Between the Lines

Sam/ Mercedes.

Disclaimer: Own nothing but my own hair dye to make me more blonde.

She was confident, fierce, fashionable and beautiful. He couldn't help but think he didn't deserve her. He was the nerd, the silly kid hiding behind his bottle dyed hair and his football jersey. He couldn't help but think he'd never stand a chance.

Then last week, when everyone thought he was fooling around with Quinn or Kurt, he had wondered if she was jealous even for a second. He had thought about her, he actually had played the idea of asking her out over in his mind again and again. But who would say yes to him? He was living in a motel. He couldn't afford most things, let alone a tux and prom tickets. He couldn't imagine how bad she had felt for him. How she had wanted to do something for him, to make it alright. Sending prayers and hope his way, wishing that his situation would improve. She even had considered singing a song in glee for him but had decided against it for some reason.

Then with prom approaching, he had been more nervous to talk to her. Scared that his situation affected how people talked to him and looked at him. He had appreciated their gesture to the point of tears, his guitar had always been the one thing to make him feel great. He had wanted to thank each one of them, but more than that, he wanted to have enough courage to talk to Mercedes.

When she had stormed out of glee he had wanted desperately to go after her, watching Rachel as she followed Mercedes out of the club. He wanted to be more than the guy that dated everyone. He wanted really to be with her.

"Hey" He came up to her. Rachel turned to him with shock, staring at him confused.

"Sam?" She asked. "What's up?" she asked.

"Is everything ok, with um-" he smiled weakly, self conscious of his mouth suddenly.

"How are you?" she asked gently. She really did treat him differently since last week.

"Fine" he muttered, hating the tone she used. "How's Mercedes?" he asked.

She blinked back at him, shocked.

"Fine" she muttered.

"Can you um..." he paused, unable to believe he was even asking this. "Help me with something?" he asked.

"Yes! Of course!" she mumbled. "I have two gay dads, so we know how to cook. We could bring your family food! Quiches! Or Pies! Or I could teach your younger siblings how to tap dance or sing!" she bubbled excitedly. He smiled awkwardly in response.

"No, um" he paused, lowering his voice. Not wanting anyone to hear. "Can you help me take Mercedes to the prom?" he asked.

She stared back at him shocked.

"What?" she asked. "Mercedes?" she specified. He shushed her.

"Why don't you just ask her?" Rachel prompted, shutting her locker.

"She's not going to say yes, I don't even have money for a tux-"

"I'll figure something out" she beamed.

"Don't tell her I asked" he grumbled. "After Quinn, and I'm not exactly cool and the recession thing-"

"Sam, don't worry about it" Rachel offered with a smile. She turned to walk away.

"Thanks" she heard him mumble before she headed off to class.

They parked in front of her house, Jesse at the wheel. They had picked up him from the street outside the hotel 10 minutes before. Rachel put her hand on the door, ready to leave and go greet Mercedes when Sam spoke.

"Hey, can I go up alone?" Sam asked from the back seat. Rachel nodded with a small smile. He had acted exactly as they had discussed when they had asked him to the prom together: surprised but willing to take them both to prom. A group budget date they had called it. Rachel had promised to ditch them at the prom and told Sam to at least talk properly to Mercedes. That was before Jesse had arrived. Now it was a proper double date and that terrified Sam.

He run the door bell, adjusting the tux and flattening his hair. Wondering how he looked. He remembered when he had first started liking her. It had been the moment when belted Arethra Franklin on the stage. After that, he couldn't stop looking at her, even when she wasn't on stage. Something about that song, everything about her, hit a chord in him and he couldn't return to before. He couldn't believe she had been in front of him all along and he hadn't seen it. He breathed in deeply, preparing himself for her to open the door.

"Yeah, I'll be back before 11" he heard her holler, trying not to grin at the sound of her voice. That voice that could change pitch easily, that filled his heart until it was about ready to explode. He found comfort in it and he wondered if she knew how talented she really was.

She opened the door and he literally had to mentally stop his jaw from dropping. She looked dazzling in the dress and he wanted to say everything to her, but the sentences wouldn't form themselves.

"Hey" she turned. "Where's Rachel?" she asked, surprised that he was on her door step, alone.

"In the car" he stuttered the words."Um, Jesse showed up" he muttered.

"Jesse?" Mercedes specified with a confused air.

"Yeah" Sam muttered, holding the corsage awkwardly in his hand. He had made it with his sister after all. The plastic dollar store flower tacky on the black ribbon.

"This is for you" he extended.

"Aw, that's sweet" Mercedes lit up for a second, flashing him a smile. "Let's go, I'm starving" she commented and he nodded, a side smile appearing for a second.

He wanted to tell her she looked beautiful but he couldn't make the words come out, he hoped he could before the end of the night. He tied the corsage onto her wrist in the back seat of the car, his eyes darting over her features for a moment with a small smile. She thought he was only doing this because he had to.

Mercedes didn't have a clue. She didn't know Sam saw the things she hated about herself and that he liked them. Didn't think for once that he thought about her and wanted to talk to her more. She didn't know anything at all and when she sat at the table, waiting for the time to pass in prom she was genuinely surprised when he came towards her.

"You look beautiful" he murmured and she smiled, never once thinking that he had practiced telling her those words for weeks.

"Can I have this dance?" he asked. She couldn't sense his timidness. Never fathoming that he had to talk himself into it. That he had to muster confidence just to come up to her. She considered rejecting him for a second. Not wanting the pity dance after the pity date. She smiled instead.

"Yeah" she responded with a smile, placing her hand in his. She couldn't sense his nervousness and just watched him dance to the ridiculously upbeat song, enjoying herself and living her prom dream. The song shifted into a slow dance. She looked up at him with a blush, ready to return to her seat. He shrugged, his mouth opening to say something.

"Every girl needs a slow dance" he muttered and she smiled with a timid nod.

"You don't have to" she muttered. He gulped down the words he longed to say and just took her hand in response.

"Alright" she blushed lightly and he placed his other hand on her waist, swaying with her to the music. Wanting desperately to say the things he felt, wondering if she would ever think him worthy enough of her.

"Mercedes-" he began the sentence. But he didn't know what to say? What would he tell her? That she was gorgeous and had the most beautiful voice? That she made his breath catch when she caught his gaze? That sometimes he didn't think she was even real because she was so perfect? He swallowed the words down and just pulled her closer. Afraid of falling for the wrong girl again but more than that, afraid of getting his heart ripped out on prom night.