Title: Past

Author: Katerina

Rating: PG

Pairing: Sam/other, series will be J/S.

Summary: A story within a story.

Disclaimer: Oh, come on.

Author's Note: This is the first part in a three part series of glimpses into Samantha's life. Following this will be Present and Future. Do I get points for originality?

Huge thanks to my lovely betas, DianeM and Grav. I owe you guys. Also, thanks to everyone who has reviewed my other pieces: you make writing fun again.


XXXXX

I love the winter.

Outside, she could hear the wind whistling as it piled snow onto already towering banks, and she shivered in anticipation.

She'd much rather be out there just now, and not only because she loved the snow. In here, it was warm and comfortable, but she was forced to listen to Frank Sinatra croon about white Christmases on endless repeat until she was tempted to stuff china Rudolphs into her ears to block the noise.

She smiled brightly at the elderly woman before her, who was still debating over two cake stands.

"Personally, I prefer the one with the snowman," she said, and was surprised she could actually keep a straight face. The stand was truly tasteless, but then nothing else in the store was much better.

The woman nodded, pushing the box closer to the register with gnarled hands.

"You're right, dear. Thank you." There was a pause, which the stuttering of the register filled nicely, and then the woman appeared to notice something.

"That's a pretty name, dear. My granddaughter is called Samantha."

Samantha smiled again, agreed that it was indeed a pretty name – except when it's paired with 'Spade', but you can't have everything – bagged the awful platter and waved as the woman tottered off to another part of the store.

Kill me. Just kill me now.

It certainly wasn't how sixteen-year-old Samantha had pictured her Christmas, but then she hadn't planned spending the rest of her life in the smallest town in the United States, either, and she had to start saving somewhere.

Working at Petersen's wasn't bad, even if she was stuck in the Homewares section on the third floor. At least it was warm, and usually fairly quiet, even in the pre-Christmas panic.

She bit back a yawn, checked her watch, and sighed. Five minutes, and she was so far out of here...

Hands suddenly covered her eyes, and she jumped.

"Guess who?" The voice was masculine and smooth in her ear, and she smiled.

"Um... Can I have a hint?"

There was a short, offended silence behind her, and Samantha bit back a giggle. Then the hands disappeared, and she was swung around to face the tall, dark-haired high school Senior who was grinning at her.

"Nice try, Sam."

She did giggle, this time, and he pulled her close, lips settling on hers. She treasured it for a moment, and then pushed him away, eyes flitting around the deserted department.

"Not here, Andy."

"Aw, honey..." He pulled her close, but she slid away, still giggling.

"What if someone sees? We'll both get fired."

"Okay, okay." Andy pulled away, and Sam moved out from behind the counter, beginning to straighten the displays and stacks of plates, platters and bowls. He followed.

"Hey, we still up for tonight?"

Sam concentrated on her task – realigning a row of china Santas, who sat on the edge of a shelf with their little ribbon legs dangling. She tried to keep her voice nonchalant.

"Sure."

She managed to hide her smile as Andy grinned. "Great. I was thinking we..." He stopped short as she moved onto the next display. "What the hell are they?"

"These?" Sam's face was bland as she held up one of the porcelain pieces. "It's a music box."

Andy's face was an odd mixture of horror and incredulity as Sam turned the little key on the base of the box. A tinkling rendition of 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' filled the air, and the two little skating snowmen attached by magnets to the mirror on top of the box began to circle each other.

"People buy that shit?"

"Oh, yeah. This is one of our best sellers."

Andy shook his head, pulling his mind back to their earlier conversation.

"So, pick you up at eight?"


XXXXX

Ever since she was little, she'd loved watching the snow. Now, she realized, when viewed through a fogged-up windshield after a few beers, it was even better.

She snuggled further into Andy's supporting arm, watching the flakes, tracing the paths of one after another as they joined the slowly growing pile on the hood of the car.

"Sam?"

"Hmm?"

There was a long pause. Then, "Nothing."

Something in the tone of his voice made her look up. "What is it?"

He looked down into chocolate eyes, and felt something tug at his chest. "It's just... I might not see you again for a while."

She pulled further away. "Are you breaking up with me?"

He laughed, softly, but it seemed oddly sad. "Of course not. But... I'm going to be away, that's all."

She nodded, accepting it easily. Too easily, she would think later, but then it made perfect sense.

"Okay." A slight doubt. "But I will see you again, right?"

He nodded, pulling her back to rest on his chest. "Promise."

He kissed her then, slow and lazy, and her sixteen-year-old stomach flipped. But she was too young, really, too innocent to understand what that kiss really was.

She received the call at four twenty-six the next afternoon.


XXXXX

Tears. That was her only real memory of that time, even years later. Tears from his mother, tears of fear; tears from Samantha herself, of disbelief and bewilderment; tears always, always tears.

No one had seen Andrew Williams since he'd dropped Sam home minutes before her curfew the night before. His father's car, borrowed for the date, had not been returned, but there were no accidents reported that night, even in the hellish winter conditions.

Nothing.

Sam did what she knew you were supposed to do in those situations; she went to see his parents, and sat there with nothing to say while his mother fussed and dripped tears in the tea, and his father stared stoically at the phone.

Still nothing.


XXXXX

It was two days later, once the snow had stopped and cleared a bit, that they found the lost car. Sam, during another interminable, lost visit to his parents, was there when the police broke the news.

"Blood," was the first word that she caught, drifting innocently over the breakfast bar in the kitchen and into the living room where she still sat.

Then, "Cuts."

Then, "Two days."

Then, finally, "Self-inflicted," and the wail of his mother who had no tears left to cry.


XXXXX

That night, Samantha Spade packed her bags and crept out of the sleeping house.

She didn't really know what she was doing, where she was going, or how; all she knew was why.

Andy, dear, sweet, laughing Andy was dead.

Andy was dead, and he'd broken his promise. She would never see him again.


XXXXX

Her mother found her, huddled in a hard plastic chair in the bus station the next town over. She gathered up her daughter, collected the neatly packed tote bag, thanked the attendant who'd called, and led Samantha from the room.

Finally, at home once again, tucked up in her parents' big bed like she was four years old, Sam cried for the boy who had hurt so much there was no escape.


XXXXX

The chapel was cold, even with the heating turned up full. Samantha (no one would ever call her Sam, his name for her, again) shivered, her hands numb, as those around her stood for prayers, hymns and the blessing.

Tucking her shaking hands around her elbows, Samantha fixed her eyes on the wooden box at the front of the room. Andy had kept his promise, in a way; this was as close as she would ever come to him again.

She watched silently as the boys from the football team shouldered the coffin and walked slowly from the room. After a moment, the chapel began to empty around her, until she was left alone in the cold.

I hate the winter.

She shifted her hands to her pockets, fixing her eyes on the polished floor. After a moment, she looked up, past the high, vaulted ceiling of the church, and said goodbye.


XXXXX

It was then, as she stood in the icy chapel and faced the loss of a boy she was just learning to love, that Samantha Spade took the first steps into her future.