Well, This Happened -- Part 18-29 by Janine

Author: Janine
Title: "Well, This Happened"
Genre: Popular
Pairing: Brooke/Sam
Rating: NC-17
Summary: The real world pokes its head into the girls love bubble, and nothings going to be the same again.
Disclaimers: I don't own any of these characters, I'm just borrowing them for a short period of time.
E-mail: jbstories@hotmail.com 

| Parts 1-17 | Parts 18-29 | Parts 30-Epilogue |

Part Eighteen
---------------

"Do you want something to drink? I could get you something to drink? We have cold drinks�there's�"

"It's okay, I'm good," Harrison said, holding up his hand effectively cutting off Sam's manic speech.

"Are you hungry? I could get you something to eat�"

"Really, Sam, I'm fine. Take it easy, you look like you're about to rupture something," he said, starting to get concerned about why she wanted to talk to him. This wasn't at all in character--not counting her recent bouts of weirdness.

"Sorry. I'm just a bit stressed. I'm tense, I mean my back's all knotted�it's not pleasant," she replied, rubbing at the back of her neck anxiously once again.

"Yeah, I caught on to that whole anxiety thing," he responded softly. "Why don't you just tell me what's on your mind, and maybe we'll both feel better, because quite frankly you're kind freaking me out here."

"Right," Sam said, sitting down on the couch then immediately standing back up again. "I don't know if you've noticed, but lately I've been rather�"

"Crazy?"

"Not the word I would've gone with, but essentially," Sam responded, frowning slightly. "Well it's kind of because I've got this thing."

"Thing?" Harrison asked only vaguely following her. "What like a growth? Oh my god is it a brain tumor?" He had heard that brain tumors often caused odd behavior in people due to the way they pressed on the brain.

"No! No. I don't have a tumor or a growth, by thing I meant that I have got this�relationship," Sam said, slightly unnerved by his exclamation.

"Relationship? Ohhh, get down with your bad-self," he responded, making sound cheap porno sounds and doing a little dance.

"Right, the only thing is it's not that simple," she went on, running a hand through her hair. "It's not�a conventional relationship."

"Why, is he like shorter than you?" Harrison asked. It pained Sam to no end that he asked the question with the utmost sincerity. If he had at least been meeting her half way it would have all been okay, but no, he had choose today to lose his brain.

"No! I mean�he's a she," Sam blurted out. That was necessary, if she didn't just say it was never going to get said.

"A girl?" Harrison asked, staring at her unblinkingly. "You're dating a girl?�in a gay way?"

"That's kind of how it works," Sam confirmed.

"Is anybody in this town still straight?" he asked, throwing his hands up in the air dramatically. "At least you caught it young," he continued, turning back around so that he was facing Sam.

"That's true," Sam responded more for the sake of saying something than anything else.

"You know what this is fantastic, I can't believe it. YOU, can get a girlfriend and I can't," he went on. "Where's the justice in that? She's probably gorgeous too, isn't she? She's hot right?"

"I�" Sam started, caught off guard by his reaction, "yeah."

"I thought as much, that would complete the circle," Harrison responded, shaking his head dejectedly. There was no justice in the world, he was sure of that now. "If she models for Victoria's secret I'm moving to a deserted island and dedicating my life to the study of exotic birds and fauna," he went on, pacing the room. "Do I know her?" he asked, finally stopping. Truthfully, he was kind of intrigued. Like almost all guys he found the thought of two girls together extremely exciting, even if one of them was his friend. Actually, that just made it better.

"Yes," Sam responded somewhat hesitantly.

"Well, are you going to tell me, or are we playing twenty-questions?" he asked, looking at her expectantly.

"Yeah, that was kind of the point of asking you here," Sam responded, stalling for time.

"Okay, then. Who?" he was intensely curious as to who it could be, and her hesitation was driving him nuts.

Sam paused, her ears were ringing and she was fairly certain that she was shaking. This was the moment of truth and she felt like she was going to pass out. "Brooke." She knew that she opened her mouth and that she had spoken, but she couldn't remember hearing the word actually come out of her mouth. If it wasn't for the instantaneous reaction on Harrison's mouth, she might have thought that she hadn't really said it at all.

"What?" he practically chocked out. He felt like his heart had stopped beating, the second Brooke's name came out of Sam's mouth it was like a complete suspension of his existence.

"Brooke," Sam repeated, her voice was stronger this time, it was almost as if the mention of her lover's name had infused her with some badly needed backbone. "I'm seeing Brooke."

"Brooke McQueen?" Harrison asked dumbly. His head was pounding, and his vision was blurring. She couldn't have meant Brooke McQueen. It was L.A. Brooke's were all over the place, over run only by Stephanie's and Jennifer's. Sam had to be talking about some mysterious Brooke, she just had to be.

"Brooke McQueen," Sam confirmed, watching him sadly. She had never wanted to hurt him, but she had no choice in the matter, her heart had made her decision for her and there was no turning back.

"Why?" he asked finally, flopping down onto the couch. His voice wavering with an emotion Sam couldn't readily identify.

"Why?" the brunette asked, confused by the question.

"Why her? Why of all the tens of thousands of teenagers in L.A., of the thousands of students at our school, why out of all of those people did you have to pick the one girl I've wanted since I before I even knew what wanting was?" he asked, his voice raising, his hands clutching at the couch desperately. Sam thought that she could see tears in his eyes, she took a step back.

"I didn't pick her," Sam responded softly. "It wasn't premeditated, I didn't even know what was happening until it happened and by then it was too late. I had fallen�and I didn't want to get up."

Harrison didn't respond to her verbally, he merely looked up and over at her with shimmering eyes, piercing her with his pain. And she felt it as acutely as if it were her own, in fact only a day before it had been her own and she knew how he felt, she more than knew how he felt, and it tore her up because she knew it was hell. He was mourning the loss of a love he never had, like she had been mourning the loss of a love she had barely tasted. Of the two she wasn't sure what was worse, because if it had been true, that Brooke had gone back to Josh, at least the brunette could say that she had loved Brooke and been loved in return and that was something real, something tangible. Harrison, he only had a phantom of love, a love Sam knew to be the sun, and the moon and whole world.

"Sam, you're not gonna believe this�okay, okay, I'm in line at the Pottery Barn�" Brooke started saying, coming in the door, emoting before she had even made it all the way inside. "Yeah, I know, don't ask me why. So I'm in line at the Pottery Barn and guess who�" the blonde paused as she came to the threshold of the living room and saw the picture inside. "Oh," Brooke commented softly as her eyes darted around the room and she considered the fastest way to get the hell out of there.

However, just as she was about to make her move and pray for the best Sam turned her head to look at her, and the moment she saw the expression on her girlfriend's face she knew that she had told Harrison about the two of them. And, considering the silence that hovered around the room, and the morose looks on their faces, she knew that it hadn't been roses and sunshine. Actually the fact that it had gone horribly wrong seemed to fit in beautifully with recent events, it comforted her in a sad kind of way.

She immediately made her way over to Sam who looked like she was at her breaking point. "Are you okay?" Brooke asked softly as she placed her hand on Sam's shoulder rubbing it tenderly with her finger. She was aware of Harrison's eyes on them, but she was only one person and as such could only deal with one of them at a time. Harrison was just going to have to wait his turn.

Sam simply nodded her head, her posture straightening and her eyes clearing at the feel of Brooke's touch.

Once Brooke was certain that Sam was indeed okay, she turned her head so that she was looking at Harrison. He was watching them with one of the most disparaged expressions she had ever seen. She had seen the same look on Josh's face at the golf course a few nights before and it had broken her heart then. It still did.

"Harrison," she started. She knew how he felt about her, she had known for a very long time that he was attracted to her, she would have had to be unbelievably slow not to have realized, and because of that she was sure that he was finding it particularly difficult to accept that she was with Sam. Especially, considering that Brooke had always assumed that his feelings towards Sam were a bit more than friendly--even if he didn't admit it. Now, he had lost both of them, to each other. She decided that that proposition had to suck real hard. "I know�" she continued stopping only when he stood up and held up his hand to her.

"Don't�just don't," he said, shaking his head. There was nothing she could say to him that could make the situation any better. "Congratulations�or whatever, I'm not quite sure what the etiquette for a situation like this is so you'll have to excuse any faux pas on my part."

"Harrison," Sam tried, finally finding her voice. She didn't want it to be like this.

"No," he said, waving his hand still watching them intently. After Brooke had came over to Sam, he had noticed his friend move towards her, into her, almost unconsciously. When Brooke had first walked over there had been a small space between them, but that had disappeared imperceptibly, leaving Sam literally in Brooke's arms, where for the first time all day she actually seemed relaxed. "I mean it. Congratulations. Really." Even though at first he had held out hope that Sam's declaration was some badly conceived joke, watching the two of them he could see the closeness. He also considered everything that had happened recently and had to admit that the two of them being involved with each other explained it all, especially Sam's reaction in the cafeteria the day before.

"Just one question," he said, looking at Brooke suspiciously.

"Long story short, it was a misunderstanding," Brooke responded, knowing where he was heading with his question.

With that, he nodded then turned around and made his way out of the living room, then into the hallway and finally to the door for some much needed fresh air before he completely lost it. Sam and Brooke, Brooke and Sam, he shook his head as he kicked a rock along the sidewalk. Raising a hand to his head he began to tug at his hair restlessly, realizing with an agonizing clarity that he had lost both of them. What made it worse was that he didn't even realize he had wanted Sam until she was out of his grasp. Brooke was always out of his league, but Sam, if he had realized sooner, if he had managed to stop fixating on Brooke for just one second, he might have been able to have had something with her. Now they were both gone, gone into each other's arms. He covered his face with his hands, this was the worst day of his life.

* * * * * *
Part Nineteen
-----------------

Harrison sat down in front of the computer and rested his hands on the desk, pinching the bridge of his nose with his right hand. He was suppose to edit the article Sam and he had worked on last week and add captions to the pictures so that it could be ready to print in the following week's paper but he just couldn't seem to do it. Every time he looked at the article it reminded him of Sam, and every time he thought of Sam he thought of her and Brooke, and every time he thought of her and Brooke he became unbelievably pissed off and it gave him a headache. When he had left their house a few days before he had fully intended to be okay with their relationship, but he found that intentions were easy to hold and hard to achieve.

The thing that really got him was that he could see as plain as day that they were in love with each other. He had started watching them with an almost psychotic interest since he had found out, and that tenderness that he had observed that day at the house coated their every interaction with each other. They reeked of love and the stench was driving him insane.

He was interrupted from his musing only by the sound of a familiar voice coming from behind him.

"I've given this a lot of consideration and I've decided that your lack of response to me means one of two things. Either all of the phones in your house spontaneously combusted severing all of your contacts to the natural world, or you're doing a very good job of avoiding me," Sam said steadily as she walked into the room closing the door behind her. Harrison had been avoiding her ever since she had told him about her and Brooke, and while she was hoping that he would work out whatever he had to work out on his own, it became clear to her that she had to talk to him. He was one of her best friends and she couldn't just leave things the way they were. She had to at least try.

"One of those is a winner," Harrison responded, removing his hand from his face but not turning around.

"Can we talk?" Sam asked, pulling up a chair beside him and sitting down.

"Isn't that what we're doing?" he asked dismissively.

"Actually I've probably talked more to your mother in the past week than you," Sam replied.

"I suppose you two would have a lot to talk about," Harrison responded. "Maybe she could give you some pointers," he continued, finally turning around to face Sam. His voice was low, his lips set in a hard line and his eyes accusing.

Sam blinked at him, mildly surprised by the hostility in his voice. She wasn't expecting a walk in the park, but she wasn't expecting an outright attack either. She wasn't sure who should be more insulted, her or his mother. However, since she was the only one of the two present in the room she decided that she had to represent.

"That was low," she responded softly, turning away from his accusing eyes. "I know that you're having a hard time with this, I just thought that after playing together since we were in jumpers, we might be able to have a civil conversation."

"Shouldn't you be at the pep rally ogling the cheerleaders?" Harrison responded after a moment, turning back around so that he was facing the computer screen once again.

Sam considered him for a moment silently. She could feel her eyes beginning to burn and blinked back the tears that were forming in her eyes. She wasn't going to let him see what he was doing was her.

"I don't need to be at the pep rally," Sam began in a soft voice, "I can see all or anything of Brooke whenever I want to," she continued in a haughty tone, reacting to his treatment of her, trying to goad him on.

"How positively Greco-Roman of you," Harrison shot back. "Your parents must be so proud."

Sam ran her hand through he hair, nervously tugging at the strands anxiously as she watched Harrison stare aimlessly at the computer screen in front of him.

"Please don't be like this," she said finally. "I never meant to hurt you, neither of us did. What happened between Brooke and I, it took us by surprise just as much as anyone else. I mean it's me, Sam, falling for Brooke was the equivalent of Lily going to a Texas barbeque. I didn't want to, I just couldn't help it," she continued with a somewhat pleading tone in her voice. She wanted him to understand what was going on, because she knew with the way he was feeling only complete honesty about the situation could abate it. "And I do love her. Can you understand that?"

"Good for you. You love her and she loves you. That's the way to do it, believe me things work best that way. But just because you're walking in some flowery country paradise of bliss, doesn't mean I'm going to get on the train and join you," Harrison said, turning around to face her once again. "You said you can't help how you feel�well neither can I. I don't like it, I don't want you to be with her, and I can't accept that you're with her and be peppy and excited about. Can you understand that?"

"So what? You're saying that we can't be friends anymore? That the fact that I'm with Brooke now negates our entire friendship? Because if that's what you're saying than no, I can't understand that. The world's full of nasty, ignorant people, I know that. I just never thought that you were one of them," Sam responded, the tears she had been holding back escaping from the confines of her eyes and streaking down her cheeks.

Harrison watched her for a moment, tracking the progress of the tears falling from her eyes. He felt himself being torn in two different directions. There was the part that saw probably his best friend in the world crying because of him, that wanted to reach out and wipe her tears away and hug her telling her that he would work it out and that things would be okay; fighting against the part of him that saw the girl-who-stole-the-girl-he had-been-in love-with who was at the same time the girl-he-could-have-seen-himself-falling-in love-with stolen by the girl-he-had-always-wanted-to-be-in love-with him.

In the end, he found that the pain of what could have been outweighed the rightness of what should be, and he clinched his jaw and turned away from her. He guessed that was what he was saying.

Sam watched him for a moment, then stood up quietly and walked out of the room. Apparently that's what he was saying.

* * * * * *

Sam flung the blankets off of her body and dark out into the dark room. She couldn't sleep. Every time she tried to fade away into unconsciousness, her mind would drift back to the confrontation she'd had with Harrison in the afternoon and any chance she'd had of falling asleep would immediately disappear. She was so tied up in knots that she could barely lay still. Unconsciously she turned her head toward Brooke's room. The blonde had been gone all evening on a company yachting trek with Mike's company, which meant that Sam had been deprived of her presence since then. She wasn't even sure if they had gotten back yet. Checking her clock she saw that it was just past three and decided that she would go and check. She didn't know what she was going to say or do, only that she at least needed to be around Brooke. The blonde just had an uncanny ability to cheer her up.

Leaving the doors between her room, the bathroom and Brooke's room open, Sam slipped into the blonde's room. Brooke was indeed in her room, lying on her bed with her hair splayed out across the pillow, the top of her emerald silk pajamas just visible above the top of her blanket. Sam watched her for a moment, a gentle smile playing across her lips, before she approached the bed and lifted up the edge of the blanket, slipping in beside Brooke.

Brooke became hazily aware of the feel of a head resting on her chest and an arm draping around her waist, and lazily she cracked open one sleepy eye. What she saw was a mess of brown hair resting just above her left breast and a pale arm strewn across her stomach. Turning her head to the side slightly she placed her lips against Sam's forehead kissing her softly. She couldn't see it, but somehow she was absolutely certain that the brunette smiled before burying her head into Brooke's chest even more.

"I can't sleep," Sam mumbled a moment later as Brooke played idly with her hair, while sporadically placing butterfly kisses all over Sam's face.

"Is the boogie man under your bed again, because Dad said he had taken care of that," Brooke responded. Her voice was low with sleep, but that couldn't hide the gently teasing tone that it carried.

"Unfortunately not this time," Sam responded, her voice barely a whisper but even at that audibly sad.

"What happened?" Brooke asked, shifting her position so that she was now lying on her side facing Sam. She had been on the verge of falling asleep again, but the tone of Sam's face woke her up immediately.

"It's nothing," Sam said, lowering her head, effectively breaking eye contact with Brooke. Brooke watched her for a moment, it was clear as crystal to her that whatever was going on was most definitely not nothing.

"It's not nothing," Brooke responded softly, reaching out and placing her hand on Sam's cheek. "It's got you upset and that makes it most definitely something."

Sam didn't respond verbally, instead she chose to close the distance that had formed between them when Brook turned to face her and draw the blonde towards her once again. Brooke wrapped her arms around Sam and held her to her, bringing Sam with her as she lay back down on her back. They stayed in that silence for a long time, Brooke tenderly stroking Sam's back as the brunette hugged her, so long in fact that Brooke began to think that Sam had fallen asleep. But, after ten minutes or so the journalist whispered, "I saw Harrison today."

"What happened?" Brooke asked, already knowing that it would be some variation of 'I got bitch slapped like a two dollar whore in Harlem', from the way Sam had been acting.

"This is going to sound fairly schoolyard," Sam started, "but he basically told me that we couldn't be friends anymore." Despite the sardonic tone that she used, Brooke could hear the pain behind her words and shifted again so that she was facing Sam. Leaning forward, she brought their lips together softly, then placed her lips next to Sam's ear hugging her.

"He just needs some time," Brooke responded benevolently. However, as the words left her mouth she was thinking that what Harrison really needed was a nice hard slap upside the head, and that she was just woman to deliver it. Truthfully, she had expected more from him, not to mention the fact that with Nicole still on the warpath she didn't really want anyone else raining on their parade. "Try to get some sleep," Brooke continued a moment later settling Sam against her, "maybe things will look different when the sun comes up," she went on resolving to talk to Harrison first thing in the morning.

"Optimism is an attractive characteristic," Sam mumbled into Brooke's nightshirt.

"Don't I know it. I'm just full of attractive characteristics. In fact I'm fairly certain that if I only had a little humility I'd be perfect," Brooke responded grinning down at Sam. The brunette looked up at her with a stern expression but couldn't keep it up for long soon dissolving into wearing a stupid grin herself. She thought that she might finally be able to get some sleep.

* * * * * *

Brooke placed her arm on Josh's shoulder and told him that she would catch up with him in a moment. They were on their way to English class, but Brooke had spotted Harrison just down the hall and made up her mind to talk to him then, so that he would have enough time to beg and grovel for Sam's forgiveness later on in the day. So, having sent Josh on his way, Brooked stalked over to Harrison who was leaning against his locker talking to Emory Dick, and said, "Can we talk?"

"I'm busy, but if you leave your name and number I'll get back to you as soon as possible," Harrison responded without even turning around to face the blonde cheerleader standing beside him.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean for that to sound like a request," Brooke responded flatly. "We're going to talk. Now."

Harrison simply crossed his arms and stared at her.

"Emory, don't you have an elsewhere to be?" Brooke asked pointedly. "Because now would be a good time to disappear there," she continued when the small blond boy hesitated to move.

"Don't talk to him like that," Harrison responded, stepping in front of Brooke's face.

"Like you have any right to be giving me etiquette lessons," Brooke responded, stepping right back up in his.

"What's that suppose to mean?" Harrison asked hotly. Neither one of them noticed Emory sneak away.

"Just that you could out bitch me any day of the week," Brooke responded. "Sam could testify to that."

Harrison stared at her for a moment, then turned around and started to walk down the hall.

"Doesn't it get hard? You know, running away without a spine?" Brooke asked, following him down the hall. At that he stopped walking and turned around, his manly pride wounded by her words.

"Fine, you wanna talk, let's talk," Harrison said, opening the door to the janitor's closet and waving Brooke inside.

"I don't want you to talk," Brooke said as he closed the door behind them, "I want to talk and I want you to listen. If you want to act like a self-important asshole that's fine with me as long as you're the only one your stupidity hurts. Yesterday, it hurt Sam, which makes it no longer alright with me. I know how you feel, despite the protests I can see ready to spring to your lips, I can comprehend what's going through that pea brain of yours, and to tell you the truth I really don't give a shit. I don't want to get to the root of your issues, and I'm not here to give reassurance to your manly, heterosexual charms. I'm here to tell you what's what. I love Sam, she loves me, and it's going to take a lot more than someone acting pissy to break us up. That means that you have one of two choices, you can yank the stick out of your ass and remain friends with someone who you probably don't deserve, or you can firmly grasp said stick and fuck yourself with it by pushing her away. To most people this would be a no brainer, but to be perfectly honest you haven't been impressing me with your intellectual prowess lately."

"Are you finished?" Harrison asked, crossing his arms and giving Brooke the stink-eye. He couldn't really do anymore than that in response to her speech since she had been indignant enough for both of them, thus taking the wind right out of his sails. Also that fact that she was right played a little part in it.

"Yeah, I'm done," Brooke, responded rather pleased with herself. She was feeling very commanding today, and decided that she was going to go have her bitch fight with Nicole after this.

"Good, so am I," he replied, opening the door and walking out, a ghost of a shadow haunting his face as he made his way down the hall and out of sight.

* * * * * *

Part Twenty
------------------

Nicole took a seat on the plush, maroon loveseat in the Novak, rubbing her thumb and forefinger together deviously, while watching Brooke out the corner of her eyes. Something seemed different with the other girl, she had lost that glow she had had for the last month or so and Nicole began to wonder if Josh had seriously won her back. Truthfully, she had made the offer not really thinking it would work, if Brooke was smitten enough Spam to have actually endangered her social standing by sleeping with her, Nicole had doubted that she would just dump her like yesterday's news. Either way, she was intensely interested to hear what Brooke now had to say.

"I think," Brooke began, pacing the length of the room restlessly, "that we're beyond small talk regarding this particular matter," she continued, wanting to get straight to business. She doubted it would be pleasant whether it took them an hour or a minute to get down to it, and frankly her heart couldn't handle an hour.

"What particular matter would this particular matter be?" Nicole asked, smiling sweetly at the other girl. She wondered what had taken Brooke so long, after the scene in the cafeteria she had expected to have a little chat with Brooke, however the blonde disappeared for the rest of day.

"My relationship with Sam," Brooke responded, meeting Nicole's gaze.

"I was under the impression that that had passed," Nicole responded.

"It hasn't," Brooke responded, meeting Nicole's gaze with a steely one of her own. "I could say more, but I don't think it's necessary. The reason I asked you to come here is because I know what you're planning to do."

"Planning to do? What ever are you talking about?" Nicole drawled lazily. She was at least pleased to hear that she hadn't wasted the years she had spent under Brooke, over that period of time she had learned to read the other girl like a children's novel. Brooke, so nice, so bloody predictable.

"I'm talking about you outing us," Brooke responded simply. She wasn't going to play these word games with Nicole, she didn't have the time or the inclination. The brutal honesty of the statement caused Nicole to stop inspecting her fingernails and look over at the girl standing in front of her. So Brooke could still surprise her every now and then, that didn't mean anything.

"Outing is such a harsh word," Nicole responded carefully. "I prefer to think of it as spreading the good news. What ever happened to singing it from the mountain tops, Brooke?"

"You can think of it however you 'prefer' to, it doesn't change what it is," Brooke responded solemnly. "Please Nic, don't do this."

"You're the one that did the doing, Brookie," Nicole responded. "You knew what it would mean and you fucked her anyway. I hope it was good, Brooke, cause you'll be suffering from the consequences of that indulgence for a while. Basically, you're screwed."

"It doesn't have to be this way," Brooke said, a pleading tone entering her voice. "You're supposed to be my friend�my best friend, I never thought you'd stab me the moment I turned my back to you."

"Never turn your back to anyone Brooke, especially not to someone like me," Nicole responded, her tone darkening. "I'm no good. People have been telling you that for years. But you never believed them, did you? Even when you saw me rip through people without breaking a sweat. That's what I loved about you Brookie, your unwavering faith. But a cheetah can't hide her spots forever, and now you're finally having to connect the dots. You were convenient, now you're a liability. On the African plains when a lion becomes weak the others leave them to die, then rip them shreds�so the strong can survive. You're reign is over�your most stunning defeat by your own tongue," Nicole finished as she circled Brooke. She was like a vulture circling her pray in the hot desert sun, taking little nibbles at it before died.

"Nicole�"

"What? You think I don't mean it?" Nicole asked, her voice raising slightly. "I'm tired of being your lap dog. Someone would have torn you apart years ago if it wasn't for me. Christ, Mary Cherry has got more balls than you do. That girl would kill, literally, for what you've got, and you piss and moan it away. Well, you're on your own this time, you've engineered your own defeat. This time it's all on you, because the only thing I've got on my side is the truth. And if that's what you're scared of, then you've got bigger problems then me."

Brooke simply stared at the girl once she finished speaking, her head was pounding and she found herself falling into a nearby chair. Under the hostility, and the snide-ness and the Darwinian logic, Nicole had a point. There was a bigger issue there than the betrayal of confidence that Brooke had been focusing on. This wasn't an issue of Nicole merely threatening to tell her secret, it was a case of her being ashamed of her secret. Nicole was right, the truth was that Brooke was dating Sam, that they loved each other and that Brooke was absolutely terrified of the population at large finding out about it. The only thing that gave Nicole power in this situation was their fear, her fear.

Intellectually, Brooke had always known that was underlying principle behind it all; that being involved with Sam would have a slew of after effects that wouldn't be nearly as pleasurable as the fact that they were together. And sitting there in the washroom of her school with Nicole staring down at her like some predator from the safari, Brooke was painfully aware of all of the reasons she wanted to keep the relationship a secret, and alternately of all the reasons she felt terribly ashamed for feeling ashamed of what she and Sam had together.

Nicole was right, Brooke did have bigger problems than her, and Brooke had no idea what to do about them.

"I love her," Brooke breathed out wretchedly as she squeezed her eyes shut, trying to hold in the tears threatening to fall. "Why can't that be enough?" She wasn't sure who she was talking to, herself of Nicole.

"Because it's not," Nicole answered softly. The malevolence so prevalent in her previous sermon had dissipated as a result of Brooke's collapse and uttered declarations. Despite herself, Nicole was moved by the display. She could see Brooke tearing herself apart, digging into herself and bleeding. It was oddly compelling, seeing her fall apart like, seeing her disassemble right before her own eyes.

"I don't know what to do," Brooke continued, as the tears she had tried so valiantly to hold escaped from their prison and cascaded down her cheeks. "I love her so much I almost can't remember what it was like before we were together�but being with her is killing everything that I know. Sometimes, it hurts so much and I get so scared that I can't breath�but I can't stop feeling how I feel. Even though it's ruining me, I can't stop loving her," she concluded, looking up at Nicole with luminescent, tear filled eyes.

Nicole watched Brooke disassemble even further after that, could see her crumbling in front of her eyes until all that she could make out of the girl was a mass of quivering, wet flesh. She turned away. This was opportunity that she had been waiting for. Yes, Brooke had been a friend to her, the best friend that she had ever had, but that was in the past and it was time to look forward. She had to look forward. However, even as these thoughts ran through her head the blonde turned back around to observe Brooke's figure, small and cowering. She felt her eyes begin to well with the sting of unshed tears and she averted her eyes once more.

Struggling with herself for a moment, Nicole finally turned back to face Brooke. She stood there watching her for a moment more, then crossed the short distance between them and wrapped her arms Brooke who almost immediately turned into her shoulder and began to cry in earnest. Nicole held the shuddering body in her arms and sighed deeply to herself. There was a reason Brooke McQueen was the most popular girl in school, and it wasn't because she accessorized well, and was tall and blonde--although those things didn't hurt. It was because there was a fine line between being admired and incurring people's hate, it was a line that Brooke walked masterfully without even knowing it. To put it succinctly, the girl was a sympathetic character despite her obvious privilege. It wasn't a matter of having to love her, or even like her, as much as the fact that you couldn't quite hate her, and that was enough.

"Thank you," Nicole heard Brooke whisper as she finally pulled herself together and began to separate herself from her friend.

"Yeah, well, I've always had a soft spot for blondes�that's why I became one," Nicole responded, standing up and offering her hand to Brooke. "We have to get you cleaned up cause, to borrow a phrase from Mary Cherry, you look like you look like ten miles of bad road."

Brooke grasped her hand, but regarded the other girl somewhat dubiously.

"I let you cry on Pashmina, don't even think about looking at me like that," Nicole responded grumpily.

"It's good to have you back," Brooke replied, smiling slightly. Nicole rolled her eyes in response but a small smile appeared on her face too. A little--and she stressed the little part--of her was glad to be back too.

* * * * * *

Part Twenty-One

-------------------

Jane shifted the laundry basket she was carrying, shifting the weight of it so that it rested on her hip freeing up one of her hands. Opening the door, she quickly pushed her way inside and flipped the light on. Looking around the room, she shook her head, the place was an absolute mess. Of all of her daughter's wonderful qualities, keeping an orderly room was not one of them.

Shifting the basket once again, she made her way over to Sam's bed unceremoniously dropping the laundry basket onto the mattress. She then spun around and surveyed the room once again. As long as she was there it couldn't hurt to tidy the place up a bit, she thought to herself, her eyes focusing on the natural disaster that for at least two days out of the month served as Sam's desk.

Making her way over to the offending object, she sighed deeply, wondering where to begin. Taking another step forward, she failed to notice a book lying on the floor in front of her and tripped over it, knocking into the desk which sent a myriad of papers and books plummeting to the ground. Regaining her balance she looked at the damage she had done, an ironic smile crossing her face. At least now she knew where to begin.

Bending down she began to pick up the scattered objects, placing them into drawers or onto the bookshelf in an orderly fashion, then she turned her attention to the rest of the desk doing the same with the objects resting on it. Finishing up with that she took a step back to survey her handy work, and pleased with the results was about to turn around when she noticed one book partially hidden under the desk.

Reaching out for it she noticed something sticking out of its side, but paid no attention to whatever it was until it fell out of the book as she picked it up. It had fallen so that the back of it was facing up, so all that she could tell immediately was that it was a pamphlet of some kind. Shrugging her shoulders she reached down and picked it up, opening the cover of the book to replace it when she caught sight of the front of it. What she saw almost made her drop it again.

"Same sex equals safe sex, a guide to safe sexual relations for the other ten per cent," Jane read out loud. She could read the words, individually she understood them, but she just couldn't seem to wrap her mind around what she was seeing.

Placing the book down on top of the desk with a shaky hand, Jane opened up the pamphlet. It was certainly a guide, she thought to herself as she flipped through the pages. A sensitive, yet informative guide for teenagers engaged in homosexual relationships. She closed the pamphlet and placed it in the book lying it back on the ground where she had spotted it lying only moments before, then she took a step back from the desk.

The primary question that kept running through her mind was 'why did Sam have a pamphlet that was basically a manual for gay relationships?' It was a question that she could only come up with a few answers to, two of which she found particularly startling. The first option, the one she favored although honestly didn't believe, was that it was research for an article Sam was writing. Sam was a budding journalist, it was possible, but the way in which she found it went against her daughter's modus operandi regarding her work. Despite the state that her room was often in, Jane had noticed that Sam kept meticulous notes on whatever she was writing about at a given time, titled file folders which held various articles and notes on the subject for one. This wasn't like that at all. Not once had Jane seen Sam just shove something she was working on into a book and leave it on the floor.

This then brought her to her next option, which surprised but didn't quite alarm her. That was that Sam was curious about same sex relationships. Teenagers were often curious, that was their job after all, to learn. She was curious and she had sought out information, that was a very responsible, very Sam thing to do, Jane thought to herself. This option was very plausible, and to Jane much, much, much more acceptable than option number three, which was that Sam was already engaged in a gay relationship and wanted to know how to go about hitting a homerun. This thought distressed Jane greatly. Her baby was too young to be engaging in acts not even the Kama Sutra explored. Plus, she didn't even want to consider who the girl was that had deflowered her daughter. No, she wasn't going to consider that at the moment, she couldn't consider that a moment. What she had to do was sit down. Yes, she was going to go sit down and then once she calmed down she was going to consider things rationally.

What she did however was make her way down stairs and fix herself a rum and coke.

* * * * * *

Part Twenty-Two

------------------

Brooke practically skipped into the house, her body fused with vim and vigor. She was a happy girl, she could as well have been in a musical comedy for all of the saccharine that streaming out of her every pore. In other words, she was having a good afternoon. Hearing a movement in the living room, Brooke placed her prize behind her back and carefully moved forward to see who it was.

"Hey," Brooke greeted spotting Jane. If she had been in anything other than the completely euphoric mood she was in, she would have noticed that the older woman looked a little pale, and slightly dazed, but she was in the completely euphoric mood she was in and she didn't notice that the older woman was a little pale and dazed. "Is Sam home?" she asked, trying not to sound totally like a kid at a candy factory.

"She's upstairs," Jane responded, shaking herself out of the stupor she had been in ever since she had left her daughters bedroom. "You're in a good mood," she commented noticing Brooke's sudden animation. It surprised her, because for the last couple of days both she and Sam had been moping around like they were straight out of an after school special.

"Yeah," Brooke agreed, leaving it at that. Somehow she didn't think that declaring that she had come to terms with the social implications of the love she felt for Jane's daughter, would go over well so she decided that a simple 'yeah' would do the trick. "Later," she continued a moment later as she began to maneuver herself so that Jane couldn't see what was behind her back. She then quickly made her way to and up the stairs, just barely hearing Jane's comment that she was heading out to the grocery store as she continued her ascent.

Sam's door was slightly ajar when Brooke reached it; this she took as a sign from God to continue so she did so without reservation. Once in the room, she spotted Sam typing diligently away at her computer. Two months ago this sight would have terrified Brooke to the very marrow of her bones, since the brunette had had an uncanny way of focusing a great majority of her work on Brooke--the reason why Brooke now knew and it turned her frown upside down--but now the blonde just found the display terrible cute. Closing the door behind her silently, Brooke snuck up behind Sam, bent down and wrapped one of her arms around the girl so that all that stood between them was the back of the chair.

"I saw you," Sam stated. But Brooke had felt her jump momentarily at the first touch of her arm and knew better.

"Of course you did," the blonde responded with an indulgent smile that she was probably lucky Sam couldn't see. "Pour vous," Brooke continued a second later, unfurling the arm which had remained behind her back, presenting Sam with a single red rose.

At that sight of the rose Sam turned around to look into Brooke's smiling face. "Thank you," she breathed.

"You're welcome," Brooke said, raising herself a little so that she could bring her lips to Sam's.

"You're in a good mood," Sam commented once they separated. She could feel the energy coming off of Brooke in waves. It was actually quite intoxicating and, not for the first time by any means, Sam wished that they had the house to themselves once again. She really, really wished that they had the house to themselves. Really. Really.

"So I keep hearing," Brooke responded, standing up and moving to lean against the corner of Sam's desk. "I talked to Nicole today."

"I take it things went well," Sam replied, surprised but pleased. Maybe Brooke hadn't been projecting when she said that Nicole actually had a heart buried somewhere in the deep Siberian mineshaft she called a heart.

"Eventually," Brooke said, half sighing dramatically. "I only had to have a nervous breakdown, before things started to go really well."

"What?"

"I think I'd been really tense for the past couple of days, I have a tendency to bottle up emotions, and today I basically caved in like Rosie O'Donnell at a Hostess sale. Nicole�picked up the pieces," Brooke related in a steady tone, though her face revealed some of the emotions that she must have gone through during their confrontation.

"So she not going to tell?" Sam asked just to clear things up.

"I don't think so," Brooke responded. She was quiet for a moment after that, then she smiled. "But that's not the issue. The truth is somewhere after the begging, and towards the end of the breakdown I realized that I don't care if she tells�and *that* feels pretty excellent," she continued, before pausing once more. "Unless you care, because I can threaten her if you want."

Sam smiled at the last part because she was sure that Brooke would do it. She was finally beginning to realize that as much as she was powerless when it came to Brooke, Brooke was powerless when it came to her. She found it oddly comforting. "That's sweet, but not necessary. I'm sleeping with the head cheerleader, I've already gotten my props."

Brooke smiled then swooped in kissing Sam's cheek before moving so that she kneeling beside Sam's chair.

"What are you doing later?" the cheerleader asked. "Nothing? Good," she continued before Sam had a chance to respond. "I was hoping you'd say that."

"Let me guess? You have an idea," Sam replied, looking down at Brooke curiously. "It better not involve the removal of clothes and a tub of jello."

"That was just a suggestion," Brooke responded although she leered at Sam suggestively anyway. "Actually," she continued, ignoring the look Sam shot her, "I have reservations."

"Reservations about what?" Sam asked.

"Reservations at a restaurant," Brooke clarified.

"A restaurant?" Sam asked.

"A restaurant," Brooke confirmed.

Sam looked at her blankly, and Brooke smiled again standing up and pulling out Sam's chair. Once Sam's legs were free of the desk she then sat down on the brunette's lap and draped her arm around the back of the chair. Sam looked at her with a bemused expression but didn't still didn't say anything.

"This is me," Brooke started, "asking you to accompany me to dinner tonight. Dinner at a restaurant, one with menus and waiters, and cheesy elevator music and those cute little dessert trolleys."

"A date?" Sam asked, looking up at Brooke.

"Yeah, an honest to God date," Brooke responded. "I think it's about time, don't you?" she asked, smiling.

"And here I thought all this time I had been seeing the cheapest woman in the world," Sam replied with a smirk.

"Yeah, well, mamma hit the jackpot and who better to spend it on than her bitch," Brooke responded, leaning in and rubbing her nose against Sam's, effectively diffusing any scathing response the brunette could have come up with.

"Were you born this charming, or is this the result of tireless hours of practice?" Sam asked sarcastically though a beautiful smile was gracing her equally beautiful lips.

"I'm all natural baby," Brooke responded, bringing their lips together playfully.

"Tell that to Clairol," Sam replied, a wicked grin spreading across her face.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Brooke stated, drawing her head back slightly so that she could see Sam's face.

"I've seen the bottles," Sam responded, the smile never having left her face.

"That's�it's just to lighten it," Brooke stammered.

"I love you anyway," Sam replied.

"That's very big of you," Brooke commented.

"I know. That's why I'm fabulous," Sam agreed.

"Shut up and gimme some sugar," Brooke responded, smiling as she leaned in. Sam smiled back and brought her head forward bringing their lips together in a deep, passionate kiss. "Come on," Brooke said softly when they separated, taking Sam's hand into her own.

"Where?" Sam asked, allowing Brooke to lead her nevertheless.

"To the door," Brooke responded, walking them over to said object which she locked upon their arrival. "Then to the bed," she continued once again leading Sam by the hand to the object in question.

"My mom," Sam started.

"Your mom's gone grocery shopping," Brooke responded with a wide smile as she lifted the laundry basket resting on the bed to the floor. "We have the house all to ourselves."

"I wish I had a million dollars," Sam whispered as a smile covered her face.

"What?" Brooke asked quizzically, drawing Sam towards her all the same.

"When you first came in, I wished that we had the house all to ourselves again," Sam responded, placing her hands on Brooke's hips. "Since that wish came true, I just thought that I'd cover my bases," she continued as her hands found their way under Brooke's shirt.

"That's my girl," Brooke responded before leaning forward and pressing her lips Sam's. As she did this, Sam slipped her hands underneath Brooke's shirt, massaging the soft skin there as she leaned into Brooke and felt her body begin to hum. After minutes, or hours, or a life time--Sam wasn't sure which and really didn't care--Brooke pulled away from her minutely, only mere centimeters separating them and looked at Sam with wide open eyes. Her cheeks slightly flushed, and her lips slightly parted she stood there, offering herself to Sam.

Sam immediately began to push the material of Brooke's shirt up but with an almost painful slowness, her eyes taking in every inch of skin as it was revealed, worshipping not just the body but the girl in front of her. Pulling the shirt over Brooke's head, Sam let it fall to the floor absently as she leaned in and attached her lips to Brooke's neck, licking and kissing her skin sensuously but hungrily. Leaving a wet trail in her wake, Sam made her way over to Brooke's shoulder, nipping at the skin as her hands made there way behind Brooke's back and unhooked her bra.

Stepping back, Sam then raised her hands to Brooke's shoulder and freed the blonde from the confines of her bra before renewing the contact between them, just into time to hear Brooke gasp slightly and feel the tremble that ran through her body. Ducking her head down Sam placed her lips over Brooke's heart kissing her, then trailed her way in between the valley of the cheerleaders breasts and down her stomach to the waist band of her pants. With her head now level with Brooke's waist Sam ran her hands up Brooke's legs bringing them to the waist band of her pants and unhooked them, slowly drawing the zipper down, then peeling the parasuco's off of the blonde's body.

Standing up and taking a step back once Brooke was free of the garment, Sam gazed at Brooke, who was standing perfectly still allowing the inspection without the slightest sign of protest.

"How can you do that?" Brooke asked softly as Sam watched her, a note of wonder creeping into her voice.

"What?" Sam asked, drawing her eyes to Brooke's.

"Look at me like you've never seen me before," Brooke responded.

"Because every time I see you it *is* like the first time," Sam replied as reverently as Brooke had posed the question, a gentle smile crossing her lips as she raised her hands to her own body and began to disrobe. Brooke reached out for her, but Sam stepped back shaking her head, that gentle smile she had gradually turning impish. Brooke returned to her former position, settling herself to the idea that this was now Sam's show. Actually, as the brunette began to left her shirt up teasingly and caressed her own abdomen sexily, Brooke had to admit that she really couldn't find anything wrong with that. Teasing Brooke with her excruciatingly slow movements Sam revealed herself inch by inch, never letting Brooke touch her until she was completely undressed.

"Oh god," Brooke breathed out desperately when Sam finally freed her from her prison and allowed their skin to meet for the first time. Pressing herself firmly against the brunette Brooke brought their lips together, her hands roaming over Sam's body frantically, as Sam moaned and arched into her.

Somehow, neither one of them actually certain how it actually happened, they ended up on the bed, Brooke smiling and leaning over Sam. The brunette responded to their new position by pulling Brooke's mouth down to hers, forcing the blonde to drape her body over Sam's completely, so that almost every part of them was in contact.

Breaking the contact between their lips almost regretfully, Brooke dropped her head down and began to shower kisses along Sam's neck, trailing her lips across her collar bone and then downwards, encircling Sam's right breast with sweet kisses. Sam arched up into Brooke's mouth, crying out into the still of the room, her sounds of passion exciting Brooke even further as the blonde captured Sam's nipple in her eager mouth. As Brooke's lips concentrated on Sam's chest, her hands once again began to explore the brunette's body, another moan escaping the confines of Sam's lips as Brooke's fingers danced along her torso causing waves of pleasure to roll over Sam, her head turning to the side as she bit down on her lips hotly.

Slowly, adoringly Brooke kissed her way down Sam's body, as her hands rose to take over where her lips had left off. Sam's breath caught in her throat, and her eyes closed, a decidedly erotic sound making it's way from deep within her which brought an answering whimper from Brooke.

Now, dragging her hand down, Brooke let her hand intimately explore the smooth, soft flesh before removing her lips from Sam's abdomen and looking up at Sam's face; her eyes were closed and her bottom lip snared between her teeth erotically. Brooke watched her with something close to awe. Her hand stopped it's movements, and she stayed in the position she was in watching Sam, silently wishing that she would open her eyes. And when those brown orbs did flutter open Brooke was captured by their vibrancy, her breath hitching with look of raw passion clouding them, directed at her. Not taking her eyes off of Sam's Brooke shifted her position slightly, moving further down on the bed, then lowered her lips the flesh of Sam's inner thighs, licking and kissing the skin she found there passionately.

Sensations were running rampant throughout Sam's body, wonderful, exhilarating feelings that seemed to engulf her completely as Brooke kissed her way up Sam's legs. When the blonde finally reached her intended destination, her tongue slipped out and dipped between the folds of Sam's sex with an indolence that was almost unbearable yet maddeningly exciting at the same time. Sam's eyes once again closed at the touch of Brooke's mouth to the center of her being, despite the fact that she was desperately willing them to stay open, and her hands grasped at her sheets, her fingers retracting into fists as she grabbed handfuls of sheet and her body undulated.

Prying her eyes open with an almost superhuman force, Sam's eyes held the blue of Brooke's for a moment before she felt the blonde's mouth close around the bud of her pleasure and her fingers slipped inside of her, moving in and out of her attentively as Brooke lips and tongue caressed the nucleus of her pleasure. Sam's body rose and fell vigorously, as her right hand clutched at the sheets beside her and her left hand held Brooke firmly in place, as if there was any place else the blonde would rather have been. Brooke reveled in Sam's death grip as she felt the body beneath hers tense, Sam's body rising one last time before the physical and emotional pleasure she was feeling finally cumulated into one mind-blowing orgasm that washed over her like a tidal wave, her body shaking and shivering as she moaned Brooke's name over and over again.

Sam reached out blindly, drawing Brooke upwards needing to feel every inch of the cheerleader against her. Raising herself up, Brooke planted small kisses along Sam's body as the brunette's body came under control. Raising her face above Sam's, Brooke simply gazed at her until she felt Sam's hand come to rest on her cheek and caught those magnificent eyes watching her. Having already learned that words often failed her at moments like this, Brooke simply leaned down and brought her lips to Sam's once more, trying to pour everything that she felt for her into it, trying to make her kiss the embodiment of her love.

Breaking from the kiss, Sam stroked the side of Brooke's face gently, her fingers following a pattern only she could detect on the warm skin of the blonde's face. "What are you thinking?" Sam asked, truly having no idea what the cheerleader was thinking. She had discovered that after they made love Brooke's mind usually wandered to strange yet wondrous places.

Brooke turned her head to side and could just see over the edge of the bed to the laundry basket lying on the floor. "I think that we should do this load," Brooke responded decisively. Sam rolled her eyes and tilted her head up to the ceiling, her body trembling with barely restrained laughter.

* * * * * *

Part Twenty-Three

----------------------

Brooke carefully exited her room, checking to see if the hallway was clear before making her way out into the hall and over to Sam's room. Checking the knob, she found the door open and slipped inside noiselessly. Sam was standing in front of her mirror, her back turned to Brooke, and the blonde leaned against the door she had just closed with a smile and observed the other girl with a soft smile on her face. Sam was dressed semi-casually--as Brooke had suggested so they won't draw too much attention when leaving the house--and standing there watching her brush her hair Brooke was certain that if she wasn't already entirely in love with Sam, she would have fallen for her watching her there in the pale light and peace of the moment.

"In civilized society it's considered customary to knock before entering someone's private space," Sam drawled lazily, not for a moment stopping her actions.

Brooke smiled wider and made her way over to her girlfriend. "If someone had been ready on time, this barbarous act would need not have been commented," she responded, stopping slightly behind Sam, meeting the brunette's gaze in the mirror. "You're gorgeous," Brooke continued a second later.

Sam smiled a wicked, sexy smile and turned around so that she could see Brooke completely. "I suppose," she replied in an almost whisper, "that it takes one to know one," she went on, raking her eyes over Brooke, who--she noticed in a naughty kind of way--was turning a bit red.

"Don't look at me like that," Brooke warned, feeling herself begin to react to the positively lecherous look on Sam's face. "We're already late."

Sam put up her hands in the universal sign of peace, although she still looked rather amused and a little bit lecherous. "I'm ready."

"Is everything set?" Brooke asked before gallantly taking Sam's hand into hers and kissing it softly.

"The elder," Sam said started, smiling over a Brooke, "thinks that I'm off to the movies with Carm and Lily, and that it's very sweet of you to drop me off," she continued deciding to omit the part about her mothers almost dictatorial questions about her plans for the evening.

"Chanel boutique for me," Brooke responded. "After you my dear," she continued, crossing over to the door and spryly opening it.

* * * * * *

Part Twenty-Four

--------------------------

Cynthia Gale rolled her eyes then turned to smile at her mother warmly as she made puking sound effects in her head. Ah, family dinners, what heinous torture they were. She couldn't believe that she was missing lady's night at "The Mirror" AND the Chanel boutique so that she could share spaghetti and garlic bread with her parents and her bratty younger brother--or as she liked to refer to him "the accident". Considering, not for the first time, setting off her own beeper, she lazily rolled her head to the side. 'Well, that's interesting," she thought to herself as she gazed at a table off to the corner of the restaurant. 'What the hell is that,' she continued to think as she straightened up and focused more intently on the table.

She thought that she saw Sam McPherson and Brooke McQueen sitting there. Unless, they had somehow been miraculously cloned, she was sure that she saw Sam McPherson and Brooke McQueen. They were sitting, together, at a table for two. Cynthia was confused.

Sam and Brooke hated each other. Everyone knew that. There were certain universal truths in the world, Cynthia thought to herself: Not counting Pamela Lee, Celine Dion was Canada's biggest shame, kid's who played Dungeons and Dragons would end up thirty-year old virgins, you didn't where a swim-suit in L.A. unless you had a suitable tan to go along with it, and Sam and Brooke were bitter enemies. She had been in the cafeteria that fateful day of the most destructive food-fight in Kennedy High's history. She had seen its propagators, the darkly beautiful Sam and the sunshine perfect Brooke glare at each other with the white hot intensity of a sun before they began flinging food at each other that afternoon, she had read the scathing newspaper articles, and seen the grown-up version of red rover played in the hallways. She had witnessed first hand the unpleasantness that was Brooke and Sam's relationship, and the fact that she now saw them sitting down to what looked like a civil dinner with each other just didn't compute.

She turned to face her mother with a glassy expression. "What?"

"I said, isn't that Jane McPherson's daughter?" her mother repeated, looking over at the table Cynthia herself had just been studying.

"Well, the brunette is Sam McPherson so I think it's a definite possibility," Cynthia responded dryly, causing her mother to frown.

"Why are you like that?" her mother asked in response.

"Like what?" Cynthia responded tiredly.

"Don't use that tone with me," her mother replied.

"What tone?"

"You know what tone."

"If I knew what I tone, I wouldn't have asked what tone."

"Don't get fresh with me young lady!"

"Oh Lord," Cynthia groaned, immediately regretting it. It was going to be a long night.

* * * * * *

Brooke observed Sam thoughtfully, studying her face in the pale orange glow of the candlelight, watching the way the shadowed shifted and swayed across her features, making the face the Brooke had studied so intently and so lovingly mysterious and familiar to her all at once. She thought that she would never get tired of looking at that face, that it would always be a wonder to her.

"What?" Brooke asked, snapping herself out of the daze she'd been in.

"I asked if you noticed anything strange about the way my mom was acting today?" Sam repeated with a smile. The truth was Brooke wasn't the only one with a wandering mind. Sam had been in a somewhat dreamlike state since they had left the house, she couldn't quite seem to wrap her mind around the idea that they were actually out on a date, a real date. She felt like she should have been anxious, or jumpy or something, but it all just seemed so natural. It was like they had done it a million times before. But, Sam thought to herself, even though her entire relationship with Brooke had been a series of new experiences, it had never really felt that alien, it was more like they were just getting comfortable.

"N�" Brooke started to respond, but she stopped and crinkled her brows together in thought. "Maybe," she responded, thinking about how she had found Jane that afternoon for the first time. "She seemed a little out of it when I came home, but I wouldn't say strange exactly. Why?"

"I don't know, either I'm more of a hermit than I thought or something's going on with her, because when I told her I was going out tonight her eyes practically bugged out of her head and she stumbled all over her words until I mentioned Carm and Lily," Sam responded with a rather perplexed look on her face. "It was like I had told her I was going on a crack run, or enrolling in Mme. Butterfly's school for education of young wenches."

"Well," Brooke responded slowly. "You are an attractive young woman, maybe she really is worried about your virtue. It's a big, bad, good-looking city out there."

"Very funny."

"I'm serious. Kind of," Brooke responded, smiling. "She's just being a mom."

"I know, I just don't like it that's all," Sam responded with a pout, still remembering with horror the lecture they had gotten after Jane had found condoms in their washroom. "Remember the condom speech? Ugh," she continued dramatically, making a horrified face. "I can NOT go through that again."

"There is a bright side," Brooke related in an upbeat tone.

"What's that?"

"I won't have to sit through the speech this time," Brooke respond, laughing heartily until she caught the look in Sam's eyes, then she stopped, immediately. "Seriously though," she added, sniffing and straightening up, "I don't think we have anything to worry about. I'm probably the last person she'd look at, so really it's all good."

"That's true enough," Sam responded. "It'll just make things more difficult if she starts playing Jane McPherson: Middle Aged Detective. She watched 'Murder She Wrote' too much for me to be completely comfortable."

Brooke was silent for a moment, then said "Sam," in a very grave tone, her eyes never leaving the brunette's for a moment. "Let's not talk about your mother. I mean no offense to her�but, truthfully � she's a buzz kill." And it was true. Sam regarded Brooke for a moment then smiled, acknowledging that she really didn't want to talk about her mother either.

"Tell me something about you that I don't know?" Brooke asked a moment later, looking at Sam softly but intensely. Sometimes she would look at Sam and think that for all the things she knew about the girl, for instance that her ear lobes were particularly sensitive or that she really did like Shania Twain, she really knew nothing at all.

"It'll take some of the mystery out of the relationship," Sam warned somewhat uncomfortably. It wasn't easy for her to let her defenses down, she had spent so many of her prime years building them up after all. "Mystery is sexy isn't it?" she asked, but she already knew she would answer. Brooke did that to her, and truthfully she was glad she did.

"I don't want mystery, I want you," Brooke responded honestly. She wasn't going to force Sam to tell her anything, she was sure she would find out everything she needed to know about Sam in time, it was just that she didn't want to wait. With everything that had happened between them over the past few days, she just wanted something that would bring them closer together.

"When I was eight, I wanted to be a ballerina," Sam responded, dipping her head down slightly, looking at Brooke through her eyelashes. She had never told anyone but her mother this. "I had the heart�but I didn't have the feet," she continued with a touch of wistfulness to her voice. "To this day I can't listen to Abba without getting a little misty," she practically groaned.

"Why Abba?" Brooke asked slightly perplexed. She was with Sam up until she mentioned the Swedes. Besides, she decided that it was better to focus on that part of the statement and not mention how absolutely adorable she thought it was that Sam wanted to be a dancer. The mental picture she was getting of a little Sam in a too-too was almost too much for her.

"I know it's not spelled the same, but I was young, and not yet hooked on phonics," Sam responded. "The acronym for the American Ballet Association is ABA," she continued, "or Abba, as I liked to think of it. This, and the fact that Abba sang Dancing Queen, just did it for me."

Brooke nodded somewhat solemnly, deciding to part with some information herself. After all, she too had had a childhood, and like most peoples it was rather embarrassing, despite her fathers contention that it wasn't embarrassing but precious. "I always wanted to be She-Ra," Brooke revealed. "I even had a plastic sword � but Dad took it away when I kept poking myself with it. However, I still have the tiara."

Sam smiled and looked over at Brooke fondly, her eyes sparkling in the candlelight. She-Ra, oh lord. "That explains so much," she whispered, meeting Brooke's gaze. "You were a slow child weren't you?"

"A slow child with heart," Brooke informed her with a smile of her own. "And just for the record, I like your feet."

* * * * * *

Part Twenty-Five

-----------------------

Brooke looked across the hallway to where Sam was standing, then looked away again. She then shuffled her feet and pretended to be listening to what Mary Cherry was saying before looking over at Sam once more then looking away again. She shuffled her feet some more, only stopping when Nicole whacked her on the arm and shot her a deadly glare.

"Either go over there or stop staring at her, people are going to think you paint clowns or something," the shorter blonde whispered harshly. God, how she hated young love. It reduced otherwise normal people into simpering, annoying idiots. It's like when the heart got filled up the brain fell out or something.

"I just�I was�yeah okay," Brooke responded, shifting her gaze between Nicole and Sam once more before finally beginning to make her way across the hall hesitantly, looking back at Nicole for moral support but only seeing a disillusioned head shake. It actually gave her the motivation that she needed.

Having completed her trek across the hall, Brooke stopped beside Lily and smiled at the occupants of the circle, which is to say Carmen and Lily. They smiled back at her. Brooke smiled back at them and nodded her head. They smiled back at her. Brooke turned her head and smiled at Sam.

"Will you excuse us for a second," Sam said to the other two brunettes. They nodded and Sam motioned from Brooke to follow her down the hallway a little bit.

"Hey," Brooke said still smiling once they were away from the other two.

"Hey," Sam responded, both amused and confused by Brooke's behavior.

"So uh, gym was pretty boring today huh?" Brooke asked.

"You mean the finer points of field hockey just didn't do it for you?" Sam asked, unconsciously rubbing at her shoulder where she had been hit with a stick.

"Are you okay? That looked like it hurt?" Brooke asked, concentrating on Sam's shoulder. "I would have checked on you, but I feared for my life if I left the penalty box." Sam smirked.

"I feared for your life when you got sent to the penalty box," she responded, remembering the look of pure rage that had engulfed teachers face. "What did you say to her anyway?"

"I don't remember," Brooke responded, shaking her head and rubbing at the back of her neck. "I wish I knew though, so that I could never, ever say it again."

They were silent for a moment after that, Brooke's eyes drifting around again, only settling on Sam for brief moments before skittering away once again.

"Are you okay?" Sam asked finally. She hadn't seen Brooke this jittery in a while.

"Yeah, I mean�did ummm," Brooke started, her eyes flittering around there immediate vicinity before settling on Sam once again, "I just�I was wondering if you, you know, like had fun last night?" she asked, looking at Sam once more before her eyes started to roam nervously once more.

"It was the best date I've ever been on," Sam responded, her heart swelling as she smiled at the blonde reassuringly. Brooke was nervous about how their date had gone. Considering that they had already made love, broken up, gotten back together and declared their love for each other, Sam found it both ludicrous and unbelievably charming that Brooke would be nervous about how dinner had gone.

"It's the only date you've been on," Brooke pointed out reasonably, still looking at her shoes.

"Yes, and I'd say I'm off to an excellent start," Sam responded, dipping her head down trying to get Brooke to look up again. When she did look up Sam smiled at her tenderly and for the first time since Brooke had come over to her she seemed to relax. Sam shook her head, god how she loved this girl.

* * * * * *

"I'm telling you Jennifer 'call me love' Hewitt had a boob job," Cynthia stated with absolute certainty. "Have you seen 'I Know What you Did Last Summer'? Don't even try to tell me those things real. She could use them as floatation devices if she was ever in a plane crash," she continued as she and her entourage--as she liked to think of them--made their way to their lockers.

"But she seems so natural," Susan protested. She liked 'call me love' Hewitt. She thought that she had spunk, and real talent.

"Yeah, natural like SMG's hair colour," Cynthia responded derisively as she opened up her locker and began to unload her books. Looking up, her eyes caught on a scene and stopped what she was doing to observe it. "Okay, look at that," she said, gesturing towards Brooke and Sam who were standing off to the end of the hallway talking to themselves. "Does somebody want to tell me what the fuck is up with that?" she asked looking around at the group around her.

"Yeah, that is kind of weird," Megan agreed, observing the scene. "I thought they like hated each other or something."

"Yeah, don't they like hate each other or something," Regan agreed. "They like hate each other."

"They can't hate each other too much," Cynthia replied, looking at them with narrowed eyes. "I saw them having dinner together last night."

"Their parents probably want them to be like friends or something. Think about how they act at school and imagine what they must be like at home," Susan suggested.

"They were there alone," Cynthia responded, "And they seemed to be getting along just fine."

"Sam hasn't written any damaging articles about the popular's in a long time," Megan observed keenly. "Maybe they don't hate each other anymore. Maybe they're like friends now."

"Thank you for that insightful commentary," Cynthia muttered under her breath. She was certain that she had already covered that and with much more flare and wit than Megan. "I'd kill to find out what happened though. Blood feuds just don't end over night."

"Romeo and Juliet ended their blood feud by falling in love," Regan commented in a dreamy tone. Cynthia rolled her eyes.

"Yeah, I can just see Brooke climbing up to Sam's window declaring that she is the sun and Sam the moon," she responded, which resulted in a good laugh for all.

* * * * * *

Harrison observed Brooke and Sam from his position just down the hall from them. He had joined Carmen and Lily shortly after Sam had pulled Brooke away, and had immediately taken up spying on them. When Brooke had began to talk, she had looked nervous, fidgeting with her hands and looking about her anxiously, but she had calmed down soon after she began to speak to Sam and they were now speaking with each other comfortably. Every once in a while he would see one them make a motion with her hand, or one of them turn to the side trying to smother a laugh, and more than once in a while he would see one of them look at the other in brief, intimate glances.

"Don't even think about going over there and starting something," Carmen warned him, drawing Harrison out of his trance. "They've been suffocated for the past week and they don't need you going over there with outstretched hands."

Harrison looked over at her with a slightly surprised look on his face. Her was surprised by the barely veiled hostility in her voice. She wasn't making a comment, she was issuing a warning. He was not to go and upset them or else. He sighed, then focused on Carmen for the first time since his muttered 'hello'.

"I know," he mumbled contritely. Suddenly he was a four-year-old who had been caught with freshly baked chocolate cake all over his face. "I know I was wrong," he continued, shifting his position uncomfortably. He had spent the previous night looking through old photo albums, looking at old photos of him trying to launch Sam off of the teeter totter, and Brooke using him as a life sized Barbie doll to try out her five year old hair styles etcetera, etcetera. And as he looked through the photos he was reminded what a big portion of his life they both held, but Sam especially.

As Brooke's words played through his head, he knew that she was right, and that acting the way he was acting would only hurt him. Because, Sam had Brooke and Brooke had Sam, and if he went on playing his asshole games, it was clear that he would have no one, especially since Carmen had just made it very clear that she was onboard with Sam and Brooke, and where Carmen went Lily went. He supposed that it would take time for him to actually become okay with the situation, that this feeling for them wouldn't just disappear over night, but he realized that he better start acting a friend instead of non-ex-boyfriend or else he wouldn't have a chance to make it up to them.

"I'm going over there," he announced a moment later, looking between Carm and Lily. "But I swear I go in peace," he continued. They looked at him dubiously, but said nothing. It was his right to wrong, and his wrong to make even worse if he should so choose.

Brooke was the first to spot his approach, which wasn't really surprising considering that she was facing him, and she watched it inquisitively. Sam turned around shortly after Brooke spotted him, no doubt wondering what had caught her girlfriend's attention, and she then watched him too, her body tensing perceptively and her lips thinning into a set line.

"Can I talk to you?" he asked once he reached them. Sam shrugged. "In private?" he asked, clarifying. Sam hesitated. "I'd rather not grovel in the hallway," he said in response to her non-answer. Brooke smiled knowingly, and nudged Sam, who then glared at her but agreed to go off with him nonetheless.

* * * * * *

Part Twenty-Six : "Poor Jane!"

---------------------------------------

Jane walked by Sam's room, the door was open and as she passed by her eye caught a hold of the poster on the back wall and she stopped to take a good look at it. The poster was of Shania Twain, she of midriff greatness, and looking at the poster seriously for the first time Jane suddenly realized that Shania wasn't really wearing a whole lot of anything. In fact, from Shania's expression she decided that the songs-tress wasn't so much taking a picture as she was making love to the camera. Jane began to realize that this poster was promising sex; Shania was promising sex to the owner of the poster, which in this case would be her daughter. Jane turned away from the poster and resumed her course down stairs with a new and intense dislike of Shania Twain and her lyrics about feeling women.

As Jane entered the dining room she observed Brooke strut into the living room, apparently just back from practice since she was still in her uniform, where Sam was working. Momentarily sidetracked, she watched as they greeted each other warmly--which really wasn't so extraordinary as it had become their custom. Sam put down her pencil and made some comment to Brooke that Jane couldn't hear, but which she assumed was funny since it made Brooke smile. Truthfully, it wasn't the friendly banter that interested Jane so much as it was Sam's reaction to Brooke. From the moment the blonde entered the room, Sam had focused her undivided attention on her and this is what kept Jane watching them from her secret position, even though she felt ashamed of herself for spying.

They continued to speak for a minute before Brooke plucked something out of her bag and walked over to the stereo system. As she did this, Jane watched Sam watching Brooke. The brunette's eyes drew over the blonde's body, positively raking over her partially clad form, a wicked sort of smile tugging at her lips. Jane had seen that look before on countless people's faces. She had seen it in bars, and offices, and stores and anywhere where people were. She knew what lay behind that look; she knew what that look was. It was passion.

Jane was broken out of her reverie by the sound of pulsing music--apparently that's what Brooke had been doing in front of the stereo while Sam ogled her. Concentrating on the scene in front of her once again, she saw Brooke swaying to the beat casually, the movement almost seeming unconscious, although Jane had no way of telling if it actually was unconscious or just the style of the day. Still sashaying, in a way that Jane couldn't characterize as asexual--even though she desperately wanted to--Brooke made her way over to Sam, and flopped down on the couch beside her. From that position she slid over so that she was practically sitting in Sam's lap and flipped through the pages of the notebook Sam had been writing in, making some comment that caused Sam to reach out and slap her gently, to which Brooke merely smiled and continued with her page flipping.

As Jane watched, she could see that Brooke was talking, but she doubted that her daughter had any more of an idea what the blonde was saying than she herself did. In the intimate position that they were in, it seemed to Jane as if Sam was concentrating mostly on not leaning into the cheerleader. She could see Sam's body sometimes rock towards Brooke as the blonde spoke, then move away again, as if she were afraid of getting too close.

This was all too much for her and Jane leaned back against the wall and closed her eyes, breathing deeply. Things were starting to make sense to her now, in a completely surrealistic way that was. The girls newfound friendship, suddenly beginning to become understandable. Jane was now reasonably certain that Sam was subtly--maybe even unconsciously--trying to court the blonde. She figured that when Sam realized she was attracted to Brooke--a fact that was now painfully clear to Jane--she must have begun to act differently around her, the origins of her hostility having been recognized. This probably led them to spend quality time together, as they did have the house all to themselves when she and Mike were away, and unknowingly Brooke must have been going along with it, oblivious to Sam's real feelings for her.

Jane resisted to urge to bang her head against the wall, knowing that it would draw some unwanted attention to herself, and that it would stop a brain that was barely functioning from functioning at all--and quite frankly she needed in brain in working order. She needed to figure out what she was going to do about the situation, the problem was there just weren't any books on how to deal with situations like the one she was dealing with. How did one go about talking to their daughter about said daughter's ogling of her soon to be stepsister? And, once one did manage to have the talk how did one then make sure that said ogling stopped? These were questions Jane just didn't have the answers to. These were questions Jane was beginning to fear she would never find the answers to. She loved her daughter, and would support her she just wondered to anyone who was listening why on earth Sam had to become infatuated with Brooke of all people. Dear, sweet, oblivious Brooke, Jane thought to herself with a sigh. How was she supposed to handle this???

Jane continued to consider this for a few more moments, then decided that she found the entire situation terribly perplexing and that she needed to lie down. The Cowardly Parent, she thought to herself as she walked up the stairs. Too bad she wasn't in Oz.

It was actually a good thing that Jane left to go lay down when she did, because if she had stayed any longer she would have seen Sam playfully start to move her hand underneath Brooke's skirt, and she would have seen Brooke only have heartedly slap it before giving in totally to Sam's roaming hands, and this would have given her a whole new set of problems to worry about.

* * * * * *

Part Twenty-Seven

------------------------

Brooke tussled her hair and pursed her lips looking into the mirror again. Spinning around dramatically, she tried several different poses, all determined to discover whether or not her pants made her ass look big. After that she entered into a whole new series of poses designed to determine whether or not her hips looked big, her chest looked flat and her calves looked bovine-ish. Finally, once she was satisfied that everything looked in proportion, she tussled her hair some more.

"How do I look?" Brooke asked, finally spinning around to look at the other occupant of the room.

"Gwyneth herself would be envious of your radiance tonight," Nicole replied with a wicked grin. "Very nice. How about me?" she asked, spinning around so that Brooke could get a good look at the magnificence that was her.

"Very Charlize Theron a la Oscars double nines, sexy and stylish. Two thumbs up," Brooke responded, smiling.

Turning back to the mirror, Brooke smoothed out her shirt and looked at herself contemplatively again. There was something slightly narcissistic about the amount of time she had spent in front of the mirror that night, but she couldn't help it. "You think Sam'll like it?" she asked Nicole meditatively as she turned her head to the side.

"She has eyes right?" Nicole responded, watching Brooke begin to primp and preen again with a touch of amazement. Not for the first time she considered the oddity that was Brooke and Sam's relationship. She just didn't understand what Brooke saw in Sam and her adventures in open-mouthed journalism. She wasn't blind, she could see that Sam was an attractive young woman, after a beer or two Nicole was even fairly certain that she could do Sam if the girl managed to not open her big, fat mouth. But loosened inhibitions didn't explain Brooke and Sam. As much chagrin as it caused her, Nicole had to admit that Brooke seemed to be in love with Sam, and Sam seemed to be in love with her too. She had to acknowledge that they genuinely liked each other as people and had a mutual respect for each other. The only way that she could comprehend that was to repeat to herself, "the universe is a strange and wonderful place", so that's what she did.

Nicole was interrupted from her thoughts when she sensed Brooke move behind her.

"I'm glad you're coming," Brooke stated simply. She was now certain that nothing short of death--or boarding school if their parents were to find out what they were up to--would separate her from Sam again, and that being the case she decided that she had to start trying to merge their worlds together. It was easier for her to enter Sam's world as Carmen already liked her, Lily was fairly indifferent to her, and Harrison, well she wasn't really sure about him anymore but he wasn't openly hostile. It was going to be a little bit tougher for Sam she was sure, which was why she had asked Nicole to join them on their excursion. After herself, Nicole was the big cheese as far as the social order went and she knew that if she could get Nicole to at least tolerate Sam's presence the rest of the flock would fall into order because they wouldn't want to rock the boat. It was the how to get Nicole and Sam getting along part worried Brooke, but this was a start.

"Please, it's lady's night," Nicole responded, swishing around to face Brooke. The truth was Nicole was a firm believer that in today's world of broken homes and nuclear families, one's friends became their family. That being the case, Brooke was her family, and as such certain considerations had to be made though she loathed to do it. Despite her momentary lapse into supreme bitchiness, Brooke really was the most important person in life--sad as it was. So, if it meant that she had to be civil towards Spam, she would do it, grudgingly. Plus, it really was lady's night.

"We should go," Brooke said, glancing at her clock. "We're late."

"I'm not the one that spent two hours getting dressed for someone who's already seen me naked," Nicole responded, swishing out the door fabulously--as always.

"Shut up," Brooke responded, pouting a bit as they made their way down the stairs.

Jane and Mike were in the living room and came out to greet the girls as they descended. They too were dressed for a night on the town. Brooke frowned, she hadn't known they were going anywhere. If she had known *they* were going somewhere *she* wouldn't have been going anywhere!

"Looking good Big Mac," Nicole commented, patting Mr. McQueen on the shoulder and winking at him. Brooke sighed and shook her head, it really disturbed her when Nicole did this. Flirting was one thing, flirting with her father was another thing. It was just, well gross.

"You look nice," Brooke commented, turning to face Jane who seemed slightly amused by Mike's discomfort. She needed to distract herself, Nicole was telling Mike how 'strapping' he looked, which meant that she was moments away from hyperventilating and passing out. This had to be avoided at all costs.

"Thank you, you don't look too shabby yourself," Jane responded, smiling. She was actually glad that the girls were spending some time apart. Not that she wasn't one for family togetherness, she just wasn't really big on too much family togetherness. And, she figured the less time they spent together, the faster Sam's infatuation with Brooke would pass. This having separate plans thing pleased her immensely.

"Oh, this old thing," Brooke replied, ignoring the look Nicole sent her.

After another moment of exchanging pleasantries Brooke began to herd Nicole out the door. "Have fun," she called back to the parental units as she headed out the door, "and don't wait up." With that the blondes vanished from their world.

"Freedom," Brooke purred as she slipped into the plush leather of Nicole's car.

"Even better, 'Sirens'," Nicole responded as she started the car up.

"Where did you hear about this place anyway?" Brooke asked. Nicole merely smiled and pulled out of the driveway. Yeah, tonight was definitely going to be fun.

* * * * * *

Sam ran her hands over her shirt--not that there was much shirt to run her hands over--and exhaled sending strands of her hair flying about her face. Taking another look in the mirror she observed herself for a moment before deciding that this was as good as it was going to get. Turning around she observed the other occupants of the room who were finishing up themselves.

"Ladies," Sam said, drawing their attention to her. "Do I have my skank on or what?"

"Two words: Fab Bu," Carm responded before letting out a little whistle.

"Are you sure I look trashy enough?" Sam asked, looking herself up and down. "After all, we are going to a club downtown, and eleven is when the ho parade begins." Truthfully, she didn't really care about proper club wardrobe, she just wanted to look delectable. She wanted to look hot, dead sexy and all that good stuff. She wanted to drive Brooke crazy.

"Let me put it this way," Lily responded, running a hand threw her hair tousling it a little. "I'd do you," she continued receiving grins from both Carm and Sam. She smirked to herself amused by the fact that they didn't know she was only half joking.

"Any glaring fashion faux paus?" Sam asked, thinking that the outfit was coordinated as far as she could tell. "With the fashion Nazi coming with us, I can't be clashing," she continued.

"You're clash free, not that it matters since Brooke would probably think you looked delicious in a burlap sack," Carmen responded. And it was true. The fact was that she wanted a boyfriend just like Brooke. "That girl's got it bad for you," she continued, enjoying the flush that came to Sam's face. Deciding, however, to give her a break, she then asked, "Moving on, question. Why is Satan�I mean Nicole coming anyway?"

Sam smirked. "I think Brooke wants us to bond. Or you know at least stop her from referring to me as Spam and me from referring to her as Smug Bitch," she answered, shaking her head. She had really gotten attached to calling Nicole Smug Bitch too, it rolled of the tongue with the greatest of ease, conveying everything Sam felt for the girl in one neat little package. It was as close to perfection as anything had ever come and she was going to have to give it up.

"Yeah, and next week we can solve the problem of world hunger," Lily commented sarcastically. Then again, she had never thought that Brooke and Sam would learn to get along.

"Don't forget overpopulation, and the destruction of the Amazon," Carmen added. "We can tackle those after we all start getting along with Mary Cherry," she continued. "Right Lil' Lily?" she asked, smiling at her friend winningly.

"Shut up," Lily responded, pouting. "I wasn't tryin' to kiss her!" she continued defensively. "And who the hell is Joe anyway?"

"Well have to discuss that later," Carmen responded taking a look out the window. "The cavalry has arrived�and it got a new paint job."

* * * * * *

Part Twenty-Eight

-----------------------

"You, Ms. McPherson, look absolutely edible," Brooke, purred, sliding up behind Sam as they made their way towards the entrance of the club. Sam smiled, that's just the look she was going for. Yah, for her.

"That's Ms. Sanford of 142 Lakeshore Blvd., and thank you," Sam responded, flashing Brooke a grin as the blonde linked their arms together. "And you Ms�."

"Seaberg, Gretchen Seaberg. 22 years of age from West Hollywood," Brooke filled in helpfully though she made a face when she announced where her donor I.D. had come from. Of all places it had to West Hollywood. She couldn't help it, as much as she tried she remained an area code snob.

"Are like butta," Sam continued, running her eyes over Brooke's body appreciatively. Brooke smiled, that's just the effect she had been trying to produce. Yah, for her.

"Yo, Harly and Quinn," Nicole called drawing the girls' attention to her. "This way."

Nicole then led them around the side of the building, where she then left them for a moment to go over and talk to a bouncer that was watching the alley entrance. She spoke to him for a minute then walked back over to where she had left the others standing.

"Welcome to paradise," she said, rejoining them and gesturing for them to follow her through the now open door. "The drinks are expensive, and the bartenders are rude, but the ho train is in full effect and everybody's got their hooch on, so enjoy. And remember�you don't know me," she finished as they entered the main room.

"Ho-Ly," Sam breathed out as her eyes swept across the main part of the club.

"This is great," Brooke responded, looking around with the same look of awe that Sam had on her face. The place was unbelievable.

"I didn't think places like this existed off of celluloid," Carmen breathed out as she took in the sight in front of her. She didn't know what she had gotten herself into, but she liked it.

"This isn't a Tupperware party ladies. Mingle, mingle," Nicole said before sweeping out into the crowd dramatically where she was soon swallowed up.

The club itself reminded Sam of something out of a Greek myth, or Queer as Folk. In the center of the room was a fountain with water flowing into it from an artificially created fall off to the side. The room was covered in gold and pink and green sea-foam. They could as well have been in Cleopatra's palace, or at the very least her bathhouse. All around them were the sounds of pulsing techno music and gyrating scantily clad bodies. Girls and guys, guys and guys, girls and girls, everyone was with everyone and nobody seemed to give a good goddamn. The place was utterly trampy, it was tacky as hell, was a virtual eyesore of indecency. Sam smiled she liked it, it had character.

She was broken out of her revere when she felt Brooke wrap her arms around her waist place her lips right next to her ear while whispering "dance floor, now. I've wanted to get my hands on you sine you walked out of the house�and I do believe that I'm going to get the chance" she said, surveying the crowd with a smile of her own.

* * * * * *

Part Twenty-Nine

-----------------------

"Just, let it go." Mike said softly. Jane had been trying to tell him something for the better part of ten minutes, and he still had no idea what she was talking about. He had noticed that she had seemed preoccupied for the past week or so, but he had assumed that it had to do with the wedding preparations. Now he wasn't so sure.

"It started with this pamphlet I found," Jane said, finally just putting it out there. She needed to talk to Mike about this as it would eventually effect him too. She had put off talking to him about it because all she had was circumstantial evidence. All she still had was circumstantial evidence, but it was good circumstantial evidence she had come to realize. She was also, she realized, looking for a bit of encouragement. She had meant to talk to Sam about it, but the few times the opportunity had arisen she hadn't had the heart to bring it up directly or even indirectly.

"Pamphlet?"

"In Sam's bedroom," Jane answered pensively. "I swear I was just tidying up a bit�I'm not one of 'those' moms," she went on. She had had one of those moms and she swore she wouldn't be one of the mom/amateur detective mothers who slipped into their children's room after they went of to school looking for naughty bits to hold over their heads.

"What was it about?" Mike asked, wondering what could possibly have upset Jane so much. Pamphlets were harmless weren't they? Mostly about healthy eating and study tips, surely that hadn't agitated her. He wished he would find a pamphlet!

"Same sex relationships. A romantic guide for the other ten per cent," Jane related shifting her position once again, her voice lowering unconsciously. When she realized what she'd done, she straightened up a little. Damn, social conditioning!

"Huh?" Mike questioned elegantly as always.

"I know," Jane responded, shaking her head helplessly. "It was basically a gay guide."

"Sam's?" Mike asked a moment later, forcing himself to calm down. Jane was already worked up enough, he didn't need to go adding to her anxiety. He really hadn't expected her to say that. Then again, he considered, it wasn't the type of thing that people went around expecting.

"Yeah," Jane answered lowering her gaze to the tabletop. "It's most definitely Sam's."

"Maybe," Mike started carefully, "she's just curious. Teens these days are curious, and it's even kind of trendy, what with Ally McBeal doing it and Jon Voight's daughter and all," he continued.

* * * * * *

Brooke's hand ran down Sam's torso slowly, her fingers dancing across Sam's shirt then wrapping tightly around her waist as she drew them closer together. Sam melted into the body behind her, grinding against Brooke as the blonde lowered her face to Sam's neck and smiled against the slick skin there.

"Come on," Brooke whispered playfully into Sam's ear. "You can do it, put your back into it," she continued, pushing her hips against Sam's ass erotically.

Sam grinned and lifted her left hand up looping it around Brooke's neck, tangling her fingers in the blonde hair for a moment before turning herself around so that they were facing each other. Brooke's lips parted sexily, a small gasp coming out of her mouth as she took in Sam's wicked grin and her hotly disheveled appearance. Her brown locks were slightly tussled and there was a thin sheen of sweat glistening all over her body. She had a flustered, yet excited energy surrounding her, and Brooke found herself unconsciously leaning forward. To put it as succinctly as possible, Brooke wanted some of that.

Sam pulled back teasingly. "What was that about putting my back in to it?" she asked, dancing out of Brooke's reach.

"Nothing," the blonde responded immediately. "I liked where your back was, I don't know what I was thinking," she continued, pulling a willingly Sam back against her.

"Will you look at them," Carmen commented, leaning against the bar and shaking her head. After being accosted by some drunken men (and one woman) shortly after arriving she had made her way over to the bar thinking that the experience would be much more enjoyable with a few drinks in her. Unfortunately she found out that she was melancholy drunk, and after briefly sampling the available male inhabitants of the club, she had resigned herself to watching Brooke and Sam heat up the dance floor moodily.

"And us without our fire-hose," Lily responded with a smirk after spotting their friends on the dance floor. Having just returned from doing some networking Lily hadn't had the opportunity to observe what the lovebirds had been up to. However, getting her first look at them she could see why half the club had their eyes trained on them.

"I want that," Carmen stated longingly after a moment, watching as Sam turned to smile lovingly at Brooke. They were just so goddamn cute together. Always looking at each other with those dopey, Bambi eyes, smiling at each other intimately, and exchanging tender touches. If it weren't so genuinely touching seeing them together it would have pissed Carmen off.

"I'm afraid they're already taken," Lily commented though she admitted that she wanted that too. Though, she had to admit that everybody probably wanted love, and that the kind Brooke and Sam seemed to have was of the best variety.

"I didn't mean with either of them," Carmen responded, turning to glare at Lily.

"Then why are you standing here talking to me?" Lily asked with an impish grin. "The club is your oyster. Brooke and Sam are certainly making the most of the experience, and let's not even mention Nicole," Lily went on, turning to look at the shorthaired blonde, who was encircled by smarmy dancing men, nonetheless. "I say we find ourselves some muffins and get if not everlasting love than at least a few free drinks."

Carmen turned to look at Brooke and Sam once more. They were now draped around each other like expensive silk. Carmen sighed. "Alright�but I feel like I've just been sold the cheaper chicken."

* * * * * *

"I don't think it's a phase," Jane responded honestly, holding his gaze. She appreciated what he was trying to do, but she had been there and done that, and she was fairly certain that her daughter was more than just curious, or trendy.

"I won't lie and say that I even considered this possibility, but�well, we should be supportive. I mean�with how things are, if she is, this is probably hard for her," Mike said haltingly. He believed that his suggestion was not only the mature thing to do but the right thing. He had heard that it was very confusing and difficult for teens especially with an alternative sexuality, and despite the tension that had existed between them when the McPherson women first moved in, he had come to care a great deal about Sam. Plus, that was a teen pregnancy they wouldn't have to worry about. He always liked to look at the glass as half-full.

"Of course," Jane responded. Nothing short of death would ever force her away from her daughter, she was not going to condemn her child for who she was, it just took a little getting used to. As liberal as she liked to consider herself to be, this really knocked the wind out of her. "It's just been on my mind a lot since I found the pamphlet," she continued, deciding to omit her speculations about Sam's feelings for Brooke until she had more concrete evidence. That information would just make things more complicated and that probably wasn't necessary since it was just a little unrequited crush.

"I'm sure it'll all work out," Mike responded, squeezing Jane's hand and smiling reassuringly.

* * * * * *

---------------------------------------

Interlude: "Before Night Falls"

---------------------------------------

Brooke gasped as Sam slid her hands under her shirt, moaning as the brunette began to vigorously explore the rapidly heating flesh she found there. Brooke raised her hands up to Sam's face holding her steady as she rained desperate kiss after desperate kiss all over Sam's face. They had been living in a world that consisted of sexual frustration, sexual frustration, and sexual frustration, and after their outing the previous night at the club the stewing pot had boiled over.

Responding to the urgency in Brooke's movements Sam pushed forward into the other girl causing Brooke to step back again and again until her legs bumped against the edge of her bed sending her and Sam tumbling down onto the pliant mattress and soon to be discarded covers.

"Thank the lord for annual check-ups," Brooke mumbled as she turned them over so that she was straddling Sam's waist. "With honorable mention going to the never-ending waiting line," she continued, pulling her top over her head, impatiently throwing it somewhere behind her.

Sam smiled up at her, then brought her hands up to Brooke's face bringing the blonde's head down until their lips crashed together. Sam continued to ravage her lips as Brooke shifted her position so that she was draped over the brunette's body, groaning into Sam's mouth as the journalist slipped her thigh between Brooke's legs. Pressing down on the newly offered surface, Brooke whimpered drawing her mouth away from Sam's, burying her face in the other girls neck, licking and nipping at the skin she found there as she rocked against Sam's leg with an almost primal urgency.

"Somebody's�" Sam started to say.

"If you say horny, I'll kill you," Brooke muttered into the brunette's ear. She managed to cease her actions as she began to speak, but some involuntary shudders still ran through her body as she tried to get her breathing under control.

"I was going to say eager," Sam responded, smiling. "We've got hours," she continued in a voice that was considerably huskier than usual.

"That's easy for you to say. I know what you were doing during that marathon shower you took this morning," Brooke responded, raising her head and looking down at Sam with a crooked smile on her face. As her gaze traveled down to rest on one of Sam's hands, one could even describe the expression on her face as a leer, if one were so inclined.

Sam stared at her for a moment, opening her mouth as if to protest Brooke's allusion, but her lips soon curved up into a playful grin, a flush traveling over her body, covering her skin. "Okay, so there was that," she responded slyly, watching with hooded eyes as Brooke's sky blue eyes turned a stormy gray upon hearing the admission. "Since you're so interested � in my personal grooming routine," Sam continued teasingly, "I could give you a demonstration." Sam offered, watching Brooke carefully, reveling in her reactions. This statement was accompanied by the blonde sucking in a deep breath and shuddering slightly. Sam took this to mean that Brooke wanted her to proceed with her tutorial and wasted no time trailing her hands up Brooke's thighs until they came to rest on the blonde's waist. From there she pushed softly shifting their bodies so that they were both lying on their sides, face to face. In this position she leaned forward bringing their lips together while simultaneously running her fingers across Brooke's stomach, her nails scrapping across the pale skin until she reached the waistband of Brooke's pants. Sliding her body up slightly, Sam then slipped her hand down the front of Brooke's pants. Brooke moaned and moved forward into Sam's hand wantonly.

And they were lost.

Sam ran her fingers through the silky softness of Brooke's hair. The blonde's head was resting on her shoulder, and Sam could feel the warmth of her breath warming the skin just above where the textbooks said her heart lay. "I had the strangest dream last night," she said into the stillness of the room. She felt Brooke shift against, her body 'saying continue, please, I'm on eggshells' as it rubbed against Sam's. "It was dark out, and you and I were laying in the whitest sand you've ever seen. There were tiny pink speckles in it, but it didn't take away from the effect, in fact they just made it all the more amazing. Your head was resting on my shoulder, like it is now, and I was looking up at the stars."

"That doesn't sound strange," Brooke said softly. "It sounds idyllic." There was a wistful quality to her voice, as if she had transported herself into the dream as Sam spoke, and was herself laying on the tropical beach in the brunette's arms.

"It was�until I saw something shoot across the sky," Sam responded. She could feel Brooke tracing her finger across her stomach, lightly drawing imaginary shapes on her skin. It was something Sam had come to expect from the blonde, a post-coital ritual of sorts, and it always made her heart skip a beat. "Soon after that I saw another streak, and then another and another. Then, the sky was filled with these blazing orange streaks. All around us it was raining these fiery orbs. We got scared and stood up, where we watched those fist sized balls of fire crashing down into the ocean. We started looking for a place to run, to hide, but there was no place to go. We were on an empty island, just us, a palm tree and the sand. We were so scared, but when we saw that there was no place to go, we just kind of stood there together, watching. And soon we noticed that none of the rocks were landing on the island, like it was a sacred place." Brooke stopped her motions, now drawing her arms around Sam, hugging the brunette to her body soothingly. "I moved closer to you and you and you wrapped your arms around me and the shower started to slow. Soon after that it stopped completely, and all around us was calm again. We laid back down; the only change from the beginning of the dream was the air. It was balmy."

"I could listen to you forever," Brooke said a moment later. "I would, gladly."

"That's good," Sam responded, looking down at the blonde head covering her chest, her tone droll yet gentle. "I have a lot to say."

"Really?" Brooke asked, freeing one of her hands to trail down Sam's body slowly, coming to rest on her knee where she fingered the scar she had discovered weeks -- or was is months? -- ago . "Tell me how you got this?"

Sam tilted her head back, her eyes roaming the ceiling, deep in thought. "My bike," she said finally, having tracked down the memory and gripped it firmly. "I had gotten Harrison to steal his Dad's double head screwdriver and take the training wheels off of it. I got on the newly bipedal instrument immediately, and for about five seconds everything was going off without a hitch. It was beautiful. I turned around to gloat; this turned out to be my downfall," Sam intoned gravely. "I lost control of the bike and toppled over. Sam fall down go boom. I must have cut my knee on some part of the bike, maybe on something on the sidewalk, I was never really sure what did it."

"I want to know the history of your body, every scar, every scratch, every crevice from head to toe," Brooke related when Sam finished speaking.

Sam turned around in the circle of Brooke's arms. She leaned forward and kissed her, as she thought 'I want to swim in your arteries and veins'. Brooke brought her hand up to the back of Sam's head pressing their lips more closely together, 'I want to inhabit your heart' her lips seemed to say. She wanted to be a part of the history of Sam's body.

Sam's hand trailed up Brooke's side, "I want to know all of you," she breathed out softly, her hands no longer tracing but caressing the skin underneath them.

Brooke gasped, and smiled into Sam's mouth. "Harlot! You want to go again, don't you?" she asked smirking. In response, Sam merely yanked the rumbled bed sheet over their heads and allowed the two most dexterous parts of her body to do her talking for her.

Continue to Parts 30 -- the Epilogue

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