Authors Notes: Hi! So this is the first thing I've ever written so if you want to tell me what you think I would love that! Thank you to HelaluvE who was my Beta and motivator and is the reason I had the courage to write this in the first place...
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Glee characters or the songs I have used in this story.
August 12th 2012
"We need to talk." Sam says quietly taking Mercedes' hand into his as they sit opposite each other, cross legged on her bed.
"Yeah, we do" she murmurs in reply. "You go first though; I don't know what I want to say yet…"
Sam picks up her other hand and looks at her, as if searching for the words he needs and thinks he can find them in her eyes.
"You're leaving in two weeks and as much as I love you…" he pauses and looks away from her. Mercedes squeezes his hands in reassurance, encouraging him to say what neither of them wants to hear because if he doesn't say it then she'll have to.
Sam sighs and looks back into her eyes, taking a deep breath he speaks barely above a whisper, "As much as I love you and love being with you I can't make you do the long distance thing for me. It's not fair to make you wait for me and it will hold you back from becoming the amazing star I know you can become. I'm not ready to let you go yet but I won't stand in the way of your dreams."
Even though she knew it was coming Mercedes' stomach still twists and tears start to form in the corners of her eyes.
Her voice catches in her throat and quivers uncontrollably, "Sam Evans, don't you dare try and pull that honourable crap with me. It's not fair to make you wait for me either." Tears are streaming freely down her face but she continues without attempting to wipe them away, "It's your senior year! You need to be happy and you won't be if you're waiting for me. I love you so much and you are the best thing that's ever happened to me for so many reasons. You are the one who gave me the confidence to even think about pursuing a record contract and I don't want to lose you but I don't think we have any other choice. It would only drag things out and make it worse in the end which I don't think I'll be able to handle, I feel awful enough as it is."
Somehow they have moved closer to each without realising it. Arms and hands entwine like they can hold themselves together by holding each other and they rest their foreheads against one another breathing slowly.
"I didn't have enough time with you." His calloused fingers are stroking the soft skin of her fore arms, "We didn't have enough time together, if we hadn't spent so long being so stupid we could have had so much-"
Mercedes cuts him off with a fierce, fast, kiss. The force of a kiss fuelled by pure need surprises them both and as they break apart Mercedes tries to speak with as much reassurance and confidence as she can gather. "It may have taken us almost a year to get our act together but at least we did it in time to have this amazing summer together. At least we got this Sam, at least I got the chance to know you and love you and I will never regret that no matter how much it hurts now."
She brushes her fingers through his soft blonde hair like she has done a thousand times before and continues, "You have helped me so much more than you know and you taught me how to dream again, how to find a dream again. After I'm gone you can find someone who can do the same for you because you deserve so much more than the world has given you so far."
They're quiet again for a while after that, just holding each other trying so hard to accept that this is the end when nothing about their feelings for one another has changed.
"After you leave… do you… will we… can we still be friends? I don't know how to stop talking to you every day." Sam admits softly and Mercedes, shocked by the question pulls back from their embrace.
She's quiet for a few long moments and then says solemnly, "I don't think I'll be able to do it Sam. Talking to you, knowing who you're with, what you're doing, I think it will make it harder for both of us. I won't be able to let you go and you know you won't be able to either. "
Sam stands up then, climbing off the bed backwards never breaking eye contact with her. She can see the pain in his eyes and it destroys her but deep down Mercedes knows what she has just said is for the best.
Deep. Deep. Down.
"You're right. I'm sorry. I don't why I said that, it was a stupid question."
"No, Sam, I wish we could but-"
"It's fine." He says waving his hand dismissively but clearly upset by her words. He moves towards Mercedes' bedroom door, "I'll just go now."
His voice gets progressively louder, full of hurt and anger, "no point dragging it out like you said, right?" Mercedes stands up to protest just as he turns the door handle, "Have a nice life Mercedes." And with that he walks out of her room, her house and her life.
August 26th 2012
The bright sun shines through Mercedes' bedroom window creating a soft glow around where she's sitting on the edge of her bed. The change in temperature makes her shiver and her mind is suddenly filled with memories of the amazing summer she has had with Sam under the very same sun. Her favourite one of course being the day they went back to the lake where everything began for them. They spent it laughing, swimming, talking and just being together, happy in each other's company. With a sigh she looks around at the packed boxes and suitcases and forces herself to think about the last conversation she had with Sam two weeks ago. Regret washes over her but not because of what she said. More because of how she let things end, how she let him go.
She's thought about calling him a hundred times every day since he walked out but decided that it would make her a hypocrite and she should give him time to be angry at her. He had every right to be after all. Mercedes picks up her phone and scrolls through her contacts until she finds his name. There's a photo she took of them from the first time they went to the lake, both of their faces pressed close together. She loves this photo because neither of them is looking directly at the camera. They're too caught up in each other to pay full attention and she is obviously cracking up at something hilarious Sam had said because she's laughing. He's smiling back at her, pleased with himself for making her so happy. Her thumb hovers over the 'delete contact' option and then she touches the screen without any more hesitation. The photo disappears and now the only place she'll be able to see it is in her mind.
A few hours later, as she's getting in to the car with her family to go to the airport, Mercedes gets a call from a number that she doesn't recognise. She lets it go to answer phone not wanting to answer to a stranger. Her dad starts the car, chatting to her excitedly about all the amazing things she'll be able to see and do when she gets to L.A. but Mercedes is hardly listening. She stares out of the window watching the trees and houses fly by. She tries desperately to convince herself that she made the right decision with Sam.
She's going to have to try a whole lot harder.
Mercedes doesn't think to check her messages until she's on the plane waiting for it to take off. She listens to a few messages from Kurt and Tina wishing her good luck and promising to speak to her properly soon. The next message has a voice she thought she'd never hear again,
"Mercedes, it's Sam. I came to see you today and stood outside your house for an hour trying to get the courage to go and talk to you. But I couldn't do it. If I saw you again I wouldn't be able to let you leave. I would have asked you to stay here with me which is something I promised myself I would never ask you to do. I was going to tell you that you were right, we shouldn't talk to each other again…" He pauses in the message to take a breath and it is at that precise moment that the obnoxious woman next to Mercedes knocks her arm. Mercedes' elbow slips off of the arm rest and her thumb swipes across the screen – "MESSAGE DELETED. END OF MESSAGES" says the monotonous voice from her phone.
Distraught, Mercedes taps at the screen trying desperately to recover the rest of Sam's message but it's gone. Tears of frustration and anger make her eyes sting and she sinks deeper into her seat in despair. At least I have my answer now she thinks bitterly. It was the right decision. It had to be because Sam said it was. Still though, her conscience argues with her. If it was the right decision then why does it feel so wrong?
"…but then I realised that I would be lying to you if I said that. I'm not giving up on us Mercedes Jones, do you hear me? I will never give up on us. It may be a year from now or ten but we will find each other and we will be together. Even if I have to make you fall in love with me all over again. I -"
"We're sorry you've run out of time. To re-record your message press one. To del-"
Sam hangs up in frustration and falls onto his bed backwards dropping his phone by his side. He brings his hands over his face and through his hair tugging at it like it will help the rest of his pain go away.
July 25th 2019
Sam Evans is twenty four years old and just got the job of is dreams. After his senior year of high school he got a degree in acting and since then has been going from strength to strength as a voice actor for a variety of TV shows and films. Finally he has managed to bag himself a recurring character, well several actually, on a children's cartoon which means for the first time in about three years he'll be able to live in one place. That place is of course the City of Angels itself.
About two weeks after moving to L.A. Sam is still trying to find his way around the city. On this particular day he has taken a total of five wrong turns, missed two completely and is very close to doing a full circle and being back to where he started three hours ago. Sighing he readjusts his satchel and is about to ask for help when he walks by a poster that makes him do a double take. Staring back at him is the face of the girl that broke his heart when he was seventeen. It takes a few more moments of staring for Sam to actually read the writing beside her face:
INVITES YOU TO HER
ALBUM LAUNCH PARTY
'HIDING MY HEART'
DOORS OPEN: 7:30pm
He reads the poster, which he now realises is stuck outside a bar, a dozen times before it really sinks in. She did it. She actually did it, she has an album and a launch party and a freaking album! Sam laughs with happiness and disbelief. Of course she did it he chastises himself; he just didn't think he'd ever be there to see it.
Sam realises that Mercedes' launch party is that evening and looking at his watch notes that he has about seven hours to decide whether he's going to go or not. He quickly crosses the road when he spots a music shop and goes straight to J for Jones without thinking twice about it. He buys her album and asks the shop assistant for directions home at the same time which turns out to be half an hour by bus when you're not walking in circles. The whole journey home he's nervous but isn't really sure why. Even if he listens to the album it doesn't mean he has to go to the launch party. Mercedes will never know he bought it or listened to it and there is no reason why she'd expect him to be there he reasons with himself as he steps off the bus into a street that finally looks familiar to him.
Running up the stairs to his flat Sam fumbles with his keys in anticipation of being able to hear her voice again. He rips open the plastic covering of the CD case but opens the case itself with more care than necessary and clicks out the CD before he has a chance to change his mind. He puts it into his sound system and selects the 'play all' option before kicking of his shoes and lying on his soft, leather sofa. Legs crossed at the ankle and arms resting behind his head he closes his eyes and listens to the soft instrumental that begins to surround him.
Mercedes' voice makes Sam's heart ache and awakens feelings he had almost forgotten about. As the songs continue to play what started out curiosity about a girl he had once known slowly changes into a deep longing to know the woman she has now become. In some of the songs he can almost hear her smiling and in others the pain in her voice makes his stomach twist into a thousand knots. The album has a perfect balance of slow ballads and happier pop songs, all of the lyrics are meaningful and genuine, and when Sam realises that she has ended the album with a cover of 'I Will Always Love You' his heart swoops and he remembers the day she sang it to him so vividly that he has to choke back tears.
Sam listens to the album on repeat for the rest of that afternoon while he carries on with his usual chores. He also spends the entire afternoon arguing with himself about whether he should go to the launch party or not. At 2:00pm he has convinced himself that at least three of the songs are about him and he should go and see her to tell her how proud of her he is. By 3:30pm he believes that none of the songs are about him and she probably won't even remember his name. At 5:15pm he's going but only to see her sing one song live and then he'll leave without her even knowing he was there. 6:30pm and he's chickened out again, scared that if he goes she'll refuse to talk to him because of how they ended all those years ago. He gets changed to go out and then puts his sweats back on. Then he showers and changes three more times.
By that point Sam is practically pulling out his hair and he paces up and down his apartment making a pros and cons list in his head. His biggest fear of going is that he'll find out for certain that Mercedes hates him and can never forgive him. If he goes, he'll never be able to un-know that information whereas if he doesn't go a small part of him can keep trying to convince him that there's hope.
It's that part of him that so desperately wants to see her again. That wants to watch her turn into a star and sing her way through an amazing album. If he goes maybe they'll have a chance to become friends again because Sam misses their friendship just as much as he misses their relationship. Mercedes understood him in a way that no one else ever did and if there's the slightest chance that he can get that friendship back, let alone something more, surely he owes it to himself to take it.
It's that part of him that wins.
Mercedes stands in the left wing of the stage and thinks about everything she had to go through to get to this point in her life. She's twenty five and is about to open the launch party of her first album!
It hasn't been an easy seven years for Mercedes but she remembers when she first moved to L.A at eighteen like it was yesterday. She continued to make YouTube videos over the years and quickly developed a loyal fan base. That wasn't enough to support her though, so she got a job singing in the same bar she was standing in now. She'd come close to being signed a few times over the years but it never worked out. A lot of the record labels wanted to change who she was to fit a particular image which was something she was never prepared to do. They could have her exactly as she was or not at all.
There was even a very dark year when Mercedes gave up on singing all together and became a vocal coach instead but Kurt made a trip all the way to L.A. specifically to tell her that if she didn't get back out there he was going to have to slap some sense into her himself. Thank goodness he convinced her to keep trying because the first time she went back to singing after her year off she got signed to an independent record label that wanted her to be her fabulous self and nothing less.
"I'd like to welcome to the stage, the reason we're all here tonight, Mercedes Jones!"
The entire bar erupts with cheering and clapping which brings Mercedes out of her thoughts. She smoothes the soft fabric of her red dress and takes her queue to walk on stage. She is completely shocked by the sheer number of people who turned up because even though she knows she has fans it's still very hard to believe when you see them all gathered in one place. She's smiling so much her cheeks already hurt as she walks towards the microphone.
"Well, hello!" She exclaims with excitement filling her voice. This is met with even more cheering, louder this time and she continues trying to remember everything she wanted to say.
"Welcome do my first ever launch party! I am so happy all of you are here to share it with me because I would never gave gotten this far without you." Mercedes scans the room looking out for familiar faces; smiling at her friends and family who were able to attend. "So, tonight I'm going to perform all of the songs from my album which I put a lot of my heart into. Every song means something to me on a personal level which I hope means you can all relate to it in one way or another."
The crowd cheers some more and she giggles when she hears a few cat calls. "Ok, I can't put it off any longer. This first song is the one of the first songs I ever wrote by myself. It means a lot to me because of the person it's about…" Mercedes smiles to herself then, thinking about Sam almost always brings a smile to her face. She wishes that he was here to see her tonight. To see how far she has come and all that she has achieved but she knows that he will have moved on by now. He'll be living his life on the other side of the country and won't have given her a thought in a long time.
"… so enjoy!" She nods to her band and the light piano melody begins…
Making my way downtown, walking fast, faces pass and I'm home bound,
Sam grabs his coat off of the bed leaves his apartment, the door slamming closed behind him.
Staring blankly ahead, just making my way, making my way through the crowd."
He jumps down all four steps in one go and jogs down the street towards the bus stop he'd been at earlier that day.
And I need you
And I miss you
And now I wonder…
He scans the bus timetable in front of him trying in vain to understand it as his heart beats faster and faster in his chest.
If I could fall into the sky, do you think time would pass me by?
'cause you know I'd walk a thousand miles if I could just see you,
He briefly considers walking the whole way but dismisses that idea quickly when he sees the bus approaching.
It's always times like these when I think of you and wonder if you ever think of me.
His thoughts return to Mercedes as he sits on the bus and stares out of the window. What if she doesn't remember him? Or worse, what if she does and hates that he's there?
'Cause everything's so wrong and I don't belong living in your precious memories.
'Cause I need you
And I miss you
And now I wonder…
After what seems like an eternity the bus pulls up outside the music store and Sam checks his watch as he jumps down the steps.
If I could fall into the sky, do you think time would pass me by?
He'll have missed the beginning but he should get there to hear most of the first song.
'cause you know I'd walk a thousand miles if I could just see you,
He sprints into the bar as she's finishing the second chorus.
Mercedes' performance is flawless and she gives all of herself to the music. In her mind she's back in the auditorium singing to Sam and only Sam. She's telling him everything she never got a chance to and wishing that she could see him just one more time. She's so wrapped up in the song and her imagination that she doesn't see him run in to the back of the bar; cheeks flushed and mouth agape from hearing her voice live for the first time in seven years. The music ends, the crowd cheers and Mercedes forces herself to focus on all of the people who are there with her and not on the one man who isn't.
She sings a slightly sadder song full of passion and longing next and Sam is captivated by how easily she displays her soul for everyone to see. He struggles to see her fully being at the very back of the room and starts to push his way into the swaying crowd. Mercedes continues to sing some happier songs and some deeper songs as he moves slowly through the crowd dodging and dancing in an attempt to flow through more easily. He's pretty near to the front when Mercedes finishes an upbeat song about falling in love again.
"Thank you!" Mercedes beams. The spot lights combined with the energy of singing make her feel hot and flushed and she can barely see the crowd now that the lights are all pointed at her.
"This next song is the title of my album and is another one that I wrote all by myself. I'd uh… I'd like to dedicate this song to the man that is responsible for me standing here tonight. He gave me the courage to believe in my dreams and more importantly he taught me to believe in myself. He was the first man to ever make me feel truly loved which is something I can never thank him for enough."
The crowd goes silent as the soft guitar strumming starts. Mercedes takes a deep breath and begins,
This is how the story went, I met someone by accident.
Who blew me away, blew me away…
Some of the spotlights move outwards to light up the crowd in front of her and a head of familiar blonde hair catches her eye. She gasps and forgets to sing the next line of the song but quickly recovers and continues as flawless as ever. Their eyes lock and Mercedes has to convince herself it's really him standing a few feet in front of her. Sam's eyes never leave hers and she is shocked by the amount of raw emotion that hits her.
I Wish I could lay down beside you when the day is done.
And wake up to your face against the morning sun.
But like everything I've ever known you'll disappear one day.
So I'll spend my whole life hiding my heart away.
Sam is transported back to the day of their break up by the emotion in her voice. He remembers the last kiss they shared and the way they seemed to hold each other for hours. Mercedes chokes back tears trying desperately to hold it together without even trying to hide that she's signing to him. He can tell that she means every word she says by the way her eyes shine with tears and how her voice trembles on certain notes.
Woke up feeling heavy hearted,
I'm going back to where we started,
The morning rain, the morning rain.
And though I wish that you were here,
On the same old road that brought me here,
It's calling me home, it's calling me home.
So caught up in the moment Mercedes changes the words of the last chorus without even realising. Sam notices though, he listened to the song enough times that day.
I wish I could lay down beside you when the day is done.
And wake up to your face against the morning sun.
But like everything I've ever known you disappeared one day.
So I spent my whole life hiding my heart away.
With a shuddering breath she sings quietly,
I could have spent my whole life hiding my heart away.
After the show when the majority of people have left and the bar is fairly empty Sam decides to stay and get a drink. Secretly he's hoping Mercedes hasn't left yet so that he still has a chance to see her and congratulate her properly. He spends the next half an hour nursing a whiskey sour and over analysing everything that has happened so far that evening; every word she said, every lyric she sang and every look they shared.
"Sam!" He looks up and there she is, standing right next to him. She's changed her clothes but is still as stunning as ever in a pair of black jeans and a top the exact shade of red as the dress she was wearing before. "What are you doing here!?"
"I… I saw the poster outside and couldn't resist seeing you again."
There's a pause then as they both take each other in. Mercedes notices how Sam's features have matured over the years but she can still see the seventeen year old boy in his eyes. Sam sees how Mercedes holds herself with an elegance she didn't used to posses. She practically radiates grace and confidence and even though he didn't think it was possible she is more beautiful than ever. Nervous, Sam turn's back to his drink and mumbles, "You were incredible."
"I can't believe you're here," She reaches out to touch his shoulder but hesitates, "I thought I imagined you." She drops her hand and smiles at him shyly.
Sam stands, turns to face her properly and shrugs, "It's me, in the flesh." They both laugh quietly, at first because of his feeble, clichéd joke but then because of the strangeness of their situation. After seeing the delight in each other's eyes after so long they laugh some more. Familiarity washes over them both and suddenly they're hugging. Sam's arms wrap tight around Mercedes' waist and her arms loop around his neck pulling him closer. They rest their heads in the crooks of each other's necks and breathe each other in. It's as if they've never been apart. Years have gone by and they have grown and changed but this hug feels the same. It feels right. They both break away at about the same time, neither one of them wanting it to end but also not wanting it to become awkward for the other person.
Still holding his hands in hers Mercedes looks up with a conflicted look on her face, "I would love to stay and catch up with you but I don't think I can miss my own after party…"
"Of course. Another time maybe?" His shoulders slouch clearly dejected from being blown off so quickly.
"Unless… would you like to come? With me I mean. To this after party thing. It's only backstage and that way we can still talk and you can meet some of my friends. I really would hate to leave you so soon." Sam searches her eyes for signs of dishonesty. He doesn't want to accept if really she's only asking out of guilt. All he can find is genuine hope so he nods slowly.
"Ok, yeah, I would love to."
Mercedes leads Sam to a room backstage where loud music is making the walls vibrate. As she opens the door everyone cheers and people rush to greet and congratulate her. People are dancing, platters of champagne are going around and everyone wants to celebrate Mercedes' success. Sam stands by her side awkwardly as she thanks every single person that she speaks to and observes how truly gracious she was for everything that had happened. He meets her managers, the person who signed her and other singers on her label, all of whom are very friendly towards Sam. even though they didn't really know he was. He was extremely happy that Mercedes chose to introduce him as an 'old friend' rather than 'ex-boyfriend who broke my heart' because that would have made things very uncomfortable.
In between encounters the pair share shy smiles and take the opportunity to catch up on the past seven years of each other's lives. Sam is halfway through telling a hilarious story about some of his voice actor friends which has Mercedes in stitches when there's a squeal from behind him. A girl about their age tackles Mercedes and they're screaming, jumping and hugging. Breaking apart with a huge grin on her face Mercedes remembers Sam is still standing there.
"Sorry, this is Sharron she's one of my best friends from college. We were roommates and then sang backup vocals together for years. Her voice is amazing!"
"Says the girl with an album that was released, when was it again? Oh yeah! Tonight!" Laughing Sharron beams at Sam extending her hand for him to shake. "And who, M, is this fine man you've had on your arm all night?" Sam blushes and Mercedes laughs moving closer to Sam.
"This is Sam, an old friend back from my Ohio days." She rubs her hand down his shoulder in a comforting, reassuring way. Sharron's eyes widen with realisation and she drags Mercedes to one side for a private conversation but Sam can still sort of hear them. Apparently, Sharron finds it hard to whisper when she's tipsy.
"Sam as in THE Sam!? The Sam that you were definitely more than friends with in high school? The Sam that you were in love with!? The one that you talk about ALL the time?!" Mercedes cringes and nods meekly to each question even though they don't really need answering. "Oh my god M this is huge! Why is he here? Are you back together, please, tell me you're back together and after this party you're going to take him back home and ravish him!" This time Mercedes drags her friend further away, much to Sam's dismay.
"Keep your voice down! We are not back together we haven't seen each other in seven years! We haven't even had a real conversation yet Share! I have no idea why he's really here or what he wants or, hell, what I want so. Do. Not. Say anything to him ok?" Sharron pouts, Mercedes gives her a look, "Ok!?"
"Oh fine! But even if you don't get back together M, which is highly unlikely by the way because I have seen how you look at each other, you should still take him home and have your way with him because he is far too good looking not to." She winks and dodges playfully as Mercedes goes to hit her. "I'd better let you get back to him, I know I was joking before but be careful, alright? I don't want him to break your heart a second time." With a kiss on the cheek she turns and melts into the rest of the party leaving Mercedes in the same spot, still stunned from her friend's last cheeky comment.
While a very confused Sam is waiting for Mercedes to return he starts following one of the hovering platters of Champaign trying to grab a glass when they stop. So focused on reaching the alcohol and contemplating what Sharron meant by 'THE Sam', he accidently bumps into a woman he immediately recognises as Mercedes' mother. Back in the day Sam had been very close with Mrs. Jones, especially while he was living away from his own family. She became like a second mother to him and one of his biggest regrets was not thanking her for everything she did for him. It's been too long now though so he apologises quickly and turns to leave because she doesn't seem to recognise him and he'd rather not remind her for fear of facing her wrath.
"Sam Evans if you don't turn around and give me a hug I will never forgive you."
Wincing Sam turns back around with a sheepish smile on his face and is pulled into a smothering hug. "How are you Mrs. Jones?"
"I'm very well, thank you. I still hate that you call me that, you know"
With a laugh Sam quickly responds with a warm smile, "Sorry, how are you Renée?"
"Much better! Anyway, how are you doing? One day you were in my kitchen eating peanut butter cookies and the next time I brought you up Mercedes left the room in tears. Did I not even deserve a good bye?" Sam can hear the hurt in her voice because really, when he left Mercedes that day he left that whole family without any explanation.
"I know, I'm so sorry, you don't realise how much. After things ended with Mercedes I couldn't bear to come and see you again, it hurt too much. You remind me so much of her and you were so good to me that I guess I thought that if I didn't see you I wouldn't give you a reason to hate me more than you already did." He gets pulled into another hug after that.
"Oh sweetie, I'm sorry too. Of course it hurt, I'm just sad that you thought you had to lose me when you lost her. I would have been there for you regardless of your relationship with my daughter. What are you doing here anyway?" Sam fills her in on how he found out about the album and promises to call her if he ever needs anything (Including peanut butter cookies). "I'm so glad you're back my dear."
"Back from where?"
"Back here. In her life, not that you ever really left." Before Sam can ask her what she means she gives him a secretive smile and walks away leaving him even more confused.
By that point everyone has started to leave, the party drawing to an end because there's no more alcohol and Mercedes won't let them play the whole album again. "I don't want you to get sick of it before you have a chance to buy it!" His eyes follow Mercedes' mum and that's how he manages to find Mercedes because he sees the two of them embrace on the other side of the room. He gives them some time to talk standing to the side a fair distance away while they have a heated discussion over something. Her mum's eyes keep flicking to look at him while she lectures her daughter with things Mercedes seems to have heard before by the way she's rolling her eyes playfully. They hug one more time and then Mercedes saunters over to Sam with an apologetic look in her eyes.
"I'm so sorry we lost each other I thought you might have left but it wasn't on purpose I promise."
"Don't worry about it, I got the chance to catch up with your mom which was nice, I've missed her." There's a pause as they both assess the situation. Everyone is leaving and the bar is closing but neither of them wants the night to end just yet. Sam who mistakes the silence for unease says, "I'd better get going, are you ok getting home? Are you leaving by yourself?" Worry creeps into his voice without him realising and Mercedes smiles because he obviously still cares enough to be constantly thinking of her safety like he used to. "Sorry, you're a grown woman I'm sure you're very capable of getting home on your own, I just…" He doesn't finish his sentence because truth be told he doesn't really know where it's going.
"It's ok, I live like a ten minute walk from here, I moved close so that I could sing here as often as possible. It is a little later than I thought but I'll be fine. Thank you, for being concerned though."
"Please just let me walk you home so that I don't worry out of my mind." Sam rushes out before he can stop himself. That's most of the reason any way. Really, Sam knows that Mercedes can take care of herself but his brain is still trying to find ways for him to stay with her for as long as possible and walking her home gives them ten more minutes. Mercedes smiles at him and shakes her head laughing softly.
"Ok, yes, I would like that very much."
The walk home seems like two minutes rather than ten. They walk side by side comfortably, continuing to talk, catch up, joke and laugh together. Both of them relish in how easy it is for things to feel like they used to seven years ago. Sam still knows which impressions make Mercedes laugh the most and she still knows which books and movies Sam is interested in. As they climb the steps to her apartment however, Sam becomes more and more reserved. Closing in on himself, with no obvious reason for why. When they get to the front door tension has increased tenfold and in the discomfort Mercedes panics thinks that she's about to lose him so soon after finding him again.
"Would you like to come in for a coffee? It's been a long night and I don't want you to fall asleep and miss your bus stop." She turns the key in the lock and is about to open the door when Sam's hand on her arm stops her.
"Are you sure he won't mind?"
"Who?" Sam looks at her like it should be obvious. He shoves his hands deep into his pockets and refuses to make eye contact with Mercedes, choosing to stare at the floor instead.
"Meet who? Sam, I have no idea who you are talking about."
"The man responsible for your entire career, I mean I want to meet him to thank him on behalf of the world. Plus, he sounds like quite the guy but he probably wouldn't want me to stay for coffee. You must really love him if you dedicated the main song of your album to him and I appreciate that he gave us space to catch up tonight but I think I should just leave now. I promised myself I would get you back as a friend at least but I don't think I can handle this. It will hurt too much. I'm sorry Mercedes I really am."
Confusion crosses Mercedes' face as she tries to understand what Sam is talking about while he turns to walk away from her. Realisation hits her and her mind flashes back to when he walked away seven years ago. She can't bear the thought of losing him again and isn't going to if she can help it. Pushing the door open she catches the end of his hand and drags him into her open plan living room flicking the light switch on her way in.
She turns to face him and says calmly, "I was talking about you, you idiot!" Sam looks up in shock.
"What!? That song was about me?" His voice is soft but still filled with surprise and emotion.
Mercedes sighs and it's her turn to avoid eye contact. She looks down and fiddles with her hands. "They're all about you, in one way or another. I know it's been what? Seven years? No matter how hard I tried I couldn't let go of you Sam Evans. Even when I didn't mean to, you'd always end up in every other line I wrote."
She takes a deep breath and carries on because if she stops now she'll never say these things. "I just couldn't give up on us; I couldn't give up on you. You are still the best thing that ever happened to me and I meant what I said..." She looks up to meet his gaze, "I can never thank you enough for being in my life." Sam moves closer to her and she picks up his hands tentatively. Something shifts between them and they crowd into each other's space.
Overcome with emotions and the fact that the thing or person that he has dreamed about for years is standing so close to him, Sam starts to panic. The reality of their situation makes him hesitate. "What if we've both changed too much? What if I've just become dorkier in the past 7 years!? I mean you have clearly become more beautiful which is something I never thought could happen! How can I still feel this way, feel so much, when we haven't spoken in years!? I told you I would never give up on us and I won't but if you don't want this then you better stop me before I k-"
He gets cut off mid ramble by a kiss that makes his heart swell and his head spin. Their lips slide together easily and Mercedes moves her hands to cup his face, feeling the heat rise in his cheeks. After recovering from the shock, Sam's lips start to respond along with the rest of his body and he moves his hands to grip her hips in an attempt to steady them both. All they can hear is the sound of their own hearts beating and all they can feel is the heat of being pressed so close together. Mercedes runs her fingers through his thick blonde hair slowly like she has been dying to do all night and Sam leans into it, his breath catching in his throat from the intimacy of an action that reminds them both of their history. They break apart breathless, hearts pounding and Mercedes presses another light peck on his lips to emphasise her point, in case it wasn't obvious enough.
"I want this. I want us and we can take it slow if you want. Start dating again and get to know each other the way we used to. I watched all of your shows you know? Every time Kurt accidently mentioned what voice you were doing I would go out of my way to hear you speak. As Emb-"
This time Sam cuts her off with a kiss of his own. Several actually. Sweet, lingering kisses filled with promises of their future together. They break apart a few minutes later just as breathless as before, smiling uncontrollably, "What happened to taking things slow and getting to know each other again?" Mercedes asks teasingly.
"You don't think waiting seven years between kisses is long enough?" Sam grins and tugs on her hands, pulling her onto the sofa behind them.