DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to Ryan Murphy and the WB. No infringement is intended.
CONTINUITY: This takes place in November of 2001.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

How Lily Found Out, Part I
By Quatorz


Her arm rested on the door, the warm California wind whipping through her hair. Even in late October the mild California climate had bestowed upon them another perfect day.

Well, almost perfect. The radio had chosen this moment to burst her bubble, spewing the whiniest excuse for a power ballad that Lily had ever heard:

"Wherever you go

Whatever you do

I will be right here waiting for you

Whatever it takes

Or how my heart breaks

I will be right here waiting for you..."

Richard Marx. The name came to Lily on command. That's who was responsible for this atrocity called a song. How could she forget, she remembered with a smile: he of the unfortunate nickname.

Lily glanced sideways at the offending transistor device, the current bane of her existence-the spoiler of perfect California days-before turning her eyes on the car's driver.

Lily hadn't moved from her relaxed position, figuring she wouldn't have to. Assuming Sam would take care of the problem for her.

But she hadn't. The brunette hadn't even budged. Normally she could count on Sam to police the radio like Nicole had policed fashion in her days at Kennedy.

Lily rolled her eyes. C'mon, Sam, she thought to herself, this is total moodkill! What are you waiting for?

But Sam McPherson experienced a totally different reaction to the song. As the lyrics penetrated her consciousness they became the soundtrack to her mind's eye, and images of a certain blonde cheerleader came unbidden to her mind-as they did now with disturbing frequency.

Sam smiled as she reflected on their tumultuous early relationship, and how special and important it had become to her. How she looked forward to beginning every day with the blonde-aware that the tension from their early days of cohabitation was gone. Now they made each other laugh. Now when Sam expressed amazement that the blonde woke up looking perky and perfect it wasn't taken as a jibe or fodder for the next Zapruder editorial, it was taken for what it was: a compliment.

"I took for granted, all the times

That I though would last somehow..."

Sam's expression darkened as the lyrics brought her back to the night of the junior prom. The words echoed the thoughts that haunted her while she waited in the hospital for news of Brooke's condition.

She had never been so afraid in her life. Every time someone in sea foam emerged from beyond those terrifying double doors she thought she might throw up. And when someone had finally come to talk to them-and deliver news was cautiously optimistic-Sam finally did go outside and empty the contents of her stomach and cry for what seemed like an eternity, expelling everything she'd kept inside of her during the agonizing hours waiting to hear if Brooke would live or die.

Sam shook her head to clear her morbid thoughts. Brooke had survived-but something had changed that night, something that had been brewing within Sam for a long time. She realized then that--

"Enough of that!" Lily exclaimed, and the radio went silent.

"Hey!" Sam protested. "I was listening to that."

A moment of stunned silence. Why is Lily looking at me like I just sprouted a third eye? Sam stole a quick glance at her reflection in the rear-view mirror. Just to be sure.

"You were listening to that?" Lily repeated incredulously. "Sam, that song came out when we were-like-nine, and even then you called it the worst piece of pre-packaged romantic power ballad drivel you'd ever heard.

"Although," Lily clarified, "I don't think your vocabulary had quite developed into the journalistic repository it is today. I think-then-you actually called it 'dribble'," Lily supplied thoughtfully.

Lily, fresh from her brief tangent, went on the offensive again. "Don't you remember: the mullet, the whiny voice? 'Dick' Marx, Sam! Remember how much we laughed about that?"

"Sounds like I was being a little over the top," Sam countered. "It's not that bad."

"Not that bad?" Lily regurgitated. Who are you, and what have you done with Sam McPherson? "Not that bad? Sam you--"

Lily gasped, surprising Sam. The brunette scanned the road quickly for whatever obstruction with which she was about to collide.

"What is it?" Sam asked. "I don't see--"

"Oh my God...! You're in love!" Lily shrieked gleefully and her eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas. Apparently this seemed to amuse Lily to no end.

"What are you talking about?" Sam dodged. And she could dodge with the best of them. Just watch her dodge: she could dodge like Neo.

And Lily had just turned into an Agent.

"Who is it?" Agent Lily interrogated. The little Latina smelled blood-you could see the gleam in her eye. "Is it Harrison?"

"Harrison?" Sam replied. Truthfully, she still felt a stab of guilt over that. Looking back now, she realized that once again she was being territorial. Brooke showed an interest in Harrison, and Sam would have none of that.

Harrison was her fall back plan. She simply assumed that he would always be around-and sans girlfriend-should her own romantic prospects fall apart. That's all he'd even been. And the poor guy had gotten caught in the crossfire when Brooke's eye had turned his way. The girl of his dreams finally noticed him, and Sam had ruined it. It was a wonder he still spoke to her.

"I feel bad enough about that as it is, thank you," Sam reminded Lily. "I never loved Harrison other than as a friend."

"George?" Lily asked doubtfully. Sam could tell she didn't really suspect that it was the football player, but was just covering her bases.

"I think that was just my sad attempt to see how the popular kids lived."

Lily looked away for a second, a sobering emotion flashing across her face. "Is it...?" she began in a small voice. "Is it Josh?"

"No, Lily!" Sam assured her. "I swear it's not Josh. I swear. I would never--

"I mean, he's your husband!" Sam denied vehemently. "I had a crush on him in, like, third grade-but that's all. I swear it's not him, Lily." The poor girl must still have insecurities about her husband, who carried a torch for Brooke McQueen for so long. Sam's heart broke as she watched her friend.

"HA!" Lily turned on her, her face suddenly transformed. All hint of the sullen, heartbroken girl gone now. "So there IS someone!"

That little wench! Sam realized that she'd been faking it. And Sam had stepped right into the trap.

Bullet Time was over for Neo Sam. Agent Lily smiled, and moved in for the kill.

"So who is he?" she grinned.

It's not a he, Sam reflected ruefully. Could she tell Lily? It would be good to tell someone, and-of all people-Lily would understand, right?

After all, the girl had considered her own Sapphic journey to the isle of Lesbos. True, in the end she may not have booked the flight, but she sure as hell had thumbed through the brochures.

But admitting it to Lily meant admitting it to herself, and she wasn't sure if she was ready to do that.

And Love? That was a pretty strong word, wasn't it? She might think about the blonde cheerleader a lot-okay, more than a lot, more like constantly-but that didn't mean that--

But how else could she explain the other night: when they'd stayed home together and simply watched a movie-just the two of them? Sam marveled how when they were together all of the restless energy that normally characterized her quieted to a whisper. She was content to be in the blonde's presence and simply be, and as they sat on the couch together and shared a bowl of popcorn she'd experienced a peace and happiness that she'd never felt before.

And Richard Marx didn't make her want to puke anymore. And all the songs on the radio were suddenly about Brooke McQueen.

Oh shit, Sam realized. I am...

The realization made her either want to laugh, cry, scream, shout, write bad poetry, panic, or some combination of all of the above.

"So?" Lily asked. "Who is it?"

Sam needed time to process this herself before she discussed it with anyone else. "I'm not in love with anyone," she lied. With an annoyed frown Sam flicked on the radio. A cheesy classic rock song that she recognized from her father's record collection echoed her sentiments:

"I'm not in love

So don't forget it

It's just a silly phase I'm going through..."

Sam turned it off just as quickly, and Lily thought she heard Sam mutter something along the lines of 'Radio sucks anyway...'

Lily grinned at her friend.

"Shut up," Sam whined.

Lily just burst out laughing.

The End

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