Title: An Appendectomy and Finding Family
Author
: VietAngel
Rating
: K
Characters
: Sam, Noah, Alicia, Dorothy

Summary: Sam's so used to taking care of herself that she doesn't know when to ask for help. When she suddenly falls ill, she finds out she can count on some unexpected people.

Disclaimer: All television shows, movies, books, and other copyrighted material referred to in this work, and the characters, settings, and events thereof, are the properties of their respective owners. As this work is an interpretation of the original material and not for-profit, it constitutes fair use. Reference to real persons, places, or events are made in a fictional context, and are not intended to be libellous, defamatory, or in any way factual.

Author's Note: This is my first venture into The Best Years, so please excuse me if it's out of character. It popped into my head after watching the Season 2 premiere last week, and hopefully it's the first step in getting my muse back. For those of you familiar with my Grey's fics, don't be alarmed…I could never abandon my dear Callie and Mark.

***********

Samantha Best knew she would be in for a rough day the second she opened her eyes. Waking up with a stomachache was never a good sign. As much as she wanted to skip class and sleep in, she couldn't afford to. She was already behind, having arrived back at Charles University three weeks into the semester, and had lots of catching up to do. Deciding to suck it up and soldier on, she took a quick shower and slipped into a ratty but comfortable t-shirt and her favorite jeans. The shower had done nothing for her energy level and she felt extremely sluggish as she slowly made her way down the hall.

"Sam!" Noah exclaimed, jogging up and tapping her on the shoulder. "You didn't hear me calling you?"

"Hey, Noah," she replied. "Sorry, must have spaced out."

"Are you ok? You don't look so hot."

"Gee, thanks Noah…just what every girl likes to hear first thing in the morning."

"Come on, you know I didn't mean it like that. What's wrong? You aren't feeling well?"

"Stomachache. I tossed and turned all night. The Thai food and pizza combo wasn't the best idea we've ever had. Just thinking about it is making me nauseous."

Noah frowned in concern. He had never seen Sam look so run down. He put a hand to her forehead to check for a fever. She felt slightly warm, but he didn't think it was anything to be alarmed about. However, he did think getting some rest would be a better idea than going to class.

"Go back to bed. You'll probably feel better after some rest," he said.

"I would love to, but I'm already behind. I can't afford to miss anything else."

"I know someone in all your classes. I'll get the notes for you."

Sam wanted to protest, but the longer she stood there, the more she realized that she wasn't going to make it through a day of classes in her current state.

"Thanks Noah, you're the best. I don't know what I'd do without you," Sam replied, pulling him in for a hug.

After making her promise to call him if she needed anything, Noah headed to class while Sam made the trek back to her room. It was only a short walk, but to her it felt like hiking a mountain. She was looking forward to passing out on the bed and sleeping the rest of the morning away. She had just slipped her key into the lock when Alicia came barreling out of the room, nearly knocking her down in the process.

"Hey! Watch it!" Sam yelled. She really wasn't in the mood for Alicia's games.

"You're the one in my way!" Alicia yelled back.

"Whatever," Sam replied, rolling her eyes. "I don't have time for this; I'm going back to bed."

"Little Miss Perfect is skipping class? I'm shocked!" Alicia said with a smirk before walking off.

Sam was feeling worse than ever. She was freezing and she could have sworn she actually heard the bed call her name. She slipped off her shoes, socks, and jeans and crawled beneath the covers. Bathed in the warmth of the down comforter and soft flannel sheets, she was asleep within minutes.

**************

Alicia stumbled into the room making as much noise as possible in an attempt to annoy her roommate/cousin, but Sam didn't even stir. She cursed as she tripped over one of Sam's shoes and waited for Sam to wake up and yell at her, but it never happened. She had never known Sam to be in bed so early—it was only 8:30 p.m. Sam's jeans were on the floor and Alicia realized they were the ones she'd seen her in that morning. The t-shirt she was sleeping in looked oddly familiar too.

"Hey, Sam," Alicia said, plopping down on the bed and shaking the sleeping girl.

"Mmmm," Sam groaned.

"Sammie, wake up!" Alicia yelled, shaking her harder this time.

"What? What time is it?" Sam whined, finally opening her eyes.

"8:30…have you been asleep all day?" Alicia asked.

Sam turned to glance at her alarm clock and gasped as she realized Alicia meant 8:30 at night, not 8:30 in the morning. She had been asleep for over 12 hours, and to make matters worse, the stomachache was still there.

"Yeah, and my stomach still hurts," Sam finally replied, clutching her right side and sitting up slowly.

"All of this over a stomachache? You are such a drama queen," Alicia huffed. She stood and went to hang her coat up in her closet. She couldn't believe she had actually let herself be slightly concerned—she should have known it was all an act.

"I'm really not feeling well. I think something's wrong," Sam replied shakily.

"Oh come on! Take some Tylenol and suck it up, Sammie. A six-year-old can handle a stomachache better than you."

"Alicia, I'm not kidding, I…" Sam started, but before she could finish her sentence her stomach rolled and she vomited all over the floor. The spasms caused the pain in her lower right abdomen to become excruciating and she curled onto her left side on the bed. It hurt so much that she couldn't stop herself from crying.

Alicia watched in complete shock as she realized the girl wasn't just being a drama queen. She was bawling and shaking…and the white-knuckled grip she had on the sheet was a sure sign that she was in severe pain. As much as she disliked it, Sam was family. Even though Alicia would never admit it, she cared deep down, and she didn't want to see anything bad happen to her cousin. Quickly switching into panic mode, she ran for her cell phone and dialed 9-1-1. After hanging up, she went over and tried to comfort Sam as best she could…and prayed that help would arrive quickly.

************

Her nose itched. That was Sam's first thought as she started to come around. Her nose itched and she wanted to scratch it, but it was so hard to move and she couldn't open her eye. She felt like she was swimming in pudding and someone glued her eyelids together.

"Samantha?" Dorothy O'Sullivan called softly, relieved to finally see her niece waking up.

"My nose itches," Sam replied hoarsely. "What happened? Where am I?" Dorothy laughed and reached out to scratch the girl's nose before answering her questions.

"You're in the hospital. You got sick and Alicia called the ambulance--you had appendicitis. You're going to be just fine. The doctors were able to remove your appendix before it ruptured."

"Oh," Sam replied. Her head was still fuzzy from the anesthesia and she was finding it hard to think. When her eyes were finally able to focus, she realized that Alicia was standing right next to her mother. "Thanks, Alicia."

"Sorry I called you a drama queen," Alicia mumbled in response.

"It's ok," Sam replied, mustering a quick smile. Much to her surprise, Alicia smiled back.

"Well," Alicia started after an awkward silence, "I've got to get going, but um…I guess I'll see you later."

"Yeah, see you later," Sam said.

After Alicia left, the room was blanketed in an awkward silence yet again. Dorothy always tried to be so careful around Sam. She didn't want to say anything to upset her. What can you really say to the girl whose life you ruined? What she did know is that she didn't want to lose her…not again. She was so worried when she'd gotten that phone call saying that Sam needed emergency surgery. She hadn't felt that way since Alicia's overdose. She was staring at the bed, picking at the lint on the hospital blanket, when Sam coughed and pulled her from her reverie. She poured a cup of water and held the straw up to Sam's lips.

"Drink slowly, it's going to be hard to swallow at first," Dorothy warned.

"Thanks," Sam said. She was still a little hoarse, but it was a big improvement from when she first woke up. "You don't have to stay if you don't want to, Dorothy. I'm fine on my own."

"I know you are, but I'm not going anywhere," she replied, and she put the cup back on the table and took a seat at the edge of the bed. Hesitantly, she reached up and brushed a lock of hair from her niece's forehead. Sam's eyes fluttered closed at the touch. No one had done that for her since her parents died. "Your friend Noah came by, but he couldn't stay and wait for you to wake up because it's after visiting hours. He brought you some flowers."

"They're beautiful," Sam said as she caught sight of the vase of roses to her right.

"Sam, why didn't you say something? You couldn't have been feeling well when you woke up this morning. You should have called me. I would have taken you to a doctor. Instead I get a phone call from the hospital telling me that they're taking you into surgery. Do you have any idea how scared I was?"

"I didn't mean to scare you. It's just…I'm not used to this—you know, having someone care. After my parents died I didn't have anyone to take care of me when I wasn't feeling well…so I learned to shut up and take care of myself."

"Oh sweetheart," Dorothy started, eyes brimming with tears, "you do now. I know you don't trust me; I've never given you a reason to….but you're family. You don't have to trust me for me to love you. Never forget that I do."

Sam didn't know what to say. Eleven years had passed since her parents died and being loved had died with them. Now she had this second chance at a family and it was overwhelming to say the least. She didn't even realize she was crying until Dorothy reached over to wipe the tears from her cheeks.

"I—I don't know…" Sam started.

"It's ok. You don't have to say anything. Just promise me that you'll come to me if you need anything, and I mean anything, Samantha. I don't care if it's money, a quiet place to study, or a just a shoulder to cry on…you call me," Dorothy said sternly.

"I promise," Sam replied through a yawn.

"Get some rest. Your doctor said he'll probably release you in the morning, so I'll be here bright and early to pick you up. You'll stay with me while you recover and he said you should be able to resume your normal activities in a few weeks."

"MmmHmmm," was all Sam could muster in response.

She was already well on her way to dreamland. Guilt and regret wrapped about Dorothy's heart as she watched Sam sleep. It was a familiar feeling for her…one she'd felt ever since she discovered the true identity of Samantha Best. She never should have convinced Mary to give her baby away. She could have raised Sam as her own—could have saved her from all the years of pain and hardship. It was too late now. She couldn't turn back time, but she could damn well make sure Sam would never want for anything again.

After making sure Sam was securely tucked in, she gave her a quick kiss on the forehead. The road to healing would be long, but at least they were making strides.

Fin.