Forever Is A Long Time – Chapter 4
Thanks to reviewers: Snapplelinz for her triple review, Miyavilurver, LaternFan, purpleheart10, RemDiamond, SorrisoD'amore, Fanfic-Reader-88, Poywhere, pink-strawberry-lemonade, Carl Rahl, Darsnider and themarchgirl. Lastly I would like to thank Cosmos, from the Creddie Forum, who requested that I update this story. Cosmos did that in a review for You're Afraid Of Thunder, the Creddie follow up story to my Spam story You're Afraid Of Bigfoot. So if you want some sexy Creddie tent action, go check it out :)
"So, you're in love with him. Couldn't you have figured that out like eight years ago? You'd be married by now." Sam said as she flopped down on the couch. Sitting beside Carly in the Shay's apartment, they were watching an episode of Girly Cow. Dinner was long past. Spencer had retired to his bedroom already.
Only the steady glow of the TV was illuminating the room.
Not that Carly was paying much attention to it. Her face was downcast, head bowed and deep in thought.
"Shut up Sam. I not in love with him. We barely speak. Ever since we finished iCarly six months ago he's like a ghost. I see him out of the corner of my eye but when I turn to look he's gone. I think he hates me.. or resents me for what happened. For all the shit I put him through. I'm probably just trying to justify doing whatever it takes to get him back like the slut I was last time."
Sam shook her head, "You aren't a slut. You're still a virgin!"
Carly head dropped, and she covered her face in her hands, "Maybe I'm a whore then. A little whore who'd give herself away whenever she didn't get what she want. I bet that's what people say. There goes slutty Shay, I heard she got a C in her last test so then had a private meeting with Mr. Davis and got it changed to an A." Carly was spilling out venemous self-loathing, and Sam had heard enough.
The anger in Sam's voice rose, "Don't ever speak about yourself that way. No-one talks about you like that, I promise. And if they did, they'd regret it. That's not who you are, that's not the girl who has been my best from since before I can barely remember, that's not the Carly that Freddie fell for and that's not the Carly who entertained millions of people online. You are not her, that Carly doesn't exist, so don't for a second belive that! Enough with the self-pity Carly it's complete bullshit so snap out of it!"
Carly sighed, "It doesn't matter anyway. The only people I care about at school are you and Freddie, you're my best friend so you have to accept me, and Freddie hates me and now he's got a billion better girls than me all lined up to be the next girl he falls in love with."
Sam rolled her eyes, "He's a dork, I don't know how anyone could be in love with him... and Freddie doesn't hate you."
Carly narrowed her eyes, "Are you blind? He's smart and sweet and sensitive. He's funny in weird geeky way, you know.. cukey. He's hot. He's spent more time in the gym with Gibby than half the football team because of the rehab, which he needed to do because he sacrificed himself to save me. He was in love with me for about five years so he can commit, and that damn smirk and eyebrow thing. Do you know how many girls I see giggling and twirling their hair when he's flirting with them and does it? That's a pretty good start for reasons why someone could fall in love with Fredward Benson."
"I still don't get it."
"Yeah, because Gibby makes so much more sense." Carly intoned sarcastically.
"Don't be dissing my man. So what if he still enjoys the occasional topless dance, he's got the moves. He likes ham just as much as Mama does, and the Gibbster is good in the sack. " The perfect couple, a pair of people who both occasionally referred to each other in the third person, Carly thought to herself.
"TMI." Carly stated flatly. The first handful of times Carly had been informed by Sam on their nocturnal activities was enough. Sam forced her to listen as punishment for all the time Carly had spent on girltalk about the guys she was going out with, or crushing on, or interested in or who might ask some other girl out. Plus Sam didn't want to risk another 'secret keeping' incident.
Carly sighed, "I'm going to bed," she stood up took one step away only for Sam to grab her wrist. The blonde stood up and pulled Carly into a long hug.
"Whatever it is, love or not love, or just wanting him back, as a friend or more, I'm gonna be here for you, I promise."
Carly sniffled then said, "Thanks Sam."
"Do you want me to go up with you tonight?"
"No.. I just want to be alone. Sorry."
"Okay Cupcake." Sam didn't take offence, "Love you." She said, holding Carly until Carly pulled away and tramped up the stairs.
Mr. Henning stood up in front of the class, a bowl in his hand. He'd spent the last five minutes writing down the name of everyone in the class on his special recycled paper. He then cut the names out them and stuck them in the bowl.
He had just annouced a group project. Pairs of two, working on one of a potential topics to be chosen by the pair. Luckily for the class, Principal Franklin had banned the use of the Root and Berry Retreat as a punishment, and the Retreat was now a mandatory field trip for one of the age groups below them.
"Gibby, please come up to the bowl to select the partners. Keep your shirt on."
Gibby nodded, and made his way up to the desk the teacher was sitting at.
He read out name after name.
"The Gibmeister and... Sam my girl." Gibby smiled and nodded his head before continuing.
Both Freddie and Carly groaned at the same time. There were only two names left in the bowl.
Gibby picked up the last two and confirmed it.
"Well there you have it kids. Pair off and choose what you want to do." Mr. Henning sat back in his chair, opened his desk and pulled out a large pineapple. He skinned, cut and ate the pineapple at his desk.
Two minutes later everyone else had paired up, sitting beside their partner at one of their desks or the lab benches around the outside of the room. Freddie was closer to the front but he could feel Carly's glare on the back of his head.
When he noticed Mr. Henning about to open his mouth he could no longer take the pressure. Freddie stood up, spun on his heel and walked over to sit with Carly.
With Mr. Henning off their back, they sat in silence for five minutes.
Freddie cracked again.
"What do you want to do?"
"I don't care. Just pick something, tell me what to do and I'll give it to your mom when I'm done."
"It's meant to be done together, not seperately. We need to do a presentation as well."
"Like I said, just tell me what to do, I'll do it and then I'll turn up and do the presentation. I've got a lot of time to practice now I don't need to reherse for iCarly." Freddie detected the hint of anger in her tone when she mentioned the end of the web-show.
"That's not fair Carly. We all decided not to keep doing it. I never wanted the show to stop. I never made you stop doing the show."
Carly rolled her eyes and looked off to the side. Right at Gibby and Sam, who were playing footsie under the table. It made her want to puke blood.
But the sight of Gibby and Sam laughing and joking with each other hit home when as she looked back at Freddie and saw Freddie looking the way she was feeling. His eyes were downcast, there was no smile on his face. There was no happiness there.
Carly decided to just go for broke, before another 6 months passed before she knew it. She didn't want to let Freddie go off to some random college still angry and hurt and with their decade long friendship dead and buried for the rest of their lives.
"Do you hate me?" Carly asked. The question was forthright, earnest and it took Freddie aback.
"Of course not." He replied, eyebrows meshing together in a quizzical look.
"Why haven't you come to see me since the web-show ended?" Carly's passive-agressive anger vanished, the effort in being mad for something she was just as much a part of had worn her down. Her mouth curved downwards, her eyes downcast, it tore at Freddie's heartstrings.
The answer demanded more than remaining minutes their class included.
"Carly.. I.. I don't know. If you want to talk we can, but not here."
"Please Freddie.. I'm just so tired of it all. I don't like this feeling."
"Join the club," Freddie replied with a touch of bitterness in his voice.
He sighed, then they stared blankly at the project page in front of them until the bell rang.
Carly had shooed away Spencer. Sam knew better than to be involved, and she was off with Gibby working on their project anyway. A handful of bowls and plates were scatted on the table in front of the kitchen table. They were filled with fruit cubes, chips and dip, pretzels and assorted candy. Even the chewy red candy frogs that Carly knew he loved that he had to hide from his mom because she'd throw them out if she found them.
Everything sat there. Untouched.
Freddie leaned in to the table, "I'm tired too Carly."
"You are? Aren't you having fun with all your new friends and all the girls?"
"Duke? Yeah.. not really. I sometimes used to wonder if I was weird, hanging out with two girls, and only Gibby and Spencer as guy friends. Duke is a chilled bro but he's about as deep as a bowl of gravy and only slightly less thick." Carly laughed, what little time she spent with the wrestler had shown her he was a perfectly normal, nice guy, but she had to agree with Freddie about his intelligence.
"But what about all the girls hanging off your arm?"
"Those second rank cheerleaders? None of them held my attention for more than a week. I tried, but most of them were used to just having sex and being abandoned. None of them even cared if I bothered calling them or wanted to go out again. I'd show up at school the next day, get a high five from the guys and nothing changed. I kinda just went along with it. I mean.. they were cheerleaders. I was friends with the popular jocks.. that was what we were meant to do right?" Freddie noticed Carly's mouth curve slightly downward.
"Sorry.. probably too much information."
"No.. I'd rather get it out in the open. If you want to share it I mean. It's none of my business."
Freddie waved her away, "It's fine. I guess I wanted to know if I could be that guy.. a guy who just lets himself go. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Oh yay, "Casual Sex", like they talk about in the movies. It wasn't fun. Three was enough. There was nothing there. No substance. I didn't even feel guilty. How could I feel selfish when the girls didn't care either? Just maybe ten minutes of screwing and then out the door I went. It's not for me Carly, it really isn't. Last week the captain of the field hockey team came up to me at lunch and gave me her number on a napkin. I chucked it in the trash once she left."
Carly breathed a small sigh of relief. He hadn't changed much, he still seemed like the same Freddie she'd been friends with all those years. The idea he had been other girls didn't sit right with her. Neither did the fact that she wasn't part of his life to help him through it and that she knew the reason was because of her foolishness. She knew she had no right to feel any kind of hurt or pain from it.
"You were always a bit of a romantic weren't you." Carly said with a smile.
Freddie nodded, then glanced over the bowls. He smiled, picked up one frogs and stretched it in his mouth. As he finished chewing, he grinned at Carly, "I still am. Thank you. My favourite."
"How could I not?"
"Thank you. Now, how about you Carly?" He asked, even though he knew the answer.
"I've been taking time out to study. You know, math, science, lit, Japanese, home ec." Carly said with a hint of weariness.
"I'm sure you get hit on all the time at work." Freddie said, speaking rhetorically.
"Yeah, but T-Bo says not to encourage it."
"I can understand why."
The short conversation ended in silence once more, only the sound of Freddie chewing his candy filled the room.
Freddie swallowed. He took a breath in, mentally preparing himself.
"Carly.. I'm lonely. I miss having my best friend around. My life isn't the same without you." He said as his eyes started shimmering, tears threatening to run.
Carly stood up from the table, walked around and pulled him up from the chair. Freddie complied. Carly threw her arms around his waist, and he did the same around her back, "I'm lonely too Freddie. Sam and Gibby.. I don't hate them, I'm not jealous, but they are always together and I miss having you around."
They drank in each other's touch. Carly let the smell of Freddie's aftershave fill her nostrils, and he let the smell of her perfume waft over him, through his nose, but also on the tip of his tongue. They stood in each other's arms for what were only minutes but what seemed to them to be hours before they broke apart and Carly went back to her side of the table.
"We... can't go back to the way we were Carly."
"I know. Can we try going forward and making it better? I want to try that, how about you?"
"Yes. What you want me to do?"
Freddie sighed, "It's not about what I want. I don't want you to change just because I asked you to. That won't last. We both need to change for ourselves."
"You don't need to change Freddie.. none of this was your fault."
"Yes it was. Don't try to pin this all on you. I let myself get in the way of your relationships. I didn't clear up our relationship, I just let people assume whatever they wanted. I got angry internally because you didn't have the same feelings for me that I had for you. I didn't stand up for myself when I knew you were trying to take advantage of me because I was scared you might not want me as a friend, and I didn't tell Sam to back off or ask for you to support me because I knew you would choose Sam over me."
The self-analysis shocked Carly, it was a depth of feelings that she was expecting. It forced her to dig deep inside her own pysche to match how far Freddie had reached into his own personal problems. Her face scrunched up, eyes closed as she thought back on everything that had happened. Both recently and years long past. Freddie looked up from his candy picking and smiled.
'Cute.' He thought as she went through the process, her soft pink tongue poking out of the corner of her mouth.
He didn't find her sudden frown cute though. It worried him, the instant change from thinking to despair.
"Carly, are you okay?"
Her eyes flew open, "No! I'm mean and manipulative and tried to seduce you and took you for granted and treated you like dirt and took Sam's side all the time even when she was plain wrong and let you get hurt and went around chasing guys when you were waiting for me to tell you if I still had feelings for you and then used you and lied to you Freddie oh my god I'm horrible, I abandoned you because of that stupid Fred thing, and for what? The jerk didn't even care."
Freddie waited for Carly's self aimed rant to end before he spoke up, "I don't think that's quite fair.. you just didn't realise it. I don't believe you've ever set out to deliberately hurt me Carly."
"But I still did! I tore your heart into pieces and chucked them out like garbage and I didn't even care. You've been my friend so long, how could I do that?" Carly sniffled, tears rolled down her face and she buried her head in her hands.
Now it was Freddie's turn to stand up for Carly. He walked over, and pulled Carly up into a warm embrace, "I forgive you."
"You do?" Carly asked, her tears dropping down to stain his shirt.
"Of course.. I love you, even if it's not the same type of love I've been used to for the last few years. I've always loved you as my best friend, and I'm know you did your best to love me that way too. But that doesn't mean I will forget what happened."
Carly looked up at Freddie, "I understand.. I promise you Freddie, I'm going to be a better friend.. a better person. And I did.. I do, love you too."
"Not just for me Carly." He said, using his thumb to dry her the tears on her cheeks.
"I know. For me, and us. Together. Sam and Gibby spend so much time together, I never used to really believe that whole 'my best friend is my boyfriend' thing until now. Now I know what happens to their other friends when it does." Carly emphasised her statement by pulling on Freddie tighter around his waist. Freddie reciprocated with one hand around her back, and the other lightly stroking her hair.
"It'll be okay. If being best friends again is in the stars then it'll happen." Freddie kissed the top of her head, and they detached from each other's embrace.
"I know you probably think this is giving you the second prize or wanting to make up for things, but with Sam.. she doesn't need me like she used to."
"How about we talk more about it while we work on the project. It will look bad if we turn up at school with nothing."
Carly laughed, "You're right, let's take all this stuff up to my room, we can work there."
After piling up all the plates and bowls, they walked up to the elevator. Carly pushed the button and they waited for it to arrive. The doors sprung open, "Ladies first." Carly entered, pushed the button for her floor. Freddie came in after her, they stood together, side by side as the doors closed in front of them.
At 10:45pm, Sam returned to the apartment, made her way up the stairs to sleep beside Carly in her comfy bed. Instead she found Freddie and Carly fast asleep on Carly's head resting on Freddie's shoulder. Strewn around them on the bed lay a dozen books, loose paper and all sorts of pens, pencils and other assorted equipment.
Sam rolled her eyes, took a picture with her pearphone she could use to embarrass them later, then snatched up all the left over candy and food. Sam snuck out of the room, and ate them all in one half hour episode of Girly Cow.
"Freddie, Carly. A+ Good work. I especially liked the costumes. Just don't bring any live animals in next time."
AN: So there you have chapter 4. My expectation is two more chapters.