too late.

12 am

Carly sighed and squeezed her eyes shut again, but it did her no good. All the eye-squeezing in the world couldn't shut out the expression that had been on Freddie's face. He had seemed so serious...

He had taken her by surprise again, and she wasn't sure she liked it.

"Is it too late for you to love me?"

She knew that was what he had said. It had to be. Even more than what he said, it was the way he said it that chilled her.

The words were like something he would have said to her two or three years ago. Familiar. Maybe irritating, but not scary. His tone, that was new, that was different.

She shivered.

Why did this scare her so badly?

She sat up, clutching at her covers like somehow they could save her. Her thoughts were so jumbled she wanted to shake them out of her head.

"Is it too late?"

Carly almost felt as if she should be asking him that.

1 am

She had discovered that if she turned the volume up on her PearPod all the way and held the headphones tight over her ears, she almost couldn't hear Freddie asking her if she still loved him.

No. No, that wasn't what he said, Carly! She chastised herself over this slip.

He asked something even simpler. If she still could. If it was still possible.

"Anything's possible, right?" she mumbled, trying not to hear herself over the music.

2 am

At some point, somebody must have replaced all of her music with songs about Freddie. Nothing else could explain why she finally gave up on shuffling and re-shuffling.

Maybe while they were at it, they had replaced all of her thoughts with thoughts about him, too.

She wondered if he'd ask her again. Did he really believe her, when she acted like she didn't hear? This was too much for her to deal with right now. It was always too much for her to deal with. Nothing felt so insurmountable as this big blob of absolutely horrifying feelings for her best friend.

Because yes, no matter what she might say, she did have feelings for him. Silly teenage feelings, maybe, or mature (she couldn't bring herself to think the word—"love", Freddie's voice repeated in her ear), or something somewhere in-between, but feelings nonetheless. They scared the junk out of her, because nothing had ever felt quite so real.

3 am

There was no notebook next to her bed, so she grabbed a sketchbook and scribbled down the plaguing thoughts.

"No, Freddie," she said to herself, deliberately, as she scrawled the words. "No, it's not too late for me to love you. I already do."