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'.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

How the Rest of the Gang Found Out
By Quatorz


Brooke McQueen had a secret. And she was dying to blurt that secret to the friends gathered at their new apartment for a housewarming party. It would be so easy: just walk into the living room and declare: "Hey guys! Guess what? Sam and I are shacking up!"

But no. She would be good-she promised.

Their apartment, she smiled. The second semester of their senior year seemed like an eternity, but finally they graduated. In July they began apartment hunting, and moved into their new place a few weeks later.

Now she stood in her kitchen, waiting for the oven to chime. She smiled and just absorbed it all. Sometimes it hit her-like now-that they finally had their own place, with their own curtains, and their own dishes, and hers and hers coffee mugs for early mornings, and their own oven to make appetizers for their friends.

For the first time in her life, something was actually hers. Yes, it was just an apartment, but it would always be their first place.

When Sugar Daddy arrived he had asked what they should nickname the apartment. Sam had suggested 'The Hut', much to Brooke's dismay. She knew the brunette hadn't meant to disparage their new abode-and that in relation to The Palace a two bedroom apartment could best be described as 'cozy'-but Brooke thought it was perfect.

Their forever started here.

She marveled in the little things. They'd already found a great little restaurant down the block called Luigetta's. They had the best salads, and Sam-her budding investigative journalist-had tracked down a former employee to try and get the secret recipe for the salad dressing.

She managed to get the ingredients, but not the proportions. So each week they would try a new combination with dinner. They'd come close, but hadn't quite hit upon the right formula.

It was fun experimenting, and with each attempt they were making memories-memories that Brooke cherished in the home she always wanted.

It was hard to believe, but Sam McPherson had made her dreams come true. She closed her eyes, spread her arms and simply spun in a circle.

"What is it with you two?"

Brooke stopped in mid-motion to see Lily standing there watching her. She hadn't even heard the girl come in, and snickered bashfully. "You saw that, huh?"

Lily grinned in reply. "Do you need help with anything?"

"Nope," Brooke smiled. "Just waiting for the appetizers."

"I feel so grown up," Lily smiled. "Here we are at a housewarming party, drinking wine instead of something Sugar put in the punch."

Brooke laughed. "I know exactly what you mean! Sam and I were saying the same thing yesterday. It's only been a few months since high school, but it already feels like another lifetime."

"Speaking of your 'significant other'," Lily hinted, and Brooke delighted at that descriptive for the brunette, "are we to expect any announcements tonight?"

Brooke laughed at Lily waggling her eyebrows. "No," she admitted. "You know I'd love to. I want to tell the whole world. But Sam's right: we should tell Jane and Dad first. We don't want them to hear about it from someone else first."

"Ah," Lily nodded. "When are you going to tell them?"

"We're thinking Thanksgiving," Brooke told her. She and Sam had given it a lot of thought. They didn't want to do it at Christmas, because if it went badly then Christmas was ruined, and every subsequent Christmas had a shadow over it.

Thanksgiving was really the 'bombshell' holiday-at least in the movies. Thanksgiving was the time when the adult kids would return home and either deliver some earth shattering news or discover some hideous family secret-and drama would ensue.

They were going to keep with the time honored tradition of life imitating art. Thanksgiving was only a few months away: soon enough that it was real, but long enough away that she could pretend it wasn't actually going to happen.

She knew Sam wasn't looking forward to it either. Although Jane's reaction wasn't the one they were worried about. Brooke thought that she had a pretty good handle on what to expect from Jane: dismay, possibly followed by some sort of manic episode, and then acceptance.

It was her Dad that had them worried. And not necessarily because she expected him to freak: that wasn't it at all. She had no idea how he was going to react. He could welcome her and Sam with open arms, or he could disown her and never speak to her again.

That was a sobering thought, and she didn't know how she would react if her father rejected her too. But she had Sam, and that's what mattered. Sam would be there for her.

And she'd put a contingency plan into motion in the event that the worst case scenario happened. She hated that she had to think like that. Her only crime was that she had fallen in love. So what if it didn't fit the traditional mold?

"Are you okay?" Lily queried.

Brooke looked up, aware that she'd zoned out for a moment. "Yeah," she grinned wryly, "I guess I'm not looking forward to 'the talk'."

Lily understood immediately. "It'll go fine," she assured her. "Your parents love you. Both of you."

"I know," Brooke nodded, trying to sound confident. "C'mon, let's get these out while they're still hot," she suggested, indicating the tray of appetizers.

Lily sampled the merchandise, and her eyes lit up. "Mmm! These are delicious, Brooke," she complimented the blonde. "Where'd you learn to make these?"

"They have them at this new restaurant that Sam and I found down the street. It's a little family owned place. Everything is so good.

"Sam managed to track down a friend of a neighbor of a cousin of a something-or-another of someone who used to work there that had absconded with a few recipes.

"Very slick," Lily complimented the reporter.

Brooke smiled. "Yeah, she's a smart cookie, my Sammy."

They entered the living room from the kitchen just in time to hear the tail end of Sam's conversation-and the subsequent hush that fell over the room.

Only Lily's sarcastic voice broke the tableau:

"You were saying...?"

"Hey Brooke," Sam had addressed the blonde a few minutes earlier. "The oven," she reminded her when the blonde turned those gorgeous eyes her way.

Brooke thanked her wordlessly and headed into the kitchen. Brooke absolutely beamed tonight, and Sam knew just how thrilled she was to welcome all of their friends to their new home.

The entire gang showed up-even Harrison-which pleased Sam to no end. Their relationship had been...cordial over the last few months, but nothing like what it had been. Hopefully his coming tonight meant that things were moving in the right direction.

"Does anyone need anything else to drink?" she inquired. "Soda? Wine?"

"I'll have more wine!" Carmen replied enthusiastically.

"That's your third glass," Harrison chuckled.

"I like wine," Carmen protested. "What can I say? And this is delicious."

"Yeah, that's Brooke's favorite," Sam informed her. "One of the guys down the hall works at the ABC store. He recommended that brand-and he was kind enough to pick up a couple of bottles for the party."

Carmen's eyes lit up: "So there's more!"

They laughed. "Is he cute?" Carmen inquired.

Sam didn't know quite how to answer that. God, things will be so much easier when everybody knows, she lamented. She tried to approximate how she should react. "Yeah, he's not bad. He's in good shape," she grinned.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw Harrison study his wine glass.

"Why not ask him out?" Carmen prodded her. "We're not in high school anymore."

"Yeah, Sam, why not?" Harrison asked.

Thanks, pal, she thought to herself. He had the graciousness to look embarrassed, but so much for things going in the right direction.

"You're a great girl, Sam," Josh encouraged her. "You deserve to be with someone nice. If you like the guy, you should go for it."

Where was Lily? Could they please talk about something else?

"He's not my type," she replied truthfully-and grinned at her own cleverness.

"I don't know Sam," Carmen countered. "Cute and access to this wine. You might be making a mistake there."

"Why don't you ask him out?" Sam offered.

Carmen laughed. "A few more glasses of this, and I think I will."

They all chucked. "You've created a monster, Sam," Josh declared.

"Well, don't worry," Sam laughed. "You can always crash in the spare bedroom if you need to.

"Oh!" she declared, spotting her girlfriend emerge from the kitchen with the tasty appetizers. "You guys have to try these. We got the recipe from a local restaurant, and it turns out that Brooke is an awesome cook. I--"

Her voice broke off because something was wrong: the room had gone silent, and her friends had perplexed looks on their faces.

Something had happened. She could tell-call it her journalistic instincts. Some 'faux pas' had been committed. Now, she only had to determine what had been said. Had she--?

Uh oh. Yep. One look at her girlfriend's face confirmed it: she had committed the faux pas.

"You were saying...?" she heard Lily quip to the blonde.

She replayed the recent conversation in her mind, carefully combing over the transcript. Carmen beat her to the punch.

"Sam?" her friend broached. "Did I miss part of the tour?"


"Yeah," Josh agreed. "How can you have a 'spare' bedroom? This is only a two bedroom apartment, right?"

Shit! She'd gone to all the trouble to mess up the other bedroom: she'd laid in the bed for fifteen minutes, unmade it and then made it sloppily, and even put some of her books on the desk to make it look lived in. And then she goes and blurts it out to everyone.

She looked at the blonde again, who was watching her with an amused expression. Brooke would never let her live this down. "I guess I blew it, didn't I?"

"Yeah," Brooke smiled. "I guess you did."

"Yep!" Lily beamed enthusiastically.

"Blew what?" Carmen asked.

"Well, let's put it this way," Brooke told Carmen. "I visited Nicole a few months ago..."

"You visited Nicole?" Harrison interjected.

Brooke nodded. "I told her about something I was planning to do, and I told her why. She told me to tell you that you owe her fifty bucks, Carmen."

Carmen concentrated, trying to remember what bet she would have made with Nic--

Her eyes popped open comically, and she looked between her two friends. "Oh my God!" she blurted out, nearly choking on her wine.

"What?" Sugar Daddy asked.

"Are you serious?" Carmen exclaimed.

Brooke just nodded. She put the tray of appetizers down, and walked over to Sam.

"Guys," she began. "Sam has something to tell you," she grinned.

"I have something to tell them?" Sam retorted. "You've been dying to tell everyone for months."

"That's true," she smiled in acknowledgement. Brooke twined their fingers together and stood beside Sam, presenting a united front to their friends. "I, um...I'd like to announce," she began, "that Sam and I are together."

"Whaddayamean: 'together'?" Sugar Daddy asked.

"We're dating, SD," Sam told him.

"They're not just 'dating'," Lily interjected. "They're in love."

"Holy shit!" Sugar exclaimed.

"Whoa!" Josh remarked.

"You and Brooke are together?" Sugar Daddy seemed to be having a hard time grasping the situation.

"Yes, Sugar," Sam laughed.

"Livin' in sin," Carmen teased.

Brooke beamed a toothy grin at them and waggled her eyebrows. "Every night if I have it my way."

Everyone laughed at that. Even Harrison chuckled.

"Brooke!" Sam could feel the heat on her face and knew she was blushing. That only made them laugh harder. Brooke's comment could have been passed off as a joke, but now her reaction confirmed it.

The things that come out of that girl's mouth, Sam thought to herself, and then lassoed her mind before it made a beeline to the nearest gutter.

"When did this happen?" Carmen asked, and then addressed Lily: "You knew?"

"It happened at Christmas," Brooke informed them. "We told Lily because, well..." she looked to Sam for backup.

"She kinda told us," Sam shrugged.

"I decided to play cupid," Lily confessed. "I tried to nudge them along, and it almost blew up in my face."

"That's why you were so bummed after the Christmas party," Josh recalled.

"Yeah," Lily admitted. "Sorry if I was a little cranky."

"A little...?" Josh muttered.

Sam saw Carmen addressing Harrison. "You knew too?"

Harrison nodded. "They told me after New Year's."

"I'm sorry, Carm," Sam said. "I wasn't trying to hide it from you-from any of you," she addressed the group. "We just don't want my Mom and Mike to find out from someone else, so we've been keeping a low profile."

Brooke snickered.

"Okay," Sam admitted, "for the most part we've been keeping a low profile."

"It's my fault," Brooke confessed. "Sam has been reminding me that it is in our best interests to be good. I just don't always want to listen." She smiled a devilish smile that made Sam's knees go weak.

These people all needed to go home, Sam decided.

"So, are you guys okay?" Brooke asked the all important question. "With us, I mean?"

They looked amongst themselves. Carmen looked at Lily, and seemed to take her lead from there. "Yeah," she smiled. "If you guys are happy, then I'm happy."

"We are," Brooke said, and she looked over at Sam with eyes burning brightly. Sam couldn't help but smile in the warmth of her gaze.

"God, you guys are disgusting," Carmen jibed, and everyone laughed.

"Sorry," Sam chuckled, "we'll try to tone down any overly sappy displays." She looked over at Brooke, who just raised an eyebrow at her. "Or not," she apologized.

"Ohmigod!" Carmen declared. "Sam, you're whipped!"

"What?" She cried indignantly.

"She is," Lily agreed. "I noticed that at the Christmas party."

"We weren't even together at the Christmas party," Sam pointed out.

"Sure you were," Lily countered. "You just didn't know it yet.

"And, yeah, I hate to break it you, Sam, but you're whipped."

Sam let out a huff and looked around the room for support. "Josh!" she implored. Surely he would be on her side. "Am I whipped?"

Josh grimaced. "Sorry, Sam," he nodded, "but you're totally whipped."

Sam deflated. She'd always cherished her independence, her free spirit. And all it took was one gorgeous, sexy, tall, blonde--?

Okay. She could live with being 'whipped'.

"Look at the bright side," Brooke offered. "You and my Dad have something in common."

Sam chuckled ruefully.

Brooke addressed the group: "And I'd appreciate it if you guys would quit giving my girlfriend dating advice."

"Wow," Josh remarked, struck by Brooke's term of endearment. "So you guys are for real. Like, this is--"

"This is it for me," Brooke replied, and looked over at Sam. "I've found the one," she declared, smiling that smile. "The one I waited my whole life for."

And Sam marveled how-in a room full of people-it was suddenly just the two of them...

Harrison walked a tipsy Carmen to his car. It was well past midnight, and Harrison basked in the warm California climate. It was a beautiful night. Perfect in fact.

Well, as perfect as it could be when you spent the entire evening in the presence of two ex-girlfriends-one of whom you realized too late was the love of your life-who were now lesbian lovers.

Yeah: just about that perfect.

"Thanks for taking me home," Carmen interjected.

"No problem," Harrison grinned.

"I would've just stayed the night, but judging by the way they were looking at each other the person in the next room wasn't going to get a whole lot of sleep, you know?"

She laughed and Harrison just nodded. Unfortunately, she went on: "I mean: I just don't know how many times I could hear 'Oh, Brooke! Oh, Brooke!' before I went a little bonkers. You know what I'm--?

"Oh shit!" she exclaimed. "I'm sorry, Harrison. I totally forgot."

"It's okay," he replied.

"Are you okay?"

"I think so," he nodded. He glanced back over his shoulder at their apartment. "They really are happy, aren't they?"

"Oh yeah," Carmen agreed. "I've never seen them so--"

She grimaced. "I did it again, didn't I?"

"It's not your fault," he smiled ruefully. "I asked."

Carmen shook her head, her eyes distant. "I thought Nicole was crazy," she told Harrison. "Sam and Brooke? Especially back then..."

"When did she...?"

"Sophomore year," Carmen answered his half-spoken question. "She had an epiphany in the Novak, and just slapped her forehead out of the blue. Then she was pissed because it was going to leave a mark. She realized the reason they fought was because they were totally hot for each other. I didn't believe her.

"I still don't know how she knew," Carmen shook her head. "But she was right. Brooke is an animal, isn't she?" she chuckled. "Was she always like that?" she grinned, nudging him playfully in the ribs.

"That must be a recent development," Harrison replied, favoring her with a wry grin.

The awkward moment stretched into two. "I think I'll just...not talk for the rest of the way home," Carmen offered.

Harrison laughed. "It's all right. I've had some time to get used to it, and seeing them tonight-after they told everybody..." He thought back to the two of them sitting together on the sofa, never out of contact and-at one point-Brooke lying on the couch with her head pillowed on Sam's lap. They were carrying on conversations with different people, but Brooke looked so at peace being there, so at ease.

And Sam casually played with her hair. Even he couldn't help but notice how right it seemed. They looked like they'd been together their whole lives. It was as if all the disquiet and the unease and the restlessness that plagued them went away. They were two pieces of a puzzle that had finally found their place.

"You look like you could use a drink," Carmen suggested.

He glanced back at their apartment, and saw the lights go out.

Knew they weren't going to sleep any time soon. Took a moment to process that.

"It's...okay," he told Carmen. "I'm happy for them-for Sam.

"I'm serious," he assured a skeptical Carmen. "I haven't been a very good friend to her. But all I really want is for her to be happy."

They started walking again. "That sounds like love," Carmen said gently.

"Maybe," he shrugged. "Maybe that's what real love is: just wanting the person you love to be happy.

"But can we call it something else?" he requested. "Otherwise I'll never get over her."

She linked her arm through his and put her head on his shoulder. He appreciated the contact. "How about that drink?" he reminded her.

She pulled a bottle of wine from underneath her jacket. "Ta daa!" she grinned.

"Now we just need to find something for you to drink," she contemplated as she walked on-leaving a stunned Harrison in her wake.

"I get no love..." Harrison shook his head.

Brooke turned off the lights and climbed into bed. Their bed, she smiled.

"Sammyyyyy," she purred. "Are you in the mood for a little--

"What's wrong?" she asked the brunette. Sam's expression was forlorn, staring out the window.

"I didn't know you went to see Nicole."

Uh oh. Had she never really mentioned it to Sam?

"I find out something like that in a room full of our friends?" she asked. "I'm not supposed to find out things when other people do."

"I know," Brooke acknowledged, a knot forming in the pit of her stomach.

"Do you have any other secrets from me?"

"No, Sammy," Brooke pleaded. "Please don't be--"

"I'm not mad," Sam interjected. "I'm just..." she shrugged. "When did you see her?"

"February," Brooke answered. "I didn't tell you I was going because--"

"You knew I'd freak?" Sam guessed. Brooke nodded. "And you told her about us?"

"I went to see her because I was pursuing legal action against her, and I wanted her to know why," Brooke told her. "I went there for us, Sammy."

"What legal action?"

"I told my lawyer to go ahead with the civil suit."

"I thought you said you didn't want to do that," Sam recalled. "You just wanted to put it behind you."

Brooke shrugged. "Her family's loaded. The lawyer thinks it will never go to trial, and they'll settle to keep it out of the papers. Nicole thought it was a brilliant idea. She thinks I could walk with half a million or more."

Sam let out a whistle. "That's a lot of money."

"When you and I got together," Brooke began, "I realized that my father paid my way for everything-always has."

"Like school," Sam realized.

Brooke nodded. "I'm eighteen, so he can't really make me stop seeing you. But if it goes..." she paused, swallowing the lump in her throat. "badly when we tell them-and he disowns me or something--"

Sam put an arm around her. Brooke smiled: "I wanted to have a back-up plan."

"I'm sorry," Sam said. "I guess I never realized. I didn't know you were that worried about it. I-I'm sorry."

Brooke shrugged. "I don't know what to expect from him, and that's what's scary. I know he loves me, but I know this isn't what he expected of me."

It was Sam's turn to swallow nervously. "C-can you live with that?"

Brooke heard the tremor her voice, and knew what it cost her to even voice the possibility. She smiled reassuringly. "I wouldn't give this-you-up for anything."

Sam smiled gratefully. "Thanks."

"But the settlement may take a year or two. I may need you to float me a loan until then," she smiled. She referred to the money Sam had gotten as part of the insurance settlement from her father.

"What's mine is yours," Sam answered honestly.

"Ooh," Brooke moved in closer to her. "Then give me those lips," she grinned. She didn't want to think anymore depressing thoughts tonight. They'd had a wonderful evening, and all of their friends were still their friends.

There were more people she could just be herself around-because in being with Sam was she her true self. Gone was the artifice she'd worn for so long to fulfill the image of what everyone else expected to see when they looked at 'Brooke McQueen'.

Samantha McPherson-loving Samantha McPherson-had freed her from all that. That's why the hiding they'd done for the last nine months killed her inside. And while it would have fit right in with old Brooke-that was her modus operandi-the new, free Brooke wanted none of that. This was who she was now: like it or not.

She brought their lips together, and let her hands wander over the soft cotton of Sam's T-shirt. The familiar topography beneath her hands expanded as Sam's chest heaved, and Brooke felt the surge of blood coursing through her veins.

They came up for air and Sam regarded her cautiously. "Are you sure you're up for this tonight?"

"Are you kidding?" Brooke lunged at her again, and they fell back onto the bed-Sam chuckling beneath her.

"Well what if I'm not in the mood?" the brunette teased.

"Doesn't matter," Brooke answered.

"What do you mean it doesn't matter?" Sam laughed.

"Because," she explained. "You just said: 'what's yours is mine'."

"I did, didn't I?" Sam acquiesced.

"Mm-hmm," Brooke nodded. She slipped her hands beneath Sam's shirt, running her hands up the brunette's bare ribcage. Sam's breathing hitched, and her eyes darkened with desire. "You're mine, McPherson."

"Body and soul," was her reply. Her vow.

Words failed Brooke McQueen, so she simply kissed the brunette with all the tenderness and passion stirring in her heart.

And save for the occasional exclamation of each others' names in passion, the rest of the night passed devoid of the spoken word.

After all, what more could be said?

The End

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