Hello readers! I'm baaack! Did you miss me? No? Oh, well, I'm back anyway.
So glad you've come back for another chapter of 'Benediction'. It's been a while since the last update so let me do a little recap. When we left off Freddie was dealing with Sam's sudden return and equally sudden car accident. He's at the hospital, waiting for news on her condition and he and Raj...aren't seeing eye to eye (understatement of the year). This chapter will begin to turn the tide, so to speak, toward a bit less angst and a bit more happiness for our favorite couple. But don't breath too deeply on that sigh of relief, you know me…the drama will return. *MUAH HA HA HA!* (that was my evil laugh…did it scare you?).
XXOO – TheWrtrInMe
Disclaimer: At this point I'm glad to say I don't own iCarly. I wouldn't want to accept responsibility for the disaster that was iGoodbye.
Chapter 12: In His Name – Part 3
The room was stark white, the lights above bright and intrusive.
This was not a room to hide in.
The steady ticking of a clock was the soft backbeat to the constant hum and whir of the machines placed around the shining chrome table. The table was situated at the center of the room, a small stage around which the bit players performed while the star lay motionless.
The star's skin was paper-thin, translucent, making the network of veins running down her forearm sickeningly vibrant. He found himself reaching out, wanting to touch her, hoping that once his skin made contact with hers, she would evaporate like smoke and provide him with some proof that this wasn't real.
He hadn't realized just how loud it all was, the machines, the voices, until the room was filled with one long uninterrupted beep – and the world went silent.
"Call it. Time of death. 2:45pm."
Freddie jerked awake, temporarily disoriented. He ran a hand over his face, trying to adjust to his surroundings. Looking around the waiting room of the ICU, he found that while he was asleep he'd been joined by several families. In the corner of the room a tall African American woman, her head adorned with an intricate network of braids, stood staring out of the window. Her face was a mask that all the inhabitants of this room wore to varying degrees: worry, fear, hope. Directly across from him an older woman, gray hair pinned back haphazardly from her face, stared intently at the phone in her hands. From time to time her brow would furrow and she'd mutter under her breath as she pushed button after button. Feeling Freddie's eyes on her she looked up and offered him a smile.
"My kids made me get this thing," she said. "They keep sending me messages and I can't figure out how to send one back."
Freddie stood and stretched, his time in the chair having worked a deep kink into his back. Walking over to the older woman, he sat down beside her, looking at the phone she held.
"Oh, that's an older model pearPhone …not known for being user friendly," he said, reaching out for it. "May I?"
"Please do!" her voice held the faint remnants of an accent – New Jersey maybe, "My name is Greta," she said, extending her hand to him.
"Well, Freddie, if you can teach me how to work this thing there's a dentist in Tacoma who would be very grateful." She laughed as Freddie raised an eyebrow, not entirely sure who she was talking about. "My son, Joseph," from the large handbag taking up most of the chair beside her she pulled a small wallet. Opening it, a cascade of connected plastic sleeves unfolded, settling at her feet. "He's our oldest. Has his own practice in Tacoma – gave me my first set of dentures!" she smiled down at the photo before showing it to Freddie, obviously proud. The man in the picture was short, and broad shouldered, wearing a white lab coat with 'Joseph Soloman, DDS' emblazoned on the pocket. He had the slightly pained look of a person who did not enjoy being photographed. "And this is Dena. She's a school teacher out in California. Got two boys – twins." From inside the plastic sleeve a petite brunette, who could have been Greta thirty years ago, smiled out at them. A tall blond man sat behind her, one arm slung around her shoulder possessively. On either side of them sat two small boys – the image of their father, like freckled, large toothed bookends.
"Good looking family," Freddie said.
"This one," Greta said, her voice soft, "This is my Barry." The picture was of a short, stocky man in military dress – the Army, Freddie guessed. In the picture he stood, smiling proudly, his arm wrapped around a beautiful woman, her dark brown hair falling in curls down her back. She wore a simple white dress and held a bouquet of lilies. "That's our wedding day." She took in Freddie's appreciative look, "I was quite, as you young people say, a 'hottie' in my day." She chuckled and ran a finger over Barry's photographed face.
"Is he…" Freddie stuttered, "I mean, is that why you're…"
"Why I'm here? Yes." She folded her pictures, closing her wallet and placing it back in her bag. "Heart attack. Triple bypass."
"My father…he had a heart attack," Freddie offered.
"It's a hard thing to watch someone you love be sick, or in pain. Even harder to think about losing them." Greta reached out and patted Freddie's hand. "Is that why you're here? For your father?"
"Oh, um, no. He passed away when I was five. I'm here for my…" It had been years since he'd attributed any sort of title to Sam. He was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization, not of who she was to him – but who she wasn't. "My friend…Sam." He reached into his pocket for his wallet. Opening it, he dug his finger into a long avoided compartment, drawing out a picture he'd forced himself not to look at for years.
The photo was creased and worn but staring out from it were the faces of a boy and a girl. A couple standing on a beach, their arms wrapped around each other, unaware of how short lived their happiness would be. He looked at the photo for a split second then passed it over to Greta.
"You said her name was…"
Freddie's eyes were drawn back to the picture, "Sam…it's Samantha but she'd kill you if you called her that." He chuckled.
"And that's your…friend, huh," she asked, studying Freddie's face. "That look on your face says she's more than a friend."
She handed the photo back to Freddie who stared down at it, nodding his head. "She was…almost my fiancée once. A long time ago." He wasn't sure why he was telling her any of this – things he'd not spoken of, to anyone, in years.
"But you still love her," she said. Freddie's silence was answer enough. He folded the photo again, placing it back in his wallet. Finally, he looked up at her.
"Doesn't really matter now."
Greta nodded her head and they were silent for a moment, Freddie looking down at Greta's phone, determining if the text feature worked and how best to explain its use. Anything to avoid discussing the mess that was he and Sam. Greta, thankfully, didn't seem to want to push the issue at the moment. He leaned over, placing the phone back in her hand and began to show her slowly and patiently how to use the text feature. Clicking a recent message from Joseph the dentist, she typed in a reply and sent it off. Her face broke into a wide smile, seconds later, when Joseph's reply came through on the screen.
"Well, would ya look at that!" she exclaimed.
"Looks like you're all set Greta." He stood from his seat. "It was nice to meet you. I hope everything is okay with your husband." He turned toward the elevator bay.
"Young man!" Greta's voice called to him and he turned to face her. "I've been called a nosy so and so more than once in my life, but I've never let that stop me before so I don't suppose I'll start now." She patted the seat beside her and he sat again looking into her face.
He didn't have grandparents he was close to. His mother's parents had both died before he was born. His father's mother lived in Philadelphia and his communication with her was limited to Christmas and birthday cards. But if he'd had a grandmother in his life, he thought he'd want her to be something like Greta. Even though she seemed close to seventy, there was a classic beauty to her face. An easy smile softened her features and accentuated her twinkling green eyes. He bet she was the sort of grandmother who'd 'just happen' to make the cookies you loved when she knew you'd be visiting. Whose house was filled with secret hiding places. Whose hugs were tight and tinged with the smell of Aqua Net and peppermint. She appeared the sort of woman who loved hard and lived full.
"You know, Barry and I have been married for fifty-two years." She laughed as Freddie's eyes widened, "I know. I can't believe it myself sometimes. We got married the day after I graduated high school –it wasn't fancy or anything, but it was the happiest I have ever been. In these fifty years there's been good – but there's been some bad too."
"Really bad?" he asked, fairly sure of where she was headed.
Greta laughed, "You don't know the half of it Freddie. We've had fights that I was sure would be the end of us. And there were days when I had my bags packed, ready to walk out the door and leave him to his sorry self." She laughed.
"But you didn't," he said. "You stayed."
"I did. But it wasn't easy. And there's only one reason why I did it."
"Because you loved him."
She shook her head, "Because not being with him isn't an option." She looked at him intently. "This young woman…Sam you said her name was?" Freddie nodded, "Do you love her?" Freddie stared at her, silent. "You don't have to answer that, it's written all over your face." Greta, leaned in close, her voice unwavering.
"If you're sitting in this room it's because you were just as close to losing her as I was my Barry. You said loving her doesn't matter, but I think you're wrong. If she's hurt and the only place you can possibly think to be is by her side. If you don't even care anymore what got you mad at her in the first place because all you want is for her to be okay. If that's how you feel about her then, pardon me, you'd be a dummy to say it didn't matter. And even dumber to let her go."
A doctor rounded the corner, headed toward Greta and Freddie.
Greta, gripped the armrest, attempting to stand. Freddie stood quickly and reached down, placing a hand on her elbow to help her up.
"Your husband is out of surgery. He's in recovery but I can take you to his room."
Greta's smile brought a smile to Freddie's face. Somewhere in this hospital, a man he'd only ever know as Greta's husband Barry was okay- and he was happy about it. Greta hurried off after the doctor, her enormous bag pulling one shoulder lower than the other. Watching her walk away, he thought about the children whose pictures she carried in that bag and wondered if they knew just how lucky they were.
"It was nice to meet you Greta!" Freddie called after her. She said something to the doctor who stopped and waited as she walked back to where Freddie stood. Reaching up, her face serious, she placed her hands on either side of his face and whispered. "You remember what I said Freddie. It matters…it always matters." With a smile, she set off behind the doctor and was gone.
Freddie sat down and shook his head. If he'd given them any thought, Greta's parting words, he might have decided she was right. But in this moment he didn't have the energy to concentrate on anything beyond Sam – and if she was okay. The uncertainty of it all, the fact that in less than an hour he might be forced to face living in a world without her, it was all too much. He'd never considered himself especially devout or religious, but as he closed his eyes, leaning over his knees he prayed, to whatever God might be listening, that the odds would come out in Sam's favor.
He looked up and squinted realizing that for the briefest of moments he must have fallen asleep. Spencer stared down at him, concern painting his features. It wasn't often that he'd seen Spencer be serious about anything. The look on Spencer's face was just further reminder of the last time they'd found themselves huddled together in a hospital waiting room; of how much they'd lost then and how much they stood to lose now.
He'd called Spencer when Sam went into surgery, giving him as much detail as he could, fighting to remain calm as he heard the panic in Spencer's voice.
Spencer sat down, stretching his long legs in front of him, arms crossed over his chest.
"I got here just as soon as I could," he said, looking around the room before his eyes settled again on Freddie. "So, have you heard anything?"
"Not yet, she's still in surgery," Freddie said. "But if her personal body guard has anything to say about it I'll never know how she's doing." He frowned at the thought and bit back the anger creeping up like acid in his throat.
"I'm sorry, I'm just…on edge I guess."
"So I suppose there's no reason to ask how you're holding up."
Freddie shrugged, "I don't know. I just feel so…"
"Helpless?" Spencer offered, "Yeah, I get that. I've been there."
"I'm sorry Spence. I know this must be hard for you. I didn't mean…"
Spencer held up his hand, "No apologies needed. We're all worried, but for Sam's sake, and yours, you've got to calm down."
"How can I? I mean she's hurt and I don't know…" he lowered his head and his voice, "I don't know if she's going to come out of this."
"Stop it." Spencer's voice was firm, but the hand he placed on Freddie's shoulder was reassuring. "Don't talk like that. You can't talk like that. Sam's going to be fine."
"You can't know that that's true."
"And you can't know that it's not. So isn't it better to just hope and pray for the best?"
Freddie fell silent and leaned against the chair, closing his eyes. He knew Spencer was right but the fear that had twisted itself around his heart wasn't so easily dismissed.
"So," Spencer said, breaking the silence, "This all happened after…"
"After I threw her out into the street?" Freddie said, his words tinged with sarcasm and regret. "Yeah."
"You know this isn't your fault Freddie. Whatever happened with you and Sam," he raised a hand to stop Freddie from interrupting, "whatever happened with you and Sam, no matter how bad it was – it's not why this happened. You couldn't have stopped it, or changed it. Sometimes bad shit, it just…happens."
They lapsed into silence, each of them hoping the same thing.
That history wouldn't repeat itself.
"Mama, why did Daddy look so sad?"
Mira braced herself. It was a part of being a mother, finding simple ways to explain complicated things. Thankfully, in the way of most four year olds, A.J. had already asked this question. She repeated the only explanation she'd been able to give – knowing it was going to kick off another round of questions she hardly had answers for.
"Daddy's sad because his friend got hurt."
"His friend the pretty lady with the yellow hair?" Mira nodded at A.J., who peered at her from his spot beside her on the sofa, "Her name is Sam, Mama. Daddy has pictures of her."
She nodded again, and fidgeted in her seat.
He has a picture of her.
It wasn't news. She'd seen a picture of Sam…probably the same one as A.J. But something about hearing it from his mouth made her uncomfortable. And now that she'd seen Sam in the flesh there was no denying the truth. Sam wasn't just some ghost, a fixture of some long ago part of Freddie's life that didn't exist anymore. She was real. She was here. And Mira had a feeling that the recent turn of events would send her back into all of their lives in a way she hadn't expected – or had time yet to adjust to.
"Mama!" A.J.'s voice pulled her from her thoughts. "Is Daddy gonna stay at the hospital?"
"But I wanna see him!"
"I'm sure he wants to see you too honey, and he will, as soon as he makes sure his friend is okay." She reached over and ruffled his hair. "You'll see him before you know it."
A.J. frowned and Mira prepared herself for a tantrum – something he'd taken to doing lately when it seemed life wasn't going to go his way- but A.J simply nodded his head, slipped his fingers into his mouth, and rested his head in her lap.
"I love you Mama."
She blinked back tears, glad he was too occupied with the television to see her face. Afraid to let loose the sob pushing against her chest. How could A.J. know what that small act meant to her? How could he know how desperately grateful she was, or how bittersweet it all felt. Freddie's heart might belong to Sam but the boy nestled in Mira's arms,– that would always be the best of Freddie, the part of him that would always be hers.
The rest of the afternoon was filled with more questions.
Was Daddy's friend going to be okay?
Would they give her a Spiderman band-aid for her boo-boo and a lollipop for not crying?
Why was he too little to stay at the hospital with Daddy?
Did she like Daddy's friend?
She answered his questions as patiently and honestly as she could manage.
Yes, she hoped Daddy's friend would be okay.
No, Sam's boo-boo was too big for a Spiderman band-aid, but maybe when she was better A.J. could bring her a lollipop.
Daddy had to stay and make sure Sam was okay, but as soon as he could he'd come home and A.J. could be with him.
But the last question made her pause.
Did she like Sam?
That was a loaded question if she'd ever heard one. If anyone had asked her this a month ago, or even forty-eight hours ago, the answer would have been simple.
Of course not. Why would she like a woman who'd ripped out the heart of someone she cared about, single-handedly ensuring that he'd never be whole enough to give that heart to anyone else? This woman she'd never met had affected her life in profound ways – most of them negative. Some would say she was entitled to anger, maybe even hate. But she couldn't deny that since meeting Sam, and talking to her, she found it hard to hold onto what she'd felt before. She'd resented the idea of Sam, but Sam wasn't just an idea now. She was a real person and that, coupled with what she now knew were the actual circumstances of her relationship with Freddie, changed things.
She loved Freddie, the only man she'd ever really loved. She'd had relationships, some hot and heavy ending with fireworks and cold shoulders, some tepid and boring, not so much ending as fading away. But loving Freddie, it was the first time she'd ever considered someone else's happiness as important as her own.
Sitting with Sam, hearing her talk about what she and Freddie had shared, it was like someone was finally giving voice to the silent thing that had been the third party in her relationship with Freddie from the beginning. What had sometimes felt like a void between them that she couldn't seem to cross wasn't a void at all. She was a flesh and blood person, a love so intricately woven into the fabric of who he was that no amount of pressing or pushing on Mira's part could have made a difference. He belonged to someone else. It hurt to think of it – she hoped that would get better with time – but regardless of how it hurt, it was still a fact. One she'd have to learn to live with.
She reached over and pulled the blanket up around A.J. who looked to finally be falling asleep.
"Mama?" She smiled at his voice, soft and unsure, his face more serious than any four year old's should be. He was so like his father.
"I hope Daddy feels better…and Miss Sam too."
"Me too, baby. Me too." she said, and in a quiet part of her heart where resentment was slowly being replaced with acceptance, she meant it.
He stood in the waiting room, his mother on one side and Spencer on the other, both of them attempting to calm him down. Sam had just gotten out of surgery. His mother had walked into the waiting room with Dr. Nazardian, a hopeful smile playing on her lips.
According to Dr. Nazardian, the surgery had gone well. Sam was alive. They'd stopped the internal bleeding but once inside they'd discovered her spleen was too damaged to repair – they'd had to remove it. He'd spent another five minutes giving them the details of her condition but, for Freddie, one sentence played over again and again.
Sam was alive.
Sam was alive.
There wasn't much else that mattered.
She had been taken to the recovery room and he'd stood at that news, preparing to go see her but his mother had placed a hand softly on his shoulder. He'd started to ask her why, why he couldn't see her, why they'd keep her from him, but the sound of someone clearing their throat stopped him.
He'd looked up to find Raj standing behind them, arrogant smile fixed to his face. Dr. Nazardian nodded at Marissa and excused himself, walking back toward the patient rooms.
"So," Raj said, "she's out of surgery…but I guess you heard that already."
"Yeah, we did." Freddie said, standing and walking toward Raj, feeling Spencer right behind him. "So when do we get to see her?"
"They'll bring her up to her room in an hour or so," his mother said.
"She'll come back here?" Freddie asked.
"No, she'll be taken to a regular, private room."
Freddie face lit up, "Great!" he said, headed toward the bank of elevators, purposely ignoring Raj, "So we can just go up and wait for her right?"
Raj laughed and the sound raked across Freddie's already frayed nerves. "Wrong actually." he said, holding up the small manila envelope that Freddie had grown to hate. "I've instructed the hospital staff that you're not to be allowed in her room." He looked at Freddie's mother. "And I'm sure that none of the staff would go against hospital regulation to make an exception for you."
"Wait a minute…" Spencer said, turning to Marissa in confusion. "We don't get to see Sam?"
"No, Spencer – you're welcome to see her," Raj said, his eyes dark as he stared at Freddie, "He's the only one who's not allowed in."
"You got to be fucking kidding me!" Freddie yelled, "She's hurt and laying in a hospital bed…"
"And whose fault is that!?" Raj said, his smug grin turning to a sneer, his voice strained and cold.
"How dare you!" He stalked toward Raj, shrugging off his mother's attempts to hold him back. "You're about ten seconds from ending up in a bed right beside her."
"Is that supposed to scare me?" Raj stood his ground, face flushed, his hands flexed in fists at his side.
"Both of you stop it right now!" Marissa's voice left no room for protest and the entire room went silent as she stood between the two of them, her hands pressed against their chests. "I can't believe you – either of you!" she frowned but refused to move. Freddie's breath came hard and fast, his heart racing as he imagined what it would feel like to knock the smug grin off of Raj's face. "Is this really what you think Samantha needs? The two of you fighting like children?"
Both men stood staring at each other, neither willing to give an inch, regardless of the truth of Marissa's words or the inappropriateness of their interaction. Freddie's jaw tensed, the adrenaline pumping through him screamed at him to do something – anything to wipe the look off of this cocky bastard's face.
"Now you listen to me, both of you," Marissa said, her voice low and measured. She looked between them but didn't move her hands – a good idea Freddie thought, since her presence was likely the only thing standing between him and felony assault charges.
"Raj, I'm sorry but that Power of Attorney you hold doesn't give you any right to say who can and cannot see Samantha."
Raj's eyes went wide as he opened his mouth to speak.
Being a better man, one above gloating, was an option. One Freddie resisted the urge to take.
"No point in waving your stupid papers around now, huh, you smug son of a…"
Even at his age, when he knew rationally that the threat in his mother's voice held no real weight, he stopped, his face red with the effort to remain silent.
"Now, I'm going to say this once and I'm not going to say it again. We are lucky, damn lucky, that Sam's alive. The very last thing we need is the two of you lumbering around here like brainless Neanderthals. So you're either going to suck it up and deal with each other, or I'll make sure that neither of you get within spitting distance of her." Her eyes narrowed as they flitted back and forth between the two men. "Have I made myself clear?"
Testosterone-fueled pride pursed their lips, but both managed a halfhearted mumble of assent, nodding their heads. It was enough for Marissa, who slowly withdrew her hands and took a step back, still standing between them.
"Fredward, Spencer, Sam's being taken to the third floor – room 378." She looked down at her watch. "If you go now, she's probably already there." She raised a hand against the protest Raj was set to raise. "Mr. Patel, that Power of Attorney can't do what you want, but it does make you responsible for some paperwork. Now, if you'll come with me we can take care of it…and afterwards I'll take you to see Samantha."
Raj nodded his head, avoiding Freddie's triumphant gaze. Marissa extended a hand toward the nurse's station at the end of the hall and Raj, his jaw tight and eyes blazing with an anger he knew better than to voice, set off toward it. Shaking her head, Marissa turned to Freddie and Spencer.
"That was…intense." Spencer said.
"Listen Mom, thanks for…"
"I meant what I said, Fredward."
"I know mom, and I'm sorry. He just makes me so…" he groaned, running a hand through his hair.
"Angry, I get it. He's not the most…pleasant person I've ever come across but, like it or not, Fredward, he's a part of Samantha's life and…he's hurting too."
Freddie nodded, flinging her words to the furthest corner of his mind. He had no desire to consider how this, any of it, was affecting Raj. And even less desire to think of the part he'd played in Sam's life. His mother patted his arm and offered him a smile.
"Just, try to stay calm. That's what Sam needs now." She reached up and ruffled his hair, like he was still seven and his biggest worry was a melted ice cream cone or a Cracker Jack box without a prize. "Go on…I'll be down in a little while."
He turned toward the elevators and headed down to the third floor with Spencer in tow. Spencer was, thankfully, quiet on the ride down, but the relative silence of the elevator was filled with a whirlwind of thoughts.
What would she look like?
Would she be happy to see him?
What happens now?
He'd spent the last hours worried, terrified, and desperate to know Sam would be okay. Now she was and an all new wave of fear was washing over him. He'd almost come to blows with Raj over the right to be there with her, to see her face, but what if she didn't want that? What if she opened her eyes, took one look at him sitting beside her, and threw him out on his ass? It'd be painfully poetic – and nothing more than he deserved after what he'd done to her.
How did he say no without sounding like a coward? How did he move forward with no idea of how it might turn out?
He drew in a breath to steady himself and turned to Spencer with a weak smile.
He should write a book, tailor made for moments like this. Call it, 'What to Say and Do in Desperately Awkward Situations.' He'd make a killing.
He stood stiffly near the foot of Sam's bed. He'd stared at her face for so long his mind started playing tricks on him, and five minutes previously, he could have sworn he saw her smile. He shook his head and rubbed at his tired eyes. He hadn't slept, really slept, in nearly twenty four hours and the weight of exhaustion left him feeling jittery and off balance.
Spencer sat in a chair near Sam's bed. While Freddie looked at Sam, Spencer looked at Freddie – his face awash with concern.
"Don't," Freddie said, turning toward the window, his back to the room.
"Don't what?" Freddie heard the scraping of a chair against the linoleum floor as Spencer stood and walked toward the window.
"Don't ask me how I am." Freddie turned to face him. "I know that's what you were going to say."
Spencer studied him for a moment, and then looked away, his eyes resting on Sam's still form.
"I wasn't going to ask," he said, turning back to Freddie, "I already know you're not. So…" he smiled, "How about coffee…Carly used to say there are hardly any problems coffee can't fix."
Freddie nodded and watched as Spencer crossed the room and headed out the door. With a sigh, he walked to the side of the bed, lowering himself into the chair. He stared down at her. He was quite sure he'd never seen her so still. For most of their childhood, she'd been in constant motion. He'd always thought that might be the way she stayed so thin, despite her appetite…the calories never had a chance to catch up with her.
She'd been gone for six years but, in his mind, she was still loud, opinionated, feisty Sam Puckett – hurling insults and demanding sustenance. He almost expected her to jump up, see him sitting there and punch him square in the jaw, demanding to know who he thought he was for throwing her out in the first place. He put a hand to his face. He'd prefer that kind of pain to what he felt now.
Suck it up you nub!
That's what she'd say, if she could say something. Or at least that what the old Sam, his Sam, would have said.
"You always had a way with words," he whispered, dragging his chair, tentatively, closer to her bedside. "That was a joke," he said, clearing his throat. "But I guess this isn't the time for jokes." He continued to look at her, a thought occurring to him. "You know what I remember-we were like eleven years old and it had snowed really hard that year and Carly told you that she'd never been sledding." He smiled at the memory. "So you showed up at her house on a Saturday at like nine in the morning, which we both know is super early for you, carrying the biggest sled I'd ever seen up close."
"I thought you were gonna take us to a little hill, you know- just so Carly could say she'd done it. But not you, I should have known better. You took us to that giant hill behind the old IGA." He laughed. "I thought Carly was going to pee herself she was so scared. I think…I think we were probably all scared. Carly took one look at that hill and said there was no way she was going down. To be honest, I was glad she'd said it because I was pretty sure I couldn't do it either. But I didn't want to say anything. Even back then, I didn't want you to think I was weak." He stopped, leaning over the edge of her bed seeing her, not as she was now, but as a tiny, wild haired eleven year old – her cheeks tinged red from the cold and wind, standing on a hill, willing her friends to be brave. "I figured you'd laugh at us for not going down, or at least laugh at me. But you instead you put that sled on the top of the hill, grabbed Carly's hand and then mine, and you said, "Don't sweat it, we'll do it together. It was the first time you'd really touched me, outside of hitting me I mean."
The memory was vivid in his mind. Him in a bright blue coat, bundled under two sweaters, an undershirt, a scarf, a hat, and gloves so large he could hardly bend his fingers. Carly all in pink down to her boots, and Sam no hat, mismatched gloves and her coat only half zipped. They were a misfit group that no one would have purposely put together. But when they sat down on that sled, hands locked, Carly's eyes wide with fear, Sam wild with excitement and Freddie just praying he didn't come home bleeding, he knew Sam had been right. Terrified though he was, surrounded by Carly and Sam he knew he'd be okay.
"I've missed that feeling, you know." He sniffed as tears burned the back of his eyes. "Back then I always knew that if I was scared or if something didn't make sense it would be okay because I had Carly and…I had you. But then…" he wiped at his face, "then Carly was gone and it felt like the world got smaller or darker somehow and it was awful but I thought 'I'll be alright, I can handle this. Sam and I can handle this.' Then you were gone and…" he felt his breath catch in his chest, "God Sam! I was so mad…so fucking…angry at you! You, you were my whole world!" he lowered his head into his hands.
This wasn't what he'd intended to say. But now that those words had been said he realized how true they were, and how much of the last six years he'd spent lying to himself. He reached out and tucked her small hand between both of his, marveling at how small it was – and how well it still fit into his own.
"You know, for a very long time I told myself that it didn't matter. That you made the mistake and I was over it. I think I might have still been telling myself that when you showed up the other day. It was easy, being angry at you, pretending…that we'd never happened, when I couldn't see you. You'd be surprised how easy it is to be mad at a ghost. But then I saw you and…I don't think I realized just how much I'd missed you…until I saw you."
"I had a million things I was going to say…if I ever saw you again. I was going to tell you how badly you'd messed up. How great my life was without you in it. How little you ever meant to me. But to say those things…I'd be lying to you. And to myself."
He didn't bother to wipe the tears the fell onto their joined hands, instead he leaned over and laid his head on them, whispering into the quiet room.
"If you were awake right now I'd tell you that it wasn't just you Sam – we've both messed up. And my life hasn't been the same since the day you left, because you meant everything to me." He paused, "And I'm sorry. I'm sorry for what I did, I'm sorry for what I said, and most of all I'm sorry that you thought you had to walk away."
He lapsed into silence, the heaviness in his chest preventing any further words. He drew in great gasps of air, attempting to steady himself as six years' worth of pain overtook him.
The voice was strained and soft –barely a whisper, but he'd have known it anywhere.
"Sam!" he said, louder than he'd intended. Her blue eyes met his and he thought he'd never again see anything more beautiful. "You're awake."
A/N2: So…what did you think? Love it? Hate it? Leave me a review and let me know…