DISCLAIMER: I own them, I own them all. BWAHAHAHAHA! Just kidding. I own nothing and have bills up the ying yang. If you're interested in that, come and get me. I'd love to have someone else fend off the bill collectors for a change. Song ain't mine either, it's NEW SENSATION and belongs to INXS and Michael Hutchence. May he rest in peace.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Just a piece of Sam/Brooke fluff requested by the Phantom Chipmunk who fills in for Nicole as my muse on the days that Harley has Nic. Here's your X-Mas story complete with INXS song, Aly. I hope you like it.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Thanks to Aly also for the quick beta. You rule!

Holiday Traditions
By Aeryn Sun


Christmas is the time for compassion, love and brotherhood. Or in the McPherson/McQueen household, Sam supposed sisterhood. All she really wanted to do was 1) get someone else to change Mac's diaper and 2) kill Brooke. The bubbly blonde was driving her insane with her perky Christmas attitude. Brooke was happily trimming the tree with Jane and Mike while Sam watched from her wheelchair, a token of thanks from Nicole's drunk driving spree last spring, and looked after Mac. For whatever reason, Sam just wasn't in the Christmas spirit.

She pushed herself over to Mac's diaper bag and rifled through it looking for a fresh diaper while Brooke watched from the corner of her eye. Not a day went by that she wasn't filled with guilt over Sam's predicament. They'd never spoken about that crisp spring night when Nicole had tried to kill her and Sam had paid the price. She still didn't understand why Sam had done it, leapt in the way and taken the hit for her. Sam refused to speak about it. She also refused most help offered to her. And it seemed the harder Brooke tried, the further away Sam pulled. It was frustrating to not understand why someone who you assumed used to hate you and was only a reluctant friend was willing to die for you.

"Need help, Sammy?" she chirped as Sam went back to where Mac lay squirming. Sam looked up and shook her head.

"Nah, I'm fine. I can change a diaper," she said a hint of bitterness creeping into her tone. Brooke sighed.

"I didn't mean that you couldn't, Sam. I just wanted to help," she said softly. Sam's shoulders slumped.

"Sorry, didn't mean to snap," Sam apologized. "I just can't get into the Christmas spirit I guess," she said as she changed Mac's diaper. Brooke put her hand on Sam's shoulder.

"Don't worry, Sam. You'll walk again in time," she assured the brunette. Sam shrugged.

"Whatever," Sam answered. Jane and Mike watched the exchange sadly a few feet away. They remembered the night when their lives had changed very vividly. They rushed to the hospital to find Brooke battered and bruised and Sam in surgery with a broken back. Whether or not Sam ever walked again was still a touchy issue but Brooke stuck to the optimistic outlook.

"Want to help with the tree, Sam?" Mike asked cheerfully. Sam looked at the tree forlornly and then at Mike.

"I'll just get in the way," she sighed. "If you don't mind, I think I'll just go lay down." She wheeled herself towards her new room on the first floor and left Mac with Brooke.

"Sam..." Jane called after her daughter.

"I'm fine," Sam waved her off, disappearing around the corner. After she was gone, Brooke looked at her parents.

"She's deeply invested in her pity party today, isn't she?" she asked sarcastically.

"She'll come around. The holiday's are bound to be hard for her. She can't go on that skiing trip with Carmen and Lily and the others and it bothers her," Jane lamented. Brooke nodded.

"I know, that's why I decided not to go. It's not fair to her. I just hope she cheers up some before our party. I don't want her to bring everyone else down."

The guests arrived for the party around six the following Friday and everything was in full swing. With Nicole currently in rehab and doing community service for her actions the preceding spring, she was obviously not welcome at the festivities. Not surprisingly the mixed groups got along just fine without her bitter diatribes to fracture the small gathering.

The entire Palace was done in all the traditional Christmas trimmings. Garland, tinsel, mistletoe and wreaths hung from any available spot. It was tasteful but stopped just short of becoming overdone. The tree was a tall, strong pine that took up an entire corner of the living room and towered over the occupants. Mike had taken great pride in cutting down the tree himself at a tree farm after Jane and Brooke had picked it out. Sam had waited in the car reading a magazine. She just couldn't have cared less.

She was presently sitting in her chair watching as Lily played with Mac and the rest of the guests watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation on DVD. She didn't want to ruin the party but she had promised Brooke that she'd at least put in an appearance. So she sat quietly observing everyone else. Since the accident she felt like an outsider. She was stuck in the wheelchair for the foreseeable future and felt like a burden to her friends. She hated feeling that way.

Lily, Josh, Sugar, and Carmen were going to Aspen during Christmas break. It was a vacation they'd saved for all summer long. Brooke and Sam were supposed to join them but Sam saw no point in her going now. What was she going to do, sit in her chair and watch all the snow bunnies and hot guys walk around and give her piteous looks? She'd rather get caught in an avalanche. Brooke had decided not to go either and spend her time with the family. Sam felt slightly guilty about that. Mary Cherry was going to visit her mother in Texas for Christmas. Thankfully she'd be out of their hair for a while. And Harrison was spending the time with his Mom.

"Sam?" Brooke's voice broke Sam from her quiet contemplation of her guests. She took off her headphones and looked up at her blonde housemate.

"Yeah?" she drawled. Brooke frowned at her.

"I know you agreed to be here but do you think you could actually JOIN the festivities?" Brooke asked quietly. Sam rubbed her hand over her eyes tiredly.

"Brooke, look, I'm kinda tired..." she started.

"One day isn't going to kill you, Sam. Please. These are our friends and it's Christmas," Brooke said pleadingly. "Do this for me? Please?" Unable to resist the begging tone Brooke was using, or the pouting puppy look the cheerleader was sending her way, Sam sighed and relented.

"Fine, poor me some eggnog and give me my presents."

Brooke wheeled Sam further into the room where she was immediately sucked into the conversation with her friends. Much to her relief, no one mentioned the accident and the conversation stayed light. She was sure if anyone had mentioned Nicole or the accident she was going to do an impressive impersonation of the Grinch. But she was spared from that little display.

After they put Mac to bed, the group exchanged presents. Clothes, video games, gift certificates and CDs changed hands. Brooke watched as Sam unwrapped her last gift and a huge smile lit up her face.

"Brooke! How did you know?" she asked as she stared at the INXS Greatest Hits CD that she'd been wanting for a while but never mentioned. Brooke laughed.

"Sam, you have the Michael Hutchence Behind the Music on videotape. It was kind of obvious," she retorted playfully. Sam blushed and clutched the CD to her chest.

"Oh, you're too good to me," she joked. Brooke turned red and then tried to take the attention away from herself.

"So, what now? Gifts have been exchanged, anyone have any ideas?" she asked.

"How 'bout we open this shindig up, y'all?" Mary Cherry suggested. "Let's dance!" Harrison and Brooke shot dirty looks at Mary Cherry and then apologetic ones at Sam. Sam shrugged and grabbed her CD player.

"Hey, it's OK," she said cheerfully. "I'll listen to my new CD. Thanks again, Brooke. You made my whole night." She flashed Brooke a famous Sam smile and Brooke knew that she was sincere.

Sam listened to her CD and watched as the others danced and teased each other. There was mistletoe over the doorway that she had expertly avoided all night but the others weren't so lucky. Brooke had been kissed by Harrison and Sugar and Sam figured Harrison had somehow maneuvered Brooke over there. Josh and Lily had exchanged a sweet kiss under the sprig and Mary Cherry had spent a frightening amount of time trying to trick Lily back under it. Sugar kissed Mary Cherry and despite Sam's distance from the offending object, gave her a peck on the cheek that she didn't protest. Overall, everyone including Sam, had a good time.

After the party ended and everyone went home, Sam helped Brooke clean up the best she could. But, given her circumstances, that wasn't much. She ended up in the doorway yawning with her earphones playing softly as they hung around her neck.

Live baby live
Now that the day is over
I got a new sensation
In perfect moments
Impossible to refuse

Brooke walked into the room and saw Sam sitting quietly in the doorway. She looked tired yet happy. Brooke looked up and noticed with a bit of a devilish thrill that Sam had finally forgotten about the mistletoe. She'd been waiting for the opportunity to at least try and kiss Sam all night.

"You're uh, under the mistletoe, Sam," Brooke pointed out quietly. Sam looked up from her chair and laughed softly.

"Damn, avoided that all night and now I get snagged. Good thing it's only you and me, huh?" she joked although her mouth was oddly dry and she chose to ignore the way her heart was hammering in her chest.

Sleep baby sleep
Now that the night is over
And the sun comes like a God
Into our room
All perfect light and promises

"I guess," Brooke sighed disappointed that Sam hadn't taken the bait. Sam arched an eyebrow at her.

"Why? You wanna kiss me?" she tried to tease but the tone came out serious instead. Brooke focused her eyes on her intently. She waged an internal war with herself.

(To tell you or not to tell you Sammy? How I've dreamed of kissing those lips for so long. When I almost lost you last spring I thought I was going to die too)

"What would you say if I said yes? Would you be offended or disgusted?" she challenged, finally deciding that she couldn't take the change of losing Sam again. She had to risk exposing herself to the beautiful brunette on the million to one chance that Sam felt something for her too. Sam thought a minute before shaking her head.

"No," she responded feeling a slight blush creep up her cheeks. "I mean...it is mistletoe and that IS the tradition. I mean just because we're both girls doesn't mean that you should buck tradition." Brooke smiled shyly and kneeled next to the chair so that she was eye level with Sam.

"Do you want me to kiss you?" she asked, her voice dipping an octave and sending a strange chill down Sam's spine. She prayed that Sam said yes. She wanted to share at least one kiss in her lifetime with Sam, even if it was all she could ever have. It was the only Christmas gift she wanted.

"I don't want you to do anything you don't want to," Sam retorted defensively but softly. "But you shouldn't ignore traditions either. They're there for a reason." Brooke chuckled and brought her face closer to Sam's until she could feel the warm breath of the other girl washing over her cheeks in quickening bursts. She found the warmth and scent of Sam dizzying and intoxicating.

"You should never ignore a tradition," she whispered, leaning in and brushing her lips across Sam's velvety smooth ones. She was surprised at their softness. She had every intention of pulling away after the first taste but found herself moving forward instead. She expected Sam to protest the action but Sam merely sighed contentedly and Brooke took the opportunity to deepen the kiss. She slipped her tongue between Sam's slightly parted lips and sought out Sam's own tongue.

Gotta hold on you
A new sensation
A new sensation
Right now
Gonna take you over
A new sensation
A new sensation

At the first feel of Brooke's tongue gently probing her mouth, Sam's insides caught fire like never before. She moaned and sucked on Brooke's soft muscle, bringing it further into her mouth. She buried her hand in Brooke's silky hair and pulled her into her lap with her other hand. Brooke willingly settled into Sam's lap. They continued to explore each other's mouths until lack of oxygen made them dizzy and they broke apart panting heavily.

"That was..." Brooke panted.

"Wow..." Sam answered. Brooke nodded.

"Yeah, wow is one way of putting it," she agreed looking deeply into Sam's dark eyes. She was searching for answers to what had just happened. And in that moment, Brooke finally understood. Sam had pushed her out of the way of Nic's car because she loved her. Sam was in love with her and had been for a while but had never said a word. It hit Brooke like (pardon the expression) a Mack truck and knocked the wind from her lungs. Sam's love was written plainly in her eyes. Tears spilled from Brooke's eyes and down her cheeks. Sam looked away and sighed.

"I'm sorry," she mumbled. "I shouldn't have kissed you like that. I'm sorry."

"Why didn't you tell me?" Brooke asked though her tears, ignoring Sam's comment for now. Sam looked back up in confusion.

"Tell you what?"

"That you loved me?" Brooke told her. "That that was why you pushed my out of the way of Nicole's car. I never knew." Sam shrugged. Since she had just kissed Brooke in a decidedly unsisterly way, there was no point in lying to the girl anymore. In Sam's opinion, she might as well be honest at this point.

Dream baby dream
Of all that's come and going
And you will find out
In the end
There really is
There really is no difference

"It's not important. Besides, I didn't want to freak you out. Telling you that I was in love with you just never seemed like a good idea, especially since you'd never love me back," Sam admitted honestly. She braced herself for Brooke's rejection. She knew it was going to hurt worse than Nicole's Jaguar.

"Aww, Sammy," Brooke said cupping Sam's face in her hands. "If that kiss didn't tell you that I do, you're incredibly thick headed." Sam's eyes lit up at Brooke's words and happy tears threatened to spill past her lush lashes.

Cry baby cry
When you've got to get it out
I'll be your shoulder
You can tell me all
Don't keep it in ya
Well that's the reason why I'm here

"What?" she managed to utter.

"I," Brooke kissed her lightly again. "love," kiss, "you," kiss, "too." Sam wrapped her arms around Brooke's waist and hugged her tightly. She was happy beyond words and finally felt complete. Whether she walked again or not suddenly didn't matter. Brooke loved her and that was all she needed.

"Merry Christmas, Brooke," she whispered happily.

"Merry Christmas, Sammy," Brooke whispered back as she recaptured Sam's lips in a searing kiss full of promise.

Are you ready for a new sensation
A new sensation
Right now
Gonna take you on a new sensation
A new sensation

The End

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