Feedback: No kidding! Yes please!
Rating: Don't have a clue
A/N: To our new Aussie fans, this work might contain minor spoilers from just about any episode. I've seen most of them in the wrong order and have no idea of the "true" continuity and have happily cut and pasted any interesting piece of information regardless of the consequences in addition to everything I have made up. :) Hope you enjoy it.
Nicole was standing in the Novak polishing her nails when Sam came storming in.
"You think you are so good, don't you?"
"Spam?" Nicole looked up but resumed working on her cuticles and continued casually. "What in Bio Glass' name and all that is unholy are on about?"
"I know that you have been trying to get me kicked off the school paper, but you won't succeed. You always think you can get away with anything, but this time you've gone too far. I'm going to bring you down! I'm going to get you kicked off the Glamazons! I'm going to drag your name in the dirt! I'm going to get you!" Sam was getting worked up, but the only reaction she was getting was seeing Nicole inspecting her half-hearted manicure.
"Don't get your panties in a twist, Spam, or you'll burst a vein. And that is ugly enough, not even considering the clashing attire you're wearing." Nicole looked up at Sam who by this time was fuming.
"You're so, you're so..." Sam couldn't get any words out, and the pure frustration she was feeling was only too evident.
"Now, now. The little reporter has lost her words. Isn't that interesting? You know, Spam, there is nothing you can do that would faze me, hurt me or that would even interest me," Nicole turned towards Sam with a haughty look in her eyes as she continued. "Everything you do is inconsequential to me. Your life, even your whole existance means nothing to me. So why would I even bother trying to get you kicked from the Zapruder? You can't harm me, affect me or do anything that would even remotely register on my radar. So take my advice, and don't even bother." She started packing her varnish and files into her small bag.
Sam's deflated visibly, but she just couldn't let this, this *bitch* get the better of her. She stood in silence for a few seconds, but that was long enough for Nicole to see the signal of defeat in her eyes. Nicole brushed past her on her way out of the Novak, when suddenly Sam turned around and grabbed a hold of Nicole's left arm.
"Wait," She paused for a second before she continued and looked Nicole straight in the eyes. "I know how to rattle you and how to get beneath your skin."
Nicole was about to laugh when Sam suddenly leaned in towards her and kissed her full on the lips. Nicole was absolutely stunned and the kiss, chaste though it was continued for almost five seconds. Nic felt those five seconds as an eternity. Her brain just wouldn't function.
"Not faze you, huh?" Sam laughed as she licked her lips seductively and exited the Novak.
Nicole stood still for a few seconds before she sat down in total silence. Her fingers found her lips as she gingerly touched them. What on Earth had just happened? It wasn't as if she had lost an argument, anyone would be confounded by that kind of attack, and when all Sam's arguments had ran out, she had only been left with the physical. And even though that physical was just a tiny bit surprising, Nicole wouldn't have put it past Sam to walk the other path in the first place. No, what was surprising was her own reaction.
"Oh my God!" Nicole stood up hastily and made for the corridor outside the Novak. Again, she whispered to her God as she came out the door and turned towards class. What had happened to her? Why did it all feel like this was what she had always wanted? She stopped in her tracks and was promptly bumped into from behind. Freddy Gong made an apologetic comment and tried to duck out of the way of the coming storm, but as he slinked away, Nicole just stood there staring into nothingness mouth agape.
"oh my god" She mouthed silently, and the few stragglers late for classes around her hurriedly shied away, certain that the Gong-disaster had merely been delayed, like a device the bomb squad had failed to disarm. Again, Nicole surprised her surroundings and did a one-eighty turn and headed out and away from the school. She was certain her mother would secure a sick note for her as she speedily made her way to her new car.
She unlocked her convertible in the parking lot, jumped in and quickly drove away, away from everything. She needed to think about this and to strengthen her resolve and find her inner bitch to fight this. She wasn't going down without a struggle. This was NOT the way things ought to be. This kind of thing only happened to other girls. This happened to weak girls, and to women with no self-respect, to the losers and the cast-offs and to the ones with no future anyway! And you just don't 'turn' gay by a kiss, even though it felt nice. Nicole's head span in all directions and her mind raced a million miles a minute. She had read about it in Cosmo. It was supposed to be a gradual process and not something that happened on the flick of a switch. This was all WRONG!!
As Sam exited the Novak, the seriousness of the situation and her actions began to creep up on her. WHAT HAD SHE DONE?!?! She had practically forced herself on someone in the Novak. And that someone had been a girl. And to top it all off it that girl had been Nicole. She quickly found her way into the office of the school paper. She had a free period, and judging from her own reactions now, she hoped that this period would last forever. She would be labelled a lesbo, if she wasn't already. Her social life, as pathetic as it already was would be shattered beyond repair, forever and ever. And all because she had a popularity fight with Nicole. The woman of her dreams.
As she thought that thought, she started to cry. She felt her whole life crumble to pieces. She had vowed to herself, ever since she had realised her preferences, that she would keep her feelings a secret. At least until university, or some other far away time and place. It was only last year that she finally had accepted that she really preferred women to men and that it sort of was ok to do just that. However, she had resolved not to utter a word or give anyone a hint about this until they were all out of school. She realised that she just couldn't stand the stigma of being that different.
Then the other brick had hit her. Her small crushes on soap stars and movie stars and rock stars had suddenly petered out, and all her energy had focused on her true enemy, Satan. She didn't see Brooke as her nemesis anymore, as she had come to accept her, at least partly, as a family member. No, the great object of all her misery was Nicole, the Great Satan. Nicole had started to occupy her thoughts more and more, but when she realised that she was thinking about Satan during her 'special' private moments as well, when her fingers did the walking and she was all shuddery and sensitive and wet, especially wet, an bell went off. To be thinking of Nicole at those times really brought the fear into her and on the third night in a row when she came with her fingers deep inside crying out Nicole's name, she knew that she was in trouble.
After a very unproductive hour, Sam had cautiously come out of her office after making sure no signs of her crying could be seen and she had then gone to the rest of the classes that day, finding that Nicole obviously hadn't spoken to anybody, and that she wasn't even around. She didn't press the issue with anybody. The last class of the day was inevitably with Bio Glass, and equally inevitably, since it was Friday, they were sprung a 'surprise' quiz. Sam knew right from the get-go that she would flunk this test hard, but that wasn't what was on her mind. The absence of Nicole did spell out that everything might not be totally and off the cliff horrible. There might be a chance that Nicole had found the whole situation too embarrassing to ever talk about.
"I must have rattled her firmer than I thought" Sam looked down at the quiz paper in front of her and started to write some incorrect answers, just to do something with the pen.
"No talking!" Bio Glass hollered from the front of the classroom making Sam realise that she actually had said that aloud. She looked around and saw Lily peering at her with an inquisitive look.
"What was that about?" The perky Latina ran up behind Sam after the bell while she was heading for her locker.
"What was what?" Sam looked questioningly at Lily as she stuffed her books into the crowded compartment.
"Don't play games with me, missy! I know there is something going on, and I know that Nicole wasn't around - praise be the Goddess - for the entire afternoon. I know that you two have been quarreling all week over articles and Glamazons and what-nots and I saw the two of you coming out from the Novak, one after the other. You hurried to the Zapruder, and Nicole just left school!"
Sam stood quietly and listened to Lily as she riled on a bit. "I talked to her in the Novak, that's true."
"What did you say to her? What are the magic words to make the evil fairy queen disappear? Don't keep the secret away from the rest of us! If you have found the Holy Grail you gotta share!!" Lily looked imploringly at Sam who just smiled in return. Lily had a way to make her feel better.
"No, it wasn't something I said," Sam cursed inwardly and hoped Lily wouldn't catch on to the hidden meaning. "I suppose she just left after I went to the Zapruder. Something else must have happened that didn't involve me talking to her." Sam cursed silently again. Did she want to confess everything to Lily, or what was her damage? Luckily, Lily didn't seem to catch on but just eyed Sam suspiciously.
"Ok, are we up for something tonight, because as usual, I have nothing special planned for this glorious Friday that is now." Sam started packing her backpack with the books she might need during the weekend.
"Well, actually," Lily started, "I have a club meeting tonight, but we could do something tomorrow?" Lily looked apologetic, but started smiling again. "You could come to the meeting with me! It'll be great, we are planning a picket against Furs'R'Us, and could really need some support!" Lily knew Sam wouldn't really go for it, but thought it might be fun for her to come anyway.
Sam stared at her sceptically. "Well, ok. But don't think I'm joining your crusades full time because of this!" She smiled at the Latina.
"No problems! Part time fanatics are welcome too!" Both of them laughed as they started walking away from the school. "Come around to my place at seven, and we'll go together."
Sam nodded and for a second felt quite good. She could do this. She had friends. She was worth something. She mattered.
Nicole swerved off the road into the parking lot at a 24-hour diner. She had no intention whatsoever of actually eating in that place, but she just needed to breathe for a second. As she pulled into an empty place, a bit off to the side from the entrance near the back of the parking lot, she let out a deep sigh. What on the gracious Earth was she going to do? Her resolve had been bolstered and lost, and rebounded and disappeared over and over again in just the scant few minutes she had been driving. She needed to collect her thoughts. She sat there silently contemplating herself, her life, the universe, and the unfairness of everything when she was suddenly interrupted by a voice.
"Youze allraht?" She turned her head and saw a middle aged and over weight guy in a cubs-cap barely hiding his budding baldness walking towards her. He was leering slightly and walked with a slight limp to his right leg. "Ah wuz thinkin' tha' a purty lil' thang lahk you could be doin' wit' some comp'ny." His smile got wider revealing a missing front tooth.
Nicole sighed and thought that if this 'fellow' wouldn't turn any girl into a raging lesbian, nothing could do the trick. "Now listen to me.. You seem to be a bright guy, so use that tiny speck of thought in your mind and walk away from me. I have no need for you whatsoever."
"Ah, wouldn't be too shure o' that!" The man advanced further and was now about a grab length away from Nicole. She didn't have any time to get scared, though, as she quickly brought up her lip gloss and brandished it about in a threatening manner.
"Get away from me or I'll Mace your sorry ass!" She talked loudly, but didn't scream and amazingly enough, the guy backed off several meters giving her time to start the car and quickly spin away.
"Fuckin' lezbian!" The guy screamed after her while gesticulating wildly and very rudely. Nicole's car screeched to halt at this, and she jumped out with the engine still running and walked briskly towards the man with a deadly look in her eyes. He just stood there and stared at her incredulously as she came up to him.
"Fuckin'.." Nicole silenced him with her index finger up in his face.
"Now listen to me tadpole brain! Even if I wasn't a lesbian I wouldn't touch someone like you with a ten foot pole!" And in contrariness to her statement, she stomped heavily on his right foot with her left heel and followed through with a knee to his groin. She turned around and walked back to the car with him screaming in pain and collapsing in a small heap behind her. She could still hear him cursing and wheezing for breath as she left the parking lot and drove onto the main road. She smiled to herself and actually felt quite good about things. However, there was one thing she needed to do. Even though she might somewhere somehow accept the fact of her leanings, she had solve the problem with Spam. She needed to put up a wall of indifference and ignore the fact of what had happened. She needed to...
"Oh fuck it." Nicole turned her car around and headed towards the McPhearson-McQueen house. If what just had happened in the parking lot wasn't a defining moment in her life, she didn't know what could be.
Sam walked home and knew that her parents would be away for the weekend and that Brooke was off doing God-knows-what. She had a couple of hours before she needed to be at Lily's place. When she neared her house she saw a car, at first an unfamiliar car, but then as it dawned on her, it was an oh-so-horribly-well-known car. And to her chagrin, Nicole herself was sitting on the porch, reading a book. Sam was just about to turn around when Nicole looked up for a second and spotted her. Having no option but to approch, Sam ventured closer. Nicole fidgeted with her book for a few seconds before she put it away.
"Came back for seconds or are you waiting for Brooke?" Sam walked up towards the steps to the house in trepidation. She really didn't have the chutzpah she displayed and she knew that she was walking on a razor sharp knife's edge with oblivion on the one side and, well, oblivion on the other.
"Sam..." Nicole began a she stood up but faltered. "Sam..." she began again "I need to talk to you. Inside. Alone."
Sam was extremely aware of Nicole's presence near to her. She was only a few feet away and Sam could almost smell her.
"Well, seeing as there as usual are scores of people hanging around popular little me on a Friday afternoon, we'll have to make do with this privacy." Sam really didn't want to invite her in. She just couldn't do that. She could take the threats and the double dealings here outside, but she needed her house, her home to be a sanctuary from those kinds of things. Ever since she and Brooke had come to an understanding, the palace had become so much more charming and peaceful. She didn't want that ruined.
"Ok," Nicole looked about, clearly nervous even though Sam didn't have the slightest chance of picking that up considering that she was doing all in her power to not start shaking. "About today, in the Novak..."
"Ok, ok, I get it, I'll do what you want, just don't tell anyone, ok? You want me to do your homework? Fine. Anything, I'll just stay out of your way and..."
She was silenced by a kiss.
Nicole jumped back after a few seconds with the look of a scared rabbit and was breathing hard. Sam was still standing with her eyes closed and her lips slightly parted. When Sam opened her eyes again she saw that Nicole was bending down and collecting her bag in a hurried manner obviously avoiding looking at Sam.
"Hey." Nicole ignored Sam as she steadied herself, turned away and tried to walk past Sam. All her courage had evaporated and she inwardly belated herself for even believing for a second that what she just had done had been a smart thing to do. Defining moment my ass...
Sam grabbed hold of her arm for the second time that day. "Hey. You wanna talk? Inside?" Sam spoke softly and imploringly and as Nicole visibly relaxed a fraction, Sam led her inside the house after only a few awkward fumblings with the keys and the lock.
Sam let Nicole into the living room where Nicole flopped down on the sofa. Sam went into the kitchen and asked Nic if she wanted something to drink.
"Anything with more alcohol than soft drink."
Sam returned after a short while with two large glasses of coke and found Nicole sitting in the sofa with her head buried in her hands. She wasn't crying but she was breathing deeply. Sam put down the two glasses on the table and sat down next to Nicole. Not too close, but not too far away either.
They both sat in silence in the sofe for a few minutes and pointedly avoided looking at each other. Nicole reached for her glass and took a large swig, made a face and put it back.
"You won't make a good bartender, this tastes like coke." Both the girls laughed nervously and glanced at one another, and Nicole continued on the momentum she had gained. "I liked the kiss."
"So did I." Sam blushed and turned to look at Nic. Their eyes met and for a few seconds they just sat there, looking at the other.
"Of course you would, I'm a good kisser," Nicole smiled and looked her normal cocky self again for a few seconds. Then she smiled and added, a bit lower, "and I really think you are too".
The ice in the cokes on the table had melted and to call the drinks carbonated would have been a slight exaggeration when the two girls finally emerged from their intense embrace and makeout session. Nicole's hair was all muzzled and Sam had Nic's lipstick in some very hard to explain places over her face and neck. Both were breathing heavily and were somewhat unfocused.
"I could get used to that" Nicole glanced at Sam who smiled and nodded in agreement.
"Me two. But..." Nicole stopped her with a finger on Sam's lips.
"No buts right now. We worry about the rest of the World tomorrow."
"The rest of... Oh Shit! Lily!"
"Which was sort of not the woman I was hoping you'd call for right now," Nicole smiled impishly.
"No, I mean, yes, uh... I mean, I was supposed to meet her at her house about fifteen minutes ago!". Sam looked around frantically.
"But, just tell her something came up."
"No, she positively knows that I have absolutely nothing to do this evening. Or had. Or.." She looked at Nicole and was just silenced by the fact that she was sitting in her own sofa in her own living room and had just made out with the most beautiful girl in the whole wide World.
"Or what?" Nicole regarded Sam with amusement.
"You are beautiful."
Nicole felt the conviction behind those words. She felt herself proud that she inspired them.
"I'll call Lily and tell her I can't make it."
Then the front door opened and Brooke stepped in, completely unaware of the tryst in the living room.
Brooke walked into Kennedy with a tired mind. Sure, she was happy it was Friday, but the day that loomed in front of her seemed a bit too high a fence to climb. She sighed loudly, before gathering her books from her locker and heading for the first class for the day.
"Tough morning, huh?" Nicole joined her as she walked through the hallways.
"You wouldn't believe." She swung her blonde hair over her shoulder. "I woke up late, finding Sam had already headed off early, and that no parentals were at home either, so no breakfast in sight except the crumbly leftovers of Sam's hurried first meal of the day." Brooke produced an apple from her bag.
"It sure must suck to be stuck with Spam." Nicole waved her hand in front of them, shooing a couple of first years out of the way.
"Nah, it's alright. We don't talk that much, or bother each other anymore. She has her habits and I have mine. It usually works out fine." The last part of the sentence was came out more like 'worksh ot fai' as Brooke tried to get a mouthful of apple before they reached class.
"You're eating an APPLE?!?" Nicole stopped and looked incredulously at Brooke who immediately stopped chewing. "You DO know that apples have been found to be leading cause for fat calf disease?"
Brooke looked around in semi-panic for somewhere to spit the offending piece of fruit in her mouth when Nicole started laughing.
"Gotcha!" She laughed all the way in to her desk followed by a not-so-amused Brooke.
"You think something is funny, Ms Julian?" Bio Glass stared at Nicole through her scarred plastic visors. "School shouldn't be funny. There is nothing amusing about a scholastic experience. Now SIT down and stop enjoying yourself!"
"No, Ms Glass, Sir. Of course, Ms Glass, Sir. Yes, Ms Glass, Sir." Nicole sat down next to the already seated Mary Cherry.
"And, you, McQueen. Trying to get some more ammo for your Bulimia? No eating in MY class!"
Brooke hurriedly stashed away her apple into her bag as she brought out her books.
The rest of the morning went by without much trouble. Nicole and Sam kept throwing caustic remarks at the other in an ever spiralling race whenever the opportunity knocked, which in their case was pretty much anytime they actually were anywhere near each other. Apart from that, though, the potential hardships of the day petered out into mere nuisances and Brooke started to look forward to the evening. She was having a date with Josh. They had finally agreed that they both needed a fresh start, and the best way to do that would be to go on a second first date, so to speak.
Brooke had agreed to let Josh plan the whole thing, after she had him swear on Bio Glass' grave that it wouldn't involve chugging beer or ordering take-out pizza. Yesterday he had informed Brooke that he would pick her up right after school. She was still a bit worried that the date would turn out to involve monster trucks, or something of the kind, but on the other hand, if that was the kind of person Josh really was, perhaps she needed to find that out now? Perhaps it wouldn't be that much of a disaster? It might even be fun! She had decided upon fun and had dressed accordingly. Josh had told her to wear something comfortable, and nothing too fancy.
The lunch break had been one straw short of a pure disaster. Sam and Nicole had gotten in one another's way and the sparks had started to fly. Brooke had made sure the fight ended before both the verbal combatants would have been grounded on charges of disturbing the peace and wilfully and intentionally bringing psychic ruin to the each other and the rest of the school. She shook her head slightly. She really needed to get those two on at least non-fighting terms. It just didn't cut it having her stepsister and her best friend remaining on a kill-on-sight acquaintancy.
She knew that Sam wouldn't be in the class after lunch as she had something to do with the school paper, but Brooke was surprised to realise that Nic wasn't there either. Nicole was certainly not known for her moral superiority, apart from in her own mind, but it really wasn't like her to cut classes like this.
"Mary Cherry, have you seen Nic after the lunch?" She leaned towards her Glamazon partner and whispered to not awaken Ms Glass who sleeping behind the teacher's desk, leaning far back in her chair and snoring loudly. The class had been given an assignment to fill in a questionnaire about something or the other, but as Ms. Glass had fallen asleep, no one had taken it upon himself or herself to awaken her. Given time, the bell would ring and they would be free from this class without having to have done any proper work.
"No, Ah ain't seen her aftah her fight with Spam. Do ya think Spam has had her killed, and is stashin' the bahdy in the cellah, right as we speak? If that is the case, can Ah be your new best friend?" Mary Cherry smiled in her what she considered to be dashing and radiant smile, but Brooke just irritated shook her head slightly and groaned inwardly as she leaned back to her own seat.
"Ya know, it is ahlways the sahlent ones," Mary Cherry leaned to Brooke's side instead and nodded wisely at her own statement while surveying the room conspiratorially.
"Apart from the fact that Sam isn't exactly the silent type, now, is she?" Brooke looked at Mary Cherry trying to get her to lean back to her own side.
"Well, in the cahlmest wahtahs, ya know." She actually started to look a bit scared of herself as she said those words.
"Mary Cherry, get back to your own side," That last part was a tiny bit too loud, as Ms. Glass suddenly awoke and blustered for moment before the bell began to ring.
"Don't forget to hand in the questionnaires!"
The plea fell mostly on deaf ears, but a few papers were put on the small tray next to the doorway.
To the next period, which was their second to last before the hallowed teenage sanctity of Weekend could finally come to pass, Sam had returned from her Zapruder duties. Mary Cherry eyed her suspiciously from afar, but Brooke swatted her on the arm and told her to stop. Sam didn't seem to notice, however, and she did seem a bit engrossed in her own little world, a bit more than usual, but Brooke put that thought out of her head as probably inconsequential.
During the last class of the day, as Brooke sat trying to score perfectly at the quiz Bio Glass had given to them, she suddenly heard Sam talk out loud beside her.
"I must have rattled her firmer than I thought," Brooke looked at her sharply, but managed to turn away before Sam saw her. Ms Glass heard someone talking, though, and ordered everyone to shut up.
As Brooke walked away from class, Josh came up before her looking like he'd won the lottery.
"Tonight's gonna be fun, eh?" He bit his lower lip as he fumbled for her hand. She took it and gave him a thousand Watt smile.
"Absolutely! But I'm sure you know more about that than I do!" She giggled like a proper girl should giggle at the prospect of first evening with the guy of her dreams as they walked away from the school. Her mind churned with worry, however, both over Sam's comment in class, which she was sure was directed at Nicole, and over Nicole. That woman was certainly not someone to mess with seriously and if Sam had managed to 'rattle' Nicole, there was no telling what kind of revenge would be a-coming in the McPherson direction. Nevertheless, she couldn't just break off her date with Josh because of a hunch of a feeling of a notion. This was supposed to be her night. Her's and Josh' night. She shouldn't be worrying about others tonight.
Brooke resolved to put those things out of her mind for the time being. Sam could take care of herself, she knew that, and she had to respect that. Now was the time to enjoy herself...
...at a monster truck derby.
Brooke had severe trouble keeping herself calm. Josh had actually gone and brought her to a monster truck derby as a second first date? Was he trying to tell her something?
"It's great, eh?" Josh was all excited as he brought Brooke a hot dog with all the extras on and some sodas. They sure had great seats for the spectacle.
"Josh, I..." Brooke began, but then took a deep breath. "I sure hope it is!" Then she plastered a smile on her face again. She needed to do this. She needed to give him the benefit of the doubt and to give both of them a fair chance.
A couple of hours later, Brooke had to confess to herself that it actually was kind of fun to watch the derby, but she also had to confess that she didn't feel anything for Josh. He really was sweet and all, but, no. This wouldn't ever work out.
"You know, Josh, I have had a really fun time tonight." She grabbed his arm as they walked away from the ending spectacle.
"Yeah, it was a good one! Did you see that time when..." He faltered when he saw Brooke's smile disappear in a deep breath. He frowned for a second before going on. "But this wasn't the best of ideas, huh?"
"No, I liked it" Brooke countered.
"That wasn't my point, Brookie. I mean, this, " he spread his hands, "us going on a date." He looked away from her and stared blankly at the darkened sky.
"No. It was absolutely a good idea. It may not have turned out the way you wanted it to, but we were worth giving another chance."
"We could be good. I know it, Brookie." The pleading in his voice was like a puppy's.
"I know that too, Josh. We could be good. We could, but we would never be great. I don't want that. I want great, whatever that means."
Josh just nodded and it seemed to Brooke as if he accepted the idea.
"Great, huh?" He pondered that for a while and then turned back to her. "I guess you'd be wanting a ride home?"
Brooke smiled and then frowned. "No, could you drop me off at the Julian mansion?"
"Nicole's place? Uh, sure. Do you know if she's home?"
"Someone will be there, don't worry."
The drove in silence but as they approached the mansion, Brooke leaned over and gave Josh a kiss on the cheek.
"Thank you for everything! You are a wonderful man, you know that, right? Good night and see you Monday!" Brooke exited the car and saw that Josh sat there for a while looking at her before he drove away.
The doorbell at the mansion rang somberly at the touch of Brooke's finger. After a while, a servant opened the door and Brooke inquired about Nicole's whereabouts.
"She is not at home, missus. Do you want me to leave a message, or was she expecting you and you want to wait inside?"
"Uh, no, she isn't expecting me." Brooke had been dead certain that Nicole would be at home and was at loss as to what to do now.
"Have you tried calling her on her cell phone," the Butler inquired. "Do you want to use a phone in here?"
Brooke agreed quickly, but despite all the good intentions, Nicole's phone seemed to be shut off. She pondered for a while and then called Mary Cherry and asked her for a lift home.
"Ah would nevah refuse to help mah best friend in a dire straight! Ah'll come an' get ya' as quickly as apple pie!" Before Brooke had a chance to answer, Mary Cherry had hung up.
"Apple pie?" Brooke asked herself.
"Is there anything else you want?" The Butler had appeared beside her as if by magic. Letting off a small shriek, Brooke shook her head and explained that she would be given a lift soon.
As she sat in Mary Cherry's, or rather Cherry Cherry's car plus driver, she listened with half an ear to the incessant chatter around her. She didn't really mind it now, even though she knew that sometimes Mary Cherry had the effect of Chinese water torture on people. They would do anything to get away from her. Anything. She realised after a while that she had absentmindedly agreed to go to the movies with Mary Cherry. She had absolutely no idea of what movie they were supposed to see, but she quickly insisted that she wanted to go home first to check in on the palace and to get some stuff.
The car neared the Palace when Mary Cherry suddenly said something that again shook Brooke from her thoughts.
"Isn't that Nicole's convertibahl? Pahked outside your house?" Brooke strained to see and sure enough, there it was. 'How very disconcerting' was all she had time to think before the fear struck her properly. 'Nicole's gone after Sam!'
"Stop the car!" she told the driver, "You wait here, I'll be back in five seconds!" She hurried out of the car, and half ran to the steps and then, more cautiously sneaked to the door. Teh lights were on in the house and she heard no tell tale screaming of insults or sounds of hand to hand combat, which really didn't relieve the icy fear in her gut. Even though she knew it was insane, Mary Cherry's words from earlier about hiding bodies and whatnot suddenly seemed all too insanely real. She knew she shouldn't behave too weirdly as she was certain that Mary Cherry and her driver were watching her. Brooke pretended to fumble with the keys for a few seconds as she listened through the door.
"...Oh Shit! Lily" She heard Sam calling out.
'Lily??' Brooke suddenly became very confused. She tried to listen some more but the voices were lower again, so she opened the door slowly and stepped inside, all the time thankful for Jane keeping the hinges well oiled.
Sam jumped up and out of Nicole's embrace.
"I'll just make a quick phone call," Sam pointed at Nicole and tried to deepen her voice into something more commanding and movie trailer-like, "Don't you go anywhere!" She tittered and almost blushed when Nic seductively bit on her lower lip and shook her head slightly while looking up at her.
"Never," She said as Sam went to the phone in the kitchen. "I won't leave you," she added quietly, falling into a moment of self-reflection. She pondered what all this would mean, both to her, and to her amazement, what it would mean for Samantha. Nicole knew that she wouldn't be able to 'come out' publicly at school, at least not on Monday, or next week, or the week after that, but she knew that they had to tell at least a couple of their friends. She was content, however, to just enjoy the moment, right here, right now, with Sam. Let them truly worry about all the dreary implications tomorrow, or on another day altogether. There would be time for that later.
Sam came back after a few minutes. "She wasn't at home, or at least nobody answered. She must have gone ahead of me to her meeting, or something." She looked down at Nicole in the sofa. "Oh well, I can't say I didn't try!" She smiled and rejoined Nic and in a heartbeat, both of them forgot the rest of the world.
Brooke came into the hallway and looked around as she heard Sam walk into the kitchen. She was just about to call out to her when she saw who had made the remark about never going anywhere. She could almost hear her jaw hit the floor when she watched Nicole's blonde hair lean back into the couch.
"What is going on...?" She whispered quietly to herself as she tried to pick up the fragments of her shattered mind. It was all too much for her to comprehend on the spur of a moment. She slunk behind one of the coat hangers in the hallway as Sam came back from the kitchen. Then Sam and Nic started kissing again and the ongoings became all too clear.
Brooke stood and watched them for at least two or three minutes, her brain not responding to any of the signals that was sent to it. She argued silently with herself back and forth about stepping forward and pretending to just come inside and to silently slip out and just return to Mary Cherry in the car. She realised with no little fear that she had to move away from the hallway and the coat hanger in any case, as it barely provided her with any cover at all. She did not in any way whatsoever want to be discovered peeping at her stepsister and her own very female best friend making out on the coach, either. She also realised that she was already trying to make up excuses about what to tell Mary Cherry about her not having had a change of clothing as she had said she needed.
In the end discretion won out over scandal, at least for the evening, and she took a deep breath and extricated herself from the depths behind the coat hanger and slipped open the door as quietly as she could, once again praising her stepmother's penchant for keeping the house in a working order. As she made her way back the Cherry-vehicle, her mind reeled at the ramifications of what she had seen. Millions of scenarios span through her head, with everything from Sam and Nicole having been together always, keeping a well-guarded secret from everyone else, to Nicole being a high class call-girl and Sam having bought her for the night with money she had made from selling opiates to the chess club. None of the options seemed very likely, but on the other hand, if someone ten minutes ago would have told her that she in just a short while would be finding her stepsister Sam wrapped up in the arms of her best friend Nicole kissing each other heavily in her own living room, she wouldn't have believed that either. In fact, she would have wagered it almost more probable that Sam had been selling opiates.
Brooke made her way quickly across the lawn to the Cherry-mobile. As she approached, the driver came out and opened the door for her and she slid in on the leather seat next to Mary Cherry.
"Was Spam about?" Mary Cherry looked curiously at Brooke as the lanky girl entered the car. "And what was with ahll those commahndo movements? You afraid of hahr seein' you?" She launched into her conspiracy-mode again. "Oh, mah Gawd! What has Spam done to poor Nic? Ah can just imagine her bending over Nic's beaten and bloodied body smiling that de-vilish smile of hahrs." Mary Cherry looked utterly horrified. "Should we call the po-lice and tell them of the vile and de-mented acts that have tahken place in your own home?" Mary Cherry reached for the phone in the car.
"Vile and dement... No! No, no police, and no demented acts. I'm sure of that." Brooke looked a little panicky as she thought of the implications of her words. "Sam had already gone to sleep and I didn't want to wake her." She made Mary Cherry put the phone down to cover her little lie.
"But what about Nic's cahr?" Mary Cherry's eyes shone with horror once again. "She might be suffahring un-mentionahble tawrment as we speak!"
"No she's definitely not suffering, " The mental picture Brooke got from those words stunned her into a few seconds of silence before she went on, "and, besides, it wasn't her car at all, actually," Brooke searched frantically for some way to finish the sentence, "ehhh. It was a copy."
"A cahpy? Ah don't understahnd." Mary Cherry looked truly at loss as she motioned to the driver to set off.
"Well, you know when," Brooke chose her words carefully, "when you buy a Gaultier T-shirt and..."
"Ah bought a pair of those just a few days ago!" Mary Cherry was suddenly part of the conversation again. "One black as sin, and one red as, well, you know, sin!"
"Yes, that is beside the point, you see..."
"But Ah lahk my Gawltih-ers! They're probahbly just lahk what the divahn Ms. Pahltrow hahself would weahr," Mary Cherry's eyes got all dreamy and there was no mistaking that she was very far away.
'Oh, God, the things I have to do' Brooke thought as she continued undaunted. "Yes. Now, consider a cheap knockoff of those same T-shirts you own. Something you could buy for a paltry $25 at K-Mart, made out to be just like your Gaultiers?"
"Ah'd Nevah Shop At K-Mart!" The sudden outburst of a very indignant Mary Cherry almost made Brooke laugh.
"Uhh. Of course, I wasn't implying that you would, obviously, but consider if, if, April Tuna bought one there." Brooke carried on.
"Ah bet she would. That little knawck-off trawllop."
"Yes, and it's the same way with the car." Brooke smiled.
"What cahr? Ohh, Ah know!! Ah get it! Someone has bought a knawck-off cahr, made up just lahk the one our sweet Nic owns!" She beamed at Brooke as she realised that she had gotten the point. "It's probahbly made in Ko-Reah, lahk a lot of those thingies." Brooke continued to smile even though the Texan had lost her again. She quickly changed the subject now that the immediate danger had blown over.
"Right, what kind of movie did you want to see?"
"Night on Slashah Mountain. It's supposed to be a real kickah!"
"I bet it is." Brooke's thoughts trailed off into the same void it had plunged into just a few minutes earlier. 'What on God's great Earth was really going on between Sam and Nic back at the Palace?' A believable picture started to form in her head as they made their way into the movie theatre.
"You know I'd better go soon." Nicole looked up at Sam. It was almost eleven and they both knew that they had been pushing their luck. Brooke could return at any second and neither of them really wanted to be found in each other's arms like that. Not that they minded being in that position, but to be discovered in such a way wasn't high on their list of priorities.
"Yes, I suppose so." Suddenly the implications of Nicole leaving crashed down on her, and her fears returned at hurricane force. Nicole saw Sam's sudden worry forming, and quickly moved to embrace her.
"I will be yours tomorrow too. Don't you worry that I'll 'turn back' into 'Satan'," Nicole soothed Sam, "at least not until Monday." She added the last remark while smiling devilishly and looking straight at Sam. "You know we have to pretend, at least for a while, right?" Her smile faded somewhat.
Sam closed her eyes. "Damn, I had forgotten about school." She took a deep breath. "I suppose so. I wouldn't dare tell anyone I know, at least not yet. I don't know if I could handle that kind of rejection. Being something outside the norm isn't really easy."
Nic stood silently beside her contemplating the same things. She'd probably loose her place in the Glamazons and her popularity would take a swan dive into oblivion, to say the least. All her ambitions to date would in an instant be shamed by the public knowledge of what had happened. She did feel though, that she was usually the one who made these things difficult for others.
"Ok, so we'll keep it a secret, for now. But I don't know if I could stand having you around all day long without touching you."
"Me neither. But I guess we'll have to revert to our usual routine a bit at least, don't you think so, Satan?" Sam held on to Nic very tightly.
"Sure thing, Spam," Nic smiled broadly as Sam released her, "but can I at least see you tomorrow without the pretence?" She walked out into the hallway to get her stuff.
Sam thought for a while. "I don't know what Brooke is up to, but other than that, the house is empty. I'll give you a call tomorrow as soon as I know what and if Brooke is around, ok?"
"Do that." Nicole grabbed up a piece of paper from her purse and quickly jotted down a number. "This is my private line so you don't have to go through our servants, or God forbid, happen to call the one time that mother actually answers on her own." Nicole finished putting on her clothes and turned to kiss Sam goodbye. The kiss turned into a long and searing make out session with hands wandering and tongues roving. Nicole was totally out of breath when she suddenly pulled away. "I really need to get home. Bye, my sweet. Think of me while you sleep."
With that she walked out the door and down to her car with a large smile on her face.
The next morning Sam woke up by the sound of the phone. She raced up and out to the room shouting loudly that she would get it.
"Hi!" She was almost out of breath, but she tried to sound calm and not at all as nervously-happy-but-really-scared-but-in-a-good-way as she was feeling. She was not really expecting it to be Nic, but the hope lived freely in her heart.
"Hi, Sam! I'm sorry about last night!" The sound of Lily's voice brought Sam down to Earth again.
"Oh, I tried calling that I wouldn't be coming, but there was no answer, so I just figured you'd left early, or something." Sam suddenly realised that she almost wasn't wearing anything at all. "But did you have a good time, or judging from the sigh I just heard, I guess no?"
"Oh, well, no, I mean, yes. Almost. Josh came by."
"You know what, I..." She went silent for a while, "Who came by?"
"But didn't he..."
"Brooke dumped him and went to Nicole instead. She probably sat around all night at Satan's mansion, plotting the downfall of humanity." Sam could hear Lily getting riled up.
"No, she couldn't have been at Nic's because," Sam suddenly cursed at herself and stopped just short of telling Lily everything by sheer mistake, "because, I thought that Nic was supposed to be out yesterday." She winced at the utter crapness of the lie.
"Uh, well, that was what Josh said anyway. He dropped her off at Satan's before he came here. How would you know that Nicole was out yesterday? Have you spoken to Brooke?"
With those words Sam heard Brooke coming down the stairs.
"Oh, ehm. I gotta go, someone's coming and I've really not got, uhh.. gotta go. Bye!" She hated herself for doing this to Lily, but she really, really needed to...
"Good morning, Sam. Why were you screaming? It wasn't as if someone else would just hang up if the call was for you, now, would they?" She smiled as she went past Sam and into the kitchen. "Ok, but now you've awakened me. Make me some breakfast!" She turned towards Sam and saw for the first time that Sam was mostly naked. "Oh. But for the sanity of all involved, please put some more clothes on first."
Sam stood there paralysed until she came alive in a frenzy of running back to her room. She hurriedly and haphazardly put on some clothes while almost tumbling over twice. In the end she made it safely back down into the kitchen and started taking out some stuff to eat. It was her turn today to make the breakfast, and she had wakened Brooke by her screaming, so she thought it was pretty fair that she had to do all the work. Brooke had collected the morning paper and was sitting and reading at the table.
Sam quickly decided that she really needed to know what Brooke had been up to last night as she started making breakfast. "So, how was your date with Josh Ford?" Samantha cast Brooke a pensive look as she brought out a milk bottle, raspberry jam, rice krispies and toast and started to look for the toaster.
"Well, it was..." Brooke looked into the ceiling as if searching for the correct words, "...interesting. Yes, it was interesting. At least for a while." Brooke looked back at Sam. "And your evening, everything went well?"
"Well, I... Hey! Wait! Don't change the subject! We were talking about you! I didn't hear you get home last night, so it must have been more than interesting, eh?" Sam forced a smile as she poured some milk on her cereal. "Had he planned it properly? Did everything go as you wanted it?"
"To tell you the truth," Brooke looked at Sam and put down her spoon on the table. "I broke off the date quite early. It was nothing less than absolutely and totally uninspiring. Poor Josh, he had really tried his best, but you know, there really wasn't any spark there. I did kind of like the monster trucks, though, but I would have done that with whomever I was there with."
"Monster Trucks, huh? You broke up with him?!?" Sam truly felt for Brooke as she knew how much Brooke had wanted this to go well, and even though she already knew that she had dumped Josh, she wanted to comfort her sister. Sam leaned over and gave Brooke a compassionate hug. "You should have told me. If you don't want to talk about it I could have..."
Brooke silenced her and broke off the hug. "You want me to tell you what happened so that I won't have to talk about it?" She started to smile. "No, seriously, I'm ok. Better than ok actually. It feels like the right thing to have done. He tried. I tried. He tried some more. It didn't work. End of story." She took a large bite out of her jammed toast before she continued.
"I came home early last night. Mary Cherry gave me a lift and I saw Nicole's car parked out front, which to say the least, was quite surprising."
Sam felt an icy shiver and went rigid in her chair. The world around her disappeared and everything felt greyish and cold.
"Although, when talking about surprises, it was nothing compared to the sight that greeted me inside. Whoa! Pure surprise-ville extra-vaganza there!"
Sam didn't move a muscle and was just hoping that what she was hearing really wasn't true. 'Please, please, please, let this be a nightmare.'
"Well, to cut a long story short, I left the Palace quietly and went to the movies with Mary Cherry." Brooke started eating the cereal again. Can you believe the taste that girl has in films? No wonder about those psychotic tendencies of hers, since they are fed regularly with that kind of celluloid. 'Night on Slasher Mountain', huh?" Brooke laughed and picked up a rice krispies escapee from the table and popped into her mouth before she continued. Sam was still sitting rigid on in her chair not daring to breathe, not wanting to either.
"It was quite a feat convincing Mary Cherry that the convertible outside wasn't Nicole's, I can tell you." She eyed Sam bemusedly and reached over and grabbed a hold of Sam's hands. "Listen, I am sorry for barging in on you last night, but I really didn't intend to do that. You must know, though, that almost nothing has made happier than seeing you two together, for I don't know how long." She paused again and looked at her sister. "You can start breathing again."
"What..." Sam's brain had stopped registering everything she heard, but she didn't get to finish the sentence before Brooke continued.
"You know, I had been so worried about the two of you. I've been worried that my best friend and my best stepsister was working out the best ways to kill each other! That is not a good thing in my book. But I had absolutely no idea on how to make things work, about how to make you tolerate each other." She let go of Sam's hands.
"But as luck would have it, you seem to have sorted it out on your own. Bravo, I say!" She struck a pose and started to applaud theatrically as she smiled brightly.
"But, but, doesn't it bother you, that I... uh... I... that we..." Sam couldn't bring herself to finish.
"Are lesbians? A same-sex couple? Homosexuals? I know about the words, Sam. At least you found out before you made some really stupid mistakes, like I have done." Brooke took the last bite out of her toast, which had gone rather soggy by the heaps of jam on it.
Both sat and stared at each other for a few seconds before Sam broke the silence.
Lily's steps were slow. The day never seemed to end, even though the afternoon had the extra benefit of being totally Nicole-free. She really abhorred that girl. There was nothing redeeming about her character, nothing worthwhile about her actions and especially, only vileness about the way she treated the rest of the student body, with prime examples being Nicole's behaviour towards Sam and friends.
Lily thought about that for a while. What if her dislike, no she had to find stronger words than that, utter dislike, for Nicole stemmed from the fact that she herself was one of the persecuted, or if she really would have found it in her heart to dislike; no utterly dislike, someone as fiercely if she wasn't on the receiving end of a relentless barrage of snide remarks and put-downs that was Nicole's trademark?
She quickly decided that it was a moot point, as Nicole seemed to have a mission to put down everybody. Even her own 'friends' did not get away from the girl's never ending scheming and plotting for that coveted position as Queen of the Popular.
A headache had started to slowly spread in and around Lily's brain and she couldn't believe that even when Nic wasn't around, that horrid person was the source of her own pain!
"Lily!" The sound of Josh's voice spun Lily around in a heartbeat.
"Lily, I need to talk to you!" He stopped her and dragged her into an empty classroom. "It's about tonight."
Lily groaned. Not only was the whole world conspiring against her with the existence of Nicole, now the hunkiest and most adorable, and perhaps not the densest but darned close, jock of the school had decided that she was to be his confidant. He was desperately trying to get into Brooke's pants and he had enlisted Lily to help him.
"Seriously, I need your help." As usual, he looked like a small puppy with his endearing eyes and Lily could not help but melt. She cursed herself as her 'friend'-mode took over.
"Ok, run through the evening once again." She sat down on one of the desks and looked straight at Josh, her beginning headache vanishing into obscurity as she for the moment forgot all about the harpy.
"Well, you know, first I'll take her for a ride, and then we go to the monster bash, and then for a moonlight walk by the lake."
"Ok, I know, you want to show all your sides to her. You want to show her that you can be the manly man, the boy-next-door, as well as a romantic and sensitive guy who cares for her feelings. Fair enough." She tilted her head as she looked at him. "Then what?"
He looked embarrassed and started to stammer. "Uhh... I... We... Uhh..."
"Remember, you have to use protection if it comes to that!" Lily turned her face into an imitation of a stern old lady and she wagged her finger in front of his face. He smiled sheepishly and she started laughing. "Hey, we're both almost adults here. So let us just pretend that you'll take Brooke home and kiss her good night on the porch, like all the good youngsters of the fifties did."
"Uhm, well, yeah." He laughed a little, clearly a bit embarrassed, but he did seem to be only half-ok with the situation.
"Hey! You asked me in here, remember?" Lily was a bit peeved, "You want my help, you have to face up to the fact that you have to spill your whole plan in all it's sordid glory, ok? How else can I help you?"
Josh nodded and grunted something that could, with a bit of imagination be interpreted as a 'yes'.
The date really had not gone as he had planned it to go. Why hadn't Lily told him the monster trucks were a bad idea? She should have said something! He felt that he got increasingly riled up as he drove aimlessly after letting Brooke off at the Julian mansion. He didn't deserve to be treated like this! He was the captain of the football team! He was the hero! He was the Star! Even though, the number one prize in school had dumped him! He swerved the car around and started off towards Lily's home, fuming about her lousy plan.
Lily heard the doorbell and thought that it had to be Sam. She had been getting ready to go, but hadn't fixed everything on her to-do list yet.
"Sam, just a second," She made her way to the door as the doorbell went off again and then opened it expexcting an impatient Sam. "I told you I..." Lily stopped in her tracks as she saw Josh Ford on her doorstep. He looked angry. He looked really angry. Then he started to cry.
When Lily went to sleep that night she had some severely mixed feelings. On the one hand, Josh was an excellent kisser and Brooke sure was stupid to let a catch like him off her hook. On the other hand, she didn't feel like being the rebound girl, the one that Josh would drop in half a second the moment Brooke waved her left pinkie. As drowsiness overtook her, she settled for the memories of the kissing part, at least for the time being.
Mary Cherry was dancing around wearing a tiara, a pink dress with lots of frills and her morning slippers. Her partner in the Ginger Rogers wannabe scene was not as much Fred Astaire as a life size dressing mannequin in plastic. It was obviously too heavy for any graceful dancing, but on the other hand Mary Cherry wasn't the most lithe or nimble creature to take the centre stage. She was also in the lead tossing the doll back and forth, taking the scene even further away from a forties dance movie illusion. As the background music wound to a halt, Mary Cherry leaned her partner over leg and bent down to kiss it on it's imagined head in what she hoped was a dashing and romantic gesture. The dress she was wearing didn't really allow for that kind of exercise, and contrained as she was, her balance fluttered away and both she and the mannequin came cashing down into a heap on the bedroom carpet.
She absentmindedly picked up her tiara that had scattered across the floor and then straightened up and smoothed out her dress. Her face had that dreamy far-away look that her friends and acquantancies had learned to fear with their lives. Mary Cherry was apt to say or do anything when in this blissful state. She fidgeted with the tiara and put it on the bed table and then bent over and picked up her mannequin.
"Mmmm, mah poor lovah-ly Brookie." She brushed some imaginary dust off the mannequin and put it back on its stand by the wardrobe. "Perhaps Ah should buy mah-self a tail coat instead."
Samantha stared suspiciously over the breakfast table at Brooke. "Could you repeat that, in a little more context, please?"
Brooke smiled at her. "Relax, I'm not about to try and steal your coming-out-moment-of-glory, I'm just saying it is a good thing to realise what you like and what you don't like before you do some truly regrettable things."
"And...?" Sam still had that suspicious look as she implored Brooke to explain herself some more.
"Ok, you know I'm not a kiss-and-tell kind of girl, so let's just settle with that I've done the Sapphic bit, tried the path, done the deed, and let me tell you, it is not in my wiring." She made a scrunchy face as she paused.
"And you know, Sam, that your imitation of a sea bass you're doing is amazing!" Brooke laughed loudly. "Really! You should apply for a job at Ocean World first thing in the morning!" She waved her arms around in a dramatic gesture. "Presenting Brooke and her amazing fish step sister Samantha! A short time only! Get yer tickets!!
Sam stuck out her tongue at Brooke. "But, I never knew? When? How? Who? What? Tell me! I have a right to know! Well, perhaps not a legal right, but certainly a moral right, right?"
"Whoa! Take it easy with the questions, detective! I'm the one who found my two best friends secretly lip-locking on my living room couch yesterday when they thought no-one was looking!" Brooke smiled sincerely and reached over the table and gently tapped Sam's tip of the nose with her index finger.
"It isn't your couch," Sam pouted. "I can do anything I want in it."
"I bet you do."
Sam stuck out her tongue at Brooke again.
"But seriously, yes, I'll tell you, and I suppose it really doesn't matter anymore, but do you remember Marley Jacobs?"
There was a moment of silence before it suddenly dawned on Sam as she remembered the old co-head cheerleader.
"She used you."
Brooke looked up at Sam sharply, but then she softened again. "Well, perhaps used is a bit harsh a word, because I was basically trying my best to make her like me and make her stop choosing Nicole as her heir-apparent." Brooke sighed at the memory, but regained her poise and smiled. "So, I complied, once, but it wasn't very advanced. It was just kissing and groping and stuff and I think that she only wanted me to do that to have power over me. She wanted to feel like she was in charge, I suppose."
Sam stopped eating and put down her spoon, her face all of a sudden greyish. "Do you think Nicole..." She couldn't get herself to finish her sentence.
Brooke froze as she realised the implications of what Sam had said.