Disclaimer: I do not own Glee.

A/N: Here is the update. There's still a lot more to come, I hope y'all like this and stick with me! Let me know. Leave me a review! :)

It was nearly 2am by the time her parents came rushing into the room. Her mom hurried over and swept her up into a fierce hug. She could feel her father join their embrace, rubbing soothing circles on her back. Mercedes hadn't slept a wink and, by this time, she felt kind of numb. She gratefully hugged her parents, thanking them for being there, but said little. She was glad when Tina pulled them away to update them on the situation.

She huddled back in to Mike's side, laying her head on his shoulder—allowing herself to withdraw into her thoughts. This whole situation was only temporary. It had to be because she couldn't lose him, especially now—not with this baby on the way, not with their wedding scheduled for next year, not with their entire lives ahead of them. He'd promised her this was just the beginning, and Sam never broke his promises.

She refused to entertain the darkest thoughts that were taking root in the back of her mind, choosing instead to play through happy moments she'd shared with Sam instead.

Their first kiss after nationals in New York, Mercedes had been upset over the loss. She ran out of the hotel room—where everyone had finally managed to quiet down a hysterical Santana—and plopped herself on the carpet in the hallway dejectedly. She hadn't been surprised when Sam followed her out. They'd been spending a lot of time together these days. He was actually becoming a really good friend.

When he'd asked her what was wrong, she'd told him that for once she'd just wanted to feel like more than a Lima loser. Even if she hadn't been the feature, at least she was part of something that was good and special. It would hurt like hell to return to Lima with nothing to show for their hard work—just as empty as they'd shown up.

Sam had gotten carried away with his emotions and blurted out that she was more special and good than anyone he'd ever met. He told her she was a star and Mr. Schuester was an idiot for not seeing that—they'd probably have won if she'd been front and center.

He told her she was beautiful and amazingly talented, and he would always thank his lucky stars he'd said yes to prom, because he loved spending time with her… and he really liked her.

She'd looked at him with wide eyes, taken aback at his words and watched him blush furiously at his own flurry of admissions. He hadn't taken it back, however. All thoughts of the competition took a back seat as Mercedes tried to process this information. Sam Evans liked her. He really liked her.

She would have been lying if she said she hadn't entertained the same thoughts about him, but she never in a million years thought he saw her that way. She'd been lulled once before, making up an entire relationship in her head. So when Sam had started hanging out with her and being nice to her, she took it as just that—he was just a nice guy.

At her stunned silence, Sam, still blushing, repeated that he liked her—that he loved being her friend—but he wanted more than that. Then he had kissed her, and she had let him. He'd cradled her face almost reverently, like he cherished her and it'd made her feel special.

That night, she sat next to him, surrounded by the other glee clubbers—with the exception of Rachel and Finn who thought it best to stay away from Santana. The group was sitting on the balcony in the boys' hotel room, sprawled out on the chairs there. Brittany, Sam, and Mercedes took up the futon out there—the three of them sharing a blanket to ward off the cool night air. Mercedes was sitting between Brittany and Sam. No one seemed to take notice of her and Sam's closeness, attributing it to the cool breeze.

Sam used the blanket's cover to entwine their hands and play with her fingers. Mercedes would shoot him shy smiles every now and again when the others were too wrapped up in their conversations to pay attention. He'd always smile back and squeeze her hand. As she'd ducked her head to hide her smile for the twentieth time that night, she was sure she'd firmly crossed the line into silly girl with a crush, but she couldn't bring herself to care.

This turn in events made her smile, and after the last few nights she'd had, she welcomed the giddy feeling she was currently experiencing. She hadn't been looking for Sam and yet here he was. Who knew what else could be on the horizon? She might not have gotten her trophy but she and Sam were at the beginning of something special.

Suddenly the prospect of returning to Lima wasn't so depressing. She had a new outlook. There was one more year to get things right and the possibilities were endless.

Mike shifted against her bringing her back to the present. She lifted her eyes to look up at him. His face looked tired and he sat with his elbow resting on the arm rest. His fist was balled up and rested against his mouth, eyes red from holding back tears. His expression was one of uncertainty and fear. Mercedes squeezed his hand and he looked down at her with a small smile. No words were necessary to communicate what they were feeling. They both understood each other all too well.

Mercedes closed her eyes again and let herself drift off into another memory.

She'd just moved in with Sam into their house in New York the month before. In Ohio, she drove everywhere. This meant she was a lot less exposed to the winter cold than she was in New York where she walked most everywhere she went.

Sam had warned her about trying to be stylish over sensible with her winter coat and she had balked at his concern. She hated those ugly puffy jackets or the big heavy coats everyone else wore and he couldn't convince her to wear one.

Now, however, she was wishing she had listened as she was battling one of the worst colds she'd ever gotten. She groaned when she heard his chipper voice as he swung the door open. She'd just woken up from a nap a few minutes before.

"Baby," he called out in a cheerful singsong. "I have food and medicine."

Mercedes let out another muffled groan from beneath the comforter but didn't move. She heard Sam chuckle as he placed the tray he'd carried in on her nightstand. She watched him squat down in front of her to get a good look at her face. He was wearing a white long sleeve shirt that clung to his torso in all the right places and his grey sweat pants sat low on his hips. Mercedes cursed being sick for the millionth time that day. She'd have been all over that in different circumstances.

"Are you in there?" he asked, playfully patting the top of her head.

Her entire body was covered with the comforter. Only her eyes peeked out to regard him—the look in them reflected just how miserable she was feeling.

Sam pulled back the sheet from her face and poked out his bottom lip in a mock pout, brushing her bangs off her forehead.

"It's almost 5. You were asleep a while. How are you feeling?" he asked her softly, placing the palm of his hand against her forehead.

"I feel like death," Mercedes answered dryly, closing her eyes as his thumb brushed her cheek tenderly. The stifled quality of her voice indicated just how stuffy her nose was and hearing it made her pout. She felt Sam place a gentle kiss on her forehead.

"Don't," she protested. "I'm gross and you'll get sick, too."

She couldn't have that. As soon as she'd woken up earlier that day with aches and pains everywhere, a stuffy nose, a cough, and a fever, Mercedes had pretty much decided she was done for and surrendered to her illness. Sam, on the other hand, had decided they were going to kick this cold's ass and had appointed himself her caretaker.

Sam had been doing a splendid job, making sure she was as comfortable as possible. He made her food, got her medicine, and did whatever she needed to help her feel less miserable.

Whatever she'd done to deserve him, she hoped she kept doing it. If this was how he took care of the kids on the basketball team when they got injured, they were in good hands.

"You don't have a fever anymore, so something's working," he said softly. She'd opened her eyes to find him smiling encouragingly at her.

Mercedes would have smiled back if everything didn't hurt. As is, she only whimpered at him, making him chuckle again.

"Look at you. Poor baby. Come on. Sit up," he said pulling the comforter back further. He only rubbed her back as she moaned in protest.

Mercedes burrowed her face into her pillow. "Can't." She was wearing her footie pajamas but she instantly missed the cozy feeling the comforter had provided.

"Yeah, you can," Sam replied. "You gotta eat so you can take your medicine. This food is good, too. You'll be back to whipping vocal chords into shape in no time."

Mercedes reluctantly sat up, sighing at the dizziness she felt. Sam slipped onto the bed behind her, his legs on either side of her. He rubbed her shoulders soothingly with both hands and placed a gentle kiss on her neck. Mercedes leaned back into him as he brought the bowl of soup he'd made before her.

"It's chicken noodle," he told her when she peered into the bowl questioningly. "This is the special Evans family recipe, though. I called my mom and everything. She says hello and she hopes you feel better soon, by the way." He lifted a spoonful toward her mouth and she didn't fight him, opening her mouth to accept the food. It'd proven futile before the few times she'd told him she could feed herself earlier that day.

Just like he'd promised, the food was good. The warm broth immediately soothed her scratchy throat and its slight spiciness instantly started to relieve the pressure of her stuffy nose.

It'd also been a while since her last meal so her hunger pangs began to dissipate as well as he fed her more and more of the soup. He went at her pace, waiting patiently as she chewed and prepared herself for the next mouthful of food. When she'd finished, he carefully put the bowl back.

He offered her a bottle of Vitamin Water, her favorite kind, and waited as she took her medication before settling everything back onto the tray.

He wrapped his arms around her middle, resting his face in the crook of her neck.

"Better?" he asked quietly as he kissed her neck. He tightened his arms around her.

She nodded and said, "Yeah. Thank you."

"Was the food good? I gotta let my mom know how it turned out." He kissed her neck again, with a bit more pressure this time. Mercedes moaned softly and lifted her left hand to cup the back of his head, letting her fingers play with his hair.

"It was. My nose isn't so stuffy anymore. It made my headache go away." Sam kissed her jaw this time, sliding his left hand up the arm that was cupping his head.

It felt good, but Mercedes tried to shift away from him.

"Baby, stop kissing me. I'm gonna get you sick," Mercedes warned.

"Then you can be my nurse," Sam said playfully, continuing his efforts.

"You say that now. You'll be singing a different tune when there's snot clogging up your nose," Mercedes warned.

Sam pulled away abruptly, his mood effectively ruined. It was something about snot that just stopped any and all tingling. Mercedes laughed at the face he made when she turned her head to look at him. He scrunched his nose at her playfully before laughing along with her.

She returned her head to his shoulder, settling against him again. Sam's arms wrapped around her middle and he leaned against the headboard bringing her with him. He rested his chin on her left shoulder and Mercedes rubbed her hands up and down his forearms.

Neither of them spoke for a moment, just enjoying the comfortable silence between them.

"Thank you for taking care of me, baby," Mercedes said quietly. "You always do."

"And I always will," Sam promised with another kiss, this time to her cheek. Mercedes smiled, not chastising him this time.

Two days later, when Sam had finally nursed her back to health, he'd surprised her with a "You're All Better" gift. That's what he'd called it when she questioned the occasion. She'd opened the box to find a brand new black wool Burberry winter coat, complete with a hat, gloves, and scarf.

"I asked Kurt to buy them," he admitted sheepishly. "He assured me they were both sensible and stylish. So, you'll keep looking hot and you won't get sick. Win/win."

She'd rewarded him with all the kisses and more. Her man was just too sweet.

A sudden commotion at the waiting room door brought Mercedes back this time, abruptly jerking her out of the sweet memory. Her nerves were already shot from the night's events and it didn't take much for her heart rate to spike—which it did as she snapped her head from its resting place on Mike's shoulder and looked toward the door just in time to see Sam's family spilling through it.

She figured she must have fallen asleep out of pure exhaustion—a quick scan of the room revealed that her parents were back. They sat across from her and Tina had taken up a seat next to Mike. They held on to each other's hands tightly as the Evans family drew closer—Sam's mother leading the charge.

Mercedes had thought she was fresh out of tears, but she discovered she was entirely wrong as more sprang to her eyes at the sight of them, and threatened to spill over. Sam's mother was clearly passed the point of remaining calm if her worry-worn face and red-rimmed eyes were any indication. It was a jarring sight for Mercedes, who was used to the near-permanent warm eyes and kind smile the woman usually wore.

In an instant Mercedes was standing to greet them, but no words came out despite her efforts to speak and she found herself cradled tightly in the woman's embrace.

"Honey, has there been any change since Mike called?" Sam's mom asked, pulling back to look at Mercedes. Both of her hands cupped Mercedes' cheeks as she searched Mercedes' face for answers. Mercedes shook her head and desperately tried to get a handle on her tears. She took a few calming breaths, determined to get her emotions in check.

Mercedes prided herself on her drive and her strength. She knew she had the tenacity and resilience to deal with tough situations and fight her own battles. For a while, she'd wielded these qualities like armor, building the fierce diva shell she presented to the world.

Sam had come along like a ninja with his charm, love, and patience—sneaking passed all those guards. Once he'd gotten there, he hadn't tried to take anything away from her, however. He'd simply stood by her and made sure she never had to face her battles alone. Whether it was watching proudly as her star rose, giving her the support and encouragement she needed to go for her dreams, or protecting her from the world when she was at her lowest—he was there.

Mercedes had gotten used to it. However strong she was on her own, she was at her peak when he was at her side. She'd never wanted to think of a time when she wouldn't have him. The very real possibility of it now was making it hard for her to breathe.

She forced herself to push through it, however. Sam's entire family was there, worried about him. The last thing any of them needed was his sobbing mess of a fiancé to deal with.

Sam's mother was still looking at her, tears streaming unchecked down her face. She wrapped Mercedes in another tight hug and the two tried their best to comfort one another.

Mercedes took a deep breath, pulling away, and said, "They've only come back to tell us there's no change. We don't know anything for sure yet. The doctor says he's holding on and that's a good sign, though." Her breath hitched when she'd finished speaking, but she breathed through it and stopped another round of tears from flowing. She wouldn't fall apart. Sam's mother nodded solemnly and wiped at the tears on her face.

Mercedes felt a hand on her arm and pulled back to see Stacey's red-rimmed eyes. The girl looked absolutely terrified and it broke Mercedes' heart even more. The bond between the Evans children, especially after the financial hardships they'd experienced, ran deep. It was almost ridiculous the way Sam's siblings adored him.

Sam, for his part, was just as enamored with them. Rarely a day would go by when he wasn't sharing a story with her about them, smiling proudly like they were his own children. He would get unbelievably animated over anything as little as a good test grade and she'd often heard him on the phone with them in the evenings discussing their school days—giving them advice on any issues that troubled them. It was during these moments that Mercedes had decided Sam would be the best father ever.

Mercedes' heart squeezed as her thoughts moved to that subject. She absently rubbed her hand over her stomach and forcefully focused her attention on Stacey. They didn't exchange any words as Mercedes reached out an arm and brought the girl into her embrace. She didn't try to dole out any empty words of consolation, choosing instead to simply hug Stacey's trembling form tightly to her. One arm rubbed the girl's back soothingly, while the other cradled her head.

It was a little while before the two of them finally let each other go. Mercedes took this opportunity to greet the rest of Sam's family, giving his father and brother the warmest smiles she could muster and accepting their consoling hugs.

Sam's dad spoke words of encouragement directly into Mercedes' ear as he held her, telling her that Sam had always been a fighter, that he was strong, and that he would fight in this, too. Tears sprang to Mercedes' eyes, but again she held them back, determined to remain strong, too. She hoped and prayed against all odds that he was right.

Mercedes knew that she could probably make it without Sam, but she also knew that life without him would never measure up. She'd always feel his absence in the most acute way. She'd always yearn for him and that was just not a life she wanted. She could get by, but she didn't want to have to.

With this little boy or girl on the way, the feeling increased. This baby deserved the amazing father she knew Sam would be and Sam deserved the chance to be there for the child he wanted so badly. It just wouldn't be fair for either of them to miss out on each other—for all of them never to get the chance to be a family.

Like before, Mercedes' hand absently grazed her stomach as her thoughts fell to her child. She forced herself out of her thoughts again and tried to focus on the people in the waiting room. She'd simply have to wait until all of this was over to sit with her thoughts.

Sam's father sat with Mercedes' father, talking quietly about what the doctors had said. Stacey sat next to her father, his arm draped comfortingly around her, and tried to silence her tears in his worn coat.

Mercedes' mom held on to Sam's mother's hand, their heads bowed and eyes closed tightly in prayer. Mercedes had been sending up prayers all night and was glad she had some reinforcements.

She turned to take her position next to Mike again but found herself flanked by Stevie. He reached out and held her hand and she offered him a sad smile. At thirteen, Stevie was almost a carbon copy of his older brother except with floppier, blonder hair.

Mercedes had seen the family photo albums countless times and even Sam himself had trouble sometimes telling the difference between his and Stevie's baby pictures. They had the same green eyes and same big lips. As tall as he was getting, he wouldn't be for long, but Stevie was like a miniature version of his older brother. Sam couldn't have been prouder.

Mercedes' heart sunk in her chest as that thought crossed her mind. Earlier that day, or really last night by this point, she'd been imagining what their baby would look like. She'd imagined a little boy with Sam's green eyes, his lips, and crooked smile. Would Sam be around to see that?

Stevie noticed when her expression crumbled, and she lost the battle with her tears, as he was watching her intently. He led her to the seat next to Mike and held her hand tightly—his puppy dog eyes filled with concern for her. Even in this he was just like Sam. He remained resilient even as his heart was breaking.

Mike rubbed her arm soothingly, pulling her back into his side, and Mercedes went willingly, with Stevie's hand still coiled firmly around hers.

Later that night, the waiting room was like a tortuous game of musical chairs as their worry kept them from sitting in one position too long.

Mercedes had turned into a pacing mess the longer she went without word. She'd walk the same pattern to just outside the waiting room doors, looking up and down the hallway for a few seconds.

Not seeing any doctors, she'd turn back and ask the desk clerk for any updates. The answer was always the same. She had to wait for the doctor to come back out of the OR.

Then, the pattern would repeat. She was headed back for the hallway when Sam's mother had pulled her down to sit.

"You're going to wear a hole into the floor at that pace, honey," she said softly with a small smile on her face. Mercedes gave her a sheepish look and sighed.

Sam's mom threw both arms around Mercedes, resting the girl's head on her shoulder as she ran her hands through Mercedes hair in comfort.

This was the state Sam's doctor found them in when he walked into room a bit a little while later. Immediately the room was in frenzy as the unhinged family and friends stood and moved to meet him. Mercedes was the first to reach him, but she kept quiet as she studied the doctor's face.

"He's out of surgery," the doctor started and Mercedes heart clenched as she waited for him to go on. "He's awake but still heavily sedated to deal with the pain."

"Is he going to be alright?" Mercedes asked—never one for beating around the bush, especially now. For the second time that night, she held her breath as she waited for her answer.

"Unfortunately," the doctor began and Mercedes' heart sunk. "It's still too early to make any guarantees how he'll progress, but we are doing everything we possibly can. We were able to stop the internal bleeding and repair his fractures. We're still dealing with the collapsed lung, however. We have a chest tube in now and we're hoping that can start to rectify the problem in the next three to four days. He's lost a lot of blood. We've given him transfusions to replenish what he's lost, but he's still really weak. His body has gone through a severe shock and we have him on a respirator to assist his breathing. We're going to keep monitoring his condition closely and we hope he'll make some positive progress in the next few hours."

Mercedes nodded her head, trying to ignore the tightness in her throat. She felt Sam's mom squeeze her hand and turned her attention to everyone else in the room. They were all wearing the same concerned and anxious expressions. It wasn't the best news but it wasn't the worst either and she'd have to live with that for now.

"Can we see him?" she asked the doctor.

"Yes. He's been moved to the ICU wing so you can all go over to that waiting room directly. You'll be allowed inside his room one at a time to see him. Again, he's still pretty heavily sedated from surgery, so he probably won't respond much."

Mercedes' eyes were wide and terrified as she made her way to the ICU waiting room with all the rest of her family, Sam's, and the Changs. She was grateful she had Mrs. Evan's hand to hold onto as they checked in with the desk nurse, but she had to rely on her own strength as an orderly led her down the path to Sam's room.

She'd spent every second since she found out about the accident wanting to see him and be with him and, now that she was getting the chance, her heart was in her throat.

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