DISCLAIMER: I don't own them, but I certainly wish I did. Damn Ryan Murphy and his unrivaled genius.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Brooke McQueen hurried through the crowd of people, trying desperately not to push anyone out of the way. She walked towards the subway and raced down the stairs, cursing her penchant for hitting the snooze button one too many times. She was already at the bottom rung of the food chain at her job and being late was the last thing she needed. She pulled her token free from her purse and fed it to the gate. As she passed through, she was swept along with the millions of other people making their way to the hot, New York subway trains. She hoped she was lucky enough to get an air-conditioned car. Summers in the Big Apple were brutal, and the trains were even more stifling, making you feel like you're suffocating.
It seemed luck was not on her side, and as she stepped onto the crowded car, she searched for a spot that was at least located near one of the graffiti'd open windows. There was a spot in the corner next to a woman in a green business suit, and she pushed her way through the people standing and wiggled into the seat. She checked her watch. Save for the train being stuck in the tunnel, she should be at work in twenty minutes. She sighed, thinking she should have just waited for the uptown express, but she couldn't risk the chance that she'd already missed it.
She pulled out her palm pilot and checked her schedule for the day. Barring getting fired for this extreme faux paus of tardiness, she had a busy day of running errands, making phone calls, scheduling meetings, and any other grunt jobs they could throw her way. If she had known that paying her dues in the fashion world was this much work, she'd have rethought her profession in college. It was like being in high school all over again, and life in California had definitely prepared her for the cutthroat world of fashion.
The train lurched to its first stop, letting a mass of people off, but seeming to take on twice as many passengers. Living in New York had long since cured Brooke of her habit of people watching, but two women that boarded the car caught her attention. They were both brunettes and had their heads tilted towards each other in a way that let her know they shared an intimacy that extended beyond friendship. She couldn't see their faces, but they intrigued her as they whispered to one another. She knew she should look away. The last thing she wanted was to get caught staring at strangers, but she couldn't seem to stop herself.
The taller one threw her head back with a laugh, treating Brooke to a peek at her face. She was model gorgeous, and if there was one thing Brooke knew, it was models. But she'd never seen this woman before, and judging by the Salvation Army chic clothes she was sporting, Brooke knew that she wasn't jet setting to Milan for photo shoots in her spare time. Yet, they didn't take away from her natural beauty. She had an exotic look about her, olive skin, long dark curly hair and an upturned nose. Brooke wondered if she should go over and talk to the woman. Modeling agents were constantly in and out of the office she worked in and she figured she had the right connections. Maybe it would garner her a little recognition at work, or at least a date with tall, dark and gorgeous. She just hoped that wasn't a jealous girlfriend she was standing with.
Brooke stood and began making her way towards the two women, her eyes never straying. The woman's companion said something else that made them both dissolve in another fit of giggles. This time she caught a glimpse of pale skin. Maybe she'd luck out and they'd both be hot. That at least upped her chances of getting lucky with one of them or maybe both. She swallowed the feral grin that desperately wanted to spread across her face. She really needed to stop watching Nip/Tuck, taking dating tips from the main character "Christian" was not going to get her far in the way of romance. However if the opportunity presented itself, she would be a fool to turn it down. She was getting a better view of the first woman as she made her way through the crowd. Now if she could just get the other one to turn around. She saw the tanned woman lean in and whisper something, and this time her companion laughed heartily, flipping her dark hair over her shoulder. The pale beauty turned her head as if realizing for the first time that they weren't alone on the train. She looked away from Brooke first, and then began to turn her head in the blonde's direction.
Finally, Brooke thought as she continued towards them. Suddenly, it felt like everything was happening in slow motion. She stepped out from behind a large man that had momentarily blocked her view, and found herself staring into familiar brown eyes. Eyes she hadn't seen in three years. They stopped her in her tracks, and she allowed herself to be transported back to a different place in time. A place where she was a very different person.
Kennedy High, First Day of Sophomore Year
All was right in Brooke's world. Things were better with her father, not great, but better. She had a lot of friends, a gorgeous boyfriend and she was captain of Glamazons, what more could she ask for? Well she wasn't happy about the party Nicole seemed intent on forcing her to have, and maybe she could do without the lying to everyone about her and Josh having gone all the way. But what was a little stress in the name of popularity? Besides she was sure things would be looking up, she at least had a solution to one of her problems. When Josh came over on Tuesday night for dinner, they'd just do it then, and no one would suspect a thing.
"So when you guys do it, it's like one of those dirty Showtime movies, isn't it?" Nicole asked her as they walked down the hall. God why was she so obsessed with Josh and Brooke having sex?
"Actually it's more romantic than that. It's like opera, you know? The perfect duet-" Brooke lied before her body connected with something solid warm, curvy and solid.
She turned her head, and found herself face to face with a raven-haired beauty she was sure she'd never seen before. I'd definitely remember her, Brooke mused before lifting her gaze to find angry deep brown eyes flashing at her. What does she have to be angry about? She ran into me!
"Hi, rude much?!" Nicole asked angrily. "Watch where you're going, thank you!"
Brooke followed behind the fuming blonde, never breaking eye contact with the beautiful brunette, until she rounded the corner with her short friend. No she definitely had to be new, Brooke thought as she continued down the hall with Nicole. She couldn't explain it, but in that one moment, she knew something in her destiny had changed.
The Palace, a random Friday night
"This humus rocks, Ms. McPherson." Josh said with a huge grin, and Brooke wanted to smack him upside the head. Why couldn't he just stick to the script the way they'd rehearsed it.
"Thanks," Jane replied in a weird voice, shooting a look at Brooke.
"Where is Sam?" Mike asked, looking at his watch. She wasn't normally late to dinner without calling.
"I don't know. Maybe she got tied up at the newspaper," Jane answered. She didn't seem too concerned.
"Maybe she's still looking for a boyfriend." Brooke added hopefully. She didn't know why she'd ever agreed to the stupid bet in the first place. It wasn't helping that her little journey of self-discovery was leading her to the conclusion that maybe she and Josh weren't as happy as they pretended to be. Coupled with the fact that she'd spent all week praying that Sam wouldn't find a boyfriend for reasons that she found had nothing to do with the bet, made Brooke want to run and hide in her room and never come out. In two very short months her fifteen years of existence had been turned upside down.
Her father was engaged to a woman that he'd known for maybe a week. He moved her and her daughter into their house so they could shack up instead of sneaking around like hormonally charged teenagers. It didn't help that she and Sam didn't get along for reasons that were still unclear to her. The budding journalist inspired feelings in Brooke that she couldn't begin to fathom, causing her to lash out and become a person she didn't like.
So she sat at the dinner table, pretending that everything in her world was still right as rain, silently praying that Sam would just forget about the bet all together. However it seemed luck had completely deserted her, as the brunette entered the room. She didn't walk in with the brooding pout Brooke had been hoping for. She was in the arms of a guy that made Josh look like 'Screech' from Saved by the Bell. And it took all the strength Brooke had to remain seated at the table.
Her mood didn't improve when Sam had returned to the table sporting her new dress, all dolled up for him. So she'd played the part of 'passive aggressive Brooke,' asking scathing questions and hoping to make Leo so uncomfortable he would leave and never wanted to see Sam again. When that didn't work, she tried to appeal to Jane's over protective side, but she was again thwarted by Sam's muscle bound hunk. It didn't help that Sam turned all the attention back on her, when she wasn't prepared to defend herself.
She'd never been happier to have a dinner end. She'd figured that they'd both say goodnight to their boyfriends, and she figure out a way to break the two of them up the next day. It seemed that Sam had other plans, and as she said good-bye to their parents when she and Leo walked out the door, Brooke had wanted to scream at Jane, "You're just going to let her go?!" But she didn't of course. She'd listened to their parents argue about what would or wouldn't happen while the brunette was out, and she couldn't stand the images that assaulted her mind. So she'd turned to Josh asked him to join her in the biggest mistake of her life.
Outside Kennedy High, Eating Pie with Wanda Ricketts
Brooke took another bite of the pie they'd bought at some random bake sale at school. It was the first time she'd felt like she could breathe in weeks. Sam had been the only one that believed in her during the whole Adam Rotchild Ryan fiasco. She'd even missed her plane to New York to help clear Brooke's name, and for the first time, Brooke wondered if Sam might actually care about her. She knew it would never be in the way she found herself caring about Sam, but this gave her hope that maybe they'd at least be friends.
"I thought you really did look pretty in that picture I took of you," Brooke said gazing over at Sam and schooling her gaze to not show everything she felt for the brunette. "I don't know, maybe you should give modeling another whirl."
Sam smiled at her before chuckling in that self-deprecating, Sammy kind of way. "No, no, I'm not a hair spray kind of gal. Don't get me wrong. I do want to escape this hell, but I think I should start more locally." Sam paused, offering the blonde another smile. "You know Cranky's, that cool new music store?"
"I think yours truly is going to apply."
"Cool," Brooke replied with a huge smile, knowing she'd be finding any and every excuse to stop by there on the days Sam was working. Her little crush on the journalist seemed to consume her every thought lately. She found herself moving from the 'it's just a crush' phase to the 'I have to spend more time with her' phase, and she wasn't sure what to do about it. It didn't help that every time the brunette smiled at her or they would casually brush up against one another, she felt like a thousand butterflies had been released in her stomach. She just hoped she could keep her feelings hidden.
"Hey you guys know something?" Lily asked, breaking into the blonde's thoughts.
"What?" Brooke and Sam asked simultaneously.
"I believe that this is the first time that all of us from different groups have sat around eating pie," Lily responded.
"You know what Lily? You're right," Brooke replied, standing up with her camera. "I'm going to document this moment." Any excuse she had to take a picture of Sam was well worth it; she just had to make sure she didn't take too many of Sam.
The Shared Bathroom, Some Random Night
It was becoming harder and harder to be around Sam and not touch her. Brooke was miserable. She needed to find a way to get away from Sam. She not only haunted her dreams at night, but she seemed to be everywhere she turned. Brooke flashed back to a few days earlier when Lily, Carmen, and Sam had entered the cafeteria sporting newly dyed blond locks. Her eyes had practically bugged out of her head, and she was pretty sure she was drooling. Yeah, she definitely needed to put some distance between her and the budding journalist before she made a fool of herself and destroyed everything she'd worked so hard to gain.
Then her father had provided the perfect solution. Sam was just as opposed to their parents uniting as Brooke was, even though it was for very different reasons. Sam still acted like Brooke's very existence was the worst thing in the world, and that kind of rejection was taking its toll on Brooke. What hurt more is that it didn't make the blonde want Sam any less, if anything, she wanted her more, and that just wasn't healthy for either of them.
"So look, about this upcoming wedding " Brooke said as she finished brushing her teeth and turned towards Sam, trying her best to ignore the hideous mohawk she was now sporting.
"Yeah, there is no way in hell I am legally becoming your sister," Sam declared.
Brooke couldn't agree more. Sisterly was not how you would describe her feelings for the brunette, and their parents legally uniting was bound to complicate things. "So we have three weeks to stop it, break them up, and get out of each other's lives for good." And then maybe her feelings for Sam would go away. Kennedy was a big school, and they'd gone all freshman year without running into each other, surely they could do it again.
Kennedy High Classroom, Second Week of Junior Year
Brooke had been arguing with Sam in the empty classroom for the past ten minutes. Maybe telling Sam about her moving wasn't such a good idea, but she thought the brunette would be happy. This is what she'd always wanted. Their parents were no longer together and Brooke was moving away. Sam should be a happy girl.
"Look, because of our semi-related status, you're the first to find out and I would appreciate it if you kept my decision to move to San Francisco quiet," Brooke explained. It wasn't the real reason she'd told Sam first. She just wanted to see how the brunette would react. She wanted to see if she'd be upset, and she was. Only Brooke hadn't prepared herself for that. Moving away with her mother seemed to be the perfect opportunity to free herself of the feelings that hadn't gone away over the summer as she'd hoped. That and she really had missed her mother. It was the best solution all around, but it made Brooke feel like something inside of her was ripping in two. She and Sam had grown even closer, and she feared that any day now she'd spill her deep dark secret and lose Sam forever. It was better that she walk away now.
"Fine! No problem! Because you're not going anywhere!" Sam said adamantly. Why was she making this so difficult? Didn't she understand that this was the hardest thing Brooke had ever had to do?
"Sam, try and understand what it's like to spend most of your life without your mom. I did, and now that I have her back, this time I'm not going to lose her," Brooke said, trying to make Sam see the other reason that she was leaving.
She saw what looked like hurt and desperation flash in Sam's eyes, as the classroom began to fill with students. They held eye contact until Harrison rubbed Sam's shoulders; saying "hey," as he sat down and drawing her attention back to him. Brooke didn't know how she'd have the strength to leave on Friday, when all she really wanted to do is cuddle into Sam's arms and figure out a way to make everything better again.
Emory Dick's Backyard, The Biggest Party of the Year
Brooke wandered aimlessly around the yard, looking for her stupid boyfriend. Leave it to him to pull a prank right before she was about to leave. She knew that he loved her, and at least this way she wouldn't have to break his heart again by dumping him. It was better that they broke up because she was leaving, and not because she would lay awake in bed at night, picturing herself with Sam, wondering what it would be like to kiss her and hold her. How could she tell her boyfriend that he didn't measure up to a dream of what she thought it might be like with the beautiful brunette? How could she tell him there was never a chance of her loving him the way he loved her because her heart belonged to someone else?
"Josh?" She called out in an irritated voice. She was tired of searching for him, and she had a long trip to San Francisco.
The sound of a baby's cry startled her. She turned around to see her doll floating on a little raft in the pool. She couldn't believe she'd left the doll in the hall. Her mind had been so preoccupied with her mom, Josh, her father, and Sam. Sam consumed her thoughts most of all. Why couldn't she get Sam out of her system? She'd thought that when she'd gotten back with Josh, that she wouldn't feel anything for the journalist anymore, and for a while it had worked. At least that's what she told herself, and she'd been lying.
She moved towards the edge of the pool, gathering her doll in her arms. "Hey, hey, it's okay. It's okay," she murmured to the doll. She wondered if she was just saying the words to make herself believe it.
She was vaguely aware of the sound of someone moving towards her, but she didn't look up until she heard a familiar voice. "I uh, found it in the hallway."
Sam stood there looking more beautiful than ever as she tried to look contrite about kidnapping the doll. Brooke wanted nothing more than to stand up and hug her and never let go, but she knew she couldn't.
"I was going to give it back, but I figured I'd need every weapon at my disposal to keep you around."
Brooke shook her head, finally registering what it was the brunette was saying to her. Sam's actions didn't make any sense. She shook her head, trying to gather her thoughts. "I thought for sure that it was Josh."
"Because only someone who cared deeply for you would go to such lengths?" Sam asked in a hurt voice, and for a moment Brooke's heart soared. Maybe her feelings weren't as one sided as she'd thought. "Well there is one thing I care deeply for, and that's my family," Sam continued, breaking Brooke's heart into a million pieces. This is not how she wanted Sam to want her. "And for better or for worse, you and Mike have become a part of it."
Brooke smiled at Sam. It wasn't a declaration of undying devotion, but it was something she'd needed to hear.
"Brooke, just do me a favor. Consider what you're leaving, where you're going, the history you're repeating. I don't know much about being a parent, but there is one thing I'm certain of. A mother should never leave a child," Sam finished and then she walked away. Brooke wanted to call after her, but she didn't. She couldn't ignore Sam's words or the pleading look in her eyes. Moving away meant losing everyone. Her friends, her father and most of all Sam, and even if Sam never returned her feelings, she couldn't live without her.
So Brooke decided to stay. She hated disappointing her mother, but even her love for her mother wasn't enough to make her leave the girl that held her heart.
The Once Shared Bathroom, The Night She Lost All Hope
Brooke raced after Sam and found her in their once shared bathroom sobbing. She'd been surprised to see Sam and Jane standing at the kitchen door while she and George were working on their bogus Chemistry assignment. How could Sam think that she wanted George when she was so into Josh? At least she was trying to be into Josh. Ever since Sam had expressed an interest in the new football star of Kennedy High, she'd decided she'd been devoting far too much time to a cause that would never be. She needed to focus on Josh and learn to pretend to be happy.
She walked into the bathroom and willed herself not to run over and wrap her arms around the crying girl.
"God, knock much?!" Sam asked sarcastically through her tears.
Brooke looked away. She couldn't stand seeing Sam hurt by her actions, even if they'd been unintentional. "Wow, you cancelled your date with George to go to a concert? Come on Sam you're overreacting."
"I am not overreacting, ho. You my God, you can't bear to let me win at anything. You want him, don't you?"
Sam's words stung. She felt like she was mortally wounded, but she wasn't about to let Sam know that. She walked towards the brunette, hoping to make her understand. "No Sammy, I don't." I want you, Brooke thought as she grabbed Sam's hand and led her over to the sink. She ignored the spark of electricity she felt as their fingers intertwined.
"Sit," she commanded. "Oh my goodness, we have to repair your face. A new eye shadow is in order for you." She could do this, pretend to be the concerned sisterly type, as long as Sam kept letting her touch her. "You fell hard for him didn't you?" She asked, even though she didn't want to know the answer.
Sam sighed and closed her eyes. "Yeah, I did." Hearing the words hurt. She knew they would, but it didn't stop the pain. "George seems to have everything, looks, smarts, jock thing which you have."
"I also have a boyfriend that I'm very happy with," Brooke reminded her, putting on a brave face. Yes, she had Josh, and he loved her. Maybe one day that would be good enough. "You know I've stopped worrying about whether or not we're compatible or not just accepted that we clicked. You need to do the same thing Sam. Accept the fact that you have something to offer." Brooke said looking down at Sam's beautiful face. George wasn't good enough for the journalist, but if he made her happy, Brooke couldn't stand in the way of that.
"I usually do it's just he intimidates me." Sam finished quietly, biting her bottom lip.
"Sam, you're the most intelligent girl I know, and you look great," Brooke said, allowing some of the emotions that seemed to be brimming at the surface spill over. "Especially when you take the time to brush your hair."
That last remark earned her a little chuckle from the brunette, and it warmed her heart. She was determined to be the best friend to Sam that she could be. If she couldn't have Sam the way she wanted her, then she would take anything she could get. "Just use the confidence you already have," she said as she finished Sam's makeup.
Some Hotel, Spring Break
Brooke was feeling lower than low. She'd lost everything, Josh to Lily, Sam to George, Harrison to Sam, even Jaime to his ex-girlfriend. What was it about her that drove people away? Spring break was supposed to be her one chance to get away from it all and clear her thoughts, but even that had been cancelled. Well at least she would no longer have to watch Sam and George making out for a solid week. Besides spending time with Harrison wasn't that bad. He was just as miserable as she was. They could just sit back in the room, watching movies and throwing pity parties.
"Why is it when your heart is broken, all you hear is love songs that make your heart hurt even worse?" Brooke asked between bites of popcorn. "I hate Jaime," she said bitterly. He had been her one last chance at freeing herself from her feelings for Sam.
"I hate Sam," Harrison grumbled beside her. Yeah, she hated Sam too. Harrison shifted, lying down on his side to face her, and she looked over at him. "Do you think it's irrational to want to hurt someone you love?"
She shifted so that she, too, was lying on her side. She considered the question. She'd been hurting for so long, sometimes she did want to hurt Sam. She felt an irrational anger towards the journalist for being so oblivious to her feelings. She was supposed to be a journalist for crying out loud! Wasn't it her job to be observant?! Yes, she thought about hurting Sam a lot. If only to make the brunette feel something. "Love isn't rational."
"I want to hurt Sam," Harrison said, speaking the words that Brooke's heart was singing. She wanted to hurt Sam too.
"I wish we had a video camera," she replied as a plan formed in her mind.
"Um, why?" Harrison asked with a chuckle. She could practically see the wheels turning in his mind. Why did guys only ever think about sex?
"Okay clean up your mind, dirty," she quickly responded. How was she going to explain this plan to Harrison without telling him everything? Then it came to her, " to make Jaime jealous and to enact my pathetic revenge." On Sam, her mind added.
"We couldn't show this tape to Sam?" Harrison asked almost as if he wished they could.
"Never! She's just gotten over this whole conspiratorial Brooke always wins phase. It would hurt her," and then I'd lose her forever, she thought, but Brooke was angry. She didn't always win. She 'd done everything but win, and maybe it was time she stopped caring about Sam's feelings for a change. Sam didn't care about hers.
"Mmmhmm," Harrison agreed sarcastically. "So, in this video tape, what exactly would we do?" He was looking at her with a look she'd come to recognize well when she was dating Josh.
This is wrong! Her brain shouted, but her heart hurt too much to care. She just wanted to forget for a moment. She wanted to forget what it felt like to love Sam and not have that love returned, and that was exactly what Harrison wanted too. She wasn't with anyone, and Sam had tossed Harrison aside, so why should they deny what they both wanted. So what if it wasn't love? Harrison wanted her, and she hadn't felt wanted in a very long time.
Her eyes became hooded as she looked over at him with a smile. "Well I think we would start with our feet intertwined like this," she replied, letting her voice drop to a husky tone. She moved her feet to tangle with Harrison's, running a foot up his ankle.
"Yeah, that's cute," He agreed looking down at their tangled feet and then back at her. She liked how nonchalant he was trying to be about things. "Oh, and then-"
"Then, as the camera zooms in "
" nice "
"I look deep into your eyes, someone who gets you, someone who understands your heartache " Harrison let his words trail off as he looked deeply into her eyes. She felt her pulse speed up.
"And then what?" She asked, allowing herself to get caught up in the moment. She saw him move the popcorn bowl from between them, and move closer to her. This is wrong! It's not what you want! The voice in her head screamed again, but she was beyond caring. The voice was effectively shut out at the first touch of her lips to Harrison's, and later as she stood in the shower, tears mingling with the water pouring down on her, she knew she'd made a horrible mistake.
Hospital, Four Days after Junior Prom
Being dead wasn't at all what Brooke had expected. For one thing, there hadn't been the cliché 'white light at the end of the tunnel' unless you counted the lights of Nicole's car barreling down at her at top speed. Funny thing was she hadn't been afraid to die. Well there had been the initial shock, causing her to scream, but as she'd stared the car down, all fear had flooded. She'd welcomed it. Everything in her life had gone to shit, and she'd hurt so many people. She was better off dead.
She looked at her surroundings. She was standing alone in a dark room. She wondered where she was. Maybe she was in heaven's waiting room. Brooke had had a pretty decent life and saved for the last two years since Sam had entered her life, she'd always tried to do the right thing. She hoped she was going to heaven. She could hear the faint murmur of people's voices in the far off distance. She couldn't quite make out what they were saying. She moved towards the sound, hoping that would let her know what was going on.
As she walked, Brooke thought about all the people and things she was going to miss. She'd miss her father and Jane. She felt bad that she wouldn't be there to see her little sister grow up. She'd always wanted a sister and now that she'd finally gotten one, she wouldn't be around. Mac would have Sam at least. Anyone was lucky if they had Sam. Even she had been lucky to have Sam in her life for however brief the time had been. Brooke would miss the brunette most of all. She knew she'd spend the rest of eternity regretting what she'd done to Sam, but at least now she couldn't do anything else to hurt her.
The sound of someone sobbing cut through her thoughts. She couldn't make out who it was, but it sounded so familiar. She started towards the sound, feeling the immense despair as she got closer and closer. The person sobbing was mumbling something. She strained to hear what it was.
" I'm so sorry, Brooke. Please don't die. This is all my fault! My own stupid fault for for not just telling you how I felt "
Sam? Was that Sam that she heard? She started to run towards the voice.
" I was so so selfish. You wanted Harrison and I couldn't just let you have him and now you... you're here and I " the voice said through sobs.
"Sam!" Brooke called out to the girl, but she knew Sam couldn't hear her. Brooke needed to get back to Sam. She couldn't let Sam think that this had been her fault. She had to explain.
"Brooke, please wake up!" Sam pleaded through her tears.
"I'm coming Sam!"
"Brooke, I need to tell you "
"Hang on Sam, I'm almost there!" Brooke called back to the girl.
" the reason why I couldn't just let you win is I didn't want you with Harrison. I I "
"I know Sammy. I'm on my way! Just keep talking to me." Brooke called back as she ran. She could see a light. She decided to head towards it. She didn't know where it would lead her, but she hoped it would be to Sam.
"Brooke I love you " Sam's whisper was the last thing she heard as she walked through the light.
Brooke awoke with a startled jump and was immediately rewarded with piercing pain in her head. She didn't care; she just needed to find Sam. "Sam?" She called as she struggled to open her eyes.
"Shh, I'm right here," she heard Sam saying as the brunette took her hand.
Brooke was vaguely aware of the dull ache that seemed to be everywhere in her body. She felt horrible, but as she finally got her eyes to open, the first thing she saw was Sam's beautiful tear stained face. Suddenly the pain didn't seem so bad. "Sam, I "
"Shh, don't try to talk."
"No no " Brooke tried again, shaking her head. She winced at the sharp pain that resulted, but she needed to say this. "Sam isnot your fault wasall me love love you too." Brooke gasped out. Her throat felt raw, and it burned.
"What? You you love me too?" Sam asked in disbelief.
" yes "
The Palace Pool, A Week Before Senior Year
Brooke kicked her legs as hard as she could, enjoying the freedom. She'd finished physical therapy two weeks ago, and she was finally able to go swimming. It had been a long summer stuck inside, save for the numerous doctor's appointments and physical therapy. She'd been lucky that Nicole had slowed when she did. The doctors told her that if she'd been hit any harder and she really would have died. Instead she'd broken a leg, cracked several ribs, and suffered a mild concussion, regulating her to a summer of bed rest. Luckily she had a beautiful girlfriend to keep her company.
As she resurfaced, she looked over to where the aforementioned brunette sat, looking oh so tempting in a chocolate-colored printed bikini. Her skin had become a warm, toasty color, and she smiled over at the blonde from behind the magazine she was reading. Brooke moved to the side of the pool, beckoning the brunette over to her. Sam sat the magazine down and moved to sit on the side of the pool, her feet dangling in the water.
"Having fun?" Sam asked, a playful smile toying at her lips.
"Yes, it feels good to finally be back in the water," Brooke replied, moving into the vee of Sam's legs.
"I'll bet. It was kind of lonely having to swim all by myself."
A sly, feral smile spread across the blonde's face as she leaned forward and kissed the sun-warmed skin of Sam's stomach. "You know you could always come in here with me now."
"And why would I want to do that?"
"Oh, I don't know. I thought maybe we could have a little fun," Brooke replied, placing another kiss on the sitting girl's thigh.
She smiled as she heard Sam gasp before saying, "We agreed not to have fun for a while."
"No, we agreed we wouldn't 'have fun' until I got done with my therapy, and it's been two weeks," Brooke responded, kissing Sam's other thigh.
"And, uh, what makes you think I'm interested in 'having fun?'"
"I saw the way you looked at me when I stepped outside in my new bikini," Brooke answered confidently.
"Don't flatter yourself, McQueen."
"I'm not. I'm just stating the truth. Come on admit it, McPherson. You know you want to get in the pool with me."
"Okay, okay, I'll admit, but first you have to catch me," Sam said with a sly grin of her own.
"And what do I get if I catch you?" Brooke asked, eyeing the journalist's body hungrily.
Sam shrugged nonchalantly, though there was a wicked glint in her eyes. "Whatever you want."
"Sounds tempting I'm in!"
"Okay, on the count of three. One two three!" Sam exclaimed, shoving Brooke back in the pool. She jumped up from the side of the pool, and took off towards the house.
Brooke resurfaced, sputtering. She swam over to the ladder and pulled herself out of the water. She raced towards the house, fast on the brunette's heels. "You're so going to pay for that, McPherson!!"
Sam's Room, Three Weeks Before Graduation
Brooke stroked the brunette's hair, as they lay tangled in Sam's sheets. They were both floating in that plane between consciousness and sleep, having exhausted themselves thoroughly in a bought of lovemaking. She felt like she could stay in the moment forever and it still wouldn't be enough. She'd never imagined she could be this happy. Sam made her feel complete in a way that she'd never been before. She turned over, wrapping her arm around Sam's waist, and then the brunette sighed.
"What's wrong, Sammy?"
"Nothing " Sam replied in a depressed tone.
"Come on, Sam. Tell me."
Sam sighed again, turning over to face the blonde, with unshed tears in her eyes. "I was just thinking about what's going to happen after graduation. I mean I'm going to be at NYU and I know you got accepted at the University of San Francisco. What are we going to do?"
Sam had applied to NYU's journalist program early decision back in November. At the time, Brooke hadn't known what she'd even wanted to major in, let alone what school she'd wanted to go to. So she'd waited until the last minute, and almost missed most of the submission dates. She'd been worried for the past month and a half, that was until she received the letter she'd been waiting for earlier that day.
She ran her fingers down the side of Sam's face, brushing stray strands of hair behind the brunette's ears. She loved Sam so much sometimes it overwhelmed her. She could just look at her and her day would become brighter. There was no way she'd ever leave this behind. "I don't think we have to worry about that."
Sam looked up at her in confusion. "What do you mean?"
"Well, I was going to surprise you at the party next week, but " she let her words trail off as she stood from the bed, and ran through the shared bathroom to her room. She returned moments later with a folded piece of paper and handed it to the brunette.
"What is this?"
"Just read it," Brooke replied, climbing back onto the bed and under the covers.
Sam unfolded the letter, and skimmed it with her eyes. "This is from NYU you it says you got in." Sam said looking over at the blonde.
"But when when did you apply?"
"Right before Christmas, I almost missed the deadline."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"Well, I didn't want to get your hopes up, in case I didn't get in. I didn't want to, you know, disappoint you."
"Oh babe, you could never disappoint me. I love you." Sam replied looking into Brooke's hazel eyes.
"I love you too," Brooke whispered back.
A smile spread slowly across Sam's face. "I guess this calls for a celebration."
"What did you have in mind?"
"Oh, I'm sure we could think of something," Sam replied before tangling her fingers in the blonde's hair and bringing her closer for a passionate kiss.
NYU Dorms, Three Years Later
Brooke was sitting at her desk working on her portfolio when Sam walked into their dorm room. The brunette threw her messenger back on to the floor as she flopped down on her bed. She'd been working non-stop at her internship for the Times, and they'd barely seen each other for the past three days.
"Rough day?" Brooke asked without turning from her work.
She could hear Sam moving around on the bed. "The roughest I had to write a fluff piece on that wealthy tycoon that owns all those magazines, Myron Baxter. You know him? He owns that one magazine you always read what's it called?"
"Sassy! You interviewed the Myron Baxter?! Owner of Sassy Myron Baxter?!" Brooke asked, spinning around in her seat and nearly knocking all off her work of the desk.
"Whoa Brooke, calm down before you give yourself an aneurysm," Sam said, sitting up on the bed.
"No, no, no, no, no, Sam you don't understand. Sassy is like the hottest magazine around! It is the newest up and comer. People in my department would kill to get an internship there!"
"So what you're saying is that an internship there would be really good for your career?" Sam asked casually. "And having a girlfriend that had spent the better part of the evening chatting you up would earn major girlfriend brownie points?"
"Sam, you're not saying what I think you're saying are you?" Brooke asked as excitement began to fill her.
"I'm saying that they're expecting a call from you tomorrow so you can set up an interview."
Brooke was out of her seat and pulling Sam up onto her feet in seconds. She pulled the brunette to her in a tight embrace, spinning her around until they were both laughing. She placed kisses all over the journalist's face. "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You are the best girlfriend ever. What did I ever do to deserve such a wonderful girlfriend?"
Sam chuckled at her girlfriend's enthusiasm. "I am wonderful, aren't I?" She asked with a smug grin.
"Normally, I would take great pleasure wiping that smug little smile right off your face, but today I can't. You've truly outdone yourself. Major girlfriend brownie points," Brooke replied, smiling down at the brunette.
"Well I guess I'd better take advantage of your generosity. Grab your jacket and come on." Sam said, holding out her hand.
"Where are we going?" Brooke asked as she shrugged her jacket on.
"To the student union. There's a Russian film festival going on," Sam replied grabbing Brooke's hand before she had a chance to change her mind.
"You're kidding right?"
"Of course not! Now come on, we've already missed the first movie."
"But, but I have a lot of work to do "
"And it will be here when you get back. Remember you owe me."
Brooke groaned as she allowed herself to be led towards the door. "You're lucky I love you," she grumbled as they walked into the hall, but she couldn't keep the grin that spread across her face. She really did have the best girlfriend.
Their Apartment, Two Years Later
Brooke walked into the living room and let out a frustrated groan. "Sam, come on we're going to be late!"
"I'm coming! Do I really even need to go?" Sam called from the bathroom.
"We've been through this. This party is a really big deal for the magazine. They like when I bring you. It shows their 'diversity' quota is being met," Brooke said in an annoyed tone. She and Sam had been through this a million times over the past week. She didn't understand why Sam couldn't just do this one thing for her. She'd moved from intern to employee after graduation. The pay wasn't great and the work was still hard, but she knew that she'd be able to move up the ladder if she just played the game for the next couple of years.
"You know, I'm really not too keen on playing poster child just to make your bosses look good," Sam grumbled.
"When you make them look good, you make me look good, and then that means promotions for me," Brooke reminded her.
"Yeah, yeah, so you say. You've been there for two years Brooke, and where has that gotten you?"
"They hired me after graduation. They obviously like my work. I mean, what about you? You have to do all sorts of the things you don't like for the paper."
"Yes, but nothing unethical. Besides I won't have to cover local events forever. I'm just paying my dues until I can move up to the more hard hitting stuff."
"Well, this paper is paying my dues," Brooke reasoned.
"Yes, but my God Brooke when are you going to be done?" Sam asked as she walked into the hall and towards the living room. Brooke would have commented on how stunning she looked in the low cut red cocktail dress, but she was annoyed that Sam seemed to want to start an argument over something so trivial. "You already spend more time there than you do at home, and you had to work on our anniversary even though you were supposed to be off."
"Look I know, and I said I was sorry!" Brooke said, raising her voice. She closed her eyes, and pinched the bridge of her nose. She really didn't want to do this. "I'm sorry. I don't want to fight. Can we just get going?"
Sam looked as if she wanted to say more, but instead she just nodded. "I'm going, but I'm warning you now. If I have to laugh at more than two of Myron's awfully bad jokes, someone might get hurt."
Mariott Grand Marquis Hotel Grand Ballroom, Four Months Later
Brooke stood on the side of the room watching everyone mingling and having a good time, wishing she were at home curled up in bed with Sam. They'd had another huge fight right before she'd left, and Sam had refused to go to the party and play 'trophy girlfriend.' Brooke had been working nonstop recently putting in overtime for the last two weeks. The little time she was at home seemed to be spent arguing with Sam. She didn't understand what was going on with them lately, but it was like they couldn't even be civil to one another.
Maybe they'd just fallen into a funk. It had happened before, and they'd just needed to spend some quality time away from their jobs. Maybe they could drive up to Vermont next weekend. Brooke could get the other assistant to cover her for the weekend. She'd been covering for the girl all week, and she owed Brooke. The blonde felt considerably lighter with a tentative plan formed in her mind, and she was able to relax for the first time.
"Having fun?" Someone asked from behind her.
Brooke turned around to find the newest intern at Sassy. She was just the right girl for the job. She was model thin with curly red hair and big green eyes. Her skin was porcelain white, and she was slightly taller than Brooke, giving her that twiggy, waiflike appearance.
"Where's your girlfriend?" Katherine asked as she moved to stand beside Brooke.
"Oh, she had an article to write so she couldn't come this evening unfortunately." It wasn't a complete lie. When she'd left, Sam had been writing an article.
"Oh that's right, she writes for the Times "
"Yep, that she does."
"That explains why she always looks so uncomfortable at these things."
"What do you mean?" Brooke asked suspiciously. Who was this girl to be talking about her girlfriend?
"No offense, but she just looks so out of place. Like she's bored and thinks it's a complete waste of time."
"Sam isn't like that. She's just always busy," Brooke said defensively. She didn't understand why she was even bothering to discuss this with this girl. She didn't even know her last name.
"Take it from someone who knows, girls like that don't stick around for long. Eventually they get bored. I learned that the hard way," Katherine said before draining her wine glass.
Brooke didn't have a response for that. She drained her own glass while she considered the redhead's words. Would Sam eventually get bored with Brooke? They had been together almost seven years, and she still got butterflies when Sam walked into a room, but did the brunette still feel the same?
"Can I get you another?" Katherine asked, taking Brooke's empty glass. Brooke nodded her response, still deep in thought.
When the redhead returned, she took the proffered glass and downed it as well.
"Whoa slow down, the night's still young. If you keep drinking like that, you won't be able to get home, and then I'll be forced to take you back to my place and have my wicked way with you."
"But I have a girlfriend," Brooke reminded her.
Hours and many glasses of wine later, Brooke was dimly aware of being led into a room that wasn't her own with a woman she was pretty sure wasn't Sam. But her legs felt funny and her head was spinning. It wasn't until later that night when she was slipping quietly out of the apartment, that she'd realized how badly she'd just fucked up.
Their Shared Apartment, The Beginning of the End
Brooke slipped quietly into their apartment. She checked her watch. It was four in the morning and Sam would have gone to bed hours before. She reached down to remove her heels so she could pad through the apartment silently. She'd just reached the hall when the light in the living room flicked on behind her, causing her to gasp in surprise. She spun around to find Sam sitting in the Papasan chair they'd just purchased together a month earlier.
"Have a good time tonight, Princess?" She asked in a scathing tone.
Brooke was startled by the tone she was using. Why was she so upset? "It was work. How much fun could it have been?"
"Did you get done what it was you set out to do?"
"Yes, I met with a few people."
"Was it worth it?"
Brooke looked over at Sam in confusion. The brunette's face was unreadable, but judging from the puffy eyes she could see that Sam had been crying. She walked over to the brunette and kneeled in front of her. She reached out to stroke the brunette's face, but Sam flinched and jerked her head away.
"Don't touch me! Don't ever touch me again! I saw you, ho!" Sam spat.
Brooke could feel her chest contracting. Sam didn't mean what she thought she meant. Did she? "Sam what are you tal-"
"Don't lie to me, Brooke! At least do me that one courtesy! I saw you with her. I went to your office to surprise you with dinner, and they told me that you'd just left. So I went to the subway to try and catch you, and I saw you with her. You kissed her Brooke!"
Brooke sank to the floor as her heart plummeted to her stomach. She felt like she was suffocating her chest was so tight. "Sam, I can explain! I -"
"Save it, Brooke! Nothing you could say would ever make me forgive what I saw. How could you do that to me?! How could you say that you you loved me and then do that?!" Sam screamed as tears fell from her brown eyes in earnest.
"How long?" Sam asked in an eerily calm voice.
"What?" Brooke asked looking up at her. She could barely hear the words over the sounds of her own heart breaking and the roaring in her ears.
"I said how long?!" Sam growled.
Brooke thought about lying. She wanted to desperately to save what she stood to lose. Everything, her whole world, Sam were disintegrating before her very eyes, and she couldn't do anything to stop it. "Four months " she whispered.
Sam looked as though she might lose the contents of her stomach for a moment. She swallowed hard as she rapidly wiped her tears from her face. "Four months? Four MONTHS?! You've come home every night and crawled into my bed and you've been fucking her for FOUR MONTHS?!" Sam screamed jumping up from the chair.
"Sam, Sammy, where are you going?" Brooke called after her. Moments later the brunette emerged with suitcases and walked towards the door. "Sam, please don't do this!"
"Brooke, I think that you said enough. It's been a great seven years, but it's over. I'll be back tomorrow for the rest of my things," Sam said before flinging the door open and walking out.
Brooke chased after her down the stairs and out into the street. She didn't care that she wasn't wearing any shoes and she was stepping in God only knows what. She just had to stop Sam. She called after the brunette until Sam climbed into a cab, and it sped off. Brooke wasn't sure how long she'd stood in the street shouting Sam's name before she walked back into her apartment. She called Sam's phone 35 times that night and left messages until the box was full. Then she curled up in a ball on the bed hugging Sam's pillow to her, and cried until she had no more tears left.
The train lurched to a stop, breaking into Brooke's memories. She could see from the rattled look on Sam's face that she'd taken a trip down memory lane as well. They stared at each other for a few moments longer before Sam offered her a smile that spoke of years of regret, and a love ended prematurely. And then just like that, she and the other brunette walked off of the train and were immediately surrounded by the crowd of people. Brooke continued to take that train everyday for the next week, but it was to no avail. She knew, just like she'd known all those years ago, that she'd lost Sam forever.
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