March 2009

Disclaimer: A Cinderella Story is owned by Disney; I'm simply playing in the sandbox

Title: Missing Moments Montage

Author: Jade_Max

Genre: Canon

Summary: A Cinderella Story Missing Moment Vignettes – Austin & Sam, Sam & Carter & others

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Vig #1 - Beginning of a Fairy Tale

September 4

Samantha Montgomery checked the clock on her computer as she closed down her Princeton application. It was just before nine; Fiona and the girls would be out for another couple of hours doing whatever it was they were doing to spend the money her father's diner brought in - and it was her night off. Chewing her lip, she opened her AOL account and signed in.

No new messages were in her mailbox, which wasn't really a big surprise, and she instead opened her bookmarked chat rooms. Princeton Chat, a place where she'd done a lot of her research for understanding what to expect when she went there next year – after she graduated early – popped open and a quick glance showed a list of names for who was around. There were a lot she recognized and several she didn't.

Newbies to the room were fairly obvious, and Sam did a quick read as chat lines popped up to try and get a handle on what was being discussed. A few 'welcome back' comments were sent her way, to which she typed in a quick 'thank you' before continuing to read.

Literature, of all things, was being discussed and Nomad609 – a name she'd only seen once before – was at the head of it. Intrigued, she watched as he argued the pros and cons of conflicted characters vs conflict from setting. Jumping in, she added her two cents

PrincetonGirl818: Conflict might be essential to all stories, Nomad, but don't you think circumstantial conflict can be just as important as personal?

Nomad609: Setting up circumstance where conflict is present without getting cliché is tricky, especially if you want to make it believable. Personal conflict, however, is not only easier, but more realistic.

No kidding. Tapping her fingers against her chin, Sam considered her response, intrigued by – his, her? – comment – and knowing she couldn't keep the discussion in the chat room for long. If she did, someone would just tell them to take it to personal message.

PrincetonGirl818: I guess is depends on what you see to be reality or what reality actually is.

A private window popped up on the side with Nomad's name and Sam raised her eyebrows, clicking on it.

Nomad609: Reality, huh? What do you mean by that?

PrincetonGirl818: I… guess that not everyone has the same reality. Like, if you live in a rich neighborhood you're not going to see or do the same things as you would if you were a part of the poor neighborhood.

Nomad609: You're talking about perspective.

PrincetonGirl818: One and the same, aren't they?

Nomad609: Reality and perspective? They have different definitions according to the dictionary.

Sam rolled her eyes.

PrincetonGirl818: I know that - but someone with nothing still sees the reality of having nothing. Reality -is- perspective... or so the saying goes.

Nomad609: I guess I hadn't thought of it that way. What are you - a lit major or something?

Sam laughed, shaking her head and flattered the other chatter could think so. Amused, she typed out her response with a grin on her lips.

PrincetonGirl818: LOL! I wish.

Nomad609: What do you mean – you wish?

PrincetonGirl818: I'm still in high school; I won't be at Princeton until next year.

Nomad609: Really? You make a mean argument for someone in my grade – most people I know just sleep through English class – or skip it all together.

She blinked, staring at his? - her? - response, more than a little surprised to find another High School student let alone one who sounded interested in something so academic. She shouldn't really have been surprised, but most of the people who frequented the chat room she did were actually at Princeton. Intrigued, she couldn't resist her next question.

PrincetonGirl818: If I skipped English I'd miss the excitement of knowing who was going to show up to class – and watching the teacher try to work partner lessons around uneven numbers of participants.

Nomad609: Sounds like English classes are the same anywhere; so if you're not a lit major, what are you intending to study when you get to Princeton?

PrincetonGirl818: Would you believe me if I said I don't know yet?

Nomad609: Don't know yet? Then why Princeton – close to home?

PrincetonGirl818: Ha! Yeah right. With my Stepmother, I'd never pick a school anywhere near where I live. Princeton has a bonus of being where my dad wanted me to go and over 3000 miles away.

Nomad609: 3000 miles? You're West Coast then, right? Me too.

Whoops. Sam bit her lip, chewing on it absently and a little shocked at how quickly that had been established. Still... West Coast had a lot of territory to cover. Changing the subject, she steered it away from her location.

PrincetonGirl818: Something like that. How about you – lit major when you get to Princeton?

Nomad609: Maybe, if I ever get there - I want to be a writer some day...

PrincetonGirl818: Want to? Not going to?

Nomad609: It's a long story... Look, I'll be back in a bit – talk to you then?

PrincetonGirl818: Sure.

Nomad609: Thanks.

Thanks? Samantha watched as Nomad logged off, leaving the chat room, the last comment making her frown. He – she – he… shaking her head, Sam propped her chin in her hand as she stared at the screen without seeing it. Her chat partner sounded… lonely? She could certainly relate if that was the case.

Shaking her head, she opened her word processing program and started in on her first assignment for school. The English assignment that, ironically, was poetry – and not something she was good at. Staring at her blinking cursor, she considered her options. Not only did she have her own assignment to do, but Brianna's as well. Tapping her fingers on the keys without striking any letters, she cocked her head to the side, wondering what her step sister had done over the summer that she could write about.

Brianna's turned out to be easy; never very bright, Sam settled for writing a short, three paragraph poem about shopping. It was something her step sister enjoyed and something she would have written about... if she'd thought to do it at all.

Surprisingly, less than an half an hour later, her chat window flashed again.

Nomad609: You still around, Princeton Girl?

PrincetonGirl818: Somewhere – slaving away over the prerequisite "what'd you do over the summer" assignment - you?

Nomad609: Finished mine hours ago – my English teacher gave us an easy assignment for back to school – at least for me.

PrincetonGirl818: Lucky. I'm usually pretty good at English, I just… I didn't do anything exciting this summer.

Nomad609: Now why do I find that hard to believe? I'm sure you did something – like get a job?

PrincetonGirl818: Get a job? I've had a job for years – and I wrote about that last summer. How about you, what did you write about?

Nomad609: The summer vacation my dad and I took; he was keen on doing a father/son thing.

Father/son thing, huh? Sam grinned. So her chat partner was a guy.

PrinctonGirl818: Lucky – I can't remember the last trip I took. My step mom's not big on the family bonding thing.

Nomad609: What's your dad say about it?

Sam tapped the keys again without typing anything; it was an innocent enough question, but it still stung. Her dad might have been gone for the last eight years, but she still keenly felt his loss. Every day in the house where they'd lived – and Fiona was constantly changing – was a little like being daily slapped in the face. And while Fiona had never physically punished her, she'd come up with other inventive ways to do it – not that she ever had cause to since Sam made sure she never gave her one.

Nomad609: A little too personal?

PrincetonGirl818: No, no… my dad's dead, so it's just me and the Step – and thankfully she's not here right now.

Nomad609: I'm sorry.

PrincetonGirl818: Hey, no big; you didn't know. But you did give me an idea for what to write about - thanks.

Nomad609: You're welcome – I think.

A giggle escaped; even though type had no emotion behind it, she couldn't help but allocate a 'voice' to it and in her head he sounded confused.

PrincetonGirl818: lol - you think?

Nomad609: I haven't a clue what I said to inspire you; I brought up bad memories, stumbled into the fact you've got an evil step mom and that you've had a job for years… how is that, in any way helpful?

PrincetonGirl818: The assignment is about what we did this summer – which is my case was practically nothing out of the ordinary… so that's what I'll write about. The only difference was that I didn't have my school work load on top of everything else.

Nomad609: So… business as normal?

PrincetonGirl818: Exactly – not exactly your typical subject for a back to school assignment but then… I guess I've never really been typical.

Nomad609: Not into the normal 'teenage' things, huh?

Into? She wished. With the Diner and the house and everything else when did she have time for normal 'teenage' things?

PrincetonGirl818: Define 'typical'

Nomad609: My life

PrincetonGirl818: Huh?

Nomad609: Never mind – it's nothing.

PrincetonGirl818: Nothing?Doesn't sound like nothing – how is your life typical? Or does this have to do with your earlier comment about wanting to be a writer?

Nomad609: It's not your problem, don't worry about it. I shouldn't have said anything.

PrinctonGirl818: Why not?It's not like I know you or you know me – and it seems to me you wouldn't have said anything if you had someone else to talk to.

Nomad609: You got all of that from one offhanded comment?

PrincetonGirl818: Let's just say that I totally understand about not having anyone to confide in. My dad was my best friend and when I lost him, I lost everything – I didn't really have anyone else I could talk with since my step mother's a raging… you get the idea.

Nomad609: You're pretty smart; I take it that's why you argue for circumstantial conflicts – because that's what you know?

She hadn't thought of it that way, but he had a point. It was easier for her to believe in circumstance causing problems for the hero or heroine of a book than it was for personal conflict. But then, she'd never been terribly conflicted; she'd always known who she was and what her goals were.

PrincetonGirl818: I guess. I can understand conflict in all guises but circumstantial is definitely something that hits close to home.

Nomad was suspiciously silent for long minutes – so Sam continued, prodding gently.

PrincetonGirl818: How about you? Is this a case of 'write what you know' – personal conflict?

Nomad609: Heh – am I that obvious?

PrincetonGirl818: No, but you've dropped some hints.

"Sam?"

Her fingers froze over the keys and she closed her eyes as the call came through the monitor beside her computer. Fiona and the twins were home.

"Sam? Can you come down here?"

Pressing the call button, she sighed. "I'll be right there."

"Now!"

PrincetonGirl818: I've gotta go

Nomad609: I'll talk with you later then?

PrincetonGirl818: If you want to.

Nomad609: Do you?

"SAM!"

PrincetonGirl818: I'd love to; catch you later.

Logging off with a sigh, Sam headed downstairs to see what Fiona could possibly need at just shy of eleven thirty at night. The thought of the time stopped her as she was leaving her room, looking back to focus on the clock in disbelief. Eleven Thirty? She'd been chatting with Nomad for the better part of two hours… and the thought made her lips curve. Two hours chatting which had seemed like mere minutes and had only served to whet her appetite to know Nomad better; she couldn't wait to see how their next conversation went.

Fin

Author's Note: I've yet to see anything with "how" they met other than the reference in the movie – so I thought I'd extrapolate.