Chapter Six

iCarly (c) Not Me

(Later, Freddie's POV)

Holy. Crap. Melrose kissed me. And I . . . I liked it. I licked my lips a little, tasting her chapstick and something else I couldn't quite place. I felt myself begin to blush, and I knew I must have been grinning like a love-struck idiot, but I didn't really mind. Melrose was sweet. I could still taste her on my lips. Sweet . . . Like Sam. Wait- What?! Did I just think that Sam was sweet? No, no, no, Sam was a blonde headed demon! Carly was nice and kind and sweet! Sam was rude and violent and doesn't care about you, Fredward! You couldn't possibly like . . . Sam, could you?

"You don't like Sam," I muttered under my breath. Just then my mom came into the apartment, carrying a couple brown grocery bags in hand. Why on earth would she be shopping at this time of night?

"What did you say, sweetie?" She asked, putting the grocery bags down and wiping off my face with a cool disinfectant wipe. "Oh, you have some butter on you lips." She stepped back. "Wait . . . did you have any fattening butter popcorn? You KNOW I don't like that, Freddie!" She turned away dramatically. "Oh Freddie, soon you'll be a lazy underachiever who doesn't get into college and has to live on the streets like a hobo. . . "

"Mom, it's fine, really. It was just popcorn," I lied. It was Melrose's chapstick, but I wasn't exactly going to be the one who told my mother that I had kissed a 'crazy punk', as I heard Mom referring to Melrose as, on the first date. Much less I wanted to tell her I kissed Sam's cousin. "I'm going to bed."

"Oh, okay. Just remember to shower and sign the shampoo agreement!" She called after me as I raced to me room. Like hell I'd be going to bed now. I needed time alone to think. I could almost feel the impact of Melrose's lips against mine. There was a spark there, a small one, but just enough. I forced myself back to the time when I saved Carly's life, when we were kissing all the time for days. She was the girl of my dreams I had wanted her as my girlfriend since I first met her . . . But now, I could almost hear the doubt creeping into my mind. No, I suppose I was over Carly now. The spark was gone, I had realized it actually the last time she kissed me, on the cheek. Her lips tingled and tasted like strawberry, but I didn't feel a spark. Not any more.

And then there was my first kiss, with Sam out on the fire escape. It wasn't a quick kiss, like most of mine with Carly. My eyes were closed when our lips met, but in my mind's eye I could still see her, her curly hair, that little pink headband resting behind her ears, even her nervous green eyes that had been looking at me as I leaned. I felt her eyes close after a couple seconds, her eyelashes batting against my skin lightly. And that was went I felt the spark. Yeah, there was a spark, I could remember now. I didn't want to admit it then, I only pushed my feelings deeper inside, forced them up only when I turned then into feelings for Carly.

Once upon a time, when we were all duct taped to a chair in Carly's apartment, she had asked us if we liked the kiss. Unfortunately, neither of us got to answer because Spencer had come in looking for his banjo. At the time, I probably would have said 'no'. Carly seemed jealous, and I didn't want to hurt her. But I imagined how Sam must feel if I did. I know she doesn't hate me, no matter what she says. But could she, you know, like me? I mean in that way. She'd feel totally worthless if I had said no. But that didn't matter, if Carly gave us a chance again, I would answer yes without missing a heartbeat.

(Saturday, Melrose's Point of View)

"Wake up!" Someone yelled at me angrily, breaking apart the deep fog of my dreams in an instant. Mother! No! I winced under the covers, expecting a pain to echo from somewhere on my body. My eyes were squeezed shut, but I could hear someone's footsteps coming towards the bed. "Come on, get up." The voice said again, softer this time. I could tell by the rustling of sheets and creaking of the floorboards that the figure, not my mother, I realized with a sigh of relief, had turned around.

"Yo, Freddie," It was Sam, I recognized. Why did that sound like my mother? Darn it. "Maybe you should kiss her, so she can wake up and we can get to the mall!"

"Maybe I will," He shot back, even though she was being sarcastic. My heart skipped a beat. Freddie was here? With Sam? And they weren't dead yet? Ah man, what time was it? Another figure crossed the room and lay each hand on either side of me. I tried my best to stay still, even though I was pretty sure he guessed I was already awake. I could feel him lean in closer to me, I could feel his warm breath on my face. I held my breath, and his lips brushed mine so gently. I didn't bother to open my eyes, but I kissed him back a little bit so he knew I was awake. We lay there for a few more seconds, taking in each other's taste, before Freddie backed up and I opened my eyes. Sam looked like she was about to retch. "Morning, Sleeping Beauty." Sam blinked and I saw her eyes glistening for a moment, but she blinked again and the tears were gone.

"Morning," I tried to sit up, only to have my tank top pulled down a bit farther than I wanted. I wasn't wearing a bra, so I quickly adjusted it and sat up fully. "So why are you here, again?" I rubbed my eyes sleepily, pretending I had just woken up when they both knew I hadn't.

"We're meeting Carly at the mall in like twenty minutes, so get up and get dressed!" Sam whined. I shrugged and got off the bed, watching Freddie watch me as I went to the dresser. "Fredastupid, you have to leave." She glared at him. He raised his eyebrows and put his hands above his head as if to say 'I'm gone, I'm gone.' Right as the door clicked shut behind him, I pulled out a bra, t-shirt and faded jeans. I didn't bother to turn around or have Sam leave, I just tore off my shirt and clicked my bra on behind my back. "So how did the date go?" She asked curiously and I inspected my jean for bloodstains. If I remembered correctly, these were some of my worst jeans, in the sense I was wearing them when Mother was roaring drunk and angry.

"It was . . . nice," I tried to search for a better word. I had fallen asleep as soon as I got home, and screened an violent call from my mother, who had no idea I was here in the first place.

"Did you two, you know . . . kiss?" She barely whispered the last word, looking down at her feet.

"Yeah," I answered casually. "Why? Jealous?" It couldn't be that Sam was jealous, could it? But I could tell she was, no matter how hard she tried to hide it. She glared at me like she was ready to rip my head off, though I knew she wouldn't. She knew all too well how much my mother was ready to do that anyway. She watched me closely, staring at my stomach like she could burn a hole through it with only her eyes. But I knew better; Sam was straight and there were black and blue discoloring near my shoulder, naval, bra line and hip. My snake tattoo covered the worst one, but the swelled hump on my arm was still plain to see. Sam and I were totally comfortable with each other, ever since she first saved me from my mother's boozed up and shaking fists. It never matter to either one of us if we talked in a full, fluffy snow suit or totally naked. Okay, that was an understatement. I'd care if Sam wanted to talk to me naked, that would be a bit too weird.

"Want some cream for that? I got a first aid kit here," She gestured to my bruises and pointed towards the wall. Of course she did, she always did. She could beat up the football team.

"No it's cool, they're healing," I smiled reassuringly.

"Healing, right," She muttered. I gave her a look that told her to drop it. "Anyway, how was the date? And more importantly, how could you stand to be alone in a dark theatre with him for two hours?" I rolled my eyes.

"The date was fine, we made fun of the stupid movie the whole time. And Freddie's not that bad, Sam." It was my cousin's turn to roll her eyes.

"Dude, he's a nerd!"

"Dude," I mocked. "He's sweet." I heard her mutter something like 'I know'. "What was that?"

"Nothing," She answered a bit too quickly.

"Psh, you can tell me if you like Freddie, honest I wouldn't let him know," I sat back on the dresser, the drawer handle pressing into my back lightly, such a small pain I could barely notice.

"Okay . . . I think Freddie's a dipthong," She smirked. But a cute dipthong, nonetheless, her eyes told me. I knew she would never, ever tell anyone but me, not even Carly. It would make things too complicated if even her best friend knew. Especially if Freddie knew, she figured.

"I'm cool with that," It was true. Sam's eyes were always more expressive than her words. She liked Freddie, that was plain to see. Freddie was sweet and kind and non-judgemental. He'd be better for Sam than he would be for me, even though I did really like him, I could tell Sam was the one who needed him more. I just needed Sam when it really mattered, and that was all. I paused, trying to figure how to word exactly what I wanted to say next. It avoid and awkward silence, I slipped a long sleeved fishnet shirt over my head and the same loose black jeans on my legs. There were a couple bloodstains I could never get out, but they were faded and unless you knew what you were looking for you couldn't tell they were even there. "What would you say to me finding out if he likes you?"

"Uh, no," She answered immediately. "I just told you he's a dipthong." Typical, insecure Sam. But I stuck to my word and didn't tell. She glanced at her wrist. Sense when did Sam wear a watch?

"Where'd you get the watch?" I asked curiously.

"Oh, uh, Freddie gave it to me for Christmas," She blushed again. She took a deep breath and put on her brave face. The face she showed the world. It was a part of her, she was always brave and violent, but she was still as insecure as ever other girl her age. "Come on," she urged, dismissing the subject. "It's time to go." She pulled open the door and marched out into the hallway, grabbing some beef jerky from the napkin dispenser she had rigged to give her meat.

Freddie was sitting in a nearly broken chair near the door, waiting for us. He looked pretty casual, a plain white t-shirt hung loosely around his frame, just tight enough to show he had some muscle, and we just had one some faded jeans. He smiled when he saw us, calling us over with a wave of his hand.

"Let's go to the mall," He announced, standing up and taking my hand in his. Sam glanced over at me from her beef jerky, her eyes flashing loneliness before snapping back to the confident way they always were. To compensate her dreading feelings of being left out, I made Freddie reach for her hand, too. Her eyes were happy I could understand. Happy and confident. It was real confidence, I could tell by the way her back straightened just a little bit.

"We're walking?" I asked stupidly. I hadn't expected us to get there any other way, though.

"Yeah, Mom's busy," Sam answered from the other side of Freddie's head.

"Okay, to the mall!" I cheered and karate-kicked open the door.