TITLE: Moving On
AUTHOR: Jos Mous
DISCLAIMER: I own none of these characters, I’m not making any profit out of this, blahblahblah.
PAIRINGS: Sam/Brooke; Jane/Robin
NOTE: Another reasonably short one. ‘Nuff said.
<<So,>> Sam thought. <<This is my room.>>
And a good room it was too. It was pretty big, the window gave reasonably nice view of the calm street outside and, since it was facing east, it probably wouldn’t be quite so hot in here than in the other rooms during the hottest days of summer. There was ample room on top her desk for the large amounts of clutter that were no doubt going to be there very, very soon. The only drawback Sam could think of was that her days of taking opened boxes of cereals to bed with her were probably over. Well, that and the fact that there was just one wall separating her from the room where her mom and Robin slept.
Slept together, actually.
In one bed, as a matter of fact.
Sam laughed softly as the thoughts struck her. Here she was, hopelessly in love with another girl (who, thank God, loved her back) and she was _still_ freaking out over the fact that her mother was involved with a woman. It made no sense. Rationally speaking. But if the two of them managed to keep it down, Sam felt confident that she could convince herself of the fact that the only sleeping going on in their room was of the not-being-awake variety.
The brunette turned around to see Harrison. Who she should probably be seeing as a stepbrother right about now.
“Hey Harrison.” Sam greeted.
“Weird, huh?” Harrison said with a light chuckle.
“Pretty much.” Sam said. Though she didn’t know exactly what aspect of the situation Harrison thought was weird, she was pretty sure that she found it weird too.
“Hey, I was thinking, maybe we should let…” Here Harrison hesitated before he spoke again. Slowly and quite carefully. “Maybe we should let our two moms have some privacy today and go hang somewhere.”
“In any other circumstance, that would’ve sounded like a good idea to me.” Sam answered.
“But it isn’t a good idea, because…?”
“Because I already had plans for today.”
“Oh? What kind of plans?”
“I’m… meeting up with someone.” Sam said. Which was completely true, of course.
“Hey, there’s no need for you to know.”
“Oh come on, Sam. I’m practically your big brother, I have the right to know these things.”
“What? No you don’t. Siblings never tell each other _anything_. You do know that, right?”
“Yes they do.” Harrison countered. “At least, those siblings that get along with each other.”
“OK, could be.” Sam agreed. “But I’m still not telling.” Then, just for the effect of it, she looked over at the clock. “Look. I’ve gotta go. So, if you would please move out of the doorframe?”
“OK, OK.” Harrison said, stepping back. Then he held up a finger and smiled. “But remember: Big brother is watching you.”
It had been two weeks since Sam first visited Brooke in the hospital. For the first few days, she had to go through tiring conversations with nurses who wanted to know what the brunette’s intentions were and if she wasn’t secretly encouraging Brooke of keeping up her habit of not eating. Now, however, she could simply walk straight to the blonde’s room, with nobody bothering her unless it was to say hello.
Sam softly knocked on Brooke’s door and, without waiting for an answer, stepped inside. The room was bright and tidy, with the curtains flung open and the bed nicely made. Brooke was sitting in the chair standing next to her desk. The blonde was wearing a black sweater and a black pair of pants. Both were a few sizes too big, giving off the strange impression of a girl who was too thin, but at the same time comfortable with her own body. Smiling, Brooke stood up, flung her arms around Sam’s neck and kissed her. Sam embraced Brooke by the waist and pulled the blonde closer to her. After a few moment, their lips broke their contact.
“I missed you.” Brooke said.
“I know.” Sam said. “Missed you too.”
“So, how are things at home?” Brooke asked in a lighter tone, letting the girl go and sitting back on the chair.
“Moved into our new house today.” Sam answered, sitting down on the bed.
“And they let you go to see me?” Brooke asked.
“Well… they were sort of too busy to notice me sneaking out.”
“It’s not funny.” Sam said.
“Oh yes it is. Well, I think you should be happy having parents that express their affection for each other. It could be worse, you know.”
“Yeah, I know.” Sam admitted. “But it keeps weirding me out, you know.”
“I think I know why.” Brooke said.
“Oh do you?” Sam asked, raising an amused eyebrow. “And what, pray tell, is the reason for my continued weirding-out-ness?”
“Simple. Jane’s your mother. Mothers aren’t gay.”
Sam blinked a few times when she tried to collect her thoughts. “Could you please explain that to me again in more than three tiny sentences?”
“Look, mothers cook and clean and take of care you and all that, right? And, in this enlightened age, they can have a career as well. But mothers never, EVER have a social life. They don’t date, they don’t go to bars or discos. And if they do, than they have it away from the eyes of the child. Which would be you, in this case. But your mom does have a social life. And not only is that social life right in front of you, it’s also one you would never expect your own mother, of all people, to have. Am I making any sense?”
“I think you do.” Sam said. “It’s a labelling thing, right?”
“Right.” Brooke said.
“Well, now that’s all worked out, how are you?” Sam asked smiling.
“I’m great.” Brooke answered. “The eating disorder specialists are pleased, the therapists are pleased. Everyone’s pleased. If all goes well, I should be getting out of here soon.”
“Well, that’s good.” Sam said. “Is it?” She added, noticing a lack of agreement coming from the blonde.
“I don’t know. I guess. I mean, I should be happy about being healthy. And I am. Really. It’s just…”
“Well, it’s just that this is a very safe place, you know?” Brooke said. “Everybody here knows what’s going on between you and me, but if I get out of here and go back to school…”
“If this is about coming out or something, don’t worry. I haven’t even been able to tell mom. And I know she’ll pretty OK with it.”
Brooke smiled. “That’s one thing, but there’s a multitude of others as well. I’m popular, Sam. And a cheerleader. There’re standards I have to live up to. And me having to be straight and dating one of the jocks is just one of them. I mean, take this, for example,” The blonde said, gesturing at her outfit. “Do you see me wearing this?”
“Err… yeah. But I get your point. You like being this Brooke and you’re afraid of becoming that Brooke again.”
“Yeah. Popular, straight Brooke. The girl with the vicious friends and who does anything to become what she believes to be beautiful. God, I hate her.”
“Wasn’t particularly fond of her either.” Sam said. “But I don’t think you’re going to change back into her.”
“How can you be so sure?” Brooke asked. “Everyone will just assume that I’m still her. They’ll simply expect me to carry on the way I have and I’ll probably feel that I have to live up to those expectations.”
“I’ll help you through it.” Sam said.
The blonde chuckled. “Stolen moments in the Novak. Secret meetings in some park somewhere. And at school… the continuous torture of knowing that I could just walk over to your table at lunch and sit down next to you, whilst not doing it. Or sitting next to you in Bio and knowing that I could just reach out a little and hold your hand, without actually doing it. I tell you, that’s going to be harder than helping me get rid of a mere eating disorder.”
“But I’ll still help you through it. Though I do expect you to help me through it as well.”
“Let’s make a deal. If you feel down, I take you to the Novak for some serious making out and when I feel down, you’ll take me to your home for some physical exercise of the naked, horizontal kind. Deal?”
“Deal.” Sam laughed. “You do realise I’m probably going to remind you of that deal regularly, right?”
“But Sammy, don’t you realise I’m actually counting on it?”
NOTE: It's been awhile since I last complained about it in a high-pitched, nagging voice, but unfortunately, I'm feeling this really great big urge to say it again. I'm not going to, of course. It's just a stopgap solution. So I won't make a big fuss about feedback. Well… not right now anyway since this is a pretty crappy part.
Today was going to be a good day. Mike felt pretty confident about today. For today he was going to pick up his daughter from the hospital. He had to admit Brooke had made a speedy recovery. Not that he was complaining, of course, but somewhere he did wonder what was so different from last time that Brooke… had that particular problem.
He pulled up into the hospital parking lot where he parked his car and got out. Brooke had specifically told him to wait in front of the hospital and not go to her room. She hadn't given any particular reason, but then, teenage girls never really need a reason for something.
So there Mike stood, in front of the hospital, waiting impatiently for her daughter to emerge. He checked his watch. He was now standing there for two minutes. He looked back at the hospital, then back at his watch. Still two minutes. Mike tapped his feet for a moment, looked around, then looked back at his watch. Mike noticed that two minutes, apparently, is a state that lasts for quite a long time.
As the watch slid unheeded from two minutes into three minutes, Brooke walked through the doors of the hospital, carrying the few bags that possessed the few personal things she had taken with her. She was happily chatting with a brunette girl. For a moment, Mike wondered what she was called again, then produced a name.
She and Brooke were apparently very good friends.
Mike's daughter walked up to him and gave him a hug.
"Hi dad." Brooke said.
"Hello honey." Mike greeted. "Glad to be out of there?"
"Well that goes for me too." Releasing himself from his daughter's hug, Mike took over Brooke's luggage. "I'll just put this in the car and then we'll go, OK?"
"OK." Brooke said.
Mike smiled at his daughter, gave a polite nod to Sam, then turned around and walked to his car. After putting the bags in the trunk, he turned around and noticed that the girls were still talking to each other. From Mike's viewpoint it appeared that Sam had taken Brooke's hands into her own and was telling her something. It was probably something reassuringly since Brooke slightly dejected stance told him that the blonde needed reassuring about something. The girls hugged, then parted ways. Brooke walked over to the car.
"Shall we?" Mike asked as the blonde had reached him.
"We shall." Brooke answered.
After pulling out of the parking lot again, Mike started talking.
"You and Sam seem to be close friends."
"We are." Brooke answered.
Mike nodded. "She seems like a nice girl."
"Err… does she have anything to do with it?" Mike asked awkwardly.
"Has got anything to do with what?" Brooke asked.
"Well you know. Last time it took months. And now…"
"She's been a great support." Brooke said.
"Good. Good." Mike said.
"Daddy, are you trying to tell me something?"
"No. No." Mike said. "So? Back to school tomorrow?"
Brooke looked surprised about the sudden change of topic for a moment, but quickly recovered. "Yeah."
"You don't sound very enthusiastic."
"Dad, it's school. NO ONE is very enthusiastic about going to school."
"No you weren't." Brooke said. "You're just saying that just because you think you should something like that since you're a responsible parent."
"Well…" Mike said. "You're right, actually. I hated going to school. But now that I look back on it…"
"Please don't give me another one of those teen-years-are-the-best-time-of-your-life-speeches. Especially keeping in mind where I just got from and why I was there."
"OK. OK." Mike said. "I'm not going to speech. I'm just saying if I could be your age again…"
"Dad." Brooke said tiredly.
"Dropping the subject. Don't worry."
The two McQueens rode in silence after. Yet something was nagging at the back of Mike's head. Something that was right in his face, but couldn't see.
Whatever it was, it probably wasn't all that important. Brooke was out of the hospital, after all.
And that's what's important.
Less than a day had passed and already Brooke wanted to be back in the hospital. Sure, during her time there she had felt like crap, she had the most god awful food stuffed down her throat that made cafeteria food taste like a five star buffet, talks with eating therapists and psychologists had taken up almost every moment of her time, but she'd still rather be sick and in the hospital than healthy and in school.
The reason for this was currently sitting five cafeteria tables away from her, with her back turned towards. There, in the hospital, Sam and Brooke were just two girls who really liked each other and had probably raised the suspicion of a few nurses.
Here, at school, they were bitter enemies.
And that hurt. A lot more than Brooke had thought possible. At first she hurt because she wasn't with Sam. Now she was with Sam, but couldn't be with her. Which hurt a whole lot more.
"Hmmm?" Brooke looked up and into Mary Cherry's rather worried face. "What?"
"Are you gonna eat all that, hun?" The Texan asked, pointing at Brooke's plate.
"Why not?" Brooke asked, looking at her plate, which was filled sufficiently to please any eating therapists that might pop in, but not any more.
"Well, you know." Mary Cherry said. "Girls lahk us can't indulge oursahlves as much as we'd lahk."
"Excuse me?" Brooke asked, having a pretty good idea where this was going.
"Well, if you keep eatin' lahk that, you'd end up big, fat and ugly lahk Carmen. I mean, think what that could do to our image."
And at that point something in Brooke snapped. The entire universe seemed to crystallise around her, making it painfully clear that there was only one right thing to do.
"I wonder, Mary Cherry, what this would do to our image." Brooke said.
She stood up, walked forward, passing four tables, reached Sam's chair, knelt down next to it, took Sam's hand and said: "I love you."
The brunette smiled. "I love you too."
Brooke reached up, Sam reached down and somewhere halfway, their lips met. After the kiss the girls stood up, facing a speechless cafeteria.
"I'm sorry. You were saying?" Brooke asked Mary Cherry.
"Think what'd it do to our image Brookie. Ah mean, think!"
Brooke looked down again at the plate of food in front of. Then up at the girl five tables away. Then back at Mary Cherry.
"You're probably right." Brooke said, sighing.
Prodding her food with a fork and without much enthusiasm, Brooke knew two things for certain. The first one being that she had just lost her appetite. The second one being that reality really sucked big time.
The hours of school had passed into the hours of doing nothing while you should be making your homework and Sam was in trouble. The reason for this was, essentially, because she wasn't in trouble. She was, after all, the editor in chief of the Zapruder Reporter and, as everybody news, in order to write news there has to be news to be written about in the first. But there wasn't any news. The most exciting thing that had happened recently was the Chess Club buying a new chess board. Out of desperation one of the other journalists enthusiasts had turned in an article pondering the philosophical nature of human of existence by means of a football match. And the mere fact that Sam was actually considering to print it just goes to show how much trouble she was in.
There was one thing she could print about, though. Brooke's absence. The entire school thought that it had just been a really severe case of the flu or something. Uncovering the truth behind that little lie (even though she had helped spread that particular rumour) would have been news.
But sometimes, journalistic instincts have to take a back seat to more important matters.
And that was why Sam was staring blankly at the layout for the next Zapruder, pondering whether she should press the delete or the save button.
Sam decision was postponed, however, when she heard someone entering the editorial office. Turning around, Sam smiled as she saw Brooke walking towards her. Her smile quickly disappeared, however, when she noticed that Brooke wasn't exactly in a smiling mood. The blonde pulled up a chair next to Sam and sat down.
"Hey." She said.
"Hey yourself." Sam answered.
"How are you?"
"Pretty bored. The next Zapruder is going to be about as interesting as watching paint dry."
"You OK?" Sam asked.
Sam thought for a moment about whether or not she should ask Brooke what was really bothering the blonde. She didn't get the chance, however, since Brooke spoke up first.
"I'm quitting the Glamazons."
"Oh." Said Sam.
"Surprised?" Brooke asked.
"Err… yeah. Care to explain?"
"But if you insist I will."
"In that case, I insist you explain yourself."
Brooke sighed, leaned back and looked up at the ceiling in that universal body language that meant that she was carefully considering what she was going to say next.
"I just got out of rehab," Brooke said slowly, still looking up at the ceiling. "And already my friends are urging me to start sniffing cocaine again."
Sam was silent. She figured Brooke would continue explaining it. And besides, she could guess what the blonde meant.
Brooke looked back down at Sam. "What… landed me in the hospital… it isn't like the measles. You don't get it once and then you're immune to it. It's an addiction. I need it to feel good about myself, you know? If I don't do it I just… I just feel ugly and unloved."
"I-I thought that you were… you know… sorted out on that."
"Sorted out enough to resist temptation, you mean. Which is exactly why I still managed to eat lunch today. You see, I didn't even take that much by normal standards and already Mary Cherry is accusing me of the sin of gluttony. If that keeps up…" Brooke shook her head. "So I'll have to quit the Glamazons and stop being friends with them."
"Don't you think that's a bit rash?" Sam asked. "I mean, you could explain it to them, right?"
"Remember Marley Jacob? She died because of it. Nicole was there, she saw first hand what it can do to a person. And if you would just take a look at her eating habits it's a miracle that you can't count all her ribs yet. So how do you think Mary Cherry and Popita would react to it?"
"Not that good I take it?"
"Oh, they'd encourage me to eat all right." Brooke said. "One whole celery stick every meal. But not more. Wouldn't want to ruin my perfect figure, right?"
"I see. So that's why…"
"I have to quit the Glamazons."
"Will you help me?" Brooke asked after a while.
"What do you mean?"
"I won't have any friends."
"Hey," Sam said gently, taking Brooke's hand. "You have me. Harrison has a crush on you, Carmen adores you and I love you. So don't worry about that."
"Thanks." Brooke said. "You need a ride home?"
Sam smiled amused. "Conversation over then?"
"For the moment." Brooke smiled back. "But, do you need a ride?"
"Nah. Besides, I still got unfinished business to attend to." Sam said, turning back to her computer.
Brooke looked over her shoulder. "What is it?"
"The new Reporter. I don't have any stories for it."
"What do you mean? You have the biggest scoop in the recent age."
"Yeah. Cheerleading captain gives up position and chooses for unpopularity."
"Brooke, I'm not going to do a story about that." Sam said.
"Do it." Brooke said. "I have to make a clean break and that'll help do the job."
"Well… if you're sure." Sam said hesitantly.
"I'm sure. And don't neglect to mention the why."
"You also want me to mention us?"
Brooke hesitated for a moment. "No. That's just one step too big."
Brooke stood up. "Promise to print it?"
"I promise. Consider your days of Kennedy High Queen to be firmly over."
Brooke nodded. "Good."
She turned around and left. Sam looked back at the computer. Well, she had her story. She briefly wondered what the repercussions could be. After that, she worried for quite some time about what the repercussions could be.
Brooke froze and wondered what she was doing. Looking straight ahead she saw herself and the interior of the Novak reflected in the mirror. She was holding lipstick in one hand. She was touching up her make-up.
Make-up that didn't _need_ touching up.
Brooke decided that this was probably one of those old habit things. Fortunately, this wasn't one that needed kicking. Nevertheless, Brooke put away the lipstick and a few other cosmetics items she had almost unconsciously laid out on the sink.
The bathroom of the Novak opened and Nicole entered. The short blonde walked over next to Brooke, faced the mirror and started touching up her make-up without saying a word.
For a moment, Brooke wondered if she should say anything.
"Yes Nicole?" Brooke asked, deciding to keep looking ahead and into the mirror for the moment.
"Have you read the new Zapruder?"
"No," Brooke answered honestly.
"You should. Our local bad journalist in the making has evidently a very short supply of articles recently."
"She claims you're quitting the Glamazons," Nicole said calmly.
"Did she?" Brooke said, hoping that her voice sounded fairly neutral.
"So," Nicole said, putting away her make-up again in a few determined moves and turning to face Brooke, "how are we going to make her suffer for her blasphemous accusations?"
This was an outcome Brooke had not counted on. Although she probably should have expected it.
"We're not going to do anything," Brooke said.
<<That is to say, _I_ am not going to do anything.>>
"OK. Haha. Very funny Brooke. Actually, I already have a few plans of my own, if you'd care to listen."
"Nic, I've quitted the Glamazons."
Not a muscle moved on Nicole's face and, if it weren't for the fact that her eyes were filled with cold rage already, they would now have been filled up with cold rage.
"Run that by me one more time, hon," Nicole said, icily calm.
"Everything you've read in there is true," Brooke said, not facing Nicole. "The reason I was in the hospital was my eating disorder. Fortunately, I sort of managed to get rid of it and since I'd like to stay that way I can't keep being a cheerleader."
"Sorry, I think I lost you there."
"I expected you might. Look, if I were to continue being a cheerleader, I'd continue to fuss over my looks and I'd end up back in the hospital or dead. Neither of those options sound very good to me, don't you think?"
"Brookie, hon, do I have to remind you that there is a difference between a healthy diet and anorexia?"
Brooke laughed, "Define 'healthy diet', Nicole."
"One would keep you in the Glamazons, the other would kill you."
"I didn't ask you to define 'anorexia' for me, Nicole."
The short blonde looked at Brooke for a moment, her arms crossed in front of her chest, her right index finger tapping her left arm.
"So this is it?" Nicole said. "You're going to give up everything and for what? I'll tell you what: Nothing. You won't have anything, you won't be anything. You'd be less than a homeless bum, because they, at least, have the Salvation Army to look after them."
"Think what you will, Nicole," Brooke said, picking up her bag, "But at least I get to stay alive. I pretty much consider that to be the better deal."
Not looking at Nicole again, the blonde ex-cheerleader left the Novak. The new captain of the cheerleading squad remained standing in one place for some time. She realised that she was now at the very top of the social ladder. Somehow she felt that this should've made her happy instead of just angry.
<<Oh God, here it comes,>> Sam thought, closing her locker and leaning her head against it for a moment, <<You know, just once I'd like to print an article without everyone getting mad at me. Is that so much to ask?>>
Sam turned around and saw Lily and Carmen. The girls were holding copies of the Zapruder Reporter and did not seem pleased.
"You know, Sam, I appreciate the fact that we all have freedom of speech, but I don't like the way you're using it," Lily said.
"Yeah. And you shouldn't have written all that stuff about Brooke either," Carmen added.
"That's what I meant," Lily hissed to the brunette.
"Oh," said Carmen. "Sorry."
"Look, the fact is you've written some pretty personal and possibly damaging stuff about Brooke and it's not even true," Lily said.
"Yes it is," Sam said, knowing that saying this probably wasn't going to help matters a great big lot.
"Well, even if it is true -as if anyone would give up being a cheerleader- Brooke should at least have been allowed to sort of announce it herself, you know? She shouldn't just suddenly by outed in the school newspaper," Carmen said.
"Guys, she came to me with the story herself. She asked me to do it. So I did it."
Carmen snorted, "Yeah, right, you and Brooke hate each other's guts. If all of this has any grain of truth in it, she'd at least go see some other reporter."
Sam sighed and looked up at the sky dramatically, even though the only thing she saw was that the ceiling needed a paint job, "Guys, I swear. It's the whole honest to God truth. Brooke came to me. End of story."
The two brunettes stared at Sam for a while.
"Come on, Carmen," Lily said coldly, "Looks like we're getting nothing but lies here."
The two girls turned away from a, by now, very exasperated Sam. They quickly stopped, however, when they noticed Brooke coming in their direction.
"Brooke, we had nothing to do it," Carmen quickly said.
"Had nothing to do with what?" Brooke asked.
"The article in the school newspaper," Lily supplied, "You've read it, right?"
"I've heard what's in it," Brooke said. She looked up and smiled past the two girls and to Sam. Quickly turning around, the two brunettes noticed that Sam was smiling back at Brooke.
"I think I just missed something here," Carmen said.
"I asked Sam to run the article," Brooke said.
"You did?" Lily asked.
"You're… not a cheerleader any more?" Carmen asked in the tone of voice of a very eager military general who's just heard that war has been abolished across the globe.
Brooke shook her head, "No."
"Really?" Carmen asked, just to make sure.
"Lily, why don't you take Carmen to the nurse's office?" Sam said pleasantly. "I think she needs to go lie down for a while."
Lily nodded, took Carmen's arm and led the dumbfounded brunette away. Then she paused and looked back at Sam.
"Sorry," she said.
Sam shrugged, "I'm used to it."
Lilly nodded, a blush slowly starting on her face. Then she turned around again and led Carmen away. Brooke stepped closer to Sam and hovered for a moment on the border of Sam's personal space. She decided to remain there since she knew she was going to get very distracted if she took another step forward.
"So, how does it feel?" Sam asked.
"Wouldn't know," Brooke answered, "People are still staring me. Probably for different reasons, but they're still staring."
"It'll pass," Sam said, "How did the other cheerleaders take it?"
"Nicole thought that it was a lie. And I don't think she's processed the fact that it isn't. The same probably goes for Popita and Mary Cherry."
"What do you think they'll do?"
Brooke shrugged, "I don't know. I honestly don't."
"We'll figure a way to deal with it if it happens. And please note the 'if' in that sentence."
"It's not an 'if' Sam. I wish it was."
"We'll still deal with it."
Brooke smiled a little weakly. She made a quick scan of the surroundings, then leaned in to give Sam an even quicker peck on the cheek.
"I'll see you at Bio," the blonde said.
"Looking forward to it," Sam answered.
Biology class had long gone and the time that it would rise up again to torment some more Kennedy High students was a long way away. It was now lunch time and in the cafeteria Carmen and Lily were staring at Harrison. They were slightly horrified. Harrison too had read the Zapruder Reporter and was now ranting about Sam and her undying grudge against Brooke. The two girls realised that they were looking at what Sam had been looking at when they were angry with her. Neither girl really liked what she saw. Suddenly and mid-sentence, Harrison stopped, his mouth hanging half open and stunned amazement in his eyes.
Sam and Brooke sat down at the table.
"Hi," Brooke said, smiling shyly.
"Err… hi," Carmen greeted.
"Hey," Lily joined in.
"Harrison, aren't you going to say anything?" Sam asked.
Harrison closed his mouth, blinked, then smiled, "Hey Brooke. What brings you here?"
"Haven't you read the Zapruder?" Brooke asked.
"Oh… I… err…"
"Didn't believe it," Brooke completed the sentence for him.
"Well…" Harrison started.
"Don't worry. I'm used to it."
"Why what?" Brooke asked suspicious.
"Why the eating disorder. I mean, look at you've got a killer bod."
At that point two girls glared at Harrison, one gave him a firm smack to the back of his head and the blonde merely laughed.
"What?" Harrison asked, rubbing the back of his skull. "What'd I say?"
"Apart from 'killer bod'?" Carmen asked.
"You know, Harrison, do you have any idea how this body looked like?" Brooke asked calmly. "For one thing, you can see my entire rib cage, my spinal column is also highly visible and if you look closely you can count the bones in my hand. I'm practically a skeleton and I'll probably be killed quite literally if I keep striving to maintain this body."
"But… you look hot. I don't get why you'd want to…"
"Harrison, finish that sentence and die," Sam growled.
"My, aren't we having a friendly conversation here."
Everybody at the table looked up, then down as Nicole, Mary Cherry and Popita sat down. Nicole then proceeded to give the rest of the table her trademark icy stare. Carmen and Harrison reached for their plates with the intent of leaving. Lily, after some internal struggle followed suit. Soon only Sam, Brooke and the cheerleaders were sitting at the table.
"Nicole, what are you doing?" Brooke hissed.
"Having lunch with my friend, of course," Nicole answered calmly.
"We're intending ta show you tha error of your ways," Mary Cherry added.
"What errors?" Brooke demanded to know.
"We're your friends, Brookie," Nicole said pleasantly. "Friends don't give up on friends."
Sam shoved a tray in front of the cheerleaders. "Tell me, in your expert opinion, how much food is on this tray?"
"Uhm… it's maybe a bit much," Popita said.
"But it's fain for you Sam, 'cuz you don't have ta worry about your looks since you don't have any."
"I see," Sam said, retracting her tray, "And does Brooke have to worry about her looks?"
"Don't answer that," Nicole snapped at Mary Cherry.
The Texan ignored her. "Why, we'd be lookin' after her, o' course. We're her friends and all. We'd make sure she'd get a carefully balanced diet that'll nourish her and let her keep her stunning good looks."
"And what falls under 'stunning good looks', exactly?" Sam asked. "Since I'm not really up on the subject, after all."
"Mary Cherry, don't," Nicole said.
"I wasn't talking to you Satan."
"Why, she looks just fain right now. There ain't a trace of fat on her tight bod. We'd just keep her the way she is."
"Do you agree with that, Nicole?" Brooke asked, "And remember, on this subject, I know when you're lying."
Nicole remained silent.
"Thought so," Brooke said. The blonde stood up, "Hey, Sam. Let's go pick up Lily, Carmen and Harrison and finish our lunch someplace else."
"Had a place in mind?" Sam asked, standing up as well.
"It's a nice, sunny day. We could eat outside. It's pretty nice on the football field. That is, if you don't mind the grass leaving stains on your clothes."
"Oh, not all," Sam said, smiling.
"You care to join us, Nicole?" Brooke asked.
The blonde once again didn't reply.
"Surprise, surprise. Fashion before friends," Brooke said a touch coldly, "Goodbye Nicole. Try to have a nice day, hmm?"
And with that Brooke walked away from the cheerleaders, with Sam in tow.
The door slid shut with a reassuring click. And with the sound of a relieved sigh, Sam's body leaned back against it.
"Finally," she said. "I thought it'd take ages for them to leave."
"I've never seen my mom making such a big fuss about going out for the night," Harrison said.
Sam and Harrison made their way to the living room where they sat down on a couch. Sam picked up the remote from somewhere and turned on the TV.
"What do you think they're gonna do tonight?" Sam asked.
"I'm so not going to ponder the answer to that question," Harrison said.
"I think it's going to be one of those romantic restaurant candlelit dinner things," Sam said. "At least, I HOPE it's going to be a dinner."
"What else could they be doing?"
Sam looked over to Harrison. The words "cheap motel room" hung in the air for a moment.
"Romantic dinner," Harrison said quickly. "Without a doubt."
"That's what I thought," Sam said, turning back to the TV.
The two teenagers watched some quiz show without much interest.
"What else is on?" Harrison asked.
Sam flicked through the channels.
"Quiz, news, quiz, series, more news, sports, another quiz, tearjerker, action movie, news and… eww… how did that get here?"
Harrison coughed. "Wouldn't know."
"Uh-huh," Sam said, quickly flicking through the rest of the channels. "God, there's absolutely nothing interesting here."
"We have the house to ourselves and we're bored," Harrison said. "We must be the most pathetic teenagers in human existence."
Sam turned off the TV. "Interested in a playing a game?"
"A game?" Harrison asked. "What kind of game?"
"I was thinking Monopoly or something."
"Oh, that kind of game."
"Yeah. What do you think I was talking about?"
"And six… One, two three, four, five… aw damn."
"Oh yeah, one hotel. Pay time."
"I've forgotten how good you are at this."
"Well duh. That's why I suggested it."
"Next time we play a game, I get to choose."
"Fine by me. Now pay up."
Harrison grudgingly handed Sam the fake money. Sam added it to one of her piles, that were significantly larger and more numerous than Harrison's assets. Sam rolled the die and moved her pawn.
"Chance card," Sam said. She picked up a card, read it and smiled. "Free pass out of jail," she said smugly, showing it to Harrison.
"OK, that's it," Harrison said. "God must have some sort of grudge against me. No-one could be that lucky."
"Your turn," Sam said grinning.
Harrison reluctantly picked up the die and was about to throw it when the phone rang.
"I'll get it," Sam said, standing up from the table. "Don't steal any of my money."
"What? I'd never do that," Harrison said.
"Except that one time when you did."
"That was only once."
"Only because I couldn't prove the rest of them. Don't go anywhere and don't move."
"I'm staying right here," Harrison said.
Sam walked away and towards the phone. Harrison watched her go, then looked at her money. There was so much of it. Surely Sam wouldn't miss a few bills, right? And besides, it would make the game last longer. Carefully, Harrison reached over the board and towards Sam's money.
"Don't touch it!" Sam's voice yelled from somewhere.
<<Damn, how does she do that?>> Harrison thought.
A few moments and no further attempts at the transfer of fake capital later, Sam came walking back rather hurriedly.
"OK, game over, I have to go," she announced.
"What?" Harrison asked. "Who was that one the phone?"
"Oh, that was the err photographer for the Zapruder Reporter. He's got something he wants me to look at."
"What, right now?"
"Yes, right now," Sam said.
"What about your mom?"
"What about her?"
"Wouldn't she be sort of peeved if she found out about you leaving the house?"
"She doesn't have to find out," Sam said, quickly clearing the table.
"In that case, can I come?" Harrison asked.
Sam hesitated. "It's really very boring. You wouldn't like it," she said quickly. "Bye!"
Before Harrison got time to react Sam had turned around and was walking towards the hallway. A few seconds later he heard the door close.
"Well," said Harrison to the empty house. "That was odd."
Sam was wondering if maybe she had gone sort of insane. One phone call from Brooke had been enough to send her out on a mindless run. And it wasn't even as if Brooke had been saying something like "I'm standing on top of a really high building and only you can stop me from jumping". It was just Brooke asking if she could meet up with her somewhere.
And Sam went off running.
Her run ended in a lot exhausted panting in a park. She let herself fall down on a small bench next to Brooke. The blonde immediately pulled her close and Sam let her head rest on her shoulder, trying to catch her breath.
"Did you run the entire way?" Brooke asked.
The blonde chuckled. "Why?"
"Cause it was you," Sam panted.
Brooke was silent and Sam could detect a change in her mood.
"You did that for me?" Brooke asked.
Sam shrugged. After a few more moments she managed to get her breathing under control. Normally this would mean that she would sit up straight again, but she was much more comfortable in this position.
"So what's the plan?" Sam asked.
"I just… well, there's this place see… and I wanted to go there with you."
"Couldn't you have told me that sooner instead of calling at the very last second?"
"Probably, yeah. Guess I wasn't really thinking."
"It's OK. What kind of place is it anyway?"
"A place where we can dance and possibly even make out without anyone judging us in any way."
The air was hot, the music was loud, the dance floor was crowded. It didn't take Sam very long to notice why Brooke had brought her here. It was the kind of place were girls and boys didn't mix, since they were far more interested in each other. In short, it was a gay bar.
"Wanna dance?" Brooke asked.
"I can't dance," Sam said.
"Sure you can. Everyone can dance."
"Then I'm the exception that proves the rule."
"Fine," Brooke said grudgingly. "Want to go get a drink and a table then?"
"Sounds a lot better."
The girls made their way over to the bar. Sam noticed rather uncomfortably that there were several women looking rather appreciatively at Brooke. In a moment of jealous possessiveness, Sam lay her arm around Brooke and pulled her close. Brooke sighed happily, not bothered by it in the least.
"Do you have a fake ID?" Brooke asked.
"No. I don't drink alcohol."
"Oh," Brooke said. "Me neither."
"Can I get you anything?"
The girls looked up. The barkeeper was a young man in his mid twenties with black hair and blue eyes. He smiled.
"Oh, hey Brooke."
"Good to see you up and about like this," Jason said.
"Couldn't have done it without her."
"I can see why."
"OK, someone fill in the blanks for me, please," Sam said.
"Sam, this is Jason. He works at the hospital. And he kind of figured out what was going on between you and me."
"So he told you about this place," Sam guessed.
"So," said Jason, "can I get you anything to drink?"
Sam and Brooke ordered their drinks and, after having received them, made their way to a table. There they sat down next to each other and talked about nothing. Sam found that she liked talking about completely trivial things. She also discovered that she liked Brooke's hand running up and down her thigh in an uncomfortable kind of way. After a while the talking stopped since the girls had found more important things to do with their mouths.
Sam and Brooke broke apart from each other with lightning speed. Looking up at the disrupter of her kissing session with Brooke, Sam felt all the colour drain from her face.
"Why are you here?" Robin asked.
"Uhm… isn't it, you know, sort of obvious?" Sam said, feeling hugely embarrassed about the whole situation.
"I take it Jane doesn't know you're here."
"That's right," Sam said. "It was a kind of spur of the moment thing."
"Really?" Robin said with an amused smile. Which was a good thing in Sam's opinion.
Then Jane appeared, walking up to Robin and laying her hand on her shoulder.
"Honey, why aren't you… Sam?"
"Hi mom," Sam said miserable.
"Why are you…? Who is…? Are you…?" Jane stammered. Then she managed to get a grip on herself. "Sam, who is that and is she your girlfriend?"
"I'm Brooke," Brooke said. "And yes, Sam and I are together," she stated defiantly.
"Sam?" Jane asked hopefully.
"It's the truth, mom," Sam said. "Brooke and I… we're pretty much in love with each other."
"OK, why don't we give Brooke a ride home and then talk about this situation in less awkward surroundings?" Robin proposed.
"That seems like a good idea," Jane agreed.
"But…" Sam started.
"I'd rather you keep quiet, Sam," Jane said. "I think we need to talk about this and without any yelling if at all possible."
The light was on in the living room, simply because it was dark outside. Sam was sitting in a solitary chair, facing a couch on which there sat one mom (angry) and one sort-of-mom (probably angry as well). In short, Sam feared that she was in a lot of trouble. The one good fortune she had was that Harrison wasn't here. Sam suspected that he wouldn't deal with the news of her and Brooke in a gay bar very well.
Jane took a deep breath. "Mind telling me why you were there?" she asked.
Sam shrugged. "Brooke felt like dancing. And it's not like we could really go to a disco or something, right? Well, not without people staring anyway."
"And because Brooke felt like dancing you just up and left?"
Sam squirmed a little in her chair. "I still haven't figured out how to say "no" to her."
"Well, perhaps you should start," Jane said calmly.
"How long have the two of you been together?" Robin asked.
Sam thought for a moment whether or not she should answer the woman. When she did, she did so because she didn't want to upset her mom even more by not answering. "Couple of weeks," she answered. "Ever since…"
"Ever since when?" Robin asked.
"I'd rather not say," Sam said.
"I think you'll have to," Jane said.
Sam sighed. "Promise not to tell anyone?"
"Who is there to tell?"
"Promise," Sam said. "Or else no show."
"All right. I promise."
"I promise as well."
Sam nodded. "OK then. A couple of weeks ago, Brooke had to go the hospital. She's suffering from a pretty bad eating disorder," she chuckled bitterly. "One that I caused."
"And now you're together with her out of some feeling of obligation?" Jane gambled.
"Mom!" Sam yelled. "It's not like that at all. I had a crush on her ever since way back when. No, I'm with her because I love her. Anyway, when she was in the hospital she felt she had nothing to lose anyway, so she confessed her feelings to me. We've sort of been together ever since."
"And why didn't you tell me this sooner?" Jane asked. "Or am I so homophobic that you feared I couldn't deal?" she added sarcastically.
"I… I was scared, OK? I know, irrational, but hey."
"How is she now?" Robin asked.
"Brooke. Who else?"
Sam hesitated. "I'm not really sure. Her life's been pretty much thrown upside down and her eating disorder is controlled, but not gone. I sometimes think, if I wasn't there…" she shrugged, leaving the sentence unfinished. "I guess that's why I can't say "no". Afraid of sending her back into the arms of not eating."
Robin nodded. Jane had gone quiet.
"So how long am I grounded?" Sam asked.
"I don't know. I'll have to talk with Robin about it. In private."
"So I'm excused then?"
"Go to bed," Jane said. "We'll continue this in the morning."
Sam nodded, stood up and left the room. In the hallway, she quietly sneaked back to the door to eavesdrop. She heard Jane sigh.
"What am I going to do?"
"Ground her for running off like that."
"She kept a secret from me."
"I know. And I know it probably hurts. But I can see why she did it."
"She knew I'd be OK with it. So why not tell me? Am I that bad a parent?"
"Of course not. But, the way I heard it, a lot has been going on. Sam probably didn't need a possible parental fallout to add to that list."
"Should we tell Brooke's parents?"
"We don't know them. We don't know how they'll react and if Brooke's situation really is as precarious as Sam says it is…"
"No telling them, then."
Sam sighed with relief when she heard that.
"But Sam's still grounded."
"Oh yes. Besides, it may also teach Brooke a valuable lesson that she can't just expect your daughter to come running at all hours."
"Only if Harrison is our son."
"Of course he is. I wouldn't have it any other way."
At that point Sam decided she had heard enough, so she simply walked away from her position by the door and up the stairs.
Sam discovered that she did not have a problem with saying "no". If, for example, someone would walk up to her and ask "Do you think Prince Charles is the hottest guy alive?" Sam felt quite confident that she could answer that question with an emphatic "no". So, it wasn't so much the fact that Sam couldn't say "no" that was the problem, but more Brooke's total inability to ask a question to which the answer might conceivably be "no".
So that was why the two girls had locked themselves in a single stall in the Novak for a short between-class intermezzo. After a while, the two of them were forced to adhere to the demands of their respective bodies and they broke free of each other for some much needed air.
"So… did I get you in a lot of trouble?" Brooke asked.
"Wasn't bad," Sam said. "I'm grounded for two weeks, but other than that."
"No visitors that are you, no."
"You ran into any trouble with Mike?"
"He's out of town."
"Oh," Sam said. "Sorry."
Brooke shrugged. "He's more often out than in, so it's not really a very big surprise."
"But let's not talk about that now," Brooke said grinning. "What say you and I go back to what we were doing just now?"
And there it was again. A question. A question to which, technically speaking, the answer could be "no".
The ground between Kennedy High's main gate and the building itself was covered with concrete. Because some architectural person had found that a lot of concrete is not the most cheerful sight in the world, several trees had been planted here and there to liven the place up a bit. It was under these trees that the unpopular group now spent most of their lunch times after Brooke had made a grand display of not having lunch with Nicole anymore.
However, during the current lunch break the ex-cheerleader wasn't there and neither was the brunette girl who seemed to provide the most emotional support.
Such circumstances are, of course, ideal if one would want to gossip about someone else for a bit.
"Hey guys," Carmen said. "Have you noticed something, you know, odd about Sam lately?"
"No," Harrison said, a little too quickly. "Why should there be anything odd about her?"
"Now that you mention it," Lily said. "She does seem to be a little more perkier than she used to, doesn't she?"
"Exactly," Carmen said. "Something's changed."
"What? Nothing's changed," Harrison said.
"Oh, come on, Harrison, are you blind?" Lily said. "Sam's acting like… like… well like someone who isn't Sam!"
"Yeah, Sam's never acted this happy before," Carmen said.
There was a pause.
"Wait, this is a good thing, right?" Harrison said.
"Yeah, it is," Lily said. "I mean, of course it is."
"Oh hey!" Carmen said, when a thought struck her. "A few weeks ago she called me and…" she bit her bottom lip when the rest of that thought unfolded in her mind.
"And what?" Harrison asked. "What did she say?"
"Oh… nothing important," Carmen said, hoping she sounded casual.
"She told you, didn't she?" Harrison said. "She told you about us, right?"
Now Carmen and Lily had their turn to be confused.
"What are you talking about?" Lily said.
"I can't believe she just told you without discussing it with me first," Harrison ranted.
"Told me what?" Carmen asked, wondering why Sam would have to discuss her sexuality with Harrison.
"Look, she may be happy with our mothers dating each other, but I'm still not ready to tell it the whole wide world. And now she did tell, without me even knowing about it!"
There was a silence as Lily and Carmen looked at Harrison.
"What!?" Carmen said.
"W-What did you say?" Lily asked.
Harrison had the very uncomfortable feeling one feels when one has just revealed something that one didn't want revealed. "Err… nothing."
"And Sam's mom…"
Harrison nodded, knowing there was little else he could do.
"Gee," said Carmen.
"Wow," said Lily.
"You know… Sam told me her mom was dating another woman, but…"
"Hey, wait," Lily said, "Sam told you that?"
"W-Well, yeah, actually."
"And she didn't tell me?" Lily said. "That's not fair."
"She just wanted to talk to someone about it, you know," Carmen said. "And after she talked to me about, I guess she didn't need to talk about it with someone else, you know."
"So, now you are her best friend all of a sudden?" Lily said, pissed because she had apparently been left out of pretty much everything.
"Hey, if anyone's Sam's best friend it's me," Harrison said. "She's practically my sister after all."
"Oh come on, Harrison," Lily said. "You said your moms were just dating. It's not like they've committed themselves to a life-long relationship."
"Unless they…" Carmen said.
"No, wait, it's not like that!"
"Then what is it like?"
As Harrison tried to explain the situation to the girls, Sam and Brooke walked up to them, paused, looked at state their friends in and decided that it might be better if they found someplace else to eat lunch right now.
It was not difficult. Brooke knew that it was not difficult. It was just a matter of taking two steps forward, grabbing the doorknob and opening the door. There was nothing to it. Opening doors was something she did daily, after all. There was absolutely no reason why she couldn't open this door. Brooke took a deep breath and took two steps forward.
Then she stepped back two paces.
She looked at the door again. The name of the shop was painted discreetly on it. There was nothing special about that shop. Brooke gambled there must be a hundred people who entered that shop daily. She also gambled that people might start staring at her if she remained standing still here much longer.
Brooke took two firm steps forward, grabbed the doorknob, opened the door and stepped inside. A small bell chimed happily. A man, standing behind the counter, looked up at her and smiled.
"Well, hello there," he said, stepping out from behind the counter.
"Hi," Brooke said, looking around the store and being slightly intimidated with everything she saw.
The man had walked to the middle of the shop and looked at Brooke expectantly.
"Are you going to stand there all day, or are you actually going to come in?" he asked in a tone that sounded friendly enough.
Brooke walked up to him, still looking around.
"Ah, very brave of you," the man said. "Now, how can I help you?"
"I-I'm not sure," Brooke said. "I've never really been to places like this before."
"Not even as a hobby?" the man asked.
Brooke shook her head.
"I see," the man said. "Well then, it's a calm day, so why don't you take your time and tell me your interests. I'm sure we can find something that suits you."
"OK. Sure," Brooke said a little nervously.
And with those words put the final nail in the coffin of her cheerleader past.
NOTE: And the string of short parts continues. Alas.
To say a hurricane had swept through Mike's room in the Palace would have been untrue. Hurricanes have a tendency to not spontaneously come into being inside a room and have the far more alarming tendency to move around. Still, if one were to look around in Mike's room one might almost believe that a hurricane _had_ swept through it. Currently, the hurricane was going through the small cabinet hanging above the bed.
"Damn, where is it," said hurricane Brooke to herself. "I know it was somewhere around here last time I saw it."
With a frustrated sigh, Brooke turned away from the cabinet and sat down on the bed.
"OK, so maybe it's not here."
Looking around, she realised that she had made terrible mess of things. She also realised that she really should clean it all up sooner or later. She found that this second realisation was a lot more unpleasant than the first one. She stood up, started gathering her father's clothes and put them back in the place where she had originally yanked them from.
It took her a while, but finally the room was cleaned up again and totally void of any proof that indicated that a hurricane might have come spontaneously into existence here.
Brooke was about to turn and leave through the door when she realised that there was one place where she hadn't looked yet. She knelt down, then lay down, then looked under the bed.
And there it was.
Brooke chuckled briefly about the childishness of the situation, then took the camera out from under the bed. She had her own camera, of course, but this one came with a better lens and a far more sophisticated zoom function.
Brooke smiled wryly. "And so my life as a stalker begins."
"OK… if eight x to the fourth power minus two x squared and that divided by five equals 286, then… let's see… if I multiply 286 by five… no wait, that won't work… maybe if I call two x squared "q" or something… then you've got four q squared minus q and then that would equal… 1430… so then four q squared minus q minus 1430 would equal zero… OK, I think I can do that, but it's not gonna be fun…"
"Do you always talk when you make your homework?"
Sam looked up from her homework and at Harrison, who was standing in the doorway.
"Only maths," Sam said. "Why? Is it bothering you?"
"Not really," Harrison said. "Just find it a little odd, is all."
"I'm sure there're people out there who agree with you," Sam said. "But I don't think you came here to discuss my homework-making-habits."
"Actually, no…" Harrison said, stepping into the room.
"So? What do you want to talk about?"
"Two things, really," Harrison said, sitting down on the edge of Sam's bed.
"OK… the first one is… I might have sort of told Lily and Carmen that our mothers are more or less dating."
"I see," Sam said. "How did they react?"
"Shocked, stunned, disbelieving."
"Fairly positive then," Sam said. "At least it didn't include disgusted, angry and homophobic."
"That may still happen."
"I don't think so," Sam said. "Once they get used to the idea, I don't think they'll have too much of a problem with it."
"OK, that was issue number 1, now moving on to number 2…" Harrison hesitated.
"And number two would be…?" Sam prompted.
"You and Brooke… you're pretty close, right?" Harrison said carefully.
"Right," Sam said slowly, already not liking where this was going.
"Do you… I mean… do you think you could… sort of… put a good word in for me?"
Sam was silent for a moment.
"Well… you see… Brooke's not dating anyone right now and what with her quitting the Glamazons and all and you seeming to be her best friend right now… well… I'd think I'd stand a chance, right?"
"Harrison…" Sam paused. How was she going to finish that sentence? "I don't think she'd be very interested in you."
"Why not? I don't look that awful, right?"
"Right," Sam agreed. "But I'm not entirely convinced if Brooke would go for looks at this point in her life."
"Hey, if she needs emotional support, I can give her that," Harrison said. "Not that you're not doing a great job as it is, of course," he added hastily.
"Gee, thanks," Sam said.
"I mean… I think it's important that there's someone who really loves her that's there to back her up. Not just some best friend, you know?"
"And you really love her," Sam said.
"Of course I do," Harrison said. "I've had a crush on her ever since way back when."
"I don't think you're the only one has had a crush on her for a long time. I'm pretty positive, actually."
"So that's why I'm asking you for help," Harrison said. "To, you know, beat the competition."
Sam nodded. "OK. Fine. I'll see what I can do," she said sighing.
Harrison smiled. "Great. That's all I ask."
"Just don't be surprised when she doesn't turn out to be interested, OK?"
"I think she'll surprise you yet," Harrison said, standing up. "So? Deal?"
"Yeah, yeah. Deal."
"Great," he said, heading for the door.
"Can I borrow your calculator?"
"What? I mean… err… sure. Why?"
"Well, mine's running out of batteries and I have a feeling I'm gonna need one badly."
"You know… I don't think I've ever seen you so engrossed in your homework."
"Well, basically I just do this to convince myself that it's my choice to stay here at home and that it's not because I'm grounded."
Harrison chuckled. "I'll go get my calculator."
Sam waited until Harrison had left her room, walked into his own room, brought his calculator to her, then headed down the stairs and closed the living room door behind him. Then she banged her head on her desk.
"This is not going to be fun."
Sam and Brooke were in the Novak. They were often in the Novak recently since that was the only place where they could have a little alone time until Sam wasn't grounded any more. Today, however, Brooke was a little disappointed to find out that Sam wasn't particularly interested in a little making out in a locked stall. Instead, the brunette quickly checked the stalls and, finding them all empty, sat down on the couch.
"Brooke, we may have a little problem," she said.
"Oh?" said Brooke, sitting down as well.
"It's Harrison," Sam said. "I told you he has a crush on you, right?"
"You did," Brooke said. "And even if you hadn't, I'd have figured it out for myself by now."
"OK. Well. You see… the thing is… he thinks he stands a chance with you."
"Since you're not a cheerleader and since we're not exactly out, well… he thinks he stands a chance, you know?"
"He's probably not the only one who thinks that," Brooke said.
"Probably. Anyway, a couple of days ago he asked me to put in a good word for him with you."
"Don't bother. I'm not giving up you just to be with him."
Sam smiled. "I was sort of counting on that. So what do I tell him?"
"That I'm not interested."
"He won't take "no" for an answer, you know. He's probably gonna try and woo you and everything. You may have to start sending back flowers, chocolates and teddy bears."
"Maybe. Maybe not," Brooke said. "Maybe we should try and hook him up with someone else."
"Like who?" Sam said. "I'm not available, Carmen and Lily both consider him to be just a friend and then you suddenly tend to run out of options real quick."
"Mary Cherry likes him," Brooke said.
"Mary Cherry is insane," Sam said.
"But she still likes him," Brooke said.
"So we're what? Going to be playing matchmaker between Harrison and Mary Cherry?"
Brooke pondered that for a while, then shivered a little. "No. Let's not."
"My thoughts exactly."
Brooke sighed. "Guess I have no choice than to wait for him until he makes his intentions known and then turn him down, crushing all his hopes and dreams."
"Someone here has a very high opinion of herself," Sam said smirking.
"I was exaggerating," Brooke huffed. "You know, for comic effect."
"Look, why don't we stop talking right now," Brooke said. "We're probably just going to fight if we go on like this and I'm far more interested in skipping that and make a bee-line for the makeup kissage."
Sam smiled. "Sounds like a plan."
Mike sat at the kitchen table. Brooke sat opposite of him at the same kitchen table. They were going to have The Talk. Or A Talk, at least. The problem with having to have A Talk is that there has to be talking. The reason they were having A Talk was simply because Mike had come home from work a little early. At the moment, he was very much regretting the fact that he had went up to his daughter's room and hadn't knocked.
So now, they had to have A Talk.
"So…" said Mike.
"So…" said Brooke.
"I'm not mad at you," said Mike.
"Just disappointed?" Brooke asked.
"No," said Mike. "Just a little shocked."
"There's nothing wrong with it," Mike said. "I… even do it myself sometimes."
"Too much information, dad," Brooke said.
"Can we just get to the point?"
"The point… right… the point… well… you see… the thing is…" Mike tried to form a coherent sentence, but found that he had difficulty doing so. "Well… now that you're… active… in a way… well… I just… I'm hoping you won't rush into things."
"Dad, there's no rushing."
"Err… good… can I… ask you something?"
"Was there anyone in particular in your mind when you… well…"
"Yes," Brooke said sighing.
"And are the two of you… together?"
"But you're not…"
"Well, that's a relief at least."
"Daddy, neither of us ready for that step. So you won't have to worry about me getting some sort of nasty disease."
"I'm not just worried about…"
"And I won't be getting pregnant anytime soon either," Brooke quickly added.
"OK… good… uhm… have the two of you… you know… talked about it?"
"Maybe you should… I'm not saying that you should… because I'm not… I just want to be sure that… nothing… undesirable happens."
"I can't believe you're saying this."
"If this were a few decades ago then I'd just forbid it and you'd ignore me just to spite me… so… in this current day and age… well… I just want you think about… consequences."
"I promise I'll do that, OK?"
"OK then… well… I guess that's it then…"
"Can I go now?"
"Of course… err… I'll just start dinner now, all right?"
"Fine," Brooke said, standing up.
The blonde walked up to her room and closed the door. She headed over to her bed and quickly gathered up the pictures strewn around on it, quietly thanking whoever might be listening up there that her father hadn't seen them.
The next day Brooke discovered that Sam's prediction about Harrison was fairly accurate. She found, fastened to her locker with adhesive tape, a red rose. It was sort of romantic in a corny way and, at the same time, sort of creepy in a stalker-y way. Brooke briefly wondered if maybe it had been Sam who had done it. However, Sam probably would've just given her the rose, whilst smiling that cute shy smile of hers, instead of taping it to her locker. That and the brunette was still grounded, so she probably hadn't been able to go to a florist anyway.
Brooke took the rose, opened her locker, carelessly flung the rose inside, then took out her books.
"Well, seems like someone has a secret admirer."
Brooke sighed. "Hi Nicole."
"Brooke," Nicole greeted in a neutral voice.
"What do you want Nicole?"
"My best friend back, to be frank. In all honesty, Mary Cherry and Popita aren't exactly the greatest thinkers or our time and they can get a little dull sometimes."
"I thought you liked talking about boys, shopping, music and cheerleading routines."
"Brooke, why can't we be friends?"
Brooke turned and looked at the blonde. She noticed that her eyes stood a little desperate in a very un-Nicole-like fashion.
"It's not that I don't want to," Brooke admitted. "I just… I don't… I can't handle being popular anymore. The demands are too high, the rewards are non-existent and before you know it I'm back on the cheerleading squad and fretting about my weight again."
"You don't have to," Nicole said. "If we could just… hang out after school or something. I promise I won't make a big deal about your looks. You can even show up wearing Spam's clothes for all I care. I just… I just want to be friends again."
Brooke sighed. "Fine. I'll… I'll think about it."
And with that, Brooke closed her locker and walked away.
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