Disclaimer: The main characters in the story belong to Ryan Murphy, Gina Matthews and the WB. No money is being made from this and no copyright infringement is intended. This is strictly for your reading enjoyment - and because it let me put THE END on something... finally.... for the first time in for-freaking-ever.
Thanks: To my beta readers Phil, Mac and Jeanne. I appreciate the time they took to look over these bits and pieces.
Author's Notes: I wrote these because Phil asked me for some 300 word stories to include in her latest bard challenge - at the time she had none (it was the day before the deadline). Surprisingly, Sam and Brooke decided to step up to the plate and play; I assure you I had nothing to do with their choice at all. I was just sitting here minding my business I tell you! The reason that there are 10 instead of 5 is because I am not competing and we wanted to make sure every picture had at least one story. Now I am going to back to minding my own business and working on the two stories I would REALLY like to finish with in my near lifetime. :-P
The Storyteller's Cardinal Rule is in effect.
PHIL/OZ's note: Yeah, I asked. Wouldn't you if you had a Bard like this willing to do your bidding? I did say please and thank you, so it's all good. Actually, it's all great. It's a bonus for me that it's Sam and Brooke. I enjoy that pairing. Each of the ten parts is inspired by a different photo. In order the pictures are: 5, 16, 8, 14, 6, 3, 10, 1, 17, 18. Even though this entry is not competing…D and I have a side bet going. So if you are so inclined, please drop me a line at PHIL728@aol.com ) and tell me which story bit (of these ten) you liked best. Moo Juice and Oreos are on the line here. Yes, it's that serious of a bet. <.bg.>
The surgeon covered her eyes with her hand bowing her head and praying for strength before she went out to talk to the family. Most days, she loved her job as a trauma surgeon, but on days like today, she wondered if she wouldn't be better off having gone into something less demanding. She took another deep breath and glanced in the mirror, glad she'd taken the time to change out of her bloody scrubs. With a sigh, she headed into the waiting room.
Two adults and a swarm of teenagers, one slightly separated from the rest, rose at her approach and she angled her direction to coincide with the parents of the girl she had just spent hours putting back together.
“She's alive,” she pronounced solemnly, seeing the relief reflected on all but one face gazing back at her. The dark eyes in that face were haunted, demanding answers that under the circumstances the doctor hesitated to give. Before she could continue, the man in front of her spoke, tears in his eyes and a tremulous smile on his face.
“When can we see her, Doc?”
The doctor shook her head. “It's going to be a while, Mr. McQueen. She's still touch and go. We lost her twice,” seeing the blood drain from the girl's face and realizing this was affecting her more than anyone else in the room, including the parents who had just collapsed back into their chairs. “We feel that if she survives the night, she'll live. But for now, we wait.”
Those words sent Sam running straight to the bathroom to throw up. When her retching was nothing but dry heaves, she rinsed her mouth and met her bloodshot eyes in the mirror.
“Damn you, Brooke McQueen! Don't you dare die on me!! Don't you dare!!”
“I've missed this,” Brooke said quietly, clutching Sam's arm for support as they slowly strolled around the huge shopping mall. Sam covered Brooke's hand with her own and pointedly looked around, making a show of cocking her eyebrow and smirking.
“Brooke McQueen has missed shopping – there's a surprise,” waiting for the slap she knew was coming. Brooke obliged her almost out of habit, though the hit barely qualified as a light tap. “You hit like a girl.”
Brooke made a show of looking down at herself before bringing her eyes back up to meet Sam's. “Whaddya know? I *am* a girl. But that's not what I meant and you know it, Sam McPherson.”
“I know. It's nice to be out like this... together. For a while there, I didn't think....”
“I know, Sammie. Neither did I. I'm not sure I would have, if it hadn't been for you.”
“Me?” Sam asked, looking honestly confused. “You did all the work, Brooke. I didn't *do* anything....”
“... except push and cajole and beg and bribe and MAKE me get up and do something if only so I could have five minutes of peace,” her smile taking the sting out of the words before she turned serious again. “Sammie, you talked me out of a coma. Without you, I doubt I'd be standing here today, much less graduating next week.”
“So you're not embarrassed to be seen with the dyke?”
“Should I be? Because that's not what I see when I look at you, Sam. I see you - who you are and who you've always been in my life for good or for bad – Fearless Sam McPherson.”
“I'm not fearless at all, Brooke,” came Sam's soft rejoinder.
“Then just be my Sammie for now. The rest will work itself out.”
“That smells wonderful,” Sam commented with a groan as she took a seat next to Brooke. For answer, Brooke pushed the cappuccino to her, even as she motioned the waiter to bring her another. Sam inhaled deeply before taking a tentative swallow, then she sighed in appreciation. “That is wonderful,” she admitted, leaning back and unwinding her scarf before she shrugged out of her jacket. “Remind me again why we moved AWAY from California and all that lovely warm sunshine we never seem to have here?”
Brooke nodded her thanks to the server and picked up her cup of cappuccino. “Because your articles got you noticed by some premier political players in Washington, D.C., and I got accepted into Harvard Law.”
“Oh yeah,” Sam agreed with a smile before she took another swallow of coffee. “What *were* we thinking?”
“We were thinking that it might be the best way to prove our point.”
“Which was?” Not that Sam didn't know, but sometimes she still wanted to pinch herself to prove that her life was not just a dream... that it was really real.
Brooke sighed and rolled her eyes dramatically, but snuggled into Sam's shoulder all the same. “That we're not some fluke or phase or puppy love. That we were meant to be together... always.” She tilted her head and Sam glanced down so their eyes could meet. “That sounds so corny.”
“Would you change it?”
“Not if it meant losing this,” Brooke replied, covering Sam's hand before she could lift her cup again. “This is worth everything, Sammie... everything.”
Sam motioned their waiter over and with a few words had their cappuccinos in to-go cups. She handed him a few bills and stood, pulling Brooke up with her as she grabbed her outerwear.
“C'mon, Brooke. Let's go home.”
“Is this even legal?” Sam asked as she and Brooke meandered through the warehouse currently set up to look like a bona fide Las Vegas casino. Brooke chuckled and tucked her hand into the crook of Sam's elbow.
“Of course it is, Sammie. It's all for charity.”
Sam gave her a skeptical look. “Wait... you mean we don't get to actually *win*? I'm so outta here,” taking a step towards the door before being pulled back by Brooke's surprisingly solid grip. “Whaaaat?” her tone whiny in the extreme, though her smile was laughing. Brooke just rolled her eyes and tugged Sam forward with her.
“C'mon, Tippy. Let's play... strictly for research purposes, of course.”
“Of course,” Sam agreed immediately, that same smile gracing her face - a smile that fell when she recognized the man standing in front of her. “Mike,” she greeted civilly, though she didn't extend her hand. Brooke sucked in a breath and clenched her hand on Sam's arm as she met Mike's cool gaze.
“Dad? Where's Jane?”
“Home with MacKenzie who wasn't feeling well – not that you'd be interested....”
“NO!” Sam cut him off, her whisper as fierce as it was pointed. “You don't get to say that. We didn't make the decision to leave the family. You threw us out.”
“I did what I thought was best. What you girls are doing is wrong.”
“How so, Dad? How is what Sam and I share any less real than what you and Jane have?”
“It just is.”
“How can you know that?? People don't look at you with hatred or whisper behind your back because of who you love. And yet we are still together... still in love. If anyone here doesn't know, it's you.”
“Be happy for us, Mike, because this isn't going away... ever.”
“Was it worth the trip out here?” Brooke asked as she and Sam hiked along one of the trails in Yosemite National Park. Sam pushed her hat brim up and wiped the sweat from her face as she looked around at the mountains and crags that surrounded them.
“Oh yeah,” she said enthusiastically. “Even that confrontation with your dad seems less important out here. I'm glad we decided to take some extra time here before going home.” Brooke chuckled and shook her head. “What?”
“Who'd have thought we'd ever be calling New York home?”
“Stranger things have happened. Ooh,” changing the subject, “I wanna try that,” motioning to the hang glider that had just zipped by above them.
“I always wanted to do that,” Brooke replied, gesturing to the rock climber that could just be seen with the naked eye. “But....” she shrugged, letting the thought trail off.
Sam stepped up behind her and wrapped her in a firm embrace. “I'll bet we could.”
“Sammie, you know I can't. Not after Nicole....”
“Shh. Maybe not today, but I'll bet we can find a gym and an instructor at home who could put us on a rock climbing wall or something easy to start with. And we could work on it so that the next time we make a trip out here, we can do that together.”
“You'd do that?” blinking back tears.
“And so much more, Brooke. I meant what I told your dad last night. This isn't going away... ever.”
“I love you, Sammie.”
“Enough to marry me again?”
“Enough to promise forever, Sammie.”
Sam's smile became a genuine grin, the happiness in her countenance reflected in Brooke's own through the tears that spilled down her face.
“Forever's not long enough for me, Brooke, but it's a good start.”
“When? Why? Brooke?” Sam looked around the candlelit bathroom, noting the personal touches Brooke had added. The soft scent of the rose petals wafted on the air and Sam smiled when she saw the champagne and chocolates. She turned to meet Brooke's eyes. “What's all this for?” Her eyes widened. “Did I forget...?”
Brooke smiled and her eyes twinkled. “You didn't forget anything. I just wanted to show you how much I loved and missed you, and how very glad I am you're home.”
Sam threaded her hands into blonde hair and urged Brooke forward until their lips met. She didn't realize that her shirt and slacks were undone until Brooke started tugging on them frantically.
“Off!!!” she demanded and Sam couldn't contain the chuckle of happiness that bubbled up from her chest.
“Anxious much?” Sam teased, then swallowed hard when Brooke's robe slid from her body and she stood naked to Sam's gaze.
Sam's hands came up to trace silky soft skin. Her eyes widened as she watched the goosebumps trail behind her touch, smiling in wonder when Brooke shivered and shuddered in reaction. Then without warning, Sam watched her clothes go flying and she found herself skin to skin with Brooke. Sam sucked in a deep breath.
“I missed you too, Brooke,” she confessed, tucking her head into the crook of Brooke's neck and simply breathing her in. Brooke led Sam to the edge of the tub and they climbed in, back to front with Sam sitting in front of Brooke.
“Show me, Sammie,” Brooke whispered into her ear, taking a nip before she pulled away. Sam growled and turned until she was straddling Brooke, not caring that some of the candles were put out by her actions. This was about need. There'd be time for romance later.
Sam accepted the chocolate from Brooke, moaning at how decadent she felt. With her head ensconced on Brooke's lap while Brooke's fingers gently scratched her scalp, they sipped champagne and waited for the fireworks to start.
It had been a long, hard year as they had been separated by Sam's job for most of it, so being together was more than enough reason to celebrate in Sam's book.
“I missed this,” Brooke confided, keeping her eyes on the skyline even when she felt Sam's head turn. “Just being with you,” she added, knowing Sam's brow was quirked in that questioning arc. She took a deep breath. “I talked to my dad today.”
This time Sam's body jerked and only Brooke's tender touch kept her from moving. Brooke hadn't spoken to Mike since their run-in at the charity function more than a year prior and to have him call today of all days was a harbinger of bad news as far as Sam was concerned. Still, it was Brooke's dad, and Sam knew how important that relationship was, so she took a deep breath and said calmly, “Oh?”
“Um hmm. Apparently mom... Jane... finally got through to him. He called to apologize for being an ass.” This time Sam did sit up, wrapping an arm around Brooke and leaning her head on Brooke's when Brooke immediately snuggled into her shoulder.
“So he's saying he's okay with us... as a couple?”
“Well, he understands we're not a phase. Anything else he wants to say to you himself.”
“Probably at the end of a gun.”
“I don't think so,” Brooke promised with a smile as the fireworks started. She handed Sam a note that she read twice before she gave Brooke a grin.
“Pack your bags, Princess. Looks like we're taking a trip.”
“Do you think it's true... the traditional legend about throwing a coin into this fountain?”
For answer, Sam took two euros out of her pocket and offered one to Brooke. “I say we shouldn't buck tradition. I'd love to come back to Rome with you again someday... maybe for our fiftieth anniversary.”
Brooke grinned at the promise those words held and accepted the coin Sam offered her. She kissed it before turning and tossing it over her right shoulder. She waited as Sam did the same, then they wrapped their arms around one another again as they refaced the fountain.
“This has been a great trip.”
“I think that could be said for anywhere we've gone together, Sammie. But you're right... this one has been fantastic. Now what do you say,” twining her fingers with Sam's, “to us going back to that lovely hotel room and making a few more memories before we leave for home tomorrow?”
Sam leaned over and brushed a kiss across Brooke's lips. Then she turned them so the fountain was behind them and lifted up her camera. Over their laughs and giggles, she took several pictures, not stopping even when Brooke brought their lips together in a long, passionate kiss.
When they broke for air, Sam gazed into Brooke's eyes, seeing the love she felt reflected back to her.
“I love you, Brooke.”
“So much, Sammie.” Their kiss this time was tender and brief, before they turned and headed back to their hotel hand in hand. “Oh, Sam look... a falling star.”
“Did you make a wish, Princess?”
Brooke shook her head. “I don't need to,” bringing their joined hands to her lips. “I've got all I'll ever want right here.”
“Me too,” Sam said and closed the door before they started making more memories.
“Wow!” Mike commented to Brooke as he stepped up beside her. “Sam's become quite the windsurfer.”
Brooke's smile was indulgent and she nodded her head, but her eyes never left Sam for a moment. “Yes, she has. And it's really not something we were able to do in New York.” She hesitated, then continued. “It's good being back here; we've missed it.”
“And we've missed you... both of you.”
“I wish you'd tell Sam that, Dad. She needs to hear that from you. She's convinced you're just tolerating her presence because of Jane and me.”
“What about me?” MacKenzie huffed as she walked upon them from behind. “What am I... chopped liver?”
“Ew, Mac... thanks for the visual,” Brooke grimaced and caused the rest to laugh as had been her intention. Before Mac could complain further, she caught sight of her other half-sister out on the water.
“Oooh, gotta get Sam to teach me that trick. Later.” Mike and Brooke exchanged glances.
“Okay, now *I* feel like chopped liver.” Brooke shuddered and Mike chuckled. It was to this scene that Jane entered the picture.
“I'm glad the two of you are talking again,” she said frankly, dropping into a chair and reaching for a bottle of water. She looked at Brooke. “We've missed the two of you around here.”
“So Dad was telling me. I want him to tell Sam,” she added with a little glare in his direction.
“He plans to, honey,” Jane assured before Mike could reply. “He just needs to do it alone and so far....”
“... so far Sam has managed to avoid being alone with him,” Brooke finished wryly. She looked at her father. “Will you really tell her that?”
He nodded, his eyes holding hers firmly.
“Then I'll make sure you get the chance.”
They looked at each other a moment before Mike motioned her to the sofa. Sam looked around as she seated herself, noting that Mike waited until she was comfortable before he sat.
“Brooke set me up, didn't she?” Her voice held only curiosity. Mike remembered when such an action would have brought screams, tears and recriminations. It suddenly occurred to him by her calm reaction just how much she and Brooke were now part of one another.
“I asked her to, Sam. I owe you an apology... a real one,” cutting off her attempt at speech. “The trip to Rome was a honeymoon present because we didn't give you a wedding.” Sam nodded, remembering the words he'd written to her. “This,” gesturing between them, “is a chance for me to tell you personally that I'm sorry for the way I acted... that I'm glad you're here. It's nice to have you girls home again... both of you.”
“Really. Thanks for letting me be part of your lives again.”
“I had to; mom and Brooke shouldn't've suffered for this.” She paused, then took a deep breath to continue. “Neither should we,” she confided nervously. His grin made her smile in response.
“Look, I know I'll never be a dad to you and I understand why,” he added before Sam could object. “But can we be friends?”
“I'd like that, Mike... a lot.” She reached in her pocket and withdrew a marble yin-yang pendant. “Here... something we picked up in Rome.”
“It's beautiful. It reminds me of you and Brooke.”
“It should,” Brook said as she entered the room and she and Sam embraced. “It's what we are together.” Brooke drew Sam's lips to hers, not noticing when Mike left the room. They parted slowly.