DISCLAIMER: Popular and its characters are the property of Ryan Murphy. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks, as always, go out to Quatorz. For the title inspiration, for always being willing, and just for being an overall awesome dude. =D I'm really, really, really sorry, Hannah. =| Angst ahead!!
FEEDBACK: Love it! Drop me an email; raye_raye2001@yahoo.co.uk
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Redlance


"So that's it?" God, I wish she'd stop looking at me like that. "A four week trial period and now I have to pay?" I used to think she was beautiful when she was angry, but now all the venom in her voice does is sting and kill me slowly. "Why?" Her voice shakes the word, and that's worse than the rage.

"I told you-"

"I don't believe you." Slow, incensed, solid in her belief. My beautiful, stubborn Sammie.

"I can't help that. I can't tell you anything other than-"

"It's not working." My words are thrown back at me in a harsh imitation. I hate when her face screws up like that. Like she's trying to hold all the pain and hurt in. "You expect me to believe that bullshit? After the last month?" Suddenly her words are thick with tears and I think I can feel each individual piece of my heart as it breaks off. "After what you said?" God, I'd told her everything. Everything I felt, everything she wanted to hear. "After we kissed?" You know she looks beautiful in the moonlight? It had been raining. Her face had been wet. It's wet now too. "After we…" She stumbles, her voice catching. She looks down only to bring her sad and angry eyes back to me seconds later. They'd been full of nothing but love before. I think I'll remember that forever. "Tell me that night didn't mean anything to you. Tell me you don't think about it whenever you hear the word 'perfection'." Every single time.

"I don't."

"Liar." She whimpers as she says it and I see her disgust at herself shimmer across her face and vanish. I want to hold her. Tell her she's not weak because of how she feels. My eyes trace the perfect planes of her face as she closes hers, and I find her jaw bones are jutting out, clenched tightly. "You said you loved me." I couldn't count the number of times I'd said it over the last few weeks and the feelings behind it had grown with every utterance.

"I told Josh I loved him." My own acting abilities and capacity for faux nonchalance astounds me. I can hear something inside of me screaming at me to stop. I think it's my heart, I don't think it can take much more. "It's just something people say." My mom said it all the time.

"Not me." Her voice is an anguished whisper, but it allows a memory of heavy breathing and huskily whispered words to echo inside my head. A smile spreads my lips before I can stop it. So I use it.

"Poor naïve Sammie." My words are like acid inside my mouth, making everything burn. It's unfamiliar now, it's been so long since I've had to use this tone of voice. It feels foreign. "Uneducated in the ways of the world. You'll learn."

"Why are you saying this?" Her head is shaking, and I wish I could find it adorable. "When did things change?" And now I can go in for the kill.

"Things never really changed." I tell her slowly, making sure what I say sinks in. "That's the thing." I think my shoulders shrug, I can't feel anything. My whole body is numb. "I mean, it was exciting for a while." The last month I've felt like I've been on the world's most thrilling rollercoaster, unable to catch my breath for a second. Why am I doing this? Why can't I remember? Why can't I just stop talking? Please let me stop talking. "But then it wasn't anymore. I got bored." Her hands are balled into fists at her sides. She's shaking. I want to hold her, to make it stop. To wipe her tears away.

"You're lying." She's right. I used to hate to admit it, but she's always right. Looking at her, I don't think she knows that anymore. "Please stop…" I can't. How can something hurt this much and I'm still alive?

"If you want to believe that, go ahead." I manage a dramatic sigh and somehow get my hand high enough to pull my fingers through my hair. The very picture of someone trying to get rid of a one night stand that turned out to be overly clingy the next morning. Her eyes find mine and my heart finally cracks its last. Her brown orbs are swimming in red before me. "But it won't change the facts."

"You're lying." There's an underlying whine to her voice as she repeats her statement, but she either doesn't detect it or doesn't care anymore. "Are you afraid?" Right again. "Because I'm afraid too, Brooke." Please, God, let it stop. "If we just-"

"Sam." She stops, looking at me with so much desperation that my facade nearly cracks and I almost fall into her arms right then and there. But I'm not doing this to hurt her, I'm doing this to save us both. And that's the only thing that allows the next words to leave my mouth. "It was something I wanted to try. I did. You helped. It's not for me. Thanks." I see it the instant it happens. The moment her hope and heart splinter. The very second that too-calm blanket of no emotion settles across her face. I know nothing will ever be the same now, there's nothing I could ever possibly say that would fix this. Not even if I'd let myself. In those unguarded minutes when I'd been so blinded by her, by what I feel when I'm around her, I'd thought we could actually be happy. Together. But there's no chance for that now, not ever. I've made sure of it.

"Fuck you, Brooke." I watch her go, embracing my pain because I know I deserve it. Allowing her to leave because I know it's the only way. Because the people you love? They always leave you, and it never hurts any less. But maybe if you force them to leave before they leave you of their own accord, the devastation will be diluted somehow. I can feel tears pricking my eyes, they're warm on my cheeks.

It doesn't hurt any less. But maybe it will. Maybe in time she'll get over me. And I can pretend I've gotten over her.

The End

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