That Constant Pain

Rating: T

Notes: Written for Croctober Challenge. Rating for swearing, sexual references.

Summary: Freddie is totally cool living with that constant pain. Is Carly? Creddie.

Sometimes I wished I could go back, and either never meet Carly Shay, or more accurately, to have never fallen in love with her. I'd lie in bed and wonder how my life might have turned out, if maybe Carly stayed in California, or I'd moved to a building on the other side of town, or went to a different school. But my brain reminded me, ever so often, that Carly had moved to Seattle. I had moved into the building, to the apartment next door, and that I did go to the same school. And that I was very much in love with her.

I fell from first crush on the girl next door, to infatuation for the only person who ever spoke to me that wasn't obligated to, to adoration for the girl who let me into her life, to hormonal lust for the young woman she had grown into, then finally unshakable love from the combination of her remarkable features.

It flew by so fast, my head spun just thinking about how I'd changed since I'd first met her, nearly 10 years ago.

The problem was that Carly went from benevolence for the lonely new neighbor boy, to sympathy for the kid with no friends, to appreciation for the boy who helped with her web show, to chastity towards her 'just a friend', and finally an unbreakable best friendship for the guy who stuck by her no matter what.

In the end, I should be thankful I had that at least. I wish that was all I wanted, that I could revel in a life-long friendship, after I left for college, found a job, got married, had children, that I could bring them around to "Aunt Carly" and talk about the good times and the bad, about whatever Sam and Spencer were doing, and reminisce about the simpler times without wondering what might have been. It isn't as if her friendship isn't amazing, the best thing I have in my life, it keeps me sane, when Sam, or my mother, or school becomes too much, I can go to her, and Carly makes everything right again, balances me out, but I can't help wanting more, and that desire burns me inside.

I dreamed about battling evil forces, saving her from a burning building, rescuing her from a raging river, anything to show her just how far I'd go for her, but I didn't want that to happen in reality, because I knew I'd fail, I'd be killed by the demon, I'd be overcome by smoke, or I'd be washed away in the current watching Carly pulled under as I was swept to my doom, just like every attempt of mine to show her my love in the real world.

I lay awake at night thinking of her. I wistfully watch as she walks away with yet another guy, only to come back days, weeks, months later to cry on my shoulder when they break up, when she hugs me, then looks me in the eyes with a smile that says thank you, I smile back, then close my eyes and push my desire right down, down in the small "I'm just a friend" area in the pit of my stomach.

I'm sure it's right about the area that stomach ulcer grew. The doctor asked me if I had anything troubling me, sometimes ulcers are brought on by stress, and I said yeah, something like that. He said that I shouldn't worry about how well I did in school, just do the best you can and that's all that matters to anyone, mother told me the same thing on the way home, that she was proud of me, that my effort was all that mattered to her.

Effort didn't matter for the real problem though, and in fact was counter-productive. When my heart told me to say something, my mouth would open the words would flow out, and I'd get a instant rejection. Every so often, Carly was nice enough to let Sam do it for her, I could take that much easier for some reason, like it was just another part of me that Sam insulted. After enough of that, my brain wanted to shut down my mouth. I just needed a little bit of resolve to keep it from opening again. That was 2 years ago.

For the first few months, I'd physically clamp my jaw shut, my teeth scraping along each other, after I'd heard or seen something I'd ordinarily say something dumb to Carly, like I'd had for so long. Carly, no matter if we were standing, sitting, drinking, eating, anything, Carly stops, turns to me, almost as if she expected me to say those stupid things, like I was an idiot, a glutton for punishment, like I was so stupid that I couldn't learn, that I was unable to get it through my thick head.

I got so sick of it, fed up, after it happened for the ninth time, 4 months after I stopped putting myself up for torment, shame and rejection, when she turned and looked at me after yet another one of those moments where I'd have blurted out only to get slapped back down, I turned to her and harshly said "What?" watched her open and close her mouth, then stormed off to my apartment, my heavy footsteps the only noise as I made my way out again.

Carly couldn't say anything, she knew you can't just say "Hey, why didn't you just reaffirm your unrequited love for me?" Sam stood up in front of me "Where'd ya think you're going? We have to rehearse doof." But I just pushed past, ignoring her, walking out into the hallway, and as I knew Sam was going to follow me, when she opened Carly's door and stepped out, I slammed mine so hard I heard her jump. She didn't bother me again that night.

Carly, and Sam, got the message that night, and so ended the outward torment, I refused to be baited by Sam, and even she stopped with the cracks and jokes about it. So I stopped affirming the love I still possessed, Carly stopped expecting it, and Sam stopped insulting me about it.

I thought maybe those feelings might go away, but of course, they never did, so I kept them bottled, hidden, parts diverted towards other girls, I even stayed with a few for longer than a month, and when I talked about it with Carly, I had to lie, and invent reasons. 'We weren't working out, she had to concentrate on school, the date sucked, I think it's for the best, I don't think her parents liked me, and so on. I couldn't let spill the alternative. That Carly was the only one for me. That I'd walk through eternal hellfire just to keep her happy.

And there I was again. Me, Carly, just friends talking in the studio. Sam had already left to go home, it was getting kinda late, but we didn't have school the next day, and mom had left for work to do 12 hour night/morning shift, so I'd stay until Carly or Spencer kicked me out. Eventually the topic rolled around to Steve, Carly's boyfriend of nearly 3 months. Usually when that happened, I just shut my eyes and put up a blank expression, not wanting to betray my inner emotions, after I opened them again, I still talked, but I made sure I thought about it twice before I opened my mouth.

"Steve cheated on me." It was so casual, from Carly, it sounded as if it was just something that happened everyday.

"He what?" Well, so much for that blank expression. It had changed into a boiling mass of despair, jealously and pure anger.

"He was at a party 3 days ago, and he cheated on me with that slut Crystal." Her eyes widened in shock. "Sorry Freddie."

"It's alright, it was only a week, and I didn't talk to her after the 2nd date." Was that my reputation now? That I'd go out with anyone in a skirt? That didn't matter at all though, at the moment, all that mattered was Carly. "How did it happen?"

"There were other people at the party as well, obviously, I don't know who took the picture, but whoever it was, must have gone upstairs to use the bathroom or something, when they walked past one of the bedrooms, and Steve was in there, pants off, getting a blow-job from the whore."

"Did he tell you?"

"No, someone emailed Wendy a picture the next day, and she sent it to me for proof. I showed him, and he said it was just because he was drunk." Carly sent the picture to my phone. It was disgusting, beer bottles lying empty on what was obviously a young girls bed, covered in unicorns, rainbows and love hearts, with dolls and teddy bears lying on the desk next to it. The blanket had patches of vomit, spilled beer, and a couple of gag inducing whitish puddles, from previous guys, that made me hope they burnt it.

His face was red and puffy, his face contorted, half ecstasy and half glazed over, and as I looked down the picture, I could see the girl wearing only a skirt, her shirt and bra thrown across the room, landing on a bed-post and lamp respectively, I saw her eyes, wide with abject horror, despite her mouth and one hand still being wrapped around his dick, the other hand trying to cover her face, but that act was in vain, as they had their picture taken, caught red faced and red handed.

"That's no excuse. He shouldn't have put himself in that position."

"Steve said she seduced him, took advantage of him. I believe him, he said he'd never do it again, it was just we hadn't done anything like that, well, he wanted to, but I didn't, not yet, he said he'd wait until I was ready. I think I'm going to give him another chance, but I said I'd think about it for a week."

After that well, I snapped. I hated to hear that bullshit coming out of her mouth, I sat up and walked over closer to her.

"Are you fucking kidding Carly?" This shocked her, she stood up, speechless, I didn't swear much in general, and swearing in front of Carly was almost non-existent.

"You can't seriously be considering giving him a second chance?"

"Well, he was drunk."

"Drunk or not, he shouldn't fucking CHEAT ON YOU." I was standing only a pace or two away from her now

"He only did it because I didn't do the things she does." Carly was now uncomfortable, I wouldn't say cowering, but her voice was cracking slightly.

"D'ya even hear what you're saying? You're talking like it's your fault." I was waving my arms around, trying to impress what I was saying onto her. "This isn't your fault. He got drunk. He decided to go up to the bedroom with her, he decided to do that with her. Now he's blaming the other girl, who probably didn't even know he had a girlfriend, and YOU, and you weren't even there!"

"He says it was just a mistake and it won't happen again."

"Spilling juice on the floor is a mistake, and bullshit that it won't happen again. I can't believe you are accepting that crap, Sam has beaten up and dumped guys for so much as kissing another girl, and you are standing there, about to take him back? What happened if no-one walked in on them? Do you even know if they stopped? If they didn't go somewhere else later? He might have even FUCKED her and you won't ever know. He might be doing it, her, right now for all you know."

"He says he loves me." Carly's hands were out in front of her neck, and she spoke gently.

That was it. My phone came out again, I grabbed her jaw and pointed her face right at the picture, and the words spilled out, uncensored, "You see that? He could care less about you. He doesn't love you. He probably doesn't even know what love is." Carly remained rooted to her spot.

I paced back and forth inside the studio, I was boiling with rage, seething, my words flowed out as a torrent. "I don't understand Carly, you're so smart, I can talk to you for hours about anything, you're an amazing friend, you're the only best friend I have, damn it, I love you Carly and I'd never treat you like this." I was yelling, then I took my phone, put that picture on display in front of her eyes again, before turning and hurling it at the wall on the other side of the studio.

Carly flinched at the sound of the phone shattering. "He's a complete, unrepentant asshole Carly, can't you see that he's just using you? You host the funniest web-show in Seattle, you're the most beautiful girl in the world and that prick doesn't deserve you."

I stopped pacing, took a quick breath, and spun around to look Carly in the eyes and continued talking. "I know you have this bad boy fetish Carly, lord knows why, but if you go back to this jerk, I can't stand by and listen to you any longer. Every-fucking-time, you find your bad boys, I don't know why, but they go and break your heart, and now you are seriously thinking about accepting the blame for this pathetic excuse for a man? I can't take it, watching you cry over them anymore, when you are hurting, it's feels like my world isn't right, if you give him a second chance, I'm done, you can cry on Spencer's shoulder instead, I can't take seeing you in pain any more, and I'm sick of waiting until you find a guy that won't treat you like garbage." I finally stopped, taking in a deep breath, my anger finally subsiding.

I was pleading with her now, the deluge of raw emotion and bubbling feelings only now starting to simmer back down to their usual, placid level. "Please don't do this to me Carly, I'd do anything to make you happy, and to see you with these jerks, it hurts me inside, I feel sick to my stomach when I see you in pain, look, I know you probably won't want to talk to me for a while after I talked about him like that, but I'm begging you not to go back to him, I'll go home now. I'm sorry for yelling at you." I put my hand on my brow, and shook my head side to side. Breathing in hard, short puffs, before taking one long inhalation, I stopped for a second to keep it inside my chest, before I exhaled deeply, and turned, dragging my heels on the hardwood floor.

I started thinking back over what I'd said, and then I realized. Oh shit.

Did I just say I loved her? Fuck fuck fuck fuck FUCK! Carly's just going to think I'm jealous all over again. All that effort to make her happy, to only be the friend she wants me to be, right down the drain. I kept going. Maybe she didn't hear, or she would just ignore it.

When I was nearly to the door I heard her cry out, "Freddie.. wait."

AN: Tune in for the thrilling conclusion! R&R!