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Zapruder and Carrot Cake
By Ruby

Part One


Watching three girls walk down the hallway, Nicole resisted for a moment and then gave in and indulged in her favorite hobby, "Hey Lily, did you mistake the vacuum for the hair dryer this morning or are you extending your charitableness to all things furry by letting them live on your head?" Smirking at the speechless girl in front of her she felt eyes boring into her and turned to take on bigger game. "Er, Hi... you can stop staring you know babycakes," she said to Sam "if you want an 8 X 10 glossy for your locker, just ask!"

"You know, I'd ask if you're menstruating again Satan, but if that were the case you'd have died of blood loss by now... and for the record, Sonic was a little blue hedgehog not a trend setter in hair design."

"So now I'm supposed to be taking fashion tips from someone who thinks putting a bolt through her nose is a good look? I think not." The cheerleader turned back to her locker and smirked, damn that girl was gorgeous when she was angry! She wasn't quite sure how long ago she'd decided the accuracy of that statement but she knew it definitely wasn't one for public consumption. If there was one thing Nicole Julian knew for truth it was that she embodied an ideal, and that meant making the occasional sacrifice in order to keep things that way. Her mother had always taught her that there were really only two types of people, those who come in to a room and say, "Well, here I am!" and those who come in and say "Ah, there you are," and she wasn't cut out to be the latter. Making sure there was no one else around she turned, appreciating the view as she followed her enemy into Biology.

"Listen up, this year's class of straight F's!" Glass yelled, striding to the front of the room, "one of your number" she consulted a piece of paper in her hand, "Harvey Deschanel, anyone recognize the name?" The students looked at one another, clearly no-one did but there was an empty chair at the back of the room. "Well I guess he was on the same rung of the foodchain as an amoeba" she commented to no one in particular before continuing, "It won't matter to anyone that he tried to disprove the laws of gravity wearing a rope around his neck at the weekend then... Good, so we can continue our fruitless fight against nature by trying to mold the mush that passes for brains around here."

"Miss Glass, Sir?" a blond asked, bouncing in her seat.

"What is it Mary Cherry?"

"Well, we all know that suicide is a mortal sin an' all, and bein' a good christian, ah couldn't help but wonderin' what would cause a person to take such a step?"

Stunned that the blond had actually understood what she meant, the teacher gave an uncharacteristically straight answer, "Apparently he could no longer cope with his father's alcoholism." Recovering from the shock she continued, "As I imagine most of you drive your unfortunate parents to drink, anyone who wishes to learn how to tie the rope properly, see me at the end of the class."

Loitering at the corner of the hallway a few days later Nicole had watched Sam go into the A/V lab alone, just about to follow she saw two browns walking towards her, spotting the cheerleaders coming the other way she knew she was in trouble. The fact that neither Brooke and Mary Cherry or Carmen and Lily had seen her yet didn't detract from the fact that she needed to talk to Spam alone and it didn't look like she was going to get the chance. Walking quickly down the hallway she said "looking good Carm, any special diet or does the fact that Lily's eating for two now mean you can't have half of hers."

"I am not..."

"Nicole you bitch..."

"Why Lil' Lily I never thought to liken you to a Jezebel" Mary Cherry said coming to her side.

"There is nothing wrong with my size" Carmen stated.

"Of course not, as long as you don't want to be, oh I don't know... a cheerleader" Nicole replied.

Mary Cherry nodded, "Cuz the Glamazons, in case you hadn't noticed, don't look like Russian weightlifters!"

"Carmen, Mary Cherry didn't mean that!" Brooke said trying to keep the peace.

"Ah most certainly did Brookie" Mary Cherry butted in, "The Glamazons have standards that they just have to keep and... Lily, are you sure you should still be in school in your condition?"

Smirking at the chaos she had created, Nicole heard Lily yell "I am not pregnant" as she slipped around the corner and into the A/V lab to find that Spam had already gone AWOL. Quickly and quietly leaving the building, she got to her car and drove in the general direction of the palace, finding her target already half a block away.

"Get in" she said staring at the brunette from over the top of her sunglasses.

"Thanks, I'll walk."

"I'm sorry, did I make that sound as if you had another option?" Nicole inquired pulling the car in front of her. Sam paused, the cheerleader was often nasty but she'd never been downright aggressive before, erring on the side of caution she got in and the blond drove off.

Pulling up a short distance from the palace, but well off the route anyone else would think to take, Nic turned around and pulled an envelope from the back of the car, noticing the girl watching her with curiosity. Maintaining a tight grip on the envelope she took a deep breath and began, "I have an article for the newspaper..."

Sam snorted, "Thanks but we already have a gossip column."

"It's not..."

"Fashion tips from a fashion victim."


"Cheerleading, the thinking girl's sport..."

Nicole remained silent, letting the reporter come to a natural stop, she had known this wasn't going to be easy and she watched the clock as the minutes ticked by. Having entertained herself for quite a while, Sam finally ran out of ideas and turned to look at the blond, whose knuckles were now white from the effort not to bitch slap her.

"Why tell me, why not just hand it in to the office?" the brunette finally thought to ask.

"Because I'm not used to writing these things" Nicole answered honestly, "and you are the Editor-in-Chief, if it's no good I want you to rewrite it so that it is."

"Why on earth should I..." Sam started in astonishment as Nicole thrust the envelope at her.

"Just read the damn thing will you!" with that she got out of the car and leaned against the hood, absentmindedly filing her nails.

Sam, shocked at the reaction, opened the envelope and prepared herself to laugh. Reaching the end she found that she had no desire to; Satan had given her an extremely thoughtfully written piece on alcohol abuse and Alateen, both from a personal perspective and a factual one, complete with a list of organizations and helplines.

She opened her door and went around to the blond, "Nic I...."

"Can you get it in shape to be published?"

"It already is."

Nic nodded, "One other thing, I don't want my name on it."

"Why not?"

Nicole looked at her in amazement, "you may not care what people think about you, but if I put my name to that article, that is entirely based on research I might add, people are going to start thinking that it's based on my life."

The reporter in her knew she was being strung a line, but ignored it, "So why does it matter what people think?"

The blond rolled her eyes, "Because I am not social pond scum! Popularity Sam," she said talking as if to a five year old, "only works if other people desire to be you or to have you, I have a perfect life to maintain."

"You know the paper doesn't allow anonymous articles..."

"Yet another reason why we are here."

Sam thought for a few moments while Nicole continued with her nails and surreptitiously watched the brunette out of the corner of her eye. Finally running out of other ideas the reporter sighed and turned to face her. "What if I rewrite the personal stuff so it sounds like an anonymous interview and put my name on it."

"You'd do that?"

"Let me think," She began sarcastically, "would this particular piece of social pond scum go out of her way to help the..."

"Please Sam," the cheerleader said quietly, watching the reporter's eyes go wide with shock, "I may be a bitch, but if it makes someone call a helpline before sticking a rope around their neck, does it matter who wrote it?"

Sam sighed, the world she acknowledged had just flipped on its axis, "Much as it pains me to admit it, and believe me it does, you're right" she sighed again, "Ok!... but you're not to go psycho if I get credit for it."

"Deal" Nic smiled, the day just getting a whole lot better.

The guilt Sam felt for taking the credit for an article she hadn't written, one which had been praised highly in almost every class since it had been published, had been made less burdensome by Satan being as obnoxious as ever. However, the Friday after the newspaper had been published the reporter made her way out of the principal's office, a dazed yet determined expression on her face.

Nicole was staring in the mirror reapplying her lip gloss as the brunette entered the Novak and checked there was no-one else there. Leaning against the door she said, "We have a problem."

The blond raised an eyebrow and paused long enough to say, "since there is no we, we don't have anything."

Sam however, was having none of it, "Principal Hall has requested a series of pieces on teen issues, to be written in the same thoughtfully considered way as the last one."

"Well that should keep you busy" came the response.

"Hello, since I only wrote the final draft, I can't do these articles alone and make them sound like they were written by the same person."

Nic turned, "You're a good reporter Spam, you'll find a way."

Sam not sure whether she had just been complimented or not said, "I have found a way, YOU are going to help me."

"Oh no...."

"Or do you want people to find out who wrote the original article?"

Satan smiled, "No one would believe you, the deal was I wouldn't go psycho when you got the credit, I didn't, deal over."

Sam held out the recorder she had been holding behind her back, "Deal changed, see you later Satan."

The cheerleader watched her leave through narrowed eyes, the tape presented a problem, but not one that couldn't be dealt with in other ways. The question was, did she want to spend time alone with the object of quite a few, ok ...all, of her fantasies? Well that's a no-brainer, a slow smile dawned on her face, if nothing else she'd make damn sure that Sam thought about her too, it cracked when she realized what day it was.

The car screeched to a halt outside the palace and Brooke wondered what had gotten her friend so mad, "Are you coming in?" she asked.

"Sorry Brooke previous engagement, see you at practice?"

"Uh huh" the blond got out and headed inside.

Approaching the same car, parked around the corner several minutes later, Sam took in the sight of one angry cheerleader. "Get in and keep quiet" was the less than encouraging start.

"Where exactly are we going?" Sam asked noticing that the neighborhood they were currently passing through looked distinctly seedy.

"Sorry, I didn't put 'blackmailed by Spam' in my planner for today, so I had a previous engagement," the blond replied and carried on driving, finally pulling up outside a building that 20 years ago had proudly announced that it was a gym, but now was just a shadow of its former self. Getting out Nicole slammed her door in a way that made Sam worry about the paintwork and walked up the steps carrying a bag she had retrieved from the trunk. "Are you coming?" she inquired, turning when she realized the reporter wasn't following her.

"What about your car?" the brunette asked looking around.

"It will be fine," came the irritated response.

Nicole had disappeared so Sam studied the room, it was not a place she would ever have expected to find the bane of her existence. Had she thought about it at all before that moment, she would have said the blond went to an ultra modern, ultra upmarket place where the machines did all the work. While there were a couple of treadmills and an exercise bike stuck in one corner, it was clear that this was a temple to iron and sweat and judging by the ring she could see at the back of the room, a fair amount of blood had been spilled there as well.

"Can I help you?" a decidedly gruff voice asked. Looking to her left she saw a stocky man in sweats had appeared in a doorway and was smiling at her.

"Er, I just, um..."

"She's with me Terry" Nicole's voice sounded from behind her.

"Oh, hey Nic," the man's smile got a lot broader.

The blond, wearing substantially less than she had been previously, pointed at a door and looked at Sam, "there's a kitchen through there, go and make yourself a coffee or something."

The reporter was was half way through said door when it occurred to her to object to being given orders, turning she saw Terry sorting out some equipment and Nicole doing stretching exercises, both having clearly dismissed her from their minds.

By the time Sam had made herself a drink, the expensive coffee machine she had found not fitting in with the rest of the surroundings, Nic had finished warming up and was punching the hell out of a pad Terry was holding, with her bare fists. Moving nearer she heard him say, "You're not focused, forget being angry and concentrate on your form; you've got time to be angry when your opponent's no longer a threat." Imagining Nicole was thinking about her, Sam winced every time the blond connected with the pad.

Finishing with her fists the cheerleader took a breather to get some fluid into her before starting on her kicks, her legs even more powerful than her arms. Sam, totally engrossed in watching her nemesis, didn't realize that anyone else had entered the gym until she felt a presence directly behind her. Turning suddenly she came face to bare chest with what was obviously a well muscled male. He grinned when she looked up, "Impressive isn't she" he said, the brunette could only nod in agreement. "She could easily win state if she wanted to," he continued, "but she'll never fight in a proper tournament."

"Why not?" Sam asked bemused.

"You'd have to ask her" he shrugged, before looking at the blond again, "Hey Nic, you wanna spar?"

Nicole let loose one more powerful kick that sent both the pad and Terry backwards, before looking up. About to agree, her eyes narrowed as she spotted the brunette, "raincheck?" she grinned as he nodded.

Turning on her heel she grabbed a towel and wiped her face, having relieved some of her tension she watched Sam watching her. Beginning to doubt the wisdom of bringing her here, she grabbed her water bottle and put on her game face.

Watching the blond walk towards her Sam could feel the power she exuded, Satan had always been deadly with her mouth, but up until now the reporter had thought she maintained her gorgeous body the same way Brooke did. Watching the display of muscle rippling beneath the surface of her skin, it was clear to her that she had erred. 'Back up, did I just put Satan and gorgeous into the same thought?'

"Come on" Nicole said reaching her and mistaking the reason for the startled expression on her face. "We can discuss YOUR problem while I take a shower."

Wide eyed she followed Nic into the locker room deciding that the best thing to do was to look at the floor, and prayed that the blond meant the problem with the paper.

"So what exactly do they want these articles on?" Nicole asked getting out of the shower and examining her nails for signs of chipping.

Sam dug out her notebook, "The suggestions were Drugs, Suicide, Eating Disorders, Sex and Bullying."

"What, with the exception of sex we don't have any cheerful issues in our lives?"

"I don't think this seasons Prada or the latest in lip gloss technology are much of an issue, no."

The blond glanced at the girl sitting on the bench, "Some people could do with making them one" she said sarcastically.

Sam looked up reflexively but the comeback died on her lips, floundering for half a second she said, "I'll be outside when you're ready to leave" and walked out.

Nicole's eyes narrowed again, Spam had never backed down from her before. Unwrapping the towel she was wearing she pondered the possible reasons as she got dressed.

The reporter walked through the now busy gym, she needed fresh air badly, pushing open the door she was surprised to find that it was almost dark and glanced at her watch, had they really been there that long? Sitting on the steps she examined her reaction to the sight of the blond in a towel. Logically it covered a lot more than a Glamazons uniform and a hell of a lot more than the crop top/shorts combination she'd been wearing earlier, but that really wasn't the point. Finding Satan attractive at all was an extremely disturbing thought. She suddenly noticed that she was getting cold, glancing at her watch again she realized she'd been sitting there for forty-five minutes, how long did it take the cheerleader to get ready anyhow?

Going back into the gym she checked the locker room, it was empty. Wandering back through she tried the kitchen, no luck there either, only place left was the door she'd seen Terry appear from earlier. It appeared to be an office and the two were deep in conversation "You've got to try Nic, if you're not true to yourself then..." he grinned, "well look at me... and remember I'm here if you need me."

Nic smiled softly, "Thanks, I..." she saw Sam in the doorway and stopped. "I wondered where you'd got to."

"Sorry" Sam said realizing she'd interrupted, "it was getting kind of cold, er... I'll just go and make myself another drink."

"We should be getting back anyhow" Nic said getting up, "night" she said kissing Terry on the cheek.

"So which one do you want to do first?" Nicole asked as they left the gym. Sam, still caught up in the curiosity of what she'd just seen, didn't hear her. Suddenly realizing that she was alone she stopped and turned. "Do I have your attention now?" the blond asked not looking happy.

"Sorry, yeah."

"Good, I said 'which one do you want to do first?'"

Sam thought while she got into the car, "Suicide I think... after all that's the one issue that you really never can recover from if you get it right."

Stopping the car a short walk from the palace Nicole cut the engine, "I guess we need to talk about this some more, how long do we have to do them anyway?"

"Er, they're supposed to go in every other week so... we could meet at school on Monday?"

"You want me to commit social suicide for an article on actual suicide?"

Sam sighed, "look Nicole, I've lost count of the number of students who've thanked me for writing that piece, and I want us to do the rest of them, but not at the expense of being your whipping post. Now I'm not asking for us to be friends, but we both know that you wrote it not me, which means that somewhere you must care about this; all I'm asking is that you think about that rather than the next crack you can get in at me."

Nic stared at her for a moment before coming to a decision, it appeared that despite everything Sam wanted to work with her and right at that moment she would have given her popularity to see the girl smile, "Fine, but we keep this and school separate, no mentioning one in the other," Sam nodded in total agreement.

Us and We Nicole thought, now they were words she could get used to.

As the next day was Saturday, they had decided to meet in the afternoon at an out of the way coffee house; Sam was unsurprised to find herself nursing her drink alone. Getting out her notebook she wondered why she'd even bothered coming when she could have been working in comfort. Not that this place isn't comfortable she thought looking around, it was, in an overstuffed couch and battered table kind of way, and she had to admit they did do great carrot cake. Licking her fingers free from frosting she picked up a pen and started to plan.

"You want another one?" she heard a voice say a few minutes later. Looking up she saw Nic, at least it looked like her though she didn't think she'd ever seen the cheerleader in jeans. She nodded and watched as the blond turned back to the counter, it was then that she saw the seagull logo, she might have known she thought with a smirk, Nic always had to be first. "What's so funny?" Nicole called catching her. Sam just shook her head, she'd vowed she wouldn't be getting into an argument and she intended to stick to it.

"Thanks... I was thinking" she began when the cheerleader came back, appreciating the novelty of having Nicole wait on her, "that even though it's about suicide we really ought to include self-harming."

Nicole sat down, "sure" she said, "but we can't make it too long or no-one will read it."

"But if we break it up under different headings the way I did to yours it's more like connected articles than one long piece," Nic nodded, "you did read the article after it appeared in the newspaper?"

"Erm... well... I trust you Sam, I'm sure it was perfect, and I really didn't... I mean, I really didn't want to..."

"Hey, it's ok" Sam said seeing her struggling, sometimes things just get too personal to make comfortable reading. "Out of curiosity though, how much of the paper do you usually read?"

"Not much" the cheerleader cheerfully admitted now she was on safer ground, quashing her initial response of anything by you. Sam raised a brow, "Oh come on, the interesting stuff never gets into the paper and you only write articles to get back at Brooke, so sue me if I don't know the chess club results!"

"If that's the way you feel, why are you here?"

"Hello... I was blackmailed."

Sam tried breathing deeply, what was it about Nicole that irritated her so much? "Let's get back to the article, huh?"

"Oh yeah, I've got places to be."

Finishing their discussion on the layout and factual side of things, "what about the personal side of it?" the blond asked.

"I've got that covered" Sam replied a little too quickly and Nicole looked up, "I'll just do another anonymous interview" she continued seeing the question on the cheerleader's face. Nicole wanted to ask more but decided that now was not the time.

She stood and stretched, "That's it then... you need a ride?"

"Um... nah... I'm fine, thanks."

It didn't appear to be difficult to continue hating Satan at school, her attitude and the things she said cut deep. More than once Sam had wanted to say something but knew she couldn't. For a start she'd never get the articles finished, but more than that she was intrigued how the girl could have two completely different personas, the school bitch who used words to wound and appeared more interested in Gwyneth than learning and the clearly intelligent girl outside who turned her body into a weapon and used words to help. Spending more time with Nicole she noticed that she was coming to like the second persona a lot, a fact which made the visits of Satan all the more painful.

After yet another truly heinous day Sam decided she wasn't going anywhere, she showered and threw on a pair of shorts and a vest, grabbed her favorite book and settled on her bed for a good read.

Nic rang the bell, she had arranged to go to the movies with Brooke, she'd wanted to invite Sam but knew that all of them would find that weird, it was too soon but one day she told herself, we'll be friends... yeah, coz that's all you want to be, an inner voice said, she shook her head, great now I'm talking to myself.

"Evening Ms. McPherson" the cheerleader said as the woman opened the door.

Jane smiled, "Brooke" she called, "Nicole's here."

Sam heard a door open and then footsteps on the stairs. A few minutes later she heard more footsteps but continuing to read her book she failed to notice the door from the bathroom opening. "Interesting choice in nightwear" an amused voice said from the doorway, watching Garfield disappear from view as the brunette rolled over.

"What the hmpfh" Nicole had crossed the room quickly and put a well manicured hand over her mouth.

"I left the article in your mailbox." she said. Standing again she quickly ran an expert eye over Sam's body, then turned and left the way she came.

Sam, still a little stunned by Nicole's behavior, grabbed some clothes and dressed properly. Getting to the bottom of the stairs she noticed that Mike and Jane were watching TV, slipping out the door she saw Nicole's car driving off and headed for the mailbox.

"Sam?" her mom called as she went back inside, "is that you?"

"Yeah mom, just getting a drink" she said heading for the kitchen.

Getting back upstairs with the envelope and a glass of milk which she carefully put on the desk, she pulled out Nicole's writing. Reading it through several times she had to admit that it was good, now she thought, if I could just do the personal perspective.

Part 2

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