You guys...

I'm just going to take a moment to appereciate all of you, and all your wondnerfulness- you put up with me and read all of my scribbles, and like it (for reasons unknown). So thank you. You all have a special place in my heart!

(Also I forgot a disclaimer in the last chapter...but I think we all know, by now, that I don't own Glee, or 'You in a song', by Jason Reeves).


The Road Unknown.

Chapter four: New York.

Sam waded through a sea of people, a hand clasped in one of Puck and Quinn's respectively as they fought their way to the rest of their group.

They burst out into a corridor, in which the crowd was scarce and scattered.

Puck quickly disengaged their hands, and ran a hand through his mohawk. Quinn snorted and stalked over to Artie's side, smiling down at the bespectacled boy, a short laugh escaping her lips at something he said in greeting.

It was an odd sort of friendship, but it had been blossoming quickly and easily for a few weeks now, and Quinn seemed a lot happier now that she wasn't basing her life around another person- Sam felt that Quinn was a little dense when it came to relationships, and she'd be better off alone until she worked all of her own crap out.

Sam grinned at Mercedes, who was chilling with Tina (who had sprawled out along a row of chairs, and had her head resting in Mercedes' lap), and rolled his eyes at Mike who was staring at his girlfriend sappily, a wide grin on his face, his eyes glassed over and far away.

When everyone had congregated, Glee club members along with relatives who had come to say their goodbyes, Mr. Schue called a passport check.

Sam's mum shuffled over to him, fussing with his hair and straightening his shirt.

"Mum," He whinged. "Stop it." He batted her hands away, a dark flush spreading quickly across his face, as he ran a hand through his hair.

She sniffed at him in a manner that would seem, to others, signified and haughty; but Sam knew his mum and he knew that she was trying to hold back tears. He sighed, a little exasperated, but mostly fondly, and pulled her into a tight hug.

"I'm only going to be gone for a few days, mum." He assured her, holding her close, and secretly revelling in the smell of her perfume and the comfort of his mother's hug.

"I know," She mumbled into his shoulder, "But you're growing up so fast, and going off to New York." On the last word her voice rose shrilly, and broke.

"Ma, I'm coming straight home, and I'll call you, if you want." She nodded, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, and pulling away from his embrace.

She grabbed his hand and something scrunched and paper thing was pressed into his palm. "Mum?" He asked, eyes widening as she removed her hand to reveal a thin wad of money, perhaps fifty or sixty dollars.

"For you baby, your father and I are so proud of you- take it and use it well." She directed an none-too-subtle glance at Mercedes, who smiled beatifically, happily oblivious.

"Mum, we can't afford this. I won't take it." He hissed quietly, attempting to stuff it back into her clenched hands.

She just smiled at him, and pecked his cheek. "Keep it- I have to go meet your dad. Be safe, Sammy." Then she was gone, leaving a gaping Sam in her wake.

"Trouty Mouth?" Santana practically purred at his side, "You okay?" She had her hip cocked, hand settled on it, her eyebrow raised, her smile mocking, but her eyes were genuinely worried.

"Yeah, San, I'm okay." He said, quietly.

"Good," She dropped her stance and nudged him, her smile widening and her eyes glittering with sudden excitement. "Now, cheer up, we're going to New York!"

Brittany grinned over at them, and Santana winked at the blonde, who waved in response.

"Go on," Sam said, sighing wearily. Santana looked questioningly up at him."Go talk with her, I'll amuse myself until Mr. Schue gets his stuff together." Santana huffed playfully but walked away, her sights set primarily on one Brittany S. Pierce.

Sam wandered over to the seating area and sank into a cushioned chair, leaning back his head cradled in his interlaced fingers.

Mike had moved away to talk to Puck and Finn, the latter of whom was studiously ignoring Rachel; the brunette huffed at his apparent lack of interest in her, before stalking over to Mercedes and Tina, who shared a look at the divas' long strides and the angry set of her mouth.

Sam shot Tina a wicked grin, shrugging in a 'what can you do?' sort of way at the two seemingly distressed girls.

Mercedes glared at him, but turned to listen to what Sam was certain would be a Rachel Berry rant of epic proportions.

He scanned the rest of the group and noticed that Kurt was missing. Sam stood and made his way over to Finn, confronting the taller boy about his brother's absence.

"He went over that way," Finn gestured vaguely to the left, "To say bye to the parents...and Blaine." At the latter's name Puck scoffed and rolled his eyes and Mike grinned.

Sam wasn't really sure what that was about, and he didn't question it further, instead he lost himself in a conversation until it was time to board.

They scrambled for the winding tunnel to the plane, everyone chattering excitedly over everyone else. Santana squealed discreetly, and half hugged her best friend; Quinn and Rachel had formed a truce in light of New York, the latter rolling Artie along, and the former in Artie's lap; Kurt, Mercedes and Finn were all laughing brightly and loudly, Mercedes smile sparking Sam's own, and her laugh sending chills up his spine.

Mike and Tina walked along beside Sam, so tangled together that Sam couldn't tell one from the other, the latter of the two whispering into his girlfriend's ear, and kissing her cheek.

She leaned further into Mike, but untangled one of her arms from him and poked Sam's side. "You exited Sam?" Tina asked, eyes bright with joy.

Sam's answering grin was enough, and he was pulled into a 'Sam-sandwich' in which his breath was taken away. Sam half laughed, half groaned, and hugged them both back, his enthusiasm overflowing as he realised that this was actually happening.

Their three-people-person attempted to squeeze onto the plane, and the attendant admonished them, and they untangled; still giddy, and regretting nothing as they filed on board, searching for the rest of the New Directions.

They caught up to them, finding the majority of their team mates had taken their seats- assigned by Mr. Schue. They were shuffled into the last row, and Mr. Schue slipped into a separate row where two other travellers were already seated and talking animatedly.

It seemed to take forever for the plane to take off, but when it did everyone was settled in comfortably, and were chatting among themselves.

Sam didn't feel like joining in- getting up early wasn't his cup of tea, as he wasn't a morning person; instead he stared out the window at the amazing view the plane offered. No matter where they were it took his breath away.

They sat, eating with favoured enthusiasm, the plane food considered to horrible to digest.

They contemplated actually starting into their song writing (It would be about time, Sam thought, seeing as the competition was only a few days away), but Kurt calmed them down before busting into 'New York'.

Sam couldn't help but join in, still pretty much in awe of all things New York; the billboards (he may or may not have stared at Daniel Radcliffe's looming poster for a few minutes, in awe of one of his favourite actors); Times Square- they'd taken a detour past the Statue of liberty in their taxis and he'd stolen Mercedes' camera to snap some pictures.

"Guys," Rachel interrupted, looking awfully proud of herself, her hands clasped behind her back. "I have news. To celebrate our impending win at Nationals I got us all thirteen tickets to Broadways' longest running show, ever...Cats."

"Whoo!" Brittany exclaimed, throwing her hands up in the air.

Sam wasn't really one for Broadway (although Rachel and Mercedes had rocked 'Take me or leave me'), but the thought of it was exciting- an actual live Broadway show.

Quinn brought them all down, though. "You might want to check the dates on those tickets Rachel, because Cats closed about eleven years ago."

Grins slid from everyone's faces, and Sam felt a small surge of disappointment (along with the niggling feeling that Rachel should have known that, because wasn't Broadway her thing?).

"He did seem crazy," Rachel admitted, and continued, looking slightly disgusted. "He charged my credit card by swiping it through his butt crack."

Sam groaned, trying to remove the mental image of some old creeper, swiping Rachel's card through his butt crack.

Sam rolled his suitcase (why the hell had he bothered with a suitcase? They were only going to be here for a few days) through their hotel lobby, watching everyone split up to meander around- Mercedes, Quinn and Tina following an overexcited Kurt to a small lounge with comfortable looking leather chairs, discussing something that made Mercedes hoist her chin high, a small, superior smirk lighting her face.

It kind of suited her.

Sam stood by an elevator, waiting for Mr Schue to tell him what level they were on.

The man in question jogged over to Sam, running a hand through his gelled back curls. "Where's everyone else?" He questioned the younger man.

"Dunno." Sam shrugged, stuffing his free hand into his jeans pocket. "They all split up- some of 'em are in the lounge, I saw Puck drag Lauren off somewhere."

Mr Schue sighed. "I don't want to know what those two are getting up to. Listen I'm gonna round them up, we're on floor ten- rooms 913 and 914. Boys are in the latter." And the older man handed over a key card. "Head on up." Sam nodded, pressing the elevator button.

Mr Schue hurried off just as Mike came around the corner, pushing Artie, who was jabbering excitedly.

"Guys." Sam jerked his head in greeting, and the elevator pinged. He gestured for them to go first and Sam slid in between Artie and one wall.

"You've been pretty quiet since we got here, bro," Artie said, staring up at him, his blue eyes large as he scrutinised Sam. "What's up?"

"Nothing..." Both other boys rose an eyebrow at that. "It's just...I'm here...and my parents, my siblings- they're sitting at home struggling, you know? It's not fair."

"Sam," Mike said, completely serious. "You need to calm down- they wouldn't have let you come if they weren't okay with it- it'll be fine- it's not up to you to worry about them, you're still young, and they wouldn't want you screwing up a trip to New York for their sakes. Just enjoy it for now."

Sam smiled, a little weakly, and nodded his consent.

"We are in New York, huh?" He said, wonder lacing his tone, the reality of his situation hitting him. "Dude, we're in New York!"

Artie raised a fist and Sam touched it with his own, both the blonde and the bespectacled boy holding out their respective fists to Mike, who bumped them both back, grins spreading across their faces and they strolled (well, wheeled, in Artie's case) into a narrow hallway.

"This is us." Mike said, jerking Artie's chair to a stop, and point to the room to his immediate left. Sam slid the card into its' slot, and pushing the door open. They deposited their bags, and Sam flopped onto one of the beds.

"Dude, this thing is like, heaven." Sam mumbled, his words muffled by the white quilt.

Mike jumped up beside him and Artie leaned forwards, and lay his head beside Sam's elbow.

"I concur." Artie murmured. "I call one of these things."

A few minutes, which were spent in comfortable silence, passed and the door was flung open, chatter boys filing in and disrupting the piece.

Puck 'fell' over Sam and Mike, crossing his legs and cushioning his head with his arms.

Sam grunted, and rolled out from under him.

Finn claimed the other bed, and Puck called the left side.

Mr Schue poked his head in, "Guys, into the girls' room, we've got some songs to write." They let out a collective whoop, and charged across the hall.

Sam threw himself across the bed at the far side of the girls' room, and Lauren punched his shoulder in greeting, giving the same welcome to Mike when he settled in beside her, the boy grabbed a cushion and curled an arm around it, shooting looks at Tina every so often.

Sam would have laughed at him, maybe pulled a joke about how whipped Mike was, but it was kind of cute how in love Tike were; they were obviously doing something right, because they'd lasted longer than any other couple in Glee.

Quinn stood from her position on the floor and sat crisscross-applesauce on the bed in front of him, while everyone else scattered out.

Sam shot a glance at Mercedes, who was lying down, her face propped up on her hand, on the opposite bed, giving their director her full attention- taking the notebook and pencil he handed her, and rolling said pencil between her fingertips.

Once everyone was equipped with proper writing materials (including their rhyming dictionaries), Mr Schue eyes kept shifting towards the door, looking nervous, and if Sam wasn't mistaken, a little guilty.

Kurt, who had been ignoring everyone in the room up until that point, lowered the menu he'd been studying, a grin spread across his face. "Do you know that I can get an ahi tartare and a steak sandwich at three in the morning from their all night dining menu? I feel like Eloise." He added, giddily.

"I have pills for that." Brittany told him.

"All right guys, this is your time." Mr Schue told them, gravitating to the door. "Now, you are all on lockdown until you finish writing our songs for Nationals. I want at least two solid verses by the time I get back."

"Aren't you going to help us?" Tina asked, sounding as confused as Sam felt.

"I, um...I will be back and read your amazing creations and give notes, but right now I have to head to the theatre to, uh, fill out some paper work." He raised his hands in a 'what can you do?' sort of motion and smiled tightly at them, before scurrying off.

Sam doodled on his notebook absentmindedly until the door snicked shut, and then sighed.

"I don't believe a word he just said." Sam admitted quietly.

"Me neither." Finn agreed.

"That," Rachel said, stuffily, "Doesn't matter right now. Chop, chop everyone- get writing."

Quinn groaned, and Sam couldn't help but internally agree with her assessment.

Over the next few hours people moved about, milling and discussing song ideas. Brittany and Artie were suddenly curled up in a corner of the room, laughing quietly, and grinning mischievously.

Eventually the two asked everyone for their attention and they gathered on the beds to watch the performance, handing Puck the sheet music to go over.

'My cup' was ridiculous- like 'Trouty mouth' ridiculous, but it gave Sam a good laugh; Brittany and Artie were having fun (well, Artie just seemed glad that Brittany was speaking to him again).

Brittany knelt in front of Mercedes, singing right at her, and she shot Sam a confused look. Sam just smiled crookedly at her; he could feel the mattress they were on shaking with Santana's muted laughter.

"Hold on," Tina protested, "Are you singing about a cup?"

"Yeah, totally." Brittany replied, one hand on a handle of Artie's wheelchair, smiling at them all, like a puppy awaiting approval from its owner.

Quinn stood, grabbing her bright orange coat.

"We gotta get out of here." Quinn announced.

"Wait, no, no, no," Rachel argued, "Mr Schue gave us explicit instructions."

"To write a song." Quinn countered, shouldering her coat on. "And our problem is that our only inspiration are mattresses and bathroom cups."

"Quinn's right." Puck said, pulling his guitar over his shoulders, and cupping the base of its neck carefully. "We're in the artists' capital of the world; poets, musicians, actors, playwrights. Every dreamer that's ever lived has passed through this city. If we want our dreams to come true we need to be out there with them, not stuck in here."

"Guys, I don't think this is a good idea." Finn argued, pushing up from his seat. "I mean, we've still got those songs to write, if we don't write 'em we're gonna lose."

Lauren piped up, "No, they're right." Her voice was filled with conviction, and passion for the city, "Can't you hear the city calling to you?"

"We don't need to write songs for Nationals," Quinn told Finn, "New York's going to write them for us."

Finn grinned down at the snow globe in his hand, like it the miniature New York held the key to all his dreams. He nodded at them, and everyone jumped to action. Sam toed on his shoes, and handed Mercedes her purple jacket, smiling as their fingertips brushed when she took it from him.

Sam hoped New York was ready for the New Directions.

It was like one whirlwind tour- they were everywhere- Times Square, at the top of the Statue of Liberty, the bottom of the Empire State building, through the parks; there were horse drawn carriages dragging behind taxies upon taxies; they ran around a subway, before actually getting on one- which prompted Kurt to grin and burst out into some song from RENT (in his lower register, no less); it had Rachel laughing, and attempting to join in.

They got a few weird looks for that one, but then again a few passengers joined in, dancing around with the two teens.

Sam wasn't surprised when they burst into 'I love New York/ New York New York', because it was bound to happen at some point, they ran down lanes, the sun filtering through trees, a police man on a horse smiling at them.

They all sat down on a long row of green, park benches, Sam slipping in between Quinn and Mercedes, leaning back, and stretching his hands along the finely polished wood- maybe briefly wondering if Mercedes would mind him wrapping an arm around her shoulders, or waist- not singing quite as loudly as some of the others, instead just revelling in New York and all her glory.

They all jumped up like a wave, and Sam grabbed Mercedes hand without thinking, tugging her past a few street stalls. He grabbed a bouquet of flowers, from a stall that was handing them out, and presented them to her with a flourish, grinning widely at her as she belted out a long 'New York...'

She ended up splitting them with Kurt, who winked at her, maybe thinking that Sam wasn't paying attention.

They ended up on top of the rim of a water fountain, somewhere that Sam couldn't identify, because there was just so much to take in.

He tugged his shirt away from his body, feeling the sweat rolling down his chest and gathering under his armpits, shooting a quick smile at his family.

Lunch had been take out, delivered by Mr Schue- who wasn't happy to see that they only had the beginning of one song- not even a full verse, but it was something at least.

They were allowed out anyway, to grab some junk food to pig out on, while they got writing.

Sam flicked through his rhyming dictionary, stuffing Cheetos into his mouth, and trying to find something to follow up 'tell me why we gotta stop', but coming to a dead end.

"You guys got anything?" He asked through a mouthful of crisps.

"Nah." Puck said, slumping into the sofa he'd taken over.

Finn turned away from the TV (which wasn't even switched on). "Hey, can I try something out on you guys?" He asked. "I think that one of our songs should be a duet with me and Rachel."

Mike finished folding a paper airplane, "I just wanna win." He admitted. "We all know that you two doing a duet is our best shot at that." He concluded chucking the plane at Finn, who was smiling.


"Okay," Puck said, throwing an arm over his stomach, "Can we just talk about the Jewish elephant in the room? Ask her out dude." The mohawked boy encouraged, with a casual shrug.

"Who Rachel?" No, Evanna Lynch, Sam thought, "But she's totally into Jesse right now." Sam dropped his dictionary and just stared at the giant, stuffing some more Cheetos into his mouth, because he'd forgotten how good those things were.

"You're in New York, the city of love." Puck reassured.

Sam raised an eyebrow, and said through the cheesy goodness in his mouth, "I thought that was Paris."

"Anything's possible here, you need to ask her out, tonight." Puck commanded, "Take her on one of those big, awful dates you see in those unwatchable romantic comedies that you grow a vagina if you watch all the way through."

Sam concurred.

"This is your shot dude," Sam said, "If I was in love with a girl, and I wasn't homeless, I would totally go for it." He assured, thinking of Mercedes (and wondering, oh, okay, whoa, when did he start thinking about her and love in the same context?).

Finn's date had been a disaster; Rachel left a dumbstruck Finn behind, heading back to the hotel by herself.

They walked back in relative silence, and when the others headed for the elevator Sam waved them off and told them he'd be up soon.

He wandered over to the lounge he'd seen, knowing he'd be unable to sleep, he trailed his fingers along the books lining a bookshelf that was perfectly situated between two snug couches. He glanced half-heartedly at some of the titles until he found one he wanted.

He grabbed the copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban that was squished awkwardly onto the single bookshelf. Said bookshelf sat in between two coffee tables, and he turned away from it and took a seat by the window, looking out into trees bending towards each other, creating a heart shaped archway.

Getting comfortable he cracked the well worn book open, immersing himself into the world he'd come to love.

Continuous reading of the books had gotten him used to the wording and how it flowed, but he still had difficulties with it when he came across certain words, or phrases, and on a very rare occasion he'd stumble over pronunciation of spells or places.

He was about halfway through chapter three his eyes getting heavier and his gaze wavering when a warm, familiar hand landed softly on his shoulder.

"Sam?" Mercedes questioned quietly.

Sam blinked sleepily up at her, rubbing absentmindedly at one of his eyes. "Yeah?" He asked, lazily.

Mercedes sighed., wrapping a hand around his upper arm. "Come on, let's get you to bed." She said, tugging his to his feet and half dragged him to the elevator.

Sam stumbled after her, yelping in surprise when she pushed him into the elevator.

"Damn, crazy boy, what were you thinking?" She mumbled, struggling to keep Sam upright. Sam leaned away from her, using the bar that lined the interior of the elevator to keep himself standing.

"Wasn't tired." He protested groggily.

"Uh-huh." Mercedes said dubiously. When his only response was his head drooping into his chest she sighed.

"Put your arm around me," She commanded wearily, and he complied, grateful.

He allowed her to drag his weight to his room, where he gained his senses and jumped away from her, suddenly alert.

She looked a little hurt, but rolled her eyes good-naturedly at him, leaning past him to knock on the door, as she retreated her lips (somehow) brushed his cheek.

"Night, Sammy." She whispered, and then in a whirl of bright pink pyjamas and a ringing click of the door opposite she was gone.

Puck answered the door, blinking rapidly at the sudden brightness and the sight of Sam's overtired and slightly awestruck disposition.

They all congregated in the boys' room at ten or so, finding out that Kurt and Rachel had disappeared somewhere together, and the Unholy Trinity were still getting ready for the day.

"We've got the first half of 'Light up the world'." Finn announced, "Along with the chorus, obviously, we're just not really certain what to do with the ending." Finn announced.

Tina snatched Sam's notebook from Finn's hand (seeing as Sam and Puck had done most of the work on it, with a little help from Tina and Lauren), and hemmed and hawed at it for a minute.

"I think we should end on the chorus." Tina said, finally.

Mike nodded, kissing his girlfriend's cheek, and whispering something that Sam was sure he didn't need to know.

"Okay," Finn conceded, "But what about vocals, who's gonna sing what? I mean, guys, this could take a while, and we need Kurt and Rachel."

"Yeah, well, Hobbit and Porcelain have abandoned ship for now, so let's see what the rest of us can do, m'kay, Frankenteen?" Santana snarked, strolling in like she owned the place and slamming the door behind her, settling down beside Brittany and Quinn, who looked minutely happier than the last time Sam had seen her- she'd been fuming when he woke the girls up a few hours ago, bleary eyed himself.

"I think Brittany and Artie should sing this." Mercedes said, quietly, and everyone just kind of stared at her. She glared at them defensively, "I wanna sing as much as everybody, but they rocked 'My cup' together, you can't deny it, it would sound amazing."

Sam smiled a secret little smile, "I agree, we can do a test run to see how it goes." Sam directed his last comment at Finn who seemed ready to fight for his (and Rachel's) right to solo in this too.

"I don't think so," Santana interrupted, "Britt and I sound just as good together- I refuse to sit back and harmonise."

"Okay," Finn sighed, not willing to fight with her."Then tell us, what do you think should go down?"

Santana smirked, and laid down the law- and Sam thought to himself, it sounded kind of perfect for them.

When Rachel and Kurt got back they'd basically gotten the entirety of 'Light up the world' laid out- Santana would take the beginning, with Artie and Brittany taking the first half of the chorus, with the group joining in for the rest of the chorus.

Finn claimed the first half of the second verse with Tina and Artie taking the rest.

They ran it through a couple of times to make sure it worked, and decided that they deserved a break, passing the countertenor and their lead singer on the way out.

"Where are you going?" Rachel demanded, and Kurt just rolled his slightly puffy, red rimmed, eyes.

"Out," Puck said, shrugging and wrapping an arm around Lauren. "We've finished one song while you two were out doing whatever." And they walked off.

"Without us?" Rachel gasped, "Kurt, tell them that's not fair!" She said, stamping her foot.

The countertenor had taken out his iPhone, and was grinning goofily down at it, his eyes a little brighter, and warmer.

"Kurt!" She whined.

"Sorry, Rach, we weren't here. I don't really mind." He said, typing quickly, his iPhone pinging as his message sent.

The tiny brunette huffed, but seemed unable to stay grumpy for long; she latched onto Tina and began rambling off what she'd been up to that morning.

Sam quirked an eyebrow after them, but said nothing.

"You coming with us Kurt?" Sam asked.

"No, I think I'm going to go insideand phone Blaine...I love it here, but I still miss him, you know?" Kurt said, that goofy smile on his face again, his voice breathy and love struck.

Sam glanced over at where Mercedes was singing quietly with Santana, who had linked her pinkie with Brittany's.

Kurt smiled knowingly at Sam. "I know where you live Sam," Kurt threatened, but his eyes were soft as he looked at his best friend. "Take care of her- she deserves everything."

Sam nodded, a blush spreading up his neck, and the countertenor nodded right back, taping his phone and giggling at the message there, waving goodbye cheerily over his shoulder as he skipped through the revolving doors.

They trouped back into the hotel in twos and threes, eventually convening in the lobby- just chatting idly with each other, recounting their afternoons.

It kind of slipped Sam's mind that Kurt wasn't there, and no one else brought it up.

Tina slipped away with a kiss to Mike's cheek and a promise to be right back; no one thought anymore on it until she returned, face white and shocked.

Mike rushed to her side, Quinn following suit. They lead her to the lounge and sat her down, giving her a minute. When her breathing calmed Quinn backed off with a squeeze of her hand, allowing Tina' boyfriend to comfort her, to coax out her troubles.

"I..." Tina started, her voice catching, and her eyes beginning to water.

Sam shared a worried look with Finn, whose brows were pulled together, his large brown eyes confused.

Tears fell from Tina's eyes as she told them of her run in with Dustin Goolsby. "- To start in April's Broadway show." She finished with a sniffle, Mike pulling her into an awkward sort of hug, letting her cling to him.

They all had fallen into a confused stupor. Why hadn't Mr. Schue told them about this? Sam looked around at his friends, his family, and realised that they'd be one member short the following year.*

He kind of wanted a hug too, now. A hand slid into his from the left, and Quinn smiled a watery smile at him. "It'll be okay." She whispered, like she didn't quite believe it herself. She let go of his hand, and he stared at her, even more confused. She nodded her head at Artie, who was sat by himself, looking lost as couples comforted each other.

Sam raised an eyebrow at this- was there something going on there?

As though reading his mind Quinn elbowed his side, and scowled, "He's a really good friend- I'm not going to screw that up. He doesn't want that right now, and I neither do I- we both just need a friend." She admitted softly.

Sam smiled, a little sadly, at her, and indicated for her to go on, falling back himself, and noting that Mercedes had disappeared altogether.

Sam sunk to the floor, hanging his head, and pushing himself close to the armchair behind him, letting a few choked sobs escape, taking a few minutes to calm his sputtering heart, and scattered thoughts.

Someone's phone beeped, and a few seconds later Puck said, "Mr. S went to get some pizzas. He said he'll be back in an hour or so."

No one responded, but Sam saw Finn gather himself up, wipe his eyes and stand form his position beside Rachel, who didn't seem so opposed to his company now.

"So, are we going to do this or not?" Finn asked, quietly, staring them all down.

Tina looked up from Mike's shoulder. "I didn't come all this way for nothing." She stated.

"Hell yeah." Puck agreed, standing behind Artie and staring down at him and Quinn.

Artie raised his hand up, and nodded seriously. Quinn stood, high fiving his hand, and taking control of his wheelchair.

"Let's do this thing." She stated, jerking her head at them all and strutted off, pushing her new best friend along.

Everyone else followed suit.

They had been lounging around, making some changes to the lyrics, and accompanying music for a good half hour now, waiting for Mr Schue to get back from his pizza run.

Everyone was sombre, and no one was really doing anything productive. Sam stared blankly at the notebook in his lap, and wondered how the hell they would manage anything next year without Mr Schue- as biased and sometimes unobservant as he was, he was their director, and they couldn't do this without him encouraging them every step of the way.

He couldn't help but think that they'd be one member short next year.*

Speak of the devil, Sam thought as Mr Schue stumbled in, pizzas piled high in his arms

"All right guys, who up for some real New York" He stumbled over the last word staring at them staring at him, seeming confused and apprehensive.

"We heard." Quinn said, clicking her pen.

"Heard what?" Mr Schue asked, genuinely unsure.

"About you leaving to be on Broadway." Mercedes told him, attempting a sad sort of half smile, that Sam hated seeing on her face.

Mr Schue took a deep breath, and looked away from them, thinking, as he set the pizzas down.

"Look," He said, "I haven't made up my mind about anything."

"We get it," Kurt reassured him, staring at the man who'd guided them for two years now, and hating how much he was going to miss him, "And we're happy for you." Kurt seemed genuine about that, though, if a little upset.

"You've inspired us in so many ways, so, this is just another." Rachel said, smiling tightly.

"I don't understand...who, who told you guys?"

"Goolsby." Tina stated, sadly.

"Are you okay, Mr Schue?" Mike asked.

"I'm not going." He said, "I'm staying with you guys. I had my moment on that stage and it was glorious," At this both Kurt and Rachel shared a knowing smile, "But you and I have some unfinished business to take care of. Now get out your notebooks. Time to get to work. Come on this is Nationals, people!"

Puck stood, pushing his notebook to the side and grabbing Mr Schue in a hug.

"I want in, I want in." Sam declared, smiling a little and standing to wrap his arms around the two men, and they were soon joined by the rest of the New Directions.

The next day Sam was calm as they filed into their seats, and he bopped along to 'Yeah'. "They're good." He whispered to Finn.

"Yeah, but we're better." Finn grinned.

Sam nodded and laughed a little, his view getting momentarily blocked by Mr Schue standing and shuffling into the aisle, and slipping out the back door after Goolsby.

There was a fifteen minute break between that act and Vocal Adrenaline, and they all stretched their legs, and took their bathroom breaks, knowing that they were next.

When they'd all settled back down, Sunshine Corazon took the centre stage, backed up by the rest of the drones, who stood in perfect formation at the sides of the stage. Their moves were perfectly synchronised, and pulled off with no love, or passion for what they were doing- Sunshine was definitely a front woman, and was the only heart in the group.

Sam stood grudgingly when they finished, clapping, his lips in a tight line- the all girls' choir (Whose name he hadn't paid attention to) may not have been competition, but Vocal Adrenaline were.

Butterflies kicked off in his stomach as they stood backstage. Kurt was practically bouncing, and Lauren was getting into her normal pre-competition workout, with Puck watching her with a leer.

"That's my girl." He said, nudging Sam with his elbow and wiggling his eyebrows.

Sam couldn't reply- he felt like he was going to be sick- and he didn't even have a solo line. Quinn was mentally prepping herself, while Brittany, Santana and Artie were quickly running through their parts.

Mercedes took his elbow gently, and stood on her tiptoes to whisper in his ear. "You'll be great out there." Her breath tickled his ear, and, not for the first time, he wanted to just turn around and kiss her.

He gulped, and did turn around, taking her hand and squeezing it gently, lacing their fingers together, the action instantly calming his somersaulting stomach, and making his heart race for a completely different reason.

"You'll be wonderful." He said, and gulped again, wondering if she would mind if he...

Well, okay then. He leaned down and kissed her cheek (and he could feel the heat in them) without consulting his brain at all, but it didn't matter because he could see her pulse pounding in her neck and there was a small hitch in her breathing.

He lingered by her cheek, not wanting to move away, but knowing that the music playing meant that Finn and Rachel had started their duet.

"I'll see you out there." He murmured, and let go of her hand, crossing the backstage area, nearly knocking over some sort of prop, to take his place beside Kurt and Mike waiting to take his place on that stage.

He peeked out, staring at the crowd- the biggest crowd he'd ever perform in front of, most likely.

They filed out together as the song came to a close, their backs to the audience, who as the music stopped, stayed quiet, until a lone clap rang out, prompting the others to start cheering too.

Sam wondered what the hell had happened in order for them to stay so quiet...

But then they were turning on their heels and that now familiar rhythm was starting up on an electric guitar.

The applause this time was overwhelming, and they received a standing ovation.

Sam was sure nothing beat this rush, the pure high that he got from performing, until he found his way across the stage and pulled Mercedes into a tight embrace, feeling her arms tighten around his neck for a short moment.

They met Mr Schue in the lobby and he was on Finn and Rachel like a bullet. "What were you two thinking?" He asked, and they stopped grinning like idiots and were more sheepish.

"What did they do?" Tina asked.

Mr Schue looked at the pair as if to say 'you tell them'.

"We...kissed." Rachel admitted, and said admission made Finn grin, a sparkle in his eyes that Sam remembered seeing there before he split up with Rachel.

Sam had no words for how potentially horrible that could be- it could have cost them a chance at winning.

He didn't need to voice his thoughts though, because the rest of the New Directions were shouting enough for him- especially Santana who was speaking in rapid Spanish, her words causing Mr Schue to flinch.

Sam didn't want to know.

Eventually they'd all calmed down, and spread out; grabbing snacks, and t-shirts, Quinn and Tina chatting excitedly about how they had this in the bag- despite the Finchel incident.

Tina broke off from that conversation when she saw a particularly nice t-shirt that she wanted and went to join Mercedes and Brittany, the latter of which was holding a t-shirt up to her body and commenting on it- though Sam couldn't hear what she said.

The blonde flounced off, leaving Mercedes and Tina gigging, and Sam rolled his eyes at Quinn, who was trying to hide a smile.

Finn and Rachel, who were busy being confronted by Jesse, turned when a commotion started in the next corridor over. "What...what's happening?" Rachel asked, and Sam crowded behind her, his team mates by his side.

Kurt bounced over, exclaiming that the top ten had been posted, his hands flailing in excitement.

"Okay, okay, what should we do?" Rachel asked, anxiously

Mr Schue put a calming hand on Kurt's back, but it didn't stop him from jumping on the balls of his feet, his hands in a makeshift gun and pressed to his grinning lips.

"Let's go look at it, together, come on...come on." Mr Schue said, leading them.

It seemed like time slowed down when Mr Schue stepped up to look, Finn asking worriedly about their placement.

"Say it, what'd we rank?"

"We...didn't." Mr Schue said, apologising for them not being in the top ten.

Sam's heart dropped, and he felt his eyes prick, his nose tingling- he never expected losing to hurt so much.

The ride back to the hotel had been quiet, but there was a tension brewing, emanating from Santana's direction. Sam didn't want to be around when that volcano erupted; he knew from personal experience what Santana's temper could be like, and he wouldn't wish it on his worst enemy.

They filed into the boy's room, a few members sinking onto beds. Rachel buried her face in her hands.

Mr Schue had just shut the door, looking tired and worn, when Santana lost it.

The brunette span to face Rachel, her hair flying around her like a whirlwind, her eyes blazing. "I blame you man hands." Santana told her, her voice carefully controlled, her lips in a tight line.

Rachel opened her mouth to protest, perhaps to argue her innocence, but Santana saw the words forming, and snapped.

She launched herself at the smaller girl, shrieking in rapid Spanish. Sam reached for her, grabbing her wrist and dragging her backwards, out of arms' reach of Rachel.

"A little help here, guys." Sam gasped, the struggling brunette in his arms raking her nails down his arms harshly in an attempt to get him to let her go.

Mike rushed to his aid, taking one of Santana's wrists in his grasp, twisting it backwards, and Quinn took the taller girl's waist, locking her in an embrace.

Eventually Mr Schue interceded, ordering the spitting Latina into the opposite room, telling her to stay there and calm down. She went, but not without a fuss, and a lot of glaring at one Rachel Berry.

Brittany followed them, saying something quietly to Mr. Schue, before slipping inside the other room.

Mr. Schue told them to hang tight, and just hang out for now.

"I don't think many of us will be getting much sleep tonight, anyway." He said, rubbing his eyes, and leaving them to themselves.

Finn was comforting a crying Rachel, and Puck and Lauren were curled up together on one of the beds. Everyone else milled about, just talking to each other.

Tina, Mike and Mercedes were in a close knit triangle, talking. Mercedes had an arm around Tina, and Mike held both girls' hands tightly in his own.

Sam's eyes locked with Mercedes' for a brief second before he slipped out of the room, back down to the lounge, not noticing Mercedes excusing herself from her friend and following.

He sat down, propping open Harry Potter to where he left off- chapter 3- and trying to let the words sink in. He'd been reading the same paragraph for roughly ten minutes and nothing was sticking. He sighed and shut it, setting it on a nearby coffee table.

Sam finally noticed Mercedes, who was curled up in the chair opposite him, her dress falling over her ankles, which were now sock free, looking out at the park- the late night walkers, the stray dog that was sprawled out under a tree.

She sniffled.

"Mercy?" He asked, reaching across to take her hand, but she jerked away. Sam was stung, his heart giving a pathetic little flop as she stubbornly set her jaw and kept her eyes focused on the stars.

Sam crawled over to her, kneeling by her chair, placing a hand tentatively on her knee. She gulped, but didn't move away.

"You wanna tell me what's going on in that head of yours?" He asked, softly.

"I want to be one of those." She said, gesturing vaguely towards the sky. "A star shining brightly. I felt so close tonight, and they had to ruin it...It was my one chance...It's not likely to happen again next year, and I just want to feel special, you know?"

She glanced at him, and her eyes widened as she realised who she was talking to. "Sorry for offloading on you like that, crazy boy. Maybe I'm just as crazy as you."

"You'll never be a star, Mercedes." He told her, and realised only after he'd said it how she could take it. She tried to stand, but he pushed he back into her seat. "No, listen. You'll never be a star because up there, it's filled with them, and down here we have plenty of them too. You''re the moon Mercedes, big and bright and beautiful, even when you're at you smallest you're still outshining every other star there is. You're too special and too unique to be anything less."

And hello there, king of the corny, Sam thought, regretting nothing.

Mercedes giggled, wiping the tears that had fallen from her warm brown eyes. "You're such a dork." Mercedes murmured, almost fondly, and Sam looked down, worried that she might realise he was a bit too dorky...

Her hand carefully cupped his cheek tilting his face up. "I kind of like it." She admitted, voice soft.

Sam smiled up at her, and he could feel the dimple in his cheek pop, and Mercedes' thumb stroked over it, a little too close to his lips to be just friendly, and Sam was so, so tempted to just turn his head, just a little, to kiss her fingertips.

His eyes locked on hers, and her fingers trailed over the shell of his ear, along his hair line, gently, warily, as though he might tell her to stop at any moment.

He didn't want her to stop, ever, at this point, and he moved onto his haunches so that she had easier access, putting his face merely a few inches from hers'.

Mercedes hand stopped, cupping his cheek again.

"Mercedes," He croaked, "If you don't...If I don't move, I might end up kissing you."

Her eyes widened marginally, and her lips fell open.

He saw something flash in her eyes then, and she said, "Then don't move."

Why did she have to say that? Sam asked himself. Knowing that she wouldn't turn him away made it harder not to kiss her, and when she was so close it was difficult to remember why he couldn't do this, and she looked so beautiful...

Sam leaned up, and Mercedes smirked a little, like she knew exactly what she was doing to him, and was going to make him come get what he wanted. They were close enough for him to feel her breath on his lips, and her eyes fluttered closed, and he briefly marvelled at her the length of her eyelashes.

"Hey, Sam! Where are you?" A voice called and Sam groaned, he was so, so close. He pulled away and rushed back into his own chair just as Mike turned the corner. "Hey, guys, Mr. Schue wants everyone back in their rooms."

"Okay." Sam said, "Coming Mercedes?" He asked, not looking at her.

"Yeah, thanks Mike." Was it just Sam, or was there a tinge of sarcasm in her words?

Sam stood, and followed Mike to the elevator, hearing the soft pad of Mercedes feet behind him. They stepped in and Mike hit the correct button.

The ride up was quiet, and on Sam's part, filled with tension. He could feel Mercedes' eyes on him, and he wanted to look right back, but Mike...

Mike walked ahead of them and slipped into the boy's room, where it seemed everyone, including Santana had congregated. Sam let the door close, and turned to Mercedes.

"Can about this?" He asked, anxiously.

Mercedes smiled a small smile at him. "Sure, crazy boy, sure."

"Tomorrow- we're not leaving for the airport until three- have lunch with me?" She nodded, her smile turning shy. She brushed her hand against his as she slotted her card into the keyhole, and they joined their family.

Sneaking away from the group wasn't as difficult as Sam thought it was going to be, and he waited for Mercedes at the very same fountain they'd visited on their first day in New York.

She'd snuck up on him, and had splashed him with water to get his attention. He dipped his own fingers into the fountain and flicked the droplets in her face; causing her to crinkle her nose.

He reached out and wiped the single drop from the end of her nose without thinking about it, and her eyes had fixated on the digit.

He pulled away quickly, and grinned sheepishly at her, rubbing at the dull flush on the back of his neck. Her smile was genuine and big, and she took his free hand in hers. "Do you mind?" She asked, and he just squeezed it in response.

"The cafe is just around the corner- it's not much, but..." He trailed off at her indignant huff and sharp glare. He gulped, "Right." He whispered, more to himself than to her.

He lead her to the cafe and they took a window table, dropping each other's hands as they sat, and grabbing their menus.

Sam studied his fiercely, and only when she cleared her throat did he dare to look up. She was frowning, and her eyes were dull. "I thought we said we were good enough friends for this to not be awkward?" She said, levelling him with her gaze.

"I..." Sam wasn't certain how to reply to that, or exactly what it meant; did she want to remain just friends; was this her way of telling him to back off? "We are." He conceded finally.

"Good." She smiled. "So, shall we do what everyone else is doing and plot Finchel's death?" She joked, and Sam laughed.

"Nah- there's always next year, right?"

They fell into a comfortable conversation after that, and when their order came, Sam insisted on paying.

"Just...while I can, okay?" He pleaded, and Mercedes smiled at him.

"Okay, Sam ."

He paid, and checked the clock behind the counter while he was at it.

He met up with Mercedes outside, and she slipped her hand into his. "We don't need to be back at the hotel for another two hours," He told her, "Walk with me?" She nodded, and they strolled around in silence for a short while.

They passed a few street players on their walk- an accordion player, a mime, and eventually a man in his late twenties with scruff on his face and messy brown hair tuning his guitar. He grinned up at them, crow's feet appearing around his eyes, dimples popping in both cheeks.

"Any requests?" He asked, and Mercedes shrugged up at Sam.

Sam, on the other hand, pulled away and leant down to whisper in his ear. He grinned toothily at him. "Nice choice." He said, and began strumming a familiar tune. Sam grinned at Mercedes and she half shrugged, looking up at him from underneath her eyelashes, doing strange thing to his heart.

He took her hand, and pulled her close, spinning her, and making her giggle.

They danced through the intro, and when the man started singing quietly along, Sam pulled Mercedes close, grateful they were in New York and stranger things than two people dancing on the pavement were happening.

He hummed in her ear, and she swatted his arm lightly.

"I don't know this song." She admitted.

Sam pulled , "Most people when they can't get away/ it makes them more than a little crazy/ but I'm the one that can never stay/ I'll always have you with me/ always have you with me in this song, this song.

"I just wanna write you in a song/ put your smile on paper so you can sing along/ I just wanna bottle the sun/ keep your light a secret I can find/ when you are gone.

"I just wanna write you in a song/ put your smile on paper so you can sing along/ I just wanna bottle the sun/ keep your light a secret I can find

"When you are gone, gone, gone/ when you are gone, gone, gone/ when you are gone, gone, gone, gone

"I just wanna write you in a song/ so, so, so when you are gone, gone/ when you are gone, gone/ when you are gone, gone/ I, I just wanna write you in a song/ gone, gone, gone..."

The guitar faded away, and Mercedes sniffled, "Does that mean you're gonna leave me crazy boy?" She asked, jokingly.

He unhooked his chin from her shoulder and stared into her eyes, searchingly, earnestly.

"Not if I can help it, Mercy." He promised.

She nodded. "We can't tell anyone." She told him.

Sam didn't feel offended; he understood that the New Directions were going through enough drama right now, that they would attempt to drag their fledgling relationship into said drama, and most likely find a way to destroy it before they had a chance.

"I know." He replied, and pressed his face down into her shoulder, swaying them slightly to the new song the guitarist was playing.

She tightened her grip on him, and her breath tickled his cheek as she leaned in to kiss it.

They just stood there for a few more minutes, before mutually deciding that they had to head back.

Just before they entered the hotel Sam pulled Mercedes close to his side, "Meet me in the Lima Bean before school tomorrow?" He asked.

"Sure." She agreed, and he kissed her forehead quickly, and let her hand go, before they went in to grab their luggage.

Filing onto the plane for the trip home took no time at all, yet was oddly silent, and more than a little awkward. Sam took his window seat, Mike and Tina piling in beside him, simultaneously buckling their belts and curling into each other, no words needing to be passed between the two to express their sorrow and regret; instead they took comfort in each other.

Sam smiled sadly over at Kurt, who was in aisle seat in the row opposite. He just rolled his eyes, and cocked his head to his left, where his brother and his again girlfriend were basically hiding from everyone else.

Sam sighed noiselessly, and turned to watch the landscape out the window, glad for the distraction.

Eventually the plane rumbled to life, and Sam's stomach jolted briefly at the sudden movement of the aircraft, but he quickly calmed any nervousness, watching the colours blur, and feeling the slight shift as the plane left the ground.

He was eternally grateful when the intercom told them that it was safe to turn on electrical appliances. He reached for his earphones automatically, stuffing them in his ears and pressing play on his iPod, letting the music sooth him and fill the silence that seemed to permeate the three rows that the New Directions occupied.

He didn't recall falling asleep, but night was falling when he awoke, and a familiar hand was entwined a little awkwardly in his own. He turned in his seat, his legs aching from lack of movement and space, and grinned at Mercedes, who was half asleep, beside a sleeping Santana and Puck.

He squeezed her hand, and let it drop to her side so she could sleep comfortably.

"Thank you." He mouthed, causing a small, sleepy smile to grace her face.

That was good enough for him, and he fell back into his seat, wincing as his knee knocked into Mike, making the dark haired boy stir a little, and mumble something incoherent, before snuggling closer to his girlfriend.

Sam held the door of the Lima Bean open, and gestured for Mercedes to go in. She did so, bowing a little mockingly at him, a sweet grin adorning her face.

As the door shut behind Sam a voice called out "Oh, look who's here!"

They turned to see Kurt and Blaine sitting with their coffee. Sam's heart quickened, and a spike of guilt shot through him, despite Mercedes reassurances that not telling them was the best thing, for now.

"Hey, what're you guys doing here?" Blaine asked, a grin on his face that was too happy to be legal this early in the morning.

"Nothing." Sam replied, rocking on the balls of his feet, "Just, uh, getting a coffee."

"We ran into each other in the parking lot." Mercedes invented, smiling brightly at them, and nodding as if to emphasise her point.

So cute...

"We're on our way to get some sheet music, tomorrow's my audition for the summer show at Six Flags." Blaine said, crossing his fingers.

"Whereas I'm spending my summer composing 'Pip, Pip, Hooray!' the Broadway musical about Pippa Middleton." Kurt informed them, with such a serious look on his face that Sam wasn't really sure if he was joking or not- judging by the look Blaine was giving them, though, he was.

"I- I have no idea who that is, but it sounds totally awesome." Sam said, smiling at the two boys, both of which had a look about them- one Sam couldn't place.

Mercedes laughed, and playfully slapped his upper arm, lingering a little.

"Uh, we'll see you in class." Mercedes said, waving goodbye.

"Bye, guys!" Blaine practically chirped, automatically immersing himself in conversation with Kurt again- as though Sam and Mercedes didn't exist anymore; like they'd never interrupted.

Sam followed Mercedes to the line, and turned to look back at the couple, to make sure they weren't watching.

"Do you think they know?" Mercedes asked, facing him, her eyes worried.

"I don't think anybody knows." Sam reassured her, checking on Kurt and Blaine once more, a smile lighting his face when they were too preoccupied with each other to notice anything else.

They turned back to take their place in line, and Sam slipped his hand into Mercedes', entwining their fingers, and holding on tight.

(He may or may not have had a goofy grin on his face).

Finn and Rachel walked into Glee late- later than Mr Schue- and Quinn ushered them in quickly, grinning.

A high had taken over the entire Glee club, and no one could find it in themselves to be angry at not winning, because they still had next year, and they were all together, and somehow that was enough.

"You guys want to see what 12th place looks like?" Mr Schue asked, hoisting their trophy into the air.

Cheers rippled across the classroom, and Sam knew that next year, would (almost impossibly) be better than last.

That may have had something to do with the wonderful girl sat beside her best friend, the one whose smile lit up a room, and whose laugh was infectious, and rang above everyone else's.

I love them, I love everyone in Glee Club, and I get to spend another year with everyone I love, so...I'm good. (Brittany S. Pierce, Glee Season 2, Episode 22).

* So, when I first wrote this bit, Billionaire came on Shuffle, and I couldn't help but think:'re going to be one member short next year Sammy...But it won't be Mr Schue...And proceeded to sob like crazy.

I'm going to miss Chord so much, and even though Samcedes won't be cannon next year ('big bubba' RIB, really?), it will forever be cannon in my head and heart, and this story will continue despite this...bump (to understate things).

Also... New Cheerios? What...Give the character's you already have storylines *CoughTinaCough*, before you bring on new ones, please.

Still on Tumblr. I'll be posting previews of the next chapter on there. Follow if you wish: http:/ scared-like-me (dot) tumblr (dot) com

Reviews are to me what makeovers are to Kurt. 3

All my love,


P.S. You guise...YOU GUISE...I just realised...After this...It's all me...Everything I write now will have to come from my own brain...This frightens me. O.O