DISCLAIMER: Popular and its characters are the property of Ryan Murphy. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: So, the majority of this was written at midnight, last night and tonight. Hopefully this won't really reflect that. ;) This was supposed to be drabble length and fairly 'clean'. Not 7 pages and R-rated. But, oh well. Maybe next time. ;)
FEEDBACK: Love it! Drop me an email; raye_raye2001@yahoo.co.uk
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

My Body, Your Temple
By Redlance


The first thing Sam notices is how heavy her eyes feel. It's unpleasant and disconcerting, because she's pretty sure they aren't supposed to feel like that. The next, is that her mouth feels like a herd of cotton balls decided that it would be a nice place to die, and she neither shares that view, nor feels privileged that she had been chosen as a final resting place.

She attempts to roll over from her position, half covered by her blankets and with her head hanging off the bed, and her first few attempts are futile. Her limbs are weighty and lethargic, and it is only when she manages to struggle onto her back that she registers the tiny but apparently well muscled dwarf that has been implanted in her head, and is currently swinging a mallet against her left temple.

Next, nausea.

"Oh, god." And she's up, legs tangled bad enough in her sheets that she almost falls out of bed, but she makes it unscathed and fumbles blindly in the general direction of the bathroom because she can't open her eyes yet. A wave of vertigo takes her to her knees and then there's a burning in her throat and her body tenses painfully as she brings up the entire contents of her stomach. "What the hell did I eat?" And that's when she realises that she doesn't remember.

Not only does Sam, who has flushed and is now sitting with her back against the pleasant coolness of the tub, not remember what she ate the previous night, but she has no idea where she ate or who with, and she doesn't have an inkling about what she did or where she spent the evening. Groaning, she throws a hand up to grip the edge of the sink and pulls herself up onto shaky legs. Instinctively, she glances at her reflection and scrunches her face up into a grimace. The one drawback of shorter hair? It stuck up at incredibly unflattering angles in the morning. Sometimes there would be a section so untameable that styling everything else around it was her only option. Mostly, those days she wore hats.

She swills her mouth out with water from the faucet, taking long gulps to wash away the deceased cotton balls, then reaches for the mouthwash, limbs protesting at her choice to bend over, and rises away the acidic taste. She then puts her toothbrush through a rigorous workout. She drops it back into the holder, frowning at her hopefully brief memory lapse, and reaches her arms above her head in a stretch to work out the kinks in her back, and that is when she becomes aware of the burning, pinching sensation in her abdomen. Startled, Sam reaches for the hem of her tank top and yanks it up. Her eyes scan her exposed skin, but seeing nothing, she grips the waistband of her pants and pulls it out and away from her body. When her gaze falls on the red-speckled thick square of gauze, her eyes widen and she lets her grip slacken, yelping when the elastic snaps against her apparent wound.

"Oh god, oh god. What if I got stabbed in some street fight?" Since she remembered nothing of her night, the idea was completely plausible in the opinion of Sam's frazzled brain. "Mom is definitely going to finish the job." While the small, blurred, rational part of herself told her that if that was the case she probably would have woken up in the hospital, the significantly larger, hysterical part of herself was convinced she'd been shived. Or her kidneys had been harvested, despite the complete lack of ice in the bathtub.

Gingerly, and with her heart thudding in her chest, Sam pulls her shirt off and begins picking at the medical-looking tape securing the gauze to her body. She hisses as she pulls it away, and after a total time of 3.6 seconds spent staring, she screams.

"Sam?" She doesn't hear the alarmed call at first, assuming the pounding on the bathroom door is just her pulse in her ears. "Sam?!" The fear registers this time and Sam's hand flies to her shirt and she pulls it over her head.

"What?" She asks, more harsh and biting than necessary, but undiluted panic has replaced the blood that usually runs through her veins and that, combined with her still oddly heavy eyes, is making it difficult to focus.

"Are you okay?"

"Yes." She answers too quickly, but the panic makes her jittery.

"You screamed."

"I'm fine." Jaw suddenly clamped tight, she has to push the words out through her teeth. Brooke doesn't buy it.

"Sam, let me in." That's when she berates herself for being too preoccupied with upchucking that she didn't have time to lock the door.

"Can you please just leave me alone?" She hears the telltale sound of a doorknob turning and spins to face the intruder, back pressing against the ridge of the sink. "Brooke!" Completely ignoring any and all

forthcoming protests, the blonde, who looks like she's been awake longer than Sam, hurries into the room wearing baggy blue striped pyjamas and a frown.

"What happened? Are you okay?" The questions are rushed and meld together, and Sam shakes her head to clear her confused mind. "You just disappeared last night, I wasn't sure-"

"Last night!" Sam blurts, interrupting the blonde with wide eyes. "What...." She pauses to take a breath. "What happened last night?" Brooke's frown deepens and she crosses her arms over her chest.

"You don't remember?" Sam throws her a look that conveys her deep felt annoyance.

"I wouldn't be asking if I did, would I?"

"SD's party?" When Brooke gets nothing but a blank stare in response, she elaborates. "He got some high profile DJ job at an under 21's nightclub, so he threw a party to celebrate. Everyone was there. Lily, Carmen, Nic and Mary Cherry brought some people from their rich bitches circle... you spent like, half an hour thinking up insults for them with me." Faint lines appear in Sam's forehead as she tries to remember. There are brief flashes of the inside of SD's house, bright lights and the sound of loud music, the remembered scent of alcohol, but little else.

"There was drinking?" Brooke's eyebrows rise in surprise and she nods.

"Uh, yeah. But I didn't think... I mean, I watched. You didn't have that much. Lily brought you some fruity cocktail thing because she said you looked like you needed cheering up, and Josh gave you a beer or two, but-"

"You know how some people are lightweights when it comes to alcohol?" Brooke nods again and Sam regards her somewhat gravely. "I'm like... a featherweight." The blonde's mouth forms an 'o' but no sound comes out. "When did you last see me?" As this, Brooke looks worryingly guilty.

"You were dancing and I was tired so I was just sitting back watching..." She pauses to take a breath again and then finishes. "Everyone. Then Nicole appeared out of nowhere like some phantom stalker and said something to you and you just... left with her." Sam feels her eyes widen to the size of saucers and she finds herself having to grip the granite of the sink to stop herself from lunging forward.

"And you just let me leave with her?!" It's not quite a shriek, but it's close, and it just seems to piss Brooke off.

"You're a big girl, Sam. I thought you could look after yourself." The blonde barks back, but then her eyes soften. "Besides, I headed out of the front door to see if I could get to you, but you guys just vanished into thin air." Sam's expression is pained and her eyes have dropped away from Brooke's. "Do you remember getting home?"

"I don't remember anything." What the hell had she been doing with Nicole? Had she had something to do with it? Of course she probably had, Nicole had been set on ruining her life since the very beginning, she shouldn't find it surprising; the lengths that she'd go to in order to accomplish her task. Vague memories tickle the periphery of her mind, but they're like sand and they slip through the cracks in her fingers when she tries to grasp them.

"Sam...." Brooke reaches out to the brunette and Sam feels herself flinch before she can think about trying to stop the movement. She watches her housemate's hand drop like a lead weight and feels her gut tighten. "Why did you scream?" Limbs buzzing with a dull ache, Sam releases a frustrated groan and turns away from Brooke.

"Can you please just give me a minute?"

"What is that?" She glances over her shoulder and see Brooke's gaze fixed on something to her right. Looking down, her eyes find the bloodied gauze and she freezes. The panic back full force and seizing her completely. "Sam?" Brooke's voice is muffled and distorted, and it sounds as though the cotton balls are back but this time in her ears.

"It's not... it's nothing." She can't be sure what Brooke is thinking, why she's looking at her pale-faced and horror-stricken, but she definitely doesn't want to have to put her at ease by telling her the truth. Partly because she doesn't know the whole story herself, partly because she doesn't think she'll ever recover from it. But the blonde is moving towards her and Sam doesn't think there will be a big enough distance between them to get the door closed in time if she flees to her room.

"Did someone hurt you?" Her breath catches in her throat and she chokes on it, eyes darting to hazel ones that look sad and scared and pissed in the same instant.

"What?" Sam finally pushes out, breathlessly. "No, that isn't, that's not what this is." And Brooke's eyes clear a little, but there is still worry in them and Sam feels her gut clench again, because she wants to make that go away, but doesn't want to do what is necessary to make that happen.

"Then you need to tell me what it is, because I'm kind of freaking out right now." And Sam shouldn't be touched by the concern, not now, but she is. She picks up the gauze and tosses it into the nearby trashcan, eyes now everywhere but on Brooke.

"I don't know how or why, but somewhere between you seeing me leave with Nicole and me waking up this morning, I...." She nervously snares her lower lip with her teeth and glances up. "I got a tattoo." Brooke's face goes slack, loosing its tenseness, and she stares open-mouthed.

"But you're not even legal."

"Yeah, I'm pretty sure I can thank Nicole for that not being an issues." She sneers.

"You...." And Brooke starts laughing, and Sam feels her face burn as she turns away again. "Oh my god." And now the laughter is quickly bubbling up towards shrieking. "Jane is going to kill you." That thought hadn't fully formed in Sam's head before, but now the manifestation is grand and horrific. It's a picture painted in Sam's own blood and the mere thought of it makes her nauseous again.

"You can't tell her." Sam's voice is desperate, but stern, and Brooke's laughter slows to intermittent giggles as her hazel eyes consider her. Sam doesn't enjoy seeing the gleam there.

"Okay, I won't tell...." And now Brooke is smirking and Sam really doesn't like that. "But I'm definitely going to need to see it." She wiggles her eyebrows excitedly and lets her eyes rove over Sam, making the brunette's skin prickle. "Where is it?" She starts to advance on her and the reporter blanches, stiff limbs protesting as she tries to move too quickly, but just ends up caught between the sink and the bathtub.

"In a place that doesn't see a lot of sunshine! Brooke!" And in a moment that is pure insanity, Sam finds herself slapping the blonde's hands away from her body.

"Give it up, Sammie." Brooke catches her flailing left hand and moves in for the kill with her free one, pulling the hem of Sam's tank top up until she can see skin. "I just wanna see."

"Quit trying to molest me, Ellen!" The reporter breaks free, knocking Brooke's hand away again. "Just stop!"

"Just show me!" The response is preschooler worthy, but Brooke doesn't seem to care. Despite the pulling, pinching sensation, Sam is giving as good as she's getting, but when she winces, she falters, and Brooke doesn't realise in time to stop herself from taking advantage. She's got Sam's arms pinned above her head before the dark-eyed girl can blink, and when she does, it's slow and her eyes are surprised.

"Brooke-" Brooke cuts her off with a slightly breathless smile.

"You show or I'll tell." And Sam finds herself at a stalemate. Because the two things she has to choose between are both things she most definitely does not want to happen. It's just a case of which she doesn't want to happen more, and being killed by her mother is looking like the lesser of two death sentences. But she's not answering quick enough, and Brooke is showing a freakish amount of strength, so Sam isn't all that shocked when the blonde uses just her one arm to pin both of Sam's, but her body jolts involuntarily when Brooke's fingers brush the skin of her stomach and lift the tank top again. Her chest heaves as she strains, but the fight she puts up is only at half strength compared to the one moments before. Brooke gets it up until the entirety of a tanned stomach is exposed and Brooke's fingers are dancing dangerously close to the underside of her left breast. Warm breath washes over Sam's face as the former cheerleader speaks. "I'm going in the wrong direction, aren't I?" Sam doesn't speak, just stares Brooke dead in the eye as she nods and releases a breath when fingers are moved and her shirt is dropped. Her arms are relinquished and Brooke takes a small step back. Sam throws her a wry look that is accompanied by a raised eyebrow.

"What? Not so eager to treat me like a hands on 'Look and Find' now?" Brooke attempts a smirk, but she doesn't look quite as cocksure anymore.

"I don't normally have to get my hands dirty by removing clothes, people usually jump at the chance to strip for me." And Sam finds she has no way of verbally responding to that, which makes her all the more angry when she's faced with a grin of what looks like triumph. But she manages to roll her eyes in what she hopes passes for nonchalance and moves her hands to rest at the waistband of her pants.

"Just don't scream, okay?" Her tone is softer now, apprehensive, and Brooke arches an eyebrow.

"You mean like you did?" Sam just stares at her until she rolls her eyes dramatically and nods. The brunette inhales deeply and then slips the thumb of her left hand beneath the hem of her bottoms and slowly inches it down. Her skin feels like it's on fire, and not just the recently branded part of herself, and her heart is thudding erratically in her chest. It's only the thought of what her mother would do if she found out that keeps her hand moving and her feet planted firmly against tile. She glances down to makes sure stuff that shouldn't be exposed is still hidden and then snaps her head up when she sees the first hint of ink. She doesn't need to see it again. Maybe she could just hide it under a Band-Aid for the rest of her life. A loud gasp tells Sam that she's probably revealed enough and her hand stills.

There's a long, terrible silence in which Sam expects an outburst that might end with her untimely demise to erupt at any second. But it's less fatal and explosive than she imagined, consisting of Brooke choking out high pitched vowel sounds and stumbling backwards.

"What the hell is that?!" She finally manages, tone tinged with hysteria.

"A tattoo?" Sam offers, having the decency to look sheepish. Hazel eyes flare and Brooke lifts a hand to point wildly at the brunette's lower body.

"Sam, that's my name! Why do you have my name tattooed on your, on your-"

"Lower pelvic region?" Brooke's hand fly into the air and she sputters nonsensically. "I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess Nicole got choice of placement too."

"Why would she do that? And what the hell is the rest of it supposed to mean?" Sam can't tell if Brooke is angry, or just confused and that's making her angry. "Why didn't you just get a freaking dolphin or-or some song lyric tattooed on you?!"

"Because I was drunk?" And now Sam's voice is louder, because her autopilot response to having Brooke yell at her has always been to yell back. "Because I thought it was funny? Because Nicole filled my completely wasted brain with ideas? I don't know, Brooke!"

"You and I both know that there is no way Nicole could have just persuaded you to do something like this, not matter how shitfaced you were! You're not that gullible, Sam!"

"Gee, thanks." Sam barks, deflating a little at the odd shaped compliment. "And I told you not to scream."

"In my defence, I think what I've been doing is entirely more of a shriek than a scream, which I think is completely understandable considering you've branded yourself in my name." Sam throws her hands up, burying her fingers in her hair until she has handfuls off it, and lets out a long, agonised groan of frustration.

"You were the one that wanted to see it in the first place!" And finally have part of her senses returned to her, Sam remember that her legs actually do work, and she moves to push past Brooke who still has her somewhat cornered between sink and tub.

"You're completely right." Brooke says, arm flashing out to grip Sam's shoulder and shove her back against the wall. "And now I want you to explain." She draws the last word out, letting it linger on her lips until Sam is looking at her again.

"I. Can't." Sam grits the words out monosyllabically, Brooke's fingers in her shoulder infinitely more agitating that she ever remembers them being before.

"Try." She keeps pushing, and Sam isn't sure how much more she can take before she snaps. "People don't just randomly go out and get tattoos like that for no reason, Sam!" There's a loud crack inside the reporter's head.

"Then why do they?! Why do they, Brooke? Think about that and maybe you'll get your damn answer!" She feels the dead weight that is Brooke's hand drop away but becomes uncomfortably aware that she can still feel ghostly indents.

Brooke just stares at her, all emotion gone from her face and replaced with a blank mask. It's chilling and yet oddly comforting to Sam, because maybe she finally broke Brooke with honesty and there won't be anymore questions that she doesn't want to answer. But the silence allows her to wonder if maybe her mother killing her might have actually turned out to the be the better option at the end of the day. At least then, there would have been no lingering embarrassment or spilled secrets or events that there was no coming back from. The way this is going, Sam has the sinking feeling that all of those things are about to come to full fruition.

"People usually get sappy poetic phrases etched into their skin as a sign of long lasting love and affection, Sam." Lowering her eyes, Brooke moves close again, hand reaching out to pull down Sam's waistband until it's hanging off her hip with a quickness that startles the brunette. "And since you yourself know as well as anyone the power of a poem, despite the calibre of the writing, it would suggest that you getting..." She takes a breath, running her tongue out over her dry lips. "'Brooke, McQueen Of My Heart' is a meaningful expression of your love." Brooke extends her thumb, running it alongside the decorative swirls making up the 't' and causing Sam to suck in an embarrassingly ragged breath. "For me."

"Despite the calibre of the writing?" Sam reiterates, holding her body stiff and still because she's afraid she'll fall if she moves. Brooke glances up with a smirk that is the epitome of smug.

"It's cute, but it's not exactly Wordsworth."

"I thought it was clever." The blonde's eyebrows rise.

"I thought you didn't remember."

"I didn't. I mean, I don't." Brooke's thumb is still stroking the dip adjacent to her hip and it's making it very difficult for Sam to discern one word from another. "It's just... snippets. I remember thinking it was clever."

"You were drunk, that can be forgiven." Insanely, Sam looks offended. Because right now, there's no room for that, there's only room for the very thin slice of air between them and the air they're expelling, because everything else is just crazy. Brooke's eyes drop again until she's looking at the tattoo. It's all delicate calligraphy and artful arcs of letters with a single heart settled beneath the words like a protective cushion. She places a hand around Sam's opposite hip to steady herself and lifts a finger to trace a slow circle around the entirety of the tattoo. The flesh is reddened and sore-looking, with thin lines of dried blood making some of the letters three dimensional, and Sam lets her eyes wander over the blonde hair curtaining the ex-cheerleader's face, wanting so desperately to know what Brooke is thinking.

"Brooke...." Her sentences skitters off into nothing, because Brooke is looking at her again and the words have died on her lips. And then in a second where the blonde's hand on her hip clenches and Sam's next breath comes in the form of a gasp, the thin slice of air separating them is abolished and Brooke is sweeping away any remnants of Sam's sentence with her lips. It's just a pressing of their lips, just a slight pressure, but Sam's stomach simultaneously knots and rolls, only it's pleasant and strange and wonderful. And the burning that she had felt blanketing her entire body is now severed and pulled in two directions; first to her head, then it falls like a molten avalanche to settle between her thighs. And she can barely feel the tattoo anymore. She's only vaguely aware of Brooke's hand tightening on her hip, of how this time her fingers are a welcome weight, and even though it feels like minutes have passed and one of them should be pulling away because no one is moving, neither does. In the same instant, Sam feels the pressure against her body and her lips change, press closer, and she can feel Brooke's stomach against her own and a tongue searing the seam of her mouth until she is forced to open it to let out a gasp. The blonde swallows it, turning it into a moan and suddenly there are fingers tangled in Sam's hair and her head is being synchronously pulled forward and held in place. But she doesn't have time to be confused, because Brooke's hand is moving from her hip and being pressed against the warm, flat expanse of Sam's stomach, and the other girl is whimpering at the contact, and Sam is lost.

Then there are no sounds except for their heavy breathing and the resonance of skin being dragged across skin. Inside her head, Sam is repeating random words in an order that holds no structure because teeth are bumping her own and there's a tongue pushing against hers and it's all too much for her brain when she realise that they belong to Brooke. That her hands are griping bunches of Brooke's clothes. And even if she had never contemplated this before, she doesn't think it would feel any less good. The blonde's hand is at her back, pawing and kneading the muscles tensing beneath her skin in random patterns, and their tongues move together slow and languidly in a gentle exploration. One that is assured to turn world-altering. Feeling as though she's experiencing an outer-body moment, Sam pulls back slightly and Brooke is about to groan in protest when the brunette snares her lip between her teeth and then sucks on it. Her groan turns into one of undiluted lust at the act and Brooke captures the reporter's lips once more, setting a more fevered pace. Sam makes a noise in the back of her throat, some derivative of the growl that Brooke is more accustomed to hearing, and she almost pulls her mouth away to moan or scream or something when the blonde slides a thigh between her own and presses against an area she hadn't been aware was in need of attention until that instant. But Brooke's grip holds, preventing Sam from pulling away and ending their kiss. A kiss that she has completely vanished into, one that has consumed her and taken over her, until she isn't even aware of her actions.

Had she been, her hands might not have moved to grasp Sam's hips and she might not have made her own decision to pull back out of the kiss to breathe against Sam's lips for an agonising two seconds, before rocking those hips down against her leg. And she would have regretted it, because the moan Sam lets out is like an airborne aphrodisiac, infecting her with a fever that's boarding on what she can only describe as erotic. And Brooke doesn't care about anything right now except making that happen again, but she feels a jolt of arousal shoot through her when Sam's hips rock without her moving them. Their eyes open, and lock, and Sam stares at her heavy-lidded even as she moves again, feeling herself slide against Brooke's thigh. Her lips part, a moan escaping them unhindered now, and even though she's afraid to look at Brooke in case it breaks the spell, she can't look away. Because Brooke is so sexy and she doesn't know why she doesn't think about that more.

"Brooke." Her name is a breathless moan and she isn't sure if she's supposed to answer, but she doesn't. Can't. She's too distracted by the feeling of Sam, warm and slick against her leg in spite of their clothes, to give any kind of verbal response, so she presses her lips to Sam's again. But the rolling of Sam's hips and the noises she's making only serves to make Brooke restless, and soon her lips are at Sam's neck and she's leaving a mark for every moan the other girl makes simply because she can't help herself. "Brooke." She doesn't move from her neck, teeth nipping and her tongue soothing away any burn, but she hears Sam repeating her name, feels her hips roll down more frantically and her own heart stop when she realises where this is going.

She wants more, wants to feel Sam against her fingers, but the thought hits her with such unexpected force that she doesn't know what to do about it. And she only comprehends that her hand is moving when it's half inside Sam's pants and the brunette is gasping in anticipation, and panicked, Brooke pulls her hand away like she's been burned. She feels it catch the dried blood of the tattoo a millisecond before Sam's moan turns into a yelp of pain and then all movements have stopped, and Brooke has removed her leg and is staring down at Sam's newly acquired ink in horror.

"Oh my god, I'm so sorry!" The brunette whimpers, grasping at her waistband and yanking it away from her sensitive skin, glaring at the swirled script.

"Why the hell would I get it in such an uncomfortable place?" Her eyes lift and she finds Brooke gnawing on her lower lip, assessing the tattoo like it's a gaping wound caused by her own hand. But then hazel eyes lock with her own and the tattoo is momentarily forgotten again.

"So, uh...."

"That was new." Sam finishes for her, a smile playing across her lips. "Guess this morning is just full of firsts. First hangover, first tattoo, first time my life flashed before my eyes." Brooke laughs, ducking her head shyly, but lifting a finger to trail carefully across Sam's stomach. "I think you know about the rest." Brooke hums her affirmation and glances up so she's looking at Sam through her lashes.

"You know they um... they don't have to end here." And Sam's heart flutters and speeds up once more. "I mean, we could have midmorning firsts, and afternoon firsts. Maybe eventually night time firsts." All thoughts of an afternoon spent hunting down and methodically dismembering Nicole are shoved aside, because maybe, in some weird way, Sam actually had something to thank Nicole for.

Which probably meant the world was ending.

"How about we start with a first kiss in your room?" And, smirking, Sam decides that that if that's the case, she's going to face the fire and tornados and Hell on Earth with the ghost of Brooke's lips against her own. Maybe if she actually thanked Nicole, she'd put in a good word for her with the soon-to-be ruler of the world.

"You sure you're up to that?" Brooke asks with a grin, inclining her head down towards Sam's lower body.

"You just might have to watch your hands." Sam advances on the blonde, ushering her backwards towards the door to Brooke's room. Taking Sam's hand, Brooke pulls her forward.

"I can't promise anything. But I can try." As soon as they hit the threshold, Sam's lips are on hers again, and she makes a mental note to make up a checklist of 'firsts' for them to go through later. A long, long list.

The End

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