I own nothing but this fic.

Trigger warning: cutting/body harm.

Sam loved Freddie.

The blonde she-devil fell for the dorky tech-nerd.

Carly felt betrayed. They were her best friends after all. Freddie told her everything as did Sam; why wouldn't they tell her about this? Sam berated and emasculated Freddie on a daily basis and he took it. How was she to know that's what love was?

When she heard the door knob turn, she took a deep breath and turned to face him to ask him about all this, to demand the truth after they'd promised never to exclude her again, to find out how this could (and would) change everything.

Is Freddie in love with Sam?

She wasn't bold enough to directly ask but the words lingered on the tip of her tongue. That would explain everything if he were, how he took the abuse, how they hadn't discussed their relationship at all since the break up, how he stared at her sometimes like a love sick puppy.

"I'm worried about Sam. It's been three days and yet nothing."

Of course. Of course he was worried about Sam as if she wasn't.

"Yeah, I mean it's only been three days since that kiss. I thought you'd be dating by now." Maybe there was a bit of bitterness in her voice, a little jealousy at how she maybe wished Freddie had kissed her or that she'd kissed him instead of repressing everything in the sake of friendship.

Taken by surprise, Freddie whispers "Oh" like he hadn't realized she had been there watching them, like he hadn't wanted her to. "Look, I didn't know she was going to ki-"

"I know," she slowly nods before looking down at her shoes, doing her best to avoid whatever look is in Freddie's eyes. "You didn't stop her though."

He can hear the accusation in her voice, laced with bitterness.

"Well, I was surprised, ya know? It's not everyday that your fri- that someone kisses you like that."

Like that? Like what, her life depends on sucking your face, that you're all she's ever wanted? Because Carly remembers kissing him like that but maybe he doesn't. Maybe when he thinks of their kiss, if ever, he replaces her with an aggressive belligerent blonde.

"So you're not, like, together yet?" She doesn't know if she could take them being together, not even the possibility of it. "Not like it'd be weird or anything."

Freddie shakes his head and tries to laugh it off but it sounds fragile. "Me and Sam, dating? It was just a kiss, a really forced kiss."

She looks up now and sees the pain written all over his face, pain that she'd seen before and had tried to ignore because he never really got too upset, not seriously upset, whenever Sam had bullied him before but now he looks so tired and she doesn't know what for and is almost too scared to ask. She opens her mouth to speak but nothing comes out and Freddie takes notice of what must be running through her mind, why she brought him here and what she wants to talk about because he keeps biting his lip and fidgeting like he'd rather be anywhere but there, talking about anything but this.

"It's not my business, okay-the whole kiss thing, you and Sam kissing or being together," she mutters hurriedly. And here it comes, what she honest to God needs to know from him about the whole situation. "But if you love her, like she loves you, I'd hope you trusted me enough to tell me."

Now he's laughing at her, at what she just said. She can't possibly see what's so funny about this and she's surprised to realize that he's laughing to fight from crying.

"I could never love her." He holds her tighter now and if this had been before the kiss she would've asked him to let go but now that she realizes how close she is to losing him she doesn't mind at all. "It's not fair how she's done this to me." He pulls away and wipes at his tears, looking at her like she's a complete stranger. "And you just pretended to be oblivious."

Taken aback, she stares into his eyes and tells him steadily "I never knew she loved you," but he's not satisfied with her answer.

"You didn't know? You didn't see her beating on me and harrassing me? You never saw it? I remember you being there all the time and not doing a damn thing to save me. I remember you laughing and letting her do it because she loved me, like that makes it okay." Then he takes a second as if he's thinking about what to say next, what he needs to let out and finally decides on pulling his shirt off. She'd never seen him shirtless before and now she knows why.

There's cuts everywhere. Old faded ones cover his chest but near his belly button are a few fresh wounds. Her heart aches in the worst way at how she never figured it out, at how he kept this hidden for so long and how selfish she was to assume that he and Sam were in love when it was clearly one sided and that her bullying wasn't okay and it wasn't something to laugh at. She wanted to fix this, to make all his pain go away, to force the image of these scars out of her mind-to go back and be a better friend who stuck up for Freddie instead of unconsciously encouraging his torture.

"Freddie, I swear, I never knew about- God, I'm sorry." She's sobbing now, pissed and disappointed with herself. "I would've done something, anything, if I knew it made you do this. You have to believe that."

He traces over his fresh cuts as he holds her gaze, silently challenging her to be disgusted. "I did these this morning. I was scared that she'd pop up and try it again, that she'd kiss me or throw me down another flight of stairs." He reaches out to grab Carly's hand to rub them over his cuts. "I thought if I did this that she'd stop, that with each cut I was getting prepared to handle whatever she did."

Freddie drops his head and goes to put his shirt on. "I know it's wrong and that I shouldn't do this but what else is there? Everyone thinks I'm weak because Sam bullies me. That I let her treat me like this because of some twisted infatuation," he said furiously, startling her a bit.

Carly rubs her fingers together, hoping to erase the feel of the dried blood but knowing that she can't. "I can help you through this. I can try to fix this." She lets her fingers awkwardly fumble with his before he grips her hand.

"Is it too late to stop pretending now," he whispers brokenly, "because I can't keep up this act anymore."

She grips his hand and shakes her head as he sighs. "No, it's never too late for anything. I'll make it stop, Freddie, I promise." Because that's all she can do, promise to make him feel okay so he can heal. "I'll protect you. Just trust me."

He nods and gives a hopeful smile.

They know her words can't heal him and that this will take time to go away but they will themselves to think that it's enough for now.