TITLE: Healing Hearts
DISCLAIMER: These characters are not mine. I'm not making any profit, they belong totally to someone else and I am just borrowing, I'll put them back when I'm done. There, good as new. See?
RATING: PG-13 Death, doom, destruction etc.
ARCHIVING: I'd be honoured! But please ask first.
NOTE: This is angst. Oh, it is sooooo angst…..really, really angst… do you see a theme here?! *WARNING* character death
Sam was soaked to the bone, but she was completely oblivious as she stood in the pouring rain staring at the headstone in front of her. The rain mingled with the tears that ran unchecked down her face as she read the words she had read so many times before, standing in this same spot for hours:
“Here Lies Brooke McQueen
Beloved daughter, stepsister, friend
‘Why Brooke?’ Sam sobbed as she pressed her fists to her eyes and fell to her knees in the mud, sobbing
‘We’ll never know’ a voice said softly behind Sam.
Sam turned slightly to face the direction the voice had come from
‘Why are you here?’ Sam asked, her voice accusing ‘You tried to kill her, remember?’
‘I know’ Nicole’s voice was barely a whisper, her own tears almost hidden by the rain
‘I thought I was losing her, I was drunk and didn’t know what I was doing, I wanted someone else to feel the pain I felt and now it’s just too late. I never meant to hit her…..’ Nicole’s voice trailed off as she tried to suppress her sobs
‘And now we’ve all lost her‘ Sam’s voice softened as she heard the pain in the other girl’s voice
‘I was so much in love with her I didn’t see it’ Nicole’s voice cracked as she spoke
‘None of us did’ Sam said getting to her feet
‘I haven’t slept since that night’ Nicole said recovering slightly
‘But you didn’t hit her’ Sam said softly, trying to comfort the other girl
‘I realized what I was doing, hit the brakes and swerved, if only she’d done the same’ Nicole was overcome with sobs and Sam moved to put her arm round her
Painful memories flooded back for both of them; Brooke’s last days in hospital, refusing to eat, pulling the drip out when they tried to force feed her and then Mike sitting with her, holding her hand as she breathed her last breath, barely more than a skeleton.
‘God, it’s tipping it down out here, at least let me drive you home’ Nicole said pulling away from Sam and brushing the back of hand across her eyes
‘I…I can’t face going home yet’ Sam said
‘C’mon’ Nicole said as she marched purposefully across the graveyard, Sam trailing in her wake
Nicole drove them to a coffee shop on the outskirts of town, miles from where anyone would disturb them. They both stared at the fogged up windows and at the rain outside, continuing to wash the day a colorless gray as the waitress brought them their coffees.
‘You never told her either then?’ Nicole asked, starting at Sam
‘Ironic, isn’t it?’ Sam laughed mirthlessly ‘The two people in the word never lost for words, and neither of us could tell her how we felt’
Nicole snorted her equally mirthless agreement as she returned her gaze to watching the raindrops chase each other down the glass panes that fronted the coffee shop
‘How long?’ she asked without looking at Sam
‘Sorry, what?’ Sam looked up from endlessly stirring her cooling and untouched coffee to meet Nicole’s eyes as she asked again
‘How long were you in love with her?’
‘I can’t pinpoint an exact time, just the gradual realization of why we fought each other so hard, we were so much more alike than I’d ever realized and fighting with her gave me a glimpse in her of the passion I felt within me. What about you?’
‘I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love her’ Nicole’s eyes glazed as memories of the woman she loved danced across her minds eye
‘It’s just so stupid’ she slammed her fist down on the table so hard she made their coffees jump and slop into the saucers ‘We were meant to be her friends, why didn’t we see what was happening?’ Nicole buried her face in her hands as the tears came again, wracking her body with silent sobs.
‘She didn’t want us to know, she hid it from everyone until it was too late’ Sam tried her best to sound reassuring, but she new she didn’t believe her own words as silent tears coursed down her cheeks
They sat in silence for a while both trying to regain their own composure, before Nicole noticed the fading light
‘It’s getting late, why don’t I drive you home’ Nicole said as she started to stand
‘Thanks’ Sam said smiling halfheartedly
Nicole dropped Sam off outside the house. Neither commented on the fact Nicole didn’t even cut the engine as they both knew that the last time she had been in the house was the reception after the funeral, and hadn’t been able to come into the house since, the memories all too recent.
Nicole tried to tell herself that if she didn’t go inside, it wouldn’t be real; Brooke was still alive, still at home and maybe tomorrow she would race out of the house and jump into Nicole’s car for her ride to school. As long as she didn’t go in, it wasn’t real.
As soon as Sam walked though the door, her mother spotted her
‘Where have you been? You’re soaked, I’ll run you a bath, you’ll catch your death…..’ Jane’s voice trailed off as she realized what she had said
Sam could see the unshed tears shining in her mother’s eyes, reflecting her own unspoken grief
‘I’ll go run that bath ….’ Jane mumbled as she moved away
Mike walked in the front door, not far behind Sam. He tried to smile at her and, as he took in her soaked appearance and tear stained face, he silently put his arms around her, drawing her into a tight embrace. Sam marveled at how he stayed so strong, having lost his only daughter. As she pulled away she looked up at him and saw silent tears rolling down his face. Mike kept an arm round Sam’s shoulders as he guided her into the lounge. As he sat on the sofa he put his briefcase on the coffee table and flicked the catches.
‘I….’ He started, his voice catching. He cleared his throat and started again ‘I found a note, in her things…..she wanted you to have this’
Mike handed Sam a leather-bound book, with a ribbon hanging out of it, marking the page. Sam turned it over in her hands, the leather was soft and it smelled of Brooke’s perfume. She opened it, turning to the first page and read:
“Journal of Brooke McQueen”
‘I haven’t read it’ Mike said ‘It’s an awful thing to ask, but if it has any explanation….’ His voice trailed off as his eyes dropped to the floor. Sam noticed his shoulders shaking silently and moved to sit by him, stretching an arm round him.
Mike raised his tear filled eyes to met Sam’s
‘Thank you’ He whispered softly, burying his face in his hands
Sam sat crossed-legged on her bed later that evening and stared at the book in front of her on the bed. She picked it up and felt the soft leather against her hands. She took a deep breath and started to read.
Jane came in to wake Sam the next morning and found her propped up in bed, Brooke’s journal open on her chest, her tears dried, leaving tracks on her face. She looked sadly at her daughter, sleep erasing the pain from her face, she was loathe to wake her, but as she reached to take the book from her and pull the duvet up Sam’s hand instantly shot out to grab the journal and her eyes flickered open.
‘Don’t’ Sam murmured, pulling the book to her as Jane sat on down on the bed next to her daughter
‘Do you want to talk about it?’ Jane asked softly
‘I….I fell asleep’ Sam said shocked ‘How could I? I had it all here in my hands, it’s all I have left of Brooke and I couldn’t read it all, I fell asleep’
‘It’s ok, Sam, you’ve barely slept, since ….since it happened’
Jane pulled Sam to her and held her, gently rocking her. Jane knew the pain of trying to let go was tearing her daughter up inside. When Brooke had collapsed and been rushed into hospital Sam had been the only one home, the one to call the ambulance and hadn’t left her side until the end.
By the time Brooke was in hospital, it was too late and none of them could reach her, no matter what they did or said she was fixed on one path unwilling or unable to stop what was happening to her.
Sam had called Jane and Mike at work and told them what had happened, when they reached the hospital Jane was shocked by the sight that greeted them and realized she would never forget it until her own dying day; Brooke lying unconscious on the bed, a pale shadow of her former self, painfully thin, ghostly pale looking for all the world like she was already dead, drips hanging from her skeletally thin arms. And Sam, her Sammy, sitting next to her, looking up at them, her face a picture of devastation, tears coursing down her face, as she ran to her, throwing her arms round her mother and sobbed uncontrollably
‘I’m sorry, mom….I’m so sorry…… I didn’t know’ she gasped between sobs
The look on Mikes face as he stood shell-shocked in the doorway had been of devastated disbelief
‘My baby…my Brookie’
Was all he said as he slumped in the chair Sam had vacated and took her hand in his own. He had stayed that way, almost as if he hadn’t moved from that moment until the medics pushed him out of the way, to perform emergency CPR some few days later as Brooke’s heart finally gave out. The sound of the heart monitor flat-lining had been the most awful sound any of them had ever heard.
It was Sam’s constant vigil at Brooke’s bedside that had made Jane look at her daughter in a different light in those last days she gently pulled Sam outside the room and stood and looked her in the eye
‘Tell me the truth Sam, you love her don’t you? Jane had stated it more than asked
‘Of course I do, she’s my stepsister’ Sam said, turning away to return to her constant watch
‘No more secrets, dammit’ Jane had almost shouted, the tension showing all over face
Sam had looked her then, almost defiant ‘I have loved her for so long, mom and still I couldn’t stop this and I never told her and now….’ Sam’s voice trailed off as she started to cry again.
Jane pulled her close and held her tightly, making comforting noises ‘It’s ok…it’s ok..It’ll be ok…’ both of them knowing it was a lie and nothing would be ok ever again, but neither of them dared to say so
It was after that that Brooke had regained consciousness, screaming and pulling the wires from her body, screaming at them all to leave her alone, terrifying her poor father, as all he could do was watch helplessly.
The doctor had spoken to them, his voice full of sympathy and pain at a patient he knew he couldn’t save, telling them that starving herself had taken over Brooke’s life, and the damage she had inflicted was affecting her mentally as much as physically, so that she was no longer in control of what she was doing, delirious almost, and all they could do was keep trying to reach her.
He had stopped then, unable to tell them they probably wouldn’t be able to, that the woman they all loved was too far past help, consumed body and soul by the disease that gripped her and would eventually kill her.
It had not long afterwards and the whole family had been pulled into a depth of despair that none of them could stop and could have torn them apart, but for the fact that none of the three of them was willing to lose another they loved, and so they became closer in their grief, making a point of sitting down to dinner together every night and talking about their respective days. The irony of coming together over the simple ritual of eating, the thing that could have saved their Brooke was not lost on any of them.
Sam pulled away from her mother and rubbed her eyes, snapping Jane back to the present
‘I’ll make you breakfast’ Jane tried to smile at her daughter
‘Ok….I’ll be down in a minute’ Sam smiled weakly back, getting out on bed and padding towards the bathroom
No, it’s not ever going to be ok, Jane thought sadly as she headed down the stairs.
Sam stood and stared at the gravestone again, later that day, hugging Brooke’s journal to her chest.
Sam turned to face the direction the soft voice had come from
‘Hi’ Sam managed weak smile
‘Maybe if you and I had stopped trying to kill each other sooner, maybe we would have seen what was happening and she would still be here….’ Nicole’s voice trailed off
Sam couldn’t think of any reply to that as her thoughts drifted back to the day she had ridden to the hospital next to Brooke in the ambulance.
After she had called Mike and her mother she realized that as much as she hated her, there was someone else she would have to call; Nicole
Nicole had answered the phone in her usual caustic manner when she realized it was her arch-nemesis on the other end of the phone, until she heard the note in Sam’s voice as she cut her off
‘Nicole…its Brooke…’ Sam had said forcefully, cutting Nicole off mid insult
Nicole had almost dropped the phone then at the pain in Sam’s voice
She was out of the door and in her car almost before Sam had stopped speaking. When she arrived at the hospital, she had walked straight up to Sam and tried to demand answers the brunette didn’t have, but it was then, Nicole realized, that moment was when there was an immediate and total cessation of hostilities, as she had to look into the face she had always hated and hear her tell her what had happened.
Seeing Sam so utterly broken Nicole had felt the pain of every insult she had ever used to hurt the girl and wished she could take them all back, seeing the devastation on the other girls face, and that for all she claimed to hate her, she had had the compassion to call her and tell her best friend was dying, knowing that for all her façade of being a heartless bitch she genuinely cared for her best friend and would want to be there.
Nicole knew in that moment, looking into Sam’s tear filled eyes, that she didn’t hate her; she never had, it was only ever a game they played, but in that moment she felt a new respect for Sam, able to put aside their petty differences and call her. It had been a simple thing, but meant the world to Nicole.
As they stood in the graveyard, in the same spot they both gravitated to after school every day since the funeral Sam’s mind drifted back to those last days. Nicole hadn’t been there every minute as Sam had. Sam had seen her own pain reflected in Nicole’s eyes and so hadn’t been surprised that every day she arrived, it was with fresh clothes for Sam, Jane and Mike as they kept their vigil, vast bouquets of flowers to try and mask the sterility of Brooke’s hospital room, bringing them endless cups of coffee. Sam realized there was a human side to the woman she had seen as her enemy for so long and realized that Nicole couldn’t sit still, couldn’t just sit there and wait, she had to be doing something, anything that might help, might bring her Brooke back to them.
One night Sam had wandered down the corridor, while Jane and Mike both slept, curled up on the chairs outside Brooke’s room, in search of coffee. When she returned, she found Nicole sitting next to Brooke’s bed, reading to her. Her voice soft and a million miles away from the quietly spoken tones used to spout put downs at anyone within range for so long.
Sam had just stood in the doorway and listened, she didn’t know how long for. She caught the words Nicole spoke and realized that she was reading Brooke fairytales; Snow White. Sam’s heart broke as she realized Nicole was crying as she read, desperately hoping her own princess wasn’t gone, that she would wake up and it would all end happily ever after.
Sam smiled sadly as she recalled the memory, turning to face Nicole, she showed her the book she was holding
‘Mike gave me Brooke’s journal. I started reading it last night, but I fell asleep, sometime early this morning. I….’ Sam stopped and looked back at the headstone ‘I can’t bring myself to read the end’ Sam winced as she said the last word, vainly wishing Brooke would someday finish it, that the last words in this book, weren’t her last words ever
‘Maybe…..’ Nicole shook her head and stopped
‘What?’ Sam asked encouragingly
‘I was going to say, maybe we could read it together. But, she wanted you to have it, I don’t want to intrude’
Nicole spoke in a voice so filled with hope and loss that it tore Sam’s heart. When she was around Nicole since that night she couldn’t believe it was the same person she had fought with for so long
‘That’s a nice idea, if you’d like to?’
Nicole looked at Sam then and her eyes were so filled with gratitude that Sam was almost knocked over by the force of it.
As they walked back across the graveyard towards Nicole’s car Sam was surprised to feel Nicole’s hand slip gently into her own.
They both sat crossed legged on Nicole’s bed, facing each other, Brooke’s journal in front of them
‘This seems kind of wrong, reading someone’s private journal’ Sam said ‘I feel like I’ve stepped into her mind and am seeing her thoughts, it’s kind of like she’s still here’
‘But she left it to you, Sam, and I just need to know why I’ve lost my best friend’ Nicole spoke softly, touching Sam’s hand
Sam smiled at Nicole, picked up the book and started to read.
They took it in turns to read, continuing late into the evening. It started as almost any other teenager’s journal might; worries about school, boys, clothes and comments on her weight, only occasionally at first, but getting more frequent as she described her relationship with Josh
‘Why don’t I love him? Why aren’t I happy with him? I am the head cheerleader and he’s the captain of the football team, we should be happy together, why isn’t is working?’ Sam read aloud ‘It’s me, there’s something wrong with me, maybe I’m too fat to be happy with anyone, maybe I’m just to fat too be attractive’
Sam read on, charting a slow progress into despair as Brooke blamed her weight for more and more in her life, seeing her friends as though everything in their lives was perfect, oblivious to what was really going on inside any of them, too caught up in her own pain, trying desperately to understand herself, to work out why she felt so different to everyone else, blaming her weight for everything, trying to control the one thing she thought she could as she felt herself drifting away from everyone in her life on the inside, but carrying on as if nothing was wrong on the outside.
As they both took turns reading the difference Brooke felt inside herself, but couldn’t voice became more and more obvious and familiar to the two girls reading, as it was the same feelings they had both seen growing inside themselves.
‘Oh, God…’ Sam said, her voice cracking from emotion and reading for so long
‘She was gay?’ Nicole said incredulously, throwing back her head and laughing at the irony of it all
‘We were both too damn scared to tell her how we felt and there she was, feeling the same way and punishing herself for it ‘cause she couldn’t deal. Well, don’t life just suck’
Nicole virtually spat the last word as she took the journal out of Sam’s hands and continued to read
As they both read, they realized it wasn’t just Brooke’s sense of isolation at realizing she was gay that had pushed her towards her early death. Anything that went wrong, a test she didn’t ace missed, moves in cheerleading, arguing with her father, anything and everything, pushed her towards blaming herself and her perceived weight problem, it was as if a demon had entered her, possessing her, pushing her to try and reach an impossible perfection. Some days she seemed to fight it and others, it fought her, consuming her, obsessing her totally, until she no longer seemed to have any control. The disease took her and consumed her utterly, a creeping, slow, gradual process, until even Brooke was stunned at the level of deceit she had reached in hiding her actions and the levels she would go to, to try and reach her impossible goal; studying all night every night, taking laxatives, diet pills, anything that would help her reach perfection. By the time even Brooke realized the state she was in, it was too late. The last entry was written not even hours before she collapsed, and was barely legible, the words ‘leave me alone’ scrawled over and over across the page in thick heavy writing, as if trying to exorcise the demon within herself
Nicole wordlessly turned the book to Sam to show her the last entry, tears streaming down her face.
Sam took the book from her and carefully marked the page with the ribbon, her own face wet with tears.
‘Thank you for sharing this with me, Sam’ Nicole whispered
‘I….I should go….it’s getting late Sam said glancing at the bedside clock
‘Stay’ Nicole pleaded her voice barely audible ‘I couldn’t bear to be alone tonight’
Sam nodded, understanding completely
Nicole passed her the phone as she rose from the bed ‘call home, they don’t need any more worries’ she instructed as she went to get Sam some nightclothes
Nicole was already in bed when Sam got back from the bathroom, dressed in an oversized t-shirt. Slipping in beside her, she rolled to face away from the blonde, who instantly wrapped her in her arms, pulling her to her and resting her head on the brunette’s shoulder
‘I don’t know what’s worse’ Nicole whispered softly ‘knowing why we lost her, or knowing that none of us could have saved her’
‘We might not have been able to save Brooke, but some good can come out of this’ Sam replied ‘She left her journal to me for a reason’
Nicole propped her self up on her elbow and stared down at the brunette ‘what can I do?’ she asked knowing instantly what Sam was thinking
‘Can you type?’ Sam asked her
‘I will damn well learn’ Nicole said the steel of determination in her voice made Sam smile for the first time in weeks as she snuggled back into the arms that held her and both girls finally slept
As the next day dawned both girls awoke feeling some small ray of hope, a reason to get up for the first time since they had both lost the person they loved.
‘You’ll have to come to the house with me, we need to talk to Mom and Mike before we do this’ Sam said once they were both dressed
‘I know’ Nicole said in small voice
Sam surprised herself then, as she reached out and took the other girl’s hand
‘It’s ok, I’ll be with you’
Nicole looked at her then and Sam smiled again, seeing the determination of the old Nicole flicker in the blonde’s eyes
Mike and Jane were at the breakfast bar reading the papers, when the two girls arrived at the palace and both looked up, surprised to see Nicole, for the first time since Brooke’s funeral
They listened and Mike cried silently as Sam and Nicole took turns telling them what they had read in Brooke’s journal.
Jane smiled supportively at her daughter as she saw some of her fire return as she told them what she planned to do with Brooke’s Journal
‘We’re going to write a book, telling Brooke’s story and our own as to what we’ve all been through and maybe we can get it distributed round schools’
‘If we can stop one other person dying like Brooke this we’ll have succeeded’ Nicole finished, the fire in her voice matching Sam’s as she held her hand
Mike spoke for the first time since they had started ‘I think it’s a wonderful idea, my daughter may not live on, but her memory will and maybe it will do some good’ he rose then and hugged both girls ‘anything you need, just ask’
While Sam set up her laptop in her room Nicole stood in the doorway to Brooke’s room, the tears running freely down her face
‘She’s really gone….’ She barely spoke the words out loud
Sam heard her however, and put her arms around her from behind, holding her silently as the blonde finally faced her loss
‘She was my best friend’
‘I know’ Sam knew there were no other words she could say, so she just held Nicole while she tried to deal with her grief
‘Let’s do this’ Nicole said after some time, as she pulled herself together
The spend the whole day taking it in turns to read and type, neither realized how long they had been working, until they heard a soft knock on the door and Jane came into the room
‘Dinner’s ready, Nicole, I presumed you were staying?’
‘Thanks, Ms McPherson’ Nicole smiled and closed Brooke’s journal
Dinner was a very quite affair that night, as everyone tried not to notice that Nicole was sitting in Brooke’s usual place.
After dinner the two girls were heading back upstairs when Jane called after them ‘You can stay, Nicole, if you want, but don’t stay up too late and call you mother, I don’t want her to worry’
Nicole smiled, realizing Jane was echoing her own words to Sam from the previous night
‘Thanks, but my Mom’s away’ Nicole said not adding that she didn’t notice her daughter when she was there
They worked till midnight, when Sam yawned and stretched in front of her laptop ‘Bedtime’ she said through her yawn
‘Good plan’ Nicole agreed, stifling a yawn herself
They lay in bed cuddled up again a short time later ‘we’re doing a good thing’ Sam said in the darkness
Nicole didn’t reply, but it was her turn to smile amazed that anyone would ever say anything like that about something she was doing, let alone her former enemy as they both drifted into sleep
Without realizing it, the two girls fell into a routine for the last few months of school. After last period Nicole would drive them to the graveyard, taking fresh flowers everyday and then they would return to the palace and work on Brooke’s book. Dinner became less awkward as Nicole would stay more often and conversation became less stilted as they all discussed their days and how the book was progressing.
At school they worked together in the newspaper office during lunch and free periods. Their friends got over the weirdness of the two former enemies working together, when they realized that not only were they trying to salvage something positive from the whole terrible event, but were actually supporting each other through their grief.
As the last days of school turned into the first days of vacation, the two girls neared completion of their work.
At dinner that night Mike told them he had spoken to a publisher who was eager to take the completed manuscript, having seen his teenage son suffer from anorexia. Fortunately for his son he had managed to help him before he followed Brooke’s path, but had suffered the pain of not seeing what was happening and when he did, not understanding and feeling powerless to stop it.
After dinner Nicole told Sam that the good news deserved a celebration and they should go and see a movie together.
Sam thought it was a weird idea and said so
‘It seems wrong, you know?’
‘I know what you mean, we shouldn’t be out having fun, after all that’s happened, but I think we have to face the facts, Sam. We are still alive and life has to go on. Would Brooke really have wanted us to give up on life and happiness as well?’ Nicole asked softly, trying not to upset the brunette
‘I know, but…..’ Sam paused and smiled at Nicole ‘It sounds like you’re asking me on a date and the only place we have ever gone together is to visit Brooke’s grave’
Nicole looked startled ’You’re right and that did sound like I was asking you out didn’t it?’
Sam frowned ‘Actually… I kinda liked the sound of that… wanna try it again? If you meant it, I mean?’ Sam stopped and looked nervous, but her eyes betrayed the hope that Nicole would try again
Nicole took a deep breath ‘Samantha McPherson, would you do me the honor of being my date to the movies?’ it was her turn to look nervous as she waited for the brunette to answer
‘Why, I’d love to Nicole Julian’ Sam said in her best serious voice, as both girls started to laugh, they both stopped and looked at each other, realizing it was the first time they had laughed in the months since Brooke had died as the realization dawned on them their eyes met and saw the same thought cross each others minds; maybe we can finally let go as they laughed so hard there were tears rolling down their faces as they fought to regain some control.
Downstairs Mike looked up a the ceiling, hearing the laughter
‘That’s a good sound, you know’ he said, looking at Jane ‘do you suppose they finally realized what we saw weeks ago?’
Jane looked at him in surprise ‘What?’
‘Isn’t it obvious? They’re in love with each other’ Mike returned to reading the paper as Jane continued to stare at him in shock
Sam and Nicole enjoyed the movie. Ask them what they saw and they probably wouldn’t be able to tell you as they spent the whole time making each other laugh, just because they could, because after the months of tears and pain they had remembered how to. As they left the cinema Nicole slipped her hand into Sam’s, entwining their fingers as they walked.
‘It doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten her’ Nicole said
‘I know‘ Sam replied
‘I think about her every day and every day I miss her so much it is like a physical pain’
‘You don’t have to explain, Nicole’ Sam said ‘I know exactly what you mean, I still love her, I mean a part of me always will and will always mourn for her, but you were right we have to keep living, for her as much as for us’ she stopped and looked into the blonde’s eyes ‘and we still have each other, don’t ever forget that’
Nicole didn’t reply, or at least not verbally, as she leant ever so slightly forward and pressed her lips to Sam’s. The kiss was brief, but conveyed so much feeling.
As they pulled apart Sam whispered ‘Oh my God…..’ in an awed voice
Nicole smiled at her ‘I know, I’ve just realized I love you too’ as she leant in to kiss her again, this time as their lips met, they parted slightly, allowing tongues to meet, as Sam wrapped her arms around Nicole who followed suit, burying her fingers in Sam’s hair
They parted breathlessly, linked hands and started walking again, suddenly conscious they were still in a public place
‘You are absolutely right, again’ Sam said rolling her eyes as she looked at the blonde and smiled ‘I do love you’
Nicole dropped Sam off outside the palace some time later with a kiss goodnight and a promise to be back early the next day. As Sam walked through the font door, her mother looked at up her
‘That’s a very nice and much missed sight, young lady’ Jane said as she looked at her, her eyes lightening as she teased her daughter
‘What? What’d I do?’ Sam said wide-eyed and innocent
‘You are smiling’ Jane replied as she came round the breakfast bar and swept her daughter into a hug
‘Mom, I need to talk to you’ Sam said as she pulled away, the smile on her face gone
‘Come and sit on the sofa, then’ Jane said as she took her daughter’s hand and led her into the lounge
She turned to face her and looked her in the eye ’I know this sounds terribly cliché, but you really can tell me anything, Sammy, you know that’ Jane said, not letting go of her daughter’s hand
‘Well, you know that Nicole and I have been spending a lot of time together as we have been working on Brooke’s book’ Sam started as her mother started to smile ‘what? What is that look for? You said I could tell you anything and now you’re laughing at me’ Sam said in a hurt tone
‘I’m not laughing at you sweetheart, I can just see where this might be going is all’
‘Credit where credit’s due, Mike is not as unobservant as he sometimes appears. Which is even worse really…’ Jane’s voice trailed off as Jane realized quite how much worse it made it that even Mike hadn’t seen what his own daughter was going through
‘Mike’s not as unobservant about what, mom?’ Sam asked, snapping her mother back to reality
‘You. And Nicole. You had been helping each other through this and, well…. Mike thinks the two have you have fallen in love’
Sam looked utterly shocked ‘He’s right’ was all she could say
‘I’m happy for you, sweetheart, we both are, surprised as I am to say this about Nicole, she’s been good for you, you’re been good for each other and I can see that you genuinely care for each other. I can’t tell you how glad I am to see you smile again’
‘It doesn’t mean I loved Brooke any less or that I have forgotten her or anything ‘ Sam’s words tumbled out in a rush
‘I know, Sammy, I know you’ll never stop loving her and there won’t be a day that goes by that you don’t think about her and miss her, but, life goes on. I never stop thinking about your father and I still love him, but it also doesn’t mean I love Mike any less’
Jane put her arm around Sam and squeezed her shoulders ‘I saw Mike smile today, for the first time since Brooke died and you know why he was smiling?’ Jane looked at Sam her eyes full of laughter
Sam shook her head
‘He heard the two of you laughing and that was when he told me that he’d known you two had been in love for weeks’
‘And it’s taken the rest of us till now to figure it out’ Sam smiled ruefully ‘You’re ok with this?’ Sam asked looking at her mother, searching her face for the disapproval she expected to find there
‘Are you happy?’
Sam stopped to think ‘happier than I’ve been in a long time’ she answered truthfully
‘Then I’m happy’ Jane smiled at Sam as she hugged her tightly
‘Good morning Ms McPherson’ Nicole said as she came in the front door of the palace the next day
‘Morning Nicole’ Jane looked up and smiled at her, handing her a cup of coffee ‘she’s started without you today’ she said, nodding her head in the direction of Sam’s room
Nicole sipped her coffee thoughtfully as she walked into Sam’s room ‘Weirdest thing, your mom just smiled at me’
Sam looked up from her laptop and smiled at Nicole ‘and now you’re doing it too, what IS going on here today?’
‘I told her about us, last night’ Sam replied
‘You’re mother is smiling for the first time in months because her daughter is dating the woman said daughter referred to, up until a few months ago, as ‘Satan’?? Too weird' Nicole said, laughing as she sat on the corner of Sam’s bed, next to the desk
‘And there is and ‘us’ now is there’ she continued, as she laughed at the worried look on Sam’s face and leant over and kissed her lightly
‘Yes there’s an ‘us’ and this ‘us’ has almost finished our book’ Sam said as she picked up a thick manuscript and waved it at Nicole.
‘Wow’ Nicole said as took the pages from Sam’s hands and started flicking through them
‘Almost, Nicole, as in not complete, yet, so you can take over the typing as I’ve been at it since six. I was feeling oddly motivated today’ she kissed Nicole and smiled as she stood up to allow the other girl to sit at the desk
‘Funnily enough, so was I,’ Nicole said with a smile ‘I went running this morning for the first time in, God, ages, or at least my muscles think so, she said as she stretched and grimaced at the twinge from her aching muscles
‘Well, as we are nearly done, maybe when we have finished I could rub those aches for you’ Sam smiled and wiggled her eyebrows suggestively
‘Deal’ Nicole grinned and cracked her knuckles as she turned her attention the laptop and started to type.
It was a few weeks after the final manuscript had been sent to the publishers before the first copies would be printed and longer still before Sam and Nicole had to contemplate returning to school. They spent each day together still, even though they had finished work on the book, learning again to do they things they had once enjoyed; going to the movies, going running together and hanging out with friends once their friends had got past the shock that Nicole and Sam really were dating.
Each day they smiled more and each day it hurt a little less, but they still visited Brooke’s grave daily and never forgot the person who had, however indirectly, been the cause of them getting together.
As the last day of their vacation rolled round they both stood at the graveside. Today instead of flowers, Sam held a book.
‘We did it Brooke, we finished your book’ She spoke softly, placing the book against the headstone ‘if it stops one person going through what you did, this won’t have been in vain’ Sam stopped, feeling tears welling up as she spoke ‘school starts tomorrow. Final year. Weird the way this has all turned out’ Sam turned to Nicole, who stood silently behind her ‘not only are you and I together, but you’re not a cheerleader anymore. Are you sure about this?’
‘Writing Brooke’s book has made me realize I don’t want to do it any more. And anyway, I couldn’t, not without her there and hey, turns out you’ve not the only one with writing talent. I can’t believe they are letting me loose with the power of the media’ Nicole chuckled
‘But I’m still your editor, so I can make sure you use your powers as a reporter for good an not evil’ Sam grinned back
They both stood and stared at the headstone before Nicole spoke
‘Hey, it’s starting to rain, c’mon I’ll buy you a coffee’
She took Sam’s hand, entwining their fingers and they made a dash for Nicole’s car as the first drops of rain started to fall.