A/N: This does have a lesbian context to it, so if offended, stop reading now.

A/N 2: I do not own the characters or the show, so please don't sue me. There is no copyright infringement whatsoever.

A/N 3: Hope you enjoy and review is a yay yay!

CHAPTER ONE:

The noise of the helicopter was deafening as it hovered close to the ground. Orders were being yelled to and fro, but the words weren't being heard. The sheer volume of the loud engines drowned every other sound. People running from one area to another, passing goods to each other. To an onlooker it would appear chaotic, but to those there, it was highly organised. Food, weaponry and medical aid were being passed from person to person, stacked up in a neat heap in a nearby tent. The men and women were grinning at each other, their prayers were finally being answered, they hadn't been forgotten. As the helicopters drifted into the sky, the noise dimmed down, and was quickly overtaken by the chatter of the people left on the ground.

"Beer! We have beer!" yelled one of the young men opening up the top crate. "God bless… Mr. Budweiser!" He pulled out a bottle, and uncapped it with his teeth before gulping down half the bottle in one go. He burped loudly and grinned. "God bless him indeed." He yelled, reaching for another bottle and tossing it to one of his companions standing across from him, near the sandy dunes. She caught it expertly and uncapped it with her fingers, grinning as she brought the bottle to her lips. This was a good day, she thought as she drank the contents. Oh yeah, a good day.

"Okay, folks! Let's move these boxes into safe-keeping before we get raided…" ordered a handsome middle-aged man. He grabbed the beer crate, despite the protests of the young man before him. "Now, now Hugh, there are fifty other people here, who want beer."

"Ah come on man! At least 47 of them are tee-total," Hugh protested.

His boss grinned at him, and took the crate, "And who would those three drinkers be?"

Hugh stepped around the crate, and pointed to himself, "Well, there's me." He pointed to what he perceived as being the crate thief. "And there's you." He walked towards his companion, and threw an arm around her shoulder. "And there's Sam."

Sam laughed, and watched her friend drop to his knees.

"Please, man… don't take the beer from me…"

Their boss laughed and walked away. "Grab some crates… and Sam you have messages from your headquarters. "

Sam couldn't have moved faster, if she tried, almost tripping over Hugh's kneeling form, as she grabbed a crate and made way for their camp. She caught up with their boss, well everyone else's boss, but she considered him hers too. "E-mails, Yuri?"

Yuri grinned, "Looks that way… how long since you last heard from home?"

Sam pondered for a moment as she continued walking, "About a month."

Yuri nodded, setting the crate down before the medical tent, and trying to avoid the running children that surrounded him. "Then you're due e-mails."

Sam dropped her crate and tried to make her way through to the chief tent, avoiding the crush by the oncoming children.

"Hey, Santa came…" Sam heard Hugh yell as she pulled apart the material door. She could see the stacks of papers on the make-shift table, and lifted the pile with her name scrawled across the top.

She sat down on an empty crate, and read through the names, sorting them so she could read her favourite last.

She pulled the top one off.

For the attention of Samantha McPherson.

Sam,

I got Bob to agree to an extension of two months for your story, but
you need to have one then, or I'll have to let you go. And don't
make me do that. We're not hearing much about the situation over
there, and e-mails are still being delayed, so we're assuming that
no news is good news. The American Embassy tells us they still have
tabs on you, even though you've been forced to move your camp. God,
I wonder whatever convinced me to let you do this damn story.
Anyway, everyone here is hoping you are well, and we're looking
forward to having you back on American soil again. Please, take care
of yourself. And remember two months. And if there's no story your
visa is no longer valid, as we can't support it.
Make sure you have a story.

Regards, Henry

P.S. Your request for a photographer has been granted, but we're
having problems with the bureaucracy. You know how it is, so don't
count on it.

Sam sighed as she placed it to the back of her pile. She had been here for eight months and had collected so much for her story. This was her biggest one yet, and she wanted it to be great. Better than
that, she wanted this one to make a difference. People in the western world were so wrapped up in what was going on in the current economics, the terrorist situation and the climate crisis, that they
were oblivious to the strife taking place in Sudan. Sure they knew that bad things were going on, but not the extent of what was happening. She wasn't sure another two months would be enough as Yuri refused to let her leave the camp after the last raid which had killed thirty-two people, and injured over a dozen. She would never forget the screams of agony that filled the desert, the rapid gunfire that had exploded upon them, the panics of the people, the blazes that had been set upon the tents. She wanted the world to know, but she also knew that words were not always enough, she needed the pictures too.

She pulled up the next e-mail.

For Sam McPherson.

Sam, when are you coming home? It's terrifying what I'm hearing
which isn't much. Are you okay? A stupid question unless you can
shout across the world. If you can though, please do! We all miss
you. There is not much to tell you, except Ben has lost his first
tooth. My little boy has lost his first tooth. He has such a cute
gap in the middle of his teeth now. I've attached a photo. Can you
get photos? Sorry, again for asking a question I won't get an answer
too. The shouting across the sea is still an option. What else? Oh,
Josh has switched schools, he's coaching for Kennedy now. Isn't that
weird? He loves it though, plus the pay rise is really useful as the
kids are drying us out. Work is good. I saw Harrison the other day,
he's married! To a man! He's in Toronto now, but he looks great. And
we always knew he was gay, didn't we? Carmen says hi, in that silly
wave she does. She is actually sitting next to me as I type this. I
roped her into babysitting. Yes, she's still easily persuasive. Hang
on, she wants to type something.

Hey Sam. Come home! We miss you! Come home!

Okay, that was Carmen with not a lot to say, but she is actually all
teared up now. We really do miss you. And we can't wait to see you
again. Please, take care of yourself.

Love you lots and lots, Love Lily, Carmen, Josh, Ben and Katie.

Sam smiled as she read the e-mail. She missed them too. She always thought that retaining a friendship as they all went their separate ways after finishing High School would be near to impossible. But they did it. Well except Harrison, but there were reasons for that. She couldn't believe he was gay, actually she could. She was glad to hear he was happy, all their petty differences now seemed so irrelevant. She made a promise to herself to contact him when she got back home. She slid the page to the back, and studied the next page. Ben was cute with a gap in her teeth. She wished she could actually yell it out across the world to Lily, but she would have to make do showing the photo to every person who would put up with her gushing over her god-son.

She picked up the next sheet.

For Sam McPherson.

Dear Sam,

Thank you for my birthday present, even though I know Mom got it for
me, but said it was from you. She told me to thank you though. So
thank you. I had a great birthday party, and got loads of presents.
Oh yeah, you got me a new stereo. Just so you know, when you come
home. School is ok. The teacher was talking about Africa, and I said
you were there. She asked me why, and I said you were writing a
story. She was really interested, but I couldn't tell her what your
story was about, so she wasn't interested anymore. Mom won't let me
watch the news, but I sneak downstairs when they go to bed and watch
it. They never talk about you. Maybe they will one day. That would
be so cool. Get famous so I can be cool in school. Mom says you'll
be home soon, but she said that two months ago, so I don't know if
she's just saying that just to get me to stop asking her. Oh yeah,
Molly is moving to San Francisco. I'm going to miss her. School will
be weird without her. Oh yeah, I got an A in my English essay. Mom
says you'd be proud about that. Anyway, dinner is ready now. And Dad
is shouting at me to move my 10 year old behind downstairs. Yeah,
I'm ten. Double numbers now.

Come home soon.

Love, Mac.

Sam grinned at her sister's inane typing. She regretted the fact that she wasn't there to celebrate her tenth birthday but swore to make it up to her when she got home. And since when she could afford
to by her a stereo or when Mac ever needed a stereo was beyond her. She pulled up the next one.

"Hey Sam, you done? We kind of need some help with a jeep."

Sam glanced up at the Indian man before her. "Yeah sure Dev," she said as she pushed the papers into her cargo pants pocket, buttoning it so not to lose them. She followed him as he started picking up
his pace. She thought as she jogged behind him how fit she must be by now. Why get a tread-mill when a trip to Africa could have an even better affect?

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

She saw Anna and Charlie waving to them as they ran towards them. She liked Anna as she always reminded her of Carmen. The Australian would always get into panics about the simplest of things, which Sam found quite endearing.

"What's up?" She asked as she steadied her run into a walk.

"The tyre blew out… and Yuri wants it hidden. He thinks we're going to have visitors in this area." Charlie stated as he took the jack Dev handed over to him. Sam wasn't too sure why she was needed as the boys had everything under control, but felt boxes being dumped into her hands. She raised an eyebrow at Anna who just shrugged as she continued piling up the boxes. "We need to get these to Yuri…"
she stated matter-of-factly.

"Oh, I get it. I'm the gopher." Sam replied with jest. She frowned as the boxes continued to pile on. "I can't see anything, Anna."

She could hear Anna and the boys laughing. She frowned. "There's nothing in these boxes, is there?"

She heard the laughter get louder. She dropped the boxes and pouted. She was getting used to being the butt of their pranks.

Charlie stood up and slapped her on the back, "You caught onto that one pretty quick… we were hoping you'd at least walk with them."

Sam looked at Dev who was grinning and Anna who was struggling to contain her laughter.

"Ha Ha!" She sarcastically laughed, and threw one of the boxes at them. "Do you actually even need me?" She asked, desperately wanting to return to her e-mails.

"Yeah, we actually need to push this truck," Dev said as he walked to the back of the vehicle. Sam and Anna busied themselves, throwing the boxes into the jeep, turning it into a game, while Charlie and Dev pushed it slowly.

"And with twelve boxes, I am the winner!" Sam yelled jumping up and down with her arms in the air. She let the boys cover the jeep up as she followed Anna to the medical tent.

Anna was a nurse who had volunteered the last two years of her life to help the people here. She had lost many, and still maintained a positive attitude which Sam found extremely admirable.

"So you heard from home?" Anna asked as they stepped around the soccer game between Hugh and two other aid workers and forty children. The children were winning.

Sam smiled, "Yeah, it's been a month since I last got anything… it's great to hear from them."

Anna nodded understanding that all too well. She and Sam both took a deep breath as they stepped into the aid tent, knowing that it would kill their high spirits.

Sam stood back and watched Yuri administer an injection into a woman's arm while talking to her soothingly. Anna had disappeared to the back of the tent. Sam hated it in here but it was such a vital part of her story. She could hear the whimpers from the ill and hurt children, the cries from the harmed women, and the groans from the injured men, and every sound tore her up just that tiny bit more. She felt herself being dragged by another doctor, Lucinda, and was instructed to assist in holding a man down by his shoulders.

"I need to look at his leg. Sam just keep him lying down."

Sam used all her strength to hold him down, watching Lucinda pull of his bandage and feeling the man jerk against her hands, and heard him scream. Lucinda frowned at the gruesome injury, before looking up at Sam and shaking her head, "I can't save it."

She gently replaced the bandaging and asked a nurse to inject some morphine before letting Sam know she could leave go. Sam looked up at the roof and took in a deep breath, before looking back at the man. He seemed to be fading quickly into slumber. Thank god for morphine. Pity, we don't have enough of it, she thought as she went to see if anymore help was needed. Yuri shook his head, "See you on food line this evening."

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

Sam wandered over to the privacy of her own tent. She was one of the few that didn't need to share due to her journalist status, and she was honestly grateful for her own space. As much as she liked the people she worked with, each day demanded its alone time, and the sprawling deserts were not somewhere you went for a walk for that much needed alone time.

She sat on her camp bed and pulled the letters out. She shuffled through to find the one she wanted to read.

For Samantha McPherson.

Dearest Sammy,

We are all hoping that you are well, and hoping that we will see you
really soon. The house is empty, so I've have the perfect
opportunity to be all motherly without Mac raising her eyes at me.
She turned ten last week, and seems so grown up. You got her a
stereo by the way. Yet, she doubts that you bought it in Sudan and
posted it over. But I can always dream. Mike and I watch the news
everyday, but they don't tell us much. But Henry assures us no news
is always good news. But we still worry. I'm sure you don't want to
hear me go on about how worried we are, so I'll tell you what's been
happening here.

Mac is really happy in school but her best friend is moving away.
She is upset about it but won't let on. I wonder where she got that
from.

Brooke came for a visit last weekend, and is looking great. She
seems very happy.

Mike and I are planning a vacation with Mac in a few days. We were
thinking about going to Spain. Also, gives me a great a chance to
speak Spanish. And before you even think it, yes I know I can't
speak Spanish, but I can always try.

It is very difficult writing a letter when there's so much to say.
My grandmother would write me a cookie recipe when she had nothing
to say, but I don't see that being much help to you.

I would love so much to be able to hear from you. Even more I would
love to see you.

Okay, I'm getting really motherly now so I'm going to end this
letter.

We all miss you so much and can't wait to see you again. I can't
wait to hug you again.

Love you always, Mom and Mike. xxxxxxx

Sam brushed away the tears as she felt them fall from her eyes. She sniffled as she reread her mother's words. Even when she was in college, she didn't miss her mom this much. She heard the plastic drum outside and tucked her letters under her pillow with the rest of them. She grabbed a loose jacket before leaving her tent. She went to the food serving line and stood in her place behind one of the large serving vats. She scooped out the rice and poured it into the bowls people handed to her. She swore she would never touch rice for as long as she lived once she left. Yet, here, it was the best on offer. She smiled at the small boy who had managed to find three bowls. Rations were in place, and she knew she couldn't break them. She evenly poured the rice into the three bowls to make the boy think he had extra. The boy laughed with glee as he scampered away to what was left of his family.

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

"Hey Samster, you coming for beer?" Hugh called out as she washed her hands in the water vat. Sam looked up and smiled, "So Yuri says there's another one for you then?"

Sam wiped her hands dry on her pants and jogged quickly over to Hugh. The two approached the fire surrounded by about twenty other aid workers. Yuri threw them both a bottle, which they opened almost before they caught them. Hugh drank his down quickly and sighing loudly in satisfaction. Yuri shook his head at him, "You know there is no more."

Hugh sulked, "Now you tell me."

Sam laughed at Hugh as he pulled his pout. He was indeed good-looking with dark blue eyes, and a boyish face. His sandy hair was shaggy and uneven, which was his own fault as he always let the kids cut it. Sam couldn't deny that he was attractive, but couldn't ever act upon it. It would be like sleeping with a brother. She sat down next to Anna, who was cradling an orphaned infant as she drank from her bottle. Sam smiled at the baby, who appeared very content in the busty, blonde woman's arms.

"So Sam, anything exciting from the States?" Dev asked.

Sam looked over at him. "Nope, my little sister got a stereo from me for her birthday…"

"Lucky her," Yuri spoke. His staff and team had developed a fondness for the slim, brunette despite their initial resentment against having a journalist amongst them. She never interfered, and she always helped, sometimes too much. He couldn't help but worry about her, more so than the others. He saw everyone as a child to him, and as he had none of his own, they might as well be his children. He had spent the better part of his life working in parts of Africa, and there were more bad days than good. Today was a good day.

Sam listened with half an ear to the chatter as she watched the refugees prepare themselves for sleep in the make-shift tents. She looked up to the sky and watched the stars twinkle back at her. It always gave her a sense of comfort knowing that everyone she knew was under the same sky.

She drank the rest of her beer, and stood up. "Good night all."

"Ah, but the night is young," Hugh declared wrapping his arms around legs. Sam patted him on the head, "Yeah, but I need to get some work done."

Hugh tightened his grip on her, "But that isn't nearly as much fun as the beer."

Sam grinned, "My editor told me I need a story in two months or I'll be deported."

Hugh left go immediately, "Be away with you." He practically pushed her in the direction of the tent. She waved at everyone else who all wished her a good night.

As she made her way to her tiny tent, she could hear mothers soothe crying infants, grandmothers thrill small children with age-old tales and fathers talking amongst themselves. She always loved this part of the night, where for a few moments; one forgets where they actually are.

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

Sam knew she had no intention of doing any more work as she had one more e-mail to read. She pulled over the material behind her, and lit the candles surrounding her small bed. She lay on it, making herself comfortable before reaching out for the letters under the pillow. She flipped through the sheets before she got to the one she wanted. She pulled a candle closer to her, and snuggled into the thin mattress.

For Sam McPherson.

Dear Sammy,

I'm doing just grand. I've started up a new job which is going
really well. It's letting me move back to California which is even
better because I can see the `rents and Mac more. So, I need to
think of somewhere to live. I was thinking of your place, but that
would be weird. I mean, where would I put all my clothes? They
couldn't possibly be mixed with yours. Joke.

There's not much else to say, other than I can't wait to see you. I
miss you.

Love, Brooke.

Sam frowned. That was it… there was no lengthy letter which she loved to read. She reread the letter and felt a surge of disappointment course through her. She pressed the page to her chest and let the tears fall until she succumbed to sleep.

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

The sounds of the roaring engines of a helicopter pierced through her dreamless slumber. Sam sat up immediately, and grabbed her nearest bag with all her notes in it and stuffed the letters in there too before racing outside. Once she reached the main camp, she saw no need for alarm, as everyone else seemed to be quite calm. Maybe, aid was being generous this month, she thought as she approached the main tent. She saw a small crowd of aid workers surrounding the door.

"Hey, there she is," Charlie yelled as he saw her approaching them. "Sam, your photographer has just landed." Sam increased the speed in her steps and watched Charlie approach her, "And she's really hot."

He wiggled his eyebrows and Sam just raised her eyes to the sky, before walking through the crowd.

"Ah Sam, there you are…"

Sam stopped in her movement, her mouth dropped open, before bursting into a grin, "Brooke! Oh my God!"

She felt two arms flung over her as she was pulled into the tightest of embrace by the taller blonde who was grinning just as insanely.