The Spirit Room

by Erin Griffin

Rating: NC-17 (What?! Erin wrote a sex scene?! Quick! Look out the window for some flying pigs! Hey Satan- not you, Nicole-, is that a winter coat I see you sporting?)

Fandom: Popular/Smallville crossover (plus a very slight Gilmore Girls crossover. I don't name names, but see if you can spot it.)

Pairing: Sam McPherson/Chloe Sullivan


Summary: Back before there was Smallville for Chloe, and back before Sam's family became extended, there was a summer camp in Oregon where they found and lost love. With the help of friends, they find it again.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to Popular or Smallville. I take that back, I have a Smallville poster that I got for free a long time ago when the show was first on, and it doesn't even have Chloe on it. I also don't own any rights to Michelle Branch or 'The Spirit Room', though I have the CD and love it.

Author's Note: I don't know much about Popular, and the creators of the show may or may not have gone into some of Sam's past, but let's just say that whatever doesn't fit is AU. This story takes place in 2003, when Chloe is sixteen, and I know that Sam would have already graduated high school by then, but that is where all the AU-iness comes into play. All song lyrics are from the songs on Michelle Branch's 'The Spirit Room', so all rights go to her. Oh, and enjoy the story.

Part One: Photos In The Attic

"She puts on her makeup; the same way she did yesterday; hoping everything's the same, but everything has changed..."

-Something To Sleep To


One would have thought that an attic in a house as new as the McQueen/McPherson residence wouldn't carry as much dust as, say, an old Victorian, yet still a sneeze echoed through the almost empty room. There were mostly old pictures of her grandparents, and a dress or two that belonged to her grandmother, but what she was looking for was a book her stepsister claimed she could borrow if she fished it from the attic. "Nice security system, Sam," Brook McQueen muttered after she'd almost tripped over a box with the grim warning 'Sam's stuff, Brook: Touch it and Die' drawn in blocked letters. Carefully, she opened the box despite the warning, and peered inside. Bingo. It was a box of books, but really, it was no big accomplishment, as Sam had entered the Palace with six boxes filled with books and was only able to shelve two. Two neat rows of classics stared up at her.

Something caught Brook's eye as she scanned the two rows of books for a title she needed. There was a gap between 'Les' Miserable' and 'Macbeth', and the blonde reached in and came up with a framed picture. There was a blonde girl in it next to a younger version of her stepsister, but Brook had never seen this girl before, not even in school. This blonde had shoulder length hair, a gapped smile, and a skinny frame that even Brook would have called unhealthy even though she looked just fine. In fact, she was laughing with the brunette holding a clipboard to her chest. Sure, the brunette LOOKED like Sam, but to the best of Brook's knowledge, Sam hadn't the capability of smiling so widely. In fact, Brook was sure she had never seen a true smile from her, ever. She became very curious about the girl, the other blonde. Who was she? What had she said or done to make Sam smile so widely? Why was she important enough to be framed? Most importantly, what HAPPENED to her? Was she dead? Why hadn't Sam put this picture with the rest of the framed pictures on her computer desk?

Her search for the book forgotten, Brook decided to go straight to the source. She dusted off her jeans, walked to her stepsister's room, and knocked on the door. The rapid typing stopped, then there was a quick reply. "Come on in."

"Hey," Brook greeted.

"Hey, find what you were looking for?" 'Sounds like she's in a good mood...' Brook thought.

"Well, no, but I found this." Brook took a few steps into the room and handed the picture to Sam, who froze. Slowly, the cheerleader watched as her stepsister grabbed the framed picture and delicately traced the blonde's face with her index finger as if it was so fragile it would break if she left a finger print. Brook expected a question of where she got the picture, or maybe even an angry voice telling her to put it back right that instant. What she got instead was a small squeak of a voice.

"Well, I think," Sam put a thumb to her lip as she paused while she stared at the picture, then moved it long enough to continue, "I-I think the book 'Where the Heart Is'... I think I put it in the box with 'Anne of Green Gables' and the first 'Harry Potter' book... I'm pretty sure it is in the box under the one this came from."

"Sam, who is she?"

"No one, Brook."

"She's framed. Who was she?"

"Don't worry about it, and there's no 'was'. She didn't die, Brook." Sam looked horrified at the thought of the girl dying, but Brook was at least sure of the answer to one of her questions about the girl. "Could you put it back please, and be careful." Brook nodded and left, not wanting to push too hard, which she knew from experience would make Sam clam up more, and nothing would get accomplished. She was more surprised about the fact that Sam was too shaken up to yell at her.

"Whoever you are," Brook murmured to the picture right before putting it back between the books she'd taken it from, "you're important enough to be framed, but hurtful enough to be locked away. But why?" Carefully, Brook moved the box so she could get to the box underneath it. 'Where The Heart Is' was the first book she saw and she grabbed it, taking one last look at the box the picture was in before she left the attic once more. On her life, Brook would have sworn she'd planned to leave the topic of the blonde girl alone. That was before she saw the state her stepsister was in when she went back to her room to thank her for letting her borrow the book. Hunched over her keyboard was Sam, one whole hand covering her face. Brook hurried to her side and pulled her into a hug even though Sam tried to move away. "I'm sorry, Sam- I really am. I didn't mean to hurt you with that picture. She meant something to you, that much is clear, but I shouldn't have pushed it."

"It's not your fault, Brook. You didn't know. I hurt myself." This statement surprised the cheerleader.

"Sam, talk to me about her. Please, who was she- IS she?"

"Sam pulled away and wiped her tears on the sleeve of her red long sleeved shirt, studying Brook for anything she should be suspicious of, but Brook was genuinely concerned. "She was my soul mate, Brook," was all she said, and the blonde wasn't surprised by the answer, exactly. She knew that the girl meant something to Sam, and it wasn't really a huge secret that Sam liked girls, as that had been in the rumour mill since grade school; Sam just didn't know or care about them. What had surprised Brook was the word 'soul mate', or rather, the way it was said, as if it would always be true even if she used 'was' as the adjective.

"Tell me about her?" Brook asked hopefully, and Sam looked away.

"The summer after the seventh grade, Mom sent me to camp in Oregon. I didn't want to go, not even after she told me it was a camp for young writers. All I could think of was that my mother wanted to get rid of me, and I had no choice in the matter. My dad hadn't been gone too long, and I didn't need much of n excuse to feel lonely or hurt." As Sam spoke, Brook took the two pillows off of the brunette's bed and sat on the floor, handing one to Sam. Both girls hugged the pillow to their chests. Brook leaned against Sam's bed and sighed.

"Go on," she said and Sam looked at Brook's side before swallowing.

"There were all sorts of writing classes going on, and you picked the top three you wanted to study before they put you into a cabin, and I picked creative writing, poetry and journalism. I'm not sure why they chose to split us up that way. I guess what you picked said something about personality or something, but I doubt it. I think Chloe's aunt chose for her, and she was stuck in the cabin of creative writing, whereas I had to be in the cabin with those who wanted journalistic type of writing. Chloe Sullivan was so pissed, and I would always see her in the first week pleading to be switched. She wanted to be in the journalism cabin.

"Then something happened, she found out about a camp councilor and a camper having an affair. She caught them in the act, and she was put into the journalist cabin. She slept in the bunk directly across the room from me, and kept to herself, as I did at the time. This camp did all the usual camp things too, like horse back riding, arts and crafts, hiking, camp outs- you name it, but a lot of it was about writing. One day, about the middle of the third week, there was a camp fire, and I hated it. Stupid songs and ghost stories that scared no one, so I snuck off to look at the stars and to think about my dad. His death was still a fresh memory then. Chloe saw me leave and followed me. We got to talking and we had so much in common. We became friends after that, swapping music and clothes on the occasion."

"How did you find out you were more than friends?" Brook, who was listening to the story as if she was a child waiting for the happily ever after, asked in a soft voice.

"We'd continued to sneak off during the campfires. I'm sure someone caught on after the second or third time, I mean, not everyone there was as stupid as they looked. They must not have cared since we were both girls and were not going off to have sex- and before you ask, no, we never did. Camp was never the time or place for it even if we DID know what we were doing. Anyway... I told her one night when the moon was almost full that I liked when she used me as a pillow as we watched the sky. She told me that she felt safe with me when she did. I told her-" Sam let out a small laugh, "heh, that I felt strange around her, like my heart would jump from my chest-"

"Aw," Brook said, and Sam glared at her as if she didn't want comments from the peanut gallery.

"She said she felt the same way, but she didn't think she could feel that way for a girl. I kissed her that night and she became my girlfriend, I guess. No one knew about it, though. If they had known, they would have separated us, and we didn't want that. So we spent the rest of that summer together and even made plans to stay together as we grew up. The summer ended, and Chloe's dad came to get her before my mom got me, and I cried the whole way home, though my mom didn't know why. She  probably thought I missed camp, but I only missed Chloe. School started up again, and that was when I started to hear the rumours about me. Apparently, they had been circling around the elementary school and middle school for a couple of years. I just didn't know about them. They called me names that I didn't like and it really bothered me."

"Since when do you care what people thought about you?" Sam gave Brook another glare, knowing that it didn't effect the blonde. She did everything to keep her lip from quivering.

"I don't. But I did then. I had a guilty conscious after that summer or something, but I didn't want to be a freak... a dyke. So I stopped writing to Chloe, even though that was all I wanted to do. I know it hurt her. It hurt me, but I never wrote or spoke to her and I hated myself. I realized that I let people who didn't matter to me drive away the one person besides my mom that did. By the time I realized that, the eighth grade was almost over. I was so happy when my mother told me that she was sending me back to camp. I made sure I got in the same cabin, because other than being with Chloe, I did kind of like journalism." Sam looked down at Brook on the floor and the blonde saw a tear fall. "She wasn't there. I waited for her, but she didn't come. I knew my mother wouldn't let me go home since I wanted to go so badly, so I acted out so that they would kick me out of camp. It took me about a week, since the camp councilors were being nice and giving me chances, but then they had no choice. So... There, I told you everything." Brook was silent for a moment, disappointed that the story ended the way it had, with Sam still hurting as if it all happened yesterday.

"Okay. Thank you," said Brook, who knew a dismissal when she heard one, especially from Sam. She got up and put the pillow back on Sam's bed, then walked to the door. "If you need to talk some more, you know where to find me, Sam."

"Thanks, and Brook?" The blonde turned to her stepsister. "No one else knows."

"And no one will. I'll let you get back to working on... whatever it was you were working on." Sam smiled weakly, and both women knew she wasn't going to work anymore. Brook went back to her room, but itched to go back to the attic for more clues on Chloe Sullivan, even though Sam had told her everything, or at least she hoped Sam had told her everything. She decided against it, since it was an invasion of privacy. She went to work on her book report, which was what she was originally supposed to be doing, a task that had brought her to Sam's box of books in the first place. Still, she couldn't stop thinking about how different the Sam in that picture was compared to the one she hated at first, then reluctantly liked. Her story was sort of sad, and even if her stepsister was to blame, she obviously regretted it. Maybe it could be fixed, Brook thought suddenly. "Or not. I mean, if it could, it would have been by now, right?" Brook lay on her back on her bed and opened 'Where The Heart Is'. Less than half a minute later, she sat up again, snapping the book shut with her left hand. "But Chloe seemed like a tough cookie. If Chloe is even half as stubborn as Sam, then she must've been waiting for Sam to call or write to apologize first, when Sam over here has been feeling too sorry for herself to realize that maybe not all is lost. Cool, I'm going to get them to talk to each other somehow. I'll find out where Chloe lives, and call her. There can't be that many Chloe Sullivans in the world, can there?" Brook thought about this for a second, then frowned. "Stop talking to yourself," she scolded. She stood up and left her room again, the book report completely forgotten.

Part Two: California Ringing

"Feels like I'm starting all over again; the last three years just pretend."

-Goodbye To You


Lana Lang stared intently at the china cup in her left hand as she willed the dried tea leaves at the bottom to come off with her right. If Chloe hadn't done the dishes for her when it wasn't her turn so many times, Lana would have mentally groaned repeatedly at the stack she had to do. For the past month, there had always been something at the Talon or in her life that, well made it so she just couldn't do them. Keeping her mind on the fact that Chloe had filled in for her without being asked made doing the chore bearable. The cordless phone on its stand started to ring, and Lana reached over to answer it, secretly grateful for the short break. "Hello?"

"Please tell me this is the Sullivan residence." Lana frowned.

"May I ask who's calling?"

"This is Brook McQueen. Sorry. I've just been looking everywhere for this Chloe Sullivan, and I've called three numbers in Smallville alone. Does she live here? I really need to talk to her." Lana thought about the name. No one in Smallville had the last name McQueen, and she wondered if perhaps Brook was a contact in Metropolis for the Torch. When the brunette asked that, the voice on the phone said, "No, I'm a friend of a friend."

"Which friend?"

"What am I, a criminal? It's really important that I speak to Chloe Sullivan and my father will kill me as it is for the long distance charges I'm wracking up. Is she even there?"

"Did your mutual friend die?"

"No, but it's still important that I talk to her," Brook repeated. Lana sighed and walked to Chloe's room. She heard the rapid typing, which meant she was working on an article for the Torch or maybe on a blog, and Lana didn't want to interrupt either or it would get ugly. She knocked softly on the door, hoping Chloe would still hear her. She heard the short command for her to enter.

"I know you're busy-"

"I'm never too busy to chat or hang out with you, you know that," Chloe said, not liking the slightly timid voice Lana used to talk to her.

"Right. Thank you. Anyway," Lana covered the mouth piece of the phone. "There's a Brook McQueen on the phone for you. She says she's a friend of a friend and that it's important, but she won't tell me who that mutual friend is." Chloe smiled.

"It's just a phone call. It's harmless, surely?"

"But she's been looking for you. From the sounds of it, she's been looking for you for a while. She's been calling around Smallville for you, and I don't like the sound of that. And don't call me Shirley." Lana still handed Chloe the phone and the journalist put a hand on the brunette's shoulder.

"I'm sure it's fine. Hello?" she greeted into the phone.

"Chloe Sullivan?" Lana backed out of the room and went back to the dishes.

"Yes, this is her."

"You're like my age right? You're not ninety or four or a guy or dead, right?"

"Very much alive and I had my sex change operation last year, so no, not a guy."


"I'm sixteen, why? How old are you?"

"Eighteen. Look, I'm sorry if I wasn't very nice to that girl, but she was giving me the third degree, and I wasn't even sure I got the right Chloe Sullivan. There are a lot more out there than I had imagined."

"Yeah, I should say sorry for the good cop, bad cop routine, but Lana and I've had some nutty people in our lives, and she just wanted to make sure you're not another one. She was just being the good friend she is. So, uh, what can I do for you?" Chloe asked lightly, changing the subject to the 'important' reason for the stranger's phone call.

"Right, well, I'm calling about Sam McPherson. Do you remember her?" At the name, Chloe froze. Did she remember her? How could Chloe forget? Samantha McPherson was the main reason why there was so much Clark Kent drama in her life, but she wasn't about to go into that with the girl on the phone.

"I don't know anyone named Sam McPherson. Sorry, you must have gotten the wrong Chloe Sullivan again," Chloe lied, but Brook knew from the hesitation and the waver in Chloe's voice that she was lying. 'They must be soul mates,' Brook thought. 'They're both so easy to clam up.' Before Chloe could completely dismiss her, Brook hurried to say what she'd needed to say.

"I think we both know that Sam is a pretty private person. I didn't even know about you until I found a picture of the two of you in the attic. When she saw it, I could tell you were still a part of her. She told me to put the picture back, but when I went to her room again, Sam was crying. It was then she told me about you. She hadn't told anyone else all this time, so she's been suffering in silence."

"No one here knows about her, either, though if Lana continues to ask questions, she might. But that's neither here nor there. Brook, right?"

"Eh- right."

"Right, Brook, I think it's cool that you try and do this for Sam. Show's you are a good friend."

"We've had our ups and downs as stepsisters, but when push comes to shove, she's always been there for me."

"That's great, it really is, but I've spent... so much time trying to get over her-"

"Do you still love her?" Brook asked. "She still loves you, Chloe."

"Sam is my past."

"Do you still love her?" Brook asked again.

"It's over. Please don't tell Sam that you've called me. Knowing her, she won't be happy about it, and I don't want you fighting over this." There was a short pause between them. "In the nicest way possible, I'm also going to have to ask you not to contact me again." Brook knew not to argue and backed down.

"Okay. I'm sorry I bothered you. Goodbye."

"Bye." Chloe pressed the button to end the conversation and set the cordless phone in her lap. Brook's repeated question stayed in her head for a good few minutes before she saw Lana standing in the doorway.

"Everything okay?"         


"You sure? Who's Sam McPherson?" At Chloe's look, Lana shrunk back a little bit. "Yes," she admitted guiltily, "I eavesdropped."

"Sam was just a girl from camp I knew." Lana saw the look on Chloe's face, and though the two hadn't been friends a whole long time, the brunette knew when Chloe wasn't completely telling the truth.

"Was she more than that to you? Chloe, if she was, I won't out you." The blonde sighed a long sigh, then motioned for Lana to enter the room.

"Close the door, please." Chloe said (even though they were the only ones in the house then), and Lana didn't need to be asked twice. She was eager to know the story of the girl Chloe was in love with. In the past, because of the things her friend sometimes said, Lana thought there might have been one, and now she knew by the way she acted that there had been, and possibly only the one. "The summer before I moved to Smallville, I was acting out a lot. I was- frankly- a brat. Had to have my way or I would sneak around and find a way to get it anyway. Luckily for my dad and my aunt, all I really wanted then was to be left alone to read. I loved Nancy Drew, and spent my allowances buying those books. I didn't do much homework or anything like that, and with thousands of students in the elementary schools I went to in Metropolis, they shrugged their shoulders and slid me along to the next grade. My aunt and my dad were sick of it, and figured going to a camp for writers would make me more enthusiastic for school. My aunt, thinking I read through Nancy Drew books because of the mystery, thought creative writing and poetry writing was the best for me, but I liked the way she got through the mystery. It was because of those books that I wanted to be the dirty rat crawling through sewers to get to the bottom of everything... but it was too late. In camp, they put me in with the people in creative writing, and I didn't like that.

"They met myself and a couple of other campers from around the U.S in various meet-up spots, packed us all into a large painted bus, and off we went to The Middle of Nowhere Oregon. In the bus, Sam sat across the isle from me, scribbling out the best she could in a bumpy bus on a clipboard. I knew then that there was something about her that I wanted to uncover. Don't look at me like that. I didn't mean pervertedly, Lana. She was a loner, and not in that 'look at me, I'm all alone' sort of way I'd seen people at school act. She genuinely didn't seem to care. It was like the world had already chewed her up and spat her out, you know? As if nothing that was said or done to her could be worse than what she had already gone through. It fascinated me. She was a mystery to me, and I wanted to solve it, starting with what she was writing. I didn't know how to go about talking to her though, so I kept to myself as well, rereading my favorite mystery over again.

"I hated my cabin mates, and I think I hated my councilor more. They had councilors and the councilor's assistants, who were just eighteen year olds who learned CPR and child training in the course of a week. It was an easy job with free room and board. I think I hated them the most. Even though I knew for a fact that I could have switched with a girl in journalism who was in the same boat as I was in- she didn't even like journalism and had a large volume of poetry that she carried around with her some days- they still wouldn't let us. So I spent my free time that first week sulking and later exploring. Every time I saw Sam, she had that clipboard with about ten sheets of paper that she would refill every couple of hours. Near the end of that first week, I was sitting near the mess hall on our free hour watching Sam write. She had this habit of sticking her tongue in her cheek when she got stuck on something, and I thought it was, um, interesting." Lana smirked, and Chloe rolled her eyes. "Anyway, I started hearing sounds, and I went to investigate. I found a councilor's assistant and a counselor going at it, and to keep me quiet, the councilor pulled strings to get that girl and me switched like we had wanted. I was happy to see that the girl had her bunk directly across the room from Sam's.

"One night during a campfire, I watched Sam writing in the firelight and I thought she looked like a wingless fairy, and before I could really hold on to that thought or get lost in some weird mystery fantasy of her being from a village of fairies- being cursed as a human and very homesick for her family- she had gotten up and she snuck away. I seemed to be the only one who even saw her leave. In my mind, I kept asking how anyone could not notice a presence like Sam's missing from the group. I guess I was in love with her before I even understood what those odd thoughts I had meant. She thought I was going to tell on her for sneaking off, but I told her that I just wanted to see the stars better. I told her that I felt lonely and insignificant under the stars, and she said nothing much. A grunt here and there to show that she was listening, but after that, she started talking to me and eating with me in the mess hall. I think she considered me a friend, and I am not sure when we'd become more than that. I remember once when we'd snuck off that I had used her as a pillow, and she said she liked the feel of my weight on her, and I told her that I liked using her as a pillow. She made me feel safe, and I told her that. Then she kissed me. It was my first kiss- the best by far. We were happy together, I think. I mean, I didn't see as much of the lost soul I saw in Sam at first, and I found out the reason she looked that way to begin with. Her father had died earlier that year and she felt unwanted because her mother had sent her away to the camp.

"Then... camp was suddenly over. We exchanged addresses, made plans to keep in touch and to somehow make it back to camp the next year. I watched Sam's face disappear in the rear view mirrors, but she kept her promise for close to a month. I got all of her emails, phone calls and letters via snail mail. Then, nothing. I had assumed that her computer had died and so I waited for a snail mail letter to arrive from her telling me so, but it never came. My dad knew that Sam and I were friends, but nothing else. When he found out the reason for my slight depression, he made me a deal. If I did extra chores around the house, I could call Sam for an hour. So that Saturday, I weeded, mowed, and watered the lawn, not in that order. I cleaned the living room, my bedroom, bathroom, and organized the basement. My father joked that I would be an honor student in a matter of weeks if I only would put half of the energy I spent that weekend on school work. Anyway, I got that phone call. My dad even said that I could call for an hour that day and an hour the next weekend because I had done so much. I called Sam, and I guess she had friends over because I heard giggling in the background. I was willing to call back a few hours later or use my phone call on Sunday, but then when someone asked her who was on the phone, she said it was just some telemarketer. I hung up after that. It didn't take someone half as smart as me to get the hint." Chloe looked down at her lap and shrugged.

"Why do you think she cut off contact like that?" Lana wondered, and the blond shook her head.

"She was scared. We weren't considered normal, and there were a couple of times Sam would wish on a star that her life would just be normal. That was when I changed, or at least, I tried. I somehow got to thinking that if I was normal, and Sam and I met up in camp that next year, she would want to at least be my friend because, let's face it, she was the only one who ever truly understood me from the start." Lana tried not to feel hurt by that, since she focused on the 'from the start' portion of that sentence.

"There's more, isn't there?" Chloe said nothing at first, then she slowly nodded.

"Not much more, really, but yeah, there's more. I wanted to go to camp again to talk to Sam, to at least hear from her why we couldn't talk anymore, but my dad couldn't afford the whole summer after the big move to Smallville, and my aunt had just gotten a new car, so she couldn't help. I had to go on the second half of the summer. I didn't see Sam there, and I was told by many of the full timers that she had been kicked out for calling a councilors' assistant some bad name or another, and was kicked out. I spent the summer pretty much alone."

"I'm sorry. I don't know what else to say."

"You don't have to say anything."

"Was your quest to be normal the reason you and I had our problems involving Clark?" Chloe shrugged again.

"Yeah. I think so, although I think it was more about competing with you-"

"Chloe, I would never compete with you-"

"I know, Lana, I know. I just got mixed up. I guess I was feeling like I still wasn't normal because Sam didn't love me, Clark didn't love me, everyone loved you.... Even I had a five minute thing for you, which didn't help me at all. It all boiled down to the fact that I was and still am not over Sam, and it's been a good three or so years. It also means that, well, I am not normal"

"You're one of the most normal people I know."

"Well, considering where we live, I somehow don't feel any better, but thank you for the gesture. And thank you for listening to me psycho-babble to you."

"Does this mean you're going to come out of the closet?"

"Not right now, but I don't think I can hide something like this forever. It hurts."

"Well, if or when you do, you'll have my full support." At this, Chloe felt her eyes get misty for another reason. She smiled and wiped her eyes before opening her arms for a hug.

"Thank you Lana. You don't know how much that means to me."

"You're welcome."

"Hey, you're not freaked out about the five minute crush thing?" Lana shook her head.

"Nah, I'm just glad that in those five minutes you didn't try to kill me. Besides, I'm actually hurt that it only lasted five minutes." The brunette patted Chloe's knee, took the phone from the blonde, and started to leave the room.

"If it makes you feel better," Chloe started to say with a smirk, "I wasn't actually counting, so it could have been more like ten minutes." Lana laughed and closed the door behind her. She thought about this Sam person. Why was she so scared? If she loved Chloe as much as she had said they loved each other, then what was there to be afraid of? Even Lana wasn't naive enough to believe that love would solve everything, but if they were in love, wouldn't it at least be worth the risks they'd need to take? Lana finished the dishes with those thoughts in her head, and it made the chore go by faster. She stared at the cordless phone once she was done and a plan formed in her mind. Should she risk Chloe possibly hating her? She decided that yes, if it eventually made her happy, then it was. "So she picked up the cordless phone, pressed the talk button, and dialed 'star-six-nine'.

Part Three: If Only She Knew

"I can see inside you're aching; but is it still too early for me to tell?"

-If Only She Knew


Brook had just finished watching the movie 'Where The Heart Is' and was just about to sit down to write her paper (which was to compare the book to the movie in ten or more pages) when the phone rang. To her surprise, she saw on the caller ID that it was the number she had called a little over an hour ago. She hoped it was Chloe calling back because she had changed her mind and wanted to talk to Sam after all, and that thought made her giddy as she answered it. "Hello?"

"Hi, I'm looking for Brook McQueen. Is she still there?"

"Speaking. Is this L...ana?"


"Hi, what can I do for you?" Brook was surprised even more by the fact that it was her interrogator on the phone and not Chloe. She wondered what was going on.

"I want to start off by apologizing for interrogating you like I did. I know I came off as rude, and I am sorry."

"You know, if someone had called my house speaking the way I had, I would have started giving them the third degree as well, so no apology is needed there. So, you didn't just call for a chance to apologize, did you?" Brook asked, curious as to why Lana had really called, and knowing that it involved Chloe Sullivan.

"As you know, Chloe and Sam used to be together. You calling Chloe after searching for her means it was important that you got a hold of her, and my guess is that Sam misses Chloe, which was why you called."

"Yeah," Brook agreed.

"Chloe admitted to me a few minutes ago that she's still not over Sam." Brook thought about this as Lana paused.

"Wait, so they're still in love with each other.... So why didn't Chloe let me talk to her about Sam?"

"Two reasons, I think. One, obviously she is still hurt by it all, and two, it wasn't Sam who called. If I was hurting over someone, I would want him to call, not his friend. The first and only time Chloe had called Sam, she had to earn that phone call, and Sam had dismissed her as if Chloe wasn't important in her life." Brook sucked in air quickly.

"I didn't know about that part. She just told me that she stopped speaking to Chloe."

"I don't know. Maybe she didn't want to think about hurting Chloe."

"Or maybe she forgot, but it is a shitty thing to forget about," Brook said slowly.

"Either way," Lana said, continuing on, "they were both younger and insecure about themselves and their sexuality. Chloe still is."

"So's Sam."

"I like your idea of getting them to talk, but I think- no offence- that you went about it the wrong way." Brook laughed, and Lana joined in nervously.

"None taken. I hadn't realized going into this just how alike Sam and Chloe really are. It is apparent that they are soul mates- Sam's word, not mine."



"Huh. I'll see if I can use that somehow, but I think the best way to get them to talk is to get them in the same room together. Chloe can't stand silence for very long, and I am assuming that Sam will talk more if she is living with the guilt of hurting Chloe."

"Okay, I like that, but how are we going to get Sam to Smallville or Chloe to California without either of them getting suspicious?" Brook asked as she sat down at a stool. She stared at her homework and sighed, knowing that it wouldn't get done anytime soon.

"Actually... I have something that will get them to sort of a halfway point and they won't suspect a thing, granted Sam continued to do stuff with journalism. Was she ever on the school newspaper, even as a photographer or a research person?"

"She's only the editor," Brook said with a scoff, but she was surprised to hear what sounded like a sigh of relief or a whispered 'thank you' to Heaven or something.

"That's even better."

"Why? Tell me what you've got, Lana." There was a very short pause as if the girl from Smallville was trying to collect her thoughts.

"There's a convention held in Las Vegas the weekend of our Spring break for those who work on the school newspaper. From what I saw of the brochure, it is like a place to meet other journalists from various papers, find a good college to go to if journalism is what you want to do as a career, and so forth. If you're an editor, you get in half price, which the convention tickets are a hundred bucks, but there is a dance that is free for editors. I think, besides hotels and whatnot, you'd only have to pay the fifty bucks, but if it is an issue, I'll  see what I can do to help you out-"

"No, that won't be necessary. I'll just ask my parents if I told them what it is and why I want Sam to go. I won't tell about Chloe, as I promised Sam, but I will just say that this convention is right up Sam's ally. Jane, Sam's mom and my step mom, would understand because Sam's dad was a journalist, and my dad pretty much goes along with what either Jane or I want as long as it is reasonable, so it will work out. If, for some reason, it doesn't, and the 'rents say no to it, I will find a way to get her there."

"Wow, this is really that important to you?"

"Yeah, it is," Brook said softly, embarrassed by the surprised and impressed edge to Lana's voice. She added jokingly, "otherwise I have to live with a grumpy Sam for the next six or seven months, and that would be worse than our feud two years back." Lana chuckled, even though both girls knew that she didn't know exactly what Brook was talking about. Lana just knew that living with a grumpy Chloe for seven months straight would drive her off the wall as well, but that wasn't the reason she was doing any of this. After a moment of silence, Brook admitted, "Well... Look, I guess I've put myself in Sam's shoes a little bit- maybe a little too much, really. When I heard about Chloe after finding that picture of her, I kept thinking- you know- if I was hurting for so long like Sam was, I would want someone in my life who claimed to care about me to help me out in some way. I guess I am just the sucker for the happy ending. Sam says I'm not happy unless I am setting someone up on a date or matchmaking."

"You're not the only one. About being a sucker for happy endings, I mean. I believe that everyone deserves to be happy, and if I can help, well, I would do what I can. I don't like that stereotype about cheerleaders that take everything they have for granted and making fun of others because they aren't as pretty or popular or whatever." Brook stayed silent for a second.

"I was that stereotype."

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-"

"Hey, it's okay. That was why Sam and I were always at each other's throats. She didn't like me for being popular, and I didn't like her for being unpopular, but now we're alright. At least we don't fight over the good sink anymore, but we do still fight over the phone lines, though." Brook rolled her eyes. 'Let's get back on topic, shall we? This is long distance, and Lana called to talk about Chloe and Sam.' she scolded herself. "Anyway-" Brook said suddenly, "when is Smallville's Spring break?"

"April twentieth to the twenty-ninth. The convention is the twentieth and twenty-first."

"Good, that is the second weekend of our Spring break. Ours is the twelfth to the twenty-first. If Sam is a day late in getting back to school, we could excuse her or something. She'll be more than caught up before she even leaves because that's Sam for you. The thing is, I am not sure if Sam will be up for that dance."

"Well, we'll see. Maybe seeing Chloe again might change her mind. Oh shoot- play along with me. Yeah, Nell. How is he? Good! Tell him I said 'hello'. And how is Metropolis? Yeah. Are you visiting Smallville soon? No? Okay, well I am glad that you called. I missed you. Uh-huh-" There was shuffling, and murmuring, then Lana was back and her voice was in a murmur. "I'm sorry about that. Chloe came in the room and is playing sister, so I have got to go. Give me your email address so I can give you the link to the convention center as soon as I steal it from Chloe."

"Even if Sam and Chloe don't get back together, well... It'd be nice if we could be friends," Brook said slowly after giving out her email address.

"I don't know if that would be a good idea," Lana said regretfully, as if she also wanted to remain friends with Brook, "I don't think I could do that to Chloe. It would be like rubbing it in her face or something if you think about it."

"Good point. Well... I look forward to your email."

"Talk to you later."

"Bye," said Brook.

"Bye," said Lana, and the connection to Smallville was lost.

" 'I look forward to your email'? For a link to a convention center? My my, Brook. How pathetic you've become." Brook sighed. "Stop talking to yourself." But she smiled weakly before returning to her school work.

Part Four: I Let You In

"Tears form behind my eyes, but I do not cry; Counting the days that pass me by..."

-Goodbye To You


Chloe cursed at herself for losing her concentration yet again. Ever since Brook McQueen called the Sullivan residence the week before, Chloe hadn't been able to keep her mind focused on anything but Sam, and her chest constantly hurt because of it. She knew she missed a couple of questions directed at her in her classes, she almost missed a Torch deadline, and for once, she couldn't care less about Clark Kent's Lana problems. Chloe surprised herself by not crying yet, but she knew that the time would come. Yet still, there was always one specific memory that the blonde couldn't stop going back to in her mind, and it upset her the most.

{"Phew! I thought Rudy was going to catch us and make us start off the ghost stories or something," Sam said breathlessly as the two young women made their way to the tree they'd claimed whenever they snuck away from the campfire. Chloe leaned against it and when Sam pressed her body against the younger girl's, she saw that something wasn't right with her girlfriend. "What's wrong? You haven't said anything yet." Chloe looked up at the stars and sighed.

"Sam... I think it's kind of cool that we're secret girlfriends; it's something that I don't have to share with anyone else, but you have no clue how much I want to kiss you or say how much I love you whenever we're not alone. I know I told you that I felt lonely under the stars, but lately, I feel more alone when I'm sitting or standing right next to you, and I can't touch you or feel you touching my hand." Chloe put her hands on Sam's hips and pulled her as close as possible to her.

"You can tell me here, you can tell me now," Sam said softly, but Chloe stayed quiet. "I know, we can make up a sign or a code that only you and I know. That way we can show each other how we feel even when we aren't alone, and if anyone were to see it they'd think we were just being weird like friends often are together." She kissed Chloe, then let their foreheads touch. Since they had that two year age difference, Sam was taller by a couple of  inches.

"That's corny Sam, but I like the idea. What would our code be?"

"I don't know."

"Maybe it could be a sign of some sort."

"Okay," the brunette said, and pulled away a little. Before Chloe could protest, Sam put a fist to her chest and made the gesture of knocking on her heart. "What about this?"

"Wouldn't that be a little bit obvious?" Chloe asked, watching Sam's hand. Sam shrugged, and her hand stilled. "Wait, what if we crossed our arms first, and then made a fist to knock on our heart?" Sam tested it out, and it wasn't as obvious. "Then, you can't tell as easily, especially if you do it slowly after your arms have been crossed for a while. I like that." Chloe brightened up right after that.

"I do, too," Sam agreed. "It's like I'm telling you that you knocked on my heart and I let you in. I know it is corny, but it is true. I love you, Chloe and my heart will always beat for you. That's what it means to me." Chloe's arm went around Sam's neck as Sam wrapped her arms around Chloe's waist.

"That's what it means to me, too," Chloe whispered. "I love you, too."

"I don't want you feeling lonely anymore."}

Chloe rubbed her chest roughly with her knuckles, almost as if she were giving herself a sternum rub. It surprised her how much her chest hurt after thinking about that night at camp. Sam's last words echoed in her mind as she fought back her tears and succeeded. She was determined not to cry anymore over Sam, as she knew no tears were shed for her. "Damn you, Brook McQueen for calling here. Damn you, Sam," she muttered hotly as she rested her head in her hands.

Part Five: Cheer Up

"I couldn't help it; I couldn't stop it if I tried; the same old heartbeat fills the emptiness I have inside..."

-I'd Rather Be In Love


Brook closed the door to her parents' room with a large smile on her face. She was pleased, but surprised that they had agreed so readily to the plan to get Sam to Las Vegas. She was right when she'd  told Lana that they would let Sam go with the right strings pulled, and Brook knew exactly which ones to pull. Of course, it might have actually been the offer of Brook babysitting Mackenzie every Friday and Saturday night for the following month  in exchange for the gas/food/hotel money that sealed the deal, but that was a detail the ex-cheerleader planned to leave out as she went to Sam's room with the ticket receipt she'd printed out. It might have been a little bit more wise to have gotten the tickets AFTER asking the 'rents, but she wanted to make sure she actually could get them first.

Brook was actually surprised that she was able to pull the whole thing off without making Sam suspicious of her sudden burst of computer usage, with her looking up the convention center, emailing/chatting with Lana, and getting hotel reservations, maps, and anything else she thought she might have needed to convince Jane mostly that Sam needed this trip and would be good on her own. Sam, on her part, had been caught up in her grief that she'd been off her guard, and Brook might have actually been able to get away with anything then, and she guiltily used that to her advantage when going on with her and Lana's plan to get Sam and Chloe to Las Vegas. Despite that, she really hoped that it would make Sam feel better if nothing else were to come of it.

As she got to the journalist's door, she noticed it was silent- no typing or music or various computer noises and dings indicating the brunette was chatting online- and was hesitant to knock on her door in case Sam was taking a nap. She then decided that Sam wouldn't mind the interruption after all, since she was getting a free vacation. Brook tapped on the door. There was some groggy mumbling, which the blonde took as 'enter' and opened the door. Sam, as Brook had suspected, was slowly sitting up, squinting at the light that was being let in from the hallway. "If I turned on your computer monitor, would that be okay?" Brook asked in a hushed voice. "I need a little light, but the overhead light would give you a headache, and I don't want that."

"How considerate," Sam said, and the blonde wasn't sure if her step-sister was being sarcastic or not. She shrugged it off, deciding that the brunette would be a little nicer once she saw what she had for her. She might even let her have the good sink. "-but I've already got a headache, so go ahead and turn it on." Brook thought about this for a second, then looked around at Sam's floor. She memorized the spots where the bundles of clothes were on her way to the computer monitor, then she closed Sam's bedroom door behind her as she stepped in. Brook took two steps into the room, then three to her left. Her shin bumped into Sam's computer chair and she felt around for the desk, then finally the computer monitor itself, feeling for the 'on' button as if she was attempting to read Brail. When the yellow glow of Sam's Tweety Bird desktop filled the room, Brook made her way to Sam, who stared at her as if she had grown a beard that went to her knees. "Or not."

"Umph," was Brook's reply as she sat at the foot of Sam's bed.

"So, what's up?"

"I've got a surprise for you. I know you've been down, and I feel bad because I know I'm at fault for making you think of Chloe. I thought maybe..." Brook took the tickets out of her pocket and gave them to Sam with flourish, "this might cheer you up." Brook silently hoped Sam wouldn't say anything about the dance part of it. She knew that dances weren't Sam's thing, even if she may have gone to a few in high school, but Brook was hopeful that maybe she'll see Chloe there and Chloe will change her mind.

"What? A convention?" Sam asked as she squinted at the papers in her hand.

"Yeah, for those who work on the high school newspaper. Since you're the editor, you got a discount, well, as soon as I gave your name and the high school's phone to verify that you are. I just got the email saying you're in today. I was hoping to find something closer, but I've cleared it with Mom 'n' Dad, and they're cool with you going. I've also looked into hotels near the convention center and a quick, yet safe driving route for your Bug as well, but I wanted to see of you're actually interested in going before I shared that with you."

"I'm guessing you shared that part with Mom and Mike first, though, otherwise I wouldn't have gotten the okay."

"You're right. They were impressed by how thorough I was with information and costs and all that, but Sam, that's because I really want you to go. It's all paid for."

"But... why?"

"Why is it all paid for? You're questioning a free vacation?" Sam leaned forward and slapped Brook on the shoulder, which caused the blonde to squeak, then glare at her.

"No, why are you doing all this for me?"

"Like I said, I feel bad because I know you've been depressed over Chloe, even if Mom 'n' Dad don't, and I'm the one who made you start thinking about her more to begin with. Maybe this will help you get your mind off of her."

"It won't, but it will be a good vacation. I never told anyone, but you already know my biggest secret, so what the hell. The main reason I ever was so dedicated to the Zapruder was because whenever I worked on it, I felt the closest to the two people I've lost. My dad was a good journalist, and I just know that Chloe will be someday soon. I wouldn't be surprised if she got to play Nancy Drew in her small home town and became a writer for her school newspaper." At this, Brook began to fidget. She wanted to tell Sam all about the Smallville Torch and about Lana and everything but that would have ruined everything. She knew she had to stay quiet about that. "Thank you," Sam said suddenly. "I don't think I've said that yet."

"No problem," Brook replied with a smile.



"I'll never see her again. I've ruined it, I know I did." Sam's low and sad tone made Brook's heart go out to her step-sister.

"Never say never. Do you know where she was from? I mean, if you've got a name alone, I'm sure you can find her using these handy new inventions called a phone book and the internet," Book said. 'Like I did, and I am not half as computer literate as you are, you dope. Why haven't you looked her up by now?' she thought.

"Haha," Sam said dryly. "She'll hate me Brook, and she'll think I'm some sort of stalker and hate me more than she would for hurting her and not returning her letters and such."

"Maybe not. Maybe she'd be flattered that you still cared enough about her that you want to track her down and try to talk to her again. Maybe she's like you and hoping you'll see each other again-"

"She was thirteen, Brook. She'll have grown up, passed what we had off as some childhood mistake-"

"Wasn't it you who let HER go? She's probably waiting for you to call or write or- something to tell her you're still thinking of her. She could still be at the address you wrote to her before, or if not, it could be forwarded. She might even still have the same email address." The blonde wondered why she couldn't seem to just shut up, but she was still talking, trying to make Sam feel better because Brook hated seeing her so down. She knew that if Sam were to go to Las Vegas, there was no need for any of the pep talk. It may have been a derogatory term between them before, but Brook actually liked calling Jane 'Mom' and Sam 'sis', and she really wanted for them to act more like her family than they had been before. It had taken Sam a few times, but she no longer gave Brook suspicious or odd looks whenever Brook threw in 'sis' after a greeting.

"I'm scared to, Brook, that is what it all comes down to."

The cheerleader almost decided to let the subject drop from there, but never being one to leave a conversation without having the last word, she said in a murmur, "Maybe she is, too." She stood up and memorized the floor again before she turned off Sam's monitor, then she made her way towards the door. "Hope the headache is better tomorrow. Sleep tight." With that, she closed the door gently behind her and made her way to her own room.

Part Six: The Spirit Room

"You're in everyone I see; So tell me, do you see me?"



Lana and Chloe were spread on the living room floor of the Sullivan residence as they watched a movie together. As the credits rolled, Chloe looked at the clock and sighed. "I've got a couple of math worksheets that I can't ignore anymore, otherwise I would love to continue this marathon of Julia Roberts' movies."

"Okay. Hey, are you getting excited about that convention of yours next month?" Chloe looked at her as if she had no brains.

"I've only mentioned it every day for the last week. It was the only thing I wanted since school started." Lana smiled her Mona Lisa Smile, then got up and picked up her bedding before turning off the TV. She walked into Chloe's room, as the door was open. Familiar guitar chords sounded, but Lana didn't know the song until the girl began to sing. "So you actually bought that Michelle Branch CD?" She remembered the week before when they had gone to Metropolis on the weekend and had gone to the mall there. Chloe was looking for a new CD to listen to and had heard a couple of Michelle Branch's songs. She remembered that Chloe had a hard time debating on whether she wanted that CD or something else.

"Yeah 'Everywhere' has been stuck in my head since last month, so I got it last week. I haven't been able to stop spinning it since." Lana smiled and without being invited, sat down on Chloe's bed. Something told her that there was more than homework on her mind. Chloe knew why Lana had decided to make herself at home in her room and felt grateful that they knew each other well enough to be there for each other when it mattered. "You know that I've been thinking about Sam, don't you?" she asked.

"I can't say I'd be surprised if you were," Lana replied. "Wanna talk about it?"

"I'm not going to get my math done, anyway, so..." Chloe flipped her book shut.

"Does it make you cry when you think about her?" Lana wondered.

"No. I promised myself that I wouldn't cry anymore for Sam. I feel them, you know. Since Brook McQueen called here, I haven't been able to keep Sam off of my mind, just when I was starting to do well. Its been three years and it still hurts like it happened last night. Why does it hurt so bad?"

"Maybe not enough time has passed. Maybe that part of you that's trying so hard to be 'normal' is still hoping to see her again, and you're not healing from that summer as a result." Lana said, trying not to squirm after Brook's name was mentioned. She knew that if Chloe and Sam were really to see each other again, then her words were useless, but if things don't work out, then maybe her words could help. Maybe Chloe didn't need to be normal. What if normalcy was holding Chloe back? The blonde seemed to pick up on all of this and nodded.

"Oh my god," she breathed, "you're absolutely right. Maybe its all wrong, what I've been doing. I don't know why I thought we'd ever see each other again, even at camp. I've been thinking about coming out, Lana. A lot. Maybe... when I'm ready, and I do, it will be the first step to realizing that Sam and I will never see each other again, and if by some miracle we do, she'll have to get over the fact that I'm not hiding this anymore and that's that." Lana smiled widely at the look of determination and the sense of finality in Chloe's voice.

"I'm proud of you, Chloe. And when you're ready, and after you've come out, I'm taking you to Metropolis. I hear there's an underage club there called Glitter, or something." Chloe and Lana shared a grin.

"You're the straight supporter every gay person needs in their life, Lana. Thank you for being there."

"Well, you'll just have to owe me. I'm wracking them up now so that you'll have to help me with my future boy troubles, and I have a feeling there where be many," she said. The friends laughed. Lana looked at Chloe's desk where the CD case to the singer on the radio was. "May I look at the case?" Lana asked as a thought formed in her mind.

"Sure," Chloe reached over and handed Lana the CD case.

" 'The Spirit Room'," Lana read out loud, then opened the case and flipped through the booklet as the song switched to the next track.

"I think of Sam the most during this song," Chloe admitted. Lana listened carefully to the music and followed along with the booklet as she read off the lyrics. The song, titled 'You Get Me' according to the case, pretty much spoke of being unique, yet the person the girl was singing to loved her anyway or because of that uniqueness. Lana liked that. She knew that Chloe needed someone like that, and hoped the two journalists would get back together because it seemed they had a lot in common even then. "So," Chloe said loudly and suddenly, making Lana look up from the CD case, "this is my plan."

"Tell me your plan." Lana said, a start of a smile on her face.

"I'm going to listen to this CD until I've worn it out, then I'm going to do some research and come out of the closet. From there, I'll concentrate on the Torch and school and this convention." Her voice lowered. "I don't know what to do after that." she said shyly.

"Well, it sounds like a good start. No one said that healing was easy, especially healing a broken heart. You know, the whole 'Rome wasn't built in a day' thing. Who knows, maybe by the time the convention's over, you'll know what further steps you want to take, be it to lay low until college or to show your pride colors now. I bet you'll make an excellent leader for the Human Right Campaign." Chloe grinned.

"Thanks Lana."


Part Seven: Track Six

"You know that silence is loud when all you hear is your heart; And I wanted so badly just to be apart of something strong and true; But I was scared and left it all behind..."

-Here With Me


"Are you sure you've got everything?" Jane McQueen asked. Sam knew that she did, but she humored her mother anyway or she'd never get to leave. 

"Two sets of clothing... check. Car keys... check. Sun glasses... check. Convention tickets... double check. Fifteen gallons of water for the road," she gave her stepfather a look and Mike McQueen shrugged, "check..."

"You're going to be driving for over twelve hours- in the desert, so you'll be begging for the water by the time you reach Vegas." Sam nodded.

"Yeah, but what if I have to pee? Like you said, I will be on the road for over twelve hours." Brook, who was holding Mackenzie's hand on the porch, spoke up.

"Well, we can always attach one of those Honey Buckets to the back of your Bug." Sam made and 'ick' face, and Brook chuckled. Not knowing exactly what was going on, but knowing something good was happening, Mackenzie laughed too. Sam gave everyone a hug and when she got to her stepsister, the blonde said, "By the way, you did forget something." It was then she noticed that Brook's other hand had been behind her back. She held an object out to Sam, who took it. It was a CD with a tough looking brunette on the cover, who stared back at Sam. She wore a black leather jacket, a studded belt and what could have been jeans or a pair of dark blue leather pants. Sam couldn't tell, as it seemed blurred.

" 'The Spirit Room'," Sam read out loud, imagining a dark room with candles and an Ouija board.

"Yeah, I thought you might like something new to listen to on your way there." Sam scrunched up her eyebrows. "What?"

"Something's not right. You've been..."

"What?" Brook repeated, her voice filled with innocence that Sam knew was false.

"Nice," Sam ended lamely.

"Oh, heaven forbid, Sam," their mother cut in, grabbing Mackenzie's other hand. Sam sighed as she watched Brook let go and give her another hug.

"Thank you. I'll pop it in first thing." She looked at everyone in her family, then said, "I should be back on Monday, no later than Tuesday morning." With that, she got into her VW Bug, turned on the engine, and put the CD into the player. Then she waved and was off. She waved a hand to her family as she left the driveway and made her way to the main street. She looked at the map she got from Brook, then concentrated on the road and her new CD, wondering what her step-sister was up to. What made Brook buy her that CD of all of the millions of CDs out there? The look on her face made it seem as if it was important for Sam to have the CD right then and there, as if all else was lost if she didn't hear the CD on her way to Las Vegas, and that only made Sam more suspicious. What the journalist didn't know was that Brook had gotten an email from Lana, telling her that maybe the CD would increase their chances of talking, as Chloe was currently obsessed with it.

The first track was the one Sam recognized as being played on the radio. She had known some of the song's lyrics from its over-play, and it wasn't a bad song if you hadn't heard it every hour on the radio station. It was about seeing someone everywhere, in dreams and when she's awake. Though she heard it more times than she could count, the song was still catchy to Sam, and she kept it on. The song made her wonder if Chloe still thought about her half as much as Sam thought about Chloe. The next song was a cute song about being loved for who they were and being understood. Sam had started to hear the third song, about hiding feelings and being taken in and taken away from pain. Sam heard this song somewhere, in the background of a movie trailer or somewhere, but it was also familiar to her as well. The songs played as Sam made her way to the toll way. However, the sixth song caught her ear.. Not only did the catchy music get her attention, but the lyrics in the chorus and second verse got to her. This, she knew, was her theme song. It spoke of having love but being too afraid to keep it and walking away from it. It spoke of regret and needing that person back, and Sam knew (as she reached over and put the song -called Hear With Me, she found out later- on repeat) that it was how she felt about Chloe Sullivan. Sam wondered, as she often had over the past two months since Brook found the picture in the attic, what she would be like if the two had stayed together. She wondered what their personalities would have been like. Would she have still been so closed off and hateful of anything considered 'normal'? She imagined what Chloe would look like, her mental image being of a woman who was no longer so skinny, but filled out and healthier looking than she was in camp. Before, she looked more like Brook. Had she come out as a lesbian or had she passed it all off as some odd summer fling she had when she was young and stupid? Was she currently involved with anyone? Sam's face scrunched up in anger, and she tapped the steering wheel more than lightly, making the Bug swerve a little towards the yellow line. Righting the steering wheel, Sam sighed with frustration.

"Just face it, Sam," she said to herself as she fought back tears, not for the first time that week, "you blew it."

Part Eight: The Birds and the Birds

"There's a will, there's a way; Sometimes words just can't explain..."

-You Set Me Free


Chloe put her duffle bag in the back of Lana's truck and got into the passenger seat. It felt odd to not be in the driver's spot, but she was going to the airport in Metropolis and didn't need her green Bug this time. She buckled her seatbelt, then noticed that Lana was looking at her expectantly. "What? I'm buckled in correctly," she said defensively, knowing that the girl at her left was strict about that ever since the tornadoes hit.

"Aren't you going to put in 'The Spirit Room'?"

"You're not sick of it?"

"Are you?" That question surprised Chloe.

"Honestly, no."

"Well, we're sticking to your plan. Go ahead and put it in; I kinda like 'Goodbye To You'. Makes me think of Whitney," she said somewhat sadly. Chloe nodded, unbuckled her seatbelt and grabbed the duffle bag behind her. She got out her CD case and picked out the very first one, a red CD with a flowery design on it. As Chloe put the CD into the Lana's CD player and put the CD case in her lap, Lana asked, "Have you told Pete 'n' Clark?"

"Yeah, last week after I told my dad," Chloe responded almost absently as she turned down the volume to one she could easily talk, over yet still hear the lyrics. She redid her seat belt.

"How'd it go?"

"Pete' cool with it. He said he knew that something was always off with the way I was with Clark, and asked me who in school I think is hot. I told him some random girl's name just to make him stop asking. I told Clark privately. I told him about Sam and my whole normality thing. He was so sweet about it, and said he understood the aching need to be normal, and he wished me happiness. My dad took a bit, but after I explained the phone call to Sam, it all made sense to him. Unfortunately, now he thinks my coming out means I'm sexually active and possibly seeing someone, which we both know isn't true. He tried to give me a talk on 'the birds and the birds'. How he knows so much about sex between two women is a little bit creepy to think about," Chloe finished, making a face. Lana laughed as she drove out of the Sullivan driveway on onto the familiar country roads.

"I'll agree with you there."

"I'm telling you Lana, never in my life have I wanted to run at the sight of a turkey baster."

"Oh no,"

"Oh yes. I also got an in depth play by play on how me and my 'life partner' as he called it, could make him a grandpa." Lana's shoulders shook in her laughter, and the two girls' conversation went to the convention and who was supposed to be giving a speech, not that Lana recognized the name except for in Chloe's rants and rambles about them. That conversation somehow lasted until they got to the airport. There, Lana waited with Chloe until her flight was announced, then she gave her a hug and left. Chloe felt her excitement begin to boil within her as she boarded the plane and waited for the four hour flight to start. Once up in the air, Chloe's thoughts went back to Sam, as much as she tried to stop them. She hadn't thought that healing her broken heart would be that difficult once she figured out how to go about doing so, but she was grateful for a friend like Lana to help her through it. She knew she could talk to Pete and Clark about it all, but some things should only be heard by female ears, besides, Lana knew first.

The good thing was that she didn't feel as if she had been stabbed in the heart every time she thought of Sam. No, she started to feel lighter, freer since coming out of the closet. The pain only felt as if someone had reached in and squeezed at her heart a little, which she took as a good thing. Chloe hoped that the squeezing would cease little by little, and she wondered if she'd ever feel ready to date other women, but if she was honest with herself, she knew it would be quite some time. This was fine with her, really. There was always college. As soon as she was allowed to, Chloe put her CD in her laptop and hooked in her headphones. She played Solitaire and listened to 'The Spirit Room' on repeat. To Chloe, she was still on steps one and two of her plan, which were to come out of the closet and play Michelle Branch on repeat. She still needed to tell her aunt if her father hadn't already, and she felt she wasn't completely out until she had some sort of pride thing, a patch or something on her backpack or a 'I can't think straight' bumper sticker. It amazed her that she wasn't ready to throw the CD out the window after two or more months of listening to only that, and she was even more amazed that Lana hadn't done it for her. When Chloe had given Pete a ride to school once, she threatened his life and manhood if he touched her radio. Pete sought rides from Clark from then on.

Still, she was determined to stick to her own personal 'twelve step program', and until she couldn't stand hearing the lyrics to 'Drops in the Ocean', she will keep the CD in her players. She was sure Lana wanted to strangle her, but having her put it in the car stereo surprised her. Maybe she was just hoping that having her listen to it more and more whenever possible would help wear Chloe's tolerance for the CD faster. Either way, Chloe knew she owed her a lot, a souvenir or something, but she knew Lana deserved a lot more than that as well for what Chloe had been putting her through. She knew she owed Lana big time. It wouldn't be for another forty-eight hours that she'd know just how much.

Part Nine: Brad/Brandon/Brett

"And in my heart I see, oh, just how you wanted it to be..."

-Sweet Misery


It was close to midnight when Sam checked in to her hotel room later that night. All she wanted to do was plop on the large inviting bed and snooze, but she'd promised to give her mother a call to let her know she had gotten in okay, no matter what time it was. She dialed the ten numbers and the familiar voice of her step-sister greeted her. "Hey, is Mom there?"

"Yeah, I'll go get 'er."

"No, that's not necessary. Just let her know that I called."

"Okay, but if she yells at me-"

"You'd probably deserve it."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"You've been all sorts of sneaky lately, so if you get yelled at, chances are, it'll be karma."

"What are you talking about?" Sam stuck her tongue in her cheek before replying.

"Gimme a break, Brook. The concern, the helpfulness all of a sudden, the-"

"Sisterly behavior?"

"Yes, damn it!"

"Fine," Brook said, sounding hurt, though Sam figured it was all an act, "I'll go back to being Brook McBitch if that'll make you feel better."

"That's just it, you NEVER cared for what would make me feel ANYTHING. You never gave a god damn what I thought-"

"A few things have changed since then, don't you think? Why can't I?"

"You have to admit that you're acting pretty weird- you have been all month. You can't blame me for being suspicious," Sam said in her defense.

"What if I just wanted to be nice to you, Sam? What if I just want to act like a real live family for a change- which, by the way, includes you, like it or not." Brook said this almost coldly and Sam was reminded of two years prior when everything Brook ever said to her was in that same tone. Then was the time when they only used the word 'sis' as a derogatory term. True, it weirded the brunette out to hear Brook call Jane 'Mom', but both her mother and Brook seemed to take pleasure in the name. Besides, she'd heard step-parent horror stories, and other than the initial feud, hers wasn't one of them. Sam actually was starting to feel guilty about getting on Brook's case when all it seemed the blonde wanted was to be normal, which was something Sam of all people had no right to dismiss. That was always what she wanted, too. Still, she couldn't help but feel odd about the whole thing.

"Hey- Look, forget this whole conversation, okay? I'm glad that we're family, Brook, but I can't shake the feeling that something more is going on here. When I get back, I am going to figure out what it is. Somehow."

"You'll only figure it out when you get back? C'mon Sam, I thought you'd be a tiny bit quicker than that," Brook said teasingly.

"So you admit to being up to something."

"No, but if I was, I overestimated you to think you'd figure it out faster than in a few days."

"Well... I've had a lot on my mind, and when I get back, I will know for sure that those things are worth thinking about."

"I really am sorr-"

"Quit saying that. It's not your fault."

"Sorry." Sam sighed, and Brook laughed on the other end. "I'll get Mom."

"Thank you," Sam said. As she waited, she heard Brook yelling for their mother, and the moment felt almost as if it was shared by two blood sisters, not step-sisters. She shuddered at the thought, but there was a smirk upon her face.

"How was your drive?" The voice on the other end made Sam jump.

"Oh! It was fine. Thank Mike for making me take all of that water. I used up most of that first case."

"I'll let him know. He'll go on a short 'See, I told her' speal, but I'm glad it all worked out."

"Thanks. I'm about to head to bed, but I wanted to give you a call so you don't kill me when I get home."

"Good thinking. Death is good to avoid. I'm glad you called, now get some sleep and tell me all about it when you get home. I love you sweetheart."

"I love you too, Mom," Sam replied.


"Bye." Sam hung up the phone and sat down slowly on the bed, her mind thinking about the conversation between herself and Brook. Was she supposed to have figured her scheme out by then? Did she even have one? Was she just playing with her head like that for kicks, knowing that she can? Sam knew that Brook would have to know her pretty well to know what would mess with her mind so much, and the thought that she was already driving her batty was scary. She forced herself to think instead about the convention. She wondered how it was set up, since the website and brochure both were vague on details. She just knew that many colleges around the US with great journalism programs were going to have booths set up, and a famous new reporter from CNN was supposed to be there because he started out on the high school newspaper. As she lay under the covers, Sam's mind began to wander away from the convention and to Chloe. Eventually, the one memory she always thought of when her lost love entered her mind was the only thing she could see.

{Sam hated these bi-weekly hikes as much as she hated campfires, horseback riding, or 'get to know your cabin mates' type activities. 'Seriously,' she thought, 'what kind of writers' camp is this?' One thing that had made the last few hikes even slightly bearable was the fact that Chloe was there with her, doing fine on the trail, where Sam huffed and puffed her way to the top. "Come on, Slow Poke!"

"How do you do this?"

"One foot goes in front of the other and eventually you get somewhere. You should try it sometime. It could be fun."

"Smart ass."

"Thank you, it's nice to know that my ass is appreciated." Sam had nothing to say to that as she concentrated on getting up the hill. "You mad at me, Sam?" The brunette looked up at Chloe suddenly.

"Why would I be mad at you?" Chloe shrugged.

"You got quiet."

"I got outsmarted by my girlfriend," Sam replied with a smile. "I've got no reason to be mad at you." Chloe wrapped her arms around Sam's middle and used her upper body to push her girlfriend up the hill.

"I love you Sam, but you're all sweaty and ick," Chloe said in Sam's ear, and the young brunette grinned.

"Well, when you put it like that, there's no way I can refuse your love." Chloe laughed, then sucked in a quick breath of air (which sounded almost like a gasp), then let go of Sam completely. The older of the girls had to move her feet quickly in order to stay standing. Sam looked back at Chloe, then in front of her where the blonde was staring, trying her best to look innocent. A camp councilors' assistant named Brad or Brandon or Brett (Sam didn't quite know or care) was jogging back down the hill towards them.

"Is everything alright?" he asked as he got in a distance to be heard.

"Yeah, we're fine. I fell about a half-mile back- nothing's broken or anything, but my left leg is now sore," Sam told him. Unfortunately, Brandon/Brett/Brad wasn't buying it, but he said nothing else. He turned back around and started up the hill again, pacing himself so that he was never more than twenty-five yards ahead of them. "When we get out of here, we'll have more chances to be alone."

"We won't see each other when we get out of here. Just at camp," Chloe said. Sam stopped walking, and Chloe stopped to look at her.

"Sure we will. If not at camp, then after high school. We can, I don't know, go to the same college or something."

"But I'm going to Metropolis University. They say it has the best journalist program in Kansas, Sam."

"Then I'll go, too."

"Okay... And the rest of the year, we can still write and email and-and call."

"Yes, we will. We're never going to lose each other, Chloe."

"Come on, girls!" Brett/Brandon/Brad called out to them, and they started up their walking again.}

Part Ten: The Tux Dream

"You give me something to sleep to, and all I know is;  You give me something to dream to when I'm all alone and blue. Don't leave me empty..."

-Something To Sleep To


Chloe was surprised by how tired she was, even though she was sure she hadn't done much walking. Her bag, she knew, wasn't all that heavy, so this sudden lack of energy was a mystery to her, one she was too tired to try and solve. All she really knew, though, was that she needed a shower, and soon. So as soon as she got into the her hotel room, she dug in her duffle bag for her night cloths and headed for the bathroom. As warm-hot water ran through her hair and down her back, Chloe wondered if the cause of her exhaustion was due to the few hours she'd spent thinking of Sam. Now, the constant thoughts of her ex-girlfriend angered Chloe more than they hurt and saddened her, and she was beginning to wonder if there was any escaping Sam. She sighed as she dried off and slipped into her night gear (which was a white tank top and Care Bears pajama pants, the closest thing she had to gay pride wear) and walked to her bed. She noticed for the first time the green casino chip (usable only at the casino owned by the hotel). She felt it was a shame, really. She was hoping for the chocolate mint they usually have. She could really use some chocolate. Instead, she put it on the nightstand, intending to give it to Lana as her souvenir. Then she got into bed and under the covers. It didn't take long for a dream to take over her mind.

{Chloe waved to Lana in her red truck as she drove off, on her way to take Whitney to the airport. An elbow was offered to her and she took it, smiling at her companion, but her smile faded then when she saw just whom's arm she had taken. "Sam." Indeed, it was Sam McPherson next to her and not Clark Kent. Chloe had to admit that the brunette looked good in a tux, and her hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail.

"Chloe," Sam said back in the same tone. "Good, you Chloe, me Sam. I'm glad we got that stumper figured out. Now we can go inside."

"You're not supposed to be here," Chloe said. Sam looked confused.

"Umm... Why not?" she asked.

"Because I went to the Spring Formal with Clark," Chloe replied as if it was the most obvious thing in the world to anyone with a brain.

"Oh," Sam said, looking around. "So... Where is he, then?"

"Good question."

"Well..." Sam stuck her tongue in her cheek as she thought things over, and Chloe felt her bottom half start to tingle. "Well," Sam said again slowly, "seeing as he ain't' here, you wanna go inside and cut a rug with me?"

"Can't," Chloe said, slipping her arm out of Sam's. "I'm waiting for Clark. He should be here soon." Sam looked as if this information was logical to her and she nodded her head from side to side as her tongue went back to the inside of her cheek. Chloe wanted to scream for her to stop doing that as it was messing with her hormones hardcore.

"Alright Sugar, I guess I'll leave you to your Clark-watch here and get out of this itchy tux. How men do it is beyond me," she finished in a mutter.

" 'Sugar'? Why'd you just call me 'Sugar'?" Chloe asked, and Sam only shrugged.

"This is your dream, Sugar. It is what you want it to be, and apparently, you like me calling you 'Sugar'."

"No, I don't," Chloe said as if a child arguing over whether or not she's tired. Sam again shrugged.

"I don't make the rules, you do." She hesitated, then said, "Goodnight." With that, Sam left a kiss on the cheek and was gone. In her wake, Chloe stood, staring ahead of her where three tornadoes came at her, and all she wanted right then was Sam's elbow.}

Chloe woke up sucking in a breath of air. Despite the weirdness of her dream, Chloe's heart was pounding in her chest, and seemed to scream for the image she saw there in her mind. This woman in a tux was so gentle with her, and she wished (though her mind yelled for her heart to knock it off) that she had that, had Sam again. Chloe took in another deep breath as she settled into her pillows and tried to go back to sleep.

Part Eleven: Sam's Mission

"And nothing has been, as beautiful, as when I saw heaven's skies, in your eyes..."

-Drops In the Ocean


The convention center was supposed to open at eleven, but some worker or another, a security guard from the looks of it, wasn't quite prepared for the close to seventy teen who were standing in front of and behind Sam. The brunette heard bits and pieces of the chatter around her and realized that most of the people there had come with a friend. It made her feel slightly alone in the crowd, but it wasn't enough to bring her mood down to the level it had been the last two months or so. Sam waited patiently in line, as she knew she had plenty of time to do all she'd wanted to do there. She let her mind wander off into the lyrics of 'Hear With Me', which she knew would keep herself busy for three and a half minutes at least at a time.

By the bridge of the song (on its second time around in Sam's mind), the doors to the convention center opened, and the line went pouring into what the brunette knew would be a crowded place. After she got inside long enough to give her ticket to the lanky woman who worked there, and after she went to the table directly in front of her to fill out a name tag to put around her neck, Sam looked around to see that the tables (except for the ones on either side of the stage in the far back of the room) were arranged by state. She recognized the colors and mascot for UCLA, and walked towards that table first. The whole convention, from what Sam could tell, seemed like a huge college fair held in the city of sin. The only thing missing were the people recruiting for the Army. Though Gurt Napier from CNN was going to be there, she didn't see the huge deal about the whole thing, but she was determined to have a good time and get everything she'd need from each college she wanted to go to.

Sam spent a lot of her time at the California tables, grabbing brochures and applications, scholarship information, and on a rare occasion, a sticker or pen. 'So that's where all that tuition goes,' Sam thought as she studied the UCLA window sticker in her hand before adding it to her slowly growing bag. A voice, coming from the right where she had yet to go (this section was for all of the state's newspaper associates) called out to her using her full name. "Samantha McPherson? Gosh, is that you?" Sam knew this kind man's face, as she remembered seeing him at her father's funeral close to five years back, but his name escaped her. She smiled, glad that he remembered her name.  "Cliff Hagers. I was at your father's funeral. I-uh, I said a few words." Sam nodded.

"Yes, I remember," she said as she made her way to the table, standing in front of him as he got a good look at her. "How have you been, Mr. Hagers?"

"Not bad. Still at the Tribune. I can't believe you're here! But then," he added, "I really shouldn't be as surprised as I am to see you here. If I remember correctly, you always were more Joe than Jane. Speaking of, she in town?"

"No," Sam replied. "I came alone." She realized, after she said that, that she probably shouldn't have said she was alone, as she never knew this man, even if he was a friend of her father's, but he seemed only wanting chit chat, really.

"How is she?"

"Happily remarried," Sam said with a shrug, "I've got a step-sister and a half sister now."

"Good God," Cliff said. "And how are you? You get a girlfriend yet?" If Sam was eating anything, she would have choked on it and died.

"What?!" Cliff looked embarrassed.

"Well, I remember... I thought you might be-" Sam cut him off, feeling bad for his awkwardness, even thought he put himself in the position he was in.

"Yes, I did have a girlfriend... Once, but I didn't think at fourteen, I'd be obvious."

"You weren't. Not to many, but you acted a lot like my daughter, itchy or something. She came out last year."

"Oh," was all Sam could say as she thought about it. Before she could say something else, someone came up to the table looking as if he was about to ask a question or two. Apologetically, Cliff turned to look at the young man. When he glanced back at Sam, she waved a hand half-heartedly in a goodbye, which he returned. She left, going towards the end of the California tables and drifting into the Oregon tables. Seeing the name of the college a lot of the camp councilors' assistants went to, Sam looked around, spotting the tables for the state of Kansas. Thinking of the memory she'd thought of the night before, Sam walked over to them, hoping she might find something from Metropolis University.

The table seemed pretty popular, as it was crowded, but Sam found a space to squeeze herself into next to an African American girl her age with long flowing dreadlocks going down (what looked to Sam) a strong back. The girl smiled at her, and the brunette returned it before looking at the brochures the school had to offer. "You look like someone on a mission. I see the determination all over your face," the girl said, sounding slightly amused, slightly bored. Sam looked at the girl again, who stood relaxed to Sam's right as if there wasn't close to three or four hundred people all around her. Her nametag said 'Izzy or Izzy not?'

"In a way," Sam answered slowly, "I guess I am." Sam hated to admit to it, but Izzy chuckled softly as if she had already known anyway, and no words were needed from Sam. The brunette wished she could be as laid back as this girl seemed to be as she worked on the Zapruder on a crunched deadline.

"As I said, it shows. So tell me, why are so many white girls so eager to get into this college?"

"I'd guess in Kansas, there wouldn't be many other diversities than white. Call me ignorant, but I wouldn't know. I've never been to Kansas."

"I wouldn't know either. I was born here. Never left. Doubt I ever will."

"I was born and raised in Southern California."

"So, let me rephrase my question: Why are YOU so eager to get into this college? I saw you make a beeline for this table." Izzy sounded as if she really didn't care for Sam's reasons, and the brunette wouldn't have answered her if it weren't for the slip in Izzy's facial expression showing curiosity. Sam shrugged, trying to copy Izzy's stance a little bit.

"Someone I knew used to live in Metropolis before she moved to some dinky town called Smallville. I guess part of me hoped she'd still be there. She always talked about going to Metropolis University, and I really wanted to see her again." The African American girl nodded, both knowing that she suspected more to the story.

"Sounds like a friend of mine," was all Izzy said, her voice so soft, Sam almost didn't hear her. There seemed to be nowhere left for the conversation between them to go, so Sam gave a half-sided smile and turned to the college-age girl who spoke about the various classes offered at 'Met U', and Izzy looked around the convention center. She didn't seem to have anywhere else to be or any sort of mission to accomplish; she was merely people watching. 'Or maybe,' Sam thought as she watched the girl from the corner of her eye, 'she just isn't in as big of a hurry to accomplish anything.' Izzy seemed so sure her life wasn't going anywhere that she simply didn't care. That, or Izzy was simply happy with herself and her life. Sam had to believe it was the latter, otherwise Izzy wouldn't have spent at least fifty bucks to get into the convention for journalist programs in colleges. 'If only we all could be like that,' Sam thought.

Sam spent the longest at Metropolis University's table (half interested in the college, half watching Izzy), and she grabbed anything and everything the table had to offer for its college. There wasn't much new movement from Izzy, but Sam still seemed interested in what she might do, if anything. Was she there for the college as a speaker? No, she didn't speak to anyone else but her until she shouted, "Hey! Teeth! You're late!" That was when Sam had gotten everything she could, and backed away from the table to move on towards the college in Salem, Oregon, and possibly some of Washington's colleges (she heard once that the journalism courses in Western University wasn't bad) before bumping into someone. She turned quickly to the person she'd hit.

"I'm-" She stopped, seeing who it was. Same nose, same lips, same smile, which quickly faded once the eyes Sam once knew dimmed. Chloe Sullivan stood right there in front of her and Sam couldn't believe it.

Part Twelve: Leave It There

"Some people think I'm crazy, but you say it's okay..."

-You Get Me


This had to have been some sick joke her mind was playing on her, Chloe was sure of it. The phone call started it, and now she's stuck on it, on Sam. Now her brain was making her think that Sam was actually there. Maybe it was just another daydream, only not as weird as the tux dream she'd had the night before. 'Maybe,' Chloe thought hopefully, 'this is an illusion, and she isn't really Sam, but a girl who at first looks like her.' So sure that this was the case,  she looked at the name tag, but there in Sam's familiar handwriting was the name Chloe had spent a lot of time trying to forget. She couldn't breathe, let alone speak. Luckily for Chloe, Sam spoke first. "You cut your hair," she said. "It looks nice." Okay, small talk. Chloe could handle small talk, she hoped.

"And... you grew yours out. Not bad." Sam's fingers went to the ends of her hair self consciously.

"Ah," It was then Chloe remembered that her Las Vegas contact Isabelle (or Izzy to those who valued their lives) Fredrick was there waiting for her, and that she was late getting to their meeting spot. "You two know each other," she said, not in a question, but more in a 'now I get it' or a 'I had a feeling about this' sort of manner.

"Uh- yeah, "Chloe said, mentally scolding herself for acting foolish in front of them, just because her ex-girlfriend was there. She had to admit, though, that Sam looked different, yet somehow the same. Her eyes, which had three years ago seemed suspicious and uncaring, now seemed saddened- more so than before. It seemed to Chloe that the lines of sadness had deepened in the last three years. Though still beautiful (and Chloe suspected she would always be), Sam looked as unsure as Chloe felt. "Well," Chloe said, building up all the strength and courage she had to do the hardest thing she ever thought she'd have to do, which was to walk away, "It was nice seeing you again, Sam." The brunette seemed to snap out of her stupor.

"W-Wait, Chloe, I need to talk to you. Can we meet up-"

"No, I-I have... This weekend is booked by the convention, and Izzy's showing me around. I've planned this for months." Chloe looked to Izzy for backup, but the African American seemed to be pretending she was anywhere but the spot she stood in.

"Please..." Sam pleaded, but stopped. Chloe sighed and leaned into Sam, close enough to be heard in a murmur.

"Sam, we've had a- for the most part- pretty good past together, but... let's leave it there." The brunette crossed her arms over her chest and looked down as if to protect herself from more heartbreak. Chloe realized too late what she was really doing. As a tear fell down Sam's cheek, Chloe saw the older girl's hand ball into a fist and start to knock against her red t-shirt.

"Okay," Sam said in barely a whisper.

"Come on, Izz," At the sound of her name, she slowly looked between Chloe and Sam, surprised. She seemed to ask 'who the hell are you', as if no one was supposed to be wherever she was then but her. The two of them started walking towards the stage, and Izzy looked back at Sam as if to wonder what just went on, even though she might have known better than Sam or Chloe did.

Part Thirteen: Second Chances

"You're in my heart; the only light that shines there in the dark..."

-You Set Me Free


Sam left the convention center right after Gurt Napier made is "I can do it, you can do it too," speech. Not that Sam heard a single word of it. What were the odds of seeing Chloe again without her going to Smallville or Chloe going to California? The brunette couldn't get over just how beautiful Chloe was, and wondered if she wasn't single. It would be a miracle if she wasn't, which made Sam (who was at that thought, walking towards a twenty-four hour diner) stop in her tracks on the sidewalk. Miracle. What if this was a miracle, their second chance at happiness, as she knew that being with Chloe again would make her the happiest woman in the universe? She looked up at the sky and sighed, determined now to take that weekend, that second chance, to do what she could to at least get Chloe to talk to her if she couldn't get her back.

Sam didn't know how she was going to do that, exactly, but whomever was smiling down at her wasn't going to give her all of the answers. She'd figure it out somehow, and as she waited for her food to arrive, she thought it over, but the only sure plan she had was to go to Chloe and apologize. A simple 'I'm sorry' wouldn't even begin to cover it all, and if this sixteen year old Chloe was anything like the thirteen year old she knew, Sam had a feeling that it would take a lot just to get the pretty blonde to talk to her. "I thought that was you, California. I see you're still on that mission of yours." Startled, Sam looked up just in time to see Izzy sit down across from her in the booth.

"California?" Izzy smiled her lazy smile.

"Everyone I know and like gets a nickname. Chloe's Teeth, and you're California. You don't like it, too bad, so sad." Sam shrugged, silently wondering what she had said or done in their brief contact to make the African American like her.

"I've been called worse," she said. The waitress brought her roast beef sandwich and dipping sauce, and Sam remembered that she'd skipped the continental breakfast and lunch. "You mind if I eat in front of you? I'm starving."

"No, you eat." Izzy watched as Sam took a huge bite from her sandwich. "I never thought girls like you ate that sort of thing."

"Why, because I'm from California, I want to be a supermodel or actress who eats a leaf of lettuce and a dab of ketchup?"

"Touchy subject?"

"Very much so," Sam said before taking another bite. "Sorry, I'm a grouch when I'm hungry-"

"No problem." Izzy gave her a far away smile, and Sam wondered where she was at that moment. "Hey Izzy? I know it's probably wrong of me to ask you this, but I have to try. Do you know where Chloe is staying?"

"Yes, I do know," was all Izzy said. 'Damn, I should have worded that differently,' Sam thought. Izzy's smile remained, as if to know Sam's thoughts. "It's probably wrong of ME to ask YOU this, but still..." There was a little bit of a smirk on her face that looked teasing. "I feel I must: What are you to Chloe?" That question stilled Sam's movements. It honestly stumped her.

"Well- I don't know... but she's everything to me," Sam said honestly. Izzy chuckled, and Sam wondered what was so funny.

"Good answer." She said nothing else as Sam looked at the table in thought. She didn't touch her sandwich again. After a long moment, Izzy spoke up. "I'll tell you what, California: That knocking thing you did really did something to Chloe. She won't admit to it, but it did. She's unfocused, and I have never known her to be like that. Ever. I know there's something between you two, some unfinished business and all that. I'll tell you where she's staying, but if she asks, you threatened my life and stole my casino chips while you were at it."

"Chloe wouldn't fall for that."

"Of course not, but it'd make her laugh." When Sam didn't respond, Izzy leaned in. "That was supposed to make you laugh, too. Before I tell you Teeth's location, I'll tell you this: Yes, you've got determination boiling within you, and yes, people will love you for it, but sometimes the best way to get through one of your missions is to sit back and let it accomplish itself before you go in with the big guns and explosions and special effects. Just you think on that." While the laid back African American woman spoke, Sam crossed her arms and listened to her words, nodding when she was finished. Izzy stared at her for a few seconds, then finally said, "Teeth got her room down the street from here, the Meridian Inn, room 214." Sam made a mental note to herself. "I know you want to leave now. I'll take care of the bill," Izzy prompted. Sam got up immediately, dug in her pants pocket for a twenty dollar bill (which would have paid for two and a half of Sam's sandwiches), and gave it to Izzy.

"You or that cute- er, uh waitress could keep the change... Just don't tell her or Chloe that I think she's cute." On a whim, she placed a kiss on Izzy's dreadlocks and practically skipped out of the restaurant, calling her gratitude on the way out.

"Go get 'er, California," the African American said under her breath, then she smiled, grabbing the uneaten half of the sandwich and taking a bite. When she swallowed, she muttered, "Chloe's gonna murder me."

Out on the sidewalk, Sam muttered, "Meridian Inn, 214," as a continuing mantra. She reached the somewhat unremarkable motel in less than five minutes, walking into the lobby as if she already had a room and was just going in for a rest. She was sure she looked suspicious, but no one stopped her on her way to the second floor. She looked for Chloe's room, which wasn't hard once she saw the sign saying 200-210 going one way, and 211-220 going the other way. When she found room two-fourteen, she hesitated and tried to get the roast beef and butterflies in her stomached to calm down. Then she covered the peep hole with the thumb of one hand and knocked with the other hand. She heard Chloe say, "Damn it, Izzy!" from inside, and Sam tried not to laugh. Then the door opened, and Sam's hand dropped to her side. Chloe looked as if she was about to say something, but didn't. Instead she pinched the bridge of her nose, and to the brunette, it looked as if Chloe was poking herself in the eyes.


"How'd you find me?"

"Google search," Sam said off the top of her head, not to be funny, but to keep Izzy out of trouble after she helped her and was her Yoda and all.

"Truth, McPherson!" Chloe almost snapped, and it startled Sam. For a moment, she was reminded of when half of Kennedy High had to attend sensitivity training at the school on the weekend.

"Izzy told me, but it wasn't her fault. I threatened her life and stole her casino chips while I was at it." Sam was surprised when Chloe actually laughed at that, just as Izzy said she would before the blonde went back to business. Sam didn't have the time to wonder what about that was so funny. Obviously, it was an inside joke, and she wished she knew the rest of it. 'But,' Sam thought, 'if it was an inside joke, then why did Izzy tell me that I was supposed to laugh at it too?'

"Whatever you've got to say, I don't want to hear it. I've said what I wanted to say at the convention center." Chloe begun to close the door, and Sam, out of desperation, put her hand on the center of the door. Chloe was surprised by how strong Sam was, or perhaps, how weak she herself had become.

"No-no wait. Can't you see? We were brought her together for a reason, Chloe. This is our second chance," Sam said. She didn't dare add that this was her second chance to make things right, though it was right there in her mind.

"No Sam. Life doesn't deal out second chances and do-overs. Life is about changing and adapting, learning from our mistakes and growing. The best we can do is move on."

"I don't believe that. There have been too many interventions which led me back to you to be called mere coincidence. Call it Fate or Destiny, but-"

"Stop it-"

"Chloe, why won't you talk to me?"

"Because the last time I tried to talk to you, you called me a telemarketer!" It wasn't the fact that Chloe had yelled at her that surprised Sam. The older teen had expected a little bit of yelling, but the fact that she'd ever call Chloe something so insignificant in her life was appalling to her, and she paused. Thinking it over, she remembered a phone call from Chloe, a piece of the story she had previously forgotten. Sam gasped, slowly lowering her hand from the door to her side. The motion made a squeak. She looked to the floor, then back up at Chloe, unable to keep eye contact.

"I fucked up," she said softly, her ace scrunching up in pain. She closed her eyes. Chloe caught sight of a tear in Sam's left eye before the brunette repeated in a pained whisper, "I fucked-" The blonde didn't hear the last word, but saw it on her lips. Chloe watched as Sam walked down the hallway at a quickened pace, defeated before the blonde closed the motel room door.

Part Fourteen: Here With Me

"I want you, but I'm not giving in this time..."

-Goodbye To You


Chloe let out a huff of air as she leaned her forehead against the door. She couldn't get the sight of Sam's tears out of her mind. She had kept thinking all that time since Brook's phone call that Sam didn't cry for her, yet there she had been with tears in her eyes, twice. It made pushing Sam away that much harder. She wanted with everything inside her to believe Sam's words, but she was so afraid of history repeating itself, and she couldn't handle that sort of heartbreak more than once. She didn't want to hear 'I love you', have a blissful weekend, then go back to Smallville without hearing another word from Sam. She knew it would only hurt her worse, and Chloe was just tired of hurting. She wanted to be happy, even if she was the only one she had for the rest of her life. Yet that small part of her that completely believed the words Sam spoke to her wondered if the brunette was right. Was this some sort of cosmic thing? A second chance from somewhere out there to get them back together because it was where they belonged? It was a beautiful thought, she had to admit. Being from Smallville, she'd seen what the cosmos can do to a town, a person.

A sound from outside on the ground floor scared Chloe into turning around and looking towards her window; a scream of hurt and frustration rang throughout the motel. She knew that it came from Sam. The scream came again, only the next time, words- or rather, one word, one name, was recognizable. "CHLOE!!" There was a pause, then Sam yelled, "CHLOE, I LOVE YOU! I NEVER STOPPED! I WON'T MAKE UP EXCUSES FOR WHAT HAPPENED. I KNOW YOU WON'T WANT TO HEAR THEM, ANYWAY. I JUST WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT I'M SORRY!! PLEASE! YOU'RE SO MUCH MORE THAN A TELEMARKETER! I DON'T EVEN CRY OVER TELEMARKETERS! CHLOE, YOU'VE BEEN ON MY MIND EVERYDAY SINCE CAMP, AND I HOPE YOU CAN FORGIVE ME!" Sam went on like that, and Chloe rushed to the balcony to shut her up before she said anything more or got arrested for disturbing the peace. She could hear the shouts for Sam to be quiet in not so nice language.

"Sam! Be quiet!" she hissed.

"I need to talk to you," Sam said stubbornly.

"No Sam. No more talking. Go back to your motel room and forget about us, okay? Please, before you get yourself in trouble."

"Not leaving until I talk to you, Chloe."

"Sam, we've both said what we needed to say - I love you, Chloe-"

"You've said that already," Sam sighed and Chloe turned back towards her room. When her hand touched the handle to the sliding glass door, she heard Sam speak up again.

"Wait!! Uh- It's been a long, long time since I looked into the mirror, I guess that I was blind, now my reflection's getting clearer. Now that you're gone, things will never be the same again," Sam sang. Chloe froze and couldn't seem to move. Had it been any other song on any other CD, Chloe would have scoffed and continued into the motel room and ignored the rest of it, but she couldn't with this song. 'How?' Chloe wondered, 'did she know that I secretly dedicated this song to her?' Not even Lana knew that Chloe wished to hear similar words from Sam in many of her recent daydreams.

"There's not a minute that goes by every
Hour of everyday
You're such a part of me
But I just pulled away
Well I'm not the same girl
You used to know
I wish I said the words I never showed,"

Slowly, Chloe turned towards Sam, who was losing her voice from all of the previous shouting, yet still she went on, looking only at the blonde and ignoring the shouts that came at her, good or bad. One person who had gotten on their balcony was looking down at Sam with a dreamy look on his face, but Sam ignored him, too. The look in Sam's eyes was the same as she remembered from camp, and Chloe knew her words, even in song, were true. 'But if you felt this way and so strongly, then what was there to be afraid of?' Chloe knew. She feared it, too, but she wouldn't have given Sam up because of it. Not when she loved her the way she had.

"I know you had to go away
I died just a little and I feel it now
You're the one I need
I believe that I would cry just a little
Just to have you back now
Here with me
Here with me"

The blond reporter held on to the rails as she watched Sam's full lips move, telling her everything Chloe wanted to hear. 'This is too uncanny,' she thought, and more and more she had to agree with Sam that something bigger than themselves was at play then. It all seemed to add up, or rather, not add up. The sudden thoughts of Sam for the past two months, the dreams, the appearance in the convention, a place that Chloe just HAD to be that year, and now the obsession with 'The Spirit Room' and a song that described Sam and their relationship perfectly. The fact that Sam, who she once thought of as her soul mate knew such song perfectly was just too much to be all coincidences. She just had to believe. She had to.

"You know that silence is loud when all
You hear is your heart
And I wanted so badly just to be apart of
Something strong and true
But I was scared and left it all behind

I know you had to go away
I died just a little and I feel it now
You're the one I need
I believe that I would cry just a little
Just to have you back now
Here with me
Here with me"

More and more, Chloe had to fight the urge to tell Sam that all was okay, that she knew the brunette loved her, but being just as stubborn as Sam, she said nothing, and she didn't cry. 'I can't trust this,' she chanted to herself.

"And I'm askin'
And I'm wanting you to come back to me

Though she knew the bridge of the song was directed at her and was in need of a response, Chloe didn't- couldn't make any movement let alone speak to let Sam know that she got the hint. She could tell that Sam was hoping for an answer of some kind, but the blonde just stood and watched. She could tell that Sam's voice was almost gone, but she also saw the determination in her eyes as she continued on.

"I never will forget the look upon
Your face
How you turned away and left
Without a trace
But I understand that you did what you
Had to do
And I thank you

I know you had to go away
I died just a little and I feel it now
You're the one I need
I believe that I would cry just a little
Just to have you back now
Here with me
Here with me..."

"Sam-" Chloe said when the brunette was finished.

"Chloe-" The two young women called out to each other at the same time. Sam, though, tried again. "Please Chloe, give me a chance to talk to you. Or-" she hadn't meant to sound threatening, but her voice cracked and changed the tone of her word a little bit.

"Or what?" Chloe asked, leaning over the rail a little, looking now somewhat amused. Sam took on a somewhat playful tone.

"Or sadly, I will have to keep on singing."

"That's it? Sam, you can't make a girl like me go running off into the hills with a threat like that. Believe me or not, your singing voice- or what's left of it- isn't that bad."

"Tell that to my friends on karaoke night," Sam replied, but she was pleased. "Alright, I'm still going to sing until my voice goes out, but instead of Michelle Branch, it will be Michael Bolton." Chloe groaned loudly, wishing she had never told her in camp how much she hated his guts. It wasn't her fault, though. Sam, for some reason, liked that 'Go The Distance' song from the Hercules movie, and even that song made her cringe.

"You wouldn't," the blonde said matter of factly.

"Are you trying to challenge me?"

"Knowing you, I wouldn't have to try too hard." Sam crossed her arms over her chest, but she didn't knock on her heart that time. Chloe knew that the people watching them thought they were nuts, but she was enjoying the exchange and had almost forgot what they were playfully bantering over. When she remembered, her smile faltered.

"Oh really? I'll have you know Miss Thang, that my stepfather loves Michael Bolton, so whether I like it or not, I know a lot of his stuff. So, either I get to talk to you, or I am singing 'Time, Love, and Tenderness'," At the title of the song and Chloe's cringe, Sam's grin broadened. It was just like their banters in camp. "Still don't believe me?"

"Not on your life," Chloe said, then gasped at her outburst. Sam opened her mouth to start singing, and not wanting to hear one syllable of Michael Bolton, she shouted, "ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT!! Stop!" She stared down at Sam, and though part of her argued and fought her on it, she said, "One hour, okay?"

"One hour," Sam repeated.

"I'll be right down." Chloe then disappeared and went inside. She grabbed her purse then went to her bathroom and reapplied her light colored lipstick. As she messed with her hair a little bit, Chloe froze. "What am I doing?" she asked her image in the mirror. 'Just in case?' she asked herself in her head. 'Nah, I looked worse at camp, so if she really does love me, she won't care." With that final thought firmly in place, she left her motel room.

Part Fifteen: One Hour

"I was weak, and you were strong; And me and my guitar was strung along..."

-Sweet Misery


Chloe emerged from the lobby a moment or two after Sam's little performance (which earned the brunette a couple of winks and firm stares as she sipped on some water and waited for her ex-girlfriend). The security guard at the front desk kept close watch on her, so she made no other movements. As Chloe got closer, Sam smiled a small smile. Up close, they weren't old pals anymore. Up close, the pain could be seen at every angle. Up close and so far away, Chloe was the most beautiful woman Sam would ever know. Sam lead the way out the door to the sidewalk, where she walked towards a coffee shop she saw on her drive in. She spotted the nice hole in the wall type cafe' and opened the door for Chloe. Though she knew she would be up all night because of it, Sam ordered the largest French vanilla latte', and Chloe ordered some drink with a name longer than its ingredients list. The barista kept up, which surprised Chloe. It almost seemed to Sam that the blonde was testing the woman behind the counter, expecting her to fail. Then she took a sip, and the taste seemed to pleasantly surprise Chloe even more. "Hey, only Lana's ever gotten it right," she said, and the barista smiled.

"I'm from Seattle," was all she said as if it explained everything, and to the two young women, it did. Sam and Chloe sat down at the table nearest to the door, next to a window, and both were silent for a moment. Chloe's eyes focused on the people walking on the sidewalk and Sam stared at her hands wrapped around her drink.

"That day I called you," Chloe said after a while, "I was so excited because it meant so much to me, and I worked so hard around the house for that phone call because I missed your voice so much. When you said that I was just a telemarketer, well, it just hurt to know that I didn't even mean half as much to you as you meant to me. The funny thing is, I knew I'd always love you after that because I couldn't be angry with you, just hurt. I stayed in the closet, but I came out recently. I feel freer now because of it, and Lana's been a big help."

"That's what makes you stronger than me. You always have been. You never let things get to you the way I used to."   

"I let you get to me," the blonde said softly.

"Do you regret it?" Chloe looked at Sam and slowly shook her head.

"No. But I did, and it hurt, so maybe I'm not as strong as you may think."

"You're strong enough to love even after being hurt. You've come out of the closet, and I haven't. You're strong enough to be different, to be you."

"It's only been recently that I came out, Sam. Before that, my life was a fake, being who I wasn't and loving who I didn't."

"No one knew I liked girls- a girl-" there was a pointed look at Chloe, "until my step-sister went through my boxes in the attic and showed me our picture. You remember that picture Wen took of us laughing at the polar bear divers?" Chloe nodded. "I still have it. I know that saying 'I'm sorry' won't make everything better, but I still want you to know that I am. It was shitty of me to call you a telemarketer, whether or not I knew you heard me," Sam said. She thought about what Chloe said about working to earn the phone call, and felt like the world's biggest piece of shit. "Chloe... I don't know what to do or say that'll make you see that I've loved you and no one else this whole time, but I'm willing to try anything. I love you, only you." When the blonde didn't say anything, nor do anything other than to play with her stir stick, Sam kept talking. "I thought about you all the time, wondering if you were working on some article. I wondered what mysteries you'd solved, or what you were doing, who you were with, hoping you were happy without me. I thought about us, what we would have been like as a couple had I not screwed up and let people influence me the way they had. I daydreamed about your kisses, and the times we spent under the stars... No one has ever made me feel the way you did. No one ever could..." Sam swallowed and asked a question that had been on her mind all day since she saw Chloe again in the convention center. "Do you still love me, Chloe?" At this, Chloe's hands stopped moving, and she looked up. First, her gaze went to Sam's face, then, as her eyes began to shimmer, they went to a point behind her.

"Your... hour's up, Sam," she whispered. Sam twisted her body around to look at the clock. Since the brunette had no clue when her hour actually started, she wasn't sure if Chloe was just saying that to end the whole thing, and even if it really wasn't over, Sam was letting Chloe call all of the shots. It was the least she could do, she felt. Besides, she hoped that this was partially what Izzy meant by letting the mission accomplish itself. Let it happen, let it unravel in the way it should. She didn't want to think about the definite possibility of it unraveling in the wrong direction.

"So it is," she agreed, swirling the almost full, still very warm cup of coffee in her left hand. "Thank you for giving me this chance. I didn't mean to talk your ear off." Sam got up and took a sip of her latte' as she searched for some sort of ending comment that could be said to make Chloe reconsider her hour. "Goodnight, Chloe," she said over her shoulder a moment later, doing her best and (and failing) to keep the hurt and disappointment out of her voice. She sighed as she walked out of the coffee shop.

Part Sixteen: Convince Me

"You've seen my secret garden, where all of my flowers grow. In my imagination, anything goes..."

-You Get Me


Chloe glanced at the clock again, then down at her stir stick before she got up and threw her mostly full drink away and ran after the brunette. "Sam!!" She watched the figure stop walking, but she didn't turn around. Chloe wondered if Sam was crying yet again, and wondered if there were many more times where she cried for her. Sam stood, holding her coffee cup loosely in one hand while the other went to her face. The blonde's inner question was answered, and her chest started to hurt a little bit, almost as it had the night before after that strange tuxedo dream. Chloe slowly approached the brunette, not sure exactly what to say to her. She just knew that she didn't want to say goodbye to her yet. "Hey, um..." Chloe slowly touched Sam's arm that was at her face, wiping away tears. The older of the girls sniffed, then lowered her arm to look at Chloe. "Hey, it's not safe here after dark. Izzy showed me around a bit and showed me a safer place to walk when the sun goes down around here. Come on."

"Okay," Sam said. Chloe hated that she lied to Sam, but she figured that the brunette would forgive her later if it came to that. Sure, Izzy said that some places around town weren't safe, but the area they were in wasn't that bad compared to others. Where they were was actually a teen hot spot on Friday nights. Still, Chloe directed them both to a park a couple of blocks out of the way, hoping that in the time they walked there she would find something intelligent to say to her ex-girlfriend. Chloe took an easy lead (as Sam was still in her slight daze as if Chloe's asking her to walk with her was a dream), and the blonde would look back every few steps to see if she was still following her. Sam, on the other hand, wasn't sure just what to say. She was surprised by the fact that Chloe had come running out after her. It felt like some romantic comedy, only no one was laughing, least of all, her. She hoped that there would be the happy Hollywood ending soon for them both though.

Both were unsure of how to end the awkward silence between them. When the younger girl saw the park, she sped up, not stopping until she sat down on the swings. She sat down on the farthest right swing and smiled at Sam's look of slight confusion. She said nothing as she used her legs to rock herself back and forth, all the while looking up at the stars. The brunette stood, watching Chloe, and the blonde felt those eyes burning into her with Sam's curiosity. How she missed it. Without looking at her, Chloe leaned over and patted the swing seat next to her in a silent invitation. Sam was still unsure.

"Um, what about my hour?" Sam asked. Chloe only shrugged.

"Extended," she replied, her eyes searching the sky for the Little Dipper, since she found the Big Dipper. She sighed, letting her gaze land on the large white bubble in the sky. In a day or two it would be almost full, but Chloe couldn't really see the missing slivers. "You know, I still feel so small under the stars. That, at least, hasn't changed in the last three years." In the corner of her eye, Chloe saw Sam sit down on the swing beside her, settling so she could also use her knees to rock herself back and forth. "You remember the hikes we went on?" She dared herself to look at Sam then, and was rewarded with an eye roll from her, which made Chloe laugh. It was the first genuine laugh since she'd left Izzy's side earlier that afternoon.

"Stupid hikes," Sam muttered, sounding exactly as her fifteen year old self had. "Hey, remember Guido?" Chloe thought of the name.

"You mean Gordon?" She thought about the young man in the boys' journalism cabin who made Steve Eurkel look like a stud muffin. She remembered that he had an obvious crush on Sam.

"Eh, either or," Sam replied. "I wonder sometimes what happened to him. I almost wish to see him at this convention, but I was lucky enough to have found you here." There was silence, and Chloe decided not to comment on her last part.

"Gordon's probably giving Bill Gates a run for his money. You know it's always the computer nerds that discover something or another that makes them billionaires. Hey... Remember Amanda Sims? I saw her that next year at camp, and she said she missed us both throughout the year." Chloe looked at the brunette when Sam had stopped rocking. She was looking intently at Chloe now.

"You went to camp the next year?"

"Yeah, the second half. I heard you got yourself kicked out," Chloe said, and Sam nodded.

"I only went to make things right with you, and when you weren't there, I just didn't have a reason to be there, either. But those were the best days of my life since before my dad died. You've gotta know that." There was another silence between them, longer this time as Chloe walked the swing back, then let her feet out. She kicked in and out to bring the swing higher; in Chloe's mind, she thought she might launch herself towards the moon. Then, she jumped from the swing at close to its highest point and landed in a crouch. She felt like a cat that had just jumped from a six story window, and slowly she stood and straightened herself up before looking at her companion, who could only stare at her in wonder.

"It's getting really dark now. We should both get back out our motel rooms." Sam nodded and got off of the swing and continued to follow Chloe. That is, until she saw a Baskin Robins along the way. Chloe had almost forgotten that Sam was a nut for ice cream. Ice cream and popcorn.

"I want ice cream. Come on," she said, then turned, forcing the blonde journalist to make a jagged turn as well into the brightly lit shop. "You still like rocky road?" Sam asked.

"Yes." Sam smiled, and Chloe looked away from her.

"One scoop of Rocky Road on- You want a waffle cone? I like the waffle cones," Sam said, and Chloe could tell that her ex-girlfriend was a little nervous now, but also excited at the thought of a good scoop or two of ice cream. Chloe also realized that Sam needed something to do with her hands, as she had long ago thrown her coffee away at the park's garbage can. When Sam was nervous or worried or bored, she would often have something in her hands, messing with to or chewing on it. That was probably why Chloe always saw Sam at camp with that clipboard.

"Yeah, waffle cone's good. You still like mint chocolate chip on top of strawberry cheesecake?" Chloe asked in return, her tone and facial expression saying she didn't like the sound of that combination. Sam got a far away, if not dreamy look on her face at that.

"The McPherson Supreme..." Chloe thought she sounded very Homer Simpson at that, and giggled. Sam looked at the blonde and smiled in return. Chloe remembered the many times Sam longed for the McPherson Supreme in camp, often saying she would trade her bunk or whatever for one. She hadn't realized that even now, Sam was crazy for it. It was actually sort of interesting to her, now that she will actually see what it looked like. Chloe turned to the confused young man at the counter.

"That means she'll have one scoop of strawberry cheesecake, one scoop on top of that of mint chocolate chip, and a lot of chocolate sprinkles in a dipped waffle cone." Just saying the words made Chloe want to go into some diabetic coma on the spot, but she was sure that the look of rapture on Sam's face was the only thing that kept her standing then. She grinned. As the young man worked, he kept stealing glances at Sam, who stared at the other ice cream flavors behind the case. Chloe wondered briefly if she was thinking of ways to improve the McPherson Supreme, but not then. Chloe watched as the guy behind the counter's interest in Sam seemed to grow while he worked, and she felt a slight possessiveness come over her. She wanted to wrap her arm around Sam's middle and growl 'Mine!' at the guy, but all she did was lean in to Sam, put her mouth next to her ear and murmured, "I never did thank you for the serenade. It was cute. Thank you." Sam turned to her, their eyes meeting. If anyone, especially the Scoop Guy were to look at them then, they'd have no problem identifying the two women as an intimate pair, that Chloe had 'marked' Sam as territory.

That confused Chloe a little bit, as it had all night. Did she want to take the risk again? And what if she did? What if she let Sam back in and she broke her heart again? But then... what if she let Sam into her heart again and they lived happily ever after with talking cartoon bunnies everywhere? Did she even WANT to mark Sam? 'Oh yes,' she thought to herself, 'again and again.'

"You know me," Sam said, pulling Chloe out of a thought process that would surely end up in the gutter, "always the corny one of the relationship."

"Rocky Road waffle," Scoop Guy announced, and Chloe took her cone.

"Thank you," Chloe said absently, taking her cone. The three of them- Chloe, Sam and Scoop Guy- were silent until he took three napkins from the holder.

"The- uh, McPherson Supreme?" An eyebrow was raised with a grin.

"Actually, that McPherson," Chloe corrected politely, grabbing the cone and handing it to Sam.

"Sorry, uh, seven oh eight." Chloe took a ten dollar bill from her purse before Sam could juggle the cone long enough to reach into her pocket. They exchanged a look -Chloe and Scoop Guy did. It seemed to be a mutual look saying 'what a worthwhile handful she is' as they watched Sam shrug and dig into her ice-cream. Chloe grabbed the unoccupied arm and led her out of the Baskin Robins linked.

As the two women walked once more along the Las Vegas sidewalk arm in arm towards Chloe's motel room, Sam said while trying to catch some of the melting ice-cream with her napkin, "You didn't have to do that, you know. I'd have gotten it."

"I would have felt badly if you paid for ice cream and the coffee. Don't question free ice cream." Sam smiled.

"Okay. Makes sense. I'd have felt the same way," she replied conversationally. They walked the rest of the four blocks in silence and at a leisurely pace as they finished their ice cream, Chloe of course finishing first. The last block consisted of Sam convincing the blonde to try the McPherson Supreme. "Honestly, it is fantastic. You can't knock it 'less you try it."

"I'll pass on that." Sam shrugged and finished a few moments later. "I can't believe you ate all that," Chloe said as she threw away her napkin in the trash cans in front of the lobby doors of her motel.

"Hm, yes, and I'm sure my stomached will never let me hear the end of it, but damn it was worth it!" Sam said, concentrating on the stairs leading to the second floor. It was faster than waiting for the elevators, and it was a few ice-cream calories to burn off, not that either girl cared about that sort of thing. Sam stood with Chloe at her door and waited as the blonde opened it. Instead, Chloe turned around and they looked each other in the eyes.

"I had fun, Sam," the blonde said softly.

"You're surprised. We had fun at camp," Sam replied, just as softly.

"That's camp. This is..."

"Real life?" Sam made a face. Chloe grinned. "Chloe," Sam said as a thought occurred to her, "go to that dance with me tomorrow night, please?" Chloe was taken aback. She leaned against the door and studied that older woman who she knew would always own her heart.

"Ever since the tornadoes hit Smallville during the Spring Formal last year, I've vowed to stay away from dances... but I'll be at the dinner. Maybe... sometime between six-thirty and eight o'clock, you'll convince me to stay?" she said in a questioning tone. It was almost like she was saying, 'sure, pick me up at seven?' Sam thought about it with her tongue inside her cheek. Chloe fought her body, which wanted to grab Sam and kiss away her breath. Sam then nodded her head with a smile.

"Alright. Goodnight, Teeth," Sam said playfully, and Chloe banged her head against the door.

"You only get one time to call me that. I'm gonna kill Izzy." Sam laughed again, then left after Chloe gave a wave and let herself into the room.

Part Seventeen: A Hand On My Knee

"Love took me by the hand, Love took me by surprise..."

-Drops In The Ocean


Sam had already been to the convention center the next day because she had forgotten her bag of brochures at the restaurant and hoped to get more, but she caught up with Izzy, who handed it back to her. She had nothing else to really see, as Chloe wasn't there, so she went back to her motel to see how she could present herself for the dinner. She wondered as she looked through her suitcase if Chloe was absent because she, too, was getting ready for the dinner. Sam hoped Chloe was dressing in anticipation that the brunette would convince her to stay for the dance. Sam imagined that, unlike her, Chloe would have come prepared for the event.

Sam searched twice, three times for something better to wear to the dinner/dance than the green turtle neck she had already worn the day before. Brook had warned her that she would probably want to go to the dance just for a night of relaxing before going back to Southern California, but she had ignored it. Now, Sam had to mentally admit that her step-sister was, gasp, right (but never verbally, Brook wouldn't let go of that). Brook and Mike both had their own versions of the 'I told you so' lecture, but Brook's was usually accompanied with a song and dance. So instead of using the dance as time to pack before leaving the next day, she would pack in the morning and leave early afternoon if she was too tired to do it before going to bed that night. Still, she searched for a way to reuse the turtleneck even though it was too hot for it, as she had found out the day before. She used the sink to wash the armpits of the turtleneck, then hung it up to dry over the shower curtain.

While she waited for it to dry, she looked through her laptop's hard drive at old articles, stories she'd written, and the occasional saved letter, thinking mostly about how she was going to convince Chloe to stay for the dance after dinner. Part of her wondered why she even wanted to go to this dance when all that would happen was that the 'DJ' would play songs from washed out boy bands and (c)rap tracks, while nobody dances. If anything, it would (to Sam) be like some weird coming out event because she would only dance with Chloe, she knew. If Sam was honest wit herself, asking Chloe to the dance was more a desperate attempt to stay in her presence as long as she could before they went their separate ways again. Maybe in that time, she thought, she would do what she could to prove to Chloe that her heart still belonged to the pretty blonde. She wasn't sure where they stood, but she was glad that she got her second chance.

Sam checked the turtleneck not long after those thoughts both depressed and gave her hope. Seeing that the turtleneck was dry, she took a shower and waited until about five minutes to six before leaving her motel room. Looking at her ticket, she walked towards the convention center and hoped she could find the dance hall from there. She saw that she had to walk the other way, back towards her motel room and then another three or four blocks. It was a nice walk, but Sam was getting more and more self conscious of the turtleneck and hoped she wasn't sweating too much in it.

Because of the way it was built in, there didn't seem to BE a dance hall at the address on the ticket. The only real clue anyone got was the sign right above a dirty rusting door, and soft music from various eras playing in fifteen second intro loops from hidden speakers. When Sam stepped into the dance hall, however, she scolded herself for judging the place from its outside. It more than made up for its shabby exterior inside. The brunette felt almost as if she had stepped into the roaring twenties, for that was what the club reminded her of, a club of that time. Looking closer though, Sam saw many people in modern, but nice, casual clothes, while others dressed up. It was a nice mix. She felt relieved that she wasn't the only one who was without a dress. Sam saw Izzy first (looking very much like a modern day bouncer at a chic club ready to kick someone out) before she spotted Chloe next to her, chatting away with ease. Sam could honestly say she'd never seen anyone looking as elegant and beautiful as the blonde had in her white strapless dress (well, it could have been a spaghetti strap, but all Sam knew was that there was a lot of shoulder skin showing).

Sam found an almost empty table a little closer to the live band playing soft jazz and classical on the small stage. 'I'll talk her into dancing a little later,' she thought to herself. Less than five minutes after that thought, Sam saw movement in the corner of her left eye and the chair next to her moved out, causing her to look at the new arrival. "How are you supposed to convince me to go to the dance later if you're sitting all the way over here?" Chloe asked as she sat down and scooted her chair closer to Sam so she could speak into her ear. She set her small purse, an accessory to go with her dress more than any sort of item to hold anything, on the table next to empty water glasses. Sam picked at invisible lint on her sweater before answering carefully. Needless to say, Chloe made her nervous. Or rather, Sam made herself nervous. All her thoughts about not wanting to mess anything up would most likely jinx her, knowing her luck.

"You were-" she cleared her throat, "talking to some friends. I didn't want to interrupt or assume anything." Chloe moved her head from one side to the other.

"Just idle chitchat while I waited for you," she said, not commenting on Sam's last part of the statement, the brunette noticed. Both women's gaze went to the live band, and Sam wondered if she should make a move. She wanted to take Chloe's hand, but would the blonde allow it? Before she could get much further in her thoughts, Sam felt Chloe's hand on her knee, and jumped. "Does this make you uncomfortable?"

"N-No." Chloe smiled.

"Liar. Do you want me to move my hand?" Chloe whispered. Sam shook her hand.

"No... S'ok," the older journalist said, and again Chloe smiled. Her fingers started to rub Sam's knee cap and then slowly moved down to her inner thigh. Sam slowly looked down at the moving hand before looking at the girl in control of it, of everything. She tried so hard not to show how turned on she was getting from her touch and the simple movements, but Chloe still knew, and the blonde loved it. Instead of saying anything (as she knew she would look and sound like a complete idiot if she tried to speak then), Sam continued to stare at the stage, though her mind was elsewhere, mentally controlling her breathing and concentrating on keeping her eyes open. A couple of times in that moment, Sam felt the urge to move her knee from the touch, mostly because she wasn't used to it, and partially because she was nervous about what it could mean for them. After about five minutes of this, Sam grabbed Chloe's hand to stop its movements. "Chloe please... You're making me feel-" She couldn't find the correct word to say in case someone were to over hear them at their table. Chloe leaned in and whispered in her ear.

"Good," she said, "Hopefully, I am making you feel good." She kissed Sam on the cheek and then looked her in the eye. Sam nodded.

"Yes," she said. Their eyes stayed locked on each other, and the older journalist didn't care who would happen to see them at that moment. She wanted to tell Chloe everything she felt right then, but the contact was broken when the band stopped playing completely before the man who had introduced Gurt Napier the day before stepped onto the stage. Really, Sam didn't know who this guy was, and tuned him out after 'I would like to say to all of you that this convention has been a complete joy to be a part of...'. All she could think about was the feel of Chloe's touch, how she looked that night, and the fact that she still wanted to make a move, damn it. After more of this shmoe's babbling, menus were set on tables, and Sam busied her hands with them, raising an eyebrow at the selection.

"What happened to Chef Boyardee? Pizza? Hamburgers and fries? In what Twilight Zone do kids our age prefer this stuff? Too fancy for my turtleneck, thank-you-very-much."

"Sam, shut up and order something," Chloe said with a smile. Sam pretended to be hurt by this.

"I'm not the only one thinking that, you know. I bet right now you're wishing you had a Big Mac and some Mountain Dew. Admit it..."

"Sadly, you know me too well, but none of that is on the menu, so cest la vie." Sam didn't say anything to that as she set her menu down and grabbed the glass of water that was just filled. She watched as Chloe's lips moved when she read the menu, and remembered when they were in camp. Chloe to that day was still the only one besides Sam who had ever read the stories she'd written. Well, the many that weren't fan fiction. When a woman in a dress suit came up to the table, Chloe ordered a salad and some pasta dish. Sam simply shook her head when the woman had written that down and looked at her expectantly.

"I'm- uh- not really hungry- thanks, but could I get s'more water? Please?"

"You're not getting anything?"

"Big lunch," Sam said, which was a lie. She hadn't eaten lunch. She'd eaten breakfast, but was too worried about her turtleneck to get anything for lunch. Now, she was too nervous to eat anything even though her stomach was disagreeing with her decision not to. When the woman left with a nod, Sam slowly reached out and placed a hand over Chloe's, and her stomach forgot about the lack of lunch as the butterflies took flight. She took in a breath of relief when the blonde intertwined their fingers, her thumb slowly moving the length of Sam's pinky. One of the girls sharing their table (an editor from an elite school in Connecticut) saw this and smiled when Sam looked in her direction. It seemed to say 'That's so sweet,' and Sam blushed.

"You'll have some of mine, then," Chloe said a minute or two later, and Sam almost didn't know what the blonde was talking about. "I'm sure I won't be able to finish it by myself with the salad and all." Sam opened her mouth to protest, but at Chloe's look, said nothing and nodded. She knew she had lost the battle before she'd even spoken.

"Well, uh- thanks." Sam said, not knowing what else to say, but wanting to smack herself for sounding so stupid. "So, um... tell me about the newspaper you're the editor for."

"Not here. Not now. Tell me about you. How long have you had a stepfather?"

"How did you know about that?"

"You said last night that your stepfather likes," Chloe pretended to shudder, "Michael Bolton."

"Oh yeah. Right. Jeeze, it's been two and half years now. I've got a baby sister and a step-sister." They stayed on safe topics after that (the dry-hot weather of Las Vegas that neither of them were used to, the convention, Izzy, and the mutual love for their lime green VW Bugs) until their food came and Chloe glanced at Sam before she started to eat the salad. The brunette knew she was probably staring a little too hard, but she couldn't seem to help herself. She had already proven herself to be barely a step above a Neanderthal. Chloe motioned towards Sam's silverware and slowly the older girl took a bite of the salad.

When the food was gone and the tables were cleared away and broken down, the band struck up again and played while a DJ booth was being set up. Both journalists knew what was to come, and Chloe offered Sam her hand. "You wanna get out of here?" There was something in Chloe's voice, something on her face that left Sam speechless. She knew something needed to be said, but she could only manage a nod as she accepted the blonde's hand.

Part Eighteen: You Set Me Free

"I wanted to fly so you gave me your wings..."

-You Set Me Free


Chloe didn't know what she was doing, but she knew she had to do it fast before she lost her nerve. The two women walked close to a mile to Chloe's motel room, and the blonde wished she'd owned better shoes for her dress but that wasn't the biggest thing on her mind, though it came in a close second. She felt the control being shifted over to her the night before, and she liked it. It was the one thing that had proved to Chloe that Sam meant what she said. It was a big gesture from someone like Sam to give up what little control she had willingly, and it hadn't gone past Chloe. Once they got to the lobby, the guard eyed them, especially Sam as he remembered her, but he said nothing. The two women stopped in front of Chloe's room, and Sam waited as her companion got her card key. The blonde fumbled to unlock the door. She knew what she wanted to do, and had a feeling that Sam knew as well.

After a second attempt, the green light flashed and the blonde opened the door. Did she really want to do this? Her body and her heart both screamed out that yes, she did, that there was nothing more she wanted in the world than to make love to Sam, but her mind, the part of her that she'd so far compromised with, said no. 'How can I compromise with that?' she wondered. She couldn't. If she gave herself to Sam, it would be completely, and there would definitely be no turning back. She couldn't do something like that half assed. She led Sam inside and closed the door behind them. They looked into each other's eyes, and Chloe saw the other girl's uncertainty there. Slowly, Chloe leaned to kiss Sam, and felt Sam's hand on her side, right above her hip, before she'd felt the brunette kiss her back.

The kiss was slow, and, Chloe thought, very tender. She could feel the longing and desire from Sam as well as the uncertainty and fear, as if the blonde were an empath (and considering where she'd been living the last three years, she couldn't put it past herself). It intrigued her how different Sam's kisses were from how she remembered them being in camp. They were no longer playful, though in a way she couldn't quite explain, they felt mostly the same, too. Chloe ran her right hand over Sam's right cheek and into her hair; her final decision was made. She'd waited and hurt too long. It was time to heal, and Chloe knew that this was what it would take to heal her broken heart.

The blonde led Sam towards the bed and stopped right in front of it. She broke the kiss and put two fingers to Sam's lips when the older girl went to kiss her again. Chloe knew how the brunette felt. She could kiss Sam all night and into the next day, but at the same time, she knew she'd want more. Chloe must have had the needs in her eyes in the form of a question, because the brunette moved her hand from Chloe's side and to her bare back as she said simply, "Yes." It was then that the uncertainty in Sam seemed to slowly lessen until it completely left. Eyes locking whenever possible, the two women stripped. Chloe moved Sam onto the bed, her back against the cool pillows, and the blonde covered Sam's body with her own as she looked down at the woman she knew was her soul mate. They continued to kiss, Chloe's hands roaming from shoulder to sides to hip to shoulder again, as if she was afraid to touch anything else. Slower still, her hands rested on Sam's right breast, her fingers running along the nipple. She pulled away from the kiss and looked down at Sam's chest, watching her fingers move and the reactions the nipples made in return. She'd thought about this so many times in recent fantasy, but it seemed so odd to her that it was actually coming true. She kissed Sam's neck, but not enough to leave a mark. She smelled the raspberry from the brunette's recent shower, but the older girl's slight natural scent was alluring as well. Chloe moved the fingers on Sam's right breast and replaced them with her lips.

A moaned sounded and Chloe felt relieved. She wasn't even sure how lesbians had sex, really. Sure, there's a hand between the legs, and all that, but it wasn't as if Chloe spent a bunch of time researching the subject. She went by what she liked when she touched herself. She was glad that Sam seemed to like what she was doing to her. She touched the left breast with her fingers and her tongue made circular motions on the right breast. Sam's breathing began to get heavier, and once Chloe heard a soft demand of 'harder' and tried her best to comply. She switched, putting her mouth on the left breast while her right hand moved down the stomached and paused there. She was scared. She looked up at Sam, who opened her eyes and looked down at her. She was so beautiful, and she loved Sam. Sam loved her. Her hand slipped between her legs and Sam opened herself to her as Chloe's fingers moved between them. Sam gasped loudly, and Chloe's middle finger moved in the same rhythm her tongue had once taken on. Again, looking up at Sam's face, her eyes closed and mouth slightly open, there was a spot or two of perspiration on her forehead and Chloe couldn't help but think that it was the most beautiful sight she had ever seen. "Sam..." The brunette fought to open her eyes, and looked down at Chloe. "I know you wanted normal," she whispered, even though then might not have been the right time to bring it up, but she wanted it out there then more then than at any other time. She just had to say it. "I did too, but this... this is normal to me. And right. It feels like this is the most normal act I could ever do, loving you... touching you... I love you, Sam."

At this, Sam looked the blonde in the eye and said, "I need you, Chloe." All movements stilled, as Chloe was so startled by this. It felt as if she were about to cry. Little did she herself know that those were the words Chloe had longed to hear all that time. All her life, she knew she was loved and she loved. She'd needed those people in her life, but did any of them truly need her? Not as an editor or computer hacker, but as her? She knew then that someone did, and possibly had the whole time.

"Please..." Chloe whispered, "say that again."

"I need you," Sam repeated dutifully, and Chloe regained her rhythm. Chloe's chest ached, but for once it didn't feel as it had the last two months, the last three years. No, the hurt and longing lifted from her more and more every time Sam told her she needed her, each time becoming more and more broken as Sam got closer to her climax. Sam began to squirm as she let out a few soft cries. In the back of her mind, Chloe wondered if they were being heard in either of the next rooms. Then, suddenly Sam cried, "Oh my god! Oh-" which startled Chloe, who stopped. Sam covered her eyes with her left arm, and the blonde could see that she was blushing. She couldn't help herself. She laughed as she lowered herself so that she was resting on Sam's chest. She waited for Sam to move her arm and looked into the dark eyes of her now lover.

"You're beautiful."

Part Nineteen: Busted

"When I touch your hand, its then I understand, the beauty that's within; It's now we can begin; You always light my way; there never comes a day; No matter where I go, I always feel you so..."



"You're beautiful," Chloe whispered to her. Sam gave a weak smile, but still felt embarrassed. What they had done, now that was beautiful, she thought, and the older journalist sniffed as her heart rate slowed. Chloe's eyebrows shifted and she was concerned. "Sam? What's wrong?"

"You're right, Chloe."

"And that makes you cry?" Sam looked as if she was trying to glare at her, but with the tear that was threatening to fall, it looked more like a sexy pout.

"I'm serious. You're right. I did want normal, but how could something this beautiful- what we did- be wrong? It felt so good, so right. Thank you," Sam said. "I'm just glad- you know- that I got this second chance to be with you." As Sam spoke, Chloe shifted, placing a kiss over the brunette's heart, and moved to get under the blankets.

"You know, Sam. I've been thinking about that. All of this falls too perfectly in place for it to be an act of Fate, getting us together like this. It's a nice, romantic thought, but I don't think it's Fate- but it IS our second chance, no mater what- or shall I say 'who' is at play."

"What do you mean, 'who'?" Sam asked. Chloe hesitated, then sighed.

"Brook called me and told me that you still loved me and missed me. She tried to get me to talk to you, but I refused to and told her not to call me again."

"Brook... Like, 'my pest of a step-sister', Brook?"

"You know any others?"

"No, but I had to make sure. Lemme guess, this was like, a month and half, two months ago."

"Yes, it was. Get this, though: Brook calls me, right? Then my best friend-slash- somewhat sister figure- slash- housemate (who is practically computer illiterate) starts checking her email a lot and asking me weird questions, most of which she knew the answer to, but 'wanted to make sure'." Sam caught on to this and shook her head, her tongue going into her cheek for a split second.

"I knew it. I knew she was up to something. Ever since I told her about you, she's been all sorts of nice and considerate. She's normally this ex-cheerleader-slash-homecoming queen-slash-daddy's girl. She's been all 'Oh, I'll get that for you even though you're closer and I am all the way across the room', 'Oh, I'll baby-sit Mackie-' (our little sister)- 'even though I'm swamped with homework', 'Oh, here's a ticket to some convention that I have no connections to, let alone a way to know of its existence', 'Oh, here's a CD that just so happens to have lyrics that explain your relationship with your ex-girlfriend perfectly-' "

"Woa! Hey, BROOK gave you The Spirit Room?"

"Yeah, the day before yesterday so that I could have something new to listen to on my drive to Vegas, so she said."

"That is proof that we've been set up. She had to have been told. Brook wasn't alone in this. How else would she know about the convention if I never told her about it over the phone? Chances of her finding out from someone in your school aren't every high, considering if she knew, you would have had to have known as well. And how else would she know to get you 'The Spirit Room' of all CDs? I've been gaga over it since I bought it for the same reasons. What kills me is that I'm supposed to be this intuitive detective, yet I'd been so deep in my own world that I never saw anything different, or enough to question it," Chloe said, running her fingers though Sam's hair.

"Brook's a matchmaker at heart. Hell, she'd hook Richard Simmons up with Ellen Degeneres if she thought one or both liked each other as more than friends. I should have seen this coming, I really should have, especially when she started being nice to me. I even let her play the 'I want us to be a family' card. She sucker punched me really good with that one."

"We've been played by computer illiterate ex-cheerleaders. I feel... almost insulted." Chloe sighed and rested her head on Sam's chest. The feel of the brunette's breathing felt as if she was laying on a floating raft in a swimming pool. Sam copied her sigh a moment later as she stroked Chloe's arm.

"But it worked. We got to talk and- Wait," Sam's hand stopped moving, and Chloe looked up at her. "We ARE going to try again, right? I mean, this wasn't just- just-" Chloe sat up at the threat of tears in Sam's eyes at the thought of their time together being a one night stand or something of insignificance. She put a finger to Sam's lips, and the brunette calmed down a little bit at the look in Chloe's eyes. The worry was still there in her eyes, though.

"I would like to try again, Sam. I saw your Met U applications when we bumped into each other yesterday, and... If you got in, we'd be closer to each other. It'd be easier than last time."

"I think it would be a lot better than last time. We're older now if only by three years, and a lot has happened in three years."

"You're tellin' me." Sam seemed reassured. She sat up slowly and positioned her body so that Chloe was laying down, and Sam hovered over her.

"I want to make the last three years up to you if you'll let me." Chloe's eyebrows furrowed and Sam kissed her forehead.


"I don't know exactly," Sam admitted.

"I don't either. No one's ever said that sort of thing to me before," Chloe said. "It feels weird."

"Why, because you don't feel you deserve those words?" Chloe shrugged slightly. "Just tell me what to do, and I'll do it if I can."

"Just hold me, that's all I ever wanted you to do, Sam. I've only ever wanted that from you the last three years. I just wanted to feel your arms around me, hear your voice telling me you love me or sharing your day with me. All that corny crap that they do in movies." Sam kissed Chloe's forehead, nose, chin, and finally, lips.

"I love you. I'd always wondered what it'd  be like to be with you again. I never knew it was this wonderful. I mean, all of my best daydreams never compared to this." Sam started to say something, but stopped, feeling herself get embarrassed again. "Chloe, I-"

"What, Sweetie?" Sam smiled at the endearment, then looked down somewhat suggestively before the blushing deepened. This had given Chloe somewhat of a hint as to what the brunette wanted to say, but she wanted to hear her say it.

"I want to make love to you, to make you feel as good as you made me feel...  but I- but I don't know how."

"You've never had sex before?" Chloe was surprised by this.

"No... have you?" The thought of any horny teenaged guy having his sloppy way with Chloe made Sam start to worry again, but she felt relieved when the blonde shook her head as well. "Then how did you know how to touch me like you did?"

"I don't know, I just touched you the same way I touch myself when I, you know, masturbate," Chloe said. It was her turn to blush, looking away.

"Well... I guess I'll see what I can do. If this sucks, I'm sorry," Sam said right before she initiated a very heated make out session.

Part Twenty: Goodbye To You

"In my mind, everything we did was right; open your eyes, I'll still be by your side; how could I ever have been so blind? You give me something to sleep to at night..."

-Something To Sleep To


"Chloe," The blonde was feeling too damn good to be woken up right then, but Sam was shaking her shoulder. 'Huh?' she thought groggily. She opened one eye slowly and saw Sam was standing over her fully dressed, which brought a slight feeling of disappointment. "C'mon, I don't know when your flight leaves, so maybe you should get up. I bought muffins, and that barista remembered your order when-"

"Sam, I love you, but do me a favor and shut up a minute. I just woke up." Sam put Chloe's coffee on the nightstand by her bed, then she crawled on top of the younger journalist.

"Coffeeeee... goooooooooood," Sam grunted in a Frankenstein-like voice. "Mmmm, me love cooo-ffeeeeeee. Me love Chloooooeeeeeeeee." Chloe groaned.

"Oh no. You're one of those," the blonde whined. Sam sat up and straddled Chloe's side.

"One-a what?" Sam asked as she wiggled her hips and moved Chloe around in the bed.

"One of those people you want to shoot in the morning because they take pride in being your personal breathing alarm clock." Sam's eyebrows rose, her look saying 'You're weird, Sullivan,' but she didn't voice that.

"Not really. I had a two hour lead."

"Still, I'm a couple of hours ahead of you, but I'm the one still sluggish. Ugh! You must be an early riser."

"Yeah. Otherwise Mike 'n' Brook take all of the hot water. Up." She got off of Chloe before she could make excuses and patted her on the butt before digging around in the white paper sack she'd gotten from the coffee shop. She took a sip of her coffee before taking out a chocolate chip muffin. "Chloooooeeeeeeee... Eat me, Chloe. I'm chocolatey and warm and yummmmmmeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee..." Sam groaned, shaking the muffin.

"I don't want it," Chloe whined. She looked at the cup on the bedside table before she covered herself with the sheet, taking in their mixed scent.

"Well, fine. I'll eat it later, but Chloe, you've got to get up."

"And I will... later."


"My flight's not 'till three-thirty, Sam."

"Okay, fine, but it's almost eleven, and you've got to get showered, dressed and packed, eat something, have quickie sex with me, say goodbye to Izzy, and get to the airport at least an hour early to go through all that lovely airport madness. So up and at 'em!"

"Quickie sex with you?"

"Well, who else?"


"Wrong answer." Sam walked up to the bed and pulled back the sheets. Chloe's naked body was exposed for all of- well, just Sam to see. "Come on, Nekkid Beauty." Sam grabbed Chloe's ankles and the blonde squirmed.

"Okay! I give! I'm up." She threw her feet on to the floor and stood up, facing Sam. She let the brunette study her. "When I get out of the shower, my chocolate muffin BETTER be there."

"It will be," Sam promised. Chloe gave the brunette a quick kiss, then went into the bathroom with her day's worth of clothes. "And I thought Brook was a beast in the morning-"

"I heard that!" Chloe called from the bathroom, and Sam laughed. In the shower, Chloe's mind went to the night before, and the events that made her feel so warm and alive inside. To be honest, sex with Sam wasn't anything she'd imagined it would be. She hadn't had the 'mind blowing orgasm' many female characters in the dirty romance novels, straight or lesbian, bragged about, and though that was slightly disappointing, Chloe knew it wasn't due to Sam's lack of trying. After a long while of trying, and after wiping away Sam's frustrated tears, the two women stayed up until close to three in the morning. Sam told her stories about the feud between her enemy-turned step-sister, and in return, Chloe told the older girl about the meteor showers of Smallville and about her friends Pete and Clark. She left out the fact that she crushed on Clark, and the effects the meteor shower seemed to have on many of the people in her town. She didn't want to be seen as weird or creepy right after getting Sam back. As she rinsed the shampoo out of her hair, she vowed that she would someday.

When Chloe got out of the shower and got dressed, she left the bathroom and saw Sam sitting on the bed staring out the window, also lost in thought. She seemed to have lost interest in the music videos on the television screen. The blonde dropped her towel next to her girlfriend and sat in Sam's lap. "Tell me what's on your mind." she said, giving Sam a kiss.

" 'The hills are alive with the sound of music.' " Sam blurted.

" 'With songs they have sung for a thousand years?' " Sam smiled. "Seriously?"

"Seriously," Sam began, "my mother always says that to me. 'Tell me what's on your mind, Sam'. 'A penny for your thoughts, Sam.' All this time, the last four years or so, it's always been the same thought there in my head, but at first I couldn't tell her because of the funeral. It would have been too much. Then it was her going back to work, back to life after Dad died, and it was just never the right time. Then there were the busy days at work, the marriage to Mike, their separation, Mackie... So many excuses that I took advantage of to get out of telling her that one thought she's always trying to get from me, the one thought she says makes me look like I'm thirty. I've run out of excuses not to tell her this time, Chloe. Chances are," Sam scoffed, "Chances are, she already knows that her daughter's queer." Sam shrugged. "It doesn't even freak me out to say it, Chloe. Harrison's mom is a lesbian, Lily and Carmen- my two best friends- kissed each other once, and though Carmen is straight... I think, Lily's openly bisexual and even had a girlfriend last year, so it won't even be a big deal with my friends. I just... still wonder why it took me so long to come out, even to myself knowing all this. Hell, my one tormentor even knows, and if anything, I think she's the one I would have been the most afraid of knowing, yet she found out before anyone else, and as far as I know, she's kept that secret for me. I shouldn't have been so worried. I had no reasons, thinking back, to ever cut you out of my life." Sam stopped talking and Chloe placed a kiss on the brunette's forehead.

"That was just not the right time, Sam. Rather late than never, right? You just weren't ready, and maybe you still aren't, no matter who may or may not know or understand right away. I know from experience that coming out is scary and difficult. You have no clue who is going to accept it. All those 'What If' monsters are hiding there in the closet you're trying to come out of. It's rough no matter who you are or where you're from. I am just glad that I was a lucky one. It sounds to me like you are as well. It sounds as if you'll be accepted and loved, and life will go one for you after you come out if/when you're ready to do so, and as for us, well, we're going to be okay, I think."

"Thank you. I want to tell the world that I love you. God knows how much of this motel knows that already." Chloe laughed, and they stared into each other's eyes before the blonde stood up, reaching for Sam's hand to pull her up as well. Chloe searched for her muffin as she asked, "Are you packed?"

"Yeah, it's all in my car."

"This weekend has been... Like a fairytale," Chloe breathed, putting her clothes back into her duffle bag. She packed up her laptop, then looked around, searching for anything else she may have missed.

"Definitely a dream come true," Sam added.

"Well, not my dreams..." Chloe said, and at Sam's look, she explained the tux dream to her lover as she checked out, and Sam had a good laugh at that.

"I don't know, I'd imagine the ponytail would make me look weird if I was wearing a tuxedo. I'd have to cut my hair or something-"

"Don't you dare!" Sam grinned. "Anyway," Chloe said as she regained her composure and tried not to blush, "you pulled it off in my dream somehow. You looked undeniably sexy." Chloe said that last part a little too loudly, and the maid they passed in the lobby stared at the two, but neither seemed to care.

"Ready, Sugar?" Sam asked as she unlocked the car. Chloe shook her head as if to say 'shut up', and Sam laughed. Together, Sam and Chloe cleared a space in Sam's Bug by putting all of the remaining water on the floor, and they drove off in the direction of Izzy Fredrick's house.

The African American feigned surprise when she saw the both of them at her door, but all three of them knew she'd expected it. "You leavin' me, Teeth?"

"Well, when Sam threatened your life and stole your casino chips, you no longer were my sugar daddy, so I am running away back to Smallville where I await your call to tell me you've made it big again. Then we can run away together to the Bahamas. Until then..." Chloe shrugged.

"Well, damn it!" Izzy said, but then she grinned a slow grin. "Come here, woman." She pulled Chloe into a hug.

"I'm sorry I ditched you at the dance."

"No worries, Chloe. You can just spend the rest of your life making it up to me."

"Using my real name, Izz? I'm shocked."

"Don't get used to it. So," the dark skinned woman said, looking to Sam, "I'll be seeing you again soon, eh, California?" Izzy extended her hand.

"You betcher ass on it, since you don't have anymore casino chips." Sam turned to Chloe. "Are you ever going to explain this joke to me?"

"Nope," Chloe said.

"I didn't think so. Oh well. It was definitely a pleasure meeting you, Izzy." Sam took Izzy's hand into a short but firm shake.

"Same here, girl. So... Your mission?" An eyebrow rose, and Chloe looked confused.

"We've all got our inside joke, honey." Sam said to her. To Izzy, she replied, "Both appear to be... getting there."

"No big guns?"

"Not for a little while."

"I like you, California. Be good." Sam watched as Chloe and Izzy hugged again. "Take care o'her, Teeth." Chloe grinned, but didn't say anything. In the car, Sam turned to Chloe.

"You know, I was so sure that she was going to say that to me. That, and give me the 'you hurt her, you die' speech."

"No... you'll get that from my dad... and Lana... and Clark...Pete... Lois- Oh, Lois! Sorry Sam, I apologies for her way in advance."

"Should I be worried?"

"Very." Sam groaned, then turned the CD player on as they headed towards the airport. When 'You Get Me' started where it left off when Sam pulled into Las Vegas earlier that weekend, the two journalists exchanged happy, content looks and Chloe placed a hand on Sam's when they'd stopped at a stoplight. Chloe knew it was one of those dorky romantic moments, but she'd learned by then that she absolutely LOVED dorky, whether or not she'd readily admit to it.

They weren't even through the first verse of 'Sweet Misery' when the small car turned into the airport. Having never driven in Las Vegas, Sam got a little lost and they took a small detour. Sam waited with Chloe in line for baggage check and the two searched for the boarding spot. As they waited, Sam traced letters on Chloe's palm with her index finger, leaving messages like 'hey there sexy,' 'I love you', 'you're beautiful', and 'I don't want you to leave,'. After that last message, Chloe flung her arms around Sam's neck.

"Oh, I don't want to leave, either." Sam could feel the stares, but she ignored them. She found that it wasn't as hard to do as she thought it would be. It was just like ignoring Satan- heh hem- Nicole. That was easy enough.

"But," Sam added, "the sooner you go, the sooner we can be together again. Besides, absence makes the heart grow fonder. All that?"

"That's crap, Sam." Chloe said, and the brunette heard the pout in her voice.

"Don't get crabby with me. I didn't make that up." Chloe sighed a huffy sigh and Sam rubbed her back. They stayed that way until they heard the intercom ding.

"Flight six-forty-one now boarding. Las Vegas to Metropolis." Sam let go first and stood up. Chloe followed her lead and stood up as well.

"Have a good flight, Chloe. I love you."

"I love you, too. Drive safe."

"I will," Sam said. There was a kiss, a hug, and then Chloe was walking down the ramp to her plane. Sam watched the plane leave before she, too, left.

Part Twenty-One: Who's the Man?

"No need to wonder why; Sometimes a gift like this you can't deny..."

-You Set Me Free


Sure, Sam was thankful for Mike's insistence to bring a thousand water bottles, but she was more thankful for the coffee shop at close to five when she left the city of sin. Sam drank deeply from her coffee and took in the dry air of Las Vegas as she mentally said goodbye to it, goodbye to the magical weekend, and to Izzy. She really hoped to see Izzy again. She learned from her even if that wasn't the African American girl's plan. She was going to keep in touch, though, the best she could through snail mail. Izzy apparently didn't believe in email addresses, just like Sam couldn't imagine life without them anymore.

Sam no longer felt like crying whenever she heard 'Here With Me', but she did smile, remembering her voice going bad and it being the one thing that got Chloe to talk to her that weekend. She, of course, played 'The Spirit Room' all the way back to the Palace, wondering at 9:30 if Chloe was in bed sleeping and having a sequel to her tux dream. Or maybe she was sitting with Lana teasing her about how busted she was, or giggling over the weekend. Sam did the best she could to sneak into the house at about four-thirty in the morning, but as soon as she had gotten her night clothes on, the door to her bedroom opened slowly. "So..." Brook asked in a sleepy groggy voice, "how was it?" She stole a look at Sam's desk, and Sam followed suit. She saw the once hidden picture of the couple on her desk right next to a photo booth reel of Carmen, Lily and Harrison, noticing that it was placed in a new frame with hearts around it and the word 'Sweethearts' printed on the bottom.

"Uh... Huh," Sam said. "So, if you knew how it went, why are you asking me?"

"Lana only gave me the thumbs up in an instant message before we both went to bed. I want to hear it from you."

"It was the best weekend of my life, thanks to you two. So, what do you want?"


"What do you want? Besides bragging rights, which are a given, what do you want?" Sam repeated as she got under the blankets. "You want the good sink? Fine, it's yours. Only a few months until we're off to college, anyway. You want foot rubs for a month? All yours. Name your price." This perky being who seemed to have a jittery aura was foreign, and in Brook's sleepy state, she wasn't sure what to do with her. "Offer going once, going twice-"

"Name your first born after me- well, us, I guess. Actually, Lana is a prettier name than Brook, so name her that." Sam studied her step-sister after she'd said that. Had Brook ever commented on someone else's name before? Sam couldn't remember.

"Okay, Rumplestiltskin," Sam looked as if she was actually thinking about it. "Actually, Lana-Brook McPherson doesn't sound half bad." Sam lay her head on her pillows with a dreamy look on her face, and when her blond step-sister wasn't aware, Sam caught her dreamy stare as well. 'Huh,' she thought.

"So, uh, you sure Chloe's taking your name? How do you know she won't want the baby to be Brook-Lana Sullivan?" Sam shrugged. "Or, you could be hyphenated. That baby's gonna have a hellova long name, though. Lana-Brook (insert middle name, most likely also hyphenated here) McPherson-Sullivan, or Brook-Lana (middle name) Sullivan-McPherson..." The blond ex-cheerleader sighed, then looked at Sam. The brunette saw the gears switch in Brooks brain before her step-sister spoke again. "Hey, I gotta question."


"Since I know nothing about lesbian relationships, and I'm not about to go ask Harrison's mom, who's the man?"

"Neither, otherwise we would be a straight or gay couple, not a lesbian one."

"Sam... That's my price for setting you two up, so answer my question seriously, please."

"Fine, if you're asking who it more butch, than in looks alone, I am, but if you're judging by the dominant personality that butch lesbians seem to have, then I would say Chloe. She'd disagree with me, though." Brook smiled.

"You two do it?" Sam blushed, and Brook let out an excited squeal that had Sam shushing her step-sister. "Was it good?"

"I'd say so." Sam replied.

"How do two women do it together, anyway?"

"I'm not answering that."

"Oh come on, tell me."

"No. You wanna know so bad, go watch a porno." With that, Sam covered her head, indicating that the conversation was over, and Brook agreed, (for the moment anyway) to drop the subject and go to bed. She left Sam's room, turning off the lights, and vowed to pry the details the next day.

Part Twenty-Two: Drops In the Ocean

"Love lead me to you and opened up my eyes..."

-Drops In The Ocean


On the plane, Chloe thought about the weekend. She was glad that she let herself believe that Sam wanted to be with her. Se didn't hear the flight attendant, who offered her something to drink. She stared out the window and watched as the city streets turned to hills and valleys, trees and a mountain or two. The blonde journalist couldn't help thinking about Sam's balcony scene with a goofy grin on her face. She thought of little else in public. Lana was waiting patiently for her when she got off the plane and got her luggage. The small brunette looked a little jittery, like Chloe after three shots of coffee. Lana seemed more nervous, as if afraid that Chloe would be able to see something at first look. She remembered feeling that way when she was first hiding her sexuality from people after camp.

"How was your trip?" Lana asked as they walked out of the Metropolis airport and to her red truck.

"It was perfect. I can't believe how sneaky you've become," Chloe said, but she was smiling. Lana didn't return her smile, but instead looked thoughtful as she thought something over.

"So it worked?" Hope was there in Lana's voice, posture, and face, which surprised Chloe.

"Like a charm. Thank you, Lana. I owe you big time," Chloe said, remembering her vow to get Lana a souvenir and completely forgetting to do so. She watched with a little concern as Lana seemed to robotically strap herself in and start the engine without checking to make sure Chloe was strapped in as well.

"Hmmm... Well, someday I'll need your help with all of my emotional issues. Like I said before, I'm letting them all pile up now so that-"

"Why do I get the feeling that you need my help now?" Lana didn't speak; she kept her eyes on the parking lot, then slowly she turned the engine off and stared in front of her in deep thought. "Lana? Talk to me." The brunette's hands seemed to wring around the wheel even though they weren't moving, then she suddenly looked at Chloe, and her face was so lost and scared.

"Chloe I-" She couldn't seem to speak for a long moment. Chloe could see the words there, but they struggled to escape; fear trapped them inside.

"You never judged me for being a lesbian, Lana. I am the last person who could judge you for anything. You can trust me, you know."

"I do," Lana said in a small voice. She looked at her hands wrapped tightly around the steering wheel, and if they HAD been moving, Chloe would have sworn her brunette friend was trying to run over something or someone. "I- I... I-"

"Lana?" Lana shut her eyes tightly and her hair fell on to her face. Chloe wasn't sure if this was a curtain to hide her tears and shame or to prevent Lana from seeing whatever reaction Chloe may or may not have to her words.

"I think I have a crush on Brook McQueen."


Erin Griffin

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