| Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven |
AUTHOR: Jos Mous
DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of these characters, I'm not making any profit, blahblahblah.
RATING: PG-13, maybe R considering the subject
PAIRING: Err… Eventually Sam/Brooke
NOTE: On a note entirely unrelated to this fic, I recently took a pretty simple test to find out how my brain more or less works. And, as it turns out, my thinking processes (though still mostly male) have a definite feminine quality to them. If I was born a girl, I'd even have scored "normal". Maybe this explains why I like writing about girls better than writing about boys. Then again, maybe it's just because I like girls better period.
Brooke had never been to Canada before and had never had any particular desire to do so. Now that she actually was in Canada, she still didn't feel very happy about it. This was mostly because she was standing on the sidewalk outside her stepsister's house. The last time she had spoken with Sam had been five months ago, on Mac's sixth birthday. And their talk hadn't been particularly friendly.
Truth was that Sam had become more or less the black sheep of the family and Brooke'd much rather not deal with her if she could possibly avoid it.
Unfortunately, she couldn't avoid it.
Her marriage to Harrison hadn't lasted as long as she had hoped.
Harrison wanted to have children, but Brooke wasn't capable of that. After many long medical tests and examinations, it had turned out that she was infertile. It had been quite a shock and it had ruined the marriage, ending in divorce. Harrison got the house, which left Brooke with the option of going back to the Palace until she got back on her feet or as Sam for help until she got back to her feet. And since Brooke had promised herself to be her own woman and not go back to live in the house where she had grown up, she really didn't have much of a choice.
She just hoped Sam wouldn't immediately kick her out again.
Gathering her courage, Brooke walked up the front walk and rang the doorbell. The door was soon opened by a perky-looking girl with short blonde hair, sparkling blue eyes and wearing black clothes.
"Hello. Can I help you?" she asked.
"Err… I'm Brooke. Sam's stepsister?"
"Oh right," said the girl. "Come on in."
The girl stepped aside to give Brooke and the large bag she was carrying enough room to enter the house. The girl closed the door and lead Brooke into a large, airy living room with large windows and white walls. Most of the furniture had been moved aside and in the middle of the room was an easel with a half-finished painting standing on it.
"Sorry for the mess," said the girl. "I was expecting to have a quiet day by myself so I rearranged the living room. I hope you don't mind."
"No, not at all," said Brooke, dumping her bag on the floor.
"Have a seat somewhere. Can I get you something to drink? Tea? Coffee?"
"Do you have alcohol?"
"Sadly no. We're teetotallers."
"Coming right up!"
The girl walked away to the kitchen. Brooke took this opportunity to have a bit of a look around. It was a nice house. Nicer than she had expected, in all honesty. Big too. Of course, that wasn't much of a surprise. Brooke walked over to the painting. There were mostly sketches on the canvas, but Brooke could see it was going to be pretty good when it was finished.
"OK, water's up. Please sit down."
Brooke looked up from the painting. "This one's pretty good."
"You think so? It's a bit abstract. I usually do nude models, but I wanted something different for a change."
Brooke sat down on one of the large couches. "Nude models? Really?"
"Oh yes," said the girl, sitting down on a chair next to the couch.
"Of course, Sam likes posing for me, so it's easy to get inspiration."
"Wouldn't that be a bit distracting?"
The girl grinned. "Sometimes. My name's Jennifer, by the way," she added, extending a hand.
"Brooke. But you already knew that."
"Nice to meet you. So, Brooke, what brings you here?"
"Woah, hold that thought. The water's boiling. Be right back."
Brooke looked at Jennifer as she happily walked out of the room. She struck Brooke as being a bit hyperactive. She wondered what Sam saw in her. Then again, what would a girl like Jennifer see in Sam?
Jennifer returned carrying two mugs and handed one to Brooke. She sat back down on her chair again, but this time pulled up her legs and let her head rest on her knees.
"Sorry, you were saying?"
"Well, the thing is, I just got out of a messy divorce."
"Sorry to hear it."
"Thanks. Anyway, now I need a place to stay. You know, until I get my act back together."
"And you want to stay here?" Jennifer asked sceptically.
"I don't really have anywhere else to go."
"Well, if it were up to me you could stay, sure. But it's not up to me. It's up to Sam. And you haven't been very nice to her lately."
"I know," said Brooke, staring dejectedly in her tea.
"I mean, you disapprove of her, you disapprove of her lifestyle, you disapprove of us…"
"I know," Brooke said again.
"Your family only suffers her presence during Christmas and Mac's birthday and that's only because Sam totally adores Mac and, from what I could tell, Mac adores her back. But she always has to go alone and that really hurts, you know."
"Yes, I know."
"Still, Sam's not one to carry a grudge."
"Yes, she is."
"OK, she is. But she's not going to turn her back on someone who needs her help. Even if that someone doesn't quite deserve it."
"You don't like me very much, do you?"
"After the way you treated my Sammy? What do _you_ think?"
"I think you're fully in your right to not like me."
"Very good answer, Brooke," Jennifer said. "Maybe you're not quite so bad after all."
"I'll take that as a compliment."
"You should. It's probably the best you'll get out of me for a while."
Both girls looked up when they heard the sound of the front door closing. And, sure enough, Sam soon entered the living room. She walked over to Jennifer and kissed her.
"Hey baby," said Sam.
"Hey yourself," Jennifer said, putting her feet back on the ground.
"Had a nice day?"
"Yeah. Oh and Morgan called. She's working night shift again."
Sam sighed. "Sometimes I think she works too much."
"Well, tomorrow is her day off. Maybe we should be extra nice to her then."
Sam grinned. "Sounds like a good idea."
And only then did Sam acknowledge Brooke's presence.
"Hello Brooke," she said coldly, taking a seat on Jennifer's lap.
"Sam," said Brooke.
"Why are you here?" Sam asked.
"I need a place to stay."
"Can't you stay with mom and Mike?"
"Would you like to move back into the Palace?"
"Can't you find an apartment somewhere?"
"On this short notice?"
"Well, why aren't you with Harrison?"
"We got divorced."
A smirk appeared on Sam's face. "So, the little lady disapproves my personal relationships, while hers have gone the way of the Titanic."
"Sammy, be nice to her," Jennifer said.
"Give me one good reason."
"Not only is she divorced, she can't have babies."
"Oh," said Sam. Then, "Sorry."
Brooke shook her head. "I pretty much deserved all of that. Now then… can I stay?"
Sam looked at her, varying conflicting emotions racing over her features. "Yeah, you can stay," she said finally. "I'll set you up in the guest bedroom. But only until you find a job or a place to live and if you start going around being judgmental I'll kick you out on the streets faster than you can say `ouch', got it?"
"I got it."
"Good," said Sam. "Now come on, get your bag and I'll show you your room."
"Great. And while you two do that, I'll start dinner," Jennifer said.
"How does that sound?"
"Sounds pretty good," Sam said. She kissed her again. "Love you."
"Love you too."
"OK, come on Brooke. Follow me."
Brooke obediently followed Sam into the hallway, up the staircase and onto the landing.
"So how's Mac?" Sam asked.
"Pretty good last time I saw her," Brooke answered. "She just… she does want to see her aunt Sam more often."
"Aunt," Sam said bitterly. "You, mom and Mike wouldn't even allow me to be her sister."
Sam didn't respond. "This is your room. Unpack, make yourself comfortable, whatever. Knowing Jennifer, dinner's in about half an hour. Don't be late."
The brunette turned around and left. Brooke looked around her temporary sleeping place. It was pretty big for a guest bedroom. It had a nice blue fitted carpet, white walls, a large closet and a bed that looked pretty comfortable. Brooke put her bag on the floor and sat down on the bed. It felt pretty comfortable too.
Brooke lay down and looked up at the white ceiling.
Well now, here she was, a girl coming this close to realising the American Dream, but failing because she couldn't get 2.5 children. And now she was going to live with her stepsister, who rightfully hated her and who lived together with two other women. Sometimes, the world didn't make a whole lot of sense.
It was pretty early in the morning when Brooke entered the kitchen. There she saw Sam along with Jennifer wearing nothing but an overly large shirt, the kind one wears in bed, and being very firmly occupied with kissing each other. Brooke quickly contemplated turning around and pretending she had never seen the scene.
"Hey Brooke," Jennifer said.
Brooke turned back around and faced the two girls. They had stopped kissing, though Sam's arm was still around the blonde's waist. "Hi."
"We were just making breakfast," Jennifer said.
"I see," said Brooke.
"We just got a little side tracked, is all. It happens sometimes."
"Well, it's your fault for being so pretty," Sam said grinning.
Jennifer grinned back and leaned in for a quick kiss.
Brooke groaned. She wasn't in the mood for these kinds of displays. "Take it to the bedroom, will you?"
"Oh, we were planning to," said Jennifer. "Morgan came home after midnight last night. She was so exhausted she just collapsed onto bed and fell asleep without so much as giving us a good night kiss. So, Sammy and I decided to bring her breakfast in bed and shamelessly pamper her all day."
"Lucky her," said Brooke.
"Come on Jenn," said Sam, picking up the tray Morgan's breakfast was placed on. "She's probably getting hungry by now."
"Lead the way."
Sam left the kitchen, carrying the tray. Jennifer lingered for a moment, then turned to Brooke.
"Oh and Brooke, I suggest you don't disturb us unless there's a real emergency. And then please knock and wait for one of us to open the door. Well, unless you like to see three girls going at it."
"Jenn! No teasing the straight monogamous girl!" Sam's voice yelled from somewhere outside the kitchen.
"Sorry!" Jennifer yelled back, with a grin that quite clearly stated that she didn't think there was anything to be sorry about. "Later, Brooke."
And then Brooke was alone in the kitchen. She decided she'd better go and get something to eat. And to remain on the first floor at all times.
Brooke was eating a sandwich as she flipped through the Canadian channels with the remote. Apparently, Canada also suffered from the "one-gazillion-channels-and-still-nothing-decent-on"-syndrome. Sighing, she turned off the TV, finished eating her sandwich and looked around the room for a bit. She should probably go scan the paper or the Internet looking for an apartment or a job, but she didn't feel like it yet. She was still a bit shaken about the divorce and about the fact she would never have a child. She needed something to take her mind of things. The bookcase standing in the corner seemed like a good place to start, so Brooke walked over to it. She noticed that some of the books in it were written by a "Samantha McPherson".
This surprised Brooke somewhat. Sam had said that she worked freelance for a local newspaper. She hadn't told anyone she also wrote books.
Then again, nobody ever asked what she was doing period. Mac probably knew, though. Maybe Jane. Certainly not Mike. Brooke took out one of Sam's books at random. The cover showed a rather pretty blonde girl, with a wolf lying at her feet. The title read "The Dragon Princess".
So, Sam wrote fantasy, did she?
Wasn't reality interesting enough for her?
She put the book back and noticed the photo-albums. Brooke took out one of them. Maybe pictures'd give a slightly better insight in Sam's life. The album she had taken out was white and the words "Our Wedding" were written on it.
Brooke frowned. She was aware that Canada had legalised gay marriages, but to the best of her knowledge bigamy was still illegal. Brooke sat on the couch and opened the album. The first page showed Sam in her white bridal gown, Jennifer in a blue bridal maid's dress and an Asian girl also in the white of the bride. That had to be Morgan then. Then there were pictures of Sam standing next to the altar, with Jennifer closer to her than bride's maids usually did. A couple of pictures of Morgan walking down the aisle. Happy, crying relatives. The three girls looking at each other as the priest performed the service. The exchanging of rings. The kiss. Brooke looked back at that picture again.
Three persons kissing each other at the same time, was that possible?
Then the two brides putting another ring around Jennifer's finger while the priest diplomatically looked the other way. Another kiss. The shower of rice. The cutting of the cake where all three of them held the knife, with Jennifer standing in the middle. The eating of the cake. Some dancing. Posing with the family. More kissing. It was all pretty basic marriage stuff, really. Well, except that there wasn't a bride and groom, but three brides. But apart from that, it was all pretty basic.
Frowning, Brooke leafed back to the very first page. The date that had been neatly written down there said that these pictures had been taken three months ago.
Brooke remembered that, about three months ago, Sam had practically begged their parents for Mac to come over and stay with them for a week or so. Mac had really wanted to, but Jane and Mike had stubbornly refused. Sam had been really upset about that. Now Brooke knew why.
Sam had wanted Mac to be at her wedding.
Feeling a tad guilty, Brooke put the album back in the bookcase. She took out another album. It wasn't as spectacular as the wedding album. It mostly showed the three girls at the zoo, or eating ice cream, or sitting on a bench or something. She put the album back and picked up another. After looking at the first page, she quickly slammed it shut again and put it back, reminding herself to steer clear of the red albums. Blushing, Brooke went back to the couch. She cast one or two suspicious glances back at the bookcase, in case one of the red albums might suddenly catch fire.
The phone rang.
"Hello?" Brooke asked in the receiver.
"Hi. Is this Sam's house?" The voice sounded familiar.
"Could you get her for me? I'm Mac, her niece."
Brooke hesitated. She wanted to tell her that it was her sister Mac was talking to. Then again, she didn't want her parents finding out that she was living with Sam at the moment.
"I'll go get her."
Brooke put the receiver down, walked out the room, up the stairs, across the landing and stopped in front of the door into the master bedroom. Hesitantly she knocked on the door.
"Come in," a voice on the other side said.
Brooke took a deep breath and entered. The sight she was met with wasn't as horrible as she had imagined. The empty food tray was standing on the ground next to the bed. A couple of over-sized T-shirts were strewn across the floor. To Brooke all Asians looked more or less the same, but she figured it was Morgan lying under the sheets in between Jennifer and Sam.
It was a pretty normal scene, really.
If you could call three cuddling lesbians who were likely to be naked under those covers "normal".
"What is it?" Sam asked.
"Telephone for you."
Sam jumped out of bed. For one very long second, Brooke could see that she shaved very regularly and that she had a tattoo, then she turned away, her face as red as a beet. Giggling sounds came from the bed. Brooke blushed some more. Meanwhile, a stark naked Sam had rushed past her, not even bothering to put on some clothes.
"I'll just be going now," Brooke said, still looking at the floor.
"Close the door." Brooke figured that had been Morgan, since it hadn't been Jennifer's voice.
Willing her blood to go away from her face and do something useful like providing more oxygen to her brains, Brooke walked down the stairs again. She stepped in the living room, avoided looking at the couch where Sam was sitting, and headed straight for the kitchen door. Brooke walked over to the fridge and opened it, looking for something cool to drink. She settled for milk. Sounds of Sam's conversation filtered through the door. She was talking quite excitedly, about what, Brooke didn't know. She did know that she never talked to Mac like that.
Brooke realised that "aunt" Sam was a much better sister to the little girl than she was.
Brooke poured herself a cup of milk and downed it in one go. She really wanted a proper drink. Preferably a double.
Brooke walked back into the living room. From her vantage point at the kitchen door she could see Sam's face and a reasonable part of her upper body, but not enough to cause embarrassment. She glowed. Whether is was because of talking to Mac or if she had just had sex, Brooke didn't know. She did know that right now, Sam was a whole lot happier than she was.
It didn't seem particularly fair to Brooke.
The blonde left the living room and walked up the stairs again. On passing the door to the master bedroom, Brooke could hear that it was likely that the other two girls were glowing as well, or at least, working up a pretty good glow. She went to the bathroom and brushed her teeth.
A few minutes later, Brooke was standing under the shower. After a while, she could hear someone coming up the stairs (Sam, obviously), then heard some talking and giggling which was abruptly cut off again when the door to the bedroom slammed shut.
Brooke turned around and faced the spray. She was feeling miserable in a house filled with happiness. She'd better go find an apartment for herself quickly.
Brooke stepped into the small computer room. She had been told that this was Sam's private inner sanctum, mostly because the other two couldn't really be bothered with computers. The walls were white, just like everywhere else in the house. Framed newspaper clippings hung on the wall and a small plant standing next to the desk brightened up the room slightly. Sam was working on her computer, back towards Brooke. She hadn't noticed the blonde entering. Or she was simply ignoring her, which was also a very realistic option. Brooke went over the headlines hanging on the walls.
"McPherson's debut novel nation wide success."
"Teenagers crazy for Jessica."
"Integrity marks Samantha McPherson's first book."
"Joe McPherson is California's reporter of the year."
"Vatican publicly condemns `Jessica'."
"Second book proves it: McPherson no one-day fly."
Brooke frowned. Apparently, Sam was both successful and somewhat controversial. How come she hadn't heard anything about that?
The answer quickly presented itself.
Brooke started feeling that maybe she had made a mistake somewhere in the recent past and was now paying for it.
Brooke jumped. Sam had turned around in her chair and was looking at her with a carefully neutral expression.
"Hey," said Brooke. "Seems you're a good writer," she said, nodding towards the articles.
"I earn enough to support my family on my own, if need be," said Sam.
"Can I help you?"
"I was just wondering if I could use your computer."
"I looked through the newspaper for a job or a place to live, but there wasn't a lot, so I figured, maybe I could find something on the `Net."
"Yeah, I know, but…"
"You'll just have to wait. I'm nearly done."
"Is that any way to treat your guest?"
"You're not a guest. You're just someone who's using up a room."
Brooke winced. "Oh."
Sam turned around again and faced the screen. "Bye Brooke. I'll let you know when I'm done."
"Sam, why do you hate me so?"
Sam sighed. "You know perfectly well why."
"OK, fine, I'll go over it again. So, here I was, in college. I met Morgan there and we started dating. I came out as a lesbian and you all handled it fine, mom even saying that she had always suspected it. Everything was peachy keen and everybody was very tolerant and open-minded about it. Great. Then we met Jennifer and we both fell in love with her, so we started dating her as well. And I, with my thick head, thought that there wouldn't be any problems with that either. Silly me. All of the sudden, I'm a slut, a bad influence and just plain hedonistic just because I loved two people instead of just one like normal people." Sam swivelled around in her chair, her eyes boring straight into Brooke's skull. "You were my best friend, Brooke, my sister. And you turned your back on me as well. You didn't even try to understand, you didn't want to know the women I love, you just told me I was a freaking pervert and that you never wanted to see me again. Now, are you still curious about why you're not my favourite person right now?"
"No you're not so don't insult us both by lying. You don't know me, you don't know my wives and you're not even trying to get to know them even though you live here so don't say you're sorry." Sam turned her back on Brooke. "I'll call you when I'm done."
Brooke flopped down onto a couch in the living room. It had been pushed against a wall by Jennifer, who had once again set up her easel in the middle of the room and was carefully painting.
"Hey Jennifer," Brooke said.
"Do you love Sam?"
"How about Morgan?"
"I love her too."
Jennifer put down her paint and brushes and turned to face Brooke. "I hear you have difficulty comprehending the idea."
Jennifer smiled. "Most people do. Can't see why, it's very simple."
"Oh yeah. It's just that most people have just enough love in them to romantically love one person. Polyamorous people like myself, on the other hand, are brimming over with love and can easily love multiple people without cheating on any one of them. Really, the world would be better place if everyone was like us."
Brooke raised an eyebrow. "You're not serious, are you?"
"Maybe not completely," Jennifer said, smiling. "But we love each other, we make each other happy, so who cares if there's three of us instead of just two?"
"I think most of the world does."
"Yeah, reality really bites sometimes, doesn't it?" Jennifer said, turning back to her painting.
"Tell me about it,' Brooke muttered. "Hey, who do you love more?"
"If you had to choose between Sam and Morgan, who'd you choose?"
Jennifer sighed. "You still don't get it, do you?"
"Probably. But I'd still like an answer."
"Let's put it like this: If you had adopted a pair of identical twins, who act, look and behave exactly the same and you had to give up one of them, who would you choose?"
"Not to me."
"You're right. I still don't get you people."
Jennifer shrugged. "Your loss."
The sound of the front door closing could be heard in the living room. Jennifer frowned and turned around to face the door leading into and out of the living room. It soon opened and Morgan casually walked in.
"You're home early," Jennifer said. "Anything wrong?"
"Nah," said Morgan, shrugging with her right shoulder. "Just got shot."
"Got SHOT!?" Jennifer screamed, standing up and hurrying over to her. "Where? How serious? When? How? What?"
"Jeez, calm down," Morgan said. "I just got hit in the shoulder, nothing big. The bullet's out, the bandage's on and I've got two weeks leave. It's no big."
"No big? You got shot!"
"Hey guys, what's the commotion about?" Sam asked, walking into the living room. "Morgan, you're home early."
"She got shot, Sam," Jennifer said.
"It was just the shoulder," Morgan said. "And anyway, I've been shot before."
"You've been grazed before, not actually hit," Sam said. "Honey, why don't you just quit your job? It's not like we need the money."
"What can I say, I like being a cop."
"Well, you're not a cop now," Jennifer said firmly. "So you are going to bed right now and take a rest."
"Oh come, I don't need that."
"Yes, you do. And meanwhile, Sam will warm up some chicken soup for you."
"Chicken soup? Sammy, are you going to let her do that to me?"
"She's in overprotective mode right now. I know better than to interfere."
"Come on, of to bed with you."
Morgan sighed. "Fine. But only if you stay with me."
"I will," Jennifer said. "Sitting on a chair next to the bed, fully clothed."
"Aw come on."
"No. You got shot Morgan," Jennifer said. Her eyes were watering.
"OK. OK. No further argument."
Morgan allowed Jennifer to lead her out of the room. Sam watched them go, then leaned against the wall, her eyes closed.
"Sam?" Brooke asked.
Sam shook her head. "Don't feel like… no…"
Some time after, Sam wiped some tears away with her hand and managed to produce a very thin smile. "I'd… I'd better go see to that soup or Jenny'll freak. You can have the computer."
"Right," said Brooke. "Thanks."
Sam headed for the kitchen, leaving Brooke behind.
Brooke realised Sam had been right. She did see Sam as a sex-craving slut with her multiple lesbian lovers. But as it turned out, that wasn't Sam. In fact, Brooke had no idea who Sam really was. Brooke decided to find out before she left.
It was dinner time. And, as if often the case during dinner, everyone was eating. Brooke soon noticed, however, that Morgan wasn’t exactly eating, but more pushing her food around on her plate with her fork. She wasn’t the only one who noticed this.
“Anything wrong?” Jennifer asked, sitting next to the Asian girl.
“Not really,” Morgan answered.
“Yes there is,” said Sam, who sat next to Brooke.
“OK, I have trouble moving my shoulder. It hurts.”
“How bad?” Jennifer asked, her voice concerned.
“Bad enough to not be able to cut my food and raise it to my mouth,” Morgan answered.
“Want me to do it for you?” Jennifer asked.
“No. But then again, I don’t want to starve either, so I’ve got little choice.”
Jennifer nodded. She took Morgan’s knife and fork and cut some of her meat. Raising the fork the her mouth, she said, “Open up.”
“Don’t you dare say anything about plains or trains,” Morgan warned, before opening her mouth.
Jennifer pouted. “Aw, spoilsport.”
Grinning, Morgan engulfed the tip the fork with her mouth, then pulled her head away from it, chewing. Smiling, Jennifer gave the girl a quick kiss, ate something of her own food even quicker and then carefully piled some potato onto Morgan’s fork again.
Brooke looked down at her plate, then glanced at Sam. The brunette seemed totally unconcerned about the public displays of affection that transpired between Jennifer and Morgan. This was rather odd. If Brooke were in Sam’s place she’d be jealous or possibly getting somewhat turned on. She wouldn’t act like it was an everyday occurrence.
Then again, maybe it was an everyday occurrence. Kissing each other during dinner could be perfectly ordinary for them.
Hell for all she knew, one quietly reading a book in the living room while the other two were writhing naked on the floor could be perfectly ordinary for them.
No, that couldn’t be ordinary. Not even for them.
Brooke looked up. Jennifer and Morgan were locked in a rather intimate kiss and seemed to have forgotten about their dinner. Sam, however, continued to eat her dinner, still happily unencumbered by the display going on in front of her.
Well, it probably wasn’t ordinary.
Brooke sat in near the window in the living room, looking out at the setting sun without actually seeing it. Morgan was slouched on the nearby couch and flicking through the television channels in the idle hope that something interesting might come along. Sam and Jennifer were in the kitchen, doing the dishes. She vaguely heard the clanging of cups, but paid no attention to it. Then she heard a gasp, quickly followed by the words “Oh yes”.
Brooke turned her head and looked at the kitchen door. She looked at Morgan, who had also been looking at the kitchen door. She was grinning. Brooke wasn’t.
Now the blonde could very definitely hear moaning.
“They’re not doing the dishes, are they?” Brooke said.
“Doesn’t sound like it,” Morgan said. She turned back to the TV and flipped through some more channels.
“Doesn’t that bother you?”
“Oh fuck, yes,” could be heard from the kitchen. Brooke managed to identify the voice as Sam’s.
“Well, I’m bothered by it,” said Brooke.
“Well, be glad Sam’s on the receiving end right now.”
“What do you mean?”
For a moment, the only sound that could be heard in the living room was emanating from the kitchen and was very definitely unrelated to dishwashing. Brooke started feeling more and more uncomfortable and she could feel herself starting to blush.
“How ‘bout a walk?” Morgan said.
“It’s a nice evening, it’s not very cold, there’s nothing on anyway. I think a walk’d be nice right about now.”
“You’re right,” said Brooke gratefully. “A walk sounds good.”
The sun was taking its time to sink below the horizon and the streetlights of the small Canadian village were slowly becoming alive. It was a nice evening. So nice, even, that Morgan hadn’t bothered with putting on her coat, although that could also in part be because of her shoulder.
“So, you love Jennifer do you?” Brooke asked.
“Yes, and Sam too. And no, I’m not choosing.”
Brooke looked down at the pavement. “Oh.”
Somewhere, a few birds twittered at each other. It was the loudest sound in the street for a while.
“I don’t understand,” Brooke said after a while.
“Don’t understand what?”
“What you’re doing with Sam and Jennifer.”
“I mean… Sam’s a writer and Jennifer’s a painter. They’re both artistic types. You’d expect something like that threesome thing from artistic types, but…”
“But you wouldn’t expect it from a sober, down-to-earth policewoman like me?”
“Exactly,” Brooke said.
“Love isn’t an artistic idea, Brooke. Love just is. That’s why.”
“That’s all Brooke,” Morgan said, a tad annoyed.
Brooke wanted to say more, but wisely remained quiet. Until the next issue presented itself to her.
“It really doesn’t bother you?” Brooke asked.
“Now what are you talking about?”
“Well… Sam and Jennifer and, you know, the dishes.”
Morgan chuckled. “It still doesn’t bother me, Brooke.”
“But why not?”
“Why doesn’t it bother you? Your girlfriends are… making love to each other and you’re not with them. And you tell me that you’re not bothered.”
“I don’t get it.”
Morgan sighed. “No, I didn’t think you would. You think wrong.”
Brooke frowned. “What do you mean by that?”
“I mean that you can only think in terms of a monogamous relationship,” said Morgan. “Two’s a party, three’s crowd that sort of thing.”
“No I don’t,” Brooke said.
“If two people love each other, what do you have? A relationship,” said Morgan. “If three people love each other, what do you have then? An impossibility. The only thing you can have with three people in intimate circumstances is either a threesome, which is little more than a cheap sexual thrill, or an affair with at least one person cheating on someone else. That’s how you think.”
Brooke opened her mouth to protest. The protest didn’t come and, realising she was looking stupid, Brooke closed her mouth again.
“I’m right, aren’t I?” Morgan said.
“Oh well, we can’t help the way we think.”
“Yes we can,” said Brooke. “At least, according to the therapist I once had.”
“Really? Was he right?”
“Yes,” said Brooke, in a voice that clearly said that she didn’t want to talk about it.
“Well even so, you’d probably have to want your way of thinking to change. And I don’t think you’re really willing right now.”
“I wouldn’t be too sure about that,” Brooke said.
“No?” Morgan said.
“Because…” Brooke hesitated.
“Because I want Sam to forgive me.”
Brooke sat alone at the kitchen table, eating her breakfast. Today's newspaper was spread out in front of her and she was scanning the job offerings as well as the real estate pages. So far, nothing had caught her eye, but she remained hopeful all the same.
She looked up when the kitchen door opened. Sam stepped inside, her hair a complete mess and, as far as Brooke could tell, dressed solely in a single large T-shirt. The brunette walked over to the refrigerator, took a bottle of water out of it and took a swig from it.
"Hello Sam," said Brooke.
"Hey," said Sam, taking another swig of water.
"You're up late."
"I've been awake for a while," Sam answered.
"But you haven't had breakfast yet," Brooke pointed out.
"Then why aren't you dressed properly yet?"
For the first time since entering the kitchen, Sam looked at her. "I had breakfast in bed."
"Oh," Brooke said, ignoring the quiet hostility in Sam's voice. "Is it a special day today?"
Sam chuckled. "Yeah, it's a very special day."
"What're you celebrating?"
"Morgan getting shot," Sam said. "Because of that, we three have a whole two weeks we can spend together. That doesn't happen very often."
"So you're making the most of it," Brooke said.
"And your plans for today."
"Mostly feature the bedroom, yes," Sam said. "Though I admit, it was Jennifer's idea."
"So." Brooke started, then quickly swallowed the rest of the sentence.
Sam had noticed the intonations, however. "So our entire relationship really is based on sex then," she said, her voice dripping with scorn.
"I didn't say that."
"You were going to."
"But I didn't."
"No, because you stopped yourself." Sam angrily slammed the bottle on the kitchen counter. "Fuck Brooke, you still haven't changed a bit, have you? You still have no idea. none."
"I'm trying to," Brooke defended herself.
"No you're not," Sam spat. "At the very best you're trying to deal. But you'll never understand. You don't want to understand."
"Yes, it is!" Sam shouted. "I hear from my wives that you want to understand me, that you want me to forgive you. But that's crap and we both know it. You just don't want to get kicked out."
"Sam, that's not true," Brooke said forcefully. "I am sorry for what I did and I do want to make it up with you somehow."
Sam smiled. "Remember last Christmas?"
Brooke bit her bottom lip.
"So you remember then," Sam said.
The blonde nodded.
"Now, what was it that you said again? Hmm?"
Brooke sighed. "Mom, Christmas is a time for family, so what's she doing here," she said monotonously.
"Voila," said Sam. "I was there, all by myself, not making a fuss about my lifestyle or your rejection of it. Just to spend some time with the family," she snickered for a moment. "OK, to spend some time with Mac. Anyway, I didn't do anything to offend and you came up with that comment when the Christmas turkey was being served."
"I know," Brooke said. "I'm sorry."
Sam rolled her eyes. "Oh, she's sorry ladies and gentlemen." She looked Brooke in the eye. Brooke looked away, embarrassed. "There're a lot of things you don't get Brooke," Sam said. Her voice was calm. Brooke preferred it angry considering the circumstances. "And one of the many things you don't get is the simple fact that I just don't care anymore. Sure, right now I hate your guts, but the moment you'll walk out of my front door you're out of my life and out of my mind." Sam picked up the bottle of water. "You're supposed repentance doesn't mean a damn to me."
And then Brooke was alone in the kitchen once more. She buried her head in her hands and cried.
NOTE: I have absolutely no familiarity with Canadian legislation concerning alcohol, so there may be a few errors here and there in this part. I hope this can be forgiven.
The little town of Ferretville, Canada was in fact so little that it only had one small grocery store, a fire department consisting of three enthusiastic volunteers and one hose and a police station that was stationed in the much bigger little town of Moosejaw.
Much to Brooke's surprise, though, it did have a bar. As soon as Brooke had learned this fact she had gone there to spend some quality time with a double whiskey.
"So you must be new in town," said the bartender.
"Sort of," said Brooke, hoping that her tone conveyed the fact that she wasn't interested in talking right at this very moment.
"So where are you staying then?" said bartender. "As far as I know old Mrs Hammer hasn't got any rooms to let any more."
Brooke pointedly sipped her drink. "Family," she said.
"Oh, so you'd be staying with Jennifer then," he said.
Brooke hesitated. "Possibly."
"Possibly? There's only one Jennifer in town."
"Oh," said Brooke. "With her then. Well, with Sam to be precise."
The bartender smiled. "As if there's a difference. So you're family of the famous McPherson-Brooks-Wong, eh? You must be pretty proud of her."
"Err. yeah," said Brooke, who'd been completely oblivious of Sam's career up until a few days ago.
"I'd sure like it if she'd stop by my place some time. It'd be good for my reputation, see. Pity none of them drink anything stronger than milk."
"I suppose," said Brooke. "So. err. you know about their. living arrangements then?"
"Oh heck yeah," said the bartender. "Everybody does in this town."
Brooke nodded. So it really was that kind of small town then.
"You seem surprisingly unconcerned about it," said Brooke.
The bartender shrugged. "Not my business to go around tellin' people how to lead their lives. Mind you, Mrs Pill had some serious issues with them so she went to have a stern word with them." He smiled. "Don't know what transpired during the talk they had, but I do know Mr Pill hasn't been here crying into his beer ever since. Lost one of my best customers that day, really."
"Right," said Brooke, taking a swig.
The bartender refilled her glass. "So what's your story then?"
"Don't tell me you're one of those bartenders," said Brooke.
"Don't know what kind of bartender you're talking about, but what with me not seeing a whole lot of new faces around here I like taking an interest."
"I'm just staying with Sam until I can find a place of my own," said Brooke. "I just got out of a divorce."
"Sorry to hear it," said the bartender. "Got married too young I suppose."
Brooke shot him a glance. "No. Nothing like that. It was great, except for. ah hell, it doesn't matter."
"Right," said the bartender. "So what's it like living with those girls anyway?"
"Why do you care?" said Brooke.
"Well." said the bartender slowly. "Let's face it, they are. a bit unconventional. I don't mind telling you I'd like to know what goes on behind those closed doors, if you catch my drift."
Brooke gave him a look. "You know, I think those doors are going to stay closed."
The bartender smiled. "Well, I had to try, didn't I? Want another one?" he added, indicating Brooke's glass that was once again empty.
"No, I think I'll call it a day. How much do I owe you?"
"First time's on the house," said the bartender.
"Well, no. But I can make exceptions, can't I?"
"Right," said Brooke. "Well, bye then."
"See you later Miss McPherson."
"It's Joh- McQueen. Miss McQueen."
"Miss McQueen then."
When Brooke entered Sam's living room she noticed that all the furniture had been pushed against the walls to make room for Jennifer's easel once again. She wondered why on earth the girls even bothered putting the furniture back every time.
"Hey there Brooke," said Jennifer, trying to clean her hands with a paint-stained rag.
"Hi," said Brooke, making her way over to a couch.
"Had a nice walk?"
Brooke shrugged. "It was OK."
"And it stopped right at Pete's Bar, didn't it?"
"How do you know that?"
Jennifer pointed at her nose. "I've got a very strong sense of smell, you know. Well, when it comes to certain particular areas."
"OK, yes, I had something to drink. I needed it."
"Really? Can't imagine why anyone would need it, actually," said Jennifer. "There're so many better ways to take your mind off your problems."
She winked. It wasn't a very innocent wink.
"So, where are Sam and Morgan?" Brooke asked, suddenly desperate for a change of subject.
"Gone grocery shopping. Although I don't think Morgan's doing anything other than giving moral support. You know, what with her. shoulder."
Brooke noticed the pause. It was hard not to.
"You don't like her being a cop, do you?" said Brooke.
"Would you like it if your lover spent his or her days among bad men with knives and guns?"
"I just worry, is all. I wish she'd quit, but, well, she loves her job so she won't."
"Right," said Brooke.
There was the sound of the front door opening and closing, and then the sound of excited chatter, which stopped abruptly once the door to the living room opened.
"Oh," said Sam coldly. "I see you're back."
"Hello Brooke," said Morgan.
"Hi Morgan, Sam," said Brooke.
"Right," said Sam. "I'm gonna go put the groceries away. Coming Morgan?"
"Right behind you."
And with that, Brooke was once again alone in the living room with Jennifer.
"Sooo. Morgan tells me you want our Sammy to forgive you?"
"Yep," said Brooke.
"I think you'll need a little help."
"Yep," said Brooke.
"Fortunately, I know just the person who could actually help you."
Brooke looked confused. "You do?"
"Oh yes," said Jennifer, smiling. "After all, there's one person in the entire world Sam loves even more than Morgan and me."
One morning, when entering the kitchen to get some breakfast, Sam spotted a note lying on the table. Even though it was from Brooke, Sam read it anyway. When she'd finished reading it, she smiled.
Brooke sipped the tea and wished she hadn't. It was still scalding hot. But on the other hand, sipping the tea was the only thing she could think of doing right now.
"So, where are you staying?" Jane asked.
Brooke carefully put the cup down. On the other side of the table were her parents, looking at her with care and worry. In a small corner of the living room, Mac was quietly reading a book and somehow managed to do this quite pointedly.
"A friend from college," said Brooke.
"Did you find work yet?" Mike asked.
"Still looking, I'm afraid," Brooke answered.
"Well, you know, you could always."
"No, daddy," Brooke said. "Thanks for offering, but no."
"You didn't know what I was going to say," said Mike.
"Yes I did."
"So how are you?" Jane asked.
"I'm. doing OK, considering."
Jane and Mike nodded understandingly.
"Is there anything we can do to help?" Mike asked.
Mac, having apparently decided that she'd spent enough time in the presence of the visiting relative to be considered polite, closed her book and left the room. Brooke watched her go before turning her attention back to her parents.
"Well. actually, I think there's something." Brooke started.
"Anything," said Jane. "Just name it."
"Except very large amounts of money," said Mike.
Brooke smiled faintly. "No, it's got nothing to do with money."
Mac had been a slow girl. So slow that she'd worried her parents. She'd still been crawling when she should've been walking and had been quiet when she should've been able to form crude sentences.
Then came the day of her first word, which had been "I", followed by "would like my ball now." In the end, she had to go get her ball by herself since her parents had been too stunned to do anything. Mac's development had sped up considerably after that.
"So what are you reading?" Brooke asked, as she walked into Mac's room.
It had been Sam's room, once.
"The Silver Chair," said Mac.
"Ah, Narnia," said Brooke.
Mac rolled her eyes. "Yes. Narnia. I really wanted to read Dracula, though."
Brooke blinked. "What, really?"
"Yeah. But mom said I wasn't old enough yet."
"Well, you are just six," said Brooke.
"What's that have to do with anything?"
"Uhm. a lot?"
"Why? I don't get scared easily, you know," said Mac.
"Yes, but maybe mom felt Dracula is a bit. difficult. for."
Mac had one eyebrow firmly raised.
"It deals with a lot of adult themes, I mean," said Brooke.
"Well then, I should learn about them as soon as possible, don't you think? I shouldn't go out into the world without an understanding of adult themes, should I?"
"You're not even in High School yet, Mac, never mind the world. You should try being a kid first."
"Well I am bugging mom incessantly about it if that's any help."
"It's a start," said Brooke. "But hey, you got a couple of weeks of vacation now, right?"
"Yeah," said Mac, slowly.
"Well how'd you like to stay at my place for a while then?"
Mac shrugged. "I'd rather stay here, thanks."
"Oh," said Brooke. "Well you know how I said I was staying with friend from college?"
"I'm not actually. I'm really staying with your au. with Sam."
Mac's eyes started shining and a smile formed on her face. "Aunt Sam?" and faded just as quickly.
"Why are you staying with aunt Sam?" she asked. "You despise her. And I think she hates your guts too."
"I didn't really have anywhere else to go," said Brooke. "And I wasn't really planning on moving back in here."
Mac frowned. "What do you mean, you didn't have anywhere else to go? You could also have gone to uncle Jack or aunt Tanya or anyone."
"Oh," said Brooke. "Well. you see. now would you like to spend some time with her or not?"
"Are you kidding? I'll go ask mom and dad right away."
"Oh I already did," said Brooke. "So I guess you should start packing."
"Right away," said Mac enthusiastically. "And I guess I shouldn't pay any attention to the way you changed the subject, right?"
She winked. Brooke thought it was a rather worrying wink.
"So this is Canada," said Mac, looking out the car's window.
"Yep," said Brooke.
"I thought there'd be more snow."
"So how many more days before we get to Sam's?" Mac asked.
"It won't take that long. We're almost there, in fact."
"For real, or just relatively speaking?"
"Oh," said Mac. "OK then."
Brooke stood back to watch the fireworks. Upon seeing each other, Sam and Mac had flown into each other's arms and started chattering. An excited, never-ending stream of noise was bouncing back and forth between the girls and, presumably, there was a conversation hidden somewhere in there as well.
For the moment, Mac looked like a real six-year old.
"That was a nice thing you did Brooke."
Brooke looked up. "Oh, Morgan. Yeah, thanks."
"And Jennifer only had to drop one hint on top of you from a great height."
"So you knew about it too," said Brooke. "Did Sam?"
"No, she honestly thought you really were going to America for some job interview," said Morgan. "She was quite happy about it, I'm sorry to say."
"Because she thought I'd be out of her life again?" said Brooke.
Brooke sighed. "I really screwed up, didn't I?"
"What, you realise that only now?" said Morgan.
"No, but. Why are two trying to help me anyway?" Brooke asked.
Morgan shrugged. "You're not only one hurting here. Sam lost a sister too, you know."
"Ah," said Brooke.
Morgan patted her on the shoulder. "It'll work out. Eventually," she said. "Well, I'd better go talk to Jennifer. I'm having a feeling Sam won't be paying much attention to her for some time and I'd hate to have her feel ignored."
It was long dark outside, but Brooke didn't feel like going to sleep. She flipped through the TV channels trying to find something interesting and settled for a documentary about monkeys.
Someone stepped into the living room and sat down on a chair.
"Don't mention it."
"No, this was pretty mention-worthy. Mac means a lot to me, you know."
"Yeah, I know. So do your wives."
There was a chuckle. "Well, they should by now. You said 'wives'."
"In my eyes, yes. I'm still not so sure about yours."
"Just letting you know where we stand."
"Which would be where, exactly?"
"I still haven't forgiven you."
"But right now, it's not completely unthinkable that I won't."
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