A/N #1: Foul language, crude jokes and mentions of sex and drugs ahead. I blame the boys and Sam, not me. Also, I warn you now that this is ridiculously long.

Freddie goes home for Thanksgiving.

His mother is waiting for him as he pulls into the parking lot of the Bushwell Plaza and he's pleasantly surprised that she does not have a welcoming committee with her and no huge colourful banners with WELCOME HOME FREDWARD written on them, even though he is only going to be home for a few short days. He's barely out of the car when his mother tackles him into a rib-crushing hug, and no matter how much it hurts he enjoys the feeling of coming back to where he belongs. But before he can ask her how well she has been coping alone she is dragging him up the several flights of stairs to their apartment on the eighth floor.

Freddie doesn't have a chance to settle in and reacquaint himself with his bedroom and left behind belongings or attempt to call his friends to see if they're in town for the holiday because his mother decides to hold him at arm length, grip tight and bruising on his biceps and she gives him a once over with her piercing eyes.

"You're too skinny. You haven't been eating properly. Your hair needs cutting and you smell, like a sweaty boy. Disgusting." Mrs. Benson wrinkles up her nose even though Freddie can't smell a thing, "I'm going to make you a three-course meal while you shower – twice."

Treating him like he is eight and not eighteen nearing nineteen she frogmarches him down the hall, pushes him into the bathroom and locks the door from the outside.

Later in the evening she has managed to get food down his throat, gotten him to scrub himself clean, but he keeps the length of his hair after several heated arguments involving the exchanges of "I like my hair!" and "But I don't! You look like a hobo!"

Freddie won't deny that it pisses him off not to have heard from Sam since he has been back in Seattle, but then again he hasn't made any effort to see or speak to her either. He doesn't want to do the chasing and it appears that Sam is too idle to do it herself. They're letting it simmer and it isn't doing them any good.

Sooner or later they're going to overheat and boil over, with anger or passion, he doesn't know, and all hell is going to break loose.

This is the calm before the storm.

He doesn't see Sam until Thanksgiving dinner.

Everyone congregates at the Shay apartment, Freddie and his mother arriving laden down with delicious treats as Spencer stands in the middle of the kitchenette shouting "how?!" repeatedly as Grandpa Shay shovels the cremated remains of an unfortunate turkey into the trash can. It is no surprise really, Spencer always burns everything but Freddie has to wonder why Carly even let him take on the role of head cook to begin with. It is a good job that Mrs. Benson had prepared a spare one 'just in case'. She'd already voiced her concerns to Freddie earlier in the day over the possibility of another 'chicken left in the wok' incident and the entire apartment building being evacuated by a fire crew.

His mother is a champion worrier. Well, she would be if there was such a thing as a worrier championship. She'd come joint first, second and third place.

"Spencer set fire to dinner, again," Carly casually explains as she sets the table, Freddie trying not to laugh as she forces Sam's elbows off the table top with a swift jab of a fork in her arm.

"I brought extra anticipating something burning. Will your brother ever learn to stop attempting to cook meals?" Mrs. Benson smiles at Carly, wide and full of teeth, the same smile that has been on her face since Freddie arrived home.

Freddie assumes she is pilled-up to her eyeballs. It wouldn't be a shock if she is, considering.

"I don't think he ever will," Carly replies politely, smiling tight lipped as she continues to slam cutlery and place mats on the table, dodging around a bone-idle Sam who seems content in staring at the floor to avoid Freddie's gaze rather than helping in any way.

Freddie and Mrs. Benson carry the mountain of Tupperware boxes in their arms through to the kitchen, handing them to Spencer who acts as if they are his saviours (which they are, considering Carly would be threatening to gut him with a spoon did they not have Mrs. Benson's 'emergency turkey'), immediately ceasing his flapping arms and stamping feet. He grins at them both, knowing he hasn't quite managed to entirely ruin Thanksgiving for his visiting sister and guests. His smile grows as he sees the one on Mrs. Benson's face, clearly preferring the woman happy rather than a weeping mess on his couch over the 'loss' of her son.

Everyone gets reacquainted, talking about changes in their lives over the past three months whilst avoiding bringing up Freddie's mothers slight breakdown, everyone mainly listening to Carly talk about how much she's enjoying New York and how she's already been offered an internship at some high fashion company Freddie doesn't care to catch the name of. Everyone talks to one another but Sam and Freddie who purposefully avoid each other after each mentally deciding to not talk for the sake of steering clear of any arguments that will end up pissing Carly off.

Food is served and Carly informs them all that she has devised a seating plan to avoid certain people pitching tantrums over where they end up sitting and she throws a warning glance at Sam as she says this, knowing Sam would eat her food from a plate in her lap in front of the television if she got her way. Grandpa Shay, Mrs. Benson and Freddie are sat along one edge of the dining table and Spencer, Carly and Sam are sat down the other, leaving Freddie and Sam sat directly opposite each other. Freddie clicks on to what Carly is attempting to do, forcing him and Sam into conversation so that something good will come from it, only she doesn't know the full story of what happened the day before he left for Olympia. No matter how much scheming Carly gets up to, it isn't going to happen. He shoots her a disapproving glare and gets raised eyebrows and feigned innocence in return.

"Sam, could you pass Freddie the salt, please?" Carly chimes, grinning to herself.

"He can pass himself the freaking salt," Sam bites back whilst placing a fork full of food in her mouth.

Carly frowns and Freddie has to stop himself from pointing and shouting "Ha!" in her face, mainly because his mother would berate him for his impoliteness and the fact that he is making effort in not acting like a fourteen year old brat.

Anyway, he didn't even want to the salt.

Ignoring Carly's feeble attempts to get himself and Sam on speaking terms at the very least, Freddie watches Sam from his side of the table and he isn't sure if he is comfortable with the little table space between them.

Most people would find Sam's eating habits repulsive, Carly certainly does, but Freddie finds it funny and sort of endearing in a twisted way. Only she isn't eating in her usual vigorous fashion, she is methodically chewing and swallowing when usually her food barely touches the sides of her mouth, and her eyes are boring holes in her plate as she swirls the contents around with her fork. Freddie has never been good at reading people and he can't tell if she is bored, annoyed or depressed. She can't be all three because she doesn't cope well with mixed emotions. She normally explodes, but not in the messy exploding kinda way, more an explosion of anger and abuse, feet and fists flying everywhere.

Freddie flicks his foot out, catching Sam in the shin and she looks up with dagger eyes, like she is ready to remove his eyeballs with her teeth. He smiles, angering her further, mouthing "you wanna talk?" over the lip of his glass and he gets an animalistic bearing of teeth in response. He kicks her again, just for the thrill of getting a reaction out of Sam, just to get her to look at him, and gets a kick in return. He almost laughs at how ridiculously couple-y they're being, although what they're doing is far removed from footsie and closer to fighting, but fighting is what they do best.

Fighting is their odd attempt at flirting.

He needs a way to get Sam to talk to him, but he hadn't thought of devising a game plan in advance and now he's left mulling over ideas on the spot.

"So Sam, what have you been doing with yourself these past few months? What with your right arm in New York and your left leg down in Olympia," Grandpa Shay asks politely, cutting through the thick tension that was slowly starting to settle over the table. He's always been good at doing that.

"Oh, y'know," she shrugs, twirling her fork in her fingers, "nothing much."

"When do you do anything, Sam?" Freddie butts in before he can stop himself, lapsing back into fifteen year old Freddie who was always trying to get one over on Sam and always failing.

"Shut it, Benson," she says through her teeth, stabbing the turkey on her plate with her knife, imagining it as Freddie's torso.

"Why should I, Puckett?"

"Because, because you're a bastard."

Wow, things certainly got ugly fast.

There is a audible gasp that passes from one person to the next around the table, beginning with Carly before stopping abruptly at Freddie who is looking at Sam with defensive eyes, memories of their early September argument flooding back. Sam drops her knife and fork onto her plate with a loud clatter, pushing her chair back from the table and Freddie makes a poor attempt at catching her wrist and forcing her stay put. His fingers just miss contact with her skin as Sam charges out of the room and runs up the wooden stairs, everyone left with open mouths and questions racing around their heads.

This is the kind of confrontation Freddie had been trying to avoid, but this is Sam and she isn't one for calmly talking through difficulties. She'd rather use sharp words and bruising fists.

And Freddie knows he'll be the luckiest guy to walk the earth if he gets out of this without at least a few broken ribs and a disjointed nose.

Eleven Weeks Earlier

"Sam, I've got to go and pack the last of my stuff for college before my mother packs herself into my suitcase," he laughs, trying to make light of the situation.

"Awh, Freddork," she sticks out her bottom lip and pulls at it with her index finger, "Is mommy gonna miss her baby? She'll have no one to give tick baths or buy anti bacterial underwear for when you're in Olympia. I bet it'll take two days for the lady to go batshit crazy once you're gone and three days for her to try and kill herself and get herself admitted to a psycho hospital."

Freddie explodes. He doesn't even know what caused the reaction, Sam has said a lot worse in the many years they've known each other, but he is stressed beyond belief about college, his frayed nerves making him touchy, and nobody, nobody talks about his mother like that. Not anymore, not since she's had her problems diagnosed and treated with prescribed medication – her 'problems' including mild paranoia, bipolar disorder and acute OCD to name but a few.

"Shut up," he growls, stepping forward and grabbing the tops of Sam's ridiculously twig-like arms in his large hands. He doesn't really know when he gained the strength he has now, it was probably somewhere between his voice breaking and growing leg hair, or when he got brave enough to take on Sam without a twenty-strong army or Carly on hand to diffuse the fiery blonde, but he likes the power.

"Shut the fuck up," he squeezes and Sam's eyes go wide, but she still has that smirk playing on her lips that she uses to egg him on.

"What are you going to do, Benson, go crying to mommy about how the nasty girl is saying horrible things again? Grow up and act your age, not your cock size. You're eighteen, not two and a half," she hisses, cocking an eyebrow at Freddie, almost daring him to have another go.

They've gotten good at doing this recently, taking the smallest of arguments and blowing them out of proportion to the extent that they're hurling abuse and throwing punches over the stupidest of things.

"You can't tell anyone to grow up, Samantha. Look around you and smell the damn roses! Everyone is leaving you behind. Your best friend is moving across the country to New York, Wendy's going north to Alaska while Gibby's going south to Texas and I'm escaping your viciousness by going to Olympia," Freddie backs her up against the wall of the hallway, eyes blazing and he swears he sees Sam shrink away a little.

"Everyone is moving on with their lives and you're going to be stuck in Seattle doing nothing because you have very few aims or goals in life. Your only aim is to be mean, but how can you be mean when there is no one left to take it from you? You've been chasing everyone away, Sam, and now we've started running because we've had it with your shit."

He pushes up against her, their bodies flush and touching in places they've never touched before, and if anyone were to see them now they'd think they were five seconds away from ripping each other clothes off and proceeding to have passionate sex, not in the middle of an all-guns-blazing mother of all arguments. He can feel her chest moving against his own, the hitches in her breathing as she tries to control herself, but he has moved his hands to create vice grips around her wrists and all she can do is struggle against him.

"Maybe nobody wants you around anymore, Puckett. We're sick of it, of you," he murmurs against her cheek, hot breath causing her to flush a deep crimson. He's on a roll, he knows it, they both know it, and he's going to push it over the cliff edge just because he can. "Nobody wants you around because you're better off alone and loveless, yeah, because no one is going to love a bitch like you."

And he's done it, pushed it over the cliff edge, and now they're drowning in their pool of hatred.

"You're a bastard." Sam brings up her knee to collide with Freddie's crotch, but he shifts out of the way and she cries out in frustration. "I hate you, I hate you, I fucking hate you, Fredward Benson!" she bares her teeth, snarling to hide the filmy layer of tears blurring her vision.

"Maybe I hate you too. You're going to be nothing without your prettier best friend and your human punch bags."

That is all it takes, the always inevitable comparison to be made between her and Carly, Carly always being deemed the beautiful one – homecoming queen, prom queen – while Sam is her bland looking at best sidekick. She is sick of it, sick of comparisons and coming second best. It has always plagued her, but hearing it from Freddie's mouth hurts the most, hurts even more than being told by him that no one will ever love her because she's sort-of always known that. She fights against his grip on her wrists, thrashing her body as she tries to escape, tears overflowing and spilling down her round cheeks.

"Like I said, you're a bastard," Sam chokes, looking him straight in the eye in the hope that he can see the anguish inside her own.

The shock of seeing his usually abrasive frienemy cry in front of him for the first time in what has to be twelve years causes his hold on her wrists to slacken and she wriggles free, thumping him hard over and over in the chest, causing him to stumble backwards. They stare at each other for what feels like minutes but must only be seconds, hurtful and angry, and he takes in her appearance – blonde hair wild around her face, still as long and as unruly as ever, crystal blue eyes full of pain and rimmed with thick lines of smudged black eyeliner, lips cracked and bloody from where she had been biting them, skin flushed red from both anger and embarrassment from crying in front of him.

Freddie takes a step forward but she backs herself into the wall, crossing her willowy arms over her chest to create a barrier between the two of them. He wants to push it, take another step forward until their bodies are parallel again and apologise for his outburst, maybe even try to hold her. Only an apology – not even fifty thousand – will never fix this.

He's blown it. He has ripped out her heart and walked all over it, the blood coating his shoes and leaving him with a deep nagging feeling of guilt with a dash of regret.

"See you never," she whispers, punching him in the jaw one last time for good measure before turning and walking away from him, leaving him staring at her retreating back.

"Freddie, you're a bastard," he curses himself out loud, ignoring the stabbing pain in his jaw, punching the wall that Sam had been standing against, right about where her heart would have been.

After taking a few minutes to calculate his chances of survival (he reckons the odds are not on his side) Freddie excuses himself from the table, much to his mothers annoyance ("Freddie, get back here this instance!") and follows the direction Sam took as she fled from the room.

He finds her in the now unused iCarly studio slouched in a faded purple beanbag, headphones in her ears as she stares blankly at the rafters. He can't decide whether he should enter and make an attempt to speak to her or if he should keep his distance to preserve his life for slightly longer. He settles in standing in the half-open doorway, watching her intently for any sign of emotion, any sign of anything, something to give him the balls to go over to her and tackle their problem(s) head on.

"I know you're there," she speaks, barely a whisper and she sounds almost vulnerable, timid, adjectives he'd never usually use to describe Sam.

Freddie takes this as permission to enter the studio, closing the door behind himself and he moves to stand awkwardly in the middle of the large room, not knowing what he should do now he's here. He almost wants to turn and run for his life, run until he hits Mexico, but they've both done too much running and he's tired of it. Situations will never be resolved if they don't tackle them face on. Shuffling from foot to foot, Freddie scans her face for what he should do next, but she gives him nothing.

"Are you going to just stand there or are you going to come over here and annoy me somethin' rotten?" she says, eyes closed and lips pursed, the strumming of an acoustic guitar leaking from the headphones she has shoved in her ears.

Freddie moves to sit in front of Sam on the cold hard floor and the new angle along with the overhead lighting reveals the tear tracks drying on her cheeks. It makes him want to tear himself limb for limb for making her cry again, for pushing her too close to the edge for a second time in such a short space of time. He almost wants to gather her up in his arms, hold her in the comfort of the beanbag and never let her go, but he knows this is unlikely given the circumstances. Then again, such a thing taking place is unlikely in any circumstance.

"You're right, I am a bastard," Freddie says and his voice echoes around the vast studio, but he doesn't know if she can hear him or not. So much for going for the straight forward approach, he's beating around the bush, as per usual.

"Listen to this." She ignores his previous comment and whether she heard him or not remains unknown. Instead she removes one of the ear buds from her ear, leaning forward and pressing it into Freddie's hand, waiting impatiently for him to put it into his own ear.

He does so and an eerie acoustic guitar starts to play, haunting and beautiful at the same time and it pulls roughly at his heart strings. Then the lyrics begin, a soft female voice singing barely loud enough to not be drowned out by the guitar, her voice just as haunting and beautiful to match the wavering strumming and it has to be one of the loveliest things he has heard in long time.

This is a story of burning bridges and allowing time to pass / This is a story of forgiveness and breaking things in my hands / This is a story of understanding, you can't choose who you love and this is a story of soft skin and rats in the walls.

The combination of the lyrics and the melodic guitar strikes Freddie as not being the typical kind of music he would associate with Sam. For as long as he can remember she has been one for screaming, indecipherable lyrics, ear-splitting guitars and thrashing drums, not soft acoustic songs about broken hearts and subjects of the like. Mentally telling himself to shut up, he stops mulling over the odd genre of choice and focuses on the music flowing into his ear. After all, there has to be motive behind Sam playing him music rather than taking her usual line of action and punching the living daylights out of him.

Well you can't just pass along the pain that comes around, you'll go dizzy until you fall and I know you didn't mean to let me down, but you let me down so hard.

You let me down so hard. Freddie knew there had to be a reason for Sam playing him a song like this and doing so in a polite and moderately civilised manner –normally if she wants him to hear a new song, usually something just released by Cuttlefish on FaceSpace, she simply yells "Oi, Fredweird! Come listen to this awesome tune!"– and it is only as the chorus comes in that he begins to comprehend that Sam is using the song to say what she cannot because she is too proud. (She does not like explaining herself. Never has done and never will do.) Although the song does not directly apply to all areas of their current situation, in a roundabout way that is mildly confusing and typical Sam behaviour she is trying to tell him that although she knows he didn't necessarily mean the vicious words he threw at her before leaving for college his words still cut her pretty deep.

He let her down by sinking to her level, something he had always vowed never to do, but not only did he sink to her level he also scraped the bottom of the barrel with his razor sharp comments. Sam may repeatedly call him silly, teasing names, refer to him as a girl when she sees fit, but she does everything in good nature. It isn't like she really, truly hates him.

Is he thinking too much into things? Maybe she just wants to introduce to a new genre of music. How typical of Freddie, always one to overanalyse and jump in at the deep end. But he thinks he must be right. He's not an idiot. He can get the message when it is being served to him on a platter. Even he isn't that girl-dumb.

This is a story of loaded glances and leaning in too far / This is a story of vague advances and confessions in smoky bars / So now I am walking down the sidewalk and I am singing to myself, and I'm going to leave it all behind me now 'cause I don't need this, I just don't need this.

Seeing the tears glistening in Sam's eyes again –she never used to cry; it is like someone (most likely him) has pulled a plug deep inside of her and now she can do nothing but let all the tears pour out– and not wanting to listen to anymore of the heart wrenching song for fear of having a crying wreck of a girl on his hands he pulls the headphones from their ears and casts them to one side, Sam's mp3 player sliding from her loose grip and clattering to the floor. Shuffling forward on his knees, Freddie reaches out with one hand and takes a hold of Sam's sharp chin between his index finger and thumb. He uses his grip to move her steady gaze from her lap where she is intently watching her hands to look him in the eye. What he sees in utterly heart breaking, almost capable of ripping the fast beating organ from his chest to chew it up before spitting out a mangled mess and he has to fight with himself to not look away. Suck it up and be a man, Fredward.

"Hug?" he offers, voice barely above a whisper and he is just able to detect the slight nod of Sam's head before he is being pulled towards her by tiny but strong hands clinging to his shoulder blades.

"You're a goddamn idiot, you know that?" she sniffs into the material of his shirt and bumps her head against his shoulder in a half-hearted head butt.

"I know," he laughs despite the confession, moving his arms from where they're pressing painfully into his sides to circle them around Sam's petite waist, holding her tight as they sink into the softness of the beanbag they've been in possession of for years.

"I still hate you, y'know, because you left me to wallow in the cesspit of fucked emotions created by our fight. You never once bothered to make contact. I had to chase you down. At least Carly made an attempt to video chat once a week. You didn't email, didn't even call," she says and the pitch of her voice raises an octave, a signal that her sadness is seeping away and is being replaced by much accustomed anger. Freddie is torn between relief and panic. A return to normalcy isn't necessarily a good turn of events when it comes to Sam.

"Saying I'm sorry isn't going to cut it, is it?" Freddie asks, knowing full well what the answer is going to be. Pleasing Samantha Puckett is a very difficult act to perfect and a simple apology after serving her with turmoil is not good enough by her standards. Maybe two dozen suitcases full of low fat Fat Cakes could lull her into submission for a small amount of time, but aside from that Freddie is at a loss. It isn't like he has twelve hundred Fat Cakes on hand at this very moment.

"Nope," she says as she slides her hands from Freddie's shoulders to his chest, using them to give him a shove that is hard enough to send him skidding backwards across the floor on his backside.

It is like the flick of a light switch, the way she has instantly changed from hot to cold, and she jumps from the beanbag to her feet with surprising ease, crossing her arms protectively over her chest. She stares at Freddie like he is nothing more than dirt on the bottom of her shoes as he tries to mask the shock of being all but thrown across the studio and she looks ready to rip his head off and spit down his neck. Freddie's known females to have mood swings –his mother, Carly and Sam are all culprits of becoming the dreaded she-monster every once in a while– but he has known none to be as bad as the metaphorical hormonal hurricane Sam is getting caught up in, all too happy in dragging him along for the twisting, swirling, nausea-inducing ride.

Girls, he'll never understand them for as long as he lives, which may not be very long if Sam has a say in the matter.

Rather than sitting back and taking the brunt of Sam's raging mood like pre-college Freddie would have done –in the past he would have done nothing more than stare up at the blonde with scared, wide eyes, too petrified to retaliate– he picks himself up off the floor, trying to keep the little dignity he has left in tact, and stands opposite his abrasive blonde friend, mirroring her arms crossed, eyes glaring, feet firmly rooted to the floor posture. She looks ready to commit murder but he is ready to react.

"You can hit me if it'll make you feel better," Freddie offers with a smile before Sam can give a war cry and charge at him like a bull seeing red and it is a whole new spin on a regular routine.

Freddie never used to be willing to offer himself up as a punch bag, excluding the times in the school halls when Sam would pummel his backpack into his stomach, more often than not just standing on the sidelines ready to receive a pre-warned by exactly one point six seconds punch in the gut. Their relationship very much revolves around the basis of Sam saying "I'm gonna punch you" and Freddie responding with "How hard?" This is different, it is new, like an uncomfortable addition to an age old tradition, and Sam does not like it one bit.

She is the one who pulls the strings. She is the one who wears the trousers and Freddie is not now going to change that dynamic.

"You don't ask to be punched, Benson, you wait for me to tell you I'm gonna punch you." She flashes a grin, one that shows every last one of her perfectly white teeth –it is a wonder that they haven't gone rotten from all the sugar she ingests– and takes a step forward, almost daring Freddie to continue mirroring her.

But two can play that game. Freddie knows she thinks he does not have the nerve to rise up against her so in order to prove her wrong (something he does not get to do very often) he does the opposite of her expectations by taking two strides towards her. It is enough to demolish the gap between them, bringing them directly parallel to one another, close enough to feel the others hot breath on their faces but not close enough to be touching without intending to.

"What are you gonna do then, Puckett?" Freddie pushes and everything about the girl in front of him takes him back to the incident that happened in the hallway outside of his apartment, from the strong set of her jaw to her fists clenching and unclenching at her sides.

Here is to hoping things end better this time around.

"Oh, I have a few ideas, Fredward." Her voice has a menacing tone to it that sends a bone tingling shiver down Freddie's spine and he finds himself thinking of how he could get to Mexico before the weekend if he sets off running now.

Sam uncurls the fist her right hand is making and brings it up to face height, palm open towards Freddie's face and she looks like she is putting herself into position to give him a good award-worthy slap around the face. Fighting the overwhelming urge to squeeze his eyes closed and hope for the best possible outcome, an outcome that will never be good, Freddie decides to stand his ground and keeps his eyes locked on Sam's sea blue ones despite the hole they seem to be burning into his forehead. She smirks at Freddie's resilience and he is unable to stop from flinching at her carnal look which only serves her with enough purpose to grin wider.

She flexes her long fingers and Freddie braces himself, ready for his flesh to swell and turn an unflattering shade of crimson. He blinks and somewhere between his eyes opening and closing her hand wraps around the back of his neck –shouldn't her hand be around the front if she is going to throttle him?–and he watches with mild horror and a dash of confusion as she brings their heads together. Freddie has no time to react, not time to resist and fight and ask the thousands of questions that suddenly flow to the tip of his tongue because with the speed of a bullet leaving the barrel of a gun Sam's rosebud lips are upon his.

Sam's eyes may have been open during the kiss they shared all those years ago on the fire escape of the Bushwell Plaza but it is Freddie's turn this time to look like a rabbit caught in the headlights. When Sam said she had some ideas of what she wanted to do to Freddie he thought she meant something like giving him a Texas wedgie or slicing and dicing him before throwing his body parts into a lake or publicly humiliating him in the way only she can. He never thought in a million years she'd kiss him.

How is this even real? Sam Puckett doesn't go around kissing boys on a whim, particularly this boy.

Her lips are soft, just as he vaguely remembers them being from their first kiss, and they move slowly against his own as her hand tightens the hold on his neck. She tastes like sugar (all the candy before Thanksgiving lunch) and chocolate (the edible lip gloss she has taken to wearing just because she likes to lick it off) and if Freddie could capture her taste and keep it forever then he would without a second thought. Finally he responds and kisses her back, but his arms stay firmly at his sides because he can't decide between putting them around her neck or her waist. He is cautious in the way he kisses her, afraid to over step the mark because the thought of getting thrown into the swing out television screen isn't particularly appealing. This is a kiss Sam initiated so they are going to have to play by Sam's rules.

After what feels like a lifetime and not roughly the twenty seconds the kiss actually lasts Sam pulls away, dropping the arms that are around his neck like they are dead weights and hastily wiping the back of a hand across her mouth. Her sapphire eyes sparkle with a blend of malice and glee, a devious smirk dancing across her lips and Freddie comes to the conclusion that he has been royally fucked over, tricked into saying everything he feels without the use of words.

She is one hell of a cunning bitch and he says that with the upmost endearment.

"Like I said, you're a goddamn idiot."

And that is that. She spins on her heel and walks out of the studio, out of the apartment and out of the building. Freddie would give chase, catch up with her and grab her arm and yell "why did you just do what we promised we'd never do again that one time when we were fourteen and desperate to get it over and done with?" if his feet weren't rooted to the floor with a combination of shock and pleasant surprise.

He may not have suffered from a few broken ribs and a disjointed nose, but things just got a hell lot more complicated.

"What went down between you and Sam earlier?" Carly asks through the wood of Freddie's apartment door because he is down right refusing to open up and speak to her face.

"Nothing went down between us." Really, he doesn't want to tell Carly about how Sam blindsided him with a kiss and how he enjoyed it/had wanted to kiss her for a long time/would like it to happen again sometime soon.

"Nothing, my ass!" she yells, sounding pissed as hell. "Sam's acting weird. You're avoiding us at all costs. She refuses to react whenever I say your name and you're, you're being stupid, Freddie!"

"I don't care," Freddie responds and he knows he sounds like a childish brat but he doesn't give a damn about that either.

"Fine, become a freaking recluse. I don't wanna hang around with you if you're acting like this. See you at Christmas," she bites back and Freddie listens as her feet stamp across the hall, listens as the door of her apartment crashes closed behind her.

Great. Just fucking wonderful. Now he is in both Carly and Sam's bad books, a remarkable feat.

His return to Olympia and being able to submerge himself in college life cannot come quick enough.

He spends the rest of his short time back in Seattle with his mother in order to avoid Sam, letting her smother him for the simple reason that he knows it makes her feel better about herself because she is convinced she is a bad mother for allowing her only son to fly the nest. He lets her take him to a mother and son pottery class – something he has refused to do since he turned fourteen and realised he will never have any form of artistic flair – and tries to remain focused despite Sam making a regular appearance in his thoughts.

Thankfully his mother doesn't realise how preoccupied he is. If she were to know what is going on between himself and Sam she'd be taking him to the vets to be sterilised 'as a precaution'.

Yes, the vets. Freddie will be the first to admit his mother can be more than a little irrational and extremely crazy, but he still loves her.

On his second night back on campus Freddie switches on his phone to find a text message from Sam saying 'i think i'm going to become a lesbian.' He'd feel hurt or even a little rejected if he didn't find the randomness of the statement and the concept of Sam getting herself a girlfriend so hilarious.

'oh yeah, who'd go lesbian with you? :P ha!' he texts in reply and slips his phone into his jeans pocket.

"What are you smiling at?" Will asks, throwing his body onto the end of Freddie's bed and using Freddie's legs as a cushion for his head.

"I've just been told by, uh—a girl I know that she is considering turning to lesbianism." Freddie grins because he can't help it, poking Will in the ribs with his toes and watching him squirm in discomfort.

"And I hope you are seeing the advantages of this, Freddie Boy. Imagine the threesomes you could have."

"Is everything about sex with you?" he laughs, and he is becoming used to Will's sex-crazed thoughts, not finding them repulsive anymore.

"Of course it is!"

Freddie's phone vibrates in his pocket before it begins ringing with one of the pre-programmed ringtones that came with his phone and he wiggles his hips to pull it from his tight jeans, opening the message once he gets it out.

'i was thinking wendy, i'm sure she'll be interested. we will have hot sex inside an igloo or something. they have igloos in alaska, right?'

He can't help lapsing into laughter at how ridiculous their banter is getting, but he refuses to read the text out loud when Will asks because he'll make some comment along the lines of is Wendy hot and if Freddie isn't interested can he take his place in the threesome.

'sounds kinky. of course wendy would fuck you, sam, we all know she's sexually fluid so she doesn't count towards your lesbian conquest.'

He gets a reply within seconds.

'you're just jealous that you don't count because you do not have a vagina, benson. (okay, that may be debatable.) sorry to inform you but we'll never be lesbian lovers ;)'

'well, damn.'

Freddie thinks he'd make a great girlfriend for Sam's lesbian half. After all, she has referred to him as being a girl enough times in the past. He'll even wear a long pink wig and a mini dress if it fits with her lesbian fantasy.

Oh God, he thinks, I need to scrub my brain with soap and he comes to the conclusion that Will and Sid are to blame for the corruption of his once innocent mind.

Freddie is sprawled on his stomach across his bed, laptop open in front of him as he tries to focus long enough to edit some footage for his class in the morning. Only it's been a long day that has drained Freddie's energy and all he wants to do is curl up in a ball and sleep for a solid twenty-four hours. He never realised college would be this hard. He would have thought twice about coming if he had known.

It has been a week and a day since his encounter/incident/run-in with Sam in the Shay's loft, but he isn't counting, honestly. He isn't the kind of guy who counts the days since a kiss nor is he the kind of guy who counts how many seconds a kiss lasts which is something he did not do the two times he has kissed Sam. It would make him a ridiculous human being and more in touch with his feminine side than he'd like to be. (They were seven seconds and twenty seconds, if you're interested.)

A knock at the dormitory door snaps him out of his reverie before he sinks in too deep and he sighs, wishing that whoever is knocking would disappear. They don't. Freddie, being the only person in the room meaning he has to answer it, decides to tell the person who is on the other side of the door to go away and come back at a better time/when he is in a more visitor-friendly mood/in about a week.

Pulling himself up from the comfort of his mattress, he opens the door ready to launch into his tirade to see it is Sam at the door, visibly shaken with dark make-up ringing her azure eyes. She is wearing a pair of faded grey and blue starred leggings and a black and white striped vest, like she was half-way through getting dressed when she threw herself in her truck to drive 60 miles to Olympia. There are no shoes on her feet. Questions race through his head, everything from "what's wrong?" to "what the hell are you doing down here?" and "why are you only half dressed?" before he sees her crumble and a fresh wave of tears take over her.

"I'm so lonely" is all she manages to choke out before she is stumbling into Freddie and he has to engulf her in his arms to stop her sending them both to the floor in a tangled mess of long limbs and honey coloured hair.

Everything that happened a week ago is instantly forgotten as she enters his arms, Freddie willing to ignore the week-long urge he's had to act hostile the next time he saw her for favour of playing the good guy, a role he has perfected down to a pat.

He doesn't say anything because they both know Freddie has been aware of the loneliness all along and that Sam has been blocking it all out to avoid this imminent breakdown. He lets her cry because he's been expecting this, only not this way, he was guessing it would be more like over the phone than in person. He could cope with a weeping Sam over the phone with many miles between them, but face-to-face is another thing altogether.

Sam pushes her face into his shoulder causing the two of them to stumble out of the doorway and into the room and Freddie somehow manages to kick the door closed behind them. He holds her, arms tight around her waist as she clutches to the front of his shirt in her small fists, the material damp from soaking up her flow of salty tears. She eventually pulls back, face flushed and streaked with tear tracks, and she tries to calm herself down by breathing deeply with her head bowed so she doesn't have to look him square in the eye. Sam doesn't want him to see the hurt swimming inside the blue pools, not wanting to break his heart like he did hers.

This is the one time she will not play to win. She isn't going to play to get even either. She's not that kind of vindictive little girl anymore.

"Everyone has left me, Freddie," she hiccups and she looks so defeated, like she is ready to give up on the last strands of hope she's been clinging to. "Nobody's gonna love me."

Before Freddie can scrape the barrel of his vocabulary to find some combination of comforting words to say to her Sam angles her head and brings her lips to collide with Freddie's. The connection is desperate, so very desperate, and forceful in the way she brings her hands to grasp the sides of Freddie's head so he can't move away. Her palms are hot and damp, thumbs massaging his cheekbones and fingers tugging at his hair as her lips begin to move.

This is leaps and bounds ahead of their previous two kisses and he responds the only way he can and kisses her back.

It is like static electricity, an electric pulse shooting through his veins to set every inch of his skin on fire and he swears he starts seeing stars once his eyes flutter closed, as clichéd as that sounds. He seizes the striped fabric at Sam's waist in his hands and pulls her closer, if that is humanly possible, with one of Sam's legs jammed between his own as he dips his head to deepen the kiss.

Their lips move in manic synchronisation and they pour days, weeks, months and years worth of sexual frustration into the kiss. It is feverish and fiery, exactly the way Freddie has always thought making out Sam would be, and if it weren't for the fact that they're holding each other up his knees would have buckled by now and sent the two of them crashing to the floor.

"Sam, Sam," Freddie says insistently when they come up to breathe but she simply ignores him and starts an assault on his neck, "do you know what the h-hell you're doing?" his voice hitches in the middle as she licks over his pulse point.

"I need to forget," is her simple response and she is driving him backwards until he hits the back of his knees on the bed frame, falling onto the mattress with a dull thud.

Sam pounces on him like a wild cat on its prey and their lips meet in such a frenzy it is like they never separated, teeth clinking together as they kiss open mouthed. She places her knees either side of Freddie's torso and uses her pelvis to pin his hips in place, attacking him with bruising kiss after bruising kiss, her tongue licking into his mouth to savour his taste.

Tangling one hand in her unruly golden hair and slipping the other around her slim waist he pulls her flush against him, causing them to touch in all the right places and he reacts to the tongue in his mouth with his own. It is a whole new experience, an odd but welcomed with open arms experience because he has never been kissed or kissed in return with such vigour, such frantic need. This is the two of them taking the leap from their exchange of innocent kisses to unfamiliar territory, the land of which there is no return.

Slowly Sam pulls away, turning their deep kisses into a quick succession of feather light ones, almost reluctant in the way she literally has to pry herself away from his lips and she slots into place resting her head on Freddie's chest, twisting the thin fabric of his shirt between her fingers. She stays like that for a while, not speaking, breathing deeply and listening to the steady beat of Freddie's heart and when she does eventually speak Freddie nearly jumps out of his skin, having become accustomed to the lingering silence.

"What am I going to do?" Sam says and her voice is soft, broken.

"I don't know, but I wish I did. I don't know what you or I are going to do about this, about everything," Freddie sighs, resigning himself to failure of being unable to fix what he desperately wants to fix.

"I'm sorry, y'know, for the inconvenience of my appearance here. I didn't actually plan to end up here. I sorta just threw myself into my truck intending on driving around in circles to calm myself down after working myself up over everything, but subconsciously I found my way to you," she mumbles and she sounds sleepy in the way her voice is becoming slow, drawing out every third word.

"Funny how that happens," Freddie whispers, moving a hand to run his fingers through her hair, working out the knots in her curls.

"I'm gonna stay here for the night." Sam tells him of her plans rather than asking to stay like any normal person would do. The straightforwardness of the statement is typical Sam and Freddie can't find a reason to argue with her because there is no way he is letting her drive back to Seattle in her current state. It would be asking for an accident to happen.

"Fine," Freddie sighs, resigning himself to a night of flying limbs and no bed covers because Sam will cocoon herself in them like she always does.

"What, you're not going to find twenty-three different reasons to kick me out on my ass and make me sleep in my truck?" She yawns, curling herself around Freddie, hooking her feet around his calves and pressing her toes into the warmness behind his knees.

"Nope, but leave your truck keys where I can find them because I may resort to sleeping there myself when you've stolen all the covers." Freddie jokes, snaking an arm around Sam's hips and pressing her tight against his side, cherishing the moment of passiveness while it lasts.


She yawns again, long and deep, and pushes her face into Freddie's neck, lips pressed against his skin and she resembles a cobra wrapping itself around its prey, slowly squeezing the life from him. If he really were to have the life quashed out of him then this would definitely be his chosen method. Silence descends, only being punctured by Sam's heavy breathing and Freddie takes this as his chance to gain some much needed rest. College work can wait, this is a once in a lifetime experience he is in no hurry to waste.

"Goodnight Sam," Freddie murmurs into the thick mass of curls balancing on top of his chest, leaning down to press a kiss to her smooth forehead.

Who knows what tomorrow has in store, but at present he does not care, content in basking in this moment.

When Freddie wakes he can feel the empty expanse of mattress next to him so he does not need to open his eyes to know that Sam is no longer sleeping alongside him. She's left him yet again and he isn't surprised in the slightest because running away after spending a night in his arms is her hidden talent. She has never been able to face the situation head on. She's a bit of a coward, really, not like he'd ever say that to her face. Well, she's a coward when it comes to anything that she can't deal with by using her fists.

He prises his heavy eyelids open and settles in staring at the cracked ceiling that could do with being re-plastered, playing Sam's words on a loop in his head –"Everyone's left me" "Nobody's gonna love me" "I need to forget"– and the more times he hears them the more he realises what a fucking disaster they've become. Blinking rapidly and shaking his head to make her haunting voice go away, he rests a hand on his stomach and focuses his all on simply breathing, focusing on something easy that isn't going to send his mind into mulling things over at a mile a minute, tripping over itself as it tries to figure out the tangled mess that is Freddie and Sam.

He needs some simplicity.

A clattering noise, a noise that sounds like a toothbrush falling into a porcelain sink, comes from his left and he turns his head towards the offending raucous at the same time as Sam's head appears from around the doorframe that leads into the tiny bathroom. Her blonde hair is a mess, knotted around her face and she has slight bags under her eyes and toothpaste smeared across her cheek.

"Sorry, didn't mean to wake you." She half-smiles, stepping into the room and he notices that she is wearing one of his well-worn striped polo shirts along with her grey leggings. "Oh, I was cold in my shirt so I put this on," she says when she sees him staring, twisting the frayed hem between her fingers.

He swats a hand around his head in response, trying to convey "its okay" in the flapping of his hand, too caught up in the fact that she hasn't done a runner like he was convinced she had. He props himself up on his elbows and stares Sam down, hoping she'll say everything he wants to say but cannot bring himself to, but she just flinches under his penetrating gaze, scuffing her toes in the thread-bare carpet and sighing deeply, clearly uncomfortable.

"We'll be okay, right?" Freddie finds himself asking, wanting confirmation that their lapse into unknown territory isn't going to be the end of their friendship, if you can call it a friendship – maybe 'friends who find themselves kissing every once in awhile' is a more appropriate label, a stone throw away from 'friends with benefits'.

"Yeah, yeah, we'll be fine," she mutters in response and her tone hints at how there is no way they can go back from this.

Freddie moves himself into a sitting position and swings his legs out of the bed, duvet twisted awkwardly around his middle. He doesn't know what he is going to do; telling her how he feels about her isn't the best of ideas given their current predicament because she will more than likely set off running for the hills. He'd hug her but he thinks she's in the right mind set to kick the living daylights out of him and offering to drive her home in a big no-no because nobody but Sam is allowed behind the wheel of her beloved truck and the idea of missing his afternoon class doesn't appeal to him because he'd still a complete utter nerd who refuses to miss a single class.

"I'd best be going," Sam mumbles and looks at Freddie from behind the curtain of her long bangs, "Mom will be wondering where I am."

Freddie meets her eyes with his own sad ones, knowing she can't be messing with him because her mom will never notice if her daughter is missing or not. It is Sam who is missing her mother, the woman who is supposed to look after her but did a disappearing act as soon as Sam hit eighteen, making her a legal adult and able to look after herself. He doesn't pick Sam up on the blatant lie, realising that she is trying to make her getaway as easy and guilt-free as possible, and just nods in response while watching her flee out of the door, taking his shirt and his heart with her.

He watches her drive away in her truck from his dorm window, her departure stabbing him in the chest, and he decides to go back to sleep because it is the only way he can try to forget the events of the evening before.

Sid and Will wake him up forty-five minutes later.

"Dude, you had a chick in here last night!" Sid shakes Freddie's bed, not caring about the fact that maybe Freddie would prefer to be left in peace.

"Yeah, we came back from smoking a couple of joints and you were in bed with that blonde girlfriend of yours," Will adds, grinning as he bounces around the room, "so we decided to leave you two alone and crash somewhere else."

"She's not my girlfriend," Freddie mumbles around the sour taste of morning breath in his mouth, "and no, we did not sleep together before you ask."

"Freddie, Freddie, Freddie, you need to start and open your eyes to the possibilities laid out in front of you when you end up sharing a bed with a girl as fuckin' fine as that Sam chick of yours," Sid sighs, beginning his lecture on 'how to get in a girls knickers', ignoring the fact that he hasn't 'gotten any' himself since he started college.

"Don't wanna hear it. I'm going to get something to eat." Freddie throws himself from the bed and out of the room before his roomies can say anything else.

It is only when he is halfway down the hall that he realises he is wearing nothing more than a pair of boxer shorts, promptly turning around to go and dress himself properly, ignoring the pretty cheerleaders who giggle and point as he dashes past them.

Freddie returns to his dorm after his advance math class and the noise that greets him is ear splitting.

Sid is sat in the middle of the relatively tiny room, whisky bottle clenched between his bony knees, long sandy brown hair hanging in his face and he has a glass bottle in his hand that he keeps inhaling from. Freddie decides not to question it, assuming that Sid is doing poppers for the third time this week. Music is pouring from his beloved boom box, guitar heavy and bass thrumming, and Freddie has to keep from clamping his hands over his ears in a pathetic attempt to block some of the racket out.

"The Buzzcocks!" Sid shouts over the music, clearly mistaking Freddie's look of pain as one of wonder over the name of the band currently making quick work of shattering his ear drums.

Freddie just nods his head in recognition of his friend and throws first his backpack and then himself onto his bed, sinking into the mattress and lacing his hands behind his head to keep it propped up. He had planned on coming in and getting his math assignment done and out of the way but that will prove to be a little difficult in the current climate so he settles in listening to the music because there is no chance of Sid turning it off anytime soon.

You spurn my natural emotions / you make me feel I'm dirt / and I'm hurt / and if I start a commotion / I run the risk of losing you / and that's worse.

Freddie has to laugh despite how appropriate the lyrics are because Sid seems to have a talent of playing songs that apply perfectlu to Sam and himself. He wants to ask his room mate if it is intentional or pure coincidence, but he doesn't think he'll hear him if he tries.

I can't see much of a future / unless we find out what's to blame / what a shame / and we won't be together much longer / unless we realise we are the same. / Ever fallen in love with someone? / Ever fallen in love? / In love with someone / ever fallen in love? / In love with someone / you shouldn't've fallen in love with.

"Uh, yeah, I damn well have!" Freddie loudly responds to the lyrics and he times it just right that his voice rings out during a lull in the song.

Sid casts a stare at Freddie that is three parts what the fuck two parts dude, are you okay and one huge side portion of drug-induced confusion and he reaches to his left to turn the pounding music down until it is nothing more than background noise. He looks like he has a question on the tip of his tongue but is having trouble getting it out, a side effect of the alcohol he's been drinking since noon, and Freddie has to roll his eyes at the absurdity of it all.

Eventually he says, "Dude, what crawled up your ass and died?" and Freddie barks a hollow laugh in return.

"It's nothing, Sid. Don't worry your little head over it," Freddie replies in a patronising tone that Sid doesn't seem to register and rolls from his back to his side, having a better view of his friend who is becoming progressively more and more stoned which is something that has become an accustomed routine.

"Oh, okay. Do you want some?" He offers the glass vial he's been steadily inhaling from in Freddie's direction, a lazy smile stuck on his face.

Usually Freddie's immediate response to being offered drugs would be a blunt no thanks, I'd rather not fuck up my life, but today has been one of those days where he could do with a release in any shape or form. He's tired, pissed off, and has a mountain of work he is not in the mood to do along with Sam constantly on the brain and maybe these factors don't exactly add to an overwhelming need to do drugs, but thinking rationally isn't high on his agenda right now. He has no idea what poppers are used for or what they're meant to do to a person, but then again he doesn't know such things for any type of drug, and without the restraints of his mother or his friends in Seattle taking a running jump into the deep end sounds like a damn good idea.

"Okay, gimme the bottle." He gropes the thin air between himself and Sid, waiting for the bottle to be pressed into his palm.

"No I won't, you fucking idiot! What do you think I am, stupid? I'm not going to be the one responsible for corrupting little Freddie with drugs," Sid laughs and it occurs to Freddie that his roommate was stringing him along and that he is the biggest douche bag this side of California, correction, the biggest douche bag in the western hemisphere.

"You're a jerk."

"And so are you, Freddie. Drugs are for those of us with no hope, like yours truly, not people like you who have a ten year plan and their entire lives laid out ahead of them. I dunno, sleep or somethin', just leave the drug taking to the resident junkie." He grins at Freddie, wide and slightly demented, and picks himself up off the floor, a joint in hand.

"I'm off for a smoke, see ya later," he says and he is out of the door before Freddie can ask if or when he'll be showing his bespectacled face again.

He can safely say that was a total failure. He's never going to succumb to the curious side of him that would like to try drugs ever again.

Deciding to take the advice given to him Freddie rolls over to face the wall, luckily the section that does not contain the dozens of photos of friends and family (of which more than is considered healthy contain Sam pulling crazy faces), and attempts to get himself some much needed sleep, willingly putting his math work on the backburner for the time being.

Freddie calls Sam at the beginning of the second week in December and they both try to act as normal as possible whilst avoiding speaking of the events that played out six days previous. Sam is still too embarrassed to speak of it and Freddie is still reeling from the shock. He's calling her for a reason, he wants to ask her if she'd like to do something with him, but he doesn't want to ask her outright so he tries to pad out their conversation with phatic nonsense.

"Hey Sam," Freddie says when she answers the phone.

"Hi, Freddo," she laughs, dragging out the 'o'.

"Could you please not call me that, Sammo?"

"Whatev, Fredorkina," she mutters and Freddie can picture her sat Indian style in the middle of her tiny apartment with the phone clamped between her ear and shoulder as she picks at the dry skin on her feet – a typical Sam thing to do when people are trying to speak to her.

"How're you anyway?"

"Uh, fine. I'm bored as hell but I'll survive. How is your crazy college life going?" Freddie almost chokes; surprised Sam is asking how his life is going whilst sounding half-interested. Usually she just doesn't care.

"Not so crazy."

There is a period of silence and it is incredibly awkward because all they can hear is the other person breathing into the mouthpiece of their phone, wondering if the memories of that kiss are flashing through the others head.

"Look Freduccini Al Freddo, have you called me for a reason because if you haven't then I have other shit to be doin', like sending abusive emails to Gibby about how I'm gonna to dismember him in his sleep if he doesn't bring me a bucket of fried chicken in the next half-hour."

"Ok, jeez woman! Look, Cuttlefish are playing a rare show on campus tomorrow and I, uh, I was wondering if you wanted to come down and go with me. I know how much you love Cuttlefish." Freddie rushes to get the words out because he's scared she'll laugh and say no or think he's asking her out on a date.

It is not a date.

"Mama loves her some Cuttlefish," Sam puts on the stupid voice she always uses to talk about herself in third person as 'mama', "Sure, I'll go with you, fudge face. I've got nothin' better to do."

Freddie's grin nearly splits his face in half.

"Cool," he tries to sound passive, "it starts at 9PM so be down sometime before then."

"'Kay, Freddie," she replies and she hangs up the phone.

He has to stop himself from jumping in the air or doing the ancient 'Freddie Benson Celebratory Dance' because not only did she agree to go with him but she also called him by the correct name after five attempts.

He receives a text message twenty minutes later.

'shit, you're nineteen in two days! oh my god cuttlefish=birthday celebrations. somebody is getting old + grey whilst i still have my glowing youth. haha. see you tomorrow olddd man. p.s – i did not just remember *shifty eyes* :)'

Freddie hadn't wanted to bluntly tell her about his birthday during their conversation and he has to laugh at how forgetful Sam can be. At least it only took approximately twenty minutes for the penny to drop because sometimes it can take her hours, even days for her to remember significant dates.

She's a bit of a ditz at heart. That is one of the reasons he loves her.

"Do you want to go and see Cuttlefish at the Student Union tonight?" Will asks Freddie over breakfast, mouth full of buttery toast, crumbs tangled in his chest hair and if Freddie were still eating he thinks he'd be having the urge to throw up. Did anybody ever teach this guy manners?

"Urgh, Cuttlefish are shit," Sid interjects before Freddie can swallow the coffee in his mouth and reply.

"I was sorta going with Sam. She's driving down this afternoon. Sorry, dude." Freddie smiles, hoping it'll keep him in Will's good books.

"Oh, its okay, I'll ask one of those birds I had the threesome with if they wanna come. Psh, they'll both want to go, this is me we're talking about." Will has a huge ego and absolutely no modesty if you hadn't already guessed.

"Uh, get in there, Will. Use your, irresistible accent to get some chicks," Freddie sniggers, finding the whole concept absurd.

"And you get in there too, Freddie Boy. I expect you to have gotten yourself some pussy by this time tomorrow." Will moves his eyebrows suggestively, grinning broadly.

"I don't need to listen to this over breakfast. And I'll have you know that I have more respect for women than you because I'll never refer to them as—'pussy'." Freddie stands up and walks away with his coffee in hand.

He really hopes he doesn't bump into Will and the threesome girls when he is out with Sam.

Talk about awkward.

Sam arrives in her beat-up mud-splashed white pick-up truck at 7:30PM and Freddie times it just right to be outside waiting so she doesn't have to face his roommates and probably be mentally scarred for life as a consequence. When she jumps down from the driver's seat he has to bite his tongue to stop from passing comment on the fact that she looks like she has actually put effort into her appearance. Well, he assumes she always puts at least a little effort in, but this is one time where she is willing to show that yes, she has a girly girl deep inside of her and she can do girly things like dress-up when she feels like it.

To sound like a typical guy who only thinks with his dick, he thinks she looks hot, the kind of hot you wouldn't associate with Sam when you've known her for almost fifteen years and been the victim of her wrath for far too long. It is the kind of hot that burns through the 'I really want to see her as just a friend' goggles he's been persistently been wearing for months, trying to hide his ever-growing attraction to her.

She has on a pair of black satin shorts that come to her mid thighs, showing off her never-ending legs that are covered with deep crimson stockings and a pair of biker-style boots with silver buckles up the outsides. Her top is black with a metallic silver lightning bolt to match the buckles, clinging to her figure and she is wearing a leather jacket with three-quarter length sleeves over the top. Her hair is almost straight except for a few soft curls and her eye make-up is dark and glittery. She is in no way dressed for the cold December weather, but knowing Sam she probably doesn't care.

"Aren't you cold?" Freddie has to ask because he can't understand how she can be wearing so little on her lower half and not be turning into a human ice cube. He knows he would be.

"It is mind over matter, Fredward. Just don't make me think about it." She pokes out her pointed tongue and he swears his heart does a flip in his chest just thinking about the things her tongue did the last time they spent time together. "We've got like, over an hour until the show so whatcha got in store for me?"

"Food, I was thinking Chinese. You cool with that?"

"Hell yeah, baby! I'm so hungry that I nearly drove into a ditch on the way down here." She rubs her stomach to illustrate her point.

"You nearly did what?!" Freddie asks incredulously.

"Don't ask, it is better that way."

"You honestly can't be that hungry because you're not lying dead in a ditch from crashing your death trap of a truck," Freddie says and gets a swift double poke in the ribs in return.

Ending the conversation to save himself from further abuse Freddie walks Sam off campus (with a comfortable space between them no matter how much Freddie wants to sling his arm around her shoulders) to a Chinese takeaway and he orders Sam special fried rice and sweet & sour chicken, the same thing she has ordered from their local Chinese in Seattle since she has been old enough to dial the number into the phone correctly. She is devouring the food before they're even out of the door, popping open the cardboard carton and cursing the useless plastic fork she's been given to use.

Inconveniently it begins to rain as they leave so they stand under the cover of a disused shop doorway to eat their food without getting wet, laughing at how stupid they must look all dressed up and eating greasy takeaway food in the fading daylight.

"Y'know, I'd go to college if it meant I could do this every Friday night," Sam half yells to be heard over the pounding rain, a piece of rice stuck to her ruby lip-gloss, the one that tastes like chocolate.

"No Sam, if you came to college you'd be doing this every day after class because you wouldn't be in the mood to cook for yourself. You're too lazy to feed yourself—actually you'd get me to pay because you're too lazy to pay for food to feed yourself," Freddie responds with a matter-of-fact tone to his voice, reaching out and swiping his thumb over her bottom to remove the rice and he's surprised when she doesn't attempt to bite the offending thumb off with her razor-like teeth.

"I'd be offended if that wasn't so damn true, Benson."

It is then that it hits him that no matter how much he would have enjoyed having Sam at college with him (come on, he'll be the first to admit that it would be the most fun in the world watching her wreck havoc on campus), their frienemyship would never have progressed the way it has without some distance put between the two of them. Anyway, he's been having way too much fun playing the cat and mouse games they've got going on to want to be in constant close proximity to her.

He just doesn't know if he is the cat or the mouse, or if he is acting as one and moonlighting as the other.

He's so damn confused, but confusion is what he does best after over three months of tiring practice.

A/N #2: Lyrics from the songs Burning Bridges by Chris Pureka and Ever Fallen In Love... by The Buzzcocks. I apologise for this taking so long. Life happened and promptly exploded in front of my eyes so I've had little time to write and I'm only just getting back into the swing of things. Bear with me, please. I know I said this would probably be two parts, but the plot ran riot and this part would be too long if it contained an ending so there will be a third and final part sometime soon.