Title: Beach Volley Stories
Disclaimer: Characters are not mine. They belong to various people and companies.
Archive: http://www.realmoftheshadow.com/megan.htm (Thanks, Kim)
Summary: Brooke and Sam have spent the summer touring around the states, playing beach volley, and are heading home for the last competition.
Author's Notes: This is a series I spent lots of time planning in the summer of 2002. Nothing much has come of it since, but I'm still slowly working on it. The Brooke&Sam portion should be done... let's say by the end of the spring. The premise is that, I take characters from various shows that interest me, and throw them on this made-up beach volley tour. Each chapter concentrates on a specific show, and the outside characters play minor roles in those chapters. One more thing, for reasons unknown even to myself, the present day segments are told in past tense, and the past segments in present tense. I'm just weird that way.
Chapter One: No Way Home (A Brooke & Sam Story)
"Mike!" Jane McPherson shouted from her seat in front of the television, "Get in here, it's starting!" She'd been staring at the screen a good ten minutes already, afraid she'd miss the program if she so much as blinked.
"... and you're watching WB. Today we bring you the Teen Volley 2000 Tour from right here in Venice Beach, Los Angeles!" the blonde beefcake, named Brad something, prattled on with his grin fixed on place, "This is the second to last competition this summer, and the last chance for the players to earn their place in the tour final next weekend in Santa Monica. Joining us are two Santa Monica natives..."
"Mike! They're on!"
"I'm right here," the reply to Jane's scream came from right next to the couch.
"Oh," Jane intoned, and chanced a quick glance away from the tv, "Well, sit down! You're making me nervous!" she said and turned to stare straight ahead again.
"... Brooke McQueen and Sam McPherson. How you feeling today, girls?"
The camera had panned back from the close-up to reveal two girls in bikinis standing next to the announcer. "Oh, we're fine, thanks, Brad," replied the blonde girl.
"You're ranked number two at the moment, what do you think of your chances today?"
"Well, we've been practicing very hard these past days, and we feel that we're playing better than all summer," again it was Brooke who answered, "But the other girls are playing really well too, and there are so many great teams competing today, so I don't know... I guess we'll just have to try our best and see how far it takes us."
Jane kept a keen eye on her own daughter through the whole tirade, and couldn't help but smile when she noticed the slight roll of the eyes. It was nice to know Sam hadn't changed much during the summer, even with the sudden semi-fame. She didn't seem uncomfortable being on camera, just bored.
"Brooke is great, isn't she?" Mike said, with shining eyes, and his voice beaming with pride.
Jane waited a second and then mumbled, "Uhhum," through pursed lips. Leaving out the fact that she thought Mike's daughter had practiced her answer dozens of times in front of a mirror. Not that there was anything wrong with that.
"So, Sam," the Brad guy went on, "You two are stepsisters, right?"
"Yeah... sure," Sam's answer was a bit hesitant.
"How do you get along outside the court?"
"We get along just fine..." the brunette said, "I mean you have to, when you spend as much time together as we do."
"Do you share a room on the road, or...?"
"Yeah, we share a room," Sam said. Jane noticed the slight squint Sam made with her eyes, and she knew her daughter's patience was wearing thin.
"So, what do you do to relax?" Brad asked.
"Oh, you know, the usual girlie stuff... braid hairs, paint each other's toenails. Have pillow fights in skimpy..."
"We actually both like to read a lot, so..." Brooke quickly intercepted Sam's sarcastic answer, "And we have a very similar taste in movies... so... so that works out fine," the blonde fought out the answer between glances at the brunette, her own feet and Brad.
"Right, right," the interviewer stated slightly confused. He paused for a little too long and then shook his head and went on, "So, the tour final will be played in your hometown... Is that gona be an advantage for you?"
"Yeah, I definitely think so," Brooke said, "You know, we've... both been playing on that beach all our lives. And all our friends will be there... my boyfriend, Josh... our families... you know, they'll be cheering us on... it's gona be great fun."
"Uhhum, sure," Brad nodded an answer and then shoved the mike in Sam's face, "What do you think, Sam?"
"Well, I... I think... that sand is sand. It's the same everywhere you go. Brooke's just gona be playing under a lot more pressure, so it could be a slight disadvantage for us, I think," Sam gave a proper answer for change.
"What does she mean Brooke? Why not herself too?" Mike's voice betrayed a small irritation.
"Shh!" Jane just shushed him and leant forward, laying her elbows on her knees. Of course Sam wouldn't sweat it as much. It was quite clear to Jane, which one of the girls took the game more seriously.
"Well, I think you're right there, Sam. Sand is sand," Brad commented with a haughty attitude, "So, you mentioned you are already spoken for, Brooke... What about you, Sam? Are you still on the market?"
"On the market?" Jane repeated, disgusted by the phrase.
"On the market?" Sam echoed in the television, using the same exact voice, and making the same exact face.
Jane saw how Brooke flinched on her feet and quickly jumped in again, "You know it, Brad. We're still accepting bids on Sammy here," the blonde said. She turned to look straight at the camera and smiled nervously, "So, all you guys out there, be sure to call in your offer."
"All right, so there you have it, the McSisters from Santa Monica. Thanks for being here, girls. And good luck today," Brad finished up the interview as the camera zoomed in on him again, "We're gona take a short break, but when we come back we'll be meeting another pair of valley girls. These sisters hail from the town of Sunnydale, a little farther down the coast. Faith and Buffy Summers are ranked number one..."
Jane switched off the television to quiet down the announcers inane ramblings. She turned to her right and smiled at Mike, "Well, that went quite well, don't you think?" she said cheerily. Jane was feeling very happy. Her daughter would be home in a week, for the first time in three months.
"Sure..." the man agreed unenthusiastically, "Sam seemed a little hostile, though."
"Oh, come on, Mike," Jane tilted her head, "You know how she hates that promotional crap."
"What promotional crap?" Mike frowned, "It was a legitimate interview... you know, people are interested in that kind of..."
"Please! They just want to flaunt half naked girls in front of the camera to boost the ratings. I mean, what was with the bikinis?!"
Mike fell silent for a while. Jane just nodded her head and got up, "That was kind of tacky," Mike commented with a wince. Jane didn't answer but headed into the kitchen to get started on lunch, "But don't they play in bikinis, too?" Mike asked when she was already half out of sight.
Jane stopped, turned around and made a disgusted face at the man, "No?!" she said loudly, shaking her head.
"Okay, we're clear," Sam finally heard the heavenly words of the director, "Buffy, Faith, you're up next," the thirty-ish woman said, stumbling towards the cameraman in her short skirt and jacket, and all the while studying the notes in her hand, "Brad... you gotta keep the questions coming! No awkward pauses, they ruin the whole thing."
Sam listened to the scolding while following Brooke to the nearby chairs, "And, by the way, Brad, great questions! Really, I mean it..." she threw in sarcastically. The guy had her dream job... well, not her dream job but close enough. And all he came up with was the usual crap.
"Hey, Grumpy! I don't write this shit. So, go bitch to someone else," the blonde idiot replied quickly, before devoting his attention to the director.
"Whatever," Sam muttered and grabbed her towel from the chair. She glanced next to her and couldn't miss the glare Brooke was giving her before hiding her blonde head under a T-shirt.
Sam had become quite close friends with the glare. It was almost always there, when she expressed her opinions about anything involving the tour. It had all started out nicely enough. It had been a fun change of scenery for the summer, and a great opportunity to observe television work close up, since the whole thing was broadcasted by the WB. Sam had even enjoyed the game at first, and she kind of still did. But when they'd become stars of the tour, and the interviews and general on camera time had increased accordingly, she had started to hate the televised part of the deal. Especially, when it was all so fake.
"Hey, I'd also like a few words with whoever writes this stuff!" a stern voice drew Sam's attention away from her scantily clad stepsister. She finished tying up the towel around her waist and turned to look at their rival team, who were standing close by. It was Faith, the brunette one, who was unhappy, "I'm NOT a valley girl. I'm from Boston originally. Think you could get that right after three months?"
"Also, we're not sisters!" put in the blonde teammate, "My mother just adopted Faith a few years ago."
The director looked up from her papers, and shot them a blank stare, "Good for her!" she monotoned, "Now quit with the whining, if you wanna play!" she turned right back to Brad with more orders.
Faith turned around towards Sam and Brooke, chuckling a little. She lowered her voice to normal, so the television crew couldn't hear them anymore, "Nice attitude they got. Almost as bad as yours, Sam," Faith said cheerily, "Also, where can I place my bid?"
The words were followed by more snickering from both, Faith and Buffy. And Sam agreed to smile back weakly. She kind of liked the two girls. Faith especially, who was also sort of a reluctant hero, like herself. The Sunnydale girls were both ruthless on court, but relaxed and easy going off it.
"By the way, nice save, Brooke," Buffy said turning a kind smile towards Sam's stepsister, "I was sure Sam's next move would've been to throttle Brad."
Sam glanced at Brooke who couldn't even smile as a reply. The blonde wasn't feeling very social, and just grabbed her towel, "Yeah," she let her eyes circle around the girls, "See you on the court," she said and headed off the beach.
Sam tilted her head and shrugged her shoulders, but before she could give a verbal excuse for her teammate, the director's shrilling voice cut in, "Hey, come on, girls! You've got thirty seconds!"
"See you, Sam," Buffy said as the two started heading towards the camera.
"Time for our minute long in-depth character portrait," Faith smirked and turned to go.
Sam just waved her hand, and pulled on her shirt. "Just smile at the camera. That's how you get the big bucks," Sam heard the blonde's voice come again, before jogging off to catch up with Brooke.
Brooke took the whole thing a bit too seriously for Sam's taste. The blonde couldn't stand losing anymore. She acted all gracious in front of the spectators and other players. But when they were alone, she would, at first, replay every mistake they made over and over. And when Sam would finally tell her to just get over it, she started with the depressed moping. Which lasted until the next game, usually.
And then there was the on-camera Brooke... the most annoying girl Sam had ever met. All perky and quirky and smiley. And all fake. Everything had to appear perfect to the outside world. It even scared Sam a little, sometimes, how obsessed Brooke really was.
Though, she should've known it from the start. Wasn't it always that way with Brooke? Everything she did, she did to win. And when she failed, the results were always catastrophic. It had just sneaked up on Sam this time. Because it had all started out as fun in the sun. The first month she'd seen Brooke laugh more than the two previous years combined. And then things had changed, seemingly, overnight. Though, in hindsight, Sam had to admit the signs had been there all along.
The crowd erupts in a mad cheer an instant after Brooke slams the ball down to the other side of the net. Sam smiles back at her partner, when she sees the blissfully joyous look on her pretty face. She slowly jogs closer and high-fives her.
"Point, McQueen and McPherson!" the announcer screams through the loudspeakers, "The score is fifteen to fourteen. Serving for the set, for the match, AND for the tournament!, is Sam McPherson!"
Again the Miami crowd goes wild. It's the biggest audience they've played for so far. And certainly the loudest. And it's the first time they are playing in the final. Sam does her best to block out the noise as she collects the ball and heads for the end line, "Hit it to Buffy, she's been fumbling a lot," Brooke whispers from next to her. Sam just nods her head as the blonde leaves her side and jogs back to the net. Sam reaches her destination and turns around letting her eyes circle the mass of people around them. They've fallen relatively quiet to wait for her serve.
Sam closes her eyes and, taking a deep breath, tosses the ball in the air. She reopens her eyes and smacks the ball with her right hand, sending it forward in a long arc. But as soon as she makes contact with it, she knows she screwed up. The arc is long, sure, but not long enough. The serve falls short, no matter how much she prays for a better result, and the ball hits the net's top band and falls down on their side.
She resists the urge to scream out a curse word and returns Brooke's glare with an apologetic face, "Tied at fifteen!" the announcer shouts, while the crowd again cheers, only slightly less enthusiastically this time. Brooke kicks the ball under the net to the other blonde player, and slouches backwards on the court. Sam makes her way to the left side of the field and leans her hands down on her knees to wait for the ball, "Buffy Summers serving!" the guy again yells.
Sam watches how Buffy sends the ball flying across the air, and quickly notes that it's going to land near Brooke. The blonde falls on one knee and uses her forearms to pass the ball to the net in front of Sam. She again follows its flight all the way while rushing forward, and executes a perfect overhand pass to set up Brooke in her favorite position. The blonde dashes a few feet and then pounces up high, well above the net, and strikes the ball with all her strength. Brooke is very good with the smash hits, but this time she makes a mistake. The hit is impure, and it sends the ball wide.
"That is... OUT!" the announcer shrieks in ecstasy, "The Summers girls lead sixteen to fifteen in the third and deciding set!"
Sam throws her head back and takes in the booming cheers. "Fuck!" she barely hears Brooke's voice over the general rumble, even though the word is not spoken quietly. She glances a little warily at her partner. It's not like Brooke to let her emotions run wild during the game. The blonde stares hopelessly at the ball, and then slowly lets her gaze drift towards Sam. When their eyes fall on each other Sam takes the few steps needed to get near Brooke.
"It was a good try," she says, letting her fingers grace Brooke's hand which is dangling freely on her side, "Come on. We can still win this."
"Yeah. Sure," Brooke agrees halfheartedly with a nod.
They again take their places when the announcer guy's voice booms, "Serving for the tournament, Buffy Summers!"
The blonde on the other side of the net walks a few yards past the end line before turning around. Sam grimaces slightly, because she knows what's coming. The dreaded `Summers Jump-Serve'. So named, because Buffy and Faith are the only players on the tour, who can deliver it inside the court often enough to make use of it.
The girl sends the ball shooting straight forward with great speed, again aiming it towards Brooke. It crosses the net just barely, licking at the top band, and attempts to land a few feet in front of the blonde. Sam holds her breath, frozen in place, as Brooke desperately dives to save the ball, and the game with it. But she's a second too late and an inch too short, and ends up eating sand while the ball mercilessly hits the ground in front of her.
The crowd goes wild along with the announcer and their opponents. Sam just closes her eyes and tries to ignore the depressing cheers. And curses the unfair jump serve in her mind. When she opens her eyes again, she finds Brooke sitting on her knees and cradling the ball in her lap, desperately trying to hide her disappointment.
Sam walks up to her teammate and offers a hand. Brooke hesitates a second and then accepts it, and pulls herself off the ground, "It was a good game, Brooke," Sam attempts to console the girl. Brooke's face stays blank as she nods her head once.
Done with the hugging and the celebrating, the winners crouch their way under the net and jog towards Brooke and Sam. They shove out their hands and offer lame smiles and similar sentences as Sam, "Great game, you guys! You almost had us there," Buffy says, giving Brooke a quick hug.
Sam sees from the corner of her eye, how her stepsister forces out the fake happy face. And hears how she seemingly cheerily blurts out a reply, "It sure was. And a great serve there in the end, Buffy! Seriously, it was..."
"... so goddamn unfair! Fuck! It should be banned! It's not fair that they can jump ten times higher than everyone else!" Brooke screams and shouts as they enter their hotel room.
Sam slouches in quietly behind the blonde and closes the door. She's been listening to the venting on and off a good fifteen minutes now. With Brooke's voice raising and lowering according to the amount of people who've been in hearing range. Sam sighs in relief when there's a longer than usual pause in the flow of words. She places the small trophy they won on the table, and turns to study Brooke. Who has sat down on her bed and buried her face in her hands.
"It's just a game, Br..." Sam tries, but only succeeds in rousing another outpouring of emotions.
"And you just HAD TO screw up the serve, didn't you?!" Brooke yells, looking up from the hands, "Our only chance of winning, and you hit it in the net... God!"
Even the shreds of compassion disappear from Sam's face and her voice, "Don't go there, Brooke," she says menacingly. Not in the mood for volley ball lessons.
"How hard is it to get the ball over the net?!" Brooke ignores Sam's advice and keeps screaming, "It's like the first thing you learn: The serve. Must. Go. Over the net!" the girl emphasizes her words by nodding her head along with them.
Sam waits a while, glaring intently at her stepsister, who only glares back. She tries to keep telling herself that Brooke is just disappointed. And that the screaming doesn't mean anything. But it does, and in the end Sam has no choice but to reply, "Fuck you, Brooke," she mutters.
The glare on Brooke's face becomes more insecure and she shifts her eyes off Sam, "That's real mature, Sam," the blonde says, "You know, you gotta admit your mistakes and learn..."
"You wanna talk about mature?" Sam cuts in with an angry voice, "How about accepting a little blame yourself? That second to last ball you had a perfect chance to get us a point, and you totally choked up!"
"Your set up was too high!" Brooke screams and jumps up from the bed. Sam is slightly taken aback when she finds the blonde's eyes watering up, "I couldn't reach it properly!"
"Oh, please," Sam still goes on, but a little more hesitantly, "It was SO your ball."
"IT WAS NOT!" Brooke yells even louder, and takes a step towards Sam, "I couldn't reach it! It wasn't my fault," Brooke whines, while an actual tear slides down her cheek, "Say it wasn't my fault."
"Jesus Christ. What is WRONG with you?" she says.
Brooke flails on her feet a second and more tears escape her eyes, "Say it wasn't my fault," she begs again.
And suddenly the girl seems so small to Sam. Small and fragile. And she feels helpless in front of her plead, "It wasn't your fault," she quickly blurts out. Brooke falters back a step and sits down on the bed again. Sam studies nervously how the blonde hides her face in her hands again. Her body starts to shudder from quiet sobs. Sam crosses the floor and sits down next to the girl, "It's just a game, Brooke," she feebly mutters, circling her arms over the crumbling form and pulling it close to her. Brooke presses her head down on Sam's shoulder, but doesn't talk anymore. Sam just holds her and decides she'll take the blame from now on. It's easier that way, if it spares herself and Brooke from this kind of agony.
A few minutes go by before Brooke finally opens her mouth, "I just wanted to win so badly," she mumbles.
"Yeah, me too," Sam replies without relinquishing her grip. She likes the closeness of the other girl. She likes sharing a room with her. Likes it, how she's come to know different sides of Brooke. How they've become so much closer this summer. And she even likes this vulnerable side of the blonde, though, she's a little scared of it at the same time.
"I'm sorry, Sam," Brooke breathes out wearily, "You wanna sleep in my bed tonight?"
"Okay," Sam says.
< tbc >
Thanks for reading,