Black and White

There wasn't much Clover enjoyed more than dating, and making guys swoon like lovesick puppies. Throughout her life she'd broken more hearts than there were guys in her schools, and she thoroughly enjoyed all of it. Sure she'd gotten a few death threats every now and then, but they never followed through. However, there was one boy who'd always been out of her reach. One boy who'd always resisted her charms before he left to join the U.S. Navy...

Clover shivered in anticipation. "So he's arriving this afternoon, right Sammy?" She asked as she lifted a cheese fry from the plate and shoved it in her mouth. Sam rolled her eyes and sighed as another mall patron behind her gave a yelp and leapt up from his seat. Apparently coffee was hot, and he began screaming about lawsuits and marching up to the Starbucks that had sold it to him.

"Yes, Clover, my older brother is arriving this afternoon." Sam shook her head bemusedly. Clover had had a massive crush on Sam's older brother since she'd met Sam, but being a rather young girl, she'd never won his attention. Now though, he would have to be Gay not to notice her. "I don't see what the big deal is, he's just visiting during his shore leave from the Navy. It's not like you could have a real relationship with him."

Alex looked up from her meal of diet Pepsi and chilidogs to stare at Clover appraisingly. "Besides, from everything you've said about him since you found out he was coming he's got to be cuter than humanly possible." Sam hadn't met Alex until after Anthony had left for the Navy, so Alex and Anthony had never actually met.

"Well if they put out a casting call for a Greek God of Hunkiness, he'd win hands down." Clover replied with a grin.

"Hunkier than David?" Alex gasped in shock.

"David's a two compared to Anthony's fifteen." Clover confirmed with a nod.

"Woooow. I have GOT to meet this guy." Alex proclaimed.

Sam looked down at her watch, blinking in surprise. "Oh man, looks like you're gonna get your chance sooner than we thought. He was supposed to arrive ten minutes ago!"

Clover gasped in horror and jumped up. "I'll drive!" With that the three girls took off through the mall, heading down to the parking garage. They knew the entire place by memory, and they even had a spot reserved for them near the exit for being such regular mall goers. So they reached the car fairly quickly and Clover pulled out.

The screams of her two friends were still ringing in Clover's ears as she pulled into the driveway in front of Sam's house, skidding to a stop in a cloud of smoke and dust. Clover threw the door of the convertible open and ran up to the door, banging her fist on it quickly. With practiced speed, she whipped out a brush and fixed her hair before the footsteps inside reached the door.

The door was opened by a tall, tanned, and muscular man who looked like he belonged in the pro-wrestling circuit rather than the navy. Clover grinned and flipped her hair back before flashing him a dashing smile. "Hey Anthony, it's been a long time."

"Clover? Little Clover? Wow... you've grown up." She watched his eyes scan her body like a machine taking an imprint. "It's good to see you." He smiled warmly and pulled her into an affectionate hug, which she leaned into quite willingly. When she pulled back he looked over to the driveway, quirking one eyebrow. "What's with them?"

"Huh?" Clover looked back at her friends for the first time. The dust kicked up by the tires was just beginning to clear, and Sam was crawling along the ground away from the vehicle with shaking limbs. Alex was still in the car, mostly obscured by the smoke. "They just get carsick real easy apparently."

"Clover... you are never driving again..." Sam pushed herself shakily to her feet, shaking her head.

"Hey little sis." Anthony smiled and walked up to her to help steady her. "It's been way too long."

"Anthony, it's good to see you." Sam smiled and wrapped her brother up in a hug, both to greet him and to keep her balance since her legs were still shaking violently from her ride with Clover. "How've you been holding up with the recent war and all?"

"Ah, I've been stationed on a boat, so I haven't been in any danger... from outside sources anyway." Anthony smirked jokingly and Sam giggled. Clover smirked and looked back at the car to see Alex finally emerging, after having composed herself and brushed the dust off of her. Clover poked Sam in the side and gestured to Alex as she moved to join them.

"Oh, right. Anthony, this is Alex, best friend number 2." Sam smiled at Alex as she approached.

"Hey, it's good to meet you." Alex smiled and held out her hand, but to all of their surprise Anthony just stared down at it in surprise. Alex blinked, looking down at her hanging hand as Anthony looked away from her and cleared his throat. Before any of them could say anything he turned to Sam.

"Mom wants us to decide on what to have at our celebratory dinner tonight. Come on." He took his sister's shoulder and led her into the house. Clover blinked and looked over at Alex, who was staring straight ahead with her hand still extended.

"Uh... what just happened?" Alex asked softly as she slowly lowered her hand to the side.

"He was probably intimidated by your cuteness." Clover grinned and elbowed her in the side. Alex blushed and cleared her throat as Clover took her hand and pulled her into the house after Sam and her brother. Secretly, she was as perplexed as Alex was. That had been no infatuation... there was something else at work. She would have to find out what it was.

When they reached the living room Anthony and Sam were in the middle of speaking heatedly with each other. "I can't believe you, Anthony. I never knew you were like this." Sam growled darkly.

"Hey, don't make this about me..." Anthony trailed off when he saw Clover and Alex approaching. "Come on Sam, we should go help mom decide what to have tonight." He grabbed her arm, but she shrugged him off of her.

"I'd like to have a word with my friends first, if you don't mind." Sam turned and walked back over to Clover and Alex. Anthony glared at her, then moved his ice-cold stare over to Alex instead. Alex smiled meekly and waved back, but he just turned and walked into the kitchen angrily. "I can't believe this... I'm really sorry Alex."

"What's going on here Sammy?" Clover asked. "Alex may not be on my level of attractiveness but she has her own charm."

"Apparently Anthony has a few life-philosophies that I never knew about as a kid..." Sam trailed off, looking over at Alex apologetically. "Of the... segregationist kind."

"Segregationist?" Alex asked confusedly. "What are you talking about?" Clover smirked and shook her head, putting her hands on her hips. Wow, that really put a hole straight through his ultimate hunk image. There was no way she was going to go for a guy who refused to associate with her best friend. "What does that mean for tonight?"

"It means we're not invited for dinner." Clover smiled slightly and put a hand on Alex's shoulder.

"I'm really sorry about this girls, but it has been forever since I've seen him and I really wanted to catch up with him..." Sam sighed sadly.

"Don't sweat it Sam, you spend some time with him and then join back up with us in a few days when he leaves. No big deal." Clover smiled and looked over at Alex. "You ready to go hit the mall?"

"Uh... sure I guess..." Alex replied numbly. Clover took her shoulder and turned to lead her out of the house, with Sam closing the door behind them. She would have to keep Alex entertained for a while to keep her from getting too upset. That was okay, she knew just how to keep her occupied...

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Sam worked for the next thirty minutes helping her mother and brother plan the celebratory feast that would take place that night. Anthony looked the same as he always did. As happy and helpful as ever... when just thirty minutes ago he'd looked extremely upset just to have Alex walk into the house. It was always confusing when one's memory conflicted with present circumstance.

"Well, it looks like we have everything we need. I'll get started on the turkey. Can you two head to the store and pick up the rest of what we need?" Mrs. Simpson asked.

"Sure mom, we'll be back in a jiffy." Sam turned to leave, with Anthony trailing right behind her. She climbed into her convertible, waiting until her brother occupied the passenger's seat before pulling out and heading toward the nearby grocery store. They both remained silent for a long time until Anthony spoke.

"This is why I never told you. You're just like mom. If I disagree with you, you shut me out." He told her softly. Sam's first instinct was to snap his head off. Of course she would get mad at him. He was rejecting her best friend for no good reason. But she managed to keep her cool and respond amiably.

"I just don't get it." Sam replied reasonably. "Alex is a great girl, who cares what color she is? It makes no difference."

"I disagree." Anthony said simply. Sam clenched the steering wheel tightly until her knuckles turned white. "See, there you go. All you people who talk about freedom and equal opinions always fly off the deep end when someone takes a certain stance on things." Sam gave him a sideways glance, then relaxed her grip on the wheel and took a deep, cleansing breath.

"Okay, why don't you explain it to me then?" She asked.

"Well, think about it. Why do people have different skin colors?" Anthony asked. Sam kept her mouth shut, not wanting to accidentally bite his head off without at least hearing him out. "It signifies that we all have different cultures. I mean think about it. Black people want to be black above all. That's a fact. Asians want to be Asian, and so on and so on. Nobody's interested in being one culture, so why should I have to put up with their culture if they're not interested in respecting mine?"

"Alex has never done any such thing. She's no different from me or Clover." Sam replied with a carefully guided coolness.

"But still, she can't be completely happy can she?" Anthony asked. Sam gave him an odd sideways glance. "She's not like you or Clover, she's different. That has to have an effect on her, and you two." Sam stared at him for a moment, then looked back down at the road. "You know she's different."

"We're all different from each other regardless of skin color." Sam replied.

"But why make it harder for ourselves? It's hard enough to get through life and figure out who we are, why do we confuse things further by trying to act like everyone on the planet is exactly the same?" Anthony asked. Sam stared at the road in front of her, not responding. Oddly enough, he was making sense to her. There were so many people at her school who had no idea what to be or do... even Alex was confused more often than most people she knew. Was being Alex's friend really hurting her?

"We're here." Anthony's warning brought Sam out of her deep thoughts so that she could guide them into the parking lot and find them a spot near the back. They remained silent on the trip toward the store. Sam had a lot to think about all of a sudden...

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Hours had already passed, and Alex was about ready to call it a day. Clover had been running her around the mall all day bargain hunting. So far they'd walked away with three pairs of identical looking sneakers, three identical looking hair bows, and three skin tight body suits that made their WOOHP outfits look baggy by comparison.

"Okay Clover, hold up, some of us need to breathe." Alex spurted out as she sank to a bench. Clover huffed and walked back over to her, dropping the bags she'd been lugging to the floor.

"Breathe? Who needs air when you have prices like these just waiting for us." Clover seemed to point to a random store, but her finger wound up pointing to a lingerie store with a see-through pair of panties and bra adorning a very well shaped mannequin.

"Wow Clover, I didn't know you felt that way about me." Alex smirked. Clover followed the path of her finger and turned bright red, lowering her hand to her side. "Look, I'm not stupid. I know what happened at Sam's house. It doesn't really bother me."

"It doesn't?" Clover asked.

"Nah, you can't expect EVERYONE to like you." Alex shrugged.

"Wow... that's really mature Alex. Me... I want to rip his throat out!" Clover shouted, clenching her fists in front of her. Alex giggled and rolled her eyes. They both stopped when Sam approached them with a somewhat nervous look on her face. "Sammy, there you are. Now that you're here, it's time for the REAL shopping!"

"First, I have to say something..." Sam said softly. Clover blinked and stared at her while Alex stood up and approached her. Sam's eyes flitted over to Alex's staring deep into them. "Alex... I... don't think we..." She continued to speak, but her voice trailed off until they couldn't hear her at all.

"What is it Sam?" Alex asked worriedly.

"I... don't think we should be friends anymore." Sam averted her gaze quickly. Alex stood stunned with her jaw going slack. Before the shock could even set in Clover started howling angrily.

"What are you talking about!? Alex is our best friend! You can't just end this kind of friendship like that for no reason!" Clover went on screaming at Sam, but Alex just stared at her with a pair of wells slowly sneaking up behind her cheeks. Sam slapped one hand over Clover's mouth, finally ending the stream of exclamations and yells.

"We can still have a working relationship at WOOHP... but I'm sorry... this... may not be good..." Sam turned to leave just as suddenly as she broke Alex's heart, keeping her head down.

"Sam, Sam please!" Alex lunged forward and grabbed her hand desperately, holding onto it with every ounce of her strength. "I don't want a working relationship, I want a working friendship! I mean... a best friendship!"

"This is for the best... I think..." Sam silently yanked her hand away from Alex, pulling the younger girl to her hands and knees on the floor. Sam walked away silently, leaving Alex staring after her in shock and confusion.

Clover kneeled down to help Alex stand up. "Fine! You go Sam! If you want to ditch Alex, you're ditching me too!" Clover shouted angrily. She grabbed Alex's hand and pulled her away from the area. "Come on, let's get out of here." Alex was completely numb as Clover pulled her through the mall to the parking lot, where they took to the street. "I can't believe that girl... her brother got to her head somehow."

Alex sat on the couch silently, staring at the TV in a state of shock.

"Forget it Alex. It'll blow over soon. She'll come to her senses and tell her stupid brother where to stick it. Until then, it's you and me." Clover pulled up to Alex's house and climbed out of the car, walking around to pull Alex out of the car and help her into the house. She set Alex on the couch and headed into the kitchen. "I'll get you a nice latté and we can watch some good old dependable TV."

Alex stared at the TV until Clover returned and turned it on, shoving a mug into her hands. She looked blankly down at the mug for a few moments before turning to glance at Clover. Clover gave her a comforting smile and put one arm around her shoulders. "You're gonna cheer up if I have to staple your lips into a smile."

Alex just stared at the TV blankly, holding the mug in her hands. She blinked in surprise when she felt Clover grip her shoulder tightly, moving to stand in front of her. Her expression was unusually subdued and concerned. "Alex, say something..." Alex stared up at her, the tears welling up in her eyes.

"I... she..." She trailed off as the tears flowed down her cheeks and her throat closed up on her. She closed her eyes and turned her head to the side embarrassedly. But Clover just pulled her into a tight embrace, letting her bury her face in her neck.

"Ssshhhh..." Clover wrapped her arms around her younger friend, running her fingers up and down her back in a gentle massage. "She'll come around... this is just a phase..."

"Stay with me please..." Alex demanded in a pleading voice, whispering into Clover's ear.

"Of course, you couldn't get rid of me if you wanted to..." Clover smiled and squeezed her friend's shoulder lightly. Alex smiled and pulled back slightly, staring at Clover with tears still running down her cheeks. Clover reached up and brushed the tears on one cheek away with her thumb, giving her a gentle smile.

Alex's tears returned as she flung her arms tightly around Clover, squeezing her tightly. "I love you Clover." She didn't really think about what she was saying, it was probably the shock of losing Sam so suddenly, but Clover seemed to freeze up for a moment in her embrace. Her body relaxed in a few moments however and her hands began to stroke Alex's back.

"Love you too Alex." Clover kissed her cheek in a friendly manner. Alex moved her head to the side and almost unconscious began kissing Clover's neck. She wanted to cling to something so bad, it didn't really matter what it was. Clover's soft skin was pleasant on her lips, and she felt Clover shift in her embrace. "Alex..."

"I... sorry..." Alex pulled back, blushing furiously and turning away from Clover. She wiped at her cheeks furiously with the back of one hand. "I don't know what... what came over me... I'm not thinking straight..."

She felt Clover move up against her side, wrapping her arms around her waist. "I am." Alex gasped when she felt Clover's lips tickling her throat. A soft moan crawled out of her throat when Clover began sucking on it lightly, running her hands over her waist with a gentle touch of her fingertips. Alex closed her eyes, lost in Clover's lips playing across the sensitive flesh of her neck.

The rest of the night was lost in exploration and vented emotions, with the two becoming one until finally they fell asleep together in Alex's bed, still wrapped up in each others' arms.

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Sam walked through the kitchen with her glass of water, turning off the light on her way to the stairs that led up to her bedroom. She stopped when she saw Anthony sitting on the couch in a pair of boxer shorts, flipping through the channels. Sam herself was wearing a plain pink nightgown that brushed against the floor when she walked.

"Trouble sleeping?" He asked her softly. Strangely, Sam noted that he had the cordless phone sitting on the couch beside him. She didn't know who he'd be calling at this time of night... but she decided it wasn't her business. He was a grown man, and she wasn't his mother.

"I feel awful." Sam replied with a sigh. "You should have seen Alex's face... I might as well have just ripped her heart out."

"Don't worry about it." Anthony smiled back at her. "Come tomorrow, you'll both have completely new... happier lives. You'll see."

"I don't feel any happier right now, I just feel like a heartless witch." Sam shook her head regretfully.

Anthony stood up and walked over to her, putting one hand on her chin to make her look at him. "Get some sleep... everything will seem clearer in the morning. Trust me."

Something in his eyes set off an alarm in Sam's mind, but she was too tired and confused to pay it much mind. Plus this was her brother... she couldn't suspect him of anything. "Sure... goodnight Anthony." She turned to head upstairs, walking to her room. She stopped when she heard the phone ring suddenly at the bottom of the stairs. It didn't even reach the second ring.

Sam shook her head and went in her room. It wouldn't be right to spy on her brother's private conversation. Maybe he was right... it would all seem better in the morning. It certainly couldn't seem any worse.

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Clover's eyes snapped open suddenly, her senses brought on guard by a shift in the air in the bedroom. She could still feel Alex's body pressed against hers under the bed sheets, but the little moonlight combined with the beginnings of dawn sunlight that filtered through the window wasn't enough to give her a very good view of the rest of the room. When she turned her head to the side she saw the door partway open... but she remembered locking it earlier...

Clover sat up quickly, jolting Alex out of her deep slumber. Before she could speak a hand lashed out from the side of the bed and gripped her throat, pushing her back down onto the pillow. She gripped at the hand to try to loosen it, but the hand's owner sat up on the bed and used the leverage to push down harder, trying to crush her windpipe.

"Rrragh!" Alex's heel slammed into Clover's attacker's face, sending him hurtling off the bed to the floor with a thud. Clover gasped for air and rolled to her side, rubbing her throat tenderly. "Clover! Are you okay!?" Alex crawled over to her, putting one hand on her shoulder.

"G... Ghe... he..." Clover tried to speak, but the breath caught in her throat. She could barely make any noises as another figure came up behind Alex and grabbed her around the waist, hefting her off the bed. Alex screamed as the figure whirled and slammed her flat onto the floor face-down. "Alex..." Clover pushed herself to a kneeling position on the mattress, looking back just in time to see her former attacker lunging for her again.

Clover rolled to the other end of the bed to perch on the footboard, throwing herself off of it to fly through the air and slam her foot into the first attacker's face. He stumbled back into the wall and shook his head, but Clover jumped forward and smashed the side of her foot into his face, planting it against the wall and knocking him unconscious instantly.

Clover whirled as the unconscious attacker collapsed to the ground, but she couldn't see any sign of Alex or the second attacker. "Alex!?" Clover charged out of the room, ignoring her nudity and running right out the front door. All she caught was a single taillight that was going around the corner down the block.

"Alex... damnit..." Clover turned to run inside quickly, grabbing her phone off the wall and dialing 911 on her way up the stairs to get dressed and tie up the unconscious kidnapping accomplice. She certainly hadn't expected this... but she would be damned if she let Alex down.