A/N: Figures, I would pull something like this on Christmas Eve for you guys. Unbetaed btw.

-

i never know why but it's coming down, down, down

-

It's as if one day she wakes up to a premonition. She gets up, gets dressed, gets to Carly's apartment like every other day, entering through the door to find him quizzing Carly for some geography test (because Carly was always horrible at remembering places, events that take place there, the subtle impact or consequence of the little things) they're supposed to have on Monday and she simply realizes it, like it's some fact of life (nothing landmark, epic, historical, life-changing).

He'll always be too good for her.

No matter how hard she tries, no matter how much she changes, no matter how far she goes to become the girl (that could never really be her) a boy like him (someone nice, kind, caring, loyal) deserves, she never will be.

Besides, he's the type of guy who would never want a girl to change for him. He likes taking things for what they are, no matter how hard that might be – he's told her that a thousand times, rolling his eyes but grinning at her, making it clear what (or who) he's talking about.

(And if it ever came down to it, if he ever asked why, she'd tell him it was the other way around in a heartbeat.)

-

There is always something funny to her.

Call her cruel, sadistic, weird, tactless, attention-seeking, whatever, but something is always funny, something will always make her laugh at the most random, most likely inappropriate moments, cause a few eyebrows to be raised, a few mouths to turn downwards in disapproving or astounding frowns.

She can't stop laughing. She can't stop anything. Nothing will ever be in her control and the thought should be sort of scary but nothing scares her, nothing can stop her, so she laughs instead.

She laughs till tears roll down her cheeks and her sides sort of hurt, till the world promises to bring her down to where she belongs (and secretly she wants to stop but she won't tell anyone) and all she can breathe out is a "try and stop me".

Around her, she sees dark doe brown eyes filled with concern, the same shaped brown eyes, except a little more reflective, on someone a little older than her best friend, and she can't find the other pair of brown eyes (she's the only one with the blue pair out of the four of them, makes her stick out like a sore thumb even more than she already does) but she's sure it's here somewhere—

A hand touches her back (there he is) and she shivers a little as he leans into her and whispers against her hair softly, "Stop."

She wants to relinquish in the texture of the word, the slight firmness and worry set in place with the feeling of a familiar warm breath against her blonde strands as she slowly quiets down (not for him, never for him).

She wants to a burrow her head against his chest, make a place for herself there that is only hers, will always remain hers and no one else's, and lay her head there when the world won't stop for her and she won't stop for it and everything (offenses, defenses, the fighting) gets a little too overwhelming even for someone as fearless as her.

(stopstopstop) She wants to tell him if he promises to never stop speaking into her ear like this, she'll listen to him every single time without one sign of resistance.

(He's the only thing that holds her back from being unstoppable.)

-

He tells her when he was little he wanted to be an airplane.

She laughs out loud because that's such a Freddie response.

He laughs too and she thinks this might just be another accidental coincidence (thing) that brings them closer, makes them similar between the lines, underneath the subtext – this constant, gnawing need to be moving, doing something, being somewhere, as long as it's not being stuck to the ground or one place – beneath the dorky fascinations with technology and order, (the striking, frustrating, blatantly obvious differences in their thought processes and actions), there is something (a volatile spark, erratically fast heartbeats, and a spontaneous flame that's meant to engulf itself inevitably).

And maybe this is what swing sets, playground sand and childhood wishes fleeting away, no matter how far you run after them, leave you with: a bitter aftertaste and a clump of faded and burned out star dust that used to once sparkle (like the gold in her hair) and whispers of a fountain of youth, of endless possibilities and new heights trailing behind sun-kissed, chubby legs like unraveling ribbons, of glasshouse days filled with carpe diem dreams.

She jumps off the swing set, draws her arms out, and pretends to zoom around the playground like she's flying as high as an airplane up in the blue skies above them and you could call this some type of mocking but in reality it's not, (not to her).

The wind carries his chuckle and she knows he won't join her (because that's what sets them apart) but she spins around him (like the universe spins around the sun) anyway till she feels the dizziness seep into her head and turn it upside down, inside out and when she stops suddenly, holding her head but still smiling, he's there to steady her step like always, he's there to help her sit down on one of the swings and hold her lightly so she doesn't fall down backwards and hit her head against the dunes of sand.

She presses her nose into the collar of his jacket collar, inhales the scent of fabric softener and laundry detergent and cleanliness, (something like the home she'll never have) and everything feels too deliriously good to be true.

She wraps her hands around his neck and moves her face away from his shoulder and looks him right in the eyes and slaps him lightly as reality sinks in again. "Don't need your help," she chastises him with a muffled tone, glaring slightly.

"Never," he reassures her, his eyes contradicting his word, (because they both know what the truth is).

(She wants to tell him he's the only thing that will ever come close to feeling like a home to her.)

-

He looks at her, studies her side profile, before she turns her sleepy blue eyes towards him and it's too late in the night for this but she doesn't care. She yawns, laying her head against his shoulder, and nestling a place for herself between the crook of his neck and shoulder to fall asleep against.

There's no tension in her limbs and she likes the feel of his well-defined jaw line against the top of her head as he looks down at her, his eyes slightly darker than before. Best friends might or might not act like this, but she doesn't care anymore which way it's supposed to be.

They sit there for eternity, letting the bus take them to wherever it's going around and around the city and as he looks out the window, she dozes off against him. He wraps his jacket around her and runs his hand up and down her arm in an attempt to keep her warm and this may never be anything more, she may never deserve him, but she'll take these little moments, (these little places and tuck them away for greyer days).

She hears the vibration of his cell phone from the front of his jean pocket, but he doesn't even make an attempt to take it out and see whose calling him.

"You going to get that, nub?" She asks without thinking, the collar of his brown jacket tickling her lips. She thinks she likes the feeling of her cold nose pressed against his warm skin too much to actually care how he's about his answer.

"Maybe later," he replies distractedly, not even bothered by the way she's addressed him, as an old woman whose getting off the bus turns around slightly towards them to coo at how sweet young love must be.

She raises her head slightly, not liking the confused, torn look on his face. She blows warm air into his ear because she knows how much it annoys him and it works like a charm, as he gets instantly agitated and starts ranting about when she'll ever learn the meaning of respect in friendship.

And the cycle of arguing, insulting, and verbally sparring repeats (but no matter how many times they do this, it never gets boring).

(And this is the one thing she'd never let go off, it's what makes them who they are with each other, and she wouldn't have it any other way.)

-

One day he isn't paying attention to her.

She taunts, licks his cell phone, pulls his hair, calls him nasty nick names all creatively derived from his real name, spills some cereal on his pearpod, tries so desperately, but he just won't be bothered.

And then, out of nowhere, the anger starts to swell inside of her (because she hates being ignored, especially by him), threatening to burst and in a fit of rage, she takes the plate next to his laptop and throws it against the floor.

He jumps with a start at the sound of the crash, finally looking away from the computer screen and towards her in shock.

There is a sickly silence as he takes in the broken pieces of the dish and then he groans, "What the hell, Sam! My mom is going to kill me and never let me near plates again because she'll think I can't handle them or something—"

She shrieks wildly, in disbelief that the insensitive dork is more concerned with his mother's reaction to a broken dish than her, before pouncing on him and making both of them topple back towards the ground in a messy frenzy.

She hits his chest repeatedly, yells, curses, claws, pulls his hair harder than before and tells him over and over again how much she hates him and it's been so long since she's gone to this much of an extent of violencewith him, but it feels so good, a nice way to release everything bottled up inside of her (like poetic justice being served for all the disappointment, disenchantment and mixed feelings he's caused her without even knowing it) and somewhere in the middle of the scene she's creating, in the middle of all the physical and verbal abuse she's giving him, she realizes he isn't saying one word or trying to fight her off.

He's just taking it. (He never just takes it).

He stares at her like he's never seen her before, peering at her with a strange, glassy look in his dark eyes. She breathes in and out heavily, choking on a ragged laugh, "So is this how it's going to be?"

"How's what going to be?" he asks carefully as she idly pulls the sleeve of his striped shirt (god she hates when a [this] boy wears striped shirts) down so she doesn't have to see the bruises that will become black and blue by tomorrow morning from her grip on his wrist a moment ago.

"You know," she starts lamely, "now that you and Carly are—" She can't finish the sentence, her voice strangled, and she wants to tell him how she's never been more scared in her life, that if she had a worst fear in her life (because of course she doesn't) it would be this: a lonely estrangement.

She closes her eyes tight, wishing for all this to go away, for none of this to have ever happened, and that's when she feels a pair of arms wrap around her neck hesitantly, drawing her closer.

"It's never going to change, what you and me have," he promises and she takes a shaky breath in and forces a nod, because what if she does want it to change, what if she has for a long time, and now it has, but not (never) in the a way she expected (wanted) it to (because what if it's too late to go back now).

There's a tense pause and then he gives her a small side smile, an attempt to break away from the stifling air hanging between them, "You still want to beat me up, 'cause it's cool. I'm used to it by now."

She shakes her head gently, feeling defeated and so very tired. "You're not worth the punches, Benson."

And it occurs to her that this is what they are. This is what they are always going to be. This is what they are meant to be (dysfunctional, explosive, unhealthy, complicated, wrong). They are supposed to be best friends born out of and bonded through inconvenience.

Who would want it any other way?

"Besides I don't want to scare you off too much. Just a few punches, slaps here and there, to keep you on the tip of your toes, to keep you in line, you know?"

He sets her headband back in its proper place on the top of her head with one hand. "I know."

(And she's pretty sure she'll always need him more than he needs her.)

-

He slides his hand into hers and her heart clenches (because it shouldn't feel right, when it's absolutely wrong), hurts (like moths in hell), protests (an uproar of lovehate), but she still knots her fingers through his and squeezes back just to make sure he's actually here (with her) and it's like being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

(But maybe, just maybe, they could stay [live, lovehate, linger] like this forever.)

She wishes it didn't have to be this way.

-

and i don't want to hear that sound of losing what i never found

-

Well. Merry Christmas to you too.

I know in most of my work with these two, it may not look like it, but I really do want them to have a happy ending.

Take the ending whatever way you want. I left it open for interpretation.