Candles

Rating: M


Summary: Carly tries to save Freddie from Sam's abuse before it kills him. This is rated M for themes of abuse and violence.

Do not read if you cannot handle an dark interpretation of a Seddie relationship.

This will be 3 chapters.


Knock. Knock. The door to apartment 8-D stayed firmly shut.

"Freddie, Ms Benson are you home?"

Nothing.

I struggled with my bag slipping down my shoulder, as I tried to fit the metal key into the lock. The latch opened with a click. I flopped down onto the couch, exhaling as I did so, exhausted after the long bus trip back from Yakima. I needed to clear my head, get some advice, and had come back a day early to say what I needed to say.

I was in love with Freddie.

The inside of my mouth was dry, my lips cracked. In my haste to return home, I hadn't brought any water with me, and the bus trip was short enough that we didn't stop, but long enough that my thirst had become uncomfortable. I took a cab home from the bus terminal straight away. I didn't want to waste any time, Freddie had been waiting so long.

I dropped the cup into the sink, blasted it with the spray gun, rinsing it clean. I felt a little better, not thirsty any more at least.

I called Freddie. It rang out. Figures. The one moment above all others that Freddie needed to pickup, and he didn't have his phone. I left a message telling him I wanted to talk to him straight after he got the message.

I called Sam. It rang out. Knowing her it was probably broken.

Collapsing back onto the couch, I scratched my chin, and looked out into space, wondering just what to do next. I decided to go to the Groovy Smoothie, they might be having lunch. If I happened to find Freddie, I wanted it to be as perfect as it could be, so I started up the stairs so I could shower and change.

As I was coming up the stairs I heard a noise like a groan or something, maybe I left the TV on.

I ambled over to the door, left slightly ajar, and I pushed it open. The scene before me made my heart skip a beat.

Her long blond hair. His short brown hair. Sam was on top of him, rocking back and forth, moaning his name. Sam had always said she liked to be in control... but that wasn't what I pictured. Freddie's eyes were rolled into the back of his head, his tongue had slipped out the side of his mouth. His hands were holding onto the bed sheets and I could see his toes curled up under the blanket that was sparing me from the worst of their nakedness.

I couldn't move, I couldn't speak. Freddie could barely tolerate being in the same room as Sam. Now Freddie was in Sam. I managed to squeak out a strangled cry of shock, Freddie's eyes shot open, wide with panic and they broke apart.

I fled. I sprinted. Out of my room, out of the apartment, down the stairs, past Lewbert screeching in my ears. I ran block after block, bashing and bumping into people on the street, not even waiting to hear their cries and protests.

I ran until I reached the park. I was shattered. I dropped into the wooden bench, with my head in my hands for what seemed like hours, until Freddie lowered himself into the seat next to me.

It was so subtle that I hadn't even noticed. One moment Freddie was the friendly kid with a boyhood crush on me who promised his everlasting love for me. Then he was Freddie, my confidant next door, my shoulder to cry on, who would occasionally remind me of how beautiful I was. How I didn't deserve the jerks.

All those times I'd told him we were 'buds'. All those times I'd told him we were 'just friends'. Those times I'd told him he was my best friend. I meant every word.

All those times I'd told him he needed to get over 'this crush thing'.

My wish came true.

The promises he made faded away.

When it was just me and him, I realized too late that I couldn't deny it any longer. Freddie. I'd fallen in love with him. It was like two candles burning down. My candle was built from the idea that I couldn't risk our friendship, every moment, every touch, every compliment, every restless night thinking about how I could make him happy, that heat was melting my heart.

His was built on the idea that I would eventually love him back. His candle flickered out just before mine did. He figured out that I wouldn't love him back.

And so he gave up, and tried to move on.

But I didn't see it whilst it was happening. On reflection, I could pick out some minute changes. Freddie was just as courteous, helpful, as good a friend as he had been before. The fact that I was still falling in love with him even as he was falling out of love with me was proof of that.

I discovered that yes, I really was in love with him. It wasn't simple jealously over the few girls he'd gone out with. It wasn't just because he was always there for me, or that I felt I owed him a chance.

My last minute doubts, the shifting visions of futures with him, where I'd lost my best friend, but gained a partner and lover. Some where I stopped myself, and we stayed best friends. The night before Spencer was going to visit my Grandfather in Yakima (He trusted me enough that I could stay on my own for a few days, as long as I didn't have any parties), I succumbed to a dark, twisted nightmare in which I ruined our relationship, then our friendship, and he left for good. I decided to clear my head to sort out my swirling feelings and emotions.

I left with Spencer early in the morning, leaving a note on the Benson's door, saying I'd be back in 3 days, and if he or Sam needed anything, that they had a spare key and were free to use it.

I asked and received some grandfatherly advice. He met his wife, my grandmother, at a dance to celebrate the end of the war. He'd been so scared, anxious, he was nearly at the age that it was expected of him to enlist. Even if he was 2 years younger than the minimum age, they didn't check records at all. A few of his older friends had already signed up. Many of their brothers and fathers had fought. Not all of them came home. They were as young as I was, as Freddie was. He was lucky, he said. His father fought in WW1 when he was younger.

Instead of being shipped out, they danced. It would sound like such a cliché today, but back then that was how most people met their wives. They met each others gaze across the room, he stepped over, and invited her to dance. It was love at first sight. It doesn't compared to dancing in the Groovy Smoothie, with my best friend, who wasn't even my date, but I still took his advice. If I loved him, I needed to tell him.

I asked Spencer if I could go back a day early. I took the bus back down.

The realization as to who he moved on with was like being hit with bucket of ice cold water filled with electric eels. I hadn't been prepared for what I witnessed when I walked into my own bedroom.

"In my own bedroom. On my own bed." I whispered from between my hands, taking care not to speak loud enough that all the kids, and random people in the park could overhear.

"We are sorry about that. That.. was a mistake. I better call Sam, tell her to go back to her house or something, she was worried sick when you ran out. You can talk with her later."

"Which part are you sorry about? Sleeping with Sam without telling me, or screwing on my bed?"

The question stung Freddie, his feet shuffled, and his face fell, clearly shamed, "This only started yesterday Carly, and we couldn't reach you. We were going to tell you the moment you got back."

"Oh."

"Yeah."

I didn't want to ask, but I must have looked like I wanted to know more, so he filled me in on what happened. The day I left for Yakima, Sam got bored and went to see what Freddie was doing. The subject quickly rolled around to our non-relationship.

"I sighed, I told her that I was over you." He hesitated, "I dunno, that I couldn't keep pining over someone who only liked me as a friend."

He turned his head to me, "You know how much I want to be your friend right? Don't think I'm making light of what we do have together. I wouldn't trade our friendship for anything in the world."

"I know Freddie, neither would I," Except for you to be in love with me again, "You were safe right?"

"I wouldn't have done it otherwise."

"That wasn't your first time?"

"No." I felt a little better, the last thing I wanted was to have ruined that singular moment. I know I wouldn't want my first time, whenever that happened, to go so horribly wrong like that.

"Was it this weekend though?"

"Yeah."

"Who made the first move?"

"Sam." I fought back tears, willing myself not to cry, but I couldn't stop myself thinking that Sam had stolen him from me. But that wasn't her fault.

"Is it like the kiss?"

"No. We're together now."

And that was what killed me inside. I couldn't get between them. Doing so would be ruinous, breaking every girl code written since the first cave woman put on a dress made of leopard skin. Instead of trying to avoid his face, I just leaned into him and hugged him.

"I'm assuming this means I'm not going to get banned from ever visiting again." So I went back to being his best friend.

"You won't be stepping in my room for a very long time though. And you owe me new sheets. And pillows. And blankets. And a new bed." He chuckled, just lightly enough to tell me he knew I didn't find it especially funny.

"You wanna go get a smoothie? My treat."

"Okay." He drew himself up and out of the chair, covering the sun and throwing me into darkness. Freddie took my hand, and pulled me up to him.

"Carly. You left me a message saying you need to talk to me about something?"

I paused for a moment, "Um... I thought I lost a book, I was going to ask if you'd seen it. I need to return it back to the library."

A slowness overcame his voice, "I haven't seen any out of place books."

"Never mind."

We ambled back in the direction I'd fled from hours ago, and pretty soon everything was back to normal.

For a while at least.