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Zapruder and Carrot Cake
By Ruby

Part Eight


Having spent the morning listening to Mary Cherry hold forth on the subject of sin and repentance and watched her friends eye suspiciously anyone who talked to her, Sam's nerves were at breaking point when she found Nicole in the Novak just before lunch.

"Nic, given what we are about to do, do you really think this is the time to primp?"

"If it helps look on it more as war paint! Now go and sit with your friends, we're just going to come over and join you and we'll go from there" seeing Sam still unsure she turned and kissed her lightly on the lips, "I love you and not even complete social ostracism will change that" she whispered before winking at the shocked face in front of her, "but if you tell anyone I said that, you'll have Jimmy Choo heels in your forehead!" Nic looked back at the mirror and watched Sam walk out of the door from the corner of her eye then gripped the edge of the basin and lowered her head, suddenly feeling nauseous. She couldn't get over the feeling that reality was about to slap her in the face.

Feeling a hand on her back she turned to see Brooke smiling at her, "hey, you ok?" Nic nodded but Brooke could see the fear in her eyes. "What is it?"

"What if they convince her I'm not..."

"Nic" Brooke stopped her, "she loves you, they couldn't if they tried".

"But what if they make her choose?"

"Then she'll realize that they're not the friends she thought they were... come on, remember what you said about people only being able to treat you like scum if you allow it?" Nicole nodded, "Then don't allow it!" she said holding up a plum lip gloss and turning the girl back toward the mirror.

Sam's feet slowed as she made her way over to join her friends, Carmen looked up and smiled at her, Oh this was so not going to be fun. "Have you talked to her yet?"

"Er, yeah" Sam mumbled.

Harrison's head shot up, "when?".

Lily slapped him on the arm, "Is she ok about the article?"

"She's fine".

"She's fine?"

"She's fine... we're fine... everybody's.... fine".

"Good" Carmen replied, "So do we get to meet her sometime?"

Sam looked up and stared passed her, "I'd say it's a certainty".

"Mind if we join?" a voice said.

Carmen looked round and two decidedly blond heads came into view. "Yes actually!" Harrison said before anyone else could get a word in. They sat down anyway, Nicole sitting next to Sam and Brooke next to Lily. "Hello, private conversation going on here!" he continued.

"If it's about Spam's significant other, that's old news" Nicole replied watching as Josh and Sugar Daddy pulled up chairs and joined them, not seeming to notice that they'd swapped tables.

"You mean you know who it is?" Carmen asked looking at Brooke.

"Well why isn't it round the school yet then?" Harrison joined in belligerently.

"Oh it will be when I'm good and ready" Nicole replied.

"Why won't you let it be when they're good and ready?" Lily piped up, "It's a hard enough decision as it is, what right have you got to tell everyone".

"Oh please! stop with the holier than thou attitude, you've not exactly been letting her out of your sight since you found out".

"We're her friends, we're trying to be supportive" Carmen said, trying to come to Lily's aid.

"By stalking her?"

The two girls flushed slightly, "Sam you know we're trying to be supportive, right?"

"Well, er...you have been a bit like glue since the article came out".

"But you know we only want you to be happy..."

"And to make sure that it's not a terrible mistake like when Lily and I...."

"Carmen, shut up!" Lily said, kicking out her foot.

"Ow! Wrong leg... and it's not a terrible mistake!" Sam said rubbing her shin.

"So what's your next article on Sam?" Brooke asked a few minutes later to fill the silence.

"Animal rights" the brunette replied trying not to laugh as Mary Cherry skulked into a seat she'd pulled next to Brooke.

"Broad topic, any particular aspect?" Nicole asked surreptitiously putting her hand on Sam's knee.

"Vivisection" Lily said before realizing who she was talking to and looking startled.

Nicole nodded, "you writing it together?" she asked, looking at Lily.

"No!...that is to say if Sam wants my help, I'll help, but I'm sure her... her partner will be helping so..."

"Doesn't mean you can't help too does it?" Nicole asked pinching Sam's knee.

"Of course it doesn't" Sam replied jumping slightly, "Lil's got more knowledge on the subject than anyone" she grinned as she saw a smile appear on her friend's face. "Why don't you come over tonight and we can get started".

"You should come too Carm", Brooke added spying an opportunity, "the 'rentals are out, we can watch a movie or something".

Lily and Carmen looked at each other puzzled, "Erm sure" Carmen finally said before looking at Sam, "But what about your um..., will she be...?"

"Oh don't worry, I'll be there" Nic smiled as Harrison shot Pepsi out of his nose and gripped the table struggling for air.

Sam, who had shut her eyes when she realized what was about to happen, cracked one lid to see the extent of the devastation. Mary Cherry had gone so far passed channeling the drama queens of a bygone age that she was currently catatonic. By the looks on their faces she really didn't want to know what Josh and SugarD were thinking. Lily, was clearly finding the Lamaze classes she was helping out at useful, and Carmen was popping ho-ho's like they were life support. Even Nicole had a death grip on her knee, the only one totally unaffected by it all was Brooke.

Prying Nic's hand off her knee, but keeping it safely tucked within her own, Sam stood "well... Um... Good" she said, hauling Nicole up with her, "So we'll see you later on then".

"Actually you'll be seeing us in a minute" Brooke said amused as the pair tried to stroll nonchalantly hand in hand across the lunch room, "We've got Glass next period".

Finally making the sanctity of the Novak after scattering one or two students with her patented glare, Nicole hauled Sam inside, closed her eyes and lent heavily against the door, "Well that went well... I think" the brunette said eyeing her with a worried expression.

"Sure... piece of cake" Nicole replied opening her eyes. Realizing she was still physically attached to Sam she pulled her to her and grinned, "look at it this way, we are still walking and talking which is more than can be said for Mary Cherry and Harrison!" Sam laughed as she leaned in to kiss her.

The rest of the day was long but remarkably quiet, despite the arguments that raged around the halls of Kennedy High. How could Nicole risk her social status by dating someone so unpopular? Had Sam sold out and gone over to the enemy? So much for a classless society. The fact that they were both girls barely seemed to register on the collective consciousness beyond the usual male teenage fantasy.

Carmen and Lily, having got over their initial shock, were just glad that Sam was happy. Mary Cherry, quickly realizing she had to get with the program if she wanted to keep her friends and never one to do things by halves, painted rainbows on her locker and immediately procured Indigo Girls tickets.

That evening, the female blonds and browns found themselves at the palace, starting the article vetoed in place of movies and popcorn. It was weird at first, but with Nicole in a happy mood, on the whole it went well. Carmen and Brooke, always on the verge of being friends could finally stop worrying about the consequences of them being so, and only Lily was not completely comfortable, the looks she kept getting from Mary Cherry being so disconcerting, that she several times mentioned a cute boy she had met at a demonstration.

"I brought some carrot cake over, if anyone wants any they'd better get some before Sam gets her hands on it". Nicole said getting up and heading towards the stairs, not seeing the shocked expressions she left behind her, Sam smiled, she could see the new Nicole was going to take some getting used to.

Noticing Harrison lurking across the street, the cheerleader changed direction and slipped out of the door.

"What do you want? Come to gloat?" he said as she reached the end of the driveway.

"I want to talk to you... I know you hate me but why are you hurting Sam?"

"Sam, that isn't Sam, that's some hypnotized thing that you've pulled your snake act on, but you can't keep it up indefinitely, she'll find out you're playing her".

It took all the willpower Nicole had at that moment not to lash out, "You know, of all people you should understand this".

"You just don't get it do you, Sam's not... that!"

"No, you're the one who doesn't get it, I love Sam and she loves me, so you've got a choice, you can either step up and be a man, or you can crawl back into your rat-hole. Personally I hope you choose the latter because you don't deserve a friend like her, but I know this is hurting her and I'll do anything to change that."

"Well you'd know a lot about the subject seeing as you spent years torturing her!"

"I know... and it's something I live with every day, and something I try to change every day, what about you freak boy, her best friend and you won't even talk to her?"

"I'm the freak? I don't think so... Sam might have fallen for your... act... but I'm not going to! And one day she will wake up and realize exactly what you are." Harrison turned on his heel and left Nicole staring after him.

Closing her eyes and sighing she felt an arm come round her waist and pull her back against a warm body, followed by lips nuzzling her neck, she smiled, "You weren't supposed to see any of that".

"I know, but you know what" Sam said seriously, turning the blond around so she could see her face, "it did make me realize exactly what you are... I always thought you were a bitch... ". Nicole looked down until she felt a hand under her chin forcing her head upwards, "a beautiful, athletic, and popular one but nevertheless... then I found out that it's this big front you put up". Nic raised an eyebrow, "oh you can be hell on heels if you want to be... but to me, you're the one I love, with no doubts and no matter what happens next... Now come inside, I am losing no more snuggling time because of Harrison and if he can't accept that you make me happy, then he can be bitter alone".

The End

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