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 'Ringing in the New Year'
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
"Harrison!" This was a surprise. Harrison was the last person she expected knocking at their door.
"Hey. Happy New Year, Brooke," he smiled tentatively. "How are you?"
"Good," she answered truthfully. "Really good. Happy New Year to you too. I haven't seen you in ages. I mean I saw you at the Christmas party, but didn't really get a chance to talk to you."
"Um, I didn't stay long. Mom wanted us to do something as a family."
"Ah," Brooke nodded. They both knew it was a lie. They studied each other for a moment. "Where are my manners? Come in, come in," she gestured him into the house.
He stepped inside and looked around. There was an open cardboard box lying on the table. Harrison looked and saw dozens of white candles packed inside.
"Did you have these out at Christmas? I don't remember so many candles."
"How could you? Sam had covered everything in canned snow," she chuckled. "I was just packing these away," Brooke said, and closed the box flap. She saw him read the label she'd written in black Sharpie on the box:
Tête-à-Tête West. She'd taken every candle that Sam had used to recreate their first date and was going to save them for--
Well, for the rest of their lives. She did intend to use them at least once again: when they moved into their new apartment this fall. Now they were dating. That was when they would start a life together. That was when 'forever' would really start.
"What'd you do last night for New Year's?"
Brooke reviewed her options. She could tell him that it was the most wonderful night of her life: that Sam had surprised her with a romantic candlelight dinner, and once Lily left they made love well into the New Year-and that Sam was, at this very moment, wearing a tongue-splint from all the oral gymnastics she performed...
No. Probably not a good idea. "Sam and I just stayed in," she shrugged.
"Is Sam here?" he asked. "I wanted to talk to her."
"No, she's out renting some movies."
"Ah," Harrison nodded.
"Is everything all right?" she asked.
"Yeah. Sam came over to my house the other day, and she was pretty upset when she left. I wanted to make sure she was okay."
"She is," Brooke nodded. "It's sweet of you to be concerned."
An idea formed in her head. She knew that Sam had been dreading having the conversation with Harrison. She also knew that she didn't want Sam having to relive the night of the accident again. That scared the hell out of her: she really thought Sam was going to have some kind of breakdown.
Maybe she could do this for Sam so that Sam wouldn't have to?
Was that the only reason? she asked herself. Harrison had rejected her on prom night-choosing Sam over her. Was telling him some petty attempt to break his heart as well? To let him know that the tables had turned-and that the two women vying for his affections had said the hell with him and found what they were seeking in each other?
But that was stupid. It wasn't Harrison's fault. It was their pride and the constant competition with each other that had caused them to push him to choose between them. And in retrospect she was glad it happened that way. Not just for the obvious reason: for what developed between her and Sam. Although the brunette admitted later that she was just competing for him to beat Brooke, imagine if Harrison had made a different choice? What if Sam had lost to Brooke-again-for the heart of the person she'd been closest to her whole life? Their relationship may have been damaged beyond repair.
She knew that Sam still thought of Brooke as being in a 'different league', and couldn't figure out how someone as remarkable as Samantha McPherson could have such a low opinion of herself.
She should be grateful to Harrison for ending their stupid game the way he did. If it had gone any differently, she and Sam could be little more than estranged step-sisters right now.
Satisfied as to her motives, she decided to go with her impulse before she thought any more about it. "Harrison, maybe we could talk about it instead."
"Well, I should probably wait to talk to Sam," he said. "It was personal."
"I know why Sam came to see you," Brooke assured him. She sat down on one side of the couch. He accepted the implied invitation and sat down opposite her.
He appeared to be measuring her, testing her to see if she really knew about Sam's admission, or if she was trying to bluff it out of him. "You know...?" he questioned.
"About Sam being gay?" she finished. "Yes." Boy, do I, she thought with a barely suppressed grin.
Harrison looked like he'd had the wind knocked out of him. She felt bad, but knew that he had to hear the rest. "Sam came over to talk to you the other day because you were her best friend growing up, and she doesn't want to lose that.
There was something she had to tell you and didn't want you to hear it from somebody else."
"That she's gay," he repeated. "I got that." He stood up, pacing near the couch. "The girl it took me my entire life to realize was the one for me turned out to be gay. Yeah, believe me: I've been reflecting on the irony for some time now."
Shit. This was going to be harder than she thought. Maybe she should wait for Sam?
No. No point in chickening out now. Dragging this out would only hurt Harrison further-and she didn't want that considering everything they'd put him through already.
"That's only half of it," Brooke warned him.
He scrutinized her again, looking confused. "She told me-well, I knew that she was in love with someone...but I didn't think she'd tell you."
Brooke nodded. "That's because it's about me too, Harrison," Brooke began tentatively. "She came to tell you..." she looked him in the eye: "about us."
"Us...?" he stared in confusion. "As in you and me?" he gestured between the two of them.
Brooke shook her head. "As in me and her," she stated gently. He stopped pacing. "Sam and I are dating, Harrison.
"Sam and I are in love," she corrected.
Harrison flopped back down on the sofa in a heap, his expression vacant.
"I'm back!" her darling Sammy shouted out from the kitchen-her timing as impeccable as ever. "I rented 'Moulin Rouge' and 'A Knight's Tale'," she announced. "I looked for 'Joe Dirt'," she chuckled, "but it was out. I love that--"
Sam froze, taking in the awkward tableau playing out before her. She turned her eyes toward the blonde's. "You told him?"
"Sammy--" The look sent a shiver down Brooke's spine. "I-I didn't want you to have to go through what you went through the other night," Brooke stammered. "I'm sorry, Sammy."
Brooke knew that once their newfound relationship took root and had time to grow it would be strong enough to withstand anything. She was sure of it. But she was so afraid that they were going to get angry at each other over something pointless like they used to and ruin everything before it got the chance. And she couldn't take that. Not now-not after they'd finally found each other.
"It's okay," Sam came over to her, and Brooke laced her fingers within hers-needing the contact. Sam lifted her chin so that their eyes met. "Hey," she smiled, "how about we do this together?"
Sam's smile diffused her anxiety, and she squeezed the brunette's hand. She glimpsed Harrison staring at their clasped hands. Sam looked down at them, and then at him. He just shook his head and averted his eyes.
"It's true," he said. Was it a question or a statement? Brooke couldn't be sure.
"Yeah," Sam nodded. They went over and sat down on the couch beside him. "I'm sorry, Harrison," she said. "I wish there was an easier way of--"
"Of what!?" He shot to his feet again, and ran his hands through his hair. "Of what, Sam?
"I mean: are you kidding me? Are you fucking kidding me: the two girls I loved more than..." he stammered, "more than anyone are with each other?" He shook his head, his eyes wide. "Unfuckinbelievable!
"You two made me choose!"
"I know we did," Sam conceded.
"And because I chose I lost both of you? How is that fair? Why did you do that!? What in the hell did I do that I deserve--"
"It's not about you, Harrison," Brooke interjected. He looked at her, wounded. "I'm sorry, but it's not," she continued. "It's about Sam and me. We didn't do this to hurt you-that's the last thing we want. But Sam wanted you to hear it from us because she's your friend-and she wants to stay that way. I do too."
"I don't know if I'm ready for that," he answered truthfully. He found something interesting to look at out the window. "I want to be that guy, Sam, I really do: the guy who does the right thing, the guy who sticks by his friend." He ran his hands through his hair, and his eyes darted to their joined hands again. "But just seeing the two of you holding hands is like--"
He shook his head again. "How did this happen? I mean, you two hated each other! Sam, you were--"
"Obsessed?" Sam offered wryly. "Fixated? Borderline stalker-ish in my attempt to show the world who 'Brooke McQueen' really was?" Sam looked over at her and grinned. "I think I was really trying to find out something terrible enough about this girl that would keep me-stop me-from falling head over heels for her-because what I felt was scaring the hell out of me."
Brooke smiled at the admission. "So all those Zapruder articles were really just your attempt to sublimate your growing lesbian desires?"
"Call me Cleopatra," Sam chuckled, "because I was in de-Nile." She quirked an eyebrow and poked her tongue in her cheek.
That tongue. Brooke's heart beat a little harder.
"You guys are adorable," Harrison scowled in frustration.
"I never lied to you," Sam told him. "You found out how I felt before I'd admitted it to myself. It wasn't until I-I almost lost Brooke that I realized what she meant to me.
"Harrison, I'm sorry I can't be what you--"
"Sam, just stop!" he demanded. He was quiet for a moment. "Look, I love you, Sam. As a friend, and...as not a friend. But I realized on prom night that your heart belonged to Brooke.
"And I felt like a total asshole, believe me, because there's Brooke fighting just to stay alive and all I can think about is my love life going to shit. It's not one of my prouder moments.
"And maybe-maybe I held to some hope that-even though I chose you-I could salvage something with Brooke. But now--" He sat down again and put his face in his hands. "Fuck!" he exclaimed.
"I want you in my life, Harrison," Sam said. "You're one of my best friends, and I thought we'd be friends forever. I always pictured us getting older and living next door to each other and having our kids play with each other, you know?"
"I guess I just pictured things differently, Sam," he lamented. "I guess when I pictured it they were our kids." He stood up.
"But by the time I realized that, I had already lost it." He turned away.
"Are you all right?" she asked. He simply nodded. "Are we all right?" Sam questioned.
"No," he replied. "But we will be. If all I can have is your friendship, I'll take it and be grateful. I-I just need some time."
He let himself out the front door. Sam called out 'bye!' before the door shut.
"Are you okay?" Brooke asked.
Sam nodded, but she looked anything but okay. "What he said to me: about having my friendship..." The brunette looked up at her. "That's pretty much word for word what I figured I'd be saying to you if you ever found out how I felt. I had a well rehearsed speech I was going to use if I ever worked up the nerve to tell you.
"I guess I'd forgotten how that felt. It's pretty awful."
Brooke put an arm around her shoulders. "I'm sorry you ever felt that way, and I'm sorry it took me so long to realize how lucky I am that Sam McPherson loved me."
Sam favored her with a grin. "It's not your fault. It takes time to sort through all of that. I know it took me long enough to come to terms with the fact that I'd fallen for you. I can't fault you for how you were feeling."
"Well," Brooke began earnestly, "can I make it up to you with sex?" She managed to keep a straight face.
Sam laughed aloud. "And you're doing this for me, are you?" she snickered.
"Oh, absolutely, Sammy," she replied seriously. She was delighted that she could turn Sam's mood around.
"Uh-huh," Sam answered skeptically. "You're insatiable, you know that?"
"I didn't hear any complaints about that last night," Brooke reminded her, sliding closer to the brunette.
"Good point," Sam chuckled. Their lips came together. "Thank you for loving me back," she smiled.
That smile was hypnotic to Brooke. "The pleasure is all mine, believe me."
"It better not be," Sam joked, and Brooke snickered as she leaned in to kiss her again. When they came up for air a new thought had popped into Brooke's mind. And for the second time that day, she went with her impulse, asking the question before she had time to think about it-before she had time to second guess her decision.
"Hey, Sam," Brooke began, "do you want kids...?"
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