Disclaimer: I don't own Glee. If I did, the entire show would be told through Mercedes' point of view.

Please forgive any mistakes.

Special thanks to keeponsmilingg, as always. Without you, not a single word would have ever been published! You encourage and inspire me daily and I love you!

Also, thanks to all of you who always read and review! It means so much!

So, without further ado, here is the final chapter of Under Control!

Mercedes' blaring alarm clock jolted her from her rest the next morning. She'd been entertaining some dreams that she definitely wasn't ready wake up from. Rolling over with an annoyed groan, she tried to rub the sleep from her eyes and motivate herself to sit up. What had she and Sam been thinking? She wouldn't trade the time she spent texting him for anything, but her body was feeling the lack of sleep severely this morning. She strongly doubted her ability to make it out of bed and into the bathroom for her shower.

Added to that, today would be another day facing the McKinley High School rumor mill. She was determined—she wouldn't run away again—but she wasn't looking forward to it today any more than she had yesterday. Having to get up and sit through a day of classes and schoolwork was hard enough without the added pressure of being the whole school's focus.

Her phone buzzed next to her on the bed, indicating a text coming through, and she fumbled around on the bed for it—finding it perched precariously close to the edge. Thanking God that it hadn't taken a fatal spill onto her hardwood floors during the night, she clutched it in her hand and held it over her face, while her tired eyes adjusted to read the words.

Rise and shine, pretty girl. Don't take this the wrong way. I love talking to you anytime, but what the HELL were we thinking last night? I'm never going to make it through this day without coffee. Lima Bean run before school?

And just like that, Mercedes had the motivation she needed to get out of bed. She responded to Sam's text, promising to meet him there. After taking one more moment to stretch languidly and promise her bed an epic reunion that night, she was off to start her morning routine.

By the time she made it downstairs, her shower and activity woke her up some, but she still wasn't looking forward to the actual school part of the day.

As carefree as Mercedes wanted to be this morning, the potential for disaster weighed heavily on her thoughts. At least today she knew exactly what to expect. She could already feel the eyes on her, watching to see if she'd break just one more time.

She resolved not to give them that satisfaction today. She had run off and left Sam in the hall the day before to fight her battle. Those assholes probably thought they won, but she would walk in with her head held high today—and she'd do her best to keep it that way, no matter what happened.

But, just because she'd resolved not to let the students' penchant to be shallow and ignorant bother her didn't mean it wasn't still on her mind.

It definitely was.

She was admittedly nervous—and oh so grateful when Tina showed up on her doorstep just as she was about to leave.

"I've come to escort you to school. I thought you might need a hand to hold," Tina said with a sweet smile. Mercedes pulled her friend in for the fiercest of hugs. Her love for this girl knew no bounds.

Mercedes told her about meeting Sam before school at the Lima Bean. She expected a smile at least, but the thrilled squeal she got was a surprise.

Immediately, Tina was on her phone demanding that Mike pick up Sam and meet them there. It seemed the double dates Tina was forever ranting about would start that morning.

The girls made their way to the Lima Bean together in Tina's car, and Mercedes found she was even more grateful for her friend with every minute they spent together. Had she been alone, she was sure the morning's drive would have been plagued with silence and second guessing. In Tina's company, however, she didn't have a quiet moment to spend with those thoughts.

The ride turned into a goofy karaoke session with the girls belting out song after song from Tina's iPod playlist. Adele, Backstreet Boys, Aaliyah, and Parachute all made appearances as the girls made their way, giggling the entire way through.

They were in the middle of a Kelly Clarkson song when Tina pulled into the Lima Bean's parking lot. She didn't shut off the car as the song went on. She and Mercedes were mid-You Can't Win and having way too much fun to cut the song short before they'd finished singing.

Cars crowded the Lima Bean's parking lot as they usually did at this time in the morning. The residents of Lima rarely started their days without stopping there first. Mike and Sam had already made it. They'd seen Tina's car pull in a couple cars away from Mike's where they'd been waiting.

The girls were completely oblivious to their presence as they continued giggling their way through singing the song—and remained so even as the boys made their way to Tina's car to collect them. Left to their own devices, the girls would sing the forty-five minutes they had to get their coffee and go to school away.

Mercedes was the first to notice them—well, she noticed Sam, as his face was pressed against her window, with his hands as a frame, smirking as he watched her.

She scrunched her nose as she lowered the window.

"Good morning," Mercedes said, smiling sheepishly at him.

Their lips met in a sweet kiss and Mercedes threw her arms around Sam's neck, pulling him in for a warm hug.

"Good morning, pretty girl," Sam whispered against her ear. His breath tickled her skin lightly and she giggled, burying her face in his jacket.

Tina let out a captivated sigh behind them and Mercedes turned to find her friend sporting a bright smile, clutching her hands to her heart as if she was watching a romantic movie.

Mercedes shot her a curious look, before whirling back around, and shooting Sam an amused look. He only chuckled, shaking his head as he opened the door. He sweetly offered his hand to help her out. Mercedes could probably have managed just fine without it, but she accepted it anyway, shooting him an enamored smile in thanks.

The couple didn't wait as Mike and Tina greeted each other. Their public displays of affection were completely unapologetic and, as such, tended to get out of hand.

"They probably won't even notice we're gone until they need to come up for air," Mercedes said with a giggle.

"Maybe not even then," Sam teased.

With their fingers entwined, clutching as tightly to each other as they could, the two of them made their way to the coffee shop.

Neither of them could deny the sense of déjà vu that presented itself. Lima Bean had been their first date—the first time they'd officially decided to admit to and explore this feeling that drew them to each other. It was fitting that their second chance began here as well.

Mercedes looked up at Sam only to find him already staring down at her. The look of contentment on his face warmed her heart. She didn't know if she'd ever get over having him look at her like he'd be happy right where he was for the rest of his life. She knew her gaze reflected that same promise. That should have probably scared her—they were only eighteen after all—but, it didn't.

Being with Sam felt right. She would embrace that and enjoy it one glorious day at a time—if those days just happened to encompass the rest of her life, so be it.

She flashed him another a warm smile as they walked up to the doors of the Lima Bean, and he returned it eagerly, squeezing her hand as he held the door open for her.

As she walked through the entrance of the busy coffee shop, Mercedes' first instinct was to let go of Sam's hand. During their summer together, at Mercedes' request, 'secret' had been the watchword.

Though the place was primarily a Warbler hang out, some New Directions did frequent the establishment and Mercedes hadn't wanted to stir up any drama with them.

Sam had always done so reluctantly, but they'd always let go.

This time, however, Mercedes wouldn't be getting away. The second she started loosening her grip, Sam's tightened, pulling her closer to him. She followed his lead, smiling affectionately at him as he tugged her along to the line.

They waited at the end of the very long line, talking softly about their plans for the day. Sam seemed extra excited about lunch time but he wouldn't say why.

Mercedes tried to eye him suspiciously, but the look fell short when she failed to stifle an enormous yawn.

Sam chuckled at her, letting go of her hand in favor of throwing his arm around her shoulders. Mercedes went willingly, burying her face into his jacket as she yawned again.

"I hope you know this means I'm ignoring every text you send me after 9pm from now on," Mercedes groaned, dryly.

She let her arm settle at his waist and kept her eyes closed. Maybe she could catch a few more minutes of sleep leaning up against Sam in line. It was worth a shot.

"9pm? Who goes to sleep at 9pm?" Sam asked disbelievingly. "Okay, Grandma."

Mercedes huffed out a laugh against him, still not moving. "I can barely keep my eyes open right now and it's all your fault."

She felt Sam laugh before he responded, "I seem to remember you sending me a few texts of your own—and it was well past 9pm."

"Well, it's gonna stop. Grandma needs her sleep," Mercedes informed him. The line must have moved up, because his arm tightened around her, and he nudged her a few steps forward.

Sam went on heckling her about her new self-imposed bedtime, telling her even Stevie and Stacey were more badass—they went to bed at 10.

Mercedes remained unmoved. "They're young," Mercedes said. "And they don't have to deal with McKinley. I need the extra hour."

Sam conceded her point with a laugh, but asked, "What if I gotta talk to you and it's important?"

"Define 'important'." Mercedes said. She'd yet to lift her head from its resting place against him.

"Frustrating homework, declarations of love, passing a new level of Tiny Wings—," Sam said.

Mercedes cut him off abruptly, finally lifting her eyes to his, and pointing as she spoke. "Homework and love declarations, yes, but if you ever interrupt my slumber over a video game, I will not be responsible for my actions." She full on glared at him, nose flaring, to emphasize her point.

Tina and Mike walked over at this point, having finally finished wishing each other a good morning.

"Uh oh," Tina said. "I know that look. Whatever you did, you're gonna get it. And if you didn't do it yet, don't."

Mercedes was trying to be serious, she really was, but Sam just grinned adoringly at her before he leaned over and kissed her nose. She scrunched it as he did, and shot him a puzzled smile when he pulled back.

"I'm sorry. I know you're being serious. You were just making your mad face—and it's the cutest thing I've ever seen," Sam said in a low voice that never failed to give Mercedes butterflies.

"Your nose flares and you were pointing your little finger at me," Sam continued, seeming to melt at the mere thought, because he leaned forward and pecked her lips this time.

"You're crazy," Mercedes said softly as he smiled down at her.

"Crazy about you," Sam answered without hesitation and then he was kissing her again.

Somewhere behind her, Mercedes could hear Tina say, "Aww," and she chuckled against Sam's mouth, before looking back at her friend.

She and Mike wore matching smiles, regarding her and Sam like they were cute baby animals.

"Okay. I'm gonna need you to stop doing that," Mercedes said. Her expression was a cross between exasperation and amusement.

Tina threw up her shoulders in a slight shrug. "It's out of my hands. I can't help myself. I just—you're happy. It makes me happy," Tina rambled before she threw her arms around Mercedes in a strong hug.

Sam moved out of the way, standing next to Mike to give the girls room to hug it out. They both looked on at their girlfriends amusedly.

When Tina's shoulders started shaking, Mercedes thought her friend was laughing and wondered what was funny. When she heard a sniffle, however, she was more than baffled. The girl had been smiling just a few seconds before.

"T, are you crying?" Mercedes asked, looking around to Mike for help. Mike's face was the picture of puzzlement as well.

"Tina?" he said softly, rubbing his hand back and forth across her upper back.

"I'm sorry," Tina said looking up and wiping the tears from her eyes. "I'm fine. I am. You're my best friend and I'm just so overwhelmed with happiness for you."

Mercedes looked bewildered to say the least. Most times she'd defend Tina when Santana called her 'Blubber', but at times like this, she proved just how spot on Santana was.

Mercedes could only giggle as she watched her silly friend try to reign herself in.

Sam was chuckling until Tina turned on him, still crying. His smile faded a little and he watched her warily.

"And for you, after everything," Tina said sweetly, squeezing his hand.

Sam was about to smile in thanks when Tina's look turned serious.

"You better not hurt her!" Tina exclaimed, pointing her finger accusingly at him. Mercedes looked to Sam with wide, alarmed eyes, but the amusement on her face wasn't hidden very deep.

Sam was clearly tickled by the outburst, and tucked his lips in to keep from laughing outright as Tina stood there with her eyes still narrowed, and her finger still pointed at him.

"Okay!" Mercedes exclaimed, grabbing her friend by the shoulders. She shot Sam and Mike a wide-eyed look of disbelief before turning back to the counter. She linked her arm through Tina's, glad that it was finally their turn to order—having something else to focus on would calm her.

She could hear the two boys snickering behind them.

She wasn't at all surprised when Sam and Mike shooed them out of the way to order their drinks. She also wasn't surprised when Sam ignored all of her protests and recited her drink order like he'd been doing it for months, even though the last time they'd stepped foot inside the Lima Bean together had been seven months ago.

She would have kissed him, but she feared Tina would have another breakdown, so she settled for simply beaming at him. He winked at her smile and Mercedes swore she could feel another little piece of her heart expanding with love for him.

Four swanky cups of coffee later, the group headed toward McKinley—Mercedes once again riding with Tina, and Sam with Mike.

The girls took the scenic route back from Lima Bean, Tina's car still serving as a karaoke bar. They guzzled their coffee and sang like they didn't have an earth-shatteringly dull English class to attend in twenty minutes.

Try as he might, Mr. Green just couldn't make them care about medieval literature. The second he started talking about Beowulf, they started tuning out—and surreptitiously perusing their phones for anything to dim the agony.

The commotion at her locker as she and Tina walked over, however, was far from dull. They strolled up just in time to see Coach Beiste and Mike pull a livid Sam off of one of those greasy hockey players that always trolled the halls.

Mercedes' heart skipped a beat as she hurried forward, Tina following close behind. The girls clutched on to each other tightly as they watched the scene unfold before them.

Her boyfriend, who had seemed the picture of calm when she'd left him at the Lima Bean, was now breathing harshly through his mouth, and glaring daggers at the boy Mercedes recognized as Rick 'The Stick' Nelson. Sam's face was tinted an angry shade of red as he struggled against Mike's hold on him.

"What in the Sam Hill is going on over here?" Coach Bieste yelled. She pushed Sam back with one hand while Mike held his arms. She held Rick firmly in place with her other hand.

Mercedes nodded in agreement then looked back to Sam. She wanted to know, too. She tried to get Sam to look at her but he was too busy murdering Rick with his eyes at that moment.

Sam gestured to Mercedes' locker where 'DISGUS' was written followed by a squiggly line. Clearly Rick, who still clutched a marker in his hand, hadn't gotten around to finishing his handiwork. The handwriting looked the same as the words that had been on her locker the day before. It looked like the culprit had been caught red-handed.

Sam explained as much to Coach Bieste, not hiding the fact that he fully intended on beating Rick's ass if she and Mike hadn't stopped him. "No one treats Mercedes that way and gets away with it," Sam finished, echoing her mother's words from the night before. He angrily pushed against Mike's hold as he spoke.

The anger bubbled through Mercedes at an alarming rate, and she glared at Rick. How dare this greasy, mulleted asshole have the audacity to deface her locker? His cowardly ass couldn't even say anything to her face as he stood there now, averting his eyes to the floor.

The things she wanted to say to him, but she was sure Coach Bieste would not appreciate the language. She struggled to come up with the appropriate words.

Sam was simply vibrating with tension as he stared at Rick and his intense glare never moved away from the boy. He had stopped struggling against Mike, but his friend took no chances and held on still.

"You think I care what you have to say about me?" Mercedes asked angrily, finally speaking up for the first time. She felt Tina grasp on to her hand—both in support and restraint in case the punches started flying.

Sam's eyes shot to her face as her voice snapped through his angry haze at last. The look he shot her was indecipherable as she continued—crossed between anger, pride, hurt, love, and a mix of every other emotion on the spectrum.

"You're sad," Mercedes continued. "Sneaking around here, writing things on my locker. You don't even have the nerve to say a word to my face. You strut around here like some sort of big shot when all you really are is an arrogant nobody who can't own up to the fact that you're pathetic and irrelevant and anything you'll ever do with your miserable life will be inconsequential and meaningless."

A few bystanders made their heckles heard as Mercedes ranted—jeering the boy. Mercedes rolled her eyes.

Coach Bieste had turned incensed eyes on Rick long ago. He couldn't really say much for himself and only pouted as he avoided the eyes of everyone in the hall. Mercedes thought it was fitting—now he knew how every single one of his victims had felt.

"Now, what gives you the right to carry on around here all biggity?" Coach Bieste asked him.

For someone who'd invested so much time into making her locker door a literary sensation, Rick was suddenly all out of words.

"Looks like you're all coffee and no omelet. You got caught with your pants down this time," Coach Bieste started, angrily. Everyone in the hall stared at her in confusion, except for Sam who nodded his head in understanding—his eyes narrowed in angry slits.

"Well, the sun don't shine on the same dog's tail all the time," Coach Bieste continued. "You're gonna have to answer for what you've done." She grabbed the seemingly mute Rick and started dragging him down the hall just as the first warning bell rang.

"Evans, get to class, but I wanna see you in my office before practice today!" Coach Bieste yelled, and then disappeared around the corner.

Sam was finally looking at her, the anger still clearly coursing through him. Mike finally trusted him to be cool now that Rick was out of sight and let go. He squeezed Mercedes' shoulder firmly before holding onto Tina's free hand.

He waited as the girls said goodbye—Mercedes promising to have a talk with Tina about everything on their drive home later—and the two took off to their morning classes.

Mercedes and Sam stood starting at one another for another moment, before she grabbed his hand and headed in the opposite direction from their classes. Sam had gym first period and Mercedes would get the notes from Tina—that is, if Tina managed to care about Beowulf long enough to write anything down.

Sam didn't protest, holding on to her hand firmly, and following behind her in silence.

They headed straight to the empty choir-room. All of the chairs were still stacked and they didn't bother taking any down, choosing to sit on the raised floor facing each other.

At first, they just sat silently, their hands still linked, letting their nerves and emotions settle from everything that had just occurred. Sam played with her fingers idly as he stared off, lost in his thoughts. Mercedes let her mind wander to Rick again.

She was suddenly mad she'd run away and given him the satisfaction of making her cry. That asshole was nothing but a bully she didn't care to impress one way or another.

She was immediately very clear on what Santana, Tina, Brittany, Sam, and her mother had been saying all along. It didn't matter one single bit what the Rick Nelsons of the world thought. They were wrong-minded and ultimately irrelevant.

Rick was a coward—a clone that couldn't really think for himself and acted out for the attention it would garner. He could only boldly spew his hate and act publicly as part of a larger group. When he couldn't hide behind them, he was just a shell.

Maybe here in high school Rick was a big fish, but outside of here, he was just another Lima loser. He'd be spouting hate for the rest of his life—simply because he wanted to fit in with people who probably couldn't care less about him—while he was stuck in this little town.

She and Sam would move on from here and never think about him again.

Yes, Rick wouldn't be the last ignorant moron they ran into, but one small-minded asshole was the same as the next. She wouldn't let their irrational hatred keep her from love. She had her whole life ahead of her, and the Rick Nelsons of the world didn't get a say in how she lived it.

She came out of her thoughts to find Sam still staring off intensely.

"What are you thinking about?" she asked him in a near whisper, with a small squeeze of his hand. It was still loud enough to bring him back, considering her voice was the only noise in the unusually silent room.

"I was gonna kick his ass. He was gonna get it," Sam said in a low, dangerous tone. Mercedes ignored any and all tingling that occurred in reaction. This was not the time. "If Mike hadn't been there…," Sam trailed off, shaking his head.

"Well, thank God Mike was there," Mercedes said. "You know, as much I appreciate you defending my honor, I really don't want you to get in a fight with everyone who looks at me cross-eyed." She lifted her free hand to his face in a soft touch, trying to soothe the anger she saw there.

Sam's gaze returned to hers then, with an expression on his face that clearly read, 'Girl, stop.'

"I know that you can hold your own, okay? Believe me, it did things to me today to hear you tear that asshole a new one a little while ago," Sam started—and the look he shot her brought back the tingles.

"But, I'll be damned if I'm ever just gonna to stand there twiddlin' my thumbs while some idiot mistreats you," Sam said firmly, his southern drawl making itself apparent as he stared her down.

"You can't just start throwing punches at every—," Mercedes started.

"If they deserve it, yes, I can try," Sam replied resolutely, interrupting her.

Mercedes rolled her eyes, but a fond smile tugged on the corners of her lips. He was about to be as stubborn as a mule about this, judging by the steely look on his face.

He was already on edge, so she wouldn't push him about it now.

Leaning forward, she brushed a soft kiss to his pouting lips, and his frown broke at last. He smiled slightly, pressing a harder kiss to her lips. She didn't protest when he pulled her closer to deepen it.

They spent the next half hour like this, softly kissing, holding hands, and talking—letting the events of that morning fall away. Mercedes was reluctant to leave when the bell rang, signaling the seven minute break before second period. Sam's final lingering kiss suggested he felt the same, but he walked her to her class, which was down the hall from his, anyway.

"You ready for the rest of the day, pretty girl?" he asked her. He kissed her again in the doorway without a care, even as students were trying to get around them to class.

Mercedes pushed him away, keeping her hands on his chest to stay him.

"After this morning, I think I could handle whatever else," she told him. "I'm gonna keep my facial expression looking like I'm about to kick someone's ass, though. Maybe someone will believe me and that'll thwart any potential fuckery."

"Oh?" Sam said with a laugh. "What's that facial expression look like again?"

She proceeded to show him, eyes steely, nose flared, fists balled up at her sides.

She'd made the mistake of moving her hands off his chest and found herself in the middle of another kiss. She pushed against him again. "Sam! The badass effect is severely downgraded if you're kissing me."

"It's the angry face," he said by way of explanation. "It's just so cute. I'm not even sorry."

He tried to go in for another kiss, but her hands were firmly in place as she told him, "Go to class." He settled for a kiss to her cheek and went off down the hall.

Mercedes turned to a classroom of stares, but couldn't bring herself to care as she sat down.

The smile on her face stayed plastered on through the next two periods. By lunch a couple of people probably thought she was insane, but everyone kept their opinions to themselves—everyone that is, except Santana.

"Damn, Wheezy! You smile any wider, we'll be able to see all 32 of your teeth. Trouty must have got it in good!" Santana announced to the hallway.

Mercedes' smile faltered long enough to hiss at the girl to shut up—Patricia Tinsley could be anywhere! The last thing she needed was for that sly motor mouth to hear something like that and pass it along to her parents.

She didn't doubt her father would be after Sam with a steel pick, no matter how much he claimed to be joking about his threats.

Santana only smirked and Mercedes heard Tina giggle behind her. Her smile faltered again as she shot Tina an astonished look. Honestly, it'd only been a few hours she'd left them together last night. What had Santana done to her friend? All she'd wanted is for them to get along. Now they were teaming up against her.

Mercedes sighed dramatically as she approached her locker. All she needed was a quick book change before she could join Sam and her friends on the quad.

She stopped short when she saw her locker and Santana crashed into her back, much like she had the day before.

"Aretha! One foot in front of the other! Walking!," the girl said, drawing out the last word. She followed Mercedes' gaze again and cursed.

"Not again! What the fuck is it this time?" Santana stalked forward and Mercedes and Tina went after her. She snatched a purple envelope off the front of the locker, examining it for a moment before passing it to Mercedes.

Rick's graffiti had been cleaned off the locker once again. Mercedes had heard through the grapevine that he'd been suspended for three weeks for his little messages. He'd also be serving an additional suspension from the hockey team when he did come back. In place of his hockey time, he'd have to attend tolerance and anti-bullying workshops held at the Lima community center.

Mercedes doubted it'd actually change him, but it was more than the standard nothing Figgins usually doled out. She'd be willing to bet her parents had something to do with it, as they'd promised to have words with him that day. She couldn't wait to tell her mom after school.

She was just happy Rick wouldn't be leaving her anymore love notes for a long time.

This note, however, she could get used to. Mercedes recognized Sam's scrawl spelling out, 'Cede' on the front of the envelope and opened it excitedly, pulling out the card inside. A bouquet of purple flowers decorated the front of the card and Mercedes wondered where Sam had even found it.

Hi baby,

You'd be surprised at the things Ms. Pillsbury keeps in her office. All you gotta do is ask. Anyway, I thought I'd leave you a happy surprise to find at your locker today. After yesterday, and this morning, I didn't want you to develop a habit of expecting crappy things to happen every time you go get your things. School is hard enough without all that. So, it's kind of last minute but I hope you like this note and I drew you a picture over on the other side. I hope it makes you smile. I love you.



On the next page he'd drawn her a picture of a stick figure boy blowing bubble hearts at a smiling stick figure girl. In the summer, he'd done this as well—drawing her little doodles simply to bring a smile to her face. She'd kept every single one and couldn't wait to store this one safely in the 'Sam Evans Box' she'd never thrown out. She was grinning so hard at the picture—resolutely ignoring Santana's snickers and Tina's enamored sighing—that she almost missed the postscript.

P.S. Meet me outside in the quad now for your real surprise.

Changing her books at lightning speed, she raced for the quad with Tina and Santana running behind her. Santana laughed loudly, snarking something about Sam putting some pep in her step. Mercedes would have glared, especially when Tina giggled at the comment, but she found she just didn't care at the moment.

Mercedes slowed as she reached the entrance to the quad. She was a fawning school girl, but the entire quad didn't have to know that. Sam grinned brightly the second he saw her. She sauntered towards him, smiling flirtatiously. He met her half way, giving her a soft kiss on the lips, before grabbing her hand and tugging her along.

Sam had picked out a special seat, it seemed. He sat her down on the bench, facing away from the attached table, before running back to his place with the rest of the New Directions boys. The ladies of New Directions closed her in on both sides. Tina sat on her right side while Rachel occupied the left. Quinn, Santana, Sugar, and Brittany sat behind them on the table.

Sam was about to serenade her. It was the New Directions way after all—but this would be in front of the entire school. The boy was nothing if not a hopeless romantic. Big gestures like this one were kind of his thing.

Mercedes resolved to tamp down any anxiety at the amount of people in the quad and looked back to Sam. If he wanted to do this for her, she'd let him. He flashed her a heart-melting smile and winked before speaking into his microphone.

"Hi, baby," he said with a nervous chuckle, and the people around them started to quiet down. "So, this week has kinda sucked so far, huh?"

Mercedes giggled and the rest of the New Directions girls joined in.

"Understatement!" Santana yelled out from directly behind Mercedes, making everyone laugh.

"Anyway, I've seen more frowns on your face than I care for these last two days, so I wanted to do this to make you smile—and to let you know I love you, no matter what," Sam said.

Did other facial expressions exist that weren't blinding smiles? If so, Mercedes didn't know what they were—or how to get them onto her face. She simply beamed at Sam, all of her anxiety dissipating for the moment as she took in his words.

"I'm about to go into diabetic shock here," Santana drawled, and then squawked indignantly when Quinn elbowed her to shut her up.

Mercedes giggled as Sam shook his head. "So, I hope you like it," he finished and turned to the boys behind him. Blaine was at the keyboards, Finn on the drums, and Puck on the electric guitar. Kurt, Artie, and Mike backed up Sam on the vocals.

Sam looked around at them and signaled he was ready with a nod of his head. In an instant, the first notes of Jon McLaughlin's You Are the One I Love started playing and Mercedes found herself swaying back and forth along with the rest of the girls, still sporting her smile.

As soon as Sam started singing, she knew exactly why he'd chosen the song. The lyrics encompassed the struggle they'd gone through this week perfectly—dealing with the hate and the judging eyes. None if it mattered, though, because they loved each other and that would always overpower everything else.

She didn't think it was possible, but she was smiling more now as she watched him—wondering how she'd gotten lucky enough to find this boy. How was it real that she was this happy?

Sam sang the words, never looking away from her. Mercedes couldn't wipe her grin off if she tried. Santana opened her mouth to heckle, but soon found herself cradling her side after Quinn elbowed her once again.

Tina, on the other hand, was a blubbering mess and gratefully accepted the tissue Brittany handed her.

The song continued, and the other girls got up from the table to sway and goof off with each other. Kurt, Artie, and Mike joined them, dancing and twirling them around playfully.

Sam and Mercedes, however, only had eyes for each other.

For the last chorus of the song, Sam moved directly in front of his girlfriend. He pulled her so she stood before him and cupped her cheek with his hand. Her grin was replaced in favor of an intense stare as he sang, looking into her eyes.

To a world I hate, you are the one I love
They'll say what they'll say
They'll never say enough
And I'll sing it more than once
That you are the one I love
And you are the one I love

All Mercedes could think about as Sam sang the last word was making him understand exactly what he meant to her. But, she found that the words weren't forthcoming. She did the next best thing and kissed him senseless, not caring who was watching or what they thought. Sam was eager, and gave back as good as he got, deepening their kiss.

Lack of air caused them to separate but they didn't let go of one another, falling into a loving hug afterward. Mercedes turned her head to find Santana staring straight at them—as was most of the quad even if they pretended they weren't.

Santana sat with her hair bunched in one hand while she fanned herself with the other. "Your lips and his together are just sinful. Wanky!" she exclaimed.

Mercedes huffed out a laugh, rolling her eyes and shaking her head at the girl in fond exasperation. Santana was a born troll and would never change.

Mercedes was glad when Sam pulled them away from the crowd and back into the deserted hallway. He pressed her against the wall, laying his forehead against hers, and asked quietly, "Did you like it, pretty girl?"

"Are you kidding?" she said with a disbelieving smile. "I loved it! I love you."

Sam grinned and pressed another kiss to her lips. She opened up to him, humming in contentment when he slid his tongue against hers, deepening the kiss.

He'd just serenaded her in front of the entire school, telling anyone who cared to listen that he loved her whole-heartedly—with or without anyone's approval. But, all the important people loved and supported them. Who cares what anybody else thought?

For the first time, she felt truly free to reciprocate all of those feelings. She didn't have to worry about Shane or anyone else. They didn't matter in the grand scheme. There was only Sam and her, and their future looked bright.

Mercedes' happiness warmed her from the inside out. She didn't think she'd ever stop smiling.

So, this was Sam Evans' fourth week back, and Mercedes Jones was no longer convinced he was trying to kill her. She was certain he had, and this was heaven.

Author Notes:

So, that's it! I hope y'all enjoyed it. Thanks to everyone read this fic and stuck with me!

I would LOVE to hear what you think so please, please, please leave me a review.

I'm done with this story, but will probably have one-shots in this AU. I'm definitely open to prompts so let me know if you have any ideas.

Ugh. I almost don't want to leave. Lol. Can't believe it's over.

Oh! Look out for my new story. It's coming really soon! I've been working on it forever so it's almost done. It's a future-fic. Yeah. Bye for now.