Happiness is a Faraway Place
Summary: Carly Shay Benson always did have more of a ring to it. [Sam/Freddie, some Carly/Freddie]
(He and I had something beautiful,
But so dysfunctional, it couldn't last.)
Freddie should probably be happier.
He is the groom after all. And Carly does make an awfully stunning bride, no doubt about it.
But he honestly can't figure out what's keeping him from being the happiest man on the planet.
Today is his day. It's the day he's been dreaming about since the moment he locked eyes with Carly Shay all those years ago, when they first met in their apartment corridor. She had been helping her brother move into their new apartment right across his, and that had been it. He had been so sure they were connected from that moment on.
She's probably the prettiest new girl-next-door anyone can possibly ever have the chance of meeting. The type of girl no one's surprised to know you had your first serious childhood crush on. That girl who's always found in those predictable chick flicks, but barely in reality.
Well this is reality. And he's here. He's finally gotten the girl of his dreams, and it's nice and all, but something's missing, and he just can't seem to figure it out…
"Freddie?" He jumps at the sound of his name, looking in the direction of whoever just called his name, only to find his eyes meeting those of a familiar face.
She's smiling, and she really is such a pretty wife. Her pale, milky skin illuminate and soften her dark, mysterious eyes even more than usual, and her jet black hair is a striking contrast to the white dress she's wearing.
She's glowing, and he wants to so badly sigh at the comfort of her presence. Carly always was one of his closest best friends. And maybe that's the problem. The fact that somehow, that's always what she seems to be to him first and foremost.
Not his first serious girlfriend. Not his fiancé. Not even his wife. Just his first best friend. His first wonderful, amazing best friend.
He doesn't like to think about it. In fact he's been making excuses for those feeling for a while now. It's marriage. A big step and a big change that takes some time to get used to, simply put. So this is probably normal. Carly probably feels it even more. She's just better at hiding it.
Her smile seems to falter for a second, as she studies his expression slowly.
"Are you okay, Freddie? You've been really quiet these past few hours. I mean I know there's always wedding jitters. I had them too, but I mean we got through it, didn't we? And I'm just so happy, aren't you happy—"
She's rambling. It's a trademark thing for the usually calm and collected Carly to do when she's nervous or worried.
He puts his hand over hers, a common gesture that's arised between them in these past few months leading up to today. And she stops all at once, taking a deep breath, those big, dark brown eyes waiting.
"I am so happy, Carly. Why wouldn't I be? You and I both know I've been waiting for this day since we were little kids. I'm probably more excited than you actually. I guess I'm just having some trouble taking it all in. How this is all actually happening."
She blushes at the reminder of his childhood crush on her. "Well it is happening, and we're here and I'm your wife, and I can't be more ecstatic. I'm so glad you never gave up on me. It was all worth it in the end and I love you so much, I hope you know that."
He forces a smile. "Yeah, I know…me too." His mouth is dry, and he doesn't know why it's so hard for him to even say those last two words.
It's like he's lying or something, but he's not. He loves Carly. Really he does. He doesn't need to prove that to anyone, especially himself. He knows and Carly knows and that's all that matters, right?
But he sees her smile disappearing again for a second at his behavior and he feels guilty. This is completely unfair. What is wrong with him? Maybe he's coming down with something.
She nods her head lightly, eyes slightly troubled still, before quickly turning away and looking at the crowd in front of them. It's their reception, and everyone looks so joyful.
He hears her clear her throat, instinctively turning his head towards her, to show her she has his attention.
She pushes a strand of hair behind her ear nervously. She's usually so calm and confident around him.
"I was thinking, I mean I know we already had out first dance as man and wife and all, but I really love this song, and dancing to it with you would be nice, would you mind…"
He's not really in the mood to dance to be frank, but he can't say no, tonight of all nights especially, can he?
So he fakes another smile, already standing up as she stutters through her words. He feels bad. Carly shouldn't have to be anxious about her own husband rejecting her offer to dance at her own wedding. It's his fault, and god he really is being such a jerk.
"Why would you even have to ask, Carls. I would never say no to you, especially when it involves you, me and slow dancing." He wiggles his brow suggestively, trying to act like the dorky Freddie she knows so well and Carly laughs her nervous laugh, before standing up as well and carefully taking the hand he's extended towards her.
And as he leads her onto the dance floor, he can feel all eyes on them, and he can't help looking around, unconsciously taking little snapshots of certain people's expression. He stores them in the back of his mind. He stores the image of his mother in the corner talking to some distant relative, tearing up in joy. She already displayed the waterworks five times before this.
"…I thought it was going to be hard when he moved away for college. But now he's going to be spending the rest of his life with another woman. I don't know how I'll be able to handle it…"
Oh, and there's Carly's father, dressed in his navy uniform, standing tall, regal and proud talking to one of his colleagues.
"…always did approve of that "Freddie boy" from what I gathered from Spencer. Knew from the start was going to turn into a nice, promising, young man, even if he seemed a little strange as a kid...only one who could keep my baby girl pleased, I say…"
And they're swaying to the song now, and Carly seems satisfied, her head is against his chest, and arms secure around his waist and that's all that should matter.
Carly's happiness is his happiness. It's almost like a mantra. Something he's been saying and trying to follow religiously since they formed their friendship.
"Fredsters, mind if I cut in? I haven't had the pleasure of sharing a dance with my baby sis this whole, special evening—"
They break apart, and inwardly Freddie sighs a breath of relief, as Carly giggles at her brother's goofy attempt of asking permission to dance with her.
"Well if that's the case, it would only be fair to give her to you for a little while. But remember, it's temporary, okay?" Freddie gives him a serious look, and Spencer plays along, nodding his head solemnly.
"Of course, Freddie. I wouldn't have it any other way."
And as the two break into smiles, Carly lightly swats her brother on the shoulder, calling them both silly, before letting him take her away across the floor.
And just as Freddie's about to go back to his table, and talk with some other distant relatives and guests, he feels a faint tap on his shoulder.
He feels tired already, not looking forward to another Great Aunt Sally, pinching his cheeks and telling him about how "he's grown to become such a perfect gentleman, and my what a beautiful pair Carly and he are."
But when he turns around, the sight in front of him doesn't involve any aunts wearing atrociously brightly-colored, flower-patterned dresses, and grand smiles that come along with them whatsoever.
It involves a girl with shiny, golden locks, and the bluest sky blue eyes he's ever had the pleasure of coming into contact with. She's dressed in a simple yellow dress, and looks completely uncomfortable and awkward in it. The heels don't seem to be helping her feel any better, but he doesn't think she could look any lovelier than she does right now, in front of him.
There's silence, and Freddie feels eerily calm. It's unnerving given their situation. And he wants to say something, anything, but nothing comes out.
"Uh…hey." Her voice still has the same gruffness to it as it had in the past, and he's missed her voice.
Misses their daily banters, insults back and forth that he always seemed to lose pretty badly in.
"Hi." They stand there, staring at each other in silence for what seems like a while, and it occurs to Freddie, this probably looks really strange to everyone around them.
"I just wanted to—"
"Maybe we should—"
They start at the same time, and stop at the same time abruptly. He coughs.
"You first." He says politely.
And it's weird. Politeness and Sam have never been used in the same sentence together, especially when you add him into the equation. There's always been something too raw in their exchanges, for cordiality and civility to work between them. But it's been a while since he's seen her, and they aren't those immature and irrational teenagers anymore. They're on foreign grounds today.
"I—um well was thinking we could talk—catch up, or whatever you call it. I don't know. I'm not really good at all this. But I think you get it." He gets a tiny peek into the Sam he's known all his life at the very end of her sentence, and it hits him with a sense of homeliness.
"Yeah, uh definitely, why don't we…"
"Dance." She interjects randomly, and he looks at her a little surprised by her proposal. Sam's never been a fan of dancing, especially with him. And she seems to notice his shock, her eyes softening slightly.
"I just thought… it seemed like a nice way to talk and not turn heads at the same time. You are the groom; you shouldn't be leaving the room to talk to some random stranger. Especially one of the opposite sex. Might turn some heads and raise some eyebrows. And we wouldn't want that, would we?" Her eyes are shining, and there's a hint of amusement at the absurdity of such an idea.
Freddie loves Carly with all his heart after all. Everyone knows that.
And he doesn't know why her expression makes him feel slightly annoyed. It's true after all. But something is gnawing him on the inside to prove her wrong, to show her…
He has to stop. It's wrong even thinking about something like that. He's just going to dance with Sam, rekindle some old memories, and then it's done, over for good. And he'll go back into Carly's arms, like he's meant to.
He nods his head, grasping one of her hands in his, and sliding the other on her hip without any hesitance.
And he swears she's trying to hide a smile, as they start moving across the floor, steps unsure, and out of rhythm at first, but slowly synchronizing with smoothness and grace. Well as best as you can get to grace with a girl like Sam.
"How have you been?" (Where have you been is the question Freddie's really dying to know the answer to.)
"Good." Her answer is short and to the point. So completely Sam. She doesn't even bother to return the favor of politeness.
"Cool. Now that we've gotten over the basics, want to tell me where you've been these past two years?" He'll cut straight to the point if she wants to go about it that way.
She shrugs, looking over his shoulder before finally answering indifferently. "Here, there. All over and back."
"Seems like quite an adventure." He'll play along for now.
"Does it? I guess it was." She seems so far away, and lost.
And there's only so much Freddie can tolerate after a certain point. Sam must know that.
"Honestly Sam, I love the whole mysterious attribute you've seemed to attain in the past two years in which you also decided to not keep in contact with Carly and me, but can you help a guy out? Why can't you come straight out with it, I mean, we've all been so close since we were kids, and not to mention iCarly and high school—"
"A lot's changed since then."
He stops his rant. There's a sadness about her words and he's not sure how to handle it.
"Yeah. You're right. But not enough for Carly and me to stop worrying about you non-stop."
"Okay, I'm sorry. Can we please just not talk about this right now? I don't want to argue with you at your wedding of all places."
"Stuff like this has never stopped you before—"
"This is different." There's a sense of finality in her words. A hidden meaning behind them, and he can't understand completely, but he then again he gets it and that scares him a little.
They relapse into silence again, and Freddie doesn't understand how this gets them anywhere. The whole point of talking, in his opinion, meant her telling him where the hell she's been the past two years.
She snorts, and Freddie quickly looks down at her confused. She seems to be trying to contain her laughter over something.
He gives her an irritated look. "Come on, just tell me."
She's still trying to choke down her amusement, but finally gives in. "Remember that time, at the Semi, Jack and me got into a fight because he wouldn't dance with me, and he told me I didn't seem like the type of girl that was into that sort of garbage—"
"And he made you cry—" Freddie can't help smiling at the memory.
"And then you tried to punch him and got your ass kicked—" She's in a fit of giggles now, and Freddie can't help frowning, and jutting his chin out defiantly.
"I did not get my ass kicked—"
"No… you just got a black eye."
"Hey, his knuckles had a cut!"
"Yeah, from punching you the wrong way…and still giving you a black eye!"
She's quiet, obviously thinking about something, and Freddie can't help thinking there's a certain intimacy that flickered briefly between them in this little moment of bantering they've shared. It's almost like old times, except it's not. He can't help wondering how they must look right now to the world, that is, if anyone would even actually notice. Chemistry is such a peculiar thing.
"It was sweet of you though. Trying to act all macho and protective." He snaps out of his wandering thoughts, at the muffled sound that comes from Sam, who seems to be content keeping her head against his chest and talking into it.
"Yeah, that would have been a little nicer to hear at the time." He jabs in with a hint of annoyance.
"Hey! I let you hold my hand and slow dance with me that night. If that's not screaming appreciation right there, I don't know what is." She takes her head away from him.
"Oh yes. I'm sorry. My bad. That was a big sacrifice right there. Who knows what kind of dorkiness I could have contaminated you with." He remarks sarcastically.
She confidently nods her head in agreement. "Exactly Freddie. See, I knew deep inside you really got what I was saying the whole time. Though I gotta, you've gotten much better at this whole slow dancing thing."
"You too." He mutters grimly, and she looks up at him and it's like she's holding a secret she really wants to reveal to him, but doesn't have the heart to.
He sighs, giving up. They're quiet again.
"Freddie…you know, I'm kidding right. I always was kidding. Carly's lucky she has you for the rest of her life."
"Thanks…" He can't help feeling like all this is a little bizarre, a little more complicated than a simple reunion should be. A part of him knows it still hasn't really hit him yet; that Sam's here in his arms dancing with him at his wedding reception after two years of no letters, calls, or any means of contact to be honest.
"Mhm…" She murmurs gently, and he can't help noticing how her hand fits so well into his…
"This is nice." She comments casually looking around the hall.
"Thanks. We worked really hard. We wanted to make it just right." They lock eyes as he says it, and there's something so tragic about her expression, he almost steps on her foot in surprise.
"Is it everything you dreamed it would be, Freddork?" She's smiling the entire time she teasingly asks him the question.
"Yes." He barely gets the curt reply out of his system, and she seems to catch the hesitance behind his spoken word in a heartbeat.
"Nothing." He shakes his head, trying to look at anything but her.
She rolls her eyes, and sighs obnoxiously.
"Don't lie, Freddie. You always were such a horrible liar."
"Well you're not too amazing yourself, Sam." He retorts.
"This isn't about me. So let's not go there. Now tell me." She's being the demanding and aggressive Sam he knows so well, but he won't, can't back down.
"No." Clear and firm.
"Freddie. I have heels on. We are like only a couple of inches away from each other. Do the math and don't be an idiot. I really wouldn't want to send the beloved groom to the hospital, okay?"
He doesn't know why he's not feeling scared. He probably should. But like she said. A lot has changed.
"I'll talk, when you do."
She sighs. "Fine. But only cause we're at your wedding, dweeb."
"It never gets old for you, does it? Calling me names, making fun of me…"
"No, it doesn't. But only because it's the only thing that lets me pretend, everything's normal. Like old times…"
She doesn't let him go on. "I thought about us a lot while I was away. I just kept thinking maybe, if I'd let it happen, maybe, things would be different. Maybe we would have been able to work it out, you know?"
And he can feel the heartache coming around. She's uncovering and brushing away the dust from old feelings, old "what ifs", and memories he's worked so hard to lock away in a little part inside of him away from reality, but most importantly away from his relationship with Carly.
She's trying to control herself, and all Freddie wants to do is hold her and tell her it's okay. That he gets it and she's not alone. Never alone.
"No. You don't get it. You were so much more to me than a friend. And I know it's my fault. Because I'm the one who kept pushing you away and pretending there was nothing between us. I lost my chances and it's too late now. But it's hard, Freddie. It's hard to move on from you're first kiss, first slow dance, first love."
And he's not sure what to say. Sam's never been this open with him, and every time she's ever let him in even just a little, it's always been followed by a little shove away, and a clear message.
She laughs humorlessly. "I guess I always thought that I had all the time in the world before we got together. And maybe it was a little selfish of me, but I thought if I couldn't have you, than no one could. No one could be with you and be a perfect fit. And you'd date and whatnot, but in the end, I would come back into your life, and we'd be together."
She pauses, taking a deep breath before continuing, "Carly never really seemed like a problem either. And then I get a call from her, telling me you guys met up in Boston, and 'Sam there's something different between us. I think I like him, Sam. A lot. It's happening and I can't help it. I guess he always knew, didn't he?' And god I don't think I've ever felt as awful as I did then. It just hit me. If Carly was in the picture, I would never have a chance."
His stomach is churning at her revelation and the idea that maybe he's made the biggest mistake of his life. But he's so tired of feeling guilty and regretful all the time.
"So you ran away and didn't keep in contact." The words come out surprisingly composed, but there's a coldness to them. He didn't know he felt this too. But it's strong and he's pushed it down for a while now.
"You're mad at me?" She's just as surprised at his reaction as he is.
"Well, tell me Sam, what should I be feeling? I don't know…do you want me to be happy that you came out of nowhere, and just randomly confessed to me on my wedding day that, 'oh yes, by the way Freddie, all this time I really did like you, and wanted a relationship. But see, I wanted to do it on my own time, and expected you to wait even though I didn't even give you one single hint of my feelings', quite the opposite in fact?"
He takes a deep breath, before continuing. God, it feels so good to finally give her a piece of his mind.
"Or better yet, the fact that you couldn't stand seeing your two best friends together, so you decided to just run off and cut off all connection with them, because that's what suits you. Who cares about anyone else, right? That's Sam's motto for life." He hisses into her ear.
"I'm far from perfect! I get it. You don't need to rub it in. But see, this is what I'm talking about! Maybe I was scared to be with you, because you're so judgmental and harsh—"
"There's a reason why I've always been judgemental with you! You forced me—"
"Because I knew we were too different for it to work and I didn't want to see it fall apart!" She's so defensive, typical Sam, it only makes him angrier.
"Now it's my fault that you were afraid to commit to a "dweeb" like me!"
"No! Stop putting words in my mouth I just—"
Sam stops dancing, and there's something so lonely about how she looks in front of him right now, arms loosely hanging by her sides, and she's on the verge of crying, but it's obvious she's trying so hard to not let the tears escape from her eyes.
"This was a really bad idea. You and Carly are perfect together. I'm sorry I came, and just—"
And she starts walking away, when Freddie grabs her arm. "No Sam. You can't just walk away again. We need to talk about this."
She shakes her head a little too hard, trying to pull her arm away from him.
"No. You're right. I don't know what got into me. I can't believe I just barged into my two best friends' wedding reception and decided to tell the groom I always loved him. Even I have standards, and this was beyond stupid. I'm so sorry Freddie. You mean the world to me. And so does Carly. I hope you know that."
"Congratulations Fredward. You've finally got the girl of your dreams, and I gotta admit I didn't think you had it in you, but you did. You pulled through, and showed everyone. You and Carly deserve all the happiness in the world."
Happiness. He wants to laugh. This isn't happiness. This is a mess.
And then it's happening. The tears are streaming down her cheeks, and god is it sick to think she's so beautiful right now. That she's everything he's ever wanted. He wants to wake up every day to the thrill of her unpredictability and recklessness, to conversations filled with biting words that go back and forth. He wants to wake up to Sam and all that comes with her.
Her vulnerabilities, the few times she let him see them, always was a part of her he never could resist falling for. But there's always been more to her than that. She's not perfect. She's flawed. Oh so flawed. But that's what's makes her so fascinating, what makes her just right to fit in the parts he lacks.
He's hated and loved her all at the same time, so many times, for so many things; tricks, dirty looks and heated arguments, all involving some sort of verbal or physical abuses, and the trail of the far and few meaningful conversations they've shared, because that's what she brings into his life. She always wears him out, only to restore him back to his old self once again.
And it's unhealthy. They are completely unhealthy and completely wrong for each other. But all he wants to do right here, right now, is hold her tight, and kiss her. Hard. With no worry, or doubts in sight.
And it all makes sense. Why he's not been able to genuinely join in all the joy that should come today. Why he hasn't been able to give Carly one real smile.
This can't be happening. It's his wedding for Pete's sake. The rational side of him keepings reminding him he's married now. To one of the sweetest and caring girls you'll ever meet. That there is where the matter ends, no questions asked.
And Sam's still standing there, trying furiously to rub away the tear stains, while attempting to laugh it all off at the same time.
"It's okay, Freddie. Please don't feel bad. You know how much I hate pity. And besides, Carly Shay Benson always did have more of a ring to it, didn't it?" She's trying to lighten the mood, but it's not working. Far from it actually.
But he's frozen in place, everything that just happend taking a little longer to process than it should. And he's torn between telling her she's an idiot for thinking he never liked her back as much as she did him or simply letting this all go and doing the right thing; being the best husband he can possibly be to Carly, like he promised only just a few hours ago in that small, little chapel in front of all the people he loved, except one.
"We'll always be best friends though, right? Promise me, we'll all always be best friends."
It's an order. Not just any old request.
"I promise." He feels empty.
She's making the decision for him, and Freddie doesn't think he's bold enough to stand up to her. Maybe she was right the whole time. They never would have worked, never would have lasted. No matter how much they might have loved each another. Sometimes it just isn't enough. Sometimes security and stability are so much easier to adhere to and be happy with.
"Sam! Oh my god, it's actually you!" There's a blur of movement, and then there's Carly holding Sam so tight, it seems like the blonde can barely breathe.
"When you didn't respond to our wedding invitation or the offer to be my maid of honor, I was such a mess. Freddie had to keep calming down every time I had a mini panic-attack at the fact that you didn't even reply. But gosh, I'm just glad you're here and safe. And I knew you wouldn't not come to your best friends' wedding." Carly's beaming, and the guilt creeps in slightly again, as Freddie tries pay close attention to the soles of his shoes instead.
And he can feel Sam staring at him the whole time, but he can't bring himself to look up at the two of them.
"I'm glad I could make it, Carly. It's just life's been hectic… I guess. That's no excuse but, you know. That's me."
"There's so much we need to catch up on, Sam. I can't believe you just left us like that. I'm too happy right now though to yell at you. Today just turned out perfectly and—Sam…are you crying. What's wrong?"
"No—it's just Freddie seems to get a little more dorkier every time I see him. You know how it gets me emotional sometimes. Frankly,I still don't get how you went through with this. You do know what you have to spend the rest of your life with, don't you?"
Carly laughs fondly. "Yes, I do and I love it. Absolutely love it, no doubt in my mind. And I can't help looking forward to it."
She grabs onto Freddie's hand and he's forced to look up and meet Sam's eyes, as Carly kisses his cheek affectionately. Sam doesn't look away.
"Wow, I guess I really have missed out on a lot."
"Yeah, you have." He feels numb, the words coming out of his mouth don't seem to be his and Carly seems to recognize the tension instantly.
"Sam, it's fine. You're here now. We can get back to what we had—"
"No." Sam interrupts. Her eyes are glazed with something distant and Freddie isn't sure what to make of it. It doesn't really matter anymore anyways.
"I came here actually to say good bye. I'm moving to New York." Straight to the point once again. Sometimes Freddie hates her for it. But only as much as he loves her for it too.
"What! But you only just got here, and who knows where you've been the past two years. I won't have it. And Freddie won't either, right Freddie?" She tugs at his arm, giving him her "go along with it" expression.
He swallows down what he really wants to say, before starting again "Erm…yeah, I mean. If New York has an offer you can't say no to, well, as your friends, we wouldn't want to hold you back."
"Although, you staying here would be so much better for us." He adds as an afterthought.
"Freddie! A lot of help you are in convincing Sam to stay. I guess I'm on my own on this one. Come on, Sam let's go over to my table, and…"
She's already ushering Sam away, and Freddie can't help missing the blonde-haired girl already. Because deep inside, he kind of knows this is it. Set in stone and concrete. There's no going back now.
It's truly too late and they have to live with their decisions, no matter how hard and impossible it feels in moments like this. Because that's life and Sam seems to have accepted it, but she's had more time to do it too.
Now all that's left is him.
And she turns around one last time, the bubbly bride beside her unaware of the gesture, and there's a tentative, forced smile on her lips, almost like a question and Freddie understands. Really he does.
He smiles back hoping she's gotten her answer. Her broken laughter from only a few minutes ago still rings in his ears, almost hauntingly, and he wonders if this is what's called closure. If this is what Sam truly came here tonight for, because if it is, than he's not really sure how effective it truly was.
But it doesn't matter, and besides, he's already walking off the dance floor, to the opposite side of the room, purposely leaving the two girls alone.
There are still some Great Aunts that need to pinch his cheeks and he guesses, for now, they'll be the best distraction he can find in the sea of people around him.
I realize the ending is kind of rushed. But it was getting really long, and idk. I needed to end it like this, because that's what I had planned from the beginning and I don't think Freddie's the type to take risks and run away from his decisions. And Sam knows that better than anyone else, probably better than Carly. She knew that from the minute she decided to come to the wedding. But yeah, the ending wasn't converted the way I was thinking of it in my head. My execution definitely could have been better, but I grew desperate towards the end haha.
But the idea was some decisions are made in a milli-second. That's all you really have, and sometimes they're even made for you, because you're too scared to make them yourself, and that's what happened here. Anyways this was my first iCarly. I tried my best, keep in mind the characters are a lot older, just out of college and whatnot, so they have to be a little different than they are right now in junior high. lol. anyways, review are cool and I'm always welcome to constructive criticism :)