Blaine and Sam went downstairs to the apartment that Artie would soon be sharing with Kitty (and possibly Jake if he chose one of his New York prospects). It helped having another gleek in the building. They told him what was going on. He naturally also wanted to go but understood the multitude of reasons why that just wouldn't work. He promised to play ground support in New York. Sam called the hospital to tell them that they were on their way and asked that if anything happened while they were in the air that they call Artie. Artie also promised to call the others as soon as the sun came up to let them know what was going on. And as much as Sam dreaded what he was going to find once they reached Tennessee, he found that he also didn't envy Artie's job either.
During the brief flight, Sam's mind kept going over all the scenarios. Not surprisingly, he found his thoughts were dwelling on the worst case scenarios. Once again he was happy that Blaine insisted on coming along. Because while Sam was off thinking about the ways in which Puck was dead, near death or maimed for life, Blaine was coming up with lists of people that needed to be notified, things that Puck might need, things that they might need, etc. Blaine was definitely the cooler head in this situation and Sam was just so damn happy he was here.
He turned his phone back on while they were waiting for Jake's flight. He wasn't surprised to see that he had several voice messages and even more texts from the various former glee club members (and their teacher) expressing concern and horror. He didn't bother to call any of them. He didn't know anything for starters and he knew that Artie probably talked to most of them by now. So there was no point. Except one person missed that memo because no sooner had he put the phone away was it ringing. He picked up without looking at the Caller Id, terrified it as the hospital again.
"What the actual fuck, Trouty Mouth?!"
Sam groaned. "Santana."
"No, it's the Easter Bunny! Yes, it's Santana. What the hell were you thinking? Why the hell didn't you tell me what happened? I had to hear it from Kurt?! Literally the most hateful of all our friends and I had to hear it from him?! You two just took off in the middle of the night and didn't stop to think just once that there would be anyone else that would want to go, huh?"
"Actually, I didn't think anyone else wanted to go," Sam retorted. "I really didn't think there would be anyone other than Blaine or Artie that honestly even cared that much. When was the last time you actually even talked to him, Santana? When was the last time you did something more than like his comment on Facebook? Oh, I know it's when you were accusing him of stealing Finn's jacket. You know the whole incident that prompted him to join the damn Air Force in the first place! So yeah, I really wasn't thinking about you. Why would I? You obviously don't give a damn about him. Or else you would've called him or sent him a text before now. That's what friends do, Santana. That's how you show you care. Not ignore them for years until they get shot and are possibly dying!"
There was a pause before he heard something he never thought he would hear in his lifetime. Something that he never wanted to hear in his lifetime. Santana Lopez was crying. And not just crying. She was full on sobbing. Sam sighed. He knew he went too far. But he also knew that the distance between Puck and Santana was troubling both of them. They were close in high school and then they grew apart. Then they fell apart and it hurt them both but neither of them knew how to close the gap between them. Now it might be too late. Dammit, this is why he let Blaine do the talking.
"I'm sorry, San. I'm just cranky. I didn't get much sleep as you can imagine."
"No, you're right. This is my fault," she said shakily. "Do you know how many times I've picked the phone up to call him since then? It's been two years, Sammy! I should've called him. I should've…. it's all over the news. They're saying that people are dead. He's not dead… is he?"
"No, he's not," Sam answered, secure in at least that bit of knowledge. "He's not. I don't know what's going on but at least I know that. I'll call you soon as soon as I know something."
He heard the phone disconnect and he sat back with a heavy sigh. They hadn't even made it to the hospital and he was already emotionally overwhelmed. This was going to be a rough few days. He didn't think he was going to be able to do this. Blaine was wrong. He couldn't do this. He couldn't….
"Relax," Blaine said. There was just a hint of a teasing smile in his voice. He felt more than saw the other man flop down on the bench beside him. Their arms were once again pressed against each other and Sam found he liked this arrangement far more than he thought he would (and far more than he wanted to). He could feel the anxiety receding for the moment. "Who was on the phone?"
"Santana. I kind of made her cry."
Blaine arched an eyebrow. "Damn, Sammy. Guess Puck is rubbing off you after all. You made the Queen of Badass cry? Kinda jealous."
Sam snickered before leaning against Blaine. They waited in relative silence for the final member of their group. He didn't know when they started humming but it was a good way to drown out the relentless coverage of the "tragedy" that was slowly becoming a media free for all. Besides the song was kind of fitting. It was the last song Puck ever sang solo in front of the glee club and it was basically their motto for this whole trip. Keep Holding On…..
Movies, not surprisingly, are pretty much always getting it wrong. If this was a movie, they would've rushed into the hospital and immediately met with a doctor who would tell them what was happening. Instead, they got to the hospital and were informed that Puck was still in surgery. They were then instructed to sit in the family waiting room and wait. And that's exactly what they'd been doing for the past four hours. Thankfully one of the nurses had the sense of mind to put a movie on to block out the relentless media coverage outside. And it was specifically designed for a long wait: The Lord of the Rings. At least they all agreed that it was a good one.
They had just reached the part where Boromir died defending the hobbits when the doors to the waiting room opened. A stern looking woman that reminded Sam of a saner (at least looking) Sue Sylvester walked in. He elbowed the dozing Jake and Blaine as she walked towards them. A soft smile toyed at the edges of her mouth. Sam felt a little more at ease. She wouldn't be smiling like that if he were dead…. right?
"You gentleman are waiting for Lt. Noah Puckerman?" they nodded in unison. "Great, I'm Dr. Green. I believe I talked to two of you on the phone earlier today."
"Yes," Blaine smiled, taking the lead. "I'm Blaine Anderson. This is my roommate, Sam Evans and Puck's younger brother, Jake."
"So you're the Jake he never shuts up about," Dr. Green smiled again. "The way he goes on about you, we originally thought you were his son." Jake flushed a little but Sam could see some of the darkness fade from his eyes. He liked this Dr. Green already. "Now, let's get down to business. Mr. Evans, do you feel comfortable with me discussing Lt. Puckerman's condition in front of Mr. Puckerman and Mr. Anderson?"
"Yes, and you can call me Sam."
"Excellent, Sam," Dr. Green smiled again. "Now let me just start off by reassuring you all that Noah is alive and, with time, expected to make a full physical recovery." Sam let out a long exhale of relief that was quietly echoed by the other two. "Ok, so we got that out of the way. How much of what happened here do you know?"
"Very little," Sam admitted. "We know that there was a shooting of some sort. And that Puck was hurt."
"Well that's accurate. The shooting occurred roughly around one in the morning. I don't really know what sparked the incident but I do know that there was more than one shooter. One of them started in the dorms. You can imagine since it was so late and hardly anyone is expecting an attack like that, the injuries were significant. But fortunately, he was subdued before he could leave the third floor where he started."
"That's where Puck lived, uh, lives," Blaine said.
"Yes, and it's thanks to Noah that we had significantly less casualties. He's the real hero in this story. He's the one that stopped the shooter."
That right there? That was Sam's stomach jumping into his throat again. Because of the news coverage he knew that the shooter in the dorm was dead. And if Puck was the one that stopped him… that meant that Puck… killed him? The more he heard, the more he felt like he couldn't do this. He looked to Blaine but found that he was looking as lost as Sam felt. Well that's not good.
"How exactly did he stop him?" Jake asked hesitantly.
"Apparently the shooter barged into the room Noah shared with two other officers. All three of them were injured. However, Noah's roommates weren't as fortunate and their wounds were fatal. They passed away before anyone could get to their room."
Sam closed his eyes. He knew that Puck actually got along with those guys. They were (officially) the closest thing to a best friend Puck would allow himself to have on the base. He actually talked to them a couple of times when chatting with Puck. This was just looking worse and worse.
"You still didn't tell me how my brother killed a man," Jake pointed out, flatly.
"He didn't kill him in cold blood, if that's what you're thinking. It was purely self defense. After he fired his shots, Noah managed to disarm him. But our shooter still had a knife. There was a struggle. Obviously, the outcome is that Noah is alive and the scumbag that tried to murder him and several others in addition to actually murdering more than a few is dead. When I say that Lt. Puckerman is a hero, I mean it. What he did was nothing short of amazing."
Sam glanced at Jake. There were so many emotions swirling in his usually expressive eyes. It was hard for him to pin them all down. But he knew that Jake was feeling guilt at even hinting that his brother was a murderer. The kid was also feeling concerned. He was angry. He was a thousand different things but he wouldn't be ok until he actually saw Puck. Speaking of that…
"I know you said he would make a full physical recovery but how badly hurt was he?" Blaine asked, as if reading Sam's thoughts.
"Well, he was shot once in his left shoulder. There was minimal damage done to the muscle so he should regain all movement in his shoulder once the damage is healed. There was another gunshot wound on his leg but it was a through and through. He was lucky there. There were several concerning lacerations on his stomach and chest but thus far the stitching is holding. The internal damage has been corrected. And provided he doesn't move around much in the next few weeks, he should physically heal just fine."
"You keep saying physically," Sam spoke up.
"Because now that the wounds have been tended to, I can freely admit that I'm more concerned with his mental health. I understand that he joined the Air Force shortly after he lost a very good friend."
"Yeah," Jake replied, uncomfortably. "His best friend, Finn, died two years ago."
"That's what I thought. Think of it like this, Noah just watched several of his friends die and had to take the life of a man he served with. He's going to need some serious time to recuperate. And I don't really recommend that taking place here. This base is going to be a circus for quite some time between media coverage and investigations into how they happened in the first place. He's going to need somewhere supportive and away from all this."
Sam chewed on his lip, trying to think of a place that fit that depiction. He had a few ideas but he needed to see how Puck was before he could agree to anything. He cleared his throat. "Can we see him, Dr Green?"
"I can really only let you and Jake in tonight and only one at a time. Barring any complications overnight, we can move him into a private room in the morning. Then you can visit as long as you like with as many people as you. So I apologize, Blaine, but you'll have to wait until tomorrow to see him."
The former Warbler nodded. "That's ok. So who's up first?"
"I am," Sam answered before Jake could say anything. Maybe it came from knowing Puck so well but Sam could read the protest in the teen's eyes before he even opened his mouth to say something. "I promise I won't take that long. I'm just going to see how he is to start working on a plan and then he's all yours."
He knew that despite his initial protests, Jake was not looking forward to going in that room anymore than Sam was. Sam knew that Jake was terrified about what he was going to find. And with Puck sidelined (for the time being) that meant it was his job to shield Jake from the more unpleasant things in life. He met Blaine's gaze and nodded at the acceptance he found there. Another small smile crossed his lips.
"Come on, kid. I don't know about you but I'm starving!" Blaine said, tugging a very compliant Jake with him towards the cafeteria. Hopefully, Blaine would be able to help Jake get his emotions sorted through before he went in to see Puck.
Before they could turn down the corridor that would lead them to Puck's room, Sam stopped the doctor again. "Tell me what you weren't saying back there in front of Jake." Dr. Green gave him an assessing yet approving look.
"I'm going to put this bluntly. Noah killed a man. It was definitely self-defense and given the option to go forward with the act again, I know he would definitely choose to not kill again. But the fact of the matter is that he did. And that's the kind of thing that can eat at a person. I'm worried that it will eat at Noah. That he will let guilt consume him. Guilt for surviving as well as guilt for taking another man's life."
Sam let out a deep breath. Admittedly, he was worried about the same thing. Then again, he also kind of wasn't. Because Puck did go through a seriously traumatic experience but he also had a very large network of people that loved him and wouldn't let this destroy him. It would take time and a lot of coordinated effort but Sam knew that they were strong enough to help him stay strong. They were going to get him through this.
And at that moment, Sam actually believed that.
One time, back in high school when they first met, Puck came to school covered in bruises but still grinning like a loon. Sam remembered being more than a little concerned with Puck's mental health, as well as his home life. That is until Mike later told him that Puck participated in some totally illegal weird Fight Club homage. So Sam got used to seeing his friend sporting bruises. He got used it… but he never liked it.
Sam knew based off what Dr. Green told them that Puck wasn't going to look like his normal self. But he still wasn't expecting him to seem so small. Puck wasn't a small person. He was tall and bursting with life and personality. But the too pale and still figure with visible bandages and wires everywhere… that didn't seem like his best friend. That is until his unfocused gaze sharpened and their eyes met in the dimness of the room. A ghost of a smile crossed his lips and Sam felt at ease. There was still a part of Puck in there.
"Hey," Puck whispered.
"Hey, yourself," Sam greeted as he shut the door gently behind him and went to stand next to the bed. Up close he looked even worse. Sam could see the recently bandaged wounds poking through the thin hospital gown. But the smile remained as faint as it was. That was enough. He covered Puck's hand with his. "I'd ask you how you're feeling but that sounds painfully stupid."
"It's ok. Actually don't feel too bad." Puck gave a one shoulder shrug. "I think they got me on the good stuff." His smile wobbled a little. His eyes shined a little too brightly under the harsh florescent lights. "I'm glad you're here, Sammy."
"Where else would I be?"
Puck looked down at his hand which was still covered by Sam's. He gave another little shrug. "I don't know. Here I guess. I'm just happy that's all."
Sam nodded. The two friends sat in silence before it just became too much. Sam leaned forward, ever mindful of the wires and pulled his best friend into a gentle embrace. Puck's good arm came up to wrap around his shoulders. Sam could feel Puck's shaky breaths on his neck and he held on tighter.
"I was so scared," Puck admitted. Sam nodded.
"Me too," he moved back slightly so that he could see into his eyes. He didn't like the darkness he saw there. He didn't like the uncertainty. And while it would take awhile to break the first (and they would). Sam at least knew he had the tools right now to crack through the second. "Puck, I need you to know that I love you. You're my best friend and I'm so damn happy you're still here with me and that I can say that. Nothing is going to change that. And nothing is going to make me regret that I'm here too."
Puck's eyes glistened but no tears fell. Sam knew that he would need to be on the lookout for that. The Puckerman habit of repressing emotions was as legendary as their stubbornness. Sam bumped Puck on the chin lightly before sitting back on the edge of the bed. He reached for his hand again though because he couldn't quite force himself to break physical contact just yet. It seemed that Puck wasn't exactly eager either as he held on as tight as he could.
"For your information, I didn't come out here alone," Sam said, breaking the comfortable silence that settled over them. Puck arched an eyebrow. "Yeah, Jake is here too. Blaine took him down to the cafeteria to get something to eat."
"Really? They're both here?"
"Of course they are. Artie would've been here too but we thought he would be better staying back. But he told me to tell you that you better be ok or he would roll down here and force fed you waffles until you were. I kept telling him that wasn't a very effective threat." Puck let out a watery laugh and nodded. "Did Dr. Green talk to you?"
"Yeah. She was in here an hour ago. We talked."
"Did she tell you that she wants you to recuperate somewhere that's… not here?"
"Yeah, she said that." Puck smiled but it was a rueful, almost bitter look. "Looks like I'm going home after all."
"You could do that… or you could come back to New York with me and Blaine."
"You talk to Blaine about this?"
"Uh huh," Puck mumbled. "You think maybe you should? It's a pretty big decision to let a murdering cripple crash on your couch."
"One, don't you ever call yourself that again," Sam warned, his tone firm yet gentle. He could see they were going to have a problem with the self deprecation. He added that to his growing list of things to be on the look out for. "Two, you definitely wouldn't be living on the couch. You could have my room until you got better and then we could make other arrangements. And three, it's half my apartment. So I can do what I want with my half, including moving in my amazing best friend that needs me and that I need to have around."
Puck shook his head but Sam could already see the walls rising. That was enough for tonight then. "I'll think about it, ok?"
"Ok. I'll go see if Jake and Blaine are back yet."
There was no response but he didn't expect there to be. He squeezed Puck's hand one last time before walking towards the door. He didn't need to check if the other two were back as Jake was barreling through the door before he even had it completely open. Sam laughed as he stepped out the room to stand beside an equally amused Blaine.
"We didn't even make to the cafeteria," Blaine replied to the unanswered question. "He broke down three feet down the hall and we've been waiting out here ever since. I think he's going to be ok."
"How about Puck? How's he?"
"Not terrible," Sam admitted. "It's going to be a bumpy road."
"So did you ask him?"
Sam craned his neck to look down at Blaine. "Ask him what?"
"Did you ask him to come back with us?"
"Uh, yeah. I did."
"Good. What did he say?"
Blaine gave him a look that Sam knew meant he was questioning his sanity. "You don't really think that we're letting him go back to Lima, do you? Dr. Green said he needs somewhere supportive and restful. That's pretty much the opposite of what he's going to get in Lima. The keyword is support and that's pretty much you, me and Artie. Oh yeah, and Santana now that she finally got the necessary wake up call. Also it makes sense. Jake really wanted to go to school with Kitty in New York and now Puck will be in New York. So Jake will be with his brother and Puck is always focused when he's around Jake. It's win-win all around."
Sam stared at Blaine with definite awe in his eyes. He knew that Blaine was working on a plan but this… this was perfect. This was exactly the reason why Sam never regretted following Blaine to New York. It's why he…. "I love you," he blurted out before he could stop himself. Blaine's eyes widened and he saw the flush on the other man's cheeks. Sam forced out a weak chuckle. "I mean like a brother. I love you like a brother."
"Uh, right, yeah. I knew that," Blaine laughed, a little too high. "Besides it would be totally wrong if it were the other way, right? Because I'm getting married."
"Yeah, married," Sam mumbled. They stood awkwardly for a few moments. "I'm going to go find Dr. Green."
"I should probably call Kurt," Blaine nodded, trying his hardest not to look at Sam. "He's only called about twenty times since we got here." Sam snickered. Blaine finally looked up. "I meant it. He's coming back with us."
"I know. Thanks again."
They stared at each other for another long, tense yet still not awkward moment before Sam forced himself to go in search of the doctor. Those types of moments were happening all too frequently these days and it was getting harder and harder for Sam to remember that he was supposedly straight and that Blaine already had a boyfriend, uh, fiancé. Sam was eager to have Puck in the apartment because at least there would be someone to help break up the sexual tension that seemed to happen whenever they were alone and not in the middle of an active crisis. Yeah, having Puck around was definitely going to help…. right?
He finally tracked Dr. Green down in her office and they hashed out a plan that would allow Puck to be transported to a hospital not that far from their apartment. She advised that he not be left alone while he was there and Sam promised that he wouldn't be. When he finished with the doctor, he called Jake's mom. Tanisha was more than understanding about Jake needing to spend some time with his brother. She had already informed the school that he would be out for the next few weeks. She made arrangements for him to get his work electronically so he could keep up and graduate on time. He knew that Blaine would update Artie when he was done with Kurt. So that left only one other person that Sam needed to call.
"Hey, Sammy….. How is he?"
"He's going to be ok," Sam admitted. "We're actually bringing him back up there in a few days. The doctors here just want to make sure he's strong enough for the move."
"That's great! I mean I'm happy that he's going to be close to you guys." She paused and his heart broke a little at how unlike herself she sounded when she spoke again. "I know that I don't really deserve this but…."
"I'll tell him you said hi."
"You're welcome… but Santana, don't leave it like this. He's going to be up there. He's been through hell and not just last night. He's going to need us. Jake's mom is letting him stay with us for a little awhile so we'll have people by his side pretty much all the time. But I still think that…."
"That you need more people? Ok. I can be there. I will be there. Even if he doesn't want me there, I'll be there."
"He wants you to be there, San. I know he does."
"You know that, huh?"
"Yeah, I do," Sam laughed, warming by the echoing laughter he heard on the other line. "San, you know we're all going to get through this, right?"
"Yeah, I know that now, Trouty Mouth. Thank you."
"You're welcome. See you in a few days."
He hung up feeling less shaky than he had all day. On his way back to the lounge where he knew Blaine was waiting, Sam passed by Puck's room. He cracked the door open and wasn't at all surprised to find Jake sitting on the edge of the bed with Puck leaning against his side fast asleep. The younger of the brothers was humming something softly. He glanced up to smile at Sam before he continued to hum his song.
Yeah, they were going to get through this. Everything was going to be ok.