Hey guys. Here is yet another oneshot. I dunno if you heard about tropical storm Tomas, but where I live got hit early Saturday morning, and although I had electricity, I had no internet. This led to the writing of three new oneshots bahaha. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to post all of them, but here's one of them. Reviews make my day. Literally. I check my email, like, every five minutes to see if I got any more. its pathetic, really, but there you are.
"Sam, wake up!"
I half-opened my eyes to see Carly leaning over me shaking my shoulder gently. I rolled over, planting my face in the pillow and trying to go back to sleep.
"Sam! You need to get up and get dressed. We're leaving in fifteen minutes"
I once again ignored her and tried to go back to sleep. I heard Carly give a sigh.
"There's bacon downstairs"
That did it. I opened my eyes and leaped out of bed.
Carly giggled and shook her head. She was already dressed in a pink bathing suit and a blue polka-dotted sundress. Damn her. We were going to the beach and she still looked like a supermodel.
"Get dressed, then you can have the bacon" she said, turning around and heading for the door. She stopped at the door and turned around to face me. "And hurry up, Freddie and Spencer are already waiting downstairs"
I quickly changed, washed my face and brushed my teeth. It was a beautiful day outside, perfect for the beach. Socko's cousin was getting married that evening, and Socko had confided in Spencer that there would be some wicked cool fireworks over the beach that evening if we wanted to go see them. We had decided to make a day of it, and spend the whole day on the beach, and luckily, we couldn't have picked a nicer day. I bounded downstairs in an unusually good mood. I skipped into the kitchen and saw Freddie and Carly sitting at the table. Spencer was packing a cooler to take to the beach. I plopped down in my usual seat.
"Morning, Sam!" I heard Spencer say cheerfully.
I gave him a muffled 'hello' through a mouthful of bacon. God, I loved bacon. Whoever thought of cutting pigs into strips and frying them deserved to be knighted or sainted or something. I heard Freddie and Carly chatting, but I didn't really pay attention to what they said. I finished my bacon, and then I noticed that Freddie still had a piece. I went to grab it, but before I could get my hands on it, Freddie had snatched it and shoved it in his mouth, all without looking up from his conversation with Carly. Damn, he's learning I thought. And his reflexes are getting crazy fast. I got up to go get some juice, thumping Freddie on the back of the head for good measure. I felt a surge of familiar satisfaction when I heard him exclaim in pain and surprise. I went to the fridge, taking a swig of orange juice from the carton before replacing it. As I was shutting the fridge, I heard Spencer zip up the cooler behind me.
"Okay, kiddos, are y'all ready for a day of beachy fun?" I heard him shout enthusiastically.
We all cheered and headed outside to the car. Carly had permanent shotgun, since it was her car, so I was stuck in the backseat with Fredlumps. We piled all of our stuff in, none of us daring to question some of the things Spencer had brought, and got in the car. Immediately I swivelled in my seat and plopped my feet in Freddie's lap. He looked up at me, about to say something, and I raised my eyebrows at him, daring to tell me to move them. He gave a sigh of defeat and slumped back in his seat. Spencer started the car and we headed to the beach. The windows were open, the sun was shining and the wind was blowing. I closed my eyes and smiled at the feel of the sun on my face. I then opened my eyes and wrinkled my nose in disgust at the song on the radio.
"Fredward, give me your PearPod" I said.
He looked at me suspiciously.
"Why? What are you going to do to it?"
I sighed in exasperation.
"Nothing, but even your nubby music has got to be better than the puke on the radio"
He looked at me reluctantly, debating whether or not I would destroy his precious PearPod.
"Come on, I'm not gonna do anything to it. And besides, you aren't listening to it" I reasoned.
He gave in with a sigh and handed over the PearPod. I put the earphones in my ears and turned it on. I scrolled through his PearPod, looking at his music. The nub actually has good taste in music I thought in surprise. I kept looking through the songs until I found one that made my breath catch in my throat. I turned it on, and I felt a wave of emotions rush over me as the opening notes played. I closed my eyes and leaned against the side of the car, lost in memory.
I watched as Sam scrolled through my songs, examining her face for any hint that she liked or disliked them. As much as I hated myself for it, I loved pleasing Sam Puckett. She constantly ripped on me for everything, and so getting a compliment from her was a big deal. Also, I loved music, so Sam approving my music would have been a huge deal. It would have been like she approved of me. I scrutinized her face, but I saw no change in her facial expression. I was just about to give up when I saw her eyes widen ever so slightly. She stared at my PearPod with an unreadable expression on her face. I was wondering what she had seen when she played the song. The earphones were in Sam's ears, so the opening guitar of the song was very faint, but I would have recognized it anywhere. Running Away, by AM.
The song that was playing when we kissed.
My stomach dropped to my knees. Why would Sam pick this song? I asked myself. Surely it means something. I watched Sam carefully, looking for any change in her face, any change at all, that would betray her emotions. But there was nothing. She simply closed her eyes and leaned back against the car door. I kept staring at her, trying to discern what she was thinking. I saw the corners of her mouth flicker upwards ever so slightly before returning to their original position. Was she about to smile? I asked myself eagerly. I then leaned back in my seat, laughing at myself. I shook my head at my own desperation for any sign, no matter how miniscule, that Sam might like me; because although I would never admit it, I liked Sam. Ever since we kissed, there had been something there, no matter how hard I tried to deny it. I had brushed it off at first as my imagination, but recently there had been slight changes in our relationship. She still caused me relentless physical and emotional pain, but only around others. When we were alone together, she was perfectly civil. Usually. Sometimes she would throw in a random insult or thump to the head, but it was almost like she had to remind herself to do it. Also, our back-and-forth insults had recently taken on a more playful nature, as opposed to us actually trying to hurt the other's feelings. I knew I was being ridiculous, overanalyzing the situation and probably making up signs that weren't there, but I was that desperate. When I saw that Sam's face was remaining expressionless, I closed my own eyes and let myself reminisce.
"Well? Should we? Just so both of us can get it over with?" I remembered being terrified at the very notion that Sam would say yes.
"Hmm. Just to get it over with?"
"Just to get it over with" I clarified, my stomach doing cartwheels.
"And you swear we both go right back to hating each other as soon as it's over"
"Oh totally" I remembered feeling a twinge of sadness somewhere in all that nervousness. "And we never tell anyone" I threw in so Sam wouldn't get suspicious.
We looked at each other, neither of us able to believe what was about to happen.
"Well. Lean" Sam commanded. I took a deep breath, braced myself and leaned towards Sam. I closed my eyes and pressed my lips against hers, trying to ignore the fireworks that were going off in my head.
I remembered trying to convince myself that it was just the kiss, not Sam. Yeah, okay.
I pulled back, opening my eyes. Sam and I looked at each other.
"Well...that was…" I began, not sure how to finish that sentence without getting hospitalized.
"Nice" Sam finished.
"Yeah, nice" I said, relieved that she had taken that problem out of my hands.
"Good work" she said awkwardly.
"Thank you, you too" I said, wondering if she was feeling the same way I felt.
She got up to leave.
"Hey" I said, before I could stop myself. I suddenly realized that there was no way I could tell Sam what I really felt. Sam turned slowly, as though she was nervous to hear what I had to say.
"I hate you" I improvised, smiling. Somehow, that was even better than telling her I liked her. Somehow, it conveyed exactly what I was trying to say. I prayed that Sam would get the meaning behind the words. But she just gave a short laugh of relief.
"Hate you too" she said, before turning and leaving. I watched her go, then sank back in my seat and pondered what the hell had just happened.
I was pulled out of my memories by Spencer's yelling.
"WE'RE HERE!" he shouted excitedly. He was worse than a child sometimes. He undid his seatbelt and leaped out of the car enthusiastically. Sam yanked the earphones out and shoved the PearPod at me. I put it away before getting out of the car. We all grabbed something to carry (except Sam, of course) and trudged towards the beach. I stopped in front of the sand and took my shoes off, shoving them in my backpack before slinging the backpack across my shoulders. I was just about to start walking across the sand when I felt an extra ninety pounds on my back. Sam had taken a running leap and launched herself on my back. I stumbled forwards, despite the fact that Sam weighed practically nothing.
"What are you waiting for, Benson? ONWARD" she hollered in my ear.
"Sam" I explained patiently. "I can't carry you and the backpack. If you want a piggyback, you have to wear the backpack"
She sighed dramatically but slid off my back, pulling the backpack off my shoulders and slinging it onto her own. I bent my knees slightly and Sam hopped back onto my back. She wrapped her arms lightly around my neck, her tiny hands resting carelessly on my chest. Her legs were wrapped tightly around my waist, her feet crossed at the ankles in front of my stomach. I put my arms under her knees to hold her up, secretly revelling in the feel of her smooth legs on my arms, and we set off. Carly and Spencer had gone ahead, so by time we caught up to them they had already found a clear spot of sand. They were unloading the stuff when I walked up, standing next to the towel Carly had already laid out. I let go of Sam and she slid gracefully off my back, landing with a soft thump in the sand. She took the backpack off and chucked it carelessly onto Carly's towel.
"Let's go swimming, dudes!" she yelled enthusiastically.
"Sunblock first" said Spencer sternly. Sam groaned. I bent down to get my sunblock out of my bag, and when I straightened, I saw that Carly had already stripped off her dress and was wearing a tiny pink bikini, applying sunblock to her stomach. I had come to accept that Carly and I would never happen, but I couldn't help but ogle a bit. I was a teenage boy, and she was an extremely pretty teenage girl wearing a very small, strappy swimsuit. I heard Sam scoff, and I knew she had seen me staring at Carly. I whipped around quickly, embarrassed to be caught, but then I caught sight of Sam. She was wearing a purple bikini that looked significantly sturdier than Carly's, but was still enough to make my eyes widen. I had never seen Sam in a bikini before, and I had never in my wildest dreams imagined that she would look this good. I had always known that Sam was pretty and slender, there was no denying that. But underneath her clothes, I had never noticed the gentle curve of her waist, and the way her hipbones stuck out ever so slightly. She plopped down on Carly's towel and began putting sunblock on her slim legs. I blinked spastically. She looked up and gave me a strange look.
"What are you staring at, Benson?" she demanded, with a hint of a threat in her voice. I looked away quickly. Today was gonna be interesting.
I looked up from applying sunblock on my legs and I saw the nub gawking at me. And the weird thing was, he was drooling even more than he had been drooling when he saw Carly in her bikini. I knew I should never have let Carly convince me to buy this stupid bikini. I mentally cursed myself, but figured it was too late now. I finished putting sunblock on my legs and sat up to start doing my arms when I saw Freddie. The nub was taking off his shirt and holy crap where did that body come from? It was perfect. It was defined but not overly muscular. I personally thought it was gross when guys were too built, but Freddie… he was the perfect amount of ripped. When he had been giving me the piggyback my hands had been on his chest and I had thought I felt some pecs, but I had put it down to my imagination. It wasn't my imagination. He had a perfectly chiselled chest, and the beginnings of a six-pack, and really, really nice arms. Who knew the tech dork was hiding all of that? I mused. I returned to my sunblock before he saw me staring, but I couldn't help but sneak peeks at him from time to time. I finally finished putting on sunblock and hopped to my feet.
"Okay, NOW let's go swimming!"
Carly wrinkled her nose. I should have known she wasn't going to go swimming,
"Salt water makes my hair all gross. I think I'll just work on my tan" she said, putting on an enormous pair of sunglasses and pulling a magazine and her PearPod out of her bag. I snorted in disgust and turned to Spencer.
"Nope!" he said. "I'm going to build the greatest sand sculpture EVER!" he yelled.
That left the nub with the admittedly hot bod. I raised my eyebrows at him questioningly. He appeared to consider it before grinning and breaking into a run.
"RACE YA!" he yelled over his shoulder. I grinned and set off after him at full speed. Damn, that boy was fast. I was slowly catching up, but not fast enough. He was going to reach the sea before I did. With a surge of determination, I summoned the energy for an extra burst of speed and took a flying leap at Freddie, tackling him to the ground. I sat on his lower back and raised my arms in the air victoriously. He tilted his head back and spat out a mouthful of sand.
"Ah, you're just jealous cause I BEAT YOU!" I said, bouncing up and down.
"Oh yeah?" he asked, with a hint of a challenge in his voice. Before I could figure out what he meant, he arched his back suddenly, getting on his hands and knees and catapulting me to the side. Before I could get up he was on top of me, his knees on either side of my waist and his hands pinning my wrists to the ground above my head.
"Who beat who, Puckett?" he said with a smirk. As he was rejoicing in his victory, I brought my knees up to my chest and straightened my legs forcefully, sending Freddie flying over my head. I flipped with him, so that we had switched positions and he was lying on his back and I was on top of him. I used my knees to anchor his arms to the floor, then stuck my index finger in my mouth and shoved it in his ear.
"Aww, Sam!" he whined, squirming to try and get away.
I laughed, then stood up and raced towards the sea. I heard him laughing, his footsteps closing in on mine. I had just reached the surf when I saw him catch up to me out of the corner of my eye. I stuck out my foot and he went sprawling into the water. On his way down he grabbed my hand, dragging me into the water with him. We tumbled into the surf, laughing. I sat up, pushing my hair out of my eyes, and saw Freddie standing backing me. I gave a devious smile then ran at him. Unfortunately the sloshing of the water alerted him to my arrival, and he spun around when I was only a foot or so away from him. Dangit, I was so close I thought. I kept running anyway, to tackle him, but as I launched myself at him he ducked, bending his knees. As I flew over his right shoulder he suddenly reached up his arms and caught me, then stood up and calmly walked into the ocean with me slung over his back in a fireman's carry. It took me a moment to adjust to what had just happened, but then I started kicking and beating with my free hand.
"BENSON, PUT ME DOWN!" I yelled at him.
He said nothing, just tightened his grip on my legs to stop me kicking and continued wading into the sea.
"BENSON!" I hollered again.
Again he said nothing, but he stopped walking and let go of my legs, allowing me to stand up. Once he saw that I was stable, he let go of my hand. I stared at him, my mouth open in shock.
"Dude, what the hell?" I asked him, giving him a shove. "When did you get so freaking strong? I've always been able to mercilessly pummel you because you were too weak to fight back!"
He laughed and shook his head at me. "Nah, I just let you win"
I stared at him, dumbfounded. Then I gave him a challenging look.
"Well, you know what this means, don't you Benson?" I said. "It's really on now. No more going easy on you. You have unleashed the full wrath of Sam Puckett"
He smiled tauntingly. "Bring it"
We spent a while in the sea together. We talked, and whenever one of us thought the other's guard was down, we would launch a sneak attack on them. I was surprised at how easy it was to talk to Freddie. I had never really talked to him before, not a long conversation like this, but we never ran out of things to say. The only silences were when one of us was underwater, or when we were wrestling around. Every so often I would remember that this was Freddie I was talking to, and I would throw in a random insult, but it didn't come as naturally as it used to. It was weird. Suddenly, in the middle of our conversation, my stomach grumbled loudly.
"What time is it, Fredward?" I asked. He looked at his watch.
"Twelve twenty-five" he told me, sounding slightly surprised. I had to admit, I was surprised too. Had we really been talking that long? And more importantly, had it really been that long since I ate something?
"Okay. Mama needs food" I announced. I turned and started to wade back to the shore, still in shock. It had felt like I had been talking to Freddie for five minutes, when it had been nearly an hour. I can't believe I spent that long talking to the dork I said to myself in disbelief. Today was shaping up to be weird.
I watched Sam go in shock. I couldn't believe that we had been talking for that long. I couldn't believe that we had been getting along for that long. I had never really talked to Sam like this, and it surprised me how natural it felt. Like breathing. In, out, me, Sam. We had talked about any and everything, from food, to iCarly, to socks, to school, to pandas. I watched her wade through the surf, more of her body becoming visible as she moved to shallower water. I saw the water running in rivulets down her back and her legs, sparkling in the sun. She swung her hair over her shoulder (when it was wet and the curls were straightened I was surprised at how long it was) and wrung the water out of it. She flicked her head, sending her hair flying back over her shoulder, adjusted her swimsuit and kept walking. I followed her, shaking my head and sending water from my hair flying everywhere. I finally reached the spot where we had laid out our stuff. Carly appeared not to have moved since we left, except she had traded her magazine for a book. Spencer was on his knees, smoothing his hand over his giant sand sculpture of a goat wearing rain boots and a yarmulke, and Sam was sitting on a towel, her legs splayed out in front of her, mauling a piece of ham. I couldn't help but laugh at the sight of Sam, looking girlier than ever in her bikini and a pair of white shorts, sitting with her legs sprawled open, eating a piece of ham with indecent enthusiasm. I sat next to her on the towel, and wondered if things had changed between us, or if she was going to act the same around the others. I decided to test it by stealing a piece of her ham. I reached my hand towards her ham, but before I could even break off a piece she slapped my hand away.
"What do you think you are doing? Nobody steals Mama's ham"
I sighed inwardly. So things hadn't changed. I had been kinda hoping they had, but I should have known that it was a false hope. But then Sam took the cooler beside her and tilted it towards me, offering me some of whatever was inside it. I peeked inside and saw that the cooler was full of ham. I looked at Sam in surprise, but she just gave me a brief smile and jerked the cooler towards me again. Maybe things have changed a little… I thought, taking a piece of ham.
We sat there in amiable silence, eating ham and watching Spencer add to his sculpture. Just when we thought he was finished, he would stand back and decide that it needed something else. After we ate, Sam looked at me.
"More swimming?" she asked.
I thought about it, but my mother's warnings of indigestion rang shrill in my head.
"Nah, I think I'm all swimmed out" I said. "Let's go build a sandcastle or something"
"Can I bury you?" she asked, her eyes lighting up.
"Sure" I said with a sigh, not sure whether or not this was a wise move. I stood up and offered Sam my hand. She took it and I hoisted her up.
"Coming, Spence?" she asked Spencer.
"Nah, I think my sculpture needs something else…" he said, circling the sculpture and trying to decide what that might be. At this point the goat was not only wearing rain boots and a yarmulke, but it had a fish sitting on its back and was surrounded by pineapples and miniature pine trees. We shrugged and started walking towards the sea.
"THE FISH NEEDS A MUSTACHE!" we heard him yell triumphantly.
We both laughed. Suddenly, Sam stopped.
"I'm tired of walking" she groaned. I raised my eyebrows at her.
"What?" she said, on seeing my expression. "I've got a belly full of ham and I don't wanna walk anymore"
Suddenly, her expression changed, and a devious smile lit up her face.
"Turn around, Fredward"
I looked at her, momentarily confused, before I realized what she was getting at.
"Aw, Sam, not again" I whined. She looked at me.
"If you don't, then I will go to your mom, get those naked baby pictures she's always talking about and post them on "
I knew I was beat.
"Get on" I said, turning around. She gave a little victory cheer and hopped onto my back. I wrapped my arms around her legs, hitched her a little higher and kept walking. Sam rested her chin on the top of my head, and I could feel her breath ruffling my hair. We walked in silence until Sam suddenly spoke.
I obediently stopped and she slid off my back, landing in the sand.
"Alright, nub, let's start digging us a hole!"
We kneeled in the sand and began digging. It didn't take long before we had a long, shallow hole for me to sit in.
"Okay, get in" Sam ordered me. I lowered myself into the hole and stretched out my legs, resting my head on the little sand head-rest I had made. Sam began throwing sand all over me, patting it down every so often. When she was satisfied with the amount of sand covering me, she sat back and examined me.
"What are you doing?" I asked, following her gaze as her eyes scanned me up and down.
"Deciding what to make you" she said. She then gave a decisive little nod, sat forward and began to sculpt.
"So what am I gonna be?" I asked.
"None of your business" she retorted, still sculpting. As she worked I tried to figure out what she was turning me into. Whatever I am, I'm gonna be fat I thought to myself as Sam piled sand around my torso, giving me an impressive potbelly. I watched her as she worked, her face a picture of absolute concentration. I couldn't see what she was doing by my feet, since I was buried up to my neck and I wasn't allowed to sit up. When she finished whatever was by my feet she came and knelt next to my shoulder. I looked down at her hands as she piled sand onto my chest. Ah I thought. I should have known she would make me female. I said nothing, just laid back and closed my eyes against the bright sun. Suddenly, the sun was blocked out. I opened my eyes and started a little bit when I saw Sam's face mere inches from mine. She was leaning over me, putting sand around my head. She leaned over a little farther and her hair fell over her shoulder, tickling my nose. I blew it to get it away from my face, causing Sam to jump violently.
"What did you do that for, nub?" she demanded.
"Your hair was going up my nose, Puckett" I retorted. On hearing that she took one of her curls and shoved it up my nose. I squirmed, trying to get away.
"Quit moving, or the sand will fall off" she said, taking her hair out of my nose and thumping me on the forehead. I stopped moving and Sam leaned back over me, intently continuing to work on whatever she was sculpting around my head. I looked up at her face right above mine, seeing her biting her lip ever so slightly in concentration. She was so close, I could see grains of sand in her eyelashes, and flecks of gold in her eyes that I had never noticed before. Suddenly, she looked down at me and gave me a funny look.
"Stop looking at me like that, dork, it's freaking me out"
"Sam, tell me where I can look where I wouldn't be looking at you" I snapped back.
"Well, you won't have to look at me much longer" she said. "I'm nearly done"
She fixed something quickly and then leaned back, admiring her handiwork.
"Not too shabby…" she said to herself, looking me up and down.
"So will you tell me what I am now?" I asked.
"You're a fat mermaid with an afro" she said as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.
Of course I was a fat mermaid with an afro. I made to get up, but she stopped me.
"Wait!" she said, holding out her hands. "I need a picture of this"
She got up and began running towards our spot on the beach.
"SAM!" I called after her. "SAM YOU CAN'T JUST LEAVE ME and she's gone" I said to myself. I lay back, waiting for Sam to return and watching all the kids on the beach playing. One little girl kept looking at me, and I knew she recognized me from iCarly. Finally she worked up the nerve to come over and sit beside me.
"Hi…" she said shyly.
"Hey!" I answered back brightly.
"Are you Freddie?" she asked quietly. "From iCarly?"
"That's me" I replied, smiling.
"Why are you a mermaid?"
She began to say something, but at that moment Sam came running back with a digital camera in her hand. She skidded to a stop next to me, spraying sand in a wide arc.
"Got it!" she announced. Then she saw the little girl sitting next to me. "Who's she?"
"This is…." I trailed off when I realized that I didn't know the girl's name.
"Laura" the girl supplied. "I'm a huge fan of iCarly"
"Yeah yeah" said Sam. "Now get out of the picture"
The girl looked hurt, but moved out of the way.
"Sam!" I scolded her. "That was awful"
"Sorry" she apologized to the girl, not really sounding sorry at all.
The girl still looked hurt, so I turned to face her.
"Take it, kid. I've known Sam for years and I've only ever gotten a 'sorry' out of her once"
The girl smiled at me, and I knew that Sam was forgiven.
"Okay, Fredifer. Smile"
I smiled for the camera while Sam took the picture. Then, to my surprise, she handed the camera to the girl.
"Take a picture of us, will ya?"
The girl looked surprised, but stood up and went to stand by my feet. Sam sat next to me and hugged her knees, her curls spilling over her shoulders. We smiled for the picture, and then the girl gave Sam back the camera. She waved at us, and then ran over to join her friends.
"Can I get up now?" I asked Sam. She nodded, so I eased myself into a sitting position, feeling the sand cascade down my chest. I wiggled my legs, trying to free them. I finally stood up, brushing sand off of my torso.
"I'm going to go wash off" I told Sam, jogging towards the sea before she could respond.
I stood on the beach and watched Freddie jog towards the sea. He dived in and surfaced almost immediately. He shook his head, sending water from his hair flying everywhere and causing his hair to stick up in a hundred different directions. He began to wash off his arms and chest until they were sand-free. He then sank lower, so that only his head was above the water. I giggled to myself, because I knew he was de-sanding his shorts. Soon enough he stood up and began making his way out of the sea. I watched him walk over to me, his hair still all messed up and water droplets running down his chest. He came and stood next to me.
"What next?" he asked me.
"I have to pee" I announced. He rolled his eyes at me, but said nothing as we made our way towards Carly and Spencer.
"Guys, I need to pee" I informed them. "Wanna come for a walk into town with me?"
Spencer shook his head, absorbed in a new sculpture of a llama, but Carly sat up.
"Yeah, I'll come" she said, standing up and putting on her dress again. Freddie put on his T-shirt and I put on my tank top and we trekked across the beach to the little tourist town village thing bordering the beach. We reached the boardwalk and put on our shoes, and walked side-by-side into the town. It was tiny, a narrow main street dotted with shops and restaurants. I walked into the first fast food restaurant I could find and asked to use their bathroom.
"You have to be a customer to use the bathroom" the woman informed me snootily.
"Fredward, lend me some money" I said, holding out my hand. He rolled his eyes, but reached into his pocket, extracted a ten dollar bill and placed it in my hand. I threw it at the woman.
"Get me some ice cream" I said, before hightailing it to the bathroom.
"What flavour?" I heard her ask, but I was already gone. When I emerged from the bathroom I could see Freddie and Carly sitting on a bench outside, each with a Styrofoam cup of ice cream in front of them. I could see a third, much larger, cup waiting on me. I headed outside and plopped on the bench next to Carly.
"What did you get me?" I asked, looking into the cup.
"Butterscotch" said Freddie.
Carly interjected before I could say anything.
"I tried to tell him to get mint chocolate chip, but he wouldn't listen to me"
"Whatever" I said. "It's ice cream, I'll eat it no matter what flavour"
As I licked the ice cream off my spoon I pondered this new development. Freddie knew my favourite flavour of ice cream and Carly didn't. I wasn't entirely sure what to make of this. It kinda freaked me out that Freddie knew me so well. Mint chocolate chip used to be my favourite, until I stole Freddie's butterscotch one day and fell in love. Suddenly I had a thought. I never said butterscotch was my favourite I realized. How does Freddie know that it's my favourite? As I contemplated this, I wolfed down my ice cream and watched Freddie, who was sitting directly opposite me. He ate his ice cream, chatting about something mindless with Carly. Every so often I would catch him looking at me with a weird look on his face, but every time he saw me look up, he would quickly look away. I was about to yell at him for staring at me when I recognized the expression on his face. It took me a while to pinpoint why it was so familiar purely because I wasn't used to him wearing it while looking at me.
It was the expression he wore when he looked at Carly.
I frowned slightly, thinking about this. Why the hell was he looking at me that way? He loves Carly. Always has, always will. As much as I tried to deny it, I got a sudden warm feeling whenever I caught him looking at me like that. What the hell are you doing, Puckett? This is Fredward! I scolded myself. It's just the look I told myself. Nobody has ever looked at me like that before, and I like the idea of someone looking at me that way. I do NOT, however, like the fact that the one wearing the look is Fredlumps. The more I tried to convince myself of this fact, the more I felt that it was totally untrue. We finished our ice cream and dumped the cups in the garbage.
"Sam" I heard Carly say. "I think we are out of ham. If you want some for the fireworks, go buy some in the convenience store" She handed me some money and nodded down the street at a small supermarket. I snatched the bill and raced away.
"We'll wait on the bench!" I heard Carly call behind me as I turned into the store.
"We'll wait on the bench!" Carly called after Sam as she hightailed it towards the store. As soon as Sam was gone she rounded on me.
"Okay, dude, what up?" she demanded, sitting down on the bench.
"What are you talking about?" I asked, knowing exactly what she was talking about. Carly was one of the most perceptive, and nosiest, people I knew. She noticed everything, and was always dying to know the reasons behind all the things she noticed, all the secret glances and hidden smiles.
"You and Sam!" she exclaimed. "You have spent all day with her and not only have you come back unbruised, but you and Sam are being nice to each other. And I saw you staring at her like a lovesick puppy over your ice cream" she finished.
I wasn't entirely sure how to respond. I thought for a minute and was about to make up some boldfaced lie when Carly spoke again.
"Remember our pact? No more secrets"
Damn. I wish I had never made that stupid promise. Now I had to tell her the truth.
"Well…" I started, not entirely sure how to say this. "There is a distinct possibility that I just might possibly maybe like Sam"
Carly stared at me with her mouth open.
"I beg your pardon?" she asked. "Since when?"
"Since we kissed" I admitted. "I have been trying to deny it, but I don't think I can anymore"
"But…" she said, lost for words. "But I thought you liked me"
I shook my head. "No, I figured it out" I said. "I figured out why I thought I was in love with you for so long. When we first met, I had no friends. Girls laughed at me and called me a loser. But then you were nice to me, and you were my friend. That's why I thought I was in love with you at first. Since then, you have always been the one who defended me, and was nice to me, no matter what. You would make the perfect girlfriend, and I think that's what made me think I liked you. I was in love with the idea of you"
She nodded her head to say she understood. She leaned back and let out a gusty sigh.
"Wow. I can't believe you like Sam. Does she know?" she asked, leaning forward again.
"No!" I yelped. "And you cannot tell her!" I added, knowing Carly's tendency to meddle.
"But…" she began. I cut her off.
"No. Carly, please. I will tell her when I think the time is right."
She raised her eyebrows sceptically at me.
"Or maybe I won't" I conceded. "But whether I do or I don't, it's my choice. I don't want to scare her, our ruin the weird, twisted friendship we have. Please." I pleaded. She sighed, but nodded.
We saw Sam walking towards us, a grocery bag in her hand. We stood up and walked together to the beach. We trudged towards where our stuff was lying on the sand. Sam dropped the bag on the towel and then sat down. Carly took off her dress again and resumed her original position lying in the sun.
"Okay" she said, closing her eyes. "And now I resume my tanning"
Sam rolled her eyes at her and got up.
"I need to move" she said. "I feel all….jittery"
"Well then…. try and catch me" I said, sprinting towards the sea. I looked over my shoulder and saw Sam chasing after me. We ran around the beach playing tag until we both collapsed, out of breath, on the sand.
We lay side by side on the sand, panting. When we finally caught our breath we sat up. Freddie splayed his legs out in front of him, but I hugged my knees to my chest.
"What next?" asked Freddie.
I had a sudden idea.
"Let's go for a walk" I suggested. Freddie looked at me sceptically.
"A walk?" he asked.
"Yeah" I said. "I haven't been to this beach since I was a kid, but as far as I can remember there are some caves and tide pools just over there" I pointed.
"Alrighty. A walk it is" Freddie agreed. He gestured in the direction I had pointed, and we set off. We walked in comfortable silence for a minute. Soon enough, however, we began chatting like we had been in the sea. And once again I was astonished at how easy it was. I never had to look for anything to say, the conversation just flowed. We reached the end of the beach, and Freddie looked at me expectantly.
"Which way?" he asked.
I examined the rocks, looking for something that would spark my memory and tell me which way the tide pools and caves were. Suddenly, I saw an oddly-shaped rock that jogged my memory.
"This way" I said, pointing. I clambered up onto the rocks and motioned for Freddie to follow me. I hopped from rock to rock, more of my memory coming back the further I got. I stopped on a wide, flat, smooth rock. Freddie came to stand next to me. There was a drop of about four and a half feet or so, and then there was a wide expanse of tide pools of varying sizes. To the left I could see the caves I remembered from when I was a kid. There was a small patch of sand below us, and I was figuring out the best way to get down pain-free when I saw Freddie jump. He landed with a soft thud on the sand, rolling back on the balls of his feet to keep from falling. He held up his arms to help me down. I sat on the rock and inched forward until I was barely perched on the edge. I leaned forward and Freddie put his hands on my waist, supporting me as I jumped down.
We walked a little bit, trying to find a rock that wasn't jagged. We finally found a small, smooth patch of rock. We sat down and put our feet in the tide pools, swishing our toes in the warm water.
"How did you find this place, anyway?" Freddie asked me, still looking down at his feet.
I thought about it.
"I dunno" I admitted. "My mom used to bring me here when I was a kid. I'm not sure how she found it"
"I like it" he said. "It's…quiet"
We sat in silence for a bit. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Freddie open and close his mouth, like he kept going to say something, but chickening out.
"You look like a dying fish, Fredly" I said. "Spit it out"
He took a deep breath. "I was just going to say that…I'm glad you're here"
I looked at him, surprised. "Huh?"
"I'm glad you're here. Can you imagine spending a whole day at the beach with just Carly for company?" he asked me, raising his eyebrows.
I had to laugh. "Aw, it wouldn't just be Carly. You would also have Rob Pattinson and Brad Pitt and whoever else is in those lame chick magazines she's always reading"
"They aren't really my type" he said, rolling his eyes at me.
"Are you sure?" I teased. "I think you and Rob would make beautiful babies"
"Oh, for sure" he said sarcastically, rolling his eyes again. I suddenly noticed that the sharp rocks were poking my thighs.
"Move over, nub" I said, nudging him with my shoulder. "This rock is killing my legs"
He looked over, and then shuffled across. "Sorry, but this smooth piece is way too small" he said. We managed to squeeze onto the smooth piece, but the lengths of our bodies were pressed against each other. My skin felt about a million degrees wherever it came into contact with Freddie's. I looked down at my leg pressed against his to make sure that it wasn't on fire, cause it sure as hell felt that way. What the hell is going on? I asked myself. This is Freddie we are talking about. The tech geek. The nub. Not somebody I liked. This could not happen. I wouldn't let it. Ever since we had kissed, there had been something there, but I had blatantly refused to acknowledge it. I had done a damn fine job of ignoring that feeling up until now, and I was not going to let myself give in. I had come mighty close to cracking and confessing how I felt before, but I had resisted, and I was going to resist now. If I could watch Carly and Freddie make out without cracking, then I could certainly handle this I told myself. But somehow, this was different. I had never wanted to confess my feelings more than I did now. Well then why don't you? a part of me asked. What's the worst that could happen? Uh, what if the nub doesn't feel the same way? the other part of me answered back. Are you really willing to risk embarrassing yourself? Great. Now the dork was making me have arguments with myself. Come on. He has to be feeling the same way you do. Think of how he's been looking at you all day. How he looked at you while you were eating ice cream. I made a decision that would please both parts of me. I reached up to scratch my neck, and then carelessly laid my hand next to Freddie's, our pinkie fingers overlapping. There. That could totally have been an accident, but it could also have been intentional. It was up to Freddie now. I held my breath as I waited for him to interpret what I had done. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him look down at our hands with their overlapping pinkies, his eyes widening. Suddenly, I felt his hand move. My heart raced as he very deliberately curled his pinkie around mine. I curled my pinkie around his in return, and we sat there in silence, our pinkies intertwined and both of us smiling like idiots.
Oh my God. So carelessly, she rested her hand down. She made it seem like it was no big deal, like our pinkies crossed all the time. I looked down at our hands, wondering what the hell to make of this. Surely it must have been an accident. Sam hated me. She routinely made my life a living hell. So why would she rest her hand there? I was going to brush it off as an accident when I saw her sneak a peek at our hands. I knew her well enough to tell that she was anxious. Anxious? No, she can't be. Cause that would mean that this isn't an accident. I told myself. But sure enough, I could see that she had tensed up and was watching our pinkies with bated breath. I took a deep breath, mentally steeling myself for a possible upcoming beating, and curled my pinkie around hers, holding it. I was bracing myself for a punch to the jaw when, to my utter shock, I felt her reciprocate and tighten her grip on my pinkie. My pulse increased to a million miles a minute and all coherent thoughts left me. I grinned like an idiot, and saw my expression mirrored on Sam's face. Neither of us knew what to say, so we sat there, smiling, holding pinkies and swirling our toes in the warm water of the tide pool. Sitting there, seeing Sam so pleased to be holding my pinkie, gave me a sudden surge of bravery, and I rubbed my big toe a couple of inches up the back of her leg from her ankle. She looked down, as though shocked by my brazenness, and then rubbed her big toe over the top of my foot. We began playing a game of footsie, our feet swirling through the water. Of course, this was still the same Sam, and it soon escalated from an innocent, gentle game of footsie to a full-on splash war. Soon enough we were both soaked and out of breath from laughing. Suddenly, Sam got to her feet and ran away, hopping deftly from rock to rock. I sprung to my feet and followed her, tracing her winding path across the patches of smooth rock. Soon enough I was only one step behind her, and I followed her until we reached the mouth of a small cave. She stopped in front of the cave, looking inside. I came and stood next to her.
"What's up?" I asked on seeing her faraway expression.
"Nothing" she said, my voice pulling her from whatever memory she was lost in. "Just, this was me and my mom's cave. We would come here on picnics all the time when I was little. We even marked it. I wonder if…" she trailed off, wandering into the cave.
"Sam!" I called after her, watching her disappear into the darkness. "Sam, wait up!"
I turned on the digital camera, letting the light from the screen illuminate the darkness. I followed the cave a couple feet before I saw Sam standing in a patch of sunlight that was streaming in through a hole in the roof of the cave. She was staring at the wall of the cave. I came and stood behind her, and I saw a faded child's drawing, drawn in permanent marker, of a little stick girl with wildly curly hair holding hands with a stick woman. Underneath the drawing of the girl I saw the word 'Sam' scrawled in childish lettering, and underneath the drawing of the woman, in the same lettering, was the word 'Mom'. Sam was staring at the drawing with a faraway look. I put my hand ever so gently on her shoulder, and that seemed to startle her, bringing her back to reality. She turned around and sat on the floor, leaning her back against the wall. I went and sat in front of her, crossing my legs. The cave was so narrow that we were leaning on opposite walls, and yet our shins were pressed against each other.
"You okay?" I asked.
"Yep" she answered. She leaned forward, propping her elbows on her knees and resting her chin in one of her hands. Her other hand was resting half on her shin and half on mine. I timidly reached my hand forward and rested it gently on hers, not entirely sure how to proceed in this kind of situation. She flipped my hand over, so that my palm faced upwards and then began to play with my fingers, threading her fingers through them and twirling them absentmindedly in her hand. The feel of her soft hands running ever so gently over mine was driving me crazy. I closed my hand around hers to stop her, and twined our fingers together, rubbing her hand ever so gently with my thumb. She looked at me, then lifted her chin off her other hand, using the hand to brush aside a lock of hair that was falling into my eyes. She then trailed her hand ever so lightly down the side of my face, tracing my jawbone with her fingers and never taking her eyes off mine. At the same time we began to lean forward. I reached out my hand and used my middle finger to brush the curtain of hair from one side of her face, holding her head in my hands, my thumb resting just in front of her ear. We kept leaning forward until the tips of our noses were touching. I leaned my face forward so that our foreheads were touching, trying to prolong what was happening. Apparently Sam was having none of that, because after a moment of sitting like this, she gently nudged my forehead back and placed her lips very lightly on mine, giving me one short, soft kiss. She then leaned forward and kissed me again, but this time it was rougher, more passionate. She leaned forward and I leaned back, until my back was once again pressed against the wall. Sam shifted slightly, getting onto her knees so that she could lean farther forward. She then inched forward so that her knees were on either side of my crossed legs and lowered herself into my lap. All this time we were kissing, both of us running out of breath but neither of us wanting to stop. Sam caved first and broke the kiss, gasping for breath. I bent my neck forward, planting a trail of tiny kisses from behind her ear down her neck and onto her collarbone. She lifted my head up and kissed me again, her hands cupping my face. Lord knows how long we stayed in that cave, but neither of us felt it was long enough. I eventually realized that Carly and Spencer were probably wondering what the hell had happened to us, so we reluctantly exited the cave, our pinkies intertwined once again. We made our way back to the rock where the tide pools began, and I hoisted Sam up. Once she was safely up, I planted my hands on the rock and pulled myself up. We made our way across the rocks and onto the sand. We were walking down the beach together when I suddenly noticed how dark it was. We had been in there for a while. I felt a blush creep across my cheeks, and I was glad that Sam couldn't see it. We walked in silence in the surf, squishing our toes in the cool, wet sand and feeling the water rush around our ankles as the waves came in, and then went back out again. We finally reached Spencer and Carly, who had laid out a huge blanket on the sand, and were sitting down on it together, chatting.
"There you guys are" said Spencer, looking up at us. "I was beginning to think you had been eaten by a monster or something"
"Nah, we just…lost track of time" said Sam, walking over to a cooler and rummaging around inside it. As soon as Sam looked away Carly whipped her head to look at me, her face very clearly saying Well? I broke into a huge grin and winked at her, causing her to do a silent little happy dance on the blanket. At this point Sam surfaced from the cooler holding a bottle of water and turned around.
"What's your problem?" she asked Carly. Carly immediately stopped dancing.
"Oh" she said. "Uh…a bug. I thought I felt a bug on me and I was trying to get it off"
Spencer looked at his phone.
"Okay guys!" he said excitedly. "The fireworks should be starting in three minutes"
We all lay down side by side on the blanket – Spencer, then Carly, then me, then Sam. Sam had the bag of ham she had bought in town next to her, and I could see that she was already nearly done. I was about to comment on this when all of a sudden a firework lit up the sky. All four of us stared up as the fireworks exploded, filling the sky with light and colour. Suddenly, I felt Sam's hand on mine. I smiled and took it, twining our fingers together. It felt like home. I looked across at Sam, who was staring intently at the sky. The fireworks softly illuminated her face, the colours flickering and changing. She looked beautiful. I gave her hand a little squeeze, and then looked back up at the sky. We lay there in silence until the fireworks stopped, then we packed up our stuff and headed back to the car. I thought about how much things had changed in one day, and I wondered what tomorrow might bring. Whatever it was, I could take it. With Sam by my side, I could do anything.