Title: Jealousy

Author: Harper

Email: Xfjnky2@yahoo.com

Rating: NC-17. Sex again... I knew my hiatus from it wouldn't last forever. I also use a lot of bad language, so if you're offended by words that start with F and rhyme with buck, you might not want to read this.

Pairing: N/B, S/B

Disclaimer: Not mine. No profit. No job, so not worth the effort to sue me.

A/N: I wrote this one when I had the flu, so if things don't seem to make sense, blame it on the evil germ molecules. I know I do. If you'd like to send feedback, I'd love to receive it. I'm at Xfjnky2@yahoo.com, just hanging out.

Brooke McQueen was seething. In fact, she was sure that if she got any madder, she might just possibly explode. Go down in a blaze of glory like Elmer Fudd, with steam shooting out of her ears, eyeballs turning red and rolling back into their sockets, and the top of her head flying off. The aftermath wouldn't be pretty and the mess would be hell to clean up.

She hadn't wanted to come here in the first place, she thought huffily, but it had been a two for one kind of deal. Sam had made some new friends at a journalist-type convention that she had attended last summer, and they had tentatively planned out this little reunion. It was a big deal to Sam, she knew that, had seen the brunette pecking away at her keyboard, responding to little group e-mails about writing successes and failures. She had seen the enthusiastic gleam that Sam got in her eyes whenever one of the little journalist wannabes would talk about this reunion get together. But, when it came down to asking her Mom, Sam had been shocked to receive an unequivocal no.

Brooke had actually thought that the girl was going to cry, and so in an act that she figured qualified her for martyrdom, she'd worked out a deal with Jane. Sam would get to go and spend the weekend in San Francisco with her little journalist cronies if Brooke went too. Now, 48 hours in the company of little snot-nosed aspiring fact-finding Sam clones wasn't something that she was looking forward to, but it put her one up in the game, left Sam in her debt, and that was a position that she decided suited the brunette well.

That was how she'd ended up in San Francisco. How she'd ended up in her current enraged position was something else. The journalist cronies had been as bad as she'd suspected, and after 15 minutes, Brooke had managed to shut her brain off, responding only to queries directed specifically to her. Since there were no queries directed specifically to her, she was safe from all fears of making a conversational faux pas. Not that she would care about that anyway. No skin off her teeth if she somehow accidentally offended one of these people. In fact, if word ever got back to Kennedy High that she'd spent the weekend in their company, she just might be forced to hand over her crown as reigning queen of all that was popular. Sam owed her. Big time.

They'd been a little more daring that she had anticipated though, these journalist wannabes, and since it was Saturday night, and they were all returning to their respective homes the next day, they'd decided to go out. Fake IDs had appeared seemingly out of nowhere, and with much conversation and laughter and more references to those guys who broke the whole "Watergate" thing than Brooke had ever anticipated hearing in her entire life, they'd made their way to a bar.

After securing an Amaretto Sour, an appropriately girlish drink if she did say so herself, she'd found a comfortable seat in a corner, watching the goings on around her with a rather surly expression on her face. She wasn't particularly caught up in the rather heated discussion going on about a journalist's Constitutional rights to privilege, though she was tempted to add that she was fairly certain that those rights were delineated by State Constitutions if they even existed at all and weren't protected by the Federal Constitution in any way, shape or fashion just to see the shocked look on their faces. Not that she'd do that though. It might give them the impression that she was actually interested in what they had to say. Instead, she'd been able to take in the surroundings at leisure. And, after just a short while, she'd come to the conclusion that they were in a bar that, if not strictly gay, was very alternative lifestyle friendly.

No big deal, really. Sexual ambiguity, thy name is Brooke McQueen. Conflicting thoughts regarding her own orientation issues were nothing new, and the time and the place in which she found herself did not lend itself to insightful bouts of self-evaluation. What might have lead to one of those though, had she actually stopped to ponder her actions, was her reaction to the little scene in front of her.

Sam had excused herself from the table to refill her drink, which Brooke strongly suspected was straight cranberry juice. Since she had nothing better to do, or so the blonde told herself, she'd let her eyes follow her soon-to-be stepsister on her path to the bar, consciously disregarding all comments that sprang to mind about the rather exquisite fit of Sam's faded jeans as they hugged the curves of a decidedly shapely rear. The place was only reasonably crowded, so she had a clear line of sight, her hazel eyes remaining focused on their prey with an almost startling intensity that would have scared her had she been the object of it herself. Minutes passed and Brooke watched as the brunette motioned the barkeep over, watched as she spoke for a moment, clearly requesting a refill, and then, with a growing sense of unease, watched as she was slowly drawn into conversation with the red-head standing next to her.

Now, normally she wouldn't really care about who Sam spoke to. But, the little pixie with the cutesy 'I want to be Winona Ryder' haircut was leaning a little too close for comfort in Brooke's book. And when she put her hands on the brunette's waist, leaning forward to whisper something into her ear even though the bar was clearly not loud enough to warrant such closeness, Brooke snapped.

She'd cleared the table before even realizing what was happening, leaving behind a slightly confused group of would be journalists who followed her actions with interest. This was the most emotion they'd seen from the rather cool blonde all weekend, and many were wondering why Sam had brought her along in the first place. Now though, she was a sight to behold, a barely concealed ball of energy, fire and anger, long strides taking her toward the bar at a rather fast clip. They were too far away to hear exactly what was being said, but that didn't make the drama any less compelling.

"Hands off, bitch," Brooke growled, finally drawing close enough to the couple to be heard. She wasn't sure why, but the thought of this strange woman's hands on her Sam, yes… her Sam, had created an anger within her unlike any she'd ever seen.

"Whoa, back off there, honey," the other woman replied, scooting back only slightly. The look in her eyes told Brooke that she was scared, even if the body posture that she tried to adopt said otherwise, and the blonde took heart in that fact. If she was going to provoke a fight with an utter stranger, then she wanted to know going in that she had at least the advantage of intimidation.

"No, you back off." Brooke's eyes were flashing in the low light of the bar, her voice was filled with menace, and anyone looking at her could tell that the other woman was toeing a fine line between verbal and physical confrontation.

Sam, for her part, was completely and utterly confused. She'd been minding her own business, refilling her drink, when the stranger standing to her left had come up. They'd engaged in idle chatter, the woman had mentioned something about knowing a great place that they could go to get away from the noise, and she had been about to politely decline the invitation. Then, Hurricane Brooke, in full force, had blown in.

"Look," the other woman said angrily, drawing Sam's attention back to the spectacle unfolding before her as the red-head pushed away from the bar, "she doesn't look taken to me. I see no ring on her finger, no shackles on her wrist. So, why don't you march yourself back across the room and let her decide for herself what she wants."

"She's mine, okay," Brooke snarled, and Sam felt her eyebrows almost shoot off of her forehead in surprise at the words, "so you find someone else to play with, you got me."

The air was heavily charged with tension, and for a moment, Brooke thought that she and the other woman were about to become involved in a full-fledged brawl. With one final look between the pair and a clipped, angrily sputtered, "Fine", however, the woman obviously decided that it wasn't worth it and stalked off, allowing Brooke to calm down almost immediately. The return of rational thinking brought with it the implications of her actions, though, and she nearly groaned.

"You want to explain to me what that was all about?" Sam asked, shaking her head in confusion. The entire little scene had been rather surreal, and she wasn't quite sure that her brain had managed to process it yet.

"Not really," Brooke muttered weakly, wondering if she could manage to avoid Sam for a little while, like the next four years. She could move to a 'so deep in the closet that she's paneling self-deluding jealous bitch' recovery center. Surely therapy would take at least that long.

"I'm waiting," was her only reply, and she looked up to find those sharp, dark brown eyes watching her intently, Sam's arms crossed over her chest as she leaned back slightly, as if to survey her counterpart completely.

"I just thought that you probably wouldn't want to be bothered by her," the blonde offered with a thin smile, hoping that the explanation would be sufficient.

"Oh, I see. You were merely protecting my virtue. So the jealous, possessive rant that accompanied the near catfight that I just witnessed was all just a rather elaborate ruse to frighten away a 5'2" menace to my well being? The situation had reached such dire proportions as to merit your arrival, like an arch-angel of Hell swooping up from the fiery depths, to scare the big bad evil red-head away from poor, defenseless Sam? Is that it?"

Uh-oh, mused Brooke, insight into the situation no longer a stranger, something tells me that this does not bode well for my future mental well being. "Uh, yeah?" she offered hopefully.

"And what if I wanted to talk to her?" Sam shot back, brows drawn together in a scowl.

"Well… I just thought that you… I mean, surely you didn't want her to… You didn't, did you?" Brooke stuttered, appalled. Sam wouldn't really have wanted to talk to that woman, would she? Though, if she had to evaluate the situation objectively, the redhead hadn't been all that bad looking. But that woman… that woman wasn't… her, wasn't Brooke McQueen, wasn't… what? Wasn't suffering from a crush on her archenemy that bordered perilously close to an obsession? Wasn't locked in the throes of unrequited puppy love?

"And what the hell was with that 'she's mine' line? How Neanderthal was that? Like I'm a piece of meat or something. Do you plan on dragging me back to our table by my hair?" Sam continued, and Brooke, for the first time, became vaguely aware that the brunette wasn't really paying attention to her answers. She was on a rant of her own, and no other participation was necessary. So, deciding to stand there and look appropriately contrite, Brooke waited for it to end.

"Just what the hell did you think you were doing?"

That last line was nearly a scream, and Brooke realized by the rather long, protracted silence that followed that the rant was apparently over and that she was now required to make some kind of a response. The only problem was, she didn't really have a response. So, she shrugged her shoulders sheepishly, offered a shy smile and hoped that would be enough. When Sam growled in barely concealed frustration, she realized that her offering had fallen pitifully short of its mark.

The other group members back at the table were enthralled. Well, it certainly explained why Sam had brought the stunning blonde with her. They were a couple, obviously, though apparently one half of the couple had just, in some way, screwed up royally. Most of the little clan thought it was rather romantic, the way the heretofore icy blonde had sprang to the defense of her lover at the first sign of trouble. Had Brooke done that for them, there was no way that they would have been chastising her for it right now. Some of the members decided right then and there that they were going to have to have a little talk with Sam, tell her all about treating her girlfriend right and respecting the wonders that a little bit of healthy jealousy could do for a relationship.

Sam was still staring at her, brown eyes boring through her as the brunette watched Brooke squirm, ineffectively trying to find some excuse. Unable to think of a suitable answer, Brooke did the first thing that popped to mind. She threw up her hands in the universal sign for "I don't have a damn clue" and turned and walked away, pushing past the table where the would be journalists sat with jaws agape, and out the front door.

Rolling her eyes, Sam resisted the urge to let Brooke leave and, with a somewhat dejected slump to her shoulders, trudged off after her. Spying the blonde's purse still hanging from the back of a chair at the table they had been occupying just moments before, she veered over, knowing that she needed to collect it before leaving.

"Little harsh on your girlfriend, weren't you Sam?" one of the guys asked as she approached the group.

"Girlfriend?" she asked, clearly taken aback by this conversation opener.

"Brooke," another girl supplied helpfully. "I think it was sweet the way she went over there to protect what was hers."

"Hers?" Sam repeated, aware that she had rapidly lost any semblance of control over the quality of her verbal forays.

"Hey, if its any consolation Sam, I understand what you're going through. That jealous lover routine can get pretty old, pretty quick," another one offered.

"Jealous lover?"

"Still though, you might want to go find her. She left her purse here," someone else offered, pulling said bag from the back of a chair and tossing it her way.

"Uh, thanks. I guess I'll… talk to you guys later?" she replied, not completely sure. With the way things were progressing tonight, she didn't have a firm grasp on exactly what to expect from anyone anymore, least of all herself.

"Remember, make-up sex is always the best," someone shouted after her as she turned to leave, and Sam resisted the urge to tear at her hair in frustration. How they had jumped to the conclusion that she and Brooke were more than almost step-sisters who were lucky to be able to tolerate each other's presence for more than five minutes at a time was beyond her, and she just didn't have the time to explain the truth at the moment.

It didn't take her long to make her way back outside, and a quick survey of the area found the blonde standing on the corner, impatiently waiting on the street signs to tell her she could cross. Pushing back the urge to call after Brooke, vaguely aware that the other girl wouldn't be able to hear her over the hum of traffic, Sam took off after her quarry. Unfortunately, the light changed, and all of the pent-up emotion and confusion rushing through the blonde's system worked its way out in nervous energy, her gait more rushed than usual, long legs eating up the sidewalk and stretching out the distance between the pair.

Deciding that she had no other recourse than to pick her fast walk up to a moderate jog, Sam took off running. She was slightly uneasy, the route imposed on her by Brooke now taking them into a more thinly inhabited part of town, where the traffic wasn't quite as heavy and the streets seemed a little darker. Feeling utterly ridiculous as she made her way past the few pedestrians in her pathway, Sam slowly closed the gap, reaching out to grasp Brooke's shoulder firmly, eliciting a scream from the startled blonde.

"Jesus Brooke, be quiet before someone calls 911," Sam shouted, cupping her hands protectively over her ears.

"You scared me," Brooke pointed out unnecessarily, drawing in a ragged breath. She'd been so caught up in her self-recriminations that she hadn't even heard Sam approach, and when the surprisingly strong hand on her shoulder jerked her to a halt, she had assumed the worst.

"Yeah, well, if you hadn't been trekking off to parts unknown like the hounds of hell were on your heels, then I wouldn't have been forced to take such drastic measures to get you to stop." Sam was irritated now, both from her mad dash to catch Brooke and the subsequent introduction to the ear-shattering levels the blonde's voice could reach.

"I was just going back to the hotel," Brooke shot back defensively, wrapping her arms around her midsection and hunching over slightly as if to protect herself from the venom in the brunette's voice.

"Without your purse," Sam pointed out, holding up the bag in question, "and without letting me know where you were going. What the hell did you think you were going to accomplish by storming out of there on the heels of that spectacular little scene you caused?"

The brunette was almost shouting now, and Brooke cringed. She didn't see any apparent way out of this confrontation short of running away again, and Sam's presence here in front of her attested to the fact that that plan hadn't been too successful the first time she tried it.

"You know what everybody thinks? Do you?" Sam prompted, arms flung wide in an expansive gesture of incredulity as she advanced on the cowering blonde. "They think that you're my girlfriend."

Sam snorted, and Brooke scowled. Thus far, she'd been content to let the brunette vent her spleen, hoping that the outpouring of hatred would distract her from what had happened, but the tone of near disdain that she'd used to deliver that last statement, vividly driving home the point that any such thoughts were clearly ridiculous, pushed Brooke over the edge.

"So what?" she sneered. "Is that what you're afraid of? Is that why you chased me down? Afraid your little friends might think you're queer, Sam? Going to drag me back to set the record straight? Going to have me tell them that there's no need for them to worry about you? No, not Sam McPherson…she's a perfectly normal and quite happy heterosexual. All dicks, no chicks for her. Is that what you want?"

Brooke's words were more bitter than any Sam had ever heard from her before, but she ignored that, focusing only on what Brooke had said, on the ugly accusations. "What the hell's the matter with you?" she barked.

"What's the matter with me? This is what's the matter with me," Brooke hissed, advancing predatorily. Before Sam even realized what was going to happen, Brooke had wrapped her hand around the other girl's neck, pulling her forward so that their lips collided fiercely. For a moment, Sam was frozen in shock, unable to move, unable to do anything but feel the blonde's usually soft lips moving roughly against her own, the harsh, possessive thrust of a tongue in her mouth. Quickly recovering her composure, she pulled Brooke's bottom lip between her own teeth and bit down… hard.

Brooke drew back with a gasp, and Sam moved away, putting a little distance between them. The blonde smirked at her discomfort, idly reaching up to wipe away the trickle of blood streaming from her lip.

"So now run on back and do what you do best, Sammy. Write it all up for your little paper. Brooke McQueen's gay… Brooke McQueen's got the hots for her stepsister. Go ahead, I handed it to you on a silver platter, free of charge. All you need to bring me down laid at your fucking feet," Brooke panted, a slightly hysterical edge to her voice.

"Brooke, I…" Sam started, only to be cut off by the blonde.

"Save it, Sam. I'll read all about it when we get back to school. Here, here's the keys," she said, digging the jangling keyring out from the depths of her purse and tossing it to the still stunned brunette. "I'll take the fucking bus."

With that she stalked away, leaving a befuddled brunette in her wake. Sam knew that she should stop her, should go after her and force her to return to the hotel instead of letting her leave to fend for herself all alone in an unfamiliar city, but she didn't. Brooke had enough money to make her way home, and Sam wasn't quite sure that she could handle being in the blonde's company for any extended period of time right now. She had too much on her mind.


Brooke quickly discarded the idea of taking the bus home. There was no way that she was going to subject herself to several hours sitting next to a person of undetermined personal hygiene, no matter how dire her predicament. So, she found a bar, called a cab, and settled in to wait for it to show up. Half an hour later, she found herself in the terminal of the airport, and another hour and a half found her on a plane to LA. Forty-five minutes in the air, thirty minutes waiting in the lobby for an extremely grouchy Nicole to come and pick her up, and Brooke was finally able to relax a little.

"Thanks for thinking of me when you needed you own personal valet service, Princess. Not that I'm not happy to be of service, but do you mind telling me why I pulled myself away from what looked to be a very promising evening with a Gap model to pick you up at the airport?" Nicole muttered, easing her Jag out into the flow of traffic, conveniently ignoring the enraged honking of the driver she'd cut off.

"I needed a ride," Brooke snapped.

"Hmmm. Well, that's understandable, since you were, after all, stuck in the airport, but I'm looking for the story behind the bullshit. My keen powers of memory seem to remember something about you having to tag along to San Francisco with Spam for some reason that was too boring to remember. Since I suspect that either you drove up there, or if you did fly, you flew together, I have to wonder what prompted you to flee our very own mecca of Greek love in the middle of the night sans your annoying companion. Spill it, Brookie," Nicole demanded, shooting an expectant look at her passenger.

"There was a slight altercation, and I decided to come home," Brooke spat out. Maybe calling Nic hadn't been the wisest idea she'd ever had. Then again, the entire night had been a stellar tribute to her lack of good judgment.

"Does that slight altercation have anything to do with the rather unsightly swelling that you've tried to hide, unsuccessfully I might add, under three coats of a normally quite appealing shade of lipstick?" Nicole asked, feeling herself get riled. If that little piece of trash Spam had hurt Brooke, then she was going to have to be dealt with, to quote 'The Godfather', using extreme fucking prejudice.

"Kinda," Brooke said weakly, aware that she had triggered Nicole's protective instincts. For someone who would undoubtedly stab her in the back if it suited her purpose, Nicole got extremely fierce when someone else threatened her. It was an odd take on the mother bear phenomenon, but it had saved Brooke a lot of grief in the past, so she hadn't delved too deeply into the reasons for it.

"That little whore," Nicole hissed. "What the hell did she do to you?"

"She bit me," Brooke said without thinking, still shocked that Sam had actually done it in the first place.

"Back up there, Brookie. Sam bit you?" If she hadn't been so full of righteous indignation at the moment, Nicole might have taken a moment to admire the act. Never underestimate a girl who bites.

Brooke recognized the trap mere seconds before it was sprung. "She bit you on the lip? Mind telling me why her canines were in the vicinity?"

Deciding that she was already screwed, Brooke decided to lay it all on the line. "I kissed her."

"You'll have to forgive me, but I thought you just said that you kissed her," Nic repeated, taken aback.

"I did," Brooke confirmed, now with a little more strength in her voice. "We were at a bar with these people that she knew, and she went to get a drink. Some little pixie chick wannabe started hitting on her, and I just snapped, threw a fit of epic proportions and stormed out. She chased me down, we argued some more, I kissed her, she bit me, and I left. I caught the next flight back, and you know the rest from there."

"Jesus, are you telling me that you're in heat for Spam?" Nic asked, sounding appropriately horrified.

"You could say that," Brooke replied flippantly. Nicole swerved off the road, throwing the car in park and turning in her seat to focus the full force of her glare on her passenger.

"Look, Brookie, if you want to go off exploring 'the love that dares not speak its name', then fine. However, horniness extended to Spam is not, under any circumstances, acceptable. Hell, if all you want is to get laid, then I'll fuck you. I mean, good God, Brooke, have some taste, why don't you," Nicole said disgustedly.

"There's absolutely nothing wrong with Sam," Brooke protested angrily.

"Okay, I'll admit that I understand where you're coming from physically. Nice hair, good rack, firm abs… and that obviously apparent oral fixation and surprisingly agile tongue do hold promise," Nicole mused, much to Brooke's shock. Someone, it appeared, had also been checking out the would be journalist's outward attributes. "But, then she opens her mouth and the filth that spews forth completely obscures all of the qualities that make her screwable. Have you forgotten that, Brooke? The editorials, the diatribes against us? She's hopelessly unpopular, not to mention that she hates you and everything you stand for. Your little crush will bring about nothing more than our destruction. How completely pathetic. Not even I will be able to stop the Chernobyl created by your run-away libido."

"So you think she's hot too?" Brooke asked, and Nicole sighed. Out of all that she only heard her appraisal of Sam's few good qualities?

"That's it. I'm taking you home with me, we'll fuck, and you'll forget all about this. Excess hormones are apparently clouding your ability to think clearly. You just need to work it out of your system," Nicole said, her voice sharp with determination.

"Nicole," Brooke sighed, exasperated, "I'm not going to fuck you. We're friends, remember?"

"Friends and fucking are not mutually exclusive, Brookie," Nicole shot back, putting the car back into gear.

"Do you really want to fuck me?" Brooke asked sardonically, arching a brow Nicole's way.

"Well, your little call did screw things up with Gap boy, so my bed is free for the night and I'm already juiced up and ready to go. You're not bad looking, though perhaps a tad inexperienced. It wouldn't be a hardship," she replied distractedly, eyes flickering back and forth between her mirrors as she made her way back onto the road.

"I'm not going to sleep with you, Nicole," Brooke muttered, shaking her head in confusion. This whole thing had quickly spiraled out of control.

"If Sam's good enough to fuck, then so am I," Nicole said archly, the sarcasm in her tone hiding the slightly tinge of hurt that she felt. Rejection was never a pleasant thing.

"It wouldn't be right, Nic. Sure, you're a gorgeous girl, but it would just complicate our friendship, and I'm not going to complicate that just for sex. Its not worth it," Brooke countered, not completely sure why she felt like she was on the defensive in this situation.

"You were apparently willing to compromise things with Spam," Nicole noted, feeling her feathers smoothed slightly by the backhanded compliment. For starters, Brooke had agreed that she was gorgeous. Besides, the girl's tone obviously indicated that she was worried about the ramifications that sex might have on their friendship, and that, to Nicole, indicated that Brooke thought highly enough of that particular relationship to not risk ruining it.

"Yeah, but there was more to it. It wouldn't be fucking for fucking's sake," Brooke replied wistfully.

"You're not trying to say that you actually have… feelings for her," Nicole sneered in disgust, suddenly aware that this might be more severe than she had first realized.

"Not that it matters, Nic. She was very clearly non-receptive," Brooke sighed, reaching up to touch the sore place on her lip.

"Then she's an idiot, and you don't need her. This is all no doubt the by-product of your forced co-habitation with the girl. Give it some time, and it'll go away. Until then, we can look for someone else to focus your attention on, alright?" As much as she hated the thought that Brooke might actually be in lust with Sam, she hated even more the thought that Brooke was sad. Nicole would never, ever, even under the most dire torture imaginable, admit that she genuinely liked Brooke. Sure, she'd climb over her to get to the top if that was what was necessary, but she'd feel bad about it. The girl was just so damn sweet though, actually caring about other people, about what they thought and about how her actions affected them, that you couldn't help but like her. Unless you were Sam McPherson, apparently. Who, Nicole decided, narrowing her eyes, was going to have to die.


A night spent alone in the hotel and a solo six-hour trip in the car hadn't solved anything in Sam's mind. It was all slightly beyond her comprehension. Brooke was gay. Brooke wanted Sam to be gay with her. Brooke had kissed her. Brooke was attracted to her. It baffled the mind.

Sam wondered if it was all some rather elaborate joke. Unless she was sadly mistaken, Brooke had been, until her little transgression the night before, straight. She'd dated Josh; in fact, she'd even slept with him. Not to mention, she was a cheerleader for Chrissakes. From all appearances, she had a huge crush on Jude Law. Their bedrooms were close. When Brooke had sex dreams, she heard them, and the only name she'd ever heard mentioned was "Oh Brad", not "Oh Angelina". The fact that Brooke and her spawn of Satan friends had actually taken the prank far enough to require Brooke to kiss her spoke only to their determination to see Sam McPherson fall, and she wasn't going to do it. No way… she'd take this little ploy and make it work for her.

Luckily, the folks weren't home when she arrived, so she didn't have to explain the rather glaring lack of the blonde half of the duo. She was a little worried about the girl, though, and it wasn't until she played the answering machine messages and heard the one from Brooke telling her Dad that Sam had dropped her off at Nicole's that she felt the little coil of tension in her gut ease. If she was at Nicole's, then she hadn't been maimed or murdered in San Francisco, and that, despite any in fighting between the pair, was still a good thing.

If Nicole and Brooke were together, then they were probably plotting the next step in their devious little plan, and if that was the case, then she was going to be ready for them. Brooke wouldn't take her by surprise the way she had done in San Francisco… not this time.


She'd put it off as long as she could until finally there wasn't any real reason that she could think of for not going home. Nicole had insisted that she return to the Julian mansion should she be uncomfortable back at the McQueen-McPherson place, and the thought that she had somewhere to go was slightly comforting. Not comforting enough, however, to completely quell the butterflies in her stomach. Things were going to be a little volatile, especially at first, and she was going to have to stay strong in the face of Sam's condescension.

Trudging wearily up the steps, she made her way down the hall and into her room. Flipping on the light, she was surprised to see Sam there, lounging on her bed, brown eyes watching her expectantly.

"Uh, hi," she said hesitantly, not sure if this was a good sign or not.

"I've been thinking about what you said," Sam said seductively, rolling off of the bed and onto her feet. "I was wrong to send you away like that."

Brooke felt her heartbeat pick up, felt an undeniable jolt of anticipation and arousal shoot through her. "Oh really?"

"I was wrong," Sam whispered, and Brooke crossed the space between them eagerly, wanting desperately to touch Sam, to prove to herself that this was real.

"No, I was wrong to spring it on you like that. Hardly the most romantic setting in the world," Brooke scoffed.

"Shhh," Sam said with a smile, a finger on the blonde's lips halting any further words. "That doesn't matter now."

And then she was kissing Brooke, and the blonde was sure that she'd died and gone to heaven. Sam's lips were soft beneath hers, her tongue warm, and she felt her body almost collapse bonelessly into the solid form holding her. They broke apart for air, and Brooke looked up, eyes shining with joy, a smile on her lips. It faded promptly, however, when she caught sight of Sam.

The brunette was wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, laughing, and Brooke's dream suddenly turned into a nightmare.

"You didn't really think I'd fall for it, did you?" Sam taunted. "As if I'd really be here, waiting on you to return, humbled that the almighty Brooke McQueen had professed her desire? I'm impressed at the lengths you'll go, Brooke. Honestly, that last kiss was quite inspired. I had no idea that you'd go to such pains simply to make a fool of me."

Stunned, stung by Sam's words, Brooke could do no more than stand there, tears flowing hotly down her cheeks, unable to escape the harsh words. Squaring her shoulders, she lifted her chin, looking calmly into Sam's mocking eyes.

"Fuck you," she said clearly, then lashed out, her palm connecting rather solidly with Sam's cheek. The brunette tasted the tinge of blood inside her mouth, her brows drawing together in confusion as she watched Brooke flee the room, the sound of her shoes heavy on the stairs and the crash of the front door slamming reverberating through the house. Suddenly, she had the sinking feeling that she had just made a serious mistake.


Brooke dashed the tears from her eyes. That had hurt, the kind of hurt that ranked right up with her abandonment by her mother, and she didn't want to think about it anymore. In fact, she didn't want to think, period. What she wanted to do was feel, and there was one place in her world right now where she knew she could do that. Nicole had offered her that the night before, on the way back from the airport, and she was going to take her up on it.

The drive was quick, and as she parked her car in the driveway, the door was already opening, the Julian's butler having caught sight of her approach. She brushed past him without a word, something that startled the usually unflappable man. While the occupants of this house had never been particularly kind, Brooke had always offered a few words of greeting and a smile. Disturbed by the change in her demeanor, he watched with trepidation as she charged up the stairs, making her way down the hall and into Nicole's room with barely a break in her stride.

When Brooke threw open the door to Nicole's bedroom, it was to find the other girl propped up in bed reading. Nicole straightened, startled by the sudden appearance of her friend, but before she could open her mouth to speak, Brooke had crossed the distance between them, plucked the book from unresisting hands, and captured open lips with her own. Suppressing a gasp, Nicole gave herself over to the embrace, not particularly interested in what prompted it.

Brooke was feral in her passion, moving quickly to align her body on top of the already prone girl. Her hands moved with alacrity, finding their way under the loose pajama top that Nicole wore, tracing up the smooth expanse of her sides, and one slender thigh worked its way between spread legs, pressing intimately against the flesh it found there. Her mouth had gentled, the first spurt of rage having worn off, and now she gave herself over to the sensation of another's skin, another's lips sliding wetly against her own. That didn't lessen her command of the situation, however, and she slowly popped the buttons of Nicole's silken shirt, pushing the fabric apart to bare the expanse of her chest. The slide of her thigh against the silk of Nicole's pajamas intrigued her, and she moved slowly, deliberately, letting the full weight of her body rest on that one thigh.

Pulling her mouth away from Nicole's, Brooke traced kisses across her jaw, down the hollow of her throat, pausing briefly to nuzzle the flutter of her pulse point. Long fingers traced up Nicole's torso, teasing the curve of firm breasts but not stopping, creeping upward to wind their way into the short blonde hairs at the nape of the other girl's neck. A long swipe of her tongue led her back up to Nicole's mouth, and she delved into the waiting warmth, her tongue snaking out to trace the lush curve of a lower lip before slipping inside, rasping along the velvet length she found there. Coaxing Nicole's tongue into her own mouth, she sucked on it lightly, her fingers gliding down from their perch to circle the puckered skin of dark nipples. Drawing a thumb and forefinger together, she pinched gently, delighting in the gasp that elicited. She kept the rhythm up for a few moments, her fingers pinching as she sucked before she pulled away, succumbing the allure of bare flesh.

Brooke kissed her way downward again, this time not stopping until she had pulled one taut nipple into her mouth. Teeth bit down slightly, sharp edges pricking sensitive skin, and she grinned. Opening her mouth wide, Brooke took as much of the soft flesh in as possible, her cheeks hollowing out as she sucked rhythmically, the hard press of a nipple teasing her tongue. The rough tug of fingers in her hair urged her on, and she pulled away from her prize with a wet pop, kissing her way across creamy skin until she reached the other breast.

Flattening her tongue, Brooke lapped at the flesh, tasting every salty inch until she was certain she had covered the entire expanse. A cool breath caused the already hard nipple to tighten further, and she bent her head, drawing it into her mouth. Her fingers teased the skin of a tight stomach, reveling in the awkward jerk of muscles that betrayed Nicole's arousal. She was growing impatient with herself though, eager to move on, and almost of their own accord, her fingers slipped lower, sliding under the loose waistband of the other girl's pants. The flesh beneath was unencumbered by another layer of fabric, and as the pads of her fingers slid over thick curls and into the copious wetness below, she almost groaned. Unable to stop herself, she raked her teeth across the delicate flesh beneath her mouth, a physical show of her approval.

Nicole, for her part, was lost in a haze of arousal. She had no idea what had prompted this little erotic exploration, but she wasn't going to question it. Brooke McQueen was a highly desirable young woman, and she'd be lying if she said she hadn't contemplated having the queen of popularity in her bed before. Best friend or not, she wasn't immune to Brooke's charms, and if the blonde needed her body to assuage some hurt, then she wasn't going to refuse.

She hadn't expected those inexperienced fingers to bring her such pleasure though. The kisses had been heady, the treatment of her breasts intoxicating, but the surge of Brooke's long fingers against her clit was heaven. Suddenly her pants were in the way, and she desperately wanted to throw them off, to rid herself of the last barrier separating her flesh from Brooke's touch, but she wasn't able to make her hands cooperate. Those long fingers had moved lower, sliding deeply inside her with ease. Brooke was thrusting slowly, and had moved so that the thigh resting between Nicole's spread legs bore down as well, adding force to each push. A questing thumb had moved up to circle her clit, and the warm, wet cavern of the other girl's mouth had returned to her breasts.

Hands grasping awkwardly at the sheets around her, Nicole felt her back arching, the muscles of her thighs stiffening as Brooke's pace increased, three fingers now pounding into her, the wet sounds of her mouth mingling with the slap of skin to fill the room. Harsh groans and indelicate grunts interspersed the sounds of their lovemaking until finally Nicole couldn't take it anymore. Her hands flew up to wrap their way through long, honey blonde hair, and she cried out sharply, her body clamping down tightly on the fingers inside her.

Brooke slowed her movements, her mouth gently letting loose the flesh it had been teasing. As Nicole relaxed, she pulled free, tracing a wet path up the other girl's abdomen as her hand eased away from its current resting place, and for the first time, she stopped to think about her actions.

"Nicole, I…" she said, then stopped when the other girl placed a finger against her lips.

"Don't," Nicole protested, unable to stop the slow smile that spread across her features. "Just let me take care of you right now."

And Brooke decided that there was nothing that she would like more. Her clothes slowly melted away beneath Nicole's surprisingly gentle touch, and for a moment she was hesitant, not completely comfortable with baring her body. If her companion noticed the pause, she didn't acknowledge it, and slowly Brooke began to relax, lulled into a sense of peace by the long, soft wet kisses that brought their lips together once more. Nicole moved to straddle her hips, and the smear of wetness mingling with her own told Brooke that the other girl had finally removed the rest of her clothing.

Nicole seemed content to kiss her, to leisurely explore the recesses of her mouth, and Brooke felt inclined to let her. It was several minutes before the other girl moved away, tracing feather light kisses across a sharp cheekbone before taking a sensitive earlobe between her teeth. Letting the bit of flesh rasp past her lips, she flicked out a soft tongue, tracing the creamy skin behind Brooke's ear. Moving slowly down the long column of her companion's throat, Nicole began to rock slowly, their mounds sliding together easily. Brooke moaned, and emboldened, Nicole moved her explorations further downward, focusing on the gentle slope of the other girl's breasts. She paused, taking a firm nipple in her mouth, but a firm hand on her shoulder pushed her away, and with a grin, she continued her trek downward, past the long expanse of a taut belly.

Soft, curling hairs tickled her chin and Nicole paused, swiping wetly at the slash of a bellybutton. Brooke shivered, the spot more ticklish than she had realized, and Nicole grinned. She could smell the other girl's arousal now, and she moved downward eagerly, wanting nothing more at that moment than to taste it. Deciding that she didn't need to wait any longer, that's exactly what she did, burying her mouth in the salty wetness, letting her tongue trace over the tender flesh. It didn't take her long to discover a rhythm that Brooke liked, and not one to abandon a good thing, she didn't break from it, only adding the soft thrust of her fingers. When Brooke climaxed, her body tightened on Nicole's fingers like a velvet vise, and she left them there until the other girl calmed, her tongue still lapping gently at spasming flesh, prolonging the orgasm as long as she could.

When the time came for her to move away, she climbed easily up Brooke's long body, wrapping the other girl in a tight embrace. She spoke then, the words the first full sentence to pass between them since they had parted that morning.


"You want to tell me what brought you here?" she asked quietly, and Brooke paused at the words. There was something fundamentally different about Nicole here, the scent of their combined lovemaking lingering about them, the prying eyes of the rest of the world far away.

"She laughed at me," Brooke whispered, comforted by the warm press of flesh against her, by the gentle hand stroking down her back.

"When you got there?" Nicole prompted, trying to draw the story out completely. She had no desire to be cutting, to let her sarcasm carry the conversation… not in the wake of their lovemaking.

"No. She was waiting on me. She was in my room when I got back," Brooke elaborated, unaware of the hot tears that coursed down her cheek to splash hotly on Nicole's shoulder. "She told me that she had been wrong to send me away, that she didn't mean it. And then she kissed me, and I thought that she meant it. But then she pushed me away, wiped her mouth, and laughed at me. She told me that I was a fool if I thought she'd fall for my evil plan. She applauded me on my fortitude, on having taken the prank far enough to actually kiss her like it was real. Silly me, I thought it was real."

The harsh rasp of her voice sounded unnaturally loud in the room, despite the fact that she was whispering, and Brooke turned her face to the side, burrowing deeper into the comforting warmth of flesh. Nicole sighed.

"So she thinks it was all a joke?" she asked, aware that it wasn't the most comforting thing in the world to say but not sure what else to do.

"Probably not anymore. I slapped her, rather hard, and left. Either she thinks that's part of this mysterious plan I apparently have to embarrass her," Brooke said, snorting in disdain, "or she'll actually figure it out."

"And what are you going to do if she changes her mind, if she apologizes and says she wants you, for real this time?"

"I don't know, Nic. I mean, it really, really hurt when she rejected me. I felt unwanted, undesirable, and I needed… well, to know that I wasn't. I hope you don't think I've taken advantage of you," Brooke whispered, suddenly horrified at the possible consequences of her actions.

"No, don't ever worry about that," Nicole replied, her voice sharp. "This isn't something that I'm going to use against you. I'm glad you came to me, and honored that you trusted me to fix everything that was wrong. And, I want you to know that I'd do it again, any time you asked."

Nicole was afraid, for a second, that she had given too much away. She felt strangely vulnerable, laying here with Brooke in her arms, more so than she had ever felt before. None of her previous lovers had engendered this combination of tenderness and protectiveness that the slight blonde in her bed seemed to bring out, and she paused for a minute, not quite sure she liked the feeling.

"Are you going to stay here tonight?" she asked awkwardly.

"No," Brooke said on a sigh, pushing away from the warm cocoon of flesh. "I should get back."

Nicole watched silently as Brooke dressed, and when the other girl stood in front of her completely clothed while she lay vulnerable in her nakedness, not hidden behind a blanket, she felt at a distinct disadvantage. Just by looking at Brooke, you couldn't see any lingering traces of passion, though the lazy sprawl of her body and the wanton spread of her legs clearly marked Nicole.

"Thank you," Brooke said softly before turning to leave. Nicole followed her until she was out of sight, completely unaware of the single tear making its way down her cheek.


When Brooke climbed the stairs for the second time that night, it was to find Sam waiting on her once again. This time, however, she looked considerably more contrite, the red stripe of Brooke's hand still vivid against her pale skin.

"Brooke, I'm sorry," she whispered, struck by the look of desolation and confusion in the other girl's eyes.

"It doesn't matter anymore," Brooke said tiredly, and she realized that, at that moment, she meant it. Too much had happened that night for her to expend any more energy on it, and she wanted nothing more than for Sam to leave her alone.

"No. I didn't trust you, belittled your feelings, hurt you," the brunette protested, rising from her perch on the bed. As she approached, Brooke backed away and Sam stopped, disturbed by the movement.

"Yeah, you did. And you know what? It hurt, a lot. But I worked through it, okay. No need to worry about me any more, Sammy. Go on about your life as if this never happened," Brooke replied bitterly. "And if you don't mind, could you leave? I'm really tired."

"Uh, yeah… whatever you want, Brooke," Sam muttered contritely, adrift in the blanket of despair wrapped around the blonde. She made her way hesitantly out of the room, moving slowly back to her own, her mind still worrying at the events of the last few days.

After a restless night spent tossing and turning, Sam discovered that things were no better. The normal routine activities that they performing in the morning while getting ready for school usually were accompanied by a good-natured bickering between the two. This morning, they were silent. In fact, Sam wasn't completely sure that Brooke had even looked her way when the other girl had stumbled into the bathroom, hair askew, to grab her toothbrush. Brooke didn't linger at breakfast, merely grabbing an apple and heading out the door, leaving a very frustrated Sam in her wake. She wanted them to talk, wanted to apologize again for her actions, but it appeared that she wasn't going to be given the chance. The icy wall that had sprang up over night seemed impenetrable.

School wasn't any better. Any time that she tried to get near Brooke, Mary Cherry and Nicole were in her way, a human deflector shield easily thwarting her attempts. She had thought to talk to her in Bio Glass's class since Brooke was forced to sit beside her then, but each whispered entreaty was steadily ignored as if Brooke hadn't even heard them. After school, Sam retreated to the newspaper office, partly to sulk but mostly to come up with a plan of action, which is where Nicole found her.

"Hmmm. How convenient of you to be predictable, Spam," Nicole noted, breezing through the open doorway. "I said to myself, where would a loser wannabe journalist be, and look, I've found one."

"If you've been sent to warn me away, Satan, its not going to work. Eventually Brooke will talk to me, I can apologize, and we can work this out and move on with our lives," Sam said tiredly, not at all happy with being forced to deal with the envoy of doom this afternoon.

"Warn you away?" Nicole said with a smirk. "Absolutely not. Please, continue to comport yourself like the utter and total asshole you are. No, actually, I'm here to thank you."

"For what," Sam snorted.

"For Brooke," Nicole replied, a slow grin spreading across her face.

"You're here to thank me on Brooke's behalf?" Sam asked, bewildered. "First of all, why does she want to thank me, and secondly, why didn't she come herself to do it. She knows that I've been trying to talk to her all day."

"You misunderstand, Spammy. I'm not here to thank you on behalf of Brooke. I'm here to thank you for Brooke. The little drama you staged last night drove her right into my arms, looking for compassion. And I comforted her, alright," Nicole replied, leering.

"What the hell are you saying," Sam growled, jumping up from her chair.

"Who would have known that the popularity Queen of Kennedy High was such a good fuck? I was actually quite impressed," Nicole mused, utterly enjoying the flush of bright red creeping up Sam's face.

"You heartless, fucking bitch," Sam raged, looking around desperately for something to hurl at Nicole's smirking countenance.

"Heartless might be up for debate since I don't seem to have joined the ranks of the undead lately, but the rest I'll admit to. She's mine now, Spammy, so leave her alone," Nicole warned, her voice singsong as she turned to go, leaving a devastated Sam standing in her wake.

Collapsing rather heavily into the chair conveniently located behind her, Sam sighed. Just last Friday she'd sat in this very same chair, looking forward to a weekend with like-minded friends even if it did mean that she was going to have to put up with Brooke to get it. Now, a mere three days later, everything had changed, had been altered in that irrevocable way that meant that her life was never, ever going to be the same again. That meant that she had some thinking to do, some things to figure out, and some decisions to make. But, before getting started on any of that, she felt an overwhelming urge to empty the contents of her stomach, and she jumped up, making her way out of the room and down the hall in the direction of the Novak.


Nicole grinned, watching as the reflection staring back at her in the mirror did the same thing. She was still a little ambivalent over what she had just done. It had been a calculated ploy, a rather cruel one at that, and there was no guarantee that it was going to work. It had taken her a long time to decide that she wanted to progress in this fashion, the crude outlines of a plan assembling themselves in her mind the night before. She'd been unable to sleep, her body still keyed up from the interlude with Brooke and the smell of the blonde surrounding her, seemingly burned into the sheets of her bed. So, what she'd done instead was think. She was a schemer by nature, a planner of the highest degree, and so she'd taken a good long look at the situation and weighed the various pros and cons.

There were definitely good reasons to keep Sam and Brooke apart. She didn't like the brunette, never had, and certainly didn't feel that she was good enough for Brooke. The girl was infuriating, nothing but a thorn in Nicole's side from day one, but despite their rather public dislike, she had to admit to a grudging admiration. Sam didn't take crap from anyone, giving as good as she got, and that earned her a measure of respect that didn't have anything to do with like. Nicole recognized something of herself in the other girl, an innate tendency to rise to a challenge, and as much as she hated to admit it, that made her a worthy adversary. That, in and of itself, made the girl an advantage because legends were never made unless they resulted from a battle of equals, and if Nicole wanted to maintain her status around this school, then she needed Sam to be there for her to fight with.

Aside from that, there was Brooke to consider. She liked the blonde, no doubt about it, and wasn't completely sure that she wanted to do anything that would end the burgeoning physical aspect of their friendship. Nicole was a fan of sex… she refused to be apologetic about it. All of those people spouting off about love and waiting and fucking roses and champagne made her cringe. Sex wasn't about any of that. It was about power and skin and sweat and pleasure and she'd be damned if she kept herself away from something that she enjoyed simply because to indulge was to risk the possible condemnation of people whose opinions she'd never given a damn about anyway. And, sex with Brooke was good. Even after one night, she could tell that. More than that, though, sex was more with Brooke than it had ever been with anyone before, and it might have been that very fact that had tipped the scales in favor of hooking the blonde up with Sam.

Feelings weren't something that Nicole wanted to worry about. They made you weak, and vulnerable, and she didn't like either of those feelings. She'd felt them both the night before though, and this morning when she'd caught her first glimpse of honey-gold hair and flashing hazel eyes, she'd felt them again. That made her distinctly unhappy. Sex was something she enjoyed. Love, on the other hand, was not. Not that what she felt for Brooke was love, or anything, but the little jolts of emotion were disconcerting nonetheless.

Nicole had observed Brooke that morning, caught sight of the slight flash of hope that had lit her eyes for a few seconds upon seeing Sam trying to make her way through the human wall that surrounded her before it was dampened down, replaced with bitterness and apathy. She didn't know what the brunette's intentions were, didn't know if she simply wanted to apologize for the misunderstanding or if she was finally becoming aware of what Nicole already knew. Sam had it bad for Brooke, though it was doubtful that she'd admitted it to herself. Nicole had seen it in her eyes though, caught the brunette following Brooke with her gaze, sure that even Sam didn't know she was doing it. And there was one thing that Nicole was certain of… there was nothing better for making someone force themselves to face feelings that they didn't want to than to make them jealous.

Jealousy was an ephemeral thing, descending on people who weren't even aware of the motivations for its presence. It was inescapable, and though it might manifest itself in anger or a cold indifference, there was no way that the person affected could deny its presence. Jealousy was a wonderful motivator, providing incentive for self-introspection, and the more time Sam spent in her head trying to find out the reason for it the better. Once she got up there and started winding her way around the complex of emotions, she was bound to run smack into the reason for her current jealous state and hopefully that would spur her into some type of action.

Until then, however, Nicole was going to enjoy the situation. Drama was a wonderful thing, and if she was smack dab in the middle of things, it only made it all that much more enjoyable. Touching up her lipstick with a smirk, she was surprised by the sound of the Novak's door opening. Looking in the mirror, her blue eyes met those of one of this particular drama's main participants and she smiled.


It had, Brooke decided, been a few of the most difficult days of her entire life. Not only had she confessed to an attraction for her spurious almost stepsister, but she'd been brutally rejected. That rejection had pushed her into the arms of her best friend, and she felt a vague sense of panic about that. As much as she and Nicole might seem ill matched, she really did value the other girl's friendship and didn't want to lose it because of this. On the other hand, a little time thinking about it had led to the conclusion that she had also enjoyed her short time spent in the other girl's bed the night before, and that complicated things exponentially. So now, here she was, stalking through the halls of the school, trying to find her erstwhile friend with more than friendly intentions.

The Novak had been about fourth on her list of places to check, and she realized soon that it should have been her first. Nicole was there, a tube of lipstick hovering above her cotton candy pink lips, blue eyes glancing up to lock with hers. The barely visible flash of desire in her eyes was enough to convince Brooke that she was doing the right thing, and without further thought she made her way across the space separating them, spinning the slightly startled girl around. With a strength that surprised even herself, Brooke bent down and hooked her arms under Nicole's thighs, lifting her so that her hips slid up on the counter behind her, bringing their lips to an even plane.

Brooke didn't wait for an invitation, her mouth descending to capture those slightly parted lips before Nicole could speak. Her kisses were light, intoxicating, the velvet tease of her tongue chasing away any objections that might have been made. Long fingers were fumbling with the clasp of stylish pants, and before Nicole knew what was happening, the zipper was sliding down and fingers were moving through the parted flaps of fabric and past the lacy barrier of her panties to dip into her warmth.

Pulling away, Brooke smiled, heavily lidded eyes staring at Nicole hypnotically. She had wanted this, had wanted the haze of sex to chase away the confusion of the day, and it was working. Pushing Nicole until her back came to rest against the bathroom mirror, Brooke stepped into the vee created by the other girl's parted thighs, the now tilted angle of her hips allowing for deeper penetration. And that's what she did, sliding two fingers deep into welcoming wetness. She quickly developed a much appreciated rhythm, thrusting in deeply before pulling out and letting her fingers trace upward, brushing past the straining bundle of nerves they found there before moving back down to push deep within her again.

The combination of the look of pure lust being directed her way, the slightly tense air that always surrounded the possibility of being seen, and the motion of the hand between her thighs soon combined to bring Nicole to the edge. It was as she felt herself start to explode that she heard the barely audible sound of the door being opened, and eyes nearly closed with pleasure had only a second to catch the look of utter disbelief chasing its way across the stunned face of a very familiar brunette before the pleasure overtook her, her head snapping back to connect loudly with the mirror behind her, air rushing past her teeth in a hiss of pleasure.

"Fuck," she whispered seconds later as her eyes once again pried themselves open. Brooke's fingers were still very much buried inside her, and from the look on the blonde's face, they weren't going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, they all seemed to be frozen, the scene a grotesque tableau of horror. Sam stood in the doorway, apparently unable to take her eyes off of the lurid spread of legs, the undeniable pose of passion that confronted her. Brooke was so still that for a moment Nicole wondered if she would break should anyone happen to touch her, hazel eyes locked into chocolate brown in the mirror to the left of Nicole's head.

"Either come in and close the door or leave," she said finally, her words sounding unnecessarily harsh in the thick silence surrounding them.

Sam swallowed convulsively, her throat working furiously as she tried to come up with something to say, the words dancing tauntingly out of reach. Unable to speak and unable to look at the two girls before her any longer, she backed up quickly, almost slipping on the slick floor in her haste to move away. The door snicked shut, Brooke's wide, horrified gaze glued to the sight in the mirror.

Reaching down gently, Nicole took hold of Brooke's wrist and pulled the other girl's hand away from her. Pushing away from the counter, she leapt lightly to her feet. The confines of her undies were growing uncomfortably damp, but she ignored that, pulling her pants together and fastening them. Brooke still hadn't really managed to move yet, still staring blankly at the closed door in the reflection of the mirror, and Nicole sighed.

"Well, that certainly was uncomfortable," she noted, happy to see that her words seemed to break the trance that had a hold on her friend.

"Oh. My. God. She saw us Nicole, saw everything," Brooke whispered, turning stiffly.

"That she did, Brooke. And, there's nothing we can do about that right now," Nicole agreed, moving over to sit gingerly on the couch in the corner, mind racing. Well, she'd wanted Sam to be aware of the new aspect of her friendship with Brooke, but she hadn't really intended for the brunette to become quite that aware of just how things were. It wasn't necessarily a bad thing, she mused. There would be no way for Sam to escape it now, no way that she could pretend that it wasn't happening, and hopefully that would only speed up the introspection process. Not that she wasn't going to miss Brooke's impromptu little sex sessions, because she certainly was. She wouldn't ever think about this particular room the same way again, that was for sure.

"I… what… there's… you… me… I… damnit," Brooke sputtered, leaning back, resting her hip on the counter that had instigated this particular mess. Well, maybe she'd instigated it, but the counter had provided ample assistance.

"This is what we're going to do, okay," Nicole said, her voice surprisingly gentle. "We're going to take a little time and think about things. You're going to go and talk to Sam and fix things with her. Until then, all fem/fem action will be put on hold. This will all work out."

"No it won't," Brooke said sullenly, and for a moment Nicole was afraid that she was going to have a crying blonde on her hands. That would only make things absolutely perfect.

"It will. I said that it will, and it will. If I have to fucking beat her into submission, this will all work out," Nicole growled, pushing up off of the couch.


It had taken her a little while to calm down and even longer to gather together the shredded tatters of her courage, but Brooke had done it. Nicole had been surprisingly supportive, and if Brooke hadn't known better, she would even say that the other girl had pushed her into making an effort at reconciliation with Sam. Feeling slightly fortified by Nicole's confidence that things would all work out, she had worked out conversational plans of attack in her mind on the drive back to the house, growing increasingly sure that things could, indeed, be fixed.

She wasn't quite so sure about that now. Her attention had been drawn by the slamming of drawers and the clanking of utensils in the kitchen the moment she stepped foot in the foyer, and she was pretty sure that all of the noise originated with Sam. With a bit more hesitance in her step, she moved toward the locus of the sound, coming to stand in the doorway just in time to see Sam slam the freezer door shut and kick it.

"Where's the fucking ice cream!"

For a minute Brooke thought that Sam was addressing her directly and almost jumped. Then, realizing that the brunette still probably didn't know that she was standing there, she took a moment to survey the disaster site that had once been known as the McQueen-McPherson kitchen. Drawers were pulled open, cabinet doors were listing aimlessly, and a profusion of silverware was dumped out on the counter. A few frozen dinners lay scattered on the floor, ostensibly thrown there by Sam in her feverish quest for ice cream, and a bowl lay broken in front of the sink.

"Sam…" she said tentatively, stopping in shock when the brunette jumped a good foot in the air, somehow managing to spin around so that she landed on her feet facing the now skittish blonde.

"Shouldn't you be off fucking somewhere?" Sam snarled, pointing a spoon at her accusingly.

"I think we need to talk," Brooke said softly, ignoring the comment and the spoon.

"I don't want to talk. I want to find the ice cream, go to my room, lock the door and perform some type of ritual Santeria spell or indulge in witchcraft to purge the image of you with your hand down Satan's pants from my memory bank," Sam shot back.

Brooke stepped forward slowly, intending to close the gap between them, hoping that it would cut down on the angry invectives. Moving back furtively in an attempt to put distance between herself and the blonde, Sam stepped on one of the frozen dinners that she had thrown to the ground. Realizing what was going to happen a second too late to stop the inevitable, she felt her foot slip out from under her, saw the spoon that she had been wielding like a broadsword go flying in an arch over her head, and heard the distinct splat of her body on the hard tile of the kitchen floor. Blinking her eyes, watching everything go a little fuzzy before it snapped back into focus, she became aware of two things. One, she hurt. As in, they might have to cart her to the hospital and wrap a cast around her broken butt. Two, Brooke was about four inches away, concerned hazel eyes staring deeply into hers, apparently trying to discern whether or not she'd managed to scramble her brains.

"Oh my God," Brooke gasped, closing the distance between them, possibly breaking a land-speed record on her way across the kitchen. "Are you alright?"

"No, I'm not alright. I've been scarred for life and I just want to crawl back into my hole and forget that today happened, okay. Actually, if you don't mind, I'd like to forget that this weekend happened too," Sam muttered, pushing up on her elbows weakly. "If I'm lucky, I'll be able to forget so much that you won't even exist anymore."

"I should have known better," Brooke said with a scowl. "Nic said go talk to her, she'll understand, you can work things out. But no, not with you. Never with you. I don't know why I even bother. Apparently, I was seriously deluded, thinking that for some reason I was attracted to you, that I might even have," Brooke stopped to shudder, "feelings for you. God, I'm stupid."

Sam gaped at Brooke, her mouth opening and closing in a manner that made her look disturbingly like a goldfish. Nicole told Brooke to try and work things out with her? Brooke had feelings for her? As in, not just I'd like to get naked with you feelings but maybe I'd like to buy you some candy on Valentine's Day kind of feelings? Sappy Hallmark card type feelings?

"Here," Brooke said, ending her tirade as she pulled open the freezer door, "is your fucking ice cream."

The pint of Ben and Jerry's hit Sam square in the stomach, her breath leaving in a pained oomph as she watched Brooke stalk out of the kitchen. Leaning over, blindly finding a spoon that had managed to escape the carnage, she popped the lid off of the ice cream and dug out as big of a bite as she could manage.


This time, when Brooke showed up at the Julian mansion, Nicole was prepared. She forced the blonde to stop, to talk about what was going on before both of them ended up writhing on the bed. Not that she didn't like writhing about on the bed with Brooke, but doing that was now counterproductive. She had a plan, and she hated to see her plans fail. As much as she enjoyed a more physical Brooke, if they continued to sleep together it was going to cause some serious problems with her plan. God forbid, the blonde might actually decide that she loved Nicole. People who had just been rejected were iffy that way, and Nic had no intentions of getting herself roped into a relationship. Nope, love'em and leave'em was her motto, and she wasn't about to change the coat of arms simply because Brookie's libido was running at full speed. Besides, she had the sneaking suspicion that the other girl could get possessive, and if that was the case then things would only get ugly.

Listening to Brooke's rather rambling description of the events back at the homestead convinced her that the plan was going to need tweaking. Apparently Sam was failing to realize what all she could have if she could only stop acting like a spaz for just two minutes, which was something that Nicole hadn't planned on. The brunette had always seemed like the opportunistic sort, and she'd been convinced that Sam would jump on the olive branch that Brooke had been trying to extend during their conversation in the kitchen. Apparently, her quarry wasn't as smart as she had counted on. This was going to require a more hands-on approach.

"You stay here," she instructed a still shivering Brooke. The story telling had been coupled with tears, and Nicole had had about enough of this emotion bullshit as she could handle.

The blonde nodded, feeling strangely at peace. She didn't know what Nic was planning, but there was one thing that she had learned. Nothing could stop the other girl, especially if she had a plan, and Brooke was fairly certain that the Nicole currently stomping out of the room was a Nicole with a plan.


It wasn't long before Nicole found herself parked outside of Brooke's house. She was winging it here, having completely abandoned the plan due the ineptitude of the actors, but that didn't stop her. Not bothering to ring the doorbell, she pushed her way into the house, making her way toward the steps with a determined clip. It was only as she sped by the kitchen that she realized that her prey was down here, laying sprawled out on the kitchen floor, and empty carton of Ben and Jerry's laying beside her head.

"You'd better not be dead," she cautioned, changing her path so that she wound up instead standing above the prone brunette.

"I would think that my demise would make you happy," Sam muttered, cracking open an eye to see that Nicole really was standing in her kitchen and that it wasn't simply an auditory hallucination brought on by recent consumption of an overload of chocolate.

"Listen, I've about had it with you. How many chances have you had to straighten this thing out? You've got the most desirable girl, well, if you exclude me that is, in the whole of Southern California lusting after you and you manage to screw it up not once, not twice, but at least three times?" Nicole enumerated, counting the chances off on her fingers. "First of all, she kisses you and you bite her? What the hell were you thinking? Oh wait, clearly you weren't."

"Have you stopped to think that I might not be interested in her because I'm not interested in girls?" Sam drawled, pushing herself up on her elbows. If she was going to have a shoot-out with Nicole over the Brooke dilemma, the she wasn't going to do it laying down. Propped up maybe, but certainly not laying down.

"Oh, please. If I were you, I'd roll out of the way before God strikes you dead, Spammy," Nicole snorted. "Try that line on someone who might believe it. You've got the hots for her, alright. Anyone with eyes and enough sense to look could see it."

"Fine then. If she's so attracted to me then, why is she sleeping with you?" Sam asked, and Nicole almost cringed at the bitterness infusing her voice.

"That one's your own fault," Nicole replied, not unkindly. "When you rejected her, she felt undesirable, unwanted, and she needed confirmation that that wasn't true. She didn't come to me because she wanted me. She just wanted what I could give her."

"Then why did you do it?" Sam asked suspiciously, and with a sigh, Nicole pulled out a chair.

"Because I wanted her too," she admitted, shoulders slumping slightly as she said it.

"If you want her too, then why the hell are you here trying to kick some sense into me?" Sam queried, eyebrows drawn together as she tried to reconcile the two things.

"Because its not a long-term thing. Can you honestly see me doing the relationship thing with Brooke, hmmm? Please, I'm not made that way, and the only thing we'd end up doing if we took that road would be hate each other eventually. I'd only hurt her, and to be honest, I'm not sure that I have it in me to love anyone, so it would only be a monumental waste of effort and time on my part. That doesn't mean that I approve of her choice of you, Sam, but its just breaking her heart that things are the way they are, and that makes me unhappy. I don't like to be unhappy, I don't like to see Brooke unhappy, and I don't like you. The first two outweigh the last, so here I am," Nicole admitted with a wry tilt of her head.

"I don't believe you," Sam said softly, dark chocolate eyes softening.

"Well, I don't particularly care what you believe," Nicole retorted.

"You do love her," the brunette replied, a soft smile curling her lips.

"Perhaps you should have your head examined, Spammy. Apparently the fall has caused your already lacking mental skills to further deteriorate. What I want to know now is what you're going to do. Keep your speculations to yourself."

"I think that I've managed to mangle things so badly that it won't matter what I do at this point," Sam remarked dryly, pulling herself up to a sitting position. The situation was too bizarre, really. Brooke wanted Sam, Sam thought she just might want Brooke, Nicole wanted Brooke but was here handing her over on a silver platter to her worst enemy, and she'd eaten an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's in less than five minutes.

"First she throws that uber-bitch fit in the bar in San Francisco and then storms out, leaving me to trail along after her. When I finally do catch up with her, she kisses me. I didn't know what to think, so I overreacted. Granted, biting her probably wasn't the smartest thing that I could have done, and all I can say in self-defense is that my brain just short-circuited. I wanted to talk to her about it, but she just stormed off, leaving me alone. I'd half decided that it was all some evil plan, that she had somehow found out how I felt about her and that you two were working in collusion to embarrass me with it when I find out that she's with you, which cemented that admittedly off-base idea. Then, I blow it again, teasing her like that when I see her that night, kissing her and then laughing at her. She storms out again, and when she gets home I try to apologize, to tell her how I really feel, but she kicks me out of her room. Next thing you know, I find out that she's sleeping with you, and then I actually see you, and I think that… actually, I'm still not sure what I think about that. I'm still reeling from that little shock when she comes in here to try and talk to me again, and I lashed out at her when what I really wanted to do was have her tell me that it would all work out, that it would all be alright. After driving her away yet again, I come to the conclusion that I just might be in love with her, but she's gone and I have nothing but my Ben and Jerry's until you show up, making it sound like she might actually still want to have something to do with me," Sam said breathlessly, trying to explain everything so that Nicole would understand what she'd done and why, though she still wasn't completely sure why she wanted Nicole to understand.

"Might want something to do with you?" Nicole scoffed. "Please, all you've got to do is snap your fingers and she'll be here in less than ten minutes."

Pulling out her cell phone, Nic dialed familiar numbers, handing the device to Sam who looked at it like she'd just been handed a vial containing a deadly plague. Stifling a groan, Nicole motioned for her to actually talk on it and not just hold it.

"Hello?" The word echoed through the kitchen, the tinny tone of the phone distorting the well-known voice slightly. "Hello?"

"Uh, Brooke?" Sam said finally, the words struggling to make their way out. "I'm sorry… you know, for everything. Maybe we could… talk?"

Seconds later, Sam handed the phone back, a broad smile making its way across her face. Nicole smirked, putting the gadget away.

"Nicole…" she started, only to be cut off by a glare from the blonde.

"Don't think that this is going to be the beginning of some great friendship between us, Spam," Nicole said harshly. "This changes nothing."

"Yeah. Whatever you say," Sam replied, the wide grin still firmly affixed. "You can't stop me from saying this, though, Nicole. Thank you."

"I didn't do it for you."

"Thanks anyway."

Five minutes later found Nicole firmly ensconced in the front seat of her Jag. She bypassed the Julian mansion, choosing instead to drive into town. Smiling slightly, to herself, she found joy in the fact that life had apparently returned to a semblance of normal, even if Brooke did seem to have horribly bad taste. She'd always suspected that was the case anyway. That didn't matter though. What did matter here was that she still had a best friend, one who was finally happy, and the night was young. Debauchery beckoned, and she knew just the place where she could go and forget all of her troubles. Slipping on her sunglasses and distancing herself from the tangle of emotions still swirling around her thoughts of Brooke, Nicole slammed her foot down on the gas pedal, once again determined that she would forever be able to escape the sticky traps of love.

As happy as Nicole was to have escaped the clutches of love, Brooke was equally happy to have finally fallen into them. Much later that night, laying in a warm cushion of soft skin, she decided that though Sam might have been a lot of trouble to reel in, she was definitely worth it.

The End

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