Title: The Nicest Thing

Summary: She's fifteen years old and she thinks no one can break her heart like he does. .

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A/N: I was listening to The Nicest Thing, by Kate Nash. It's such a lovely, heartbreaking song. It reminded me of these two for some reason. It's meant to be snapshots of their relationship by the way, not really meant to go in a certain order.

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--

You're fifteen years old and you think no one can break your heart like he does.

--

He stares at you in annoyance, and you enjoy this so much. You love intervening with insulting jabs in the midst of any conversation he's a part of.

It makes you feel alive, makes you feel like he's actually aware of your presence. You smile more to yourself, this sensation of euphoria taking over; maybe having control over the situation is getting to your head or something, but you just don't care.

"Can you not?" he asks through his teeth testily.

You smirk at him, ignoring the sharp pang that washes over you at his clear irritation. After all, you take what you can get. That's just the sort of person you have to be.

"Because you don't want me to?" you scoff, "Please Fredward, have you learned nothing yet?" You cluck your tongue mockingly.

He rolls his eyes, giving up like always, and turning back towards Carly to resume the previous conversation.

Your smile falters for a second, but as quickly as it comes, it goes, and you're back to being indifferent, non-caring Sam again.

--

"Does Freddie kiss you a lot?" It comes out of your mouth before you can stop yourself and you regret it as soon as it does.

Carly looks at you curiously, her serious face breaking out into an amusing smile. "Well considering, we've been going steady for three months now, yes that's kind of part of the whole idea, isn't it?"

She stares at you expectantly, still not sure how else to respond to the direct question.

You gulp down, "No, I mean, like kiss you, in that sort of way."

She raises an eyebrow suggestively and starts to giggle, "Well, wouldn't you like to know?"

She pauses, thinking about her previous statement, "Actually I'm guessing you wouldn't, considering you're always telling me how you disgusting you think it is that I'm with him."

You fake a smile and nod your head, and she's back to complaining about how her English professor is so frustrating with grading papers.

You'll never tell her, but you would like to know if he kisses her in that way.

He's never kissed you like that and he probably never will.

--

He gets accepted for some computer engineering program in some prestigious Ivy School in Philadelphia.

He doesn't call to tell you. No, you have to find out from Carly. You pretend that it doesn't bother you.

And when you finally see him at Carly's apartment right after the news, you pretend it doesn't affect you that he doesn't even feel guilty about not telling you personally about the great news.

You try to be brave. You try to congratulate him, but the simple, muffled word is lost amidst all the celebration.

He's all smiles and excitement and he stares at Carly with so much happiness; his eyes dancing. The two of them are jumping around the sofa.

You sit there with a carton of ice cream from Carly's freezer and watch from afar.

--

You think somewhere along the way he stopped just being that computer geek meets boy-next-door meets arch enemy of yours.

You think somewhere along the way he stopped just being the sorta-kinda best friend of yours.

You think somewhere along the way he started having this indefinable, much too complex role in your life.

--

There's a knock on your door, and you wonder who it could be. It certainly can't be Carly because she's out on a date with some guy from her math class.

You open the door to see him leaning against the wall with a smirk.

"What are you doing here, dork?" You cross your arms across your chest.

"So I was at home, and I realized you never fully congratulated me for my acceptance letter." He says the words so casually, and you can't help the smile that sneaks up from the corners of your lips. You flick the side of his head, and he laughs, pulling away from your hand.

You wonder when your physical attacks on him became so much more subdued and affectionate.

--

The first time you start noticing him again is in ninth grade.

He's grown a couple of inches taller, and his hair is shinier, swept to the side, and not sticking up as much. He's finally accepted the wonders of hair gel it seems.

He's talking about something, in that serious voice of his, and you're eating something, but all you really think about is the texture of his voice. It's changed. It's nice, kind of mesmerizing.

"Hey what happened to your voice?" You ask loudly, feigning ignorance.

He shrugs. "I dunno, puberty?" He walks away like it's not a big deal.

But it is. Because from that day on, you can't seem to stop staring at him when he's not looking, can't help falling asleep to the sound of his voice inside your head every night.

--

"I'm failing math."

He looks up from the AP chemistry notes he's furiously working on. "Okay?" He gives you a look, signaling for you to continue. This isn't exactly earth-shattering news.

"I can't go on to 12th grade if I don't pass math." You look down at the cafeteria food on your tray blankly.

You haven't confessed this to anyone yet, not even Carly, and you wonder why you're telling him of all people, why you're letting him see that it actually worries you.

You can feel his black eyes studying you intently, and it makes you slightly uncomfortable. He clears his throat, sliding closer to you hesitantly and pushing your food away carefully, before fumbling through your bag for something without permission.

Any other day, you'd sock him for even considering doing any of this, but today you're just not in the mood. All of a sudden, he slams your math textbook onto the table. You look up at him, surprised. He remains unmoved, focused on the task at hand.

"Right, so let's start from the beginning, okay?" He looks at you, and you can see from his eyes, he's genuinely debating what would be the most effective way to start. "Chapter 1 is all about trig functions…"

You can't help the half-smile that appears on your face.

By the time Carly comes back from the media center, he's making you note cards so you can memorize the trig functions better.

He's such a geek. (But then again, he's your geek.)

--

You don't know how you two have ended up like this.

It's two in the morning, and you're both splayed out on your living floor, in opposite directions, heads barely touching.

"I am never having eight smoothies again in a time span of five minutes again," you groan out, and you hear him chuckle in agreement.

One minute, you two were walking down a street, and the next you were in the midst of a chugging down smoothies at Groovy Smoothies because of a bet with Freddie, who so kindly offered to pay for all your drinks if you could drink down ten non-stop in less than three minutes. (At eight, your determination flew out the window, when his gaze of mirth and disbelief nearly took your breath away and made you start sputtering for it instead.)

And now here you are, in the middle of playing truth with one of your best friends, and it hits you how little he knows about you.

"Let this be a lesson to you, Puckett." He mutters drowsily.

"Shut up, Benson," You retort.

A pause. "Sam, where's your mom?"

"She's been gone a few days. Probably on some rendezvous trip with the new boyfriend of the month." you yawn out uncaringly.

You sense him nodding his head. "You can't live with her forever, you know that right?" He remarks airily.

"I have nowhere else to go." A part of you feels so vulnerable all of a sudden. "You're leaving to go live on the other side of county, and Carly's going down to study in California."

"You can come live with me." He teases and your heart catches in your throat.

"Haha. You wish, Fredward."

"I know, I'm hilarious, aren't I?" He yawns again, and he's drifting off, "My turn again, right? Hmm…why do you hate me so much again, Sam?"

There's silence for a long time because you're struggling. You finally take a deep breath and make your decision. You have nothing to lose now, do you?

"I don't hate you Freddie. Actually I think it's the exact opposite." Your voice shakes faintly. "Sometimes I wish I was your favorite type of girl. Sometimes I wish I was Carly, so I could have you looking at me the way you look at her. Sometimes I wish that you—"

Your voice breaks at the end, and you become aware that his breathing has become heavy and uneven, almost like he's—

You turn around to see him sleeping peacefully against your carpet floor.

--

He comes back to the table with the drinks.

"Mocha iced latte, my favorite! You're amazing, you know that right, Freddie." Carly beams at him, and he smiles back adoringly.

You stare at your drink. "Black coffee?" You ask in a dead-panned voice, glaring up at him accusingly.

He shrugs nonchalantly. "I don't know. I just picked the first thing on the menu. I mean you'd eat or drink just about anything set in front of you, right?"

The words are like a slap to the face.

"Freddie, that wasn't very nice—" Carly scolds him in that Carly tone of hers, her eyes looking at him disapprovingly

"What?" He says defensively, "It's true…"

But you don't really notice.

You're too busy trying not to cry. You can't believe you're getting emotional over this. It's not the worst comment he could make. You've made far worse towards him in the past. Still, it doesn't hurt any less.

But Pucketts don't cry, especially over stupid stuff like this, so you take you're hot black coffee and throw it at his shirt instead.

--

In third grade, you had the biggest crush on a boy with jet black hair, and black eyes. He would say the most nerdish things. He always raised his hand first to answer the math or science questions the teacher asked. He always wore corduroy pants and ironed, button-down shirts and his hair was always combed to the side.

Secretly, you found him the most fascinating boy you ever met in your life.

One day, you caught him staring at you during independent reading. You found yourself smiling dreamily the rest of the day. And when your best friend, Carly, asked why you were in such a good mood, you just shook your head still grinning, because you didn't think she would understand.

At recess, the next day he came up to you shyly, after you had just won a spitting contest against Johnny, and you thought maybe this was finally the moment. That maybe he'd ask you that question, the one that every third-grade girl hopes her crush will one day.

He smiled at you bashfully, and you tried to act calm and collected.

"Hey, you're Samantha right?"

You nodded you're head, still trying to keep your cool, not really bothered that he called you by your full first name.

"Yeah, what's it to you?" You asked confidently, the butterflies inside your stomach just about killing you right then and there.

He looked down at the sand in the playground sandbox.

"You're that pretty girl's best friend, right? Carly Shay." He said her name like it was the name of an angel, and just like that, the third-grade world around you fell apart, and you promised yourself you'd never liked Freddie Benson ever again.

--

Sometimes, when the two of you are bantering, and he's just a couple of inches away, just a few centimeters apart from you on the couch, all you can think about is his lips against yours, about his nose nuzzling your hair, about his dark eyes only on you and no one else, about his hand trailing down your skin in a way no one else would ever be allowed.

Sometimes, when you're arguing, the only thought crossing your mind is how much you want him, how much you'd never let him go if you could have him.

--

You're sitting underneath the bleachers, and it's raining.

The water seeps down from the umbrella into your hair, and down to the side of your face. You sit there motionlessly, watching the rain pouring down onto the wet, moist grass.

"There you are." His voice sounds out of breath. "What are you doing here? Everyone's waiting for you back in Carly's apartment." He says the last part quietly.

You don't respond; just continue to stay entranced with the Seattle rain. You feel him sit down next to you, and bring his legs up to his chest, and wrap his arms around them.

After a few minutes of staring out at the rain with you, he turns his attention back to you. "What's wrong, birthday girl?" He asks gently, and you turn to him, and his eyes soften instantly.

"Everything's changing too fast." You whisper.

He gazes at you, with some sort of emotion you've never seen directed towards you.

"I don't want us to grow up." You continue, looking down shamefully. You hear him exhale a breath, before putting a finger underneath your chin, to bring your face back up to his.

"Oh Sam, we don't really have a choice, do we?" His eyes are sad but brave.

You nod you're head, because you know he's speaking the truth. He wouldn't speak anything less. You wonder when he became the most mature one out of the three of you.

He pushes a damp curl away from your face without thinking, before putting an arm around you, and pulling you closer.

"I know I don't really show it, but I really do consider you as one of my best friends." You stop short. "I just wanted you to know that." You end awkwardly.

He smiles at you knowingly. "I do."

The two of stay under the bleachers for a few more minutes, before he gets up and gives you a hand to get up too.

You walk back to Carly's apartment, side by side, your hands almost touching.

--

There's this one time, when you came to Carly's house, to find Freddie sleeping on her couch.

You had realized soon enough, that no one else was home, and proceeded to find a note on the kitchen counter:

Sam, if you're here and reading this note, I just wanted to tell you I'll be back around 7:30. I have to do some community service for National Honor Society. Spencer has some meeting with some guy who wants to recruit him for some special art gallery project. If Freddie is still there, I'm assuming he's still sleeping. His mom's shift ends at 9:30, so he's staying here. He looked pretty sick and I felt bad leaving him all alone. Please don't do anything that would involve inflicting emotional or physical pain, Sam. He really looked horrible today. Just let him rest, okay?

P.S. Spencer brought some new meatloaf today. It's in the refrigerator.

Carly

You think it's kind of annoying that she automatically thinks you'd wake up a sick boy to torment him, but it really is such a Sam thing to do.

You lay the note back down, and walk towards the couch, and kneel down on your knees and observe his sleeping figure.

He does look paler than usual, but you can't help think the arch of his eyebrows is too lovely for his own good, and his lips, even if a little chapped, look so sweet. He mumbles in his sleep, and you can't help brush some of his hair back, off of his damp forehead. He has a fever, you realize, as heat radiates from his skin to your fingers.

He sighs at your touch, and you can't help the upward curve that forms on your lips at it.

"Carly?"

His eyes are still closed, and he leans in towards you subconsciously, but you can't help flinching as he mistakes you for the girl of his dreams.

You stand up a little too quickly, and walk out of the apartment as fast as you can.

--

He shared his first kiss with you. Or better yet, gave you your first kiss.

Either way it's special. You'd like to think it set you apart from Carly.

It's sweet and awkward at the same time, just like a first kiss should be. And when it's all over, you both promise to go back to normal, like it never happened.

He keeps his word.

Sometimes, you wish he wasn't so noble.

--

You visit him once in Philadelphia.

He's reading something on his bed in his dorm room when his roommate lets you in.

"Hey Freddie, your girlfriend's here—" He informs him casually, as he goes to get his wallet then proceeds to leave.

You can't help feeling a little taken aback by the statement. He didn't even ask, just assumed.

"What?" He looks up at you, then back at his roomate in confusuion. "Oh, Sam's not my girlfriend—"

The door slams shut before he even finishes.

He seems a little surprised by your presence. "What are you doing here?" He asks curiously.

You shrug, "I thought I'd visit." A pause. "Hate to admit it, but Seattle's kind of dull without you and your dorky ways." you finish off.

He gives you a lopsided grin. "Missed me, Puckett?"

You don't miss a heartbeat. "Not even in your wildest dreams, Benson."

--

He thinks you have no restraint or self-control. You'd like to tell him you have plenty.

You 'self-control' yourself every time you two are in the same room.

You 'self-control' yourself every time you're mother looks at you like you're the worst thing that ever happened to her, and all you want to do is run to his apartment and have him hold you and make you laugh with his boring rants about net neutrality till you fall asleep and forget.

You 'self-control' yourself every time he stares at Carly with that hungry expression in his eyes, and she doesn't even notice.

You 'self-control' yourself every time you're on the brink of proclaiming you think you might be in love with him, but don't because your friendship with him is far too important to jeopardize over a one-sided crush.

But you never do tell him those things.

Some things are better left unsaid.

--

You've never shopped for bride dresses before. But considering Carly and Freddie are your best friends, and you're Carly's maid of honor, it's kind of part of your duties to go help her find the perfect wedding dress supposedly.

You've been there for exactly three hours now, and you seriously are getting antsy.

Carly's trying on her hundredth dress or something, as you aimlessly wander down one aisle to another, observing each and every dress carelessly.

Your eyes catch a certain ivory wedding dress with silvery embroidery, and you don't know what comes over you, but suddenly you're in a dressing room, struggling to put on a stupid gown that will probably look ridiculous on you.

You get the zip up eventually, and as you stand there in front of the mirror, and stare at yourself, you feel stunning for once in your life.

You close your eyes, and imagine yourself in front of crowd of people, in a little church. You imagine your hand in certain boy's hand, and his familiar black eyes on you, filled with love and awe at your beauty.

But you've never exactly been the sort of girl that dreams of a perfect husband, two perfect kids, and that little house on the shore with a white picket fence.

All you've ever wanted was that one simple thing, that one simple boy. But you'll never get him now.

Besides, you never really were the marrying type were you?

"Sam, where are you?" You hear a familiar female voice call out.

You smile bitterly one last time to the reflection in the mirror. "I'm here." You call out.

You hear a shuffle of movement, as you open the dressing room door to find her waiting for you.

"Look Carly, I think I've found you the perfect dress."

--

He takes you out for dinner at some Japanese restaurant. The street lights are dazzling and as you stroll down pavements, cross busy city streets, you can't help concluding, that this is how you want to spend the rest of your life. With him beside you.

He grabs your hand so many times, to guide you from one direction to another or to get you off the street as quickly as possible. It starts feeling natural.

The whole time, he talks animatedly about all the projects they're doing in one of his courses, and how much he loves the campus and 'doesn't she love being here?' You smile and nod your head, more entertained with the way he speaks, the dynamic hand gestures, than the words actually spoken, than the actual conversation.

There's silence all of a sudden, and you realize he's considering asking you something.

"How've you been, Sam?" He asks.

"I'm been great." You reply faking a smile.

He nods his head, but you know he doesn't believe you. He doesn't push it though. You wish he couldn't see though you, but he can. He always does. You wish you could still be a mystery for him, but he cracked the puzzle a long time ago, you've realized.

When the two of you reach your hotel, he cocks his head to the side, and inches towards you and you can hardly breathe.

He kisses your cheek, and smiles pleasantly at you. "I'm glad you came to visit, Sam. It's nice to know you care about our friendship so much."

You knew it was too good to be true. But he's the nicest boy you'll probably ever meet in your life, so you suck it up and return the favor.

"Yeah, yeah, don't get too comfortable." You mutter gruffly.

After another minute of silence, you cough, and then turn around, and start heading inside, when you feel him turn you around, and kiss the side of your mouth in a rush. You stand there shocked for a second, and he seems a little flustered with his own actions as well.

"Good night, Sam." His voice echoes, as he leaves in a frenzy.

The next day, you leave for the seven am flight back to Seattle. You never visit him in Philadelphia again.

--

Their baby boy is the most magnificent thing you've ever seen. Carly looks exhausted, but radiant of joy at the same, and you don't think you have ever seen Freddie so emotional, so moved by anything before this.

The two of you stand outside the incubator room and look inside for a while.

"He's beautiful, isn't he?" He whispers.

"Yeah, he is." You admit, captivated by the dark features the little bundle inside the room has inherited from both his parents.

"Can you believe we created that? Carly and me. It's just mind-boggling." He breathes out.

You swallow down the feeling of suffocation inside of you. This is supposed to be the happiest moment in their lives, and you won't ruin that.

"He really is something Freddie," you choke out, "Didn't know you had it in you, but boy did you."

He winks at you, before going back to grinning at the baby proudly. You feel his fingers grazing yours, and you look up to see him gazing at you with this sincerity and earnestness.

"We're going to name him Samuel. Sam for short." He stops abruptly. "And we'd be honored if you'd accept being his godmother." He says the last bit hesitantly.

You can't help laughing a little. "You trust me?"

His eyes glaze over with affection. "Of course we do, Sam. You're our best friend."

You nod your head, a signal of accepting the offer, and he beams at you.

--

The two of you are lying across the grass right outside his apartment building. It's the day before graduation.

The sky is a black canvas of moonlight and star-spilled light. You attempt counting each star you can see.

"So what do you think will happen after tomorrow?" He probes.

"No idea." You reply honestly.

There's silence again.

"Do you think you'll ever marry, Sam?"

You think about waking up every day to the sight of him beside you. You think you wouldn't like that kind of life with any other boy.

"I'm not sure."

"Well, don't you want kids?"

When you close your eyes, you imagine a little girl with his dark eyes and your blond hair, stealing cookies from a cookie jar. You imagine a little boy with your blue eyes and his black hair, reading some science encyclopedia.

"I don't know."

He sighs impatiently. "Do you know anything, Sam?"

"No." Your answer comes out empty, weightless.

You're lying of course. There is one thing you know for sure.

He's the only boy you'll ever fall in love with.

--

You're twenty-five years old and you think no one else will ever be capable of breaking your heart like he does.

In your hand, the cell phone buzzes and you read his name on the lighted screen.

You press ignore and continue sitting on the park bench all by yourself.

The wintery air around you freezes into nothingness and Chicago is a lot different from Seattle. The snow is so much gentler than the rain, you think.

You breathe in the wisps of cold air, and they soothe your mind, take it over, and all of a sudden you're relapsing into old memories yet again.

--

(Look, all I know is that you're the nicest thing I've ever seen.)

--