Disclaimer: I do not own Glee or any of its characters; Ryan Murphy and Co. hold that honor. I'm simply writing this for fun, not profit. Bruno Mars and Co. own song title, "Locked Out of Heaven."
Sam isn't the most perceptive guy.
He'll freely admit that he's not the sharpest tool in the shed. He's average. He scores Cs on most of his calculus tests and scrapes by in English with passable grades, manages fairly well off in history - courtesy largely of an extensive movie history - and would be a perfect student in any sort of theatrical impressions' course (which, sadly, McKinley has neglected to adopt insofar).
But Sam knows things.
Like that time Tina bitched him out. Totally had nothing to do with his kickass Darth Vader impression when she entered the room, although it was, admittedly, a contributing factor. No, apparently Tina still craved that which she could, by unspoken Glee dictum, never have: a greater role in the Glee club. She spent four hours ranting to him on the phone about it that night, calling him and demanding his attention by immediately bursting into tears. (Okay, so maybe a sane guy would have hung up then, but Sam wasn't about to do that to one of his own, especially someone that clearly needed a sympathetic ear.)
Or that time when Marley tripped into him, dumping the entire contents of her lunch tray on one of his grungier jerseys (math finals; killer in anything but comfortable wear that he could snooze in after a valiant eight-minute attempt at answering any questions). She'd burst into tears, fleeing before he could get so much as a word in, and when he found her huddled on the locker room floor numbly hours later (fine, fine, guys weren't allowed in the girls locker room, blah blah blah, but Coach Beiste totally let him have the key to lock up sometimes and he wasn't using it for unjustifiable purpose), he knew that something was wrong. He didn't ask, didn't push her for answers, just slid down to the floor next to her and waited. He let her cuddle up underneath his arm after a time, resting her head against his shoulder as silent tears slid down her cheeks.
"I don't know what to do," she'd choked.
"About what?" he'd asked, out of reflex more than anything, but she'd already clammed up and refused to speak to him.
It wasn't until sectionals that he'd recalled how pale she had seemed, how fragile she'd felt pressed up against him. It scared the hell out of him, thinking that someone, someone like Marley could be so deep in a spiraling, terrible cycle that no one would notice until she vaulted over the edge and crash-landed back to earth. (He still felt awful thinking about that, too, that he hadn't been there to catch her before she hit the ground like some good noble guy would.)
Sam doesn't always miss things. He notices when Artie shows up in Glee club with scrapes on his face and knuckles, pulling him aside after class and asking, bluntly, whether he's okay. And when Artie says no, Sam doesn't press the issue; he simply reaches forward and gives his shoulder a reassuring squeeze. When he next sees Artie in Glee club, the scrapes are mostly gone, his entire demeanor calm and cool once more. Sam doesn't push it; he knows pushing it is more likely to turn people away than win them over.
Even when Finn expresses doubts about his ability to command the Glee club in Schuester's absence, Sam doesn't let his own doubt in Finn's leadership capabilities overwhelm him. He emphasizes Finn's role in the past, his unflagging ability to step up to the plate whenever the Glee club needed him and doing what needed to be done. When Finn retorts that that was then, when things were clear cut and he wasn't a leader, Sam quietly reminds him that he isn't in high school anymore, either, and there are different expectations out in the real world, regardless of how similar it seems to just high school. There are still moments when someone needs to be there, to take charge, and Sam channels that, invigorates it, embeds it into Finn's consciousness in a way that he doesn't question it again.
But Blaine is different. Blaine has always been different, Sam supposes.
Their relationship got off to a rocky start, but this year, Sam's almost convinced that the past is well and truly behind them. Blaine certainly hasn't brought up the I'm-not-for-sale debacle since their last argument (although maybe the fact that Sam didn't simply back down at the first shove alarmed him enough that he didn't see reason to bring up the point once more), and since then, they've been cool with each other. Sure, Sam still struggles to understand the whole concept of one dude liking other dudes sometimes, but it's not unnatural to him. He's seen Kurt and Blaine in the choir room far too often to be grossed out by it in any way. They're oddly sweet, in their own way, sort of gentle and cautious in a way that most couples just aren't.
He's seen the way that Pucks and Quinns and Finns and even Rachels go after their prey with a vengeance. He's seen the fallout of it, too, ruefully reflecting upon his brief relationship with Quinn. Underneath all the bitchiness and hate, she was actually a nice enough girl, funny and intelligent and compassionate in a way that didn't show too often. He liked that about her, the challenge of drawing it out of her, but in the end, it was too much for both of them. Sam doesn't regret it like he thinks he should, doesn't ache for their relationship any more. He misses Mercedes, but even she's faded to the background, lost in her own pursuits of happiness. He knows that high school is high school, and no matter how loving or tender or sweet certain, beautiful, pristine moments in time may appear, ultimately, they all crumble down and he's left to rebuild in their wake.
But Blaine and Kurt are different. Because there isn't the sense of impending departure with them, the overhanging deadline that cuts short deeply romantic gestures and demands more neutral promises instead. There aren't explosive fights in the hallway, swooning kisses by the stairwells, loud declarations of their passion for one another.
No, theirs is a kind of subtle love, an inexorable force that draws focus. Rachel and Finn can shove their tongues down each other's throats in the middle of the choir room and Sam registers only a faint twinge of disgust at the borderline obscene amount of PDA, but when Kurt slides his hand into Blaine's or Blaine squeezes Kurt's knee, it's like the world pauses, just for a moment, and everything else becomes a little more superficial, a little less real.
Because they're real. Their love and compassion and genuine attention to each other is slow and mesmerizing and sort of indescribable in its own way, and Sam feels content knowing that they have each other. They don't need the love triangles and the drama to feel alive; they have each other. And that's always, always, always been enough. And it always, always, always will be enough.
Until it isn't.
Sam sees that, too, how much it destroys Blaine. He can't see Kurt because he's a hundred miles away, but he sees the way that Blaine's entire world concaves, crushing inward. Strangely, it has a magnifying, almost terrifying effect on his personality: he becomes more outgoing and outspoken than ever, even bitching Unique out a little when she first expressed an interest in becoming the new Rachel (which, Sam admits, all seems a little contrived to him, because he's totally caught Artie swooning during Blaine's performance). He retreats and lashes out and just crushes himself inward until at last Sam can't take it anymore. When he sees Blaine packing up shop, ready to leave for-ev-er, he intervenes.
Because what else can Sam Evans do?
It seems to work. Maybe. That's the part where his perceptiveness gets a little foggy, and the C-average, impressionist extraordinaire creeps back in. He can pick up subtle little nuances about most of the Glee clubbers without consciously registering them, but presented with an open challenge like Blaine (who, according to both Artie and Finn, broke down as soon as he auditioned for their Grease production), he doesn't know what to make of all the signs.
It's like he told him, weeks ago when Blaine was still mired in his own Kurtless-induced depression: he's never had a gay guy friend like Blaine.
It's not that Blaine weirds him out. He doesn't. He likes spending time with him during Glee club. It's fun. They can harmonize pretty well and they like a lot of the same artists (admittedly top forties, but come on; what's not to love about P!nk and Katy Perry?). They both know choreography better than most of the club and spend plenty of their free time between commands dedicating themselves to bettering their performance. Curious and kind of cocky about it, Sam rolls his hips one afternoon directly at Blaine from across the room, daring him to respond with some preppier maneuver. To his surprise, Blaine flushes pink and trips into Artie when he wheels by, not responding to the challenge. It's only after practice ends that Sam berates himself for the bravado of it; he never heard the full story about why Blaine was so adamantly opposed to the whole 'selling sex' idea, and he doesn't want to respark old tensions.
To make amends, he sits next to him at lunch the next day, pointedly sitting close enough and talking directly to him instead of the group as a whole to emphasize how much he personally wants to stay friends with him. Blaine blushes again as he picks over his meal (which, Sam has to say, looks more like rabbit food, but Blaine's sort of skinny, anyway, so maybe he likes it), not saying much besides a couple perfunctory "Oh, sure, sure," and "That's great," and "I'm really sorry, too, Sam," and "I want to be your friend."
During history that afternoon, amidst daydreaming about the Mayan apocalypse, Sam realizes how his closeness have been a little much and bites his lip indecisively as he looks over at Blaine, seated halfway across the room diligently taking notes (and some day, some day Sam is seriously going to steal that damn history notebook and see what the hell all the doodling is about, because there is no way that their history class is that interesting). As though by some signal, Blaine looks up, meeting his gaze and offering a weak smile that could almost be interpreted as shy before looking back down at his papers, scribbling more furiously than ever.
Determined to settle things once and for all, Sam pulls him aside in the library (and yes, maybe grabbing his arm and dragging him out of the hallway was a little too straightforward, but Blaine didn't say a word about it and Sam doesn't like to dwell on possible mistakes; there are too many real ones as it is). He tells him that he doesn't want to intimidate Blaine into thinking that they have to be friends, earning a confused look and a similarly baffled response, and eventually settles for a rushed, "Do you want to go out for dinner?" when the bell rings. "We can talk about it, I mean," Sam says. "You know. Over Batman and bread sticks." He offers his most winning smile, not sure why Blaine's staring at him so blatantly until he realizes what he just said. "Oh. Uh. Shit," he adds eloquently, reaching up to rub a hand through his hair. "You know - "
"I think that'd be great," Blaine blurts, and just like that, "Breadstix, Friday, seven," is totally on.
And Sam actually has a great time. Sure, he invites Tina and Sugar to feel less weird about taking Blaine alone on a dinner outing, but it all turns out fine. Blaine smiles and looks more relaxed than he has in a long time while Sam does his impersonations of George W. Bush between bites of alfredo. And maybe the whole sitting-close-to-a-dude-in-a-booth isn't the straightest thing that he could be doing, but Tina and Sugar are totally hip-to-hip on the other side, and there isn't anything remotely suggestive about them.
It's all context, Sam decides. As long as both he and Blaine know that there's really nothing to a straight guy and a gay guy sitting next to each other, there's nothing to it.
It's that simple.
Until it's not.
He doesn't know how it happens, exactly, but suddenly one dinner date turns into three. A night with the guys turns into a night at his place watching 300 (which he's pretty sure Blaine doesn't like at all, but he still sits through the entire movie without complaint, even getting up to get more popcorn for them halfway through it; a generous gesture Sam's pretty sure had the additional benefit of keeping him away from the television). Going over choreography turns into shameless bashing of each other's dance moves, laughing and arguing about it until they're both a little breathless from it.
All of that would have tipped a more perceptive guy off to the Something, but Sam's only about three-quarters full in the perceptiveness department and that one key slipped past his grasp. He enjoys spending time with Blaine; it's a break in his otherwise busy schedule, between studying and working and engaging in his other social spheres. He's always been a bit of a social butterfly, comfortable taking risks and making friends even in the most unpromising situations. (Kitty, it turns out, is his one failure; she utterly refuses to communicate with him after his singular attempt at learning why she doesn't like any of them. At all.)
But he's never had someone crush on him before. He's crushed on girls and received their reciprocation once they realize that he's more than just the Kentucky fried stripper, but he's never been crushed on. Not hard. Not like Blaine.
It's the staring that finally gives it away. One moment Sam will be looking at his textbook, the next glancing over at Blaine, always meeting his gaze before Blaine hastily looks aside, pretending the moment never happened even as Sam surreptitiously files it away as nothing. Whether it's a quick drink from the water fountain, a hurried visit to his locker, or just a glance in the hallway, Sam notices the way that Blaine's gaze lingers on him. Even their conversations start to turn decidedly one-sided as Blaine stops and just listens more. At first, Sam thinks he's just been polite, and so he plows through his monologue without thinking, rambling on until some compelling force drags him away. And Blaine never voices a complaint at the way Sam dominates the conversation; he simply smiles and tells him what a great idea he thinks it is.
And then Sam decidedly takes a step back, because Blaine knows he's straight just as Blaine knows Blaine's gay, and that means that there's no way that he actually has a crush on him. Content with his conclusion, he rushes forward the moment he sees him in the hallway to break the good news about the Warblers, only to be ambivalently pushed aside. Vexed by the halfhearted reception and determined to win him over (because come on, he's one guy, he can't do this alone and Blaine is supposed to be in this with him, their president and vice-president), he gets sidetracked and asks him for chap stick, not thinking twice about it until he's actually applying it to his lips, handing the capped stick back with a smile before trotting off to his next class.
It goes well from there; the evidence is overwhelmingly in their favor, and Sam actually feels pretty good about himself for deducing it all on his own. Sure, he's not the smartest cookie in the bag, but he's definitely smart enough that he knows cheating when he sees it, and the Warblers were cheating. Bolstered by his search, he pursues the task of disqualifying them with a vengeance, barely noticing Tina's disastrous solo in the locker room. (Another late night two hour phone conversation in which Sam assured Tina that she was still beautiful and wonderful and talented and deserved the best.)
It isn't until he finally hits the nail on the head - until performance enhancing drugs turns up on his Google search - that he feels relief, a sudden burst of realization making him want to shout with satisfaction. He doesn't (mostly because he's in a library at the time and that's generally frowned upon), but he does rush to the gymnasium, barely paying any mind to all the decorations and other things set up because oh, hello, Sadie Hawkins dance. Whoops.
It doesn't matter - he's done it, he's done it, he's done it - and as soon as he steps into the room he knows who he has to find. He doesn't hesitate, plowing his way through the crowd, calling Blaine's name long before he spots him. He yanks him away from Tina, mentally applauding himself for another good deed done (because as sweet as it is that Blaine wants to ease the pain of Tina's crush, he doesn't have to ruin his own night to do so) and eager to show him the same results that he's found. Blaine pulls away, though, and Sam feels frustration and excitement warring with each other as he demands what, what could they possibly be doing that was so damn important when the future of their Glee club was at stake?
Blaine and Tina exchanged a single confused look and then Blaine was racing after Sam as he half-hauled him along before taking off. They reach the library in record time, Sam texting Finn about it while Blaine slowly scrolls through the pictures Sam's compiled.
At last, the three of them are in the locker room and Sam feels powerful, invigorated by his discovery. It makes his gut twist to think that he'll have to denounce the Warblers from their high horse in order to get the news out, but it also makes him more excited, knowing that they're back, they're back, they still have a chance at competitions and victory and glory.
Finn doesn't share his passion and Sam can sense Blaine's lukewarm enthusiasm, supporting him for the sake of supporting him more than anything. Afterwards, when Trent and Finn are gone and it's just Sam and Blaine, Sam pleads his case to Blaine, showing him the pictures, showing him the evidence, the video footage, everything he's compiled until Blaine gives him a single pained look and tells him that he'll go along with whatever they decide but he really, really needs to get back to the dance.
And then he takes off, and Sam is alone, and everything just feels so . . . so wrong again.
Still, Blaine's right: they have a dance. And he needs to be there, for Brittany if no one else, and so he goes, and he enjoys himself, and he doesn't miss the way that Blaine looks at him with sad, painful eyes.
"You're doing it again," Brittany murmurs, drawing him out of his reverie even as she pulls away, putting physical distance between them to emphasize their point.
Sam frowns, confused, as he tries to pull her close again. "Doing what?"
"Not being here."
"I am here," Sam assures, and Brittany lets him tug her close again, her look skeptical.
Still, it bothers him, the way that the puzzle pieces fit together. No one else seems remotely enthused about the Warblers' idea - even Trent seemed reluctant, Blaine doubtful, Finn outright opposed. Nevertheless, he's positive that he's right, and that boosts his mood a little, even as the doubt of his friends weighs him down.
It isn't until he's standing alone in the middle of the empty gymnasium that he realizes that the dance is over. Brittany has left - vaguely he recalls a quick kiss on the cheek and a sad sigh - and everyone else, too, by the looks of it. Blaine, Tina, and a small crew of misfits are already dissembling the decorations.
Approaching them cautiously, Sam asks, "Need any help?"
Blaine's the first to turn, looking at him with those same wide, almost painful eyes. "No, I think we're good," he responds, tugging down a wintry-laced streamer. "Thanks, though."
"No problem." Sam looks at the rest of them but they don't even notice, absorbed in their own chatter. He squeezes Blaine's shoulder once in passing, thinking that maybe, like Artie, it'll be enough. That, poof, he'll be better by the next Glee rehearsal and it'll be like nothing bad ever happened.
Except it isn't bad. It isn't bad because it isn't like Blaine asked for it, just like Tina didn't ask to fall in love with him.
Sam hurries out of the gym then, willing all complications to disappear.
And here he lie, staring at the ceiling of his bedroom, white and stark and unforgiving, three am flashing on his alarm clock. He reaches over silently for his phone, sending off a quick text and huffing a little at the reply. Dialing the number that he's almost memorized from all their campaign meetings at this point, he waits, listens, listens, listens.
"H'lo?" Blaine's voice is oddly husky, sleepy and restless. "K? What's up?"
"Oh. Uh. Hey, Blaine. It's me. Sam."
He can almost hear Blaine tensing on the other end, bedsheets rustling as he sits up, a click of a lamp. "Hey, Sam," Blaine replies softly, sounding distinctly more awake. "What's wrong? Did something happen? Are you okay?"
"Everything's fine, dude," he replied, definitely hearing a wince this time. "Y'okay?"
"Yeah, Sam, I'm . . . " A heavy, gusty sigh. "Everything's fine."
"That's good." Sam waits, listens, trying to think of something more intelligible to say. "Listen, you know that . . . you can tell me anything, right? That we're friends?"
He can hear Blaine tense, and for one moment he entertains the thought that Blaine will just hang up, roll over, and go back to sleep on him. "I know," he says instead, softly. "I know. Thank you."
"You're welcome." Another long, borderline awkward pause. "Do you want me to go?" he adds, out of genuine curiosity.
"No," Blaine says at once, confirming Sam's suspicions thrice over, his heart aching a little at the thought. Tina embarrassed herself and Blaine by singing to him to announce her choice of Sadie Hawkins' dance date; he doesn't want to think of the same thing happening to them. Especially because he knows that Blaine isn't a bad person, just as Tina isn't in spite of her meaner tendencies. "No, no, I don't . . . I don't mind."
"Okay." Another pause. "You do know that . . . Kurt loves you, right? Like . . . really loves you."
Sam doesn't know why he says it. Doesn't know why he feels compelled to say it, needs to say it.
But he does. And he feels better, somehow.
The weak chuckle he hears on the other end of the line, tapering off to a soft sniff makes him want to call Kurt. Not because he wants to tell him to get back together with Blaine, but to just - fix it.
Make it feel like things will be okay again. For both of their sake's. For his sake.
"I know," is all Blaine says, with the heavy, resigned voice of a man walking to his doom. Sam wants to argue with him, wants to yell at him until he realizes that all those times that he and Kurt spent together weren't for nothing, that they have to amount to something, whether it's friendship or love or just their own mix in between. Because ambivalence is killing them, both of them, and Sam wants to stop it. Wants to, but he can't.
"You're not a bad guy, Blaine," Sams says at last. "Whatever anyone else says . . . you're not. And what you did for Tina today was . . . it was really nice of you."
Blaine's throat clicks a little when he swallows. "I - I'm really - I'm really glad we're friends," he bursts out.
"Me, too," Sam says. "Whatever happens with this whole . . . Warblers thing. Okay?"
"Okay," Blaine exhales, a barely there sound.
Sam nods, adding quietly, "I'm gonna go now, okay?"
"Okay," Blaine echoes.
"You gonna be all right?"
A pause. "I think so." Quietly, uncertain.
"If you don't . . . call me first."
Click. Pause. "Will do."
The line goes silent after that, and Sam sets his phone back on the nightstand, staring at the clock for a long time.
He's not the most perceptive guy, but he knows when someone's hurting. He's not the smartest person, but he's smart enough to know when something's wrong.
He's not perfect, but sometimes, he knows when to feign obliviousness. He knows when to not see the glances, when to not read into the extra time spent together, when to not accuse more-than-friendly feelings of his gay best friend. Blaine will come to it on his own, he decides, rolling over and tugging the blankets up close to his chin. He'll realize that he's meant for Kurt and that Sam's an unrequitable, insecurable crush.
He'll know, and then Sam will be able to say that it's okay.
Because it isn't Sam that Blaine's in love with. It isn't Sam's absence that Blaine's grieving and substituting with his own.
It's Kurt. And as long as Sam can convince him that there's a chance for redemption outside of his own conviction that Blaine isn't a bad person - then they can make it.
Author's Notes: I want to clarify that the reason I used the title "Locked Out of Heaven" here is because Blaine feels like Kurt is an unreachable ideal ('heaven'), whereas Sam is a more grounding, attainable middle ground ('earth'). If you look into most of the song lyrics aside from that line, it doesn't make much sense with the story, but I liked the symbolism too much to let it go because of that.
This isn't a story about Blam. It's a story about Klaine, and how Blam is Blaine's reflection of an alternate reality that he cannot have (nor does he really want, when it all comes down to it; Kurt is still his ideal).
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