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Zapruder and Carrot Cake
By Ruby

Part Two


Nic, in the comfort of her room, finished reading the completed article in the next edition of the paper. Sam hadn't offered to show her the final draft and she hadn't wanted to push it. Now she was glad, she didn't think she could have read it for the first time with the reporter watching her and not want to hug her, who am I kidding, I still want to hug her and she isn't even here. Making a decision she rolled off the bed, and picked up her car keys.

Sam could have sworn she could hear tapping, dismissing it as a figment of her imagination she went back to the web page she was reading. The tapping got louder, turning she squeaked in shock at the face staring at her from the other side of the window. Crossing the room quickly she pulled the catch and hoisting up the window grabbed an arm. "What the hell are you doing?" she said, helping the blond haul herself up.

"There's only so many times I can possibly visit Brooke and need to use your bathroom, besides this way we can talk about the next article properly".

"We could have gone to the coffee shop".

"They've got an open-mic night, we'd have never got anything done".

"Well you could still have rung the doorbell".

"And explained to Brooke that I'd actually come to see you, don't you think she's a bit young to be having heart attacks? Besides she's my best friend, I don't want her to think I'm going behind her back".

"But you are" Sam pointed out.

"Yes, but she doesn't know that".

"You have warped morals".

"Says miss open and honest, I don't notice you going out of your way to admit you're working with me".

Sam looked away, "When did this get so screwed up?"

"Always has been" Nicole replied.

"Don't you want it to stop?"

About to reply Nic picked up footsteps and dropped to the floor as the door burst open. Brooke looked around, "Who are you talking to?" she asked.

"What" Sam asked turning, a puzzled expression on her face.

"I heard voices".

"You should get that checked out".

"Funny Sam, I heard voices coming from here".

"Nope, just me... but next time I'd appreciate you knocking".

"Oh... well... I'm going to make a salad are you going to join me?"

"Um... yeah... sure, just let me turn my computer off, be down in a minute".

"Ok" Brooke said leaving.

Sam looked at the floor by the side of her bed and bit her lip, fighting the desire to laugh, "Yeah, ha, ha" Nic said getting up and brushing herself off, "exactly when was the last time you cleaned in here anyway?"

"Hey it's clean, it's just... creatively messy".

"Uhuh, so... dinner with Brooke?"

"Yeah, well living under the same roof, we're trying to get on more".

"Hey" Nic said holding up her hands, "I think it's great, at least that way I know she's actually eating".

Sam picked up on the worry in her voice, "Between us we'll get there", she said.

"Mmm... well you'd better go", she gestured at the window and grinned, "I'll see myself out".

"How about the coffee shop tomorrow?"

"I'll be there" Nic said opening the window and climbing out.

Getting back to her car she pulled the keys out of her pocket, hearing a clatter she bent down and picked up a micro-cassette she'd taken on impulse from under the brunette's bed while she was down there. Sammy, she thought, you really should learn to hide things better. Getting in to the driver's seat she lent her head back, the evening had not gone how she had planned, on the other hand Sam hadn't freaked about her being there and seemed to want them to be friends, smiling she headed to Terry's.

Digging in to a slice of carrot cake, Sam doodled idly while waiting for Nicole. This was going better than she had thought, the fact that she actually enjoyed sparking ideas off the blond had been a surprise, they seemed to bring out the best in each other, and the worst, she conceded. A hand came into view and a finger reached out, at the next moment she looked up to watch the cheerleader sucking some frosting into her mouth.

Nicole grinned, "Mmm that's good", brushing by the brunette she sat next to her on the couch, "So what's the next one on?"

Sam shrugged, "your decision".

"Thanks Jen", Nicole said as two lattes were put down in front of them.

"No problem, I put an extra shot in yours, you look like you could use it". Sam, waiting open mouthed for the explosion noticed that the waitress was right, Nicole's eyes did look darker than usual.

Nic gave a wry smile, "Thanks for pointing that out, but I am grateful for the caffeine".

"Well you know where I am if you need anything" smiling at them she walked back to the counter.

"What?" she said quietly, noticing that Sam had leaned forward and was studying her very intently.

"She's right, what's up?" she asked in a concerned voice.


"Nic, if there's anything..." she trailed off remembering who she was talking to, stunned to find that she actually meant it. "I know we're not friends but..."

"Thanks but there's..." Nicole sighed as she came to a decision, it could possibly be the wrong one but Terry was right, you never knew until you tried, "Look, I'll make you a deal... I'll tell you about Alateen and Terry if you tell me where you got your very personal perspective on suicide".

The girl sat back, "You guessed huh?"

"Sam, I don't know a lot about writing for a paper, but I can tell the difference between an anonymous interview and writing from what's inside yourself".

"Well let's hope you're the only one". Nicole looked at her then picked up her coffee, "This is never going out of here right?" Sam continued.

"I'd never use what you say against you, this and school, separate remember... besides I'll be giving you more then enough ammo in return... sometimes you just need to talk to someone" Nicole finished, almost to herself.

The brunette sighed and shut her eyes, "it was after my dad died..."

Three hours, several refills and half a carrot cake later, they had been through the story of Sam's fortunately failed suicide attempt and brief stay in hospital, as well as Nicole's problems with her mother. Growing up in a house where one martini had turned in to two, two into several and several into only sober one day in three. Terry, it turned out was Nicole's rock in life. An ex-alcoholic who had abandoned everything including his family to the bottle, he had finally got sober and stayed that way. Helping at Alateen and running the gym had given him purpose in life and he looked on Nicole as the daughter he'd lost.

"...Last night, I got home from seeing Terry, mom was there and she'd obviously... been at it for sometime. She wanted to know where I'd been, who I'd been with... I said Brooke, mom likes that, she's 'the right kind of people', asked why I never brought her over". Nicole laughed mirthlessly, "right, come and meet my mother... if she's having a good day she'll dote on you, treat you like a princess... if it's bad though you'd better watch out, the best you can hope for then is that she passes out so you can clean up the mess and hide the bruises" the blond stared unseeing into her cup, "problem is, until you walk through that door... how do you tell?" she whispered looking at Sam, who had no answer to give her. "Anyway I guess I wasn't quick enough with my response... she got mad, threw some stuff, tried to get up... I learned real young that her catching you is not the best option so I went to my room, locked the door. Usually she hammers on it for a while until she needs another drink, then she forgets I exist... last night she didn't. I sat there... waiting for the hammering... eventually I went back downstairs, she'd already passed out."

Nicole had put her hand on Sam's knee when she was telling her about her father, half way through Nic's story Sam had picked it up and was currently holding it, she had absolutely no clue how to handle this or what to say, she'd known some from the article but hearing it like this... Nic's voice completely expressionless... "Nic I..."

The cheerleader snapped back into the present, "Hence bags big enough for this season's complete Armani collection" she said taking her hand back and pointing to her face, she turned, "and you know what? With the exception of Brooke who lent me her concealer after I told her I'd been clubbing, Jen was the only other person to notice, so don't tell me make up isn't good for something". Nic looked outside and realized that it had gotten dark, "Come on, I think we're going to have to talk about the article another time".

Pulling the car over near the palace Nicole waited for Sam to get out, the drive over had been uncomfortably silent and now she needed to be on her own. "Nic, I honestly don't know what to say... but if you ever need someone to talk to or a place to go, you know where I am".

"Sure" the blond smiled, "Thanks".

Sam got out and then leaned through the window, "I'll leave the window catch up" she grinned, "... hey the rental's are out tomorrow, don't tell her I said anything but Brooke's got to go for a check up, part of a deal she made with Mike about him not questioning her eating habits. They'll be gone a while and I make a mean spaghetti if you want to drop by?"

Nic smiled, "to talk about the article right?"

"What?... Oh yeah, to talk about the article... right".

Nicole sat in her car trying to decide what to do. She had watched the others leave before driving a couple of streets away, Sam was alone, question was had she meant the offer? The blond had had plenty of time to regret her decision to admit the truth, but even when they'd both joined in an argument between Lily and Mary Cherry earlier, nothing had been said. Oh well she thought, if you don't at least try for what you want then there's no way in hell you'll get it.

The reporter heard the bell and smiled, opening the door she grinned at the cheerleader, "What no climbing through the window tonight?"

"A little difficult with this" she said handing Sam a box. "It's dessert" she said seeing the girl's puzzled expression, "I hope you haven't gone off it after yesterday".

Opening the lid Sam found two large pieces of carrot cake, "Yeah I love this stuff!"

"Perhaps we should add it to the list of drugs for the article".

"That's the next one?" Sam asked shutting the door and heading back to the kitchen.

"Well it was that or eating disorders" Nicole said following her, "and I'm still working on a way to write that without hurting Brooke".

The brunette groaned, "or Carmen, I know we've got to do it, but my life will be officially over".

"We'll think of a way" Nic said pulling the spoon out of the spaghetti sauce and trying it.

"Hey!" Sam yelled spotting her.

"What? It's a compliment!"

"No, it's you being impatient, now sit down and don't move".

Nic's eyebrows went into her hairline and much to both their surprise, she walked over to the table and sat down, "Don't even think of trying that at school", she threatened.

Sam's mouth twitched, "Wouldn't dream of it, Satan".

"So you're going to ask Josh and SugarD about steroids on the team..."

"I still think you should ask them, they're going to clam up on me..."

"You're the one officially doing the article Sam, even if I ask them in passing, if it goes in the paper someone will put two and two together and eventually get four".

"Yeah right!"

Ignoring her the cheerleader continued, "besides I'm going to be finding out how easy it is to buy drugs in school... I can't believe you've never even tried a joint!".

"Do I need to remind you how many brain cells that stuff kills? and if you get caught the deal's off, I'm going straight to Principal Hall and telling her your helping me!"

"I am not going to get caught, now relax and eat your cake".

"Hey... Tell me that wasn't a car!" Sam finished getting up and checking. "You're going to have to say you were waiting for Brooke".

"I can't, she already told me she wasn't going to be here".

"Umm... go upstairs, I'll be up as soon as I can!"

Sam grabbed Nic's plates while the blond headed for the stairs, she heard a key turn in the lock as she dumped them in the trash and covered them, she'd get them later, she sat back down as Jane entered the room.

"Hey mom, how'd it go?"

Jane sighed, turning she saw Brooke heading for the stairs and Mike head for the study, "They had words, she could probably do with a friend".

"Right, I'll er... go see".



"Is there anymore spaghetti?"

Sam nodded, going straight to her room rather than Brooke's she wondered if Nic was still there and was pleased to find that she was. "Sorry!" she said quietly.

Nic shrugged, "How's Brooke?" she whispered back.

"I don't know, she went straight to her room and Mike went to the study, so I'm guessing not good. I'm going to go see."

"I'd better go" the cheerleader turned.

"Nic...you can stay as long as you want... besides it's you Brooke needs, not me".

"She knows she can talk to me, if she knows she can talk to you as well it can only help, now get in there" the brunette turned as Nic went over to the window, "Sam..."


"Thanks for tonight".

Part 3

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