Sam Evans was a person who couldn't pretend.

He never could. Even when he was younger and his friends would try to play games like cops and robbers on the playground, he never understood the allure to it, because they weren't cops, and the girls weren't robbers either. It had never made sense to him… So now, years later as he found himself in an empty boys locker room in McKinley High School, he realized that the sentiment still rang true for him.

He couldn't go on like this pretending that everything was okay with how he felt. Things had to change. Or, more importantly, people had to change.

It wasn't fair. He wasn't responsible for this – for the way he looked. Dropping his head into his hands, he tugged at some wayward strands of hair in frustration, because he knew that no matter how hard he wanted everyone else to change, it wasn't going to happen. There were still going to be the jokes about his mouth, or the songs about his lips, or the cheerleading coaches offering him positions on the squad because she 'really need a gal like her to take it up a notch with her girlish looks'.

He can't pretend anymore. It's not worth it to plaster the fake smile on those lips – that, as Puckerman would call them, were made for more than just smiling – and just tell people that he's used to the jokes, or that he can move on from Santana telling him to suck on an infant's head with his mouth…

Because he's only sixteen. He's not strong enough to deal with this yet. He never asked to. And even though stick and stones are the things that are supposed to break him, it's the words that are going to destroy him inside and out – tear him down and strip him down to his rawest vulnerabilities.

In the beginning, when Puck had made the tennis ball joke, he'd just rolled with it and made a joke of it himself. Because that's the easiest way to deflect the pain, he's come to learn. Smile through it and shrug off the pain all the way. But slowly, as the time passed and the jokes started to get older and more frequent, there was only so much he could do to pretend that it didn't affect him.

Crawling to his feet, he looked at himself in the mirror, forcing himself not to look away this time. The sight almost made him sick. His thick lips were going to ruin him – those horrible, ugly, huge lips that took up his entire face. No girl would want to kiss them in fear that he'd swallow them whole. No guy would want to talk to him, clearly distracted by the massiveness of them.

No one would take him seriously.

At least he was able to get over the whole flabby abs thing, work on it until they were at least acceptable – but even so, with his stomach he could hide them under a sweatshirt. With his face, unless he wanted to wear a paper bag to school, there was no luck. He'd never have any freedom from them.


As he wandered over the medical trainer's room, feeling like he was in a haze, he knew that this was the only way to save himself from years of humiliation – years of hatred, and misery, and just altogether mockery. His hands are rummaging through one of the drawers, clasped around what he already knows is there. It's almost like he had come into the locker room with this plan in the back of his head.

When he walks back over to the long mirror on the row of lockers, it isn't until he's standing in front of it that he notices he's biting down so hard on it that he starts to laugh bitterly. It's ironic in a way that isn't funny in the least bit. In middle school, when other boys would throw tubes of lipstick at him in their idea of some cruel joke, he bite down on his lip, hoping that it'd make them look smaller. Now, he's bitten down so hard that a line of red wells up from his bottom lip, which he wipes away with the back of his hand.

This is ugly.

What do you expect? You are ugly.

He winces at the thought, but in reality, he can't help but respond to it. If he wasn't so ugly, so unattractive – maybe he wouldn't have to put up with the teasing. Maybe he'd actually be happy for once.

Maybe Quinn wouldn't have left you for someone better…

Sam swallows that down, knowing that it's true. That he can't change it, and he can't blame anyone but himself. But that's all going to change.

The metal of the thin blade that's kept in the back of the trainer's drawer in the case of emergencies is cold under his fingers. Running his thumb over the smooth edge of it, he laughs shakily, knowing that it's all going to be better after this. The laugh, though, comes out as more of a sob, because he's utterly terrified and scared and just wants everything to be better. He's shaking and cold and has never felt so alone in his life.

But it's all going to be better. Better after you go through with this…

Hand shaking horribly as he lifts it up towards his face, he rests the metal against his cheek in an attempt to not butcher the rest of his face. He never wanted this, never wanted to have to do this. But the more that he thinks about it, he's only a kid, and there's not much more of Puck's snickering or Santana's crude remarks that he can put up with. He tries to act invincible with football and being popular – he really does – but it's never translated to this.

Just do it. Do it and you'll be happy.

By now, his breath his coming out in shaky gasps, his chest raking in and out. As he desperately tries to take a deep breath, failing miserably, he runs his other hand through his hair, realizing that if he doesn't do it now, he won't.

As he presses to the blade flatly onto the flesh of his lower lip, it stings, which is strange because he hasn't even broken the skin yet. Then he notices it – he's crying. Silently and shamefully – the tears making their way down to his lips and soaking the broken skin that laid there.

Still in disbelief that he's crying over something that should be a joyful occasion, his hand's shaking again – or maybe his entire body is, he can't tell at this point. But the sobs continue to wrack through his body, finally audible no matter how hard he tries to swallow them down. It's all the self-hatred, all the anger and pain and…everything just overflowing to the surface.

And one moment, he's preparing himself to slice through his lower lip completely, ending all of those feelings that've brought him down so hard. And the next, he's sliding across the floor, a sharp pain in his chin and two arms locked tightly around him pulling him backwards towards the lockers.

When he looks over his shoulder, the all too familiar feeling of a slippery warmth sliding down his chin, he finds himself face to face with Finn, who looks terrified, but still won't let go of him. He knows there's blood dripping down his chin, onto his shirt and Finn's hands and all over the place, but he can't even feel in. All he can feel in his veins is the disappointment – that he couldn't even get through this without failing.

"What were you doing?" Finn whispers, his voice on the verge of breaking down completely. When Sam turns his head away, the humiliation covering him like a thick blanket, Finn uses that opportunity to pull the blade out of Sam's hands and throw it across the room.

He still doesn't let go of Sam, almost like he's afraid the other boy will scramble away from him.

When he tries to say something, tries to think of something half-sane to say that might make Finn just go away, all that comes out are tears. Childish fat tears that cause his whole body to shake and cover his eyes in embarrassment.

Finn's talking to him, whispering things that Sam doesn't hear and can't make out. But for once, it's nice to just have someone with him. Someone who isn't judging him on his looks.

"Everything's going to be okay. You're going to be okay…" he hears Finn whisper, and in a strange and uncharacteristic show of affection, the other boy runs a hand through Sam's hair, pushing it away from his face where the blood is slowly starting to dry. Sam sighs shakily, and not because he doesn't believe Finn. But because he's scared to. He's scared that if he lets himself believe that everything will in the end be okay, it won't be and he'll just end up hurt all over again. And he doesn't want to. He's sick of being the one to hurt all the time.

It's hard, because he knows that no matter what he does, nothing will be right. He can't go through with what he's planning, and he can't go through with the life he's been living. It's not fair to himself. But the more he thinks about it, the more he realizes that there is no solution. At least, none that he can see. He's dealt with enough, and he doesn't want to hurt anyone.

Finn's still running a hand through his hair, speaking softly and still hasn't unwrapped himself from Sam. Sam knows that it should creep the hell out of him because guys like them don't do stuff like this. They don't act like this in any way. But from the way he can feel Finn still shaking against him, he understands that there can be exceptions to that rule. And in all honesty, Sam doesn't really have a problem with it.

So just for now – and just for right now – he forgets about all the pain he's been holding onto for so long, and lets himself be comforted for once.