A/N: The idea for this story has been haunting me for a while now. This is honestly unlike anything I've ever written. All I can say is that this was largely influenced, at least stylistically, by Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants" and, of course, Ben Folds Five's "Brick." I've borrowed a few lines of dialogue from Hemingway and some thematic elements from Ben Folds.
I simply wanted to explore this experience and reflect on how it would feel. Please know that I am not trying to make any kind of political or moral statement about this story's subject matter. I've strived to make this an honest representation of a very difficult moment.
He looked up from where he sat on the sidelines, lacing up his cleats. It was the first time he had ever seen her with her hair down, and that sight alone was almost shocking. More than her worried expression, or the way her nervous fingers fiddled with a flimsy ponytail holder, the sight of her hair framing her face told him that something wasn't right.
"Yeah?" He rose from the bench. "Is everything all right?"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine,"she paused, chewing on her lip, and stared up at him. "Look, I need a ride to Columbus next Sunday. I have an appointment."
"Sorry, an appointment?" he asked, glancing over her shoulder and out across the football field. "What kind of appointment?"
She let out a deep breath, and then pursed her lips. "That's not important."
"Well, I mean, sure," he answered. "But this is a little random, don't you think? Can't you get your parents to..."
It was a single syllable, harsh; she practically pushed it through her gritted teeth, the force of her words hitting Sam like a bullet. Her brashness was nothing unusual, but there was something desperate in her eyes, something in the anxious curve of her brow that was making him nervous.
"Santana," he mumbled, his voice dropping to almost inaudible levels. "What's going on?"
Santana rolled her eyes in response and raked her fingers through her thick hair.
"Pick me up at six on Sunday morning," she answered, cold, as she twisted her hair up into a ponytail and yanked it into position. "We'll be back by noon, tops."
"But I have stuff, Santana, I can't just..."
"Gringo!" barked Sue, waving Santana to centre field. "Stop flirting with Macauley Culkin."
"Six A.M.," she said, tossing the reminder over her shoulder as she stepped out onto the field.
It was never a choice.
That was the only word that could describe it. It being this dark, cold morning; it being him. He drove. His mind was blank, and his face bare of any emotion.
They say there's a silence that comes to a house when no one can sleep. This morning, it really wasn't a stretch to imagine every single person in every grey little house in their town lay awake, staring at their ceilings, breathing in and out quietly between tosses and turns.
That had been him, all night long. The red lines on his digital clock had burned his retinas as he counted down the minutes. At five, he told himself, at five he would go downstairs and make himself some coffee. At 4:30, after hours and hours of thrashing, sweating between his blankets, he finally gave up and went downstairs and made himself a mug of coffee and then wrapped his hands around it. It grew cold. He poured it down the sink.
Sam pushed himself further back into his seat, grimacing as the frozen leather stung him. His arms were pockmarked with goosebumps. He glanced at the clock.
Six o'clock AM.
"It's pretty cold," Santana said, fiddling absent-mindedly with the dials on his dash. "Does this thing have heat, or what?"
"Nah," Sam shrugged. "It broke down a couple weeks ago. I've been meaning to get it fixed."
"Hmm," she hummed, and folded her arms across her chest.
"Do you want to find a McDonald's somewhere, get some coffee? Hot chocolate?"
She shook her head. No. He sighed, exhaling deeply. A little puff of smoke escaped his lips.
"Oh, cut it out," she moaned.
"Santana, you have to tell me what's going on."
"I'm fine," she hissed, through gritted teeth. "Just keep going. We're almost there."
He sucked in a deep breath, then tried again. "Look, Santana, I'm not angry, and I'm not going to try to make you do anything you don't want to do, but..."
"Can you please just stop talking?"
He did, for a moment. Then he began again, more quietly.
"I don't want you to do it if you don't want to."
"I said I would do it," she said, her words heavy. She stared straight ahead. "I don't care."
"Well, I care," he interrupted, sending her a sidelong glance. "I care about you."
"No, you don't." She shook her head. "You banged me to get over Quinn. You don't care about me. Hell, I don't even care about me."
"You shouldn't do it if you feel that way, " he mumbled, sending her a sidelong glance.
"I don't feel any way. Now can you please just shut up and drive?"
"I just don't want you to do anything that you don't want to do."
"Would you do something for me?" she interrupted him. He glanced at her, nodded yes.
"Anything," he replied. He squared his jaw, staring straight ahead. He meant it.
"Would you please, please, please, please, please stop talking?"
He sighed, drumming his fingers on the wheel. A few seconds of frostbitten landscape flew by them.
"I don't want you to."
She didn't answer him, just propped her chin on her hand and stared blankly ahead at the miles to go.
He was in a drugstore, checking out a row of magazines. It beat pacing back and forth in an empty parking lot. He was looking for something, anything, to take his mind off of her.
Something caught his eye. Greeting cards, rows of soft pink and blue. A carriage. A stork. He slammed his fist into the wall, causing a bunch of Danielle Steels to tremble and tumble to the floor.
"What are you doing, kid?" the clerk mumbled from where she sat behind her desk, popping gum.
"A dozen roses."
Sam turned, gesturing to a corner of the store that doubled as a florist's.
"A dozen roses. How much?"
She shouldered the door fully and stepped onto the sidewalk. He stood up straight, held the flowers close to his side. She made her way over to him, delicately moving around piles of slush, puddles. He met her halfway, splashing through the remains of Christmas and the winter weather with a broad stride. She stood a few feet away from him, stopping suddenly. He held his breath.
"Sam, what the hell?"
He raised the roses up, holding the bouquet out to her. She exhaled sharply, throwing her hands into the air.
"What? Why are there… why did you…"
"Just… just take them, okay?"
She looked up at him, her brown eyes already swimming with tears. She inhaled sharply, through gritted teeth.
"Just take them."
He shook the flowers gently, pushing them towards her. She surveyed them for a moment. A single syllable escaped her lips.
She fell against him, hard, knocking the wind out of him as she burrowed her face in his shoulder and screamed. He wrapped his arms around her, one holding the roses, across her back, and another holding her head secure, running fingers through her damp hair.
He didn't try to stop her, didn't try to shush her. She screamed, a long, continuous cry of agony. She brought her hands up to his chest, pummeling and punching him. Each weak blow landed with a muffled thump.
He pulled her in, closer, trapping her arms against his chest. She dug deeper into his jacket and screamed, screamed, screamed into the folds of fabric. His own eyes were misty as her angry cries mellowed to sobs, her shoulders heaving with every fresh new wave of pain.
"Will you be okay?"
She turned her head ever-so-slightly, mustering a half-hearted roll of her eyes. "What kind of question is that?"
Sam maintained his grip on the steering wheel, letting his thoughts run into one another as the highway rolled past them. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Santana lean against her window and shut her eyes. Her arms curled around the roses, and her soft, quiet breathing pooled on the misty glass.
"I don't know," she mumbled. "I don't know."