Disclaimer: iDon't own iCarly.

When Carly Shay envisioned this summer, the image didn't include her locked in her tiny one bedroom apartment, glued to her laptop and surrounded by various dioramas and empty Red Bull cans. Somehow, she thought that she would get to unwind after a year of nonstop work with a trip or two to the beach, cocktails, a little shopping, and some long overdue quality time with her brother and friends. Instead, she was stationed on the couch in her living room, revising her fourth paper in the past month and fighting the growing desire to crawl into her bed and sleep off the next three days. Is this what she had to look forward to for the next ten weeks?

This was one of the few things she disliked about the Communications department at the University of Washington: the availability of many of core classes was so low that getting into the classes you needed became very competitive, unless you were a senior, who go priority registration. Coming into her junior year, she found herself battling over 500 other students for a course that only held 90 students between the five scheduled classes for the semester. Luck was not on her side during registration this past December and she was beat out of all three of the classes she needed in order to graduate on schedule. This left her with only two choices: either sacrifice her summer by committing to both summer sessions and taking the classes she needed, or she could continue her summer as originally planned and try to register during the normal year, which would probably set her back three semesters. Once she graduates, she'll be entering a cutthroat job market. Based on the competition alone, she decided she couldn't afford to graduate late.

So here she was, Carly Shay the Scholastic Machine, staring at a computer screen on a Tuesday night in her threadbare Girly Cow pajamas, missing the times when summers were fun and stress was only known by adults. She missed Bushwell Plaza. She missed Spencer and her old room and the iCarly studio. Most of all, she missed her friends. Sam was in Florida at a school for the Performing Arts. Freddie went to the same university as Carly, but their conflicting summer schedules and her ridiculous work load made hanging out difficult. She was on the cusp of burning out and neither of her best friends were around to help her recoup.

Her proofreading was interrupted by the loud buzzing of her vibrating cell phone. Thankful for the brief distraction, she picked up her phone and instantly spotted the "new text message" icon on her touch screen. With a light tap of her finger on the icon, a message instantly appeared.

From: Freddie

r u eating, or r u
drowning yourself in work

Jun 17, 10:09 pm

Carly chuckled lightly. She could almost hear Freddie's concerned voice through the screen. He tends to check on her when he knows she has heavy work load, as she is known for skipping meals when she's really focused. She looked at the half empty canister of Pringles sitting on the end table. It wasn't exactly the meal of champions, but it was still food. She flipped the phone open so that she could use the keyboard to respond.

Yes, DAD, I'm eating :o)

To: Freddie
Sent: Jun 17, 10:11 pm

She set the phone down and grabbed a chip for good measure. Her phone vibrated again, with a new message.

From: Freddie

Pringles and red bull
don't count, Shay :-P

Jun 17, 10:12 pm

Carly rolled her eyes. Sometimes she forgets how well Freddie knows her. She'd even go as far to say that he knew her better than she knew herself, at times. He was also very protective of her, especially since they left home to go to college. Freddie often voiced his concerns regarding the amount of work she burdened herself with, her currently inactive social life, and her poor eating habits. Though she often feigned resistance, she loved how he always looked out for her. It was like they were back home. After a moment, Carly sent a quick reply.

…shut up!

To: Freddie
Sent: Jun 17, 10:13 pm

She set her phone down and tried to get back to her revising. She wondered how much sleep she was going to be able to get tonight. Five hours, maybe? That would be almost double the amount of sleep she got the night before. There was just so much to do and simply not enough hours in the day to do it all. This was how the majority of the previous semester went: late night after late night, running mainly on junk food, caffeine, and a desperate desire to do well. Initially, she had excused not taking care of herself because she had plans to relax for the summer. Now, however, she had a two-week window after her first summer session to pull herself together and even that time looked like it would be occupied with preparations for the next summer session. She had no clue how she was going to have enough sanity to get her through another year of constant work with very little reprieve beforehand.

A knock at the door caused her to jump a little. She wasn't expecting visitors, especially this time at night. "What time is it, anyway?" said to herself. She looked at the time at bottom right corner of her computer screen, which read "11:01 PM." She hadn't even realized she'd been working that long. She got up and quietly approached the door. Carly looked through the peep hole, but couldn't quite make out the figure amongst the vast darkness. Before she could ask the stranger to identify themselves, he spoke.

"Carly, it's me!" he said. She immediately recognized that the voice belonged to Freddie. Pleasantly surprised, she rushed to open the door. There stood Freddie, in a pair of flannel pajamas and a gray t-shirt with brown flip-flops, holding a brown paper bag. He offered the bag to Carly with a raised eyebrow and a smirk.

"Freddie! What are you doing here…and what's this?" she asked as she took that bag and stepped to the side, allowing him to enter the apartment. He stepped forward, gave her a quick kiss on the forehead, and walked inside. Carly closed the door and set the bag next to the laptop.

"That," Freddie replied, pointing to the bag, "is a proper dinner from Lotus Blossoms." He caught a glimpse of the Pringles can next to the computer and laughed. "I knew it! You see? This is why I feel the need to keep tabs on you." He picked up the can and shook it with a knowing look, as if it was all the proof he needed.

"Hey, you only asked if I was eating, not whether or not I was eating a three course dinner!" Carly retorted, even though she knew her reasoning was weak. She removed some of the containers from the bag of their favorite Chinese restaurant. The aroma of General Tso Chicken, steamed rice with vegetables, and egg rolls was enough to make her forget about all the work she had to do for the night. She made her way to the kitchen to get some plates and cans of grape juice. Freddie followed her, though there wasn't much room to join her inside, so he propped himself against the entrance.

"Carls, you know I just care about your well being. You work yourself to death and barely eat a thing while doing so. I'm just worried about you, that's all."

Carly turned around to face him, spotting the genuine concern in his expression. She placed the cans and plates on the counter and stepped to him in order to wrap her arms around his waist in a big hug. He reciprocated by wrapping his arms around her shoulders and burying his nose in her hair.

"I appreciate you looking out for me, Freddie," Carly said, resting her head against his chest. "I'm fine, really. I promise." She noted the faint scent of Irish Spring soap mixed with fabric softener. The combination always reminded her of his mother, who lined all of his drawers with dryer sheets. It reminded her of home and it caused her to grip Freddie's waist a little tighter as she suddenly felt homesick. He gently rubbed her back as they embraced for a few seconds longer. Carly finally pulled away and looked up at Freddie. He smiled and ruffled her hair, causing her to giggle. He always seemed to know how to make her feel better. She returned to the kitchen to grab the plates and juice and headed back to the living room.

"Dinner looks delicious, Freddie. Thank you so much!" she gushed excited. "Do you want me to dish out your plate for you?" She began clearing more space at the coffee table in front of the couch.

"Actually, I wasn't planning on staying too long," Freddie admitted. "I already had dinner with Esther. She's actually on her way to my place right now."

Carly felt her eye give a slight twitch when Freddie mentioned his girlfriend. He had been dating Esther Garvey for about seven months now, which is the longest relationship Carly can remember him having. Before Esther, Freddie casually dated here and there, but there was never anyone he kept around that long. Esther was a pretty girl who was always very cordial with Carly. Before making anything official with her, Freddie sought out Carly's approval. She couldn't find anything wrong her, so she gave him her support. He seemed to be happy enough, so Carly always made an effort to be friendly with her.

Sure, she would have liked to spend more time with Freddie, considering the fact that they haven't spent that much time together in the past couple of weeks, but she understood that the significant other tends to come first. Carly figured she would be spending a lot of time with her boyfriend, too, if she ever found time for one.

"I just wanted to make sure you had a solid meal tonight," Freddie continued. "I promise we'll hang out this weekend, though. Just you and me, okay? I'm sure Esther wouldn't mind sharing me for one weekend."

Carly's eye twitches again. She attributed the twitching fit to all the Red Bull she's consumed.

"Oh, okay, sure," Carly said casually as she picked up one of the plates and cans and took them back to the kitchen. "This weekend, for sure. Tell Esther I said 'hello.'"

"I will," Freddie promised as he gave Carly another quick kiss in her hair. "Eat every last bit, okay? And get some proper rest tonight! I know you haven't been sleeping much. I'm sure whatever you're working on can wait until tomorrow."

"You're not the boss of me!" Carly retorted playfully.

"Always the mature one," Freddie laughed, making his way out the door as Carly followed.

"Well, thanks again," Carly said, sad to see her friend go.

Freddie smiled and tweaked her nose. "I'll call you tomorrow, okay? I mean it, get some rest."

"I will," she promised. " 'Night, Freddie."

"Good night, Carly," he said with a smile and a waive, just before he turned and headed towards his car. Carly shut and locked the door before returning to the couch to dish out her dinner. She ate while watching a little TV, the food already causing some drowsiness. The meal was just what she needed; she could already feel some of the stress subsiding. She looked at her laptop. Freddie was right. The paper wasn't due until Friday. She can afford to get a good night's rest at least once this week.

She thought about how fortunate she was that Freddie was close enough to keep her sane when she needed him the most. She just wished that they could spend more time together, though she wasn't sure that Esther would like that. "This is exactly why I need Sam around," Carly thought. "God, I miss her so much," She looked at her phone. 11:40, meaning it was 2:40 a.m. where Sam was. She sighed, turned off the television, and began clearing away some of the mess from dinner. She resolved to call Sam after class tomorrow morning, positive that it would lift her spirits.

Carly pulled back the comforter on her queen size bed and slipped in between the sheets. She could almost feel her body hum as it made contact with the soft mattress. It didn't take long before her need for sleep washed over her. Just before she drifted off, she thought of how fantastic it would be to just hop in her car and drive far, far away from dioramas, job applications, and busy schedules. That night, she dreamed of a long stretch of road, the wind in her hair, and a faceless companion in the passenger's seat.

A/N: I really hope everyone enjoyed the first chapter! This will be a multi-chapter story, though I'm not sure how long it will be.

Thank you for taking the time to read! I hope you take some additional time to review!

My goal is to update often. I don't like to see abandoned stories on FF, so I'm going to try not to contribute to the already growing collection.

Have a great night, all! Again, please review!