AUTHOR: Jos Mous
DISCLAIMER: Not owning any of these characters, not making a profit, and so on and so forth
NOTE: Kind of a sequel to 'Pegasus'. Which simply means that I'm having Sam and Brooke being a bit fluffly together as an excuse to cross Popular over with stuff that Popular shouldn't really cross over with. As if that has ever bothered me before.
Brooke trusted Sam's judgement, which was the only reason why she was now walking behind the girl through an area without the most favourable reputation imaginable. She'd been over the moon when Sam had asked her out for an 'official' date and had been thrilled to see 'the perfect place' that Sam apparently knew. But walking through this neighbourhood, assaulted by red and pink neon from all sides, she was really starting to question Sam's idea of 'perfect'.
"Here we are," said Sam.
Brooke looked up at the red neon telling her that the otherwise dark building in front of her bore the name Vesuvius.
"Don't worry, I know the owner," said Sam, confidently opening the door for her.
That raised even more questions in Brooke's mind and she wasn't really sure she wanted to know the answers to any of them.
The inside of Vesuvius was everything Brooke feared it to be. The music was loud, the light was harsh, but only aimed at a central stage, leaving the red couches all against the walls in pools of shadows. The customers were all men, whereas all the employees were female. It was only a small mercy that it was the women who didn't wear that many clothes.
The central stage itself looked roughly like the pit of a volcano, or at least, the pit of a volcano with absolutely no sense of style or class. There were three poles, used as dancing aid by four dancers. Even though Brooke tried hard not to, her eyes were almost automatically drawn to one of the dancers on stage. She had red hair and her skin was pale enough to be called white. Her clothing style could only be described as erotically minimalist and her breasts were... very obviously there.
Sam casually sauntered to the stage and leaned on its edge. Brooke expected a bouncer to emerge from the shadows any moment now, but none did. Instead, the red-haired dancer danced her way over to Sam and leaned down, smiling.
"Hello Samantha, haven't seen you in a while."
"Sorry VV, can you ever accept my apologies?"
"Not necessary. Your presence here is apology enough. So... what brings you here?"
"I was hoping to use the, you know, the special room," said Sam.
"The blonde girl your new girlfriend?" VV asked.
"You could say that."
"She's cute. Mind telling me her name?"
"Brooke," said Sam.
VV smiled, revealing a set of teeth that weren't entirely normal. "Ah, would this be the Brooke?"
"Yes, that would be the Brooke," said Brooke, a tad annoyed.
"Congratulations. You got quite a catch," said VV, although Brooke wasn't sure who she said it to.
"Anyway, could we...?" Sam asked.
"But of course," said VV, stepping elegantly off the stage. "I always have time for my... special friends."
"I'm a special friend?" Brooke asked.
"You're Sam girlfriend, right?" said VV. She winked. "You'd better hang on to her, though. Or I'll steal her right back."
"Oh will you?" said Brooke, feeling suddenly very possessive.
"VV, please," said Sam.
"Only teasing Samantha. No harm in that, right?"
"I don't know," said Sam. "It's very hard to tell with you sometimes."
VV just grinned. "This way ladies."
Sam and Brooke followed VV to a little door, that wasn't marked by anything and looked entirely unspectular. It opened into a little corridor that was well lit and mostly red. Brooke waited until VV was a little while ahead of them before leaning towards Sam.
"Uhm... Sam?" she asked in a whisper.
"About VV... her teeth... is there something, uhm, I should know about her?"
"No," said Sam. "You really, really don't want to know something about her. Trust me."
"Brooke, you don't wanna know. So please, don't ask. Like, ever again."
"Gossiping about me are you?" VV asked, turning around, smiling slightly and again revealing a set of teeth that made the hairs on the back of Brooke's neck stand on end.
"How could we not?" said Sam.
"Nothing bad I hope."
"Of course not."
"Good," said VV. "Well, here you are. I really must be getting back to my paying admirers. Enjoy your evening girls."
Brooke watched VV leave, took a deep breath and prepared for the worst.
The worst, as it turned out, was something Brooke needed not to have prepared for. As tacky and gaudy the rest of Vesuvius was, so elegant and refined was this place. Tables and chair were suitably arranged, each with precisely enough candelight for a romantic mood, further improved by a small group of musicians playing quiet, but pleasant music. It looked like the kind of restaurant where just breathing the air would cost you five dollars per lungfull.
"Sam, can you afford this?"
"Of course I can," said Sam. "This place is very exclusive, after all."
"That's why I'm worried you can't afford it."
"No, what I mean is, VV only lets people she really, really likes have a nice romantic evening in here."
"Come on, there's a free table over there."
Brooke sat down at the table Sam had pointed out, and was a bit surprised when no-one from the serving staff rushed to formally give her a seat. Mere moments after sitting down, a waitress appeared as if by magic. She had a deep tan that Brooke's experienced eye noted wasn't artificial, but she wasn't sure if the girl was born with it or just enjoyed being outside in the sun a lot. Her brown eyes and dark brown hair did nothing to solve that little mystery. She also had a figure Brooke both envied and feared.
"Oh hey Sam," the waitress said. "Haven't seen you in a while."
"Very professional Flora," said Sam. "Shouldn't you be handing us menus and wishing us a pleasant evening and everything?"
"Probably," said Flora. "And may I ask who you are?"
"Brooke," said Brooke. "And before you say anything, I'm the Brooke apparently."
Flora smiled. "Lucky you. I knew it would happen one day."
"I didn't," said Sam.
"Yes, but you're just a pessimist," said Flora. "Well, here are your menus, can I get you something to drink?"
"Just a coke, thanks," said Sam.
"Do you have wine?" Brooke asked.
"Of course we do. We have a fine selection of wines, in fact," said Flora. "However, do you have an ID?"
"I'll have a coke as well."
"Good choice," said Flora, before disappearing again.
Brooke opened the menu, revealing a total of five beautifully calligraphed pages.
"Oh, hey, Brooke, a word of warning, don't order anything with pumpkin in it."
Brooke frowned. "Why? Is it bad?"
"No, it's just that our waitress kind of has this thing with pumpkins because of her girlfriend."
"Oooookay," said Brooke.
"I'd explain it to you, but you probably wouldn't believe me," said Sam.
"Right," said Brooke.
"Just don't order anything with pumpkin, alright?"
"I'm suddenly feeling in the mood for pumpkin, oddly enough."
Brooke started reading the menu. She was not surpised to find dishes with foreign names she couldn't pronounce inbetween the soups, appetizers and desserts. She was surprised to find such dishes as 'hamburger and fries'.
After a few minutes, Flora magically reappeared again.
"Here are your drinks," she said, placing the drinks on the table. "Have you already decided on anything?"
Sam said she had and then proceeded to order something in perfect French. Or possibly Japanese. Brooke couldn't really tell the difference. When Flora turned her smile towards Brooke, the blonde ordered a little something. And then, seeing Sam's sudden frown, ordered a little something more.
Flora smiled appreciatively and vanished.
"So, Sam, how did you find out about this place anyway?" Brooke asked.
"Oh, you know, I learned about it from a friend of mine."
Brooke recognised the tone. It was the one Sam always used when she was either bending the truth or hiding something.
"Just a friend?"
"OK, so she took me here on a date," said Sam. "Please don't make a big deal out of this, OK?"
"Alright, I won't," said Brooke. And then, because she simply couldn't let some things lie, she asked, "So was that before or after you dated VV?"
Sam groaned. "Brooke..."
"I only went out with VV twice, alright?" Sam said. "Now could you please drop it?"
"So there were a lot of girls then," said Brooke.
Sam crossed her arms. "OK, yes, fine, I went out with a lot of girls. It never lasted more than a date or two, three. The only one I was even halfway serious with was Sei and I knew that even that wouldn't last because I was totally and hopelessly infatuated with you. There. Happy now?"
Brooke looked down. "No, not really."
"Then you shouldn't have asked."
"Hello, here are your orders," said Flora, rematerialising again. Her smile faded. "Oh, did I come at a bad time?"
"No, you've come at the perfect time," said Sam.
Flora looked from Sam to Brooke and back again. "Ah," she said. "Well, uhm, enjoy your meal."
"Thank you," said Sam coldly. "I'm sure we will."
Sam walked quickly through the dark district and Brooke had to hurry to catch up.
"Sam, wait up."
The bitterness in Sam's voice made Brooke pause for a moment.
"Look... look, Sam, I'm sorry," she tried.
Brooke rushed over to Sam, grabbed the girl by the shoulder and turned her with her back against the wall. Sam pointedly looked away, her expression more than a little sullen.
"I'm sorry," said Brooke. "It's just... try to understand my side of things, OK? First I discover that there's this whole other world you move in and now I find out you've already dated half of it. I mean... you know... what was I to think?"
"Well then, try to understand my side," said Sam. "There you were, dating Josh, being happy and here I was without a chance in Hell of getting anywhere with you. I mean, you shouldn't be surprised that I tried to get over you and move on."
"Well, for what it's worth, I'm happy you didn't."
"I love you."
Sam closed her eyes. "Aw dammit Brooke, I'm trying to be mad at you here."
Brooke put a hand on Sam's cheek and the unresisting girl turned to face her. Then she leaned forward and kissed her.
"I really, really love you," Brooke whispered.
"Fine," said Sam, trying to sound disgruntled, but hopelessly failing at containing a grin.
Brooke took both of Sam's hand. "And, OK, dinner was a bust, but... how about you come over to my place and I make it up to you, hmm?"
Now Sam really grinned. "Do I have a choice?"
"God, I hope not," said Brooke.
"Well then, how could I refuse?"
Brooke pulled Sam away from the wall and started walking down the street with her.
"I was wondering; when do I get to meet all your ex-girlfriends?"