A/N: Sorry for the insanely long time it took for me to update, I hope at least some of you haven't given up on this. Quite a long chapter (compared to what I'm used to) and it deals with a lot of stuff, so hopefully that makes up for the delay! This one is still Sam's POV.

Chapter 4: Fix Me, Against My Will If You Have To.

The week following Valentine's Day is a weird, unsettling one. Not just one thing is to blame, more a pyramid of people, actions, events. In the end, it culminates into a single fact, a quiet epiphany:

Being Sam Evans sucks.

It starts off OK, good even. Monday, he gets his first A in English. Seeing how he busts his ass in his classes, it's great to see that it's beginning to pay off. He works out more too, to compensate for no longer having football practice. The soreness and burning in his muscles are not unpleasant consequences, rather a testament to his efforts. At least in that department he can see it, because relationship-wise, it's painfully absent.

Santana is the first sign of the shitstorm that's approaching. Four days after their confrontation at the restaurant, she shows no indication that she'll ever speak to him again. While he does attempt to strike a conversation now and then (in the hallways, during free periods, after Glee practice), she just scoffs and walks away, as fast as she can. It hurts him, a sharp sting, each time the reconciliation fails. It's also frustrating, bordering on angering. He didn't say anything that was aimed to wound her, or anything false for that matter. Therefore she has no reason to stay so distant, so mad. This sensible reasoning doesn't seem to matter to her, so by Tuesday, Sam knows one more thing: girls are fickle, irrational creatures.

So yes, Santana actually remains angry, regardless of the logic, or lack of, behind this behavior. The worst part is that attitude seems to spread to Quinn as well.

He's not sure who, or what, is to blame. Santana's influence over Quinn, or vice-versa? Something he said, or did? All he knows is that, for all intents and purposes, he's been single for the past few days.

She doesn't call, she doesn't stick around long enough after classes for them to talk… This silent treatment is the kick-off, the initial slip downhill. It doesn't look that way at first. It never does.

It leads him to ask his dad for advice, for starters. And when James Evans obliges, he does it with telling his son of his own method for dealing with girl trouble...

"Dad, I don't want to hear about you and Mom doing it!" Sam exclaims, exasperated. "I just need an idea to make her come back!"

He plops down on the couch, legs sliding to full, lazy extension. His head remains bowed, even after enough time for his mood to settle has passed. When he speaks again, all agitation has disappeared, only the delicate, touching tone of despair is tinting his voice. "She's slipping away, Dad. I can't figure out why." After a few seconds of heavy silence, he looks up and is relieved to find all traces of mischief gone from his father's face. At least he's getting how serious the situation is this time. "I don't know what to do…" Sam murmurs.

James smiles, a comforting, supportive "Dad" smile. "Whoa, she really got under your skin…" he notes. "Son, I wasn't about to tell you about some sexual prowess, even if I could!" he chuckles, eliciting yet another groan from his listener. "Seriously, there is only one thing you can do, given the situation, and it's pretty much what I did with your mom. You have to woo her." he states confidently.

He walks up to the couch and sits down on the edge of it, as to leave Sam as much space as possible, while remaining close enough to offer tangible support.

"I don't think your mother ever told you the story. It beats me as to why, because it's awesome!" James pursues, enthusiasm rising in his voice and gestures. "So we were both in college together, right? And I had this huge crush on her and kept asking her out, but she always said no. Then one Saturday, she was hanging out with her friends at the park and I just showed up. She used to tell me I wasn't wild enough for her. Well, right then and there, I sang Pour Some Sugar On Me, with the appropriate choreography!"

Sam looks up, incredulous. "You, with that voice? And with your moves?"

"Yeah. She loved it! Just showing her I could cut loose was enough to convince her to give me a chance." He playfully shoves his son with his shoulder. "You know, girls, you can make them love you if you take them hunting or if you're a rock'n roll man. We're not gun people, what choice does that leave you?"

This conversation lead him to that, that being an utterly memorable, heartfelt and surprisingly well-received Bieber homage. He sings his heart out, dances like a fool, the works. It seems to pay off too, because Quinn is all giggles and obviously charmed. But once it calms down, after the applause and the cheers, once Mr. Schuester lets them go, doubt creeps back in.

He lets Quinn precede him through the door, ever the gentleman. His courtesy is greeted with the smallest of smiles and she's off, away from him, again. He stands for a second in the threshold, hesitating to follow her. Why should he, when she doesn't even wait for him anymore?

An arm springs up next to him, a hand grabs his shirt and the next second he's hauled down the corridor by a very determined Santana. "Jesus, San, can't you just ask me to follow you?" he shouts, prying her fingers off his sweater. Well, trying to.

She doesn't respond, nor stop. Therefore he's reduced to the embarrassing role of cargo, fumbling stupidly behind her because of her fast pace. There's a minute of flailing arms and tumbling legs, before he accepts his fate, grumbling as a last protest. At least nobody is seeing this he reasons. He hopes so.

He'll try one last time. "Seriously San, ask me and I'll come with you. The dragging, it has to stop!"

"No way, Justin 2.0, it gots to be, because you don't get it otherwise." She takes a pause, shoving him inside the girl washroom before continuing. "And because I enjoy it."

It's back into the deserted bathroom apparently. She pulls him in, closes the door violently and locks it, silent but clearly fuming. She spins around, he steps back quickly. With her, you never know when the next slap is gonna come. Besides her hair can come close to whip him in the face.

"How dumb are you Evans? Seriously? Bieber? For her? Have you got no self-respect?" she starts off, ramming him with both hands on his chest with each question.

He retreats further, evading her abuse as much as possible. He can feel the anger rise in him, tingling on its way. A foreign feeling in his case. His voice quavers but resonates sincerely in the room. "What's wrong with that? Just because you're not willing to make any efforts to please people, I shouldn't? Sorry San but I like her. I want her to be happy, with me. If it takes every Bieber song sung to her for that to happen, well that's what I'll do!"

A deep silence is the only retort he gets. They stare at each other, lips tightly sealed, eyes flaring. Tensed, pent-up feelings are taking control, already. Sam sighs, turning away from her and heading for the counter. He propels himself up and sits between two sinks, his feet instinctively dangling. With his head bowed down, his hair covers his face partly. This is a useful shield, it lets him compose himself. Another sigh before he looks back at her, who hasn't moved.

"I don't want to fight, San." he tells her, dejected. "Could we just, I dunno, talk?" He swats his bangs out of the way to get a better look at her.

She's flushed, wide-eyed, but the way her breathing is slowing down gives him hope for a calmer conversation. A shrug is all she offers but she joins him on the counter anyway. After a second, he gives it another try, another angle.

"Do you remember Sectionals?" he asks.

The annoyed look she immediately shoots in his direction makes him backpedal. "Dumb question, of course you do. I meant to ask, did you see us, when Quinn and I sang?"

She lifts her shoulders, non-committal, picks at her thumbnail. Meticulously. "Yeah, what about it?"

"Well did you see how happy she was then, the way she would look at me?" He grins at the remembrance. It was such a perfect moment. Their voice soaring in unison, the undeniable chemistry brewing, the playful lyrics…

A glimpse of Santana's impatient air brings him back on point. "Well, I never had that before, that kind of connection with a girl. Ever. She made me feel like I was the best part of her life, you know? Like I was the only one who could make her smile like that. Is it wrong to want it back?"

She lets out a groan. Her hand leaves her lips, falling at her side on his, grasping lightly. "Of course not." she says. "It's just… I mean, you're just picking the worst girl to be obsessed about. It's a waste of effort." Her tone, while gentle, doesn't make her words less infuriating.

"Hey, you don't know that!" he spats. His hand slips away from hers, and he pushes himself off the makeshift seat. Back on his feet, he feels more in power. Her reply is swift, and merciless.

"Believe me, I know her." She drops to the floor as well. "Yeah, you looked cute and shit together. Doesn't change the fact that she is a bitch who doesn't deserve your time!"

He puffs. "Takes one to know one." He's never been OK with handing out insults, so a twinge of regret flutters inside him. It doesn't linger once he realizes she didn't even flinch at the remark.

"Exactly. So I know what I'm talkin' about." She leans back against the counter, crosses her arms. "I'll have to spell it out for you, pretty boy? She's. Cheating. On. You." she dictates.

He stares, mute, dumbfounded. "Wh-What?" he croaks.

"You heard me. She and Finn are still at it. It's written all over their faces."

Cold belief starts to spread in him; he pushes it away with anger. He squints at her, she holds his stare with defiance.

"If all you have is what you can tell from their faces, then you got nothing." he growls. He shoves her away and unlocks the door. He's half out when he turns around one last time. "You know what? I changed my mind. I know I said I'd be there, but if all you can do is talk shit, then just forget me, OK?"

He hears her "Goddamn it Sam! Wait!" but walks away. He knows she's not following him, and is grateful.

Don't, don't think about it.

The only sounds around is the one his feet are making on the dirty tiles of the hallway and some distant shouts from the gym. Not enough to drown his thoughts.

She's imagining things.

So that's Tuesday. Wednesday is no better. With the guys ambushing him early, with their "Justin Bieber Experience" expansion plan. With Quinn persisting in her elusive behavior.

He tries, as always, on both sides. He schedules an early practice with his new band mates, sends carefully worded, romantic texts to his girlfriend. It all feels empty. Because Santana's revelation is always with him, like a bad omen over each and every one of his actions.

Thursday, turns out that omen is true, along with the discovery of how much his life can suck, fast.

He's walking into the choir room with Puck, discussing the details of their upcoming performance when he sees them. Finn and her, urgently making out. They're so wrapped up into each other that it takes a whole 5 seconds before they realize they have two very surprised spectators. When they do part and notice them, they immediately step away, wiping their mouths in a hurry. As if it would erase what he just saw.

Just like in the movies. The only thought that comes through before his mind shuts down. Blanked face, he turns around and calmly retraces his steps. No haste. He even hears them, Finn's rambling apology, Quinn's "Sam, I can explain!", Puck's "Man, not cool.". They don't affect him, nor stop him. It all rolls down without consequence, like water on a raincoat.

He knows. He should be furious, should be swinging punches at Finn by now. No, he just feels cold. Like a switch has been turned off inside, cutting the power. So he goes to his locker, starts taking his books out for his first class, on auto-drive. Puck reaches him seconds later. He tries to ignore him but with that heavy hand landing hard on his shoulder, it's not possible.

"Bro, that was harsh! I know I shouldn't judge and all, considering, but damn! What a douche! And Finn's not better…" Puck says.

Beneath the excited tone, Sam can hear compassion, but also pity. Strangely, he can't even bring himself to care. He closes the metallic door slowly, rearranges the binder and notebook in his arms. Diversions, you know.

"I'll tell Artie and Mike we'll forget you for the show this afternoon. No way we're making you sing the Biebs in front of her!"

"I'll do it." No emotion whatsoever in his voice. A part of him wishes he could inject some, if only to make Puck quit staring at him with perceptive eyes.

"The choreography's all planned anyway. And I said I'll help you guys, I'm not just gonna let you down because of…" A twinge in his throat prevents him from continuing. A pause, a cough, a deep breath. After all of these he can proceed with the rest of his idea. Not that Puck's scrutiny is making it any easier.

"Could you, you know, not talk about this? To the guys I mean?" Some heat, along with a flush to his cheek, returns to him. The initial shock is wearing off. The image of Quinn (MY girlfriend) pressed tight against Finn, letting muffled moans escape their joined lips, is slowly burning an indelible template in his mind. He glances back to Puck. "Until I talk to her, work it out?"

"Work it out?" Puck's incredulity, as big as a billboard, is stretched all across his face. "What are you on man? There's nothing to work out, she was slutting it out right in your face!"

Biting his lip, Sam turns away. I know, I saw! At the end of the hallway, steps and the sound of closing doors finish shaking him awake. Sure enough, the newly-discovered couple is coming around the corner. "I… I'm gonna go. Can't be late to class. See-See ya in French." he says hurriedly.

Lamest excuse ever, he thinks as he's practically running towards his first class. It's barely 07:30, after all. A red veil covers his eyes and is progressively dimming his sight. More accurately, shame is blinding him. Dumb, why are you so fucking dumb? It was all there, everyone could see it but you...

The distracting rant going on inside, along with his frantic pace, results in him bumping into Santana, hard. He spins around and their eyes lock. She doesn't look pissed, which is unusual. No, she even tries to talk to him, except there are no words coming out.

One thing's sure, she knows. Given how crimson his face must be by now, combined with him sporting what he can only assume to be glazed-over eyes, how could she not? Struggling to keep his composure and books in check, he lets out a "Don't." and flees to the safety of the classroom. There, slouched over the cold and insensitive desk at the farthest end, he can start putting himself back together. He has to.

4:30 rolls around and by then he has a better grip on himself. Enough, at least, to get on stage with the guys. Enough to grab a mike and talk to the girls in the audience. Enough to maintain the façade, even in her presence. "This song, like all the songs I sing, is for my girlfriend Quinn."

Impressive, there isn't the slightest hint of hesitation in his declaration. Ok, maybe a spark of damaged irony in his eyes, but that's it. He's nevertheless able to ignore Santana's disdained puff, and Puck's astonishment. It becomes even easier as the performance progresses (thank you, demanding and distracting choreography) but as soon as the last "love…" is bellowed, it's impossible. There is a second of stillness, during which he can see Quinn unconsciously leaning towards Finn, shoulders grazing. Too much, too soon. So he drops the microphone, runs away from the congratulations, away from the questions. Most of all running away from the shrill call of Santana's voice, begging him once more to wait for her.

On his way home, it's all about deep breaths and internal battles. Thank God for public transportation, the only way to bring him to his place in one piece, considering how unfocused he is. The two schools of thought, "You have to deal with this." and "Not now." are neck-and-neck by the time he enters his room. His computer, still open, procures him with a distraction when he sees that there are at least some emails to read. Something, anything beats dwelling on the absurdity of his relationship. Or so it would seem.

From: Santana Lopez.

Great, looks like the "Deal with this" camp is gonna win.

There are merely a few words in the subject section (You wouldn't listen to me, well you better listen to this, or else…), nothing more accompanies the link and the timeframe. Empty threat or not, it's enough to entice (well, force) him to listen to the song.

The first images almost make him back away. Kind of a weird video, and he's not into Linkin Park that much. Yet the gentle notes keep his attention.

When you were standing in the wake of devastation
When you were waiting on the edge of the unknown
With the cataclysm raining down, insides crying "save me now"
You were there, impossibly alone.

Do you feel cold and lost in desperation?
You build up hope, but failure's all you've known
Remember all the sadness and frustration
And let it go, let it go.

Every little bit of him wishes he could hold on, but after 3 lines or so of the haunting lyrics and equally touching melody, his resolve melts. The floodgates open, and he buries his head in his crossed arms on his desk. His eyes are screwed shut to block the tears, while dry, angry sobs course his body.

Why did she have to go ahead and send this? Why does she have to be so fucking on the spot?

Because she is, she's seized him up perfectly. He knows that's how he was onstage during the performance: a puppet, acting like he belonged while disintegrating inside. He can pretend all he wants, he's not fooling himself, or Santana apparently.

Lifting his head back up, he breathes in, shakily, just in time. A knock on his door, and a worried voice are then heard over his unstable breathing.

"Sammy? Are you okay?"

"Yeah, Mom, I'm fine." he lies. He blushes, even if it's usually the only kind of lie he can tell without too much guilt ensuing. Hurriedly, he runs his palms over his face, as if she could see his distress through the walls.

"OK then. I'm going to work, can you keep an eye on Stacy and Steve until your father gets home?"

"Sure Mom." he says flatly. After a last quick glance at his screen, he closes the window, then his computer. The dark, the silence, they're invading the room awfully fast. It only takes a few seconds to escape it, whatever time it takes to unplug his laptop and bring it, along with his math notebook, into the living room.

The hours of his evening pass slowly, with him keeping one eye on his siblings, the other on his homework. More than often, his thoughts drift away from the math problems, to questions much more personal, and puzzling.

Still, the song Santana sent him pops in his mind once in a while. A scrap of comfort, not much but it's a start, and he holds on to it. He has his own music on, his library on shuffle in the background. Without admitting it, he's not just filling the silence, he's also searching for a reply to send her.

By the time he's put Stacy and Steve in bed, he's almost given up on finding the appropriate response. It's when he does one last exploration of his playlists that he stumbles upon the perfect song.

Why there has to be a song in the first place? He's asking himself that very question. He could just tell her what's going on, what's he's feeling. Sure, it would be simpler, if he could put it into words. Words, well, they never were his strong suit. So the next best thing is to find lyrics that speak to him, which he finally does.

He searches on Youtube to find the best video, watching it several times to find the perfect part.

I am damaged at best, like you've already figured out
I'm falling apart, I'm barely breathing
With a broken heart that's still beating
In the pain, there is healing
In your name I find meaning
So I'm holdin' on, I'm holdin' on, I'm holdin' on
I'm barely holdin' on to you

Exactly what he needed. The beginning says all he needs to convey. The multiple listenings prove to bear a little too heavily on his mood though, so he puts it all away as soon as he's done with his email to Santana. Go to sleep is the best he can do tonight.

Through an unspoken agreement, they don't even talk the following day. Santana does kidnap him after Biology, once again pulling him into "their" bathroom for a fierce, bone-crushing hug. There's no conversation after it though, she simply shrugs, briefly latches on him again and leaves him there. However unusually comforting he finds her behavior, he still gets the increasing feeling that another lecture from her is just around the corner.

In the meantime, he holds on, like he said, the best he can. Frankly, not all that well, blank and listless becomes a common mood of his. It's just kind of hard to maintain good spirits when everywhere he looks, Quinn and Finn are there. In most of his classes, exchanging coy looks. In the hallways, hands grazing. In Glee club, rehearsing together. They don't really hide their renewed relationship, and while pretty much everybody empathizes, nobody really does anything. He reasons that he has to pull himself out of his funk. Easier said than done. Especially when the lovebirds sing their first duet in front of the group, a syrupy ballad performed with handholding and lovey-dovey expressions. It's more than he can take and he leaves in the middle of it, painfully aware of the pitiful looks he causes. Inside, he's starting to guess that it was just what Santana was waiting for, a breaking point to be reached.

Sure enough, she shows up at his door that very evening, with her usual impatient air plastered on (although it might be justified this time, given that it took him a while to answer and it raining cats and dogs). He's not all that surprised, save for the fact that he never gave her his address… She pointedly hands him her iPod and he obeys, sliding the ear buds in place and tapping the play icon.

Here's the day you hoped would never come
Don't feed me violins
Just run with me through rows of speeding cars.
The papercuts, the cheating lovers
The coffee's never strong enough
I know you think it's more than just bad luck

There there baby
It's just textbook stuff
It's in the A-B-C of growing up
Now, now darling
Oh don't lose your head
Cause none of us were angels
And you know I love you yeah

A dry chuckle is his response, and she smiles accordingly. "So, you're gonna let me in or I'm to melt on your porch?" she asks.

"Sure, come in. I could use some company while babysitting." he says, stepping aside. "Care to tell me how you found out where I live?" he asks merrily.

"I'm Santana Lopez. I know shit, period." she snapped back. She looks away for a second, shakes her head. After a sigh, she goes on. "Didn't mean it that way. Can you get me something to dry off please? I don't wanna drown the place."

"Of course." he replies. Turning around, he sees an inquisitive face peeking around the corner of the hallway.

"Who's that Sammy?" Stacy asks, stepping a bit closer to examine the visitor. Sam, wide-eyed, rushes to her.

"Stace, what are you doing here? I thought you were playing with Steve!"

"He said he was turning to the dark side and that I can't play with him anymore since I'm a Jedi." she replies with a pout.

Sam kneels at her side, hugging her. "I'm sorry Stace. Well, let's see if we can't find a way to bring him back to the good side, OK?" The little girl nods, with a small smile lighting up her features. He looks up at Santana, who's watching the scene with a similar grin. "I'll be back in a sec." he tells her.

Actually, it's more like 10 minutes. It took a Yoda-quality, iron-clad speech to convince his brother to forego the ways of the Sith and it simply couldn't be rushed. Once the little knights are back on speaking terms, he wastes no time and runs to the bathroom to grab a towel. Back to the front door, he notices that Santana still waits, incredibly without looking pissed. Although she's sitting on the rug by now.

Sheepishly, he hands her the towel. "Sorry about that. They take Star Wars pretty seriously these days and I kinda have to respect it too." he explains.

"It's okay, that was sorta cute." She pushes herself back up and continues as if they hadn't been interrupted. "So I wanted to tell you a few things. Like maybe I should have hinted you about Quinn and Finn, instead of throwing it in your face."

He doesn't reply. His stare and silence must make her uncomfortable because she suddenly starts drying her face and hair vigorously. "Also, maybe that slap at Breadsticks wasn't really justified." The cloth flailing around her head clips her voice.

She runs it on her neck one last time before giving it back to a still mute Sam. He leans against the wall, toying with the damp towel. Stopping for a few seconds, she watches him do so.

"That's it, I guess." she says with a sigh. "FYI, that's as close to an apology as I've ever gone, so consider yourself lucky."

Sam chuckles and stands back up straight. Shaking his head in disbelief, he grabs her hand. "Thanks San. I appreciate it, really."

She's struggling a bit with kicking her shoes off when he says that. He tightens his grip to steady her. She glances straight at him for the first time since she's arrived, sees their hands clasped. She sends him a weird, uncertain smile, succeeds in taking of her boots with her free hand. Seconds later, it's Sam's turn to do the pulling, for once. Destination: his room.

"What Kind Of Fool?"

She looks up from her iPod, one eyebrow cocked. "Barbra, seriously? No Sam, just… No. You're not that questionnably gay."

Sighing, he continues rummaging through his playlist for a minute. "O.A.R.'s Shattered?" he offers.

"I don't know this one, play me some." He complies, watching her listen intently with lips pursed. She shakes her head after a few lines. "Mmm, better, but still not to the point. It has to feel like a slap to the face. This doesn't cut it."

"Does it have to?" he questions.

She throws her hands in the air, looking exasperated. "Duh! I mean, if you sing this one, you'll look like a puppy, begging for his master back. You won't be telling her that you're over her."

"But I 'm not." he confesses.

"She doesn't have to know that. Besides, if you tell yourself you're getting over her, it might actually help you making it true." Santana informs him.

He grunts in response, dubious. It wasn't as discreet as he hoped it to be and it sets her off. "Come on Trouty Mouth, quit pouting and moping around! You gots to call her out, ya know, make her face what she did to you!" Enthusiasm is making her hands fly around her like hummingbirds. She doesn't let him respond and goes back to dissecting her song collection. Soon enough, she's back on his case.

She jumps out of his bed (that she had commandeered the second she entered the room) and punches him excitedly on the shoulder. "Here, I got yours! It's still your style, except with a tad more oomph to it." she announces.

Reluctantly, he spins his chair and his eyes dart up to her. She shows her music player, lets him see the song title and bounces back to her seat. "And I found mine too!" she adds, letting herself fall on the fluffy covers.

This time he looks up without being requesting to do so. He questions her with a simple, nonplussed look. She laughs whole-heartedly. "Of course, doofus! I wouldn't let you go to the trenches without an opening act. Trust me, I'll warm her up for ya!" She grins, flashing him her perfectly white teeth, before going back to her iPod.

Oh shit.

Santana is the kind of girl who follows through. No later than at the next Glee club practice, right at the beginning, she cuts off Mr. Schue's tirade and demands the stage. She puts on the music and just… kills it. She refused to tell him what she was going to sing, and the surprise equals only his delight when he recognizes the song (thanks to a 90's movie he's seen often, because otherwise it's totally not his style).

He has to admit, she does one hell of a job. Every detail is perfectly nailed, the contemptuous eyes, the regal air. The moves are what really do it. Her hips shimmy as fast as the tempo goes, and with every bitchy line a flicker of the hand comes up to insist on it. She's enjoying herself immensely too, it's plain to see. With her sparkling eyes and recurring smile, she's clearly having a blast.

At first, he, along with the rest of the Glee club, was a bit taken aback by the beat. They found it unusual to say the least, with good reason: nobody here does punk rock. It's a catchy song anyway, so they still quickly get into it, with clapping hands and bobbing heads. She overplays it, over-pronounces each and every line, putting on quite a show by basically miming several sentences.

After a while, he starts to notice something, something that many listeners miss. She goes further than just playing out the song. She adapts the lyrics too. Those targeted by this get it, so it's not in vain. It doesn't take much either, just switching some pronouns.

Another love you would abuse, no circumstances could excuse.

With her pointing Quinn while singing, the message is clear, however brief.

I know you're selfish, you're unkind.

Sucker love, you always find someone to bruise and leave behind.

If you weren't familiar with the song, you could be none the wiser. The beat is fast and as usual, no one is really paying attention to the lyrics when Santana shakes it around.

But Sam knows it, and from her increasingly crimson face, so does Quinn. The message is received, loud and clear.

She squirms on her seat, keeps squeezing Finn's hand… Looks around the room as if the answer to her distress is somewhere in the room. Panic, stage 1.

He should feel upset, guilty. There are many feelings he should be having. The only one coming through is smug satisfaction.

Yep, seeing Santana putting it all out there, rubbing Quinn's face in her own betrayal, it's quite funny. And he feels justified, for the first time.

Santana finishes in a flourish and sits down with one last pirouette. Without any subtlety, she shoves him out of his seat.

"Your turn, Guppy." she chirps. Not even discreetly.

As he stands in front of everyone, as he adjusts his hold on his guitar, doubt, that insecure bitch, sneaks back. Suddenly he's breathing hard. I'm not ready. I barely know the lyrics well enough.

Looking around, he shuffles around, for way too many seconds. The silence is not gonna get any lighter, that much he knows, yet he can't start. Until she gives him the push he needs.

"I dare you." She mouths to him, shoots him an impish smile, almost negating it with the somewhat crude pucker she does next.

He scoffs, beaming. A wink in response and he starts strumming the chords. His voice has never sounded so strong before.

Well, I never saw it coming, I should have started running
A long, long time ago
And I never thought I'd doubt you, I'm better off without you
More than you, more than you know

I'm slowly getting closure, I guess it's really over
I'm finally getting better
And now I'm picking up the pieces, spending all of these years
Putting my heart back together

Every word gets easier to sing, every emotion becomes more transparent. Holy shit, I'm totally selling it! He grows ever more confident and his voice soars. Towards the end, he's putting what can only be described as sass in his performance, standing in front of a devastated Quinn, serenading her.

'Cause the day I thought I'd never get through
I got over you

Well, I'm putting my heart back together
'Cause I got over you and I got over you
And I got over you

One last chord and he stops, breathless, smiling.


Santana is on her feet in an instant, applauding wildly. "Yeah, that's what I'm talking about Malibu!" she cries. She's the only one that enthusiastic. Puck, Kurt, Brittany are also clapping their hands, in a much tamer rhythm though. The rest are quite less responsive and exchanging glances in various degree of discomfort.

Somehow, he doesn't even notice, or care rather.

"OK kids… Sam, nice show. Santana, that's enough, you can stop now." Schuester, always the buzzkill.

"Mr. Schue…"

Will raises a hand to silence her. "No, Santana, it's time to start practicing. I welcome any impromptu numbers, whatever keeps your motivation up but we still have a set list to plan and rehearse. Now…"

That's the extent of what Sam hears. It took him the first 2 sentences to get out of his guitar belt, to grasp a still-cheering Santana and to march out of the choir room. It's absolutely not his style. He's being self-centered, impolite. He loves it.

"No way I'm letting Schuester ruin this." he explains over his shoulder to a dumbfounded Santana.

Stopping abruptly, he feels her bumps into his back. He turns and wounds his arms around her neck. "Thank you." he says softly, lips pressed against her ear. "I would have never been able to do it without you." he confesses, his voice getting less stable. "Wouldn't even have had the idea in the first place!" he adds in a lighter tone.

She chuckles, awkwardly stiff in his embrace. "No problema, Blondie." She suddenly relaxes, hugs him just as strongly. "You did me proud out there, papi."

He pulls away, smiling. "Good to know." A good, comfortable pause follows, as they look happily into each other's eyes.

One good thing laid to rest. Time to take care of that other thing… he muses.

"Now that my case is over, what are we gonna do about you and Brittany?" he asks swiftly.

Her smile vanishes instantly. "Wh-What? How…" she rambles. Which just makes him laugh whole-heartedly, and he swings his arm around her shoulders in a comforting gesture.

Once more, he's the one leading. It's her turn to stumble and try to copy his pace as he pulls her towards the exit. He's more than glad, he's jubilant.

"Come on, I'll help you work it out. Tonight, you dine at La Casa Evans!"

A/N: Songs used, in order: Iridescent by Linkin Park, Broken by Lifehouse, Speeding Cars by Imogen Heap, Every You Every Me by Placebo and Over You by Daughtry.