DISCLAIMER: I don't own them, but I certainly wish I did. Damn Ryan Murphy and his unrivaled genius.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the second story in the "Surviving the Holidays" series. The first story was Things That Go Bump in the Night.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Overstaying Your Welcome (Giving Thanks)
By Teara


"Okay, first we have to…find a method for determining a comfortable level of deceleration for a typical car. Then we utilize the method to determine a comfortable level of acceleration," Sam said as "the Claw" walked by the desk she shared with Brooke.

Brooke waited for the teacher to walk by before she moved closer to Sam. "Um Sam, I think we need to talk about wh-"

"Brooke, do you…do you think we could just focus on this project? It is worth thirty percent of our grade, and unlike you, I really need to do well on this," Sam bit out in response.

Brooke knew that Sam could care less about the project they were working on. She was just avoiding talking to Brooke. Physics was the only class they shared and, thanks to the joys of alphabetical seating charts, Sam couldn't run from her. "Sam, I really think we need to talk about-"

"Brooke! The project please…" Sam said in a loud whisper.

"Sam, I know you don't care about the project so just drop the act. We really need to talk about it."

"Brooke, the only thing that you and I need to talk about it is determining the range for the maximum level of acceleration for various cars."

"McQueen, McPherson, you have something to share with the rest of the class?" Bio Glass asked as she walked up the aisle again.

"No, Miss Glass, sir…" Brooke said quickly.

Sam glared at the blonde. Why couldn't Brooke just let things go? Didn't she know how to take a hint? The last thing she needed was to get detention, yet again, because Brooke wouldn't leave her alone in class.

"Sam, would you just listen to-"

"Brooke, why don't you just take a hint? Is this like some sort of a game? Isn't it bad enough you got me detention twice last week and caused me to miss a really important Zapruder meeting?"

"Sam, I-"

"I know…you're sorry. Just save it Brooke." The bell rang releasing them from class, and Sam from the ever-present hell of being forced to sit next to Brooke in class.

She stood up and walked quickly out of the class to her locker.

"So, thank God for half days," Lily said as she walked up to Sam's locker followed by Carmen and Harrison.

"I second that," Sam replied with a smile, shoving her books in her locker.

"So Sammy, any plans for turkey day?" Harrison asked.

"Unfortunately…Grams McQueen is coming for a visit, and apparently she has some big surprise for Mike and Brooke. Anyway, the 'rents are making some big to do about it because it's the first time she'll be seeing Mac. So it's forced family fun for good ol' Samson," Sam grimaced.

"Speaking of Brooke, are you guys still playing hide and seek?" Carmen asked, shifting her bag on her shoulder.

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Oh come on Sam, I've seen you practically dive into the newspaper office when you saw her coming down the hall," Harrison responded.

"Okay so maybe I've been avoiding her a little bit," Sam conceded. She looked around at her friends who had skeptical looks on their faces. "Okay a lot, but guys what am I supposed to do?"

"You could try, oh I don't know, listening to what she has to say," Lily answered.

"Since when did you start rooting for Team Brooke?" Sam asked her shorter friend.

"I'm not rooting for her. All I'm saying is that there's a reason that she kissed you. Brooke doesn't just go around kissing people at random."

"Yeah, she did have a reason. She and Satan wanted to involve me in their sadistic little reindeer games, to have a good laugh at my expense."

"In Brooke's defense, that doesn't really sound like Brooke's MO. Nicole maybe, but Brooke doesn't really have it out for you anymore. Plus she has been the one seeking you out," Carmen pointed out.

"Yeah, so she can tell me the kiss was a huge mistake. Even if she wasn't trying to pull some cruel joke on me, I know that she thinks the kiss was a mistake."

"Has she said that?" Harrison asked.

"Well no, but she didn't have to. She waited a whole week before she wanted to talk about what happened. If she'd meant it, wouldn't she have wanted to talk to me that night?"

"Okay, well you have a point there. I still say you should at least hear her out," Lily replied.

"Look guys, I made a total fool of myself in that closet. I told her how I felt, and she was obviously caught up in the moment. I'm the first to admit that both of our emotions were running pretty high. So instead of hearing that it was all just some sort of horrible mistake on her part. I'd rather pretend it didn't happen at all."

"Pretend what didn't happen at all?" Josh asked as he came up behind his wife and wrapped his arms around her tiny waist.

"Nothing baby, don't worry about it," Lily said quickly before he could ask any more questions.

"Oh okay." He shrugged before dropping a quick kiss on the Latina's waiting lips. "Hey McPherson, Brooke's looking for you."

"What's new?" Sam muttered. Just then she spotted Brooke rounding the corner with Nicole in tow. "That's my cue. I need to get home anyway. Mom wants Brooke and I to do some extra cleaning before Mike's mother gets there. And guess who's on Mac duty while mom's running extra errands." Sam walked away quickly, ducking behind a sea of students as she made her way past Brooke.

"What was that all about?" Josh asked.

Brooke scanned the hall looking for Sam. She could have sworn that she saw the journalist standing by her locker. As she neared, however all she saw was the rest of the Browns and Josh standing around her locker. Which could mean only one thing; Sam had managed to dodge her once again. She made her way over to the group.

She interrupted their laughter. "Have you guys seen Sam anywhere?"

All four faces sobered at her question, and no one seemed to be in a rush to answer her.

"Let me guess, I just missed her right?" Brooke asked, but she already knew the answer. It seemed that she was always "just missing" Sam these days. She started to walk away when Carmen's voice stopped her.

"Actually, she…may have mentioned that she was heading home to clean up for your grandmother's visit." Brooke saw Lily shoot Carmen a dirty look and nudge her.

"Thanks, Carm," Brooke said before making her way over to her locker where Nicole and Mary Cherry were waiting for her.

"Alright Brookie, what were you doing talking to those fashion don'ts?" Nicole asked.

"I was just trying to see if they knew where Sam was."

The other two blondes rolled their eyes. "Brookie, ya got to let Spam go," Mary Cherry said.

"I for once agree with Mary Cherry. You are the most popular girl at Kennedy. You can have anyone that you want-"

"But I want Sam," Brooke said, interrupting yet another one of Nicole diatribes extolling Brooke's many virtues. At the moment the hazel-eyed blonde was feeling anything but virtuous.

"Look Brooke, it's quite obvious that Spam was just stringing you along with her little confession. My guess is that she didn't mean a word of it. She was just hoping you'd spill the beans about the prank," Nicole said looking down at her nails. She was in desperate need of a fill.

"I don't know, Nic, she looked honestly surprised when she discovered the knife."

"Well if there's one thang ah can say, it's that Spam is quite the actriz. I mean she was such a believable hooker in Glass' play." Mary Cherry countered.

"Yeah, and given McFlatty's virginal status, I know that that was a stretch," Nicole added.

"I can't believe what a mess everything has turned out to be," Brooke said as she stacked her books in the locker. "That night was supposed to be the best night of my life, and it was ruined."

"Well hun, I say good riddance. There are plenty of other well endowed fishies in the sea, and I for one do not intend to let them go by without a sample."

Brooke shot Nicole a disturbed look before turning back to her locker.

"What? Just because you've decided to embrace your inner Sapphic side does not mean that I will be joining you on the front lines. In fact I think it's a good thing. One less contender for the prime specimen of life."

"That's right, Nic. It looks like it's jist you and me," Mary Cherry chimed in, but neither Brooke nor Nicole commented.

"Anyway Brooke, hun, I think it's time for you to move on from Janeane Garofalo and onto the next Gwyneth."

"You think Sam looks like Janeane Garofalo? I always thought that she looked like a cross between Angelina Jolie and Piper from Charmed."

"Are you mental?" Nicole asked incredulously.

Mary Cherry placed her hand on Brooke's forehead. "She doesn't feel like she has a fever. She must be possessed."

"Is it true, Brooke? Did Sam put some sort of spell on you?"

"That's ridiculous. Sam did not put a spell on me. I don't know what it is about her. When she's around I feel like…I don't know…like I could just float on air. My heart beats faster. My palms get sweaty. I feel dizzy. It's the best feeling in the world," Brooke finished with a sigh.

"That doesn't sound like love. It sounds like the flu," Nicole replied. "She must have you in some sort of trance. It's a shame too. With the advent of Sam's sudden silent treatment, I had hopes that our loser outreach days had finally come to an end."

"Nope, consider our truce with the Browns long term," Brooke said with a smirk. She took a little pleasure in knowing how much that fact got under the shorter blonde's skin. But Nicole was determined to stay in Brooke's good graces given what had transpired between the two of them last spring. Brooke no longer had to worry that Nicole would somehow find a way to undermine her "authority."

"Fine, but don't think that I'm ever going to socialize with those sideshow freaks in public under any circumstances."

"Nicole…" Brooke said in a warning tone.

"Alright, but I don't have to like it."

"Anyway, I have to get headed home if I have any chance of catching Sam before she pulls another Houdini." Brooke said slamming her locker shut and heading down the hall.

"She's got it bad," Mary Cherry said as they watched Brooke walk towards the door.

"Yes she does, but if it's Spam that's going to make her happy, what can we do?" Nicole said with a sad sigh.

"Who knows, if Brookie starts datin Spam, maybe Spam will put in a good word for me with Joe," Mary Cherry said excitedly.

Nicole just walked away.

"Okay, I want you and Brooke to empty the waste baskets, wipe down all the sinks and toilets, sweep the kitchen, mop the kitchen…actually scratch that last one. I don't want there to be any chance of Grams McQueen slipping on the floor. Then if you could vac-"

"Mom, I got it. You've made a list, and probably done all of these things a hundred times this week. Breathe."

"I just want things to be perfect. I haven't seen her since the wedding, and this is the time when the nice lady you met when you were dating her son is gone and in her place is the wicked mother-in-law that treats you like you're incapable of doing anything right for her little boy."

"Grammy McPherson was never like that," Sam pointed out with a smirk.

"No, she wasn't, but in all fairness, she'd known and loved me since I was ten years old."

"True and I'm sure Grams McQueen loves you too."

"One can only hope, right?" Jane answered. "Well, I'm going to go and meet Mike at his office. Her flight gets in in three hours. Mac is in her playpen. I would vacuum first. That way if she gets a little fussy, then you can put her down for a nap and not have to worry about the noise."

"Right, got it. Remember Mom, just relax and breathe."

"Right, got it," Jane repeated with a smile as she slipped on her jacket and grabbed her purse. Jane walked to the door just as Brooke walked into the kitchen.

Sam visibly tensed as the blonde entered the room. She looked behind her for her nearest escape, but she couldn't just leave the room with Mac in the playpen. She was on baby duty, not Brooke. So, she was stuck.

"Oh Brooke, I'm headed to pick up your dad and head to the airport. I left the list with Sam, so she'll fill you in," Jane said quickly as she made her way out the door.

"Oh ok, bye Mom," Brooke called after her. "Was that Jane? I couldn't tell as the blur whizzed past," the blonde joked lamely as she turned towards the sullen and brooding brunette. Sam was only standing a few feet in front of her, but Brooke felt like she was miles away.

"That blur you saw was in fact my mother at warp speed apparently," Sam replied, looking around the room uncomfortably.

An awkward silence fell between them, neither girl knowing where to begin.

"Look Sam, I know you've been avoiding this little chat like the bubonic plague. But I think that since my grandmother is due to arrive in a few hours, which will no doubt lead to more McPherson/McQueen family fun than either of us can stand, we need to talk."

"And what do we need to talk about?" Sam asked slowly, her eyes looking into Brooke's for the first time in weeks, challenging the blonde. She had admitted to herself earlier that maybe her friends had a point, but that didn't mean she was going to make it easy for her.

Sam, it seemed, was determined to make her squirm, Brooke thought with a grimace. "We need to talk about what happened on Halloween."

"What about it?"

"God Sam! I'm sorry, okay?! I'm sorry about everything! I'm sorry about the prank and…and about lying to you," Brooke said, her weeks of pent up emotion pouring into her words.

"And you're sorry for the kiss…"Sam said quietly, looking away.

Brooke's head shot up. "What?"

"I said you forgot to say you were sorry about the kiss."

"Sam, I'm not-"

"Don't worry Brooke. You don't have to let me down easy. I know you probably just got caught up in the moment. Who wouldn't have?"

"Sam, I wasn't going to say-"

"It's really okay Brooke. I understand. Look, all I want to do is forget the whole thing. Just forget what I said, and I'll forget what happened," Sam said hastily.

"Sam, please don't-" This time Brooke was interrupted by a very fussy Mac.

"Look, Mom said I should vacuum upstairs and then put Mac down for a nap. Do you mind holding her, while I run and do that?" Sam asked as she backed out of the kitchen.

Brooke nodded mutely, watching the brunette make her hasty retreat like Satan herself was on her heels. Mac began to cry in earnest and the blonde moved over to the playpen and lifted the crying toddler. The tiny brunette's tears quieted to gentle whimpers as Brooke cooed in her ears and stroked her back. When the baby's tears finally ceased she cradled Mac in her arms and looked down at her. Brooke thought that Mac looked just like Sam's old baby pictures, save for her bright green eyes she'd gotten from Jane. Sometimes Brooke thought she could just stare at the tiny girl forever and never tire. The same could be said for the baby's other sister. "Oh Mac, why can't Sammy just be quiet and listen like you?" Brooke asked with a sigh. Just then Mac smiled up at her and she looked more like Sam than she ever had. "I know what you're trying to say Mac. You're saying that she wouldn't be Sam if she didn't make things harder than they needed to be." Brooke heard the vacuum cleaner go on upstairs and sighed again. Maybe she'd have better luck talking to Sam later.

Sam didn't know why she'd kept interrupting Brooke while she was talking. Well that wasn't exactly true. She did know why she'd done it. You're such a coward McPherson, Sam chastised herself silently. She'd been ready to hear what Brooke had to say. At least that's what she'd told herself, but when Brooke had begun apologizing Sam realized she couldn't handle it. She couldn't handle hearing Brooke say that it had all been a mistake. That would have crushed her. So she'd cut her off. Somehow saying the words herself took some of the bite out of them. And she must have been onto something because Brooke hadn't bothered to correct her assumptions.

Well if that was the way things were to be, then Sam was just going to cut her losses. At least she could say that she didn't have any regrets. She hadn't taken the coward's way out. She'd told Brooke how she felt and was now dealing with the consequences, very painful consequences, but she was dealing. Okay so maybe she wasn't dealing with it. She was pushing everyone away, and she knew that. She just needed to take the journalistic approach to it. Find the positive things about the experience to weigh against the bad. Taking a moment to clear her mind of all the traffic that seemed to be running through it, she thought back to the 'event.' Fast forwarding through all the unpleasant parts, she decided to focus on the kiss. At least now she knew what it was like to kiss the blonde. No longer would have to wonder what it was like to taste the blonde or what it felt like to feel Brooke's body against her own. Okay, so maybe it isn't such a good idea to think about that, Sam thought to herself as she felt her pulse begin to race. Kissing Brooke had been the best experience of her life. She'd kissed few people in her life. None of them had made her feel an eighth of what the blonde had in short span of ten minutes. Sam wasn't really sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. She decided to just file it under miscellaneous experiences in her mental file cabinet.

She had enjoyed the closeness they shared before and during the little Halloween movie fest. Sam missed that more than anything. She wished they could just get back to that place. Well Sam, you'll have to take the first step. Sam sighed as she finished tidying up the bedrooms. She needed to get back downstairs and talk to Brooke. She hurried down the stairs in search of the blonde. She found the blonde still in the kitchen, but she had been far from idle. The floor was mopped and swept. The countertops had been wiped down, and Mac lay sleeping in her playpen.

"Brooke?" Sam said as she walked in the room.

Brooke jumped slightly. She turned towards the brunette, hand on her chest. "Sam you scared me."

"Sorry," Sam replied. "Look, I just wanted to apologize for earlier. I hope we can just forget about this whole mess. I really miss being your friend."

"I really miss being your friend too. I want-"

"Please…Brooke just let me finish. I really miss being your friend, and I want to get us back to that place. In the spirit of the holidays, why don't we just act like nothing happened?" Sam finished, a hopeful expression on her face.

Brooke really wished that Sam would stop cutting her off. She had done a lot of thinking too as she'd cleaned the kitchen. She realized that though she'd been the one to initiate the conversation earlier, she hadn't been able to say anything she'd planned. Sam had just assumed she knew how Brooke was feeling. Brooke wanted to set things straight. She opened her mouth to say something, but then the door opened and her parents walked in.

"Oh good, you both are in the kitchen," Jane said as she walked in ahead of Mike as he struggled to walk in with the luggage.

"Yep," Sam said, relieved for the interruption.

Brooke rushed over to her grandmother and gave her a big hug. "Hi Grams!"

"Oh, there's my Brookie. You look absolutely radiant," her grandmother said, returning the embrace.

"Sam, you remember Grams McQueen…" Mike said.

"Yeah, hi," Sam said with a lame little wave.

"Oh Samantha, don't just stand there, come give Grams a hug," Grams said holding out her arms.

Sam shot her mother an uncomfortable smile before crossing over to hug the older woman. They embraced briefly before the brunette moved away quickly.

"So Grams, Daddy said you have a surprise for us. What is it?" Brooke asked with the enthusiasm of a five year old on Christmas morning.

"A surprise? I never said anything about a surprise," Grams replied. Brooke just rolled her eyes. Her grandmother always played this game.


Sam felt herself smile at the little scene. Brooke wasn't usually as unguarded as she was being at that moment. Grams McQueen just seemed to bring that out in her, and it was nice to see. Sam took a moment to observe the older woman. She'd always thought Brooke was the spitting image of Kelly, but as Brooke stood next to her grandmother, Sam knew that wasn't quite true. Sure she resembled her mother a lot, but Brooke looked a lot like Grams too. They had the same hazel eyes that twinkled with mirth when they smiled. They had the same nose and gentle smile. Sam's breath hitched and she blushed when the older woman winked at her, letting her know she'd been caught staring.

"Well, I don't think the surprise is in my bag. I must have left it in the car. Mike would you be a dear and go get it out of the car?"

"Of course," Mike said gamely. He walked out of the door and seconds later returned with a tall handsome boy.

"Ohmygod! Cory!" Brooke said running over and throwing her arms around his neck.

"Ohmygod! Kleenex!" The boy said, mimicking Brooke's tone as he returned the hug.

"Kleenex?" Sam asked from behind the hugging pair. The boy looked up at her, and she was met by the most beautiful green eyes she'd ever seen. Sam felt speech leave her as she looked at him. He was cute.

"Sam, this is my cousin Cory. Cory this is Sam," Brooke said introducing them quickly.

"Hey Sam," Cory said, smiling at her. She seemed to be having the same affect on him that he was having on her.

"Hey," Sam croaked out, then cleared her throat in embarrassment. He was more than cute. He was hot.

Brooke noticed the looks shared between the two of them. She sent her cousin a "back off" look, but he didn't seem to notice because his eyes had yet to leave Sam. This is so not good, Brooke thought. "So Cory, what are you doing here?" She asked, hoping to break the trance that had fallen over the two.

"I'm transferring to school out here. So I came with Grams. I was hoping that maybe you would want to show me around, Kleenex."

Brooke tried not to bristle at the use of her preteen nickname. "Sure I would love to show you around."

"What about you, Sam? Would you be coming along too?" He asked, returning his attention to the brunette.

"Yeah…I mean if you want me to," Sam said with a big smile.

"I think I would," Cory replied.

"Great then it's settled. Let me show you where you'll be sleeping," Brooke said quickly, waving her hands in front of the grinning boy's face.

"I see you, Kleenex."

"Oh, Brooke, since Cory is here, we're putting him in your room. Grams is taking Mac's room, and you're bunking with Sam," Mike called after her.

She looked over at Sam and her cousin, and they were still smiling at each other. This is not a good thing at all. Well at least she was bunking with Sam, maybe she could talk to her then.

Two days. Cory had been there two days and Brooke was more than ready for him to go home. She wondered if he'd always been this annoying or if it was a recent change in personality. She had put up with his never ending bad jokes and boring stories. Well that was when he wasn't telling horribly embarrassing stories about her. And to add further insult to injury Sam couldn't seem to get enough of the "oh so great" Cory. When she wasn't laughing at his stupid jokes, she was hanging on his every word. It made Brooke want to barf. She didn't know how much longer she could stand idly by and watch the two of them making eyes at one another.

It didn't help that even though they were sharing a room, she and Sam had yet to finish their previous conversation. Sam seemed to be holding onto this somewhat forced friendship. Plus she couldn't seem to stop talking about Cory. Asking Brooke a million and one questions about what he was like and if she thought he liked her. That part hurt Brooke the most. How could Sam go from telling Brooke that she loved her to falling all over the blonde's cousin in a matter of weeks? Maybe Nicole was right. Maybe Sam had just been playing her. Well that just made Brooke angry, and all the forced family fun didn't do much to improve her mood. Even now as they sat in the living room spending 'quality time' with their parents, grandmother and Mac, Brooke wanted to hurl something at the pair that were practically cuddling on the couch next to her.

"Okay, so I have to ask. You've been calling Brooke 'Kleenex' since you got here. What is that all about?" Sam asked.

Brooke's head shot up immediately at that. He wouldn't tell her! He can't! "Cory James McQueen, if you value your life you will not answer that question!" She growled at him.

"Ooo, it's threat worthy? It must be good. Spill!" Sam said with a devious smirk.

"Cory…" Brooke said in a warning tone.

"Well, Sam is there something you're willing to offer me for this bit of information? I mean I will be risking at least bodily harm," Cory joked.

"Oh I'm willing to pay top dollar for this! Name your price."

"Hmm, I'll have to think of something good to be announced at a later date," Cory replied with a wink. "Well Sam, the reason why I call Brooke, 'Kleenex' is because…" Cory let his words trail, purposely building the tension in the room.

He was really going to tell her. He was going to tell the girl she loved her most embarrassing secret. How was Sam ever going to take her seriously again? Brooke covered her face with her hand as she waited for her world to come crashing down around her.

"Well you see, Uncle Mike and Brooke would always come to visit my parents and I during the summer for my birthday. The year I turned thirteen, Brooke was only eleven. That was the year I had the pool party, remember Uncle Mike?"

Mike nodded his head, his eyes dancing with amusement.

"Well most of the girls I had invited were from my class in school and most of them had gone through a major 'growth spurt' the previous year. Kleenex had a huge crush on my best friend Tommy Douglas, but Tommy had a thing for this blonde cheerleader that had 'grown the most' if you get my drift," Cory said with a wink at Sam.

Brooke peeked through her fingers to look at the brunette. Sam seemed to be completely caught up in the story, her shoulders shaking with silent laughter. Great, just great, she is so going to think I'm a loser.

"Anyway, Kleenex has always been extremely competive-"

"Well that's the understatement of the year," Sam interrupted, earning her a chuckle from the rents.

"Well, not to be outdone, Brooke went into my parents bathroom and took a half a box of Kleenex and stuffed them into her bikini top."

"You didn't?!" Sam shrieked looking over at the blonde with surprised amusement on her face.

Brooke wished the Earth would just open up and swallow her whole.

"That's not even the funny part!" Cory said, really getting on a roll. He was enjoying making the beautiful brunette smile.

"There's more?!" Sam asked. This was better than getting presents on Christmas and her birthday.

"Of course there's more…ol' Kleenex here came strutting out of the house and walked right up to Tommy, knocking the other girl out of the way. To say she finally had his attention was an understatement. So anyway things were going fine for a while, and then she wanted to show off this new diving move one of her friends had taught her. She got up walked over to the diving board and dived in. It was a pretty impressive move I have to say. Only being the blonde that she is, she completely forgot that her top was stuffed with tissue…"

"No way!" Sam exclaimed, her grin growing impossibly wider.

"Yes way…so she gets out of the pool with this huge smile and everyone's laughing and clapping. And Kleenex thinks that she's hot stuff. She saunters over to Tommy, and he goes 'Dude, what happened to your chest?' And there floating on top of the pool were wads of tissue."

"Ohmygod! That was the best story ever!" Sam said, dissolving into a fit of laughter.

Jane and Mike tried their best to hide their laughter, but it was to no avail. In fact the only person that wasn't laughing was Grams.

"Oh well you think that's funny? Cory, why don't you tell Sam about that time when you were thirteen and you ate that really rancid taco at the beach and then got diarrhea in the sand," Brooke said in a scathing tone.

Cory looked taken aback for a moment both by her tone and the fact that she'd shared such a private story. That wasn't like Brooke. He wondered, not for the first time, what was wrong with his usually pleasant cousin. He saw her hazel eyes avert to the brunette that was next to him, doubled over in laughter. He wasn't sure what was wrong with Brooke, but now he was sure it had something to do with Sam.

Brooke saw Cory's green eyes narrow and raised her eyebrow in a challenge.

"Oh, so you want to tell secrets do you, Kleenex? How about you tell her about the time that you got so nervous during your kindergarten graduation that you threw up and cried?" Cory countered.

"Or how about the time you got so nervous during you speech in seventh grade that you peed your pants."

Sam was holding her side by this point. She turned watery eyes towards Mike. "You have been holding out on me. How could you have kept these embarrassing Brooke stories to yourself? And more importantly do you have them on tape?"

Brooke had had enough. "Oh hahaha Sam, I guess we can't all be perfect!" She seethed shooting Cory a dirty look before walking out of the room.

"Aww, come back, Kleenex. I was just joking. I never knew you were this sensitive. Here, I'll get you a tissue…oh wait, check your bra!" Cory called after her. She heard him and Sam erupt in another fit of giggles, and she rolled her eyes.

I'm going to call Nicole. Some serious retail therapy was in order.

Sam sobered a little as Brooke walked out of the room. She knew that Cory had probably taken it a little far, but it was all in good fun. Besides, Sam found the stories about younger Brooke very endearing and it made her fall in love with the blonde even more. She liked to see that Brooke hadn't always been 'Miss Perfect.' That she'd had the same trauma in early adolescence that Sam herself had gone through, but luckily for the brunette it hadn't been in such public settings.

She wondered if she should go after the blonde, but thought better of it. Sam couldn't figure out what had been going on with Brooke the past couple of days. She was so moody. One minute she and Sam would be talking and then Cory would say something and Brooke's mood would drop. Maybe she was jealous of Sam invading on her time with Cory. He had mentioned that they had been really close at one time. She'd tried to bow out of the sight seeing graciously, but they'd both insisted on her coming. She'd also tried to talk to Brooke about it at night, while they shared her bed, but the blonde would shut down. Apparently talking about Cory was off limits. So why did she insist on having Sam tag along?

Not that Sam minded so much. She really enjoyed spending time with Cory. He was funny, smart, nice, and not bad on the eyes. He had that McQueen smile that caused her heart to melt, and Sam wasn't sure, but she thought he was kind of digging her. She felt it was time for her finally move on from Brooke. It was obvious that the blonde didn't feel the same about her. Besides she liked Cory, a lot, and he seemed to be just the answer to help her over her Brooke phase.

A few seconds later, Brooke breezed through the room saying she was going shopping with Nicole. Mac became fussy and Jane and Mike went to go put her down for a nap. Grams begged off to her temporary room, leaving Cory and Sam sitting on the couch.

"So Sam, did you have anything planned today? I mean since Kleenex has obviously found something better to do than showing her cousin around town, I'm assuming that all sight seeing has been rescheduled. That is unless you would like to show me something I have yet to see. I mean…that is to say…if you didn't have plans with your friends or anything," Cory said with an adorable shyness that made Sam's stomach flop.

Is he asking me out? I think he is. "Well, I didn't have any plans today, but I could be persuaded to go check out some local hangouts," Sam replied with a shy smile. Looked like operation 'Get Over Brooke' was well in affect.

Hours later, Sam led Cory into the local coffee shop. They'd been anywhere and everywhere Sam could think off. They'd walked on the boardwalk, eating ice cream cones, watching street performers, and talking about the most random things. Then they'd gone for lunch at her favorite burger joint. She'd somehow managed to talk him into going to a contemporary art museum, where they'd stood trying to figure out what the artist was saying. And now they sat talking and laughing over lattes.

"So tell me, what is an average day in the life of Samantha McPherson like?" Cory asked between sips.

"Do you really want to be bored to tears?"

"I'm sure I won't be."

"You are going to be sadly disappointed. Brooke's the one with the exciting social life."

"Oh, I doubt I'll be disappointed. Try me."

"Okay, but don't say I didn't warn you. Let's see, an average day in the life of Sam goes something like this. I wake up at an ungodly early time in the morning. Normally by my mother, a wailing baby, or Brooke's off key singing in the bathroom. After I take an impossibly cold shower, courtesy of the Princess, I rush to get dressed, grab a piece of fruit out of the basket, and run at mach speed to my car to get to school at least before the late bell rings. From then on I spend the next eight to ten hours trying to escape the cruel and unusual punishment inflicted on me by evil dictators masquerading around as my incompetent teachers. All the while trying to ignore the vicious diatribes of my more popular peers, which despite having the queen of popularity as a friend, I still haven't managed to avoid. From there I either rush home to baby-sit Mac for my mother or head straight to the Zapruder office, where I spend the next two hours fixing the mistakes of an otherwise crack team of fellow journalists. Stop me when I've rendered you unconscious."

"No, I find it riveting. I'm on the edge of my seat," Cory said gamely.

"Well, after I get through about three more hours of homework, if I'm lucky and it's not already one in the morning. I manage to squeeze in a phone call or two to my friends or I hang out with Brooke and one of my friends comes over. See? I told you, nothing terribly interesting."

"You know in that whole, hour long speech-" Cory joked, looking at his watch.

"Hey, you asked me!" Sam interrupted.

"I know. I was just teasing. Anyway, as I was saying before I was rudely interrupted," Cory started again with a wink. "I didn't hear you mention a boyfriend."

He was feeling her out, Sam notice, and she couldn't help but smile. Smooth, she thought. " I didn't mention one because there isn't one."

"You're lying. There's no way that some one as beautiful as you is single."

It was corny, but Sam couldn't seem to stop the blush and smile that sprang to her face. "I'm not lying. Brooke's the one with guys lined up around the block." And a few girls too, me being one of them. "Next to her, no one notices the ugly duckling."

Cory reached across the table and stroked her cheek. "I don't see an ugly duckling anywhere. It's obvious to me that she's long since turned into a beautiful swan."

Brooke hadn't slept well last night. When she'd returned home from a long day of shopping with Nicole and Mary Cherry, she'd found out that not only had Cory and Sam been out together the entire day, they'd had yet to return. Brooke was beginning to think that Nicole had been right about Sam all along. Sam had just been using her, and Brooke had fallen for it like an idiot. Angry and severely depressed, Brooke had gone straight to bed. Only sleep eluded her. When Sam sneaked quietly into the room an hour later and crawled into the bed next to Brooke, the blonde had feigned sleep. She didn't want to hear how much fun the two had had.

Now Thanksgiving was finally here, which meant that Cory and her grandmother would be leaving soon. She hadn't even gotten to spend a lot of time with the older woman since she'd been busy chauffeuring Cory around town. She would be so happy to see him leave. Luckily he wouldn't be transferring until after Christmas, so Brooke wouldn't have to watch them hang all over one another. The very thought of it broke her heart into a million pieces.

Sam made her way down the hall to the stairs, intent on helping her mother and Grams prepare dinner. She was wearing her new burnt orange sweater and long chocolate colored skirt. She told herself that she wasn't getting dressed for Cory, but the moment he entered her mind, she smiled. It was nice to be appreciated for once. Especially when the one person she wished would notice her hadn't bothered to look in her direction once that day. She'd hoped to talk to the blonde last night, but when she and Cory had finally made it home, Brooke had been asleep. She hoped that whatever was bugging Brooke would be over soon. She really missed spending time with her.

"Hey Sam," Cory said as he made his way out of Brooke's room. "You look amazing."

"Thanks," Sam replied with a blush. "You look great too." And he did. He was wearing a deep green sweater that brought out the color of his green eyes and charcoal colored slacks.

"Thanks…oh I wanted to tell you again that I had a really great time yesterday. It was the most fun I've had in a long time."

"Then I think you need to get out more," Sam joked, but she was really happy that he'd had such a good time.

"Maybe you're right. I think I'd go out more if you were there to go out with me."

Ohmygodohmygodohmygod, "Are you asking me out on a date?"

"If I were would you say yes?"

"I could be persuaded to say yes," Sam answered shyly.

"Well maybe this will help you make a decision," Cory said, and Sam found her lips suddenly pressed against his.

Brooke headed out of Sam's room. Jane had asked the two of them to help out with dinner. Only she wasn't exactly sure where Sam was. She was sure that wherever she was, she was with Cory. Oh well, she thought at least Cory wouldn't be able to invade this part of her day. The taller boy usually stayed as far away from the kitchen as possible. She opened the door and stepped into the hall. Nothing prepared her for the sight before her. Sam and Cory locked in a heated embrace. A cold chill ran through her and she thought she might throw up. Tears welled in her eyes, and she was desperate to make an escape. Pushing past them, she muttered, "Geez you two, get a room."

Brooke pushing past brought Sam back to her senses. She wrenched her mouth away from Cory's and watched as the blonde practically ran down the stairs.

"What's her problem?" Cory asked.

"I'm not sure," Sam answered in a distracted tone. What was up with Brooke? Sam just didn't get her and it was starting to irritate her.

"So what do you say? Will you go out with me?" Cory asked, his green eyes hopeful.

Sam turned and looked at him. Kissing him had been nice. It didn't make her feel the way Brooke had, but she hadn't really expected it would. She was in love with Brooke. She only liked Cory. Only Brooke didn't want her. Cory however seemed very interested. Then why did the idea of dating Cory suddenly feel like she was betraying Brooke? She shook her head trying to clear her thoughts. That was crazy. She wasn't betraying Brooke. The blonde had had her chance, and she'd turned Sam down. Cory wanted to date her.

"Yes, I'll go out with you."

By the time that Sam made it downstairs Brooke was deep in conversation with her grandmother affectively freezing the brunette out. They worked that way for the rest of the afternoon, and Sam wondered again what was up with Brooke. Maybe she didn't think that Sam was good enough date her cousin. Why else would she have reacted to the kiss and Sam spending so much time with Cory? That hurt Sam a lot. Brooke not only deemed her not good enough for her, but she didn't think Sam was good enough for her cousin. How dare she?

At five o'clock the family sat down to dinner. Sam and Brooke sat across from each other, purposely avoiding eye contact. This didn't go unnoticed by their parents, who had been confused by the girls' sudden hostility towards one another. "How about we go around the table and each say something we're thankful for?" Mike suggested, trying to ease some of the tension.

"I'll start," Jane volunteered. "I'm thankful for being surrounded by such a warm and loving family."

"I'm grateful to be able to share in this holiday with my son, and beautiful granddaughters. And I'm especially thankful that Mike has married such a wonderful and caring woman. I couldn't hope for anyone better than you, Jane." Grams said next.

"I'm grateful for true friends. Ones that don't stab you in the back and trample all over your feelings," Brooke seethed, looking across the table at Sam.

"Well I'm thankful for good health and prosperity. As I look around the table I realize how rich I really am," Mike said.

"I'm thankful for new beginnings, for new friends and a great family," Cory added as he smiled over at Sam.

Sam returned the smile before turning angry brown eyes. "I too am thankful for new beginnings and new friends. I am also grateful for insight and the ability to see people for what and who they really are."

Brooke shot Sam another dirty look. Who did she think she was? She's the one that played with my emotions.

"Brooke, would you mind passing me the rolls?" Jane asked.

"Sure Mom, but you might want to ask Sam to butter it for you. Seems she's really handy with knives lately."

"Brooke…" Mike said in a warning tone.

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

"Oh I think you know," Brooke replied.

"So Cory, are you excited to leave the east coast behind and join us in sunny California?" Jane asked cheerfully.

"Well, I'll admit at first I was a little nervous, but now things seem to be looking up. I'm actually looking forward to moving."

"I bet you are…" Brooke mumbled under her breath.

"What was that Brooke?" Jane asked.

"Oh nothing Mom, would you pass the mashed potatoes?"

"Are you sure you want the mashed potatoes, Brooke? I mean I know how indecisive you can be. Who's to say that once you've tasted the mashed potatoes you'll still want them?"

"Ha, you're one to talk. At least I would never say I wanted something that I never actually wanted!"

"I never did that!" Sam protested.

"Well you could have fooled me! It seems to me, Sammy, that you're the indecisive one," Brooke said in a scathing tone as she looked over at Cory.

Sam smirked. "At least I don't want something just because someone else does."

"Girls! Stop it…this is Thanksgiving dinner not WWF Smackdown. Now I want to know what the hell is going on!" Mike demanded.

"Oh it's simple, Daddy. Sam's a coldhearted, unfeeling, manipulative little bitch!"

"Brooke! Enough! Go to your room until you can calm down!" Mike said forcefully.

Brooke ran from the table and up the stairs to her room. Moments later there was a soft knock on the door. "Go away," she called as she dissolved in tears.

"Brooke dear, it's me," her grandmother replied from outside the door.

"It's open," Brooke said before quickly wiping her tears away. Her grandmother moved over to the bed next to her.

"Well that Sam sure is a spitfire," the older woman mused.

"Yeah, that's an understatement," Brooke mumbled. "I'm sorry I ruined dinner, Grams."

"Oh, that's the most exciting dinner I've been to in years," her grandmother said, brushing off the apology. "You fell hard for her didn't you?" the older woman asked quietly.

Brooke's head snapped up and she looked wide-eyed over at her grandmother.

"It's written all over your face every time you look at her. You don't get to be my age without learning to read people. Have you told her?"

Brooke shook her head no, still in shock at her grandmother's keen observation. Was she that obvious? "No, I haven't told her."

"Why not?"

"Because I really screwed things up with her…I broke her trust."

"So you're just going to give up and not even try?"

"What about Cory?"

"What about Cory?"

"Grams, I can't compete with him. He's…well Cory."

"And you're Brooke…and you have a lot to offer her. She'd be a fool if she didn't take you up on it." Grams said, hugging Brooke to her. "You need to get past your fears and tell her. Anything worth having is worth fighting for." Grams stood and headed towards the door. She turned and looked at Brooke, offering her encouraging smile. "Oh, and Brooke…"

"Yes Grams?"

"She looks at you the same way." With that her grandmother slipped out of the door.

Was her grandmother right? Did Sam look at her like she looked at Sam? She was almost afraid to hope.

Minutes later, another knock came on the door. "It's open," she answered thinking it was her grandmother or one of her parents.

"Brooke can I talk to you?" Sam asked.

Brooke turned to look at Sam. She was so beautiful to Brooke in that very moment that it caused Brooke's breath to catch. "Sure."

"What the hell was that all about down stairs? I don't get you. Why have you been acting like this? Ever since your grandmother and Cory got here, your moods have been all over the place. Is that you don't like me spending so much time with your cousin? Do you think I'm not good enough?" Sam asked vehemently as she paced in front of the stunned blonde.

"How could you ever think that I would think you're not good enough? Sam you're one of the greatest people I have ever had the good fortune of knowing." Brooke was shocked to find out that Sam thought otherwise.

"Then what is it? Why have you been acting this way?" Sam asked with pleading eyes.

"Sam, sit down. I need to tell you something, but first I need your word that you will hear what I have to say without interrupting me," Brooke said, her hazel eyes meeting Sam's brown ones.

The brunette sat down next to Brooke, nodding her agreement.

"Sam, first off I'm sorry for the way I've been acting. My emotions have been all over the place lately. Second, I've been acting this way because I've been jealous, but not the way you think. I was jealous of Cory because he had your attention. I wanted your attention. I want your attention," Brooke said. She could see the shock on Sam's face, and taking a deep breath, she continued. "Sam, I'm in love with you. I love you so much sometimes I find it hard to breathe. That kiss was the best thing that ever happened to me, and it just kills me that it was ruined by a stupid careless prank," Brooke finished.

Sam sat there silently mulling over the blonde's confession. Brooke loved her. She didn't regret anything. "You love me?"

"Yes, very much…" Brooke said looking into Sam's eyes, revealing all the emotions she'd held inside.

"You really love me?" Sam asked again.

"Yes, with all my heart," Brooke answered. She leaned over and brushed her lips lightly against Sam's. When the journalist didn't protest, she pressed her lips firmly against the other girl's. She felt Sam begin to kiss her back and slid her fingers into Sam's dark thick hair. She nipped Sam's bottom lip, and the other girl gasped. She took the opportunity to deepen the kiss, holding Sam in place. Their tongues slid against each other in a slow sensuous dance. She moaned into the other girl's mouth, completely caught up in the feel and taste of Sam's mouth.

Brooke's moan cut through the fog that had clouded Sam's mind. She pulled back from the kiss, sliding a healthy distance away from the blonde. "I can't do this, Brooke."

It took Brooke a moment to process that Sam was speaking. "What?"

"I said, I can't do this," Sam repeated.

"What? Why?" Brooke asked, alarmed.

"Because I'm dating Cory now," Sam said, and with that she got up and walked out of the room.

The End

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