DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to Ryan Murphy and the WB. No infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Wow! Well this sure took a while. I conceived of this sequel a day or two after writing Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. I'd written the outline for this on December 2nd of '08 but it took me seven months to get back to this moment in the storyline. I'd been dying to write this one. A huge thank you to Redlance for giving this the 'suck-check' for me. I couldn't have posted without you. You're awesome!
CONTINUITY: This is in my Bram!verse and is next after 'Self Fulfilling Prophecy'. It actually picks up moments after that one. Oh, and there are references to 'Under Pressure'-the one where Sam cracks up and goes to therapy.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
"On that day, Brooke, will you marry me...?"
The world held its breath. "Oh God, Sammy!" Brooke gasped. Almost instinctively-as if she'd been waiting for this moment her entire life-her fingers reached out tentatively toward Sam. The reporter took this as a good sign that she hadn't just made a gigantic ass out of herself.
Sam slid the ring onto Brooke's finger (bit of a snug fit), and smiled: the blonde's hand was trembling.
Hers were shaking too. She had no idea where the idea had come from to propose right then and there-or the courage, for that matter. She'd had that ring for six months.
But Brooke had just looked so distraught. For all she accused the blonde of being vapid and shallow when they first met, Brooke was as complex an individual as Sam had ever met. Something had happened that rocked the poor girl to the core and made her doubt that any of it was possible: that they could have their happy ending.
She wasn't going to let that happen. They'd both exorcised their demons, and now that they had she wasn't going to let anything ruin the life that lay ahead of them. She had to let Brooke know that she was stuck with Sam McPherson for the long haul.
"S-So?" Sam stammered nervously. "What's your--"
Her shoulders slumped. No one ever knocked on their door, and they pick now? Maybe if she ignored it they would--
Mom? She glanced up at the blonde.
"What's she doing here?" Brooke asked.
Sam shrugged. "I was hoping you knew," she replied.
"Sam?" her mother called from behind the door, "are you there? We wanted to surprise you."
We. That meant Mike was here too.
She handed the jewelry box to the blonde. "Here: put the ring back in here and--"
"I don't want to take it off," Brooke moped. She looked crestfallen.
"I know, Sweetheart," Sam smiled, "but you can put it back on as soon as they leave."
Brooke frowned and nodded. Sam gave her a quick kiss, and ushered the blonde into the bedroom before answering the door.
"Hi!" she greeted her mother and Mike as jovially as she could muster-given the fact that they had just interrupted what was supposed to be one of the happiest moments of her life.
Yeah-try not to dwell on that, she told herself.
Sam hugged her mother, and then repeated the ritual with Mike. It was a little tentative still, but they were getting better at it.
She thought Mike genuinely appreciated the affection-and she could admit to herself that she did too. He would never press the point, but he had become a father to her. Once she worked through the idea that she wasn't betraying her Dad, it became easier and easier to allow Mike into her life.
He was a good man. Dad would be happy that Mom had found someone who really loved her, and he would also be happy that Sam had someone to turn to when she needed a father.
It took her a long time to realize that.
"What are you guys doing here?" Sam asked.
"Well," Jane grinned, "we wanted to come up and surprise you-and see the new apartment."
"You saw it when we moved in," Sam chuckled.
"I know," she acknowledged, "but I wanted to see it now that the two of you are actually living here. That makes a huge difference."
"Yeah," Mike laughed, "she just wanted to see if you two had killed each other yet."
Sam laughed along with him. "No, those days are long behind us.
"In fact..." her mind scrambled to remember the state of the spare bedroom, "I think Brooke's rubbing off on me. I made my bed this morning and everything."
"Ohmigod!" Jane laughed. "Too bad she couldn't have rubbed off on you like that when you still lived at home," she quipped.
Well, Sam snickered to herself, she rubbed 'against' me. Does that count?
"Where is Brooke?" Mike asked.
"She's in the-um-her bedroom," she replied. "I think she's changing." Sam looked over her shoulder toward the bedroom door-expecting it to open on cue. Nothing happened. "I'm sure she'll be out in a minute.
"How long can you stay?" Sam's mind raced to take stock of the situation. She couldn't take them on a tour of the apartment. The spare room looked pristine. They would never believe that she lived there. When they'd had the gang over, Sam had taken great pains to throw her books on the desk, set the laptop up there, and put some clothes in the drawers. They'd even go so far as to fool around in bed for an hour and then Sam made it.
It looked like crap, but it looked like a room Sam might live in. Now, the spare room looked like a hotel suite.
Maybe she could go mess it up real quick.
"We were thinking of staying for the weekend," Jane replied. "But--" she began before Sam could interject, "we're going to get a hotel and not impose upon the two of you."
Sam strained against the deeply imbedded hospitality instinct implanted by their western culture-but it was no good.
"You could always stay with us," spouted involuntarily out of her mouth. Ah! "I could sleep on the couch, (what??) and you could have my room."
"We couldn't," replied Mike-the wonderful, wonderful human being. "There's a hotel just outside campus."
"Just thought I'd offer," Sam exhaled in relief. "Can I get you anything? We've got some soda-diet, of course," she rolled her eyes. "Brooke says its better for us, but I don't see how those chemicals can be better than good old fashioned sugar."
"I'll second that," Mike grinned at Jane.
"I know," Jane replied. "But you hate the way the 'dryer' always shrinks your pants."
Sam laughed aloud at that. She remembered that argument from back at the Palace. Mike complained that the heat was set too high on the dryer when she was washing his clothes. Mom countered that the heat was set to 'medium'-like it always was-and that maybe the fact that he was having dessert every night had more to do with it.
Sam enjoyed the banter. It felt like they were home again-only now they were here on her and Brooke's turf. Maybe this would be fun, after all?
And where was Brooke? She shouldn't be missing this. "Let me go see what's keeping Blondie," she said, "and then we can make plans for dinner.
"Your treat!" she winked as she headed for the bedroom.
Brooke stared at the diamond ring on her finger. She couldn't believe it: Sam had gotten down on one knee and proposed. Her mind traced back to the times in school when she imagined being someone's wife. She practiced writing various incarnations of her new name: Mrs. Brooke McKinney when she had that crush on Brian in the fourth grade, Mrs. Brooke Ford in high school when she was sure that Josh was 'the one'. She may have even experimented with a 'Mrs. Brooke John' or two.
But none of them were Mr. Right.
Heh. It turned out that there was no Mr. Right.
She never could have imagined a year ago that Sam McPherson would have proposed to her. A year ago she was still using the cane to walk and pitying herself because she wouldn't be a Glamazon in her senior year. Now she was engaged to the woman she loved.
Now she was finally going to be a wife: Mrs. Brooke--
Huh. Who took who's name when you were both girls? Interesting.
Resolving to solicit opinions on the matter at the next LGBT meeting, she slid the ring off her--
Okay: she pulled the ring off of her...
Hmm. The ring was still on her finger. The ring wasn't budging.
"You coming?" Sam popped her head in the door. She saw the ring and grinned. "You can put it on as soon as they leave," she assured her, closing the door behind her.
"Um," Brooke began. "I-I can't get it off."
Sam's eyebrows hiked comically to her hairline. "What do you mean?"
"What do you mean: 'what do I mean'?" Brooke snapped. "I can't get it off!" How could someone be so smart and so dense at the same time?
"Okay, okay," Sam raised her hands to diffuse the situation. "Don't panic." She came over to examine the ring, and gave it a tug.
"Sorry!" Sam flinched. "I don't understand-unless they sized it wrong. But I told them specifically: a six and a half. I even watched the lady write it down-you know, because you can never trust people-especially with something as important as this. I mean, this is only the most important detail of my entire life. I sure as hell wasn't going to just leave it up to the lady at the jewelry store to get it right. But I specifically saw her write 'six and a half'. I don't understand--"
"I'm a seven," Brooke interjected meekly.
"--what could have happened," Sam continued. "Unless the actual jewelry maker--
"Huh...?" Brooke's statement finally registered with the brunette.
"I'm a seven," Brooke confessed.
A moment of confusion passed over Sam's face. "No-no you're not," she rallied, "because I specifically asked. Remember when I told you that Mom was getting us Kennedy class rings, and asked you what size you were? I just made that up so that I could to get your ring size. And you told me six-and-a-half. I wrote it down immediately so that I wouldn't forget. And I--"
"I lied," Brooke whispered.
A muscle in Sam's face twitched. "What?"
"I lied," Brooke grimaced. "I knew I'd never wear a Kennedy ring, so I said I was a six and a half."
Sam's arm gesticulated in midair. The brunette opened her mouth to speak, but only a 'squeak' came out.
But Brooke understood. She knew the squeak translated roughly as: 'What in the hell would possess you to do something so stupid?'
"I-I didn't want you to think I had fat fingers," she revealed.
Brooke winced as her girlfriend emitted another 'squeak' and grabbed two, big fistfuls of her brown hair. "I'm sorry," she offered.
Clarity returned to the reporter's eyes. Her lips moved, but nothing came out. She cleared her throat and tried again. "It's okay," she managed to say with some effort. She let go of her hair.
"I never really thought about it," Brooke admitted, "but there are some advantages to my having fat fingers, aren't there?" She waggled her eyebrows.
The reporter shot her a look: "Maybe now's not the time."
"Right," Brooke frowned. "What do we do, Sammy?"
The reporter stared long and hard at the diamond on her finger. "Well," she began, "we were wondering when it was the right time to tell them about us...
"Looks like this is it," Sam reasoned. Brooke could see the muscles in her throat work as she swallowed nervously. "We were going to tell them soon anyway--"
"At Thanksgiving, Sam!" Brooke countered. Panic set in along the edges. "We agreed: that's the bombshell holiday. That's when big revelations come out! That's how it's done!"
"I know," Sam agreed, "but what choice do we have?"
Brooke looked beseechingly into those gorgeous brown eyes, and knew Sam was right. She gave a nervous nod. "This is it," she affirmed.
Sam clasped her hands. "It'll be all right. They love you," she assured her. "Both of them."
"Yeah," Brooke said. "But just in case," she added, "I may need that loan if-if things go badly." She heard the tremor in her voice.
She had realized months ago that-although she was now of legal age-she was still dependent on her father economically. She could claim her independence, but he could take away her tuition and housing.
She'd put a plan in place to remedy the situation: she initiated a civil lawsuit against Nicole Julian-whose family had more money than they knew what to do with. Brooke sued them for millions. Her lawyer figured they would probably settle to keep it out of the papers, but it could take one or two years.
Still, once that happened, she and Sammy could live quite comfortably. But until she got that she might have to rely on Sam's little nest egg: the trust fund she received as part of her father's insurance. She received the first portion when she turned eighteen, and the rest would be dispersed when she turned twenty-one.
"They won't," Sam promised, "but you know what's yours is mine."
Sam led the way toward the living room, but Brooke found herself rooted to the spot. She didn't want to go out there and face them. Suddenly she was nine years old all over again, and she was deathly afraid that her father was going to reject her just like her mother had done.
And what if Professor Mallory was right? What if they went through all of this and two years from now she had no father and no girlfriend? What if she was completely alone?
What if she was just a mixed up girl with latent Sammysexual tendencies...?
Stop! She slammed the brakes on her downward spiral.
She looked down at the ring on her finger-the ring that Sammy had just placed there moments ago-and it quieted the dissenting voices in her mind. She'd promised: two years from today Sam was going to marry her. Two years from today she was going to be Sammy's wife.
Two years from now Sam was going to make her dreams come true.
And then she remembered that she wasn't nine anymore: she wasn't a damsel in distress needing to be rescued. She was just as important to Sam as the brunette was to her. For the first time in her life, someone needed her.
Somehow, she had forgotten that in the wake of Professor Mallory's speech.
She and Sam were going to make each other's dreams come true. And if they were alone-if it was just the two of them-then so be it.
"Are you coming?" the brunette asked gently.
"Yeah," Brooke smiled. "I'm ready."
They walked into the living room where Dad and Jane greeted them with smiles.
"Um," Sam began, and Brooke could hear the tension in her voice. "We've-uh-we've got an announcement."
Jane gasped. Her eyes zeroed in on the diamond on her finger. "I'll bet I can guess what the news is!" she squealed excitedly.
Betcha can't! Brooke thought to herself.
Mike followed to where his own fiancée was pointing, and his eyes went wide. "You're engaged?"
"Not officially," Sam interjected. Brooke looked over at her curiously. "She hasn't actually said 'yes' yet," the brunette explained.
"Oh," Brooke smiled. "Well, I was about to. I just didn't get the chance."
"Who is he?" Mike grinned excitedly. "You never even mentioned that you were seeing anybody! How long have you been going out?"
"Since Christmas," she divulged. She resisted looking over at Sam. "I-I didn't tell you because I didn't know how you'd react."
"What do you mean?" Mike smiled.
Her eyes were on her father, but in her field of vision saw something register on Jane's face. She glanced between her and Sam.
"I mean..." Brooke began, "there's no he."
"Huh?" Mike asked.
"Oh God..." Jane muttered.
Mike looked over at her, still not understanding. "What?"
Brooke reached out, and twined her fingers within Sam's. It was actually a relief-she needed that contact. It was her emotional second wind.
"The person I've been seeing," she stated, "the person that I'm madly, crazy in love with, the person who just got down on one knee and proposed to me, is Sammy..."
There it was. Months of hiding, months of dreading this moment, and it was finally over. She couldn't really say it was a relief: it was just as tense as she thought it would be.
Mike broke the silence. "But...I thought you were gay, Sam."
Brooke could see where this was going, and wanted to nip it right in the bud. "She is, Dad, and so am I."
"But, Brooke," he argued, "you never showed any interest in--"
He shook his head, bewildered. "You were boy crazy," he added.
She acknowledged that with a nod. "Dad, I lost my virginity to Josh when I was sixteen--"
"The hits just keep coming..." he muttered.
"--And I kept making the poor guy jump through hoops so that he would be the 'perfect boyfriend' and we'd be the 'perfect couple' and then maybe-just maybe-I'd feel the things I was supposed to feel.
"But I never did," she said. "Until now."
She moved closer to Sam.
Sam squeezed her hand and smiled. "It took me a long time to admit what I was feeling for Brooke-what I had felt for her since the moment I first saw her," the brunette confessed. "It-it wasn't easy for me to accept that I was gay, but Brooke's accident made me realize what she meant to me.
"It was so much more than friendship."
"Christmas..." Jane said, putting two and two together. "You lied to me."
"Wait," Mike addressed her, "you knew?"
"I had some suspicions-a few months ago, but Sam--"
"I did lie, Mom," Sam admitted. "We just weren't ready to tell you yet."
"That was the day you were wearing Brooke's coat," Jane remembered.
"That was my idea," Brooke reflected. "I-I wanted to see her in the hall with my name stitched on her jacket-just like I would have been able to do with Josh or Harrison."
She smiled, that day perfectly preserved in her memory-now and forever. "I just wanted what any regular couple could have," she said, "and maybe part of me wanted everyone to know we were together-even if we couldn't come out and just say it.
"I know that sounds kind of--"
"Wonderful," Jane interjected. "I think it sounds wonderful."
Brooke smiled. "It was," she sniffed, and wiped at her eyes.
"So this is for real?" her Dad asked.
Brooke nodded. "I didn't want to keep secrets from you, Dad," she said. She reached deep within herself, and tried to be as honest as possible. "I'm terrified that you're going to disown me because I'm gay-and that our children are going to grow up never knowing who their grandfather is.
"But as much as that scares me," she braced, "I'm prepared for that possibility."
Brooke swallowed the lump in her throat, and waited for his answer. She hoped he didn't call her bluff, because...
Well, she wasn't bluffing. As long as she had Sammy, she would never be alone.
"Mike," Sam broke the standoff, "I understand you must be disappointed. I know I'm-I'm not what you wanted for your daughter.
"I wonder everyday what I did to deserve her-and why of all the people in the world why she picked--"
"Sammy," Brooke interrupted her. She couldn't bear to hear Sam apologizing to her father for that fact that she loved her-although it did make her feel a little better knowing she wasn't the only one whose insecurities beat them up every once in a while.
"You still don't get it, do you?" she smirked at the brunette, and gave a squeeze of their linked hands. "I'm the lucky one." She stared into those glistening brown eyes until they shied away.
"Jesus, Sam..." her father addressed the brunette. "Do you really think I think so little of you?"
Sam turned a tentative glance his way.
"I love you like you were my own," Mike professed. "I've always been proud of you. I-I'm just shocked-that's all-but it has nothing to do with Brooke picking you in particular."
He took a deep breath: "I guess it was fate that you would end up as my daughter...
"This wasn't quite the way I had in mind," he smirked.
Sam sputtered a laugh, and wiped her eyes. "So," Sam gestured at their clasped hands, "are you okay with this?"
His eyes darted from their hands and then to the ring before finally meeting his daughter's gaze. He paused, apparently steeling himself. "Are you happy?" he asked.
"Yes," Brooke grinned, "I'm incredibly happy."
He released the breath he'd been holding. "Then-yeah-I'm okay with this."
Brooke ran over and hugged him, so thankful to still have her father. Then she remembered that he was not her mother. He wasn't the one who abandoned them and left them to pick up the pieces of their shattered life. He was the one who had to be two parents at once to a girl just shy of puberty-while still keeping a roof over their head.
In retrospect, it shouldn't have surprised her in the least.
Jane addressed her daughter: "That was the forty-five hundred dollars you withdrew from your trust fund in March, wasn't it?"
Sam nodded bashfully. "I didn't know the bank would tell you."
Jane nodded. "Just for large withdraws-until you're twenty-one," she informed her. "I'm still executor of the will."
Forty-five hundred dollars? Brooke ogled the diamond on her finger. Holy shit!
"Wow, Sam!" Mike exclaimed. He examined his daughter's ring more closely. "That's nicer than what those deadbeats Josh or Harrison would have bought."
"Dad!" Brooke admonished. He merely laughed in reply.
"So when's the wedding?" Jane smiled.
"Two years from today," Brooke beamed.
Jane looked speculatively at the two future brides, and then turned to Mike: "So which one of us has to pay...?"
Jane and Mike made their way silently to the car. She was impressed with how Mike was handling things, but she had voiced aloud that-with everything that had happened-maybe they should postpone their weekend visit.
It was Mike who objected. They'd come to spend time with the girls, and-revelations aside-he still wanted to do that. He suggested they meet in two hours for dinner at one of Sam and Brooke's favorite local restaurants.
It would give them time to regroup.
She'd been right all along. She would never admit it, but her predominant thought the whole time they broke the news was: 'I knew it!'
It was obvious when she thought back on it. There were all the little moments that led her to the conclusion in the first place. And how could she ignore Brooke's reaction when Sam was in therapy? The girl was frantic: pacing the waiting room the entire time, flying into the Doctor's office when Sam asked for her. She acted just like an anxious girlfriend.
Actually, she acted just like an anxious spouse...
Maybe getting married was simply a formality, she smiled to herself.
She slid into the passenger seat. When the car didn't start, she glanced over at her own fiancée. Tangentially, she wondered if her ring cost forty-five hundred dollars-and then mentally slapped herself upside the head.
"Are you okay?" she asked. Mike hadn't even put on his seat belt.
Mike nodded wordlessly. "I guess it just kind of hit me," he broached. "They were holding hands. They're--"
His eyes widened, and Jane could tell that a thought had just occurred to him. "Sam...doesn't sleep in that other bedroom, does she?"
"Um...no," she replied gently, "I doubt it." Another moment went by. "Do you want me to drive?" she asked.
"No," Mike cleared his throat. "I'll be okay. I'm happy for them-I think."
That pretty much summed up how she felt as well. "I was very proud of you," she smiled. "And thank you for what you said to Sam."
"I meant it, Jane," he assured her. "I meant every word."
"I know. And I think she does too-finally. I know that meant a lot to her."
"She wouldn't let me be her father," he chuckled wryly, "even when she needed one. But maybe I can be her father-in-law." He shook his head in contemplation. "They're awfully young. Do you think they'll do it? Do you really think they'll get married?"
Jane thought about that for a moment. "I hope so," she said-amazed as she realized the truth of it. "I've never seen either of them as happy as they looked today. And they sure worked hard enough to get here."
She thought back to the moment where her doubts were put to rest: when Brooke rose spectacularly to Sam's defense-when her daughter was all but apologizing to Mike for falling in love.
Brooke was Sam's protector-and she hoped her daughter knew just how lucky she really was.
"It would be nice if they made it," she concluded.
"Well," Mike put the car in gear and pulled into traffic. "Let's mark our calendar and keep our fingers crossed."
"We should get them an engagement present." she suggested.
A twinkle in Mike's eye. "I think I know just the thing," he said cryptically. "An old family heirloom--
"If I can find it," he disclaimed.
Brooke stepped over the threshold of their favorite restaurant, Luigetta's, for the first time. Well, for the first time as somebody's fiancée.
Lorenzo Pentangeli, the bistro's mirthful, grey haired owner, greeted them boisterously in his heavy Italian accent.
"Brooke! Sam! How are you?"
"Wonderful!" Brooke beamed. "We're celebrating."
"What's the occasion?" he asked, and Brooke held out her left hand for him to examine.
The Italian's eyes went wide. "Magnifico!" he exclaimed. "Who's the lucky--" He glanced at Brooke's other hand-twined within Sam's-and put two and two together. "Ah, no wonder you never bring dates!" he laughed.
"Ah, poor Ricky," he chortled, "he's going to be devastated. He has such a crush on Sam!"
Brooke fixed him with a raised eyebrow, and her grip tightened around Sam's hand.
"Whoa!" Lorenzo laughed, raising his hands in surrender. "We can tell who the tigress is!"
Brooke suppressed a smile. She couldn't help if she got a little territorial.
Lorenzo grabbed a pair of menus. "Would you like the table in the corner?" He knew it was a favorite of theirs. Very romantic.
"Not tonight," Sam replied. "We have two more coming. The parents are joining us."
"Bene," he exclaimed in Italian, and grabbed two more menus. "I think table sixteen is almost ready. Let me check."
Alone for a moment, she met Sam's gaze and let out a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding.
"We did it," the brunette grinned-mirroring her own thoughts.
She nodded. "We can be us, Sam," she smiled. "We can finally just be us. There's nothing to be afraid of." It was a dream come true. It was like the final roadblock to their future together had been smashed away.
"I love you," Sam grinned.
"I know you do," Brooke replied, and she felt the smile stretching the muscles in her face. She figured she must appear pretty silly-grinning like an idiot-but she couldn't tell from the look in Sam's eyes.
"Just one more person to tell," the reporter chimed.
"Who'd we miss?" Brooke questioned, reviewing her mental rolodex.
"Your mother," Sam reminded her.
"Ah," Brooke acknowledged.
"Are you worried about that?" Sam treaded cautiously.
"Oh no," Brooke's grinned favored a Cheshire cat's, "I'm looking forward to that. I'm going to call her and say: 'Hey, Mom, remember that annoying daughter of Dad's new girlfriend?'"
Sam chuckled as she pulled the brunette close to her. "'Well, it turns out I had some sublimated sexual tension towards her. We're engaged and getting married in two years. You're invited as long as you don't try to ruin it-because I'll kill you.'" She smiled sweetly.
The brunette chuckled. "Sending out invitations? Can I assume, then, that your answer's a 'yes'...?"
She'd never officially said it, had she? She took Sam's other hand and stared into those beautiful brown eyes. Her soul was in there somewhere-lost in the fathomless depths-captured long ago during one of their endless arguments.
An argument that her mind undoubtedly claimed as a victory-and yet it had not recognized the diversion for what it was: while the mind was under siege, it was her heart that had been stolen.
But one was offered in return. She just had to be brave enough to accept it: to give herself up to this person who challenged her, vexed her, saw right through her and made her feel more than anyone in her life ever had.
The bravest thing Brooke McQueen ever did...
"Yes," Brooke replied. "My answer's definitely 'yes'."
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