DISCLAIMER: Don't own but looking to buy.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Again, no medical knowledge, sticky side of Band-Aid down, don't drink anti-freeze, don't run with sticks, don't swallow quarters, suspend your disbelief, please. Otherwise, the story won't be fun. And I used 2 songs in this one, I own neither. Duh. And it gets kinda choppy from about 15 on. I tried to fix it but couldn't. sigh
SERIES/SEQUEL: Follows the stories Strange Road to Salvation, Telling Series, Even If and Down Time.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
High School Hell
By Aeryn Sun
A Slow Leak
Life in the Palace slowly returned to normal, or whatever passed for normal there these days at least. They started looking and acting like a typical American family, if you could get past the fact that the two soon-to-be-stepsisters were deeply in love. And gradually, both Sam and Brooke's nightmares ended. Sure, every once in a while there was a subtle reminder of what had happened that warm spring night, but for the most part, things were looking better.
Sam and Brooke had settled into a routine that worked for them and Mike, keeping things on the down low when he was around and making sure that they had time to themselves when he wasn't around. They were happy and content and outside of those that they had told, no one else knew. They didn't mind being `out' to their friends but it was no one else's business, in their opinion. So they lived in their own little bubble, careful for their family's sake as well as their own not to be too obvious and for the most part, they were successful. Until that pesky little leak started.
It's like a leaky faucet, first it starts as an annoying drip that you try to ignore but then, as time passes and more water builds up, the drip increases to steady drizzle until it's a steady stream and can't be ignored anymore. And then you're screwed. You have to deal with it. But there isn't exactly a 24-hour repairman for this sort of thing. And no one knew exactly where the leak started from for sure, but bets were placed in the Mary Cherry/ Sugar Daddy direction.
School was becoming an increasingly tense place for both girls with the whispers and glances behind their backs. It's hard to ignore it when people glare at you or stare at you like sideshow freaks. It was especially hard for Brooke, she was used to attention but it was usually the positive and worshipping kind, not the `ew' kind. And then there were the bits and pieces of conversations one or both would pick up on:
1) "Did you hear about McQueen and McPherson, dude? I hear they're doing each other!"
"No way! There's a sandwich I wouldn't mind being the meat in!"
2) "Sam and Brooke? The same two girls who've hated each other since grade school? You've got to be kidding me!"
"Nope, I heard it from my best friend's sister's boyfriend's cousin who saw them last week kissing out at Make-Out point!"
"Oh My God! Then it must be true!"
3) "That is just disgusting, I feel sorry for their parents."
And so on and so forth. If the snatches of conversations and hairy eyeballs the girls were getting weren't bad enough, it got worse one Wednesday morning when they got to school. Written across Sam's locker in big black letters was Dyke; while on Brooke's locker was McQueer. Brooke dropped her bag and just stared at her locker in shock. Sam looked over and inspected Brooke's locker.
"Absolutely no points for originality," she said dryly. Brooke glared at her.
"It's not funny, Sam," she sighed. Sam shrugged.
"No, Princess, it's not. But what can you do, hunt down every ignorant and intolerant asshole on school property? That wouldn't leave anyone for class except maybe our friends. Besides, it's only paint," she said calmly. Suddenly she reached around and dug through her bag until she found a big black Sharpie marker. With a triumphant grin, she proceeded to change the `r' in `queer' to an `n' so basically Brooke's locker just said her name. Brooke smiled.
"What about yours?" she asked. Sam looked back at her locker and shrugged again.
"Who cares? Let them call me what they want. I love you and no amount of namecalling is going to change that. Sticks and stones," she taunted. Brooke kissed her lightly on the lips as several people walked by. (Why hide it now when everyone obviously knows?)
"Get a room, you two, that's disgusting," Becky Wright, a junior, snapped as she walked by. Sam glared.
"What's the matter, Beck? Jealous?" Sam asked, her voice full of scorn. Becky turned purple with rage and stomped away. Brooke turned to see Sam smiling, satified with herself.
"It might not be a good idea to piss people off like that, Sam," she pointed out softly. "They're obviously not taking this well." Sam thought about this a minute and nodded.
"I know but, Jesus, Brooke, this is California. Half the state is in the closet for God's sake, they just won't admit it," she joked. "But I'll take it easy and try not to let my temper get the best of me, promise."
"So, what's on the agenda for today?" Brooke asked, getting her books out of her graffitti'd locker and wanting to just start the day over again. Sam shrugged.
"Let's see, French class, Trig, the usual thinly disguided torture sessions that they try and pass off as educational. After school I thought we'd hang out or something although Mom wants to go shopping for wedding stuff when she gets home from work," Sam answered with a roll of her eyes. She was so not looking forward to the wedding. It wasn't that she didn't want her mother to marry Mike, it was just that the last formal event she'd attended had ended horribly with her in a wheelchair and lots and lots of pain. Brooke smiled.
"Come on, Sammy, shopping for the wedding will be fun," she chirped. Sam stuck out her tongue.
"Oh goody," she groaned sarcastically.
"This day just keeps getting better and better," Sam mumbled as she leaned against her car and waited for the tow truck. She was absolutely livid and trying not to show it. Brooke rubbed her back in slow circles trying to keep her calm, knowing exactly how upset she was. They'd gone out to her car to go home for lunch, Senior priviledges and all, and found not only had someone spray painted the word `BUTCH' across the side of the car, but slashed all four tires as well.
"How much you wanna bet it was Becky and her cronies?" Sam snapped. Brooke sighed.
"I don't think Becky has enough brain cells to think of doing something like this," she said calmly. Sam snorted.
"Probably not," she agreed. "God, Mom is going to kill me," she complained. Brooke frowned.
"Why? It's not your fault." Sam just looked at her sadly.
"No, but this is going to be expensive to fix and with the wedding coming up she's not going to want to waste the money," Sam answered with a tinge of annoyance. Brooke nodded in understanding. As much as Sam loved Brooke and Jane loved Mike, they both disliked using the McQueen money. They'd been self-sufficient for so long that the thought of spending someone else's money was distasteful to them.
"Don't worry about it, Sammy," Brooke said gently. "If all else fails, you can earn the money around the house." Sam shot her a look but then smiled devilishly.
"Are you in the market for a personal slave, Ms McQueen?" she teased while batting her eyes and attempting to look tempting. Brooke laughed out loud at the display. While Sam did look tempting, she also resembled a Cocker Spaniel. Sam frowned at the laughter and stuck out her bottom lip in a pout.
"Please don't do that, Sam. If you do, we'll be arrested for committing a lewd act in public AND on school property," Brooke warned. Sam's eyebrows attempted to leap up off her forehead.
"No one's gonna be home until after five, right?" Sam asked. Brooke nodded. "Thank God."
With Friends Like These
The campaign of harrassment continued for the next week or so with each incident getting worse and worse. Neither girl could bring their cars to school for fear of it being vandalized, their lockers were repeatedly broken into and their stuff either taken or ruined and they were shoved and bumped into in the halls. Sam joked, rather lamely, that part of that last one was the jocks coping a cheap feel now that they were both off the market. Brooke didn't find it particularly funny. Truthfully, neither did Sam. And the school administrators didn't want to hear about it. Sam and Brooke were reluctant to tell their parents about anything other than the car incident just yet. They wanted to be treated as adults and this was a situation they were going to have to deal with throughout their lives so they wanted to handle it on their own now.
So now they sat, side by side in Chem class waiting for Bio Glass to start class and wondering, not for the first time, who decided that she would get to teach Senior Chemistry this year. Like having the pleasure of her company last year wasn't punishment enough, right?
"OK, listen up you ignorant, close minded, homophobic little assholes," the angry yet dulcet tones of Nicole Julian suddenly came over the school's intercom system. Sam and Brooke looked up in surprise, glanced at each other and then back at where Nic SHOULD have been sitting. Staring back at them was an empty seat.
"Uh-oh," Brooke breathed. She then glanced at Mary Cherry's seat and was dismayed to see it empty too. She looked at Sam who she saw had come to the same conclusion as well.
"Oh God," Sam moaned, rolling her eyes and then rammed her head on the desk. (Dear God, another coma would be REAL nice right about now)
"Oh, no," Brooke groaned, burying her face in her hands and shaking it, hoping that this was some sort of a horrible nightmare.
"Let's get one thing straight," Nicole continued, oblivious from the office of Sam and Brooke's mortification. "Whoever is carrying out their campaign of terror against Brooke McQueen and Sam McPherson better knock it off, because, revoked license or not, I will find you, hunt you down and dispose of you like yesterdays fashion honey."
"Miss Julian give me that microphone," another voice, apparently an administrator could be heard demanding. There was a screech of feedback and the sound of a scuffle.
"Hey! Hands off the merchandise, do you have any idea what this shirt cost? Of course not, you obviously bought yours at the last Ames big one-day sale. Mary Cherry, handle her, I'm not doe."
"'Course, Nic," Mary Cherry could be heard happily chirping.
"Where was I? Oh, yeah, if anyone is going to be running a campaign of terror against anyone, tootsies, it's gonna be me. What Brooke and Sam chose to do on their own time is their business. So for the last time, and this IS your final warning, you've got no lifelines left. Unless you wanna know first hand how Sam felt last spring, BACK THE FUCK OFF! Do I make myself clear?" There was another screech of feedback and then Mary Cherry's voice replaced Nicole's.
"Yeah, don' make us open a can a whoop ass on y'all!"
Bio Glass sauntered (can it saunter?) up to where Sam and Brooke were currently wishing that the floor would open up and swallow them and stood in front of their desk.
"Well, kiddies," he/she/it started, a hideously snide smirk on his/her/its face. "Since we all know about your alternative lifestyle choice, let me make a few things clear. 1) I will not tolerate any inappropriate touchy feely going on in my classroom. Is that understood?" Both girls, who were now bright, Baywatch bathing suit red nodded.
"Good. 2) I will let you sit together for the sake of not screwing up my seating chart provided that rule #1 is followed and you don't sit and make mooneyes at each other all year long. Understood?" Sam was sinking further in her chair and Brooke was about out of places to hide her face. They nodded again.
"I'm so glad you're paying attention." So was the rest of the class, probably the only time all year THAT was going to happen. "3) I have nothing against alternative lifestyles, girls, but keep it to yourselves. No one likes a flamer. Understand?" Sam had no doubt that Bio Glass knew plenty about `alternative lifestyles'. She nodded and so did Brooke.
"Good, as soon as Miss Julian, our little poster girl for Mother's Against Drunk Driving herself gets back from her little public service announcement, we'll start class." He/she/it walked away and back up to the blackboard and Sam turned to Brooke.
"Well, if we weren't `out' before, we are now," she hissed. Brooke groaned in emotional agony.
"Shoot me, just shoot me now," she begged.
"Shoot you? Let's shoot Nicole," Sam countered in an angry whisper. Brooke took her hand away from her face and looked at Sam.
"Sam, she's only trying to help. She's our friend." Sam rolled her eyes.
"Brooke, she's stabbed you in the back 300 billion times, ran me over with a car and just `outed' us over the school PA system. With friends like that " Brooke sighed.
"I know, I know," she wailed quietly in defeat as she buried her face in her hands again. She really wished she'd stayed in bed that morning.
Backrubs And Office Visits
Sam was lying on her bed with her top half hanging over the edge letting all the blood rush to her head. She wasn't sure why, it was just something to do while she was bored and avoided her homework. She was starting to see spots in her vision and giggled. (That's probably not good) she told herself. There was a knock on her door.
"Come in," she called. The door opened and in walked Brooke, upside down to Sam's point of view. This made her laugh harder. Brooke tilted her head to look at her reclined lover.
"Uhm, whatcha doin' Sammy?" she asked slightly bewildered. Sam's face was red and she was hanging upside down. While it had been months since she's recovered from her coma, a small paranoid part of Brooke's brain pointed out logically that that couldn't be a good position for someone who once experienced severe head trauma.
"Nothin'," Sam answered, still staring at Brooke from her viewpoint. "If you come a little closer, I might be able to see up your skirt." Brooke rolled her eyes.
"Typical Sam," she muttered. "Sit up you hormone driven lust bucket," Brooke mock ordered. Sam pretended to pout and then tried to sit up. She wobbled for a second and Brooke eventually had to help her back onto the bed.
"Whoa, head rush," Sam mumbled as she closed her eyes and waited for the dizziness to pass. Brooke sat down on the bed beside her and pulled her into a heated kiss.
"What were you doing that for, Einstein?" she asked after they parted. Sam smiled and shrugged.
"Bored, and stretching my back," she explained. Brooke nodded.
"Back still bothering you?" she asked. Sam's back had been hurting lately, probably a remnant from the accident. Sam nodded and sighed. "Take off your shirt and lay down on your stomach, I'll give you a back massage." Sam arched an eyebrow.
"Ooooh," she teased, "is that what they call it these days?" Brooke swatted her on the arm.
"As much as I would love to join you in the gutter your mind has jumped into, Mom and Dad are home so it really will be a back rub. Like the ones I used to give you after your therapy sessions." Sam pouted for real for a minute before complying.
"I've missed these massages," she admitted after laying down. Brooke smiled and began to rub Sam's back.
"All you had to do was say something and I would have gladly given you one. I used to love that part of your therapy because it gave me a reason to touch you when I thought I'd never get the chance to," Brooke told her quietly. Sam laughed lowly.
"It's strange the way things work out, isn't it?" she asked as Brooke continued.
"Yeah, I never thought you'd love me back," Brooke said, a hint of awe and wonder still in her voice at the fact that Sam loved her.
"With all my heart and soul Princess," Sam confessed. Brooke said nothing but moved her hands to the center of Sam's back. "OW!" Sam's body all but leaped off the bed involuntarily, scaring Brooke. Sam was panting and her eyes were screwed shut in pain.
"What Sam, what is it?" Brooke asked worriedly. Sam shook her head, unable to speak for a second and tears were leaking past her eyelids. "Should I get Mom?" Sam shook her head a little harder.
"No, `m fine," she gasped. "Give me a sec," she panted as the wave of agony passed. She hadn't felt that much pain in a long time. She opened her eyes and saw the fear, guilt, and concern in Brooke's hazel ones.
"I'm OK, you didn't do anything wrong," she immediately assured her terror stricken girlfriend. She reached up and wiped away the pain-induced tears. "I don't know what the Hell that was but, ow," she joked weakly. Brooke moved a little closer.
"Let me see if there are any bruises," she offered. Sam turned around and Brooke inspected the area, careful not to touch it again. "I don't think I see anything, Sam but I think we should take you to the Doctor."
"I hate doctors, Brooke, you know that," Sam pointed out as she put her shirt back on. Brooke rolled her eyes. Yes, Sam McPherson's loathing of doctors was now legendary in their corner of the universe. As a matter of fact, when any hospital staff saw her coming, they ran in the other direction.
"I know Sam, but think of it this way, which is worse: doctors or the wheelchair again if there's something wrong with your back?" Sam winced.
"What was the number again?" Sam asked.
Sam swung her feet back and forth as she, Brooke and Jane waited for the doctor to return with her test results. God, she was bored. She watched as her feet swung back and forth, back and forth. Then she changed the rhythm, right leg, left, left, right, up, down, side to side. And to think, she used to take this for granted.
"Stop that, I'm getting dizzy," Brooke whispered, putting her hand on one of Sam's thighs to still the offending limb.
"Sorry," Sam mumbled. "I'm bored."
"Yes, you've mentioned this a few thousand times," Brooke pointed out impatiently. "So am I but there's nothing we can do but wait." Jane watched the two with a barely concealed smile. Sam saw it and called her on it.
"What's so funny?" she asked, more for conversation that actual interest. Her mother's sense of humor bordered on the strange lately.
"The looks on both your faces when the x-ray tech asked if there was any possible way you could be pregnant," both girls stared at her for a second before bursting out laughing.
"I don't think he understood why you turned to me and asked `Brooke, is there anything you need to tell me about yourself?', Sam," Brooke howled with laughter at the memory of the poor x-ray tech's face at Sam's thinly disguised innuendo. Sam snickered.
"I don't think he got it either," she conceeded. "And you answering with `I think you would have noticed that' only helped to further confuse him," she started to laugh again. There was one x-ray tech who was going to be trying to figure that one out for a while. The doctor chose just then to walk in the room.
"Glad to see some of my patients enjoying themselves," he said with a smile. "Sam, Jane, Brooke, I'd like to say it's good to see you but frankly, it's not." The smiles faded quickly from their faces and the mood suddenly turned somber.
"What's wrong with my back, Dr. Parker?" Sam asked straight out and slightly afraid.
"Relax, Sam, it's nothing unexpected really. When the car hit you last spring, it did a lot of damage to both bone and muscle." Brooke paled at the memory and Jane sighed. It really wasn't anything they wanted to relive.
"Yeah, I remember," Sam told him darkly. "Vividly." Dr. Parker nodded, getting the hint to move on.
"Well, even though you've healed remarkably well, you're bound to have some residual effects from injuries as catastrophic as yours were," he pulled out the sheet and put it up to show them. "Your x-ray shows a few very tiny bone fragments presumably from when your ribs broke are still imbedded in the muscles of your back."
"Is she in any danger from them, Dr.?" Jane asked worriedly as Sam and Brooke stared at the image of tiny flecks dotting the x-ray of Sam's back.
"Well, normally, no, if she takes it easy. We could try and remove the larger ones through surgery but we might actually do more harm than good. The back is a tricky place to do surgery," Sam was all ready shaking her head.
"Look, are they in any danger of like piercing an artery or my spinal chord?" she asked. Dr. Parker shook his head.
"They're no where near either, Sam. I suspect what you experienced the other day was a fluke, a shifting of a fragment against a particular nerve ending or possibly a bad muscle spasm. Tell me, has it happened again since?" Sam shook her head.
"No, actually since then my back's felt better," Sam admitted.
"Well, you'll have to come in for periodic x-rays and CAT scans so we can monitor the fragments," Sam rolled her eyes. "But other than that and some anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants and pain meds for when it flares again, there's nothing I can really do."
"Any restrictions on what she can do?" Jane asked. Sam groaned. She hated it when her mother got over protective.
"No sky-diving, no heavy lifting, no wrestling with guys three times your size," Dr. Parker joked. "Normal common sense things really."
"No Gym class?" Sam asked hopefully.
"Depends on the sport of the day. You need the exercise to keep your back strong and healthy, Sam. But no contact sports, like football. And periodic physical therapy sessions to evaluate your back."
"OK, I got it," Sam grumbled. They stood up to leave. Dr. Parker turned to Sam one last time.
"Sam, you've come a long way. We call you our miracle patient because when you arrived here, none of us expected you to survive the night," he admitted. "Thanks for proving us wrong." Sam gave him a wry smile.
Brooke lay on the couch in Sam's arms watching an incredibly lame movie when Mike came down the stairs. She smiled in greeting and opened her mouth to speak when he raised a finger to his lips and pointed behind her. Brooke turned her head and saw that Sam was sound asleep behind her. Chuckling slightly, she gingerly extracted herself from Sam's grasp, earning herself a grumbled complaint from the slumbering form and followed her father into the kitchen.
"Hey ya Dad," she smiled. Mike smiled back.
"Hi Brooke, how was your day?" she frowned at the question. Mike nodded. "Jane told me about the doctor visit. Seems like that night keeps coming back to haunt you two, doesn't it?" he asked sympathetically. Brooke flopped down in a chair and sighed. She ran a hand through her hair.
"It's not fair, Dad," she complained in typical teenage fashion. "She did the right thing, pushed me out of the way. Why does she have to pay for that mistake for the rest of her life?" she asked near tears. Mike enveloped his daughter in a comforting hug.
"First off, it wasn't a mistake and Sam would be the first to tell you that. Second, some things can't be helped. She's a strong young lady, she'll make it through this, she always does." Brooke shook her head.
"We all have our breaking points, Dad. Eventually, we're going to hit Sam's. And I'm afraid of what's going to happen when we do," she confided.
"Then you'll just have to be there for her. We all will," he told her confidently. He was slowly coming to terms with the girls' relationship in his own way. Besides, all he really wanted was for Brooke to be happy and Sam made her happy.
"I know, Dad, I'm just worried. Sam isn't the most open person when it comes to letting people help her. When, if that point ever arrives, what if she won't let us help?" Mike considered this for a minute.
"What did she do when you wouldn't take help after she left?" he asked, refering to Brooke's most recent bout with her eating disorder. Brooke frowned.
"She waited me out, was patient and loving but firm until I listened. She let me know that she wasn't letting me go and that she loved me," she said. Mike smiled.
"I think you have your answer. Remember that when the road gets rocky, Brooke. It probably won't be easy, we both know how stubborn the girl can be. Stand by her, Brooke and hold on to her. If you do that, then she'll have no choice but to let you help."
"Hey beautiful," Sam whispered the next morning as Brooke rolled over and opened her eyes. Sam kissed the tip of her nose. Brooke sighed happily and snuggled closer.
"You always make me feel so good," she whispered into Sam's chest. Sam chuckled.
"It's too early in the morning for that and all I did was say `hey'," she said.
"You said `hey beautiful'," Brooke corrected. Sam brushed some hair away from Brooke's face.
"Uh-huh, statement of fact. You are beautiful."
"You say it like it's a simple thing," Brooke sighed.
"It is. The sky is blue, grass is green, spiders are icky and Brooke McQueen is the most breathtaking creature to walk the planet," Sam said almost in prayer. Brooke raised her face to see if Sam was joking but Sam's face was set in `serious' mode.
"Where were you when my mother said otherwise?" Brooke wondered outloud. Sam felt a familiar flash of anger at Brooke's mother for the emotional damage that the woman had done to Brooke. (If I ever get my hands on you again, lady, we are going to have a LONG talk) Sam kissed Brooke's forehead.
"Princess, I would give anything to erase what she said but I can't. But I can tell you that I love you and I think you're beautiful," Sam said simply, pulling Brooke closer to her until there was no space between them. Brooke sighed happily.
"It's enough, Sammy. It's enough. What are we going to do today?" she asked to change the subject from the heavy one they started with.
"Well, it's Saturday, I thought we'd go to the beach or something," Sam suggested.
"Hmmm, I'd like that," Brooke agreed. She listened to the reassuring thump thump of Sam's heart. There was never a sweeter sound to Brooke's ears. To her it was music. "Can we stay here a bit longer, though?" Sam laughed.
"As long as you want, love," Sam answered. "Forever, if it suits you."
The beach was hot but not stifling and Sam would pay good money to see Brooke in a bikini like the one the blonde was currently sporting. (Heh, postage stamps and dental floss would cover more) Sam mused. She herself was wearing a tasteful blue one piece and was lying on a towel watching Brooke splash in the nearby surf. She watched, with a certain amount of concern, as a familiar looking guy approached Brooke.
Brooke spoke with the guy for a few seconds and then turned away. Sam's alarm grew when the guy reached out and grabbed Brooke's arm. Sam was up and off the towel in record time and by Brooke's side in seconds. She immediately recognized the guy as a schoolmate, Pierce Shepard.
"Hey, guys, what's up?" she asked, her tone neutral. Pierce released Brooke's arm the second he saw Sam.
"Nothing, we were just talking," Pierce said quickly. Sam arched an eyebrow.
"Really, Pierce? Cuz I don't think talking and grabbing someone's arm are one and the same," Sam pointed out acidicly. Pierce glared at her.
"Sam, it's OK. Pierce was just leaving," Brooke said. Pierce looked insulted.
"I was not," he contested. Brooke crossed her arms.
"Let me rephrase that: `Pierce was just leaving ME'," she clarified. "Good-bye Pierce."
"Is it true, what they're saying about the two of you?" he snapped. Sam's eyes narrowed.
"Whatever it is, is no one's business," she retorted peevishly.
"Homosexuality is evil," Pierce hissed. Sam and Brooke rolled their eyes.
"Ignorance is evil, you stupid twerp," Sam growled. "Get over yourself."
"The Bible says that what you're doing is wrong," Pierce started.
"Look, Brooke, it's Mary Cherry's evil twin. Oh, wait, we played that game all ready," Sam quipped. She put her arm around Brooke's shoulder. "Come on, let's get away from this idiot." Brooke nodded.
"Let's." They left Pierce sputtering in the surf.
"You know, we're going to get that from time to time," Brooke pointed out from the passenger seat as Sam drove home later. Sam sighed.
"Unfortunately," Sam agreed reluctantly. "You'd think that we as a people would have come farther than that by now. I mean, even Disney offers medical benefits to gay couples now, don't they? If Disney says it's OK, isn't that enough?" she joked. Brooke blew out a frustrated breath.
"You always have to joke. Why?" Sam shrugged.
"Because getting all worked up about it like you are will only make me sick to my stomach, love. I'm sorry, you know that jokes are my defense mechanism. Yes, I'm bothered by that scene back there on the beach. I wanted today to be just us enjoying the day. I didn't want it ruined by some small minded jerk," Sam said honestly.
"Thank you for your honesty," Brooke said with a smile. "And there's still plenty of the day we can enjoy. How about going to a movie?" Sam's eyebrows shot up.
"Ooo, dark theatre, back row seats, and you and me? Count me in."
"How mad do you think Mike would get if I wore a tuxedo?" Sam asked from inside the dressing booth, her voice just barely missing the twang of a whine. Jane and Brooke sighed. Sam was being unusually difficult today as they went in for their dress fittings.
"Gee, Sam, I had no idea you were so butch," Brooke quipped from outside the door as she examined herself in the mirror. Sam peeked over the door and stuck out her tongue.
"Anything's better than this thing, no offense Mom. But I look hideous," Sam complained.
"I'm sure you're exaggerating, honey," Jane said as she rolled her eyes. "Just come out here so Brooke and I can get a look at you."
"Uh-uh, no way," Sam argued. "Tell the dress maker to make me something else to wear cuz I ain't wearing this one."
"Sam, come out here now," Jane ordered.
"Mooooom," Sam wailed. Brooke snickered. Sam glared at her over the door. "Yuck it up, Princess, you'll get yours." Brooke shrugged at her.
"Come on, Sam, you can't look that bad," she said. Sam sighed.
"I look like a two-dollar hooker," Sam lamented as she opened the door reluctantly. Jane and Brooke looked at her. The dress was powder blue to match the color scheme of the wedding and was off the shoulders. It dipped down around Sam's neckline to show a little cleavage but not too much and the bodice hugged in all the right places and it was tea length. She looked nothing like a hooker, she looked very nice. It was actually the same dress Brooke had on, Sam just thought Brooke looked better in it.
"Go ahead and say it," Sam prompted. "I look awful." Jane shook her head.
"Sam, you look beautiful," her mother argued.
"She's right, Sammy. You look great," Brooke agreed. Sam rolled her eyes.
"You're both biased. You're my mother and you're my girlfriend. You'd say anything to make me feel better."
"Sam the dress looks fantastic. You and Brooke are going to look great," Jane said. Sam sighed.
"Are you sure I can't get away with a tux? Come on, powder blue with a ruffly shirt? I'll even get one with tails and a top hat if you want," Sam said hopefully. She really didn't want to wear the dress. She was beginning to think it was a psychological thing having to do with last years prom.
"You're wearing the dress and that's final,"Jane said firmly. Sam pouted as she went back into the dressing room to put her jeans back on. "Now that that's settled, I do need to talk to you two about something important."
"We're listening, Mom. Shoot," Brooke said from her stall.
"It's about your father and the wedding," Jane started. Sam and Brooke exchanged glances over the stall walls.the look plainly said.
"What?" Sam asked warily. Jane sighed. She knew this wasn't going to go over well.
"He's invited some family and co-workers who still don't know about you two and would appreciate it if you could not let on that you're involved with each other," Jane said as gently as she could. Sam groaned.
"Jerk," she muttered.
"You have got to be kidding," Brooke said angrily. "Everytime I think that man has taken a step forward, he takes three steps back. God, I wish he'd make up his friggin' mind."
"Brooke," Sam started softly.
"No, Sam, I'm tired of his hedging. Either open the door all the way or lock it behind him but stop opening it and then slamming it in our faces," Brooke ranted. "God, he is so infuriating."
"I know, honey and I tried to talk to him about it but he won't back down on this one thing," Jane apologized. "He's better with dealing with the two of you but this is just expecting too much from him. You know I don't have a problem with it, I'd rather see the two of you happy "
"We know, Mom," Sam broke in as she stepped out of the dressing booth and handed her mother her gown. She opened the door to Brooke's booth and enveloped the upset blonde in a gentle hug.
"Come on, Princess, playing it straight for one night won't kill us," she whispered in Brooke's ear. Brooke sighed.
"I really wanted to dance with you Sammy," she complained. Sam smirked.
"Who said we can't dance?"
"A real dance, Sam. A couple's dance," she sighed again. "I love you and I'm proud of that. I'm proud of us; we've come a long way. I hate that Dad makes us hide it." Sam hugged her tighter.
"So do I. But this is his and Mom's special day, not ours. We'll have our own someday, maybe," Brooke's eyes lit up. "Besides, we can dance anytime you want to."
"You mean it?"
"Of course I do. So, think you can do this? If not for your Dad, than how about for Mom?" Sam asked. Brooke nodded reluctantly. She turned to Jane.
"I don't like it and I plan to let him know that, but I'll do it," she said. Jane smiled.
"I don't like it either, Brooke. But thank you both."
Brooke lay in her bed staring at the ceiling. She couldn't sleep. She was so annoyed at her father she could slap him, she very nearly did when she'd tried to talk to him about her and Sam and the wedding and he made his wishes clear. There was to be no indication at all that they were anything more than friends and stepsisters.
(Narrowminded, hypocritical jerk) she seethed in silence. (Why can't he just move on?)
Deciding she wasn't going to be able to sleep where she was, she crawled out of bed and walked quietly across to Sam's room. Sam was asleep, snoring softly.
(I should record her, she doesn't believe she snores) Brooke laughed to herself. She carefully climbed into the bed beside Sam who automatically rolled over and cuddled up to her. Brooke smiled at the unconscious reaction from Sam.
(Who would have figured Sam for a cuddler?) she thought with another smile. She wrapped her arms around the warm body and thought about everything they'd been through. The accident seemed like a lifetime ago and yet only yesterday. So much had changed and yet they were still Brooke and Sam. She just wished her father could see that. They were still the same two girls they'd always been it was only one thing that had actually changed. She sighed causing Sam to stir slightly.
"Brooke?" Sam asked groggily. Brooke kissed her forehead.
"I couldn't sleep so I came in here. Go back to sleep, Sammy," she whispered. Sam sighed and snuggled closer.
"Love you," Sam yawned as she drifted off again. Brooke immediately felt better at hearing those words.
"Love you too, Sammy," she answered as she closed her eyes. Sam's steady breathing and heartbeat lulled her into a trancelike state until she was finally able to fall asleep.
Pierce continued to dog Brooke for the next week. He was like a persistant personal Bible thumper; there at her locker when she got to school, waiting at her classes, everytime she turned around there he was. She did not enjoy the attention and neither did Sam. Pierce either ignored Sam or told her how she was evil and a demon sent from Hell to corrupt the pure and innocent soul of Brooke McQueen. Sam would have found it funny if the guy wasn't starting to scare her.
"So the principal said there was nothing he could do?" Nicole asked incredulous.
"Not unless Pierce actually does something," Brooke complained. Sam rolled her eyes.
"Did you say `Gee thanks, by then one of us might be dead'?" she asked. Pierce was getting increasingly hostile towards her lately and it was starting to worry her. Brooke shook her head.
"They don't want to hear it, Sam," she said sadly.
"Remind me to sue from beyond the grave," Sam mumbled.
"Maybe you should tell your parents," Nic suggested. Both Brooke and Sam shook their heads.
"Our mess, our problem. We'll deal. This is a problem that we're going to encounter given our lifestyle," Sam pointed out. "We can't call in our parents to bail us out everytime it gets hairy." Brooke nodded her agreement.
"Besides, he's just a little religious friutcake. He'll get bored with us eventually and move on. What's the worse he's gonna do? Preach us to death?" she asked rhetorically. Nicole couldn't help but wonder if Brooke just baited the cosmic gods with that remark.
Two weeks later
Only one other person witnessed what actually happened next other than the two people actually involved. But the cry of pure unadulterated agony that came out as nothing more as a sob caught Brooke's attention. It came from a voice that she knew better than she knew her own. She turned around in time to see Sam collapse to the field in a limp heap like a bag of boneless meat. And her heart stopped.
For one agonizing instant, her heart actually stopped and she felt her chest constrict painfully as she witnessed Sam lying there motionless on the grass. Her legs were all ready moving towards the prone figure and she fell to her knees beside her. For a second, she saw Sam as she did the night of the Prom, broken and bleeding on the asphalt. She shook her head to banish the image and spoke to the still figure.
"Sam? Sammy, can you hear me?" she asked, her voice cracking. Sam was curled up in a ball unmoving. Her eyes were fixed open and she was gasping for air like a fish stranded on land. She was shaking violently and low keening sounds were coming from the back of her throat. Other than that, she made no other sound or indication that she was aware that Brooke was even there. Brooke reached out and brushed Sam's cheek but the girl didn't even blink.
"Sam, Sam answer me," Brooke said a little stronger and more worried. Sam still didn't answer and Brooke felt the fear and panic within her grow and choke off her own air. She saw Lily out of the corner of her eye.
"Lily, what happened?" she asked, never taking her eyes or hand off of Sam. Lily kneeled down next to Sam and Brooke and shrugged.
"I don't know, one second we were playing and the next, she was lying there," Lily said confused.
"Yo, could someone give me a hand here?" Sugar Daddy yelled from a few feet away. He was attempting to pull an incredibly livid and vicious Nicole off of what appeared to be a classmate. Nicole was yelling incoherently and hissing, spitting and hitting, clawing, kicking, you name it. The classmate in question was curled up in the fetal position trying to survive the onslaught from the diminutive blonde. Josh went over and it still took him, Sugar and three others to pry Nicole off of the guy and hold her still.
"I'LL KILL YOU!" was the first coherent thing Nicole managed to say.
"Whoa, Nic, calm down before you have a stroke or something," Josh said. She turned on him, her eyes nearly red with fury. He took an unconscious step back.
"He hit her on purpose!" she panted angrily. "The little prick took his hockey stick and hit her in the back on purpose!" Upon hearing this, dread and utter fear filled Brooke making her nauseous. She turned back to Sam.
"Sammy, can you answer me?" Sam was still keening and shaking and didn't answer her. "Sam, I hate to ask this Oh, God, can you feel your legs?" Sam's wails grew louder and Brooke felt tears start to fall down her cheeks. She looked up at Lily.
"Lily, hold her head while I look at her back. I have to see," she asked. Lily nodded.
"What's wrong, Brooke?" Lily asked as she gently placed her hands on either side of Sam's head. Brooke sighed.
"The doctor recently told Sam that she had to be careful with her back," Brooke explained sadly as she lifted the back of Sam's shirt to look at the place of impact. She winced when she saw the large spot in the middle of Sam's back that was all ready turning an ugly shade of red and purple.
"Then why was she playing gym?" Lily asked. Brooke sighed again as she continued to inspect the area gently as Sam sobbed.
"I'm sorry, Sammy," she apologized as one sob was particularly loud. "Because she's Sam," she answered Lily. "And as such, she thinks she's invulnerable."
"How is she, Brooke?" Nicole asked, calmer now and Sugar let go of her. The classmate attacker, none other than Pierce Shepard, was in no condition to go anywhere, so everyone ignored him for now and Carmen and Harrison were explaining everything to the teacher and calling for an ambulance.
"Bad, Nic. I don't think she can feel her legs," Brooke said, starting to cry harder as she stroked Sam's face and hair and waited for the ambulance.
"Jesus," Nicole whispered as she flopped to the ground beside the three. Lily looked at Pierce, who she noticed was actually unconscious and then back at Nicole.
"Nicole, what actually happened?" she asked. Nicole looked at her blankly for a second.
"I was sitting on the bench watching because, you know, I don't do Gym when I saw Sam turn her back on Pierce and start to walk away. The play or whatever was over so she was walking away when he raised his stick like this," she raised a nearby stick horizontally so that the butt was in Lily's face to demonstrate. "And pulled back before hitting her with the butt. She fell like a sack of bricks," Nic finished humorlessly. Lily let out a low whistle.
"No mistaking that for an accident," she said. Nicole shook her head. "And you flew off the bench and went all L.A.P.D. on him?" Nic shrugged.
"I guess so. I don't know I guess I just snapped. Guess I should get a refund on my anger management classes, huh?" she tried to joke. Lily smiled.
"It's cool." Just then the teacher arrived and demanded to know what happened to Pierce since she already knew what happened to Sam.
"I beat him up," Lily piped up before Nicole could open her mouth. Nicole stared at her in shock. Lily gave her a look that plainly said (shut up for once you twit) so Nic shut her mouth. Lily then repeated, almost word for word, what Nicole had said. The teacher nodded.
"Well, the police might have words to say to you but I wouldn't worry about it. Sounds like he deserved it. How is she, Brooke?" Brooke looked up from the girl she was guarding so closely.
"She won't answer me and I'm getting worried," Brooke answered. The teacher nodded sympathetically.
"It's shock, dear. Keep talking to her, I'm going to go show the ambulance in." After the teacher left, Nicole turned to Lily.
"What was THAT for?" she asked in complete shock. Lily had just pulled her proverbial fat out of the frying pan. Lily smiled.
"Nic, you're on probation for last spring's accident and after the way Sam exposed your family's ties to the judges and the way they bought you out of the drunk driving case, you would have gone away for assault or something for this. And as much as I still despise you at times, you were defending Sam and I couldn't let you get punished for that." Nic stared at her stupified.
"Th thank you," she stuttered, stunned.
"Ambulance is here, Brooke," Harrison spoke up. Brooke nodded and stood out of the way as the paramedics loaded Sam up. It was a strange parody of Prom night. Again Brooke climbed into the back of the bus and grabbed Sam's limp hand.
"Hang on, Sammy, I'm here for you," she whispered as the door closed and the bus pulled away.
Prognosis Redux/Breaking Point
"She can't feel anything below her waist, I'm afraid," Dr. Parker said gravely. Jane and Brooke sighed heavily and Mike swore.
"And this happened how, Brooke?" Mike asked a little angrier than he intended. Brooke glared at him for a second.
"Gym class. She was referee, not actually playing and turned her back on one of the guys. According to Lily and Nic," she was unsure who to say witnessed it. "He pulled the stick back and hit her with it square in the back," she explained for what felt like the millionth time. Dr. Parker nodded.
"That's consistant with her injuries. The good news is that it is no doubt temporary. The blow to the spine has caused a catastrophic shock to her system and she's suffering from a major muscle spasm along the area of impact that's putting pressure on the chord itself," he explained.
"What about the bone fragments?" Jane asked fear creeping into her voice. Dr. Parker sighed.
"To be on the safe side, we'd like your permission to go in and remove some of the ones closest to the injured area. But I have to warn you, because of their location, we're taking a risk of doing damage by going in," he said honestly.
"But what if you don't?" Mike asked.
"There's a slight chance that the blow dislodged them enough that they could do more damage on their own," Dr. Parker explained solemnly.
"Jesus," Brooke breathed. "Damned if you do, damned if you don't."
"Afraid so, Brooke. And with the surgery you're looking at a longer recovery time but a better overall prognosis, a less chance of something like this happening again." Jane looked at Mike and Brooke who both nodded.
"Do what you have to, Dr. We trust you," she said evenly. Dr. Parker nodded.
"It'll work out, Sam's a tough girl. Excuse me, I have to go scrub in." They watched as he walked out. Jane turned to Brooke.
"And there was no provication for the attack?" she asked still in shock over the whole thing. Brooke shook her head.
"Other than the fact that Sam and I are together, no. He just snapped as far as I know. God, I am so sorry," Brooke said guiltily. Jane rubbed her back.
"You have nothing to be sorry for, honey. You did nothing wrong and neither did Sam. The only person to blame is this Pierce boy. Let's just forget about him and concentrate on helping Sam heal."
"Sam? Sam, honey, wake up," Jane encouraged as Sam's eyes fluttered open the next day. Brooke moved from her seat to grasp Sam's hand.
"Come on, Sammy, come back to the land of the conscious," Brooke whispered.
"Go `way," Sam muttered, closing her eyes again. Jane and Brooke exchanged looks and sighs. It was the third time Sam had almost come to only to pass out again.
"Damn it, Sam," Brooke swore. "Wake up all ready or I'll unplug your mophine drip myself."
"Cranky, cranky," Sam whispered back. Brooke and Jane smiled. Sam opened one eye and looked at the two of them. "How bad?" The look that passed over both their faces told Sam all she need to know. She closed her eye again and sighed.
"Sam," Brooke started. Sam shook her head.
"I can't feel my legs, Brooke. At all. That's not a good sign," Sam spat angrily. Jane placed a comforting hand on her daughter's shoulder.
"Part of that is the medication, Sam," she explained. Sam opened her eyes and looked at her mother expectantly. "They put a spinal block on you that should wear off soon. But, you've had surgery and Pierce did do a little muscle damage so you have to do some rehab again," Sam rolled her eyes. "We've all ready arranged for you to be moved to the same rehab center you went to last spring as soon as you're ready. You'll be in a wheelchair for a little while but like before, you'll get out of it again."
"Ducky," Sam said sarcastically. She turned to Brooke. "What exactly happened?" Brooke shrugged.
"Pierce Shepard hit you in the back with his hockey stick. The only excuse he's given is a zealous rant about homosexuality being evil. I guess his dad is a Bible thumping reverend or something and Pierce had a crush on me for a while and wasn't very happy that you and I are involved. I think his mind snapped." Sam nodded.
"You seem to have a knack for attracting winners, Princess," Sam joked. Brooke stuck out her tongue.
"Yeah, well, I attracted you, didn't I?" she countered. Sam raspberried her and then smirked.
"I'm a winner, doncha know?" Jane rolled her eyes.
"Are you OK, Sam?" she asked bringing the conversation back to a serious topic. Sam blinked at her.
"No, I'm paralyzed again. What kind of question is that? Would you be all right?" Sam asked curtly. Brooke winced as she suddenly heard them all collide with Sam's `breaking point' like a car colliding with a brick wall at 200mph.
"Sam, I " Jane tried to explain but Sam was still going. Brooke knew this wasn't going to be pretty. Sam's eyes were an unnatural red color from her inner rage.
"Tell you what, Mom. Why don't we wait and see how you feel if Mike dies. Just like Dad did and then I'll ask you if you're OK. Then you can see how STUPID A QUESTION IT IS!" she finished in a bellow. Jane stared at her in shock.
"Sam!" Brooke scolded. Sam turned on her.
"What? You don't think that was a stupid question too?" Sam asked.
"That's not the point, that was way out of line," Brooke snapped. Sam glared at her.
"Well, it was a stupid question. I am not all right. I don't want to go through this again. You have no idea what this is like."
"Sam, you're not going through this alone. It'll be all right," Brooke reassured her. Sam sighed.
"Let's switch places, Brooke. And then you tell me the same thing."
"I'd give anything for you not to be lying in that bed right now," Brooke whispered as tears fell down her face. Sam mentally kicked herself for her behavior. Brooke was suffering too, she just didn't see it.
"I'm sorry, Princess," she apologized. "I'm just scared."
"I know you are, Sammy. I am too. But we'll get through this. Together." Sam smiled.
"Together," she echoed. She hated the entire idea of going through this again and was hoping to find that it was a nightare. But she knew it wasn't. She looked at Brooke who smiled reassuringly at her. (I hope I have enough strength for this go `round, Princess. I'd hate to disappoint you)
Brooke walked into the Novac a week later and walked directly into Becky Wright.
"Hey, Brooke," Becky greeted her with false sweetness. "How's Sam?" Brooke rolled her eyes. God she hated this girl. Especially since her boyfriend was until recently Pierce Shepard, Sam's attacker.
"Hi, Becky. She's fine, recovering well, transferred to rehab. Thanks for asking," she said as she passed by. Becky moved to block her path.
"I'm real sorry about what Pierce did, I mean, talk about horrid," Becky confessed although Brooke wasn't buying it.
"Whatever," Brooke sighed. Becky tilted her head.
"Can I ask you something?" Brooke rolled her eyes.
"I don't suppose my saying `no' would stop you?" she said snarkily.
"You pity Sam don't you? Especially after the accident last spring." Becky asked snottily. Brooke glared. (Guess not)
"Never. I would never pity Sam. And I didn't pity her after the accident either."
"Even though she was hurt instead of you. There was no guilt that it was her in that chair and not you? No pity for the poor girl in the wheelchair?"
"No," Brooke snapped angry that she'd been dragged into this conversation. "There was no `pity for the girl in the wheelchair'," she repeated.
"Isn't that how your relationship started? You took pity and felt guilty so you took care of her and then it was something to get attention with?" Brooke's face turned red with anger.
"You're a real ass, you know that?" she shouted. Becky smiled evily.
"You didn't answer me," she taunted.
"No, that's not how it started! Our relationship, first off, is none of your God damn business but since you seem intent on making it a punchline in some sick joke, let me set you straight. I love her, I never pitied her and while I did feel guilty that she was hurt instead of me, I thank her everyday for what she did, maybe not in words but she knows how I feel. There is no guilt trip involved. And I do not stay with her for the attention being gay gets me. It's not the kind of attention you want, Beck. There's attention, and then there's this, what you're doing to the two of us, what Pierce did to Sam and that's just plain sick."
"So, you're not using her to get attention? What about now that she's in the chair again?"
"No, I told you this is not a ploy to get attention. And I don't care about her being in that chair. You know what? This discussion is over," Brooke pushed passed Becky angrily and stormed out of the room. Becky let her go and smiled to herself.
"That's OK, Brooke, I got what I wanted," she said as she pulled a small recording device out of her purse and turned it off with a devilish smirk.
"Heya, Sam, this arrived for you, no note though," Nurse Tom Chesterfield said as he handed Sam a small wrapped bundle. Sam frowned and took the package from him.
"Thanks," she said. (Brooke didn't say she was sending anything)
"Lights out in ten, Sam," Tom reminded her as he left the room. She nodded and unwrapped the package to find a small tape recorder with a note that said `Play Me' on it in unfamiliar handwritting. Shrugging Sam pressed play on the device and listened to what was obviously Brooke's voice. And wished when it was over that Nicole had finished the job she started last fall.
"I don't love her, I pity her. This started as a guilt trip and then it got me the attention I wanted. This is just a ploy to get attention. Pity the girl in the wheelchair. God damn, it's a punchline in some sick joke. I stay with her for the attention being gay gets me. I don't care about her, that's just plain sick."
Sam snapped the device off, leaned over the bed and vomited. Alone in her hospital room, again paralyzed from the waist down, already frightened and feeling alone and now hearing that that the person to whom she gave her heart and soul didn't really love her, she let out a cry of complete and utter despair and heartache that was heard three floors away and brought several nurses running. No one who heard that cry of devastation from within a young girls' soul was able to sleep that night, haunted as they were by that sound.
Brooke arrived early the next morning at the rehab facility eager to see Sam. When she got to Sam's room, she found Sam curled up in bed looking awful. The brunette turned to her with burning eyes, full of tears and then looked away. Brooke frowned.
"What's wrong, Sammy?" Brooke asked, concerned.
"Nothing, go away," Sam snapped. She could still hear Brooke's voice on the tape and having Brooke right there acting all concerned and loving was killing her.
"Go away? Never, come on, Sam. We've been through this before, you heard the doctor, it's a major muscle spasm, there's no permanent damage. You're going to be fine," Brooke reassured her, sitting on the bed and reaching out to stroke Sam's face. Sam jerked away from the touch.
"Don't touch me," Sam hissed lowly. Brooke snatched her hand away in surprise.
"Why, Sammy? What's wrong?" Brooke asked, getting worried.
"Go away, I don't want you here. I'm not going through this again," Sam spat at Brooke angrily from her hospital bed. Brooke just stared at her blankly. Sam's face turned red. "I said GET OUT! I don't want you here. Get out of my life. I don't want your pity!"
"My pity? The only reason I'd pity you is because you're being an unreasonable ass," Brooke shot back. Sam eyes grew dark and stormy.
"Maybe you missed it because I went too fast for your blonde, cheerleader brain to keep up, but GET-OUT-OF-MY-LIFE!" she screamed. Brooke bolted up off the bed in surprise of the amount of anger and venom coming at her from Sam. Sam actually sounded like she hated her.
"Sam, what is the matter with you?" she asked, hurt.
"I finally get it Brooke, you never loved me, you pitied me. That's all it was. `Feel sorry for the girl in the wheelchair'. Then you stayed with me when I was out of the chair because it was something new and chic and got you the attention you craved. Well, now I'm in the chair again and I don't want your damn pity and I sure as Hell don't want you!" Sam ranted. Brooke blinked away tears.
"Sammy, how can you say that?" she choked.
"I'm not going to let you hurt me!" Sam shouted in tears.
"Sammy, I would never " Brooke started.
"Get out," Sam repeated.
"Sam " Brooke begged. She was so confused. (Where was this coming from?)
"Get out " Sam growled, tears now gone and relaced with a look of pure hatred that actually scared Brooke.
"GETOUTGETOUTGETOUTGETOUTGETOUTGETOUT!" Brooke stumbled backwards away from the bed so quickly she tripped and nearly fell, finally making it to the door. With one last mournful glance at the enraged figure lying in the bed, she hastily opened the door and left, hearing the click of the door behind her like it was slamming on the doorway of her heart.
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