Title: Mismatched Affection
Summary: Something is always pulling her to him. SamFreddie.
Author's Note: So I've been pretty MIA…sorry about that. This is really choppy and unbetaed, so just giving a heads up. It really is just a post-reaction/way to make myself imagine a good ending for the two of them eventually.
but you're neither friend nor foe though i can't seem to let you go
It's a fleeting emotion, a momentary downward spiral as her stomach seems to drop down so fast she can barely catch her breath, blood singing and boiling because the pretty brunette in his arms looks perfect with her head placed so gently in the crook of his shoulder and he looks just so content and at peace and every other emotion he'd never feel if she was around.
But Carly. Carly calms him down, brings him joy with the simplest of things, with the simplest of smiles and gestures.
All she's ever brought him is a trail of chaotic infuriation that seems to follow her wherever she goes and her flaws have never made her feel so wrong till now.
She takes one last peak through the glass door, studies the way they sway slowly to the music, a natural but slightly awkward grace to their steps, a slight unsure intimacy in the way his hand presses gently into her back and maybe she had it wrong the entire time.
Maybe they were made for each other.
Spencer doesn't ask her anything when he opens the door and sees her standing there with that strange look in her eyes.
He doesn't ask if she wants to talk about it because he knows better when it comes to expressions like that on teenage girls. So he gives her some blankets and leaves a carton of ice cream on the coffee table and leaves saying if she ever needs to talk…he never finishes his sentence.
She wraps herself in the blankets and tries to make sense of tonight, of feelings that shouldn't be there (have they always been there?), of logical correlations between broken hearts and the first boy to ever give a girl her first kiss and it's all so twisted and out of her comfort zone she rather just forget all about it, but she can't.
She jumps at the familiar sounds of a certain boy and a certain girl coming down the hallway laughing about something.
There's a quick exchange of murmuring as the footsteps come to a stop near the door and she closes her eyes and pretends she can't hear anything, can't feel anything.
The door opens and Carly comes in humming some happy tune but immediately halts in place at the sight of her sitting on the couch with the blankets all around her like a cocoon.
"Sam," she breathes out in concern and it hits her that Carly is truly the best friend anyone could ever have. She's next to her in a second, arms wrapped around her and she doesn't ask what happened all at once, she just keeps holding her and comforting her and she guesses just a Shay talent.
Later into the night, as they're both falling asleep on the couch with Carly still in her dress for the dance and Sam staring at the melting ice cream in lulling fascination, Carly finally asks her.
"What happened tonight?"
She closes her eyes and the picture of them dancing is burned into her memory she thinks.
"I just felt lonely I suppose…" she whispers drowsily and it's sort of the truth so she doesn't feel as guilty as she probably should for saying it.
Carly takes it as it is because that's just the sort of person she is, nodding her head distantly before slowly closing her own eyes.
"Oh Sam…" she mumbles sleepily, a sadness in her tone because she knows more about Sam than anyone else will probably ever get to find out.
She listens to her falling asleep before crawling out of the blankets and putting them over the brunette and quietly walking out of the apartment and closing the door behind her.
She's avoided him like the plague for the last few days but today's the first rehearsal for this week's iCarly episode so it's pointless trying to keep away from him now she's concluded.
She's listening to her iPear in the corner of the studio when he comes in completely oblivious of her and happy (like when he was dancing with Carly) and he slows down at the sight of her, the humming dying away as he studies her from afar.
"Um…hi." He finally greets her, obviously still not sure how to go about this and it feels like forever that's she's communicated with him and maybe this is sort of her fault but she just wasn't ready to face him.
"Hey," she replies back lamely and the awkwardness takes over again
He clears his throat. "Haven't seen you around lately. Where've you been?"
She shrugs and forces a casual smile, "Just been busy I guess. Briggs' gotten even stricter at detention."
He gives her a funny look before shaking his head hopelessly and giving her a lopsided grin and she thinks her heart hurts a little more, a slowy-evolving familiar ache. "Sometimes I just don't get you Sam."
"Let's keep it like that, kay Freddork?" She retorts, making her voice a little gruffer on purpose and it's almost like being back to normal.
He gives her a small smile and she can't help sucking in her breath a little unconsciously.
"Whatever you want, Sam." And then he goes back to working on his lap top.
She swallows down hard.
Yeah, whatever she wants.
They go back to what they're used to save for the fact that she always finds herself between two best friends who like each other more than friends should and in between the flirting, and the giggles from in front of the camera, and the smirks from behind it at little things that only the two of them seem to understand, she loses her appetite and her throat always seems too dry.
"Hey Sam, you okay? You look sick." She flinches as he puts his hand on her shoulder and he stares at her intently, clearly having observed her reaction just now to his touch.
"I'm fine." She mutters, looking away distractedly.
He nods his head slowly, clearly not believing her and she wishes Carly would just come back up now because she's not really that thirsty and this studio room is starting to make her feel claustrophobic with all the props and tech stuff he's put here.
"What?" She snaps finally, the discomfort of his intense gaze on her finally getting to her.
He remains collected and unmoved and she thinks he's getting too used to her hostile and aggressive behavior these days.
"Nothing…just you seem different these days." He remarks, voice deep and reflective.
"Yeah?" she finally chokes out, "so what?"
He takes a step closer to her and she shivers a little because she doesn't like being this close to him and there used to be a time it didn't matter because it only meant beating him or verbally assaulting him with a little more passion than necessary.
"So if you ever need to talk, I'm here—"
"I have Carly. All I need is Carly." She interrupts him before he can finish and he looks a little taken-back, because after everything they've been through it always seems like every time they take one step forward, it's always followed with two steps back.
"Right." He nods his head in acceptance stiffly.
She tries to be strong, tries to not look like it doesn't matter, like she doesn't care at how easily he gives up on her every time. He's about to turn around again when she grabs his arm without thinking.
"Hey Freddie," he turns around, waiting and she swears for a second she sees something in his eyes but she's not sure what, "I just wanted to say—"
"Hey guys, so turns out Spencer made iced tea last night so I got that for us—"
They jump away from each other instantaneously as Carly enters the studio. And she refuses to look at him, instead keeping her eyes trained on Carly, who keeps going on about the iced tea happily and smiling at Freddie specifically, eyes dazzling and charming and maybe it's all in her head, but she can feel a pair of eyes on her the entire time the brunette is talking and it makes her feel so out of place in her skin, it's unnerving.
She tries not to notice though.
There seems to be a shift in equilibrium sometimes. Like he'll be working on his laptop, getting everything set up for the show, and she'll pass by him to get to the door, her arm just barely touching his side and he'll freeze for a second, though his eyes will never wander away from the computer screen.
She tries to shake it off, tries to pretend there is no unspoken tension between them that hasn't been there before, but it's sort of obvious how, lately, they both seem to be so careful around the other, how conscious they are of each other whenever they're in the same room or sitting just a few inches apart on the couch, knees almost touching as they watch TV with Carly.
They're used to be a time looking over his shoulder to see what he was working on on the computer didn't make it so hard to breathe, that grabbing him by the collar and having his lips so close to the side of her own mouth didn't make her feel so clumsy and flustered, that having him latching onto her arm, fingers giving a light squeeze, to pull her away from attacking someone else or getting her to come with him didn't seem so foreign.
There used to be a time that she wasn't so aware of the warmth of his hand on her sleeve, a prickling sensation still present long after he's walked away to chat with Spencer about some science-fi saga.
She thinks he's become suspicious of the change too because he doesn't stand as close to her as he used (or maybe that's just because he's too wrapped up in how his shoulder always brushes Carly's as they're all walking down a street or something).
They're fighting again. They're always fighting. And so what if she's the one always picking them. So what if it's the only way to keep him from losing any ounce of interest he might have on her. So what if she likes the way his eyes fire up and for a second it feels like she's met her match - the revelation like trifle spoils for a tarnished victor.
They sit on the ledge and look out the balcony at the passing cars and she's reminded of another time in this exact same place watching lives pass by and filling conversations with apologies and confessions and sealing dysfunctional friendships (or maybe something more) with first kisses.
"Are you scared of anything, Freddie?" It feels so unfamiliar coming out of her mouth that she doesn't feel surprised when he raises an eyebrow and gives her a questioning look.
"No. Nothing. Nothing at all... except maybe you, but that's getting better I have to say" He answers, a hint of a smile tugging at the corner of his lips as he looks up from beneath his eyelashes and lets his dark brown eyes meet her blues ones somewhere in the middle, "you?"
He's got his future planned out , set in place perfectly and all he needs to do is follow through with it.
He's got the girl, he's got the talent, the drive and everything is in his reach she thinks. She takes in his features, the subtle confidence, the lack of complexities drawn across his skin, the sturdiness of his jaw and she lets herself drown in all of it.
"Everything." And admitting it should make her feel a little too weak for her liking, a little less tough than she used to, but all she feels is a sad sort of restlessness gnawing at her insides.
He studies her for a few seconds before sliding closer to her on the fire escape and putting his hand over hers, a comforting touch of reassurance.
"I'll always be here."
She turns to him and rolls her eyes and forces a groan. "Don't do that."
He doesn't move his hand away, eyes solemn and so meaningful; it almost makes her feel so small and feeble.
"Promise?" she barely makes out.
He nods his head, fingers needling through hers like they're pushing through sand, "Promise."
She wants to ask him as what but something inside of her doesn't let the words escape from her throat and instead they spend the rest of time staring out at the Seattle traffic and street lights.
A bloom of anguish, a wilt of armor and steel, and a sting of a breaking fragile heart – that's all there is to it.
She's come to conclude that they are like a pair of mismatched socks. Aggravating to look at at first glance but endearing in their own way as they lie abandoned beneath a messy bed and a sea of ruffled blankets, something to grow a strange attachment to with time, though no one can ever figure out why.
She tries to tell him about her epiphany one day as he's leading her downstairs from the studio, his hand on her back pushing her forward by nature and habit, but when she turns around to open her mouth and sees him, with the flickering light from above the stairway hitting him in that certain angle, she loses her train of thought and turns around as quickly as she had turned back a moment before.
"Forget it." She mumbles under her breath.
At Homecoming, she watches Carly dancing with him from the bleachers and they're not boyfriend and girlfriend officially but 'tonight's the night, I think' Carly had whispered excitedly into her ear while helping her straighten her hair. She only dances with her date once, and she refuses to slow dance with him for the final song of the night because she can't bear it.
Somehow she wanders out of the building and sits on the steps and stares at the passing cars, the couples, the people. She'd like to hide away, she'd like to get rid of this feeling of hopelessness and fear of things she still can't define or comprehend thoroughly.
She knows it's him before he even sits down next to her. His footsteps have become so familiar over the years.
He attempts to make small talk and she tries her best to ignore it, looking up at the starless night sky, and pretending to align and connect invisible constellations with one another.
He becomes quiet eventually and she can't resist it any longer so she looks back towards him, staring into his eyes shamelessly, and leaning in closer, studying their shape and color.
"You're eyes have some light brown flecks." She observes and her voice comes out so serene and airy; so completely unlike like her usual self. She feels charming and witty and light-headed and it's all so nice.
He chuckles, leaning into her, "Very perceptive, Sam." He counters back in a solemn tone and she can't help tentatively putting her arms around his neck and moving closer and closer…
All of a sudden the playfulness disappears from his eyes, and he looks at her almost hungrily and it gives her a feeling of empowerment. "You're eyes are like the sky, Sam. Like the sky, so blue." He pauses, snapping out of his reverie after it sinks in what he's admitted, how he's admitted it.
"You're date is waiting for you." He remarks randomly, like it should matter, and her heart is beating so fast, she thinks she might die if she doesn't do this, if he doesn't let them go through with this.
"So is yours." She replies almost inaudibly, before letting her lips touch his.
His lips are a whisper on her skin, and in the light spilling onto the steps from inside, she can faintly see his silhouette joining with hers. And she doesn't know why, but she loves the feeling of her shaking fingers on the collar of his dress shirt, twiddling with the top buttons, and the way he kisses her with so much care, with so much fragility, his hands never wandering far, always coming back to hold her still in place, like gravity pulling her down.
She walks home (all ten blocks) barefoot, with the stupid high heel shoes Carly lent her for the night in one hand and her purse in the other and her cell phone keeps ringing but she keeps ignoring it because by now he's probably already asked her to be his girlfriend and she's not upset about that, she just doesn't want to be a third wheel.
That's it. Nothing more. What else could it be?
She gets home and lies on her bed with her dress still on and she doesn't care that her feet hurt like crazy and that the material of the dress makes her back itch (because her skin tingles there from his hand pressing into it lightly as he used the other to keep her chin aligned to his so he could kiss her properly) and he doesn't want her.
He wants Carly. He's always wanted Carly. How could it ever be any other way? How could she ever think it could be any other way?
She doesn't cry because that's a silly thing to cry over.
She listens to her voicemails finally, face against the pillow.
A familiar voice rings in her ear, numb and empty. "He didn't ask me Sam…he said that he needs time to think…"
And then another voice, this one a little deeper. "I couldn't Sam. I just…couldn't. Is that what you wanted, Sam? Because if it is…I guess it worked. You win, Sam. You always win."
She listens to that message over and over again, the lost voice evolving into something a little more bitter, smothered in anger and frustration towards the end and it's then she finally cries.
Because she never wanted it like this (she swears) and she hasn't won -- not even close.
He refuses to look at her when they meet for iCarly rehearsals or stop by her locker and when he does catch her eyes in the hallway he always scowls at her coldly before looking away. Everything seems to be so awkward between Carly and him and sometimes she can feel him glaring daggers at the side of her face like it's all her fault.
Everything is just so messed up, intertwined friendships on the brink of ruin and maybe it is all her fault. She wishes she could take it all back.
One day she stays after at school and waits for him to finish up with a AV club meeting before catching up to him as he walks down the main school hallway.
"Freddie, wait up." She calls out but he keeps walking.
"Freddie!" She calls, a little more insistent, a little more pleading and he finally does.
"What?" he asks quietly.
She bites on her bottom lip and watches his eyes travel to them instantly at her action. She quickly stops, looking down at the ground guiltily.
"I just wanted to—look," she looks up pointedly, "I'm sorry, okay? I'm sorry about kissing you at the dance and confusing you about Carly. That was really selfish of me and I—I want you to be happy and I want Carly to be happy so you guys should just go out because you guys were meant to be… no matter how much I've ragged on you in the past about it being otherwise."
He remains silent for a second or two longer. "You really mean that?" He finally asks.
"Yes." She's practiced saying that one word when the time comes so many times in front of the mirror now that she almost believes it herself.
He takes a step towards her. "You sure?"
She nods her head this time, forcefully. "Really?" He prods and she doesn't get where this is going, so she doesn't say anything this time, instead observing him warily.
"Why'd you kiss me at the dance, Sam? She must have told you, you must have known—"
"Because," she interrupts, trembling, "because it wasn't fair."
His gaze softens. "What wasn't fair?"
"It wasn't fair that she could get you so easily and I had to sit in the sidelines and watch it all happen. After everything, she still got you and—and maybe she does deserve you and maybe I don't and maybe this is all karma or fate or whatever but it's not fair."
"Sam—" He takes another step closer and she turns her head away and closes her eyes because this cannot be happening. This wasn't supposed to happen.
"Maybe we'd never work but I'm the one coming up with insulting nicknames for you, I'm the one packaging and sending your cell phone off to Cambodia and thinking up all these crazy stunts to pull on you to get your attention, irritating or not, and maybe that's not how most girls show their feelings but I'm not most girls and I want to be okay with it. I want to be okay with who I am, I want to be—"
"Sam." He finishes off resolutely and she takes a shaky breath in and laughs brokenly.
"Yes." She whispers. "You're staring at me again."
He shakes his head and suddenly she realizes just how close he is to her. His nose is almost touching hers. "Wanna know a secret?"
She nods her head unsurely as he carefully places his hands on either side of face and rubs his finger haphazardly against her slightly moist cheeks.
"I figured out I wasn't angry at you. I was angry at myself this whole entire time."
She gives him a quizzical look. "Why?"
He smiles. "Because I couldn't figure out why I kept thinking of a certain blonde-haired girl who's always made it a point to ruin my life instead of the one who I'd been chasing after since sixth grade and I even talked to her about it—"
She looks up at him, eyes round. "What? You talked to Carly—"
"—not the point. But yeah, I just kept closing my eyes and picturing blonde curls and blues eyes and all I'd see was her laughing into the web cam or arguing with me over why people like me deserved to have their cell phones sent to Cambodia and it just didn't make sense how I could be so attracted to all these imperfections. "
She chokes, defense mechanisms kicking in even at a time like this, "Well it's not like your Mr. Perfect either—"
"No I'm not." He agrees patiently, "Maybe that's why we'd work. Maybe we're both so far off from being perfect, so completely opposite of the other…that that's what makes us perfect for each other."
She takes in another shallow breath. "God, you're such a sap." She brushes her fingers across his jaw in affection, still in awe.
"You love me for it." He returns, grinning. "Don't deny it."
She shakes her head. "I'm not." She mumbles truthfully and he sobers up immediately.
"Come here." He whispers, one arm wrapping around her waist, the other one remaining on her cheek.
"Don't tell me what to do, Benson." She retorts boldly, a lazy smile splaying on her face.
He sighs impatiently, "Seriously Puckett, now is so not the time," before pulling her in closer by the chin and catching her bottom lip in between his own lips, and she doesn't protest, can't help sigh soundly into his mouth instead as he continues to kiss her in the middle of the hall way.
The thing is she doesn't know when it actually happend. Maybe it was always there and she just never realized it. Maybe it was always pulling her towards him and she just never wanted to take it for what it was.
Maybe this is what they were supposed to be from the very beginning.
something always brings me back to you, it never takes too long.
iSpeed Date was pretty bittersweet but I can't say I never called it…I think Sam needs to see them together to realize her own feelings and Freddie needs to have a taste of what it's like to have his dream girl to realize real love is far bigger than the perfection in other person but more the flaws and how you accept them for what they are in that person and learn to fall even more in love with that person because of them (that's what make a person like Sam someone to grow attached to). Okay, enough ranting.