Title: Forever Young

Author: Megan

Email: shy_grrl@hotmail.com

Disclaimer: Characters belong to other people. Well, some are mine. Feedback: Yes, please. Just be gentle, I break easily.

Archive: http://www.realmoftheshadow.com/megan.htm (My eternal gratitude to Kim for saving my stories from oblivion)

Summary: Takes place on two timelines. In one Brooke finds out she's pregnant. The other one is set six years into future, where in Brooke struggles to raise her child, and Sam does her best to help.

Author's notes: Haven't done anything in third person pov in a real long time, so I'm not sure how that's gona work. This is a new series with kind of a far fetched idea. I've also altered some of the characters pretty much, namely Mike and Jane. Also, I still don't know New York that well, though I now have an idea that a girl in Brooke's situation couldn't afford to live in Greenwich Village. But let's pretend she can. Special thanks goes to Carla for all the cool NY pointers and facts. You've been a tremendous help.



It helps to run. It always helps to run.

Faster and farther than the day before.

That's the way it goes. Every day the girl endures it a little bit better. Every day she has to exert herself a little more to clear her mind. But it also always helps. When she is physically exhausted, she's mentally charged. She can think. She can make decisions.

She can plan.

The trick is to NOT think when she's doing the running. That way there's a clean slate from where to start. And it's easy not to think while running, she just fixes her eyes a few feet ahead of her. Stares at the track, that doesn't change. It goes on forever. And if she tries real hard, she can even forget that she's running circles. She can forget that she's not actually getting anywhere. She can pretend she's running this endless straight line. She can hope that when she stops, she'll have reached a whole different world.

But that's as far as the girl lets herself go. Soon as the first images of the new world hit her head, she'll loop back to the start. She'll concentrate on the track again. Cause otherwise it might get too close to thinking. And she can't have that. Running has to be done with an empty mind. That's the rule.

When her breathing becomes desperate. And her feet don't land exactly on the same line anymore. And her arms start to get heavy. Then she knows, that the end is near. Her stamina is failing. With her last strength the girl picks up speed and runs as fast as she can, until her legs give out from under her. And she tumbles down onto her knees.

She draws in air with long gasps. For a few seemingly endless seconds, she thinks she's gona faint. Then the dizziness passes. And she can see again. The world stops spinning. The girl moves into a sitting position and draws her legs up against her chest.

In the distance, she can see another runner. It's rare that she sees anyone else on the track, this early in the morning. First time actually. Since Tuesday, when she started the routine. The girl lets her eyes follow the runner, but her mind starts to wander.

She has already come to a decision in some things. Like leaving. It's the only way she'll get to do things her way. If she stays, her dad will take control. She might be able to avoid an abortion, but she wouldn't be able to keep the baby. Her father has a way of convincing her of almost anything. She can't say no to her father. The result of ten years depending only on each other.

Money. That's the biggest problem. She'll need lots of it at first. She won't be able to work near the end of the pregnancy, nor right after it, when the baby is so small. And helpless. And cute. Precious.

Without even realizing it, the girl's mouth has twisted into a smile.

Getting money. That shouldn't be too hard. She comes from a rich family. She has stuff she can sell. Lots of stuff. Jewelry, clothes, CDs, her car. That should fetch a decent price. It's less than a year old. She can start mooching money from her dad. For bogus reasons, and then saving it. Her dad rarely denies money from her. Cause she has showed time and time again she can be responsible. She can go to Nicole for help. Despite some of her... less admirable qualities, Nicole has always been there for her. And if push comes to shove, she can even go to Josh. And then there's the social services. Something she should look into.

The runner has rounded the far curve, and is now coming towards the girl.

Location. That's really not a problem. More like a choice. If she gets enough money, she can go anywhere. Somewhere far. East. Like Japan. It even excites her a little. It'll be fun to get away. She has never really traveled that much.

The runner comes closer. It's no one the girl knows, and she's happy about that.

Taking care of the baby. She was wrong, she realizes. Money isn't the biggest problem. Her most difficult task will be raising the baby. It's such an overwhelming thought. Being all alone, responsible for another human being. A being, that has no one else in the world to depend on. What if she can't do it? What if she makes a mistake? And hurts her child. She couldn't live with that. The girl makes a promise to herself. If things, at any point, get too hard for her to handle, she'll call home. No matter how difficult the call might be for her. She won't put the baby in any risk. She'd rather give it away.

The runner has now become a walker. He's coming towards her.

But as frightening as the thought of raising a child is, it is also very appealing. She loves the idea, of having this little creature around. All the time. To love, and to hold. Teach things. To protect. And to eventually, have grow into an independent girl. Or a boy. Girl or a boy... the gender issue hasn't even crossed her mind until now. Which would she prefer? Either would be fine. Really. Maybe she'd like a little girl just a tiinie, tiny bit better.

The walker stops some ten feet away from her, "You okay?", he asks.

The girl smiles, "I will be", she says and stands up.


"Tighter, mom!", Katie squeals excitedly. The girl loves skating. As much as her mother does. Or did. No, does. She still loves it as much, just doesn't have the time for it anymore, "Make it tighter!"

"I can't", Brooke answers, pulling the strings with all her strength, "The skates are just too big for you. No way around it", she continues.

"Stupid skates!", Katie grumbles, and starts to mope, "Why can't I get my own?"

Brooke smiles to the girl, and adjusts her cap, so it won't hang on her eyes, "Cause they are expensive. And then a year later your giant feet won't fit into them anymore."

She takes a seat next to her daughter on the bench, and proceeds to put on her own skates. Hers are old. Old old. California old. A Christmas present from her father, all those years ago. When they still talked to each other. When they still laughed together. Memories are funny. They make her sad and happy at the same time.

"I don't have giant feet...", Katie talks quietly, while eyeing down at her own legs.

Brooke smothers a laughter and straightens her back, "Well, not yet. But next year", she says grinning widely, "You'll be taller than me, and your feet will crush smaller people left and right."

"No they won't!", the girl turns to look at her outraged.

"That's what the doctors told me. When you were born", Brooke softens her smile a touch. It's her way of letting the girl know she's kidding, "Now, go forth and skate", Katie hops down from the bench, and almost falls on her face straight away. The little girl manages to keep her balance with the greatest effort, "Boy... you're rusty", Brooke laughs, "We need to do this more often."

Katie shoots her an evil glare, and starts kicking her way mid ice. Katie is quite the decent skater. And she loves it to no amount. She loves it, because that's something she knows her mother also loves. She loves it, how her mother's face is always shining when they go out onto the ice. The way they have been going every winter, for as long as she can remember. At least two years. This making it three. Katie learned to skate right after she learned to walk. Or that's what her mother told her.

Katie stops when she has reached the center, or what she thinks is the center, and turns around. Mom is still sitting on the bench, looking at her. She waves a hand, when she notices Katie looking back.

The girl likes to stand in the center of the rink, and look at all the other skaters circle around her. Especially, when there are a lot of them. Today isn't such a day. Once, last year, when they went to another rink, far far away, in the big park, there were SO many people! It was fun to watch them at first, but when she tried to go skate for herself, it was impossible. There was no room! She ended up having to hold her mother's hand the entire time they were there.

She turns a full circle once more, and then starts back towards her mother. Halfway there, her left skate slips from under her weight, and she falls down. Quickly she looks up, if her mother witnessed the embarrassing fumble, and of course she did! Her mother ALWAYS sees everything. And now she's gotten up, and is skating up to her daughter. Katie furiously struggles back on her feet, and fixes her cap again.

"Did you find something, little girl?", her mother asks, coming to a stop in front of her. Mom's skating always seems so effortless. Like she's floating on the ice, like she doesn't have to do anything to move. And Katie herself, has to kick with her small legs all she can, just to move a few feet.

"These skates are too big mom!", the girl whines, "It's impossible to stay up!"

Brooke smiles an understanding smile and nods, "I know", she says, "We'll get you better ones next time."

Brooke can see Katie isn't happy. But the girl lets it pass. She's used to it by now. Not the first time they've gotten lousy skates from the rental-guy. Though, this time it was Brooke's fault. She thought, for sure Katie's foot size had grown from last winter. Apparently not.

In the far corner of the rink, next to a small band of people playing hockey, Brooke notices two young women spinning around a small circle, holding each others hands. Something about the taller one looks familiar to her. She is about to head closer when Katie distracts her, "Can you do a jump mom?", the girl asks, totally surprising her.

"What?", she frowns, and turns to stare down at her daughter, "A jump? No way."

"Oh", disappointment rings so clear in the weak voice, "But Sammy said, you used to do jumps when you were young."

Again with Sammy and her saids. Brooke is getting real tired of them. It's like the brunette is deliberately trying to make the present day her look bad, compared to the past her, "Katie...", she says, "You have to understand something. When your aunt Sam tells you all these things...", Brooke starts. And then stops. The girl doesn't need to hear her stupid thoughts, about how she's changed. About how she's not the same person anymore. About, how the person Sam remembers, never actually even existed. She's just this idealized memory of a younger Brooke, "She's talking about things that happened a long time ago. I used to skate a lot more back then."

Katie is quiet for a while. Just keeps staring at her. Brooke looks away, back towards the familiar figure. The duet has now fallen down, so that the taller one is on top, trying to get up, but the shorter one keeps pulling her back down.

"So, you can't do a jump?", Katie again interrupts her.

Brooke smiles and shakes her head, "I don't think so. Not straight up anyway. Maybe after a few tries", she says, not wanting to completely crush the little girl's image of her as the superwoman, "When'd you talk to Sam about this anyway?"

"Yesterday. I told her we were going skating."

Brooke frowns again, "Yesterday? Didn't we decide on this in the morning?"

"I decided yesterday", Katie answers smugly, and starts skating again.

She heads for the opposite direction from the familiar figure, and Brooke is torn between following her daughter, and going up to check who the girl is. She decides to follow Katie. The rink should be safe, but you never know for sure. She can never relax, unless she knows for absolute certainty that Katie is safe.

Brooke glides past the girl, then spins around, and proceeds to skate backwards in front of her. Katie glances at her and tries furiously to go faster. She almost loses her balance a couple of times, when the skates slip, "Katie... not like that", Brooke says. Grabbing the girl by the shoulders, she stops them both.

"It's not my fault!", the girl whines, "It's the stupid skates!"

Brooke tilts her head, and looks directly into the girls eyes, "It's okay to blame the skates once. But after that, it's useless. You have to make do with what you've got, Katie", she says, and kneels down in front of the girl.

"But how?!", her daughter's face is so desperate. It's adorable how the girl takes everything so seriously. Adorable, yet a little worrisome. Cause it reminds Brooke of herself as younger, and she doesn't want Katie to turn into a perfectionist.

"Well... first off", she starts, and looks down at Katie's feet, "You have to stop tiptoeing like that. Use the whole blade when you push."

"I AM using the whole blade", Katie still whines.

And Brooke looks up at the girl. With a blank face. She doesn't need to say anything, "And with too large skates like these, you can't put them sideways too much. Cause that's when they slip away from under you", she takes a hold of Katie's left ankle, and aligns the foot with the rest of the girl, "You have to skate like a figure skater, not like a hockey player."

"But I like hockey", the girl mutters.

Brooke grins, and stands up again, "Well, then you better get a stick. Now, show me what you got."

Katie tries to follow her mother's instructions. She tries to keep the skates straight, and she tries to kick with the whole blade, and not just with the tip. But it's hard, cause her feet don't obey her commands the way they should.

"That's great Katie!", her mother calls from behind her, "Just... don't kick so often. Push once, and then slide and..."

"Watch out!"

The sudden scream breaks Katie's concentration. She tries to look back, where it came from, but in doing so, she loses her balance and falls down.

Brooke also startles from the scream, that comes only a few feet from behind her. She spins around, just in time to get hit by another skater. A sharp blow to her left side knocks the wind out of her. The strength of the collision is enough to throw them both down. Brooke falls on her back, hitting her head on the ice, as the other skater falls on top of her.

Her vision blurs for a moment, and she tries to correct it by shaking her head lightly, "Skate much?", the words emit from her mouth, before she even sees the attacker.

"Oh my God! Are you okay Brooke?", the voice and the picture come to her at the same moment. She sees Sam's face hovering above her, and hears her words ringing in her ears, "I'm so sorry!"

"Sam?", Brooke mutters and frowns. Why is Sam here? She didn't expect Sam to be here. For a short moment, she gets lost in her head. She sees the world as it was years ago, at the indoors ice rink in California. Where she used to go with all the other Olympic winner wannabes. And Sam. Who only came to make fun of her when she fell down.

"Mom!", a high pitched shriek pushes the dizziness aside, and pulls her back to this world. This is the voice, it would bring her back from the dead. Nothing, absolutely nothing could keep her away, when the voice needs comforting.

"I'm okay", she assures the frantic voice immediately, and fights herself up to sit. Katie is desperately scrambling to get to her mother, "I'm okay!", Brooke repeats through a quiet chuckle.

But the girl isn't stopping. She doesn't give up, until she's in her mothers arms. Brooke hugs her, in a slightly confused state of mind. Her head turns and she sees Sam still kneeling there close by, looking back at the two. Next to Sam is the eyeglass-girl from the library. Rebecca? Something with an R.

"I'm okay, Katie", the blonde repeats once more, running a hand through the girls hair. Wasn't she wearing a cap?, "Really, I am."

"Are you sure?", Sam says with a worried look, "Cause you hit your head on the ice pretty badly..."

Brooke shoots her a glare, telling the brunette to shut up. No need to discuss such things with Katie there, "I'm fine", she says again, "What happened to your hat, Katie?"

"You hit your head mom?", the little girl only asks back, pulling away from the hug.

"Nouu", Brooke huffs, and tries to smile encouragingly to her daughter, "Maybe I bumped it a little, but I wouldn't call it hitting."

"But you always say...", Katie just won't relax.

"Look, I'm fine!", Brooke looks straight into the girls eyes and smiles, "Nothing wrong with me", she assures, despite the headache she can feel hiding just around the corner, "Now where's your hat?"

Katie only shrugs, and looks down, "Oh, hey! Look, there it is", the R-girl chirps, skating up to where Katie fell down. She retrieves the white cap from the ice, and comes back.

"Thanks", Brooke says, taking hold of the item handed her way. She dusts it clean from what little snow has attached to it, and glances at Sam again. The brunette is still looking worriedly her way, "So what's up with you?", Brooke mumbles, "You really should watch where you're going."

"I know. I'm so sorry", Sam replies quietly.

Brooke contemplates on whether to push it further. She can't get it out of her head, what if it had been Katie in her place? Sam could've really hurt the tiny girl. But that's another thing her daughter doesn't need to hear about, so she lets it pass.

"You have to keep your hat on", Brooke instead says, turning towards the girl, and placing the cap on her head, "Otherwise you'll catch a cold", Katie is still all quiet, and serious. And staring at the ice. So the blonde slowly lets her hand slide across the girl's cheek, and stands up, "What are you doing here anyway?", she asks the two students.

"Katie mentioned you were coming...", Sam starts talking, but then halts and glances at the R-girl.

Brooke's eyes instinctually follow suit, and she finds Sam's friend glaring back at the brunette. An awkward silence falls over the scene of the accident, and Brooke has no idea what to make of it. And she really doesn't even care. All she wants is for Katie to enjoy the day, the way she was supposed to.

"Hey kitten!", she calls in a demanding voice, and the girl finally looks up, "Shouldn't we be doing some serious skating?"

The girl twists her face into a frown, "I don't feel like it anymore", she whines.

"Come on!", Brooke enthuses, and points towards the other end of the rink, "Look. Hockey!", she says, remembering the girl's earlier comment, and directing her attention to the small number of people, crammed into a smaller space, exercising what could loosely be called hockey, "Wanna go watch?"

"Fine", Katie replies, with the same voice, showing no interest whatsoever.

But Brooke knows her daughter. In a few minutes she will have forgotten everything, and will again be complaining about her overly large skates.

"Brooke?", Sam calls, before they can make their escape, "I'm sorry", she says when the blonde turns to look.

For a few seconds they stare into each others eyes, and then Brooke smiles. Cause she knows Sam truly is sorry, and she knows Sam is genuinely concerned for her health. And she knows Sam would never in a million years hurt her intentionally, "Don't worry about it", she says. Taking hold of her daughter's hand, she heads away.


"I will be fine. I will be. Fine", the girl repeats the words countless of times, while letting the falling water caress her naked skin. Her eyes are clenched shut, to keep the threatening tears at bay. She doesn't even know why she's feeling so sad, and scared. Only minutes ago, when she returned to the dressing room from her running session, she was fine, happy even, "I will be", she repeats again, in a quiet whisper.

In the shower, something had set her off. The shear horror of carrying a living thing inside of her, had again attacked her. There is no way she can deal with this alone! Sometimes the fear is so overwhelming, it consumes everything. And becomes the only thing she can think of. Not just the giving birth part, but also the entire pregnancy. The entire life after the birth. All these things she has to face alone, and she doesn't know how to. There is no one she can turn to for help, cause everyone has their own agendas. Everyone has these huge expectations of her, of what she should be, what she should become. And a teenage mother isn't up there on the list.

It's on her own list, though. This is what the girl wants. Even if it scares her to death. But it would help SO much to have even only a single person to talk to. Sometimes it feels like Sam could be that person. Her stepsister can be very compassionate when she wants to.

And Sam has the greatest timing. The blonde girl opens her eyes, when she senses someone close by. And there is the brunette, standing in the doorway, that separates the shower area from the dressing room, "What will you be, Brooke?", the girl asks her.

Sam's stare is fixed on her, and it's making Brooke very uncomfortable. She quickly turns the shower off, and grabs her towel from the rack close by, "Nothing", Brooke answers the brunette's question, not wanting to show her discomfort. She glances back at her stepsister, and finds the girl still looking at her, "Could you maybe stop with the ogling?", pervert, she adds in her mind.

"What?", Sam blushes and quickly turns her back, to give Brooke some privacy, "Oh, I'm sorry! God... I wasn't... you know... looking at YOU... so much...", the girl starts babbling and blurting out explanations, "I was just... trying to see...", there's a short pause, while she gathers what little thought she has left in her head, and finishes the sentence, "It doesn't show at all. The pregnancy."

"Oh", right, of course Sam was just looking at her stomach. Cause anything above... or below that, would've been... too disturbing to get her mind mixed into at this time. So Brooke pushes all the nasty thoughts out of her head, "Thanks... I guess. Or... whatever", she shakes her head, and finishes drying her hair, "What are you doing here?"

"I wanted to check up on you", Sam talks, with her back still turned, "I worry sometimes... should you be running so much, with the baby?"

Brooke can't help but smile. This is exactly what she meant with Sam being compassionate. The girl can say, and do the sweetest things, when you least expect her to, "It's fine. It's actually better that I stay in shape, it's gona make the whole thing a lot easier", Brooke says, "I read it in a book", she adds, a little proud of herself for doing some research.

Sam is quiet for a minute, giving the blonde just enough time to dry herself, and tie the towel over her body to cover her private parts, "Really? But you're eating so little", the brunette starts talking again.

"Yeah?", Brooke replies testily. She doesn't like the tone of Sam's voice.

"And... I just thought that...", Sam has trouble forming sentences of her thoughts again, "You wouldn't be trying to... get rid of the baby like this?", what?! Brooke opens her mouth to yell a protest, but it never leaves her lips, and so Sam goes on, making it even worse, "Cause there are better ways Brooke. Safer ways. I could come with you..."

"Shut up already!", the blonde finally manages to scream, making Sam jerk and spin around, "Just shut up!", she repeats to the girl's face, and doesn't know whether to laugh or cry. Just when she thought Sam was coming around to her side, seeing the baby as the beautiful blessing that it is, and not as a burden, the brunette goes and ruins everything by pulling the abortion card out of her sleeve, "How can you...", Brooke starts, and laughs a little, while tears form in her eyes. She looks away, "This is what I want. This is MY baby, and I won't kill it!"

Sam takes a few seconds again, giving Brooke time to cool down, if only a little, "I didn't mean that... or... I did but... I was just worried."

"How can you think I would do something like that? You should know better", Brooke talks more quietly this time. Sam's words were again perfect. Worried, she would like to believe that Sam is worried about her. She would like to think Sam only has her best in mind. But it's hard, when every other sentence tells her the exact opposite.

"How could I know?", Sam says, and her voice sounds hurt. So much even, that Brooke has to look at the girl, "When you don't tell me anything. I can't read minds, Brooke", again the words make Brooke smile. This time straight to the brunette's face. She smiles through the tears, because she knows Sam cares, really cares about her, "And it wouldn't be killing your baby. It's just...", and there she goes, blowing it all away.

Why?! Why can't Sam EVER stop when she's ahead?! She says the stupidest things sometimes, "Please, keep your pro-choice propaganda bullshit to yourself", Brooke growls, cutting Sam off mid sentence, leaving her mouth hanging open, "I can't talk to you, Sam. Cause everything you say is intended to get me to do things your way."

"No, it's not!", Sam protests.

"It is!", Brooke shouts back, "It so is. I can see it in you, every time you bring up this abortion stuff. You're just holding your breath, and hoping that I'll somehow agree to it."

"That is not true, Brooke", Sam states adamantly, and then pauses for a few moments. Brooke looks away, she wants to believe the brunette, and her lies, "I'm not trying to make you do anything you don't want. I'm just pointing out options."

"So, you're not secretly praying that I'll get an abortion?", Brooke asks quietly.

"No! God, no."

The blonde turns her icy glare back to Sam, "I don't believe you", she says, with little doubt in her voice.


Brooke rubs her forehead with one hand, while pushing the door open with the other. The headache, she thought was hiding around the corner, had actually been waiting for her at the coffee shop. And it had jumped her the second she stepped in. In the thirty minutes they spent in the cafe, it has developed into a nausea inducing, killer headache.

Just the thought of the some twenty blocks, separating them from home, is enough to make Brooke wince in agony. Katie slips past her, and steps outside, "Are we gona go see the Empire State Building, mom?", the girl asks enthusiastically.

It has almost become a routine for them. After skating, they usually walk the couple of blocks from the rink to the building, and stare at it for a while. Brooke always finds it fascinating, how much Katie likes to just look at big things. Big buildings. Or just looking in general. The little girl strangely prefers looking to doing in most cases. It's weird.

"How about we don't go today?", Brooke asks back, and follows the girl out. The cold air soothes the pain a little, and she feels better. A lot better, but she knows it's only temporary. The only way she knows to kill a headache, is by sleeping, or eating a bucket of painkillers.

"Why not?", Katie is a little confused. She takes a hold of Brooke's hand, when it's offered, and looks up at her mother, "We always go there after skating."

"Yeaaah...", Brooke answers, and they start walking down the street hand in hand, "But today's a special day."

"Special how?", the girl demands to know. Her gaze turns involuntarily to her left, and across the street towards the skating rink. There're still a few people spinning around in the distance.

Brooke is furiously trying to come up with an excuse that would satisfy her daughter, "Guess", she says, when nothing comes to mind.

"Mmmm...", Katie starts to mumble, "Special cause we go for ice-cream?"

"Okay", Brooke quickly agrees with a nod, and a smile to the girl, "But you're buying."

Katie doesn't see her smile. The girl is too busy staring at the rink, "Special cause I get to stay up extra late?"


"What?", now Brooke gets the girl's full attention. Katie's head jerks back and she's gaping at her mother, "I never get to stay up late."

Brooke frowns, "What are YOU talking about? You stay up all the time."

"No I don't!", Katie argues.

"Eh... hello?", Brooke shakes her head and smirks, "How about last Wednesday, when we went to the movies?"

"That's different! It was... hey, aren't we going into the tunnel-train, mom?", the girl suddenly changes the subject, when she notices how they pass by the subway entrance.

"Tunnel train...", Brooke scoffs, and squints her eyes. Even the thought of the cramped up cars, traveling underground, is enough to bring back the headache, "No, we're not going into the tunnel train. We're taking the bus."

"Why are you making that funny face, mom?", Katie asks her. Brooke glances down at the girl, and finds her staring back with big eyes. She doesn't answer though. Just hopes the girl won't start obsessing, the way she sometimes does. Luckily not this time, "I have another special, mom."

"Another?", Brooke asks incredulously. Her eyes are scanning down the road, trying to spot a bus stop. She sees one just across the intersecting street. It's flooded with people. And Brooke frowns again. A cramped up bus is just as bad as a cramped up subway.

"Yeah, you could tell me what I get for Christmas?", Katie says, and Brooke can just picture the girl praying her little heart out, that she'll actually tell her.

"How should I know?", she says, looking straight ahead, "Do I look like a fat bearded guy to you?"

"Mom...", Katie whines.

"And I would NEVER wear so much red."

"Mom!", the girl shouts, "I know, you know, I know there's no Santa!"

"Oh, you know, I know, you know?", Brooke repeats with a short laughter.

"MOM!", Katie's furious by now, about ready to start jumping up and down, "Quit it!"

"Stop shouting, you're giving me a headache", Brooke says. She's about to point out, how wrong it is that the girl believes in Harry Potter and not in Santa Claus, but then decides not to. There'll be plenty of time to kill the girl's dreams later. It's good that there's a little magic in Katie's world now, she needs it. Everybody should have fantasies, "Oh!, hurry up!", Brooke urges her daughter. She notices the `walk' sign light up in the intersection, when they're still a good distance away, "We can make the light."

"No more running, mom!", the girl whines, but has little choice other than to start running, when her mother picks up speed, and drags her from her arm.

Brooke glances to her right, to make sure the girl can keep up, before they plunge onto the crosswalk. She almost bumps into an oncoming pedestrian, and a collision is only avoided by the man's quick reaction. The man scowls at her, while Brooke does her best to look apologetic, "Sorry", she mouths quietly, and keeps on moving forward. Once they're safely on the other side, Brooke slows down to a walk again.

"When I grow up, I'll never run again", Katie mutters angrily.

"Silly girl", Brooke laughs a little, and heads for the bus stop, "Funny, how you only complain about running, when I make you do it. Other times you're plenty happy doing it", she says, and grins a little wickedly at the girl, "Inside our HOME, for example."

Katie glares back at her, but has the sense to stay quiet. She has a pretty good notion already, when to argue with her mother, and when not to. The most important clue are the jokes. If her mother is joking, then fighting with her is pointless. She will only laugh off even the best arguments Katie makes. But if mom is angry, or high-strung, then she has a fighting chance. Then her mom can lose her temper, and later make up for it by caving in. The problem is, Katie feels bad about arguing with her those times. When she sees her mother is hurting.

Brooke leads her daughter to the fringes of the crowd, that has gathered to the stop. They come to stand right next to the small shelter. She glances at the little blonde girl again, who still appears uninterested to engage in a conversation. Brooke sighs quietly, and lets her eyes roam around the people. She doesn't actually expect to find a familiar face, but like so often in life, her expectations don't come true, "Oh!, look, it's...", she starts to say to her daughter, when she spots Sam and her friend standing slightly apart from the crowd. But her voice trails off, as the brunette lands a kiss on the R-girl's lips, "Sam...", her mouth whispers out the name. Not that Brooke herself even notices it from her astonishment. Her mouth is left hanging open, and her eyes are bulging out of their sockets. She had no idea Sam is... gay! She can't believe it!

"Where?", Katie finally shows interest in the outside world again. The girl's head is furiously spinning around.

The voice forces Brooke to focus again. For some reason, her first instinct is to cover Katie's eyes with her hand, "Nowhere!", she says loud, "I... I mean, I thought it was her...", she starts stuttering. Katie is trying to wriggle out of her hold, but Brooke doesn't let go, "But it wasn't."

"Why did you cover my eyes, mom?!", Katie demands to know. Brooke leaves the question alone for now, and instead takes a quick peek towards the two young women. They're standing close to each other, but at least they are not kissing anymore. She can't believe Sam is gay! The brunette is supposed to be her safety net. The one constant thing in her life. The person she can depend on, even if everything goes to Hell. And now this? This, which changes everything, "Mom, let me see!", Katie grabs her arm with both her hands, and starts pulling with all her might. Brooke finally lets go, but makes sure, she stands between the little girl, and Sam, "Why did you do that!", Katie screams.

"For fun", Brooke manages to utter through her confusion. She places her hands on Katie's shoulders, just so the girl won't start wandering about, and accidentally happen to see something she's not supposed to see.

"It wasn't fun", Katie says, sounding more than a little annoyed. And for good reason, Brooke can't deny that, "Where's the girl who looks like Sammy?"

"Oh, she's long gone by now", Brooke mutters distantly. She starts praying for the bus to come. Not that it does any good. Buses come and go according to timetables. Not even God can intervene with that, "While you were pretending to be blind."

"You're so annoying, mom", Katie says vehemently.

"And you just lost your ice-cream. Happy?", Brooke answers. She has to stay one step ahead of the girl, just to cover her own confusion. It wouldn't do, if Katie happened to see her aunt Sam with another woman. It just wouldn't do. Not that there is anything wrong with it. Brooke is very open-minded about these things. Very. But it just wouldn't do. Katie mutters something quietly under her breath, but Brooke can't make out the words. She decides to let it pass.

Brooke really had no idea about Sam. Why hasn't she ever told her? All this time they've been together, and Sam has never told her. It hurts, feels like she's been betrayed. Lied to. She tells the brunette everything herself. Everything. Every little detail about her life. About Katie's life. And turns out, she doesn't know the first thing about Sam.

Brooke glances behind her again. Sam and the other girl are now holding hands. And laughing together. She turns around again, and is greeted by her daughter's menacing glare. She smiles weakly to the girl, "Is that our bus?", Katie asks.

Brooke's gaze swings to the road, "Oh. It is our bus", she notes happily, when she sees the car pull up to the stop. She can't wait to get away from here, and to the safety of their home, "Come on", she urges her daughter to start moving. They start to edge their way closer to the bus stop, pushing through the masses. Brooke is more than a little relieved, when only a handful of people seem to be interested in getting on this particular bus. Means it shouldn't be too full. But she changes her mind the second they make it to the door, and find themselves face to face with Sam and her friend. Brooke stops in her tracks, and stares at the brunette with her mouth open.

Sam imitates her expression for a second, but then shakes out of it, "Oh. You taking this bus too?", she asks and shakes her head.

Brooke sees how the R-girl rolls her eyes, and seems generally unhappy with the situation, "Mmm... yeah", she says, and tries to smile, "We are."

"You were right, mom", Katie chirps, sounding a little less annoyed, "It was Sam."

"Shush now", she quickly says to the girl, and shakes her head to the two women, while giving them a weird smile. Trying to make it seem, like the girl is talking crazy.

Sam squints her eyes a little, and glances at the little girl. And then looks back up at Brooke briefly, before climbing inside the bus.


Sam turns her back only for a second. She turns to leave. Brooke has made it very clear, her company isn't appreciated. But even a second is sometimes long enough. She hears a thump behind her, and swings back around. The blonde is lying on the shower floor, with her arms sprawled to her side. The scene is enough to make her heart miss a beat. Enough to paralyze her.

It is exactly what she has feared all along. This queasy feeling in the pit of her stomach has been plaguing her, since the moment they found out Brooke was pregnant. She hasn't been able to shake it off. This feeling, that something irrevocable will happen, if she doesn't stay alert. Something will take Brooke away from her forever.

Brooke groans quietly and her head shifts slightly. And Sam breaks free from her invisible prison. She rushes to the girl's side, "Brooke?", she says worriedly, and gently picks up the blonde head in her hands. The eyes flicker open, but look so very distant, "Are you okay? What happened?", she frantically asks.

The girl furrows her brow a little, and starts weakly pushing herself up with her arms, "Uh... wh..at?", she mumbles.

Sam doesn't let go of the girl. She moves her hands down the head, and onto her shoulders, giving support, when the blonde finally manages to sit up. The skin feels so cold, and yet so smooth, under her palms. Flawless, "You hit your head!", Sam freaks out again, when she sees a small trickle of blood on the girl's forehead.

"Oh", Brooke again mutters. She raises her hand up and places it on the wound, "I must've slipped", she says, and brings the bloodied fingers down to her view.

Sam looks, how the blonde studies her own blood with disturbing interest. She didn't slip! No way. She fainted, and Sam knows it. Between the not eating, and the sudden increase in exercising, it's no wonder. And not to mention the baby. Sam doesn't understand, how Brooke can be so stupid! And so irresponsible!, "You didn't slip", she states a little angrily.

Brooke's eyes slowly move from the fingers to her, "I didn't?", she asks genuinely. She truly believes it herself.

"No, you fainted", Sam says, not as accusingly this time. She shouldn't be blaming Brooke now. First priority is to make sure she's okay, "We should go see the nurse. Can you stand up?"

"No nurses!", Brooke yelps quickly, and pushes herself away from Sam, "I'm fine", she says. Sam has to let go of the girl, when she crawls further away from her. She tilts her head a little, and gives the blonde a skeptical look. She doesn't say anything though. Just watches, how the girl slowly starts to fight herself to her feet, "Really, I am", Brooke assures again, when she shakily straightens her back.

"Yeah, you sure look fine", Sam says mockingly. She also stands up, and takes a step closer to her stepsister. And it's none too soon, as the girl staggers on her feet, and nearly falls back down. Sam comes to the rescue in the last moment, and steadies her from the shoulders, "We're gona go see the nurse, and that's that."

"Sam...", Brooke slowly says, starting to rub her temple with two fingers, to stop the world from spinning. She glances at the brunette, whose determined face ensures Brooke, that there is no room for negotiation. She sighs in resignation, and decides to try and lighten the mood, "Did you slip something in my drink?", she says, squinting her eyes a little, "Are you trying to have your way with me?", Brooke goes on. Sam gets all confused, and the weird mixed expression of worry and bewilderment, makes the blonde grin, no matter how hard she tries to hide it.

Sam is about to protest fiercely, but she notices the amusement on Brooke's face just in time, and saves herself from any further embarrassment by only grinning back. It's the first joke she's heard Brooke make all week. And it comes at the weirdest time. Right after they've had a huge argument. Maybe the blonde hit her head harder than she lets on.

The two girls start to inch their way out of the shower, with Sam assisting Brooke every step of the way, "Sam", the blonde says again, "If you promise to respect my choices, I can let you in on my secrets", she says quietly, with her head bowed down.

Sam glances at the blonde, and gets even more suspicious about the quick change of heart. But nothing in Brooke's posture indicates that the girl is scheming something. And Sam can't see, what she could possibly be trying to win with this. Sam, herself on the other hand, has lots to gain. Brooke's trust for one, "I promise", she replies, still looking at the girl.

Brooke turns to look back, and for a brief moment they look into each other's eyes. And Sam sees something new in them. She sees hope. She sees that Brooke's mind is made up, and changing it will be a great task indeed. Still, it is her job to save Brooke. The girl is in no state to make any kind of decisions, which will affect her entire future. A girl like Brooke can be anything she wants. She has every advantage a person could ask for. Rich, beautiful, intelligent, diligent. It would be wrong to throw it all away, because of some crazy romantic folly of having a baby at her age.

"It is your life", Sam says. She feels a little bad lying to Brooke. But really, it is just a wee little, whitey lie. Brooke smiles, and tries to go her separate way. Sam is heading for the door, but Brooke wants to go to the lockers, "We're going to see the nurse", she says adamantly. On this, she won't budge.

Brooke glances at her again, and an impish smile appears on the girl's mouth, "Can I put on some clothes first?", she says.

"Oh", Sam turns red, "Right. Of course", she says. Not that there is anything wrong with an unclad Brooke either. At least, not in Sam's opinion.


The bus drive is the most awkward thing, Brooke can remember experiencing in the longest time. She can't think of one thing to say to the two students, sitting across the aisle from her and her daughter. And neither can they apparently. Or Katie, for that matter. The little girl is angry at her, angry at Sam, and indifferent of... the girl, whose name Brooke still can't remember. And now it's too late to ask. And on top of all the awkwardness, her head is starting to throb again.

The seats are aligned sideways in this portion of the bus. With the backs to the windows, so they have to face each other all the time. Brooke glances again at Sam, who's looking back at her. The brunette purses her lips and smiles weakly, "So, you still mad at me for flattening your mom, Katie?", she asks, turning her head towards the child.

Katie glares at Sam for a moment, "Yes", she replies tersely, "Still mad at you."

Sam quiets down because of the blunt answer. Her friend, who to Brooke's eyes seems mightily pissed off, looks to her side at Sam, and then back at her feet, "People don't get mad, Sam. They get angry", the girl says, "Or if they get mad, they get... you know, crazy. Like insane."

Sam gapes incredulously at the girl for a second, "Well, thank you, miss Thea Saurus."

The friend only nods quietly. Brooke wonders why she is so cranky. Why she has been so cranky, every time they've met. Granted, Brooke knows, she's not the best of company. All she ever really talks, or cares about, is her child. But she also knows, she hasn't purposely done anything to upset the R-girl.

The awkward journey continues in silence for a few more blocks. The bus starts to fill up, and a man takes the empty seat on Katie's other side. Instinctually, Brooke places her arm around the girl, and pulls her closer to herself. It's such a deep-rooted habit, she does it without even realizing. When Katie was younger, and the whole mothering thing was new to her, she used to take precautions to extremes. She didn't trust anyone. They would pass an eighty year old woman on the street, and Brooke would pick her daughter up. Of course, back then, she used to carry Katie most of the time anyway, since the girl could barely walk.

It was all because everything was so new. There was this tiny little being, who depended on her for everything. And anything she did, could've hurt the girl, if she didn't do it just right. It was very scary. And the overly protective habit stuck to her so badly, she still hasn't gotten rid of it. Even though, she knows it's not good. Well, it's okay to a certain extent, but at some point she has to let go. So, that Katie can grow her own way.

The girl starts to squirm, when Brooke tries to stroke her hair, "Stop it", Katie whines, and leans away from her hand. Brooke agrees to stop the torture, and lets her hand lay back down on her daughter's shoulder.

"What did you do to get on her bad side?", Sam asks.

"Oh, nothing", Brooke answers indifferently, trying not to provoke Katie any more than necessary. The girl is having a glaring competition with Sam, who is happily complying, "Apparently, I'm just too annoying to get along with."

Sam laughs shortly, and gives Katie a happier look, "I know what you mean", she says to the girl, "I had to live with her too once."

Katie's eyes light up. She's still very much upset with Sam, but the desire to know anything at all about her mother's past is too big. It cannot be denied. Mommy never tells her anything. Well, rarely tells her anything, "Was she annoying even then?", she asks.

"Was she!", Sam answers in an enthusiastic voice, "The bathroom was the worst. You have no idea, how much time she spent in there."

Katie even smiles a little, when she sees Sam's shining face. Her aunt Sam likes to talk about California. A lot more than her mother does. Mom doesn't even like it, when Sam talks about it. Even now, when Katie glances to her left, she sees her mom's uncomfortable smile directed at Sam. And she feels her mom's body tense up. The hold on her shoulder tightens a little.

"Why did she spend so much time in the bathroom?", Katie asks, looking back at Sam.

Next to the brunette, the very bored looking girl cuts in, "Maybe she was constipated", she mutters, refusing to lift her gaze from the floor.

"What's that mean?", Katie frowns. She barely hears the girl's voice, and she certainly doesn't know the last word.

Sam's smile becomes more than a little strained, "Rachel! God!", she says loud, and turns to look at Brooke.

The blonde is blushing slightly, but other than that, isn't too bothered. She'll even be grateful for the inappropriate comment, if it means they'll change the subject. She doesn't want to hear about the life in California. And also, now she at least knows the girl's name.

"What does it mean?!", Katie demands to know.

Sam keeps studying her girlfriend silently for a few more moments, before turning back towards the little girl, "Nothing", she says, shaking her head, "Your mom just took long baths", Sam pauses for a second, and then smiles to the girl again, "But she can be really sweet sometimes too, can't she?", Katie glances back at her mother, who now seems as fed up with the situation as Sam's friend. She can't understand, why mom is so upset, "Like, this one time", Sam goes on again, "I was sick. And she brought me ice-cream. Without asking, or anything. She just came into my room..."

"Oh!, hey! That reminds me", Brooke suddenly yells, when the bus slows down to a stop once again. She jumps up from her seat, "We gotta get out, Katie."

Sam looks up at the blonde and frowns, "No, you don't. Your stop isn't for two more blocks."

"I promised Katie we'd go for ice-cream", Brooke answers, and flings her skates on her shoulder, "Come on", she urges the girl, tapping her shoulder a couple of times.

Katie hops down on the aisle, "But you said...", she tries to start arguing. But mom only starts pushing her towards the front of the bus. Of course mom decides they'll go for ice-cream right this moment! When Sam was telling her all these fun things! It's so like mom! Everything she ever does, is all just to annoy Katie even more!, "You said, we wouldn't go for ice-cream!", she whines.

"I changed my mind", Brooke replies. She places her hands on the girl's shoulders, and they slowly start to proceed towards the door.

"I'll see you Monday then?", Sam calls after them.

Brooke glances back quickly, and nods. They push their way past the few standing passengers, who are blocking the way, and out of the bus. Brooke breathes out of relief, once she feels the cool breeze on her face again. She was starting to get claustrophobic inside the tiny bus. And Sam's walk down the memory lane didn't help any. It never does. California always felt so small. All those people in her life, taking up space, and smothering her with their attention. But it's in the past now. And she only needs to deal with it on these rare occasions.

"What happens on Monday?", Katie asks, when they start slouching down the street aimlessly.

"Your dad is coming. We talked about it, remember?", Brooke answers.

"Oh... yeah", the girl mutters distantly. Brooke knows, she isn't exactly thrilled about the meeting. Josh has been such a small part of Katie's life thus far. The girl doesn't even know her own father, and it's mostly Brooke's fault, "Do I have to see him, mom? I don't wanna see him."

Brooke sighs, "He's flying thousands of miles, just to see you, Katie", she says, trying to convince her daughter. Josh is a good man. He would've been a good father. He could still be a good father, "And you enjoyed it, the last time he was here, didn't you?"

"Yeah...", Katie says, not sounding very assured, "Mom", she goes on after a short pause, "Why does dad live so far away?"

Because mom made some bad choices, Brooke wants to say. She wants to apologize to her daughter. For making the girl grow up without a father. Without a family. Funny, how it all seemed so right at the time. How she could convince herself, that she had to leave. That this was the only way. And now... she just doesn't know anymore. Maybe there could've been a better way. For her daughter.

But, like with so many other things, Brooke doesn't want to burden her daughter with problems that can't be helped, "It's just the way it is", she says.

Night Life

She carefully opens the door enough to take a peek inside. It's nighttime, and it's dark. The lights are out in her stepsister's room, and the girl herself is most likely asleep. She pushes the door open a little more, and sneaks inside. She would want to wake Sam up, but it doesn't feel right. Doesn't feel like she has the right to do it. So she settles for silently watching the brunette sleep for a while.

Just as she was getting ready to go to bed, some minutes ago, she felt this tiny nudge in her tummy. At first it had scared her. Then excited her. Both emotions left her wanting to share the experience with someone. And no one to share it with. It made her feel lonely, and for the first time she started doubting her decision to leave. And even though she knew, talking to Sam would only strengthen those doubts, she wanted to come. Needed to come. So she did.

But Sam is asleep. And their relationship isn't in a place, where she could wake her up in the middle of the night. Even though they have gotten closer, she still hesitates to go to her stepsister for help. She would've wanted to tell the brunette about her fears. And her hopes. She would've wanted to hear Sam's guesses, about what her child would be like. Whether it would be a boy or a girl. Whether it would look like her. Or maybe like Josh. She would've wanted to hear Sam tell her, it would all be okay. That the baby would be born with two arms, two legs, and a head. And with a body connecting them all together. Ten fingers, and two sets of toes. Eyes to see with, a nose to wrinkle, and a mouth for smiling.

Still, just looking at Sam, calms her down. In a way, the mere proximity of her stepsister is enough. She has never felt this safe around anyone before. Not with her father, not with her mother. Certainly not with Nicole. And not even with Josh, who comes the closest. Josh was safe. Totally devoted to her, and not a reckless bone in his body. Sam is safe in a different way. She can't trust the girl in the little things, but when push comes to shove, she knows Sam won't ever betray her. In lots of ways, Sam is like a sister to her. And a sister she could use now. A sister she would wake now.

Silently she retreats out of the room, and pulls the door close behind her. It clanks shut, and the noise rings intrusively loud in the quiet house. She grimaces slightly, and listens for evidence that she disturbed someone's rest. When the silence remains, she starts heading for her own room.

She only manages to take a few steps before halting. There's another door past Sam's, further down the corridor. Where her father sleeps with the woman. For a brief moment she considers walking into that room, and announcing the happy news. It is a tempting option. She would be relieved of all further responsibility. Decisions would be made for her, and all she'd have to do, is abide to them. There would be a short period, when her father would look at her disappointedly, but it would pass. And in the future, no one could blame her for the decisions. Except maybe her child. Dead, if abortion even was an option anymore, or lost. Her child could come to her with questions. Asking her, why she'd given him away. And she wouldn't have an answer. She can't think of a single reason, which would justify a mother abandoning her child.

She startles out of the daze, and hurriedly strides back into her own room. She closes her door, just as another one opens. She doesn't see, how the brunette's tired eyes scan the now empty corridor. Or how the girl, after a few seconds, pulls back inside. She does see her night light illuminating the bed, and the night stand next to it. And her cell phone on the stand. And she still wants to talk to someone. Anyone. And there only is one person, besides Sam, who she can talk to.

She walks up to the stand, and picks up the phone. In an ideal world, this person wouldn't be her first, second, or even tenth choice, to confide in. But in the real world, she has to learn to make do with the available choices.

She dials the number, and sits down to wait for an answer. It takes a long time, but the answer finally comes, after countless of rings.

"Hi, Nic", she says nervously.


Another sleepless night. It's weird, how Brooke can't sleep sometimes, no matter how exhausted she is. It seems unfair. She would want to sleep. She prays to God to make her fall asleep. Brushes her teeth a million times. Drinks warm milk. But nothing helps. A few times, she's even thought about knocking herself unconscious with a frying pan, but that seems a bit extreme. And incredibly stupid, come daylight. But at night, when she's lying alone in her bed, nothing seems too stupid.

She can be completely drained physically, and still be unable to rest. She'll be watching tv, and nodding off every once in a while. And then, when she goes to bed, nothing. She'll lie there, on her back, with eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling. Wondering, what the Hell is wrong with her.

Brooke doesn't know, what it is anymore. But she knows what it was, and when it began. During her pregnancy, Brooke would stay awake as long as she could. Holding both her hands on her stomach, waiting for a sign, that the thing inside her was still alive. Entire nights could pass, and she didn't even try to sleep. Then to counter them, she could sleep fifteen hours straight on other days.

When Katie was born, it didn't help at all. Brooke still couldn't sleep. She would sit by the crib, and just watch the girl sleep. The most fascinating sight, she'd ever beheld. Such a pretty little thing, that had once been inside her, and was now living and breathing on her own. She would make sure of it every now and again. Leaning real close, she would search for signs of breathing. And a few times, when she couldn't find them, she even woke the girl up in her panicked state. Every time Katie startled awake, and would start crying. Then she'd pick the girl up, and rock her back to sleep. And sometimes she'd wake up in the morning, still holding the baby in her arms.

Brooke gives up the hopeless effort of falling asleep, and heads out of her room. And into her daughter's, right next door. Katie is sleeping peacefully on her stomach, with her head tilted to the side, facing the door. The blonde hair is sprawled all over the pillow, and on the girl's face. Brooke still hasn't gotten past the overwhelming sensation, which comes over her, whenever she sees her daughter sleeping. She feels peaceful for knowing that Katie's safely asleep in her reach, and nothing can harm her. And weirdly enough, she feels at the same time, excited. She sees her daughter's life so full of possibilities. And her own life with it. Even though the thought of mornings always depresses her, she can't wait for Katie to wake up. It's good watching the girl sleep, and it's better still having her awake.

Brooke tiptoes across the floor, to the bed. It's a meaningless act, the tiptoeing, since Katie wouldn't wake up, even if she fell down from the bed. Once she was actually startled by a thumping sound in the night, and had come to find Katie lying on the floor, still comfortably sleeping, using a teddy bear as a pillow.

She kneels down next to the bed, and brushes the hair off the girl's face, and behind her ear. It's getting long, and Katie was begging for a hair cut all last night. The girl always wants her to cut and comb it like hers, but Brooke's a little reluctant in doing that. She's afraid of raising the girl too much like herself. And although, physical appearances are just that and nothing more, they are still the thing everyone sees at first.

Katie murmurs in her sleep, and brings her hand to scratch her cheek, where her mother's fingers were only moments ago. Brooke observes the operation with a small smile. She crawls her way closer to the end of the bed, and carefully leans her head down on the pillow. Only a few inches separate her face from her daughter's. Katie falls back into a restful sleep, and forgets her hand on the cheek.

Brooke does have a vague idea, of what is keeping her awake this particular night. Two things, actually. One is Sam. And her sordid girl love. Brooke wants to be understanding. And fine with it. She never thought, she'd have any trouble accepting differences in people. But Sam is such an important part of, not only her life, but also Katie's. And that brings with it, a whole set of new problems. Katie idolizes Sam, heck, even Brooke idolizes Sam. But with Katie, Brooke knows that in a few years, Sam could be this hip aunt to the girl. A person, Katie will try to imitate. And look up to as an example. And if Sam's gay, then she might influence Katie. And... Should it even bother her? It's stupid to start worrying about such things now. But at night, things just start to swell in Brooke's head, until she's sure it'll explode any moment.

Like this other thing. Josh. Every second that goes by, brings the meeting closer. There's only one single day separating Brooke from it anymore. And she's getting restless. Usually, at least in the weekends, she's able to sleep. But of course the man has to come on Monday, and ruin her weekend. How's she gona work next week, if she can't sleep? She doesn't know, why this particular visit from Josh, is getting her so anxious. It's not the first time he comes. But it is the first time in almost a year. A part of her had already dared to hope, that California would finally be nothing but a distant memory. The selfish part of her. But now Josh comes flying in here, telling her he wants a bigger part in Katie's life. And she's scared. That bigger part is all away from her. She has all the parts of her daughter now. Mind, body, and heart. And she doesn't want to give away anything. But she also doesn't want to deny Katie the chance to know her father. She isn't that selfish.

It is these two things that are keeping Brooke awake tonight. Or maybe it's that gallon of coffee, she drank before going to bed. That usually doesn't help either.

Brooke slowly moves her hand closer to Katie's head again, and picks up the girl's smaller hand carefully. But not enough so. Katie opens her weary eyes, and stares straight into hers, "Mom?", she mutters barely comprehensibly.

"Shh", Brooke shushes quietly, and guides the small arm under covers, "Can you make a little room for mommy?", she asks, still whispering.

"Okay", Katie answers distantly, and rolls on her back, to the other side of the bed.

Brooke climbs into the bed, and squeezes herself into the smallest possible space on the edge of the bed. She circles her arm around her daughter.

She closes her eyes, and falls asleep.

< tbc >

Thanks for reading (and for your patience),

Section 3 Megan Popular Main Index