A/N Hey there, this is my very first iCarly story, and I'd really appreciate any comments you may have. I have all of this planned out, and will put up a chapter every few days as I go over it with a fine toothed comb. It will be ten chapters long, I think. This will be Seddie, by the way. Thank you for reading!
Disclaimer: If iCarly were mine I'd keep Nathan Kress in my pocket like a hamster.
Ninth grade, a new year, a new set of classes, a new pair of pants. I'm not going to lie, the new pants are a pretty big deal for my mom. I step into the classroom of my new elective, see Shane, and slip into a chair beside him.
"Here's that ADAT Optical cable you lent me last year, Freddie" Shane pushes a coil across our table in my direction, not making eye contact.
"Um, thanks, and you know, I'm really sorry about what happened with Sam and Carly." I take the initiative, stowing my cable in my new backpack. Shane hadn't spoken to any of us after his accident last year, preferring a new set of friends. But the fact that he had returned my stuff gave me hope.
"Don't, don't even say their names." He shudders, but sort of cracks me a grin at the same time.
"But hey, we're in photography together, can we at least be class friends? I swear I will never introduce you to any other girls for as long as I live." I put my hand over my heart and smile, because Shane is nodding in agreement.
In walks a woman who I assume to be our teacher. She scans the classroom with a tired gaze, and turns around to write "PHOTOGRAPHY" on the board, with "MRS. GREY" beneath it. Last year when picking our electives our counselors had recommended we find a class that related to what we wanted to do professionally, and I was lucky because iCarly made me realize how much I loved cinematography. So one semester of photography it was. With any luck I will get to show off the sweet new digital SLR I have stashed in my backpack. My thoughts wander back to reality as Mrs. Grey begins speaking.
"Welcome to photography one oh one, kids. I know you all know how to take a picture with your phones, and photoshop your faces onto naked people, but in this class, we will be using exclusively film. Black and white film. We will be developing the negatives and printing the photos entirely by hand. You will learn how to use a film camera. You will learn how to use a darkroom appropriately. You will come to appreciate the unique qualities of film, and understand the difference between a picture and photography." Mrs. Grey is handing out syllabuses to everyone as she gives her well-rehearsed speech, her eyes lighting up and her voice rising as she reaches the conclusion. But my heart has fallen out of my chest. Film? Black and white? What is this, the eighteenth century?
The rest of the class is your usual first day waste of time. I'm too busy worrying about what my mother will say about the idea of me interacting with developing chemicals to pay much attention, but I do notice the final project assignment.
"The students will each present nine carefully chosen images in a thoughtful series of a person, place or thing that he or she finds fascinating. The students are expected to work on this final project throughout the semester, in order to show a progression of his or her subject as well as his or her developing skills as a photographer."
Brilliant! This will be the single best excuse to stare at Carly I have ever had. Sure, filming for iCarly is pretty good, but I have to pay attention to Sam, too, and deal with all of the sound and multiple cameras at once. I'm pretty sure I can convince her to pose for me, if it's for school.
When the bell rings, I wave goodbye to Shane and head to lunch, my mind spinning with possibilities. My stomach is grumbling too, and I smile to myself because I remembered to keep my lunch with me at all times. If I didn't, Sam would break into my locker and steal it before I had a chance.
"Whatup, Fredster?" She raises her chin in my general direction as I plunk down across the lunch table from her, but she's too caught up with her cold fried chicken to look at my face. Unwrapping my sandwich and apples, I contemplate briefly the fact that Sam has managed to preserve an entire lunch table for herself despite the cafeteria being packed. On the first day, too! Her reputation has lived on through the summer, and I'm perversely grateful as I spread my lunch out in front of me.
"Puckett, of all the joints in all the towns in all the world…Hey I was gonna eat that!" I cry as Sam brazenly steals an apple from under my nose. "I'm a growing young man and I need my vitamins, Sam." My arms are crossed in front of me.
"What? You got two of them. That means one is for sharing." At least she bothers to speak to my face as she bites into my apple.
"Anyway, where's Carly? I need to talk to her about something."
"Sam, how was your first day of school? Suckish as usual, Freddie, thank you for asking." She's staring pointedly at me, now, but I'm busy waving Carly over as she emerges from the lunch line.
"Hi guys. They have ham on the chef salads! I got Sam one." Carly smiles widely as Sam pounces the salad like a wolverine and leans into me, "Look, she's eating vegetables." She whispers conspiratorially, and sits down next to Sam.
I figure, no time like the present. "Carly, will you be the subject of my final in photography class? I'd have to take pictures of you until winter break."
"Um…" Carly seems hesitant, her fork hovering over her salad. Awkwardness reigns until Sam tries to steal Carly's ham and turkey slices and Carly smacks the back of Sam's hand. "What's the assignment about, and why would it involve you taking pictures of me?"
"I have to take photos of something or someone that fascinates me," I pull out the syllabus and direct her to the end of the document, "and I figured that I'm always taking video of you for iCarly, so why not just do some still photography while I'm at it. It's a sure way to keep up my grade." Ah, that one works. Carly's got a weak spot for good grades.
Sam is moaning like she's got a stomach ulcer or something. "Carls, you know this is just some freakish plot of his to get you to pose in creepy ways for him. He'll probably photoshop your head onto naked people's bodies."
I laugh, maybe a bit nervously, remembering Mrs. Grey's speech opener. But luckily, Carly is elbowing Sam in the gut and saying "I'm game, Freddie. But I don't know that I'm so 'fascinating' as all that." Relief floods through me and the rest of lunch is spent peacefully discussing iCarly ideas. Sam's got a brilliant one involving the suspension of Gibby in Jello, but I'm not about to tell her that.
Day one of school is now complete. I linger by my locker, packing up my things and waiting for Sam and Carly to head out so I can get a ride home with my mom without Sam making fun of me. I sidle into the passenger's seat next to Mom and prepare for the first day barrage. It's tradition, of course.
"Sweetie, how was it? Did your pants stay clean? Was gym okay or are we going to have to get some notes again? Did you wash your apples twice before eating them? Do we need to buy anything for your classes?" I let the questions wash over me, nodding where appropriate, but latch onto that last one.
"Actually, we need to go to the camera store on Myrtle Street." I explain about the film debacle as we drive on. Mom is a little concerned about the developing chemicals.
"Freddie, promise me that you will never wear your new pants on photography days. That stuff can bleach, and eat through the flame retardants I spray on."
By the time we get to the store I've made up my mind to take the black and white and film problems in stride. Everyone who is really good at something has to start at the most basic level, right? Master chefs start with learning how to chop vegetables, martial arts masters start with learning how to stand still, and I will be a cinematography master by learning about ISO and f-stops. Yes! It is a plan, and one that conveniently involves me and Carly spending more time together. By the time I've gathered everything on my list and convinced my mom that we can afford it if I return my new digital camera, I'm jubilant.
Two hours later, my plan is working brilliantly. I'm at Carly's and we're rehearsing for tomorrow's show. I've figured out how to load the film into my new camera, despite Sam insisting it will burst into flames if I take a picture of myself. Sure, the first few images on the roll will be blurry shots of my face an arm's length away, but the next thirty are all of Carly and she's soaking up the attention like a sponge.
We had decided to use the swings again, in combination with a bubble machine on loan from Socko. Carly is trying desperately to keep from laughing and get through her bit, but a combination of relief from the first day of school being over and the sheer silliness of the scene is getting to her. A mermaid who is afraid of bubbles is a story of tragedy and woe, but every time she is supposed to scream in terror, she starts giggling instead, her green lame costume crinkling as she bends over and clutches onto the swing chains for support.
Because it's a rehearsal, I snap photos all I want, and the scene with the bubbles and the iCarly lighting is too great not to fill a roll. According to Mrs. Grey, though, usually the last few frames are lost when someone inexperienced is loading the film, so for the thirty-sixth shot I take a picture of Sam. She's got her hands on her hips, watching me take pictures of Carly with such disapproval. If her eyes rolled any more they would pop out of their sockets. I don't think she notices me, she's too busy being annoyed with me instead.
The next photography class we have, I'm staring at my negatives and growing increasingly angry with myself. Every single shot of Carly is a horrible blur. Apparently there is this thing called shutter speed that I had forgotten about, and all the movement with swings and reflective material didn't work so well. I didn't shoot any digital video of the whole thing, either. There is one acceptable image on the roll, the thirty-sixth, of Sam. To my surprise, she's looking straight at me.