Disclaimer: iCarly is all Dan Schneider's. I am just borrowing his characters for a brief outing...
A/N - In the midst of writer's block with the multi-chaps I am working on, I rediscovered this one-shot I wrote around the same time as "Stairwells and Steering Wheels". I was content leaving it forever in the vault, but my new ff buddy, Spinlight, convinced me to share it with the world. So if you hate it, blame Spinlight...and if you like it, I suppose you can thank him. Really, I am just gonna put this whole thing on Spinlight's shoulders.
Freddie took his seat tentatively, mentally chiding himself for not arriving at the apartment earlier. In his tardiness, Sam had procured the better position. Her regular seat (sprawled across all three sofa cushions) was abandoned, and her petite form was instead slouched in the black leather chair by the door. Said chair was not only closer to the exit, providing her easy access for an escape, but it had the additional benefit of mobility, as Sam was currently demonstrating as she spun in lazy, meaningless circles. It unfortunately also provided her with a straight view into the kitchen, which would most likely trigger numerous daydreams about food and leave her only half interested in the proceedings.
Considering the situation, Freddie figured he had twenty minutes tops before she would declare she was hungry or bored and abandon the entire thing altogether.
"Carly! Hurry up." He yelled over his shoulder, mentally calculating the time counting down uselessly in the absence of their friend.
The pretty brunette frowned and huffed from the kitchen, but gathered her notebook and made her way to the small sitting area at the center of the apartment. She delicately sat on the center cushion of the couch, equal distance from Freddie and Sam's individual seats, and looked back and forth between her friends skeptically.
"Are you sure you guys want to do this? I bet there are loads of healthier ways to work out problems."
Sam stopped spinning and shot Carly a blank look. "We could wrestle." Her eyebrow cocked hopefully.
Carly rolled her big brown eyes. "Not exactly what I had in mind." When Sam shrugged in response, she let out a sigh of defeat and opened up the notebook she held to the appropriate page. She muttered and mouthed silently to herself as she reviewed whatever mysterious ponderings she had recorded earlier before nodding in satisfaction.
She looked towards Freddie, but as she seemed ready to finally begin the proceedings, a stray thought seemed to find its way into her mind. Without any explanation, she leaped from the couch and Freddie watched helplessly as she bounded up the apartment stairs, waving off his spluttering protests in her wake.
Two hideously long minutes ticked by, silent except for the loud gulp of nerves he had to fight down when he saw Sam actually look at the time on her phone. Just as he decided he was going to have to go and forcefully carry Carly down the stairs, he heard her gleeful cry.
"Found it!" Within seconds the brunette was back in the den, slightly out of breath and resembling her brother's usual frantic appearance. "I figured after what happened last time we should record everything."
Sam pointed to the glittery, lavender colored rectangle that fit snugly in the palm of Carly's hand. "That's not…?"
She nodded eagerly in response.
"From 5th grade?"
"Yeah. Spencer has a box of all of our old spy gear. I think he wanted to turn it into a sculpture at one point."
"5th grade." The blonde replied wistfully. "That was arguably the best year of my life. I think I could have really made it as an invisible ninja if the Man hadn't squashed my dreams." She pressed her balled up fist into her hand, shaking her head angrily.
Carly nodded solemnly, commiserating with her best friend. "You really were making strides with the invisibility formula you were working on. You know, I think we still have-"
Before she could complete her thought, Freddie let out some indistinguishable noise from his throat that was a hybrid of annoyance and frustration and sounded sadly like "nyuhhh". Sam finally looked over at him, her face painted with initial confusion that morphed automatically into amusement.
With a heavy sigh, and a light wave of her hand, she finally offered Freddie a desperately needed reprieve. "Allright Carls, let's get this show on the road before the dork pops a vein."
Carly nodded, suddenly remembering her role as she clicked on the sparkly recorder and shifted her body to face Freddie. "Okay Freddie - you called forth these negotiations. State your first demand."
Freddie leaned back in the chair and assumed a casual stance. He was determined to achieve and maintain the upper hand right from the starting gate. He knew he couldn't start with his number one demand. That would be like putting all of his cards on the table, and Sam was sure to use each and every card against him. So instead, he opted for a request relatively low on the totem pole.
He looked straight at Sam, who met his gaze steadily. "The pamphlets. The pamphlets have got to stop."
Carly nodded and turned to Sam. "Can you handle that?"
"I don't know what he's talking about."
Freddie rolled his eyes. "Right. Your 'deny everything' tactic is not going to get us very far in this."
Sam quirked an eyebrow but remained silent.
"Come on Sam! My mom is threatening to send me to rehab for my supposed 'drug problem' and I am already in gamblers anonymous. Not to mention the nightly safe sex talks that I get ever since you sent her that information on STDs being the silent killer. I can't take anymore! Do you know how traumatizing it is for a 17 year old boy to watch their mother demonstrate the proper application of a condom using a cucumber?"
Sam let out a laugh at Freddie's humiliation and Carly was unable to hide her growing smirk. She let out a muffled chuckle as she turned back to Sam.
"Sam?" She inquired, as her face grew red and her laughter constantly threatened to erupt.
Sam paused to catch her breath and after a few more brief outbreaks, finally collected herself enough to respond. "Fine. In return I want you to get your mom to stop smothering me with soap and anti-bacterial cream."
Freddie frowned and considered the counter-offer. In comparison, this was a simple request, and he was immediately on guard about her compliance. This smelled like a trick.
"I can't make any guarantees. I don't control my mother."
Carly shot him a sharp look, frustrated by his inability to quickly and willingly accept the lax terms. As Sam casually opened her mouth to respond, Freddie rushed to finish. "But, I should be able to convince her that you have enough soap and anti-bacterial cream for a lifetime. I accept the terms." He smiled triumphantly.
Carly nodded. "Good." She leaned over the coffee table and scribbled out something on the paper before turning upright, and again facing Freddie. "Demand number two?"
It was time to raise the stakes. Still not time to approach the #1 demand, but move things more along the proper lines. "The pretending to fall asleep when I talk has to stop. It's rude and disrespectful!" Carly nodded her head in agreement and turned to Sam, who was realistically simulating a peacefully sleeping hoodlum.
"Sam" Carly stated in a stern tone. The other girl responded with a comical snore. Carly reached out and tugged the blonde's long hair and she jerked up and swatted Carly's hand away.
"What happened? I fell asleep when the dork started talking."
Carly ignored her antics and got straight to the point. "Do you agree with Freddie's demand?"
Sam jutted out her lower lip. "I can't be held responsible for my actions if he starts talking about tech geek nonsense." She paused and her eyes narrowed in consideration "or uses words with over four syllables." She jabbed a finger menacingly towards Freddie to further punctuate her point.
Carly turned to Freddie to determine his reaction to Sam's proposed revisions. He bobbed his head for a moment in consideration. He could see how this would play out. The fake sleeping thing, which was actually a relatively rare occurrence currently, would pick up profusely in the oncoming weeks. Sam would make a game out of it, tempt him with multiple syllable words, and then put on her act. The upside would be that Sam would be forced to significantly increase her vocabulary. Freddie finally shrugged and nodded. "Fine." He could always readdress the issue at the next negotiations if things got out of hand.
Carly smiled and turned back to Sam. "And your counter?"
Sam smirked. "An alibi."
Freddie frowned. "An alibi? For what? When?"
She picked at the end of her hair aimlessly. "Not sure 'bout the details just yet Fredward" she dropped her hair and looked up at him as she lazily fell back in her seat and crossed her arms over her chest. "But I am fairly certain that some day I am going to need a rock solid alibi, and I expect you to provide that."
Carly narrowed her eyes in disproval, but turned to Freddie. "Any issues with that?" Her eyes widened slightly, and it seemed she was trying to communicate something along the lines of "Say no! Run for the hills! You can still escape this future life of crime Sam is planning for you!" But Freddie ignored her pleading expression, and considered the situation in terms of strategy. He figured Sam saw the negotiations as a game of poker, raising the stakes and throwing out bluffs, but he saw it as a game chess. This move had worked out against him, he could see that clearly now, but in the end, all you had to do was get the king to win. Though he was fairly certain he just negotiated an increase in Sam's fake sleeping antics, that came at the minor price of his legal morals, he felt certain that giving up his bishop would free up his rook for the kill.
"Nope. Sounds good to me." He kept his eyes trained on Sam and she narrowed her own steely blue gaze. He could practically see the wheels in her mischievous mind turning as she attempted to figure out his angle.
Carly looked between them and let out a heavy sigh. "So we are agreed on the fake sleeping/alibi terms?" Both Freddie and Sam nodded simultaneously and Carly made another notation on her paper. "Okay, what's next?"
Freddie bit his lip and examined Sam closely. She was smirking, and he had the distinct impression that she was well aware that he had yet to address the true reason for calling forth these negotiations. Thankfully, she did not yet look bored or alarmed and her stomach hadn't started audibly growling so he figured he was safe with a few more subterfuge demands before getting to the point of it and slipping in his main request. He needed to wear her down.
"In the last month, I have had to change my cell phone number twice." He narrowed his eyes towards the bored blonde across from him. "Changing your cell phone number is cumbersome and inconvenient."
He allowed for a long pause to select the right words to lay out his demand, and in the interim both girls examined him in confusion. Carly looked over at Sam for clarification. "Ummm---Do you agree?"
Sam jerked her head back in frustration. "With what? That changing your cell phone number sucks?"
Carly nodded tentatively and Sam grunted. "For normal people, maybe. But Freddork doesn't have too many friends so I can't imagine that it is too difficult to distribute his new number to the five people in his contact list."
Freddie frowned as Carly looked back at him. "Ummm it seems Sam disagrees Freddie."
He huffed and raised his voice slightly. "The reason I had to change my cell phone number is because freshman girls call me day and night to accept my mysterious date invitations to El Taco Guapo."
"Sam! You have to stop giving them my number."
Carly, glad to finally understand the term, turned to Sam.
The blonde didn't respond though. She emerged from her daydreamy state of ground beef and corn shells and sized Freddie up with her calculating stare, attempting to determine whether or not this was his number one. He tried to keep his face impassive, but his left eye twitched involuntarily. She moved her jaw back and forth, and finally nodded. "I can manage that. In return I want college apps. All of them – including essays."
Freddie carefully measured his reaction. He had been planning to do all of Sam's college applications anyways, considering that was the only surefire way to insure that they would be completed and submitted on time. So the request was again relatively light, but if he agreed too quickly she would get suspicious and then he would lose his hard earned upper hand.
"You have to help with the essays."
"No typing or writing will be involved."
She shrugged. "Whatever, I can live with that." Her stomach let out a low growl, and Sam rubbed it absent mindedly as she stared thoughtfully at the kitchen. "I'm hungry. Are we done here?"
"No!" Freddie couldn't prevent his sudden outburst, and in delayed response he slapped his hand over his mouth as if he would be able to retract the word somehow, but the damage had been done. Sam looked at him with a knowing smirk, as she crossed her arms over her chest and lifted her brow. In her mind, Freddie had just thrown the deck at her, and she now had an entire arsenal of moves against him.
Carly looked understandably baffled at the strange expressions being exchanged between her two best friends, but always the professional mediator, she kept her comments to herself and looked at Freddie in expectation.
Freddie stuttered, quickly trying to figure out a way to reverse whatever harm he had just committed. "Ummm, I mean, I have a few more terms I would like to address, that is if, you, I mean, awwww man." He finally trailed off and looked glumly at the floor. Sam seemed to be feeding off the tech producer's discomfort, and her natural hunger was forgotten as she quirked her brow to form a mixed expression of teasing evil.
"The jig is up Freddison. What's up?"
He let out a heavy sigh and swooped carelessly at his hair. He looked around the room for some out to his current predicament, but after a brief survey, he realized that Sam was right. The jig was up. He settled his gaze on her, locking eyes and refusing to look away. "I want you to change your relationship status on MyFace."
Carly and Sam both let out disbelieving snorts at the same time. "And I want it to rain Fatcakes tomorrow."
Freddie ignored her comment and continued to stare her down, letting his demand settle and saturate between them. Sam uncrossed her arms and leaned forward in her seat, propping her elbows on her knees. Her eyes stayed locked with Freddie's but her pupils drifted slightly to the side, and he knew immediately she was planning on making a break for it.
Without dropping Sam's gaze, Freddie addressed Carly in a steady voice. "Carly. She is going to run."
Carly was momentarily torn between her loyalty to her best friend and her dedication as a quality mediator, but professional ethics won out and she pulled out her phone and after sending a quick text she turned to face Sam.
"Sam. The door is double bolted and chained and I just texted Gibby and he is standing guard in the hall with a paint gun."
Sam rolled her eyes, and her knee began to bob restlessly as she considered her options. Finally with a heavy sigh, she crossed her arms over her chest and settled back into the chair.
"It's not happening Benson."
"Sam! You are not currently 'Single and Looking." Freddie cleared his throat to try and remove the shrill tone that was threatening his voice. "I requested that you be 'In a relationship' with me over three weeks ago."
The blonde batted the air flippantly. "I don't check my account regularly. I'm sure I'll get around to it eventually."
Freddie cocked his head and shot her a flat look. "You graffitied on Carly's profile yesterday."
Sam's eyes drifted for a moment and her lips quirked up in a genuine smile. "Oh yeah." She turned to Carly. "I hope you appreciated my fine art."
Carly rolled her eyes but smiled. "Oh yeah. Randy Jackson and Ms. Briggs wrestling in Jello is sure to end up in a museum one day."
"It was mud, not Jello!"
"Why was it red then?"
Sam nudged her nose. "Randy had a bloody nose. Ms. Briggs packs a killer right hook."
"Ewwww Sam!" Both girls began to laugh and Freddie looked between them in frustration.
"Can we please stay focused?!" The laughter died down and both turned to study Freddie's reddening expression.
A loud and awkward silence filled the room for a brief moment before Carly seemed to finally remember her role and she turned to Sam. "Your counter?"
Sam didn't look at her, but instead gazed aimlessly around the room. "Nothing. I'm not doing it."
"Sam!" Freddie's frustration began to get the better of him, and he clenched his jaw to prevent himself from lashing out. This was humiliating. "Fine. If you don't change your status then I am going to post that picture Carly took of us at the beach last week on iCarly dot com." He smirked triumphantly, creating a similar expression to the one captured on film of him successfully pinning down the undefeatable Sam Puckett in the sand. Sam had claimed hunger induced weakness, but the perfectly preserved shot proved that Freddie was finally stronger than the petite blonde. Though the picture failed to capture the events following the successful tackle, which had left Freddie with a swollen lip and a monster wedgie, but the iCarly fans didn't need to know that.
Sam's eyes narrowed. "That was a fluke! I hadn't eaten in four hours!"
"Tell it to the fans."
"Carly!" Sam's voice was shrill as she turned to face her friend. "This is blackmail. I thought these were supposed to be 'civil proceedings'." She completed her statement with air quotes and a surprisingly accurate mimicking of Freddie.
"Uh." Carly rapidly flipped through her notebook, slightly flustered by the sudden change of protocol. "According to my notes from the June 12th negotiations between Sam Puckett and Freddie Benson, uh" she scanned the page frantically for the appropriate passage. "Freddie requests that Sam accompany him to his cousin Steve's wedding. Sam counters that Freddie has to clean her room. Freddie agrees only if Sam wears a dress to the wedding. Sam throws shoe at Freddie. Freddie proclaims angrily 'these are supposed to be civil proceedings!'" Her face squinched in her mocking of Freddie's proclamation from the months before.
"So there! No blackmail allowed. It is clearly in the rules." Sam made a broad sweep with her arm towards Carly.
"Pollycock! That is not what she said. And you are never civil in these proceedings so I'm changing the rules! Ha!" Freddie gathered his breath and realized abashedly he had moved to his feet in his outburst.
Sam stared up at him cynically and with little emotion. Finally she let out a shallow sigh and cocked her head in mocking disbelief. "Pollycock?"
Carly looked up from the notebook, where she had been frantically scribbling notes. "Is that even a word? How do you spell that?"
"This isn't about vocabulary!" As if on cue, Sam's head collapsed back into her seat and she let out a loud snore. "What are you doing?!" His voice maintained a volume slightly higher than normal, and he jabbed a finger towards Sam. "We talked about this!"
Sam didn't open her eyes, but flopped her head over to face Carly and snorted in her direction. Carly seemed to get the point.
"There was the provision about multi-syllable words Freddie."
He turned his anger towards the only girl in the room who was going to acknowledge that she was conscious. "Vocabulary!? That's not even an SAT word!"
Carly shrugged apologetically. "Vo-Cab-U-Lar-Y. Five syllables." She clapped her hands together with each one to further punctuate the point.
"ERGH!" Freddie growled towards the ceiling, and attempted to control his emotions and the situation. After a long moment, he collapsed back in his seat. "Fine. I give up. You're impossible." He waved a hand towards Sam, but his angry and defeated glare remained trained to the right of her crumbled form.
Sam opened one eye cautiously, and shifted her position to better perceive her opponent. When she saw Freddie slumped in his seat, his arms folded tensely across his chest, she perked up and opened her other eye to study him. "What gives?"
"Nothing gives Sam. You win. You can be 'Single and Looking' forever for all I care."
She shifted again in her seat, and shot a look at Carly, who only shrugged in confused response. Her jaw moved, as if she was actually chewing on her next statement, and finally she fell back into her seat and broke the silence. "I want driving lessons."
Another pause, and Freddie finally trained his eyes on her. "Huh?"
"That's my counter. Ten driving lessons. An hour long each, and if you squeal girlishly once during any of them, the deal is off."
"I thought the court declared you couldn't drive until you turn 18." He attempted to keep his voice flat, but the inescapable curve of his lips threatened to give him a way.
"Take it or leave it Fredderly."
"Five lessons." He didn't know why he was pushing his luck, but a small part of him felt that it was necessary to maintain some form of pride in these proceedings.
She yawned at his wayward attempts at negotiating. "Fifteen."
"Fine. Ten. But no promises on the squealing."
She nodded once, but her attention was already focused on the kitchen behind him. "Whatever." She turned to Carly. "You and Spencer went to All-You-Can-Eat-Meat last night, didn't you?"
Carly nodded, but didn't look up from her notebook. "Yeah. There are leftovers in the fridge."
Without any further encouragement, Sam leapt to her feet and skipped over to the bright kitchen, immediately pulling three Styrofoam boxes from the fridge.
Freddie let out a heavy breath that he felt he had been holding since the negotiations began, and settled into a contented silence.
"Save some ribs for Spencer. That's his dinner tonight." Carly called out as she stood up from the couch. Sam grunted in response, smearing bar-b-q sauce across her mouth with the back of her hand. Carly rolled her eyes and shot Freddie a knowing look. Without further explanation, she collected her mediation supplies and made her way up the stairs towards the second floor. Freddie stared at her retreating form for a moment, reserving a heavy does of gratitude to his understanding friend, before turning his attention back to his girlfriend, who was attractively ripping the rib meat off of a bone in the kitchen.
He casually made his way to the computer on the counter, and pulled up the MyFace homepage. Sam studied him in silence, as she continued to eat her mid-afternoon treat.
He raised his brow and stared her down, allowing a silent battle of wills to exchange between them.
She met his gaze, and waved a rib in the air. I'm still eating.
He crossed his arms over his chest. You are not getting out of this.
She licked her fingers one by one, never dropping eye contact. Ribs.
He rolled his eyes and turned the monitor slightly to face her. It's just a website.
"Grrrr. Fine. You are such a nub." Sam tossed the clean bone into the box, and wiped her hands off on her plaid shorts as she made her way over to the computer. With a light shove, she procured the stool from Freddie, and with rapidly-moving and bbq stained fingers, she logged onto her account. A few deft clicks later, and Sam Puckett and Freddie Benson were officially in a relationship. A little red heart icon popped up on the main feed by both of their names. Sam groaned and closed out the site.
"I need sugar." She hopped off the stool, and made her way back over to the Shay fridge. Freddie quickly made to follow her.
She knocked a few things over, taking her apparent anger and frustration out on the neatly lined bottles of root beer on the top shelf, and finally emerged with a red canister of whip cream. She kicked the door shut, and hoisted herself up on the island in the middle of the kitchen, shoving aside the to-go boxes she had ransacked moments before.
With a tilt of her head and a loud woosh of pressurized air, her mouth filled with a large cloud of whip cream and she closed her lips around it, the excess oozing out.
Freddie stood in front of her, letting his hands rest lightly on her knees. "Attractive." He cocked an eyebrow in sarcasm.
She narrowed her gaze and kicked out her red converse sneaker so it connected solidly with his thigh. "Don't start with me."
His grip on her knees tightened and his body crippled slightly at the blow, but he didn't give up his position. He watched her, with a permanent smirk plastered on his face, as she stared at the ceiling and licked the remaining whip cream from her lips. After a long moment, she looked back at him impatiently. "What?"
"You missed some." She watched his hand move towards her face in confusion, and right before he was able to swipe the whip cream from her lip, she batted his hand away roughly. She opnened her mouth, presumbaly to admonish his attempts at touching her, but before she could speak he leaned forward and connected his lips to hers. She tasted like whip cream and bar-b-q sauce, a disturbing but exhilarating combination. Her body was tense. He didn't usually make the first move and he had clearly caught her off guard, but after a long second of him pressing his lips roughly against hers, she finally reached forward and clutched two handfuls of his carefully pressed button-down top. He allowed himself a moment to worry about the resulting wrinkles, and the inevitable torrent of questions he could expect from his mother, but as Sam opened her mouth slightly against his, all thoughts of wrinkles floated away. She slid down off of the counter, and he placed one hand on either side of her, effectively trapping her against him.
She pulled him by the shirt, bringing him closer to her and exerting her control all in one swift motion, and Freddie gave up trying to direct her and allowed his body to go lax against hers. He was experimenting how many ways her lips could fit with his, when he felt her hands slowly slide down his chest. One eye popped open in alarm, as her long nimble fingers found their way to his waistband. Immediately an image of his mom holding a cucumber popped in his mind, and he squeezed both eyes shut attempting to forever banish the disturbing thought. Sam helped to distract him, by opening her mouth a bit further and letting out a contented growl from the back of her throat as her fingers danced along his denim clad upper thighs. He fought back a tiny gulp and decided to reciprocate, as he looped his hands around her waist and lightly pushed up her layers of tops to allow him exposure to her bare lower back.
Suddenly, Sam shifted, and he dropped his hands abruptly to his sides afraid he had made a wrong move. Her attention seemed to be elsewhere though as she moved her hands back up to his shirt, nipped at his mouth one last time, and then roughly shoved him away.
He stumbled back in confusion, shooting her a wide-eyed stare.
The effect of his gaze was lost though, as she now had her back towards him and was making her way towards the front door of the apartment, readjusting her shirt in the process.
"Where you goin'?" He choked back the nervous tenor in his voice and stood up slightly taller, smoothing out the blue and white checkers of his shirt with a shaky hand.
She pivoted with ease and shot him her trademark smirk. "Come along Fredward." She was clearly trying to maintain a cool and mysterious look, but her excited bobbing up and down was a dead give-away.
Freddie cleared his throat and pushed a hand through his hair. "Come...where?"
She revealed the hand that had been hidden behind her back and dangled his keys above her head. His eyes widened in surprise and his hand automatically reached down to pat his now empty pockets. She shook them a few times, allowing the numerous keys and key chains to produce an ominous jingling sound. "Time for my first lesson fudgehead."
She tilted her head, shooting him one last infuriating look before turning to exit the apartment, knowing that he would follow her.
Freddie adjusted his jeans, and groaned in mock agony, slowly following the incorrigible delinquent he was about to trust with his life.
He surveyed the apartment quickly as he turned to shut the front door behind him, part of his brain actually considering that it might be the last time he saw it. His gaze settled briefly on the whip cream can still on the counter, and he decided that if it was his last day alive, it was a damn good one to go out on.
A/N 2 - I am considering making this a three-shot, but for now it stands well on it's own. Let me know if you enjoyed it. I am in desperate need for inspiration for my multi-chaps! And if you don't like it, you know who to blame...