iFollow the List
Carly knew. They didn't think she did, but she did. They tried to put on a façade of normal in front of her, but Carly wasn't stupid and even if she had been, it was completely obvious considering they emanated a sort of tension thick enough to cut with a knife, and yeah that was sort of an over-the-top metaphor but damn, was it true. She knew they hadn't really been talking to each other lately except to make snide remarks for no other reason but to cause whatever hurt they could, and Carly couldn't stand it anymore.
She also knew it was probably more Sam's fault because Sam had been baiting and pushing him even more than her usual self. At the same time, Carly couldn't really bring herself to blame Sam, but she could blame Freddie for reacting every single time. Yeah, she knew she was probably a little irrational and unfair, blaming Freddie more than Sam, but Carly always found it easier to blame him than her. Part of it was that Freddie was supposed to know better and—come on, Carly just wished he'd try sometimes. The other part was that Carly truly knew Sam, and when one truly knew Sam, one couldn't really blame her for acting the way she was. Carly only wished she didn't have to.
So Carly decided, if it was the last thing she'd do, she was going to fix this.
"I want to go on a trip," said Carly.
Both Freddie and Sam shared a quick glance of confusion.
"Well, Carly—" began Freddie hesitantly.
"We're going on a trip," Carly declared, cutting him off and speaking with such a tone of certainty, Sam didn't even bother to give her own protestations as she was surely about to, from the looks of her half-open mouth. Carly seemed to consider for a moment before she added, "somewhere sunny. Nice and warm, relaxing, but maybe a little exciting—California! Let's go to California."
"Okay," said Sam, her voice sounding a little funny and her strained smile looking a little funny in the same way. "Let's go to California."
"Promise?" said Carly. She looked to Sam and Freddie with expectation in her eyes and the intent to make sure they were going to carry on with her wishes.
Sam stared at her for a moment. The funniness had gone and replaced only with something more unreadable.
"Saaam," Carly groaned.
Sam curved her lips into something almost resembling a smile.
"Alright," she gave in, and Carly smiled in response.
"Freddie?" said Carly, looking to the brunette boy on her other side. Even though she had procured a promise from Sam, Carly was well aware that sometimes Sam lied, even if she didn't always mean to. Freddie, on the other hand, was the type of person who always followed through on his promises. It was a nice thing, then, how easy it was for Carly to get him to make them.
Freddie smiled, and if Sam's smile was dreary and jaded, more hopeless than hopeful, Freddie's smile was real if not big, genuine and filled with the deep kind of love one had for a life-long friend.
"For you? Anything," he said.
"God, you sound like when you were confessing your love every other day," remarked Sam snidely, recovering some of her spirit. She made a gagging motion and Freddie shot her a dirty look. He looked like he wanted to respond, but he held his tongue and Carly knew it was because she was in the room. She supposed she could give Freddie that, even if he was disappointing her on the Sam front.
"Then it's settled. We're going on a trip," said Carly. Excitement bubbled in her voice and she opened her notebook to a blank page. She picked up her pen. "Let's make a list of things we're going to do."
Sam and Freddie nodded numbly and they looked anywhere except at each other.
Carly hated that, too. She put that on her other list, the one in her head, of things to fix.
They set out on a Monday morning. It had been nice and sunny the whole week and Spencer had been the one to suggest they head out, riding on the good weather. Carly was ecstatic simply to get the trip going already. Sam had grumbled about how the good weather could bite her in the—and she didn't finish because Freddie said it was probably a good idea to head out soon. Sam looked like she was going to make another comment but Freddie gave her a look which made her look away.
"Whatever," she said testily, and it was settled.
Mrs. Benson watched as Freddie packed his things together. She watched, some disapproval lining her brow, but she said very little and only kissed his forehead and gave him a hug when Freddie picked up his bags to pack in the car.
"Just be careful," said Mrs. Benson, and then she slipped three hundreds in his coat pocket. "If you need anything at all, just call me."
"I will, Mom," Freddie assured her.
Freddie took a deep breath, as though he was gathering something—courage, or maybe just some energy since he felt as tired as he looked, and he looked very tired. He exhaled it all in a sigh and knocked on Carly's door. It swung open straight away and Sam barely even gave him a glance before she walked out in stony silence, stepping around him and around the corner without waiting another second.
"She's been acting like this all day," explained Spencer.
"Pretty much," said Carly, sighing unhappily. Her trip was not starting off the way she had hoped.
"Yeah, well," said Freddie. His voice trailed; he really had nothing else to say. He quirked his lips in what formed a bitter smile.
Spencer returned it in kind.
"Try to have some fun, kiddo," said Spencer. He seemed uncertain of his next move for a moment, before he made up his mind and stepped forward, ruffling through Freddie's hair in an affectionate manner. "Take care of her."
Freddie made some noise of affirmation.
"Alriiight. Time to get this trip goin' already," said Carly. She turned around and gave one last glance at Spencer. Carly smiled. "Bye Spencer. Love ya."
Sam's bad mood was already poisoning the atmosphere.
When Freddie and Carly had come down, she had simply been standing against his car with her arms crossed and her duffel bag placed on top of the hood of his car. Freddie didn't bother to lecture her as he usually would have, simply removing her bag and packing it into the trunk. He unlocked the door and Sam plopped herself down in the passenger seat. She immediately put her feet up on the dashboard, breaking another one of Freddie's car rules, and she didn't even look at him but the scowl on her mouth seemed to dare him to respond.
Freddie said nothing, and for the first time, Carly wished he would. Even though just those two weeks ago when she had first decided to go on a trip, she had been sick of the fighting, which recently had taken on more of a vicious streak than made her comfortable, Carly was not used to this silence which had taken over in its stead. Even fighting had to be better than this silence.
"Guys, say something. Anything," Carly pleaded.
Freddie started the engine.
Officially, they were both in the same small, confined space of the car, but looking at Sam and Freddie, Carly felt like there was a wall dividing the two.
She frowned. This was not going as she had planned.
Sam flipped through the stations, making loud noises of disapproval or disgust towards each song before she changed the station. Freddie refrained from making comment, but Carly saw him roll his eyes through the rearview mirror and she felt somewhat sympathetic since Sam didn't really care what music was playing and was only trying to act as difficult as possible. And then, her hand wavered for a moment as Cuttlefish blasted from the speakers and took her by frozen surprise, as though the music shot an electric shock through her.
"Oh, I love this song," said Carly, her lips curving to a contented smile.
Sam regained her senses. She made a quick decision, and her decision was to promptly turn off the radio altogether.
Freddie immediately frowned. He gently tapped the radio back on in an action defying Sam for the first time in what felt like forever to Carly.
Sam scowled at him and was about to turn it off again when her hand was swiftly blocked by his.
"It's Carly's trip," said Freddie firmly. "And she loves this song."
"Thanks, Freddie," Carly murmured. She turned to Sam. "You love this song, too."
Sam stared outside the window.
"Ooo, guys! We're in Portland!" Carly happily exclaimed as they passed the 'Welcome to Portland' sign on the right. Now that they were passing through their first major city, it just confirmed the 'no longer in Washington and am on a real road trip' feeling.
"Should we take a look around?" Freddie suggested.
"What the hell is there to do in goddamn Portland?" said Sam, her mouth curled in disgust.
Freddie frowned, but he didn't say anything. Instead, they drove on past all the exits until they saw another city sign for a town they'd never heard of, and now there really was nothing more to do but drive until they entered California.
Carly didn't really mind; she wasn't really interested in Portland anyway, but it was a long drive to California and if this was how it was going to be, Carly thought maybe she'd kill herself from frustration if she could.
"Here," said Freddie, tossing a plastic bag onto Sam's lap as he entered the car. They had stopped for gas and inside the station, it had occurred to Freddie that Sam hadn't eaten for over three hours, which meant she was probably starving by now.
Sam picked up the plastic bag and glanced at the contents. Fatcakes and a package of beef jerky.
"I'm not hungry," said Sam irritably, shoving the bag back on his seat.
Freddie looked at her with some disapproval.
Carly looked at her with disbelief. Not once, in all her years she knew her blonde friend, had Sam ever turned down food. Not when her stomach was already full from a day's gorging, or when the food was possibly expired, or even when her teeth were in pain and bled when she took every single bite.
"Right," said Freddie.
He opened a fatcake and bit into the doughy pink; it tasted like cardboard.
When they passed the border into California, Carly broke out into a shriek. She would also have broken out some random dancing except she was in the car, and that was a little difficult to do. Freddie smiled like he was thinking maybe this wasn't such a bad idea after all. The hopes of a better mood, however, were immediately quashed by Sam.
"Whoop dee freaking doo," said Sam tonelessly.
Carly's smile dropped off her face. She had hoped, really hoped maybe finally reaching their destination would make Sam… more… well, less… Carly closed her eyes and sighed. She loved her blonde-headed demon friend, but sometimes she could be so hard.
"Sometimes," started Freddie, and Carly's hopes suddenly shot up. She wondered where he was going with this and she hoped he was going to go somewhere, because even if it ended in an argument, the two really needed to start talking first before they started to fix things. And right now, they were hardly talking at all.
Sam waited for Freddie to continue, and Carly's hopes kept on rising because maybe Sam wanted things to be fixed.
"Sam," said Freddie. He exhaled a deep sigh, closed and opened his eyes. His knuckles were white from how tightly he clenched the steering wheel. And some time passed before Carly's hopes plummeted back down again because she knew that was it.
"Was that supposed to be a moment? Because as far as moments go, that one sucked," she said.
Carly couldn't agree more.
They exited at some town not long after crossing the border and drove into the parking lot of a dodgy-looking motel with a vacancy sign near the freeway. If they really wanted to, they probably could have kept going for another hour or two because it was only maybe seven, but Freddie had been driving for the past ten hours or so and he was bone tired. In normal circumstances, Sam might have offered to drive albeit in a way which didn't make it seem like she was trying to do him a favor, but these were not normal circumstances, and so she simply shrugged when Freddie asked her if it was okay if they stopped there.
It was cold outside and Carly shivered with a frown. She hadn't expected it to be so cold in California, but then again, this place they were in were not at all living up to her expectations of the fun-filled road trip she had in mind. So, she decided, they were not really in California, at least not until tomorrow. Tonight, they were just at the border right before California.
The guy at the checkout counter looked Sam up and down with a sleazy grin and he opened his mouth to make some comment when Freddie said he only needed one room, but Sam slammed her fist down on the counter. Carly smiled at the clerk's clear surprise.
"Two beds," said Sam.
"Right," the guy stuttered and he didn't look at Sam again.
They went up to their room, which Carly found looking suspiciously clean.
"I'm taking a shower," Sam declared, throwing her things onto the bed she claimed as hers. She ruffled through her bag for a change of clothes and slammed the bathroom door after she got in.
Freddie stretched his body out on the other bed without even bothering to take off his shoes. He put his hands behind his head and stared up at the ceiling.
"I'm so tired, Carly," he said after the water from the shower had been running for a good five minutes.
"I know," said Carly. Her heart hurt when she looked at him because it was clear as day, for once, Freddie Benson had no idea what to do. "You should talk to her," she said encouragingly, but she could tell by the way he kept staring into the ceiling that talking to Sam was not on his list of things to do. Carly sighed, thinking of better days when Freddie would easily agree to do what she asked.
"I wish you would," said Carly.
Freddie kept staring on.
Sam's shower lasted for over an hour, and when she got out, she turned off the light and said nothing at all.
Their first night in California passed, and for the first time, Carly wondered if this was really something she could fix.
They drove for two more hours in the morning and even though it added on another good three hours on the road, Carly was glad she made them take the scenic route instead of the I5. It was nice to drive down along the shore, and unlike the last night, the weather outside looked charmingly pleasant with the sun shining bright overhead. The good weather infected Carly and all her doubts were erased; she knew she was going to fix this.
They passed by another sign for a beach, and Freddie veered towards the right to exit.
"What are you doing?" asked Sam, speaking her first words to him of the day.
"The beach," said Freddie.
"Yay," said Carly, grinning. This beach looked promising, with the good lot of cars and crowds of people along the sand.
Sam continued to stare at Freddie incomprehensibly.
"It's on the list," said Freddie.
"It's on the list," repeated Carly, more excitement and eagerness bubbling in her tone.
Sam scowled, but she didn't make any further argument as Freddie pulled into one of the empty spots and climbed out of the car. It took her a while, but Sam stepped out of the car and changed out of her sneakers into sandals. Carly was already outside, dancing around in the warmth of the sun and the cool ocean breeze. She was happy as a clam, even if her two best friends looked out of their element.
They walked down stairs leading them off the cliff down to the beach. The three stood for a moment, adjusting to the light and all the noise; it was really quite crowded, now that they were down here, and the waves were loud as they crashed over and over again against the rocks and sand. After spending so much time in the car and in the motel room with mostly silence, it felt odd. Carly liked it, but when she looked to Sam and Freddie, neither of them looked like they were even close to enjoying themselves in the least.
"C'mon guys! We're supposed to be having fun," Carly whined. This was not how she was envisioning 'BEACH' on her list. She had imagined surfing and bikinis, ice cream and sunbathing and cute boys for her and Sam to oogle while Freddie became red with jealousy—his usual false jealousy for Carly, and real jealousy for Sam ending in bickering which Carly knew really made him more happy than he would ever care to admit.
"What the hell are we supposed to do here?" said Sam, looking genuinely bewildered.
"I don't know, Sam. Enjoy it," said Freddie.
He took out the towels from his bag and started to lay them out straight on the sand. Sam watched him, the mixture of misery and frustration growing on her face. Sam watched him like maybe she wanted to kill him and Carly knew in her gut, this was probably not going to end well.
"This is stupid," said Sam.
Freddie ignored her and Carly wasn't sure whether to commend him for taking the higher road or be disappointed he was once again taking the easy path he had grown comfortable with, of non-confrontation with Sam, sweeping things under the rug like everything was okay.
"It's too hot to enjoy anything," said Sam.
Freddie sat down on his towel and gazed out into the blue, blue ocean. Carly rolled her eyes and decided she was disappointed.
"I don't understand why we're doing this. It's just so stupid. And yeah, just stare at the ocean, Fredward. Cause that's real fun," said Sam nastily.
"It's the beach, Sam. Can we just pretend to like it?" Freddie spat out, his frustrations finally beginning to boil over.
"Yeah? Well I hate the sun," said Sam. For the first time in a long while, there was a spark in her eyes, like she was waiting for this all along—Freddie finally reacting like he was supposed to, and Carly was glad he did, but at the same time, she wished he had done so earlier because it made this one all the more bitter.
Sam kicked the ground in a vicious movement spraying sand across the towels. "I hate the sun. I hate the water, this stupid damn beach."
"You always wanted to go California surfing," Carly murmured softly. "Buy cute bikinis we could never wear in Seattle…"
"And all the laughing. I can't stand it," said Sam.
"Sam—" started Freddie.
"I'll be waiting in the car," Sam cut him off.
Sam stomped away and Freddie sighed, running his hands through his hair. He looked towards her increasingly small back as she went further away from him with a sort of longing in his eyes.
"She needs you," Carly told him. "More than you know."
Freddie stood up, took one step after her and then stopped, hesitant, unsure in his actions.
"You should go after her," said Carly.
Freddie seemed to make a decision, and Carly nearly pulled out her hair because it was always the wrong one. Freddie slinked down to the ground and he stayed still, sitting down and running his hands through the sand. He laid back down, his hands behind his head, in the exact way he did back at the motel room in that little border town. Except this time, instead of staring at the ceiling, he was staring at the blazing bright sun and in seconds, bright spots flashed in his vision and his retinas felt like maybe they were burning.
"Don't do that," said Carly. She sat down next to him, placed a hand over his. "Don't be like this, too."
Freddie closed his eyes and he listened to the sound of the gulls swooping in overhead, the waves crashing back and forth, and faint laughter fading in and out of the background.
Some part of Carly wondered if she should go after Sam instead, but she knew there wasn't really anything she could do. Carly also realized she had been maybe spending too much of her attention on Sam; she had forgotten Freddie needed her too.
They sat like that for a long time.
After the whole beach fiasco, they kept on driving with the intention of not stopping until they got to San Francisco, one of the highlights on Carly's list, in her opinion. Of course, in her opinion, everything on her list was a highlight, but she was particularly excited about San Francisco. She had never spent too much time in the grandest little city on the west coast, and she knew for a fact Freddie and Sam had both always wanted to spend some time there, too: Freddie for its culture and history, Sam for its reputation of fantastic food.
By the time they arrived, the sun had long been down and everybody was exhausted. It was amazing, how tiring it could be to sit motionless in a car for hours, not even talking. It took some toll on the soul, Carly thought. Especially if everyone in said car was wrapped up in their own blanket of misery.
This time, Freddie had already made reservations for a pricier hotel nearby a park and walking distance to the Golden Gate Bridge, as per Carly's requests on her list. She wanted them to be able to peruse the city on their own curious pace.
They had valet parking and a bellhop who took their luggage from their car while not bothering to hide his scrutiny as he studied them, as though he was disapproving of teenagers daring to stay at his hotel. Carly held her breath, hoping Sam wouldn't make a scene, but she didn't have to worry because Sam didn't seem to notice at all. And then Carly frowned, because for Sam not to notice at all meant there was something else on her mind.
They had a quick dinner at the hotel restaurant and Carly thought maybe it was a good thing Sam's appetite had shrunken tenfold because the prices were just atrocious. Right after they finished eating, Sam and Freddie started to head upstairs and Carly nearly threw a hissy fit. Well, actually, she didn't nearly; she did.
"We're in San Francisco," Carly groaned. "You can't explore even a little?"
Sam pressed the elevator's call button and they rode up to the seventh floor.
Once again, right when they entered the room, Sam claimed a bed as hers by throwing her jacket down on it and then she picked up a bag and went into the bathroom, declaring she was taking a shower, and slammed the door.
"At least the room's nice," said Carly.
Carly walked over to the window and looked outside.
It was beautiful.
"And the view's nice," said Carly.
She smiled when Freddie stood up and joined her.
"Where are you going?" said Freddie when Sam stepped out of the bathroom, looking like she was dressed to kill. Aside from the fact her hair was straightened to perfection, she wore a black number that left little to the imagination and high heels Freddie wasn't even aware she owned let alone had the ability to walk in.
"Out," said Sam curtly as she walked past him.
"Oh, Sam," said Carly softly.
Freddie's mouth tightened into a line and he made his way, loudly, to the front door and set his back to it.
"What's your deal?" said Sam sharply.
"Sam," said Freddie in warning.
"We're supposed to be having fun, aren't we? Well I'm looking to have some," said Sam evenly. She pushed him away from the door and he let her, hearing the click of her shoes as she walked away.
"You can't let her out like that," said Carly, her voice rising to frantic tones. "Freddie, she can't go out alone."
Freddie seemed to think for a moment, making another decision. This time, to Carly's relief, he made the right one as he cursed under his breath and grabbed his jacket. And then he was out the door.
They got back to the hotel room two hours later, keeping their mouths clamped shut and refusing to speak to each other. At least, Carly thought, they were looking at each other. Well, it was more like they kept shooting each other glares which became progressively more and more deadly. Carly liked it so much better when they were having vocal arguments instead of silent ones.
"God," Freddie exclaimed suddenly. He kicked the bed stand. "God damn you Sam."
"He already did," said Sam bitterly.
"Anything could have happened to you. Don't you understand? Sam, I can't… you can't do this to yourself," said Freddie, and Sam looked startled for a moment at the sudden vulnerability in his cracking voice, all the prior anger washed away and gone.
Sam stared at him for a moment, a flash of something in her face, but he didn't see her, hiding behind his hands now that his mask had broken. And then she curled up on her side, turning away so she was facing the wall instead of him.
"I'm going to sleep," she muttered.
Freddie made a noise that sounded like frustration before he turned off the lights. He settled into his own bed, breathing in and out, closing his eyes but not really sleeping.
Carly sat down next to Sam and wrapped her arms over her.
"I worry about you," whispered Carly. She snuggled closer to Sam.
Sam closed her eyes.
She breathed in and out, but it would be miles before she fell asleep.
They woke in the afternoon from the light blazing through the windows they'd forgotten to close the last night. They stayed in bed for a good twenty minutes, knowing quite well that no one was sleeping, but unwilling to make any first motion to start the day.
It was Freddie who finally got up and Carly watched from Sam's side as he walked over to his bag and pulled out the list.
"After we catch some breakfast, we can walk through the park and go see the bridge," said Freddie slowly, his voice sounding a little hoarse.
"Good plan," said Carly, trying to see everything as maybe going back to normal.
Maybe they could start healing.
"I'm not going," said Sam.
"Sam," said Freddie. The hoarseness had gone, and instead, he just sounded tired.
"You promised," said Carly, disappointment shining in her face.
"I don't want to do this anymore, Freddie," said Sam.
Carly's heart felt like it was breaking.
"Sam," said Freddie. He stared at her, uncertainty written in his expression. He remained motionless for a little while before he picked up the paper and read the fine, girlish handwriting of Carly's over and over again until it was burned in his brain like it wasn't already.
"Let's just follow the list," he said.
"Screw the list!" Sam shouted. In two quick seconds, she got up from the bed, tore the paper from his hand, and crumpled it completely and threw it hard where it hit the corner of the room and rolled onto the floor.
"Sam!" said Carly, her eyes wide as saucers.
Freddie just looked at her for one slow moment before he walked to where she threw the makeshift ball and picked it up. He carefully unfurled the ball back into a sheet.
Sam watched him, her lower lip quavering. And then she spun on her heel and left.
Freddie continued to work on straightening out the paper, and Carly stamped her foot to the ground in frustration.
"Come on, Freddie. Go after her," said Carly in a whine.
Freddie worked on ironing out the wrinkles with his hand.
"Go!" Carly demanded.
Freddie stopped. He shoved the paper into his pocket and ran out the door.
"Sam, wait," he said.
He found her at the park, sitting on the grass on a small hill, underneath the shadow of a great oak tree. He walked up behind her and sat down.
Carly stayed standing up, next to the tree, watching.
"Why don't you go away already?" said Sam.
"I'm still here," said Freddie.
"I wish you weren't," said Sam spitefully.
He touched her hand and when she tried to throw him off, he strengthened his grip so she could not let go.
"You won't scare me, Sam. And I'm not leaving," he said.
Sam tried to get out of his hold but they weren't thirteen anymore, or even fifteen, for that matter. Carly wondered why Sam even bothered trying, but she supposed it was because Sam almost never backed down and Freddie almost always let her win. Just not this time.
Freddie's fingers remained clamped around her wrists and Sam finally stopped struggling. Her breathing was deep and uneven. Her body went limp but Freddie still did not weaken his grip in the slightest.
Carly supposed to a stranger, the picture would have looked rather odd, especially as her two best friends were simply refusing to make any movement, just staring at each other while sort of holding hands. To Carly, the picture was beautiful, because she saw it as it was. This was it. This was what she had been waiting for.
"It hurts so much," she said, blinking back tears as they streamed down her cheeks. "I can't stand it."
"I know," he said, and finally loosened his fingers around her wrists. "But you can't leave too, or then I'll lose my mind. Just… stay with me."
Sam shook her head.
"I just—I. I can't…"
Freddie kissed her.
And Sam stood still with shock for one instant, her eyes wide and watery, and then suddenly she was tugging on his shirt, bringing him closer and deepening the kiss.
Carly looked away.
She walked, and she kept on walking.
This was what she had wanted, and yet, the sadness which had burrowed its way in her heart did not diminish. It almost felt heavier than before, and she was sure that wasn't how it was supposed to be.
She hopped on one of the swings when she felt it; a presence behind her. She turned around and saw a pretty woman, dark brown hair and darker eyes, a wide smile and apples in her cheeks. She felt a little familiar and it was a little insane, but Carly already knew she loved her.
"I still don't want to go," said Carly.
"I know," said the woman.
"I just wish I was there, like really there," said Carly.
"We gave you what we could," said the woman, a touch of regret in her voice.
"I know, and thanks. Sorry to sound ungrateful, I just… I worry about them," said Carly.
Carly turned around, taking one last look at them. Freddie had Sam in his arms, running his hand down her back in comforting strokes and pressing her head against the warmth of his chest. Carly couldn't see Sam's face, but she could see the glittering on Freddie's cheeks and she could see Sam's ragged movements as she cried harder than she'd ever cried before.
And then the sadness lifted away because Carly just knew.
"I don't want to go, but… I think they're going to be fine."
And now, Carly was ready to go.
Author's Notes: I intended on getting chapter 3 of Long Time Coming finished this week, but instead, this was written. So, hopefully, that'll come out sometime this month. I hope you guys enjoy this one! I enjoyed writing it a lot and probably listened to Shattered by Trading yesterday and How to Save a Life by the Fray like a billion times when writing. I'm thinking of writing a sequel, but am not entirely decided yet...
And I'd love to know if you guessed Carly was dead the whole time (except the first scene), and if you did, at what point. I was trying to give clues without making it completely obvious. Thanks! :)