A/N This came out of true recent events in my life, an extremely foul mood, and Cheska's question about what it would sound like if I wrote from Sam's first person present perspective.
You can pretty much expect me to write an unrelated oneshot in between every chapter of Cruise Control. I just find it too hard to write otherwise. Oneshots are so much more fun! Please review if you have anything to share.
Disclaimer: I do not own iCarly but I'm willing to move at the drop of a hat and work on it.
People. I can't stand them. They're walking bags of flesh and all they do is interrupt my solace. I hate spending time around them, I hate having to speak to them, and most of all, I hate having to deal with their damned social demands and societal pressures. It's not worth the time and it's not worth the worry.
And I'm certainly not upset about not being invited to Rebecca Berkowitz's party. I shut my laptop, well actually it's Freddie's but he doesn't know I've borrowed it, abruptly ending the IM conversation I was having with Carly.
So what if this is the fifth time the middling-to-popular girls have snubbed me, but openly invited Carly to some stupid thing. So what if Carly hasn't stuck up for me and demanded I get an invitation since we went up a grade. It's not like I need her to protect me. It's obviously always been the other way around.
I flop back onto my bed and reach with a flail of my arm for the bag of cheese puffs I have leaning against the wall.
It doesn't matter anyway, because I hate dealing with human beings. Especially the female ones who judge me because I'm wearing shorts after labor day. They're the ones missing out. I have the best stories to tell at parties. I'll always dance, sometimes even without music. And don't get me started on how many different things I happen to know look especially cool when set on fire.
I don't know why they all hate me so much. What did I do to them? I haven't beaten any of them up since at least seventh grade. The last time I froze a bra with a fire extinguisher during gym class was months ago. I know that I've grown as a person. I've become "endearingly brazen". Or at least, that's what it says on my counselor's notes. I know because I stole my file. What? I put it back when I was done reading it. A girl gets curious, is all. Anyway it's a big step up from "rudely antiauthoritarian", which is what it said before.
My phone rings; it's Carly, of course. I contemplate not answering, but tomorrow she'll demand to know what's wrong with me until I make up some lie about having cramps or a need to shave off Freddie's eyebrows, so I pick up.
"Sam, you hung up on me. You hung up on our IM! I didn't even know that was a thing that got done, but you went and did it."
"Do you have a point?" I lift my legs up above my head and examine my toenails. Crusts of green polish cling to my cuticles.
"Look, I got an invite and you didn't. Maybe you should think about being…a little less scary to people, and you'll get invited to the next one." Carly's voice is hesitant. I get up to find my nail polish remover.
"It's not about being less scary, Carls. The skanks have it out for me. They're doing that…that girl thing, and they're herding me out of the group. I'm watching it happen and you don't even see it." I start lining up all my pedicure implements in a neat row on my dresser. If I couldn't go to a party, at least I could have nice toenails.
Carly sighs into the phone. "Whatever, Sam. I'm not going to drag you out to spend time with people you obviously don't even like. There's no point to it."
"Don't 'exactly' me! I'm not the one who is in a huff, here."
"Then why did you even call me? This whole thing is dumb." I want very much to hang up on her a second time, but that's just not something she'd take to kindly.
"Fine then. I'll see you tomorrow. I hope you have fun alone in your room."
"I will. That's what books are for." The pile of books next to my faded wingback chair has grown steadily, but I doubt I'll have the calm to sit and read anything tonight.
There's a pause, where Carly doesn't hang up. Then she says, "I don't know why you're so mad, Sam. You never cared about being in a group before. You were always happier doing stuff one on one. Remember?"
Oh, I remember. What Carly doesn't seem to recall is that she was the one to my one. "Go to your stupid party and have fun with the cows, Carls. You're right, I never wanted to be part of a group."
She mumbles goodbye and I turn off my phone and toss it angrily across the room. It lands with a soft and completely unsatisfying thud on my bed, among the mismatched covers.
My feet itch. It is time for some serious exfoliation.
About an hour passes. My feet are fresh as daisies. I can't decide on color, so I leave off on doing the polish until I can think straight. I sit, legs tucked under me, on my plush green wingback chair, the one Spencer had found for me, and chew cheese puffs angrily. My hands are occupied with a book, but I have managed to read the same sentence six times in a row without absorbing a lick of its meaning.
The stony silence in my room is interrupted by the sound of my mother's voice, shouting up the stairs. "Sam! Someone's here to see you!"
I'm about to yell back to tell her that I'm not interested in speaking to any more humans today, when none other than Freddie Benson lets himself into my room. I stand up, dropping my book onto the floor, and hastily brush cheese puff crumbs off of my chest. I'm not exactly sure why.
Freddie stands there, mouth agape, scanning my room. He's never been in here before. After what feels like a week, he lays his eyes on me instead of the squalor of my living arrangements. "Hey. Carly called and told me you were the one who took my laptop."
"Did it ever occur to you to knock?" I sit back down huffily.
"I even tried to call but your phone was off. And before I could get your mom's number Carly was off at her stupid party thing." Freddie steps gingerly over a pile of laundry – is it dirty or clean? I'll have to sniff it later – and makes his way to my bed. He eyes my covers, a riot of different colors and patterns, and sits down on the very edge.
"Well the computer is over there." I gesture to the head of my bed where it leans against a pillow.
"I see it." But instead of reaching over to grab it and go, the weirdo just sits and stares at me.
"What is wrong with you? Am I naked or something?" I glance down to check, just in case.
He blinks, absorbing my words. "No, no. It's just, I didn't expect…"
"Didn't expect what?" I'm just so annoyed by his presence. I rush over to my dresser and rummage through a box of nail polish, looking at colors to distract myself from his existence.
"It just is like walking into a room full of you, is all." I can hear him swallow from across the brown rug. "I didn't expect it to fit you so well. I expected to be surprised."
"What, did you think I was secretly living in a pink unicorn princess bedroom?" Pink. Not a bad idea. I find a pink polish and begin to shake it furiously.
"You just spend so much time at Carly's that I figured that was pretty much you, but it's not. This is. It's totally different." He's doing that thing he does when he's nervous, rubbing his palms on his knees. Freddie's face lifts up to watch me shake the nail polish, the clack of the ball bearings inside quite louder than I would have liked.
"Whatever, dork." I hand Freddie his laptop and sit down at the head of my bed. He's watching me as I start to paint the big toe on my left foot.
"So I didn't get an invite to Rebecca's party either." He says this out of the blue. I had been hoping he would get a clue and leave.
I sigh. "Obviously you don't fit into her narrow concept of acceptable. Maybe the woman has some taste after all." The insult is easy and I expect Freddie to take the hint.
He scoots back farther onto my bed, and turns to face me, putting the laptop to the side. "I hate parties anyway. Too much pressure. And my mom would probably make me wear a cardigan and bring flowers or something."
I snort, and slosh the polish up onto my cuticle. Freddie makes a chiding noise with his tongue and goes over to my dresser. "What, toes are hard to do." I don't know why I'm suddenly defensive about this.
"They are." He's handing me a cotton ball and polish remover.
I don't thank him. "How would you know?"
He settles back down onto my bed, more comfortably this time, and leans in conspiratorially. "If you tell anyone this I'll kill you."
"Spill it, Benson." I point my pink cotton ball at his face.
He looks simultaneously pained and like he has a present for me. "Mom makes me paint her toenails sometimes."
Ah, that does it. My sulk snaps and I laugh at him, imagining Freddie sitting at his mother's feet, studiously painting her toes a burgundy to match her hair. Oh god, it's like something out of the first half of a creepy horror film. Or a romantic comedy about aging virgins, I'm not sure which.
He's laughing too, though, which is not part of the script. "Yeah, it's pretty pathetic. But hey, it's good practice for painting gaming miniatures."
My eyes glaze over with dismay. "Are you trying to convince me you're even more of a loser? Because it's working." I quirk half my mouth into a smile, though. He grins rakishly back towards me, and takes the pink polish out of my hand.
"This color is horrible." Freddie's up again, and comes back with the box of polishes and accoutrements, poking through the hues until he appears to have found one to his liking. The whole time I'm watching him curiously, hugging my knees. "Here we go." He shakes up a bottle of light purple enamel.
"Yeah, that one's okay." I reach over to take it, but he tuts and pushes my hand away. Suddenly and without warning he has grabbed my foot and I am now at his mercy, at least regarding the color of my toenails.
It is, to say the least, awkward. "What do you think you're doing?" I squeak out. He's already finished a toe.
"I'm doing a much better job than you ever could, that's what." Freddie doesn't even look up. He's got a cast of concentration to his features, his mouth drawn into a little pout. He means business. I helpfully spread my toes.
A suspicion comes to mind. "Carly didn't tell you to come over here and make me feel like less of a nub, did she?"
He's moved on to smaller toes now, and his tongue pokes out of the corner of his mouth. God help me, but it's cute. "Would it matter if she did?"
I let go of my knees and fall back onto my pillows, staring at the ceiling. "Yes! Carly is not the boss of me. Nobody is. She can't just send you over here to cheer me up. It's practically insulting."
"Hrmm, well, I just needed my computer to double check the website's browser compatibilities. Carly didn't tell me a thing about your pissy mood." He is apparently already done with one foot. With no hesitation he wraps his hand around my other ankle and guides my foot in front of him. "But if she had told me to come make you feel better, don't you think it would have been nice of her? It would mean she's worried enough about you to make me risk broken limbs."
I slap my hands to my face. "You're only seeing it like that because you love her."
There's silence coming from my feet. I prop myself up with my elbows and look between my knees at Freddie. He lifts his face up towards me and waggles an eyebrow, and then returns to my toenails. That's new.
"Well anyway," I continue, "even if she meant it nicely, it would still mean she cared more about being seen at some social gathering than being my friend."
"Maybe she's telling them all off for not loving you as we speak," he suggests.
"As she darn well should!"
He chuckles. "Yes. Because you're the most lovable person I know."
I throw a used cotton ball at his head. "Most people suck too much for me to really care what they think of me, anyway."
Nodding, Freddie looks over to me, my ankle steadied in his hand as he waits for the first coat to dry. "Well did it work?"
"Did what work?"
"Do you feel like less of a nub?"
"Well at least my mother doesn't make me groom her like I'm some kind of monkey, so, yeah, I guess."
Freddie frowns, and leans in to blow on the polish. I curl my toes. It feels extremely strange having someone else do this. "My mom isn't the one who's most likely to have bugs to pick out from her feet."
"Hey buddy, I've been bug free since fifth grade! And that was just fleas. Mom's cat kept doing it with the neighborhood tom. I told you this like, a thousand times." The old well-trodden story helps to distract me from Freddie's efficient ministrations. And had he just implied that he was grooming me? Too freaky to think about, that one.
"Fifth grade was not a good year for you, was it?" He smiles, bending down to start the second coat.
"No it was not."
"Good thing you had Carly to make people talk to you again."
I roll my eyes. "I didn't care about anybody else but her talking to me, so it's not like it mattered."
Freddie makes a harrumph noise. "She's not abandoning you, Sam. She's giving you space."
"Since when did you become our couples therapist?" I sling a finished foot up onto my other knee to investigate his handiwork. Purple polish sparkles perfectly on each toenail, lightly iridescent, but not too girly. I could puke, it was so nicely done.
"Hey, when you're surrounded by women you start to figure these things out." He reaches up without looking and slaps my finger away from gently prodding my finished big toe. "Anyway, she likes being involved in group things. You and me, we like one on one more, I think. It's just the way it is. Probably because we're only children, but I might just be saying that because I watch too many talk shows on the O channel with Mom."
I don't have a proper response to all of that. I just sort of gaze at him while he finishes up my left foot.
"There. Done. You're welcome, by the way." He lightly slaps the top of my foot to indicate I can move, but I don't.
"Fredward, I think you've sucked all of the coolness right out of my toes." That's my way of saying thanks.
He isn't phased. He just closes up the nail polish and puts them all back where he fond them. "Yeah, I did a pretty good job."
We sit on my bed and have another awkward moment or three. Freddie speaks first.
"So. I guess I should take my laptop and get out of your face, huh?" He's reached over to grab the item in question, a reluctant expression in his eyes.
"I guess you should." I lie back down on my pillows and stare at the ceiling again. This was weird.
"Well, okay then. Um, see you later, I guess." He gets up and slowly moves out of my room. I can hear him hesitate by the doorway.
I swing my feet off the bed and sit up. "Hey wait. Do you want to, um, stay?"
Freddie takes his hand off the doorknob and turns around. "Well, I already humiliated myself in front of you. What more could there be left to do?"
"We don't have to stay here." An idea forms in my head. I look in my closet for open-toed shoes to show off my shiny purple toenails.
"Where would we go?" He asks the question with a tinge of concern.
The grin on my face must be scaring him. "Let's crash the skunk-bag Berkowitz's party!"
Freddie laughs, and sets his laptop down on my bed again. "Oh, absolutely." He opens my door and gestures toward it. "Lead the way, Miss Puckett."
"Like always, Mister Benson."