Title: When You Came Back
Disclaimer: Characters are not mine. They belong to other people.
Archive: http://www.realmoftheshadow.com/megan.htm (My eternal gratitude to Kim for saving my stories from oblivion)
Summary: Brooke's coming home to an old lover.
Author's Notes: Silly little drivel that came to me tonight. This was muchly inspired by an Ani Difranco song called `You Had Time'. Set after the series with a few exceptions. Brooke and Sam have been in a relationshippy place. And no car crashes.
You went away. Said it didn't feel right, and left. Said you needed time, and were gone. Before I could even think of an answer. It wasn't fair, and you knew it. Just didn't care enough. About me. And certainly not about us.
"It's a great opportunity", you said to your dad one night. You said it to him, but you were looking at me, "A year abroad is gona look great in my college applications."
And he agreed. Of course he did. Everybody did. And in as short a time, as month, you were gone. I was so angry the whole time, that I didn't even talk to you. Oh, how many times I have cursed my own pigheadedness! So you hurt me worse than anyone ever has, so what? A month is still a month, and a month with you is heaven. Even if we are only arguing, time with you is still better, than time without you. And the way we left things, it was impossible to try to patch them up through phone calls or letters.
You went away. And I couldn't even talk to you.
"Wow!", you say, and drop your bags on the floor, "Haven't changed a bit, Sam."
I return your forced smile with my own. I could almost say the same thing to you. Your hair is the same, an inch shorter maybe. Still split in the middle, and tucked behind your ears. Just the way I like it. But you're also wearing a red shirt, I don't remember seeing before. It fits all wrong. It doesn't belong here.
There's an awkward moment, when neither of us knows, how, or if, to initiate a hug anymore. Then you throw caution to the wind, and your arms around me. Your head lands on my shoulder, and I'm glad I don't have to smile anymore. It was starting to hurt my mouth. I feel your skin against mine for the first time in a year. It hasn't changed. Still as soft, and as smooth, as before. Some things, even England can't change.
"Don't you talk anymore, Sam?", you say, and pull back.
It's easy for you to return here. Easy, with all your worldly experience. Easy, because everything's been done according to your terms. Your plans. It's harder, when I'm the one who has been hurt, and at the same time, I'm the one who wants to say, I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I let you go without saying good-bye. I'm sorry, I let you go on thinking I hated you the whole year. I'm sorry, I let you go.
"Sure", I say, and nod. The smile returns to your mouth. It isn't as forced this time, "Do you...", I start to say, then clear my throat and start again, "Do you want me to get your bags?"
You shrug, and change your smile to a more impish one. Just a touch, but I still see it. I see how well it fits your hair. And how awfully it clashes with your shirt, "You can take the heftier one", you say, and nudge one of the bags with your foot.
I try to smile back. I want to smile back. I want you to know, it's not so bad. But it's hard work, smiling. So very hard.
Instead, I nod, and big up the bag. You do the same, and we turn to go.
After the first five steps, you talk again. Your voice is the same. That's four for me, one for England, "Sam... did you mean what you said over the phone?", you say, "That you don't hate me anymore?"
I don't answer at first. Talking is hard work too. So very hard, "I never hated you", I'm finally able to say, when we're still a distance away from the exit.
"Good", you reply immediately.
Your voice, the familiar voice, comes from surprisingly close to me. I take a quick glance. There's no buffer zone between us. There's just me. And you.
England. You went there. Funny, how a small thing like that, can make me hate an entire nation so passionately. I never had anything against England before.
"She said, she's fitting right in there. The people are really friendly", mom told me one time, more than a month after you'd gone. It was the first time, I agreed to even talk about you.
"I'm sure", I muttered a reply to her, "When they're not busy hooligaaning at a football game."
Mom was befuddled, when you went, and I got so cranky all of a sudden. Even your dad was a little mystified.
But I couldn't tell them what was wrong. I couldn't tell them, you actually went, to get away from me. I couldn't tell them, how much it hurt when you left me, because you thought I was disgusting. What we had was disgusting. So disgusting, you needed to go halfway across the world, to be safe from it. You never said it in so many words, but I read between the lines.
With you, I always have to be on the lookout for hidden clues. Sometimes I love it, and sometimes I hate you. Even when I say I don't.
"So, how was your school in England?", I ask, when we're on the freeway, and I can pay less attention to the driving.
You're staring out the window, when I glance at you. I love you, when you're lost in thought. I love, how you look so aloof then. Some people are like that, made to be admired, not to admire. It's hard to get through to them, to you.
"It was...", you answer after a time, "Pretty much the same, actually", your eyes never leave the window.
"Really?", I say, and turn to look ahead again.
"Well, with school uniforms as the added bonus", you say, and you're more here again. In this moment. In this car. With me.
"YOU wore a school uniform?", I ask incredulously.
A short laughter escapes my mouth, when I don't pay attention, "I would love to have seen that!", I say. And for a short moment, the awkwardness leaves. All the best times spent with you, come back to me now. All the great moments in time. And the bad stuff that followed, seem so trivial compared to them
"I bet you would", you say, and the joy in your voice tells me, you feel the same. I glance at you again, and your smile is as pure as ever, "Remember how...", you start to say, but as unexpectedly as the oppressive mood lifted, it comes back. And your voice trails off. And your smile is, at first, frozen in place, and then quickly dwindling away. You turn to look out the side window.
We travel in silence for the next minute. Past is off limits. Or, at least, you think so. Or, you think, I think so, and you are just being nice to me. Trying to make some kind of amends.
"So, in your opinion, schools here are the same as schools in England. Just without the uniforms?", I say, retreating back to safer ground.
Funny, how England is safe ground, and the past isn't. I should hate England. Even more. It took you away. And I should love the past, where I had you. Where I still have you.
You don't answer me. Not for a long time. I pick our way through the maze of cars, and eventually we reach our exit ramp. You're still silently staring out the window. Night is falling.
"I guess I wasn't totally honest there", you finally answer me, "England was nothing like here", I find you staring at me this time. Your eyes are very intense, like your voice. You're not just chatting anymore, "I didn't have you there."
I took the habit of sleeping in your bed, whenever I could. It wasn't some perverse obsession, it was just to keep your memory clearer. At first it seemed like the year would never be over. And then it seemed like it would be over too soon. I started dreading the day I would see you again, as much as I'd expected it at first. You were coming home, but I couldn't be sure, if you'd be you anymore. You might be some English chick, with an incomprehensible accent. Sometimes it's better to stick with memories. With them, I know what I get.
They're very sweet sometimes.
You eating grapes. Me advising you to eat something more. You ignoring my advice. Me getting angry. You closing up. Me pressing you. You leaving.
Sometimes they are very depressing.
"I mean come on, Sam. It won't ever work", you said with strained patience in your voice, "We're supposed to be sisters."
I sneered, and threw a mocking glare towards you, "We are not sisters, Brooke", I said, "You can't just take two girls, put them in the same house, and call them sisters. I mean, there're all kinds of rules that sisterly relationships are supposed to include. And we don't cut it."
"Even if so, they think of us that way. Your mom. My dad", you said. You were very convinced it was wrong. And I hated you. I didn't understand, how you could see us as something ugly, "I... just... I need time, Sam. Away from all this", you told me. And I cried alone. But never in front of you.
But sometimes there are sweet memories too. From a time even further back. When you didn't think we were ugly. When you loved me, and things were easier. Newer.
Like the memory of you kissing me lightly on the lips, and snuggling closer to me, when I'm only moments away from sleep.
The memories are very sweet sometimes. And I've never hated you, even when I sometimes think I have.
"Sam?", you call again.
I hear you, but I don't answer. Life is funny. I'm funny. The way I don't know what I want from this funny life. I'm exited, and I'm scared. You're everyhing I want, and I'm scared of having you.
"Sam?", you say.
I slam on the brakes, and steer the car on the bench, away from the traffic. We come to an abrupt stop, and you jolt forward a little. Your hair escapes from behind your ears, and comes to hang on your face. The way I love it.
"You can't just...", I start talking, and lean my forehead against the wheel, "You can't come back here, and expect that... what do you even want, Brooke?"
I don't see you, but I feel your hand, as it comes and starts stroking the back of my head. I want to jump away from it, but I can't. Cause it's your hand.
"You, Sam. I want you", you say.
Of course you do. I scoff, and lean back on the seat, "I... This... I can't believe you, Brooke. You have some nerve", I say forcefully, nodding my head, and glaring at you, "You didn't want me a year ago. What's changed?"
"Nothing has", you say immediately. You're very prepared for this. Again we're playing by your rules, "And that's the point. I still love you. Just as much", you're staring straight into my eyes. And you convince me. Cause it's you, and I love you, "I thought it would go away, if we weren't together all the time. But it didn't."
A few tears start sliding down my cheeks. You're smiling. And I can have you. If I want to, I can have you again, "So, you just come waltzing back here, and I'm supposed to take you back?"
You shake your head weakly, and look away, "No", you say, barely loud enough for me to hear, "That's your choice."
My mouth is left hanging open, when I don't know how to answer. Finally it's my turn to choose. I get to decide, and you have to go along with it. I'm in the position to hurt you. Maybe not as badly as you hurt me, but I can hurt you. If I want to.
When you turn back to me, I know what I want. I can have it again. I reach over, and pull you close to me. I crush you against my chest.
"Don't. Ever. Hurt. Me. Again", I press each word with equal force, and squeeze you even harder.
"I won't", you whisper, "Promise."
I start crying, and you're comforting me. With your hands tenderly caressing my back. For the first time in a year, I think I can live again.
You came back to me.
< end >
Thanks for reading,