Sweat trailed down the side of Sam's brow. He tried to control his breathing while simutaneously counting his progression. Sucking in more air through his nostrils, he raised the 100 lb weights above his head. Sam loved to workout. He always felt as if he pushed a little higher, reached a little further up, invincibility was within his grasp. Sometimes he pretended that he was lifting an army tank. Sometimes it was his family. More recently, it was a giggling Mercedes telling him to keep going but more often than not, he carried the world. He was his own superhero. Unlike the ones he created because he built his powers off of pure willpower not radioactive chemical waste.
With one last squat raise, he dropped the dumbbells and shook out his arms. Adrenaline pumped through his veins and it felt amazing. He could only compare it to the first time his was with Mercedes. Honestly, it could have been better; the bed was two sizes too small and his calves dangled off the edge, the other tenants conversations could be heard easily like they were within earshot. But it was all okay. He couldn't hear anything within their Cone of Cuddling.
Mercedes snagged some extra condoms from Quinn's drawer and they went at it all night. Well, at least until they thought they heard Quinn come home. Mercedes peaked out into the hallway and saw a light leaking out from her roommate's door. Sam tried to use his elements of persuasion to get Mercedes into letting him stay, but she was too paranoid. She wasn't ready to start having him stay over because that would mean she'd have to explain things to Quinn. Although the compromising position they were caught in earlier said enough.
Sam slowly dressed himself but Mercedes told him he wasn't slick in his seduction attempts. He sneaked to the door with Mercedes in toe and bargined that he would leave once she gave him one more smooch. Sam kissed like his parents grounded him and he wouldn't be able to see Mercedes until that next Monday at school, too long. They hung out as much as they could after that, but Mercedes had finals so Sam had a lot more free time to plan something special for Christmas and a celebration for the end of the semester.
He walked over to his iPod deck. When Jet was done playing their song, Passion Pit's Sleepyhead came on. Luckily, he turned it off before Puck could hear his impression of the operatic singing and see his impromptu booty-shaking. As Puck entered their work-out room, he let the smell of push ups and spastic jumping jacks waft over.
"Dude, it fucking reeks in here." Puck's nose flared as Sam raised his arms to sniff the wetness of his cut-sleeve sweatshirt. "Open a window." Puck did so for the both of them.
"So, what are you doing today?" Puck asked, sitting on a bench.
"Um..I'm probably going to get more sketches done."
"Oh, just so you know, I may or may not have been in the art room."
"What? Why?" Sam said, fuming. He told Puck that his art room was strictly off limits. Puck was like that annoying little brother that always wanted to touch his things. Even his own brother wasn't as invasive.
"Hey! We made a deal! The work out room is mine and the art room is yours. You use this room more than I do and you don't see me having shit fits." Sam rolled his eyes at the reminder. "I only went in there because I thought you might have something cool in there like porn but all you had were those boring, unsexy sketches."
"Don't worry," Puck made a nasally, hoity-toity voice, "I didn't touch the precious drawings with the precious tarps on them." Sam made a sigh of relief, bowing down to stretch.
"Hey, can I ask you something man?" Sam strained as he was in downward dog.
"Can you not be here on Sunday night?"
"Oh, you got plans with Mercedes?"
"Yeah," Sam said, surprised and standing up. "How'd you know?"
"Quinn told me." Puck said naturally, but then his eyes bulged and his mouth tightened. Their relationship was supposed to be a secret from Sam she told him. But she said that when they were still sneaking around, so was it okay to talk about it now? All of the questions were making Puck's head hurt.
"Quinn told you? You're talking to Quinn?" Sam said curiously. He didn't know much about Puck and Quinn's relationship but remembering that she cussed when she saw him, Sam figured they had a bad history.
Puck's eyes darted around nervously, pondering if he should do damage control or just tell Sam what's going on. If he were to tell Sam about Quinn, he felt like he would have to explain everything starting with Beth. Sam didn't know he had a kid that he sent birthday and Hanukkah cards to. Considering the weirdness of bringing all of that out of the vault again, Puck decided on damage control. He thought that if he kept confusing the issue Sam would forget the conversation.
"...May-be..." Puck said, uncertain.
"Maybe? You just said she told you." There was another chance, but Puck didn't take it.
"...Maybe..." Puck repeated.
"All right, whatever." Sam shook his head and Puck made a happy sigh. "Anyway, yeah I need the house Sunday. Is that cool?" Sam went in for a fist-pound that Puck returned.
Quinn was coming back to the apartment from another intern block at Chadbourne & Parke, when she was met with fake flowers at the door. She picked them up and played with cloth material. When she opened the door, she was met with a living room full of fake calla lillies. Mercedes sat on the couch in the middle of the garden, smiling.
Quinn was not. After the awe left her, she looked at Mercedes in a panic.
"Mercedes! You shouldn't be in here! Get out while I throw these away!" Quinn ordered, thinking about her friend's allergies to flowers.
"Don't worry, Q." Mercedes laughed. "They're fake." Quinn picked up a vase full of them.
"Sam?" Quinn asked.
"Mm-mm." Mercedes shaked her head and gave Quinn a folded card.
The card read:
I wanted to get you real ones, but the real ones die. What we have is forever.
"Love, Noah." Quinn said, closing the card. She made a dry chuckle and ran a hand through her hair.
"Mercedes, please. I can't right now." Her tone was pitiful as tried to figure out what to do with the flowers. She started to place some on the kitchenette counter but when that didn't work, she thought maybe some could go in basket outside of the window like real ones should.
"Quinn, you're seeing Noah? I mean, Puck..." Mercedes corrected herself while stepping around the dozens of full vases on their carpet to follow the antsy Quinn.
"I-I don't-I can't-It's complicated."
"What about...Professor Milton?" Quinn sighed, putting some of the calla lillies in the kitchen sink. They always ate take out anyway.
"I don't know. I've been avoiding him lately." Quinn turned around and leaned against the counter. "Puck wants me to leave him. I do too, but..." Quinn played with the tips of her fingers and looked elsewhere instead of at another damn flower. Looking at Mercedes with fragile eyes, she shrugged.
"I don't know. I've been thinking about this and the past...just wondering if I break things off with Jeff now, does it really make me a better person? All the cheating, the lying, the hurting. Really, I'm no better than I was in high school. If I break up with Jeff, it's me just caring about what I want. As always." Quinn scoffed, rimming her eyes of tears.
Mercedes manuevered around the flowers once more to get to Quinn. She gave the crying girl a warm embrace, then stood back to look her in the eyes.
"Listen. We were all teenagers once: crazy, selfish and scared. But you've been through a lot Quinn, more than anyone I know. Maybe that's not a justification for bad behavior but you can be cut some slack. It's not like you were Rachel or anything." Both friends made a small laugh.
"Now, you know how I feel about you and Professor Milton," Mercedes continued. "And I can't tell you what to do or how to feel. I can tell you that you have grown. Through the friendships that you've made here and the amazing friendship that you've shown me over the years. You've been loyal and considerate. Even the fact that you care about hurting Jeff means a lot. You are a lovely person, Quinn Fabray. You always have been. It's just sometimes you can lose your way. It doesn't make you bad; you're just human."
Quinn gave Mercedes another hug and pictured their souls swirling around in perfect harmony.
"You're my soul sister, aren't you?" Quinn asked, sniffling in Mercedes' ear.
Mercedes let go and held Quinn by her arms looking around at the chaos of flowers, finding it looked like a wedding threw up in their home.
"We have to do something about these flowers, though..." Mercedes laughed.
"Yeah, we really do." Quinn smiled and nodded. Mercedes grabbed the plastic reeds from a vase placed on the countertop and started to weave them together.
"Maybe I'll give some to my kids on Sunday."
"Aren't you seeing Sam on Sunday?"
"Hmm.." Quinn placed more of the flowers on top of the refrigerator. "Maybe I'll tell Jeff on Sunday, too."
"Quinn, I wouldn't want you to rush anything." Mercedes said. If Quinn was going to do this, Mercedes thought it would be better as a hit instead of a blow.
"I'm not. The sooner the better."
"Okay, but doesn't seem a little sudden?"
"It shouldn't. I mean, like I said I have been avoiding him." Quinn answered. "Plus, we both respect and care too much about eachother to harbor any bad feelings. It'll be fine." Quinn concluded sweetly, while strumming the petals of the bouquet and putting it on her lap.
"I hope so, Q. I really do."
A/N: I'm sorry about the wait. The Tutor occupied most of my time. Thanks for the reviews and the favorites and the alerts (100! WOW!) But most of all thank you for reading. Take care.