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A Journalist's Prerogative
Sam was many things: A daughter, a friend, a student and over the last two years of high school, a journalist. Granted, she'd been a journalist in middle school, too, but it wasn't until high school that she realized what she could do with her curiosity and her words. Her latest story - the scandal of the school year and quite possibly the biggest story in Kennedy High history - threatened to topple Brooke McQueen, Nicole Julian and the popular crowd for good.
Now, she sat with her head between her knees on the sidewalk outside the printer's shop. If she could've made herself throw up, she would've, she felt gutted. It was as if her insides were ready to fall apart all over the asphalt before her. In some ways, she wanted them to, because the onslaught she knew was sure to follow from everyone she knew was bound to be worse than anything she could imagine.
"What am I going to do?" Sam said aloud, talking to the ground beneath her feet. "I need to warn her." She wanted to warn her, but what would she say? 'Sorry, Brooke, I wasn't in time, you're screwed. Better luck talking to me much sooner than last time the next time we meet in the bathroom.'
Brooke surprised her in the Novak. She'd opened up, showed her another side of her personality. This whole time, Sam wanted to paint Brooke as the pinnacle of selfishness, achievement and popularity when in fact, the blonde fought the same inner demons everyone else her age battled.
It took Sam's breath away, and she didn't know how else to respond but by giving Brooke the one thing that meant the most to her: That story. Stories like that didn't come along often, and when they did in the real world, they often ended up with a large check, a Pulitzer Prize and a speech heard round the world amongst the world's elite newspapermen. There'd be no Pulitzer this time around, but to Sam, there was no better story than the one she uncovered.
The cheerleader would never get what Sam gave up for or so she thought. She'd never understand the rush of the scoop, how your skin tingles when you know you're close to the truth or how it feels to see the story come to life on the computer monitor before you. Brooke would never understand what it meant to be a journalist and what a story like this meant to Sam; she'd never understand that journalists had lost their jobs, their livelihoods, for turning their back on a story and leaving it on the cutting room floor.
In many ways, though, Brooke did understand what Sam gave up for her. Those few minutes of soul-baring were enough to move Sam, but they moved the blonde, too. Brooke lived for the moments when she was able to be a good daughter, a good cheerleader and a good student, but lately, she felt as if she was none of the above. It was becoming an all too familiar thing for her to feel, and she didn't like it, but this time she crossed the line.
She felt like her world was coming apart and crumbling down around her, and that drive for perfection saw her do the unthinkable. She took in the answers to the test to keep herself afloat and found herself swallowed by her own guilt. If Brooke gave up even an ounce of the things she loved, she would feel the same way Sam did right now, but the journalist would never get that either.
Brooke showed Sam everything she hoped to see. The vulnerability, the fear, the insecurities of high school royalty. Sam knew now that this was what she was looking for. She was looking for someone who shared the same insecurities, was afraid to be vulnerable and wanted more than the path they were currently walking on. Brooke wanted more, much more, and Sam finally saw that all the things she did as a popular girl were to give her that much more in life.
But what more did Sam McPherson want?
If she was willing to sacrifice a story, what more could she offer the blonde? What more could she offer? Herself? Could she even give Brooke herself? Could she allow someone else to see her that vulnerable? Could she be a girlfriend to someone like Brooke McQueen?
"A girlfriend?" Sam's head shot up, her eyes adjusting to the hard sunlight beating down around her face. "What the..." She stopped herself; it was a road she wouldn't travel, but it was too late. She brought up a hand to block the sun.
'The seemingly straight girl finds herself infatuated by the cheerleading captain,' Sam thought, 'That's so cliche. Sounds like the plot to some third-rate porn flick on Cinemax at night.' She was right, it was a cliche, but it was true even if she couldn't admit it aloud, yet. How else could she explain her budding fascination with Brooke?
Her world revolved around the blonde, and even though her friends pointed it out to her, she wouldn't admit it. What would happen if they found out? What would happen if Brooke found out? It was better if she buried it, like she had been doing, and eventually it would die down and this phase she was going through would be over like all the teenager psychology books told her it would. 'That's all it is,' she kept telling herself, 'Just a stupid phase. Like the nose ring...'
The next day she stood clutching her books in front of Kennedy High. Sam never did warn Brooke. Jane dropped her off with a smile and a few words of encouragement, but Sam just stepped out of the car and stood in awe. Never in her life was she more afraid of school than that very moment. She was about to walk into the lion's den, and from this day forward, her feelings for Brooke McQueen would never be the same.
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