DISCLAIMER: Don't own but looking to buy.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Again, no medical knowledge, sticky side of Band-Aid down, don't drink anti-freeze, don't run with sticks, don't swallow quarters, suspend your disbelief, please. Otherwise, the story won't be fun. And I used 2 songs in this one, I own neither. Duh. And it gets kinda choppy from about 15 on. I tried to fix it but couldn't. sigh
SERIES/SEQUEL: Follows the stories Strange Road to Salvation, Telling Series, Even If and Down Time.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

High School Hell
By Aeryn Sun


Part Two

Picking Up The Pieces

"She did what?" Nicole tried to decode the words between Brooke's hysterical tears and hiccups. All she was managing to do was give herself a headache. Brooke had shown up on her doorstep highly upset, tears streaming down her face and barely able to stand.

"She…she threw me…out…(hic)…of her…her room…She hates…(hic)…hates me," Brooke wailed burying her head in her hands and starting to cry all over again. Nic couldn't believe what she was hearing. (Sam hates Brooke? What? Why?)

"Why, Brooke? Brooke, calm down and tell me exactly what happened," Nic coaxed gently. Brooke took several deep breaths and tried to explain.

"I went to see her and she was so angry at me. She claimed I never loved her, I only pitied her. God, Nic, why would she think that?" Nic shrugged in confusion. She honestly had no idea where Sam would get an obscene idea like that.

"She said I was only with her for the attention being gay got me and that I never really loved her," Brooke sobbed, the words cutting out pieces of her heart and soul just to repeat. "She doesn't want me anymore, Nic. She hates me." Nicole hugged Brooke to comfort her.

"I'm sure she doesn't, Brooke. Sam's not capable of hating you, she loves you too much," Nic assured her. Brooke shook her head.

"You didn't hear her, you didn't see the hatred in her eyes, Nic. Oh God, I've lost her and I don't know why!" Nic sighed.

"Let me talk to her. I'll see what crawled up her ass and died," she suggested.

"No, you'll only piss her off more!" Brooke argued. Nic arched an eyebrow.

"What's she gonna do? Stop speaking to you?" Brooke didn't repond. "Yeah, thought so. Let me take you home and call someone to stay with you because there is no way I'm leaving you by yourself in this condition and then I'm going to go have a chat with Spam McPherson."

"What the Hell do you want, Julian?" Sam growled. Nicole just glared at her.

"Don't pull that SuperBitch routine with me, Spam, I wrote the God Damn book. What the Hell are you pulling with Brooke? Are you trying to destroy her?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," Sam said haughtily.

"You fucking little liar! You know exactly what I'm talking about. You threw her out of here like some sort of piece of garbage and I just spent the better part of the day trying to put the pieces back together."

"Oh, boo hoo," Sam mockingly weeped. If she were standing closer, Nic would have slapped her.

"You heartless bitch, and coming from me, that's one Hell of an insult. What are you playing at, Sam?"

"I'm not playing at anything, Nicole. I don't want her anymore. Why can't anyone seem to follow that? Did I stop speaking English all of a sudden?" Nicole approached the bed, just in case she did need to slap some sense into Sam.

"You speak perfect English, you just stopped making sense," Nicole told her. Sam sighed. "Why don't you want her? She loves ou." Sam shook her head.

"That's just it, no she doesn't," she said flatly. Nicole stuttered in shock for a second before recovering.

"Excuse me? We are talking about the same Brooke McQueen, right? Blonde, hazel eyes about yea tall?" Sam nodded. "How can you say she doesn't love you?"

"She never did, Nic, it was all talk. You taught her well, she played me like a fine fiddle. All she ever cared about was the attention she'd get by being `gay'," Sam raised her hands and used quotations around the word. "She never loved me, she pitied me to begin with, felt guilty because I was hurt instead of her. That's all this was, one big giant guilt trip that evolved into an attention getter." Nic was dumbfounded.

"After all you went through with telling everyone. Carmen, Harrison, Mary Cherry and Mike's horrid and violent reactions. After all that you can sit there and tell me that her feelings for you aren't genuine?" Nic asked incredulously. Sam nodded arrogantly. "God, Sam, where do you get this shit from anyway? Did Pierce hit you on the head too?"

"Go away, Nic," Sam said tiredly as she settled back into her bed. Nic got right up into her face.

"She loves you, damn it! Given the asinine way you're acting right now, why is beyond me, but she does! Why do you think she doesn't?"

"Because I heard her say it!" Sam screamed the pure, raw hurt and devastation in her voice driving Nicole back a few steps. "I heard her say it, all of it. That she was motivated by pity and her need for attention. She doesn't care about my feelings, she thinks this is a good laugh! Well, I'm through being the punchline for yet another Brooke McQueen joke and I'll die before I'll let her near me again! Do you understand me?"

"Jesus, Sam, you've got it wrong. You've got it all wrong," Nicole whispered in horror at what Sam was saying. It just couldn't be true. And Nic knew somehow that it wasn't. "Sam, where are you getting this?"

"Just leave me alone, Nic," Sam said defeated. Nicole approached the bed again shaking her head.

"Not until you tell me where you're getting these stupid and insane ideas from. Are you on too much morphine or what?" Sam glared at her with enough force for Nic to be suitably impressed but she didn't back down. Sam finally sighed and reached under her pillow and pulled out a tape recorder.

"Here, listen to this," Sam snapped angrily. "Listen for yourself. Hear what Brooke really thinks about me and our relationship." Nicole frowned and took the recorder. After listening to it, she had to resist the urge to retch on Sam's rug. No wonder the girl was acting the way she was.

"Aw, Jesus Sam," she breathed. She looked at Sam who was crumpled into a ball crying. She sat down on the bed and reached out for Sam who shied away. "Sam," she said gently. "You gotta know that ain't Brooke on that tape." Sam's head shot up.

"Sure as Hell sounds like her, don't it?" she asked angrily. Nic nodded reluctantly.

"OK, yes, it does. It is Brooke's voice, maybe even her words but they're out of context, they have to be. Take it from me, the master manipulator, she would never say those things. Someone must have taken her words and manipulated that tape to say what they wanted it to." Nic reasoned. Sam shook her head.

"Doesn't matter," she sniffed. Nicole frowned.

"Why not?" Sam looked at her sadly. Nicole watched, frightened, as the last sparkle of life in Sam's eyes flickered and died out. It was a frightening thing to witness.

"Because I don't want her back."


Fixing The Broken Wheel

Nicole sat numbly in the lobby waiting for her driver to come and pick her up, mulling over the words Sam had told her. She was very close to being physically ill. The person lying in that hospital bed up there was not Sam McPherson. Sure her chart might say that was her name and she might look like Sam but that wasn't her. That was a shell, a mocking parody of the Sam whom Nicole had known. And Nicole wasn't sure exactly what had done that, Pierce or the tiny tape recorder she was presently turning over in her hands. She had gotten Sam to give it to her so she could give it to Brooke. Brooke needed to hear what was on that tape. Maybe then they could figure out what to do next.

But the conversation after Sam confessed she didn't want Brooke back was what was turning Nicole's stomach. The girl had no fight left and it scared Nicole to see the normally spirited Sam so defeated and broken.

"Because I don't want her back." Sam had delared solemnly. Nicole stared at her in shock.

"Why the Hell not? She loves you desperately! You're killing her!" Sam looked away in hurt and shame. She then shrugged.

"She'll live," Sam sighed. "Everyone will make sure of that this time." Sam's voice had taken on a monotone quality that Nicole really didn't like. It sent chills up her spine.

"What's wrong with you? Why are you acting this way?" Nicole demanded to know. Sam focused her eyes on Nic and Nic saw the emptiness there.

"I can't do this again, Nic. But I have to if I want to walk again. But she doesn't have to and I'm not going to make her," Sam explained flatly. Nicole shook her head.

"That's not your decision to make, Sam, it's hers. Brooke wants to be there for you because she loves you." It was Sam's turn to shake her head.

"I know," Sam said softly. "But it's not enough anymore."

"Don't you love her anymore? You must know that tape was a phony."

"I love her unequivocally, without question, completely and with every bit of my heart and soul, even if she meant every word on that tape."

"Then I don't understand this," Nicole said confused.

"Have you ever loved something so much that you were willing to let it go because you knew that you'd end up causing it more harm than good?" Sam asked sadly.

(Yeah, you) Nicole thought ruefully but only nodded. Sam sighed.

"It's like this: I'm going to walk again, but I've got to do the therapy thing first. I don't want Brooke to waste her time with that. But that's only one part of why I'm pushing her away. Look at what's happening here, Nic. I was physically attacked because of my relationship with Brooke and she's been partially shunned at school. I know that hurts her, her popularity is important to her."

"She's still Queen of Kennedy," Nicole pointed out.

"But falling fast with people like Becky Wright eager to knock her from her throne. I'm not going to be the reason she loses everything."

"I thought you didn't care about those things," Nic said arrogantly. Sam sighed.

"I don't, Brooke does. I've hit the wall, Nic. I've taken all I can take and I'm walking away, if you'll excuse the expression, before we get in any deeper."

"Jesus, Sam, you can't just turn your back on her like this," Nic argued. Sam scowled.

"Watch me. Now if you don't mind, I'd like to be alone."

So now Nicole sat wondering what to do next. Yes, she had to tell Brooke what was behind Sam's horrid behavior but beyond that, she had no clue. She saw the car pull up. (OK, off to Brooke's where I can fix at least part of this. Beyond that, I hope the answers come to me before Sam is too far gone) But part of her feared it was all ready too late.

"So she knew that tape was a phony?" Brooke asked between hiccups. Her tears had finally settled down to the occasional hiccup now that she knew the reason behind Sam's behavior. Nic had given her the tape to listen to and after being physically ill for several minutes, she now lay on her back on her bed trying to figure out what to do next.

"I'm pretty sure, yeah," Nic said from where she sat on the floor. "Where did the tape come from, Brooke?" Brooke thought a minute.

"Some of it sounds like a conversation I had with Becky Wright a few days ago," she said starting to get angry. "But WAY out of context." Nic nodded.

"Figured as much," she sighed. "Becky must have taped the conversation and altered what you said to make that abomination and sent it to Sam. But why?"

"Well, we know that Pierce attacked Sam because he liked me and he thinks gay people are evil," Brooke thought outloud.

"But why didn't he go after you too, aside from the fact that he liked you?" Brooke shrugged.

"Maybe Sam was closer?"

"Or maybe he figured Sam `converted' you or something since you used to date guys," suggested Lily from the chair a few feet away where she'd been sitting quietly until now. Nic and Brooke nodded in agreement.

"Makes a warped kind of sense," Nic agreed. "He might see Sam as the true source of the evil and you as the innocent victim," she said to Brooke. Brooke sighed.

"But what about Becky?" she asked.

"Maybe she was jealous of Pierce's crush on you and wanted you to lose Sam like she lost him," Lily said. "And she figured the best way to do that was to make Sam hate you." Nic looked at Lily.

"When did you get so insightful?" she asked lightly. Lily smiled.

"When I got married," she retorted. "Anyway, what do we do now?" Nic and Brooke shook their heads.

"I don't know but Brooke, you have to do something about Sam," Nicole warned. Brooke sat up on the bed alarmed.

"What? Why? What about her?" Nicole looked at her solemnly.

"I've never seen her like that, Brooke," she whispered. Brooke's eyes got wider as her alarm grew into fear.

"Like what, Nic? Come on, you're scaring me."

"Defeated, broken, Brooke. She has no spirit left, hon. And it was horrible to look at. There's no light in her eyes, no energy around her and her voice sent chills down my spine," Nic told her. Brooke sprang up from the bed.

"Oh Jesus," she swore. "She's doing it again."

"Doing what?" Lily asked. Brooke shook her head as she pulled on her shoes.

"Shutting down, turning off her emotions so that she can't be hurt. She did it last time when Dad reacted so badly to the news about the two of us and I nearly lost her then. She builds walls around herself and I have to stop her before it's too late."

"You going to the hospital?" Nic asked. Brooke nodded. "OK, just, I want you to know one thing, Brooke. Her eyes." Brooke frowned and looked at Nicole.

"What about them?"

"They're empty, Brooke. Completely empty."


Breaking Down The Walls

Brooke walked into Sam's room and found her love curled up facing the window. Even facing away, Sam looked broken, defeated. Brooke's heart went out to her and she cursed the cosmic masses that kept putting Sam through such punishment.

"Sam, we need to talk," she said, breaking the eerie stillness of the room. Sam rolled over slightly but didn't face Brooke just yet.

"Go away, please," Sam begged. Brooke shook her head.

"Nope, can't get rid of me that easily," she declared confidently.

"I don't want you here," Sam snapped.

"Liar," Brooke accused. Sam glared for a second before looking away again.

"I don't," she insisted hotly. "I don't want you anywhere near me."

"Tough because I'm not giving up that easily," Brooke told her. Sam shrugged.

"Suit yourself but I all ready have." The words chilled Brooke straight through. She approached the bed.

"What?" she whispered. Sam turned slightly to face her and Brooke could see the empty look Nic had warned her about in Sam's eyes. Sam had indeed given up. Brooke shivered at the sight.

"I give, I surrender, I resign, I yield, I submit, I acquiesce," Sam started.

"I get the point," Brooke sighed. "Now explain to me what that means."

"I'm tired of fighting all the time. I'm tired of explaining myself over and over to people whose business it never was to begin with. I'm tired of watching you hurt because of it so I'm putting an end to it now. I'm giving you your out, Brooke. Take it, no hard feelings," Sam explained. Brooke looked at her dumbstruck.

"Do I mean that little to you?" she asked quietly. Sam shook her head.

"No, you mean that MUCH to me. I'm letting you go because it's the right thing for you, Brooke, I'm not." Brooke rolled her eyes.

"And you came to this brilliant deduction when?"

"While I was lying on the grass in agony. I realized that I never want you to experience that, Brooke. This has to stop. And the only way to spare you that kind of pain is to end this now before we get in any deeper," Sam said sadly. Brooke glared at her angrily.

"How deep is too deep, Sam? Huh? Tell me. Because honestly, I can't imagine my life without you in it," she started.

"We'll still be stepsisters and I hope friends," Sam broke in.

"That's not what I meant, Sammy and you know it," Brooke snapped. "I can't imagine my life without you beside me to live it. When I wake up in the morning, yours is the first face I want to see. When I go to bed at night, yours is the last face I want to see. There is no one else I ever want to make love to or have make love to me."

"Brooke, just stop it," Sam said.

"No, you said your piece and now I'll say mine. When you threw me out of here, I felt like someone crushed my soul, Sam. I thought I was going to die it hurt so bad to be turned away by you," she was starting to cry and was disturbed by the fact that Sam seemed uneffected.

"How can you just shut off your emotions like this, Sam?" she asked. Sam shrugged.

"Practice," she answered boredly.

"Old habits," Brooke realized. "I thought we broke you of this one." Sam shrugged again. Brooke tried another method of reaching her. "What if I stopped eating again?" Sam stared at her in horror. (Well, at least it's a reaction) Brooke thought.

"You wouldn't," she claimed. Brooke shrugged.

"If you can revert to your old defense mechanisms, why can't I?"

"Mine won't kill me," Sam shot back.

"I wouldn't be so sure," Brooke muttered but Sam heard her.

"SO FUCKING WHAT?" Sam screamed, startling Brooke with the power behind it. Brooke looked at her in surprise as she finally realized what was wrong with Sam.

"Do you wish that you were dead?" she asked disbelieving.

"Wouldn't you?" Sam retorted angrily. "I am so sick and tired of all this crap! First, I get splattered on the asphalt like a three-legged raccoon, end up paralyzed and aphasic, recover and begin a relationship with my former rival and stepsister, the only bright part of that experience."

"Then we come `out' to the people in our lives only to have some of them react horribly and lose friends and I almost lose the love of my life to her own inner demons because of my own arrogance. But we get past that and our own nightmares only to start at square one because of some religious zealot and a school-wide case of raging homophobia!"

"Any or all of it I could probably deal with on its own but then I hear my love's own voice saying that she only loves me out of pity and for the attention that it gets her. Pardon me for wanting to push the button on my morphine drip a few times too many," Sam finished. Brooke shook her head in shock.

"You know that tape was fake," she pointed out.

"Well, duh! From the second it started. But it didn't make hearing it hurt any less because of the possibility, Brooke. We have to stop now, while we still can."

"I can't," Brooke said evenly. Sam stared at her with her mouth open.

"Excuse me? You're 17 years old, you don't form life long attachments at 17," Sam informed her.

"I have," Brooke countered. "I'm not you, Sam, I can't just shut my emotions off. I love you, inside and out and I'm not just going to stop because you tell me to." Sam looked away.

"I hope you like it on that one-way road, Brooke, cuz that's where you're going to find yourself," Brooke slapped the side of Sam's face she could reach. Sam looked at her in shock.

"Snap out of it, Sam. This self-pity trip is getting tiresome," Brooke growled.

"Tell me something, Brooke," Sam ground out through clenched teeth and Brooke knew she was getting to the heart of the matter. "How much am I supposed to take? Huh? When do I get to say `enough'? When do I get to put my foot down and say `no more'?"

"I have taken everything thrown at me in stride, or at least the best that I can but no matter what I do I can't seem to catch a break. If I turn left, I should have gone right. Nothing ends up the way it should. The only thing that's ended up halfway decent is you and even that's screwed up now."

"You did that to yourself," Brooke pointed out to her. Sam sighed.

"I'm doing what's right," she told Brooke. "You shouldn't be with me, Brooke. You should be with a guy who can give you the traditional picture. The little house with the white picket fence, the dog and the two point five kids playing in the backyard. Without the strife and agony or the uphill battles and condescending looks or bigotry. I can't give you any of that, Brooke. I want what's best for you and that's not me," now Sam was starting to cry. Brooke moved to hold her but Sam pulled away.

"Why are you making this difficult?" Sam asked. "I'm trying to do the right thing for you and you're making it hard. You're being impossible."

"Me? You're the one not making any sense. I love you, not some phantom guy and what could be. Screw the traditional picture, Sammy. We can have our own version someday I just know it. Complete with the little house with the white picket fence, the dog and the two point five kids playing in the backyard. I don't want any of those things unless you're in the picture too, Sam."

"I'm so tired, Brooke," Sam lamented. Brooke was worried. They'd hit Sam's breaking point hard and she wasn't sure what to do. She thought back and heard her father's words from that night in the kitchen.

"What did she do when you wouldn't take help after she left?"

"She waited me out, was patient and loving but firm until I listened. She let me know that she wasn't letting me go and that she loved me," she'd responded.

"I think you have your answer. Remember that when the road gets rocky, Brooke. It probably won't be easy, we both know how stubborn the girl can be. Stand by her, Brooke and hold on to her. If you do that, then she'll have no choice but to let you help."

"I love you, Sam," she said firmly. "Despite everything you've said recently. And I'm not letting you go. Not now, not ever. It's going to take a lot more than a religious nutcase, a hockey stick and your twisted logic to get rid of me. So get used to me being here whether you want me here or not. I love you," she repeated.

"Brooke, please," Sam begged, her composure cracking.

"No, and I'm not going to let you kill yourself by shutting down either. You tried that once and I pulled you out and I'll do it again. I'm here to stay, Sammy. I know you love me, even if you don't say it."

"This is too hard," Sam complained quietly.

"The things in life worth having are never easy, Sammy," Brooke whispered. "But you're worth having, worth fighting for even if I have to fight your own stubborn pride."

"Please leave me, I'm trying to do the right thing," Sam cried. Brooke shook her head.

"Tell me you don't love me and I'll leave. No more arguments," Brooke challenged. Sam stared at her in shock. Brooke looked at her intently, silently daring her to say it.

"Say it, Sam. If you really want me out of your life, tell me you don't love me," she repeated praying Sam wouldn't.

"I do love you," Sam sobbed, unable to stop herself. She wanted to do what was right and she thought that letting Brooke go and have a normal life was it. But Brooke didn't want that, she wanted her and now Sam didn't know what to do. So she cried, out of relief and fear. Brooke pulled Sam to her and Sam let her, collapsing into the embrace.

"I'm so sorry," she sobbed into Brooke's shoulder. Brooke stroked Sam's hair and whispered calmly to her.

"I know, I am too. We'll get through this, Sammy. I promise."

"How?" Sam asked. Brooke shrugged.

"I dunno. Same way we always do, Sammy. Together, one day at a time."

"But what if it's not enough this time?" For that, Brooke really didn't have an answer.

"It has to be, Sammy, because I'm never letting you go," was the best she could offer.



"Hiya, Becky," Nicole greeted her victim with false sweetness.

"Yeah, hiya Becky," Mary Cherry and Lily chorused. Becky backed away nervously. They were all in the Novac and she watched with increasing alarm as Carmen locked the door.

"Uh, hi guys," she stuttered. The four seniors advanced on her menacingly.

"We know what you did to Sam," Lily said flatly. "We want to know why."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Becky claimed still backing up and entering the first stages of full-blown panic. Nic held up the tape recorder and pressed play. The Novac was filled with Brooke's voice from the altered conversation.

"That is what we're talking about," Carmen hissed.

"We know y'all played wit' the tape ta make poor Sammy think Brookie wuz playin' wit' her," Mary Cherry growled. Becky was all out panicking now.

"Pierce put me up to it!" she blurted out. "He's got it bad for Brooke, we're taking `shrine in the bedroom' stalking here. And having her turn out to be gay just made him snap!"

"That doesn't explain why you played with Sam's head the way you did," Nicole argued while the thought of Pierce stalking Brooke frightened her. Becky shook her head.

"He knows he's got no chance with Brooke but he doesn't want Sam to have her either. God, you're lucky he didn't kill Sam," the four senior gaped at Becky in shock. "He had me do the thing with the tape thinking that Sam would break up with her and that Brooke would go back to dating guys, at least she wouldn't be `evil' anymore."

"But why do it? What was in it for you?" Carmen asked.

"I love Pierce. Or I did until he lost the two marbles he actually had. I would do anything for him, but not anymore. I don't like this hurting people," Becky confessed.

"So what happens to Pierce now?" Lily wondered.

"I told his parents about his `Brooke' problem and on top of his attack on Sam, he's hopefully going to be in a psychiatric facility for a while," Becky told them.

"An' what `bout sweet lil' Deep Throat ov'r here?" everyone just kind of looked at Mary Cherry strangely for a second. Nicole smiled.

"Oh, I'll think of something, eventually." Becky shuttered to think what that could possibly mean for her.


Primal Screams

Brooke was getting worried. Sam had been home a week and it'd been two since she'd gotten through to Sam in her hospital room and while Sam was again progressing in rehab, the brunette was still dangerously depressed. Everyone noticed it. The spark that was uniquely Sam McPherson was gone and it was scary to Brooke. It was like Sam was only doing as she was told and beyond that she could have cared less.

"Sam?" she called to get the other girl's attention. Sam looked up from her magazine.

"Hmmm?" another thing was that Sam didn't speak unless you really provoked an answer out of her. Her responses consisted of `hmmms' and `uh-huhs' unless you made her vocalize more. Brooke actually had to put effort into making Sam talk and that was out of character for Sam.

"Is everything OK with you, outside of the rehab stuff I mean? You seem a little withdrawn lately," Brooke said evenly. Sam looked at her blankly.

"Uh-huh," she answered blandly. Brooke had to force herself not to slap Sam across the face.

"Stop that, will you?" Sam blinked at her. "You have a wonderfully, obnoxiously large and copious vocabualry that you delight in using if only to make other people feel inferior. Stop with the caveman grunts for answers and talk to me," Brooke ordered. Sam set down her magazine.

"I'm fine," she said curtly. "Happy?" Brooke shook her head.

"No, you're shutting everyone out again, don't deny it," she accused. Sam shrugged.

"My choice," she responded. "I gave you the opportunity to leave if you didn't want to be here and you stayed. There's the door if you've changed your mind."

"Do you love me?" Brooke countered. That threw Sam for a second.

"Yes, of course I do," she finally answered. "God, what a stupid question."

"Then why do you keep trying to get rid of me?"

"Brooke, if it's too hard for you to watch me like this than leave. I won't hold it against you," Sam told her.

"I love you and I'm not going to leave you because of some stupid chair," Brooke huffed angrily. Sam shrugged again.

"Suit yourself but stop getting on my case because I don't feel like talking. If you don't like the way I'm dealing, leave but stop trying to get me to change," Sam snapped back.

(Well, Brooke, that went well) Brooke said sarcastically to herself. (Drive her farther away) She watched as Sam went back to her magazine. (There has to be an easier way)

"Have they given you a timetable as far as walking goes?" Brooke asked trying again to engage Sam in a conversation. Sam sighed heavily and put the magazine down again. She glared hotly at Brooke.

"Another few days and I start with the bars," she snapped. "Now, do you think you can leave me alone? I'm trying to read." Brooke got up and snatched the magazine away from Sam. Sam growled at her. "Give it back."

"Come and get it," Brooke challenged. Sam looked at her in pure fury.

"You know I can't, that's not funny," she hissed. Brooke waved the book in Sam's face, just out of reach. She figured if Sam was going to focus on being angry, she was going to royally piss her off.

"You want it back, get off your lazy, pathetic ass and come get it," she taunted. Sam's face turned red.

"Go eat a Ring Ding you scrawny, emaciated, anorexic, wretched excuse for a popular icon," Sam spat venomously her eyes almost glowing. Brooke felt every word as a physical blow to her mid section. "You make me sick, you self-righteous, self-centered, self-starving, poster girl for the Arian nation!" Brooke blinked at her in surprise.

"Yeah? You're a self-diluted, self-pitying, self-indulgent, spoiled, whining little brat!" she screamed back. "You don't care about anyone but yourself anymore! You're not the only one hurting, Sam!"

"I don't see anyone else restricted to a wheelchair, Brooke!" Sam shouted back. "If anyone else is hurting, it's nothing compared to being reduced to having to depend on others."

(There we go) thought Brooke (the crux of the matter)

"You hate not being independent, don't you?" Brooke said more as a statement than as a question. Sam continued to glare at her in silence. Brooke already had her answer. "You'll be out of that chair soon enough," she pointed out.

"But I'm in it right now," Sam said bitterly. "And I'm not going to drag you down with me so just leave," she said plaintively. Brooke shook her head.

"Nice try. Especially after all you just said, but no, I'm here to stay." Sam sighed.

"Suit yourself," she muttered as she settled back on the bed and closed her eyes. Now it was Brooke's turn to sigh. (And back to square one. Well, at least I tried)

Brooke found Sam sitting on the floor of the bathroom later the next week, staring intently at the empty pill bottle in her hand. Brooke's heart dropped to her feet.

"You didn't," she whispered in horror. Sam looked up at her with a frown.

"And if I did?" she responded. Brooke was very nearly ill at the thought.

"We have to call an ambulance," Brooke said.

"Oh, goody, the hospital again," Sam said snidely. Brooke's worry turned to anger.

"What the Hell is the matter with you? Don't you care that there are people that love you and would mourn you if anything happened?" she yelled.

"I suppose," Sam said around a huge yawn. Brooke bent down and hauled Sam to her feet. She was out of the chair and walking, albeit with crutches or a cane mostly.

"Come on, we're taking you to the hospital," she said firmly.

"No we're not. I didn't swallow the whole prescription, Brooke. I took the last two, as prescribed. I'm just tired cuz they make me that way," Sam sighed. Brooke got angrier.

"Then why did you let me think you did?" she demanded to know.

"You assumed," Sam told her. "I merely asked what would happen if I had swallowed the whole thing."

"You've become a real ass, you know that?" Sam yawned again.

"Whatever. Besides, if I was going to do it, I'd slit my wrists," Sam explained as Brooke set her in her bed.

"That's really not funny," Brooke scolded.

"I'm not kidding," Sam answered seriously. Brooke stared at her for a minute. "Hell, Brooke, I've thought about it. There's only so much a person can take." Brooke blinked away tears.

"Promise me you won't," she asked. Sam didn't answer her. "Sam?"

"Stay with me tonight?" Sam said instead. Brooke frowned. "Please?" With a nod, Brooke crawled into Sam's bed. Sam curled up against her.

"I love you Brooke," Sam whispered.

"If you love me, promise me you won't do anything stupid," Brooke whispered back. Sam was quiet for several long minutes.

"I love you Brooke," she finally repeated.

"I love you too, Sam," Brooke answered with a sigh. "Please don't forget that."


A Different Kind Of Therapy

Sam sat glaring at the picture on the wall. It was of a ship being tossed on a stormy sea. It was a nicely done painting, Rembrant, she figured, she just didn't want to be there so she wasn't all that interested in it.

"I usually compare that picture to my patients," her therapist, Jennifer, said from her seat a few feet away. Sam shrugged.

"Whatever," she mumbled.

"It represents the battle within them, the storm. But underneath all that turmoil somewhere is the calm they seek, you just have to find it," Jenn explained.

"Again, whatever," Sam said.

"What would you like to talk about, Sam?" Jenn asked. Sam fixed her with a bored stare.

"Technically, I don't want to talk about anything," she responded. "I don't even want to be here." Jenn nodded.

"But your parents thought it would do you some good," she said gently. Sam rolled her eyes.

"Parent," she annunciated. "I only have one, my Mom. Mike is going to be my stepdad and I couldn't give a rat's ass what he thought."

"You don't like him much, do you?" Sam laughed bitterly.

"And to think you wasted all that money on college," she scoffed.

"OK, you don't want to talk about Mike. How about Brooke?" Jenn suggested. Sam arched an eyebrow.

"What about her?" she asked. Jenn shrugged.

"Well, I met her in a session the other day. Your parents thought therapy might be good for her too. She's a very nice girl and very fond of you, I might add. And very concerned about you too." Sam shrugged.

"Yeah, well, good for her," Sam muttered. Jenn tilted her head slightly.

"Brooke tells me you two are involved with each other. Are you happy with her?"

"Whatever happened to doctor-patient confidentiality?" Sam shot back. "I don't think you should be telling me what you and Brooke talk about."

"She's extremely worried about you Sam and told me to do whatever I could to reach you," Jenn explained. "She loves you."

"I know," Sam sighed.

"And that bothers you?" Sam sighed again.

"When it causes her the pain it does, yes. She could do so much better than me, I wish she'd realize that." Jenn leaned forward slightly.

"She loves you with all her heart, she told me herself. She wishes you'd see that."

"I do," Sam responded.

"Do you love her?" Jenn asked. Sam looked at her like she was the stupidest person on the planet.

"Are you sure you're a licensed therapist? Of course I do you nitwit! What kind of asinine question is that? Did you get your degree out of a CrackerJack box or what?"

"Sam, there's no need to be insulting, it was merely a question," Jenn protested quietly.

"But insulting is what I do best these days," Sam retorted. "Insulting and angry are my fortes."

"Why do you figure that is?" Sam considered this carefully.

"Because if I wasn't angry and insulting everyone around me I might take the time to actually think about what's happened to me and I might lose what control I actually have left. And I am not about to let that happen."

"Why?" Jenn prodded. Sam smiled without humor.

"Nice try, Jenn. But I'm smarter than that. Oh look, times up. Gotta go."

"Since your individual sessions didn't seem to be doing you any good, Sam," Jenn said two weeks and four headache inducing appointments later, "I thought maybe a joint session with Brooke might be more helpful." Sam rolled her eyes.

"Whatever," she sighed. (Really, all I want is to be left alone. Why can't anyone see that?) Sam heard Brooke sigh heavily.

"Brooke," Jenn began, "why don't you tell Sam some of what you've been telling me?" (Oh, this is going to suck) Sam knew.

"I'm afraid that she's shutting me out, that she's shutting everyone out and is a danger to herself," Brooke said sadly.

"Oh please," Sam scoffed sarcastically. Brooke frowned at her.

"Well, you are. You said yourself that you've thought about it. You said if you were going to do it you'd slit your wrists. What am I supposed to think, Sammy?" Brooke asked getting upset.

"Think what you want," Sam answered blandly. Brooke folded her arms across her chest and turned to Jenn.

"See what I mean? That's what she does when you try to talk to her. Total shutdown, she could care less." Jenn nodded.

"Sam, are you a danger to yourself?" Jenn asked. Sam resisted the urge to slap the woman.

"Look, I just want to be left alone, OK? Let me sort through this on my own and stop hounding me about sharing my feelings. I'll be fine eventually," Sam said shortly. Brooke shook her head.

"No you won't Sam. We've played this game before and you won't be OK. You'll keep closing yourself off until no one can reach you ever again and I won't let it happen," she said firmly. Sam said nothing but just sat in silence. Brooke sighed and looked at Jenn.

"Sam, what is it you feel you need to sort through? Can you tell Brooke and I how you're feeling?" Jenn asked. Sam shifted uncomfortably in her chair.

"Oh, for crying out loud," she muttered impatiently. "Right now I'm feeling incredibly pissed off," she snapped.

"Sam, that's not what she means," Brooke snapped back. Sam glared at her.

"Fine, you wanna know how I feel? Trapped and scared. There, happy?" She crossed her arms across her chest and waited. Brooke frowned.

"Trapped and scared? Why?" Brooke asked.

"Trapped because you won't let me go!" Sam screamed suddenly startling both Brooke and Jenn with the outburst. "And scared because I don't want you to let go." Brooke stared at her in confusion.

"Sam, I don't understand," she said quietly. Sam shook her head.

"I tried to let you go because I only bring you pain, Brooke, but you held on. I don't want to hurt you and yet that's all that seems to happen," Sam started to explain.

"Sam, you didn't hurt me. Pierce and Becky did the damage this time," Brooke said patiently.

"This time, Brooke. But next time it might be me. This life we've chosen is overflowing with problems. Everything from bigotry to hatred and back and I don't want you to have to go through that. I want you to be happy," Sam said as a few tears streaked down her face.

"Stubborn ass," Brooke sighed without malice only resignation. "I love you, Sammy. You're what makes me happy and to Hell with everything else. I told you that once. Wasn't that enough?" Sam shrugged.

"But you're afraid she will let go. Why, Sam?" Jenn asked, reminding both girls she was there.

"Because I don't want to lose her," Sam answered honestly. "I love her too much."

"Than why do you keep pushing me away?" Brooke asked exasperatedly.

"Because I hurt," Sam croaked in a voice that was raw with emotion. "And I just want to be left alone."

"Oh, Sammy," Brooke sighed. "I can't leave you alone because I'm worried about you. I'm losing you within yourself and it scares me." Sam looked at her the expression on her face devoid of hope and full of fear. It shook the foundation of everything Brooke believed in to see that expression on Sam's face.

"Why do you want to be left alone, Sam?" Jenn asked softly. Sam sighed.

"Because I don't want to hurt anyone else," she answered barely above a whisper. "But that's all I do, hurt the people I care about. Brooke, Mom, everybody. And I can't stand myself anymore."

"Sam, you can't keep blaming yourself for other people's actions," Brooke told her soothingly. "You haven't hurt any of us, at least not directly. You keep shouldering all this responsibility that's beyond your control. You're killing yourself with it." Sam shrugged.

"Can't help it," she mumbled.

"Sam, you are not responsible for all the bad in the world," Brooke whispered as Sam looked at her pitifully. "Let it go."

"I can't," Sam complained. "I want to but I can't."

"You have to Sam before it destroys you," Brooke told her. "Let go of it and hold on to me. I love you. And even though there's nothing to forgive you for, if that's what you need to hear, Sammy, I forgive you." Sam's face lit up a bit and a small spark returned to her eyes.

"You do?" she asked. Brooke nodded.

"You did nothing wrong but I do forgive you," Brooke reassured her. Sam smiled at her for the first time in a long time.

"Thank you," she said softly. Jenn looked at the clock.

"As much as I hate to do this, our time is up for today. I think we've made some progress here. Sam, Brooke, do you think you can keep this dialogue going until we meet again?" Brooke nodded. She finally felt like she was getting through to Sam.

"We can try, right Sam?" Sam looked at her with a little hope in her eyes.

"Sure, I guess."


Turnaround Is Fair Play

Brooke found Sam asleep on the couch a week later looking more at peace than she had in a long while. She was walking again more strongly with only the help of a cane and her sessions with Jenn were progressing well. She hadn't made any astounding breakthroughs but they were making small steps and little pieces of the old Sam were peaking through every now and then. At least she was speaking more and not pushing Brooke away as much.

Unable to resist the temptation, Brooke leaned over and pressed her lips to Sam's. To her surprise and utter relief, she felt Sam respond to the kiss. Sam reached up and pulled Brooke down onto the couch with her.

"Hey beautiful," Sam greeted her. Brooke looked at her in surprise and joy.

"Hey yourself. I didn't mean to wake you," she said. Sam arched an eyebrow.

"It's OK. Wake me like that anytime," she joked a little more of the old Sam McPherson spark returning to her eyes for which Brooke was thankful.

"Whatcha doing today, Sammy?" Brooke asked while she twirled a few strands of Sam's dark hair around her fingers.

"Nothing much, just moping," she answered. Brooke frowned at her.

"Moping is not a good hobby," she pointed out. Sam shrugged.

"No, but it passed the time until you got home from Glamazon practice," she said with a grin. "I missed you." Brooke looked at her strangely.

"Sam, not that I mind, but what's with the attitude change?" Sam sighed.

"I miss you," Sam repeated softly. "I'm tired of pushing you away. I miss you, Princess." Brooke nodded her understanding and smiled.

"I miss you too, Sammy. So much," she hugged Sam tightly.

"I don't want to die, Brooke. But I'm afraid to live," Sam whispered. Brooke shuttered at the admission. There was the breakthrough they'd been looking for.

"Why Sammy?"

"Because of the pain. Everytime I turn around there's something new and horrible coming at me like a speeding freight train," she said as tears streamed down her face. Brooke brushed away the falling moisture with her thumbs. "I can't take it anymore."

"You don't have to, Sammy. That's what I've been trying to tell you. You insist on shouldering everything alone and won't accept anyone's help. Let me help you, Sam. I love you and want to help. You're not alone," she said gently. Sam leaned her head against her.

"I know. I realize that now," she whispered softly. "And I want your help, Princess. Please?"

"You don't even has to ask, Sam. I am always here for you." Sam let out a long sigh of relief.

"Thank you," she murmured. Content with each other for the moment, both girls fell asleep on the couch where their parents found them a few hours later.

Sam sighed as she stared at the blinking cursor on her laptop. The damn thing was mocking her, she swore. She was supposed to write an article on the new school budget but she could barely manage to write a title at the moment. She had no interest whatsoever in writing right now. Brooke was out with Nicole and their parents were out at a business dinner while Mac was at a babysitters leaving Sam home alone. She hated it because it left her with too much time to think.

(I think my brain has finally turned to mush) she lamented. Getting up from her chair, she grabbed her cane and hobbled over to the bathroom. She stared at the familiar and yet unwelcome face that looked back at her.

"What are you looking at?" she asked her reflection. (Great, now I'm talking to myself. Well, might as well give myself a piece of my mind)

"You're a class A screw up, you know it? Buring your head in the sand like some sort of demented ostrich. Everyone has problems, Sam, but they deal with them. They don't run away from them like a dog with its tail between its legs like you did."

"You used to be tough, or at least confident. Now you're a scaredy cat. What the Hell happened? Did smacking your head on Nic's windshield kill that part of your personality?" She was starting to wonder if she had lost her mind because she was actually waiting for an answer.

"Let's look at the situation. You got hit by a car and almost killed but you survived. And you ended up with the girl of your dreams. So the road was rocky for a while, what matters is the end result. Brooke loves you and that hasn't changed. So some people have a problem with that. So what? That isn't your problem. A jealous nutcase attacked you and that hurt but hurting Brooke was the wrong thing to do. For that you should be ashamed."

"And I am," (Oh, good, I have gone around the bend, I'm answering myself) she sighed. "And now, thanks to a seriously scary bout with depression, I've lost a lot of time. And I have a lot to answer for." Slowly, a small idea began to form in Sam's mind and she smiled at her reflection.

"Small steps, Sammy," she grinned.


One Quiet Moment

Brooke came home from school the next night, late from Glamazon practice and headed up to her room. It had been a horrible day. There had been a pop qiz in Chem she was unprepared for, a fight with Nic and Mary Cherry over whether or not she was going to the Senior Prom (undecided), a few altercations with the remaining homophobic section of the school population, she spilled ketchup on herself at lunch and had seen very little Sam. Not that Sam was avoiding her; their schedules just didn't gel that day.

So she trudged up the stairs feeling defeated and surly. She stopped at the top of the stairs in confusion. On the floor was a carpet of rose pedals leading to her room. A bright smile lit her face as she guessed the culprit behind the surprise. She kicked off her shoes and reveled in the soft velvety feel of the petals on her feet. She followed the path and slowly opened her bedroom door.

Her room was filled with flowers of all types, colors and sizes. Roses, carnations, daisies, you name it it was probably there and it took Brooke's breath away. On top of that were the candles softly illuminating the room and Sam standing in the middle holding a single long stemmed red rose. Brooke slowly approached her and Sam smiled shyly.

"Hi," she whispered. Brooke tilted her head.

"Hi," she responded. "What's all this?" she asked quietly motioning around the room. Sam looked down a second and then back up into Brooke's sparkling hazel eyes.

"An apology," she started. "For being such an ass. And a Valentine, a birthday, a Christmas, an I love you, and a just because." Brooke smirked.

"A just because?" Sam smirked back at her.

"Just because I can. And just because I love you. It's also my pathetic attempt at seducing you," she added coyly. Brooke smiled wolfishly.

"Not at all pathetic," she said huskily as she pulled Sam into a heated kiss. Sam returned the smile after they parted.

"I'm glad to know the effort wasn't wasted," she joked. Brooke took the rose from her and placed it on the nightstand before leading Sam to the bed.

"I love you, Sammy," Brooke said softly. She shivered at their close contact. "It's been so long." Sam reached up and cupped Brooke's face with her palms.

"I know, Princess. And I'm sorry. We have a lot of time to make up for," she whispered as she leaned in for another kiss. "And I plan on making every moment count from here on out."


Going To The Chapel

The big wedding day finally arrived and Sam was a big bundle of nerves. Not because her mother was getting married, but because she had to wear that dress. (Formal attire and I do not get along) she thought dryly. The last formal gown she wore had to be cut off of her in blood covered chunks. She shivered. (Geeze, Sam, morose much?)

"You ready Sam?" Brooke asked poking her head in Sam's room. Sam shook her head.

"Think they'll miss me if I don't go?" Brooke walked in the room and rolled her eyes.

"I think Mom will notice the conspicuous absence of her Maid of Honor, Sammy," she said lightly. "God, you're not even dressed. Put the dress on Sam, it's not going to kill you." Sam shot her a look.

"Promise me Nicole won't be drinking," she asked. Brooke looked at her in shock.

"Is that what's bothering you? Sam, that was a one time thing. As long as neither one of us goes running into the street we should be fine," Brooke pointed out logically. Sam nodded as Brooke walked over with the dress.

"I suppose one night won't hurt," Sam agreed. Brooke smiled.

"Good, cuz the sooner you put this thing on, the sooner I can get you out of it," she teased. Sam smirked at her.

"Frisky today are we?" she joked as she slipped into the dress. Brooke nodded.

"As soon as the wedding's over, the `rentals will be gone for three glorious weeks to the Bahama's on their honeymoon with Mac. We have the house to ourselves. I can't wait to get rid of them," she admitted her voice low and sending delighted chills up Sam's spine.

"Me either," Sam said as she captured Brooke's lips in a burning kiss. Stopping themselves before they got out of hand, they finished getting dressed and headed off to the wedding.

The wedding went off without a hitch, (pardon the pun) and finally Mike and Jane were married and they were really a family. An incredibly unusual family but a family nonetheless. The reception was a sight to behold. Sam and Brooke danced together but not any slow dances that would arouse suspicion and had a great time. They hated hiding the truth about themselves but for their mother they went through with it. Jane thanked them repeatedly.

Nicole noticed that the two girls were unable to dance together and, having heard the reason from Lily, she was trying to find a way around it, for at least one dance. A wicked smile crossed her face as an idea entered her head. She discussed the idea with Lily, Josh, and the rest of the mixed gang before going through with it.

"Ladies and gentlemen," the DJ started. "This is a special request from someone in our audience. But it's not a couples dance, it's a song to say how love can mean different things to different people and how doubts can sometime get in our way. We can't let that happen. So grab someone who means something special to you and dance." Sam and Brooke exchanged glances as Nic leaned over to them.

"Here's your chance," Nic whispered. "You can dance and no one will know." They watched as Lily and Josh got up to dance as did Mary Cherry and Sugar. To draw the attention off of Sam and Brooke, Nic rolled her eyes and grabbed a startled Carmen. Sam and Brooke slowly walked out to the dance floor in the middle of their friends.

{Where Would You Be ©2001 Martina McBride}

I wonder where your heart is
`Cause it sure don't feel like it's here
Sometimes I think you wish
That I would just disappear
Have I got it all wrong
Have you felt this way long
Are you already gone

"My heart is with you Brooke," Sam whispered in Brooke's ear. "And I never left you."

Do you feel lonely
When you're here by my side
Does the sound of freedom
Echo in your mind
Do you wish you were by yourself
Or that I was someone else
Anyone else

"I want no one else but you Sammy," Brooke whispered.

Where would you be
If you weren't here with me
Where would you go
If you were single and free
Who would you love
Would it be me
Where would you be

"It'd always be you, Princess. I'll always be here."

I don't wanna hold you backNo I don't wanna slow you down
I don't wanna make you feel
Like you are tied up and bound
`Cause that's not what love's about
If there's no chance we can work it out
Tell me now
Oh, tell me tell me now

"You know all that, right?" Brooke asked. Sam nodded.

Where would you be
If you weren't here with me
Where would you go
If you were single and free
Who would you love
Would it be me
Where would you be

Have I become the enemy
Is it hard to be yourself
In my company



Where would you be
If you weren't here with me
Where would you go
If you were single and free
Who would you love
Would it be me
Where would you be
Oh tell me tell me now
Where would you be
Where would you go
Who would you love
Would it be me

Jane watched the whole thing from her seat and thought it was sweet. Mike ignored it mostly but even he thought it was endearing and mostly unnoticable by the other partygoers. There was no doubting though, by anyone who knew Brooke and Sam, that they were deeply in love. They all but glowed on the dance floor together. After the song ended they thanked Nic and went back to their table. Brooke got her wish; she got to dance one slow dance at the wedding with Sam.


School Daze

School had actually started to calm down shortly afterwards. There was less vandalism and harrassment but both girls figured that had to do with both Pierce going to a mental institution and the school board finally doing something about the whole situation. And a few other students had come out as well so it wasn't just Brooke and Sam out on that limb. Brooke's popularity was soaring again, after the initial shock wore off and aside from a few minor incidents, their lives had returned to what passed for normal for them.

It was a welcome relief. Now they could look forward to the Senior Prom, if either decided to go although the school board had made it clear that couples were to be boy-girl and nothing else; and graduation after that. Sam had pretty much decided against the prom (like last years wasn't fun enough) and was focusing on graduation in a few months while Brooke was just trying to get through each day. But for now, things were good.

Well, unless you were Becky Wright that is. Thanks to Nicole's master manipulation and string pulling, not even April Tuna and Freddy Gong would have anything to do with that little pariah. She had to transfer to another school just to finish the school year because she couldn't function at Kennedy High with the way she was being treated. Sam and Brooke felt bad, and then they got over it. What goes around really does come around.

(The next song isn't mine, it belongs to Beth Hart and can be found on the Beth Hart Band's album Immortal ©1996)

Brooke walked into Sam's bedroom and watched Sam get ready for bed. While she was happy she got one dance with Sam at the wedding a few days earlier, she wasn't satisfied yet. She put a cd in Sam's stereo and set it up before walking over to Sam.

"Dance with me?" Brooke asked extending her hand to Sam. Sam smiled and nodded.

"Of course," she responded. Brooke pressed play on the stereo and pulled Sam close to her. The soft sound of a piano filled the room as they started to dance.

If I whisper my thoughts
Would you hear the chanting of my heart
Praising melodies unsung in the dark
Saying hold me through the night

Hear the music from my room
Calling out to you, come home to me soon
Shadows bellowing duets with the moon
Singing hold me through the night

Hold me through the night
Hold me through the night

Oh yeah
Oh yeah yeah oh

And the water drops in the drain
Just like the sound it makes
You're coming round again
There's a soft piano in a warm summer's rain
Playing hold me through the night

Hold me through the night
Hold me through the night
Hold me
Hold me through the night
Hold me
Hold me through the night
Oh ya gotta hold me through
Ya gotta hold me through the night
Hold me through the night

The song ended but neither girl let go. They simply clung to one another and continued to move together even without music to move to.

"Always, you know?" Sam whispered. "I'll never let go." Brooke smiled into Sam's neck.

"Me either, Sam. Forever." Now she was satisfied.

The End

Return to Popular Fiction

Return to Main Page