A/N: This is my very first time writing anything Glee other than Klaine, and as you can tell, it's still pretty heavy on the Klaine. My inner Klainebow showed heavily throughout this fic. Also, blink-and-you'll-miss-it-Faberry.
Disclaimer: Don't own Glee.
Rachel was manipulative and cunning and she often stuck her nose where it didn't belong, and back before Mercedes and Rachel had become friends, it was something Mercedes had hated about her.
But right now, as Rachel climbed into the passenger seat of Quinn's car, clutching an ice pack to her cheek and throwing a wink in Mercedes' direction, Mercedes said a quick, thankful prayer that Rachel was Rachel, because now she had a two and a half mile walk home with Sam. Alone. Just the two of them.
Kurt had offered to drive them home, but Mercedes had declined- and not just because of the way Blaine's eyes were dark and lingering on Kurt's frame. Actually, a lot of it had to do with Sam's hand, warm and calloused in hers, and the butterflies she got every time he smiled at her (which was frequently- he didn't smile that much at everyone, did he?).
Blaine had shot her a grateful smile when she'd declined the ride, and she hadn't missed his hand creeping lower on Kurt's back as the four of them parted ways and the boys headed for Kurt's car. Mercedes made a mental note to ask him for details later.
"I'm sorry I can't drive you home," Sam said, and Mercedes turned to look at him. He actually did look like he really regretted it, which surprised her.
"That's all right," she said cheerfully, ignoring the way the fluttering in her stomach intensified when she met his eyes. "It's a nice night out, and we can talk while we walk. Get to know each other better."
His smile looked relieved. Mercedes had to remind herself that he was used to girls like Quinn and Santana- ones who bossed him around and used him and made fun of his mouth and his geeky impressions. Ones who would be angry at the thought of having to walk 2 ½ miles home.
He reached for her hand again, and she tried to discreetly wipe her sweaty palm on her dress. She never in a million years would have thought that she would ever have a crush on a guy like Sam, much less go to Prom with him and slow dance with him. But there she was, walking hand in hand down the street with one of the most popular and best-looking guys in the school after what was easily one of the best nights of her life.
"I feel so bad for Kurt," Sam said, after a moment of comfortable silence.
Mercedes let out a long sigh, her heart clenching at the memory of the expression that had been on her best friend's face when his name had been called. "My poor baby."
"I can't believe what kind of jerks would do that to him," he said fiercely, his hand tightening around Mercedes'. "I can't believe none of us knew."
"It was a well-kept secret," Mercedes said, angrily. "If he didn't have Blaine, I don't know what would've happened."
"Do you like Blaine?" Sam asked, turning to look at her. "Do you approve of him, I mean."
She paused to kick off her heels and pick them up with her free hand before she continued walking. "I like how happy Kurt is because of him," she said honestly. "My boy deserves a little love, and Blaine is really sweet to him. I don't know him very well, but he grew on me when he planned that courtyard goodbye for Kurt and asked for my help."
"He seems cool," Sam agreed. "It was cool that he asked Kurt to dance with him after Karofsky bailed. He seems like a really good boyfriend for Kurt. Kurt doesn't tell me a lot about that stuff when we hang out. We mostly just hang around the motel and he tells me how to wear my clothes right and how to treat my hair."
"I only know what Kurt tells me after their ates, but he's always so happy. I can't even imagine not liking Blaine when he makes Kurt that happy."
"Hey, maybe we could go on a double date with them sometime," Sam said, smiling crookedly, and Mercedes' stomach flipped.
Was that what this was? A date? They'd slow danced to every slow song together. He'd held open the door to the gym for her. He was holding her hand.
His eyes were still on her. In the dim light of the moon, it looked like he might have been blushing.
"I'd really like that," she said, shyly smiling, and he let out a long breath, his shoulders relaxing.
They walked in silence for a little while longer before Mercedes spoke up. "Sam?"
"Yeah?" there was a faint smile on his lips (which she'd always found kind of cute and not even a little bit trouty).
"I'm really sorry I thought you were messing around with Kurt and Quinn," she said. "I guess I'm just so used to the drama that Puck and Finn and Rachel and Quinn get wrapped up in, I didn't stop to think about how neither you or Kurt would do that kind of thing."
Sam chuckled, shaking his head. "That's okay, Mercedes. I get it. Kurt kept worrying about it, too- not about you guys thinking he was cheating on Blaine, cuz he said Blaine totally knew that he would never do that, but he kept worrying about what would happen to my rep if I was seen at a motel with the only out kid at the school." He shrugged. "He didn't get that I don't care. So he likes dudes. So what?"
Mercedes felt her chest tighten. How was he so wonderful and perfect? How had she never noticed before?
"He's used to guys who don't accept him. At McKinley, anyway," she said. "Even Finn has homophobic tendencies. You're the only guy at McKinley who really just didn't care. You accepted him, no judgements."
"I don't get why everyone can't be like that," Sam grumbled, looking down at the ground.
Mercedes finally understood the meaning of someone's heart feeling like it was about to beat right out of their chest. There was literally no way he could be real. She considered pinching herself, then realized it would be too cliché and too obvious.
"I wish I could take you somewhere," Sam said, looking once again like he really regretted not being able to. "But I have absolutely no money as well as church in the morning and I don't want to be too tired."
The fluttering grew worse. He went to church? "That's all right," she said, softly. "I have church, too."
"Can I call you tomorrow?" Now she definitely wasn't imagining it- he was blushing. "We could hang out I, um- I couldn't take you anywhere nice, but we could always go to the park and have a picnic or something."
She took a moment to thank both the darkness of the night and the darkness of the skin- they both hid the blush she was sure was rising on her cheeks.
"I'd love to," she said, a little shyly.
He squeezed her hand. "Do your feet hurt?"
They did, a little. She'd been walking barefoot for a half a mile. "A little."
"Do you want to stop and rest for a minute?" he asked, nodding to a park bench. "I'm not in any hurry to get home."
Her mind whirled. Was this what Kurt had always felt like with Blaine? Reading extra into things, panicking and obsessing over every little touch, every movement, every word? Repeating a mantra of just friends just friends just friends in his head? Stumbling over words every time Blaine sent so much as a smile his way? Tripping over his feet when Blaine said his name?
"You need a haircut," she said softly, ignoring her pounding heartbeat and reaching out to touch his hair.
He laughed quietly instead of jerking away from her touch like Kurt always did when Mercedes attempted to touch his hair. He even leaned into her hand a little, something she'd seen Kurt do when Blaine- only Blaine- touched his hair. Her mouth felt suddenly dry.
"I know," he sighed. Feeling daring, she combed her fingers through his hair a little. He still didn't move away. "I don't have a lot of time to go get a haircut now that I'm working for the pizza place and looking after the kids."
"Kurt could cut your hair," she suggested. "He always does mine."
"He wants to do something weird with mine." Sam laughed, shaking his head. "He said the Justin Bieber look was a disgrace."
"I thought it was cute," Mercedes said, and didn't have time to wonder if she'd crossed the line because he was blushing and ducking his head adorably. His hand around hers was warmer than it had been a moment ago.
She tugged at it a little. "Are you ready to keep walking?"
He stood up immediately, offering his arm to her. She let go of his hand (a little regretfully) and took it. They resumed walking in silence.
"Let's play a game," she said finally, breaking the silence.
"I'm for it," Sam said, smiling crookedly.
"Have you ever played the favorites game?" she asked. He shook his head. "Quinn and I used to play it all the time when she lived at my house last year."
"How do you play?"
"It's easy." She leaned into him a little. "What's your favorite movie?"
"Avatar. Or Revenge of the Sith," he said, without hesitation.
"The force is strong in you, Jedi Sam," she replied, giggling a little at the way his eyes bugged out.
"You've seen Star Wars?"
"I have an older brother," she said in explanation. "Your turn."
He scrunched up his forehead, apparently thinking hard. "Favorite singer."
She groaned. "Don't make me choose between Whitney and Aretha, that's just cruel."
He laughed. "Tell me you've done Respect for Glee Club before."
"Please," Mercedes said. "It was my audition song." She thought for a moment. "Favorite food."
"Haddock and brown rice," Sam replied immediately.
Mercedes snorted. "No, it's not."
"Yes it is," Sam insisted. "It's almost all I ever eat. Four days a week, at least."
"No, I'm not talking about food you eat a lot. I'm talking about that one food you love so much that you can't resist it when it's put in front of you. That unhealthy, guilty pleasure," she said, maybe a little dreamily.
He gazed at her a minute. "What's yours?"
"Tater tots," she said promptly. "I thought everyone knew that."
He shrugged with one shoulder. "I didn't."
There was a beat of silence, then- "chocolate chip cookies."
"That's your favorite?" she asked, squeezing his arm. He had really nice biceps, she noted vaguely.
He nodded. "Homemade chocolate chip cookies. Favorite color?"
"Pink," she said decisively. "Favorite TV show?"
He mumbled something.
"What was that?"
"I said, 'Dr. Who'," he said, a little more clearly, obviously embarrassed.
Mercedes nodded. "I watch that with my brother. I haven't seen the newest season yet, though. I wanted to wait for Austin to get home from college before I watched so we could watch them together. Is the new season good?"
"Are you kidding?" Sam said enthusiastically, his eyes lighting up. "There's this new alien- it's so creepy-"
Mercedes watched him as he gestured with his hands, explaining with childlike excitement. He was so unlike any of those other stupid jocks on the football team. He was dorky and did impressions and treated all girls like they were princesses.
She hadn't thought she would ever meet someone like him in high school. She hadn't even thought to look at him as something other than another dumb jock until she'd found out about his family. They'd only started becoming friends then, but once Mercedes had discovered how truly sweet and funny and real he was, it hadn't taken long for her to start feeling something other than friendship towards him.
Walking with him like this, arm-in-arm, barefoot down an empty road, she had to remind herself over and over that this kind of stuff just didn't happen to her. She didn't get a happily ever after this perfect, not in high school. The logical part of her brain knew that.
A traitorous, romantic part of her brain brought her thoughts to Blaine- a real life prince Charming, flawed and imperfect in so many ways, yet so perfect for Kurt- dropped straight from the heavens into the lap of her boo when he'd needed him the most. Kurt had gotten his unexpected but beautiful happily-ever-after with a wonderful boy who was head-over-heels in love with him and looked at Kurt as if he couldn't believe how lucky he was.
Who said Mercedes couldn't have the same?
They reached Mercedes' house far too soon for her liking. Sam fell silent as they turned to walk up the driveway. Mercedes stopped at the front door to slip her shoes back on, then looked back to Sam, feeling uncharacteristically shy.
He looked like he might be feeling shy, too. He tucked his hands into his pockets, then seemed to think better of it and reached out to take one of her hands in his, lifting it up to his mouth to press a gentle kiss to the back of it. He felt his skin burn where his mouth had touched.
"I had a really good time tonight, Mercedes," he said softly, letting his lips brush lightly over her knuckles before releasing her hand again. "Thank you for making my Prom better than I ever thought it would be."
"Thank you," she returned, sincerely.
"I'll call you tomorrow," he promised, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear. Was that something friends did? She wasn't sure. "When does church end for you?"
"Eleven," she said, her voice nearly a whisper.
There was that crooked smile again, making her heart pound wildly and her hands sweat and a warmth break out across her cheeks and down her neck.
"Eleven," he repeated, his voice low and soft. "I'll call you. Goodnight, Mercedes."
"Goodnight," she whispered.
And then he took her by surprise for the millionth time that night- he ducked in and kissed her cheek quickly, his lips lingering for only a moment before he pulled back, shooting her another charmingly crooked smile before sliding his hands into his pockets and turning away to walk down the driveway, whistling the theme to Harry Potter.
Her hands were shaking, her cheek hot where his lips had been. She could've sworn she could still feel the touch of them on her skin. Her brain dragged back the expression that had been on his face when he'd leaned in- hopefulness, anxiety, fondness, happiness. Peace.
Her hand fluttered up of its own accord to press against her cheek.
Maybe she did have a chance, after all.