Disclaimer: Not ours...entertainment purposes only...no insult or
infringement to anyone or anything intended, etc...
Rating: PG-13 for language
Category: Drama/Angst, AU and OFCs
Author's Note: Now that we've seen Traylor Howard's version of Lisa,
our version ain't the same. We kinda like ours better. Kay?
Summary: Sam struggles to make amends while Lisa maneuvers for a
Thanks: To Dani and Abby, who are the sweetest ever and provided much
inspiration for this chapter. To the Incomparable Siddalee for her
continuing encouragement, support and parti'clarness. A great big
Thank You to Lori and Raye for the fabulous beta-read. Whoop whoop.
Archive: Please let us know. We'd love for you to have the whole kit
Feedback: Would be lovely at lizisita@h... and
12th in the Mitigating Circumstances series
Music & Lyrics: John Popper
If ever you are feeling like you're tired
And all your uphill struggles leave you headed downhill
If you realize your wildest dreams can hurt you
And your appetite for pain has drinken its fill
I ask of you a very simple question
Did you think for one minute that you are alone
And is your suffering a privilege you share only
Or did you think that everybody else feels completely at home
And it will come
If you think I've given up on you you're crazy
And if you think I don't love you well then you're just wrong
In time you just might take to feeling better
Time is the beauty of the road being long
I know that now you feel no consolation
But maybe if I told you and informed you out loud
I say this without fear of hesitation
I can honestly tell you that you make me proud
And it will come
If anything I might have just said has helped you
If anything I might have just said helped you just carry on
Your rise uphill may no longer seem a struggle
And your appetite for pain may all but be gone
I hope for you and cannot stop at hoping
Until that smile has once again returned to your face
There's no such thing as a failure who keeps trying
Coasting to the bottom is the only disgrace
And it will come
A knock on the door wakes me from a lazy afternoon nap. Sleep has
become the place I retreat to when I can't bear to face the day,
which is pretty much every day since I got to New York. Kyle has been
so sweet, and has done his best to comfort and support me. The
melodramatic truth of the matter is that sleep is the best way to
escape from my problems. At least for a little while. I do my best to
forget Sam's angry, ugly words, but they come back to me at the
oddest moments. The one thing I know for sure is that they will come
I stretch and roll over on the sofa. After a brief minute of peace, a
more insistent pounding rattles the door on its hinges.
"Okay, okay," I mumble, stumbling over to the door. I am absolutely
shocked to see Sam on the other side. He looks down briefly, before
looking back at the peephole. His piercing eyes seem to stare right
"Sabrina, are you in there?"
I'm taken aback at the tone of desperation in his voice. I don't
understand. He screamed at me in his townhouse last week, saying
things that I'd never dreamed would come out of my brother's mouth.
Why is he here in New York and what does he want? The next thing that
occurs to me is how terrible he looks. His skin stretches tightly
across his cheekbones and purple circles ring his eyes. He looks far
older than his thirty-three years.
I battle warring desires to throw the door open and simply ignore
him. I step back and start to turn away just before he calls out
"Kyle? It's Sam Seaborn. Please let me in. I need to talk to you
about my sister."
Before my better angel can talk me out of it, I unlock the door and I
pull it open as much as the safety chain will allow.
His eyes grow big when he sees me. "Thank God," he says quietly,
moving forward until he realizes that I haven't removed the chain. He
stops short, his nose barely three inches away from mine.
"Hi," I say, fighting back the tears I refuse to let him see as anger
begins to course through my bloodstream. I have yet to feel angry
about what happened between us, but seeing him brings it all to the
surface. I'd really love to smack him right now.
"May I come in?"
I hear myself say, "Sure," and undo the chain, as part of my brain
screams, `What the hell are you doing?'
Sam walks into Kyle's apartment and shoves his hands deep in his
pockets as he looks around the large loft. "Nice place," he says
I cross my arms over my chest and struggle to maintain control over
all the conflicting emotions swirling near the surface. "Yeah.
Whatever. What do you want, Sam?"
He watches me for a few seconds as if to gage just how angry I am.
Finally, he takes a deep breath and plunges in. "Bria, I...I wanted to
apologize, for everything. And...when you disappeared, and no one had
any idea where you were...I had to beg Claire to get her to tell me you
were in Manhattan. Even then, she wouldn't tell me where. I...Jesus, I
was so worried. How could you do that?"
"How could *I?* You have the gall to stand here and ask me how I
could...Good one." Bitter laughter bubbles in my throat. "Let me ask
you a question. How long did it take you to realize I wasn't there to
kick around anymore? Isn't that why you're really here?"
The lines around his mouth harden as he adopts the paternal tone he
used to take when we were both younger. "That's not fair, Sabrina."
"Fuck you, Sam!"
For a moment neither of us speaks, and my livid exclamation hangs
dangerously between us. Our eyes remain locked together until he
exhales sharply and turns away, dragging a hand through his hair as
he stalks to the window. He leans heavily on the sill and looks for
the world like our father does after a particularly hard case, or a
particularly nasty fight with Mom.
"Why are you here?" I ask again.
Sam looks defeated. "I came for you, of course," he says with a small
shrug of his shoulders. "I want to take it all back. I want you to
come home with me."
"There are some things you can't take back, Sam," I say quietly as I
stare past him at the skyline.
"Damn it, Bri. Why do you have to be so stubborn? I came all the way
up here, hating every minute I knew you were with this asshole,
desperate to make it up to you, and you seem determined to make it as
difficult as possible. Don't you understand how hard things have been
lately? I..." he stops and shakes his head, gripping the windowsill
I share his frustration, and blow my bangs off my forehead loudly as
I fight to control my temper. "No way, asshole. You don't get to be
pissed at me. Not this time. Do you have any idea how much you hurt
me? Do you even give a damn?"
My brother turns to look at me then, and I can see the hurt in his
eyes, and the defeat. And the shame. "Do you really have to ask me
He drops his gaze downward, which tells me he's stalling. "Why what?"
"Why did you do it? How could you say those things to me?" At this
point I'm fighting more than ever to hold back the tears. Without
much success, I admit.
"Bria, I've never seen you this angry."
"The hell you haven't, and don't `Bria' me, jackass. Answer the
For a long moment the distant noises of the traffic far below us are
the only sounds we hear. "I was mad at you," he says lamely with a
helpless shrug of his shoulders.
"Why?" I demand, rapidly losing control of my volume. "What the fuck
have I done but do everything you asked me to, answered every
midnight phone call, run every errand, do everyone's research, stand
beside you, defend you fiercely, put myself between you and mom, and
every, *everything* else to try to help you through this? What else
have I done? What?"
"You did all of that. That's true. But I realized the night that you
and Josh tried to talk me out of the interview that I had
misinterpreted all of it. You didn't do it because you love me; you
did it because you know I'm weak. I hated you for recognizing
something about me that I never did."
I'm absolutely shocked, and while part of me wants to reach out to
him, my stubborn body just won't cooperate. I see both the defeat and
the self-loathing in his eyes, and begin to realize just how deeply
Lisa's betrayal, and the resulting melee, has affected my brother.
"My God, Sam. What has she done to you? Is that really what you
He answers me by looking away, before slowly crossing over to the
sofa and collapsing heavily on the cool leather upholstery.
I am so keyed-up that my body starts to tremble, prompting me to
cross toward the sofa. Sam sits with his elbows propped on his knees
and stares down at the floor. He refuses to look at me even when I
stand next to him, so I sit by his feet and look up into his face.
"Sam, you're the strongest person I know. You always have been. When
I was a little girl and got an `A' in school, I didn't run home to
tell Mom, I ran home to tell you. It was more important that you be
proud of me than anyone else in the world. When I had a bad dream, I
didn't go to Mom and Dad in the middle of the night. I came to you.
Good or bad, *you* were the one I wanted. In the middle of what I
think you will admit has always been a *bit* of a shaky family
structure, you were always my rock. My big brotheryou practically
shined in my eyes."
The memory makes me smile and I reach out to nudge his knee. "Did you
know that I was the most popular girl on the playground because all
the other girls wanted to come over to our house so they could catch
a glimpse of you? You took on responsibilities with me that no
teenager should have to, and you were always a good sport. You were
the one who taught me to ride a bike. You were the one who taught me
to drive. You were the one who pulled me kicking and screaming
through algebra and geometry, and you did it mostly over the phone,
because you were on the other freakin' side of the country when I was
in high school! And despite all of that, you were always so patient
with me. In all my years of dance, you never missed an opening night,
even when your friends made fun of you about it. Sam, Dad couldn't
even make it from two counties away half the time, but you always
made it. And I always knew that even if I fell on my face, there was
going to be at least one person in the audience clapping for me. That
was what made me believe I could do it. You were there when I
graduated from college, and you proofed all my law school admissions
essays. My whole life, you've shown me you cared, in big ways and
little ways. You always believed in me."
At this Sam finally meets my gaze, and the mix of emotions on his
face is too complex for me to gage. But the story's not over yet, so
I press on. "And then Lisa came along. At first I was so excited. I
thought the three of us were going to be great friends. But it
certainly didn't take me long to realize I was wrong. I felt like I
lost you a little bit back then, weMom, Dad and Iall did. But I'll
never forget the first time you brought her home to meet the family.
When you looked at her, you had the most beautiful smile on your
face, and I'd have done anything to keep it there."
It's my turn to look away now, and I stare out the window as darkness
falls rapidly over the skyline. "So I kept my mouth shut, and for a
long time I didn't even acknowledge to myself how much the distance
she put between us hurt. But when she left you, Sam, and said all
those terrible things, I couldn't keep quiet about it anymore. I
couldn't let her get away with it. I had to get involved. I wanted to
fix it for you. Not because I think you're weak, because that's
*never* been the case, but because I can't stand to see you unhappy.
It drives me crazy. Just ask Josh, he's heard quite a few of my
Sam grunts and I turn toward him again. "What?"
"Josh," he says with a grin. "He called me while I was on the road.
He said I'd better not to come back to DC without you. He said if I
tried he'd meet me at the city limits with the National Guard and
keep sending me back until I got it right."
"Gotta admire that spirit."
"I'm so sorry."
"I don't think even Mom has ever hurt me as much as you did, Sam." I
turn away from him again to stare down at the floor. I don't care
about the teardrops suddenly sliding quietly down my face.
"I don't really care what you thought. You're the *one* person I
never expected that kind of hurt from. It still hurts."
"What can I do?"
I shrug my shoulders, still unable to look at him. "I don't know. I
also know you don't really have time to worry about it right now. You
have other priorities."
Sam tugs on my shoulder, and I let him pull me up onto the sofa. He
wraps his arms around me, and I feel like the small girl I used to
be. "Now who's being the martyr? Is somebody looking for some wood?"
he asks quietly.
I sniffle. "I can't help it. It runs in the family."
"Yeah," he sighs, "I guess it does."
"I don't think you're weak, Sam. I never have. But if *you* think
that, there might not be much I can do to convince you otherwise.
Just...please, Sam, don't let them destroy your idealism. Don't let
Lisa or this situation or the job or anything else ruin that great
big heart you have. It's your best feature."
His chest rumbles comfortingly against my cheek when he speaks. "I...I
don't know what to do anymore. But I really am sorry. And I want you
to come home with me."
"Just wait, Sam. I promise this will work itself out. I know it will."
"I hope so."
We're content to sit quietly for several moments until I force myself
to bring up the next issue. "What about Kyle?"
Sam groans. "What about him?"
"Sam, he really has been wonderful. I was a complete mess when I got
here, and he usually comes home at night to find me crying on his
sofa. He doesn't even know what to do with me right now, but he's
"He hurt you. I would be shirking my big brother duties if I blithely
accepted the reappearance of someone who once beat the emotional crap
out of my baby sister."
I ponder the fight I'll surely provoke by pointing out just how
blithely he's shirked his so-called 'big brother duties' lately.
Yeah, probably not worth it, but, "Sam..."
"Bria, I'm not going to fight with you about it. I'll trust you to
handle Kyle however you see fit, but I really do want you to come
home with me."
Wow. That was a big statement for him, because I know how much he
dislikes Kyle. He never liked Kyle about as much as I never liked
Lisa. "Thank you," I say quietly.
"For trusting me."
We sit in comfortable silence for a moment before a thought occurs to
him. "Oh. Hey. Can I use your cell? My battery's dead. I should let
Josh know the National Guard won't be necessary."
My cheeks flush as I remember rolling down the car window and
pitching the tiny thing out onto I-95. I duck my head in hopes that
my hair will hide my face, but I'm not fast enough.
"Bria? What's wrong?"
"I...uh...don't have it anymore."
Sam reaches over to tilt my chin up so I have to look at him. He
narrows his eyes as he appraises me. "What did you do?"
"I...sort of...well, not sort of, actually. I pitched it."
My brother gives me his best impression of Dad's I'm Disappointed in
You Face as he looks down his nose at me. "Go on."
"The night I came to New York, I was so upset...I pitched it,
literally, onto the highway."
"You did..." he begins to rant; before guilt flashes across his eyes,
and a little disapproval, until he looks back down at me again. I
stare up at him, expecting the `Daddy Seaborn' lecture for my foolish
action. Much to my delight a little bit of the familiar twinkle
begins to creep back into his eyes and the corners of his mouth
twitch ever so slightly. I'm afraid to even blink for fear of
destroying the mood and sending him back into rant mode, but before I
know it, he rolls his eyes and starts to chuckle. "I don't believe
it. Do you need me to list for you the reasons why that was a bad
I shake my head vigorously, at which point he chuckles again as I
duck my head into his chest to hide my embarrassment. I sigh and
snuggle deeper into his hug as I try to decide what to tell Kyle.
It's entirely possible that he'll be well ready to get rid of the
emotionally challenged Seaborns for a little while.