You feel a little empty.

It's not in deep, bare way but its just a vacant place somewhere behind your lungs that hurts a little when you breathe too deeply.

It hurts when you wake up inexplicably exhausted in the middle of the night despite how much you've slept in the past two days and it hurts when you stare up at the ceiling, Carly breathing heavily beside you while you think about your mom and touch the bruise streaked from your eye to your ear courtesy of Steve's hands.

She hasn't called you, hasn't even tried to contact you and you wonder if she's back with Steve soaked in ignorance and gin and living a broken excuse of a life only this time without you. You wonder if she misses you because you sort of miss her, not the drunken, run down version but the her on the good days when Steve wasn't around so much which is strange because it seems like forever since you've seen that version.

You take a deep breath, feeling the pull of pain and blinking up at the ceiling where even this high up light from the city is flashing and smearing against Carly's white walls. You remember that night when everything finally gave and snapped and Spencer had come rushing up the stairs at Carly's urgent cries and all you could do was listen to her tell him how broken your life was. You didn't realize it would hurt so much hearing words like, abuse and batter, coming from someone else's mouth and not just jumbled together in your head.

Spencer was angry, livid, and there was talk of hunting down Steve and forming a pitch fork carrying, torch wielding, posse and he was already arranging things with Socko and Tyler before Carly stopped him and calmed him down. The next morning was spent at the police station while cops asked you questions all the while your eyes burned from the threat of tears.

So now your staying with the Shay's, which is actually only spending a few more hours here than before so its not that bad except you've got nowhere else to go.

You think about the bus ticket still in your room, how easy it would be to hop a bus to Las Vegas and show up on the doorstep of a woman you've never even had contact with save for a few, albeit hilarious, birthday cards.

"Sam?" Carly yawns your name softly, fitting herself up against your back, warm and solid. "Are you awake?"

You nod once and she buries her face in your hair, breathing deeply and you try to mimic her breath and it stings but then Carly's hand is curving over your ribs, just under your breast and it hurts a little less.

"Why? It's so late."

You shrug as she snuggles closer. "What do you think about Las Vegas?" you ask out of the blue words sticking in your throat as Carly curls a long leg over yours and the slide of her calf against your thigh is distracting.

"The City of Sin?" She questions softly, amusement laced under her words. "I don't know. Why? What's in Vegas?"

"Some family…or at least I think they're there." You mutter tucking your hands under your head. "Never really met them before."

"Some family?" She sounds concerned now like maybe she's afraid of you leaving her and you sort of hope so because your afraid of leaving her.

"Yeah, my dad's sister but I don't really know her except for the birthday cards she always sends me."

"And you want to go to Vegas? To meet her?"

"I was just thinking." You don't tell her about the bus ticket because you know it'll scare her. "That's all."

Carly just whispers, "Oh" and then her lips are pressing against the nape of your neck over and over, making your hair stand on end and her hand is working its way under your tee shirt to scratch against your stomach.

"I love you, Carly." you croak softly and her lips linger against your neck for a moment before she shifts to talk right into your ear.

"I love you too." Her lips slide against your earlobe before she bites down and you groan at the feeling that fizzes in your chest.

"Can I be your girlfriend?" You ask anxiously and you can feel her press her smile into the curve of your jaw.

"Only if I can be yours." She murmurs and you swallow hard as her hand eases higher under your shirt, edging under your bra.

"Okay." You whisper shakily as Carly urges you onto your back and your shirt and bra are gone before she actually kisses you on the mouth, slow and deep and if your eyes were actually open they'd be rolling embarrassingly into the back of your head right now.

Her hand skims lightly over your breast and you gasp and frown before hissing out a slow breath as your bruise throbs painfully but then Carly is there, lips sliding against ugly purple skin, murmuring things and touching you and you just need to breathe.

Carly asks if your okay, sometimes pressing the words into your collarbone and sometimes breathing them into your ear and you nod and clutch at her tee shirt weakly because she's touching you, leaving her fingerprints and kisses on your skin and your afraid but not in the way that makes you want to vomit. In a completely different sort of way and its good. It's great.

"What're you?…" You trail off breathlessly because Carly's mouth was on your breast a second ago but now its not and now her hair is tickling your stomach and you know that if you just opened your eyes you could see what she was doing but then you feel a tug on the drawstring of your pajama pants and then your eyes are opening and the knotted string is giving. "Carly."

"Okay?" Carly whispers, eyebrows lifting even as she tugs your pants down a little and how can you argue because Carly's all you've ever wanted, practically all you've ever had.

"Okay." You murmur through the hitching in your chest and Carly gives you a soft smile before pushing back up over you, fitting your hips together and pressing her mouth to yours but you can barely focus on the curl of her tongue because she's sliding her hand in your pants, in your underwear.

You curse softly when she touches you, the feeling new and sharp and intense but so, so amazing and Carly drops her forehead to yours, licking her lips quickly.

"You're wet." she says like she's in absolute awe and if you weren't to busy going into complete overload you'd laugh at the obvious statement.

She says your name when she slides a finger into you and you bite down lightly on Carly's shoulder because it hurts a little at first but then it changes and it doesn't. It doesn't and you're gasping and arching up into Carly and she's kissing you and watching and when you gasp out incoherently she knows what you need.

It doesn't take long for you to orgasm and its so intense that you feel the pull in every muscle and it hurts in the best way and you press your mouth to Carly's clothed shoulder to muffle your cry because Spencer is downstairs and he knows a lot but he doesn't know everything. He doesn't know about this.

You don't realize your biting Carly, teeth sinking past cloth and into her shoulder, until she groans softly and even then it doesn't really sound like pain.

"I'm sorry." you gasp, squeezing your eyes shut and kissing her shoulder. "I'm sorry."

"It's okay." She breathes, voice dark and low and it washes over you and sinks into your bones. "Are you good?"

You nod wordlessly, gripping the sheets because Carly is still twisting her fingers inside you and your thighs are trembling while Carly mouths the spot between your breast.

"I love you." You whisper as Carly's hand slides free and out of your pants and she looks up at you and you mean it because what you feel for Carly you've never ever felt for anyone else.

Not even close to it.

Carly just gives you the wide smile and kisses you.

"Hey Spence! I found your mallet…" The words die as you hop down the stairs to the landing, holding up the previusly lost item and suddenly you're staring down at Spencer and your mom talking in the living room.

They both look up at you and your mom looks nervous and Spencer is doing his concerned, folded arm stance.

"What're you doing here?" You croak because its been a week and a half and before now she hasn't even cared if you were alive or dead. "Why're you here?"

"Sam…" Spencer starts and the mallet your holding knocks against your thigh. "Your mom just wants to talk to you."

"No!" you spit, anger rising up in your chest hot and urgent. "How did you know I was here?"

Spencer steps forward then, "I called her after I talked to you and Carly." and you know that Spencer was just being responsible but he's supposed to be your friend.

"Sammy, I just want to talk to you." Your mom finally speaks and you look at her, blonde hair pulled back and fading bruises on her skin and something's different in the way she's standing, strong and steady.

But that night flashes in your head and you remember being pinned under Steve's weight and the smash of his fist against your face and you can't, you don't want to.

"No!" you blurt again, dropping the mallet and charging up the stairs and past Carly who is on her way down.

"Sam?" She calls your name, confused, tries to catch your arm but you brush her off and spend the next hour locked in the bathroom until Carly comes and tells you your mom left.

You open the door and Carly slips in, shutting the door behind her and you go back to your spot on the floor, leaning back against the bathtub and Carly drops down across from you.

"Are you gonna stay in here forever?" She asks, dark hair falling into her face and geez, she's just so pretty.

"If you bring me food." You mutter and Carly doesn't smile, just watches you pick at the fish shaped bathmat underneath you. "Did you know? That Spencer called my mom?"

"No." Carly answers quickly, shaking her head. "But I understand why he did it."

You nod because so do you.

"Your mom pressed charges against Steve." Carly continues, gauging your reaction to her words.

"What?" You breathe because that's something she's never done. It means something.

"Yeah, he's in jail now…with a broken arm." She smirks around the last part and you blush a little. "Your mom just wants to talk to you Sam, and I think you should give her a chance."

"But I don't want to." You grumble weakly and Carly moves then, crawling towards you and touching your knee and you stare at her mouth for a moment.

"Will you just please do it for me?" She asks and you give her a begrudging grin.

"You don't play fair." You whisper and Carly smiles.

"Yeah, I know."

You kiss her then, twisting your fingers in her soft hair and pulling her closer and she comes willingly, clambering closer as you trace her bottom lip with the tip of your tongue.

"Hey, Sam? Carly?" You hear Spencer start and Carly tries to pull back but its too late because he opens the door and peaks his head inside.

Spencer and Carly both do a simultaneous and identical shriek that speaks to the fact that they are very much brother and sister before the door slams shut and Carly gives you a completely helpless look.

All you can do is shrug, "Oops."

The expensive china makes an amazing sound as it smashes against the ground and you feel a bit of tension ease.

Another plate smashes on the sidewalk and you glance at your mom who gives you a fleeting smile and maybe she does know you a little better than you think because why else would the two of you be standing in the driveway smashing the expensive china that stood untouched in your dining room for years.

You break another one, watch it explode into a thousand pieces. "Why're we doing this?"

"Because its fun?" She offers dropping another plate and it breaks into unrecognizable pieces.

"Mom." I sigh, bending down to pull another plate out of the cardboard box.

"Sometimes you need to get rid of things you don't need." She says simply and you squint at her in the sunlight. "I'm so sorry Sam and if Steve wasn't already in jail I would beat his brains in with that frying pan for what he did to you."

"What he did to us." You whisper, looking up at the blue sky before tossing the plate like a Frisbee and it smashes a few feet away. "He hurt both of us."

Your mom watches you break a few more plates. "It's been hard for me after your dad died. No one could replace him and I was just hurting and broken." Your mom admits and its so weird when your parents stop being your parents and into a flawed human being just like everyone else.

"And I'm so sorry that I put…both of us through so much and I swear things are going to be different."

"You're gonna stop drinking?" You ask softly and your mom smiles.

"It's not going to be easy but I've been sober since that night and I joined a AA group at the community center." She huffs out with a self-conscious laugh but inside of you there's something like pride swelling in your chest for her.

"That's great, mom." you grin and she smiles and blushes. "That's great."

"I want to start over, Sam." She says softly, swiping her blonde hair out of her brown eyes. "But that means you have to tell me things…like about you and Carly."

It seems like a fair trade so you nod. "I can do that." You hurl another plate and it hit's the ground loudly.

"I love you lots, Sammy. I need you to know that." Your mom sighs and she's coming towards you and pulling you into her and you can't help but sink into her because she's hugging you and she doesn't smell like rum or whiskey and her lips are against your hairline and its your mom.

"I know." You sound like a little kid even to yourself and your mom just hugs you tighter before you ease away, picking up another plate.

You know it wont be easy but that empty place behind your ribs doesn't sting as you breathe in your mom, slow and deep. It wont be easy but its going to be better.

You fling your plate upwards and you watch it fly higher into the air, tilting your head back to watch and your mom does the same and you know that things aren't going to be perfect but they might just be wonderful after all.