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.
Shaky. Neurotic. Determined.
He doesn't care about anything except Oh my God Brittany's in the bathroom and there's a person with a gun out there, a live gun and he could kill her.
The thought is - unfathomable and so painfully real that he's on his feet because fuck this.
He's not going to sit around. He's not going to fucking let someone die because he didn't believe her stupid story about a meteor hitting the earth, he didn't believe that something like this could actually happen to them and now it's happening and he can't breathe.
He's manic and he knows it but it's distant, a floaty, intagible feeling that lasts as long as it takes for him to be hauled back by Mr. Schuester and Coach Beiste. In some rational corner of his mind, he knows that if Coach Beiste wasn't there that he could have managed it, he could have broken loose and saved the day - except that wasn't what it was about, not at all, all that mattered was that he needed to find Brittany and why the hell were they stopping him?
It only becomes real to him as he feels the shaking in his own arms, screaming against Mr. Schuester's hand and desperately trying to escape even as Mr. Schuester tells him to look at them, look at them, and he looks and every ounce of courage leaves him so quickly that he feels sick.
Because he looks and he can see that they're terrified. Kitty stares back at him with wide, wet, imploring eyes, Unique holding her close, looking out with owlish, spooked eyes. Jake, Ryder, and Marley are huddled in their own corner, Artie and Blaine motionless against the wall. Everyone has their space here, but he can see it in his mind, the shooter returning, gun raised and targets aligned, bursting through the door, bam bam bam, and suddenly they're all just corpses on the floor.
They're dead because of him.
He sinks to the floor, cradling his knees, and moans, quivering sobs hitching in his throat as he tries to think of what he's supposed to do. He can't leave Brittany. He can't he can't he can't, because she's Brittany and people don't always look after her right, they don't always understand that she's not stupid but sometimes she needs someone to be there for her, and he thinks that maybe Blaine would be able to handle this if he wasn't curled up in a ball against the piano.
Mr. Schuester and Coach Beiste are talking, but he barely hears them over the ringing in his own ears as he crawls towards them. Blaine will know what to do - he will - and then Sam can rescue Brittany and be able to breathe again.
The door opens and every line in Blaine's body tenses, his knuckles going white as the others stare, wide-eyed and petrified, as Mr. Schuester slinks quietly out, shutting it noiselessly behind him.
Marley lets out a noisy sob somewhere to their left, crying into her sleeve while Ryder hushes her - Calm down, calm down, it's okay, it's okay, Marley, please, shhh - and Jake holds her close, wordless and stolid, his hands slowly rubbing up and down her arms.
Sam doesn't have to be close to them to know how tense they are, how they tilt on the knife's edge of sanity just as easily.
He forces himself to draw in a deep, rasping breath, closing the distance between Artie and himself because there's nothing else to do.
He could stagger around the choir room and attract attention to them. They all heard it when the shooter rattled the doors, fired another shot. So close - so close, Sam's arms prickle at the thought - but not enough, just enough, and they can breathe again, but it's only a temporary reprieve because he's still there.
And they have no control to stop him.
Sam thinks that his heart stops for the third time that day when he hears the knocking on the door. It takes him a moment to process that Coach Beiste is letting people in, and why would she do that if -
It's Brittany. Brittany and two others, a Cheerio and someone he's never met, but they don't matter because Sam lurches to his feet and holds her as tightly as he can, trying to promise without words that it's okay, it's okay, it's okay.
I've got you. I'm not gonna let go of you.
She clings back just as tightly, and he can almost hear her saying, I know.
When they finally let go and the third chant of All clear! reaches his ears, he feels the world crash down around him, dazed and disoriented and horrified to realize that this wasn't some elaborate nightmare, that the cool tiles underneath his feet and the tightness in his chest was - and is - real.
"Oh my God," he blurts, and that's all he has time for because he's already taking things in, realizing that Tina isn't there and where the hell is Tina and why didn't anyone go after Tina and what if Tina's not okay?
He's watching as Kitty and Brittany hug, he's watching Marley and Jake stagger to their feet, Ryder surveying the room with blank, uncomprehending eyes from above them. Unique sniffs and climbs to her feet, shakily making her way across the room while Mr. Schuester and Coach Beiste help Artie back to his wheel chair.
And then suddenly everything narrows down to Blaine because he's standing there and for one moment Sam thinks that he'll do it, he'll suck in a deep breath and compose himself and ask if everyone's okay (and of course everyone is but it feels like no one is, too, because they'll never be okay after this, this is - ) but he doesn't. He doesn't compose himself with the same irrepressible, unflagging solidarity as before.
He crumples, his right forearm shielding his face as he tries to hide it but now there's no room for him to collapse to the floor in a ball and fuck if Sam didn't do anything, nothing to help anyone.
He knows what to do know, and he does it without thinking, stepping forward and hugging Blaine hard enough that his own ribs ache when Blaine hugs back, sobbing into his shoulder.
"It's okay," he whispers, not quite believing it but somehow it's the only thing he can possibly say as he clings back. "It's okay, it's okay, it's okay."
It's not, not really, but he can't let Blaine go, and he doesn't really want to, because Blaine hugs him back and he needs that. He needs to hold and be held in return, and it doesn't even matter to him that it's not Brittany. Brittany's safe, she's okay, everything will be okay, and suddenly it seems like he can breathe a little easier.
It makes the little tremors all the more apparent once his world stops shaking.
Mr. Schuester beckons them for a group hug, and for once it has nothing to do with show choirs and singing and national championship. It has nothing to do with explosive cheers and thunderous applause. It has even less to do with ecstasy.
But it has a lot to do with happiness.
And Sam clings to them, holds them close and promises not to let go of them, any of them, and feels something like relief settle over him.
It'll take a long time before he'll be able to look at anything here and not think gun gun what if there's a gun, but at least he knows that -
They're safe. All of them.
They're safe and they're okay and that's all that matters to him.