Title: Ponytails and Devil Dogs

Author: Alex Foster

Category: General

Word Count: 1,166

Warnings: None

Rating: PG for implied adult themes

Summary: Sam and Freddie, a backward kind of fairytale as told through the years. Future fic.

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by Dan Schneider. No money is being made and no infringement is intended.

Author's Notes: Another stab and trying something different in tone and style. I decided to write a fairy tale. Hope it works for you. Thanks for reading.

Once in a while right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale
-Anonymous

We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly
- Sam Keen

This is not where the story begins.

The three of them on the couch in the living room with only the flickering TV for light. Freddie on one side, Sam on the other, and Carly the safety buffer between them. The popcorn bowl on Sam's lap is empty and the movie's ending theme is playing over slowly crawling credits.

The music is like the movie, epic and sweeping and holds the promise of happily ever after. Carly sniffs and sighs past tears. She had held it together for most of the movie, past the death of the hero's first wife, all the way through him raising their son on his own. It was at the end, when the hero met his second but no less true love atop a building in New York City, that Carly started to cry.

Freddie reaches for the box of tissues on the coffee table and Sam rubs Carly's back. They are old hats at this. They exchange a glance over Carly's head and share the silent meaning: It was a sad movie and all but come on.

This is before the story. The hero and heroine don't know each other yet.

Little Fredward Benson's mother tucks him in bed every night. And he asks if he could marry her when he grows up; she laughs and tells him there is a princess waiting in a tower for him. That he will be her prince and they will love each other as much as the Sun loves the Earth. She is the one he will marry, give his name to, and they will live happily ever after. He smiles and thinks he understands.

Little Samantha Puckett makes room in her bed for her twin sister to climb in. She holds her sister, younger by only minutes, and together they pretend not to hear the yelling coming from the main room. To pass the time they make up fairy tales. Melanie is better at this than Sam so the older twin smoothes blonde hair against a tiny scalp and listens.

Melanie tells her about princes on their white horses that come and make everything better. There is no fighting with them and it is pure and honest and peaceful. With them a girl could live happily ever after. Sam smiles and thinks she understands.

Neither hero nor heroine understands yet.

This is after the story has already started.

Carly seems to have a new boyfriend every few weeks. It goes the same way and Sam and Freddie are familiar with this routine as well. She's fine for the first few dates, begins to go on about his dreaminess, but it ends the same way. He is not a prince and they do not have a happily ever after to look forward to.

They operate almost in shifts. Sam takes the first round, this Freddie teases is her duty as a fellow teenage girl, and eventually it is made right again by ice cream provided by Spencer and movies offered by Freddie.

Sometimes they even watch that one with the lonely hero and his heroine waiting atop a New York City landmark. He's not sure exactly when, but at some point in that routine Freddie began offering Sam one last film after Carly has conked out—one with many explosions and deaths to cleanse their weepy palate.

The healing properties of C4 explosions and stereotypical Russian bad guys are lost on Carly so they watch it in Freddie's apartment. And so she isn't there to notice they don't usually pay attention all the way through to the end of the movie.

This is how the story goes.

Freddie attends Washington State University and halfway through his freshman year, much to his dismay, Sam signs up for classes at a nearby community college. When asked why she responds it is easier for him to do her class work if they are within spitting distance of each other.

Carly suspects Sam just misses the old gang.

They are each other's three am phone call. He has picked her up outside more parties than he cares to remember, and she has introduced him to all the best diners to eat hangover cheeseburgers at while waiting out the buzz.

Junior year, as Freddie sits on a curb watching the predawn sky and waits for Sam's stomach to empty completely in the bushes, she confesses between bouts that Melanie is now married. The former Puckett had sent an email detailing how she had fallen in love with a wonderful man who wasn't anything like the parade of guys their mother dragged through the house. He had rescued her from the vine covered tower, she said.

Sam didn't bother asking for an invite.

Life around them is changing, both understand this, and Freddie has nothing to say to make her feel better. He instead holds her hair out of the way when the tequila shots come back up. Afterward he takes her home and stays. In the morning when her eyes hurt and her tongue feels like a sponge against the roof of her mouth he is still there.

This is not how the story ends.

Carly gets married in a hailstorm of fairy tale clichés. Her intended is just as bad about that sort of thing and they even have a white horse drawn carriage. Freddie sums up Sam's thoughts best when he says it is all fun and games until someone has to clean up after the pony.

Afterward Sam catches the bouquet and immediately throws it to Freddie. I'm not the marrying kind, she says. He thinks for a moment and hands it off to Spencer. Maybe I'm not either.

Carly is still experiencing her first dance as part of a pair when Sam and Freddie find their way to a maintenance closet. She pins him to the wall and he accidentally rips her dress a little around the hem. He wonders aloud if they are rebelling against one cliché with another.

Sam tells him to shut up.

These are the morals of the story.

She becomes Auntie Sammy and he becomes Uncle Freddie in quick order. On the rare occasion they both come to Seattle at the same time, they give Carly and her prince the night off and watch the kids. She corrupts and spoils and he tries to contain the damage done to young minds.

At bedtime the children ask Sam for a fairy tale. She doesn't tell them about a tower covered in vines they can't get out of on their own, or princes on white horses that have the power to fix all their problems, and never mentions true love that makes them bend and change.

Instead she talks about towers with fire escapes, a prince that holds his princess's hair back so it doesn't get covered in vomit, and the kind of acceptance that understands explosions and generic Russian villains. The children just stare back in answer to all that. They do not yet understand.

Give them time, Freddie says.

The End