DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to Ryan Murphy and the WB. No infringement is intended.
CONTINUITY: This is in my Bram!verse and is next after 'The Mixer'. Actually this is a prequel to the next fic, 'Self Fulfilling Prophecy' that was written months before it.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: A huge thank you to Redlance. You're awesome-but then that is common knowledge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Prelude to a Fic
By Quatorz


"Today's the last day of drop/add!" the frantic girl behind her blurted out.

Brooke McQueen paused in hoisting her backpack over the edge of the chair while she digested this information. "Oh," she replied, but the urgency in the girl's voice made her question whether she should have given 'drop/add' a lot more consideration.

"You know:" the girl continued, pushing her wayward glasses back up the bridge of her nose, "the last day to drop a class! I think I'm dropping this sociology class I have. I got a 'B' on the last test, but I totally bombed the first one, and I don't think one 'B' is going to bring up my average enough-and I don't want to kill my GPA. You know what I mean?

"How about you? Are you dropping anything? Probably not. I mean: you just seem so together. You would have done it by now if you were going to do it. Am I right?"

There was a moment of silence until Brooke realized that the girl-what was her name again?-was actually waiting for a reply this time. She had started to chime in after the GPA came up, but only got so far as 'A--'

She did know they sold decaf at the Hub, right?

"No," Brooke smiled. "I'm pretty happy with my classes so far."

"Good for you!" the girl smiled. Her plump cheeks crinkled up into a smile.

Megan! That was her name. The chronically friendly brunette had introduced herself the first day of class. She was a sophomore if Brooke remembered correctly.

"I found this online message board where people posted reviews of teachers for each subject. That helped," Brooke acknowledged.

"Oh yeah! I use that site religiously!" Megan agreed. "I picked a good teacher, but I started going out with my new boyfriend and was blowing off class. It was totally my fault."

Brooke laughed with her. "Of course that was after I found out my old boyfriend was cheating on me," Megan revealed.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Brooke sympathized.

"Its okay," Megan commiserated. "I'm better off now anyway." She grinned. "Guys," she shook her head, "can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em, huh?"

Um... "Well--"

"Good morning, everyone!" the Professor greeted the class jovially as he arrived.

Brooke turned to face the front of the room.

Professor Mallory was one of her favorites. He was a rotund man with grey hair and a beard who reminded her a lot of the guy from the Monopoly board. But he was a great teacher, and his class had come highly recommended by past students.

Brooke sat in the center column of seats in the second row-only because Sammy had warned her that only freshmen sat in the front row.

They were freshmen, Brooke reminded her, but Sam pointed out that they didn't want to look like freshmen, did they?

She conceded the point.

"Where were we?" Mallory asked.

"You were going to finish your story about Paris!" a student behind her called out. "The one you started to tell us on Friday."

The Professor snapped his fingers. "Damn!" he chuckled. "I was hoping you'd forgotten about that."

Brooke's laughter mingled with the others. On Friday he'd begun to tell them about traveling through Europe in his youth, and reading Lord Byron to a lady friend on the banks of the Seine.

It sounded incredibly romantic.

Note to self: Brooke dictated, have Sam read me poetry.

She thought about that for a second. Sam was a writer. Sam should write her poetry first-and then read it to her.

Much better.

"Fleurette," he sighed wistfully. His gaze was on the distant past. "That was her name. She was my first love," he smiled. "We spent four wonderful weeks together in Paris."

"What happened?" a voice chimed in from the back.

"I left Paris. I promised to write," he shrugged. "I didn't. She promised to wait. She probably didn't either," he grinned.

"We drifted apart. Such is the way of first loves."

His smile was winsome-and a bit sad.

"What do you mean?" Brooke asked-unaware that she'd intended to speak until she heard her own voice.

"Miss McQueen?" he begged clarification.

Her cheeks reddened. "Um," she cleared her throat. "What did you mean: about first loves...?"

"I meant..." his voice trailed off as he searched for the right words. "It's your first love," he reiterated with a shrug. "It's pure and it's simple and uncomplicated. It's innocent," he added-and smiled at the chuckles from the class.

"I didn't say it wasn't sexual," he smirked, "I certainly wasn't in Europe studying for the seminary."

More laughter from the class. "But it takes on an almost mythical quality now. It's very idealized. But it was never meant to be. First loves aren't meant to last."

"Why?" Brooke blurted out. Mallory turned to her, and she could feel the eyes of the other students upon her. She'd heard the hint of desperation in her own voice. She was sure everyone else had as well.

"Because they're not real," he answered. "They are to experience and grow from-so that you can find a more mature form of love and actually have a shot at a lasting relationship.

"And one day, when you're old and grey, you can reflect upon your first love as a memory to cherish: a beautiful nineteen year old angel-perfect, ageless, waiting for me still on the banks of the river Seine."

He smiled at her-through her. "Are you in love, Miss McQueen?"

"Yes," she answered truthfully. What else could she do? But she felt so stupid. Her cheeks were burning. If everyone didn't know she was a freshman before, they sure knew it now.

"Come see me in a couple years," he winked. "We'll talk then." He waved his hand dismissively, and opened the textbook. "Let's keep going with the Romantics, shall we?" he addressed the class. "We'll stay away from Byron-since he caused me so much trouble..."

More laughter from the class-but it was distant. Another planet, by the sound of it.

Brooke managed to smile, nod, and prop herself up from the inside. It was easy enough to remember how-she'd done it for so long.

Her hand trembled as she opened her book, and she stared at the page-eyes blurry-thanking whoever was watching over her that the Professor didn't ask her a question.

It was all she could do not to get up and run out of class-but knew if she did she would look even more foolish and naïve than she did now.

With that casual, dismissive swish of his hand he had waved away all her hopes and dreams of the future-of her life with Sam. He waved away the love that gave her courage and made her feel strong inside.

He waved away her forever...

Brooke got to the registrar's office with five minutes to spare. She tucked the stamped drop slip into her backpack. Tomorrow she would sell the books back to the bookstore, but she couldn't deal with that right now.

Now she just wanted to go home-to their home-and get as far away as she could from the very friendly, highly recommended, and thoroughly terrifying Professor Mallory...

The End

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