I've read so many fanficts with Effy being sad and blah blah after Freddie died so that's why I decided to do this one: To be…different. I simply don't think Freddie should have died. And maybe, just maybe, then things could have ended up like this...
As he snuck in, not making a sound, James Cook closed the door behind him and slid down on the walls and sat in relief. As usual, he hadn't gotten caught. Maybe all that breaking out of jail had had good use to it. It took a while for his breathing to return to normal, but when it did, he realized someone else's breaths were moving exactly with his. He smiled to himself as he watched her sleep.
Except she wasn't sleeping. Effy Stonem was wide awake in her own little Effy world.
"What are you doing here?" she asked suddenly, making Cook jump.
"Well hello, sleeping beauty," he smiled, but she didn't smile back. "Just had to see you, yeah, make sure Freds didn't screw everything up." He laughed.
"I thought that was your job."
Cook laughed again. "Same old Effy, aren't you?" Same old Effy I fell in love with, he wanted to add. Then things got quiet.
"Why the fuck are you still in this place, Eff?"
"I don't know really. He brought me here, although I know he hates it. I wouldn't know what else to do with me, either." She said helplessly. They both knew who she was talking about, although she used no names, and all the pain was slowly re-kindling inside him once again.
"He was going to leave you last night. Leave us." Cook spat, almost too fiercely. He couldn't help it. Their conversations could never end without including his best friend, Freddie Mclair. Effy's face looked confused. "Leave. Skip town. Away from all…this." She understood now, her face said that, which made Cook regret making her feel like it was her fault. "Effy I – "
"Wait! Shhh. Someone's coming! Go! Hide!" she whisper shouted and quickly he ran to conceal himself behind a huge medicine cabinet by the window. Cook held his breath as he heard the door open slowly. Who the fuck is that? He thought. He could have sworn he heard Effy gasp, and would have jumped out immediately to see who had come if he could.
"You came back." She murmured as if those three words were too much for her to say.
"Effy…" a familiar voice began. "You know I – What I mean is…"
Of course, he thought again, speak of the Devil.
Freddie could not seem to find the right words to explain why exactly he was standing in that room. This is Effy, he told himself, the girl you love and so he did exactly what was he felt he should do, and kissed her softly on her lips. "Come with me?" he said finally looking scared yet a little excited.
"Where? I don't know. I don't know if I can…handle it. I don't know," Effy kept repeating.
"Where would we go?" she asked again, but more calmly.
"Wherever you want. We'll come back, yeah? Just…please, Effy. I don't like leaving you here. I don't want to leave you here. "
Effy nodded. Cook couldn't see, but he knew she would agree. Fuck it, he'd agree to it too. You could always trust Freddie. And he knew that more than anyone else.
"If we're gonna go…we're gonna have to be quick about it. And I don't want anyone seeing us." Freddie told her. But Effy knew someone was already seeing, and that that someone needed Freddie as much as she did.
"Well then, let's go. They don't usually come to check on me with any warning." She ignored her conscience and jumped out of the bed and took Freddie's hand. She smiled her Effy smile and was already leading him outside. Freddie followed her as she took him through the building she'd grown to know so well.
Outside was freezing, and Effy shivered, moving closer to Freddie automatically.
"Right, I forgot to mention how cold it was," he chuckled, pulling something from around his waist. "Here, take this."
"Your jumper?" she asked. "Are you sure? I might not want to take it off this time."
"It's fine," he reassured her as he put it on her. "You can keep it." Effy smiled up at him and he put his arm around her shoulders and they both started off across the field heading for the sidewalk, neither of them knowing exactly where they were going.
Finally out of his hiding place, Cook looked through the window watching Freddie and Effy trail off in happiness. He'd been watching for a while now, imagining all the lovey-dovey stuff they were saying to each other. Although he could swear he saw Effy turn once and look directly at him, as if she'd known he was there all along. Not only had she seen him, but this time, she had actually smiled at him, and he was happy to smile back.
He'd given up being angry at either of them but it still hurt sometimes to see how much she loved him. Somewhere behind him, something moved and Cook turned instinctively and looked around. Someone was in there. Had he really been that intent in his daze he hadn't heard anyone come inside?
"Allow me to introduce myself." He suddenly heard from out of nowhere. Cook blinked a couple times waiting for whoever it was to continue.
"I'm John. John Foster." A tall man said, stepping from beside Effy's bed. He smiled eerily looking at Cook, then outside the window.
"They're a bit too happy, don't you think?" he asked. "It's kind of sad. Especially since Freddie's a bit of a twat. I phoned him earlier hoping to talk to him about Effy's conditions but of course, he never showed up."
What the fuck? Suddenly everything registered. "Hold on a second, you're the wanker fucking with Effy's head? Oh I'm Elizabeth and I've forgotten every fucking detail of my past. Thatwas you who did that to her?" Cook said in disbelief.
John Foster shook his head and laughed. "I was only trying to help her." He pulled out a baseball bat from where he sat beside her bed and began playing with it. "She loves you, James. As much as she loves him, she really loves you too. I think that was partly why she went mad. But of course you know this all very well. And that's why it's killing you, right? Because you know you're in her heart but she chooses to ignore it. Ignore what you both had."
"Shut up. None of that's – "
"You would kill to get her back, wouldn't you? You love her more than you love anything else. Even your precious little relationship with Fredric."
"Listen, shut up before I call someone and tell them just how great a counselor you really are." He threatened, scared.
But John Foster just kept laughing. He wasn't taking Cook seriously and his words continued to burn through his heart.
"Except you won't be doing that. Cause you're just as bad as Freddie. And you both deserve to die."
"Sorry? Die? Mate, have you lost your head? You don't kill me. And you don't kill my friend, either!" Cook shouted in rage. He smacked John Foster across his face to show him he wasn't playing around. But that was a big mistake – Foster had a bat in his hands. He hit Cook in the stomach and Cook cried out, though the pain bearable. He tried to pull the bat from his hands but Foster's grip was way too tight and he pushed Cook to the ground instead.
"I'm the best fucking counselor to ever walk these dreaded hospital hallways! No one questions my methods! I'm John Foster!" he screamed, his voice almost deafening to Cook's aching head. He wasn't finished though. He raised the bat and lowered it with such force that Cook could not fight back. He could only wriggle and try to avoid a big blow. His wriggling helped, though – instead of a wack in the skull Foster got his shoulder and the blood began draining almost immediately. John Foster laughed and laughed as if he was really in a game, and the last thing Cook saw was his piercing blue eyes right up close to his, his hands pulling his shirt collar. He was absolutely still now though, the laughter and the pain slowly lulling him into a permanent sleep. A sleep so deep, he didn't even hear when Foster's outrageously evil laugh had come to a sudden stop.
Effy felt her eyes closing, and as it did she saw scarily familiar creatures coming towards her with claws bigger than the last time she remembered. She gasped, opening her eyes again pushing Freddie off of her automatically as if he was the source of her terrible nightmares.
"Effy? Effy what's going on? I'm here! Tell me what's wrong!" Freddie shouted scared, making her feel even more unsafe. She fell to the floor feeling the concrete against her body, shivering, waiting for them to attack.
"Freddie! Freddie, I'm scared! They've come back! But they don't just want me. They want Panda and Katie and Emily and Tony! Oh God, not Tony!" Effy's brother Tony Stonem meant so much to her and she would do anything to stop them from attacking him, too. Freddie dropped to the ground beside her and held her.
"What are they doing? I can help you. Just tell me what's going on now." Effy nodded and closed her eyes.
"They're not with Tony." She said confused. "They've got someone else. Oh no, they're taking them away! Who are they? No! Freddie there's two of them!"
"Effy! Effy, grab their hands. Tell them they can come with us. You're bigger than them Effy!" Freddie whisper shouted to her.
"I can't. I'm not strong enough."
"Yes you are, Effy! You can fucking do anything. You're Effy Stonem. You're the strongest person I know. And I'm here with you, Effy. They can't hurt you once I'm here. I'll be your armor…"
My Armor, Effy thought. He was right. Effy squeezed her eyes shut and ran after them quietly making sure they couldn't see her. The monsters had left their hostages alone. So they had seen her. They knew she would come. She had to think smartly.
"Hey! Over here! Don't turn around. Just tell me what they're going to do with us." She instructed.
"No. Effy, don't move. It's you they want. They want you to fight but I'm not risking your life." said a familiar voice.
"They're coming. They're angry. Really, really angry. She can't do it alone. She can't do it alone!" said another familiar voice.
But Effy couldn't place who they were. There were just too many voices. Although, one voice was still very clear.
"Freddie, what should I do? What do I do now?" she cried out to the only voice she knew she could still hear.
"Fight them, Effy. Free whoever they've got so they can help you, and when it's time, fight them."
"How will I know when it's time?" She was scared once again.
"You'll know Effy. You've always known."
I have always known, shetoldherself. I have to do this.
Freddie stroked Effy's face as she did whatever it is to fight her demons. He was scared for her and what would happen, but he had no idea what else to do. He tried to read her constantly changing expressions and hold her tighter each time she jumped. He kept saying you can do it, Effy and I'm here and it's me and you together, Eff over and over hoping that somehow she could still hear it in her 'world'.
He almost fell asleep for a while when Effy jumped out of his arms.
"Eff?" He could hardly say anything else. He couldn't stand not having any idea about what had happened, or what was going to happen next.
Suddenly, Effy began laughing. She laughed and laughed and fell back into Freddie's arms looking up into his eyes. He was mesmerized. Never had he seen her look so beautiful – so truly happy. In an instant he was relieved.
"We got them! They're gone! They're gone forever, Freddie. You should have seen us fighting. It was unbelievable."
Freddie smiled. "I'm guessing you found our friends?"
"Yes. I did. They never stood a chance against us." He ran his hands through her hair as she continued on about her adventure. "…Me and JJ and Cook fought for you. Fought for us." She smiled, as she reached up and kissed him like she never did before.
"Wait! JJ and Cook." Effy said suddenly pulling away. "Cook." She said sadly as if taking a step back into her past.
"It's fine, Effy."
"No! It's not! They need you. That's why they were in my dream, innit? Freddie we have to go back!"
Everything began to crumble again and Freddie felt like those moments before had been just his imagination.
"Effy it's alright. You won this fight. We all won."
"But they need you!" she shouted, although her voice sounded so very small.
"And I need you." Freddie said feeling a bit embarrassed at his confession. But it seemed to calm her down and Effy was now smiling again with her eyes closed shut.
"Can you hear me? For fuck's sake! You just keep bleeding, don't you?" said some voice Cook could hardly hear. It took every ounce of energy out of him to try to open his eyes but when he finally did he saw an old man looking into his eyes miserably.
"Wh – Who are you?" Cook strained out of his system.
"Fucking hell, who are you?" the man replied. "Oh yeah, you probably haven't a clue have ya? Well I came to see Effy. Effy Stonem, my daughter?"
"Effy?" Cook asked. He could hardly place anything.
"Yes, Effy. Are you alright? That man must have done you up good! But you don't remember, do you? Tall. Scary blue eyes. White hair. Ring a bell? I guess not."
"Yes, white hair. He's over there. " the man said, pointing to a body laying flat on the floor behind them. He leaned in closer and whispered, "If I hadn't been where I was when he was attacking ya, he would have killed you! Had to knock 'im out with my bare fist!"
The man spoke too fast for things to register for Cook. He had no idea what was going on, except, that for whatever reason, he had come here to see a girl named Effy.
Later, when things had finally gotten quiet inside his head, Cook looked around again and he was in a hospital bed with a familiar man sitting beside him.
"You really have no idea where you are, eh? No idea why you're here?"
Cook shook his head. "No. No, I don't. Whah-bout-you?" he asked, his words hard to say. "Why're you ere?"
"I came to see my daughter, Effy. I had to tell her I'm moving to Scotland. I went to the house but an old fellow sent me here. Took me hours to find what to say, which is why I was here so late. Too late to ask anyone where Effy's room was anyway, or why she was here, but your screaming helped me find it. Thanks for that by the way. And then I see some man hittin' ya over and over, laughing and before I could stop myself, BAM! Right in 'is head!"
"Scotland? You were going to leave Effy to go to Scotland?" Cook asked, just processing the man's first statement.
"Couldn't stand being so close to her and her mum without being with them at all." He said guiltily. "Not much of a choice, I had to do it."
Cook understood, surprisingly. "And the man hitting me, he's dead now, yeah? You killed him?" Now the man did not speak.
"Mr. Stonem? Hello, I'm the head nurse here. Mind telling me everything that happened?" a lady in white asked him. The man beside him apparently called Mr. Stonem agreed and the two began to talk. Cook listened to everything they said and slowly everything started to come back to him. Effy's hospital room, Freddie, the window, John Foster and suddenly Cook knew what he had to do.
"…he's going to be fine however. Such a fortunate young man because you had been there. Not much damage done to his head but after a day and some good rest things should be normal for him." She smiled suddenly in his direction as if just noticing he was in the room.
"The counselor. He's mental, alright? He's fooking mental. He was going to kill my best mate and nearly killed me. You have to get rid of 'im. You can't let him get near Effy!" Cook said, the words coming out of him all too quickly.
The nurse looked at Mr. Stonem and then smiled nervously. But not the sad or scared kind of nervous that Cook would have expected. The kind of nervous a parent would get when their child asks a question about sex.
"I don't know how to say this, dear." She began, "but Dr. Foster is dead."
Freddie looked down in his hands as he walked through the water park – the memorable place where he'd told Effy he'd loved her, the only place he could think to go. He'd used his own sweater as a blanket over Effy as she slept in his arms. He didn't care that he was freezing or that his arms were aching from carrying her for so long. He just wondered if when she woke up, if she'd finally be okay again, if his last efforts to save her were any good.
He walked to the edge of the pathway sitting by the water looking out. It wasn't near sunrise just yet but Freddie couldn't think of sleeping at this point. You deserve better, she'd told him the day before, and he'd spent hours thinking about what she'd said. He thought about how far they had come, everything he'd ever done or said and how he couldn't explain how he'd been so lucky to have met her. . All this started with your stupid little list, he thought to her, remembering it all since day one.
Effy looked like she was asleep – really asleep – for the first time in so long. She didn't look like she was having any horrible dreams and he could tell she was so at peace. He thought then of his friends, and how things had seemed to finally be at peace with them too, how they'd worked it out right before he left. Looking at her asleep almost made him want to sleep too, like this desire he could not explain. But then again, Effy had always had that affect on him.
"I remember here." She smiled, waking up and looking around.
Freddie laughed. "Do you?" he said playing with her hair. "It's so nice out here, cold weather and all. Makes me never want to leave."
"Happy birthday, Freds," she told him, looking up into his eyes. "I love you."
He leaned down and kissed her forehead. "Thank you, Eff. I can't believe you even remembered that."
Neither of them spoke for a while, as if words would ruin the way they both felt just then. The sun was coming up, and there was this small yet overpowering glow beaming down on them, and everything around.
"Thank you, Freddie," she began with her eyes closed. "For that day. For this day. For everything."
"That's okay. I love you, remember? I made a promise I'm gonna keep." He assured her, pulling out a cigarette as she lighted it for him. "Does that mean they're gone now, Effy? Like, really gone?" he asked, exhaling a breath of smoke, awaiting the moment of truth.
"Yeah. Really gone. And even if they ever come back, I can fight them," She replied, "I know that now, thanks to you."
"Good." He told her, getting up and holding out his hand. "Because I believe it's time to go, for it's never too early for some birthday celebrations." She took his hand as he lifted her up, before kissing for a moment that felt like a lot more.
"Where to now, Queen Elizabeth?" Freddie asked, imitating a chauffeur. Effy laughed and squeezed his hand as they walked through the morning-dewy grass.
"Forever," she shouted. "Take me to forever!" And they both laughed at how loud she sounded when everything was so still around them. He nodded, and smiled to himself knowing what forever meant.
"Of course," he said, "I'll raise that a million."