Disclaimer: I claim no ownership of iCarly. I am simply borrowing Dan Schneider's characters for my own enjoyment.
A/N - The fact that it has taken me so long to post this is why I try to complete a story before putting it up on the site. I figure some of you may be fuzzy on what happened in the previous 10 chapters, but if you remember the 2nd half of chapter 3, you should get all of the references in the epilogue. I think. Who knows.
His phone buzzed along his desk, moving closer to the edge with each vibration and Freddie looked up from his note cards wearily. He was only half way through the 500+ terms that were promised to show up on his AP Biology midterm in a week, and he had sworn to himself dutifully that he would ignore any and all distractions until he had completed the daunting task. The phone vibrated again, and with a shallow sigh, Freddie reached for it and clicked to open up the awaiting text message.
Where are you? Why aren't you replying? I need to talk to you!! It's important!
He frowned worriedly at the urgent text, and scrolled through the numerous previous texts from Carly, each becoming more and more frantic with the lack of his response. He had a sinking suspicion that the "emergency" matter was somehow attached to one of Sam's schemes. She was constantly figuring out ways to pull him away from his important studies to feed her, or banter with her, or, you know, do other stuff with her…which he usually didn't mind, but dating Sam had seriously depleted his perfect GPA. He had received a B- on the first Bio exam, which was not part of the Freddie Benson 4-year plan.
With one final sigh, he neatly stacked his color coded note cards, snapped an elastic around them, and pushed them aside, resigned with the fact that the remainder of his Biology exam preparation would have to wait until later.
He crossed the hall and entered the familiar apartment without the usual preamble of knocking and was immediately greeted by Carly's anxious form.
"Oh good, you're here." Her words came out rushed and nervous.
Freddie took in the frazzled state of his usually collected best friend and his frustration was instantly replaced with concern. "Yeah. I got your text. Is everything okay?"
"Yuh-huh." Her wide eyes darted around the apartment as she spun the top off of the water bottle she held and guzzled a few sips before sloppily reattaching the cap and letting her arm fall back down lamely to her side.
"Carly, What's going on? Did something happen?" He followed her gaze around the surprisingly still and quiet apartment. "Where's Spencer?" His eyes widened slightly with a sudden realization. "Where's Sam?"
At the mention of the third in their trio's name, Carly's eyes widened even further as she nibbled nervously on her bottom lip. "Ummmm..."
Freddie lifted his brow in worry. "Did she eat the potato salad? I told her not too! It was a week past its expiration date! I knew she would get sick!"
"She's not sick...at least not physically." With a light flick of her wrist and a humorless huff, Carly brushed aside his worry and began to pace back and forth in front of him. Freddie took a step back, cocking his head in an idiotic display of his own confusion as he watched his friend walk pass, pause in front of him, open her mouth to speak, and ultimately shake her head in indecision before repeating the entire process. She mumbled quietly to herself as she paced the length of the couch, Freddie picking up pieces of what sounded like "crazy best friend" and "ludicrous" and "hussy". Around the 4th loop, Freddie cleared his throat loudly. "Ummm – Carly, are you feeling okay? You're acting kind of…loony."
She spun around to face him. "I'm not the nutty one!" She threw her arm up in the air, catching a piece of her dark hair on her ring and jerking it upwards in the process. "Ow!"
He narrowed his eyes slightly in response and took an automatic step back. "Did you eat the potato salad?"
She avoided his gaze as she worked to untangle the chunk of hair from the small gem stone Peter had given her before leaving for College, but Freddie still caught the roll of her eyes. "No! No one ate the flippin' potato salad!"
He shoved his hands in his pocket and examined her closely. "Okay? Well where is everyone? Is everyone okay?" They both knew the real questions weren't quite as broad, but directed more to the whereabouts and well being of one particular trouble maker.
Her hair free, and tangled in a knot on the side of her head, Carly finally shifted to face Freddie straight on. She took another sip of her water before collecting her breath and looking him in the eye. "Everyone's fine. Sam's at-" she glanced around the room, her eye's finally settling on the barbells Spencer used as bookends "- the gym." As soon as the word left her mouth she cringed in realization.
"Like working out?"
Carly scoffed and squinched her face in overplayed humor at the statement. "Of course not! She is at the gym for a-" another quick scan of the apartment led her gaze to the open carton of eggs on the counter "Easter egg hunt!" Her obvious delight in the statement was slightly suspicious.
"So! There's not a law that says you can only have Easter egg hunts on Easter. Hunting out eggs full of delicious candy is a fun pastime year round!"
Freddie let out a slow breath and widened his eyes, partially in disbelief and partially in defeat. "I am so confused."
"I texted you to come hang out with me. Is that so weird?" She looked down, and by the restlessness of her feet Freddie feared she may start pacing and ranting again, but after a short moment, she gathered her breath and let out a resolved sigh before she took a half step forward and squeezed his arm awkwardly. "I just wanted to see you, you handsome boy – I mean man! You handsome man-boy." Her eyes grew a little wider as she let out a forced chuckle and quickly dropped her hold in order to return to her original position.
Freddie stared down at where Carly had grabbed him in confusion. "Ummmmm – okay? But your text said it was an emergency."
She nodded slowly. "Ummm yes…..a love emergency." She choked slightly on the awkward words.
"Oh you heard me" she snapped, jutting the water bottle towards him.
He took a step back and examined her in concern, attempting to wade through the hurricane of mood changes he witnessed through the last few minutes. After a long moment, his own frustration finally bubbled over. "Carly! What is going on?! What do you mean a 'love emergency'?" In an instant his confusion morphed to a dreaded understanding. He stepped towards Carly and jabbed a finger at her in fear and anger. "Is Sam breaking up with me?"
Carly just returned his stare in a shocked silence.
"Man! I figured if this ever happened she wouldn't have the decency to do it in person, but I figured she would do it via text, or through a blog maybe, but having you do it for her is too low! Even for Sam!"
Carly grabbed his arm, which had been flailing about angrily, and steadied her gaze on his red and angry face.
"Sam is not breaking up with you."
He examined her expression for any signs of deceit, and when it appeared she was telling the truth, he took a moment to calm his breathing and push back his anger. "Oh." He flushed slightly in embarrassment. "Well, what is the love emergency then?"
His regained composure and repetition of her earlier words evaporated her temporary calmness and she immediately picked back up her nervous pacing, twisting the cap of her water on and off continuously and taking sporadic sips from the bottle. Freddie watched in confusion as she passed back and forth in front of him for the gazillionth time, and just as she put the bottle to her lips to take another nervous pull of water, he reached out and grabbed her arm, causing a splash of water to her face but successfully preventing any continued frantic movement.
Carly swiped at her face angrily. "Freddie! Now my face is damp!"
He ignored her and steadied his own resolve. "Carly, what is going on?"
"I, uh- uh, ummm I-uh" the usually together brunette stuttered and stumbled within his grip, desperately looking around the apartment as if the furniture or décor would hold some kind of answer for her. After a long moment, she finally seemed to give up the mission and with a heavy breath, met Freddie's gaze. Her mouth had barely opened to speak when a loud chime erupted from her pocket.
"One sec." Carly held up a finger to Freddie and reached into her pocket for her phone. The movement forced Freddie to realize he still had a strong grip on her shoulder and he let his arm fall lamely back to his side and moved to put an additional half step of distance between them.
Carly frowned at the text message and scoffed in disbelief.
"What is it?"
Her eyes widened slightly again as she looked back up at Freddie and something heavy in Freddie's stomach dropped. Carly was acting bizarre and nervous around him, and Sam was apparently hunting Easter eggs in September at a gym, and Freddie was seized by a sudden desire to flee for the hills as fast as possible.
She ignored his question, and her eyes narrowed to their regular size as she discovered some new-found confidence. She steadied her breath and cleared the distance between her and Freddie so she could lay her hand on his shoulder in the same place she had grabbed him before. Though their positioning was bordering on intimate, Carly avoided Freddie's eyes and instead kept her gaze trained on the lightly glowing screen of her cell phone.
"Freddie, I am in love with you. I want to be with you. I can't stop thinking about you. You are the…" she paused from her mechanic speech and squinted slightly "the microprocessor that keeps my mobo going." Carly lifted her brow in confusion. "Mobo? I think I mean mojo."
His response was automatic. "Mobo – like motherboard."
"Oh. Well yes then, you really get my mobo going." She shot him a wobbly half smile
Silence encompassed the apartment as Freddie attempted to digest the situation. Something was off, outside of the totally random confession. He needed to take a step back so he could see things logically, figure out what the hell was going on, but Carly did not show any sign of loosening her iron grip on his arm.
When the silence moved on from being awkward to downright unbearable, Carly cleared her throat in a way that strongly suggested he respond.
"Carly, I – uhhhh…" He mimicked her earlier nerves by avoiding her gaze and scanning the apartment. Without looking at her, he muttered "Sam" hoping that the one word would say everything he couldn't articulate at the moment.
Her cell phone saved him from further stuttering by again chiming in her hand, and he silently thanked whoever was interrupting this awkward scene.
She let out a frustrated whine as she read the new message. After a second she finally dropped her arm and looked tentatively towards Freddie.
"Freddie, you know you and I are meant to be together. Sam will understand. You can't come between soul mates." She swallowed visibly and let out a heavy sigh before squinting her eyes shut and puckering her lips towards Freddie. He stared at her in stunned silence.
"Uh Carly? What are you doing?"
She half opened one eye, but kept her lips determinedly puckered. "This is where you are supposed to kiss me."
Freddie jerked out of Carly's hold and stepped back in shock. "What?! Carly! I'm with Sam."
The large smile that erupted on her face was inexplicable, and there was no hint of her monotonous tone from earlier as she tossed her cell phone on the couch and spoke with a mixture of pleasure and relief. "Okay. Wanna go get a smoothie?"
"What?!" He swung his arms wildly and spluttered at her in disbelief. Clearly, the world had gone mad.
"A smoothie? You know, a mixture of frozen yogurt and fresh fruit blended to the perfect straw sucking consistency?"
"Not that! What just happened? What about the 'love emergency' and me being your microprocessor and all that chiz?!"
She let out a heavy sigh. "You aren't going to just let this go, are you?"
"Ummmm no." Freddie was understandably flustered as he moved around the brunette and collapsed on the couch. "I have no idea what just happened."
A muffled chime came out from under him and he felt Carly's phone vibrate beneath his thigh. Without much thought, he extracted the phone to hand to Carly and glanced at the screen.
As it was prone to do, Sam's name caught his eye, and he pulled the phone back from Carly's reaching hand to read the text message.
Good job dude, good thing the boy didn't fail - can you get me a strawberry splat and fries from gs?
His face quirked in confusion at first, but slowly melted into understanding as the events from the past 15 minutes flashed before his eyes with a new clarity. Sam had set him up! She tested him, just like all of the poor suckers before him. He looked up to Carly in shock and jabbed his finger at her in accusation. "You!"
She snatched the phone from him quickly and shuffled a few steps back. "Me?" Her voice was all squeaky innocence, but he wasn't buying it.
He quickly scanned the apartment, seeking out the telltale wire or other sign of the hidden camera he knew was currently projecting his angry face to the third floor studio. "Where is it Carly?!" He felt his cheeks flush in his anger.
"Uh." Carly bounced from one foot to another nervously, mimicking a small child waiting for the restroom, and studiously avoided Freddie's gaze. Just as she opened up her mouth to shape some form of a response, her phone buzzed again in her hand. She stopped bouncing and glanced down at it. "I don't know what you are talking about. Stop being such a….nub?" She hesitated on the last word, the unfamiliar insult sounding foreign within the tones of her voice. She glanced back up at Freddie and offered a half smile and half shrug. "How 'bout that smoothie?"
"ERGH!" Freddie spun on his heel and marched up the two flights of stairs that led to the studio. When he reached the studio door, he shoved it open with enough force that it banged against the far wall and then bounced back to hit him square in the shoulder. "Ow!"
"You're so smooth." The snarky tone was unmistakable. Sam sat comfortably in one of the brightly patterned beanbags, her knees bent up and her cell phone lightly gripped in her hands against them.
"Ha! I knew you weren't hunting for inappropriately holiday themed eggs at a gym!"
"Inclement weather." She pointed towards the small studio window where a beam of bright sunshine shone through the glass.
"That doesn't even make sense."
She shrugged. "I don't make the rules Fredderly, I simply follow them."
He rolled his eyes and crossed his arms tightly over his chest. "Sam! I can't believe you tested me!"
She finally looked up from her cell phone and examined him lazily. "I have no idea what you are talking about."
Freddie groaned and consulted the ceiling in his frustration. "You have GOT to be kidding me."
She shrugged and turned her attention back to the open phone cradled in her lap. "Nope. I have no clue what has you all in a tizzy."
After a long pause, filled with Freddie's glaring eyes and occasional grunts of indignation, she tossed her cell phone lazily to the side and rolled her head around to face him again. She cocked her head slightly and lifted her brow, as if to say 'your move'.
Freddie took a few shuffled steps towards his tech cart, not once breaking the gaze of his opponent. "Oh yeah, well what about this!" With an inappropriate amount of relish, he clicked a button on his laptop and the iCarly monitor swung out and turned on. Much to Freddie's dismay, the projected scene was not of the familiar patterned couch of the Shay living room, but rather of a lame dating reality show that played regularly on cable daytime tv.
Sam rolled her eyes and waved her hands mockingly. "Oh, you caught me. I love to see people's hopes and dreams get crushed on live TV."
He pursed his lips and continued to press buttons on the laptop, hoping to discover the live feed he knew that Sam had to have been watching of his and Carly's earlier exchange. After flipping aimlessly through various saved videos and broadcast shows, Freddie slammed the laptop shut and growled in frustration. He crossed his arms over his chest, and tapped his foot impatiently as he watched Sam pick at the ends of her hair carelessly. There was no way that she pulled off this whole thing without some remaining evidence of her actions. Suddenly his eyes lit up as a realization crept its way into his consciousness.
He moved tentatively at first, but when she lifted her head to look at him curiously, he abandoned any attempts at stealth and with three bounds and a small leap, he belly flopped into the beanbag next to Sam, her cell phone gripped tightly in his hand. "Aha!"
He turned towards her, a victorious smirk covering the bottom half of his face, and waved the phone in jubilation. He expected her to look worried, or perhaps angry, but she just lazily lifted an eyebrow, her features full of condescending judgment.
He narrowed one eye at her lack of response, but refused to be deterred. With the cell phone gripped tightly in his outstretched hand, as far away from Sam as possible, he quickly scrolled through her recent text messages. There was the damning one he had seen earlier, congratulating Carly and putting in a smoothie order, but prior to that there were only several texts to and from Freddie, and he cringed slightly as he realized how sappy his messages were. He was never texting Sam a winking emoticon again, especially considering she generally just responded with clipped replies.
You're such a dork.
Captain Kirk wannabe.
He continued to scroll through the messages, diving deeper and deeper into her text history, hoping to find something that proved Sam had been texting Carly instructions on what to say during her 'love confession'.
"Whatever! I know you tested me." He threw the useless phone into the beanbag next to him, and steadied his gaze on the infuriating blonde. He would defeat her in a battle of wills.
She lifted her hands up and offered him a half smirk. "Where's your proof. No evidence, no crime."
They engaged in a brief staring contest, Freddie's eyes full of anger and frustration, Sam's steely blue gaze fully amused. After several minutes passed, Freddie leaned forward, pausing when his face was only a foot from hers. "Just admit it."
Sam cocked an eyebrow at his game, but didn't flinch back. Instead, she cleared a few more inches between them. "Admit what?"
He could smell her beeswax chapstick, and he had to willfully stop himself from clearing away the last few inches that separated them. This was a battle of wills, and for once, Freddie Benson was going to win.
He waited for her to flinch, but her steady blue eyes remained amused and unwavering. A stray curl hung across her face that he desperately wanted to tuck behind her ear, and her lips smirked up in the slightest of smiles as she watched his eyes dart around the features of her face. The proximity began to weigh on him, and after a few moments, he leaned back with a huff, Sam's smirk growing in her victory.
He turned to the monitor for a moment to escape her infuriating gaze. There had to be a way to get Sam to admit that she had forced Carly into the embarrassing display that had taken place downstairs. The alternative was…impossible. After a brief moment of consideration, he set upon a course of action. He smirked lightly and rolled his tongue on the inside of his mouth before dramatically flipping his head to face the blonde headed she-demon he sort-of loved. "Soooo, I guess you should know that Carly is in love with me."
She didn't flinch. "Huh. Interesting stuff."
"Yup." He cocked his head in faux confidence and furiously wiped his hands against the thighs of his jeans to hide the sweaty palms that revealed his true nerves. "After all these years, she finally came around. Of course, there is a minor wrench in the works." He shot her a look from the corner of his eye.
Sam nodded affably. "I take it that I'm the wrench."
"But don't worry. I told her as painful as it may be, I was going to see this thing with you through to the end."
She rolled her eyes and shot him a flat look. "My hero."
Freddie nodded, trying to hold onto his nerves. "Yeah. But as soon as you and I are kaput, Carly and I will finally be together. I think we will have daisies at the wedding." He flinched slightly as the words left his mouth. Daisies? Daisies were not manly.
Sam cocked her head, ominous challenge mixing in with her usual nonchalance. "Why wait?"
Freddie turned to her suddenly, a sinking feeling in his stomach attempting to warn his head of the change in the game. "What?"
She nodded and shrugged, and continued to look him straight in the eye. "I mean, it's not like we can't date other people."
His brow furrowed. "Sam! We are not dating other people!" He let out a tiny huff of indignation. Of all the things to say…"Are you dating other people?" he looked at her in alarm.
She shrugged lazily and waved off his question with a casual flick of her hand. "Meh, I haven't had the time to juggle boys." He visibly relaxed and she cocked her eyebrow in response. "But there is this new guy that has been hanging out at the Groovy Smoothie…"
"What? This way, everyone is happy, right? I mean, I wouldn't want to keep you away from your daisies Benson. I wonder if Groovy Smoothie boy would be my date to the wedding?"
"Sam! Stop it. We are not dating other people. We're…" he paused a moment and considered the proper term "going steady."
Her casual indifference cracked as she let out a disbelieving guffaw. "Going steady? Seriously? Who are you - Greg Brady?"
He glared in response to her mocking, but the bane of his existence continued to laugh obliviously. "Are you going to give me your school pin?"
"I don't have a school pin." He spoke deadpan, staring her down, daring her to laugh again. Something in his tone must have clicked, because even though a smirk continued to play at her lips, she remained silent in response. "But you should know," he dropped her gaze for a moment, studying the various knick-knacks of the studio, gathering confidence from the familiar backdrop of their lives "I'd pin you if I could." He looked up to meet her steady stare, and just as she quirked her lips and opened her mouth to release some quip, most likely about his poor choice of words, he interrupted. "Iloveyou." The words were rushed and Freddie was left breathless in his relief to have finally put them out there in the open….though the situation was less than ideal. He expelled a short breath and grinned up at Sam, whose mouth hung open in shock. Within seconds she snapped it shut and examined him with a narrowed and calculating gaze.
After a long, heavy pause, filled with the lack of the obvious response, Sam rolled her eyes and neck simultaneously and threw her hands up in defeat. "Fine! I tested you." She jabbed a finger towards Freddie. "You play dirty boy. I like it."
Various emotions battled it out on Freddie's face. Initial confusion morphed into victory at coercing Sam to confess, and finally the slightest bit of disappointment flushed his cheeks as he realized she hadn't even considered the possibility that his admission was sincere. "Yeah, well" he toyed with the shoelaces of his high-tops and avoided her gaze "dating you is like a crash-course in manipulation." He attempted to keep his voice light, steady, appropriate, but the slight change in her expression made him doubt his success. She bit her lip as she studied him, casually seeking out some understanding in the features of his face.
After a long, awkward moment, Freddie finally cleared his throat and clapped his hands down on his denim clad knees. "I'm kind of hungry. Let's go meet Carly at Groovy Smoothie." Without waiting for a response, he clambered up from the beanbag and headed out the studio door. He could hear her a few steps behind him as he made his way down the back stairwell. She was humming to herself, and most likely daydreaming about french fries dipped in Strawberry Splat. He bit back his frustration and anger and bounded down the steps a bit faster. He really could only blame himself. He knew better than to get his hopes up with Sam. She would forever be emotionally stunted and immature, and he was fairly certain that 'love' was not even in her vocabulary, especially when it applied to him. The whole thing was just a horrible prank gone terribly wrong. Terribly, terribly wron-
"Omph. Sam!" Freddie tried desperately to maintain his balance as Sam gripped the back of his sweatshirt and jerked him roughly back towards her. His heel caught on the edge of a step, and within seconds he was flat on his ass in the stairwell, Sam looking down on him in amusement. He rubbed his back mindlessly where it had caught the sharp edge of a step and glared up at her, refusing to justify her actions with even the slightest of smirks. With rolled eyes and a heavy sigh, she offered him a hand up. He eyed it wearily at first, but ultimately accepted it as she pulled him roughly to his feet. "What was that for?"
She ignored the question and instead studied his face, unreadable emotions flickering on and off her own carefully posed countenance. "You know why I tested you, right?"
"Um – because you're crazy?"
She rolled her eyes but didn't refute his claim, or offer any explanation of her own. Freddie bit his lip slightly, realizing a bit too late that Sam was attempting to be serious. One wrong move on his part, one opening for a joke or a jab, and she would disappear, morphing back to her usual infuriating self.
The quiet between them became intense, and Freddie desperately wanted to interrupt it, knowing that the awkwardness of the silence would ultimately scare her away, but afraid that anything he would say would accomplish the same thing only that much quicker.
"Um, Sam, upstairs, when I said I--"
She quickly waved off the remainder of his statement and glanced lazily around the stairwell. "It's always stairwells for us, isn't it?"
"and the soccer-mom-mobile."
Her laugh was quick and sincere, and she nodded her head in agreement. "Yeah. We've had some interesting times in that lame car of your's Benson."
She scuffed the toe of her converse against the corner of the step, her hands tucked safely in the back pockets of her plaid shorts. The only thing that gave away her nerves was the slight hunch of her shoulders and her refusal to meet Freddie's gaze. He watched silently as she jutted out her lips and bobbed her head in an amusing display of indecision, before finally rolling her neck to meet his steady gaze straight on.
"Freddie – I" She cleared her throat and dropped eye contact for the briefest of moments before looking back at him with determination. In one swift movement, she joined him on his step, their bodies flush. The proximity was overwhelming and Freddie finally moved the long piece of messy blonde hair that hung across her face to behind her ear.
"Freddie -" She paused, worrying her lip and scanning his face with an intensity that was foreign within her features. Right as the silence became heavy and thick, she pressed her lips together in her trademark grin. She extracted her right hand from her back pocket and roughly mussed his slightly too long brown hair before she leaned in and kissed him. It was sudden, brief, and intense, like most everything with Sam and before he could properly respond, she pulled away."I like your hair."
His head jerked back slightly at her words. "You like my hair? No you don't! You hate my hair. I know this because every day when you see me you tell me how much you hate my hair!"
Sam's hand tucked tightly back in her back pocket, she lifted her shoulders in a nonchalant shrug, as she spun on her heel and began to make her way down the last remaining steps that led to the Shay living room. "Well, you know what I mean."
A/N - Well there you have it! I hope it was semi-worth the way too long wait. I honestly never thought I would post this, because I just wasn't invested in getting it right and I didn't want to risk ending the fic on a sour note. But a few weeks ago I was reading some recent reviews, and I decided I owed y'all an epilogue, so I got to editing and now I feel pretty okay with it. So if you liked it, let me know!
Also, I am working on quite a few other multi-chapter fics but I have hit road blocks in each, so I am hoping that posting this will help me trudge through and find my way back to inspiration. If anyone out there is willing to bounce ideas with me, or beta some of the stuff I already have, let me know.
Thanks again for reading.