DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to Ryan Murphy and the WB. No infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many thanks to Redlance for some much needed writing therapy when I was wondering if this story would ever get finished. And also to Splendid for inspiring me to write this in the first place.
CONTINUITY: This is in my Bram!verse and is next after 'In the Wee Hours'.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Ringing in the New Year
Second day, second Big Dumb Grin. She was sure of it.
Oh yeah. A quick check of her reflection in the toaster confirmed it. Today's was even goofier than yesterday's-and drawn out, dreamy sighs escaped her without conscious control.
She shook her head to clear the cobwebs and started in on her breakfast of toast, eggs, bacon and cereal. She was famished-which was not surprising considering how many calories she burned last night.
They didn't quite make it to New Year's. No, she grinned to herself, no flowers on me...
Her first time. Last night had been the most incredible, magical, stupendous, completely awesome, wonderful-did she say magical?-night of her entire life.
Although it hadn't started out that way. She'd been terrified at first-unsure of what to do, and worried that she wouldn't be able to make Brooke feel as good as her previous lovers. It wasn't just her first time with another woman-it was her first time period. But Brooke had been--
Well, she'd been amazing. She was patient and tender and loving and she was sexy and sultry and insatiable. She was the best lover she could have ever imagined.
To think it had almost been George. She'd wanted to do it with George because she was sixteen and felt like it was a rite of passage. Everyone was doing it with someone. And at the time she didn't understand why she didn't want to do it with George but assumed that if she just did it with George she would realize that-in fact-she had been wanting to do it with George all along but didn't realize it because she simply hadn't done it yet.
Wait. What? She tried to replay the statement in her head, but only got more and more confused. It didn't matter. In the end she'd waited, and her first time had been with the love of her life. How ironic was it that it was because of the blonde's advice that she'd waited?
She smiled to herself. If the fates were kind, Brooke would be the only lover she would ever have.
Sam sighed dreamily. Again.
"Sam?" her mother addressed her. Her mother was looking at her curiously and chuckling to herself. Sam had the distinct impression her name had been called more than once.
"Sorry, Mom," Sam grinned sheepishly-poking her tongue at the side of her mouth. "I guess I sorta spaced on you there for a minute."
"Sort of?" Jane smiled. "Are you feeling all right? This is the second morning in a row that you've gotten up late." Jane put a hand to her daughter's forehead. "I hope you're not coming down with something."
"I'm fine, Mom," Sam rolled her eyes. "I just--"
Just what? Where are you going with this, Sam? What could she possibly say to explain her uncharacteristic behavior? And dangling 'I just...' in front of her mother was like murdering someone in that town where Angela Lansbury lived. Not a good idea. Once the woman smelled blood...
"You just what?" Jane questioned. See?
The default answer to strange behavior on a teenager's part was-of course-drug abuse. Sam weighed her options, and wondered if between hearing that Sam was sleeping with her soon-to-be-husband's daughter or that she was on drugs, Jane might prefer it if Sam copped a plea to a heroin addiction.
But it made her wonder: was there some part of her that wanted to be discovered? She and Brooke had never formally decided that they would keep this a secret-it just seemed obvious considering their age and peculiar living arrangements.
Was there some impulse on her part-driven by her insecurities-that wanted to sabotage that and let everyone know that she and Brooke were together? To prove to herself that what was happening was real?
Maybe deep down she wondered if this meant as much to Brooke as it did to her? Because to her it was--
It was everything.
"Sam?" Jane asked again, and this time she could hear the concern in her mother's voice.
"I'm fine," Sam replied. "We just stayed up late last night goofing around, that's all."
"Ah," Jane commented. Sam thought she sounded convinced. "I wonder if Brooke's still in bed?"
Sam had to clamp down on her automatic reaction: to reply 'she is' because she knew it would have come out with the certainty of one who had first hand knowledge and the casual familiarity of someone who enjoyed privileged access.
Right on both counts. She had just left the blonde's bed-and embrace-half an hour ago.
"I think so," Sam shrugged.
"What are you two going to do once school starts?" Jane asked innocently.
Good question, Sam realized. If she was giving Brooke the mooney eyes before, what would she look like now? Secret? The whole school would know about them at lunch their first day back if they weren't careful.
More to worry about. She had been so caught up dreaming about getting to this point-and never actually believing it could happen-that she hadn't spent a whole lot of time thinking about what she would do if it actually did.
"I'm heading in to the office for a quick meeting. I'll be back after lunch." She looked at her watch. "Give Brooke another fifteen minutes or so, and if she's not up go wake her."
"I will," Sam assured her.
Brooke McQueen stretched languidly and purred like a panther having its belly scratched. For the first time in her young life she had slept the deep and luxurious Sleep of the Thoroughly Shagged.
She smiled dreamily, thinking back on the night before. She licked her lips, and tasted--
Sam, she grinned lasciviously. Well, I guess I'm officially a lesbian, she chuckled.
She rolled over and hugged her pillow, still scarcely believing everything that had happened. She hadn't planned it. In fact, the lacy black thing she'd bought specifically for the 'event' still sat unopened in her closet.
They were sitting on Sam's bed talking, and soon they were kissing. And when Sam's hand had wandered along her neckline and the small of her back she discovered that her entire body became an erogenous zone under Sam's manipulations.
"I need to see you," Brooke said, tugging at Sam's shirt.
"What is it?" Brooke asked tenderly, seeing the pained look in Sam's eyes. "Sammy?"
The brunette swallowed nervously. "I-I've never done--" she trailed off.
"I know that."
"I guess I'm just afraid that I won't be able to..." Sam cleared her throat, searching for the right words. "I just want to make you feel good. As good as Josh and--"
"Sammy," Brooke stopped her. It broke her heart to hear the doubt in Sam's voice. She took the brunette's hand in hers, and ran Sam's fingers across her cheek. "Wherever you touch me, Sammy, there's fire." She stroked her neck with Sam's hand. The brunette's eyes were transfixed. "No one's ever left fire before, Sammy. No one's ever made me feel like this."
Brooke leaned in and kissed Sam, tugging her shirt free of her pants. She touched the bare skin of Sam's torso, and ran her hands up the girl's rib cage, feeling the trembling underneath her palms.
"My one and only," Brooke whispered, lifting Sam's shirt over her head. The brunette was wearing a lacy black bra of her own. "Were you expecting me?" Brooke grinned. God, Sam looked absolutely delectable. She had never thought of the female form as being beautiful or desirable before, but seeing Sam in her bra-well, there was just one thing wrong with the image: Sam was still wearing a bra.
Brooke brought their lips together and unclasped the offending garment. She slipped it over Sam's shoulders and broke away to look at her.
"Beautiful," she said into Sam's eyes. She planted soft kisses along Sam's neckline, and her hands ascended her ribs to the soft swell of her breasts. Sam gasped when Brooke's hands slid over her swollen nipples. "You like that?" the blonde grinned. She bent her head down and replaced her thumb with her lips, taking Sam's erect nipple into her mouth.
Her actions elicited incoherent gasps from the brunette, and spasms raked through her trembling form.
"God, Brooke!" Sam cried. Bolstered by the response, Brooke let her tongue and fingers work with increased vigor.
"Wait," the brunette pleaded. Brooke pulled away immediately, thinking she had done something wrong. Sam got off the bed, and went over to her bookshelf. She flicked on the radio, turning up the volume quite a bit.
She returned to the bed, smiling. "Good idea," Brooke smiled. Yeah, getting caught by the parentals in the midst of it wouldn't be a good idea.
A thought occurred to Brooke. "Is this what you're doing when you're blaring the radio?" she joked. She only meant it in jest, but Sam turned the most furious shade of red she'd ever seen.
Mortified, she covered herself reflexively and stammered for a response. Brooke could feel the moment slipping away, and scrambled desperately to rescue it. "Hey," Brooke put a hand to her cheek. "Don't be embarrassed, Sammy. I think it's sexy."
"Oh God yes," Brooke nodded emphatically. She kissed her girlfriend, and let her hands wander down between the swell of her breasts, across the smooth stomach. The thought of Sammy touching herself...
How many times had she heard the music and thought about asking Sam to turn it down? What if she'd just barged in there-and Sam had forgotten to lock the door? The sight that would have greeted her...
Brooke's moan matched Sam's, and her fingers slid beneath the waistband of Sam's panties. The brunette squirmed under her touch and whimpered into the kiss when Brooke's fingers worked lower, seeking out the burning heat.
"Is this what you were doing, Sammy?" Brooke asked. Her fingers coaxed incoherent grunts out of the brunette.
A new thought occurred to Brooke, and the idea alone almost pushed her over the edge. "Did you ever think about me?" she breathed. It may have been egocentric as hell, but the possibility that Sammy had been doing that while thinking of her...
"Did you fantasize about me, Sammy?"
"Yes," the brunette panted. "It was always about you, Brooke," she gasped.
Oh fuck! Brooke squirmed, squeezing her thighs together. She was scalding now-the desire to relieve the pressure between her legs almost unbearable.
Sam's breath was coming in short pants. Brooke increased the rhythm of her manipulations. "Did you imagine my fingers were doing this, Sammy?"
The brunette trembled, incapable of speech. Brooke kissed her and Sam latched on greedily, hungrily to her lips. Sam's hand gripped her shoulder painfully as she approached her breaking point.
Brooke kissed Sam's neck, and leaned against her ear. "Or did I use my tongue?" she whispered.
That was all it took. Sam's body arced like a live wire, and she convulsed against the bed as spasms racked her body, clawing at the sheets like a woman possessed. Brooke felt the muscles clenching around her fingers, and continued gently-riding out Sam's orgasm.
Sam's breath evened out into deep rolling sighs. Her body trembled from aftershocks that cycled through her. Brooke removed her fingers gently, and studied the woman beneath her.
I did that, she thought to herself with a sense of pride. She was Sam's first-and always would be. And-despite this being new territory for her-judging by the reaction she had done pretty well.
Brooke leaned over, and planted a gentle kiss on the brunette that deepened. She felt Sam's smile on her lips and leaned up to take it all in.
"I love you," the reporter grinned. They kissed again, and her lips parted to allow Sam's tongue entry.
Brooke hugged herself, thinking on the events that followed. How many times had she watched Sam poke that tongue in her cheek or run it along her teeth incessantly-playing with it like it was a toy? While it used to annoy the crap out of her in school, last night she gained an appreciation of the many benefits of Sam's extremely agile and talented tongue.
She was getting wound up again just thinking about it. Time to see what Sam was up to.
Brooke kicked off the covers, and headed downstairs.
She found her girlfriend (she loved calling her that) in the kitchen just finishing up breakfast. She could have sworn she heard her say 'Bye Mom' as she was coming down the stairs.
"Morning," Brooke called casually as she entered the kitchen-just in case.
"Morning, beautiful," Sam replied. Her smile lit up the room. Something had changed between them. The intimacy had created a familiarity there that she'd always wanted, always hoped for in the past but instead found only awkwardness. Sex always became part of the problem.
"Ah, so Jane's left?" Brooke deduced. "Good. That means I can do this." She pinned the brunette against the sink, and kissed her passionately. Brooke felt the heat engulf her again as her libido kicked itself into gear. What was it about this girl that turned her into a horny jackrabbit?
"Last night was the most amazing night of my life, Sammy," she told the brunette between kisses. "I can still taste you on me." Sam's eyes clouded with desire at the admission.
Brooke sank to her knees slowly-worshipfully-never taking her eyes off Sam's. "I want to taste you again." She watched Sam swallow nervously, and her chest heaved.
Brooke slipped a finger into the waistband of Sam's sweatpants, hooking the underwear as well. "The elastic waistband is such a marvel of engineering," Brooke purred.
She pulled, drawing Sam's pants below her knees and leaving her displayed lewdly for Brooke's pleasure. And it was her pleasure. The shuddering breaths emanating from the brunette were music to her soul, and the sweet scent of Sam was like ambrosia.
Nectar of the gods, Brooke thought with a smile as her fingers splayed Sam open before her. She leaned in for a little taste.
"Jesus, Brooke!" Sam gasped. Her hand jerked, knocking a ceramic coffee mug into the sink. On the edge of her senses Brooke heard it shatter, but she paid it no mind. She was busy having her own 'morning coffee'. A little Irish Cream...
"Is everybody okay down there?" Mike's voice called out.
Brooke's eyes popped open. "Dad's still home!?" One look at Sam confirmed that the brunette was as surprised as she was. Brooke scrambled to her feet, helping Sam tug her pants back into place. She was barely decent when Mike strolled casually into the kitchen.
"Is everything okay? I thought I heard something," he inquired.
"I-I broke a mug in...in the sink," Sam stammered.
"We'll clean it up, Dad." Brooke volunteered. Judging by Sam's expression she was incapable of much conversation.
"Good morning," Mike chirped to Brooke. He walked over toward her and leaned forward, lips puckered. Brooke suddenly remembered their morning ritual.
Please don't kiss me! The thought of her Dad tasting Sam. Eww! And her possessive side chimed in as well: she didn't want anyone else--
Maybe now's not the time! she scolded herself. Thinking fast, she coughed violently. "You better not kiss me, Dad. I think I might be catching something."
"Ah," Mike disengaged. "Thanks for the warning. I just got over what Mac gave me. It's been so long, I forgot that babies were incubators for disease."
"Huh," Sam commented, trying to look interested. Brooke could see the frustration in her girlfriend's eyes. She hadn't intended to wind her up like that and leave her high and dry.
"Are you heading into the office?" Brooke asked hopefully.
"In a bit," Mike replied. Sam's shoulders slumped. "I'm going to finish up some paperwork here and then head in for a meeting."
Speaking of wound up: Brooke could use a little relief herself. She--
An idea popped into her mind. "I'm going to grab a shower," she informed Sam and her Dad. "Sam?" Brooke asked. "Do you mind if I use your radio? I'm in the mood for a little music," she grinned.
She could have sworn Sam let out a squeak, probably suspecting her motive for wanting a little musical camouflage. "Sure, Brooke," Sam replied. Her expression was forlorn.
Brooke grinned devilishly, and headed upstairs.
Once in Sam's room, she flicked on the radio. She left the door to Sam's room open. Maybe if her Dad left, Sam could join her. As she stepped into the shower, an old song by the Divinyls came on, and Brooke couldn't help but laugh as the chorus of 'I Touch Myself" blared through the room.
Sam sat at the kitchen, replaying that coy little smile of Brooke's in her head over and over. She's actually going to--
If she was pent up before-and she certainly was-thinking about Brooke in the shower masturbating was certainly not helping: the water glistening on Brooke's perfect breasts and sheeting across her tight abdomen as her hands worked--
Argh! Okay, time to think about something else. Sam took a drink of her orange juice as Mike sat down and poured himself a cup of coffee.
He looked over his shoulder at the music throbbing from upstairs. "She's really going to town up there," he noted.
Sam spewed her juice in an orange mist across the table as she almost choked. Mike slapped her on the back as she coughed in fits.
"Are you okay?"
"Fine," she rasped, nodding feebly.
The music stopped upstairs. "When Brooke comes down, remind her that she's meeting me for lunch today, okay?"
"I will," Sam smiled.
Mike leaned over and kissed the top of her head, probably a reflex. Both of them went still for a moment. "I'm sorry, Sam. I was--"
Sam thought about the visit to her father's grave the other day, and how she had promised to be little fairer to Mike. It wasn't his fault he fell in love-she of all people couldn't fault someone for that now.
"It's okay," she smiled. "It was sweet. Thanks."
They exchanged a tentative, awkward smile and Mike left for work. It was a good beginning, Sam decided.
Of course, when he found out about her and Brooke...
Yet one more reason for keeping it a secret. They had to be more careful. Neither of them knew that Mike was still in the house. He could have just as easily caught them with her pants down-and not just in the metaphorical sense. How bad would that have been?
Still, she couldn't help but think of how exciting that had been, how good it had felt when Brooke slowly peeled her clothes away from her, leaving her exposed for the blonde's inspection.
She had always been offended by the objectification of women, but being objectified in front of Brooke like that had been an incredible turn on. She felt like she was being taken-owned-and it was exhilarating.
She groaned. She was getting wound up again.
Brooke sauntered into the kitchen, looking cool and refreshed. "Ahhh," the blonde took a deep, cleansing breath. "I feel so...relaxed," she declared. "What a deeply..." she waved her hand in the air, pantomiming in search of just the right word, "...satisfying shower."
Sam, who felt anything but relaxed or satisfied, was not amused. She narrowed her eyes at her girlfriend. The blonde favored her with saucy grin. "Did my Dad leave?"
Sam nodded. "Well we can't leave you feeling frustrated, can we?" Brooke walked over and sat down on the brunette's lap. "Where was I?" Brooke mused. She hooked a finger underneath Sam's waistband, and her legs slid open to allow Brooke passage. "Ah, yes, paying homage to the elastic waistband." She leaned in to kiss--
A knock at the door heralded Lily's voice. "Hello? Are you guys home? I really need to talk to you." Sam groaned and dropped her head to the table.
"Don't worry: I'll take care of you once she leaves."
"No," Sam lamented-never lifting her head from the table. "No you won't. You have to meet your Dad for lunch today. He asked me to remind you." She pounded her head once more on the table in frustration.
"Shit, I forgot!" Brooke winced. "I'm sorry, Sammy. I'll make it up to you later, I promise." She walked down the hall and Sam heard the door open and her girlfriend exchange greetings with Lily.
She perked up immediately, detecting the frosty tone in Brooke's voice. Uh oh. Sam was just kidding when she suggested they stay mad at Lily.
Brooke preceded the pretty Latina into the kitchen. Lily looked terrified. "H-Hi guys," she waved. Sam looked at her girlfriend, who was shooting Lily a look reminiscent of the ones she used to receive. Brrr, she shivered.
"I was going to come yesterday, but I chickened out," Lily began. "I-I just wanted to apologize for what I said at the party. I hope I didn't ruin Christmas for you. I had no right to butt into your private life.
"Private lives," she amended, stressing the plural. "I hope you two can forgi--"
"Life," Brooke corrected her.
"Huh?" Lily asked.
Brooke shot Sam a quick glance, a smile tugging at the corner of her lips. Sam nodded. It was about time they put Lily out of her misery. "Private life," Sam smiled. "You were right the first time."
"You were right about everything," Brooke grinned.
Lily looked between the two of them in disbelief. "Are-are you serious?"
Brooke nodded, and returned to her previous perch on Sam's lap. "We're not mad at you, Lily." She turned shining eyes on her girlfriend, who glowed like the sun itself shined upon her. "How could we be? You helped us see this."
"That's incredible!" Lily gushed. "I-I'm so happy for you guys.
"See? I knew it!" she laughed. "You guys suck! Here, I thought you were never going to speak to me again."
"Sorry," Brooke chuckled. "I was just having a little fun with you."
"You're a good actress," Lily acknowledged. "You're right, Sam, she can be scary when she wants to be."
Brooke raised an eyebrow at her girlfriend. Sam raised her hands in defense. "Hey, that was a long time ago that I said that!"
Brooke glared. "I'll take care of you later," she warned.
"God, I hope so," Sam groaned. Brooke's glare melted into a smile. She leaned in to kissed the brunette-not caring that Lily was right there watching them. On the contrary: it felt good, like letting someone else in on the secret made it more real.
And then their lips met, and Lily and everything else ceased to exist. After a moment they parted, and like the old fashioned hand-cranked motion picture machines, time slowly wound back to speed. "I love you," Brooke told her, feeling the desire to say it for all the times she wasted the opportunity to say it and didn't.
"I love you too," Sam replied.
"Oh my God, you guys are so cute!" Lily squealed.
Brooke smiled, and dislodged herself reluctantly from her comfortable perch. "I have to meet my Dad for lunch," she informed Lily. "Will you take care--"
She cleared her throat, selecting her words more carefully. "Will you entertain Sammy for me while I'm gone?"
"Absolutely," Lily assured her. Brooke approached her and wrapped her arms around the smaller girl.
"Thank you, Lily. Thank you for everything."
Lily returned the hug. "You're welcome. Sorry I was a bitch," she laughed.
"It's okay. I'm used to it," Brooke shot a glance at the brunette-who had the gall to look indignant. Brooke grinned. "I'll see you two later."
Before she left, Brooke popped her head around the corner. "Hey, Sammy, why don't you take a shower?" she suggested. "It's good for what ails ya," she winked, and was gone.
Sam watched her go, and wilted like a flower. "I miss her already," she moped. Lily rolled her eyes.
"You're pathetic," she laughed. "C'mon, go grab a shower like she said and I'll take you out to lunch to celebrate."
Well, she didn't think she could take a shower just like Brooke had suggested-not with Lily down here waiting. Performance anxiety and all...
"Have you told anyone else?" Lily broached.
"Nope. You're the first," Sam replied. "Considering that you told us, we thought it was only fair. We're going to keep it a secret for now, though."
Lily appeared to be weighing her next words carefully. "I think there's one more person you ought to tell," she hedged.
Sam met her gaze, knowing what she was about to say.
"If he finds out from someone else, Sam..." she warned.
"I know," Sam replied. If she had any chance of salvaging their friendship, she had to tell him. Lily simply echoed what the little voice inside her head had been saying.
She could only imagine how Harrison would take the news...
Brooke sat with her father, enjoying a delicious lunch and wanting to be anywhere but there. It wasn't her father's fault, of course. He just wasn't Sam, and in the first blush of courtship, there's no where else she wanted to be than with her girlfriend.
She smiled. Her girlfriend. It struck her as odd for two reasons. One, she had a girlfriend, and two, she didn't care. All of the anxiety she had felt before about labels and who she was and what she was had vanished the moment she kissed Sam. She was simply Brooke, who loved Sam. People could call her what she wanted. If they didn't like her now because she was a lesbian, so be it. It didn't bother her in the slightest anymore.
But the biggest revelation of the afternoon came when the waiter brought the check, and her father reached for it like he always did. And it wasn't until that moment that she realized that he always paid for lunch. He paid for everything.
And Brooke realized in that moment that-as much as she loved her father-she was tied to him financially. And that made her newborn relationship with Sam vulnerable, because if her father found out and went ballistic he had that over her.
She didn't like feeling vulnerable. That's how Kelly made her feel, and she didn't want that with her father. And she didn't want to hide her relationship with Sam. She was proud of being with the brunette-it had been a hard enough road to get there. But she knew they had to be secretive for now-until they were out of the house and both legally adults. Then it would be much harder for either him or Jane to cause trouble. With the money, however...
She would have to think on it. There was a solution. She was able to sort her way through her own confusing feelings for a certain brunette, wasn't she? Granted, with a little help from--
Hmm. Maybe there was a way after all. Although, she had never intended to see that particular 'friend' ever again...
Lunch with her father had given her another idea, and by the time she got home she was tres excited.
"Tres excited?" Sam raised an eyebrow.
"Uh-huh," Brooke nodded excitedly. "We're going on a date!"
On the way to the restroom she had heard one of the waitresses saying that she'd gotten hired at a new French restaurant. On a whim, Brooke asked her about it, and found out that the restaurant was having their 'soft opening' and wasn't officially opening to the public until the weekend.
Tonight was a practice run open only to family and friends, and the waitress had two extra tickets for the event.
"A date?" Sam asked. "What if someone sees us?"
"Samantha McPherson, if you think all we're going to do it sit in the house and--"
She reflected on her behavior the last couple of days. "Okay, I may have given you the impression that all I want to do is stay home and molest you," Brooke acknowledged. "But that's not the case. We are in a relationship, and I'm not going to hide it. Dinner and a movie is not too much to ask."
"A movie too?" Sam grinned excitedly.
Brooke smiled. "We just have to be careful, that's all: subtle."
"Subtle?" Sam clarified.
"Subtle," Brooke affirmed with a nod.
The Tête-à-Tête was a dream come true. The entire restaurant was arranged with tables for two with soft candlelight providing the illumination. Everywhere they looked couples basked in the warm glow and gazed at each other with an almost supernatural radiance. It set the scene for the perfect romantic evening.
"This is subtle?" Sam queried.
Brooke chewed on her lip. This wasn't as discreet or as anonymous as she'd hoped. But she had looked forward to this all day, and didn't want to just go home now. Her enthusiasm was deflating.
"Hey," Sam bumped her hip. "It'll be all right. Maybe they can give us a table out of the way or something." Brooke smiled. Sam was always attuned to her mood shifts.
"You made it!" a voice called out to them. Brooke turned, and spied a pretty waitress dressed in a red shirt and tie approaching. She waved, recognizing the waitress who had given her the tickets earlier. "And you brought..." the waitress appraised Sam, and scanned Brooke for a clue as to the appropriate term. "A friend," she finally supplied on her own.
"This is Sam," Brooke introduced. "My girlfriend," she said quietly.
"Ah," the waitress nodded in understanding. "Please to meet you, Sam." Sam took the offered hand, smiling sheepishly.
"I'm sorry," Brooke confided. "I don't even know your name. I'm Brooke."
"Kat," the girl supplied with a grin. "Has the maitre de taken your tickets yet?"
"No," Brooke frowned. "We-I mean I didn't realize what kind of restaurant this was. We--" she gestured between herself and Sam, "we just started dating and no one really knows yet and we--"
Kat laughed, and put Brooke out of her misery. "Its okay, I get it. You didn't look at your tickets, though, did you?" She grabbed two menus, and gestured for them to follow. "C'mon, I'll get you a nice secluded table."
True to her word, they found themselves in an intimate cul-de-sac with only three other tables. Sure, someone from one of those tables might recognize them, but it sure beat the odds of the main seating area.
"Thank you so much," Brooke smiled sincerely.
"No problem," Kat beamed. "I'm glad I could help. I will need your tickets though."
Brooke nodded, and produced the envelope that Kat had given her earlier that day. She took a quick glance before surrendering them, and realized what the waitress had found so amusing.
The tickets were red with two interlocking hearts. Cursive text underneath promised a romantic evening for two and pictured a silhouette of two lovers sitting at a candlelit table holding hands.
Brooke had the good sense to laugh at herself. "I see what you mean," she acknowledged wryly.
"Yeaahhh," Kat chuckled. "Look at the bright side. Dinner's on the house for the dress rehearsal. Wine is extra, but everything else is included. I'll be back with some water." Kat winked, and disappeared around the corner.
Sam watched her go with her mouth open. "She was totally flirting with you!" she declared to Brooke.
"What? Sam, you're paranoid. Besides, I don't think she's gay."
"Oh, so you have gaydar now? I don't even have gayday yet-and I've been gay for almost a year."
"You always were slow," Brooke muttered into her menu.
"Excuse me?" Sam asked. "Besides: it doesn't matter if she's gay. You're Brooke McQueen. You're like Aphrodite. You probably turn people gay every day and don't even realize it," Sam ventured. "You turned me gay, didn't you?"
"I turned you gay?" Brooke railed indignantly.
Sam's face broke into a charming grin, and Brooke realized the almost argument wasn't an argument at all. "I knew that would get you," the brunette chuckled.
Brooke smiled in spite of herself, and "you suck" was all she could come up with.
Sam cocked an eyebrow, grinned her Cheshire Cat grin, and poked that damn tongue of hers into the side of her cheek. "I'll pencil that in for later..."
Shit. Now she couldn't concentrate on the menu.
"That's two people we've told now," Sam commented. Brooke was disappointed by the change of subject, but figured the girl was leading up to something.
"Yeah, I guess I suck at subtle," Brooke acknowledged with a grin. "I think the problem is that I don't want to be subtle. It's killing me that I can't just hold your hand right now. I'm tempted to just say 'the hell with it' and do it anyway."
"But we kind of have to put up with it for now, don't we?"
"I know," Brooke conceded, "but I'm not ashamed of this, Sammy. When I was trying to figure out how I felt I was so worried about what people would think of me. But you know what? Now I don't care. I love you, and I'm proud to be your girlfriend. I'm happier than I've ever been."
Sam smiled bashfully. "I was thinking about that today too. Lily said I get 'googley' eyes whenever I look at you. How long before everyone at school picks up on that?"
"I hadn't thought of that," she admitted. School brought up a whole new set of problems. "I know we have to keep it a secret for a while," Brooke acknowledged. "At least until we're both eighteen and out of the house."
"When we go to college in the fall," Sam supplied.
"Right, and until then we'll just have to be smart while at school." A thought occurred to Brooke and she vocalized it. "But I am so taking you in the Novak," she declared with certainty.
For the second time that day Sam's autonomic response system saved her life, forcefully expelling the water she'd inhaled. "Are you guys trying to kill me?" she sputtered between coughs.
"Sorry," Brooke winced.
The appetizers arrived a few minutes later. Brooke was starving. "What movie do you want to go see?" she asked her companion. "That Kate & Leopold looks good. I know you would probably rather see Lord of the Rings, but I think we're bound to run into someone we know there."
"Speaking of people we know..." Sam began cryptically. "I want to tell one more person."
Sam looked like a kid who'd been caught stealing candy, and it was all Brooke could do to keep a straight face. "Harrison," she ventured.
Sam nodded. "Is that okay? You look upset."
"I'm not," Brooke assured her. "He was your best friend growing up. I understand why you want to tell him-I'm just worried that he's going to do something to hurt you."
"I don't think he'd tell anyone--"
"I know that," Brooke assured her. "I just don't want him to hurt you." She reached her hand across the table reflexively, but stopped short, remembering where they were.
She clasped her disobedient hands together in her lap. "I wanted tonight to be special," she confessed. She took deep breaths to calm herself down. She felt the stinging in her eyes, and blinked to fight back tears.
"It is special," Sam consoled her. "We're here together. I'm on a date with the girl of my dreams," she shook her head in disbelief.
Sam smiled and lifted her glass. Kat had brought them champagne flutes, but they were filled with soda. "To us," she offered a toast.
Brooke smiled, both for the sentiment, and the fact that Sam was doing so much to try and cheer her up. "To us, Sammy."
Sam knocked at Harrison's door the next afternoon, bouncing nervously on the balls of her feet. Harrison's mother Robin answered the door. "Hey Sam!" she beamed.
"Hi, Mrs. John," she replied. "Is Harrison home?"
"He's upstairs," she nodded. "It's so good to see you!" Robin let her in and pulled Sam into a hug. Sam felt a pang of guilt. Mrs. John had been a second mother to her for most of her life, and she'd shut her out as well.
And she felt doubly stupid now: Robin was gay. She had gone through all of the questioning and isolation that Sam had suffered through for months. It would have been good to talk to her.
You always were slow... Brooke's voice echoed in her mind.
Sam knocked on the door jamb of Harrison's door. He looked up from whatever he was reading at his desk. "Hey, Sam." His expression was a mystery, and she realized just how long it had been since they'd hung out together-since they'd been friends.
She used to read his expression as easily as a mood ring. But ever since that fiasco with the prom, and then the accident, she'd let Harrison disappear from her life.
In fairness to herself, it hadn't been unilateral. Harrison had faded away from her as much as she had from him.
"Hey, Harrison. I wanted to talk to you."
"I'm right here, Sam," he shrugged. "I always have been."
So that's how it's going to be, Sam thought to herself. She suddenly regretted refusing Brooke's offer of coming with her. But that would have guaranteed an antagonistic situation. Still, she could always walk over to the open window and shout: "Honey, help!"
The thought cheered her up a bit. And then she realized that she could call Brooke 'honey' or 'sweetheart' or whatever she wanted while her best friend growing up was left out in the cold. She could very easily imagine how he felt. It's how she had expected to feel for the rest of her life.
"I know I haven't been a very good friend lately," she confessed. "I'm sorry. I've been going through a lot of--"
"You don't have to apologize to me, Sam," he interjected. "I haven't exactly been around much either. I figured you needed your space."
Sam sat down on the bed facing him. The best way to do this was just to say it. "Harrison, this year I realized that I'm-that I'm gay." She looked up at him, but his expression hadn't changed.
"Say something," she laughed. "You're just staring at me like a...like a doofus."
That got a reaction. He chuckled, and looked away for a moment before meeting her eyes again. But now the light was back in them when it looked at her. Her Harrison was back-if only for a second.
"I knew that," he answered-and then thought about his statement. "Well, I guessed," he amended. He went on to clarify: "I knew that if you weren't gay, you had at least fallen in love with someone who was also a girl."
Sam studied him. Did he know? How did he know? She decided to put it out there. "Brooke..."
"How did you know?"
It was Harrison's turn to scrutinize her. "You don't remember the night of the accident, do you?" he appraised her.
Sam faltered. It wasn't one of her favorite subjects. "No, not-not all of it," she began. Harrison waited for her to elaborate. "I remember the headlights lighting her up, and I remember running up to her-not knowing if she was already--
Her breath caught in her throat and tears welled in her eyes. Just thinking about it threatened to release the emotions of that night. "I remember being at the hospital, waiting to hear whether she would make it."
"I'm sorry," he said. "I wasn't trying to upset you, Sam. I was just..." he paused. "That's when I learned how you felt about Brooke." He too looked uncomfortable dredging up the memories of that night. "When you followed her out and then--
"I was stunned when it happened. I-I could barely move. When I caught up you were already with her..."
His eyes took on a faraway look as he peered into the past. "I'd never seen you like that: hysterical. You were frantic-begging-pleading with her and with God for her not to die."
He looked up at her. "You told her you couldn't live without her and that--"
"...that I needed her, and-and that I loved her..." Sam remembered-her voice hollow with despair. The memories of that moment had come rushing back to her, and the tears fell because there was no way she could stop them. For an instant she was back on the road as Brooke's life seeped out of her. "Oh God!"
"Sam?" Harrison called out to her, but she could barely hear him. Her vision was clouding around her.
She had to get out of there, and hoped her shaking legs would hold as she got to her feet. Harrison was saying something on the periphery of her senses, trying to apologize or something.
"It's not your fault," she cut him off. "I just--
"I'm sorry. Harrison, I've got to go. It's just too much right now." She reminded herself that she had come to tell him about her and Brooke, but it was too overwhelming. The pain of the accident was as fresh as it was on prom night. It was encapsulated within the memory, and recalling that moment felt like it was happening all over again. "I gotta go!" Sam said, and made for the door before she threw up.
"Sam?" Harrison's mother called out as she ran by. "What's wrong?" Sam was sobbing now, unable even to answer.
Brooke was in the family room, trying anything to take her mind off of where Sam was when a crying, disheveled mess came into the house and made a bee-line straight for her.
"Sam?" she asked, trying to keep her voice even despite the horrible sickness welling in her stomach.
The brunette walked right up to her and wrapped her arms around her, holding on for dear life. "Sam?" She was at a loss to venture what Harrison could have said to make her this upset, but couldn't really delve into it at that exact instant. As it was, they had some explaining to do.
"Did we miss something?" Jane asked from across the room. Brooke felt Sam stiffen in her arms. "What's wrong?"
"Sam, is everything okay? What happened?" Mike added. Thankfully, their voices were more concerned than suspicious.
"What's got you so upset?" Brooke questioned, trying to sound as casual as she could given the fact that love of her life was falling to pieces.
Sam separated from Brooke, and wiped her nose. "I'm sorry," she addressed Mike and her mother. "My memories from the night of the accident are kind of sketchy," she began. "I just had a flashback or something-and it was like being there all over again."
"Oh Sam," her mother consoled her.
Oh God, Brooke lamented. She had learned in the past few days just how badly the accident had affected Sam, but was helpless to comfort her now. "Thanks for being so concerned about me," Brooke said stupidly-cursing herself for sounding like a politician. She had to reach out to the brunette-make some contact at least-and put a hand on her shoulder. The poor girl was trembling, and she looked at Brooke beseechingly, needing a lifeline.
Brooke's heart shattered. But she couldn't: not with Dad and Jane standing right there-already wondering about their odd behavior. Surely Sammy knew that, right?
Or did she just say the hell with it and take Sam and hold her until the storm passed and then face the consequences?
Sam took the decision out of her hands. "I'm going upstairs," she announced as she marched away from all of them. She took the stairs two at a time and Brooke heard the door slam.
"I'd forgotten how devastated she was the night of your accident, Brooke," her father said. He addressed Jane: "Didn't she have to be treated for shock?"
Jane nodded. "I hadn't seen her like that since...well, since Joe died."
"As much as you two fought, I knew then that deep down she really did care about you," Mike said.
Brooke couldn't take anymore. "Jane, is it all right if I check on her? She's got me worried."
"Of course, Brooke." Jane nodded. "I was just about to, but I think she'll feel better if it's you."
It was all Brooke could do to not take the stairs three at a time.
She rushed to Sam's room praying that the door was unlocked-that Sam hadn't shut her out. The brunette was an expert at hurting alone.
"Sam?" Brooke found her sitting on the floor of her room curled into a ball. She looked up, tears streaming down her face. Brooke locked the door, went over to the brunette, and wrapped herself around her there on the floor.
Sam collapsed completely into her, weeping like a child.
Brooke didn't bother to remind her that she was still here-that she had survived. Sam was reliving that night as if it were happening all over again. But at least now she could be there for Sam like she couldn't then-because that night she lay dying and it had been up to Sam to save her life.
She rocked the love of her life back and forth, cradling her gently, never suspecting that she was returning the favor.
After a while (minutes? hours?) the tears abated and Sam lay silent in her arms.
"How are you feeling?" Brooke asked.
"Better," Sam replied, her voice husky with emotion. "I hope I didn't blow it with Mom and Mike."
"I don't think you did. They were more worried than anything," Brooke answered. "And if they figure it out we'll come clean and deal with it," she shrugged.
"Just like that?"
"Just like that," Brooke nodded. "The way you looked tonight my only concern right now is that you're okay."
"I'm sorry," Sam confessed. "I don't mean to be such a basket case."
"Sammy, don't be silly. I can't even imagine what that must have been like to witness that. And I'm sorry that I never realized before how much the accident affected you."
"I'll be fine," Sam insisted stubbornly. Brooke would have shaken her head in frustration if it wasn't locked into position against Sam's. "As long as I have this to remind me that you're okay."
Sam squeezed her tighter, and Brooke let it go for now. "How did it go with Harrison?" she broached.
"Really?" Brooke was surprised.
She felt Sam nod against her. "About me, anyway," Sam amended. "The night of the prom he heard me telling you that I needed you-and that I loved you when we were waiting for the ambulance." The brunette took a deep, shuddering breath and exhaled slowly before continuing. "When he was telling me about it: that's when the memory came back. I didn't have a chance to tell him about us. I was freakin' out, and just wanted to get out of there before I started screaming and lost it completely.
"His poor Mom probably thinks I had a breakdown or--" she chuckled, "Or that he tried to rape me or something. Poor guy's probably getting the third degree right now...
"It seemed so real, Brooke. It was like I was there all over again, and you were--" Sam couldn't finish the sentence.
"You saved my life that night," Brooke told her. Sam didn't answer, but she felt the brunette shift to listen. "I don't remember much about that night either, to be honest. But I always remembered a voice telling me to hold on, and for the longest time I never knew who that voice belonged to," Brooke smiled.
"It was you, Sammy. You kept me there. You made me hold on. You saved me," Brooke acknowledged.
Sam was quiet for a moment. "It was self-preservation," she professed, "because I knew at that moment that I couldn't live without you."
Brooke looked up at a knock at the door. "Sam?" It was Jane. "Are you okay in there?"
Sam disengaged from the warm nest of long arms and legs. Brooke got up and sat on the bed while Sam unlocked the door. "I'm okay, Mom," she half-lied. Jane embraced her daughter, and Brooke smiled.
She looked away to give them a moment, and focused her attention on Sam's pillows. She'd discovered that one of them was much more comfortable than the other. She patted both pillows experimentally, and then flip-flopped them so that the comfy one was on her side of the bed.
"Thank you, Brooke, for taking care of Sam," Jane called out her. She looked up to see Jane watching her.
"Always," Brooke smiled. She felt funny inside-kind of tipsy all of a sudden-and had the strongest desire to simply tell Jane that she loved her daughter, and that she'd always take care of her. Probably not the smartest thing to do, though.
"I just wanted to check on you and make sure you're all right," she smiled to Sam. "Don't stay up too late tonight, okay? You two need to get your sleep patterns back to normal."
"We will," Sam nodded.
Jane left and Sam shut the door behind her. She waited a few moments, listening for Jane's footsteps to fade, before she locked it again.
Brooke patted the bed, and smiled. "C'mon, Sammy, let's take your Mom's advice and hit the sack early."
"Brooke, I don't know if I--"
"Just to sleep, sweetheart," Brooke assured her. "It's been a long day for both of us."
Smiling, Sam peeled off her clothes, and they climbed into bed together.
"Although..." Brooke broached, "did you ever hear that song 'Sexual Healing'?"
"Brooke," Sam warned.
"What? Can I help it that all the songs on the radio are suddenly about you?"
Sam laughed out loud. "What?" Brooke asked.
"That's how Lily figured out I was in love," Sam began, "there was some cheesy song on the radio and I got upset when she turned it."
"Were you thinking about me?" Brooke grinned.
"Uh-huh," Sam nodded. "The songs on the radio have all been about you for a long time," the brunette confessed.
"That's my Sammy," Brooke smiled. She nuzzled into the brunette's neck, and started singing a fair rendition of 'Sexual Healing'-at least as many words as she knew.
"Brooke!" Sam protested-squirming as Brooke tickled her neck. They laughed late into the night.
Mike and Jane got ready for bed, and Jane was a bit preoccupied. There was something going on with her daughter-and with Brooke too come to think of it.
The look on Sam's face when she'd come home tonight had scared her. Sam hadn't looked that way since Joe died. If everyone hadn't been safely at home and accounted for, Jane would have guessed that something had happened to Mike or Brooke.
Jane felt a stab of guilt thinking back on the night of the prom. She'd been so worried thinking about Brooke-and being there for Mike-that she hadn't really thought about what Sam was going through. The two girls had grown close in the months preceding the accident. And Sam had been the only witness-other than Nicole. What must that have been like for her: to see Brooke's body broken--
She shivered, needing to think about something else.
"Jane..." Mike ventured. She looked over at him. He'd been quiet tonight, and looked like he was having difficulty articulating whatever was on his mind.
"Nothing," he finally said. "Must be getting senile," he grinned.
She smiled back, and pulled back the covers. She fluffed her--
Waitaminute. She reached over to her Mike's side of the bed. He was always trying to steal her good pillow. "Nice try," she told him, and flip-flopped her comfy pillow to her side of the...
Jane stared at the pillow, thinking about what she saw earlier. What else could Brooke have been doing? And that was just one piece of the puzzle: the pillow, Sam's strange behavior, the sudden closeness. Was it possible that Brooke and her daughter had become more than just friends...?
"Nahh," she dismissed the thought, shaking her head at herself. What was she thinking?
Senility, she reasoned, must be contagious.
The next couple of days passed without event. Jane and Dad seemed to accept Sam's explanation of the incident at face value. Still, Brooke couldn't help but feel they were being scrutinized more than normal, and she and Sam were very careful over the following couple of days. Not once was Sam molested in the kitchen.
Well, okay, once. But Brooke looked in the garage beforehand to make sure that both cars were gone this time.
They had spent that entire night curled up in bed together. Brooke held Sam until she finally fell asleep-emotionally and physically drained-and thankfully slumbered without dreaming. They awoke early enough the next morning to join Jane and her father for bacon and waffles.
Jane suggested counseling for Sam at breakfast the next morning. Brooke jumped at the idea-she had seen the counselors while in the hospital, and they had been as much a part of her recovery as the physical therapist.
There was counseling for the victims-and often times the assailant-but what about the loved ones who were affected? She knew it would help Sam to see a counselor, but the brunette flatly refused.
Brooke let it go for the time being. She would warm Sam up to the idea gradually. The brunette had just as many scars from that night as she did, but no one noticed because all of hers were on the inside.
Sam was back to her old self on New Year's Eve. As her Dad and Jane got ready-packing their overnight bags for their stay in the city-Sam suggested that Brooke get out of the house for a while without her. After her outburst the other day, she didn't want to give them the impression that they were waiting with baited breath for them to leave.
Brooke spent the afternoon shopping and returned to the Palace a little after dinner time. She wondered if they should scrounge something together from the kitchen and eat in, or maybe try and go out for the evening. With a frown she thought of their last attempt at an evening out together.
She knew they couldn't flaunt their relationship-at least for now-but she didn't want to pretend nothing was going on between them. It made her feel like--
Like there was nothing going on between them. She had been secretly thrilled when they told Lily and Kat, because when other people were in on the secret it made it real. She longed for the day when they could finally be 'Sam and Brooke'.
Wait. How about 'Brooke and Sam'...?
She rolled the two around in her mind a few times, and had to admit that-dammit-'Sam and Brooke' sounded better.
Brooke had just fished her keys out of her purse when the front door magically opened before her. She smiled, ready to greet--
The pretty Latina was dressed in a red dress shirt and black tie that looked very familiar.
"Ah, Madame," Lily addressed her with a bow. "Welcome to Tete-a-Tete West."
Lily smiled at Brooke's confusion. "I believe the rest of your party has already arrived." She stepped aside and gestured for Brooke to enter.
She stepped over the threshold and just stared in awe at the transformation. Candles were everywhere, soft music played from the stereo, and in the center of the room was a round table set with a white linen tablecloth, candelabra centerpiece, and place settings for two.
Sam was standing at the table, waiting for her. She was dressed in a burgundy silk shirt that Brooke had never seen before with a plunging neckline made her forget all about being hungry.
The brunette smiled bashfully under the blonde's appraisal, and the candlelight radiated in her eyes.
"Sam, what is this?" She was stunned.
"I know you wanted our date to be special," she began. "I wanted to give us another chance." She gestured to the candlelit room. "We have candlelight, and when I explained to Kat what I was trying to do she went to the manager and he gave me one of the CD's from the restaurant."
"You went to the restaurant?" Brooke asked in amazement.
"I had to pick up the take-out," Sam grinned. Her smile widened when she saw Brooke's reaction. "Hey, don't cry. I wanted this evening to be perfect."
"Happy tears, Sam," she assured her.
"Come sit down." Sam held out a chair for her. Beaming, Brooke sat down and then watched Sam take the seat across from her.
Sam placed her hand-palm up-on the table, offering it to her. Brooke laughed through fresh tears and held her girlfriend's hand just like she'd wanted. With her free hand she dabbed at her eyes with her napkin.
"Would you care for some champagne?" Lily asked from beside her.
"Lily volunteered to help make our evening special," Sam told her.
"Thank you so much, Lily," Brooke smiled. "And-yes-I'd love some champagne."
Brooke wasn't sure how she'd finagled a bottle of champagne for the evening, but decided that she didn't want to know. It was just more of what made Sam 'Sam'. It was her magic that she could put all of this together so quickly-that she could make this the best New Year's Eve ever.
Lily poured the bubbly into the champagne flutes. "I can only stay for an hour or two. Josh and I have plans for tonight also."
"That's okay," Brooke informed her. "By that time Sam will be naked and screaming my name like a banshee. You probably wouldn't want to be around for that anyway."
Lily's opened her mouth, but was rendered speechless. Whatever opinion she had on the matter was hers-and hers alone.
"Brooke!" Sam laughed, embarrassed.
"At least I didn't wait until you were drinking. I'm getting better."
"Good point," Sam laughed. "Are you hungry, or do you want to wait--"
"I'm starving!" Brooke replied. "And you better eat up too," she winked. "You're gonna need your strength."
Sam smiled to Lily. "What's the appetizer?"
"I speak Spanish, Sam," she laughed with a shrug. "I have no idea what you ordered."
"Yeah, me either," Sam confessed. "I just asked Kat to pick out a couple of good entrees."
"I'm sure whatever it is its wonderful," Brooke beamed. "Did she give you any of the French Onion Soup? I had some there, and it was delicious."
"I think I saw some soup in there," Lily smiled.
"That'd be perfect!" Brooke exclaimed.
A few moments later Brooke watched Lily ladle out soup for the two of them, and then turned her attention to Sam. The brunette glowed as she looked at her, and Brooke realized just how lucky she was.
"I think you were right, Lily," Brooke began.
"I don't think I am good enough for this girl." Brooke saw the candlelight suddenly reflected in Sam's eyes, and the brunette looked away, embarrassed.
"I think you're perfect for each other," Lily observed. "I'll be in when dinner's ready," she smiled, and left the two of them alone.
Good old Lily.
Brooke raised her champagne in a toast. "To forever, Sam."
She regretted it immediately. As soon as the words were out, the voice inside her head-the one that reminded her that the career best suited to her was 'rodeo clown', the one that pointed out when she was putting on weight (the voice that sounded suspiciously like her mother)-told her that she was stupid for putting herself out there like that. They'd just started officially dating a few days ago. Wasn't she getting a little ahead of herself talking about forever? And maybe Lily was wrong. Maybe this was only a fling for Sam-a necessary first step in carving out her sexual identity.
"I'm sorry, Sammy," she said, lowering her glass so that Sam didn't see her hand shake. "I-I'm being presumptuous talking about--"
"No!" Sam pleaded, halting Brooke's downward spiral. Reluctantly- hopefully-she brought her eyes up to meet the brunette's and found them brimming with unshed tears. "You're not," Sam assured her. "I want forever too, Brooke. I--
"I just didn't know...I wasn't sure what this meant to you," Sam explained. "When I realized that I'd fallen for you, I knew it was a permanent condition. I just didn't know how to ask you if that's what you--"
"I do, Sammy," Brooke smiled through fresh tears. "I definitely do."
Sam beamed, the light dancing in her eyes. "So forever it is then," she vowed, raising her glass to the blonde.
"Forever," Brooke nodded.
"Happy New Year, Brooke."
"Happy New Year, Sammy..."
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