A/N: So rock solid writers block has created this epic first chapter of a 2 part fic...yeah, i dunno how that happened but Read and review if you'd like.


The Con


I don't know what I'm doing.

Freddie's gazing at me under the orangish hall light and I should have those butterflies flipping and flopping in my stomach because we're in high school now and its Freddie, who's gotten exponentially hotter since middle school and has liked me since the beginning of time, but I don't.

I don't.

Something's wrong.

"Did you have a good time tonight?" He asks, his hand a little sweaty and a little clammy around mine as he laces our fingers together but even though our fingers are interlocked, it doesn't feel like we fit. More like forcing two puzzle pieces together when they don't suit one another.

"Yeah, I did." I smile and its not a lie because I like hanging out with Freddie and everyone loves laser tag but I seriously doubt that's what he's asking.

"Me too." Freddie laughs nervously and I know he's going to kiss me because when you go out with someone that's just what you do, kiss and hug and touch but right now the urge to pull my hand from his and scurry inside of my apartment is strong. "So."

"Sooo…" I draw out and then Freddie is smiling his handsome smile and leaning forward and kissing me and there's just nothing…

No electricity or excitement.

Nothing.

Just generic lip to lip contact. I might as well be shaking his hand.

What's wrong with me?

"Uh, thanks." I say dumbly, pulling away and Freddie licks his lips and watches me with big brown eyes and I want to like him more than a friend, the idea of falling in love with one of your best friends every girls dream, but I find myself pretending more often than not.

"Anytime." He grins, kissing my hand before dropping it and I flex my fingers absently. "So I better go inside. You know how my mom gets…"

"Yeah, okay then." I smile and he smiles too. "Then I'm just going to go inside too." I say gesturing at the door and walking into the apartment feels like escaping and freedom which isn't right. It just isn't.

I'm not really expecting to find Sam sprawled on my couch but there she is when I walk inside, shutting the door behind me and I'm not really that surprised either.

"What up?" She calls, legs hooked over the back of the couch while she hangs nearly upside down off of the cushion, blond hair curling everywhere.

"What're you doing here?" I laugh, running a hand through my fancy hair and toeing off my heels.

" I needed a place to stay because my Mom is having a power Pilates class at our house with her friends and if I have to see one more old lady in a sports bra I'm gonna kill myself." She says, her eyes scanning over me quickly and I pull down the hem of my shorts self consciously. "How was your date with the dork?"

"It was fine." I exhale tiredly, walking to the coffee table and picking up the empty boxes of candy and cans of soda that could only belong to Sam. "Are you finished with this?" I ask, glancing at her over my shoulder and Sam's gaze is focused on my legs.

I swallow self consciously, my stomach doing a funny little dance at the look on her face and before I can ask her what she's looking at, before the idea to ask even hits me, she's blinking up at me like she just came back from somewhere far away.

"Nice stems." Sam grins practically peering up at me upside down before reaching up and gesturing towards the half full can of Peppy Cola.

"Thanks…I think." I put the can in her hand and then she's distracted by the television, gulping down her soda and I scoop up the rest of her garbage stupidly.

I dump her trash and make my way back to the couch, dropping down into the negative space that Sam's ridiculously flexible body makes and I can hear her shift to make room for me. Her jeans making a funny sound on the material of the couch.

"Hey Carls." Sam breathes, reaching out and scratching her nails on the inside of my arm and I have to grind my teeth to not make a sound at the feeling of her short nails scoring over my skin causes and God, what is wrong with me?

"Yeah?" I croak, glancing down at her and she's still hanging mostly off of the couch and the angles awkward but I still look.

"You know what's a funny word?" She asks thoughtfully, like maybe she's been contemplating this for the entire day and just waiting for me to come home so she can share her thoughts. "Platypus."

"Random." I exhale, feeling a smile pull at my lips and if there were ever one word to define Samantha Puckett, that would be it. She's random and scattered and sort of like an explosion of light and personality and where I like to plan and schedule she's okay with just winging it and something about that just draws me to her.

"And who thought of making a mammal with a beak? Now that's random." She says taking another swallow of soda and I watch her throat work quickly.

"You've had a lot of time to think about this haven't you?" I question and Sam looks at me with that smirk. That smirk that's all mischievous and makes me think that she has in fact thought this whole platypus situation over while simultaneously doing something she probably shouldn't have.

"Yup." Is all she says and even after I turn towards the television where she's watching an episode of Girly Cow I've never seen before, I can still feel her bright eyes on me.

"So, I'm going to bed." I announce, "Is your mom picking you up or are you staying the night?" I ask and I don't know why I do because it's late and Sam's mom wouldn't come pick her up because she works early in the mornings and its not like I want Sam to go home.

"What do you think?" Sam grunts, half rolling and half flipping to her feet from the couch and I sit on the couch and watch her stretch. The years making her taller with long, lanky limbs and pale freckled skin. "Lets hit the hay. I've got big plans for us tomorrow."

I don't even want to know what the heck her plans are because it usually involves one or both of us getting in trouble and or meat, instead I let her lead me up the stairs to my room, my fingers sliding between hers before I even realize it.

"So what's it like to kiss Fredward?" Sam asks once we're inside of my room, the door closed and I go to my drawer to pull some pajamas out for the both of us. "When your lips touch do you, like, transfer files from one another? Ya know, 'cause he's a computer geek?" Sam laughs, her grin disappearing behind the polka dot pajama pants and white ribbed tank top I throw at her face. "I'll take that as a yes." Sam mutters and I roll my eyes, tucking my clothes under my arm and heading for the bathroom.

"When I come back you better be wearing pajamas and in bed." I order and Sam just grins, straightening her back and throwing me a sloppy salute.

"Yes, ma'am." she laughs and I shake my head and disappear into the bathroom.

When I step back into the room, teeth squeaky clean and face scrubbed, Sam has surprisingly done at least one of the things I asked and is wearing the pajamas I gave her but she's standing at my vanity and not in bed.

"Hey, can I have this?" Sam calls over her shoulder, holding up my Pear Pod and I frown, pulling down the blankets on the bed.

"No." I laugh and she sighs dramatically, turning around to watch me.

"Sharing is caring, Carls." She informs and I raise an eyebrow and don't bother fighting the smile curling my lips.

"Yeah but I don't care enough to just give you my Pear Pod."

"See? Now that? That, I refuse to believe." Sam laughs bouncing onto the bed like a playful puppy and I grin at her as she flops backwards on the mattress.

"C'mon kiddo, lets go to bed. I've had a long day of watching television." She yawns, patting the sheet beside her and for some reason I feel a blush push hotly up my neck.

And I know sharing a bed with Sam isn't anything new because we've been sharing a bed for as long as I can remember but its different now. We're older and the beds not as big as it was when we were young and we spend the nights with our arms and legs touching and tangled and its more comforting than claustrophobic. It's comforting and something else that's hard to put my finger on.

I fall into bed on my stomach, propping myself up on my elbows and pushing my hair out of my face while I look at Sam. Sam who's bright blue eyes are easy to just look into despite the fact that half the time I don't know what she's thinking.

She rolls onto her side, wrapping her arms and legs around me before pulling me down half on top of her and I go with a grunt while she twists to turn off the bed lamp which sits on the side table that is on what is decidedly her side of my bed.

Her skin is soft and warm and I've always noticed how Sam seems to run so much hotter than every other normal human being. How on days when its raining and icy and we're walking home and I'm tucked as far as possible into my jacket and scarf, Sam's drenched an laughing in just jeans and a shirt. It's amazing.

"Hey Carly?" She breathes like maybe I'm asleep but I'm far from it because every time she slides her leg against mine its like someone is shocking me in a way that makes me just want more.

"Yeah Sam?" I yawn rolling onto my back and staring up at the ceiling and Sam reaches out to play with my hair, her nails skating over my scalp.

"You know what else is a funny word?" I can hear the smile in her voice and it makes me grin a little. "Snorkel."

I laugh, "Go to sleep, Sam."


"This is a bad idea." Freddie's voice sounds tight and terrified while he points out for the millionth time today that maybe Sam's big plan isn't the best idea.

He'd said it when we hopped on a bus downtown to meet Sam's used car salesman uncle so he could give her the car she bought for $300 dollars and a promise to vouch for him if and when the cops asked.

He'd said it after the crash driving course Sam's cousin had given her in an empty mosque parking lot.

And he's saying it again as we cruise back to my apartment with Sam doing a fairly competent job of not crashing.

"Carls, tell your boyfriend to shut it." Sam calls from behind the wheel, her eyes darting up into the rear view mirror and I shake my head at her from the backseat where my seatbelt is pulled tight over my chest.

Freddie is my boyfriend. I mean, he asked to become official after our 9th date after I'd finally just given in and gone out with him and I'd said yes so there's no reason why I should cringe when I hear the word. But I do.

"No, I won't shut it!" Freddie cries, hands curled around the dashboard and I tip my head against the warm window absently. "You don't have a license, Sam."

"License Shmicense." Sam defends and Freddie whips his head around to look at me helplessly but I'm smirking and not helping at all really. "No one's holding you hostage. You're free to get out of the car, Fredward."

"Fine then. Pull over." Freddie insists and Sam just laughs that endearingly maniacal laugh.

"Nope." She says simply, "If you wanna get out you gotta do it while we're moving." She teases and there seems to be a real chance of Freddie hopping out of a moving vehicle because he's so terrified and I figure its time for me to step in.

"Knock it off, guys." I sigh, "Sam get us home safely."

"You got it cupcake."

I look out the window, at the city zooming by and when my eyes find their way to Sam's rear view mirror again, her blue eyes are staring at me and I smile.

"Eyes on the road, Sam." I chastise and she grins, her eyes flitting to the road.

We make it back to my apartment relatively safely and Freddie hops out before the beat up old car can rumble to a full stop, his hands on his knees gasping for air.

"Freddie, are you okay?" I ask getting out of the car and rushing to his side, he nods quickly, straightening.

"Oh, he's fine. He's just being a little bi-"

"Sam!" I cut her off quickly over the slam of her door and Freddie whirls around, finger pointed.

"You are crazy!" He yells, voice dropping and booming and Sam just lifts a single, brow in that careless way that I know infuriates him.

"I've been called worse."

"Lets just go inside." I soothe, a hand on his back and he nods, gesturing for my hand and I give it to him awkwardly, my knuckles bumping into his. "Sam, you coming?"

When I look at her, her eyes are focused on my hand, tucked into Freddie's but she looks up at me and smiles.

"Nope, I just got a new car. I need to break it in." She says, patting the hood of the car lovingly and I look at the beat up old thing in all of its rusted glory.

"Sam." I try and I don't know why because Sam is free to do whatever she wants but I dunno, I want her to come upstairs with me so we can lay around on the couch and eat cereal out of the box and watch Girly Cow even though we're too old for that show now but I don't say anything but her name and she pushes away from her car.

"I'll see you two love birds later and remember if your spunky cover your monkey." She laughs before climbing back into her car and taking off. I watch the lights of her car disappear around the corner before I let Freddie tug me into the building.


"How did you do that?!" Freddie whispers in utter disbelief and I'm also struck more or less dumfounded but Sam just shrugs, twisting on her stool back and forth in front of the breakfast bar and putting down the completely solved Rubik's Cube on the countertop with the a shrug.

"I dunno. Math or something." She shrugs again and Freddie gawks at her even more, leaning over from the other side of the bar and picking up the cube with its solidly colored sides.

"Sam, that's unbelievable!" I squeal, especially coming from the girl who claims to not know basic mathematic principles.

"Yeah, I guess." She yawns, plucking a bright red apple out of the fruit bowl in front of her and taking a bite. "I'm full of surprises."

Freddie looks horrified and confused and a little bit like his head might explode but before he can really interrogate Sam his cell phone rings and its his mom.

I can hear Mrs. Benson's quick, always concerned voice even a few feet away from him.

"Okay mom…I don't need one…I said…Fine, I'm on my way….Calm down mom!" Freddie flips his phone shut and I give him a sympathetic look because, man, his mom is intense sometimes.

"I have to go take a bubble bath." He grunts unhappily and Sam whispers 'gross'. "But after, I'm gonna figure out how the heck you did this." He says gesturing with the cube before setting it back down.

"I'll see you later?" I breathe because when you're someone's girlfriend you suppose to want to see them as much and as often as possible even though its been forever since I've hung out with just Sam and I wouldn't mind not necessarily seeing him again till tomorrow.

"Yep." He says leaning over to kiss my cheek softly and ignoring the vomiting noises Sam's making. "This isn't over Sam." He hisses as he walks towards the door and Sam shakes her head.

"You're fly isn't closed, Freddie." She mimics back and I have to stifle a laugh against my hand as Freddie looks down in horror and scurries out the door turning about twelve different shades of red on the way. "Freddie, why're you so stupid?" She mutters to herself around a bite of apple.

"So how did you do it?" I wonder, picking up the cube again, twirling it in my hand and Sam looks up managing to chew and look offended at the same time.

"You don't think I can solve a Rubik's Cube?" She asks indignantly and I smile reassuringly at her even while my brain takes note of the sticky sweet apple juice trickling down her chin and the way her tongue quickly darts to lick it up.

"I'll just preface this by saying that I love you very much." I grin and she cocks an eyebrow at me. "But you're not exactly what I'd call a genius."

"Well you're right!" Sam declares, taking another huge bite of apple. "I found this website that tells you how to solve the Rubik's Cube step by step. I just did it to mess with Freddie." She admits hoping down from the stool and heading to the couch and I lean against the bar and watch her drop down on the sofa.

"You did all of that just to mess with Freddie?" I laugh and Sam shrugs, kicking her feet up on the table.

"I like making your boyfriend's little head explode." Sam admits, making exploding gestures with her hands before licking at her wrist where juice from the apple she's holding has trickled down.

"Ya know, if you put as much effort into school as you do into torturing Freddie…" I start and she cuts me off with a flip of her fruit holding hand.

"I know. I know. I'd have straight A's." She says just to get the words out so she can talk about something else. "Anyway, lets go do something. Ever since you hooked up with Freddork it feels like I hardly see my best friend anymore."

I feel myself beaming at her because her words make something swell inside my chest.

"Unless you were doing something with Freddie later." She adds awkwardly and I do have tentative plans with Freddie for later in the day but Sam is looking at me like she has ideas and how can I say no?

"What do you have in mind?"

As it turns out she doesn't have a 'plan', just a list of things that she'd like to do with me as her accomplice.

So we spend the afternoon reeking havoc on the general public and eating Fat Cakes until we end up in the business park, surrounded by tall buildings that the sun has no choice but to set, hot and pink, between them.

"Sam, what're you doing?"

I watch Sam give me that look, that look that means she's about to do something that normal people just don't do and that makes me smile even though I shouldn't.

People pass by us, men in business suits and women with expensive clothes, some giving Sam funny looks as she bounces up and down on one leg in her board shorts and tee shirt, untying her right shoe and I ignore those people because they don't know Sam.

They don't know that Sam just does things like this and its not weird, its amazing.

She pulls off her socks and shoe in one move, then does the other so she's standing there barefoot on the hot pavement while important people pass by and stare but she doesn't flinch under their scrutiny or at the heated cement and even as I glance around and hiss, "Sam." I wish I could be more like her.

"Aw, c'mon Carls." She says with that smile that's all challenge. "It's fun." Like its good enough reason to take off my shoes and socks and splash around in the water fountain in the middle of the business park, that has buildings instead of trees, with her. And maybe I'm the idiot. Maybe it is reason enough. Of course it is.

I watch her jump into the huge fountain, splashing around and stealing change and while I'm pretty sure this is illegal in one way or another, Sam is doing her taunting dance which involves a lot of butt shaking and at least one pelvic thrust, while water shoots up into the air and rains down around her and before I realize it I'm toeing off my shoes blindly because I can't tear my eyes away from her.

"Look at you, Carly Shay." Sam greets me as I step into the icy fountain water up to my knees and she takes my hands with her wet ones, her blond hair curling damp against her neck and chin. "Living on the wild side." She says its like she's just so proud of me and if the heat beaming down from the sun wasn't already making my face flush, that would've done it.

"Yeah well don't get use to it." I laugh as she spins us around in a circle, coins and moss making my feet slip a little but Sam is there like always, smiling that brilliant smile and holding me upright which shouldn't be right because Sam is smaller and thinner than me but it never really feels like it because Sam just has so much bursting free of her small frame its like she's 10 feet tall. "Because when you finally get arrested someone's going to have to bail you out."

"But until that inevitable day." Sam says, reaching down to splash water at me without letting go of one of my hands. "I'm gonna take pleasure in your delinquencies. First its playing in water fountains…" She grins spraying me with water and I sputter and get her back.

"Then I'm robbing a bank and demanding 20 million dollars in small, unmarked bills." I laugh and Sam tightens her hand around mine and for some reason I feel it all the way through my toes.

"A girl after my own heart." Sam grins, blue eyes clear and I just shake my head and kick some water at her because her words do funny things to my stomach.

"Hey, what're you girls doing in there." An old guy in a rent-a-cop uniform asks and we're so busted. He walks over to the stone edge of the fountain.

"Just cooling off, Sir." I blurt, absolutely ready to plead for forgiveness.

"Is that so?" He asks turning to look at Sam, who is thoroughly soaked and glaring at him. "What's your name?"

"Rebecca Berkewitz." She blurts out, using her foot to kick a wave of water on to the security guard, splashing the front of his pants and then she's grabbing my wrists and pulling me out of the fountain, stopping only to scoop up our shoes before tugging me behind her while we sprint down the sidewalk barefoot.

We run till we're back at my building, barefoot the entire way and when we stop, mostly dry and laughing in the my living room I can't stop looking at Sam. Her hair is everywhere, curls separating here and there and I reach up to free an especially tangled strand. Her hair is soft and warm between my fingers and when I pull away I rub the pads of my fingers together absently.

"Thanks." She huffs, licking her lips and I just shrug a little, still grinning as something inside my chest, important parts of me feel like they're trying to break past my ribs and spill out onto the rug.

I touch my stomach to make sure everything stays where its supposed to just as the front door opens and Freddie comes in and things switch and slide and click and the grin fades from Sam's mouth and that pounding feeling gives one more thud before stopping

"What have you guys been up to?" He asks, looking me over and I give him a halfhearted smile.

"You know, things that get girls hot, breathless and wet." Sam says easily and I'm pretty sure that Freddie chokes on his tongue but its hard to tell when my stomach is flipping like it is.


Sam has a new obsession.

It's these little square candies that come in a little tin and are imported from Germany or somewhere just as far away that makes her have to get them from Rip Off Rodney and I don't necessarily get the appeal because they're so sour that they sting the inside of my mouth but Sam likes them and so for the last three days she's been eating those little candies and in direct correlation, has been walking around with a blue mouth

And I mean really, really blue like she swallowed a Smurf or something with her bright blue lips and tongue which is just as concerning as the fact that I doubt that those candies have been approved by the FDA.

And I'm not sure why mind is fixating on Sam and her tiny blue candies while I'm sitting on my couch making out with Freddie.

Because it's not like Freddie's kissing is boring because he has good technique, soft lips and respectable saliva distribution and I know that if I were more into it that I'd be having a grand ole time but I'm not.

I'm not and I totally should be.

What is wrong with me?

I pull back a little, frustrated and Freddie's eyes open, his eyelashes dark and jagged this close up while he cups my face.

"What's wrong?" Freddie asks, peering at me in the dim light and before I can even figure out how to even start to explain, the door is blowing open and Sam is rushing in, flipping on the lights, hinges swinging in her wake.

"Knock that off." She exhales gesturing at me and Freddie and I scoot away from him instinctually. "I have a serious problem."

"What is it?" Freddie groans, dropping his head back on the couch and I give him a sympathetic look before glancing back up at Sam who is wind blown and practically vibrating with energy.

Sam sticks her blue tongue out at him before digging into her pocket and producing her tin of candies.

"Carly," She starts with just a hint of panic in her voice. "These things are making my pee glow in the dark!"

"Huh?"

"Glow! You know, phosphorescent!" She cries, popping another candy in her mouth and I frown.

"Well stop eating them!" I bark and she rolls her eyes, licking her blue lips.

"That's not an option. What's plan B?"

I stand quickly, snatching the metal tin out of Sam's hand before she can even think to close her fingers.

"Hey!" she yelps, lunging at me and I slap her hand away and head to the garbage disposal with Sam watching me with wide puppy dog eyes.

"You asked me for help." I say sadly, dumping the candy down the sink.

"Yeah, help not torture." I can barely hear her words over the roar and grind of the garbage disposal. She drops down on the couch beside Freddie, her chin dropping into her palm and Freddie gives her an annoyed look that she returns.

"Leave." Freddie groans and Sam rolls her eyes.

"Why so you can resume awkwardly mackin' on Carly? I don't think so. I'm doing her a favor." Sam grunts, shifting over and digging the remote out of the cushions and flipping on the television as I step over her outstretched legs.

"Macking?" I question the odd choice of words and she nods and drop down on the other side of Freddie, who's hand automatically finds my knee.

"Yeah, macking. Kissing, tonsil hockey, swapping spit." Sam clarifies, licking her blue lips and then its silent between the three of us, Sam's channel flipping like a metronome.

Suddenly, Freddie groans like he can't take it, dropping his head back against the couch again and when I glance past him with a grin, Sam is already watching me with curious eyes and before I can say anything she's looking away.


"Today's Saturday." My voice sounds too big, filling the space between me and Sam in my bed and leaking out of the blanket where its pulled up over our heads. "The street fair is this afternoon."

"Then why are we up at the butt crack of dawn?" Sam's voice is more fitting, quiet and intimate and in all fairness it is the butt crack of dawn. My body so use to waking up early during the week that I do it on the weekend.

It's supposed to be almost a 70 degrees and humid today but its so early that its cold. That rare, in between place where the sun hasn't risen to heat the world and the heater has been shut off by someone in the night.

"You can go back to sleep, if you want." I whisper, tucking in close to Sam's side because she's warm and soft and just fits up against me where she's supposed to. Like she always has since we were little kids and I can't help but think that maybe we were destined to be together, friends forever, and yeah it's a little sappy but I can't deny that it feels that way.

"It's okay. I'm up." She yawns most of the sentence but I get the gist of it and it doesn't matter anyway because she's lying. I know Sam, better than anyone else, even better than I know Freddie, and while to the naked eye she seems mostly lucid, she's not. She's stuck in that place between sleep and awake that's like a vacuum of time and space.

She's stretched out on her stomach, face turned towards me but hidden by her pillow and her hand is resting in the negative space between us, the way her fingers are curling in my hair where it rests against the mattress absolutely involuntary. Our legs are tangled together, her limbs longer and a little awkward since she grew those extra two inches freshman year and where her skin touches mine is like an electric shock.

"What do you want to do after the year is over? This summer?" I whisper, tracing the gentle curve of her eyebrows and at first she doesn't answer, just takes a few slow, deep breaths while I follow her hairline with my finger. "My granddad wants me to come visit him in Yakima."

"Don't go." Sam murmurs and she opens one eye that hardly looks blue in the grayish light filtering through the blanket surrounding the two of us. "Don't go. I'll miss you too much."

And something I can't really identify swells in my chest at her words, like that trick that clowns do when they blow a balloon inside of a balloon. "And besides, with you gone I'll be at home all the time and then my mom will definitely try to make me get a summer job." She gives me a tired, pleading look and I didn't want to spend 3weeks in Yakima anyway. "Besides, don't you wanna be able to see your boyfriend?"

"Yeah, that's true." I breathe like the notion had actually occurred to me and the fact that it didn't is a little disconcerting.

"See, then you can't go to Yakima." Sam sighs, making her point.

"So what'll we do all summer, then?" I question as her eyes flutter shut and she shrugs the best she can lying down.

"I dunno. Nothing. Everything." She sighs deliberately twisting her fingers in my hair now. "As long as we're together than this summer will be awesome."

Sam says it so surely that I have no choice but to believe her.

"Cool." I smile, suddenly eager for school to end and start this awesome summer but Sam is slipping back into sleep and I watch her go before following.


"You're boyfriend can't dance." Sam laughs, loud and bright even in the stuffy, deafening atmosphere of the party she somehow talked me into going to and then showed up late to, leaving me to discover that dancing isn't one of Freddie's strong points.

I glance over at Sam helplessly who is getting a little too much enjoyment watching Freddie transition from the cabbage patch to the robot.

"I feel like I shouldn't be shocked and yet..." I sigh with a frown watching my boyfriend pretend to be a robot slightly off beat of the pounding music.

"So why aren't you out there making a fool of yourself with your boyfriend?" she asks rocking up on her toes to speak practically in my ear because the party is loud and it only makes sense but the way my heart skips that one beat isn't really as logical.

"Because these shoes are really expensive and they can't take Freddie electric sliding on them anymore." I say, watching Sam glance down at my shoes with a smirk.

"So you're just gonna stand over here all night watching Freddie do the sprinkler?" she questions around a smile and I give her another helpless look.

"Yeah, unless you want to give him some pointers..." I say and Sam's eyebrows lift in response.

"I'm not gonna teach him how to dance with you. He's got two left feet." She grins and I make a mental note to look at Freddie's feet next time the opportunity arises because he may in fact have two left feet and if so his movements would make total sense.

"I didn't think so." I chuckle, touching my hair. " I think I'll just hang out."

"Or..." she drags the word out in that way that means she's having thoughts and ideas.

"Or?" I say suspiciously as she shoves her hands deep in her jean pockets.

"Or...you can dance with me." She offers. "We both know I've got moves and I promise not to ruin your shoes." She says and there's something under her words or maybe its in the way that she says them, that tells me in this one instance she's not all cocky confidence.

"Okay." I blurt with out thinking and her entire face lights up like that time I bought her that entire honeyed ham.

The dance floor, the living room with all of the furniture removed, is packed and I have to grab Sam's hand so I won't loose her in the crowd as I lead us into the middle and my heart is inexplicably racing when I stop and turn to face her, I blame it on the stifling body heat.

Dancing with a girl is different than dancing with a boy because there is softness and curves where it should be hard and sharp lines and it's not like me and Sam have never danced before but because of the sheer proximity of people dancing, we're dancing close.

So close that my leg is brushing the inside of hers and if I dip my head just a little, my ear is pressed against her temple and I can feel her breath against my neck. I loose the rhythm a few times because the way my heart is stumbling out a beat separate from the music.

We dance until the need for punch becomes urgent and somehow between then and dragging Freddie off of the dance floor I end up in a game of truth or dare, smashed on a couch between Freddie and Sam and about a billion other people.

"I dare Gibby to play the rest of the game in just his underwear." Sam gets the words out amongst weirded out groans and Gibby has barely accepted the dare before his clothes are off and he's dropping back down in his seat between two girls in just his superhero boxers. I avert my eyes awkwardly and look at Sam who looks like she regrets the dare.

"Alright I dare Sam…" Gibby starts thoughtfully, scratching his chest and I shudder while the girls around him scoot away a bit. "To go seven minutes in heaven with…" I'm holding my breath and I'm not really sure why because beside me Sam is laughing. "Carly." Maybe that's why I was holding my breath.

Everyone around us cheers and when I glance wide eyed at Sam she's blushing and frowning.

"Wait! Carly has a boyfriend." Sam yells as if it's the main reason she's objecting but then someone calls Sam a scaredy cat, and a chicken and a bunch of other insulting names associated with animals and a general lack of bravery that I know will make her snatch up my hand before she actually does it. Ignoring Freddie's indignant cry and hauling me towards the coat closet near the door.

"Don't I get a say in this?" I yelp as Sam tugs open the closet door.

"Nope." She says simply before dragging me into the darkness and shutting the door.

My heart is thundering in my chest like its trying to beak out of my ribs while the first minute and a half is spent listening to Sam fumble around in the dark then light is flooding the small space and Sam is pushing coats out of the way and inadvertently saving me from being smothered to death by a dry cleaner bag.

"Are you going to kiss me?" I blurt and it must come off my tongue wrong, too eager, because Sam's eyes widen in the weird closet light.

"No, don't worry." She soothes a little but she's still grabbing me by the top of my jeans and towards her and I go, of course I go, breathing ineptly the entire way.

She catches me off guard and I just stand there as she spends the next five minutes making it look like we've been making out in the closet and possibly rounding second base, about to slide into third.

Her hands tousle my hair, scrambling through the strands and she does the same to hers before leaning over and dragging her fingers over my mouth and I steal a breath between her fingers because I didn't know I wasn't breathing and Sam looks at me very carefully as she smudges my lipstick before smearing the left over on her lips and a little on her neck.

"Turn your shirt around." She orders and I blink at her stupidly.

"What? Why?" I question even though I'm already pulling my arms from my sleeves and twisting.

"Because I'm an amazing kisser." She says like its obvious and I can't help but laugh a little.

"Seems like it would be easier if we just kissed." I mumble and the words are out and gone before I can figure out why I'm speaking them and Sam stops abruptly.

"What?" Her voice is low and I shake my head quickly.

"Um, nothing." I hiss and she's staring at me as the people on the other side of the door start counting down loudly and even after 1 we're still standing there and she's just looking at me so I snag her hand and shove open the door to our waiting audience.

Everyone cheers when we emerge except for Freddie who just looks concerned. I give him a reassuring look before Gibby stands, and accusatory finger pointed towards us.

"Hey! How do we know you guys really kissed in there?" He bellows in all of his shirtless glory and Sam squeezes my hand though I didn't even realize I was still holding her hand.

"Because I said we did." Sam shoots back and in the years, with a lot of therapy, Gibby has grown something akin to a backbone, made of soft cartilage, but a backbone nonetheless. "And look, her shirt is backwards."

"Well I think you're lying." He shouts and there's a round of gasp and I hang onto Sam's hand as she tries to shake free because I know the fact that I'm currently clasping Sam's punching hand is the only reason Gibby still has any teeth right now.

"I'm not."

"Well if you're not lying than kiss right now. With. Tongue." He challenges and I open my mouth in indignation because I'm standing right here and I should have some say in who's tongue is going to be shoved into my mouth.

"Shut up, Gibby or I'm gonna punch you so hard your mom will feel it." Sam says instead and I've never seen Sam back down from a challenge and I figure that's where that ominous feeling of disappointment is coming from.

After that Sam releases my hand, heading away from me, mumbling something about food and I go back to Freddie who is all concern on the couch, flexing my fingers over and over.

"Are you okay? She didn't…did she?" He asks, eyes scanning my smeared lipstick and mussed hair and I shake my head slowly.

"No, she didn't." I mutter, touching my lips absently.


"Do you think I should cut my hair?" The question seems out of place up on the roof of the Bushwell Plaza with the sun a hot, pink ball in the sky and I peer at Sam through my sun glasses, her focus on a strand of hair curled around her fist while the rest of her blonde hair blows around her in the gentle wind and she sits at the end of her beach lounger.

"No." I breathe, pulling my glasses back over my hair and digging my heels into the plastic of my own beach lounger, the ones Spencer gave to us to use up here, one of the cross straps catching the back of my shoe while Sam releases her hair, letting it join the other strands. "Why?"

"I don't think this look is working for me anymore." She shrugs, standing so suddenly that the back of her lounge flips upwards before clacking back down. "Maybe I should go brunette, or cut it off or get neon pink streaks."

"It still works." I call watching Sam head to the edge of the rooftop, leaning over and peering down to the street. My eyes find the curve of her spine, the tee shirt she's wearing riding up to show off pale skin at the small of her back and I sit forward a little, something sharp and sudden shooting up from my stomach. "No one ever suspects the girl with the blonde curls and the bright blue eyes and can you please step away from the edge?" My voice tightens on the end of the sentence as she tips over just that much more, throwing a grin at me over her shoulder and that little jolt is there again and I blame it on fear of my best friend tumbling to her death. "Sam."

"Okay. Okay." She mutters straightening and I watch skin disappear before she turns, eyebrows raised and smirk firmly in place. "So you think my blue eyes are bright?" She wonders aloud, hooking her hands behind her back and meandering back towards me and I shift backwards on my lounger, dropping my glasses back over my eyes.

"In a psychotic sort of way." I murmur and then Sam is jumping on top of me, the chair giving dangerously under our weight, and I only have time to squeal and recognize the swimming feeling in my stomach as the chair nearly flips before she slams my hands against the plastic straps holding the chair together.

"So the truth is finally out…" She declares, her voice loud in all the empty outside space. "my best friend thinks I'm crazy."

I grin up at her, fisting my hands where they're pinned near my ears. "Actually I said psychotic." I clarify, lifting my chin and Sam's eyes widen a little as she leans down a little.

"Psychotic?" she whispers like maybe she really has lost her marbles. "See now that really hurts, Carls." She stretches my hands upwards so they have no choice but to curl behind the chair.

"Well how else can I rationalize watching you try to make and market shoes out of beef jerky?" I question with a grunt as I lift my hips and try to throw her off on me but only succeed in nearly tipping us out of the chair.

"Hey, that was a legitimate business endeavor." Sam argues, fitting herself closer to me when I nearly spill us onto the ground again and something in me, behind my ribs, hitches when her chest presses to mine and I curl my fingers around hers and drag in a breath. "Am I crushing you?" She asks softly, peering at me and this close I can see the gray flecks in the blue of her eyes.

"Not really." I rasp even though it does feel like something is gathering and crumpling and crushing together in my stomach, like a knot.

"So I could stay here all day?" She questions and I lick my lips and shrug.

"All weekend if you wanted but I do charge by the hour." I joke even though my head is doing a floaty, lightheaded thing and she tilts her face upwards like she's thinking and a curl of hair clings to her neck.

"I wouldn't need an hour and besides this is Ted's this weekend?" She sighs and I'd totally forgotten this was the weekend she spent with her dad in his new house with his new family because of the custody arraignments.

"Lame." I mutter and she nods in agreement.

"The lamest but every time I visit I do something to his stuff. Last time I put mouthwash in his contact lens case, so that helps." She shrugs lifting my hands a little bit and every time I exhale her knees press into my ribs.

"Sam, you're supposed to be bonding with your dad, not inflicting guerilla warfare on your step family." I admonish and she rolls her eyes a little.

"But they're a bunch of freaks. His wife couldn't be more Stepford and his pervy step son is always hitting on me." She explains, her fingers squeezing my wrist for effect and I frown.

"Stepcest?" I laugh and she nods seriously.

"Yeah, and I'm not into that." She grumbles, shifting on my lap a little. "And I have enough to worry about getting passed between my mom and dad like some kind of object without my step brother trying to get into my pants."

"That is disconcerting." I agree and she nods. "So what pervy things does your step brother say?" I ask curiously and Sam lets go of my hands, grabbing the back of the chair instead and I keep my arms over my head.

"Just that he thinks we should be friends." she says and I give her an incredulous look. "What?"

"How is wanting to be friends perverted?" I ask and her eyes widen a bit.

"Friends, Carly." she explains and I just blink at her.

"It still doesn't sound gross to me."

"It is when he says it like this…" She says and then she's leaning forward and dropping her mouth right against my ear and when she drags in a damp breath I blink hard at the smears of pink clouds in the sky. "You know, Sammy." She starts in a low voice, her lips moving against my ear while her hand drops down to curl around my ribs, her fingers gripping my tee shirt and I take a shaky breath, that knot in my stomach pulling tighter. "I think me and you…" she trails off a little before starting again. "We should be friends." She sits back then and I just look at her.

"Gross right?" She questions and I nod stupidly, choking on my spit.

"Yeah…yuck."

"Anyway…" She sighs, pushing herself off of me and I watch her stretch, arms over her head and then twisting left to right to stretch her back. "Lets go inside I'm starving. Do you guys have anything protein based?"

"We have peanut butter." I offer pushing myself up and ignoring that knot that's still in my stomach, blaming it on something I ate.

"I was thinking more along the lines of meat, meat and more meat." She throws over her shoulder and I follow her down the stairs and back to the loft. "And for the record, if I had shoes made out of beef jerky we wouldn't even be having this conversation."

She moves through the kitchen with familiarity and I watch her for a moment as she finds a ice pop in the freezer and rips the wrapper downwards.

"So how're things going with the dork?" Sam asks around frozen juice with a gesture to the door and my brain shifts gears, directions, from a path that made me notice the way Sam's throat works when she swallows.

"It's going to be our 5 month anniversary next week so we'll probably do something fancy." I say with a smile and forced excitement while Sam frowns.

"Is that even a real thing? A 5 month anniversary?" Sam questions, tipping her head back a little to keep bright red juice from spilling out of her mouth.

"I dunno but Freddie wanted to celebrate it so…" I trail off with a shrug, heading over to the couch and dropping down and Sam follows.

"That's funny." She mutters and I give her a questioning look. "You're the dude and Fredward is the chick in your relationship."

I open my mouth to object but come to think of it… "Shut up, Sam." I say instead and she chuckles a little bit dropping down beside me on the couch, so close that our knees are touching and she doesn't move so I don't.

"Hey, you know what?" She mutters lowly as I pick up the remote and flip through the channels absently. "You're brother's kind of hot."

I glance at Sam who stares back unapologetically, her juice bar half of its original size. "Do you want me to punch you in the face?" I ask and she arches an eyebrow.

"That's a compliment. You Shay's are a good looking family." She says with a wave of her hand and I can feel the grin curling my lips.

"You think I'm good-looking?" I question and I watch Sam frown around her popsicle.

"I mean, you're alright. You're not a troll or anything and you came out of your weird looking phase pretty good." She mumbles and my grin pulls wider.

"You think I'm pretty." I sing song and she rolls her eyes.

"Look, all I'm saying is that when you add up all of the attractiveness in your family and divide by the number of people, the average for the Shay family is pretty high."

"Wait, was that a mathematical calculation?" I ask, slightly astonished and she shrugs.

"I dunno, sometimes things seep in when I sleep in class." She shrugs again and I laugh a little turning back to the television while she leans forward and snags a blue ball point pen from the table and replacing it with the bare stick from her popsicle.

She grabs my wrist, tugging my arm across her lap and I let her have it, flipping aimlessly through the channels while she proceeds to draw on my arm.

The roll of the ball point on my skin makes something just under the surface tingle and I look down to watch her scroll swirling, whirling lines on the inside of my arm.

"What're you doing?" I swallow softly and Sam looks up at me with a shrug and a smile before going back and then something warm and familiar is bursting open in my chest and spreading through my arms and I reach over with my opposite hand and push her hair behind her ear and I'm reaching awkwardly across my body just for the intimate gesture and I don't know why.

Actually I do know why. It's because Sam is Sam and it doesn't make sense in my head but it does somewhere in my chest.

"What're you doing?" She asks softly, blue eyes clear, repeating my question and I mimic her shrug because I don't know what I'm doing. All I know is that sometimes when I look at Sam, when I'm around her, there's a feeling that I can't describe or duplicate.

She stops writing then, tucking the pen in her fist and pressing her lips together thoughtfully and I just watch silently because I know what she's doing , fore some reason I just know and it's not as scary or terrifying as it should be. Well its scary and terrifying but not in the way its supposed to be and I manage to lick my lips quickly right before she tips her chin and kisses me.

It's quick and soft an her lips taste like the color red looks and it feels bright and vivid through my entire body like the color red too and she pulls back with a wince that makes me think that she's thought about this before but never meant for it to come to fruition.

"I'm sorry." She blurts, squeezing her eyes shut and swearing a little before standing and turning in an attempt to make an exit but she does it all with her eyes closed and I can tell from the sound her shin makes on the coffee table that its painful and she curses some more, hopping on one leg.

"Are you okay?" I ask breathlessly, my hands reaching out to help her but she stumbles back, hands stretched out in front of her.

"I'm fine. I'm just…I gotta go." She exclaims turning and reaching for the door and yanking it open.

"Sam, wait." I cry and she stops, whirling around and I don't even know what I want to say because my thoughts are strung into knots and oh my god, we just kissed. "I have a boyfriend." I yelp as the thought hits me and Sam winces again, taking a step backwards through the door.

"Let's just forget that this happened, okay?" She suggests with a nervous laugh. "And I'll just see you, uh, Monday or whenever- bye!" And then she's gone and I'm staring out the empty door at Freddie's apartment.


"Are you okay?" Freddie's deep voice is concerned and I shrug, hunching over my lunch and bringing my water bottle to my mouth quickly.

"Yeah, why wouldn't I be?

"Well you're doing your frantic, water drinking thing and you usually only do that when you're really anxious." He comments and I gulp down the last of my water, setting the empty bottle on the lunch table. "And that's like the fourth one you drank this morning." I grin a little at the fact that Freddie knows me so well and note that good boyfriends know these things.

"It is not my fourth and I'm fine." I sigh, pulling my lunch out of the paper sack in front of me while Freddie watches me with concerned dark eyes and I give him a reassuring smile. "Really." He looks at me for a moment before shrugging and digging into his own lunch just as Sam comes over and I try not to stare at her while she dumps her backpack on the table and drops down across from me.

"What up peoples?" she says in a completely normal voice and how can she be so normal after what happened and I'm sitting here blushing and stealing the water bottle off of Freddie's tray with a scrunch of plastic because just the sight of Sam is enough to make me irrationally thirsty.

I twist off the cap quickly, pressing the bottle to my mouth and I can feel the look Freddie gives me and Sam gives me a lazy, questioning look from under her bangs.

"Hey, Carls?" Sam starts, stealing my pudding from where it sits upside down on the table because she knows I hate banana pudding but I pack them for her and the gesture is so normal and familiar that I choke a little on my water. "Can I borrow your chemistry notes because Mr. Jordan says if I blow up one more experiment he's gonna make me repeat the semester." She finishes around a mouthful of pudding and I watch the plastic spork disappear between her lips before I scrabble for my bag.

"Yeah, sure." I mumble awkwardly, snagging my bag from the floor and fumbling it on the table and before I get a chance to even search for my notes my bag opens and there's an avalanche of water bottles across the table. I curse softly, scrambling to shove them back in the bag but Sam picks one up, twirling it in front of her questioningly.

"Carly?" Freddie breathes with a frown.

"Okay I've had like eight bottles of water this morning but what's wrong with a girl staying hydrated?" I cry, obviously startling Freddie who jumps a little.

"Are you okay, Carls?" Sam asks and when I look at her, her blue eyes trying to say something that I don't even bother to try and figure out because there are things in my head that are more important that I decipher first.

"Yeah, I left my notes in my locker. I'll go get them." I mutter, grabbing my things and leaving the lunch table and the cafeteria.

I take my time, dumping my collection of water bottles in the recycling bin on the way to my locker where I twist the in the combination then proceed to try to climb into the small metal box. I gets so far as my head, shoulders and arms but my feet are still on the ground and I feel like I need some screaming or some other type of emotional outburst, anything from crying to breaking into an intricate dance number.

But instead I find myself staring at the picture of me and Sam taped into the back of my locker. It's an old picture, the tape peeling at the corners, that Sam had stuck back there when I acquired this prime piece of real estate after she saved me from the locker next to the boys bathroom.

I wonder what made Sam do it. What made her tilt her chin just that extra inch and press her lips against mine and it's not like I'm mad or anything, in fact it would be easier if I were just mad instead of awkward and nervous and so, so scared, but I'd like to know that amongst other things. I wonder if she likes me maybe more than a friend, I wonder why the notion sticks into my brain more than it should, I wonder if she kissed me because I looked like I wanted her too. And its not like I was thinking about kissing her but I dunno…

"You're mad at me?" Sam's soft voice echoes around the inside of the locker and I'm not surprised that she followed me even as I shake my head though she can't see me.

"No." I answer honestly and I hear her shoes shuffle a little on the floor.

"'Cause I said I was sorry." She says softly, her words pinging off the metal around my head and I frown a little forcing a crease between my brows, a line that Sam usually smoothes with her thumb while she murmurs softly about frowns and wrinkles.

"I know." I sigh pulling my head out of my locker and glance at Sam leaning back against the row of lockers, fiddling with the straps of her back pack and she meets my gaze quickly before looking back down at her shoes. " And I said I'm not mad."

"Angry?"

"No."

"Upset?"

"No." I say peering at her and her hair is falling over her face and if my arms weren't shoved inside my locker and my fingers weren't curled around my history book, I'd brush it out of her face and tuck it behind her ear.

"Okay." Sam exhales with a nod, scuffing her foot on the tile and I lean my forehead against the corner of my locker.

"Okay." I agree quietly, "…So are you like gay or…"

"No," She cuts me off gently, looking up at the overhead lights, "I mean, sometimes I just…I dunno…" Sam trails off weakly, meeting my gaze evenly. "I'm sorry."

"Stop saying that." I chastise lightly and she smiles at me, just the corners of her mouth tipping upwards.

"So maybe we can forget all of this happened?" Sam asks and I swallow hard, a weird smile stretched across my lips because I know I won't be able to forget.

"Yeah. Sure. Already forgotten." I force, clawing harder at the book in my locker. "What kiss?!" I blurt the last part and Sam glances around nervously.

"Okay, so I'll see you later then? After school? Just give me the notes then." Sam asks and I nod. "Alright, tell Freddie he's a doofus with the body of a malnourished woman, would ya?"

"Probably not." I grin a little bit and Sam just shrugs, hitching up her backpack and I watch her walk away before releasing my book and pulling my arms out of my locker.

"Carly," I close my locker to reveal Freddie and his arched eyebrow. "Feeling better now?"

He extends his hand and I take it with a jerky movement, fumbling my fingers between his.

"Yeah, I'm okay now." He kisses my cheek softly and I expect that jolt, shock, of something but there's nothing.

And I know its supposed to be different with Freddie, I should be feeling all of these new feelings and seeing him differently but even now as I look towards him as he walks me to class all I see is Freddie and wonder why my hand is tucked into his.

Maybe its that I'm not trying hard enough.

That has to be it.

School drags by and soon enough we're piling into Sam's beat up car to go to my place and work on the web show.

"So, any ideas for the next icarly?" I ask leaning against the tech cart, glancing at Freddie beside me, then at Sam, who is lying down across the car seat Spencer built which means all I can see are her feet, pink shoe stacked on top of pink shoe.

"How about we do a segment where we review the newest computer games?" Freddie asks and I frown but before I can tell him he's a nerd in a gentle, loving way, boos fill the room, pouring out from the speakers mounted in the corners and Freddie glares at Sam's feet.

"Hey!" he cries, "Sam pressed the boo button."

I roll my eyes. "Sam show me your hands, Sam." I order and her left hand appears slowly, like a plant pushing out of the ground. "Both of them." Her other hand rises, clutched around the blue sound effects remote. I stride across the room, ignoring Freddie's triumphant smirk and grab Sam's remote. "Don't be mean." I say peering down at her and she just smirks up at me, tucking her arms under her head.

"Oh c'mon, you know that was a stupid idea." She laughs and I really hate when she makes me laugh when I'm trying to be all serious and stern.

I smile a little but I shake my head, using both hands to tuck my hair behind my ears. "Carls..." she teases, propping herself up on her elbows. "Look me in the eye and tell me that wasn't one of the nerdiest suggestions ever." And then she's sitting up and forcing me to look into her eyes, her hands pressing against my neck and aligning her face with mine and I look.

Her eyes are bright and shining and its nothing new because Sam's had the same eyes since I met her but right now her eyes are softening and her smirk is falling away and I'm just staring because I don't think I can look away.

"She won't do it because its not a dorky idea, right Carls?" Freddie says and Sam releases me, looking down at her knees as she sits back down and I step back and it feels like stepping out of a bubble.

"Actually, I don't think that's the kind of thing iCarly viewers want to see." I say softly and Freddie gives me a look of betrayal.

"Well, its not like Sam has any better ideas." Freddie sneers and Sam perks up.

"Actually I do."

"What is it?" I ask and she gives me that self assured look. "Two words. Banjo. Racing…" We manage to finish brainstorming without Sam making Freddie so I consider it a good day.

"Hey." I look up as Freddie comes into the kitchen while I pour punch into three glasses.

"Hello" I grin back. "Where'd Sam go?"

Freddie shrugs, coming closer. "I think she's in the bathroom."

"Oh well she better hurry because Girly Cow comes on in like two min-" Freddie's mouth on mine cuts off my sentence and makes me nearly drop the pitcher of juice but I manage to get it on the countertop before I kiss him back, parting my lips for his tongue and sometimes the idea that its Freddie kissing me like this is enough to make me nearly laugh because its Freddie, who's had a crush on me since we started junior high school. But he's grown up now and any girl would kill to be Freddie's girlfriend and I'm lucky.

I'm lucky.

He kisses me soft and careful and it feels good but something's not connecting and Freddie's tongue is in my mouth so it shouldn't still feel like kissing a friend. It should be more.

I'm acutely aware of the sound of Sam's footsteps as she bounds down the stairs and I hear her whisper "Whoa, daddy." Before I step back from Freddie with a blush I feel all the way in my bones.

"Sam I...do you want some punch?" I croak thrusting a glass towards her and my stomach is in ropes because Sam looks sad even though she's smiling.

"Nah," she draws out, averting her gaze, "Actually, I uh, I think I'm just gonna get outta here. Give you and Freddie some alone time." She says gesturing over her shoulder.

"Thank god." Freddie says picking up a glass and I glare at him before turning back to Sam.

"But an all new Girly Cow is about to start any second." I cry and Sam just shrugs, heading to the door and picking up her backpack, slinging it over one narrow shoulder.

"That's alright, I'll just catch the rerun." Sam says like we don't watch Girly Cow every week together.

"Well, where are you going? Spencer's making Spaghetti tacos tonight, come over for dinner." I urge and Sam just gives me another aimless shrug.

"I just have some stuff that I need to do so I probably won't be able to come over." She says and I rub my brow in frustration because whenever Sam has stuff to do it means she's doing something I wouldn't approve of, "I'll just see you at school tomorrow."

Her words sound strange, make me feel strange. "I guess." I murmur and she gives me what I think is supposed to be a reassuring smile before slipping out the door and I close and shut the door behind her as she leaves. "That was weird." Freddie comments, leaning against the breakfast bar, biting into a banana. "She sure has been acting strange lately." "You think?" I mutter and he nods.

"Yeah, somethings up with her." We hang out for a while before Freddie has to leave and I'm shrugging into my jacket and out the door minutes later.

And it not like I don't trust Sam to take care of herself and not end up in jail, its just left to her own devices she tends to get chased by the cops more than a normal person.

I send her a text message asking where she is and she doesn't respond so I check all of her usual hang out places. The mall, The Groovy Smoothie, the train station because she like to sit in the middle of the station while people hurry to their destinations around her.

Defying all logic I find her at school, the rear end of her beat up old car catching my eye parked halfhazardly in the parking lot.

I push open the door to the school and I know she's here because the door of nearly every locker has been dismantle, lying like a casualty in broken, blue, rusting piles on the floor and exposing the guts of the lockers to the empty hallways.

I wade through the dismantled metal, corners catching my shoelaces like they're begging for help as I pass. I glance at the insides of lockers, at stacks of books and smiling pictures, old gym socks and brand new Pear Pods.

I turn the corner and there she is, standing in front of a row of lockers yet to be ripped open and bare to the world.

"What are you doing?" I breathe, stepping over a teetering pile of doors and coming up behind her, frowning as she unscrews the last bolt from the locker she's working on.

"Nothing." She mumbles, as it falls loudly to the floor, bouncing once before tipping flat and Sam kicks it aside, adding it to the pile beside her and I nudge the pile with the toe of my shoe and it rattles. "Defacing Property." She says like its normal and I raise an eyebrow at her.

"Why?" I question moving with her to the next locker as she starts in on the screws with a screwdriver.

"I dunno, bored I guess." She shrugs a little, twisting off the nut and dropping it and I watch it leave her fingers and ping against the ground.

"You could've stayed at my house and watched Girly Cow instead of doing this." I whisper and she shrugs again, popping off another screw and dropping it with the other.

"I didn't want to interrupt you and Freddie." She says, chewing her lip a little, focusing, and I frown harder, wrapping my arms around myself. "And speaking of, shouldn't you two be toeing that thin line of abstinence right now while Spencer's out?" She asks with a grunt, the locker door falling to an angle, hanging on for dear life.

Her words sting and I wince, picking at the hem of my shirt. "Sam." I breathe and she works on prying off the door.

"What? Am I too late? Have you guys already done the deed?" She asks not even bothering to look at me but she doesn't need to because I can imagine her raised brows and disapproving look. " Probably just something else you wouldn't tell me about." She mutters with as the door finally looses its will and gives, crashing to the ground like a cymbal.

"No, we haven't." I cry incredulously over the sound and I watch her physically deflate, dropping down to her knees and shoving the door aside to the ever growing pile. "And I apologized like, a billion times for not telling you about me and Freddie when we first started going out."

"I know. I'm sorry." She sighs, all acid gone from her words and she glances up at me apologetically. "I'm sorry."

"Why did you say that stuff?" I ask, lowering myself down beside her and Sam only shrugs, working on the next door like a distraction.

"I didn't mean any of it."

"I know." I murmur because I know that sometimes when Sam explodes and does things like remove locker doors for no identifiable reason and says mean things, its only because something is upsetting her. "But why did you say it?"

Sam just shrugs again, tapping the screwdriver against the ground and it dings loudly through the hall.

"You don't like Freddie, do you?" I ask tentatively and Sam's laugh is harsh and laced with absolute disbelief as she finally looks at me, her blue eyes crinkling at the corners with incredulity.

"Ew, no."

"Is that 'cause you like girls?" I ask, swallowing hard and Sam licks her lips.

"No, its because its Freddie…no offense." She smirks and I laugh a little. "And its not that I don't like boys its just…"

"Complicated." I finish for her and she smirks and nods.

"Exactly."

"Do you want to tell me what's wrong?" I ask, twisting my hands together nervously and Sam's eyes drop to watch.

"No, not right now." She whispers and I have to admit it hurts because there is something is going on that she can't tell me about but in all fairness, I've held a few things back from her too but we're best friends and we use to be able to tell each other anything.

"Okay, well do you wanna get out of here? Because Principal Franklin told me if I took the blame for you one more time you and I would be in detention for the rest of our high school lives." I sigh, climbing to my feet and Sam just looks up at me for a moment, blue eyes smiling and her bangs in her eyes and my mind flashes to when we were younger.

When I was taller and faster but Sam had energy that rivaled any pink drumming bunny with a battery strapped to its back. I remember always wanting to see her and think things haven't really changed all that much.

Sam sticks out her hand and I take it, leaning back a little and she pulls up to her feet.

"Yeah, lets get out of here." She says licking her lips between her words and my sensory memory recalls the feel of her mouth on mine and I press my lips together absently.

We head back to her car, leaving the demolished lockers behind us.

"Do you want me to take you home?" She asks as the car rumbles to life on the second try while I click my seatbelt into place.

"No, take me somewhere." I request and Sam grins at me, flipping her blond hair out of her face.

"Take you somewhere?" She repeats, peeling out of the driveway and I grip the door handle tightly and try not to scream. "That's putting a lot of trust in someone who you won't let borrow your shoes anymore." She points out, pulling onto a main street.

"Well that's because the last time I let you borrow my shoes you gave them back filled with gelatin." I remind and Sam just laughs like its hilarious and I still don't see the comedy in gelatinous insoles. "But other than shoe borrowing, I trust you lots."

"But what would your boyfriend think of you riding around Seattle with a notoriously unlicensed driver?" Sam asks and I roll down my window, a gust of window whipping my hair across my face and I tuck it behind my ear.

"Who cares…"

I don't.

I can feel Sam's eyes watching me and I ignore her, focusing on swallowing my frozen lemon lime slushy as fast as I can while Sam does the same.

The sun is low an heavy in the sky now and we're parked under an overpass while cars rumble above us and a chain link fence is the only thing separating us from a concrete channel with spray painted letters on the cement instead of water.

I loose. I always loose because I can't withstand the crippling pain of brain freeze for very long and I pull my straw from my lips with a groan and Sam stands up on the trunk of the car, doing a victory dance.

I laugh and wince, rubbing my temples, while the car bounces up and down and I think either the bumper is going to fall off or the transmission is going to drop so I grab Sam's pants and yank her back down onto the trunk and she falls with a thud, juggling her slushy a little.

"Stop that." I laugh, holding my half empty 64ounce cup in two hands.

"Oh c'mon, don't be a sore looser, Carly." She chides, bumping my shoulder with hers. "No one beats the Brain Freeze Master." I can't help but think that Sam is one of the few people that arrogance looks really good on.

"Hey, your tongue is green." I notice and Sam sticks out her tongue, grabbing the tip with her fingertips and eyes crossing a little in a strange attempt to look at her own tongue. "How's mine?" I ask, sticking out my own tongue and Sam tilts her head, still holding her own tongue.

"Looks good." She says through her own fingers before releasing her tongue and wiping her hand on her jeans.

I watch her lean back, spine curving along the glass of the back window and she rests her drink on her stomach. The sun is washing over her in, thick, golden rays and I have to turn so I wont stare and the fact that I simply can't look away from Sam scares me.

"Sam?" I swallow thickly and Sam just looks at me, the gray of her eyes more prominent than usual. "Why did you kiss me?" and it takes an unbelievable amount of courage to ask the simple question despite the fact I've been wondering since the incident occurred.

Sam looks away quickly and I stare at the tendon in her neck before looking away too, abruptly stop my brain from wandering and wondering and god, was it always like this.

"I thought we agreed not to talk about that." She mumbles and I shrug.

"I think it was more of a strong suggestion than anything else."

She's silent for a moment and my heart is more or less river dancing in my throat and then she's looking back at me, chin tipped downward a bit but she's smiling.

"You know, that wasn't the first time we've kissed." She says and she doesn't have to say anymore because suddenly the long forgotten memory of me negotiating Sam into a eight second kiss that was sticky and awkward but sweet, under the playground slide when we were 10 years old because, of course, we needed practice for boys, is blooming in my head.

"We were young." I whisper and she just licks her lips and turns away again. "You know, back then I use to write in my diary that I was going to marry you someday. Because you're my best friend and you're supposed to marry your best friend." I laugh and Sam's watching me again, eyes bright.

"Yeah, I know." She mumbles and I frown a little.

"How do you know?" I ask and she shrugs, her hair blowing a little in the wind.

"I use to read your diary." She admits and my mouth opens in horror.

"Sam!"

"I did it out of love!" she defends. "And I don't do it anymore…that much."

I watch a strand of hair catch on her lip and without thinking I reach out and pull it away and when my thumb touches her lip my brain automatically goes to kissing and teeth and tongue and oh geeze.

"You had a…hair." I croak and Sam looks at me wide eyed for a minute before sliding off of the car quickly, tossing her drink away carelessly and sails through the air easily, a spray of green juice following it.

"C'mon, lets get you home."

I don't realize until I'm tucked into my bed, that she hasn't answered my question. Why did she kiss me?


Weeks later and I still need an answer. I roll over in bed, dragging my pillow over my face and breathe as thoughts tumble around in my head.

I need to know why Sam kissed me.

Its been approximately three and a half weeks since it happened and instead of fading with time the memory just spins around in my head faster and faster like a cyclone. I pull in a deep breath through the cotton as the memory washes over me once again and the feeling that oozes over makes me grind my teeth together because this is new.

Its a new, startling feeling that I've never felt, let alone associated with Sam before but now its here constantly, taking up residence in my stomach and it doesn't care that I have a boyfriend or that I'm straight or that I'm terrified of it because it still twirls in my guts whenever I see Sam now.

I pull my pillow from my face, hurling it across the dark room and it hits the wall with a soft thud. It's later...or early depending on how you look at it and I need to get to sleep if I don't want to walk into school carrying bags around under my eyes but instead I'm laying here wondering what Sam's doing and that's not right because I have a boyfriend I should be thinking about and I do for a moment.

I picture Freddie in his bed, neat, stripped sheets tucked precisely around him and its there for a moment before fading and melting and twisting into something else. Its frustrating and nerve racking because I like Freddie, a lot and I want to be one of those girls for him, one of those girls that gushes over her boyfriend and wears his jacket and holds his hand but it doesn't come naturally so I pretend.

I pretend and fake things that aren't there and I wear a mask to be just like the other girls at school except when I'm with Sam because Sam is always herself no matter what and when I'm with her its okay to let that mask slip away.

Once again my thoughts tumble back around to Sam and its scary the way that happens. I roll onto my side and stare at my phone, resting just in front of my alarm clock and I debate calling Sam even though its after 2am because I can't sleep and its all her fault because if she hadn't kissed me I wouldn't have become an insomniac.

If she never kissed me that one time then I wouldn't be so, so desperately confused. I think if she just told me what made her kiss me then maybe I could sleep.

I reach out and snag my phone, flipping onto my back and dialing her number. The phone rings once, twice, three time before it clicks and Sam picks up. "Carly?" she exhales my name slow and low and I swallow hard at the sound.

"Why did you kiss me?" I blurt softly and even though we agreed initially to ignore it, I can't let it go and this marks at least the 8th time I've asked her since the event.

"Carls, its late." She murmurs and for the 8th time she dances around the question and I listen to the rumble of movements over the line.

"I can't sleep." I admit, stretching my legs slowly.

"Well, come over." She says like its the obvious thing to do and I smile a little in the dark.

"Sam, I don't think..." I start because in lieu of recent events I've been very careful around Sam, not that I think anything will happen, I just...

"Carly, c'mon." Sam yawns. "Get your butt over here. Its not like you're gonna get any sleep anyway so come over."

And like that I'm throwing on jeans and a sweatshirt and sneaking out of the fire escape with a little canister of pepper spray tucked in my pocket because it is 2 am after all.

I have to hop the fence to around Sam's house because the door creaks and her mom would go berserk and probably call Spencer to come pick me up. I tiptoe into the backyard and there's a ladder pitched against the side of the house, the top resting on the ledge right under Sam's window and I know she put it there for me.

I climb the ladder quickly but careful enough that I don't plummet to my death before my feet find the shingled ledge and I tap lightly on Sam's window. There's movement on the other side then curtains are being pulled aside and Sam is pushing up the window.

"Hey." I breathe, ducking into the room and Sam shuts the window behind me.

"Hey." She smiles, standing in front of me in a tank top and shorts that are blue and stop way above her knees and are…mine.

"Those are mine." I laugh, gesturing at the pilfered item of clothing and Sam looks down, her hair, wild from sleep, falling everywhere.

"So they are…" Sam mutters, like she just realized it and I shake my head and put my hands on my hips.

"You're such a thief." I grin and Sam lifts an eyebrow.

"You want them back?" She asks, thumbs pulling at the waistband and my mind literally blanks as I watch her thumbs disappear inside the stretchy band, pulling a little and there's a flash of skin but everything reboots after a moment too long.

"No, its okay." I blurt, licking my lips and Sam just smiles and walks past me, hopping onto her rumpled bed and I follow her, glancing around the room full of odds and ends and bright colors, muted in the darkness and the serene light coming from the television.

"Lets go, Shay." Sam yawns, gesturing to the space beside her in the wide bed and I smile a little, toeing off my sneakers and fighting my way out of my sweatshirt before dropping down on the bed.

"Why're you so far away?" Sam asks, clicking off the television and turning towards me and I shrug best I can stretched out on my side in the sudden dark and silence and Sam just moves closer, radiating heat and smelling clean and soapy, tucking herself close.

We lay in silence for a while, Sam on her stomach, face half covered by a pillow and I'm wide awake, staring at the even rise and fall of Sam's back.

"Why did you do it?" I breathe out the question for the ninth time because being this close to Sam, makes the inquiry spin dizzily in my head.

"Do what?" She asks, her words muffled by cotton and feathers and I make an exasperated sound that makes her lift her face and look at me carefully in the darkness. "Why does it matter. It happened like forever ago."

"Twenty five days." I correct softly and something I can't grasp flashes across her eyes. "And it matters."

"Why?" She asks and the question is simple enough but its not one I've asked myself and something unexpected dawns on me.

The notion is hot and bright and like sudden spotlight finding me.

"Because I think about it a lot." I start thoughtlessly and even as the words leave me and a dripping mess of sudden realization and cognizance, that this what's been wrong falls on me. This is what's been happening. "I think about it, about you, when I'm not supposed to, when I'm with Freddie."

Sam's breathing is suddenly loud and I frown as everything I've been feeling becomes connected and woven together and oh god.

"What're you saying, Carly." Sam demands like she's afraid of what I'm going to say and that makes two of us.

"Our hands fit together." I blurt like a crazy person and Sam's eyes widen and I'm scrambling out of the bed, nearly face planting on the rug when my foot gets caught in the sheets.

"Carly." Sam hisses chasing after me and she does in fact tumble over the edge, disappearing on the other side of the bed for a moment before hoping back up, rubbing her elbow. "Carly."

"Sam," I start and I can feel tears burning my eyes a little as I step into my shoes and yank on my sweatshirt. "I have to go."

Sam is grabbing me then, one hand on my waist and the other gripping the shoulder of my sweatshirt and she looks scared and confused.

"What just happened. I don't…" She trails off, pale eyebrows gathered in a frown and I'm thinking about kissing her, about fitting my mouth to hers and feeling that again and I squeeze my eyes shut.

"Sam." Her name falls from my lips painfully and tears are breaking free and I sniffle a little opening my eyes when the hand on my waist comes up to wipe at my tears softly.

"Carly-"

"Sam, I have a boyfriend." I cut her off and she looks concerned like maybe I'm loosing my marbles. "I have a boyfriend and I like the way your hand fits in mine and I don't know what that means."

She's still confused, understandably so, even as she tries to reassure me. "It's okay, Carls. I promise."

That's it.

And then I'm kissing her and this time its all my fault.

Her hands flail a little, flying up in surrender and I keep my eyes open against the jolt of what is most definitely something good as she shuts hers tightly and frowns but then she's kissing my back and her hands are on my shoulders, gripping and readjusting, trying to find purchase.

Oh man.

I pull away with a soft sound and a shake of my head and my hands are shaking hard as I head for the window, jerking it open and spilling out onto the roof breathlessly and my legs aren't working so great either.

"Carly, wait." Sam hisses and I hesitate, my feet already on the wrungs of the ladder. "Wha…whe…where are you going?" She finally spits out.

I wipe my face on my shoulder and lick my lips. " I'm going home."

And then I'm disappearing and running out of the yard, down the street to my house and the entire time my brain is screaming at me.

What did I just do?