DISCLAIMER: I do not own Glee. All credit goes to the writers of that TV show. I'm just playing in their sandbox.

April 2, 2011 (Saturday)

The Motel Six

Lima, Ohio


Sam's hand stroked the polished oak of his guitar. His head bowed and his left hand grasped the neck of his instrument. The strings made soft sounds as he played them gently. He felt like his life was over.

He'd known this was coming. He'd known it would happen eighty-nine days ago when everything truly went to shit. But now that the moment was literally looming on the horizon, Sam found that he could barely swallow the panic.

His guitar, his baby, had been his prized possession since he was eight years old. Nine years with this same guitar and it still looked quite new. Sam made sure to take good care of it. He polished the body every week. He tuned it every morning before school. He changed the strings as soon as they were worn, and it always went into its case at the end of the day.

This guitar had been with him for nine years. Nine. Sam could hardly believe it, really. Learning to play this instrument had led to numerous nights of frustration, many bleeding fingers, and calluses. In a way, his guitar was a pseudo-best friend. Something that had replaced the overwhelming loneliness that came with being the shy boy from Tennessee.

It had been there when his grandfather died and he'd stayed up all night trying to figure out how to play difficult chords. Sometimes, when faced with his intermittent insomnia, it was the only thing that got him through the night.

It had been there when he'd gotten his first crush and when the sharp sting of rejection hit him after a dismal attempt at asking her out. He'd had the guitar when he'd gotten his first kiss. And he played a song—the first one he ever wrote—to his first official girlfriend. Ironically, the song was how he'd asked her out and subsequently the guitar helped him through his first breakup.

This guitar had been with him through it all. The discovery of his extreme love of all things sci-fi—Star Trek, Star Wars, Call of Duty, Spiderman comic books, and finding the author Orson Scott Card. It had been there when his parents first told him what was going on.

His mom lost her job first. He'd watched the toll that took on her—even more so when she couldn't find another. Overqualified, they'd said. It was a huge blow to his mom's ego, and her belief in higher education. They struggled, but they got by.

Two months later, his dad lost his job, because of a company downsize due to the recession. And Sam watched the panic and the fights that came solely out of them being stressed. Sam had played his guitar more frequently than ever. And his parents searched. Overqualified. Overqualified. Again and again, over-fucking-qualified.

They tapped into their savings, but slowly they couldn't afford anything without emptying everything. Stevie and Stacey's college fund went first. And before long, they gave up. They hadn't paid the mortgage in five months, and they received the eviction notice right before New Years.

That night, his mother had thrown the fancy leather book that held her doctoral certificate, against the wall. The book cracked and so did Sam. He got a job working as a pizza delivery boy, but on the third of January, they'd been evicted.

Sam had never been so humiliated and depressed in his life. He played until his fingers bled and then some.

For eighty-nine days, they'd been staying in a one-bedroom suite at the Motel 6. His parents had sold everything they possibly could to pay for it all—food and rent. They had barely enough to keep them going. And by day forty-two, Sam's income from the pizzeria went towards food, and then paying for the hotel, and gas money for his parents to continue their search for work.

By day seventy, it wasn't enough, and his mom had pawned her wedding ring. Sam pretended that he hadn't heard her tears that night. The next morning, his dad left without eating breakfast. He didn't return for three days, and when he did, his wedding ring was gone as well. They'd only sold for about 350 a piece, but it would last them four weeks of motel rent, with Sam's money paying for food.

He couldn't watch them go through that again. He could hardly stand it before, but his parents looked as though their joy was completely gone. Sam did as much as he could. He watched, cared for and fed Stevie and Stacey, his seven-year old brother and sister—they were fraternal twins. He made his parents dinner and kept the place clean in between school, Glee club rehearsals, football practice and work.

His stress showed. He was exhausted all the time, and quieter. He played aggressively on the field, just to get some of his fury and worry out—so he wouldn't mistakenly take it out on his siblings. He sat by himself in class and Glee club, and he didn't linger around to chat with people anymore. He did his homework in the breaks he had between class, rehearsal, and babysitting. It still wasn't enough.

But now, Sam was going to make the sacrifice. Watching his parents suffering in silence was no longer an option for him. So Sam was going to give up the one thing that gave him joy—his guitar. He would sell his guitar. In the morning.

Nine years of constant companionship and friendship would come to an end in less than eight hours. Call him a baby, but he could feel the tears pricking at the back of his eyes. He felt so hopeless already, but he'd never felt alone—not with his guitar, but that would be gone soon.

He knew he had friends, but none of them had even picked up on his situation. And he was glad of it. Kurt and Quinn were the only two that had any idea about this whole dilemma. Kurt because Sam had to deliver a pizza to his private school one day, and the brunette had called him out on his bullshit.

Quinn was in the know because they'd been dating when his parents had lost their jobs. It didn't help that they went to the same church. If it had been his choice, no one would've known. But after all this, he was grateful to them for their help. They helped babysit—though Stacey wasn't as fond of Quinn as she'd hoped for, but the girl adored Kurt. And Kurt gave him clothes to wear—the plainest items he owned, plus some that he stole from Finn.

Kurt had laughed at the face Sam had made when he'd pulled a pair of glittery riding pants from the box. It made Sam quirk a smile when he realized that Kurt had been playing. Sam shook those thoughts away, and glanced at the cheap watch on his wrist. He was taken aback to see that it was almost three in the morning, but at this point, he couldn't really bring himself to care.

He clutched his guitar to his chest and stood up from the wooden porch in front of their motel room. Sam glanced over his guitar once more and took in the intricate swirls and prints carved into the polished oak. He had to blink away tears, but he couldn't stop a few that were persistent. They rolled down his cheeks without permission and he quickly wiped them off. Sam forced himself to ignore the burning behind his eyes or the sniffling of his nose. He cleared his throat and picked up his instrument.

He would do this for his family. Stevie, and Stacey, and his parents—they meant more to him than an old guitar. Feeding them, keeping them clothed, and a roof over their heads—that was worth the sacrifice he was making.

Unfortunately, that didn't stop it from hurting.