Well, it's been too long since I updated this story, and I was suddenly hit by a burst of inspiration tonight. Hopefully, you can expect another update tomorrow, but that depends on how much homework I get.


f . r . e . d . d . i . e

Sam was probably the world's worst babysitter. She simply sat in front of the TV and did nothing except draw. Unfortunately for Freddie, that meant he was left doing all the work.

Not that he should have been surprised by this at all.

"Uncle Freddie, is Auntie Sam coming up?" Caleb asked eagerly as Freddie chose pajamas for the boy.

Freddie laughed. "Have you ever met your Aunt Sam? She's not moving from that TV."

Caleb looked crestfallen. Freddie sighed and went to the stairs, calling down, "Sam, get your butt up here! Caleb wants to see you!"

"Nice to know you're thinking about my butt!" she yelled back.

Freddie rolled his eyes. "That's not what I meant and you know it! Just get up here!"

"Maybe!"

He returned to Caleb's room and opened his palms. "There you go, you got a maybe. You're lucky. Not just anybody can maybe get her to move."

"Why would you think about Auntie Sam's butt?" The kid's face scrunched up in disgust. "It's a butt."

Freddie sputtered. "W—what?"

"Auntie Sam said you were thinking about her butt."

Still in shock, Freddie groped for words, any words. "Of course not," he managed eventually.

Caleb shrugged. "Okay." Freddie let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding and that, naturally, was when Sam appeared.

"Alright, what'd you guys want?" She sounded bored and slightly annoyed. Probably was, Freddie figured.

"To say goodnight!" Caleb cried happily, throwing his arms around both of them. He then threw himself onto the bed and lay ramrod-straight. "Tuck me in." Freddie did so, and then just before he shut off the light Sam ruffled the boy's hair.

"Night, kiddo. Don't let the bedbugs bite."

Sam and Freddie exited the room, shutting the door behind them, and then they heard a feeble, "Bedbugs?" Freddie shot Sam a glare.

"There's no bedbugs!" Sam said quickly. "That's…that's just something your Aunt Sam made up. No bedbugs. None." They waited a moment, but nothing else was said.

"You really love these kids, don't you," said Freddie. It wasn't a question.

She walked away, down the stairs, back to the TV and the drawing she probably had waiting.


With the twins and Caleb all in bed, Rikki approached Freddie next. "Want to play cards, Uncle Freddie?" He gladly accepted; his and Rikki's card battles were infamous.

"What this time? Uno or Phase 10?"

She thought a moment. "Phase 10." They sat at the table and Rikki began shuffling.

"Don't do the grandma shuffle, Rik," Sam called out from the couch, right near the table.

"I'm not," Rikki huffed. The "grandma shuffle" was the way Carly's mother used to shuffle cards, by simply taking them from random places in the deck and sticking them into other random places in the deck. It took a while and generally annoyed people. Rikki had always done it before, but recently she had learned to shuffle "normally."

Sam dragged herself off the couch and over to the table, switching off the TV. "I'll get in on this," she said.

"Sam, this is our game," Freddie complained.

"Well, I wanna play too. Is that a crime, O Master of Cards?"

"Tocas," Freddie grumbled, sighing. He knew he'd never win, not against her. He never used to and he never would in the future, either. That was just the way he and Sam were destined to work.

"Well, gracias then." Freddie ignored her and concentrated on the cards Rikki was dealing out, picking them up one by one and then, once he had them all, sifting through and organizing them to go in order of number.

"You're so slow. You know, some of us actually want to play the game, Grandpa." He continued to ignore her and the obnoxious snoring noises she had begun to make till he was finished sorting. He picked up a card, glanced at it, threw it out. Rikki followed suit, then Sam, and so on. As usual, the game was peppered with outbursts such as "Oh, come on, gimme a good card!" "Bastard!" "Help me out here." "Stinker." "What makes you think I'd want a stinking twelve?", and, of course, the cry of "Uno!" when someone had only one card left—even if it wasn't the right game.

"What'd I tell you, Rik," Sam cried when Freddie went out for the third hand in a row. "Always skip Uncle Freddie." Freddie stuck his tongue out at her. Rikki giggled at them. "But do you listen to me?" Sam continued. "No. And that's why your Uncle Freddie is winning. And that itself is a travesty."

"Been reading the dictionary for insults again?" Freddie asked with a smirk, already starting to shuffle and deal out the cards.

Sam smiled proudly. "Yep. Coccydynia." The second word was directed at him, and he rolled his eyes. "Alright, Fredley, hurry up and gimme cards." She clapped her hands and rubbed them together in anticipation.

Forty-five minutes later, everyone had managed to make it to the final phase, and everything was down to the wire. Sam went down first, and then Rikki. Freddie had only one card left to go, then he could go down and out—when just before his turn, Rikki threw the one she had just picked up down on Sam's cards and threw the other one away, winning the game. She leaned back victoriously in her chair and propped her feet up on the table. Freddie instinctively pushed them off, and Rikki stood. "Well, I'm gonna go to bed. Night."

"Night," Sam and Freddie echoed simultaneously. As soon as the preteen was gone Sam looked up at the clock on the stove for the first time that night. "Hey, shouldn't Carly and Kevin be back by now?"

Freddie shrugged. "Kev probably rented a hotel room for them. You know, get away from the craziness of the kids for a night."

"You're probably right," Sam conceded. "Hey, betcha ten bucks she gets pregnant again tonight."

"Is there any point in betting if we both think the same thing?"

"Not really." She paused, then, "Wanna do it anyway?"

"Sure." They shook on it, and Freddie opened the note app on his PearPhone and added the bet to the list of ongoing bets he had with Sam. The List wasn't short by any means, and it grew nearly every time they were in the same room.

"I think I'll head to bed too," Sam said. "I've got an early shift at the prison tomorrow."

"Isn't it at eleven-thirty?"

"Yeah. See, early." Freddie laughed, then told her to throw down some blankets for him, to which she responded "no;" however, within moments of her going upstairs, a pile of sheets and blankets landed with a thump on the bottom step, followed by a foam pillow (the kind he liked but she hated), and he smiled.


Freddie was awakened the next morning by repeated rapping on the door. He blinked slowly and yawned, then stumbled to his feet and to the door, pushing aside the curtain to see who it was.

A cop.

Freddie's brow furrowed and he opened the door, and the cool breeze that hit him made him suddenly aware he wasn't wearing a shirt. "Something wrong, Officer?" He responded to the cop's "who are you?" question, and then the cop, who introduced himself as Officer Huntington, asked if he knew Carly and Kevin Williamsburg.

"Uh, yeah, I'm one of Carly's best friends," he said groggily, head spinning slightly. "Why? Did something happen?"

"You might want to sit down," Officer Huntington said gently.

"Can I just get Sam first? She'll want to hear this too."

"Your wife?"

Freddie's eyebrows shot up. "NO! . Nooooo. She's Carly's other best friend. We were babysitting here last night." He darted up the stairs and to the master bedroom, where Sam had commandeered Carly and Kevin's king-sized bed for the night, and was currently sprawled across it, tangled in a sea of blankets. Freddie took a second to marvel at how such a small body could take up so much of such a huge bed before waking her up the best way he knew how: by first shaking her gently, then slapping her, running away to avoid her right hook, and finally screaming that there was a cop at the door. She shot out of bed instantly.

"Freddie, what the hell?! What're you waking me up for?" she said irritably, posing with her hands on her hips.

"There really is a cop, and he's got something to tell us about Carly and Kevin," he cried frantically, taking her by the wrist and pulling her down the stairs, ignoring her protests.

"Now," Freddie said, "what was it?"

"You must be Sam," Officer Huntington said, and she nodded. "The car registered to your friends Kevin and Carly Williamsburg was found off the side of River Road at seven o'clock this morning," he began, before he was cut off with cries of "Oh my God!"

"The bad news is that they didn't survive the crash," he said as kindly as possible, "but the good news is they were likely dead instantly—no pain."


I promise not to leave you too long with that. I've already started the next chapter. Also, "coccydynia" means "pain in the butt," and Phase 10 is an awesome game. There.

Oh, and because I got bored, Sam's and Freddie's pajamas are in a Polyvore link on my profile.