Save the 'tales, Carls

Maybe in some distant, far off, non-water logged city, there lives a small group of people completely void of problems. Perhaps in this perfect, magical land there isn't a constant danger of evil on a quest for world domination, or a cataclysmic disaster on the fringes of wiping the entire population off the planet. Maybe, in this wonderful place, there's no such thing as drama. All kinds of drama, perhaps nothing so grandiose, but especially the kind resulting from relationships: Boys and girls, boyfriends and girlfriends, love and hate.

It was the kind of drama Sam and Carly had been particularly immersed in lately. Webicon was three days ago, but the aftereffects were apparent, and still taking its toll.

Sam sighed heatedly into Carly's pillow, nudging away the small strands of hair pinched between the sheet and her cheek. Her arm flopped over the side of the bed and barely grazed the floor, hearing the heels from her untied shoes clicking together, mostly from boredom. Face digging further into the soft fabric, she let out another sigh, this one grumpier than the last.

"What's wrong?" Carly asked, on the other half of the bed. Her eyes briefly left the book she was reading, then returned when she didn't get a coherent response. "Come on, Sam." She rolled her eyes and playfully shook her by the shoulder. "You need to get reading. It's been two hours."

She growled back, surprisingly clear through the feather pillow. "I don't wanna. Reading sucks. School sucks. Everything sucks!"

"Well, that's a four star attitude," Carly smirked, starting a fresh page. "You're not upset about our final are you? It's only a ten page essay on a book of your choice."

Carly always had a way of making school work 'sound' easy. Leave it to a straight 'A' student to emphasize the right parts of a sentence that included 'essay' and 'book' in it. This time though, the unopened three-hundred-or-so paged monster lying so innocently across the room seemed to grow a few inches and turned it's soft blue cover into a grimacing black. Maybe she was more tired than she realized.

"Alright." Carly dogeared her spot and left the book on her nightstand, turned and sat Indian Style toward her friend. "What's your deal?"

"What do you mean?"

"You've been like this for three days now. Spill."

A lazy wave. "It's nothing."

"Spill," she pried.



It was the parental voice-inflected 'Sam' that made her cave. The kind Carly would use to stop her from disrespecting the elderly, force her to behave in class or make her quit insulting Freddie so much. Not many people can sooth submission out of Samantha Puckett, but Carly Shay was certainly one of them.

"Fine! I'm still upset over Webicon."

She returned to her book, expecting so much more. "Oh... that."

"Have you checked our in-box lately?"

"No. Should I have?"

"Full of emails. Same stuff. Same questions. Same crap." She flopped on her back. "I swear, every time we go to Webicon it's a freakin' disaster! The first time we went, we didn't even make it."

"In which we were held hostage by a lonely, chicken-obsessed, psychotic monster for two days."

"Then, this time we incite a riot that almost tore the place down!"

"We?" Her hand involuntary slammed on the bed, gently waving them up and down. "You were the one who egged everyone on."

"That wasn't me."

"By the end of Webicon they were calling you the egg-master!"

She laughed unevenly. "Oh. Yeah."

"Uh huh."

"All I'm saying is, I've had enough drama to last me a lifetime." She scooted up on the bed and crossed her arms stubbornly. "Carly and Freddie, Sam and Freddie," she shuddered in between, "I'm done with it all."

"They're just fans," Carly reminded her. "Fans do that. They create buzz like this all the time."

Her head hung over her shoulders. "I just wish there was a place without drama. Where nobody hates each other, everyone ends up happy, and everything works out for the best."

Carly lifted from the bed and swiped Sam's book off the table. She returned and tossed it on her lap. It fell threw her fingers and landed between her legs. "Read for your final, please. It'll take your mind off things."

For Sam, using homework as a distraction was a foreign concept at best. Her eyes wandered the cover, then dropped with disappointment.

"This won't help. It's like watching a soap opera, but having to, you know, think."

"It's a children book. Third grade reading level at the most."

"You know what I mean."

Carly shook her head and laughed. "You said you're done with drama? Fairy tales have a way of working out. It's the 'Happily Ever After' thing."

"Save the 'tales, Carls." The book slid off the bed and clunked to the floor. "Real life isn't like that."

In reality, Carly and Sam were the only ones in the room, but when Sam closed her eyes, she could still see the hordes of people crowding the gates and the muddled chants of who they wanted paired together. The flying wooden stool that almost impaled her best friend and the sea of screaming girls pulling in Freddie face first. To top it off, there were the interviewers asking the same question over and over. Carly and Freddie or Sam and Freddie? Carly and Freddie or Sam and Freddie? Carly. Sam. Carly! Sam!

Sam groaned. "Why couldn't they just leave us alone?"

Carly knew the question was rhetorical, but answered with a shrug anyway and dove into her book again.

"Have you talked to Freddie yet?"

"Not since yesterday," Carly replied. "Why?"

"Nothin'. Just wanted to know what he thought of all of this."

"I think he liked the attention all those girls were giving him," she grinned.

She scoffed. "True chiz. Bet he's sad his fifteen minutes in the spotlight are over."

"Be nice," Carly toned motherly. "Freddie rarely gets a chance to hang out with girls outside the two of us."

Sam's leg buzzed, her hand fished out her phone and automatically flipped it open. Coincidentally, awkwardly and a tad eerie, the boy in question's name read across her screen in bold Arial font followed by 'New Message' with a tiny picture of a unopened letter underneath. Her thumb rubbed over the 'open' button, but hesitated to push it.

"Who's that? Freddie?"

Sam swallowed. "Yep."

"What'd he say?"

Rarely is Sam Puckett ever speechless. Not the awe struck, jaw dropping experience where a person witnesses something amazing. But the kind resulting from fear, fear of the unknown, especially about a certain tech loving dork. It wouldn't happen every single instance, only at specific key snapshots in their lives, where they entered, if only briefly, into a strange status in their relationship. A place were they weren't friends, enemies or romantically involved, but an ambiguous mesh of all three, and for a moment he could be a stranger, a lover or both. It happened when they kissed. It happened when they were duct taped together. It happened three days ago.

And it's happening now.

She never knew how to label it. Carly said it was an innocent 'crush,' to which she emphatically denied. Spencer called it 'passionate,' which made sense in the mind of a sculpture. Even Gibby termed it as 'wild abandonment,' although he could have been referring to his shirt.

Apathetically, she read the message aloud.

What did you think of Webicon?

"That's weird. We were just talking about that."

"Super weird." It was then, her voice became uneasy. "Uh... What should I say?"

Carly shrugged. "I dunno, say what you want. Tell him what you told me."

In her mind's eye, she could see him. Possibly across the hallway, sitting next to his computer waiting anxiously for his phone to plot the exact response he was hoping for. Or he could be at an AV club meeting, with his cell phone tucked away in his backpack, never giving it a second thought. It could be some sick joke he was pulling, or a sincere question. The problem was she just didn't know how to answer.

Sighing with loss, she texted back, not caring about spelling: it was jank, nub. u were ther. dont you remenber?

Almost immediately after she pressed the send button, she regretted it. Freddie didn't deserve that, she should have given him the benefit of the doubt, or at the very least attempt to be tactful. And it was a painful wait for his response, but after staring into Carly's delicious looking gummy bear chandelier for five minutes, and listening to Carly hum their theme song, her phone buzzed once more triggering a jerk of surprise and an exhale of relief all mixed into one.

Yeah. Nevermind.

It was the two worst words he could have ever texted back. Not a forgiving, care free, 'No problem, see ya,' no angry 'Fine! Be like that!', not even some fruity emoticon where she knew for a fact what he was thinking. No, he had to answer with a bland, vague, incomplete sentence-of-a-text where she had to guess on his mood.

She growled impatiently, gritted her teeth, tossed her phone on the ground and plowed her face into Carly's pillow again.

Maybe in some distant, far off, non-water logged city there lives a small group of people completely free of problems. Maybe in this improbable parallel universe, there lives a different Sam Puckett, who's grades aren't slipping in every course, who's mother can actually hold down a job, and lives a life without the pangs of relationship drama. But as Carly hands her a book she has no intention of reading, reminding her finals are a week away, and so is the next iCarly episode they're all dreading on doing, she realizes she has no choice but to run this path to its utility.

For now, she has to rely on Carly's English notes to study, try to wash away Webicon from her memory, and stomach the butterflies whirling in her stomach whenever Freddie texts. Eventually, she'll learn how to do better in school, and one day the events at Webicon will fade away. Freddie, however, is the only variable, a boy too important to forget or ignore. Perhaps, her feelings for this technology loving Momma's boy will soon become clear with time - for better or for worse. All she has to do is wait.

At least until she can find that inter-dimensional portal.

Author's Notes:

OK, 'iStart a Fan War' is a few days away. Never has there been an iCarly event with so much hype and anticipation. Here's a few things to keep in mind before you watch it. These, of course, are just my suggestions, so take them how ever you feel.

Keep expectations reasonable.

Shipping will be a major part of the episode, not the whole thing.

Mostly likely, NO couple will end up together. Dan is a smart guy, he knows the best way to write a couple is through hints and continuity. There's plenty of iCarly left. At the very least, Freddie's feelings will change, for whom we'll have to wait and see.

See you on the other side. ;)