The mood in the choir room never quite recovered from the aftermath of Ryder's rather awkward admission. Tina got up to perform her number for the week's assignment, but it was clear that she was distracted, as she forgot half the words to the second verse – not that anyone really noticed. Everyone seemed moody and tense, and the applause at the end of the song was half-hearted and quiet. When the bell rang signaling the end of glee club, and of school for the day, no one spoke as they gathered up their things and got ready to leave.
For the life of him, Sam just couldn't fathom what was such a big deal.
When I was eleven years old, that was in my list of my top five fantasies – and for Ryder, it actually came true. Where's the bad?
And now, everyone in the glee club – all the girls, and Ryder, anyway – seemed pissed with him, and with Artie, and he just wanted to get out of this tense situation and go have some fun, something to take his mind off of it. He sighed as he shouldered his backpack and rose from his seat, glancing around the room for Blaine.
Blaine's parents were almost always out of town, which meant that there was no one at home to take note of when he was gone or how late he stayed out – which meant that Blaine was pretty much always up for hanging out with Sam, sometimes jamming, Blaine on the piano and Sam on the guitar, their voices blending with flawless harmony – sometimes playing video games on the Hudson-Hummels' living room sofa, even though Sam knew that wasn't exactly Blaine's favorite thing in the world to do – sometimes, just talking about nothing and anything and everything.
Sam sometimes wondered if it was weird for Mr. Hummel that his son's ex-boyfriend slept over at his house more since their break-up than he ever when he and Kurt were dating.
Sam frowned as he scanned the room, and realized that Blaine was nowhere to be seen. Usually, Blaine lingered behind to talk with the others for a few minutes before they all headed their separate ways for the evening – but apparently not today. Sam hurried his pace until he reached the hallway, glancing up and down it in the hopes of catching his friend before he left. He smiled, relaxing a little when he saw Blaine's locker door, halfway down the hall, opened, with the orange pants Blaine had worn that day visible beneath it.
"Hey, Blaine," Sam called out as he broke into a job, closing the distance between them. "What are you doing this afternoon?"
"Nothing." Blaine's voice was strangely muffled and quiet, as he busied himself with something in his locker. "Going home."
"Well, you wanna come over?" Sam asked, leaning against the locker next to Blaine's and waiting for him to finish – whatever it was he was doing. Whatever it was, it seemed to be proving difficult for some reason, judging by the slamming around Sam could hear from the other side of the door.
He raised an eyebrow, curious. "Blaine?"
Blaine was silent as he stepped back from his locker, but the force with which he slammed the door shut spoke volumes. Without another word, he turned on his heel and headed down the hall in the opposite direction from which Sam had come – despite the fact that the nearest exit was just a few yards beyond the spot where Sam was standing.
"Blaine!" Sam called out, confused, before taking off after him down the hall. "Blaine!"
Blaine didn't turn around or acknowledge Sam in any way. If anything, he quickened his steps, his pace clipped and furious. Sam rushed to catch up with him, reaching out and catching an armful of Blaine's sweater. Blaine spun around to face him, jerking his arm away, hand clenched into a fist, dark eyes smoldering. His voice was low and trembling with rage.
"Don't touch me!"
Sam just stared at him, bewildered. "Dude – what the hell?"
Blaine opened his mouth as if to speak, but then just shook his head, opening his hand and holding it up in a dismissive, disgusted gesture. "What do you care?" he muttered. "Just get away from me."
"What?" Sam was indignant, rushing to get ahead of Blaine as he started down the hallway again. He managed to get a few steps ahead of the smaller boy, and then stopped, blocking his path. "Blaine – I'm your friend, that's what I care! What's wrong? What are you so upset about?"
"You," Blaine burst out at last, throwing up his hands in frustration. "You, and that absolute bullshit you were giving Ryder in there!"
Once Sam got past the momentary shock of hearing Blaine Anderson actually swear… a glimmer of understanding began to dawn in his mind. He smiled, shaking his head.
"I think I know what's going on here," he said patiently. "Blaine, I know it's not something you get, and the idea of Ryder's story was probably… pretty disturbing. To you. Because you… you don't find girls attractive. But trust me, for a straight guy…"
"Oh my God." The horrified disbelief on Blaine's face and in his voice was enough to silence Sam's explanation. "Just when I thought you couldn't possibly say anything any more disgusting than what you just said in the choir room…"
"No!" Blaine raised his voice enough that several straggling students passing turned and glanced toward them with mild interest. "So what, if it was me, and it was a guy instead – if I was eleven years old…" He lowered his voice to a hiss, leaning in closer, conscious of their potential audience. "… and some grown man climbed in the shower with me and… and put his hands all over me, that'd be just fine. As long as he was hot. Is that it?" Despite his efforts, by the end of his sentence, Blaine's voice had risen again, trembling with outrage.
Sam's stomach began to feel a little queasy as he considered the scenario Blaine had presented. His mind protested that of course that wasn't okay, it was just… different, except… except it wasn't any different, was it? Not really. Was he somehow more appalled by the image evoked by Blaine's words, because it was a guy and not a girl… not someone he personally found attractive? And if that was true, then… well, Sam didn't particularly want to think about what exactly that said about him.
Sam's lips had already parted to object to Blaine's words, but suddenly, he found himself just standing there, staring dumbly without an answer.
"Just a couple of months ago, Sam, I told you all about what happened with Tina, and how weird it was, and how upset it made me, and how we almost stopped being friends over it…" Blaine was up in Sam's face now, dark eyes glittering with angry tears, bitterly spitting out words that shook and broke apart almost before they were spoken. "… and you listened to me, and you said you understood, and said how wrong it was and how you got it, and – and that whole time, were you just thinking what an idiot I was for not seeing how lucky I was? Or is Tina just not pretty enough for it to be okay?"
"Blaine…" Sam shook his head, feeling his face flush with the shame that was creeping up, along with the sick feeling coiling in his stomach. "I knew… you didn't want her like that… I just thought… because you're…"
"And that is nothing…" Blaine's words were sharp, furious, leaving no room for Sam's weak attempt at explanation. "Nothing, compared to what Ryder was talking about in there! A little kid like that – you can't choose for yourself. Even if he – he thought he wanted it at the time – and he didn't, but even if he did – he's gonna wake up some day, years later, and realize… someone just stole his whole childhood from him. Can't you see that?"
"I – I didn't think of it like that," Sam replied, his voice quiet and small in his own ears. "Blaine, I – I'm sorry."
He wasn't sure quite when during this conversation those words had become true – but they were true, and Blaine's answering silence was agony while Sam waited, biting his lower lip and searching his friend's face anxiously. Finally, Blaine closed his eyes, shaking his head before meeting Sam's gaze sadly.
"I hope you are," he said softly. "But… I'm not the person you should be saying that to."
Some of Blaine's anger seemed to have deflated with his outburst, but his shoulders were slumped in defeat and disappointment, his hands in his pockets, as he turned and walked away, leaving Sam alone with his own troubled thoughts – thoughts that demanded his focus, refusing to allow him to set them aside.
But first, he owed an apology to a friend.
Sam took out his phone and scrolled through the list until he found Ryder's name.
He was not surprised when the call went to voicemail after a single ring.
"Hey, dude, it's Sam," he said into the receiver, clearing his throat a bit awkwardly before adding, "But then… I guess you know that and… that's probably why you didn't answer, but… I just wanted to tell you… I was a jerk. And… and I said some really stupid things in there today. I just… shot off my mouth without thinking, because I didn't get it, but… I think I do now. You know, as much as I can get it, and… I just needed you to know that… I'm sorry. Okay? And if you don't want to speak to me, that's fine, but… I really am sorry."
Sam hung up the phone and put it away, staring into space for a moment before shaking himself out of it and heading for the exit, for home. His planned afternoon of lying on the couch playing video games would have to wait.
He had some serious thinking to do.