nike_ravus (nike_ravus) wrote,

Corduroys and Machine Guns (5/5)

 Title: Corduroys and Machine Guns (5/5)

Author: Alsike

Rating: PG-13

Fandom: Popular

Pairing: Sam/Brooke

Apologies:  The book i stole some of the plot from was Ice Wind and Fire, by Mel Keegan... yes, this just happened to be dropped in the return slot at a university library.

If i ever figure out what happens, there will be a sequel.

Summary: Sam and Brooke haven't spoken for three years, but Brooke is finally graduating from college, and that is about to change.  At least if porcupines and terrorists have anything to say about it, it will.

“You should come back down with us.  You could have your old rooms and see all your friends since you have the week off.”

Jane looked hopeful and eager.  Brooke and Sam exchanged a look that communicated their thoughts as easily as always.

“Mom, I just moved up here.  Once Sam’s more mobile, I was hoping she could show me the city.”

“Yeah,” Sam mumbled.  “And we have some catching up to do, anyway.”

Jane gave her a look.  “Yes, you do.”

Sam looked guilty, and Brooke sighed.  She had never blamed Sam for cutting her off.  She felt that she had deserved it, but she had no shortage of defenders.

“Do you have any crayons?”

The table’s attention turned to Mac, relieving Brooke.  Jane looked at Mike.

“Did we put any in the car?”

“I have some,” said Sam.  She wheeled over to a box by the window, and pulled out a new hundred pack of crayons and a drawing pad.

“Cool!” Mac took them and settled on the floor, staring at Sam’s wheels and doing her best to draw them.

Jane looked back and forth from the box to Sam.  “Oh, Sam.”

“Oh my god!” Brooke stood up, knocking her chair over behind her.  “You guys never even visited her?  She’s your daughter!  Just because we were having issues- personal issues, that were none of your business, it didn’t mean you needed to take sides.”

Brooke stormed off into the bedroom and slammed the door behind her.

Sam eyed Jane and Mike worriedly.  “I should go talk to her.”

Mike sighed.  “Let me.  We’ll stay with Mac.  You two should go have some mother-daughter time.”

Sam looked over to Jane.  “We could go down to the park?”

Jane walked worriedly in front of Sam as she crutched her way down the stairs and then helped her back into the wheelchair.  One figure stepped and the other rolled out into the morning sunshine.

“I am sorry, Sam.  We should have come to see you.”

“You would have known if I wanted you to come.  I guess Brooke didn’t know that I shut you out almost as much as I shut her out.”

“We thought you just wanted to be independent.”

“I did.  But I didn’t really.  That was the reason I moved back here instead of staying on the east coast.”

“I’m sorry we didn’t come up sooner.”

“I could have gone down to see you.”  Sam sighed.

They reached the duck pond and stopped.  Jane sat on a bench.


Sam tensed at the tone in her mother’s voice.  It was suspiciously sympathetic and scolding.

“Why did you never visit Brooke in the hospital?  She kept waiting for you to come.”

Sam swallowed stiffly.  “I think Brooke mentioned that that’s our business.  It’s between us.”

Jane looked worried.  Is there something between you?”


Now Jane looked uncomfortable.  “I didn’t want to think it, because you’re sisters, but… were you in a relationship?”

Sam’s eyes widened.  She gaped like a fish.

“I didn’t think of it at all when Brooke was in the hospital, even with the way she’d ask for you, but then you seemed to drop off the face of the earth, just saying you wouldn’t be home for the summer, or for any of your breaks, and I kept hearing her crying when I passed your door.”  She sighed.  “It just seemed like a nasty break-up.”

Sam sank into her chair and covered her face.  “No,” she said, honestly and less than truthfully, “We weren’t ever in a relationship like that.  But it was sort of a break-up, but only of a friendship.  What she did really hurt me.  I didn’t want to feel that bad ever again, so I cut everyone I cared about out of my life.”

“Oh, Sam.”

“Stop that!” Sam scowled.  “You don’t get it, do you?  You think that I just didn’t care enough about her, that she was sick and depressed and she should be easy to forgive.  But I haven’t forgiven her yet.  I’m glad she’s here with me, but she isn’t forgiven.  When dad died I knew he didn’t have a choice.  I could blame it on God, or on chance, or on my own shitty karma, but Brooke did have a choice, and she nearly killed herself.  Sure she didn’t slit her wrists or stick her head in the oven, but she knew the consequences of her actions and she didn’t eat.  She nearly took herself away from me, from us, and that was so incredibly selfish of her, that I can’t just say, oh, never mind.  You can try again later.”

“Sam…” Jane looked hurt, but seemed to understand her at least a little, so Sam kept going.

“I tried to be there for her.  I tried to take care of her, even from three thousand miles away, and I failed.  So I couldn’t see her in the hospital with my failure in front of my face.  I couldn’t… I couldn’t love her again and wait for that to not be enough.”

Sam was afraid she had said too much.  Her mom was looking at her with an unnervingly knowledgeable curiosity.

“And now?”

Sam closed her eyes.  “I guess I’m going to wait and see.  She seems different, not the girl who made my life hell in high school.  I mean, she hasn’t even complained about wearing my clothes.  And yesterday, she was wearing those brown cords, and the most nerdy photographer shirt, and, I mean, she looked amazing, but there’s no way she would have even thought that was acceptable before, unless Gwyneth’s gone through a change I didn’t hear about.  I hope that means she’s stable.”

“She seems more centered than she used to be to me too.”  Jane gave her an odd half-smile.  “I hope you’ll be able to take the risk.”

*            *            *

“Hey, Brookie.”

Brooke was lying face down on the bed, her shoulders shaking just enough to make it clear that she was crying.

“Baby.”  Mike sat on the edge of the bed next to her.  “I don’t want you to think we didn’t try to connect with Sam.  But she wasn’t turning to us.  We should have tried harder, but there’s only so many, ‘no, I can’t come home for Christmases’ you can hear before taking the hint.”

Brooke sobbed a little, trying to get in control of herself.  “I know.  I know it’s not your fault.  I’m just so angry that my stupid mistake hurt so many people for so long.”

“What?  Brookie…”

Brooke sat up.  “Don’t tell me Jane wasn’t hurt by me driving her real daughter away.  Don’t tell me you weren’t hurt by it too.  You worked so hard trying to fix me and none of it worked.”

“The first time it happened that doctors told me that it would be a lifetime battle.”  Mike looked drawn and sad.  “It hurt me the most that you were going through such a tough time and you never confided in me.”

“What was I supposed to say?” Brooke spat.  “You know how I have that issue with being perfect?  Well, I’m failing my classes, I’m being ostracized by my friends because I don’t drink, and my boyfriend thinks I’m gay.”

Mike’s eyes widened.  “What?  But you’re not-“

Brooke smacked her forehead.  “Exactly!  I knew exactly how you’d respond to that.  Oh, Brookie, you’re so smart.  Do you think you’re working hard enough?  Maybe you shouldn’t party so much.  Then: Oh, Brookie, everybody loves you.  I’m sure you can find some new friends.  And just put your foot down about the drinking and partying in your room.  I’m sure they’ll understand if you’re firm.”

“Well maybe…”

“No, not yet.”  Brooke cut him off.  “For the third, I know the exact expression you would get, that sort of tense uncomfortable one- yes!  That one!  And you would say, you shouldn’t worry about that.  Of course you’re not gay, right?  Indicating that if I’m not, I’m an idiot for worrying about it, and if I’m just thinking I might be, that you would be so incredibly freaked out you would be no use for comforting me at all.  I couldn’t deal with that.”

“Why not?  Because you might be gay?  Honey, is that why…”

“No it is not why I tried to kill myself!  God, thinking I might be gay was the least of my problems.  It was an answer.  It was suddenly the clouds have parted and sunshine breaks through!  I finally realized:  Oh!  That’s why boys bore me stiff!  That’s why I always feel unhappy and pressured when I’m in a relationship with a boy, even a nerdy one like Harrison.  That was what made me finally call Sam for help.”

Mike looked confused.  “What?  You called Sam?  When?”

Brooke ducked her head.  “I hated my life.  I hated the way it was slipping out of my control, the way nothing was working out the way I wanted it to.  I didn’t want anything I thought I wanted, and I didn't believe that the things I really wanted were possible.  I was feeling dizzy, and I had this really weird hallucination that I was back at home and me and Sam were on the couch watching TV, and she turned to me and said, ‘I really like being with you.  It sucks we wasted so much time being enemies.’  I was screwing it up, I knew it then, we should have more time than this, and I called her.  I passed out from the dehydration while I was on the phone with her, and she called the campus police.  They thought I had just been binge drinking and needed my stomach pumped.  Luckily the doctor realized that it was the opposite.  Sam saved my life.”

“My god.”  Mike looked tortured.  Brooke felt guilty for putting him through it.

“But that wasn’t the point.  The point was that figuring out I was gay made me realize that I could have some of the things I wanted.”

“Like… Sam?” Mike asked, the worry obvious in his voice.

“Oh, shit!” Brooke paled and scooted back on the bed.  “I didn’t-  I mean, I…”

“Brookie,” he tentatively patted her shoulder.  “I’m okay with this.  I mean, I’m glad that you’re…”  He paused.

Brooke started chuckling involuntarily.  “That I’m gay?  Were you really about to say that you’re glad that I’m gay?”

Mike blushed.  Brooke reached out with her good arm and hugged him.

“Thank you.  I’m glad you’re glad that I’m gay.  And really, don’t worry about the Sam thing.  There is totally nothing going on there.  I am not having a torrid affair with my stepsister.  She…” Brooke bit her lip.  “She doesn’t even know that I, um, prefer girls.”

Mike frowned.  “Exactly how many girls have you preferred?”

Brooke laughed, holding onto her knees as if she was afraid she’d fall over backwards with the force of it.  “Totally not going there, dad.  Please, just not.”

*            *            *

Jane and Sam came back with lunch and Brooke’s bag.  Mike and Brooke were on the floor playing with Mac.  Sam dropped the bag on Brooke’s head.

“You’re right.  The manager is a jerk.  He made me pay him $20 or he wouldn’t give me the bag.  And I’m really pitiable like this!”  She gestured to her chair.

Brooke laughed, but made no rush to change out of Sam’s pre-worn clothes.

“Is this all you have?”

Sam actually looked worried.  Brooke felt a little lost in her gaze.  “I like to travel light.  And I only own one pair of shoes at a time.”

Sam’s jaw dropped.

“I’m still hoping the firemen will find my camera bag though.  Replacing all that crap will set me back a couple paychecks.”

Mac took the opportunity to crawl over and start drawing on Sam’s cast with her crayons.

“Oh, Brooke,” said Jane.  “I took the opportunity, while Sam was in the motel, to call a few of your friends and tell them that you had the week off, so they might come visit.”

Brooke’s eyes widened.  She looked at Sam, who seemed just as shocked.  “A few?”

“Oh, Carmen, Lily and Josh Ford, Harrison, Mary Cherry, you know…. The gang?”

*            *            *

Jane, Mike, and Mac didn’t leave until it was nearly dinnertime.  Exhausted from the visit, Sam and Brooke ate Mrs. DiAngelo’s meatballs on the sofa, an old movie playing on the TV.

Brooke sighed as she watched Sam chew with her mouth open, distracted by Carey Grant discussing methods of murder on the screen.

“I missed this.”

Sam looked up, swallowing quickly.  “What?”

“I missed just hanging out with you.”

“Yeah, because grumpy, highly medicated Sam is such great company.”

Brooke set her plate on the floor and leaned over, resting her head on Sam’s shoulder.  “You’re always great company.”

Sam swallowed hard.  “I had a really interesting conversation with my mom today.”

“Yeah?  I could say the same about my dad, but I won’t, because I really don’t want you to ask what it was about.”

Sam rolled her eyes  “As if that wasn’t an even worse temptation.”

Brooke smiled.

Sam furrowed her brow.  “Did it have anything to do with why you dad pulled me aside to tell me that if I needed to buy you a bed or a futon he would pay for it?”

Brooke hid her face and groaned.  “Yes, actually.”

“Then I won’t ask.  But my mom and I were talking… well, about you.”

Brooke lifted her head so that only her chin was resting on Sam’s shoulder and looked her in the eyes.  “What about me, pray?”

“About whether or not it was a good idea to let you back in my life.”

Brooke sat up awkwardly.  “Well, that’s a switch, after I was yelling at her for picking me over you.”

“Yeah,” Sam scratched at the gauze on her cheek.  Brooke batted her hand away.

“Stop that.  I want it to heal properly.”

Sam gave her a look.  You want it to heal properly?”

“I wouldn’t want the world to be deprived of your pretty face.”

Sam snorted.

Brooke reached out and tucked a strand of dark curly hair behind her ear.  “You really are beautiful, Sam.”

“And what about you?”


Sam caught her eyes and fixed them with a glare.  “What do you think of yourself?  What do you think of being alive?  Willing to give it a chance, or are you ready to cut your losses whenever it gets too difficult.”

“Funny,” Brooke turned away, crossing her arms.  “That’s what I talked about with my dad.”

“Well?  Yes or no?  I need to know, Brooke.  I can’t just wait around hoping that you aren’t going to try to kill yourself again.”

Brooke sighed.  “I’m not.”

“And how am I supposed to believe that?”

“I already told you how I changed my life.”

“Yeah, if I remember correctly from my pain-addled mind, you quit dating, you quit socializing, you changed your major, and you picked up that eating habit again.  Is that sustainable?  I mean, for the long term?”

“I guess I didn’t explain it well enough.”  Brooke glared at her.  “What I really changed was my goals and my self-image.”

“So, now you see yourself as skinny, and you want to be a photographer, is that it?”

“It’s not that simple.  But of course, you’ve never tried it.  You’ve never said, oh, I guess I’m crap at journalism (no matter how many times I told you that) and I think I need a new life course.  You never said, oh, I hate my friends.  I’m going to have to ditch them before they turn me into road kill.  I did that twice.”

“You have bad taste in friends.”

“Yeah, which explains why I put up with you.”  Sam stuck out her tongue, and Brooke rolled her eyes, but broke into a smile.  “I knew I had a reason for hanging out with you.”

Sam looked blank.  “What?”

“Your lingual dexterity.”  Brooke snorted at her own joke and tucked her knees up to her chest.

Sam grinned and wiggled her eyebrows.  “You have no idea how… dexterous I am.”

Brooke felt herself blush, but hid it behind her knees.  “This is how you saved my life.”

“What?”  Sam looked confused at the sudden return of the previous topic.

“I remembered how important hanging out with you like this is to me.  That’s why I called you.  And that’s why I don’t think you have to worry about me anymore.  I know what’s really important, and… well…”  Sam froze.  Brooke’s hands were on her shoulder, her face barely above them.  “It’s you.”

For an agonizing moment Sam knew Brooke was going to kiss her again.  She wanted it and feared it with equal intensity.  And when Brooke’s lips brushed against her cheek, she thought that her heart was being torn to bits.

*            *            *



Tags: corduroys and machine guns, fic, popular

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