All I Have To Show / #1 Prologue (Seattle, WA)

Sam disappears off the face of the earth two days after they finally finish high school, fresh from the graduation party in Carly's apartment where she may or may not have danced with Gibby on a coffee table wearing nothing more than her underwear and a makeshift toga composing of several of Spencer's pillow cases knotted together.

Freddie tries not to show first the pang of annoyance and then the stab of being the last to know he feels upon hearing the news via Wendy who heard from Shane who was told by some other guy, nonchalantly playing off her disappearance as something that does not faze him because Sam has been speaking for the past however many months of making a break for it as soon as she was released from Ridgeway's restricting chains. Only he hadn't thought it would be quite so soon. A month ago he'd been willing to bet on her taking two weeks to get her shit together and get the hell out of Washington State, three weeks at a push if her mom was being particularly awkward, but clearly he had been being far too optimistic.

When Sam Puckett is planning on doing something she wastes no time in going about putting it into action. He should know this better than anyone because she never had to think twice about pummelling the life out of him on a regular basis.

It isn't the abandonment that hurts nor is it the fact he didn't even get the most measly of goodbyes from the rambunctious blonde. In retrospect it is probably best that they didn't exchange farewells because it would have no doubt resulted in Freddie being pinned down on the floor by Sam, leg bent up against his back and a bloody nose because Sam never can resist punching him in the face. (Or worse, he may have kissed her for the sake of kissing her and knowing he'd never have to suffer the consequences of his actions.) No, the salt in the wound is the fact that neither she nor Carly thought it was necessary to tell him themselves, the pair of them seemingly being much happier in letting him hear the news from people who aren't supposed to know such a thing before he does. It wouldn't have hurt would it, a prod in the side and a mutter of "I'm getting the hell out in two days" during the graduation ceremony or a fist in the shoulder and a yell of "Yo Benson, I'm off so I'll see ya around" during the party thrown for them by Spencer. Anything, absolutely anything would be better than being made to think that he doesn't count in the grand scale of things.

He could mope for hours over the lack of consideration from the girl he has slowly accepted as being one of his closest friends but Freddie knows it'll get him nowhere bar in circles. He has a life to lead, college to plan for and he hopes that if he buries his head in the sand then everything will pass over him and be forgotten.

Yeah, fat chance of that happening.

The remarkable thing is the length Sam has gone to in a mighty attempt to erase herself from his and Carly's lives. Over the past few weeks her belongings have been vanishing from their apartments in dribs and drabs and it is only upon her upping and leaving that the act has come to their attention. Her toothbrush has been removed from the pot in the Shay's bathroom, as have the spare sets of clothes she kept tossed in the bottom of Carly's wardrobe, one of her coats is no longer in the closet and her sneakers have left a dust-free space by the door. The dirty socks she balled up and threw under Freddie's bed months ago have gone as well as the leg of ham she kept in his fridge 'for emergencies' and the spare keys she always kept alongside his because she was prone to losing her original set are no longer where they had been. It is the smaller things as well, like the eyeliner by the sink, her hairbrush on the coffee table and her phone that had been on Freddie's kitchen island for three weeks that are also missing. It is cunning and it is slick and it would be like she never existed if it weren't for the Sam-shaped dent she has left in the lives and the memories they have of her, the only things she will never be able to erase.

He should be glad to see the back of her and he should be throwing the mother of all parties and he should be the one dancing on a coffee table wearing a toga made of pillow cases. He should be yelling a good riddance from the roof of the Bushwell and he should be drinking himself into the depths of oblivion out of sheer joy. But he is not doing any of these. Strangely he's going to miss her, in a terribly twisted way that can't be healthy for his fragile mental state. It is like he is suffering from a derivative of Stockholm syndrome and has this immense loyalty towards her despite the constant onslaught of abuse he has suffered in her hands. He couldn't forget her even if he wanted to. She has the kind of presence that commands attention, a presence that demanded a huge hole in his life to take up residence in and now with the blink of an eye she is gone and he is left with a crater the size of Europe in his life and a feeling of emptiness.

Who is going to call him ridiculous names now? Who's going to threaten to castrate him if he does not do as they ask? Who the hell is going to force him into buying them a smoothie of every damn flavour just so they can dump half of them over his head and the other half down his pants? Who is going to make his life miserable in the best of ways? Okay, you get the point, but still.

A positive in the swirling sea of negatives is that he doesn't have to spend time worrying over whether she is competently looking after herself and debating the chances of her face flashing up during a news bulletin as a murder victim. Anyone who has ever met her knows she is capable of taking down three two-hundred pound truckers with nothing except her bare hands and a tooth pick at her disposal. If anybody tries anything with her they'll be the ones seeking medical advice by the time she is finished with them. It is a comforting thought in the midst of painful ones.

It is going to take time but Freddie is going to realise that a girl like Sam could never stay tied to Seattle, not when she is full of such life and energy, not when her idea of fun is leaps and bounds above the so-called fun Seattle can provide. Anyway, there will be nothing to keep her here in two months time once Carly is settled into college life in Arizona and Freddie has flown across the country to attend Yale. He'll realise soon enough that she got out while she still could, before everything they've known comes to that sticky transition period that they may never get out of.

To put it simply, she's flown the nest and she'll find her way back in due course. Whether it takes her a couple of months or several years, nobody knows, but Freddie will be ready with a firing line of questions when she does.

It takes him five days to find the small piece of paper shoved under his door mat with the words HASTA LA VISTA teamed with a smiley face scribbled across it in the messy cursive that unmistakably belongs to Sam and when he does he is unable to fight the urge to smile.

Maybe she did give him a second thought after all.

A/N: This is just the prologue. From here on in each chapter will consist of a postcard written by Sam for Freddie from wherever she currently is in the country/world with the occasional undelivered response from Freddie slotted into the mix. It may seem a little random but it is leading somewhere. It may just take a while to get there.