A/N: So I finally finished the chapter after what seems like a lifetime. So read and review, tell me what you think and the last line is also the last line in a song called "Recessional" by Vienna Teng....Oh yeah, and I'm thinking of possibly writing a slightly less epic sequel to this.

I wonder how hard it would be to build a time machine.

It shouldn't be that hard, I mean, Spencer could do the designing and Freddie could do all the techy stuff and it's not like I'm trying to go a million years in the future or to Medieval Times or anything I just need to go back three days or into the future far enough where Sam completely forgot that I kissed her in her bedroom three days ago.

I've already started sketching the specs since I've been closed off in my room and in my bed for the past 72 hours give or take time for trips to the bathroom and to the kitchen for sustenance because if my plan to live like a leper, tucked away from everyone, is going to work then I'm going to have to eat.

The sketches crinkle under my pillow as I turn onto my stomach, pressing my face into the feathery softness in half hearted attempt to smother myself but the need for air makes me roll onto my side again just as my phone gives a somewhat urgent shake on the mattress and I don't bother even glancing at it because I know who it is and I know its not who I want it to be.

It's Freddie and it's not Sam and I don't bother picking up because Freddie is under the impression that I have some kind of highly contagious virus and even though I'm not sure if its his or his mothers crippling fear of contagions keeping him across the hall, I'm a little a grateful. A lot grateful. Because then he'd know that I wasn't sick but if I wonder if he'd be able to tell that I'm mostly dying on the inside.

Because Sam kissed me and I kissed her and all of this kissing has to mean important things, it just has to because that amazingly slow burn I felt both times her mouth was on mine isn't normal and since the last kissing incident, namely me loosing whatever sanity I had left and shoving my tongue into her mouth, Sam hasn't spoken to me. No call, no text, no telegram or messenger pigeon, nothing, though in all fairness my recent hermit like behavior probably isn't making communication any easier.

God, what was I thinking….

What the fuck was I thinking?

Wait, I wasn't thinking and that was the problem and that's how I ruined the best friendship I've ever had. All because I can't keep that feeling, that feeling I wish was just teenage hormones but is too high in my chest and too far behind my ribs to be that, under control. That feeling that I know now is that feeling that I'm supposed to have for Freddie but is only conjured up when Sam is around.

This is all Sam's fault.

If it weren't for Sam always acting as if I was important to her and treating me like I was different than everyone else, like I was special, if she hadn't kissed me softer and sweeter than she should be able to with all of the hard words she speaks than I would still be blissfully unaware of that feeling that's on the other side of friendship.

I wouldn't be the philandering whore with homosexual tendencies that I've become.

My phone buzzes again, angry and urgent, and I use my knee to knock it to the floor and it hits the carpet with a soft thud and I wish Freddie would just leave me alone. I mean its nice that he cares and all but I just…I need space to over think and over analyze and work myself up so much that I need to puke. Though I've been doing a pretty good job of it even with his calls.

I kick the blankets off of my legs because its two in the afternoon and the sun is beaming through the window and my room is full of sticky, closed off heat because I'm too lazy to open the window. I brush my hair out of my face and roll onto my side and think about Sam some more.

I play with the idea that maybe kissing Sam was a good thing. That it'll start something new, that we'll date and I'll hold her hand and she'll kiss me and it makes me smile into the arm tucked under my head because it causes the good kind of fluttering in my stomach and I don't even know if that's what I want but its okay to imagine it. Right.

I imagine telling Freddie too and the feeling that curls in the pit f my stomach isn't very pleasant and it only intensifies when I think about telling Spencer, my Granddad, my Dad. In fact the thought alone is enough to bring tears to my eyes and it wouldn't be the first time in my last three days of hibernation that I've cried and it wont be the last.

The worst of the tears are just starting when there's a knock at my door, soft and hesitant.

"Spencer, I'm fine." I hiccup, burying my face in my pillow and sliding onto my stomach and Spencer has been watching me like a hawk since my first day of hibernation and he'd asked me if this whole thing was because of menstruation which made me cry uncontrollably and him nervous because God, I just wanted to tell him but I couldn't.

The door creaks open and I lift my head to tell Spencer in the most polite way to go away and let me die but the words stick in my throat because its Sam. Its Sam closing the door behind her and looking completely uncomfortable.

Which is weird because Sam rarely ever looks uncomfortable.

"Hey." She greets, stretching the word awkwardly and I sit up in bed quickly, wiping at my eyes and sniffling a little.

"What're you doing here?" I ask rudely, "Not that I'm not glad you're here." Because God, I am.

"Freddie says you've been sick. Said you had something contagious."

"So you decided to come over?"

"Pretty much." She shrugs and I laugh, teary and thick, as she steps a little closer and when she shoves her hands in her jean pockets I can see that they curl into fists. "I mean, you haven't been to school in days and I had to make sure you didn't croak. Who else is gonna let me copy their math homework."

"You know you could just do your own homework." I laugh and she grins a little and moves closer, gaining confidence and I watch her eagerly until she sits at the edge of the bed.

"So you're okay? Not near death or anything?"

I choose not to tell her about the whole dying inside thing and nod.

"I wasn't that sick." I admit and Sam just nods, glancing around my rumpled room and I fix my hair self consciously.

"I tried to call. I didn't want to just come over." She says tucking one foot underneath her and I think about my phone probably lost somewhere under the bed.

"Since when do you need an invitation to come over?" I ask and Sam just looks at me, just gives me this look and I swallow while she turns away, her eyes landing on the crumpled lined paper jutting out from under my pillow before she picks it up.

"Whatcha building?" She asks with a smirk and I blush and shrug.

"A time machine." I mutter and nods like it's not weird, smoothing the paper over and over on her thigh before setting it atop the mussed blankets like its made out of something more important than paper and ink. "It's in the developmental stages."

And Sam looks good in layered tank tops and jeans and not like she's been crying and hiding and being broken and weird for the past three days and that makes me feel stupid and self conscious but it also doesn't stop me from gazing at her.

Her hair is falling in loose, heavy curls and her face is scrubbed clean and she's just Sam in all of her raw beauty and I stare. I stare instead of speaking even though its all I wanted to do since that night because words are jumbled in my mind, hooked together in life changing sentences but I can't even untangle them enough to voice them. No grunt or hiccup or burp. Nothing.

"I, uh,…" Sam starts and I don't think I've been more thankful for anything. "You're my best friend, Carly." is all she says and I swallow, picking up my scribbled time machine specs and crumpling them in my hand because I don't think I need them anymore.

"You're mine too."

"But, I liked kissing you and I don't know if it makes me gay or bi or an alien but I liked it." She says so honestly that she can't even look at me, her eyes landing on her fidgeting hands and I follow her gaze and swallow then swallow again. "It's confusing."

"I liked it too." I admit, forcing the words past my ever tightening vocal cords. "But I have Freddie and I can't…" I trail off, trying to grasp for words and its useless. "I can't hurt him."

"This is so weird." She sort of laughs and I nod in agreement. "So what do we do?"

"We should probably stop kissing." I offer and she chuckles, the sound low in her throat. "I guess we just ignore it. We just deal."


"Yeah and just keep being pre make out Sam and Carly. BFF's." I whisper even though something in the back of my head is laughing and pointing at the absurdity of my statement because things are changed and do I even want to pretend this isn't happening?

"Okay." Sam agrees, mouth pressed into a thin line like it's probably not.

A week and a half later I'm absolutely sure that this whole 'just deal' thing isn't working.

Because things between me and Sam are sort of normal except misshapen in spots when I stare at her too long or I catch her watching me.

Because Sam's talking to Addison McAllister with his copper hair and matching eyes and she's laughing and all I want to do is rip his head off and use it as a punch bowl.

The arcade is packed and there's a dull roar of voices overlaid with bells and whistles from the games and I grip the mallet tighter in my hand, bending down a little and slamming it down way harder than necessary when the unsuspecting mole peeks out of the hole.

I'm on a rampage and I realize this even as I slaughter mole after mole, forcing it back into its hole and waiting for the next one to rise up but I imagine red hair instead of fur and a handsomely imperfect smile instead of square teeth and I hit harder. Over and over.

"Carly?" Freddie's voice penetrates my slightly psychotic rage over the noise in the arcade.

"What?" I bite out, swinging faster.

"The game's over." He says and sure enough no more moles are willing to come out of their holes and there's a ribbon of tickets by my feet. "I think you just got the new high score."

"High score? Good job, Carls." Sam smiles walking over to me like she wasn't just over at the basketball shooting game letting Addison teach her how to perfect a jump shot and apparently this required lots of touching.

And it's not like Addison is bad guy or anything because he's handsome and smart in the same exact under utilized way Sam is and if I'd been a good friend I would of hooked them up a long time ago.

Either way I hate him.

"Do you guys wanna get some pizza or something." Addison asks appearing next to Sam, tickets strewn over his shoulder and this double date was not a good idea.

"I'm always up for food." Sam grins and Freddie wraps an arm around my shoulders.

"Sounds good to me." Freddie says and I nod.

"Sure." I mutter but I'm looking at Sam through my lashes and she keeps looking back and Geez, I want to kiss her so instead I lean over and kiss Freddie's ear because we're supposed to be 'Dealing' right? I see Sam shift on her feet and look away.

Addison uses his tickets to buy Sam a Boogie Bear plushy and I want to choke him to death.

"Spencer is going to kill us.." I grunt carrying the last bucket of water into the iCarly studio and dumping it into the kiddie pool, the water sloshing over the brightly colored, inflatable edges.

" Spencer? The guy who built a giant coffee cup in your living room and then filled it with decaf is going to get upset about a kiddie pool?" Sam questions, a thick head band keeping her hair out of her face while she finishes blowing up the inflatable swim ring shaped like a panda, thumbing the air valve closed.

"You're so right." I admit after a moment as Sam comes closer and proceeds to put the floatation device around my waist and when her knuckles touches my bare stomach I'm pretty sure she does it on purpose.

"There." She grins, looking up at me and I smile stupidly. "Now you wont drown."

"Because that was a real danger." I laugh as she steps away turning to put on some bright neon green water wings that clash with her red and white bikini. And god, I'm nearly positive Sam didn't use to look like that in a bathing suit but she does now and I'm not complaining and I doubt I could be any gayer than right now.

"Okay." She says, flapping her arms a little before hopping in the water that only comes to her shins and staring at me. "What're you waiting for?"

I get control of my wondering eyes, which keep drifting to the flat of her stomach and smile. "I'm not." And then I'm splashing into the water and it immediately turns into a splash fight of epic proportions. The slosh of water and squeals eventually die down and then I'm just grinning at Sam and feeling blood pushing through my veins while she wipes water from her face.

"So," she starts while I smooth back the wet hair that escaped from my ponytail and watch her expectantly. "I've been thinking."

"Oh, no." I giggle and she rolls her eyes.

"Ha ha Carls. Now like I was saying, I've been thinking and I think and I know that I've always said that I don't want to college but I kinda think I do, now."

"What?!" I squeal in excitement because this is huge, this is life changing, because for as long as I can remember Sam has been against school and everything it stood for and I thought once she'd get the chance to be free, that be it but she wants to go to college. This is epic. "That's so great! What made you change your mind?"

"Well I mean, you and Freddie are going and I can't afford to go to a big university or anything but I figure I can do community college and get a degree." She mutters and I'm swelling with pride and beaming at her.

"But what about being an invisible ninja?" I ask and she gives me a very serious look.

"I think I can do both."

"This is amazing, Sam." I breathe, still smiling and she's blushing just a little bit, pretty pink high in her cheeks and I reach over and touch her knee under the surface of the water.

"It's not a big deal, Carls. I'm just extending my stay in this torture they call school." She mutters picking up a floating shark toy and making it swim around a little.

"Yeah, it is Sam. I'm proud of you." I exhale and she looks at me, blue eyes shining and wet hair curling around her ears.

"Oh, don't get all sappy on me." She groans, making the shark 'attack' my fingers in the water and I shrug, grinning helplessly.

"I can't help it."

She just shakes her head and I watch the way her long hair curls against her shoulders and the curve of her neck and the strings tied at her nape, keeping her bikini top on and I swallow hard and when I look to meet her gaze she's looking at me too.

"Hey." She greets and her eyes are skimming over me and I swallow back the tightening sensation.

"Hi." I croak softly then she looks away with a soft, knowing smile and I grin down into the water.

We stay in the pool for more than an hour, an hour that I spend blushing and glancing at Sam's thighs in the water until Sam complains about pruning.

"Okay…" Sam says slowly, the speed of her words matching that of the lone eyebrow making its way upward on her forehead. "What do I have to do to get that candied apple into my possession and then mouth?"

"Oh, you mean this candied apple?" I tease, lifting the bright red apple, its candied shell glinting in the kitchen light and Sam's eyes lock onto her target, tongue darting out to wet her lips and I blink at the action.

"Yeah, that one." Sam answers quickly, dismissing the fact that it is the only candied apple in the loft, the last one as it turns out and brushing her still damp hair out f her face.

I smirk absently, twirling the stick between my fingers, both my eyebrows arching to meet Sam's. "And you'll do…anything?" I question, adjusting the towel around my shoulders and pressing up on my bare toes.

Sam is bobbing her head before the words are finished leaving my lips. "Yes! Anything!"

"Hmm…" I hum, still spinning the candied apple and Sam's eyes widened as its orbit brings it closer and closer to my lips.

"What-what're you-" Sam demands leaning over the breakfast bar that separates us, hands curled around the lip of the wood. "Carly! What're you doing?"

I sink my teeth into the sugar deliciousness of the apple and Sam's face is full of pure betrayal and I'm taking it in with a grin before she hops onto the bar more or less like a spider monkey and tackles me.

I let out an extremely unattractive yelp right before we hit the ground and the candied apple slips out of my hand and tumbles into the dirty, dusty place right under the refrigerator. My towel flies and the towel that was initially tucked underneath Sam's arms comes undone and then we're wresting around on the floor in bikinis like a bad adult movie.

"Sam!" I grunt, wrapping my legs around Sam's narrow hips to stop her as she attempts to crawl over me and to the truly disgusting, hair and dust bunny covered candied apple. "You can't eat that!"

"Yeah, I can!" She groans, pulling away from me. "Five second rule. There's a five second rule!"

"When dust, dirt and or hair are involved the five second rule is null and void. Null and void." I declare tightening my leg hold and rolling so I'm on top of Sam who struggles a little more before giving up and her head makes a funny sound when she drops it back on the linoleum.

"That was mean." She huffs out and I grin a little and Sam always accuses me of having a slightly sadistic streak and maybe she's right. Or maybe this was all a brilliantly subconscious plot to get tangled around a swimsuit wearing Sam.

"I know. I'm sorry." I laugh and Sam squints at me appraisingly.

"That's not your sorry look." She mutters, closing her eyes in defeat. "That's your smug look."

I smile because I like that Sam knows so much about me, more than anyone else on the planet.

It's been a long time since we've hung out like this, just the two of us alone, because Sam has a new boyfriend and I have Freddie and we're both still trying to be normal and 'deal' and I can't tell if its working or not because I still think about her all the time.

I stare at her too long; feel the second where it becomes awkward tick by before Sam gives me a sheepish grin and slides from underneath my weight, standing and grabbing her towel and I just try to breathe and to quell the butterflies in my stomach

"So what're you doing tonight?" I ask pushing myself to my feet, scooping up m towel and the hairy candied apple and dropping it in the garbage while Sam watches from the couch with big, sad eyes.

"Ugh, that's such a waste." She groans, flopping face first onto the cushions. "And I'm going to B.F. Wang's tonight."

"Yeah?" I swallow, "With Addison?"

"Yep." She shrugs, mumbling into the cushion and I sit down on the stool in front of the computer, smoothing the towel over my lap and twisting to face her and I swallow past the tightness in my throat again. She exhales sitting up and she gives me a careless wave. "But its no big deal, just grabbing food at a Chinese chain restaurant."

I bite my lips somewhat guiltily because I don't want her to go. Because it's Sunday and tomorrow I'll have to go to school and watch her be with Addison, who likes to put his hands down her back pockets. I ignore the selfishness and speak. "Well do you have to? Can you not go?"

"You want me to ditch Addison?" She asks and I stand, adjusting the waist of my suit bottoms and I see Sam's eyes flicker downward and the look makes my stomach flutter like a dying bird.

"Well, yeah." I shrug and Sam licks her lips. "I just…" I trail off, scratching at my still wet hair. "I just want you to stay here with me. It's been so long since we've hung out."

"Freddie's right across the hall, Carls. I mean if you're lonely…" She starts gesturing over her shoulder and I shake my head.

"But I want you." I blurt and if I had been thinking I would have added more to that sentence so it wouldn't mean so much but its too late now because Sam is licking her lips again and I wonder if she tastes me there.

If she thinks about me kissing her as much as I do and Sam was right, I'm not very good at letting things go.

I'm thinking about kissing her again and I shake my head a little to clear my mind.

"You can't say stuff like that." She says, her voice thick now.

"I didn't…it just came out like that. I didn't..."I trail off hopelessly.

I sit down on the couch beside her, probably too close but I can't help myself. "C'mon." I grin hopefully and she straightens her spine, eyeing me.


We end up upstairs in my room, changed and dryer now, the door swung open and gaping just in case and sprawled on bean bags on the floor with Spencer's old headphones, the big bulky kind that cover Sam's entire ear, plugged into one of the stereo outlets and ear buds tucked into my ears in the other so we can both hear without Freddie's mom coming across the hall and telling us to turn that noise down.

I'm examining the CD booklet with the head of the band members photoshopped onto the bodies of fishes on what may be the worst album cover ever while Sam plays with the plastic that took me nearly ten minutes and a sharp tool to get off.

And I'm tying not to look at her because there's a song about a girl streaming through my ears and it doesn't even remind me of her but it's making me think about her and I clear my throat self-consciously, trying to get more comfortable on my stomach but its sort of useless.

The next song comes up and I'm reading the liner notes when I feel Sam's fingers pluck at the side of my tee shirt and when I glance down she's pulling at a loose thread and I have the ludicrous image of her pulling the string and my entire shirt unraveling like a cartoon but then string breaks and her hand is gone and I'm trying to find my place in the book. And I know logically every time she touches me, it can't mean something epic and important, it can't, but for the next few minutes I'm afraid to move.

Two more songs, one about partying and law breaking and another about a girl, and Sam is watching me. Her eyes soft and curious and so blue and she doesn't look away when I meet her gaze, just watches me evenly while guitar rifts blare through the headphones and I don't know what she's thinking and I think it might be for the best.

I give her a smile that's all confusion and she doesn't return it, just lets her gaze slide away and up to the ceiling.

There's a song about not being able to live without someone and I can't even look at Sam.

Halfway through track seven and Sam is watching me again. Or I'm watching her. Then she's moving, sitting up and leaning back on her elbows and she's close and I lick my lips absently. The song is building speed and so is my heart and Sam looks like she's very, very tense, so I don't move. Just clutch the book in my hand and watch her watch me.

Then she's leaning forward and the drums and bass are beating all the thoughts from my head except for 'Oh God. Oh God. Oh God.' and at the edge of my vision I can see her hands gripping the beanbag. Her breath is brushing against my mouth and I can't move and I can't breathe and this definitely isn't 'just dealing' or pretending everything is normal but that's okay. That's okay right now.

Her nose bumps against mine, once, twice, like she's gathering courage and I take a breath and just lean. Blind and helpless, I lean.

She tastes like too much sugar and heat and when she parts her lips and inhales against my mouth it reminds me of one of those cotton candy makers at the fair.

Her tongue brushes mine, timidly at first, then soft and curious and it feels like my heart is going way too fast and my stomach is tying itself off in knots and somehow all of this feels good and when I move closer my earphone pulls out of my ear, followed quickly by the other and then there's only the soft, disjointed sound of music sliding under Sam's soft breathing and the sound of kissing and that feels my head now.

But the door is wide open and anybody could walk up the stairs and that makes me pull away a little and Sam's eyes stay closed, her throat working before she sits up all the way, puling the headphones from her head.

"I'm sorry." She says after a moment and I twist my head to look at her but all I see is her back, the ridges of her spine a little visible through the thin material of her shirt. "I'm sorry."

"I'm not." I laugh a little because that's not what I meant to say as I sit up too, wrapping my arms around my knees and watching Sam tap her socked feet together idly.

"I like the way I feel when I'm around you." She says quietly, voice catching on something and I try to remember to breathe because now would not be a good time to asphyxiate. "And I just like kissing you.."

There are tears now, welling up and filling her blue eyes and whatever was beating its way up her throat finally escapes because she makes this soft, heartbreaking sound that makes tears spring to my eyes.

"But it stupid, it's so stupid." She continues, lifting her head and when she does the tears spill down her face in long, wet streaks. "Because you and Freddie are dating and if we just ignore it it'll go away. It's has to go away. It's probably just a phase like the blue candy thing." She offers with a tearful smile and I swallow slowly.

"That wasn't a phase, Sam. I'm pretty sure that was a full blown addiction." I point out not so helpfully and Sam rolls her eyes and sniffles a little. "Those things weren't even FDA approved."

"Then this isn't like that at all." She amends and she's trying to soothe me and make me feel better like her admissions are scaring me and they are but not in the way she thinks. "It's like something that'll just fade away and we can forget about this and in 10 years you and Freddie can get married and I'll be your maid of honor and the two of you can live happily ever after."

"Is that what you think I want?" I ask in disbelief and God, I don't even know if that's what I want and Sam just shrugs.

"Why wouldn't you? Freddork is a good guy." And now its my turn to shrug because I don't know how to answer that.

"I don't know what this means." She croaks, ending the silence and I swallow, lick my lips. Think about kissing her again because she's still crying and the tears are making her voice thick and dark before I push that urge away.

"Things are going to be different now? Weirder."

"Can things get any weirder than they are now?"

I think about kissing her again, like my brain is stuck on repeat, then nod.


"Hey, Carls?"

I glance at Freddie expectantly as I pull a glass from the cabinet for my orange juice because its early and Spencer doesn't like me drinking coffee so much.

"Is everything okay?" I freeze then, my orange juice splashing awkwardly into my glass.

"What do you mean?"

" I don't know. You just seem..."

"Absolutely normal?" I offer with a strange echoing laugh before turning and looking at Freddie.

"Preoccupied." He says instead, his words painfully accurate and I clear my throat against sudden tightness. "I mean, everything is alright between us? Relationship wise?"

And I pull in a breath, consider telling him the truth but my mind can't even fathom how that scenario would play out.

"Everything's fine." I lie and the plastic smile pulling across my mouth is a lie too but Freddie doesn't seem to notice and I realize how strange it is to feel guilty but not necessarily apologetic.

"Well do you wanna hang out today?" he asks in that completely flirty way he has that's all smirky and waggling eyebrows and I can't help but smile at him.

"Yeah. Of course."

"Awesome. " he exclaims. "There showing Space Wars episodes 1-4 including the Battle of Panthatar at the Premiere. I'll go get my costume..." he says excitedly and my mouth opens a little.

"Wait...what!?" We spend the entire day in a room with nerds in costumes and I spend most of the time listening to Freddie's excited voice and wriggling my fingers in his hand. And while being an extremely nerdy experience it still kinda nice to just hang with Freddie.

"So did you have fun?" Freddie asks hours later when we're up in my room and I look up at him from where I'm resting my head on his chest because this is a normal boyfriend, girlfriend pose though I'm not terribly comfortable.

"Besides the fact that I'm pretty sure I was the only girl there and everyone was staring and wheezing, yeah. It was fun."

"Imagine how cool the guys thought I was walking in with you." He brags and I laugh just as my phone vibrates to life on the bed near Freddie's knee. I pick it up and peer at the caller id and Sam's name flashes up at me and my heart gives an eager leap because even though I spent the entire day with Freddie and focused on Freddie I still thought about Sam a lot.

But I let it go to voicemail because there has to be a line and Freddie chuckles.

"What?" I ask confused and he just shrugs.

"That was Sam right?" I nod. "Yeah, I'm just not used to being put before Sam."

I frown a little, my stomach doing a sickening spin. "What do you mean."

"Nothing, its just that Sam has always come first. No big deal." He mutters even though it is a big deal because he's my boyfriend and he should come first right?

I don't know if its guilt or shame that makes me lean up and kiss him but I know it's a mixture of the two and a dash of self loathing that let things get completely out of hand.

And Freddie and I have talked about sex and wanting to wait till we were ready while there was a part of my brain that sort of silently screamed that I would never be ready and its silent screams find a voice as things get out of hand.

But I don't stop and in all fairness its over rather quickly.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah." I whisper softly, clutching the sheets in a fist against my chest while I sit at the side of the bed, toeing Freddie's blue and red striped shirt where it sits in a heap on the floor. "I'm fine." the lie slides easily between my lips.

"I didn't hurt you or anything, did I?" He asks from the bed behind me and I can hear the concern in his voice and the squeak of the bedsprings, can imagine the frown on his face and it makes me laugh in a completely unfunny way.

Because of course Freddie didn't hurt me. He's Freddie. He loves and cares about me. Hell, having sex wasn't even his idea it was mine, I made the first move, even though I didn't really want to but there are reasons and motives that I don't even want to think about right now.

"No, you didn't." I whisper, clamping down on the irrational laughter and this was a mistake. I feel it twisting around in my stomach like some dark monster lurking behind my appendix and I swallow hard glancing down at my sheets and wondering how I can ever sleep here again. How Sam can ever sleep here again.

"Was I…" Freddie trails off and when I glance over my shoulder he's watching me, sheets tucked around his waist while he sits at the top of his bed. "Was it…okay?"

"Yeah." I finally get out awkwardly and its not like I know how sex is supposed to be or anything but if okay means that it was only a little painful and it was over rather quickly then yeah it was okay. "I'm going to take a shower." I murmur gesturing vaguely towards the bathroom and when I get in there, shoving the door closed and locking it behind me I let the sheet I took with me drop after starting the shower and I stare at myself in the mirror. I stare at the marks Freddie's mouth left on my shoulders and neck and how messy my hair looks and the way my eyes look and I don't like what I see.

The water is hot but I don't turn it down as I stand under the pounding spray because there are things under my skin, feelings and confusion, that I wish it could wash away. It doesn't.

I don't realize how long I've been in the shower until Freddie knocks on the door and calls that he has to leave, that his mom will be home soon but he'll be back, and I don't answer, only listen for the click of my bedroom door closing before I shut off the shower and let water fill the bathtub.

I read somewhere that you can die from being in the water too long and I wonder how much truth is in that because now I've been in the water for hours and I can't find the strength to get out.

"Carly?" I must've fallen asleep at some point because Sam's voice pulls me awake and I realize dimly that I was dangerously close to drowning in what can only be called lukewarm Carly soup.

"Sam?" I hear the bathroom door open despite being originally locked and have the presence of mind to reach out and slide the curtain shut just as she walks in.

"Yeah, its me." She says and I can see the shape of her through the yellow duck shower curtain. "I've been calling you for like an hour. An ice cream truck flipped over by the bank and there was ice cream everywhere." I see her do a funny gesture with her hands and a smile pulls reluctant across my face because things have been tense and awkward but unlike me she's just letting it go. Not bringing up the fact that sometimes we kiss, hard and urgent in the dark, and I don't know if its better or worse. "But it seems like you've been in the bath for quiet a while."

"I took a shower first." I croak and I see her nod.

"Good for you." She murmurs and I watch her hop up on the sink, legs swinging just like a little kid but Sam's not a little kid anymore, her body is long and willowy and things that were straight lines have curves now and she's developing all over the place. "Plan on coming out anytime soon?"

I laugh strangely at her choice of words and I sink down into the water, letting it cover my mouth for a moment to squelch the noise.

"No." I finally say and the word gurgles against the water.

"Okay." She shrugs, "That's cool…so what happened? Why've you been in the bath for hours?"

"Because I'm dirty." I lie and Sam laughs at that and I know that its not particularly funny and I wonder what she's thinking to make her chuckle like that. "I had sex with Freddie."

I blurt it out because Sam and I are friends and I tell her everything, always, no matter what.

Her laughter dies clumsily and she clears her throat once, twice, and I watch her head drop forward. "Well then I understand the need for a very long bath." She deadpans.


"Are you okay? I mean, he didn't hurt you or anything because I swear I'll rip his…" She starts and I smile, shaking my head and my wet hair stick to my neck.

"He didn't hurt me, Sam. I mean, it hurt a little, but he didn't hurt me." I explain and she makes a noise of understanding in the back of her throat before hoping down off of the sink and my heart does a stuttering beat that leaves me breathless as she comes closer to the bath tub.

"Lemme see you're hands." She request and I push the curtain open a little and Sam is there, blue eyes bright and her hair pulled back uncharacteristically into a ponytail.

"I like your hair." I whisper even as I give her my pruned fingers and she rolls her eyes, her smooth fingertips sliding over my wrinkled fingers before sliding our hands together and I think about what I had admitted that night, that I like the way her hand fits in mine, before she pulls away.

"Get out the bath, Carls because I think you may be dissolving." She says and then like that she's out of the bathroom and following her is enough of a reason for me to drain the tub and shrug on my robe.

I find her downstairs at the kitchen table, picking at the red Formica like she's thinking, thinking, thinking and I find myself hoping she's thinking about me.

"Hey." I call, padding barefoot down the stairs in my pajamas and when she looks up she smiles and it looks like it might hurt.

"Hey mermaid." She says following me over to the couch. "How's it feel to be on dry land again?"

I just shake my head at her, dropping down on one side of the couch and she does the other and I think about how personal space use to not apply to us but there are boundaries and lines that we've created subconsciously.

My hands fidget in my lap because I can feel Sam looking at me and I wonder if the collar of my shirt hides the hickey on my neck, I hope it does.

"So…" she starts and I peek up at her. "You made Fredward a man."

"Yeah, I guess." I chuckle but Sam doesn't laugh, just pulls her mouth in a tight line.

"Good…job…?" She frowns a little, turning away and I swallow, pulling my knees up to my chest and hugging my legs.

"Thanks…I think."

"Yeah…anytime." She croak and I feel guilty even though I shouldn't because this is a natural progression of a relationship but I do and there's so much guilt surging through me that I'm surprised there's room for anything else.

"So…free street ice cream."

"Yep." Sam nods, frowning down at her hands and I watch them lace together. "I'm gonna get out of here."

"Why?" I question stupidly and Sam smiles strangely down at her clasped hands. "You just got here."

"Because I'm feeling a lot of… feelings that make me want to break things and I don't want to break your things so..." She explains easily through clenched teeth.

"Oh, okay." I breathe and Sam stands after a moment with a sigh. "Be safe."

She just laughs.

It's not working, the whole pretending everything is okay, charade isn't working because I'm sliding and falling and Sam is under my skin and man, I like her there.

And I know that I shouldn't want her the way I do, there a reasons not to want her like this, but I can't remember it when I'm with her.

The thought is clanking around my head nearly constantly and is more than enough to drag my attention away from school and Freddie and sleep, like now.

In fact Sam and insomnia are beginning to become synonymous with one another. And it would be so much easier to act normal and deal and focus on my relationship with Freddie if we didn't hang around one another 24/7 but the thought alone is enough to make my stomach hurt because I would much rather do this awkward dance around one another, tiptoeing between absolutely platonic friends and heavy, thick, moments that keep me up at night along with the late night texting conversations about nothing and we're one thing in the light of day and something else entirely at night.

My phone beeps softly and I pick it up from my stomach where its been resting in between aimless text messages I've been exchanging with Freddie and Sam's name flashes through the darkness at me in the caller id box.

"Hello?" I breathe and I'm already smiling into the receiver as I stare up at the ceiling and listen to air rasp over the line followed closely by Sam's voice. And it's the first time I've really spoken to her since I broke the news that me and Freddie had…consummated our relationship.

"Hey, what're you doing?" she asks and the wind whistles again and I can practically imagine her out in the cold wearing insufficient clothing.

"Well considering its almost 3 in the morning, I'm sleeping." I laugh and she laughs too.

"You don't sound like you're sleeping. In fact you sound wide awake." She sort of sing songs and I wiggle my toes under the blanket.

"What're you doing? You sound like your outdoors."

"Nice subject change." She laughs again and the sound makes my limbs tingle. "And I am outdoors, doing something you wouldn't approve of."

Her voice is bright and lilting and I want to know what she's doing. I want to be where she is.

"Why did you call?" I wonder aloud.

"I dunno." She verbally shrugs and I smile a little.

"You don't know why you called me in the middle of the night?" I ask and she laughs.

"Not exactly. No." Sam chuckles and she's playing with me and it makes me grin stupidly.

"Well I'm glad you did." I breathe and Sam sucks in a breath.

"Me too."

"Where are you?" I ask, all false exasperation.

"I'm at the Ridgeway." She says like its normal and I sit up in bed, throwing my legs over the edge.

"Ya know, for someone who hates school, you're there an awful lot." I tease and she groans out something I don't quite catch over a sudden gust of wind.

"Whatever. So I think you should come meet me." I'm halfway there by the time she gets the sentence out.

"How long are you gonna be there?"

"I don't know, a while."

"Don't leave okay?" I whisper, searching for my sweatshirt in the dark. "I'm coming."

Sam's silent for a moment like she's contemplating what a horrific train wreck of an idea this is before sighing, that sigh that means she knows its wrong but she's gonna do it anyway.


It takes me 10 minutes to get to the school and as I get closer the first thing I notice is toilet paper, reams and reams of it strung through the trees, hooked over branches and the white ribbons in the darkness is sort of beautiful. I can make out Sam, in jeans and a long sleeved shirt, hurling a roll of tissue into the trees and my sneakers crunch on the icy grass as I move towards her.

"Sam!" I call, peering up at her handiwork as I come closer, my gloved hands tucked into my jacket, clutching the pair of gloves, scarf and knit cap I stuffed in my pockets for her because just like I suspected, she's grossly under dressed for the cold.

"How goes it?" she greets breathlessly and I shake my head at her as we get closer taking her in.

"Did you do all of this." I ask in disbelief, still glancing upwards and she nods proudly.

"Yup." She shrugs and when I look at her, her cheeks are flushed and her nose is red and I pull out the scarf, wrapping it around her neck loosely, her skin is cold. "What're you doing?"

"Saving you from catching pneumonia." I say pointedly as I pull out the knit cap and pull it over her head followed by the gloves I force over her cold fingers, I notice the scrapes on her knuckles but I don't ask. "You're going to freeze to death."

Sam just grins at me like its not cold at all. "So what're you doing here?" she asks, flexing her hands in my grasp because I haven't let go yet.

"You called. You asked me to come." I shrug and Sam just eases out of my grip with a sheepish smile and I smile back against the cold, watching as she leans down to pick up a discarded roll of paper before thrusting it towards me and I eye it in confusion.


"Oh, c'mon, Carls. Live a little." Sam teases, "and nothing says living like teepeeing something." Her eyebrows waggle playfully and I exhale, my breath condensing a little in the air.

"Sam." I start, shaking my head because I don't vandalize property, that's Sam MO but Sam is watching me with blue eyes and a smirk that's all challenge. "Give it." I bite out, taking the roll and hurling it upwards.

Sam is a bad influence, I realize this even as we begin hastily teepeeing the school. The soft, white paper floats across the night sky, catching on tree branches and rooftops and when we're done, breathless and laughing, the campus looks nothing like it did before.

"What're you doing out so late anyway?" I ask watching Sam catch a falling roll out of the sky before turning to me with a smile and a shrug.

"I dunno." She mutters, coming closer and I watch her expectantly, shoving my hands in my pocket so I wont touch her while she unrolls a line of paper and slings it around my neck like a scarf. "Couldn't sleep I guess."

I hum in acceptance, tilting my head to look up at our handiwork and Sam does the same.

"We did a pretty okay job, huh." I murmur and she nods.

"Yeah, whenever you decide to give up this whole 'good girl' thing. You may have a career in destruction and mayhem." She compliments in her own Sam way and I grin at her, peering at her in the cold darkness.

"Thanks." I mumble, glancing around and shivering and when I look back at her, ready to try and convince her that we should leave now, Sam is already gazing at me. "What?" I laugh nervously and Sam's eyes drop, her sneaker toeing the icy ground.

"You know what." She just shrugs.

I swallow hard, my eyes following hers to the ground and she scuffs her shoe once more before speaking.

"Wanna a ride home?" She asks breaking the tension and I shrug and glance around, tucking my hands back into my pocket.

"Might as well stay out since I've already broken curfew, snuck out and committed vandalism."

Sam grins, "I like your thinking." Sam's car smells like artificial vanilla, the smell too thick and too sweet, emanating from the two cardboard pine trees hanging from her rear view mirror and I reach out to pluck at one and it bounces and bobs on its elastic string.

We're parked under the same overpass in nearly the same spot because I can make out Sam's discarded cup beside us. "You're ruining my life, you know that?" I say around a smile and Sam turns her head to look at me from the drivers seat.

"Yeah." She sighs, all apologetic and my smile fades a bit as she presses her head back against the head rest.

I blink own at my hands for a moment to keep my bearings because this doesn't even feel like me and Sam. I rub my gloved hands together and Sam turns up the heat, tilting the vents my way and I smile a little.

"Thanks." I rasp over the rumble of the heater and she slumps forward against the steering wheel, face pressed against the horn and it gives a squeak before going silent and her blue eyes are watching me through the faint light.

"What're we gonna do?" she asks softly and she's asked me that question hundreds of times in different situations and I've always had an answer but not now. Now all I can do is look out the window.

"I don't know." I say honestly, glancing back at Sam who's still just watching. "I love Freddie, he's one of my best friends and I can't hurt him." I say honestly and Sam's mouth presses into a thin line.

"Ookay..." she drags out like its not really 'okay'. She sits back, pushing her hair back over her shoulders and straightening and I can practically see her pushing everything deep down inside of herself and its hard to watch.

"So, you're in love with him?" I balk then because for as much as I love Freddie, I'm not so sure about the 'in' part.

"I don't know, maybe. I don't really know." I mutter and Sam presses back against the head rest.

"Okay." She inhales. "That's okay." And her words crack and break around the edges.

"But I..." I start because I want to tell her that she's my friend and that I love her too and I'm confused but I like the way she makes me feel. Different than Freddie, maybe better.

"No." She cuts me off, closing her eyes and her hands curl white knuckled around the steering wheel. "If that's how you feel than there's no 'but'." She whispers through her teeth and I look at her until she opens her eyes and meets my gaze. "

I can't help myself." I admit and Sam's eyes shut again like everything is just too much and it is. It is.

"Doesn't make it okay." Sam mutters and she's right. "Are you gonna break up with Freddie?"

"What happens if I do? What happens then?" I throw back and were both silent.

"Things change." Is all she says.

"Yeah." I croak and she doesn't have to say another word because, fuck, change is scary. Its terrifying.

She's afraid and I get it, so am I.

She's afraid of being different and being raw and exposed and different without the cover of being "Sam Puckett" and I have to admit I'm just as terrified of the thought of leaving the comfort of being Freddie's girlfriend and straight and normal.

"What're we going to do?" I ask now, my voice scratching its way up my throat and Sam takes a deep breathe.

"I guess we should stop...kissing." She huffs in frustration and for some reason it makes me giggle, the sound catching in my throat. Sam opens her eyes to look at me curiously.

"You have a twisted sense of humor." She says it like she's exhausted and I stifle my laughter while she looks at me, blue eyes searching.

"I can't help myself." I say again and Sam frowns.

"From laughing?"

"From kissing you." I clarify. "I can't help kissing you." I watch Sam's hands readjust on the wheel, gripping it at 10 and 2 and I stare at her hands while feelings slosh around in my stomach.

"Maybe we can..." she starts tentatively after a long silence, eyes focused on the windshield. "If we just..." she stops like the words just won't come out and I peer at her curiously.

"Sam?" I breathe, chocking a little because I know she's going to say something important and because of this, my throat has decided to close off apparently. Great.

"If we just give in just this-this once it would be okay. Just for tonight." She finally whispers, fingers readjusting on the wheel.

"To get it out of our system." I add because this is a pretty bad idea, like epicly bad, like this needs to be made in to a B grade movie bad, considering that Sam and I aren't really that great with boundaries as it is and we both have boyfriends but my mind is ignoring those important bits and focusing on Sam and Sam's hair and skin and mouth.

"Yeah, exactly." She agrees, turning to look at me. "But then we go back to being just friends. Like old times."

"Like old times." I repeat, searching her face. "Are you sure?"


There's a heavy beat of silence before I lean over the consol and kiss Sam, my lips touching her cheek and her ear and she readjusts her hands on the wheel before turning and kissing me. We end up in the backseat tangled up in an old, slightly musky blanket Sam found in the trunk and its sort of perfect. I'm kissing Sam slow and deep and she's letting me and making this amazing soft sound every couple of minutes and when I press my hips against hers because I just need the pressure, she pushes back.

She kisses me over and over, her mouth straying down along my jaw and her teeth catching on my bottom lip and I notice the difference when she kisses me, when she really kisses my like this, and how can I not? Because kissing Freddie is nice but kissing Sam just does something to me.

The sex is made up of awkwardly fumbling and trembling touches in the too small backseat of her beat up old car but I want to stay in the junk heap with her forever.

"Are you okay?" Sam exhales, her forehead pressed to mine and her lips brushing over mine and I lick my lips and touch hers too.

"Yes." I breathe because, with Sam's palm pressed tentative to my breast and her thigh settled between mine, I've never felt better. "Yes."

"I've never done this before." She laughs nervously and I slant my mouth against hers and grope my way up the back of her shirts, my thumb sliding over her ribs and the feeling that shoots through me, stomach to throat, when Sam presses her mouth to my throat and palms my breast tentatively and tells me that she's never done this before.

"Me either." I whisper but Sam gives me a look, "Well, not this." I amend rolling my eyes.

Her skin is soft and the way her sides curve in just a bit between her ribs and her hips makes me drag my shaking fingertips over them over and over. We kiss over and over and her eyes are closed when I peel off her shirt and mine are when she pushes my shirt up over my stomach.

It takes forever to get out of our clothes because I'm scared and Sam's scared and there's a point when I'm unbuttoning Sam's jeans when she asks me to 'Stop. Please, stop for a second.', but eventually I'm just wearing plain panties I wouldn't have worn if I'd known this would be happening and Sam's wearing these bright orange boy shorts and plaid knee socks and we're covered completely by the musky blanket, exchanging warm, wet, kisses over the pounding of my heart.

"Are you okay?" I ask now and Sam nods, the blanket moving with gesture even as I thumb the waistband of her underwear.

"Yeah, I'm just a little…a little nervous." She admits and I understand completely because my heart has taken up residence in my throat and my stomach seems to have migrated to my feet.

"I'll go slow." I whisper and she murmurs 'Okay.' as we shift around so that we're lying face to face on the narrow seat and Sam's sandwiched between me and the back of the seat.

She swallows hard and audible when I slide my hand down her stomach and into her underwear where she's all wet, silky heat and I gulp down some air too, pushing the blanket down so it pools around our waists.

"Is-Is that okay?" I ask hopefully and I think Sam nods but she's sort of curling into me so its hard to tell.

I have no idea what I'm doing. I mean, admittedly, I'm the one with more experience in this area but its not by much and its with the male of the species and I really wish I had time to like, study and look at some sort of diagram or blueprint because I don't know if I'm doing this right.

"Sam?" I breathe questioningly and she doesn't answer but she really doesn't need to because her eyes are closed and her hair is damp with sweat and her hips are following my fingers wherever they go, even when they rub in tight circles then triangles and when I start on parallelograms her legs tighten around my hand and she grips my arm tightly

"Oh god." She cries out in this soft, tight, voice that I've never heard her use and there's a split second where I think maybe I've hurt her but then she's bucking against my fingers and she's even more wet and I can feel the way her thighs are shaking.

It goes on for a while and I'm watching her and wondering if I broke her but then her eyes are opening and I grin.


"Don't look so smug." She rasps, "I'm easy."

"I dunno. I might be a sex wizard." I grin and Sam gives me this dreamy smile and her hands find my hair and urge me back to her mouth and she kisses me hard, tongue twisting into my mouth with the same tenacity and self righteousness as she does everything else and when she urges me to roll over, I do, though somewhat awkwardly on the narrow backseat but then Sam is over me and her hair is falling into her flushed face and bright eyes and I think, 'Man, I did that.', as she kisses me again.

Her mouth slides down my neck, over my breast and I don't think she knows that she's pressing her thigh between my legs and I push back shyly and try not to reveal how turned on I am, probably more turned on then I've ever been, but Sam's always been way smarter than she lets on and I gasp when she all but grinds into me, clutching at the blanket that's slipped to pool beneath us.

"Is this okay?" She asks softly and I nod, try to gather words but can't, but she gets the message and when she takes my hands, lacing them with hers and pinning them awkwardly against the car door, I breathe her name against her skin and hang on because it feels like I'll fly apart.

And when I do fly apart in sharp shards, with Sam's mouth against my ear and her breasts are pressed to mine, I don't ever want to be put back together because this is it.

This is all we get.

"This is it." I breathe after, after, into the thick, wet air of the car, the windows fogged over from our heavy breathing while mine and Sam's phones sit on the dashboard, lighting up every time someone sends a desperate message or call wondering where we are.

Sam looks at me from the other side of the backseat, leaning back against the door and knees drawn to her chest beneath the scratchy blanket and across from her I mimic the position.

Sam's eyes are red and so is her mouth and so are the marks on her neck and that's all because of me.

"It'll be okay." she reassures and I want to believe her but she sounds as sad as I feel and oh my god, how did we get to this point?

"It wont." I argue wiping at the tears that wont seem to stop and Sam licks her lips.

"It has to be." And she's right, she's right.

"So tomorrow I'm just supposed to look at you and not want you?" I ask and Sam gives me a contemplating look.

"I wish it were that easy." She sighs and I touch my hair absently, watching her watch me and as scared as I was before all of this, I realize I'm afraid of what's supposed to happen after too.

"I love you." I swallow and I've said it a million times to Sam over the years but I've never said it like this, I've never meant it like this.

She doesn't say it back, just looks away, and its probably for the best.

The sun is barely cracking into the sky as we walk into the Bushwell Plaza but she does, her hand laced perfectly with mine, palm to palm and clasped tight and I don't know why she's walking me home but she is and I appreciate it.

The first thing I see as I lead Sam into the lobby is Freddie, holding a picture up to Lewbert's face and asking if he's seen this girl which only elicits hysterical screams about his newly polished floors and shoe prints from the doorman.

Sam squeezes my hand just as Freddie notices our presence and he turns, holding up a god awful photo of me that looks as if it was taken when I was sleeping and he visibly relaxes, stuffing the picture in his pocket.

"Carly! Sam! Where've you guys been?" He cries rushing over and I cringe when Sam releases my hand with a shake. "We've been looking for you guys all night."

"We were just…hanging out." I lie, glancing back at Sam who just nods, arms wrapped around herself.

"Well I'm just glad you're alright." Freddie exhales and then he's pulling me into a hug that strong and secure and I grip his shoulders. "C'mon lets go upstairs, Spencer's gonna be relieved you guys are okay."

I pull out of Freddie's embrace and nod, tucking my hair behind my ears. "Okay?"

"Actually, I think I'm gonna head home. My mom left my 19 voicemails and god only knows what she's thinks I'm doing." Sam huffs and my stomach lurches sadly as I turn to look at her, swallowing hard.

"Call me later?" I ask and the desperation in my voice sounds so loud but I can't help it.

Sam gives me a broken smile, shoving her hands in her pockets and nods. "Sure."

Freddie reaches out and takes my hand, forces my fingers between his and Sam's eyes focus there for a moment before she takes a slow breath, taking a step back towards the door, and all I can do is watch her walk away while Freddie holds me still at his side.

And this hurts, more than I thought possible but I can do this. I can be Freddie's perfect girlfriend and I can be Sam's best friend and i'm like an actress filling a roll. I'm like a con artist, being someone I'm not. I glance at Freddie then Sam and wonder who, exactly, am I trying to fool.

Sam pushes the doors open, one foot outside before throwing me that thin, fragile smile.

"Well anyway," She says, "I'll see you around."

The End........