DISCLAIMER: I don't own them, but I certainly wish I did. Damn Ryan Murphy and his unrivaled genius.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the fifth story in the "Surviving the Holidays" series that take place of the span of a year, from one Halloween to the next. Following Things That Go Bump in the Night, Overstaying Your Welcome, What's So Merry about Christmas? and Out with the Old and In with the New.
BETA'D: This work was beta'd by the lovely and talented Karen.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Cupid's Broken Arrows
By Teara


"So, I have practice and then I'll wait around and meet you after your Zapruder meeting. Then we'll swing by home and get ready for the party." Brooke rattled off the list as she and Sam walked hand in hand down the semi-crowded halls of Kennedy High.

"I was hoping we could skip the party and maybe just have an evening in cuddled on the couch." Sam pouted good-naturedly at the blonde.

"Guess again, Spam. Brock Mattos' party is one of the last big blow outs before the spring socials begin. And Brookie, as reigning teen queen of these halls, is expected to make an appearance and as her new arm candy, you're expected to follow suit. Now as much as the thought of you two hanging all over one another and making sad puppy dog eyes across crowded rooms makes me want to revisit the appetite suppressant that I had for breakfast, it is a sacrifice I am willing to make to insure that I graduate from this dump in three months, a legend."

Sam bit back the retort that bubbled up when the shorter blonde referred to her as Brooke's new "arm candy." "Oh, I wouldn't worry about that. If the boys' bathroom walls are any indication, I'd say you're way past legend status."

Brooke stepped between them, knowing that the conversation had just taken a turn for the worse. "Nic's right, Sam. To keep Lily from starting a big protest outside of Cherry Cherry's annual Fur Fashion Show last month, I told her I'd help her organize a clothing drive for the homeless. And Brock's dad owns a chain of retail stores. We could use some donations."

"Mama does love a good fur show," Mary Cherry added with a slightly maniacal smile.

Ignoring the blond Texan, Brooke looked imploringly into Sam's expressive brown eyes. "We won't stay long. I promise and then if we're lucky, we'll make it home after the parentals have gone to bed and we can have a little cuddle time on the couch."

Nicole rolled her eyes and began to make gagging noises. Sam glared at her for a moment before reluctantly nodding. "Okay, but you know we wouldn't have to sneak around if we just told them."

Brooke sighed. "Sam, I told you. I'm just not ready. Jane almost catching us on New Year's Eve told me that. We will soon, I promise I'm just…not ready." There was a tone of finality in the blonde's words and Sam let the subject drop.

"Okay…" Sam replied instead. "Well, this is my stop." The brunette stopped walking when she reached her locker and turned towards her girlfriend.

The blonde smiled brightly at her and leaned forward, giving Sam a lingering kiss for all of Kennedy's populace to see. The moment would have been perfect if it hadn't been for the catcalls and whistles coming from behind them. Sam pulled back ducking her head as she blushed uncomfortably.

"Hey, just ignore it. They're idiots," Brooke said lifting Sam's chin to look into her dark brown eyes. The brunette nodded and her girlfriend leaned forward and gave her another chaste kiss. "See you in physics." And with that, Brooke turned and head down the hall to her locker, Cruella De Vil and Medusa following closely at her heels.

Sam opened her locker and began grabbing books for her first two classes. She smiled briefly at the new picture taped on the inside of the door. It was of her and Brooke sitting side by side in the cafeteria. She wasn't a big fan of how she looked in the picture, but most people paled in comparison to Brooke's natural beauty. Sam loved the way the blonde smiled brightly as she hugged the brunette to her. Brooke had the exact same picture taped up in her own locker. Carmen had taken it two days after she and Brooke had announced they were officially together. Brooke hadn't wanted to, but Sam had insisted. She didn't like lying to everyone and her mother almost catching them brought a particularly harsh reality to light. Maybe the next time they wouldn't be so lucky. So she'd said she wouldn't continue to lie to everyone and Brooke chose to tell their friends. That had gone over well, but Mary Cherry had let it slip one day in Glass' class and it was all over the school before the next period was over.

She'd been surprised when Brooke had simply said she wasn't going to deny it. She held Sam's hand proudly for the rest of the day and so far there hadn't really been any backlash. If anything it had had the exact opposite affect, much to the frustration of Sam. Going from being someone whose existence was virtually ignored to being suddenly thrust into the limelight wasn't something she'd been prepared for.

"Hey Sam," Carmen said excitedly as she walked up to Sam's locker with her boyfriend in tow.

"Hey Carm, hey George," Sam replied as she turned to greet them.

"Guess what my fabulously wonderful boyfriend managed to secure for tonight?"

Sam couldn't help but smile at her friend's enthusiasm. She hadn't seen Carmen this happy in a very long time and she was grateful there was no weirdness between them over the whole George thing. She was completely over the football player and she enjoyed hanging out with him as a friend. She and Brooke had even gone out with him and Carmen a few times.

"What did he get?" Sam asked gamely.

"Four tickets to Tegan and Sara. What do you say? You and Brooke want to come with?"

"Definitely!" Sam said enthusiastically before her smile fell. "Shit, we can't we have to go to Brock Mattos' party. According to Nic, it's "one of the last big blow outs before the spring socials begin" and that means Brooke and I have to put in an appearance." Sam rolled her eyes dramatically. "Speaking of which, isn't it like your 'Glamazon duty' to go to these things too?" She hoped Carmen would say yes, she could really use a friendly face.

"I've been given the night off. Besides we've been to more than our fair share of parties over the past month. We've decided to kick off the month of February with our own quiet celebration." Carmen smiled over at her boyfriend before giving him a peck on the lips.

"You should really think about coming, Sam. There will be plenty of other parties." George smiled at her but she could see concern in his eyes.

"Maybe I can convince Brooke to leave early enough, but I can't make any promises," Sam said, closing her locker.

"Hello Sam McPherson." April Tuna's voice coming from behind her sent chills down her back as she turned to see what the eccentric redhead could possibly want.

"Uh, hi April."

The taller girl smiled brightly at her and then grew very serious, a crazed gleam in her hazel-green eyes. "I just read the latest issue of On Our Backs magazine and I was wondering which one of these your beautiful Sapphic life mate, Brooke McQueen, would recommend." April held up a magazine for Sam's inspection. At first she wasn't sure what she was looking at until she heard Carmen gasp behind her. Then she noticed all the assorted adult toys and looked back at the redhead incredulously.

"Are you serious? There's no way I would ever tell you that." Sam walked away from the girl before she did physical harm to the girl. Carmen and George followed close behind.

"Can you believe her?" Carmen asked in disbelief.

"What would even make her think that was an acceptable question?" George chimed in.

"You know what that saddest thing is? That's not even the most inappropriate question I've been asked." Sam sighed before heading off to her first class.

Brooke had been covertly watching Sam from across the hall while pretending to listen to Nicole and Mary Cherry go on and on about some poor freshman's wardrobe. She turned back to face the shorter blonde when she saw Sam walk down the hall with Carmen and George.

"Finally they're gone. Maybe now you can actually listen to me instead of answering everything I say with 'uh huh' and 'hmm.' At first I thought something was wrong, but then I saw where you were looking. I don't know how I forgot that McBitch McPherson always seems to render you to 'Forrest Gump' status."


"Relax Brookie. You know I was sure that everyone finding out that you'd decided to not only 'do the lipstick lambada,' but that it would be with that greasy haired, flat-chested, fashion victim, would banish you so far down in the cold dirty depths of unpopularity that even I couldn't save you. But that hasn't happened. If anything the pathetic little peons love you more. Popularity polls have skyrocketed. If I had known that this was the way to insure the ultimate claim to fame, I would have pushed for you to embrace your Sapphic side sooner."

"Nic, I'm not dating Sam for popularity. I'm with her because I love her and she makes me happy."

Nicole let out an indignant snort. "I've said it once and I'll say it again, hun. Love is popularity."

"Whatever, you'll think differently when you fall in love."

"Yeah, like me and my beeluvit Joe. He doesn't know it yet, but what Mary Cherry wants, Mary Cherry gets!" The Texan said with conviction. "Speek of the devil, there he is. HEY JOE!!!"

Brooke saw Harrison look around nervously before practically running down the hall, Mary Cherry hot on his trail. Brooke chuckled before turning back to her best friend. "See, there's someone for everyone. Even Mary Cherry."

"Uh yeah hi, why would I want to give up all of Baskin Robbins' 31 flavors for a lifetime of vanilla? I've seen the way you are with Spam, and if it makes you act and think like that, I want no part of it. Love is a chemical imbalance."

Brooke shook her head at her friend's cynicism as they headed down the hall to their class.

Sam sighed as she stood next to Brooke, listening to yet another moronic joke told by some random jock. The blonde had promised they wouldn't be there for very long, but that was three hours ago. She wished she'd just gone to the concert with her friends, but Lily and Josh were currently taking up her and Brooke's spot.

"I'm telling you man, she had the whole package…lips, hips, and great big ti-"

"Justin, there are girls around you know?" Some brunette Sam had seen many times, but could never remember her name, scolded the dark haired boy.

"Yeah, but none of you are offended, right? Especially not McPherson over here."

Sam frowned. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"I mean, that girl sounded hot didn't she? You obviously go for hot chicks, I mean you're dating Brooke, right?" Justin and a few of the other guys standing around began to laugh.

Brooke stepped in to say something, but Sam interrupted. "Are you somehow implying that because I'm dating Brooke, you're vulgar and juvenile display of 'manhood' isn't just as offensive to me as it would be to one of the other 'straight girls?'" Sam asked indignantly.

"Hey, calm down. I didn't mean to 'offend' you. I didn't realize you couldn't take a joke." Justin looked around him for support from his friends, which they gladly gave.

"I'm sorry calling it a joke would imply that something you said was funny." Sam crossed her arms over her chest and waited as the jock tried to get his pea-sized brain to come up with a retort.

Brooke took the opportunity to step in. "I think that's enough. Justin, your comments were not only crude and sophomoric, they were also offensive to women…all women. So I think it's time for my girlfriend and I to leave." Brooke grabbed Sam's hand and pulled her towards the door, stopping only to thank Brock for the invitation and to tell Nicole she was leaving. Then they were out of the door.

"I knew going to this party was a bad idea," Sam said once they were back in Brooke's car.

"Granted that last comment was uncalled for, but Sam, you sulked the whole time. I think it was his way of trying to get you to lighten up."

Sam looked over at the blonde like she'd just grown a second evil head or something. "Tell me you didn't just defend him."

Brooke took a deep breath, chancing a look over at the annoyed brunette. "I'm not defending him. It's just everyone thought you looked so miserable -"

"That's because I was miserable."

"All I'm saying is, I get that you don't like going to the parties, but you could try to put a little more effort into having a good time."

Why, to make you look good? Sam thought, but didn't say anything. Instead she stared out of the window for the rest of the trip.

"I'm sorry I just have a hard time believing that there is anyone out there as slow as Kevin." Brooke said from her position behind Sam. They were cuddled on the couch, the brunette lying with her back against Brooke's chest, watching a Daria marathon.

Sam shifted a little to look at the blonde. "Uh, have you tried having a conversation with Josh Ford recently? He makes The Three Stooges look like rocket scientists."

"Oh come on, he's not that bad…"

"Not that…Brooke last week I said that an article I had written was inviolable and he asked me when I started covering sports!" Sam flipped over so that she was face to face with Brooke. " I'm not saying he has to be a genius, but somewhere along the lines the American public school system failed him. The 'no child left behind' platform came way too late in this case."

Brooke chuckled. "Okay, maybe he is that bad, but you have to admit, he's one of the sweetest guys we know."

"Yeah, maybe that's what Lily sees in him. Well that and the fact that he's 'amazing in bed.'"

"Sam!" Brooke looked at her in shock and slapped her lightly on the arm.

"What?" Sam asked, as she grinned wickedly. "Those were Lily's words not mine. It's not like I know from personal experience."

"I know. I just wasn't expecting you to say that. Nic said the same thing, but I never understood the fuss. Maybe I should have known I was into girls then," Brooke mused.

Sam fixed the blonde with a look of mock hurt. "So it's 'girls' now? I thought it was just me. I thought I was special."

Brooke smirked. Sam was so cute when she pouted. "Oh you are, baby. You are," the blonde said as she reached up and cupped the back of Sam's neck, bringing their lips together.

The kiss was lazy, its passion growing slowly as lips teased, teeth nipped and tongues explored thoroughly. The little mewing noises and soft groans Sam was emitting were driving Brooke crazy and let her hands trail down Sam's sides until they reached soft, round flesh. Brooke cupped the brunette's rear, bringing them closer together, and moaned loudly as Sam's thigh slid intimately between her legs. Brooke's kisses grew hungry and her hands squeezed and caressed the flesh beneath her hands through three frustrating layers of clothing. Sam's hips began to undulate against her and Brooke thought she might go up in flames.

"Sam…Brooke! Girls where are you?"

The sound of Jane's voice floating through the kitchen caused the girls to spring apart, practically to opposite sides of the couch. Jane walked into the living room, carrying Mac on her hip. "Oh, there you are. Brooke, are you okay? You looked all flushed."

No, you almost caught me making out with your daughter, Brooke thought sourly. She was beyond frustrated. She and Sam were still taking things slow, but she was sure they'd been about to go further than they'd ever gone before. Damn Jane and her awful timing. "Uh, yeah Mom. I'm fine."

Jane fixed Sam with a suspicious and the brunette looked away guiltily. Brooke sighed. She knew Sam hated keeping things from Jane, but Brooke wasn't sure that she could handle the inevitable consequences that went along with telling their parents they were together. More specifically from her father. She knew that her being gay wouldn't be an issue, it was dating Sam that was sure to send him over the edge.

Mac grew restless and began to fuss. Jane jostled the baby, cooing in her ear. Then she turned her attention back to Brooke and Sam. "Brooke, would you mind keeping Mac quiet while Sam and I get the groceries out of the car?"

Brooke could see from the look in her stepmother's eyes that she was hoping to question Sam about what exactly had been going on. "Actually Mom, I think I might need some fresh air. Sam can take care of Mac." Brooke grabbed the squirming infant and handed her over to the other girl before Jane could protest.

The dark haired infant grabbed a fist full of Sam's dark locks and giggled excitedly. "Well I guess it's decided then," Jane said with a chuckle before she and Brooke headed out to the car.

It didn't take long to get all of the food inside. Sam set Mac in the playpen to help put the groceries away, but Mac protested the lack of attention and began to wail pitifully.

"Uh-oh I think someone's ready for a nap," Jane said as she looked over at the crying infant.

"Mom, why don't you try to get her to sleep? Brooke and I can finish this up."

Jane looked hesitant for a moment. "Are you sure?"

"Absolutely," Brooke answered.

"Well okay." Jane walked over and picked up the baby whose wails became tiny whimpers and then they headed upstairs.

"Does she always have such wonderful timing?" Brooke asked as she moved around the kitchen.

Sam smiled lazily. "She calls it her 'mom's intuition' aka 'Sammy's doing something that she shouldn't be' radar. She has always had an uncanny way of catching me with my hand in the proverbial cookie jar. It's so frustrating."

"In more ways than one," Brooke said as she crossed the room to stand next to the journalist. She pulled Sam against her, her arms holding the brunette loosely around the waist.

"I can't keep lying to her, Brooke. She knows something's up." Sam's tone was defeated as she laid her head on the taller girl's shoulder.

The blonde tightened her hold and kissed the top of Sam's dark locks. "I know. Just give me a little more time. We'll tell them soon."

Brooke and Sam sat across from Lily and Josh in the new Italian restaurant that had just opened up. It wasn't really Sam's style and she could see Lily was a little uncomfortable too. They were both trying desperately not to show it, but their eyes kept meeting across the table. Brooke and Josh had been talking about a few mutual friends they still had and reliving their glory days, much to the chagrin of both of their significant others.

"So Brooke, are you thinking of cheering at your school next year? I was thinking I might try to play football again or maybe baseball. The chances are pretty good that I'll get a full ride second semester."

"That's great, Josh! I'm so happy for you. Actually I haven't even decided what school I definitely want to go to let alone what extracurricular activities I want to join."

"Oh but come on. You love cheerleading. It's practically been your life these past four years."

"That's true, but I think I may be outgrowing it." Brooke looked away and Sam knew she was trying to get Josh to change the subject. College was a sticky subject for Brooke, for Sam too for that matter. Sam had always known that she wanted to go to Colombia. It's all she dreamed about since she'd joined the school paper back in the eighth grade. But then Mac had been born and she'd fallen for Brooke so now she wasn't so sure. Brooke had been having the same issue and they'd had yet to have a civil conversation on the subject.

"So McPherson, what about you? You gonna join the paper."

"Well my my Samson, they do know we exist." Lily's tone was mocking and sugary sweet and Sam could see that the sarcasm went right over her husband's head.

"Actually Josh, I don't know where I'm going either, but I do plan on being on the paper if there's room for me."

The waitress made her way over to the table and took their orders. Things seemed to be going fine until Brooke ordered the Veal Parmesan. Lily wasn't too keen on anyone eating meat, but she became really upset when people ate veal. Sam could see her friend struggling not to say anything. Brooke and Josh continued to talk about things that neither Sam nor her best friend seemed to care about, but she could see the tiny brunette growing increasingly agitated. Sam had to say she wasn't far behind her on the pissed scale. She could have stayed home if all Brooke wanted to do was ignore her. What was wrong with her? It wasn't like she didn't see Josh everyday at school.

The waitress came back with their food and the two blondes barely looked up when she placed their plates before them. Brooke cut up her veal and took a bite, closing her eyes at the taste and letting out a little moan. "This is so good."

Lily's silverware clattered loudly against her plate.

"Is everything okay, babe?" Josh asked, looking over at his wife in confusion.

Lily glared in Brooke's direction for a moment before turning to her husband. "Yes, everything's fine." The last word was through clinched teeth and Sam tried not to flinch.

Brooke noticed the glare, but chose to ignore it and started another conversation with her ex-boyfriend. Sam was only half listening, but heard Brooke mention a particularly hard class she had a test in. Who went out on a double date and talked about school? Apparently Brooke and Josh.

"She's one of the hardest teachers at Kennedy but she's fair and she gave me a great recommendation back in November. It was contingent on my doing well on all of my test and my papers. So far the papers have been going well thanks to Sammy." Brooke paused and looked over at her girlfriend giving her a small smile. Yeah thanks for finally acknowledging me, Sam thought bitterly, but did her best to smile around the pasta in her mouth. Brooke turned back to Josh. "I just know I'm going to get slaughtered."

"It's only fair…" Sam heard Lily's muttered statement and her head snapped up, her brown eyes just pleading the smaller girl to let it go. Brooke hadn't been in a particularly good mood for the past week and Sam did not see this ending well.

"I'm sorry Lily, what did you say?" Brooke asked calmly but her hazel eyes were narrowed.

"I said it's only fair. Do you have any idea what they do to the calves they raise for veal? You're eating some poor defenseless infant and you don't even care. You're just as bad as the people that captured and killed the calf in the first place."

"Look Lily, I respect your views. I really do. It takes a lot of dedication to have the principles you do, but don't you dare judge me for not feeling the same way."

"And why not? It's not like you and your friends haven't done the same to me. No, it may not have to do with animal rights, but you guys have judged me for not living up to your fascists' stereotype of ideal beauty. " Lily stared unflinchingly into the blonde cheerleaders eyes

"Lily, I hardly think you could compare the two and further more I think you're way out of line. I have never attacked you and certainly not for the things that you eat. I think that's a little uncalled for, don't you agree, Sam?" Brooke looked over at her girlfriend expectantly.

Sam was like a deer caught in headlights. She could hardly believe that such a stupid argument had been started over food. Further more, she wasn't sure what she was expected to say. Luckily, Lily chimed in before she could respond.

"It's not just about the food, Brooke. It's about everything. You and your friends never take the time to think about how your actions affect other people. You guys act like you exist in your own little impenetrable bubble, but you don't. Isn't that right, Sammy?"

Sam looked at the both of them. How was she supposed to choose? She loved Brooke with her whole heart, but wasn't there some rule that said you should never let a girl come between you and your friends?

"I…I…excuse me…" Sam stood from the table and practically ran to the bathroom.

"I can't believe you just ran from the table like that while Lily practically tore into me like a rabid dog." Brooke's anger was expected and she'd been ranting for the past ten minutes. Dinner had ended shortly after Sam had returned to the table and both Brooke and Lily seemed to be quite angry with her. With good reason, Sam thought, but she just couldn't handle all the pressure. It was getting to be too much and it wasn't fair.

"What did you want me to say?!" Sam anger was born of frustration and just a reaction to the night in itself. She hadn't wanted to fight but knew it was inevitable.

Brooke took her eyes off of the road for a moment, casting an incredulous look in the brunette's direction. "How about backing me up?! Geez, Sam she practically ripped me a new one for eating veal. It's not like I think it's a great idea to slaughter animals."

"But you see, that was her point. If you don't think it's a good idea, why do you eat it?"

"Are you siding with her? Are you actually siding with her?!"

"It's not that. It's just that you both had valid points!"

"Still Sam, I'm your girlfriend. You should have supported me."

"Oh, now I'm your girlfriend." Sam let off a bitter laugh.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Tell me, Brooke. Were you on a date with Josh or with me?"

"Sam, are you jealous because I was talking to him? God, we were just talking, you could have joined in at any time, but you and Lily just sat there like you didn't even want to be there. So don't give me an attitude for talking to Josh because you need something to be pissy with me about. It doesn't hold up, Sam. And you were wrong for not supporting me."

Sam was starting to wonder if maybe she should worry. Not that Brooke still had feelings for Josh, but that they were so different, the only time they could seem to communicate was when they were alone. The past month since they'd come out and really started dating had been a rude awakening. Sam was starting to begin to wonder if she belonged in Brooke's world. Four months ago, when they'd been just friends, she would have said yes, but she hadn't realized all that came along with dating Brooke. She was expected to practically be two different people and tonight had been the first night she'd been asked to choose and she hated that. It wasn't fair.

"I wasn't wrong! Do you have any idea how difficult it was to have to choose between your best friend and you girlfriend? No you don't because I have never asked you to choose, but tonight Brooke, you asked me to and I shouldn't have to. Don't you think that maybe all of this is just too hard?"

Brooke pulled into the driveway and killed the engine before turning and regarding Sam warily. "What are you saying Sam?" Sam noticed that her tone was a little panicked. It matched exactly what the brunette was feeling inside.

"I'm saying that this…all of this is just too much. We're making each other miserable. I'm lying to my mom. You're fighting with my friends and I hate that just because I'm dating you, there's all these expectations and not just from everyone else but from you too. I'm saying that despite all of the trials and obstacles we overcame to get to this point, it still isn't enough. I love you, Brooke, more than I ever thought it was possible to love anyone, but I can't live like this. I don't think love is enough. I just can't…do this anymore." Sam dissolved into tears as her heart shattered. It hurt so much, but she felt like she was drowning and there was no life preserver.

Tears stung Brooke's eyes and she tried her best to blink them back but Sam's words cut through her like a knife, ripping her flesh and leaving her broken and bleeding. It couldn't be ending like this, it couldn't. "Sam…" Brooke croaked out and reached out to stroke Sam's cheek.

But Sam recoiled, reaching for the handle. "No, just…don't." The brunette raced out of the car and into the house.

Brooke wanted to follow after her, but her legs wouldn't obey the command. Instead she called after her pitifully as sobs racked her body. It couldn't be over like this. It couldn't.

Brooke and Sam avoided each other over the next few days. Brooke was too brokenhearted to do much of anything. It was affecting her work and she had cut practice for the last three days. She locked herself in her room and would only eat after everyone had gone to bed, that was when she could actually force herself to eat. She cried herself to sleep every night, only managing three or four hours because Sam haunted her dreams. And she wanted to hate the journalist really hate her with all she had within her, but she couldn't because she still loved her.

Sam wasn't fairing much better. She was not only nursing her own broken heart, but she just felt so…guilty. Guilty for hurting Brooke repeatedly in the past four months. Guilty for just dumping her without any warning. She should have waited until she wasn't upset anymore. Now, they weren't even friends. In fact, save for physics, they hadn't even been in the same room since that night. And Brooke had somehow managed to work it so that Sam now sat next Nicole while the blonde took the seat next to Harrison. Though that wasn't as bad as it could have been. She was certain Nicole would make her life a living hell, just like she'd tried after Sam had started dating Cory, but Nicole hadn't said a word. Still Sam missed Brooke. And there was no reason that just because they couldn't make it work as a couple that they couldn't be friends. They were both still friends with Harrison after the disaster that was the end of junior year. She just needed to sit Brooke down and make her understand that she hadn't meant to hurt her, but they were better off just being friends.

She waited until she heard Brooke sneaking into the kitchen. Sam threw back her covers and made her way down the stairs. She stood at the top of the steps watching as the blonde absently nibbled on a small bowl of the fruit salad her mother had made earlier and some granola. She took a deep breath and walked over to Brooke

"Ohmygod! Sam you scared me." Brooke started at Sam's sudden appearance.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to." Sam hadn't meant to creep up on her.

"Mmhmm." Brooke picked up her bowl and bottled water and stood from the stool to go back upstairs.

"Brooke, wait." The brunette wasn't about to let this opportunity get away.

The blonde didn't even look in her direction as she made her was to the stairs. Sam stepped in her way, blocking her path. Brooke tried to go around the brunette several times but Sam just kept moving in her way.

"Move, Sam…" Brooke's frustration got the better of her

"No," Sam's tone left no room for argument, but Brooke still tried.

"What do you mean 'no'? Move!"

"No, not until we talk."

"Funny, I thought we'd said all we needed to say the other night." Brooke tried to move past Sam again, but had no luck. "Dammit Sam, MOVE!" The tears were stinging her eyes again, but she wouldn't cry in front of Sam. No, she had some pride left.

"Please Brooke," Sam's voice broke and she looked at the blonde with watery brown eyes.

Brooke nodded silently but moved away from Sam making sure she had a clear escape route if she needed one.

Sam took a deep breath. She decided the best way to start was with an apology. "Look, I'm really very sorry about the other night. I just…I didn't know what else to do."

"You could have told me how you were feeling." Brooke's words were pained.

The brunette looked over at the cheerleader and she just looked so…broken. She nodded. "You're right. I should have, but that's never been one of our strengths has it?" Brooke smiled a wry, bitter smile, but didn't say anything. "That's my point, Brooke. We were making each other miserable. And just because I was more vocal about mine doesn't mean I didn't notice the little things going on with you. Our schedules conflicted. We don't like the same kinds of movies or music. I know you like my friends, but hanging out with them I know is not high on your list of fun things to do. And believe me, if I had to spend one more Saturday morning at the mall with Satan and the Blair Witch I was going to hurt someone. We were lying to our parents. We fought constantly. We weren't happy."

"I'm sorry being with me made you so miserable," Brooke said in an icy tone. She had to admit some of what Sam said was true, but it still hurt like hell to hear.

Sam crossed the room and grabbed Brooke's hand, her eyes looking beseechingly in Brooke's. "Brooke being with you didn't make me miserable. I loved you. I still do. Being with you was one of the best things that ever happened to me. The problem was that that all worked when it was just you and I, but then we went back to school and back to our separate lives and found out we really don't fit in each other's worlds. We couldn't live in that bubble forever. And if you think about it, really think about it, you'll see that I'm right."

Brooke let out a teary, painful sound somewhere between a laugh and a sigh. "You're right." She sniffled, wiping her eyes furiously. "You're absolutely right." Everything Sam had said was true, but all she could feel was the pain. She looked at the girl she loved but couldn't have and that hurt.

Sam nodded. "But I want us to be friends…" The brunette wasn't sure how that would be received, but now that it was out there she couldn't take it back.

The blonde was taken aback by Sam's words. Friends? "Uh Sam…I don't…I mean…I think-"

"Brooke, I don't want to lose you just because we couldn't make things work. If you weren't in my life, I don't know what I would do. You're one of my best friends and I don't know what I would do if…"Sam's words dissolved in tears. This was all so hard.

Brooke couldn't stand to watch Sam so heartbroken, even though she felt like her heart had shattered into a million pieces. She pulled the sobbing girl to her and hugged her tightly. She kissed the top of Sam's head and whispered nonsense words in her ears. Silent tears streamed down her cheeks and into the dark brown locks. She waited until Sam was quiet then gave her a little squeeze before pulling back. She offered the brunette a watery smile. "Okay Sammy, we'll try to be friends." She just wasn't sure she would survive it.

The transition from couple back to friends was anything but smooth. In fact it was downright awkward. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn't seem to stop acting like a couple. That was until one of them overstepped a boundary. Then they would retreat and wouldn't talk for the rest of the day. It was frustrating that an innocent touch or a simple word could cause such a chain reaction.

They were both walking on eggshells and couldn't figure out why or how to change it. Then an opportunity presented itself. Mike and Jane had agreed to go out two days before Valentine's Day since Brooke and Sam both had "plans" prior to their break up and they'd agreed to baby-sit Mac together. Brooke knew that if either of them backed out now it would seem really odd and luckily Sam hadn't had the much needed "talk" with Jane yet.

She made it home within minutes of Sam, who was holding Mac as she entered the kitchen and listening to a long list of instructions from Jane. It seemed Mac had a slight ear infection was not a little bit cranky. She whimpered and reached for Brooke as the cheerleader walked in, drawing the attention of the other two brunettes. Sam offered Brooke a small smile before turning back to her mother. Brooke set her book bag on the floor and took her baby sister from Sam's arms, stroking the infant's soft dark locks that were growing long and wild just like her other sister's. She held Mac close to her as she half listened to Jane's instructions on putting drops in the youngest McQueen's ears. Mac snuggled into Brooke's neck and sighed just like Sam used to do and Brooke felt tears gather in her eyes.

Her father came down the stairs, dressed up in what Brooke always called his "date suit" and looked over at his wife. "You ready to go, Janie? We have to leave if we're going to make our reservations."

"Okay, now are you girls sure you're going to be all right taking care of a sick baby?" Jane asked nervously.

"Mom, it's just an ear infection. I'm sure between the two of us we can handle it." Sam gave her mom an indulgent smile.

"See Jane? The girls can handle it," Mike said as he hurried Jane to the door.

"Oh there's leftover vegetarian casserole in the fridge and Mike left take out money."

"Okay Mom, we'll be fine. Have a good time," Sam said leaning against the counter.

"Uh, do you guys have the cell phone numbers?"

"Mom, your number hasn't changed in like three years."

"Right, okay girls have a good time. Don't start any fires and no arguing, especially around Mac." Jane fixed Sam with a stern look before she and Mike walked out of the door.

Mac's head shot up as their parents left and she cried reaching after them. Brooke bounced her lightly, kissing her forehead. "Shh Mac, it's okay. I know. It's going to be okay."

Sam shifted uncomfortably. "Uh, why don't you take her into the living room and calm her down while I make her some food. Mom said she should be good for another twenty minutes, but I think she's hungry now."

Brooke nodded before taking the baby in the living room. It took her a few moments to get Mac to stop crying, but by the time Sam carried the warm bowl into the room the infant was all smiles. Brooke held onto Mac while Sam fed her spoonfuls of the gravy colored concoction. The brunette made faces at the baby and silly sounds, turning the "meal" into a little game. Brooke found the whole scene so precious and intimate it broke her heart a little more.

"Wow, you're really good with her," she said around the lump in her throat.

Sam paused and looked up at her. "Thanks, but really I think it's a matter of her being such a good baby. Plus, it helps that I have learned her personality so well." Sam smirked up at the blonde as she continued to feed her sister

"Oh? Do you think she's just like you or something? Judging from the way she eats, I'd say that's fairly accurate."

"Actually she reminds me a lot of you." There was a look in Sam's eyes that Brooke couldn't quite place, but it caused her breath to hitch.

"Really?" Brooke voice was a whisper as she stared into beautiful brown eyes.

"Yeah…she thinks she's a princess too," Sam teased, grinning wickedly.

"Sam!" Brooke blushed.

"Sorry, you left yourself wide open, Princess." Sam scooped the last bit of food and fed it to Mac. "I think you're done, Mac Attack." She leaned forward and kissed the baby's soft cheek and Brooke willed herself not to inhale the brunette's scent that she knew so well. She pulled back and smiled at Brooke before walking back into the kitchen. Brooke sighed as she watched her walk out of the room. She just prayed she made it through the night.

Taking care of Mac with Sam wasn't as torturous as she thought it would be. They played with their sister and joked around and Brooke felt more relaxed than she had in days. She didn't realize how much she'd missed these little moments with the brunette and if this was what Sam had meant by them being friends then she could handle that. The time flew by and before she knew it they were putting drops in a very squirmy baby's ears and getting her dressed for bed. Brooke left the nursery when Sam sat in her mother's rocker with Mac, singing her to sleep.

She walked back downstairs and into the living room. She flopped down on the couch and grabbed the remote, needing a distraction from all the thoughts and emotions running through her. She flipped aimlessly through the channels not really seeing anything. She barely noticed the brunette's reemergence into the room until Sam flopped down next to her. Sam's proximity confused her. Why is she sitting so close? Brooke wondered.

"Hey, are you planning on picking anything? I'm pretty sure this is somehow bad for our eyes."

Brooke let go of the channel button and grinned when she saw what was on the screen. "There, I picked something."

"Uh uh, no way in hell am I going to willingly watch Clueless," Sam complained.

"Ah too bad, so sad for you that I had the remote first." Brooke dangled the remote in the journalist's face before moving it high above her head when Sam made a grab for it.

"You think that's going to stop me?" Sam asked in a cocky tone before lunging for the object.

The two wrestled around for a moment as Sam moved over her. When she saw it was a lost cause, she reverted to underhanded tactics and began to tickle the blonde mercilessly. She managed to wrestle Brooke onto her back, straddling her hips as she continued to tickle her sides.

"Okay, okay, I give…Sam I…give," Brooke said in between gasps for air. She opened her eyes staring up at Sam's beautiful face as she loomed above her. She reached up and caressed the brunette's cheek, noting how Sam leaned into the touch. She ran her thumb over a delicate cheekbone before bringing her lips up to meet Sam's. She brushed her lips against Sam's tentatively and when the journalist didn't pull back, she deepened the kiss. She ran her tongue along Sam's bottom lip, asking for permission, which she was readily granted. Brooke groaned as Sam sucked on her tongue gently. She ran her hands up and down the divot of the dark haired girl's spine. Sam kissed and nipped her way across Brooke's jaw and down her neck.

"Sam…"Brooke moaned as nipped a particularly sensitive part of her collar.

Sam's eyes snapped open and she pitched back almost violently. "Ohmygod, Brooke…I…I'm sorry. This can't…we can't…I'm sorry." Sam untangled from the blonde and scrambled off the couch. She ran out of the room and up the stairs.

The next day the girls were back to avoiding each other. Brooke was beginning to wonder if Nicole was right. The shorter blonde had been telling her to stay as far away from Sam as possible since the night they'd broken up. Brooke had ignored the advice and asked Nic to stay out of it and to her credit, her friend had respected her wishes. Now Brooke wasn't sure what to do anymore. She just knew she couldn't handle being Sam's friend if it was going to be as traumatic as last night had been and she was tired of crying herself to sleep.

"Hey Brooke." Lily's voice startled her, but she tried her best not to show it.

"Hi Lily, come to attack me some more? Because I have to say, I'm not really in the mood to deal with another attack on my societal responsibilities and you'd be in for one hell of a fight."

The tiny brunette had the good grace to wince at Brooke's comment. "No…actually I came to apologize. I shouldn't have gone off on you like that. You were right when you said that you have never personally attacked me and I shouldn't have said those things. Maybe if I hadn't then you and Sam wouldn't have…"Lily's words trailed as she looked away.

Brooke grimaced. "Yeah, well according to Sam, it was a long time in coming."

"Yes, but that doesn't mean that I like being the catalyst."

"Fair enough, I accept your apology." Brooke turned back towards her locker, but Lily made no move to leave. "Was there something else?"

"You know, when Josh and I first got together, I always feared you would want him back and then I'd lose him. I'd seen the way he looked at you and I always thought, I hope he looks at me like that some day. Then I saw the way you looked at Sam, like she was the only thing in the world that mattered and I knew that I had nothing to worry about. Well except that maybe you'd break my best friend's heart because she looked at you the exact same way. I watched you two fight it for so long and then run away because you were both so scared. I thought at Christmas you two had finally figured it out, but it turns out neither of you have a clue."

Brooke narrowed her eyes at the smaller girl in confusion.

"That you two make more sense together than apart. That at the end of the day neither of you can live without the other in your life. It's why things like last night happen." The blonde's hazel eyes snapped up. "Yes, Sam told me. Look, she was right when she told you breaking up was an inevitable conclusion. Frankly, I don't know how either of you lasted as long as you did with the way things were going. Both of you are so damn stubborn. It was almost like some kind of competition over who held the most power in your relationship and tried to play the ultimate trump card and it backfired. You know as well as I do that Sam is the loyalist friend you will ever find. And both of us were wrong to try and make her choose."

The cheerleader nodded. Lily was right about everything. "How am I supposed to fix this?"

"Brooke, Sam loves you more than you'll ever be able to comprehend, but she's proud and doesn't like to let people get too close especially when she thinks she might get hurt. You can't just let her run away. You have to show her that this, you and her, are worth the risk. You do think that it's worth the risk don't you?" Lily eyed her warily.

"Yes, of course I do."

"Good, then this will work out. Why don't you just do what you were going to do for Valentine's Day?"

Brooke looked away sheepishly.

"You didn't have anything planned for Valentine's Day?" Lily asked incredulously.

"Well, I got her a present, but Sam hates Valentine's Day so I was just going to wait until she told me what she wanted to do."

Lily smiled. "Sam says she hates Valentine's Day, but she's really one of the biggest hopeless romantics I have ever met. Just don't tell her I said that. At least you got a present. Hmm…" Lily worried her bottom lip as she thought. She smiled brightly a few moments later. "I have the perfect plan."

Sam sighed as she walked to her locker at the end of the day. The past day and a half had been nothing short of torture. Leave it to Miss Glass to schedule a pop quiz on the "most romantic day of the year." It didn't help that everywhere she turned she saw couples and it made her miss Brooke more than she already did. The other night had been so…confusing. She wasn't sure why she'd kissed the blonde. Those things weren't supposed to happen. They were just friends now. It was better that way. But even as she told herself that, she couldn't help but wish she were spending the evening with the blonde instead of alone in her room, writing an article.

She opened her locker to grab a few things to throw in her bag when she noticed a note and a little wrapped box. She looked around her suspiciously, but aside from a freshman at the end of the hall she was the only one still at the school. She pulled the note out and opened it.

Sometimes opposites really do attract.

Sam smiled as she read it through once again. It was unsigned, but she just knew it was from Brooke when she opened the little box and found the beautiful antique locket she was sure of it. She fastened the necklace around her neck and slammed the locker shut racing out to her car. She needed to get home and talk to Brooke. As she drove home however, her euphoria began to wane. Why was she rushing home? She'd been the one to break things off. She and Brooke weren't good for one another. All of the things that had happened over the past month had shown her that. And now she was racing home over a love letter and a necklace? Way to be strong, Sam, she thought. She was so unsure of everything, but she couldn't ignore that she was still racing home even as she berated herself the entire time.

She pulled next to Brooke's car and tried to ignore the little flutter in her stomach at the thought of seeing the blonde. As she walked to the house she told herself she would remain strong. She and Brooke were better as friends and as soon as they managed to figure out how to be "just friends" things would be great. She felt more at ease with a plan firmly in place. That was until she walked into the kitchen. There was a candlelit dinner for two. The sweet sounds of Etta James were playing on the stereo and Brooke was taking something out of the oven. She looked up and offered Sam a shy smile. "Hi."

"Hey," Sam said casually as she walked slowly into the kitchen.

"I..um…I made dinner." Sam thought Brooke was so cute when she was nervous.

"I can see that," she replied slowly.

"Well, I don't want to assume anything, but would you…have dinner with me?"

Sam smiled thinking there was no place she'd rather be. "Sure…"she sat down. Brooke had made smothered pork chops, the meal she'd made the first time Sam had eaten here at the Palace. She hoped that tonight wouldn't be as disastrous as that one had been.

They ate in awkward silence. Neither knowing where to begin. "So where's Mom and Mike? I thought it was their turn to stay in."

"Um there's a party at my dad's office. I know he'd wanted to go so I told him I had a change in plans and that I wouldn't mind watching Mac. So he and Jane went. They left about an hour ago. And lucky for me Mac's still napping."

Sam nodded, briefly meeting Brooke's eyes before looking away. "Um, this is really good by the way."

Brooke blushed. "Uh, thanks…" She tried to figure out where to start. Lily had come up with this genius plan, but Brooke wasn't sure it was even working. She looked over at Sam and she was struck, as always, by the beauty that was Samantha McPherson. Not just physically, but Sam was a beautiful person. She was intelligent and witty. She was charming and loyal. She was sarcastic and snotty at times. She hogged all the hot water and was irritatingly smug when she was right. She challenged Brooke in a way that no one ever had and there was never a dull moment when she was around. She lit up every room she was in. She was good with Mac and treated Brooke better than anyone ever had. There was so much more to Sam than met the eye and Brooke loved her mother than anything. And she wasn't about to let some stupid argument or Sam's stubborn pride keep them from being happy together. She knew exactly what she needed to say.

"Sam," Brooke started waiting until chocolate colored eyes were fixed firmly on her. "There's something I want to say and I want you to hear me out and not interrupt me. Okay?" Sam looked hesitant, but nodded anyway. "Look I've had a lot of time to think things over and here's the way I see it. First I want to say I'm sorry for trying to make you choose between your friends and me. You never asked me to do that and I had no right to ask that of you. I know things won't always be easy. We're going to going to get angry and fight, maybe even throw things, though hopefully not at each other..." Brooke chuckled nervously, taking Sam's good-natured smile. "But Sammy, there wasn't a day that went by where I didn't feel like something was missing and that something was you. Yes, we're different, but maybe that's a good thing. Josh and I were a lot alike and I was miserable. I think maybe you and I just weren't willing to give in a little. We let our old stupid competitive habits get the better of us, but please don't let one mistake keep us apart. You make me feel so much. You challenge me and inspire me. No one has ever made me as happy as you do and I know no one else ever will. I love you Sammy. I love you too much to not try to make this work. We're good together. And I know you know it. What do you say? Will you give us another chance?"

Sam offered Brooke a watery smile. For the first time, she felt like she and Brooke were finally on the same page at the same time. She knew that there were still a lot of things that they needed to work out, but she all of the doubts she'd had when she walked in the house had been eased by Brooke's heartfelt words. She still had her fears, but she knew that they too would ease over time. And truthfully there was no one else who made her feel half as much as Brooke did. What was it Lily had told her days before? They made more sense together than apart.

"I love you too, Brooke and I'd like us to try again." Sam laughed through her tears as Brooke's smile grew impossibly wider and she jumped out her chair and pulled Sam out of hers. She wrapped her arms around the brunette and planted a lingering kiss on her lips.

"That's just great! Here, open your present." Brooke walked over to the counter and grabbed a tiny wrapped box.

Sam was surprised to see another present, but Brooke had gotten her three presents for Christmas. She chocked it up to Brooke being really generous. She excitedly tore off the paper and opened the box. There was another locket, but this one was almost identical to the one that she had in her jewelry box. The one that her father had given to her mother on their first Valentine's Day. Tears stung her eyes at the thoughtful present "How did you…?"

"Jane told me about it. I've seen you staring at it, but you never wear it and I asked your mom why. She told me that she gave it to you after he died. That was a few months back and I thought it was the perfect present."

"It was," Sam said around the lump in her throat. It really was the perfect present. Brooke had had the date engraved on the back and inside were pictures of her and Sam. "Thank you so much." She lifted the locket out of the box and went to put it on, but remembered the other locket. "Brooke, why did you get me two lockets?"

"Two lockets? There's only one locket in the box right?" Brooke looked over at the brunette in confusion.

"Yeah, but I'm talking about the one from my locker." Sam didn't understand what game Brooke was trying to play, but it was starting to worry her.

"Sam, I didn't put a locket in your locker."

"Oh come on, Brooke. It was in their with a note and everything." Sam was getting annoyed. Why was Brooke lying to her?

"Sam, I swear I didn't put one in your locker. I skipped last period so I could go shopping for dinner." Wait had Sam said there was a note? "Sam, let me see that note, please."

The brunette stood and grabbed her bag. She pulled out the note and handed it to the blonde. Brooke opened it and gasped. Sam frowned. "What? What is it?"

Brooke looked up at her, shock evident in her hazel eyes. "Sam, this is Nicole's handwriting."

The End

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