A/N: The final chapter! Eeee! Okay, so this one is obviously very Brad/Carly centric, for obvious reasons, and there's also a Barly lemon thrown in for good measure. I had SUCH a blast writing this, and now I'm all amped up to start on the sequel! I already have a lot of ideas for it! I hope you guys enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it, I started it right when I moved to a new state and didn't know anyone, so writing this was literally the highlight of the past few months. I hope you enjoy the conclusion! (PS – in case you were wondering, there IS a Beatles song called The End, so I stayed true to my word of naming every chapter after a Beatles' song. It was NOT easy.)
Chapter Ninety One:
I leaned against the wall next to the bathroom door, my head resting against it, as I continued to knock on the door.
"Carly! You can't stay in there forever, dude!"
Still nothing. I sighed in frustration. Carly had been in there for over an hour, and I knew she was NOT in a good place right now. Today had to be SUCH a hard day for her. It was the day that Brad had to leave for the academy in New York, and she hadn't even had the opportunity to spend the night with him, because his dad had DEMANDED that he stay in his room. Stupid jerk. I knew I was supposed to be grateful for all of his help with the Bill situation, but still. I was PISSED. This was breaking my best friend's heart, it was breaking Brad's heart, and by that rationale, it was breaking MY heart. And Freddie was just as pissed off as I was. Luckily we hadn't started snapping at each other, like we usually did when we were upset, but still, this was incredibly hard to deal with.
Freddie walked by then, leaning forward to kiss me.
"Is she still locked in there?" he asked, and I nodded.
"She won't come out, she's so upset..."
"Poor thing," Freddie said with a sad look on his face, before knocking on the door. "Carly, sweetie, come on out! You don't need to be by yourself right now, in a bathroom, crying. Come on."
"NO!" she yelled from inside the bathroom. "Leave me alone!"
I glared at Freddie. "Hey, how come you got a response?"
"What?" Freddie asked, making a face. "She yelled at me!"
"At least you got yelled at! What am I, chopped liver?"
Freddie rolled his eyes. "Want me to go downstairs and see how Brad's coming along with his packing?"
I nodded. "Could you? I'll keep trying to get Carly out."
"Can't you just pick the lock?"
I sighed, running my hand through my hair. "She anticipated that already. She made sure all the bobby pins were in the bathroom. And the hinges are on the inside of the bathroom, so I can't take it off that way."
I shook my head. "Not with this door, I tried. Oh, that reminds me..." I pulled a dented card out of my back pocket and handed it to him. "You may wanna get this replaced."
"Sam!" he scolded me. "That's my bank card!"
I shrugged. "It was an emergency. It wasn't linked to the business account, was it?"
"No, just personal," he sighed.
"Then we'll be fine until you get a new one."
"I don't like dipping into the business account, you know that."
"But you just transfer cash to our personal account," I pointed out. "What's the difference?"
"I...I don't know, I just don't like doing it! That's my system!" he gruffed. "One of these days I'm gonna have to teach you how to handle our money."
"Thought you didn't want me to have access to the account," I pointed out.
"Yeah, because you have a spending problem," Freddie replied. "We'll just have to work on it."
I made a face as I heard Carly sobbing in the bathroom, before looking back at Freddie. "Can we work on it later? Carly's about to have a meltdown, and I'm about to have to break the door down with the fire-ax in the hallway."
"Don't do that," Freddie said flatly. "I'll go see what Brad's up to, just stay by the door, okay?" I nodded, and he leaned forward to kiss me. "Love you. I'll be back."
"Okay," I replied. "Do not yell at Brad's father."
"Yes, honey," he replied with a roll of his eyes, before walking away, and then I heard the front door slam, before focusing back on my task of getting Carly out of the bathroom.
"Carly!" I said. "Honey, come on! You gotta come out! You can't cease living just because your boyfriend's moving to the other side of the country!" I heard Carly start sobbing all over again, and nearly slapped myself upside the head. Perhaps that was a poor choice of words.
"Brad still loves you! You know this isn't his choice!" I called. "This isn't gonna change anything between you two, and you know that! Brad loves you!"
Still nothing. I sighed, sliding down the wall, until I reached a sitting position, knocking on the door again.
"Carly, I love you, and I'm not leaving. Even if you stay in there forever, I'll feed you M&Ms under the door, and I'll be right here, so when you do decide to come out, I'll be there to talk you down. I'm here, Carly!"
She still didn't respond, and I wanted to bang my head against the wall.
This was going to be a very long day.
"Scoot, bro," I told Bryson as I brushed past him, shoving clothes into my bag. He continued to sit on my bed and stare at me.
"Who's gonna scare off the mean kids in the building? That boy Chuck won't leave me alone." Bryson said sadly, and I gave him a sympathetic look.
"I told you, little guy, the first sign of trouble, go upstairs, apartment 8-C, and either Freddie or Sam will take care of it."
"But Sam's a girl," Bryson replied with a confused look, and I shrugged.
"That means nothing. I've seen her break a guy's nose before."
"So she'll break Chuck's nose?" Bryson asked hopefully, and I shook my head, laughing a bit.
"No, but she'll scare him off. Freddie too. Anything you need help with, just ask them. I promise."
Bryson nodded carefully. "Okay."
"So Bryson's taken care of," Heather complained. "But what about me? Who'll take the heat when I get in trouble?"
I sighed. "I dunno, Heather. You're getting older, you're gonna have to start taking some of the heat yourself. And you gotta keep Bry and Leah in line, I won't be able to do it anymore."
Heather laid back on Bryson's bed, staring at the ceiling. "This isn't fair. I hate Dad right now."
I kind of agreed with her, but I had to shake my head. "You can't hate your father."
"Why not?" she snapped. "It's not fair, he's making you leave! And you don't even wanna go!"
"Can't you just tell Dad you're sorry?" Bryson asked. "Maybe he'll let you stay."
"Bryson, I'm not being punished. Dad actually thinks he's helping me, even though he's mistaken. Very mistaken."
"You think?" Heather said sarcastically. "You are not gonna make it in the Marines. You're too skinny. They're gonna kill you."
"I'm not a puss— err...weakling, Heather," I responded, trying to watch my language in front of my younger siblings. "I can handle myself."
"You gonna miss Carly?" she asked, and I nodded.
"Every single day."
"More than us?" Bryson asked softly, and I shook my head, giving him a smile.
"You're my brother. No girl can compete with that." I patted him on the head before going back to packing. "But you guys better behave. Heather, do NOT, and I mean do NOT, go up to Freddie's and hit on him. If you need something, Carly or Freddie or Sam will help, but don't be a nuisance. And stay off the fire escape, because the next person who's gonna catch you is gonna be Mom or Dad, and I know you don't want that."
"No," Heather said softly. "I just wish you could stay."
"Yeah, me too."
We were interrupted by a knock at the door, and my dad stuck his head in the door. "Hey you guys!" he said brightly. Ugh, he was in such a good mood I wanted to throw up! "Having sibling bonding time?" He walked in the room without asking if it was okay, like always, and Bryson gave him a dirty look.
"I'll be in the living room. I'm about to go through my blue period," he stated, getting off the bed and brushing past Dad.
"I have no idea what he's talking about, but I have to go blog about how upset I am!" Heather added, walking past Dad.
My dad looked at me quizzically, and I shrugged. "They're pretty upset with you right now, if you haven't guessed."
"Well they're too young to understand," he replied.
"I'm not too young, and I'm still upset."
"Bradley, I know you're going to miss Carly and everything, but I promise you, this is for the best..."
"It is absolutely KILLING me to have to leave her behind. And my best friends. And Bryson and Heather and Leah. And my hopes and dreams for the future. It is absolutely KILLING ME, that I have to give up every single part of what makes me who I am, just to please you. You just don't GET IT!"
"In twenty years you'll thank me," my dad gruffed, and I shook my head.
"In four years I'll probably pull a Full Metal Jacket and blow my brains out during Basic, Dad. Because I'm going to be so damn unhappy."
"I think you're being a little bit dramatic," my dad said with an amused expression on his face.
"Yeah, well I think you're being a little bit of a dick." I replied, turning around to grab my packed bag and throwing it over my shoulder, before shoving past him.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"I'm going to Carly's. She and Freddie and Sam are taking me to the airport."
"No! We agreed last night, your mother and I are taking you, so we can see you off!"
"No, you said you were taking me, and you refused to listen to what I want, like you ALWAYS do! Like you've done my entire life! I'm going to the fucking academy, you won on that, but my last few minutes in Seattle, I am spending with my girlfriend. I love her, and that's the one thing you CAN'T take away from me. Now leave me the hell alone!"
My dad grabbed my shoulder, yanking me back. "You think you're a man now?"
"Yeah, I do," I replied, glaring at him.
"Well, all I see is a boy. You survive the academy, maybe then I'll start thinking of you as a man."
"Yeah, and then I'll be trained by the government to kick your ass, so don't push me," I responded. "Bye dad. Have a nice life." With that, I walked out of my room, amazed my dad didn't stop me, running right into my mom.
"Mom," I said. "Carly's taking me to the airport. You can't stop me."
She shook her head. "I wasn't going to."
"You're not?" I asked, confused, and she shook her head again.
"No. I know you love her. So go spend some time with her, before you do what your father wants."
"Mom," I said in a low voice. "Why do you do this? Why do you go along with everything he says? Look what it's doing to us!"
My mom sighed, shrugging. "I was sixteen when we had you. Your grandparents wanted nothing to do with me after that, you know that. Your father, he..." she shook her head again. "As long as I listen to him, he takes care of me."
"Mom, you can take care of yourself. You know that."
"Maybe I don't want to."
I rolled my eyes. "Well, I hope you're happy with the way your kids have turned out. Bryson, lost in his own world, Heather, rebellious to the core, and me, completely miserable. God only knows how Leah will turn out."
My mom shook her head. "God turned his back on this a long time ago."
"Yeah, I know," I replied, before hugging her. "I love you, Mom. You're a great person. I just wish you could see it."
"I love you too, Bradley. Try to be good, okay?"
I shrugged. "Can't be anything else, I suppose."
"Yeah, you could. All of this, you could have turned out much different. And that's why I love you. You're a good boy."
"I'm not a boy, mom."
"I know," my mom said, smiling sadly. "Tell your brother and your sisters goodbye?"
"Of course. Where's Leah?"
"In her room, playing."
I nodded. "Okay." I walked into Leah's room, opening the door, to find her sitting on the floor watching a children's show.
"Hey, Lee-Lee!" I called brightly, sitting down next to her. "Whatcha watchin'?"
"Doooh!" she gurgled, pointing at the TV, which was Leah-speak for Dora.
"Cool!" I said, grabbing her and pulling her onto my lap. "Swiper?"
"No swipin'!" she yelled, her hand out in the front of her. "Swiper bad!"
"Yeah, Swiper bad," I agreed. "Hey, Brad's gotta go."
She looked up at me. "Go?"
"Uh-huh. I'm sorry."
She shook her head. "Bwad stay. Play."
I sighed, kissing my baby sister on her head. "I can't stay, kid. I love you, and your brother and sister, but Daddy wants me to go away to school, so I gotta go. You be a good girl, okay? You do everything Mommy and Daddy tells you, don't fuss when you have to go to bed, be a good girl."
I shook my head. "No. But Brad will come back to see you. I love you."
Leah stood up, before turning around and hugging me, her head on my shoulder. "Bwad stay. Lub Bwad."
I groaned. God, this was so hard. "Brad go. But Brad love you."
"No, Bwy-bwy stay. Heather too. But Brad's gotta go."
She just looked at me sadly. "Okay. Lub 'oo."
I kissed her on her cheek, before pulling her out of my lap and standing up. "Lub 'oo too. Be good, okay?"
I gave her a smile, bending down to kiss her again, before leaving her room, walking down the hall to find Heather poised at her laptop at the kitchen table, grumbling to herself.
"Try to cool it on the expletives, kid," I stated, looking over her shoulder at the blog she'd started, and Heather just grunted at me.
"That's private," she replied.
"You're putting it online for the whole internet, it's not private," I responded. "I'll read it every day. Just to make sure you're behaving."
She just rolled her eyes. "Brad, stay. Please?"
"I can't, Heather. You know that."
She sighed, before standing up to hug me. "I know. I'm just really gonna miss you. It's not gonna be the same without you."
"It won't be the same without having to keep you in line, either," I replied, hugging her back. "But I'll come back on holidays. I swear."
She just stared at me, before sighing. "Okay," she finally said. "Be careful. Don't let Big Brother get you down."
I gave her a Look. "Big Brother, really? We're a pro-Big Brother family, you know that, right?"
She shrugged. "There are some things thicker than blood, Brad. I wish you'd get that too."
I just shook my head. "You're twelve. How'd you get so smart?"
"Had to," she replied. "I don't wanna end up like Mom. She's great, but..." she shook her head fervently. "I don't want this life."
"I don't either," I replied softly. "But I don't have a choice. I love you. Be good."
"Love you too. And good is a relative term."
"With you, it's more like a distant cousin," I cracked, patting her on the head and ignoring the glare she gave me. "See ya, sis."
"Bye," she said softly, and I walked over to Bryson, who was scribbling in earnest on the floor.
"Yo dude," I said, nudging him. He didn't look up, just continued to draw. "That's a depressing picture."
"I'm depressed," he replied flatly. "I'm being abandoned."
"I am not abandoning you, Bry! I'm going away to school."
"Same thing," he grunted.
I sighed, running my hand over my shaved head. "You're making this really hard."
"I can't, Bryson! Dad already wrote the check for the first semester!"
Bryson shrugged. "He has more money."
"That's not the point. When I make a commitment, I keep it."
Bryson glared up at me. "I'm not sure what that means, but I think you're just scared...like Mom."
Ouch. Well that stung a little, especially coming from an eight year old. "I love you, Bry. I wish you'd understand why I have to do this, but I know you won't. You and Heather sure have that whole rebellion thing down. I never really could grasp the concept."
"We could teach you, but you're leaving," he replied.
"Just give me a hug, knucklehead," I replied, kneeling on the ground. "I love you. I gotta go."
"Fine," he sighed, rising to his feet and hugging me fiercely. "I hope we make it without you."
And another blow, from the eight year old! "You'll be fine, Bry. Don't stop making art, okay? You've got major talent, I'd hate to see you throw it away."
"Dad's trying to make me give it up anyway. He wants me to play baseball."
"Do you want to?"
"I want to hit him with a baseball bat."
I laughed a little, but rolled my eyes. "Don't do that. If you don't wanna do baseball, just play badly. He'll give up. I gotta go, little man. Be good. Look after our sisters."
"I will. Love you, Brad."
"Love you too, Bry," I responded, standing up. I gave one final wave to Bryson before heading to the door, pulling it open to find Freddie standing there, his arm poised to knock. "Hey, man."
"Aw, man, you're LEAVING? Without telling Carly?" he exclaimed, and I shook my head.
"No. I had to get out of here. You guys wanna take me to the airport? I still have two hours."
"Oh, phew. I thought you were just gonna bail without saying bye!" he replied. "Yeah, we'll do that, but I came down here because Carly's freaking out."
I rolled my eyes. "Of course she is. Come on, let's go." I looked back at Bryson. "Bye, little dude! Keep the faith!"
"Bye, big bro! Get some faith!"
I shut the door, leaning against it and sighing, my bag slipping off my shoulder, and Freddie gaped at me.
"That kid's pretty deep."
"Yeah, no shit," I responded. "He's been getting me with zingers all day. Let's just go, before my dad comes after me or something."
Freddie and I got on the elevator, both of us silent the entire way up, and walking down the hallway. Neither one of us seemed like we were in the mood to talk. He was my best friend, I'd miss him almost as much as I would miss Carly, but guys couldn't show it. It just wasn't in the code. If I kept quiet, it'd be easier to not break the guy code. I didn't want to run the risk of a pulling an "I love you, man!" on the guy. But still, I really did. This had been a really, really intense year, so much drama, but despite all that, it was a pretty great year. And now it was all ending.
Freddie opened the door to their apartment, and I followed him in, right to the bathroom, where Sam was sitting against the wall next to, knocking on the door repeatedly.
"Carly!" she yelled. "Come on! I'm gonna start a fire to get you out here if you don't open this door!" She looked up, noticing me, and scrambled to her feet. "Hi."
"Hey," I greeted her. "How long has she been in there?"
Sam sighed. "Over two hours. Crying on and off the whole time. She's having a breakdown, dude! Do something!"
My hands went to her shoulders, pushing her away from the door, before knocking on it softly.
"Honey, open the door. It's me."
The door flew open and Carly flung herself into my arms, crying. My arms went around her, one hand stroking her hair, trying to soothe her. "Babe, it's okay."
"No it's not!" she sobbed. "I don't want you to leave!"
"I know," I said softly. "I know, babe. I don't want to leave either. I love you so much."
"This hurts so much," she whispered, and I nodded.
"I know. Come on, let's go upstairs. I got two hours before you guys have to take me to the airport."
She pulled away to look at me, and I brushed the tears off her face, grimacing when I noticed how red and swollen her eyes were, like she'd been crying for hours. "Your parents aren't taking you?"
I shook my head. "Nope. I told my dad you guys were. I already said goodbye to Heather and Bryson and Leah."
She nodded. "Okay."
"Come on, babe. Let's go lay down for a bit. I just wanna hold you for a little while."
She didn't speak, just nodded a bit, and I took her hand, leading her towards the stairs, before looking over at Sam.
"Thanks for trying," I said.
"Yeah," Sam said. "Go make her feel better." She leaned against Freddie and he put his arms around her from behind, kissing her neck.
"I will," I replied, before looking back at Carly. "C'mon babe. Let's go."
I didn't even have the strength to argue with Brad as he led me up the stairs, opening the door to my room, before picking me up and carrying me over to the bed, laying me down on it and then laying down next to me, pulling me to him.
"I love you so much, Carly," he said softly, and I nodded against his chest.
"I love you too," I replied. "I wish you didn't have to leave. We had a really good summer."
"We had a really good year, babe," he reminded me, and I nodded.
"It's all ending now though."
"But we're not," he said, lifting my head to force me to look at him. "This isn't over, Carly. I love you. I'm not giving you up. Even if I end up getting stationed on Mars. I will never give you up. You're my love."
I gave him a sad smile, fresh tears coming out. "Brad..."
"Make love to me. One more time."
He didn't speak, just kissed me softly, his arms going around my waist, pulling me against him, before deepening the kiss, and I sighed against his mouth, gasping a little as he rolled us over so he was on top. He pulled away to pull his shirt off, and I did the same, allowing him to reach behind me and unclasp my bra, pulling it off and then bending down to kiss over my bare chest.
"Baby," I whimpered. "You feel so good. I love you."
"I love you too, Carly." He unbuttoned my shorts and pulled them off, along with my underwear, before reaching into my bedside table drawer to grab a condom. I sat up to unbutton his jeans, sliding them down over his hips, and he pulled them off the rest of the way, before tearing open the condom wrapper with his teeth. I watched him put it on, laying back and staring into his eyes. His beautiful, big blue eyes.
I loved Brad so much. He was my first love, and I didn't want to be without him. He was my support, my rock, my comfort. And now all that was going to go away. It sucked. I couldn't stop myself from crying again, and he leaned down to kiss my tears away.
"Don't cry, babe," he whispered. "Please don't cry."
"I'm sorry, I can't help it," I sobbed.
"I know, babydoll. I know. This is hard for me too," he responded. "But I can't make love to you while you're crying. I just can't."
"I'm sorry," I replied, trying to control my emotions. "Kiss me. Please."
"I can do that, babe," he responded with a smile, coming over top of me and kissing me passionately, his hands tangling through my hair, and my arms went around his neck, trying to pull him closer to me. I wouldn't ever be able to get enough of the way his skin felt against mine, and who knew when the next time would be that I got to feel that?
I gasped a little as I felt him slide into me, gripping at his shoulders, moaning as he began to move in and out of me. He always took his time with me, making sure it was always sweet and passionate, and today was no exception. In fact, he seemed even more intent on it, kissing me deeply, staring into my eyes, telling me over and over how much he loved me, how much he would miss me. All I could do was hold onto him tightly, my legs going around him, holding him tighter than I ever had, like it would make a difference in whether or not he would leave. I knew it wouldn't but I couldn't help it.
It felt so good, but it was so heart-breaking at the same time. I knew it would be a long time before I felt him inside me again, and that was painful to acknowledge. I was trying to be in the moment, but I couldn't; it just hurt too much, the thought of him leaving.
Still, it did feel good, and in no time, I was grinding against him, panting, gasping, moaning softly, calling his name over and over.
"Brad," I moaned. "Baby, you feel so good. Oh god..I...oh, BRAD!" I cried as I felt myself go over the edge, my whole world spinning, shaking uncontrollably, as Brad kissed my forehead gently, bringing me back down to earth.
"Better?" he murmured in my ear before kissing my neck, and I nodded, unable to speak. I felt him pick up his pace a little bit, like he was having difficulty holding back.
"Carly..." he groaned. "I...I can't...oh god...shit...Carly..."
"It's okay," I whispered in his ear, rubbing his back. "I'm good. It's okay."
"Okay..." he grunted. "Oh god, babe, you feel so good...Carly...Carly...CARLY!" he groaned as he climaxed, quivering against me, as he finally collapsed, breathing heavily. I kissed his forehead, my hand rubbing his back softly, and I heard him sniffle.
"I'm fine," he replied in a choked voice, his face pressed against my neck. I could feel my neck getting wet, and I was pretty sure it wasn't from sweat. He wasn't fine.
"Brad..." I whispered, continuing to rub his back. "It's okay. Quit holding back."
"I'm fine, Carly," he repeated, and I could feel him shaking.
"Baby, let it out. It doesn't make you any less of a man. Let it out."
He nodded, still shaking. "I love you," he said, his voice thick with unshed tears. "I'm sorry I have to leave. I love you so much. I'm going to miss you."
"It's okay, baby." Ugh, it wasn't okay, it was absolutely horrible, but I didn't want to make him feel worse! Brad just DIDN'T cry. He wasn't a very emotional person, but he was emotional right now. He pulled away from me, laying on his side, and I stared at him, wiping the tears off his face. I couldn't think of anything to say; everything that could have been said, we already did. With a sigh, I just put my arms around him, burying my face in his shoulder, and we both started to cry.
"And, one ticket to hell," Brad grumbled as he stepped away from the check-in counter at the airport, staring at the ground.
None of us knew what to say, we just stared at the ground, an awkward silence brewing between us. Sam inched toward me, and my arm instinctively went around her, pulling her closer to me, but we refrained from kissing in front of Carly and Brad. This was one of the few times we were able to keep from manhandling each other in public, simply because we didn't want our best friends to feel worse, and we were feeling pretty bad too. I was upset my best friend was leaving, and I could tell Sam was upset too, she just laid her head on my shoulder, not speaking, just continued to look at the ground.
"How much time do you have left?" I asked quietly, and Brad shrugged.
"Forty minutes, give or take."
"Security may take awhile to get through," I stated, and Brad glared at me.
"Trying to get rid of me?"
"No! Brad, come on! I'm just trying to help!" I said defensively, and Brad sighed.
"Yeah, I know. Sorry. I'm just a little on edge."
"It's cool, dude," I replied.
"You're right, I probably should go though." He looked over at Carly, taking her hand and leading her away from us. We got it, Brad wanted to say goodbye in private. I took a deep breath, looking over at Sam.
"You gonna be okay?" she asked me, her hands going to my shoulders and rubbing, and I nodded.
"Yeah, I'll be fine. It just sucks, you know. I haven't had a best friend in such a long time, and...I don't know, it just sucks."
"I know, baby," she replied. "He'll come back though. Holidays and stuff. You know that, right?"
"I know. But it's not the same," I responded.
"You still got me," she offered up shyly, and I nodded, giving her a smile, before kissing her softly.
"That I do, and I'm really glad. My sweet sweet baby."
"Not too much longer before we have to start school. When is registration again?"
"Two weeks," I replied. "You nervous?"
"Incredibly," she said with a roll of her eyes. "Absolutely terrified."
"You'll do fine, baby. You know if you have trouble with anything, I'll be there to help you out."
She nodded slowly, biting her bottom lip. "I'm just afraid I won't be able to keep up. I'm not gonna be as smart as those other people."
"Bullshit," I replied with a fervent shake of my head. "We've already established you've got book smarts you've just been hiding for years, and as far as street smarts go, you'll stomp those sheltered nerds."
Sam laughed a little. "Did you just call other people nerds?"
"Yep. Wanna do something about it?"
"Uh-huh," she replied. "This." She leaned forward and kissed me on the end of my nose. "You're so sweet. Incredibly misguided, but sweet."
"I do try," I responded. I looked up to see Brad and Carly walking back towards us. Carly was still crying, and Brad's eyes looked a little red, but he was holding together pretty well.
"Hey," Sam said. "You guys okay?"
Brad nodded. "Yeah. Just take care of Carly for me, okay?"
"Sure thing, man," I said with a nod.
"Well, I should probably get a move on," he stated glumly, before looking at Sam and giving her a grin. "C'mere, you crazy little thing."
Sam gave him a smile, before hugging him, and he picked her up, making her squeal a little. I was glad that didn't make me nervous any more, but it used to absolutely scare the shit out of me every time they did that.
"You're the shit, Sam. I had a blast with you this year. Next to Carly, you're the coolest chick ever, don't forget."
"How could I?" she responded, sticking her tongue out. "Good luck, Brad. Don't let the man push you around."
"I'll do my best," he replied. "Good luck with school."
"Thanks, I'll need it," Sam said, and Brad rolled his eyes.
"Quit pretending to be dumb. We're onto you." With that, he turned to me, and we both looked at the floor awkwardly, our hands in our pockets.
"Well," I said, continuing to look down. "It's been fun."
"And crazy," Brad added.
"Yeah. But mostly fun. You know...I couldn't have really..." I trailed off, biting my bottom lip. "It would have been hard getting through this year without you."
"Yeah, you too. I..." he stopped short, taking a deep breath. "You're my best friend, dude. I'm gonna miss you."
"Me too," I replied, looking up at him, before looking back down. We just stood there, still being awkward, and Sam let out an annoyed growl.
"Oh, for fuck's sake!" she yelled, placing one hand on my back, the other on Brad's, and giving both of us a shove. "Just do your man handshake-hug thing and get it over with!"
I rolled my eyes, before Brad and I both gave each other a quick hug and then stepping away.
"Good luck, man," I said, and he nodded.
"You too. Take care of my girl," he said, shooting a glance over at Carly, and I nodded.
Brad looked at me for a second, before grinning. "You're really gonna have your hands full now, keeping track of the two of them."
"Hey!" Sam and Carly yelled, glaring at us.
"That is not funny, Brad!" Sam said, punching him in the chest, and he just grinned at her, giving her a little shove.
"Just messing around, blondie. Be good."
"I'll do my best," she stated with a roll of her eyes.
With that, he turned back to Carly, pulling her into his arms.
"I love you, babe," he said softly. "So, so much. I'm gonna miss you every second of every day."
She nodded. "Me too," she said, still crying. "I love you."
"It's okay. I'll see you at Thanksgiving, okay? I promise. And I'll watch every episode of iCarly until then. My sweet, beautiful girl. I love you."
"I love you too," she said again, trying to hold it together. He leaned down to kiss her, and her arms went around his neck, pulling him closer, obviously not wanting to let him go. Hmm. Well this was new and different. Me and Sam were standing there watching Brad and Carly make out, instead of the other way around.
Finally they pulled apart, and Brad took her hand, lifting it to his mouth and kissing it. "I love you, babe. I gotta go."
She nodded sadly. "I know," she replied. "Be safe, okay?"
"I will, babe. I promise. You too. I'll call you when my flight lands, alright? I love you."
"I love you too," she replied.
"Bye," he said, kissing her one last time.
"Bye," she replied, trying to hold onto his hand, but he finally pulled away from her, and her hand dropped to her side, before lifting to her mouth, and she started chewing on her nails nervously, watching as Brad headed for the security check point and handed his ticket to the TSA agent. With a final wave at us, he was gone.
Carly just stood there, her arms crossed over her chest, staring off into space, before turning back to me and Sam, a broken expression on her face, her bottom lip trembling.
I sighed, grabbing her arm and pulling her against me. "Come here, Carly. It's okay."
"No it's not!" she cried against my shoulder, gripping my arms. "Why did he have to leave?"
"Aw, Carly..." Sam said, rubbing her back. "You'll be okay. He'll come back! I promise!"
"Yeah, come on, sweetie, it's okay," I said, still hugging her. "You gotta be strong, okay? I know you're a strong girl. Prove it."
She nodded, taking a deep breath, before pulling away. "I can be strong," she said softly. "I can."
"Good," I replied, putting my arm around her. "Let's go, back to the car. Wanna go get a smoothie?"
She sighed, wiping her face. "I guess."
We started to walk to the exit, when Sam grabbed my arm suddenly, jerking me back.
"Uh, you guys?" she asked, pointing behind us, and I looked over my shoulder, my jaw dropping.
Carly just kept walking toward the door, I guess she was lost in her own thoughts, but I grabbed her arm, jerking her back.
Carly whirled around to find Brad running toward her, and she shoved past me, running towards him. Brad skidded to a stop in front of her, grabbing her and kissing her fiercely.
"I can't do it," he cried. "Fuck my dad! I can't do it!"
"Oh my god!" Carly cried, covering her mouth. "Really?"
"I can't do it!" he said again. "I'm staying!"
Sam grabbed my arm excitedly, jumping up and down, and I just shushed her, trying to listen to what they were saying.
"Brad, your stuff! They already checked it!"
"Fuck my stuff! I can get new stuff, I can't be away from you!"
Brad shook his head fiercely. "Ask Freddie."
Carly turned around to look at me, and I shrugged. "I may have applied to WSU for him, and I may have gotten him accepted, but DUDE! You told me you weren't gonna go!"
"I can't leave Carly," he stated again. "Even if I'll be a semester behind, I don't care! And I don't care what my dad says, how angry he gets! I'm not leaving!"
Sam rolled her eyes, throwing her hands in the air. "FINALLY! You grew some balls!"
Brad ignored her, focusing all his attention at Carly, who was staring at him.
"So you're really gonna stay," she asked softly.
"Yeah, I am," he responded. "But...you know my dad's just gonna throw me out of the house. Know anywhere I can stay?"
Carly shrugged. "I mean, you can crash on the couch for a little while."
"Carly!" he exclaimed. "Seriously?"
She shook her head, laughing. "No, idiot! You're gonna stay with me, in my bed!" She put her arms around him. "Oh my god! I can't believe this!"
"I just couldn't do it, babe. I love you so much. I didn't want to risk letting you go."
"You wouldn't have lost me," she replied. "But this is so much better!"
"A million times better," he responded, kissing her. "I love you, Carly Shay."
"I love you, Brad Harrison," she said, squealing happily, before kissing him again.
Sam and I looked at each other, amused.
"Is that how we are?" she asked in a low voice, and I nodded.
"Well, it is kinda cute," she responded with a grin. "So...the four of us."
"In one apartment."
"Uh-huh," I added.
"Hmm," she said, rubbing her chin thoughtfully. "Think we can survive this?"
"We can try," I offered.
"What if we all start fighting?"
"Hey, you know how we can get back at them," I replied with a grin, pulling her to me.
"By not respecting the noise ordinance?" she responded, a mischievous smile on her face, and I nodded.
"I told you you were a smart girl," I said, kissing her.
A/N: One more thing, I will post an author's note to this story as soon as the sequel is started, but anyone really interested in reading it should subscribe to an author alert, just in case! =)