Title: Going Through the Motions

Author: Megan

Email: shy_grrl@hotmail.com

Disclaimer: The characters belong to.. well someone other than me.

Feedback: Yes, please. Just be gentle, I break easily.

Notes: Sam and Brooke's parents have died in a horrible accident. Might be slightly angsty. You have been warned. Almost forgot to mention, I've only seen like 3 episodes of the show. So the characters might be little out of canon (that the right word?)

Part 1

It's funny how quickly things happen when a change is overdue. Maybe funny is the wrong word in this case. Let's say... interesting. Funny, interesting, whatever. They're just words, words that mean nothing to me now. I can't see myself ever feeling joy, ever being interested in anything again. All that is in the past. My new life is much more simpler: eat, sleep, study. Well at least sleep and study. I don't eat that much anymore. Just like I don't feel that much either.

Sam is much stronger than me. She lost just as much, and yet she's coping. I see the way she fights to get her life back together, the way she tries to make sense of things. And I try to reach inside of myself and find that same strength. I used to have it. I was never one to give up. But now... I don't see the point. My aunt keeps saying that the pain will let up, time will heal, and I look at her. She doesn't understand, and I don't explain. I don't tell her that the pain has already gone. I don't tell her that I actually miss the pain, at least it was a feeling. It's this emptiness that is killing me. This total lack of emotions. She has guessed something though. She knows, and Sam knows, that there is something wrong with me.

They are talking about me right now. I can hear them in the living room while I sit on the stairs and eavesdrop, "It's been two weeks already", I hear Sam's clear voice. She sounds worried. Worried about me. Weird.

"There are no time limits on grieving Sam", my aunt Jessica says. She's the one who pulled the short straw I guess. When they were deciding who should take care of us, "Brooke takes things to herself. She feels things much deeper than most people", I would smile at the irony of the statement, if I could. But I don't know how to move my mouth into that position anymore.

There's a silence and I stand up ready to leave, but then Sam speaks again, "But it doesn't look like she's grieving. She's like a zombie or something", Sam really is very perceptive. Even through her own sorrow she has seen what really is going on with me. Zombie... that's actually very close to the truth, "When's the last time she initiated a conversation?"

I ponder on Sam's question for a while. It's been a time. Sure there were a couple of times after the accident. But not a single one during the last week comes to mind, "It'll pass Sam. You concentrate on yourself", Jessica finally replies.

I take that as my que, and ascend the stairs quietly. The biggest problem with my new life is time. There's just SO much of it, and nothing to do with it. You can only sleep so much. So I study. Not because I care one bit about school, but because it passes the time. It's a shame nothing seems to stick in my head, otherwise I might solve the mysteries of the universe. Or at least A mystery. But no matter how many times I read something it always escapes my mind. Maybe it's like a defense mechanism, so I don't run out of books to read. Then what would I do?

I barely manage to get into my room, close the door and sit down at my table, when already someone's out to bug me, "Brooke...", Sam's voice comes through the closed door, "Are you in there Brooke?", so much for concentrating on yourself, ha Sam? I don't especially enjoy the idea of Sam giving me the third degree so I just keep my mouth shut and hope she'll go away. No such luck, first I hear the handle being pulled down and then the oh, so familiar screeching sound the door makes when opened. I turn my head slightly and use the mirror to spy on Sam. She takes two steps inside my room and catches my gaze from the mirror, "What'ya doin'?", I settle for a shrug, "I called from the hallway. Maybe you didn't hear..."

"I heard", I say and finally turn around to face her, "What do you want?"

She was expecting the hostile treatment. Doesn't flinch a bit, "I thought maybe we could study together. That math is like... hard."

Sam's vocabulary fails her so rarely that even in my zombified state it amazes me. Before I even know it memories flood over me. They come so quietly, so fast, there is no fighting against them.

Sam and me in the kitchen. Sam and me bickering over whichever stupid little thing. The reason is trivial, the fight is everything. This time I say something that makes Sam gasp. And then her mother walks in. She walks in just as Sam screams, `Bitch!' `Sam!', she is shocked. Jane isn't used to our fights yet. They haven't lived with us that long. `But mom... Brooke is like... she said...', Sam starts to stutter, searching for the right words. And it is the cutest thing ever. So I smile.

"What?", Sam asks and pulls me back to reality. Oh crap. I liked it in the memory land.

I notice the confused expression on Sam's face. She doesn't know whether to grin or frown, "What what?"

"You were smiling", she says, "You haven't done that since... in a while", an embarrassed smile twists it way on to her mouth.

I shrug again. It's such a great reply. Doesn't require any thought whatsoever. And good for any situation. This time though, I feel the need to elaborate myself a little, "Just some happy memories."

Sam nods once, twice, "Yeah, I have a couple of those too", why on earth she said that, I don't know. And apparently so doesn't she. There's a pause, which I guess would've been an awkward one in our post-accident life. Nothing's awkward anymore though, "So, how about that study session?"

Oh yeah that. I had completely forgotten it already, "I don't know Sam...", I try to think of a good excuse, "I'm really tired... maybe tomorrow?", why do today what you can put off till tomorrow.

Sam doesn't accept this. She sits down on my bed, an act which earns her a frown from me, "Could we like, just talk then?"

Oh my God! I'm never getting rid of her. What could we possibly talk about?, "Let me guess. You want me to tell you how I feel about the accident. Cause it just isn't healthy to keep these things inside?", I try to sound sarcastic. I'm a bit rusty though.

Sam looks straight at me, "Not what I was gona say", yeah right, "We can talk about anything. Or do anything. You can't just block out the whole world Brooke."

"Well, Sam, seems I not only can do it, but I've actually already done it."

"Well then undo it", Sam says sounding a little irritated.

"Why?", my tone stays the same. It hasn't changed in two weeks, why should it now.

"Because if you don't, you'll never get over it."

Why do people always think they should get over the death of a loved one? Or ones in this case, since I did love Jane too. Not as a mother, but still I loved her. I don't want to get over it. That's one step away from forgetting them. But I don't tell this to Sam. I just keep staring at her. Until she's had enough.

"God Brooke! What the hell is it? I lost them too you know", Sam is loosing it. She is getting angrier and angrier by each passing second.

I have to do something, to say something to defuse her, otherwise there's no telling where this'll end, "Sam...", I start bowing my head, "Just because I don't talk about it, doesn't mean I'm not dealing with it. Cause I am, you know. I do think about it a lot, and I am making progress", lying is so much easier now. It's like I only have to open my mouth and these things come out. I don't even have to plan the lies in advance, I just... open my mouth. I raise my head back up.

"I don't believe you", Sam answers. Just like that, she sees through me and my lies. But her anger is slightly subdued, "I don't believe you think about the accident at all. And you're certainly not dealing with the effects it had on you."

The old me would've bitten her head off for that response. Not the new me though. The new me sighs and crosses her hands, "Right... look I've tried to be patient here, but the truth is, I can't stand your company Sam. Couldn't you just... care less about me?"

Even that isn't enough to drive her away. It doesn't even bring that anger thing back, "Good", she says, totally surprising me. Momentarily. Then I realize she's glad her words got an actual reaction out of me. Not just that usual so what, "And no, I couldn't care less about... you... wait. That sounded all wrong... I meant..."

"Whatever. Just leave, please", how dare she come in here and start tearing down my safety walls. I spent an eternity last week building them. She still doesn't move, "Please", I beg again.


I cut her off quickly, "No Sam! No more talk! I want to be alone", I jump on my feet ready to throw her out if need be. I'm freaking out here. I need time to myself. Time to make some repairs.

And finally she stands up, then hesitates for a second before rushing out. I close the door behind her, lock it, and fall on my bed. Burying my face into a pillow. I fight back the tears that almost make it out. They are close, glistening my eyes. But I can't let out a single one, cause if I do, then they all want to come. And there's a LOT of them. So I fight. It's not that hard when you know how. And I know. I take it one second at a time. And I only concentrate on that second. I don't think about anything but that precise second. And then I move on to the next. And the next. They crawl by at first but after a while they start to pick up some speed. And pretty soon time is just flying by and I'm not crying. I'm okay. And I don't even notice the drowsiness sneaking up on me...

Part 2

"Brooke!", a scream penetrates through the barrier that separates the waking world and the dream world. I ignore it. My dream isn't over yet, it has barely begun. Dreams are my one comfort. In them I can still feel. In them I am happy sometimes, sad at others. In them dad and Jane are still alive. And we do stuff, we are a family, "Brooke!", it comes again, this time accompanied by loud banging noises. I still try to ignore the voices, but they've got a hold on me now. They are pulling me away from my beautiful dreams, "Brooke! Open the door!"

My eyes shoot open. This is the real world. The one where all the insufferable voices are emitting from, "Brooke!", this time I recognize the voice as Sam's. Figures. Last night comes back in very vivid flashes. I guess I was wrong in thinking my zombie state was permanent. It's not. Sam's gona reverse it, I know she is. And I can't stop her. Nothing short of killing her is going to stop Sam when she gets something in her head, "BROOKE!", she yells even louder if possible.

I get up and slouch to the door before she wakes up the whole neighborhood. It takes a while for me to fumble first the lock open and then the door itself, but Sam isn't screaming anymore, so there's no rush. She's probably heard me through the door.

I put on my most vehement face and pull open the door, "What. Are. You. Doing?"

Sam gapes at me her mouth open. There's a single tear rolling down her cheek. And she's fidgeting around like crazy, "You didn't answer...", her voice trembles badly, "And I thought... maybe something had happened... and..."

Oh, I see. I'm on suicide watch now, "You thought maybe I had swallowed a couple of hundred sleeping pills?"

Sam is way upset. More tears start to dribble down her face and if I had any compassion left in me I'd give her a break, "I was just worried about you", she whispers through her sobbing.

Somewhere deep within me this feeling emerges. It surges through the wall and I recognize it. Pity. I feel sorry for Sam. First time for everything I guess. A moment goes by while I struggle over what to do. A part of me wants to slam the door to her face and bury this feeling-crap so deep it'll take a hundred years to dig it back up. But the feeling-crap isn't cooperating. It wants more control. It wants me to hug Sam. Say I'm sorry.

I settle for the middle ground. I don't apologize, but I don't slam the door shut either, "Look Sam, you should take my aunt's advice. Just concentrate on yourself. I'll live through this, don't worry."

"How...?", Sam says and tries to dry off her eyes, "Have you been listening in on us?", oh yeah, I wasn't supposed to know that. Too bad. I shrug it off, "Could you...", Sam's voice falters. She clears her throat and starts again, "Could you stop with the shoulder shrugs? That's like the most stupid answer ever."

"So I overheard you and Jessica. It was good advice, you should take it", I refuse to acknowledge her remark on my new very bestest response.

"I like your aunt Brooke, but to be perfectly honest, what the hell does she know about any of this? When's the last time you had any contact with her before the accident", Sam picks herself up and brushes off the momentary lapse in self control.

Okay, so my aunt really hasn't kept in touch lately. She sends Christmas cards and maybe even an occasional present but the last time I saw her, was some three years ago. She used to come by often when I was little, when mom was still around. But after that bitch split, Jessica kinda felt guilty for her sister I guess. I never said anything to indicate that, and I don't think dad did either, still mom was her little sister so she felt at least partly responsible for her actions.

"Please don't badmouth my aunt", I say quietly.

"Didn't mean it like that. But she is wrong", Sam says and turns around. I notice she's carrying her bag and she's heading for the stairs. A quick glance at my watch tells me I've overslept. Again. Once Sam reaches the stairs she turns around again, "Oh, I came to tell you school starts in half an hour. You planning on coming?", I stare at her for a second and then nod. Sure. Why not? School's just as good as any place. Sam opens her mouth to say something more but decides against it then. She leaves me standing alone in my doorway. That mom stuff is still dancing around in my head, leaving me all confused.

I'm gona be so late for school. There's no way I'm leaving before a long shower. I feel all filthy and sweaty and stuff. That's what you get for sleeping ten hours in jeans and a sweater. Otherwise my morning routines take much less time than they used to. I usually just take a quick shower and brush my hair so it won't hang on my face. All my make-up just sits on the table. I won't touch that stuff anymore. A couple of times I've thought of throwing them all away, but something always stops me. After all the time I've spent in front of the mirror enhancing myself it seems wrong to just ditch all that stuff.

This morning rushes by with speed I thought impossible. Before I know it the time is closing in on ten. That's two hours I'm late already. Where the hell did those hours go? I couldn't have spent them in the shower, could I? Maybe I could've, who knows. Time is such a tricky thing. Sometimes it won't move no matter how much you pray, and other times it just flies by. Like today. Jessica is n the kitchen when I make my appearance. She's a free woman these days. Dad left a big allowance for our caretaker. I don't know if she ever plans on going back to work. And I don't care.

When I enter the room Jessica lifts her nose from the paper and smiles. When she smiles she looks just like my mother. Only older, "Good morning Brooke. Sleep well?"

"Like the dead", let's try a little of that morbid humor. Too bad Sam isn't here. She'd really appreciate it after all that suicide talk.

My aunt doesn't know how to take it. The smile disappears and she looks confused. Then she shakes her head, "There's coffee. And I could make you some breakfast."

"Coffee's plenty."

"No, you gotta eat something Brooke", Jessica says and stands up.

I stare directly into her eyes, "Coffee's plenty."

Cool, there's power in my ice cold voice. And in my ice cold stare. She sits down so fast that her own coffee spills, "Oh damn!", she cries and uses the newspaper to clean up.

"Listen Jessica", the words jump out when I make my way to the counter, "There's something I want to ask you."

I don't see her but judging from the silence she's stunned. Of course she is. Even I'm stunned, "Sure Brooke. Ask away."

Little by little my hand starts to tremble while I pour the coffee. It gets worse and worse until I have to set the pot back down. I look at my hand and don't recognize it. It's got a mind of it's own. It doesn't obey my commands, just shakes there. No, that's not right. My mind is making it shake. It's telling me to keep my mouth shut. Don't ask it. There's nothing to be gained by the question. But I want to ask it.

Slowly I open my mouth and force the words out one by one. Funny, the first one's came out all on their own, I couldn't have kept them in even if I tried. And now these one's fight back with all their might, "Why... didn't my... your... she...", way to make a coherent sentence Brookie.

"I don't know."

"Huh?", I spin around. She couldn't have understood anything from my ramblings.

"I don't know why your mother didn't come. I haven't spoken to her in quite some time", so she did understand. Had probably expected the question even. I have never asked about my mother from her. I don't... didn't want anyone toknow I still cared about what she did, where she was. If she was all right. But during the couple of visits Jessica made when dad was still alive, I always listened around a corner when the two would talk. Hoping and praying that dad would ask the question I didn't have the guts to ask. And sometimes he did. And Jessica's reply was always the same, `Last I heard she was in New York', or Boston, or Philadelphia. Where-ever, but always in the east, `She calls sometimes, asks for money, asks how Brooke is doing', and dad would get all angry and why doesn't she call here and ask for herself. But I don't care. It's enough that she still asks about me. Means she still loves me on some level.

But now, with dad dying and she doesn't even bother to call... that's something evil, "She probably doesn't even know about it", it's like Jessica's reading my mind. She says just the things I want to here. And makes me feel all good. Too good. Gotta watch it with these conversations. An occasional feeling isn't that dangerous but if I'm not careful, they can all slip out. And then I'm in trouble. No way I'm capable of handling that kind of baggage.

"Yeah, it's all the same anyway. I was just curious", and she nods. Doesn't say anything just nods. There's just something too weird about my aunt. She is like overly calm. Total control. At peace, that's the one. At peace with herself.

I drink my coffee, politely shake my head when Jessica offers a lift to school, and finally leave the house ten minutes later. It's a beautiful day. Maybe I'll skip school. Go for a little drive. Yeah... that sounds good.

Part 3

Staring at the sun, self inflicted pain. I think I heard it in a song once. It's all wrong though. It doesn't hurt. Sure it brings tears to my eyes, but there's no pain. Maybe if I could keep my eyes on it for just a little bit longer... But I can't. It's too beautiful, too bright. I have to look away. Have to gather my strength and then look again. I can see it clearly only for a second, then the picture starts to blur. There are lights everywhere, and nothing makes sense anymore. My eyes are watering, and even though they are not real tears, they feel almost as good. And are much more safer. I can stop them whenever I want to.

It's a vicious cycle, one which I repeat countless of times. And would repeat still as many a times if some idiot would only mind his own business, "Hey? You okay?", the idiot says walking in front of me. Blocking the sun.

I blink away the last tears and take a better look at him. Just the type of guy you'd expect to meet at a beach, on a school day. Some muscles on the upper body, not much but some. Decent looking face, except for the god awful grin on his mouth. And of course a tan to kill for.

My silence is throwing off his act. The grin fades away and he moves his weight from one foot to the other. And back again, "Like we just thought...", I look the direction his hand swings, slightly to my left, and see two more guys standing some twenty feet away.

The guy never finishes his sentence, "Maybe you shouldn't", I say and stand up.

He takes a couple of steps backwards and chuckles, "Shouldn't what?"

I look at him again and frown, "Think", I say shaking my head a little. Maybe I shouldn't be so bitchy. But I can't help it, the guy ruined my afternoon. Slowly I turn around and start walking towards the parking lot. He follows me. I can hear the soft steps behind me. No I can't. I can feel them. I can feel his presence invading my space.

"You're Brooke McQueen, right?", he asks a little too loud. I turn and take a quick glance at him, all the while still moving towards my car. I don't know the guy so I frown again, "Yeah, I thought I recognized you. I go to Kennedy High too."

There's much more confidence in his voice now. So he knows me, so what? Almost everyone at Kennedy knows my name. And I used to like it that way. It was such fun when people knew me, and I hadn't a clue who they were, "Good for you", I say and quicken my step a little. The car is still fifty yards away.

"Haven't seen you in school lately", maybe because you're hanging around on the beach all day?, "You know, ever since you were shun by the royalty. Whatever happened there?"

Oh, okay, it's just some loser on a power trip. Paying back for all the times I've completely ignored him in the hallway. He might stand a chance of hurting me, if I wasn't actually glad that I don't have to deal with Nicole and Josh and the rest, "Stuff happened."

"Oh, sure", god what an annoying asshole. He jogs up and starts walking beside me, "But what stuff? Like was it about your father and that whore he was driving around with? When he died?"

I grin and shake my head, "Sure, why not?"

He doesn't appreciate my stoic attitude, "You're one cold-hearted bitch, you know that?", he says and stops in his tracks. Of course I know, everyone knows that.

I keep power walking to my car, leaving him glaring at my back. The best way to win an argument is to agree on everything the other one is saying. And then just act like you don't give a fuck about the whole thing. It always ticks them off. Okay, maybe you don't actually win the argument, but you sure leave the fight the less pissed off person.


I always take the Greenway Drive these days. Even when I'm heading for the opposite direction. And every time these silly thoughts rush into my head. What were they thinking? What were they doing? Were they talking, fighting, laughing, moping? Were they talking about their dinner plans? Me and Sam? Planning their wedding? Was the radio on? What was playing on it? All these stupid questions. Questions that will never be answered. And when the corner of Greenway and Park Avenue comes to sight they get more intense. Was the light green, or did they have to wait for it? Did dad, or Jane, notice the other car before it hit? Did one of them have time to shout a warning? Did dad try to swerve out of harms way? Did they die instantly? Did they know they were gona die? Or did one of them die in the crash and leave the other one alone wondering what the hell happened. I try to imagine it. It's hard during daytime, but at night it's easy. I just wait in the crossing for another car to come from the left. And then press the gas. I pass the car from good distance, there's never any danger of a collision, but the lights of the other car are very helpful for my imagination. I can see it. I can conjure them back. The horror he must've felt. He had to see the lights. He had to know what was going to happen. Or maybe the other car didn't have it's lights on. Then it could be he never saw it coming. Or Jane. It's hard, so many different scenarios. All of them possible. And I don't know which one to pick. Just when I think I have the right one, something else pops up. Something that doesn't fit that picture. Luckily I have a lifetime to figure it out.

After I've passed the intersection, the ghosts slowly fade away. Not all at once, little by little. I see them as they would've been without the crash. Quietly chattering about whatever is on their minds at the moment. I can't make out the words, but I can see Jane's smile. And hear her laughter. It's always the last thing to go. I can hear it long after her ghost has already disappeared. I can still hear it when I pull into the driveway. And then it's gone. Afraid to come home with me. Afraid because the house is so cold now. It is empty, devoid of love.

Sam has invited some of her friends in today. To fill the emptiness. She tries to get around the rules. She tries to counter the loneliness by being in a crowd. It never works. You can be totally alone even when surrounded by tons of people. I should know. Maybe it works for Sam though. Her friends seem to care for her. Maybe around such friends you don't feel lonely.

"Hey Brooke", Carmen chirps when I enter the living room. She's sitting on the armchair facing the door and is the first one to notice me.

Sam and Lily are on the couch and turn their heads when Carmen greets me. There's a nervous smile on Sam's face, "Brooke, why don't you come sit with us for a while?"

I frown. No thanks, "I don't..."

"Come on. We hardly ever see you anymore", Lily says.

Uh oh... something seems out of place here. It almost seems like they are planning some sort of an intervention. God I hope I'm wrong, "So? When did we actually see each other?", it's a sad day when people with whom I barely exchange hellos have to come to my rescue.

Sam has gotten up and is walking towards me. I take an unconscious step backwards, like I'm afraid she might force me to stay. Maybe I am afraid of that, "Just stay for a second. We can... do that math thing. You promised to study with me today", she says stopping some five feet away from me.

"When did I do that?", I answer trying to come up with a yet another good excuse. Maybe that tired thing again? How's she gona prove I'm not tired?

"Last night?", Sam is amazingly patient with me these days. She plays along with all my stupid avoidance games.

I'm almost about to play the sleepy card when something comes to mind. Something I thought of on the beach, "Oh! I can't right now!", I'm so exited about having a real reason not to stay I almost shout the words. And scare Sam in the process, "I mean I have to talk to Jessica. Do you know where she is?"

She tilts her head slightly to the left and doesn't believe me for a second, "Sure. She's in the kitchen", Sam says with a smug face, "Mind if I tag along?"

I tilt my head and mirror her expression, "Not at all, Sam."

The smugness is gone and I'm satisfied. If she insists on pestering me all the time, I can make it a little harder for her. It's the least I can do. She follows me into the kitchen where my dear aunt is making dinner. In the microwave oven. I kinda have to admire her lack of ambition. She has nothing to do all day and still doesn't bother to cook a homemade meal for us. Or maybe she can't.

"Oh, you're home too Brooke", she says when I walk in with Sam in tow, "How was school?"

"Yeah, Brooke. How WAS school?", Sam just can't keep quiet. She's trying to goat me into a fight. Trying to lure me out of my hiding place. But I'm way too clever a girl to fall for that one.

"How should I know? I wasn't there", leaving the question alone I move onto the topic of today. Mom, "Listen Jessica", I start with the very same words as this morning, "Is there a way you could get in touch with her?"

She just looks at me. Concerned, "With who?", Sam asks surprised. It's still kind of cool when I can do that to her. One of those little things that make life worth living.

"Are you sure that's what you want?", Jessica ignores Sam completely.

"No", I answer without missing a beat, "Can you do it?"

She shrugs and bows her head, "I have a number of... an acquaintance of hers. I can leave a message for him", I can tell she's not happy about my plan, "Your mom calls if she calls."

"Your MOM?!", Sam yells loud enough to draw Jessica's attention. And mine. And probably even Carmen and Lily's, "The one who abandoned you when you were nine?!"

"I have to agree with Sam here, Brooke", Jessica says, "I don't think it's a good idea."

"Too bad. My mother, my choice", so just shut up and do it, "Make the call."

Part 4

I have this birthday card with a picture of Dorothy and Toto. Oz is my favorite movie. I got the card, along with the video, for my ninth birthday. I got them from her. Sure they both gave me a bunch of other stuff together, but this present was only from my mom. I threw the video away a long, long time ago in one of my anger bursts, but the card still sits in the back of my drawer together with a picture of my mom. On the back of the card it reads simply `Mommy loves Pookie.' That's what I called myself when I was way little.`Pookie wants a cookie. Pookie is a pig girl.' And that's what my mother called me when we were alone. No one else in the whole world knows that.

She gave me the present late at night, after dad was already asleep. She slept in my bed that night, and I was the happiest little girl in the world. A week later she was gone.

The card is like this magical doorway to my childhood. Whenever I study it, all kinds of things from the past come to life. There's my dad a few years younger, my childhood friends most of whom I've lost contact to. How did that happen? How come I didn't make ONE lasting friendship as a child? Harrison is the only one of them I even see anymore. And that's just because he lives next-door.

But most vividly it brings back my mother. In all her beauty. Through my nine-year old eyes she looked like an angel, with golden hair and a caring smile. Now with my extensive life experience I can see past that beauty, I can see past the smile she always wore, I can see straight into the sadness that always hid beneath the surface. It's there in her eyes. It's in the picture I have in my drawer. It's in every picture I've ever seen of her. And it's in my memories. It was there when I was making those memories, I just didn't know what to look for.

"What'ya got there?", Sam's voice comes only a few feet behind me and scares me half to death. No wait, I was already there to begin with.

Still, the surprise is enough to make my arm swing in a wide arc and knock down a glass of water on my table. Quickly I recover the card from the table and raise it up to safety, only to have it snatched out of my hand by Sam, "Hey!", I protest and jump up to face her.

Sam backs away towards the door and is pointing at my table, "You better dry that up before the water ruins the table."

"Fuck the table. Give me my card", I'm in no joking mood. Haven't been in a while.

Sam on the other hand is, "Come on Brooke, you gotta learn to share", she stops in the doorway. I take a hesitant step in her direction. She grins and takes a step backwards.

"Sam please", I whine with my most pathetic voice trying to collect some pity points. She raises the card to take a better look at it, "I'll do anything!", I suddenly scream making her head jolt back up, "I'll do anything you want if you give me the card back", I repeat with a normal tone.

Sam stares at me for a long time, "Will you let me take a look at it?"

So like Sam, always bending the rules. She doesn't want to alienate me any more by looking at it against my will, so she tries to find a loophole, "No. It's private."

She was expecting the negative response, "Will you tell me why it's so important then?"

"It's not", oh god, what have I done? Like she's gona believe that one.

At first there's no change in her expression, then slowly she starts to laugh. Yeah, it's very funny. She knows she's got the upper hand now. The laughter stops pretty soon when she realizes the situation isn't funny after all, "Yeah right. For days you haven't shown any interest in anything, and now all of a sudden you go ballistic over a postcard? And there's nothing special about it?", I have no reply.

My eyes become irritated and I blink them a couple of times. Slowly I remove them from Sam and let my gaze slide to her left. That's better, my night table is a much more comfortable sight, "It's a birthday card", I whisper. Too quietly for Sam to hear.

She heard me mumbling though. Or saw my mouth moving, "What?", she gives me plenty of time to answer. I don't, "Look... okay, take the card. I'm sorry I teased you Brooke", I hear her steps as she walks closer, but I keep my eyes fixed on the table. Just in case Sam's playing some sort of a trick, "Here. Take it."

Quickly I turn my head back to her. She's standing at an arm's reach holding out the card. I'm still skeptic. She has the advantage, why doesn't she use it? Why doesn't she break my armor? Warily I reach for the card and take a hold of it, "Di... did you...", why is my throat so dry all of a sudden? It makes talking harder, "Look at it?"

She shrugs her shoulders, "No. I mean I saw the picture. Dorothy and that dog from the movie", that's not so bad. As long as she didn't look at the back, "It's pretty", I look at the card. It is pretty, but that's got nothing to do with why I love it. I usually don't even see the picture, just the memories, "It's from your mother, right?"

It takes a few seconds for the words to sink in. She lied. She did look at it No, why would she lie and then confess to it right after? "How'd you know?", I ask not looking up.

"I've got a brain, Brooke. There are precisely two things that have gotten a reaction out of you. Your mother and that card", I nod, "So I just put two and two together."

There's something different about Sam when I look at her again. Usually her stare feels like it's penetrating right through my skull, but not now. Now it's softer, kinder. And it's not just the stare, it's everything about her. She's giving me time and not pressing for the answers like usually. Like last night. And it's working better too. I wanna tell her things. And I would if not for this tiny voice in my head still screaming, `It's a trap! She's got some hidden motive, she doesn't care about you.' And even when my twisted little mind realizes how stupid that sounds, a part of me believes it.

Finally I open my mouth, not fully knowing what's gona come out, "I thought you were having trouble with math", uh oh... that sounded like a joke.

Sam's face lights up like a candle. She sees this as some major breakthrough. I've gotten her hopes up, and then when nothing actually changes she'll be crushed. Again. In a way this `Save the Brooke' project of hers is more important to her than to me. By helping me she's helping herself deal with the pain.

"Yeah, I am", she says after a while, "Could you help me with it?"

"Sam", I say and sit down so I don't have to look at her when I shatter her hopes, "I know you've kinda taken it upon yourself to... I don't know... rescue me or something. But honest to god, there's nothing you can do."

She's silent. And I don't dare to look up. Almost a minute goes by without a word spoken. I know cause I watch the seconds tick away in my clock on the table. Which is still wet by the way. I don't know why Sam was so worried, it doesn't seem to absorb any water. I grab a couple of tissues from the open drawer and start to dry up the table. Sam's still not talking. Should I get worried? A quick glance over my shoulder proves that she's still standing there. There's nothing soft in her eyes anymore though.

She speaks when I turn my attention back to the table, "Lying in god's name, Brooke? That's not good", she falters slightly when she talks. I managed to really hurt her, "Not good. I suppose you think your mother can help you?", her voice drips of poison.

Done with my cleaning, I turn around again and look at Sam. Her eyes have narrowed into tiny slits, and her mouth is a straight line, "I don't expect you to understand it Sam."

"Try me", she says immediately. And I should try, shouldn't I? Cause she deserves to know. And I feel bad everytime I hurt her by not letting her help me.

I sigh and start to think of a way to explain it. It's hard cause I don't know if I understand it myself even, "Do you remember the first day we went back to school?", she nods. And I see the hope float back into her, when she realizes I'm gona share some of my secrets. Talk about mood swings. She's gona be a wreck when the day's over. The day is over, it's almost eleven already, "I saw the way your friends were consoling you. They were there the minute you stepped into the school, and they cared. Your friends love you Sam", she isn't following my train of thought. Now's the time to stop, if I don't want her to know. But I'm not gona stop, she wants hear it. Who knows, maybe it does some good for her, "And I realized that with my dad gone, there isn't a single soul in this world who truly loves me. And everybody needs love, Sam. Because being without it hurts like hell. For a while, and then when the hurt is gone, there isn't anything left."

At first she just looks at me. Looks real hard, "Brooke that's just...", she flings her hands in the air, spins around and takes a couple of steps towards my bed, stops and turns around to face me again, "And you look to your MOTHER for love? She abandoned you!", yeah, thanks for pointing THAT out. Like I wasn't painfully aware of it already, "Besides", she goes on and takes a step forward, "You have people who love you. There's Josh and..."

"If you say Nicole, I'm gona slap you silly", I cut her in mid-sentence. Slowly she closes her mouth, "First of all, you said you had a brain. So you should be able to separate Josh's puppy-crush from the real thing. And secondly, I'd appreciate it if you would just shut up about my mother. I know what she's done."

She opens her mouth and I just know she's gona bash my mother some more. But nothing comes out. At first. There's like ten seconds before she speaks, "But you and Josh were together like so long. Sure he had feelings for you?"

"Look, enough with Josh. The guy makes me sick", I say and mean it. I've had enough of him for a lifetime. That's what I told him in the cafeteria that first day we went back. Maybe not in those very words.

It's like, all morning he just keeps pestering me, `Are you okay Brooke? Do you nead anything? How do you feel?' And I tell him over and over again that I'm fine. Just give me some room to breathe. But no, he just doesn't get it. Finally at lunch I've had enough.

`Do you want some more milk, Brooke?',
`How about water?'

That's when I jump up and yell, `Jesus Christ! Can't you just leave me the fuck alone?', and storm out. He tries to patch up things the next day, but I won't listen.

"You know I wasn't gona say Nicole", once again Sam pulls me back to reality. It's like the manyeth time during these past days. It takes me a while to replay our previous conversation in my head, and to pick the right spot, "You know, when I said you have people who love you", she helps me when she sees I'm having trouble grasping her meaning.

"Oh... okay", so what?

"I was gona say me", oh that's what. Sam's voice is a little tense. Like she is forcing herself to say the things, "I care about you Brooke."

"Yes, well", I answer her, "There's a difference between care and love. Lots of people care about me. Like aunt Jessica."

"Fine. I love you then", she blurts out just like that. Not very convincing. And there's still that tension in the voice. She's just telling me what she thinks I want to hear.

"Really sweet of you, Sam. But you can't just say it and make it so."

"I really, really do love you Brooke. You have to know that", I look at her skeptically and she notices it, "You think I enjoy the time I spend here trying to get you to live again?", amazing how easily we revert back to our old habits. This banter is just like the one's we used to have before the accident, "Well, I don't. I do it because I love you."

The conversation has probably gone on longer than all my other one's from the past two days put together. And I'm growing tired. And Sam won't end it. Cause she's making such progress. So it's up to me, "Okay. Could you do it another time maybe? I'd like to get some sleep."

"Just say you believe me. And I'll go."

But I don't believe you. You have this weird look in your eyes everytime you say it. You are just lying to get your way, "I believe you", just like I'm lying to get mine.

Part 5

Notes: Jessica is totally my own invention. And so is Brooke's mom. I don't know if she ever comes back in the show, but all I know about her is that she split when Brooke was nine. Everything else about her in this fic is made up by me.


Sam wants me to go to school with her. She says it's for my own good. But I can't. Not today. What if she calls and I'm not here?

"What if she calls and you are here?", Sam says. I shrug, "Besides, do you really think she won't call again if no one answers?"

How should I know?, "Sam, I won't leave the house. You are wasting your time."

Sam's not happy. I'm not happy. No one is happy. But that's just the way it is. I would like to make her happy. Because, if I realized one thing last night, it's that Sam is just about the best human being I've ever known. She deserves better than what I'm giving. She deserves better than what the world is giving her. But life isn't fair, you just take what's in your reach and make it matter. Or you lie down and wait for it all to end.

Finally Sam gives up and leaves. She's frustrated that after last night I've reverted back to the zombie-state. Well, I'm not that bad anymore. I actually answered some of her questions. I ate breakfast. And I almost jumped through the roof when the phone rang. But I'm sure Sam was hoping for a full recovery after last night. She's not the patient type. Sure she'll keep at it until she gets what she wants, but she's always pressing for quick results.

I spend the day watching tv, lying by the pool and reading. Three of my favorite waste of times. The phone rings three times, none of them are her. One of the calls is for me though. It's from school, they want to know if I'm okay. Isn't that sweet. I'm fine, just a little feverish. I'll be in school tomorrow. Tomorrow's Saturday? I'll be in Monday then. Bye. Thanks for caring.

Jessica comes home around two. I have no idea where she's been. I didn't even know she ever left the house, "Has she called then?", I shake my head. She nods, "Mark said it could be a few days before he hears from her."

Mark?, "Who is this Mark anyway?"

"Look, I know about as much as you do, Brooke. She just gave me his number onetime and said that if I ever needed to reach her Mark could help. She said that she calls him at least once a week", oh great, "I've never even met him."

Okay.. this is so weird, "Why the hell is she so.. so.. why..", I have no words. I don't know how to say it. Why oh, why has she never gotten in touch with me during these years? What possible reason could there be?

Jessica sees me hurting and moves closer. She tries to enwrap me into a hug, but I pull away, "Brooke..", she starts.

"Call him again", I say hiding behind the wall. I can't show the hurt. It's private. Jessica opens her mouth to protest, but I'm having none of that, "Call. Him. Again", I use my ice cold stare to strengthen the words.

And it works again. She takes the phone from the table and dials. I don't remove my eyes from her for a second. I don't even blink, "I don't know what you hope to gain by this Brooke", she says after a few seconds. I don't answer. I don't have an answer.

Another ten seconds goes by before finally someone picks up, "Yeah hi", Jessica says, "It's Jessica, Sarah's sister. Yes, I called yesterday, but... what?", she glances at me and then turns away, "I don't think... no. Yes, I'm sure. Look could you just give me a number where I can reach her?", Jessica raises her hand and brushes it through her hair once, "Fine. I said fine. Bye."

She knows. She called him and now she knows. She knows and she just doesn't care, "She had called him already, right?", Jessica turns to look at me and hesitates. She's trying to decide whether to lie or not, "Oh my god! She called."

"Brooke, don't read too much into this", Jessica says. I hardly even hear her. Things are jumping around in my head, "Maybe she's just gathering up her nerve. It's not easy to make such a call after all this time."

Yeah right. And if I know my mother at all she's gona take the easy way out and not call, "She's not gona call", I say. But it feels like someone else is talking and I'm just listening to her, "She knows dad is dead. She knows I'm all alone and she's not even gona call."

"You don't know that Brooke", Jessica tries to delay the inevitable. She has to know her sister well enough to know that she won't call, "And even if she doesn't, you're not alone. You have me Brooke. And you have Sam", and there comes the preparation for the inevitable. So it won't hit so hard when it finally strikes.

She advances towards me again ready to give me a comforting hug. Again. And again I step away, "Please save your `I love you Brooke' speech. I already got it from Sam last night", I spit out in a bitter voice. I don't mean to, but I'm hurting, "It's funny how you only tell me it as a last resort. Somehow that eats away all it's credibility."

She shuts up. Half a minute goes by and I turn to leave. I have to lie down or I'll faint. When I'm almost out of the room my aunts voice reaches me once more, "Even if you don't believe me, you should believe Sam. Why would she have stuck around here if she didn't love you? There's nothing else in here for her."

I push the words out of my mind. Don't need them messing around in there, the place is in ruins as it is. They leave without putting up much of a fight. But they are clever words, they leave behind this trace. This thought. And the thought is much more effective than the words could've ever been. The thought grows slowly. And there's no way to get rid of it. It's like a parasite, it feeds on my mind. So I do the only thing I can. I bury it under an even bigger thought.

My mother. My EVIL mother. How could she do it? How could she leave me? How could she go on for eight years without so much as a card? And now the biggest insult of all, how can she NOT even call after I lost my father? It just hurts so much. It hurts even more than losing dad. And that's a lot. That's more than my little heart can take. It's beating on overdrive, and if I don't calm down soon it's gona break. I'm gona die of a heart attack at the age of seventeen! I know I am. Everything goes black, and I know I'm gona die. My feet give out from under me, and I know I'm gona die. I hit my head into something hard. And I know I'm gona die.

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