DISCLAIMER: Characters belong to Ryan Murphy, I'm just borrowing them so they can do my bidding for a while.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: A huge, huge thank you to the person who let me bounce pretty much every sentence of this fic off of them. Quatorz, thank you SO much! I could not have finished this without you. Or finally found the right title. Hope you like the ending ;)
FEEDBACK: Love it. You know, as long as it's not just a reason to say nasty things to me. But if you have nice things to say, or constructive criticism feel free to email me at raye_raye2001@yahoo.co.uk
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

The Snowball Effect
By Redlance


Something is happening,
Everything's different,
But everything is fine.
~ Sheryl Crow, 'Light In Your Eyes'


It was snowing. It had been since around 2am, which was when Brooke had bounded into Sam's room, shrieking in a low whisper about the weather. Sam, groggy, had been dragged stumbling to the window to watch the fluffy flakes fall silently from the sky and had wakened hastily upon seeing them. Eyes wide, disbelieving.

"I could have fried eggs on the pool tile this afternoon!" Sam protested quietly, her eyes finding Brooke's excited, moon-illuminated ones in the dark room. "Where did this come from?"

"The sky, I think." Brooke told her drolly and Sam rolled her eyes at the smirk she wore. "But I know what you mean. Kind of freaky."

"Someone must have pissed Gord off pretty bad." Brooke turned her head away from the window to stare at her housemate in confusion.

"Gord? Is that some weird acronym you have for something?" Sam's forehead crinkled for a moment.

"Goodly Overseer of the Realm Deity?" She offered, only to further Brooke's confusion. "Gordon Ryman? The weather guy on Channel 6 news." Brooke closed her eyes as if to quell her temper, but laughed and shoved against Sam's shoulder with her own.

"You're such a freaky weirdo."

"You're just jealous you can't think up acronyms on the spot."

"Please, Spam." Brooke put emphasis on the well used, well disliked nickname and folded her arms across her chest, her posture challenging as she set a smug look on the reporter. "You… Short Pompous Antagonistic Moron." The words weren't punctuated with a glare, as they might have been had they actually meant anything. Now, a triumphant smile warmed her face and she thrust a fist into the air, a low "Yes!" hissing from her lips. Sam's tongue pushed itself into her cheek, as if forcing her to remain silent and take the gloating with dignity. "Ha, take that, Sammie." A slender finger was suddenly being thrust into the brunette's face and Sam had to resist a weird urge to bite it.


"No comeback? Wow, I must have dragged you out of a pretty deep sleep." Fair eyebrows raised once again in an informal, unspoken challenge. It was hardly ever nasty between them anymore. Teasing jibes had been found to be a lot more fun.

"Some people actually need their beauty sleep, Princess." Sam quipped, turning away from the window and giving an exaggerated yawn.

"Please." Brooke said again in the same, but softer, derisive manner. She waved her hand dismissively in the air and turned her attention back to the view below her. "It's so beautiful though."

"Mmhmm." Sam mumbled sleepily, already burrowed back under her covers. "The way it's coming down, it will also probably still be beautiful at a more reasonable hour." Dark eyes watched from just above the duvet as Brooke backed away from the window, long blonde tresses swaying with the motion.

"Fine fine, point taken. You'll need your strength." Brooke told her, moving to Sam's side to reach down and tousle already angry-looking locks. "Tomorrow we're building an army of snowmen." Sam opened her mouth to protest. "And I won't take no for an answer, McPherson." She was cut off as Brooke walked back towards the door of their adjoined bathroom that would lead her to her own room. "You either come willingly, or I'll intercept you on your way into the shower and throw you out there. Butt naked." Sam knew the threat was very real, but was still smiling as she heard the click of the closing door.

Roughly 6 hours after the rude, yet appreciated, awakening, Brooke was back in Sam's room. She slid onto the bed as quietly and slowly as possible, crawling up it towards the sleeping brunette on all fours. A gleam in her eyes and a smile close to predatory on her lips. Laughter was dangerously close to wriggling its way out of her, so she knew her actions had to be swift. With speed and finesse not unlike that of the most graceful of felines, Brooke closed the distance, lifting a leg up, over, and placing it on the opposite side of Sam. The brunette shifted slightly in her sleep, but her eyes stayed closed. The tiniest of titters, more of a high pitched whine, escaped and Brooke tried to hold her breath.

She allowed a few seconds to pass, noted that Sam's breathing remained shallow and slow. Then went in for the kill.

"Sam! Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up!" Brooke yelled, grabbing the slumbering brunette by the shoulders and shaking her so violently, Sam was later fairly positive she'd felt her brain rattle. Her eyes shot open and, shocked by the close proximity off their faces, she screamed an octave higher than she usually would have, eliciting the full, long suppressed belly laugh from the housemate who was apparently trying to scare her to death.

"Brooke, what the hell?" The question was biting, snappish. Brooke rolled her eyes and let it slide right off her back, vanishing into the air with a dramatic back flip. Sam wasn't a morning person. She'd been happy to find that most of the snide comments she'd received over breakfast had been due to that fact and not because of a deep loathing securely fastened to the earth by its stubborn roots.

"You promised snowmen." Brooke reminded her, with a childlike giddiness that Sam would have found endearing, had she been awake enough to notice it at that second. "Time to get up!"

"I promised you nothing." Sam groaned, trying to pull the covers up over her head, but was unable to due to Brooke's position and weight pinning it down to the mattress. "I've been asleep for like 5 minutes, Brooke." The blonde giggled at Sam's sleepily confused expression and felt the brunette twist underneath her so she was lying on her stomach with her face buried in the pillow.

"It's 8:15-"

"It's a day we don't have to get up for school!" Sam grumbled loudly into the feathery headrest.

"Please, Sammie?" Pouting, Brooke reached out and ran her fingers through dark hair absently as she spoke. "Jane and my dad already left to do last minute Christmas stuff and I don't want to build one by myself." She twirled the ends of Sam's hair through her fingers for second, before moving back up and repeating her ministrations. "Nicole doesn't see the point in making them when she can have a star ice sculptor flown in from Greenland or wherever to chisel her one with his shirt off while she watches, and Mary Cherry still doesn't understand the dangers of yellow snow." She giggled at some hidden mental image, then noticed that Sam had gone still beneath her. Frozen like a sculpture herself. Brooke knew she hadn't fallen back asleep, her breathing was too uneven. She moved her hand from Sam's hair and poked the exposed skin of her side. Sam jumped. "Ah ha! Knew you weren't asleep." Brooke wriggled backwards off of her and stood next to the bed, where there was still no movement. "Sam?" Finally, the reporter rolled over and sat up a little. Brooke was happy to see she looked more awake and bent down to retrieve something from the floor. Before Sam even had time to blink, Brooke had placed a red velvet, white fur trimmed Santa hat onto her head and had, in an act worthy of a Las Vegas magician, somehow managed to get matching fluffy red mittens onto her hands. Sam stared down at them, and then did blink. "If you're not downstairs in half an hour, I'm following through with my threat." Brooke told her, bearing suddenly feral looking teeth in a wide smile, before turning and exiting, hollering; "40 minutes, tops!" behind her.

Sam shook the final remnants of sleep out of her head and felt the white ball at the end of her hat bat against the side of her face.

"Brooke is so…" There wasn't, Sam realised, words for what Brooke could sometimes be. Annoying, fiendish, persistent, beautiful, sensual, and wonderful didn't seem to cut it. Sam blinked again at the thought, slowly. "I need to shower."

Exactly 36 minutes after that, Sam trudged down the stairs and found Brooke sitting at the island in the kitchen, sipping orange juice and, randomly, reading the newspaper. Tawny eyes, that held the slightest almost undetectable hint of blue today, glanced up, meeting Sam's, and crinkled at the edges in a smile when Brooke saw that she was still wearing the Santa hat.

"Cutting it close, McPherson." Brooke chided when Sam reached the bottom and made her way to the refrigerator. Sam raised her eyebrows and gave her an 'I'm not listening' expression. "Don't be a Grumpy Gus, today is supposed to be about fun." Eyebrows at her hairline now, Sam turned to face the beaming blonde.

"What's with the preschooler act?" Brooke's smile faltered a little. "You've been bouncing around like you're hopped up on sugar since last night." It was only when Sam made a face and grinned at her, that Brooke realised her words weren't an accusation. She was just playing with her. "It's cute, but kinda weird." Her smile returned full force and she put the newspaper aside, resting her forearms on the table and bracing forward on them.

"Before my mom left, the 3 of us would take off one week out of the year to go skiing." Brooke recounted, a far off look in her eyes. Sam pulled a grapefruit out of the fridge, grabbed a knife and a spoon and sat opposite the blonde to hear the rest of the story. "We went to a lot of really cool, no pun intended," Sam rolled her eyes. "places but…" Brooke paused, running her tongue over her lips to moisten them. Sam jumped in her seat, yanking her finger back from the grapefruit she was slicing in two.

"I'm fine. It missed." Sam reassure Brooke, who had already half gotten out of her seat before she'd spoken. Sam shook her head at herself and told Brooke to continue.

"It's not the places I remember so much as the feelings. I had so much fun…" The far off look was back again. "We'd spend days skiing and my dad would help me build snow forts and snowmen, then my mom would make hot chocolate with marshmallows when we got back to the lodge." Sam smiled as she imagined a younger Brooke running around in the snow, lobbing snowballs at her parents. "Snow just sends me right back there, I guess. Makes me feel like a kid again, you know?" Sam nodded.

"Yeah. Tater tots have the same effect on me." Sam told her seriously, gouging out another piece of grapefruit and slipping it into her mouth. Laughter erupted from Brooke and she grabbed the folded newspaper and smacked Sam's arm with it.

"Jackass." They were both giggling by the time Brooke let up. "So, will you come play with me?" She asked, batting her eyelashes. A noise that rang with disbelief travelled from Sam's throat to her nose.

"What's this? An invitation? How courteous of you. It almost makes me forget that you came barging into my room at an unholy hour this morning." Another piece of grapefruit disappeared.

"Samantha, only bums and slackers sleep until noon."

"Then make me up a t-shirt because I fully intend to join their club tomorrow." She took a moment to finish her breakfast before continuing. "But for today, consider me your snow buddy." Brooke grinned and lifted her hands, clapping them quietly, but rapidly. Then she set a smile on Sam that was so genuine and warm that it made her realise just how much it meant to Brooke to have her along. And she was suddenly really looking forward to bounding around outside in the snow.

"Brooke, I think my face is about to fall off." Sam said grumpily, dragging her feet in the snow as she followed Brooke through a grouping of trees in a nearby park. Brooke's laughter, which was so frequent that day, Sam had been unable not to take note of how easy on the ears it was.

"Better than the wind whistling in them." She thought wryly, waiting for Brooke to respond to her semi-constant complaints. She was in an unusually buoyant mood, and while Sam knew the reasons behind it, it still proved to be amusing to witness. Even Sam's grumbling couldn't bring her down.

"Almost there." Brooke told her, shooting Sam a bright smile over her shoulder. "Then I'll even give you my scarf for added wind protection as a reward." Sam pouted ever so slightly, catching up to walk beside Brooke.

"I'd prefer a cookie." Brooke laughed, again, and threaded her arm through Sam's. They both thoroughly enjoyed the closeness that came with not trying to rip the other's head off on a daily basis. It was nice, familiar in a weird way, and they had to admit that they seemed to have fallen and landed in a place that was home to a friendship unlike any of the others they had forged. For people who had been adamant that they were as different as black and white, they'd found that they were startlingly similar. And that they liked that.

"Then a cookie you shall have. Maybe I'll even make it myself." Sam made a face.

"I'd like to be alive for Christmas." Brooke gasped in mock shock and outrage and shoved her hand into Sam's occupied pocket to pinch the skin she found in there. Sam yelped, but didn't pull her arm away. "Kidding, kidding."

"I'll have you know I'm a fantastic cook-person."

"You mean a chef?" Sam drawled slowly. Another pinch, another chuckle. "One of those fabled blonde moments I thought you didn't have."

"Shut up." They continued along their snowy path, giggling and kicking it up into the air. "Your hand is warm." Brooke commented absently and Sam felt the blonde's hand move inside the pocket of her jacket, squeezing itself so the underside of Brooke's fist rested in her own slightly curled palm. Long streams of her misty breath shakily flowed out in front of Sam, then disappeared, only to be replaced instantly by another.

"And you seem intent on ruining that with your block of ice." In the snowy silence, she could hear Brooke's smile taking form. It only widened when they continued walking and Sam didn't make an effort to move her hand. Brooke's own uncurled and their fingers awkwardly, solidly, entwined in the pocket. "So, um…" Sam cleared her throat. "Are we there yet?" She asked, and looked sidelong at Brooke sheepishly, who raised an eyebrow.

"What was it you were saying about me sounding like a preschooler?" Sam stuck her tongue out in response. "Why haven't you pierced that thing yet?" Brooke blurted out, much to the other girl's shock.

"What? Where did that come from?"

"Well I just figured that since you had the nose piercing you're not opposed to the idea."

"It's not like that turned out well though." Sam reminded her, cringing a little at the memory of her looking like a distant relative of Rudolph.

"No, but you're always playing with it." Brooke shrugged, appearing nonchalant about the sudden shift in conversation. "It's… constantly moving." She emphasised, then set a wondering gaze on Sam. "Do you seriously have no idea that you do it?" Sam just shook her head and shrugged, then looked back and Brooke with an inquisitive look of her own.

"You pay particular attention to that?" Mortifyingly, and mystifyingly, Brooke thought she was blushing. She looked away from Sam, setting her eyes on the spot ahead of them where she intended to stop.

"It's not really avoidable. I'm sure there are plenty of people that think you move it around an abnormal amount."

"At least I don't have a constant twitch that fabricates itself as a need to tuck my hair behind my ear." Sam said wryly, as they finally came to a stop. Brooke look mildly stunned for a moment, but Sam continued, putting a road block in front of whatever she was about to say. "I seriously cannot feel my feet."

"Oh my god!" Brooke's laughter rang loudly in the tiny clearing of trees. "Next time I'm leaving you at home."

"Shame." Sam told her dryly, causing the blonde to look at her. Her expression was solemn for the first time that day.

"Do you really not want to be here?" Sam instantly felt like her heart was being pushed into her feat. Heavy, guilty. Her brow creased and she smiled, apologetically.

"I'm sorry. You're right, I am being a Grumpy Gus." Brooke just looked even more miserable at that. Sam gave her hand, which had not been removed even though they had stopped, a quick but firm squeeze and her smile grew in assurance. "I am having fun though. I think I've just conditioned myself to be true to the surly teenager stereotype and respond to anything that may make me uncomfortable in any way with grumpiness."

"Like mornings." Sam stuck her tongue out again and now Brooke did take her hand out of the pocket to point a finger at her face. "See! You're doing something with it again!" The reporter rolled her eyes.

"Maybe I will get it pierced. It'll give me an excuse to play with it and maybe a certain annoying blonde will lay off." Brooke didn't dignify the comment with a response, instead walking a little ways from Sam and bending down to gather handfuls of snow, moulding them into a solid ball. When she righted herself, she noticed the other girl eyeing her warily.

"I'm not going to throw it at you, you wuss." Sam rolled her eyes, but visible relaxed, and walked over to where Brooke was. "This is the very start of our snowman." Sam arched a dark eyebrow.

"He's gonna be small."

"We're gonna roll it in the snow so it gets bigger."

"Oh." And so they began. Brooke rolled her small ball around and around in the snow, slowly building it into an almost perfectly spherical shape. Sam, however, was gathering armfuls of the fluffy white fun stuff and mashing it into an oddly shaped lump that was to be the bottom third of the snowman. When Brooke finally looked over and realised what Sam was doing, she had to stifle her laughter. She was pretty adorable to watch, hefting large amounts of snow and trying to roll the uneven block around, heavy puffs of breath easily seen in the cold, crisp air. "Why are you laughing?" Sam asked before Brooke could realise she was. Then Sam struck an arrogant pose, resting her hands on her hips.

"You just look so cute rolling that mess of a ball around." Brooke smirked at Sam's outraged expression.

"I will have you know that the lumps are purposeful. They'll give the snowman character and not make him feel like he has to strive for streamlined, globular perfection, because he was made this way and is already perfect."

"That's a weirdly deep explanation for why yours is uneven."

"Shut up and roll your stupid ball."

Eventually, they had three balls stacked on top of one another. The bottom considerably more misshapen than the top two, because Brooke had insisted on sculpting the head, explaining that it wouldn't be right for him to have one the shape of a lumpy football.

"Worked out fine for Arnold." Sam had pointed out with a pout. Brooke had smiled, finding her dark haired companion all kinds of endearing in that moment, and then frowned. "What?" Sam asked.

"He um…" Brooke pointed to the snowman. "He looks kinda naked." They stood next to each other and tilted their heads to the side in unison, appraising their oddly bright white creation. Finally, Sam stepped forward. She unzipped her jacket a little and unthreaded the scarf from around her neck, wrapping it around the crease where the snowman's head met his upper torso. She flattened it across his front, smoothing it out.

"There, slightly more presentable."

"He doesn't have any eyes." Brooke suddenly realised. "How could we have forgotten eyes?" She shook her head in wonder and began scanning the ground for something suitable. She kicked up snow with her foot to reveal the dirt beneath in the hopes of finding a few pebbles. She heard a snapping sound and looked up to find Sam breaking a large branch off of a nearby tree.

"Arms." Sam explained with a wide, toothy smile. Brooke suspected she was having more fun than she would admit to. She grinned back, watching as Sam snapped the branch in two over her knee and began forcing them into the snowman's sides, before returning to her own task.

"Aha!" She yelled triumphantly after a few minutes searching and held the two similarly sized oval pebbles in the air. Sam chuckled at her child-like exuberance, feeling a warmth settle in the pit of her stomach as she watched Brooke bound towards her and press the pebbles into the topmost ball. Sam watched the blonde's long slender fingers press into the stone, then take it away to dig the indent a little deeper, before trying it again and finally making the pebble stay. She repeated the process, all the time with Sam's keen eyes on her, unaware. Then, she used her thumb to carve a mouth for him. "There." Was eventually sighed into the crisp air.

They both took a step back to admire their work.

"Quite the dapper snow fellow we've created here, huh?" Sam spoke aloud in a curiously, and rather badly, English accented tone. Brooke let out a short burst of bewildered laughter and stared at Sam with an incredulous smile.

"I think he's very handsome." Brooke chuckled, bumping the brunette's hip with her own, arms folded across her chest. "Too bad he doesn't have a snowlady to keep him warm at night."

"Women are dangerous. Strange powers." Sam mused wryly and wriggled her fingers with the air of a magician casting some form of spell. She glanced sidelong at Brooke. "She'd make him melt." She mimicked Brooke and folded her arms across her chest, setting a glare on the snowman. "Maybe then I could get my scarf back. I didn't anticipate the frozen neck." Now, the logical thing for Brooke to have done, would have been to offer Sam her own scarf. But of course, that thought didn't even enter her head. The first impulse her brain received was to roll her eyes, move behind Sam and wrap her arms around her neck. And like a child who didn't know any better, she acted up on it. The result was akin to jamming a finger into a socket. Instantaneous and potentially devastating. It also made her hair stand a little on end.

Brooke felt Sam stiffen and her breathing stop, then in direct defiance, her own sped up.

"Oookay." She sucked in a lungful of frozen air with a frown, but didn't remove her arms.

"Brooke…?" Sam whispered, her shoulders heaving quickly with her returned breath. Brooke, acutely aware of Sam's reaction to their closeness, tried to force it to the back of her mind and ignore it for reasons her brain was desperately trying to throw at her.

"What? Are my hands cold?" She offered weakly, her warm breath tickling the reporter's ear and neck, and hoped Sam didn't notice.

"My skin is burning." The reporter laughed insanely in her head. "No, I-I just… what are you doing?"

"You said you were cold." It was said as if it explained everything and by the time the words were out, Sam's brain had either frozen or been boiled by her sudden flaring body heat. Whatever had happened, it was preventing her from being able to do anything.

So they stood, wrapped in a silence that wasn't exactly awkward, but charged with the quiet. Like it was feeding off itself and emitting a buzz that was impossible to pretend wasn't there.

"I bet he could kick Frosty's ass." And the buzz was gone. Drowned out by the laughter that exploded from Sam, which was quickly matched in volume and exuberance by Brooke. Sam was so pretty when she laughed, even in profile.

"You're pretty when you laugh." Sam looked over her shoulder at Brooke, eventually having to turn her body slightly to make eye contact. Which she quickly shied away from, embarrassed, the laughter bubbling down to intermittent giggles.

"Shut up." Sam told her, her grin still stretching from ear to ear. Brooke, fuelled by Sam's far less than volatile reaction to the words, continued.

"You are." Brooke beamed, resting her chin on Sam's shoulder. "You get these cute little cherry cheeks while you smile. I bet you got them pinched a lot as a kid." At this point, she started cooing and talking to Sam as though she were a five year old, which prompted her to struggle free, laughing again, and spin around to face the blonde, her posture akin to that of an animal stalking its prey.

"I warned you." Brooke had time to raise an eyebrow, begin to say 'Warned me about what?', before she was suddenly pelted smack bang in the forehead with a snowball. She stood there, shocked beyond reason, while Sam was very close to rolling around on the ground in fits of laughter.

"You brat!" Brooke bellowed, coming to her senses.

And it was on.

In a flurry of motion, both girls bent towards the softly trodden, fluffy white ground and in seconds, had turned it into a war zone. Handfuls of snow were grabbed, mashed together and launched through the air. Some connected, most did not, but their laughter rang clear as a foghorn through the trees. Lost in themselves and the cold chunks of snow working their way under shirts, they forgot about the rest of the world for those minutes. These were the only trees, the only place where snow existed, and they were the only two people alive.

And they were the only ones with the knowledge that a snowball to the throat hurt like hell.

Sam made an unintelligible, hacking noise and dropped to her knees. She raised her hands into the air in the universal sign of peace. Brooke dropped the snowball she was readying for launch and rushed to Sam's side, stumbling over apologies and questions about whether or not the fallen girl was okay. Her shoulders were shaking, Brooke could see, but Sam's head was bent, preventing her from being able to see if her face was red or blue or another colour that suggested damage to her windpipe.

"Sam! Are you-?" Brooke's question was stopped in its tracks as Sam lifted her head. She saw the dangerous look in her eyes and wide smirk, and knew she'd been hustled. The shoulder shaking was not due to a lack of oxygen, Sam had been laughing.

Brooke, heart hammering in her chest, turned her body and attempted to make a run for it, but Sam was too quick for her. Like a weirdly humanoid frog, the reporter leapt from her crouching position, sailed through the air and collided with Brooke's back, forcing them both down into the cold snow. They landed with a thud next to each other, Sam gleefully howling with laughter as Brooke, shrieking, frantically struggled to push away from her and put as much distance between them as possible. She managed to get to her knees and began crawling away, the snow dampening the denim over her knees as she went. Sam lunged after her, landing with her stomach flat against the white ground and a hand firmly clamped around Brooke's right shoe.

"Gotcha!" Brooke let out a slightly hysterical, laughter tinged scream and tried to kick at Sam with her free foot. Her assailant, to Brooke's astonishment, let the kicks come and roll right off her back. She was relentless in her pursuance and managed to flip Brooke onto her back with just the one hand on her boot. Of course, if Brooke had resisted, her knee may have very well popped out due to the angle it was being twisted at, but she still deemed the feat impressive.

"You, you…" Brooke began, trying to get the words out between gasps and giggles. "Sadistic, Pigheaded, Anti…" She stalled there, struggling to think as Sam finally got her onto her back and began crawling up the length of her body, grinning like an idiot. "Anti-cheerleader… Misogynist!" Sam's movements stilled and she pulled back to stare down at Brooke incredulously.

"Misogynist?" She asked with a smirk and tilted her head, looking at Brooke with mocking scepticism. "Are we having another blonde moment or do you actually know what that means?" At that, Brooke heaved with all her strength in an attempt to push Sam's entirely too close body off of hers. To no avail. Her back hit the ground with a wet splat and Sam's form rocked into her own.

"Well-" The blonde huffed in a breath. "Your vindictive vendetta against the cheerleaders I think proves my words have merit." Sam laughed once, loudly, and in a way that dismissed the other girl's words.

"Please, the Glamazons have only ever had one iota of femininity, and that was when you captained. Let's face it, Popita vanished off the face of the Earth like some kind of ghost. I'm not entirely sure she ever existed. Mary Cherry I'm almost positive is part hyena and, as we've discussed, Nicole is the living spawn of Satan, so…" Sam's smirk returned. "That just leaves you, who I'm sure is not a ghost, part hyena or relative of Satan. Though the last one I was kind of iffy about for a while." Brooke, arms pinned at her sides by Sam's body, could only extend a finger to poke the brunette in the ribs. She jumped away from the contact and shifted so she was straddling Brooke's right leg. "Besides, I think you're more likely to be part Greek Goddess or something. So I repeat, misogynist?" Hazel eyes rolled.

"Fine, fine. It was the first thing that popped into my head."

"What the heck does that say about me?!" Without waiting for an answer, Sam lowered her body so close to Brooke's it stopped the blonde's breathing. However, it quickly resumed at about ten times its normal pace when Sam, using the arm not holding herself up, began shovelling handfuls of snow down the back of Brooke's jacket.

"Sam!" The blonde screamed, wide-eyed and laughing despite her predicament. "You are so-" She gasped as more snow soaked through her shirt and made contact with her skin. "When you let me up, I am going to… to…" With both of her own hands free, she used them to pound on Sam's stomach and sides, trying vainly to push her off. Brooke glared, as best she could while laughing, up into Sam's eyes. The brunette simply raised an eyebrow and grinned slyly, catching Brooke's pounding fists in her freezing hands.

"What, exactly, do you plan on doing to me?" Brooke's ready retort detailing a painful event involving an icicle died on her lips as her brain registered the double meaning in Sam's voice. First, her flustered brain tried to question whether or not the double meaning were actually there, then when she realised she wanted it to be, she had to figure out why. Which led to a crippling number of thoughts she was unable to process. As some form of defence mechanism, her brain shut that part of itself off for the time being.

"Uh…" But she was still left without a comeback. Sam was staring at her. Her tongue poked into her cheek in a way that demand Brooke's attention. Her large intake of breath coincided with Sam's tongue moving to wet her lower lip. The dark haired girl lowered their hands, but didn't let go.

"Brooke?" Sam was frowning a little now, unsure as to why their banter had just flat-lined.

When Brooke felt the brunette begin to move, her eyes finally focused again and attached their gaze to an article of clothing that had inexplicably managed to stay on during their scuffle.

"You look really cute in that hat." Sam's heart fluttered wildly in her chest as she heard the words. A feeling she'd only been semi-aware of until that point, now swelled to new heights with in her and exploded. A huge smile broke out onto her face, showing all of her pearly white teeth, and her eyes rolled downwards away from Brooke's gaze, bashfully.

"Yeah, well…" Her eyes rose again. "You look really cute covered in snow." Brooke smiled back, inwardly wishing Sam would let go of one of her hands so she could tuck her hair behind her ear, even though there was no point to the action. Then in some weird moment of unified thinking, Sam did let go of one of her hands, but beat Brooke to the punch. She reached out and gently touched Brooke's hair with her fingers. Hazel eyes closed involuntarily.

The air stilled around them. The snow settled into silence and the sounds of children playing in the areas beyond the trees disappeared as if Spring had just arrived, but had bypassed their clearing. Leaving them alone again.

And just as the sound of breathing returned to their spot, Brooke's was stolen from her again as Sam's cold, smooth lips descended upon her own. It was soft, done in a manner that could have almost been perceived as friendly if they'd ever had the kind of relationship where kisses were common, but they weren't. An occasional hug, but nothing like this.

Nothing that had transpired between them in their relationship so far, could compare to what happened at the moment.

It was at the point when their lips touched, so gently it almost hadn't happened, their entire worlds, the very make-up of who they were, spun on a dime. Fate twirled the coin, daring to leave it up to Chance for that instant, and it could have gone either way. Head, a friendly kiss is all it would have been. Laughed off and tried to be forgotten. Heart, because Fate's dime is of a different breed, someone would give in. And fall right along with coin.

Then at the very last second, at the tail end of a stream of them that seemed to last for minutes, Fate decided Chance was too risky. With a quick nudge of a finger, and a quick intake of air, it was over.

Sam was kissing Brooke with a need that was previously unknown to her, a passion she'd only felt echoes of in her dreams. The cold was gone, and her head was spinning, because Brooke was kissing her back. She wasn't too far gone to be unaware of that, but the act itself made it very difficult for her to stay grounded. She was drowning, floating, completely lost. The need to hold onto whatever she'd just found caused her brow to furrow, even as the kiss continued, a new longing heart-wrenchingly etched onto her face. It caused her to finally release Brooke's other hand, desperate to find a closer form of contact, which she found when she caressed the blonde's cool cheek and skin met skin.

Someone whimpered, and Sam hazily felt Brooke's newly free hand grasping at the side of her jacket, pulling her down, up and closer all at the same time. Her body reacted, pressing itself flush against the one beneath her, hormones raging from the effects of the new drug she'd discovered. She was sure her lungs were on fire, that her chest was going to burst. That they sky was orange and the clouds had turned green.

"Sam…" She'd broken away for a millisecond, involuntarily, to catch enough breath needed to go on. It was enough time for the word to slip through. Her name. Whispered, rasped. Moaned in a tone that belonged to seductresses in X-Rated movies. Sam had never heard anything like it, and it broke her worn psyche in two.

"Oh god…" Was whimpered almost silently, pitiful, helpless, without thought. Then their lips crushed together once more and tongues sought out the other with clumsy need. Sam's fingers were tangled in blonde tresses, pulling her closer, and Brooke's body arched repeatedly, wanting more contact.

Everything went still at once. Their bodies, their breathing, the Earth stopped spinning beneath them. Then it lurched forward on its axis, shaking the ground. Sam felt the icy tendrils of the wintery atmosphere wind along her back as their lips separated. Felt the sinking feeling in her stomach as their eyes opened and gazes locked. Her skin reverted to its chilled temperature as they repelled away from the other like their magnets had just been flipped so the negative ends were facing, flipping them around and upright.

They stood, staring dumbly at one another, confusion and shock drawn on their faces until an eraser stepped in and it was replaced with frustration.

"What…" Brooke took a deep, quivering breath, running her fingers through her hair and then tugging it harshly, frantically, behind her ear. "What was that?" She asked, calmer but with a blaringly obvious edge to her voice.

"I was hoping you could tell me." Sam's posture was defensive, her arms locked in a crossed position over her chest. Her tone was less abrasive, meeker yet still held an air of defiance in it. Brooke's eyes bulged at the words.

"Me?" She yelled, outraged. "What about you?!" The blonde's arm shot out and she stepped forward, thrusting a finger into Sam's chest. The jab was hard and Sam flinched away from it, frowning. Brooke was close again and she couldn't stop her gaze from drifting down to her lips. Ruby red from the cold and their kisses. She felt her blood boil a little.

"I think we were both pretty heavily involved back there." She shot back angrily. "I didn't have my own hand on my ass." The fury drained from Brooke's face and she flushed, looking embarrassed by words the brunette inwardly chastised herself for letting slip out. "Sorry." She said bitingly, managing to look remorseful of her words at the same time.

"You kissed me." Brooke said softly, her expression changed to one of baffled disbelief. Looking at her in that second, Sam had no trouble picturing the 8-year-old girl she'd been told about that morning.

"You kissed back." And picturing her apparently made Sam channel her. Brooke rolled her eyes, annoyed by the preschooler response.

"Why?" She demanded, and Sam, stung by Brooke's tone and flustered by the question, turned away.

"I don't know!" Her voice was loud and filled the space around them, then flowed away and into the trees. Brooke stared at her, waiting. Watching as her face reflected a myriad of emotions in mere seconds and finally settled on forlorn. She almost, almost smiled when she saw Sam's cute, trademark frown line appear between her eyebrows. And then they were looking at each other again. "You just, you looked so…" Sam's cold exterior thawed completely, the longing she held inside began slipping out through her eyes. Brooke's annoyance faded along with it, including a large part of her brain, her shoulders slumped and she looked at Sam dreamily, happy with the almost compliment and found herself waiting for it to be finished. 'Looked so what?' had never come so close to leaving her mouth. Sam's big brown bambi eyes, something she herself had dubbed them, were looking at her with a warmth that was dangerously close to something she was afraid to even think.

Then, as if some strolling animal had just stepped on a twig, they snapped out of the trance they'd entered into. Brooke's hands shot into the air, the very picture of someone silently screaming 'I'm not dealing with this', and shook her head vehemently.

"This is insane." She sucked in a breath, wide eyed. "I'm going home to pretend that didn't happen." She spun around and began striding away from Sam, dragging the fingers of both of her hands through her hair.

Dumbstruck, Sam's body would allow her to do nothing but watch her go for the first ten paces. Her mind raced with things she could have said, different things she could have done, then sputtered once she remembered she had a voice and could at least attempt to stop Brooke from leaving. Then she had to take a moment as the realisation that she wanted Brooke back and as close to her as possible sank in.

"Brooke!" She kept walking. "You can't just… I don't remember how to get out of here!" It was a poor attempt and did nothing to stall the blonde. "Don't leave." Brooke's footsteps faltered, she was unused to hearing Sam beg. "Brooke, please… come back." And when Sam's voice cracked on the last word, her feet suddenly felt like they'd been cemented. Like she couldn't move them if she'd wanted to. And she didn't, at least not any further away. Her body turned slowly to find Sam coming to her. Their magnets reversed again.

Brooke was suddenly struck with the thought that she didn't think Sam had ever looked more beautiful. Rosy-cheeked from the cold, dark hair tousled, framed by a snowy white backdrop. Hazel eyes scanned her as she walked. Paid attention to the way her legs moved, the way her hips swayed, how her fingers were nervously playing with the fur trim of the hat she held in her hands.

"Please don't run away." Brooke blinked, unsure if Sam had meant it to sound like a question. She shook her head slowly.

"I won't." A voice in the back of her mind was asking her how she was managing to remain calm all of a sudden and how Sam was accomplishing the same astonishing feat. She tried to hold her body still as Sam moved towards her, but she felt like she was vibrating, and when Sam finally did reach her, she felt an inexplicable urge to touch her in some way. It made her realise that there had been a lot of casual touching going on between them lately. "You practically molested her hand on the way here. Wasn't like she made an effort to stop that though."

"So, um…" Sam frowned as she awkwardly tried to start something that resembled a conversation. Brooke rolled her eyes, exasperated by the whole situation and walked a few paces to her left, slumping down at the base of a tree.

"This is insane." She repeated her earlier words, dropping her head into her hands. The reporter stood, unsure of what to do until Brooke's eyes appeared through gaps in her fingers and stared at her. Then she lifted her head again. "Could you please sit down?" Sam sighed heavily and did as she was told. She shuffled forward and sat a respectable distance away from the blonde, planting her tongue in her cheek as she did.

Seconds ticked away in silence, neither one looking at the other. Brooke chewed on her lower lip and Sam had moved on to making audible clicking noises with the muscle she apparently had a subconscious obsession with.

"Please say something, Sam."

"I don't know what to say." The sting of being unable to help, hurt Sam. The pleading in Brooke's voice made her so badly want to be able to pluck an explanation for her earlier actions out of the air, but all the wishing in the world couldn't make that possible.

"Well I need something to distract me so my brain doesn't explode!" She gestured wildly with her hands. "I can not handle the weirdness between us right now. This-this awkwardness is… it's like I've been shoved into a time machine and we're back at the beginning, and I hate that. I hate feeling like I don't know how to handle you. I got… comfortable." Sam blinked rapidly at the unexpected confession. "I got used to not worrying about whether or not you were going to rip my head off if I said something the wrong way. Or accuse me of some ulterior motive if I smiled at you. I swear that stage in our relationship shaved off a third of my life. I can't, I can't deal with things going back to that." She was shaking her head, her words almost frantic when Sam finally scooted closer and rested a hand on her knee. Like she'd flipped a switch, the blonde visibly calmed.

"Brooke, unless you make an attempt on my life, or purposefully wipe the hard drive on my laptop, I can promise you things won't ever be like that again. We've come way too far." Brooke gave her a look, her eyes darting to the spot on the ground where they'd kissed, recognisable by the snow they'd upset in their tussle.

"Yeah. I'd say we've come really far." Unexpectedly to Brooke, whose tone was serious, Sam laughed at that. The ex-cheerleader looked at her with confusion.

"I can't believe we're talking about this rationally. I thought there would be explosions and body parts flying all over there place if this ever-" Brooke's eyebrows rose. "What?"

"How long have you been thinking about the ramifications of this?" Sam's mouth first dropped open and then snapped shut, her jaw clenching reflexively. She spent a moment allowing her brain to catch up to what she'd said, then was very glad she was sitting when the realisation hit.

"I think," She began slowly. "A while."

"Why didn't you say anything?" Brooked asked, and Sam didn't know if she sounded hurt or annoyed.

"I didn't know, Brooke." She paused, running her tongue over her bottom lip. "I mean, I didn't realise that's what it was. I thought… I thought we were just becoming closer, you know?" Brooke stared at her unblinking and nodded.


The small wood was still and beautiful around them. A pair of birds had wandered down from their tree to gather provisions or check out the weird white stuff that was covering the ground. It was peaceful, and Sam could easily see why Brooke had decided it would be a good place for their snowman.

"I didn't think I was this stupid." Sam commented after a stretch of silence. "To not see something developing right before my eyes."

"Maybe it's like puppies." Brown eyes stared at her in amusement and Brooke smiled for the first time since she'd attempted to leave. "Well, if you're around it twenty-four seven, you don't really notice it growing. It kind of… just happens. And then you go back and look at pictures and you can suddenly see just how much things have changed."

"That's a really weird explanation." Brooke elbowed Sam in the arm. "Ow! Let me finish." She pouted, rubbing at the sore limb. "I was going to say that it's a good one. Weird, but good."

Yet another silence fell over them, but this time it was one that blanket them with a sense of ease. It surprised them both how well the situation was being handled, that they hadn't done something unforgivable yet.

"Maybe that's part of this. Don't realise it's happening, so you don't know that once it does you won't be murderously freaked out by it." It floated through Sam's head and, at that second, seemed to make all the sense in the world.

"I think my hand is literally frozen solid." Brooke's laughter sent a thrill down Sam's spine and gave her a fuzzy feeling in her stomach that she was able to really feel for the first time. She rested her head back against the tree and tilted it so she was facing Brooke.

"That's what you get for holding it in the snow for so long." Brooke dropped her gaze as she said it.

"Didn't hear you complaining." Sam quipped, smirking uncontrollably and wide enough that her teeth showed. Then she felt a feather light touch on her hand. Her head snapped away from the tree and she looked down to find Brooke's fingers tentatively reaching out to her. And she was suddenly afraid her heart was going to shoot out through her throat and completely destroy the moment.

Thankfully, it stayed inside her chest, hammering hard against her ribcage as Brooke's fingers caressed her skin so gently she thought she'd die. Close to her wrist to begin with, but then the blonde's slender fingers moved out, tracing up to her knuckles and then across them. Sam tried as hard as she could to keep her breathing calm and steady, but was finding it increasingly difficult. She'd never felt anything like what she was experiencing and she was unsure about how to deal with it. The only thing she was fairly certain about was that she wanted to kiss Brooke again.

And in all honesty, that scared the crap out of her.

Brooke's mapping of her skin moved to Sam's fingers and she caressed the length of each one of them, from knuckle to tip. She turned the hand over, stroking her fingers across Sam's palm, appearing very intent on her work. When she began to smile, Sam knew the blonde had noticed that her hand was shaking and she embarrassedly tried to pull it out of her grasp. Brooke chuckled and held fast, grabbing the cold hand with both of her own and holding it in her lap.

"Stop it." Brooke chastised playfully when Sam continued trying to yank her hand away. "I'm trying to help." She laced their fingers together, placed her free hand on top of the one she held, and Sam's hand finally stilled.

"This is really weird." Sam said, locking eyes with her companion who smiled at her.

"I know." Brooke's fingers absently traced patterns along the top of Sam's hand. "How did this happen? Seriously, how in the hell did this develop? We hated each other." Sam laughed once, rolling her eyes at both of them.

"But there was always a spark." She admitted, feeling increasingly more foolish by the second for not seeing this sooner. "It was just, a slightly more homicidal living flame in the beginning." She added wryly, her eyes drinking in Brooke's features. Her eyes, her smile, the things she'd unconsciously become infatuated with.

"Pretty intent on arson."

"Mmm." Sam agreed. "I think it kind of got suffocated and given too much oxygen at the same time when the parentals threw us together. It changed into something else."

"Far more volatile."

"Potentially fatal." Sam agreed seriously. They smiled at each other. Then Brooke asked the question Sam was too afraid too.

"So what do we do now?"

"What do you want to do now?" At Brooke's instant blush, Sam's eyes widened and her mouth fell open in amused shock. "Why Brooke McQueen, I never-"

"Shut up! Shut up, shut up!" If her hands had been free, Sam was sure she would have covered her ears with them, but she seemed unwilling to let go of the one she was holding.

"How long do you think you've felt… different, towards me?" Sam's expression sobered as she asked the question and she sounded serious. "Because I would have never for one second even considered that there could be any chance you of all people would be even slightly interested in me." Brooke frowned.

"Why wouldn't I be?"

"You're Brooke McQueen." Sam stated as if it made everything clear. It didn't and Brooke continued to look questioningly at her. "You could have anyone." And the words settled somewhere inside the blonde and dissolved like a painkiller taken for a headache. It made everything less congested, less fuzzy, like Brooke didn't need to squint anymore and her eyes were open.

"But I don't want just anyone." The statement made Sam's heart seize in her chest momentarily. Her lips twitched upwards in a smile and she shook her head slightly.

"This is…" She glanced down at their hands and gave Brooke's a squeeze. "This is weird." Gold flecks shimmered in hazel eyes and Sam felt a rush of something course through her. "I didn't even know I wanted this."

"But you do?" And Brooke sounded anxious now, worried. Sam looked for the right words to respond to the question, to respond to Brooke's apparent new fear of losing her.

"Yes." Was the only one she could find. "I'm afraid of losing you now too." That particular response went unspoken. "Do you?" And now Sam was nervous, acting like the teenager she was. Like the silly, loved up fool she was quickly finding out she was, and had unknowingly been for a while. Her stomach flipped and twisted as Brooke's silence stretched. "That is so not the reaction I was hoping for, Brooke." She said harshly, sadly, her eyes downcast, and moved to stand.

"Why do you always jump to conclusions?" Brooked sighed perturbed, the words tired. She felt the itching irritation that used to accompany so many of their conversations begin to skulk beneath her skin and tugged down hard on Sam's hand, forcing her back to the snow. "Why will you never wait for the explanation?"

"If you didn't want this, you should have just said."

"I didn't say I didn't want this. You didn't give me a chance to say anything." Brooke managed to get out through clenched teeth, trying very hard to keep the itching off her mind. "Now shut up and let me speak." Sam looked suitably subdued. Brooke took a deep breath and looked down at their hands. "I'm in the same boat as you, I didn't know I wanted this either. I didn't know this was even on the cards." She ran her free fingers over the top of Sam's hand, still looking at them. "But now I know it is… I'm scared. And I think you are too. It's kind of unsettling to suddenly have this… incredibly huge stack of emotions thrown into your lap, completely unorganised and totally thrilling at the same time. And it's frightening…" She sighed and lifted her eyes to Sam's. "But it's good." Sam's smile stole her breath and she wondered, for the millionth time since their kiss, how she'd managed to miss this. "And I don't want to lose it."

"I'm really glad you said that." Brooke giggled, bashful over her words now. "And that you didn't try to smother me with a pompom or something." Brooke's giggle turned into a laugh and she shoved Sam's hand away playfully, slapping her on her jacket-clad arm in the same motion. A frantic game of slap-hands ensued, which somehow ended with Sam straddling Brooke's lap and their hands nowhere near each others. "Is this okay?" Sam asked, suddenly very hyperaware of the closeness of their bodies. She felt silly asking such a question, when only minutes earlier they'd been making out furiously just feet away from where they currently sat, but it was as if they'd regressed back to the 'first date' stage.

"Yeah." Brooke replied, nodding and watching her hands as they settled on Sam's hips. "It really is."

"You didn't answer my question."

"Huh?" Brooke replied dumbly, Sam's statement snapping her head up like a rubber-necked cartoon character. Full, amused red lips pursed, the corners of Sam's mouth twitching upwards. She was enjoying this.

"I asked how-" Brooke's fingers began moving along her thighs, causing her to automatically clamp her jaw shut to stop some sort of noise of pleasure from escaping. Brooke's mouth opened in a wide smile, her tongue lifting to touch the bottom of her top teeth. She was enjoying this too. "Long you think you've felt like this?" Sam finished with some effort.

"I think since before you moved in." The answer shocked Sam so much, she fell back on her haunches and stared at Brooke open-mouthed. "I think, deep down, that's why I reacted so badly. Why I was so freaked. I was afraid of how having you in such close proximity would end."

"Gee, and there was me thinking the only way it could end was in chalk and police tape." Sam said dryly.

"Me too for a while."

"Guess our subconscious did quite the number on us." They smiled at one another. Then Sam lifted a hand to Brooke's face and tucked a few strands of Brooke's hair behind her ear, sighing as though she'd just figured out the answer to a problem that had been bothering her for months. "I think I've been wanting to do that for a long time." She let her hand linger against Brooke's cheek, gently stroking the skin beneath her thumb, and vaguely noticed Brooke's hands still on her legs. Her fingers danced across the blonde's perfect features, and it had been a while that she could call them that without resentment, moving up past one of two shining eyes, along the outline of an eyebrow and down the other side.

Eventually Sam's fingers, after skirting the edges and watching Brooke's breath unevenly appear in the cold air a few times, ran across the blonde's slightly parted lips. She gasped, her nails raking at Sam's jeans with the uncontrolled movement of her own. Marvelling at the reaction, Sam repeated the act and Brooke tried very hard to control herself. She failed miserably.

"Sam, if you don't kiss me I swear I'm going to throw your ass backwards into the snow and bury you in it."

"Please, it could get frostbite. And if it fell off, where would you put your hands?" Brooke pressed her lips to Sam's smirking ones, preventing her from saying anything else even mildly embarrassing. Sam sighed into the kiss, briefly thinking about how soft Brooke's lips were, how good it felt to have the blonde's arms around her, pulling her closer. And then she was lost in it. In the swirly haze of new-familiar feelings that sent tingles from toes to scalp. And like the snow surely would, the weirdness melted away and left the two of them alone. Cold, wet and finally complete. Spark intact, just altered.

Their snowman looked on. Smiling.

The End

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