“Were you ever going to tell me?” Guy asks quietly once it’s all over. Mr. Jenkins is safe, Michellee and E.B. have gone back to their motel to catch some much-needed shuteye after their very-long day of excitement, and Sam and Guy are left, just the two of them, sitting on a bench at a bus stop while they try and decide what to do for the night.
When she’d left with E.B, Michellee had slipped a palmful of bruckles into his hand and given him a look that had forbidden any argument. Guy can’t bring himself to get up to put them to use, though, not yet. His legs feel like jelly creatures, and his stomach is tying itself into tighter knots with every moment that passes between them in the quiet of the night.
“Was I going to tell you what?” Sam asks, and he sounds just about as exhausted as Guy feels.
“About…” Guy waves one hand in the air like it will help him find the words he wants to say. “You. About your aliases, and about Snerz. Were you ever going to tell me about it?”
When Guy looks over, Sam has a guilty look on his face, and Guy knows the answer before it’s even said. “Honestly, I— No. I never really thought about it.” He pulls his knees up to his chest and wraps his arms around his legs, curling up even smaller than he already sits without trying. “Does that make me a bad friend?” he asks in a very small voice.
Expecting the answer doesn’t quite manage to remove the entirety of the sting from it, but Guy tries not to let it bother him too badly. If Sam can still be here, sitting beside him quietly, even after Guy had said what he’d said about his mother… then Guy will do his best to move past this, too.
“No,” he says immediately, but Sam just gives him a sad, unconvinced look. It feels wrong to see such a dark expression where there’s usually nothing but sunshine, and despite the annoyance he sometimes feels when Sam is full of his very-loud joy, Guy knows nothing more right now than that he would do anything in the world to wipe that awful, serious look off of Sam’s face.
“It doesn’t make you any worse than me,” Guy amends softly, turning further on the bench so that his entire body is facing Sam. Sam doesn’t move, but a weak frown creases the fur between his eyes.
“But you’re not—“
Guy interrupts before Sam can finish his protestation. “Sam, I haven’t been a good friend. In fact… I’ve been a— a pretty bad one.” A beat of silence passes, one where Guy is certain that they’re both hearing that past, angrier version of him in their heads saying you don’t fit anybody, not even your own mother, and he swallows hard. “But you’ve stuck by me. You’re still here, briefcase buddy.”
There’s a tiny twitch of Sam’s lips at that, but he doesn’t say anything else, and Guy is horrified to see unshed tears shining in his eyes.
“I didn’t ask you if you were going to tell me to make you feel guilty,” he says, reaching out and brushing his fingers over Sam’s hat. He means to tilt it back, and he does it without a problem, but Sam reaches up and grabs his hand when he tries to pull away again. Guy ignores the sudden butterflies he gets in his stomach as well as he can and lets Sam hold on, his one hand pressed tightly between Sam’s two. “I asked because I wanted to know. And because… I wanted to tell you that it’s okay. And that I hope that you stay Sam-I-Am, this time, because—“ Guy returns the grip Sam’s got on his hand, because there’s an emotion he isn’t used to welling up in his throat that’s trying to stop him from finishing his sentence. “—because you’ve got someone, right here, that wants you to stay that way.” He gets it out, barely.
The hands holding onto him disappear without warning, but Guy barely has time to realise it before he finds himself with a lap-and-armful of Sam-I-Am. Sam throws his arms around Guy and buries his face in the fur of his neck, and it’s all Guy can do to wrap his arms around him and hold him tightly.
Sam is shaking in his arms, and Guy can feel his neck getting wet, but for one of the first times since Sam had come barrelling into his life less than a week (had it really only been that long?!) ago, Guy only pulls him in tighter instead of pushing him away. Sam’s hat falls from his head and lands on the bench behind him, but neither of them pay it any mind.
When the trembling finally calms, Guy pats Sam gently on the back until he pulls away enough to look up at him. His eyes are red, but he doesn’t look nearly as sad as he had before he’d launched himself across the bench.
“I’m going to be a better friend, from now on,” Guy tells him, a promise strengthening his statement. “I might not always be good at it, but I’m going to try. And if — when— I’m a bad one, then you can teach me how to be better. Okay?”
Sam sniffles. He wipes his nose one one of his arms, and then he nods. His other hand is still loosely gripping a handful of Guy’s fur at his back. “Only if you promise you’ll do the same for me, okay, Guy?”
Against all odds, Guy finds himself smiling that soft, fond smile that he keeps directing at Sam without even needing to think about it. “I promise.”
Sam returns the smile. It’s watery, but it’s genuine one-hundred-percent Sam, and it wakes those butterflies in Guy’s stomach right up again.
He clears his throat gruffly and nudges at Sam, though he doesn’t push him off of his lap like he probably would have at the start of this whole ridiculous adventure. “How about we go find somewhere to stay the night, alright?”
“We don’t have any money,” Sam replies after a moment’s thought. He does not, however, remove himself from Guy’s lap.
Guy reaches up and takes off his hat. When he reaches inside and pulls out the bruckles Michellee had gifted him, Sam’s face lights up with a smile that makes Guy feel warm inside even in this chilly night air.
“I think E.B. convinced her mother that we were going to wind up sleeping on a park n’ ride if she didn’t help us out a little,” Guy explains fondly.
Sam finally slides off of Guy’s lap and back onto the bench, very nearly crushing his hat beneath his backside in the process. “That little scamp,” he says, just as fond as Guy, and then cocks his head to the side. “Y’know, sleeping on a park n’ ride doesn’t sound so bad…”
Guy picks up Sam’s hat and plops it back onto his head. “Absolutely not,” he says, but he can’t stop himself from returning Sam’s mischievous grin with a small smile of his own. He stands up and replaces the money in his hat before replacing the hat on his own head.
“Oh, c’mon,” Sam begs, in a tone that Guy can’t quite tell if he’s joking or not. He hops up off the bench and scampers around in front of Guy. “You can’t tell me that doesn’t sound like fun, Guy .”
“It doesn’t sound like fun,” Guy says flatly, but he’s still smiling, so the effect isn’t nearly as heartbreaking as it could be. “Come on, yourself, troublemaker. Let’s go sleep in a bed, for once.” He reaches down and gently turns Sam around by the shoulders, so that they can start walking away in the same direction together.
“I slept in a bed when we were with your family,” Sam points out, poking Guy in the side. Guy huffs.
“Well, I didn’t, and I’m tired. I had to help some lunatic get a chickaraffe back to Chickaraffe Island,” Guy replies easily, poking Sam right back. “We’re finding a hotel, and that’s final.”
Sam hops nimbly out of the way of a second poking. “Alright, H.F.B, hotel-finding buddy! Sounds good to me!” He dances back to Guy’s side again when Guy stops trying to poke at him.
They walk in silence for a moment, and Guy is just drifting off into thought when he feels Sam wrap a hand around his own again. “Hey, Guy?
Sam squeezes his hand. “Thank you,” he says softly. “For coming to help me. And for trying green eggs and ham. And… for being my best friend.”
Guy squeezes Sam’s hand right back again, that soft fond smile back like a boomerang on his face. “No, thank you, Sam-I-Am. Thank you.”