Genre: Romance/Drama

Paring: Sam/Rachel

Notes: This is AU. Happy New Years!

Rating: M – just to be safe.

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Summary: A night out has Sam stumbling upon a dangerous world. Her world. He falls for the unimaginable; a gorgeous dancing hooker.

Saving Grace

'Not because you've done bad things, makes you a bad person' – Grey's anatomy

''I don't provide anal.'' She reveals, before she sits down. ''And I don't execute weird fetishes, either.''

''Neither do I.'' He clarifies. ''I don't do this a lot.''

She hums, implausible – nodding. And like it is part of the job, she doesn't judge him, because, who is she to judge anyone really?

''You can lie down now.''

She stands up, out of the chair she's been sitting in; reapplying her make-up, pouting her lips against the mirror, applying red lipstick.

Her eyes don't look as heavy and as slumped like a lot of the others do. Like they've been smoking and sniffing from the wrong jar to exceed all chapters of life fully unknown of what they were doing.

No, B star looks lucid.

''What do you want me to do?'' She goes on, forcefully, mock-husky; he feels like he can read right through her. Read the lines of desperation and unwillingness in the barely there creeks of her admirable beautiful face.

She takes a seat down on her bed, right next to him, rubbing her hand up and down his leg, more or less disdainful. Or maybe it's just her way of looking at everything in life.

(He's not sure.)

He replies with a; ''I don't know.'' Because, all bullshit aside, Sam has no idea what he is doing here.

There should be a warning sign on girls like Quinn Fabray. 'Warning! Do not touch, leading cause of death'. She's the grim reaper of all Blonde, brown eyed and vicious girls in this world, but beautiful and luscious and oh so perfect, nonetheless. Worth the thick thorns along the road, and manipulative schemes, he supposed.

Her infidelity should not surprise him, because Finn's been touchy-feely, and she's been reciprocating it on more occasions than Sam dared to admit.

(At New Year's eve she snuck a glance at Finn, Finn snuck a touch at her, Quinn snuck a tender smile at him, Finn snuck a gentle – almost ethereal quick nib at her earlobe; he whispered, she giggled – there were fireworks, Sam recalled. There were fireworks everywhere.)

When he saw them together in his apartment, on his bed, using his Wolverine sheets, something clung. Maybe it was the visible stains of love – and sex and betrayal in his room, maybe something crawled underneath his skin. Something itched his way across the hairs of his arms, down his back; it made him shudder.

Dobey says; this is morally wrong, master.

He's not even kidding.

She exclaimed a; ''Sam! Oh my God!'' And tried to cover up as much as she could, but Finn Hudson was one tall girlfriendfucker and she couldn't get the sheets all scattered up to her body fast enough to head up to him, beg for mercy and hold on to his arms like it's all just one big soap opera and she had just realized that she couldn't lose the so called love of her life.

Those soap operas, gross, really, he hates them.

In this soap opera, he walks away with his dignity somewhere in the clouds, a little bit too far away – he can't reach it.

He's at a loss of something of great importance, too.

Puck meant well, really. He's a great friend, and he meant well. But sometimes his ideas were crazy and if there was a Mental hospital nearby, they would've scented his insanity in a flash and hiked up to that little table they were camping at in the outside breeze of a New York's afternoon, and submitted him into a nice comfy pale, white room – luxury suite for special cases.

''I'm telling you, Evans. You need this.''

He did not need this. He needed comic books, his XBOX and a dozen pile of Tulips, because he's allergic to Tulips and if anyone ever stepped into his three story house and saw Tulips everywhere no one would ever think twice about the possibility that he might've been crying.

He's an emotional guy, he'll admit to that.

(He's stupid too, that though, he won't admit so easily.)

''In a time of crises, I can think better for you than a bottle of Jack.'' Puck huffed, leaning into his chair. ''She just fucked you over… literally. You need a fuck to get over this fuck.''

That was Puck's logic.

Sex, the key to every misfortune.

Sam's not so sure about that.

''I don't think it's best for me.'' He rolled his index finger over the ear of the marble cup that was seated on the table. Fuck knew he needed a break. Is there such a thing as falling asleep and waking up in a better time? ''I don't think it's a good idea… I don't think…'' That's the problem. He didn't think. He should think more. Analyze pretty Blonde girls, and tall, lanky douchebags. ''I don't know.''

Well done! He had just uttered his deepest insecurities. Not knowing what to do taste wholesomely bitter.

Maybe he needed more sugar in his cup of coffee.

Puck frowned, leaning forward on his elbows, a twinkle filling his eyes. He's starting to feel more and more uncomfortable in the presence of his best friend. ''You don't know what?'' It's not a question that's camping for an answer. ''Are you scared that mommy's gonna find out that her little boy got it on with a hooker?'' It sounded so wrong when he said it like that. Didn't escort sound a little bit more… professional? Didn't they call girls like that pro's, too? ''Man the fuck up, Fish lips. It ain't that bad.''

''It's not like that!'' He huffed, pushing his coffee away. ''It's just that… I'm not somebody who jumps into bed with strange women because a girl… fucked me over… and definitely not with… hookers.'' Sam winced.

''And what? I do?''

''…Well, yeah.''

Puck pursed his lips, but shrugged anyway. The truth was anything but bitter in the ears of the guy that spoke it frequently. ''Granted. But still. Don't you get it? Maybe if you did something out of character for once, it could point you out the keys of life and you'd become a 'lil bit tougher. Don't you know when people rebel they grow a ball extra?''

He couldn't find the core of his logic, nor could he find the energy to disagree.

It was kind of exciting, albeit; doing something different, even if it was with a hooker.

''I can do anything you want, baby.''

It's strange, really. The way that she talks and the way that she utters endearments. Almost as if it's clinging onto her tongue, and she has a way of pushing the grimy, slithering words out.

He nods, swallows one time, before he clenches his eyes shut.

He realizes, when no one says anything that she's actually been waiting for a reply.

With one eye sliding open, Sam says; ''what makes you comfortable?''

A crease forms between her eyebrows, and she staggers back, comical, restraint. There's a little twitch at the fingers lying on top of his knee, and she seems to contemplate her next approach. Sam wonders if she's the kind of girl that rehearses her script before she heads up on to stage. Or hopes for a miracle to guide her through because that's all what life is. A miracle.

He shouldn't have said anything. She seems uncomfortable.

''It's my duty to do whatever you like… except for what I've summarized antecedent. It's your money.''

It's his money. It's what he wants – the costumer is king, right?

She ends the sentence with a smile, bright – forced – and… fake.

''I don't know what I want.''

The truth. It's said to be liberating, but he feels like he's setting a pathway to where he's situated for sinners and saints alike.

B star hikes her hand up his thigh, her fingers lingering closer to his dick. Her manicured, star encrypt fingernails scrape over the zipper of his pants, and her mouth – the beautiful red pouty lips that look all about natural – lean up to his ear. And in a tantalite more than luscious way, she moves her bottom lip over his ear lobe almost as if she's positive about the incoming awakening of his arousal.

''What's your real name?'' He breathes out.

''Let's keep that a secret, shall we?'' She murmurs.

Somewhere along the awkward beginning, he's told her his name in a fumble of incoherent, non-rehearsed words, so why can't he know hers? Is she afraid that he's going to look her up in the yellow pages, in some kind of miracle state, find her address, and stalk her down? He's seen those movies, and creepy as it may seem, but he just wants to know her name. That's all. Maybe even feel a little significance in this thing they're about to do.

''You look Jewish.'' He asserts. ''I have a Jewish friend.''

''Is that so?''

It's more of a pleasantry reply, instead of a 'oh please, do keep on talking'. But he takes it for what it's not.

''Yeah… His mom wants him to marry a Jewish girl… He's not all too fond about people telling him what to do, though.'' Sam swallows. ''He's kind of, what you'd call… a bad-ass.''

B star hikes her right eyebrow up, leaning away from his ear. '' A Bad-ass?''

With a vehement nod, Sam exclaims a; ''no kidding! He actually calls himself that. I mean, it was kind of cool and shit when we were teenagers, and in college it sorta became just a word that's been there since forever, but now it's going overboard.''

''I see.'' B star declares. ''He's a… odd fella?''

''Pretty much.'' Sam shrugs. ''He can be a douche, but he's a nice douche…'' He scrunches his nose. ''That doesn't make sense, does it?''

There's a faint line of a smile filling at the out ends of her lips.

''A bit.'' She replies. ''I'm going to touch you now, Sam.''

She sounds comforting and gentle, and he believes that she actually believes him when he says; ''I don't do this a lot,'' again.

She has gentle hands, and he feels himself squirming underneath her touch. Her fingers work at the zipper, than at the button, than at the strap of his belt–

And then he stops her.

''Do you have any children?''

''No.''

She pulls at the belt, and he holds her hands still. It takes a lot out of him. She's strong.

''Are you married?''

''No.''

There's another weak attempt of her trying to get his belt loose before he finally settles on saying; ''I don't want to lose my pants.''

''You won't.'' She clarifies. ''It's only you and me, Sam.''

He didn't explain himself very well, did he? ''I mean… I want to keep my pants on.''

There's a small pause and he can already spell out the question 'how could that possible work?' B star leans promptly on her knees, retracting her hands from his pants, as she says; ''I do not understand.''

He doesn't either. ''How long do we still have?''

''Fifty minutes.'' She affirms, almost as if she's been counting the time.

(It doesn't hurt him.)

''Don't you want to have intercourse?''

He ponders about it, because, does he? She's pretty, and her legs are endless, she looks lean and fit – and who wouldn't want to kiss those lips?

He wants to – he should want to – he doesn't really know what he wants. He's not sure he trusts his own judgment.

''Am I not what you want?''

In a haste he exclaims a; ''yes, you are!'' And he almost says 'it's not you, it's me' but he realizes it's sappy – and stupid and this is not a relationship. ''I just don't know how to do this.''

''Are you a virgin?''

''No.''

''Do you want me to perform oral sex on you?''

Sam looks at that mouth of hers, and for a second, he's actually about to say yes.

''No.''

He pushes his back against the satin pillows, twirling with the end of the pink bed sheet. ''I broke up with my girlfriend.''

She presses her lips together, leans back on her ass, and crosses her legs underneath her sitting body.

''Do you want to talk about it?''

''Yes.''

It looked like a strip club, only everyone danced around naked and the waitresses were barely wearing anything to cover up their God giving parts.

There was more alcohol there than he had ever seen in his entire twenty-five years of living, and even as a hardworking merchant at his father's company; 'Evans Production', there wasn't nearly as much desperation in the family business with the mayor clients carrying equally as much secrets, than some of these men seemed to let off.

''Puck, I changed my mind. I need to file in some reports that I've completely forgotten about.'' He walked behind his best friend, who seemed to know the inside of the club like the back of his hand.

Sam rose a questionably eyebrow. Only a questionably eyebrow, nothing more. ''They're due in like, a day.''

(He lied, whatever.)

With a wave of his hand, Puck pulled his friend up to an empty table. ''Relax, Dory. Do you want to escape another sleazing slut–sorry–'' Puck winced as a passerby waitress shot him a dirty look, ''fucking you over.'' He quickly finished. ''Or do you want to show every other girl out there that's going to wanna hop on your dick that you're a changed guy, who doesn't do bullshit… because girls dig that package. They go for the assholes, not the goodytwoshoes.''

The more he heard the idea, the more he wanted to go home – or a motel. Not home. He couldn't go home.

''Yeah, because what I need is another girl to get over the former one that...'' He didn't finish the sentence. It didn't feel real just yet.

''You know what I mean.''

He did. Sometimes Sam regretted knowing exactly what Puck meant.

''What am I supposed to do, anyway? I can't just… choose?''

Puck shrugged, halting near a table. ''That's about it, really.''

He doesn't talk about it, and she listens like she's hearing Morgan Freeman himself narrate an endless story about an innocent man that gets gang-banged a lot, used by his prison guards and escapes out of his hell hole by crawling through layers of shit and pee and other things that Sam can't really phantom.

Her brown eyes look over his face as if she's searching for any sign of life, and he stares at the bed sheet because looking at her face might possibly bring out emotions that he's not ready to share.

''They say talking to a stranger is cathartic. I think it's because there's nothing to worry about. You don't have to worry about someone ever finding out, because, who does this stranger know that you know, too?''

The wise words of a beautiful hooker. Who could have thought?

Actually, she sounds a little too wise.

''Did you go to college, or something?'' He looks up, his index finger moving over her sheets. ''You sound…''

''Educated?'' She purses her lips, another faint line of a smile on her face. It's almost a smile. He holds on to that thought like it's a land mine; tender, gentle – he won't touch it. It's almost a smile. ''Sort of.''

She's not going to tell him what he wants to hear and he's not going to push her to do so, either.

She's got a point though. Who could B star possibly know that Sam Evans knows, too?

''It's not that.''

''Then what is it?'' She sounds genuinely curious.

He's not sure yet. He's still guessing. Looking around. Maybe the answer will be there. Maybe he'll find that thing he lost when he left his premises. ''I don't know yet.'' Sam settles on.

He notices that she wants to say something; her lips open and her tongue peeks out, but her mouth closes after a heart beat and she nods; like she actually gets him. As if I don't know is incredibly insightful to a secret he's meant to keep.

''I know.''

Then she gets off the bed and walks to that little mirror and a wooden desk with a squeaky chair where she takes out a couple of hundred dollars from one of the cabinets.

When she gets back at the foot side of the bed, she's extending her hand with the three hundred dollars he had given her.

Sam frowns.

''You should take it.'' B star explains. ''I don't think anything's going to happen tonight. Your mind's not in it and clearly someone has fed you the insane idea that having sex with a prostitute could unction that ache you feel in your heart. But really, it can't.'' Thank you, Puckerman. ''You don't want this – not really. Furthermore, you somewhat exterminated the mood.'' She shrugs. ''And… I don't like taking people's money like this… undeserved. At least, I don't think you deserve that.''

He wants to say something, something along the lines of 'I don't want the money back' but she cuts him off not even at the shallow intakes of his first breath, with a; ''take it.'' Shoving the money into his hands, as a relentless feature fixates her face.

So, he does.

He knew he wanted her when she came on stage, her show-name echoing all around, while the longest pair of black stilettos hiked up one pair of endless, tanned legs. He felt like he was twelve years old again; standing in front of the new comic book that took his complete attention. And his eyes, trailing along the thick, scripted letters that filled his mind with the words; 'I want that.'

''Hot damn!'' Puck exclaimed. ''I've never seen her here before… Fuck.''

Something reflected in her Bambi eyes. It's not what you'd expect, it's not the common traits he's come to see in these girls, and it's not the luscious, determination, confidence or even some sense of pleasure that varies around.

This was a glint of constraint. This was something else.

She threw her right leg around the pole, pushing her Sex up against the iron bar.

''…Dude… Sam.'' Puck eyed her contently, leaning forward in his chair. ''You've got some paper dollar bills?''

There was a song filling the star-stricken club. It was alluring and sensual and when a male voice uttered; 'so we're making love… and you feel the power', her eyes found his in the sea full of horny ass costumers as she enveloped her other leg, almost too easy, around the pole, and pulled herself up with a body strength that screamed; 'former dancer'.

She tossed her head back, her long, silk looking hair falling past her shoulders.

When B star looked back up with an indiscernible look in her eyes; Sam very well realized his loosened grip on his conscience.

(For that moment, he was okay with it.)

Her hair is in a loose ponytail when she locks the door of the bedroom. She's holding a bag in her hand that he hasn't seen there before, while she places the set of keys in her pockets.

B star is even prettier in a hoodie and sweat pants.

Sam draws a hand through his weary Blonde hair. He realizes in the mist of the darkness just how crazy this is, and when B star turns around and gasps at the sight of him, he realizes that the look in her eyes dumps his insanity into a tight, neatly scribbled sentence; 'you are indeed insane'.

''What are you doing here?''

She looks bewildered and confused, and with the way her right hand is inching closer to her brown hand bag, he's convinced that she's a proponent of self-defense classes that comes in the shape of pepper sprays.

''I'm not here to hurt you!'' Sam answers quickly, too quickly, raising both his hands as a way to bear his honesty.

Her hand stops, but her fingers glide dangerously over the zipper of her bag. Almost as if she's giving him a chance to plead his case, but hasn't willingly shied away from the idea that seeing him half-blind is most likely a better way to go around the circumstances.

''I'm just…'' He pauses, she waits. He doesn't expect her to interrupt him. ''I couldn't leave.'' The cold air leaps into his lunges. ''I was here with a friend and he kind of… left. He said something about me needing some privacy.'' Sam winces. It strikes him just how weird this moment really is. He should've just left. ''… What I'm trying to say is,'' he inhales, she looks at him, he searches for the right words, ''I tried calling him afterwards but at the third beep I kind of… pressed disconnect.'' Her fingers seem to relax, along with her posture. ''So, I stayed here, because I realized I can't go home.''

''You can't?''

''Too many memories, I guess. Too many thoughts.''

B star crosses her hands underneath her chest. ''If there's one thing I know then it's trying to avoid every possible hazard of seeing what we desperately want to forget.'' She seems to reluctantly give in, ''the mind's a lethal place, you know.''

Too lethal for his taste.

''I guess calling my friend to pick me up would've evoked those memories. Maybe that's why I couldn't leave.'' He shoves his hands into his pockets. ''All I know is; I wanted to stay here and wait for you. Because, you're not part of the memories, and everyone else I know, is. Does that make any sense to you?''

She doesn't wait too long to say; ''it does.'' B star sighs. ''You tell yourself that you're tied between 'wanting to be alone' and 'not wanting to be alone'. You're indecisive.''

Sam digs his hands deeper into his pockets. It's warm. Just what he needs right now.

''I don't know if you do this but…'' He shrugs, his eyes wavering over hers. ''Do you want to –''

''Grab some coffee?''

It's approximately one 'o clock in the evening. He's not sure if the stores are still open, but this is New York, there's bound to be one coffee shop open. And if she doesn't mind, because he sure doesn't mind, maybe they could take the subway all across New York until times the least of their worries, and like, not… talk.

He mutters; ''yeah.''

And she responds with a; ''yeah.''

It's when she decides to walk with him, both content with the silence, that he hears a car speeding away.

Sam wouldn't remotely care about any car at this time of day because it's New York and New York embraces its cars like the overcast sky embraces its stars, but B star looks on mortified and that hand that trustworthy decided to leave the bag, suddenly jumps back to its rightful place.

He doesn't comment.

He'd be startled too if he was a young woman, out with a possible weirdo, and the tires of a car roughly decided to creep out the situation.

She hasn't said anything since the car, and even when they've found a quiet place in a little coffee shop just an hour away from the Brothel, B star seemed to have taken a firm quasi-vow on this 'I'm entitled to my silence' right. But wasn't that only related to the whole arrest procedure?

He doesn't pressure her into talking because she wouldn't pressure him into talking either, and really, he has no right at all to know anything about her life. Hell, he doesn't even know her name to begin with. Let alone her whole life story about stalkers and creeps and 'no wonder you carry a pepper spray in your hand-bag! With this job it's necessary to be packed at all times.' He's not sure her boss is really fond of buying guards for his girls, either.

She sips from her coffee and looks over the mug at nothing particularly. It's like she can't even see him in front of her, seated on a cranky chair. There's something about memories that clamp the best in those eyes of hers and tipper her off the railing. He wants to know, he wants to know what flickers behind her lids.

''Can I at least know your name?''

It takes her longer than the average human to acknowledge him. And even then, her glazed eyes detain his for longer than a minute without so much uttering a word.

''Rachel.'' She clears her throat, placing the cup of coffee back down. ''It's Rachel.''

In a normal situation he would have said; 'and my name's Sam'. But because she already knows his name and he just heard hers, he responds with a simple; ''oh.''

Her name has something strong amongst it, though. Something that fits her.

''It's a pretty name.''

Another feather line of a smile. ''Thank you… Sam.''

He's not sure why or how, but just being with her like this, talking about nothing and staring at everything, is more uplifting then he could have ever thought being with a friend that does know every detail about his life, with the right ideas or the helpful or unhelpful suggestions and the comforting speeches, could have ever been.

Rachel is right. A stranger can help in the most positive ways.

''You know,'' he twirls the mug of coffee on the table, staring down as it swirls. ''I thought about doing something bad, today.''

Rachel presses her lips together. ''You did?''

He hums and nods. ''Seriously bad.''

''How severe?''

Sam clicks his tongue, clearing his throat as he looks up. ''I think the Joker would have joined allies with Batman and have me killed, just because they'd both benefit from removing the dreadful trash of the face of this planet.''

She gasps, her eyes increasing, pupils dilating.

His mom likes to say; 'don't speak such foul about yourself, Sam Evans!' He thinks Rachel has the same train of thoughts.

''Why would you even think such a thing?''

She sounds caring, and that's all he needs right now. He's not even up to wondering if it's actually her feeling some sort of sorrow for him because he's in this indiscernible mess, or if she just pities him in the same way that rich housewives pity the less fortunate housewife.

''You seem like a… nice guy.'' Rachel moves a little in her chair, left, right – and then stops. ''I don't think you deserve a wicked punishment for a single thought – maybe the thought wasn't even that bad.''

''Murder.'' He fills in. ''I was thinking about murder.'' He clenches his teeth, painfully hard. ''Isn't that bad?''

She seems to stop herself from saying something because her vision of him is slowly changing. Maybe she's slowly convincing herself that she's not drinking a cup of coffee with a costumer that has refused to have sex with her because of a bump in his life, but a costumer that's been after her ever since she stepped foot into the Brothel, kept himself at bay and waited to invade her life at the most unexpected moment.

Then her eyes soften.

''It's not her that I want to hurt – ever. I wouldn't ever do that to her, or a girl, or anybody for that matter. I'm a peaceful soul.'' He licks his dry lips, a bitterness flitting over his tongue ''But I do want to scream out loud, and throw shit around and cry and get high or do somethin' insane– I don't want to think about her. Because when I think about her, I think about that guy and when I think about that guy I think about his face and how much I'd love to pound into his face over and over again until he's just… quiet… I can't stand the thoughts.''

''She cheated on you?''

His following words are his confirmation. ''I don't get it, though. I don't get why…''

''You won't get it, ever.'' Rachel fills in. ''No matter what she'll tell you, there's always going to be that one question in your brain; 'but why me?' You'll crack your head and look at every possible corner, because,'' she swallows, ''because you need to know why… Sometimes it gets the best out of people.''

''So what, it's just going to hurt forever?''

It's a question that he never knew he had. Is it… is it going to hurt forever? He's not sure what kind of pain he's feeling right now, but it's leaving him empty. Drained… Quinn meant something to him.

She shakes her head. ''No, it won't. You'll learn to accept that you do deserve better. Because no one deserves to get hurt.''

Sam's got a hold on her now.

''You sound like you've dipped your toes into a similar situation.''

With the mug to her lips, and her eyes detaining his, Rachel says; ''it takes one, to know one, right?''

She sips her coffee.

At three pm Quinn decides to call him. He guesses that she's been wondering when he's going to come back home and how well her imaginative story sounds to the rightful ears. Maybe even remove that guilt she must have been feeling in that cold heart of hers, even lewdly push it his way. She's good with that; turning the cards. A prime aspect of hers.

Heck, maybe she's calling him because this was not the way he should've found out about her feelings for another man. Maybe she cares enough to explain.

She could care less if he's home or not.

(He decides not to pick up.)

He's not sure he's remotely even ready to hear her say anything at all. But after the third call going over, and Rachel staring at the phone that he has removed from his pocket and laid it on the table just to stare at it, she decides to ask; ''is it her?''

She knows the answer almost frightfully so. And that's why she doesn't waste another second longer to pitch in. ''You're only procrastinating what's bound to happen.''

Sam knows that. Don't you think he knows that!

But he replies gentler than his mind wills him to.

''I know.''

Instead of her asking 'because, you're not ready to talk to her?' she decides to grasp a different approach.

''Because, she has the effect to tarnish your sanity?''

It's a full-mouthed; ''yes,'' and he finds himself believing it, too.

Quinn always had a grasp on him. He might have never admitted it to anybody, not even to himself. But deep down inside, the truth's been ticking away at his insides, ready to bubble up and explode. He's about to explode – maybe it's not now, or tomorrow or in a few weeks or even a few months – but it's definitely coming. Sam's not sure what's going to come out when it finally does.

''She must be really… something to get someone like you to change your equitable judgment.''

Sam huffs. ''You don't even know me.'' It's a little bitter so he shakes his head, ''I mean – I didn't mean it like that. It's just that, you don't know me well enough to make me out to be somebody good.'' Sam bites his bottom lip, subconsciously moving a finger over the ear of his mug. ''I could've deserved this, and you don't even know.''

He's got a point, though. Maybe he's pushed Quinn away. He might've been too nice to her, or too considerate of her feelings. Maybe he showed too much love, or perhaps he shouldn't have been all up in his job these past few days. She deserved better, for all he knows. He could've done all the wrong things to the right girl and lead her straight to the less considerate, more cold-like version of himself; Finn Hudson.

It could've been an inevitable occurrence on pause.

And he's sitting here with a hooker in a little café because life is just laughing at him.

How could things have toppled so wrong?

''You're right.'' Rachel affirms, tearing a hole into the silence. She has this little spark in her pupils that twinkles all across her eyes. ''I don't know you.'' She shrugs her delicate shoulders, inhaling a deep breath, before firmly placing the cup down, ''I have no clue about who you are.'' Rachel licks her lips. ''And for all I know I could be sitting with a serial killer or a serial rapist or an abductor.'' That's a little farfetched and from the looks of it, she's damn well serious. ''But I don't feel like you're any of those things. Not yet, at least.'' Sam sheds a meekly smile, ''and I find it hard to believe that someone as devastated and nearly as broken as the mountain top of a volcano deserved any of this.''

She pauses, exhaling a new deep breath, ''you just don't seem like a bad person. And if she really blamed you for everything – she wouldn't be trying to call you, would she?''

It makes sense to her. It somehow makes sense to him, too.

''How 'bout you?'' Sam clicks his tongue. ''Are you a bad person?''

Rachel leans back into her seat, crossing her legs as she utters a; ''I've done bad things.'' He wonders what kind of bad things – and how bad can bad really get with her? ''I'm not proud of my actions.''

''Do you wanna talk about it?''

''No.'' But then she pushes her cup away, and puts both her feet on the floor. ''But I do want to get out of here.''

His phone rings again, and this time he clicks disconnect at the second beep.

One look at his phone, another look at Rachel.

''Where to?''

She shrugs, standing up. ''Anywhere.''

There's a daring little smile creeping up on her face, and he can't help but fall in synch with her.

''Anywhere, sounds nice.''

Rachel adores animals.

They're walking down Lima Park where they've seen at least three people with dogs of average and large sizes strolling around, visiting every possible extraterritorial tree, and Rachel's felt the need to at least touch one of them. She has this broad smile on her face that indicates that she likes to let herself go in the presence of an untarnished life.

As a dark brown Labrador passes along, Rachel's eyes fixated on the dog, a content smile on her face, he finds himself asking; ''are you a vegetarian?''

''Vegan.'' She clarifies for him. Rachel tears her eyes away to cast him a fast glance. ''How did you know?''

''You seem to really like dogs – I was just guessing at the Vegan part.''

She smiles, this time, it's for him. ''I really do like animals.'' She sheds a look at the darkness. ''They have such purity in their eyes.'' A little sparkle here and there, a small twinkle of a grin. ''I can't imagine tarnishing that – could you?''

If he thinks about it like that; ''no, I don't think I could. But I can't see myself giving up eating meat either.''

Rachel nods. ''We can't see ourselves doing a lot of things... but while we're busy analyzing and picking out the every detail of our lives, something called fate is sitting right in front of our door, looking around, watching people pass by… waiting.''

''What happens next?''' His curious mind wonders.

She bites her bottom lip, rebounding with a; ''and then you open the door, and all the papers blow away.''

''Is that what happened to you?''

Rachel flinches; he knows he's said the wrong thing.

But with all the might he has, Sam can't bring himself to take it back.

Maybe she convinced herself that he was going to take it back, because a few seconds pass without anyone saying anything.

As she looks at him, a side-ways glance, she realizes that he has no intention to take anything back.

She can either tell him to 'fuck off', right now, or she could tell him the truth, or bits and pieces of it, that's okay too.

''Most of us had other dreams in lieu of this orbit.'' It's a half-assed size of the truth, and she knows it. ''Including me.''

''Such as?''

She shrugs, her eyes finding the sky. ''Big things.'' How big? As big as the park they're walking through? As big as the sky? ''Things that are reserved for dreams – I can only dream.''

''Why can't you, like,'' Sam shrugs, ''achieve those dreams? Isn't that what dreams are made for. Like, hidden road maps to that infinitive wish.''

Rachel seems to think about it, she purses her lips in thought and lets her eyes dwell along the stars that flicker majestically in her eyes.

''I mean,'' he goes on. ''I'd do anything to achieve my dreams, wouldn't you?''

(It's not a lie – he's not completely honest, either.)

She hesitates, which somehow feels estrange coming from her.

''I guess… yes. I'd do anything.''

He's about to say something, but Rachel quickly interferes with; ''but sometimes doing everything isn't enough.''

He feels like it's a hidden meaning of; 'I have done everything and look where it has brought me'. How bigoted sad must that be, having thrown in your all, and losing every trifle at war.

If he lost his job at the company that he's worked so hard in, laid all his skills and intelligence for... shit–he can't even stomach the thought.

''You've lost a lot.'' He settles on.

Sam takes her silence as a; 'yeah'.

(He wonders what kind of girl Rachel was before she decided to open up the door and allow fate in.)

''I should probably get home.''

Her voice sounds far away, and his follows her in its pursuit.

''Yeah…'' He purses his lips, shedding a quick look at her face, before refocusing on the pathway before him. ''And I should probably book a motel.''

He didn't expect her to invite him inside her clustered life. Neither did he expect a kiss goodbye or a hug farewell.

So, she heads left, and he goes right, and he doesn't expect for a moment that this is their ending.

There's a black car that speeds away when they part, like Usain Bolt in the race for World Champion.

Sam's only slightly terrified.

He wakes up on a rock hard bed, with f-ugly sheets that look like they haven't been washed in days. There's a grey looking pillow underneath his head, and a vague figure of a night stand somewhere at his right. The walls are a shitty color of brown – and fuck it, but he's so far out of his usual sleeping spots.

However, it's not that bad. If he breathes the air in a few times, his threshold will get used to it.

The truth is; he could care less about the dirty motel, or the musky scent of fish that seems to just love to invade his nostrils, because a little while longer in dream-land and a deep afternoon nap combined, would totally be worth the smell. He's even contemplating about calling in for sick-leave, and it's not only because he's exhausted and that staying out so late took a larger toll on his body than expected, but because Quinn's most definitely at her work which would grant Sam some time to pick up his shit at his former house and bring them back here, without her attempts to convince him to stay so they can talk about it.

(She likes talking about stuff, because Quinn finds it important for a couple to talk about their mistakes to prevent them from happening again. It's a good idea, really. But it's mostly him doing the talking and her pointing out why she's right and why he should just stop arguing with me.)

He's not looking forward to staying here for the upcoming days, but he can't bring himself to ask anyone else to let him crash at their place for a while. And yeah, he's well aware that he's got plenty of money to crash at a decent hotel, but he's not in the mood for anything nice, either. Maybe he's run out of believes that Sam Evans could actually deserve anything nice.

Maybe he just doesn't want to.

...

(He doesn't want to go alone.

But he can't bring himself to pick up a phone and dial 555-savemyass, either.)

...

Her face crosses his mind, and there's blonde hair, green eyes and pink lips that beg for his attention.

There's a hand reaching out for him, too.

He finds himself reaching back.

When they touch, she becomes petite.

...

''I called in sick today.''

He didn't go to Quinn.

He didn't go to work either.

''You did?''

She's wearing this sexy lingerie that catalogs portray as the right fit to seduce chagrins. It's red and lacy at places that Sam has to abide himself not to look at.

There's no smile on her face, as she scoots over on her bed.

''Yeah.'' He utters. Rachel's hand trails along his knee. He paid big bucks to see her today. ''I think I know why.''

She hums, pressing her lips together. ''I think you do, too... Could you lie down, please?''

He can't help it. He looks at her stupefied. He frowns and looks stupefied. He's so gullible.

''Can we just... talk?''

Rachel shuts her eyes, dropping her shoulders as if she knew what was coming. As if she'd already received a little preview of the future, but went through the commotions anyway.

She was hopeful, he guesses, maybe even sealed with the idea that yesterday never happened.

With a sigh, she replies; ''of course.''

...

If she knew what wasn't going to happen, why did she let him into her little safety room?

...

Maybe he's worth it, or something.

...

The next time he visits the brothel, the bed's all made up and Rachel's wearing a baggy sweat shirt with the lines 'NYADA' proclaimed on top of it. She's sitting hunched over a book, as he shuts the door behind him.

''You're dressed ... differently.''

Rachel looks up from her study book, one eyebrow hiked up. She knows what he means, and that's why she smiles, because honestly, she is dressed differently.

It's more like the girl that left the hooker bedroom in the middle of the night, her hair in a ponytail and her arms wide open to invite a stranger for a cup of coffee.

Funny.

Funny as in the none-comical more so peculiar state of events; funny. Even cynical at times.

''I am, aren't I?''

This time, he smiles as he walks over to the side of the bed.

''NYADA?'' He juts his chin to her sweater. ''Is that like a ... metal band or somethin'?''

She shakes her head.

''No. It's not.''

And that's where she leaves it.

...

She twirls and she turns around as she talks animatedly about the book on her bed. There's a smile on her face that fills her eyes just perfectly, and a jump to her steps that remind him of misty mornings and clear blue skies and the intake of fresh air in the middle of a cold, morning day.

''It's beautiful… heartbreaking, I can't believe – It's touching. And not in the metaphorical, spiritually sense of it all… Not like that. It's like it's really reaching out to you – really, really, reaching out. It's as if it touches you with those perfect, talented, crafted hands and fingertips and clear-skied emotions; it's touching.'' She inhales a deep breath, her eyes flickering across his face. Like she knows he gets it. Like his emotions are as clear as lasing waters and they're washing over his face and she can see it. ''The story's actually reaching out to me.''

''Hamlet is indeed a beautiful story…'' He's twisting a lose thread of her bed sheet in between his fingertips like the first day he met her. ''Have you ever –'' she pointedly sits up, tugging the book on top of her lap as she waits for him to speak. ''Read a story that stuck to you, like, forever? It's like, every second, and every minute and every hour of every single day it's just there and it can't get out. And you're just, reliving those pretty moments like you were there when it happened and you felt everything.''

He's never been good with words. He's more of a drawer. An artist.

She understands.

Rachel smiles, and she understands.

''Yes. I have.'' She purses her lips. ''As though the critical parts of the stories are moving through your mind like movies on replay?''

''Yeah!'' He exclaims. ''Exactly.''

That's exactly what he means.

''I like talking to you.'' Sam confesses.

''I like talking to you, too.''

He spends every free miniature minute of his time with her in the brothel. He gets in, and they talk. He gets in, and sits on that bed that creeks a little more because she's been sharing it with someone who has no clear morals in their life. Maybe a wife here, a kid there, a steadfastly job on the side. He gets in, and ignores the men that get out. He gets in, and looks at her because he can't picture himself looking at anyone else. Not like this, at least.

He spends every night with her at that same coffee shop in the middle of New York. She talks about books and he listens. Sometimes they don't talk at all. Sometimes he talks about his work, and she listens. Sometimes he pictures her saying; 'are you really doing something you love, or is it just because you worked so hard to get it that it has become an exigency to love it?' He pictures her saying it, because he pictures himself analyzing his past.

She asks him to draw her one day, when he brings up his artistic long forgotten past.

(He hesitates, but then abides.)

He fills the picture with thick charcoal to make her seem withdrawn; it's stylized. There are long, fast streaks that articulate a clandestine facial expression and an intense gaze at the mirror that populates his mind with curiosity, because, who is this girl that's looking right back at him?

Does he even know her?

Does she even know herself?

There are moments when she looks utterly abstract.

It's a fast little sketch of her sitting in a squeaky chair and her index finger lingering on her pouty lips.

But it's; ''beautiful,'' she chases. ''You… you are amazing.''

He sees it, hears it, notices it in her every movement, and then she breathes life into the words.

''Why didn't you pursue a career in drawing… You have,'' she swallows. ''Talent.''

Talent.

Talent.

He has talent.

''I don't know.''

There was a time when all he wanted to do was color this black and white world with his pencil. Graffiti this brittle world.

There really was a time, Rachel. He wasn't always a workaholic that neglected his girlfriend.

''Does it matter?'' Sam asserts.

Her eyes dart from him to the paper, she sniffs as she looks physically strained.

(But then her shoulders slump and she frowns.)

''Yes… I – I think it does.''

She thinks.

He thinks.

They both wonder.

Does it matter?

There's that same black car that sped away last time.

But this time, it's not going anywhere.

The guy has a cigarette lit up between his lips, one foot against the wall and the other steadfastly on the floor.

In an unspoken guy bond, they nod when Sam approaches.

He doesn't think about it. He doesn't think about it. He doesn't think about It–

''You here for B star, too?''

He thinks about it.

It's dark out here. For all he knows there could be a suspicious car lingering in front of her door, and he wouldn't even know.

''Are you here for B star?'' Sam settles on.

The guy blows a puff from his lips, his eyes glazing over the empty parking lot.

''She has no gag reflex – fuck yeah I'm here for her.''

His common sense tells him to ignore the words, turn around and wait somewhere else. Wait until she's done, wait until they're done. He won't even notice the finger marks on her skin, and the smell of sex in her room.

''And she's hot, too.''

He tells himself that he shares something with her that nobody that enters that room ever will.

(He reminds himself just how easy it was for her to share with him.)

''Can you imagine having that chick as your girlfriend?''

He thinks about it, a lot more than his subconscious likes to admit.

''I can't wait to fuck her again – how about you?''

Fuck her again.

Again.

The guy is old and grey and there's a little scar that's on the right side of his chin. His lips are chapped, and the smoke that soars from the cigarette, fills his nostrils as a taunt for action.

Those lips, on Rachel…

He can't stomach the thought.

''Look.'' Sam snorts. ''She has… gonorrhea,'' fuck. ''You should probably stay away from her.''

''W – what?''

The door opens.

There's an awkward pause in the air, and Sam looks expectantly at the open door that displays an exhausted Rachel. His eyes find hers, and in the mist of it all, the smoke of Belgium cigarettes, the tension of a lie, he holds on to the thought that this can't actually be happening.

(Choose me. Not him. Please choose me.)

''I should… I should go.'' The guy mutters.

Rachel frowns, but she doesn't question it. ''If you say so…''

There's a light thud that hatches from the cigarette when it falls down. A foot squashing it until the fire flutters out.

Sam doesn't regret a thing.

''I do.''

The guy gives her a once over, a disappointed looking itching his features before he shakes his head.

That's a guy who's just begging for a visit from Sam's fists.

He wonders if he did her a favor. Saved her from the hands of a pervert.

He wonders if he did himself a favor. Withheld his sanity from going to those little rooms with those little doors where Rachel's fucking a total random guy.

He can already hear her moan; 'can you make me feel this lecherous, Sammy?'

As long as he doesn't think about it, it's not real.

But he sees her mushed up bed and notices how she's trying, trying, trying to get her hair straight but it's all over the place and strings of beautiful, thick hair gets stuck between her fingers and she can't do that.

He's not comfortable. Not at all.

She notices.

''We could… go to my house?'' She tries. ''My real house… if you'd like.''

He's staring at the bed, at the sheets that are lying on the floor, at the ripped condom package that's haunting the trash bin, at the way her legs seem to tremble, at the way she avoids his look.

He tosses in a; ''we should.''

It sounds exasperated.

(Maybe she offered her house in exchange for his everlasting friendship. Maybe he's sort of creeping up underneath her skin, too.)

Her house is not big. He didn't expect it to be.

It's a lot bigger than the motel he's sleeping in, that's for sure.

And she has a lot more stuff, too.

(He is going to pack his shit from Quinn's. Really, he is. He just needs some time.)

Her walls are a bright shade of yellow that Rachel calls the; 'commemoration of the stars', and the floor is bluer than summer skies and chlorinated water with a twinge of red nail polish and feverish, soaring clouds.

She's walking around the house, a little woozy on the feet, as she throws her purse somewhere on the floor.

He closes the curtains when he catches a little crack.

''So, what do you think?'' She asks nervously, turning around to look at him.

He tugs his bottom lip into his mouth, letting go of the curtains as he shrugs, shoving his hands down his pockets. It's great. But he expected something bigger. He always expects bigger with her.

''It's nice.''

His eyes roam around the room, smiling as he finds a framed picture of her in what looks like her teenage years as she stands amidst two men and a woman in an old fashioned house.

She looked so happy.

''Is that your family?'' He juts his chin towards the picture.

There's a flash of something tragic in her eyes. Rachel doesn't even bother to look at the picture.

''Yes. It… it was.''

He plays with the word 'was' in his mind, he plays with the congested valor to ask her what 'was' means to her. 'We were a family before I decided my vocation lied in the bordello's of our world.' 'We were a family before I lost them in some tragic, life changing event.' 'We were a family before I decided I could get better.'

She takes a step forward, leaning against the couch.

''Can you do something for me?''

He doesn't miss a beat; ''anything.'' And he's shocked at how honest that was.

(Of how easily she's avoiding the subject.)

''Would you draw me?''

He'd draw her every single day, every single way times infinity.

''How do you want me to draw you?''

Naked.

She wants him to draw her naked. Bare. Breast, butt, legs, legs, endless legs, toned stomach, pouty lips, fragile soul, fragile body, fragile Rachel Berry.

He'll do it.

He'll do it times infinity.

She slips out of her hoodie; bares her pink bra, bares her small, perky chest, bares her stomach. She slips out of her skirt – clumsy, skills aside. There's no need for skills between them. No need for experience and facts and jobs between them. They can be messy and stupid and giddy and it's okay.

She unhooks her bra, slips out of her panties and he can imagine her saying; 'I want you inside of me, Sam Evans.'

And he'd reply. 'Not yet, Rachel. Soon. But not yet.'

She lies down, and her arms tremble so much beneath her, he'd almost think that she wasn't really experienced at all. That she's one of those girls that's just professed her undying love for that one special guy; 'and this is me, this is me lying here, naked, inside and out, ready to give myself to you' and she's nervous and scared – because; 'do I please you. Am I pretty enough?' is all she can think about.

''You're so beautiful.'' He mutters.

Her eyes flutter shut as if she's captured him between her eyelids and he needs to soak up, deep, way deep inside of her.

He can hear it in her stealthy breathing, 'I'm scared, Sam.'

Don't be.

There's a pencil and a canvas on top of his legs and he's never, ever not brought the best out of somebody on his painting.

He'll make her perfect.

But, really, that's not hard.

When she sees the painting, her breathe stocks in her throat.

It's a breathy, almost uncoordinated; ''wow.'' That leaves her plump lips, as her fingers tighten around the pink robe. ''Sam… it's… wow.''

Maybe, he does have talent.

Maybe she'll see herself like he sees her.

Maybe she'll stop.

There are no more late nights at a coffee shop and free minutes at the Brothel.

There's only her house at late nights, and sometimes early mornings. Sometimes neither goes to work at all and they just stay at her house.

She looks uneasy in those moments, she fidgets on her couch and looks at the pulled curtains, but he wraps his arms around her and presses her against his chest, and suddenly, she's okay. He's okay. They're okay.

They're okay.

He is not sure when it happened, but one minute he's staring at her eyes, and in the next, he wonders how soft her lips would feel against his.

She would taste like strawberries, because her lips are just that pink.

Rachel sings. He's never heard her sing before. Not in the weeks that he's known her.

But she sings, one day. She sits, legs crossed underneath her butt, hand aimlessly pushing page after page while she reads the Hunger games – and she sings. He knows that song because he has read the Hunger games and he has seen the movie and this is Rue's song.

It's a short melody, but he hears, even in the first tonal, the talent she possesses.

Talent.

They're pretty much a lot alike, aren't they? Him and Rachel.

Sam tells her; ''you have a… magnificent voice.'' Because good is just too… small for her.

She looks up, calm but alert. ''Thank you.'' She doesn't continue reading. He's not sure why.

''I…'' She closes her eyes, inhaling a breath. ''I loved singing.''

That's different.

He frowns.

Loved.

''Loved…'' He voices. It's a shame that she used to love something that's still so hot and clear and cold and sad and beautiful and worth the trouble, because it's every sheer emotion – everything at its peak.

She nods – shakes her head – but nods again.

''Love… I love singing.'' Rachel bites her bottom lip. ''I love singing.''

It's a statement. He feels like it's not directed to him.

''You should.'' He pauses, swallows. ''You could really make a living out of a voice like that… I think Christina Aguilera would feel like a chicken next to you.''

Rachel laughs, lighthearted and sweet. ''I would want Celine Dion to feel like a chicken next to me. Or admire me – or just talk to me – all would be nice.''

She winces as if she can't believe she just said that.

But he smiles and she smiles back, like he's just told her it's okay to be silly because life is silly and their life is silly, and it's a bundle of smiles that are going nowhere.

''I'm serious though.'' Sam continues. ''If I can be an artist, you sure as fuck can be a musician.''

''A Broadway star?'' She muses.

He smiles. ''A Broadway star. Defo.''

He catches her singing more than once, and she stops when he listens and just falls.

At a certain point, she stops hiding all together, because, what's the use?

She loves Broadway.

He loves Avatar.

It's an odd combination, but maybe they could make it work.

But mystery car is at her house again, and he memorizes her pitch perfect voice oozing through his chest while her fingers fidget and fumble with his dyed hair and he can't just walk away when somebody is obviously trying to mess her up. Not when they're that close at being something together… at being more than just okay.

Her voice is his rain, and he's on fire. He figures, he's wants to cool down, squash these flames that latch onto him.

He figures, that's more than just okay.

He strides with long passes, a scowl on his face, up to the hauntingly black car and he shouts for the sake of actually salvaging Rachel, a slur of profanities.

The desperate, rabidity of a; ''what the fuck do you want!'' slips from his mouth, before he has a change of reaching the car.

It's gone before he approaches the unlucky go-getters.

Rachel looks at him, sometimes, when his head is lying on top of her lap and her fingers move through his hair.

She looks at him like Quinn once did.

There's one thing about a car following a girl like Rachel, it's another when the car is starting to follow him.

No, seriously, he's seeing it everywhere. When he opens his blinds – it's there. When he goes out – it's there. It has come to the point that whenever he goes to Rachel's he has to contain himself not to ask her what the fuck is going on.

He can't ask her that. He's terrified that when she does tell him what's going on, it's going to be something really bad and he won't make any attempts to get out of this unscathed.

It's still nice, living in the feign ideals that he's not toes deep in her.

He is, however, in need to talk to somebody, and he hopes that Puck's not all too pissed at him for ignoring his phone calls.

(It's been a while – two or three weeks. He can't tell.)

And to say that Puck's angry with Sam's invested time in Rachel is an understatement.

''You gotta…'' He inhales, ''be fucking,'' Puck squashes – actually squashes – his teeth, ''kidding me!'' He spits out.

He can hear it in Puck's undertone; 'I knew you were easy to manipulate, but this is taking Lady Gaga and Freddy Mercury into a unicorn puked up rainbow and allowing them to make shitfaced-infants together.'

He says it a lot crasser and put on spot. ''She's a prostitute, you stupid motherfucker!''

It shouldn't sting Sam.

Not like that.

Not this much.

But it does.

He bites his tongue. ''We're just friends.''

It shouldn't taste that bitter.

But lies always do.

''Bullshit.'' Puck snarls, jumping from his beige couch. It always amazes Sam that Puck's kept his place so tidy. The guy from college got lost in his own filth, this dude is someone completely… mature. Who would've guessed?

Puck shakes his head, ''that's bullshit and you know it.''

He's not going to admit it. Not yet. Ignorance is bliss, remember?

''I'm not asking for you to understand.'' Sam pitches in, pursing his lip.

''Do you even understand it yourself!'' It's fierce and cold, and Puck throws his arms in the air like he's asking a higher power to swoop him of his feet. ''I should've never left you there. I should've known you were too sentimental for downtrodden girls.'' He mutters, a thought that had been clearly fidgeting in Puck's mind for quite some time now.

''You don't –'' you don't mean that, he wants to say; you don't mean that. But he quickly realizes how wrong that would sound. That the thought of not knowing Rachel is scarier than the thought that something dangerous is going on around her. ''You just don't get it.'' Sam asserts.

Puck drops his arms, his eyes quickly scanning his face. And then his mouth drops open, only slightly so.

Sam feels exposed.

''You… you actually care about her…'' It's a statement, instead of a question, and Sam feels like Puck's going somewhere. ''Do you… love her?''

He can't bring himself to say no. He can't bring himself to say yes either, so he settles with; ''It doesn't matter. You wouldn't understand it anyway.''

There's a small bud of silence and Sam feels his defense mechanism kicking in. Puck's judging him, he just knows it. And where in the hell does he have the right to judge him?

''I just want to know what you want me to do, Puck!'' Sam scoffs. ''I don't need relationship advice.''

''Fuck no, you don't. It's insane to give relationship advice to someone who doesn't have one.''

Ouch. That stung.

''And let's not forget the fact that you still haven't settled shit with Fabray. Is this your way of dealing with pain? Have you even fucked her?''

''That's none of your business.'' Sam spats.

Realization downs on Puck's face in a matter of seconds, ''dude… you haven't?'' He receives confirmation when Sam looks away, hiding his face from Puck's prying eyes. ''Are you living in some kind of fairytale where you expect shit to just… fall into your lap? One big fucking happy ending, fuck it if she's being followed by a suspicious black car. Oh no, who cares, totally safe!'' He chunks, a large dose of sarcasm poking at the corners. ''Do you know the stench that comes off people like that? The car reeks of trouble.''

''You don't know that.'' Sam tries, pulling one of Puck's beige pillows on to his lap. ''It could just be… a stalker or something. I can handle that.''

''You.'' It has a cynical twinge at the end of it. You. ''It's not your job, Sam. You're treading through dangerous territorial. I won't let you go down that road. You're already neglecting work, fuck it if I let you neglect your life.''

He realizes, all too clear, that Puck's not going to help him deal with this. He realizes, all too clear, that nobody is going to understand.

Does Sam need anybody to understand?

''I changed my mind,'' Sam stands up, throwing the pillow with fortitude back to the couch. ''I don't need your help. I'll deal with this myself.''

Puck shakes his head; a weak attempt of clearing the waters fills his voice. ''Sammy,'' a touching endearment he's not usually know for. ''I think there's something dangerous about a hot hooker with a killer voice, amazing dance skills and a car that's following her every way.''

''Don't call her that.'' Sam hisses.

''What?''

''A hooker.''

He stares at her, twirling his spoon across the surface of the plate. It's not the creepy kind of stare; it's more of an infra-red, metaphorical, tryst. Sam squints, his eyes falling across her beautiful, kept, face. It strikes him that she looks a lot stronger, and a lot less guarded than she used to. It unnerves him that he might actually be the cause of her demeanor.

He only dwells upon the thought that her job must take a lot out of her, for a second. Too much to look as fair as she does now.

Sam also notices how her legs seem to knit together. It's something he hasn't noticed before, but ever since he's been spending more and more time with her, it's been creeping up into his mind that she rarely sits with her legs uncrossed.

She has a habit of throwing on a thick sweater when she struts into her house, too.

(It's alluring – he wants to see more, sometimes.)

She finally looks up at him, her lips moist from the spaghetti she's eating, a smile creeping up on her face.

Indomitable, he smiles back.

Then he drops it completely.

''Can I ask you a question.''

He cuts to the chase.

She stares back at him, a curious frown on her face

''Shoot.''

He opens his mouth, the hollow words of a conversation not long ago shifting through his mind, 'are you dangerous…? Should I stay away from you…? Why is a black car following you…? Do you love me…? I think I'm falling for you.'

''Do you want to barge into my ex's house and steal what's rightfully mine?''

Her mouth slightly parts and the wheels in her brain slowly adjust to his request.

Sam vehemently brushes off the idea that she was expecting him to ask her something else entirely.

With a light shrug of her shoulder, and a cheeky half-smile, that should not look that cute on her face, she says, ''do you possess a key?''

He nods.

Rachel licks her lips. ''Why not.''

At least there's something Quinn kept the same in regards of her former life-style. They may have, sort of, split, but she kept the big flat screen he bought two years ago when she moved in, and the furniture is still seated at the far left corner, facing the TV.

He doesn't care, anyhow.

Rachel follows him to the master bedroom he used to share with Quinn. There's only a split second of wonder if Quinn's sharing that bed with someone else, but that second's gone when Rachel rummages along the drawers.

''We should hurry,'' her anxious voice booms. ''She could arrive home any minute.'' Her fingers pinch and pull at every fabric that remotely looks male. Maybe he should tell her that some things might not be his. ''And I'm not fond of criminal records. I need to smile on pictures or else they'll just look so… dull. However, smiling on criminal records,'' Rachel frowns and purses her lips, neatly placing the clothing back as she goes on and starts at another drawer. ''It's rather, pathetic, really. As if you're happy you got caught.'' She quivers at the thought.

''So, you wanna tell me you never got caught by the police?'' He cheekily fetches.

Part of him is joking, another part…

''What, no!'' She quirks her left eyebrow up at him, halting momentarily in her pursuit through the underwear drawer, ''against all odds, I – Rachel Berry have not stepped foot into a police station for as long as I'm able to breathe.''

He chuckles. She's quite overly-dramatic, isn't she?

She huffs, staking another pile of clothes neatly together. ''Besides, I would have thought that you would have been the victim of the awful stench and environments of a police cell.'' She quivers another time. ''I've heard they're not pleasant.''

Sam steps her way, smiling at the way her eyes dart from his face, to his chest, and back up to his face.

(He's not sure, he can't tell – but does his face fluster as much as hers, right now?)

''Actually, I have endured the awful stench of jail cells.''

''You have?'' She squeaks.

''Yeah,'' he shrugs, nonchalantly. ''Remember that friend I told you about, the one that's Jewish too?'' She confirms with a short nod. ''Well, he was kind of a rebel. Wherever he went, I went. He really attracted trouble, though. Narrative, we were the recantation of the dumb and dumber duo. If one falls, the other's sure to trip around his legs.''

She giggles at that. ''So, no to; scary attempts at trying to become the real life Avatar of our generation?''

''What, me?'' He rolls his eyes. ''Already did, done that. No success.''

A laughter bubbles out of her mouth, harmonistic and pretty.

''Good thing you're still alive and well.''

He's about to agree on that when the noise of a door unlocking, gets his attention.

''Okay, okay. Act normal.'' He ushers, running through the room as if he's looking for the right place to hide. He's thinking; the closet – but wait, Quinn always changes out of her clothes when she hits home. Maybe underneath the bed, she's not fond of bending down.

''Act normal?'' Rachel hisses. ''How will that even help?''

There's no reason to hide, he realizes, when the sound of the door shutting close reverberates, it's his house, too.

One look at Rachel, her flushed cheeks, the anxiety of jail cells and handsy prison mates– he realizes, he doesn't want to hide her either.

''We'll just have to face the wrath of my ex-girlfriend… together.''

Ex-girlfriend, soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend; same thing.

If there was any scintillate of fear left in her eyes, then it's gone now.

He can already hear her reason.

Together.

The look on Quinn's face; priceless. The look on Rachel's face; memorable. The look he sheds at his and Rachel's conjoined hands; evermore.

It's hard to read Quinn. She hides her emotions really well, and he's not sure how he ever fooled himself into thinking that she actually loved him. It's one thing to hear the words every day; it's another to actually mean it. And not even the art of perfection, or damn well near perfection, is enough.

He's more into imperfectly, perfect girls anyway. With everlasting shiny hair, doe Bambi eyes and tiny freckles on their noses, he's not being judgmental, but being petite and having small, soft hands, makes it even better.

''Sam,'' his name leaves her mouth in a gasp like a detonated inflatable tube.

Quinn leaves it at that, he notes. ''I came to get my stuff.''

She doesn't respond.

So, he leaves. Retreats back to his–her room. But not without throwing one last parting greet.

''It's over, furthermore.''

Maybe he's going to give Puck a call later, rejoice about his overdue break-up.

The walk back to Rachel's place, with two sacks full of clothes, is silent.

He's sure that this trip to Quinn's house was more a closure matter than the importance of his clothes.

He's probably going to burn them anyway. Too many memories.

''What's going on between us?''

Rachel's question is filled with wonder, doubt, fear, worry, hope. He's not sure how to answer.

He's not sure how to explain their residual conjoined hands as they're walking down the streets.

He gives her his most, trademarked, straight-forward answer; ''I don't know.''


Sam's always been an easy bleeder.

In High school he had an itch. The necessity to save people, fight battles that weren't his to fight, stepping on hot platforms, burning his skin at bonfires because a guy wanted more from a uncooperative girl. He was the guy that went home with a black eye for someone who was doomed by his peers because of their social standards.

He was that guy.

That guy followed him to an alley.

That guy defended the honor of the girl.

That guy is an easy bleeder.

The first hit is in his stomach. The second feels like a baseball bat against his lip.

He screams; he's not numb to pain.

He stands up; he's numb to common sense.

But there are many, at least five and they're bigger; he's fought big – and they're stronger; he's fought strong–the irking need to listen to his common sense is there. However, common sense has no chance against the matters of the heart.

He sees her face, across the blood and pain and the hissing of words that sound like; ''this is what pretty boys get,'' – ''tell her this is repayment of her treachery,'' and he sees her, like the angel that she is. Descending on to his fragile heart.

She's got it now.

She has his heart.

He hits the ground. Can he still make it to her house? Sent out a warning, perhaps? Maybe, maybe tell her that he's okay.

He left with the thought of her on his mind.

That's not okay.

That's wonderful.

Someone's face hovers over his, grabbing him around his collar and yanking him up. Like a lifeless doll in the hands of his puppet master. ''Ya tell that bitch we want our mone' in one week at the back corne' of Curtsy's old dinin' café,'' there's a thick scar running across the side of his face. It moves back and forth when he snarls; ''next time, we won't spare ya. Tell her that'd just be half of her atonement.''

He barely processes the words he's saying, but there's the scent of garbage creeping through his nostrils and the smell of fish on Scarface – so it becomes a remembrance.

A remembrance from the time he looked the devil in its bleary bull's eye, and affirmed in his most valiant of stages as a guy with blood trickling across his chin could muster; ''go to hell.''

Scarface elbows him into obscurity.

Puck picked him up from the dirty, locker room floor. His face sealed from any line of judgment. But if Sam peeled off his many preserved layers, he is certain he would find countless of unsaid words.

His best friend pulls him off the floor, as he has done several of times before. The only judgmental line of incomprehension Puck could muster, falling off his lips.

''You just have to be the hero, don't you Sam?''

He just had to–

Him and Rachel, they were okay.

She's crying when he opens his eyes.

Admittedly, he would have been crying too if everything didn't hurt so much. But she's doing enough for the both of them.

He just wants to stretch his bandaged covered hand and trail his thumb across the trickling of her tears.

But he can't.

He's starting to hate that word.

He opens his mouth, but even that hurts. He tries to utter a sound, get her to look at him instead of his unmoving hand. All he lets out is a raspy gasp.

It's enough, though. She looks up.

''Oh, Sam.''

It's okay, he tries.

He settles on a smile that resembles a grimace.

''I should have told you.''

It's okay. Reach out, idiot. Reach out. She needs to know it's okay. They'll find a solution together. Haven't they done that before, didn't that work out just right?

''I should've known.'' Her voice is thick from all the crying.

He tries squinting, moving his head around; it hurts too much. How did he even manage to get into a hospital?

''I should have…'' Rachel shuts her eyes closed, so tightly, he can see ripples form around her eyelids. ''I should have never indulged into… this thing with you.''

Thing. That's what they're calling it now. A thing.

His voice suddenly finds the exit. ''I'll pay them off.'' It barely sounds like him; a mechanism that's been tossed around.

She vehemently shakes her head.

''Rachel, just,'' he gets it now. The pain, the effort it causes to talk, he's fractured his ribs.

''Please stop talking,'' she says, as if she can hear the effort it takes to only breath. ''I told you I made mistakes. This is one of them.'' He's not even going to ask her what for mistakes it were. He doesn't want to know. He just wants to help her. And if it's money that she needs, than fine. He has plenty of it. ''I'm going to get the ten thousand dollars on my own.''

Te – ten thousand dollars.

''How the hell did you manage that?'' He exclaims, stupidly, collapsing right afterwards. This is taking too much out of him.

He can plunder his savings accounts. He has at least a couple of thousand dollars in them.

The look she shoots him sends him back to the first day he met her.

''I've been sober.'' She pitches, as if she knew what he was thinking. ''It's… It's a long story. But I can't explain it to you. I'm,'' she sniffs. He's afraid of what's coming next. He doesn't want to hear. ''I'm dangerous for you, Sam,''

''Don't.'' He mutters.

''You deserve better.''

That's a lie. He's a mess, and she's a mess, but together; together they're complete. She's Broadway and he's Avatar and it's a weird combination, he knows that. They made it work. For as long as they had; they made it work.

She's lying.

''D – did they tell you, those guys, did they tell you anything?''

''Don't leave me, Rachel.''

She looks pained when she asks him the same question again. ''Did they tell you anything?''

It's a weak attempt, covered in stripes of hope and promise.

''No.'' He swallows, dismissing the pain.

It's a nagging feeling, but the pain is not only in his fractured bones, cuts and bruises.

Her eyes skim his face at any trace of lies, and then she leans forward.

And kisses him.

It's gentle, sweet and her hand comes to lie against his cheek as if she's trying to keep the pieces of his fractured everything together. He's so fragile. She holds him together.

He desperately wishes that he were able to deepen the kiss. Trim his tongue across the insides of her mouth, really taste her. This only leaves him craving for more.

It's not a tardily realization that this kiss will stay at craving.

It's denial.

She walks out, after he falls asleep.

He realizes a little too late that he's in love with a hooker.

He's discharged in five days.

On day six he plunders his savings accounts from every dime he has; precisely ten thousands.

It's the question if she's worth his inventory. The money he's piled up for so long. The girl Puck would say he knows nothing about. And in some way, he's right. Sam is indeed clueless about this girl. This girl with the black car on her heels, and a former drug addiction. Who's to say she actually stopped using? Who's to say she loves him back?

Who's to say tomorrow is still waiting for him? Who's to say the sun is going to rise up at the sky in a week? Who's to say that anything in life is certain? He's not sure what's right or what's wrong.

But he knows that when she smiles, her eyes sparkle and the freckles on her nose scrunch up. That her voice soothes him at the moments he sees no clarity in his world. That the touch of her tiny hand gives him strength and the effect of her lips on his fill him with hope; that the understanding she shed him at his times of havoc felt genuine.

His love for her; that, that is real.

That's enough.

What remains is immaterial.

It's easy; he tells them she wanted him to give the money in her place. She's a little scared around dudes that hit defenseless guys in alleys at night because they're missing out on a few extra bucks.

He notes that Scarface doesn't like him, and the stink eye he receives when he hands over the bag tells him that this isn't their end, either. Sam will see him again.

He quivers.

They count the money; it's a little bit scary how mob-ish this actually looks like. He's not going to think about why Rachel got involved with these people. It seems obvious enough; hooker is weary of the warm bodies hovering over her, decides to pop a few pills to not feel anything at all; because he knows how easy it is to go through life without feeling.

For a while, it's amazing. After a while, it's insomniac.

Somehow she didn't have any money left to pay them off.

It's just terrifying – how did she even manage to become the person she is today?

He'll just have to find her and ask her about it, if he wants to know.

(Maybe make her fall in love with him too along the way, get her to quit now that these guys are going to back off, maybe Evans Production has a spot open – wait no, not Evans Production. She's someone that deserves the dream. Her dream. The one that got blown away with fate; Broadway. That's where she'll go.)

''It's all there.''

Scarface nods, slightly disappointed, Sam remarks.

''I guess that's it then.'' Scarface muses. ''Take care of that little piece of ass of yours... She's a labyrinthine – a goldmine.''

''I will.'' He affirms.

He calls her mobile phone along the way, but it goes straight to voicemail.

He has no luck with her house telephone either.

He hopes for the first time, that she's in the Brothel.

It's almost like he's been catapulted right back to the beginning. Home at where it all began. There's the stage he first saw her debouching from. And the table he sat on, in the very being of the Brothel. There's no best friend, this time.

There's no Rachel either.

He's desperate enough to walk to the bar and ask for her whereabouts.

It must sound reptile coming from any other guy. He's nothing different. They don't know him. They don't know him and Rachel. None of them have any clue that she's been spending time with him.

A gorgeous Latina turns around; her eyes narrow into slits at his request.

He almost says Rachel. Almost.

''You look familiar.'' That snide remark and the way her tone hatches, oddly resembles as somebody whose millimeters close at calling security.

''I just need to talk to her.'' He tries, anyway. It's weak. Puck would have laughed at the desperation in his tone.

He finds it comical, for a few seconds, too.

There's recognition, at his request, that shifts through the Latina's eyes. And her face softens, possible, impossible – she looked so cold at large.

''She's gone, pretty face.'' She whispers as if she has to coed her words to ease the sting.

It doesn't help. He doesn't believe it.

''When will she be…'' Her head shakes slowly, frightfully sincere. ''She will be back, right?''

''She quit, sweetheart. She's been gone for three days.''

No, no… That can't be right. She wouldn't do that without telling him where she was going. She wouldn't just pack up her things still in the feign idea that she's being followed.

Maybe they took her. Maybe he's too late.

The Latina sighs, ''she didn't want to hurt you.'' Her fingers move to the towel on the bar, twisting it tightly. ''She cared too much. That's what she does. She cares too much.''

''You know me.'' He does nothing to hide his astonishment.

This time she shrugs, a crease forming between her eyebrows. ''Yeah, I do. Sort'f. She talked about you.''

''She talked about me.'' He repeats.

''Rachel likes you. She got a job offer somewhere else, she took it. So, you could be… safe.''

This pisses him off. ''I am safe!'' Sam exclaims.

''She told me about the beat down, sweetheart.''

He's getting annoyed by her endearments. Regardless, he doesn't comment.

''Just tell me where she is… She needs to –'' he's this close at telling this girl that he's paid the creeps off. That Rachel's not in any danger anymore, and neither is he. But he's not sure he can trust this girl, and he's not sure Rachel told her anything about her little trifle, either. ''I love her.'' He settles on.

It's as much as the truth he can muster up.

The Latina doesn't seem skeptical, just… sympathetic.

''I don't know where she went. If I did; I think I would have told you.''

He thinks so too.

''But, maybe – I dunno… but she has this wicked talent for singing and she used to go to Curtsy's old dining bar for karaoke evening every Tuesday.'' Curtsy dining bar… no wonder the thugs wanted to meet him there. That must have been the first place they met Rachel. ''She's stopped going there for a long time though… After… you know.''

He knows.

''Thank you.''

She draws one shoulder up. ''S'cool. I'm a sucker for outlandish love stories, anyway.''.

He's at the downtown bar every day on karaoke evening for two months before he sees her. Clothed in a plaid skirt and a blue cardigan, she takes a seat on the stool. Filling in for center stage as if that's how it's always been.

He mimics her footsteps, taking his own seat at the center of the crowded place.

There's a familiar sound shifting through the room, it takes him one, two seconds to know where he's heard the melody before.

...I see me through your eyes

Breathing new life, flying high

Her eyes slowly open, and mesmerized, as is everyone in the audience, he gazes.

The soundtrack from Avatar. She's singing Avatar.

Your love shines the way into paradise

So I offer my life, I offer my love, for you

Her eyes scan the crowd.

He feels his body moving out of his seat.

When my heart was never open

(And my spirit never free)

Her eyes find his. There's surprise, sadness, and then – relief.

So, he stops halfway, close enough to feel the intensity of her voice.

To the world you have shown me

But my eyes could not envision

All the colors of life evermore

They're okay.

They're better than okay, if possible – they're… wonderful.

Evermore


End

Song: I see you – Leona Lewis, soundtrack from Avatar.