Boyshorts

Author: Carla, aka cali-chan
Rating: PG-13, mainly for Fredward being a typical 17-year-old boy.
Genre: Romance, WaFF, some humor.
Pairings: Freddie/Sam.
Canon/timeline: Post-series, I guess. Or at least I hope.

Warnings: This is 26 pages long. Yeah, my muse got away from me. I blame Freddie.

Summary: Sam likes to wear boyshorts. Freddie likes that. He likes that a lot.

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Sam liked to wear boyshorts.

Boyshort-style panties, that is. He should have expected it; Sam was a tomboy, after all, and even in her outerwear she had always preferred comfort over fashion statements. She was not the type for frills or sparkles... as they grew up she'd been getting slightly better about fashion (presumably Carly's girly influence) but still her wardrobe consisted mostly of hoodies, graphic tees, torn-up jeans and Converse shoes. She didn't mind wearing boxer shorts for boys out to the mall during the summer. It figured, really, that she'd go for no-nonsense when it came to underwear, too.

If there was one thing that could be said about Sam, it's that she was comfortable in her own skin. She thought nothing of changing her clothes in the open if it was somehow urgent, and if she thought it might get her something she needed, she wouldn't hesitate to flash her bra-covered chest at someone. She did have a fine-tuned radar and could spot perverts from a mile away; however, if she caught anyone looking at her in a lascivious way, she'd much sooner gouge that person's eyes out with a spork than run to cover herself in embarrassment. She was no shrinking violet. (Now there's an understatement for you).

She was also of the opinion that while at her place, she could wear whatever the hell she wanted. She could parade around naked if she wanted- she wouldn't, but she could. So her choice of loungewear was boyshorts, usually worn with a tank top or a t-shirt; she liked them because the city got entirely too hot for her taste sometimes, they were comfortable to sleep in, and nobody could tell her what to wear in her own domain anyway.

So how did Freddie find out about this, you wonder? It's not like he visited her place often, after all.

Well, as it turns out, a couple of weeks previous, "her place" was more like Carly's place. She'd gotten into yet another fight with her mother and had snuck out that Friday night, spending the next two nights at the Shays' apartment. When Freddy knocked on the door that Sunday morning to see if anyone was around, it was Sam that opened the door, and let him know that Carly was still asleep. They'd been up late the previous night, brainstorming for the next iCarly. Her hair was loose, and tousled from being in bed. She had on a yellow Penny Tee with the words "HOLY HELLCATS" emblazoned in the front in block letters, and had a long-sleeved grey zip-up hoodie on top of that.

And then there were the boyshorts. He didn't know what it was about them. It's not like she was too exposed or anything- the garment covered about as much as a regular pair of short shorts would. The wide elastic band, in black and white horizontal stripes, held against the curve of her hip while the royal purple cotton fit snuggly against her body, the bottom edge coming down to the top of her thighs. Nothing lacy, nothing sheer, just good old colorful underwear that covered everything properly. Really, he'd seen more skin when she wore a bathing suit. All in all, she looked perfectly decent for the sanctity of her own (uh, Carly's) home.

She was also the sexiest thing he'd ever seen.

Wait. They. The boyshorts. Not Sam, just the boyshorts.

She was going on about some "ridiculously awesome" idea she'd had for the web show, and Freddie couldn't for the life of him tell you a word she'd said. Hell, he could barely remember why he'd come over to the Shays' apartment in the first place. And she noticed, obviously, as she paused her tirade to stare at him, arms crossed, expectant. "Well?"

"Uh... aren't you cold?" was the best his brain could come up with at the moment. He almost flinched when he heard his own voice- it hadn't cracked so bad since he was thirteen. She was never gonna let him live that down.

She pointedly raised one eyebrow at that. "I'm fine." She rearranged the hoodie over her shoulders, as one side had begun to fall off. "What's up with you, Squeaky?" She shook her head and turned toward the kitchen to pour herself some water.

Taking advantage of the fact that she couldn't see him from behind the fridge door, he ran his hands through his hair, wondering what the hell was wrong with him. Out loud he said: "Nothing," trying to keep his voice as level as possible this time around.

Luckily for him, that was the moment Carly chose to come down the stairs, clad in plaid pajama pants, a cami top and an open robe. He chose to ignore the fact that his reaction to Carly's appearance was remarkably different than the one he'd just had to Sam's, and instead took advantage of her presence to momentarily get his mind away from the topic of alluring female undergarments.

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Does she wear them every day, or just when she knows she'll stay at home? he wondered, for what seemed like the twenty seventh time that week, and then he cursed himself mentally, for what seemed like the eighty seventh time that week.

As it turned out, trying to distract himself from thinking about Sam in boyshorts was harder than it sounded. In fact, it was more like thinking about Sam in boyshorts distracted him from, well, everything else in his life. To a frankly ridiculous level.

He just couldn't seem to stop thinking about it. He'd spent the entire week either lost in mental images of creamy skin wrapped in purple cotton, or feeling paranoid that Sam would somehow read his thoughts and try to kill him for it. It was wreaking havoc with his nerves, that's how bad it got.

Initially, he dismissed it as something normal. He was seventeen, after all. He might not have had as much experience as other guys his age, but he got all the urges. Hormones running rampant, it was nothing strange that he would find himself fantasizing about a pretty girl. It wasn't the first time it happened, anyway. There had been Carly. And his previous crushes. This was normal.

What was not normal, was that the girl he was fantasizing about was Sam. Sam Puckett, the girl who had made his life a living hell since elementary school. They had reached a tentative friendship by now (they still traded insults all the time, but at least they now could be in the same room alone for a short period of time without trying to strangle each other), but still, his common sense boggled at the fact that he was thinking this way about her. Sure, she wasn't ugly by any means (not that he would ever admit it out loud), but shouldn't her horrendous attitude and obvious contempt toward him cancel out any possible hotness?

For God's sake, she was his mood killer! You know how in teen movies, whenever a guy wants to, uh... hold his excitement back a little, he starts reciting baseball statistics, or the elements of the periodic table, or imagines his ugly math teacher doing naked jumping jacks? Well, Freddie would usually think back to Sam's abuse throughout the years. And it usually worked. So where the heck had this whole thing come from?

It was driving him crazy. He'd already been called out not once but twice for zoning out in class, had to stay up until 3:30 am to finish a History essay because he couldn't concentrate enough to work on it during the afternoon, and he had told the guys from his Chemistry lab workgroup that he'd bring "hips- I mean chips!" to their study session. How embarrassing.

That Wednesday, they'd been filming some supplemental clips for the iCarly website, and he found his eyes wandering in Sam's general direction every few seconds. She was wearing a purple Penny Tee with the words "SUNDAY BEST," and that was all it took to make him flash back to the boyshorts scene. At one point, Carly moved to the side to explain with a funny diagram why they thought the turtle was framed, and Freddie momentarily forgot to follow her with the camera. He forgot. To. Follow her.

Luckily they didn't notice he'd been staring straight at Sam's chest (now that would be the end of his days), but it took Carly calling his name three times to wake him up from his daze. Sam rewarded his lapsus with a slap to the back of his head and asked their would-be viewers through the camera lens to excuse their "so-called tech producer" for having "left his brain in his other pants."

She had no idea how close she was to the truth.

What was really freaking him out, though, was that he was starting to notice other stuff about her, too. Oh, the underwear issue was still very much at the top of his list (again, he was a healthy seventeen-year old, after all). A lot of the time he'd spent wondering stuff like Does the top match the bottom?, before taking a look at her orange-striped, long-sleeved shirt with a silver-on-dark blue band overshirt and dirt-colored sneakers, and concluded that no, it probably didn't. And then, he would curse himself for the ninety seventh time that week for thinking about her undergarments.

But sometimes, he would catch himself looking at other parts of her, like her calves, her wrists or the curve of her neck, and noticing things he shouldn't be noticing. Like the fact that her hair had grown long enough to reach the small of her back, and when she leaned for some reason her shirts would rise up and the ends of her curls would whisper against a small expanse of skin that was revealed right above the waist of her jeans. Like the fact that, despite her perennially carrying some sort of meat product with her, or her routinely chucking many kinds of disgusting objects at him, she usually smelled like honey.

By that point he was actually getting worried that he was developing a thing for her. But it couldn't be. It was just that she was a girl he just happened to see wearing really sexy boyshorts. It had nothing to do with the fact that the girl in question was Sam. There was just no way. He'd sooner expect one of the horsemen of the Apocalypse to come knocking on his door asking if they had any ointment. Just... no. It had nothing to do with Sam.

And he was going to prove it.

On Thursday night, after he was back at home checking that all the files for that week's web show had uploaded correctly to the server, he took a few minutes to surf the web for... similar examples. Of girls in boyshorts, that is. Since he was a whiz with computers, disabling his Mother's kid lock on the computer took all of two seconds. He could've done it years earlier, but he never bothered out of respect for his Mom. He had to admit it was a little more offensive now that he was nearly an adult; a few years back he didn't mind because he thought mothers should have a say in what their impressionable children look up on the web, but now it was just annoying that she didn't trust him. He was only going to look at Victoria's Secret catalogs, for God's sake. It's not like he was downloading porn.

Unfortunately for him, he might've been a whiz with computers, but his self-preservation reflexes were crap. So of course his mother irrupted in the room right on time to catch him watching a video of Adriana Lima walking down a runway while wearing mother-of-pearl silk underwear and a pair of angel wings on her back. When she was done with her two-hour long rant on the topic of deviant behavior that ended with the phrase "...And I don't want my baby to catch AIDS!", Freddie thought he might as well save Sam the trouble of killing him and just shoot himself.

No amount of top models had made his breath catch the way Sam's stupid purple boyshorts had.

Cue curse number one hundred and eight. He was in deep trouble.

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"So, here's an idea: let's stop by that park, squirt some honey on the swing seats, and see if we can get a raccoon to bite someone in the butt."

He shook his head at her. "I'm not helping you give some poor kid rabies." He put his hands inside his pockets. He would've walked off ahead of her, but he had learned his lesson: not having Sam within his range of vision was a dangerous thing. The last time he did that, she taped a sign with a stupid message onto his back without him noticing, and he'd had to go the whole way home from school wondering why people kept asking if ticks really could hide in leg hair.

Almost a month had passed since his last... revelation, and things had gotten better on his side. After much deliberation, he'd come to the conclusion that he could accept the fact that he found Sam attractive. Physically, that is. And there was no reason for him to freak out about that, because that didn't mean anything had to happen between them. He knew the difference between love and lust, and he could deal with lust. Finding his blond-haired tormentor desirable did not mean he wanted to hold her hand, or wax lyrical about her smile, like he had with Carly. He didn't feel jealous of any guy that looked her way. He didn't want to spend every minute of the day with her.

Unfortunately, he was kind of forced to, at least that one day. They hadn't yet had time to schedule a rehearsal session for that week's iCarly, and Thursday was coming up fast, so they decided to get together after school that day to get some of the sketches down. But during last period, Carly got a call from a hospital and had to leave in a rush even before school was done; apparently, Spencer had swallowed a key or something while building a sculpture, and Carly had to be there so she could be aware of what was going to happen and any care he may need afterward.

She reassured them it wasn't as awful as it sounded (Sam thought it sounded awesome) and asked them to wait for her at Freddie's. She'd just go pick Spencer up, they'd step by the pet store to buy a new goldfish (Spencer was really, really sorry about that, by the way) and then come back home. It would only take a few hours. They could rehearse then, at least a little. But that was as much as she had time to tell them before having to leave.

So there they were, slowly making their way back to Bushwell Plaza on foot (Carly had been their ride), and Freddie found himself every bit as irritated by her as he always did.

Especially after she flicked him on the forehead, throwing him an annoyed stare, like he was completely stupid. "They have vaccines for that!" she quipped in a tone that said she may as well have added "duh" to the end of her sentence. She slowed her pace a little. He stopped a few paces ahead, glaring at her. "And to think that I was about to generously allow you to volunteer," she added, almost distractedly. She was looking around, like she was searching for something.

He crossed his arms, throwing her an incredulous look. "Oh, come on. Do you think I'm an idiot?"

"Do you really want me to answer that?"

He rolled his eyes and decided it was better for his sanity to just walk off, not caring whether she followed or not. Turning his back on her was a risk, but being humiliated if he stayed with her was a certainty. He was about forty feet away when he heard her call out to him. "Yo, Frederina!" As he grudgingly turned to check what she wanted now, he saw her wave him over. "Come on! You're buying me a hot dog."

He crossed his arms and scowled at her. "I'm not buying you anything," he said, standing his ground.

She smirked at him. And kept her hands behind her back, for some reason. "Oh, yes you are. 'Cause I just stole your wallet."

His eyes widened. Immediately he began to pat himself, looking for the item in question. He didn't even care that he was patting his own butt in public, he was just frantic. In any case... yes, it was gone. No wallet. Oh, he could just strangle her... He looked up to see Sam, still smirking, fanning herself with it. "SAM! You don't go around sticking your hand in people's pockets like that!" he yelled at her, face going red. He didn't know if that was because he was angry or embarrassed. Probably both.

"Oh, puh-lease, like I could find anything else in there!" she exclaimed, her back turned to him. She was already making her way toward the hot dog stand. The implication in her comment was not lost on him. He glared at her retreating back, momentarily clenched his fists, then stomped off after her.

Ten minutes later (boy, that girl could inhale her food), they were standing under a tree at the park, catching some shade before continuing their way home. Freddie had considerably calmed down; probably because she had given him back his wallet (short a few bucks, of course), but maybe it also had something to do with the fact that she was rubbing a cold can of soda against her neck and the drops of condensation were falling down to her clavicle, creating very interesting patterns on her skin. "Man, it's hot!" she exclaimed with a groan.

He had noticed. Sam tended to feel hot all the time (it was a byproduct of her attitude, he conjectured), despite the fact that Seattle temperature never really got very high. And he could always know when summer was starting to come in because she would forgo the jackets and hoodies in favor of tank tops and other sleeveless clothes. Like she had today. Hmm. Now that he thought about it, she had very nice shoulders...

"I'm bored," she complained, finally separating the can from herself and popping it open. "Life without Carly is so boring." She took a long sip of her coke, letting out a sigh as the cool liquid flowed down her throat and chilled her from the inside.

"It's only been two hours," he said, his eyes closed as he leaned against the trunk of the larch that was shading them. "You're exaggerating."

"Yeah, well," she shifted her position a little. "I've had to spend those two hours with you, so I think I'm entitled to some grumbling."

"It wouldn't feel that long if we could just hurry up and get to my place," he replied in a straightforward manner. They'd been dawdling around for far too long, and a walk that would normally take twenty minutes was already nearing an hour. She made no comment to that. He popped one eye open and saw that she was looking down one of the streets perpendicular to the park. "What is it?"

"Do you know which street that is?" she asked, nodding her face to point him in the corresponding direction. There was a sign at the intersection, of course, but the glare from the sun wasn't letting her see the white letters.

"I'm not sure," he said, separating himself from the tree trunk and moving to stand beside her. "I think we're near Ballard, though."

There was a pause for a few seconds, as they both tried to make out the sign. Then he felt her grab a fistful of his shirt and start dragging him across the street. "Hey! Watch it! What are you-" But she did not relent one inch until they were on the other side of the road, making their way down rows of houses that looked really pricey.

"So, what's this?" he asked when they were standing on one side of a large, two-story colonial-style house painted a soothing peach color, with a columned porch supporting a wide balcony in the second floor. Surely Sam didn't haul him all the way over here just to stare at a pretty house.

"This," she said, scrummaging through her backpack, "is the house of some fancy-schmancy Representative guy." He didn't even want to know how she knew that. He saw her pull out a couple of bags of jerky, a whoopee cushion, a taser and... something else (he didn't know what it was, but he figured it hit hard)- notably, no textbooks or notebooks. Not even a pencil. "The dude's loaded. A-ha!" She let out, once she found what she'd been looking for: a bobby pin.

Before he could ask what on Earth she could need a hairpin for, she was already on her knees and taking the hairpin to the lock on the door of the fence. Freddie felt dread come over him. "What are you doing...?" he asked, but of course he already knew the answer to that.

"Gonna beat the heat," she let him know, grinning in triumph as the pin produced the required "click" and the lock sprung open.

She walked inside the property without anymore ceremony, leaving an unsettled Freddie behind, trying to yell at her while at the same time not having anyone in the house hear him. "Sam! Don't do this. It's trespassing, we can't just-!" Seeing that she was already out of hearing range, he groaned. "Oh, dammit." He rearranged his bag on his shoulder, and went after her, crossing the patio toward the back yard with some trepidation.

When he found her, she was standing beside a large pool. "You broke into someone's house to take a dip?" he asked her in a careful whisper. He'd always thought stuff like this only happened in movies, but when it came to Sam, nothing really surprised him anymore. The girl knew no bounds. She confirmed his assertion in pretty much the same tone, and he was about to make a comment on that, but then she dropped her bag on the floor and-

Holy mother of Gonzo. Yep, that was her. Taking her clothes off.

Off went the shoes, then the tank top, followed soon by the cargo shorts. And for the second glorious time, he was confronted with the sight of Sam wearing boyshorts. The cotton was decorated in a red-and-white striped pattern, which somehow made her legs look even longer and leaner, and he just knew that was going to feature in his daydreams continuously from now on. Her bra was grey; fairly simple for what he had imagined, actually. He almost congratulated himself in knowing that, yes, her undergarments didn't match. He almost did, but his mind was otherwise preoccupied- he couldn't have looked away if he had tried. Luckily for him, she had turned around to jump in the pool, and didn't catch him staring.

Once she was in, the water made it harder to see her body in any detail, so he tried to focus his thoughts. "Fine. You've jumped in, now you can jump out and we can go," he pleaded with her.

She pfff-ed as she almost gleefully treaded water. "Fat chance," she let him know. He groaned. "Geez, what's your problem? It's not like this is the first time we've sneaked into someone's place." She took a deep breath and took a dive, coming up to the surface near the edge of the pool. She leaned her arms against the edge and looked up at him.

He raised his eyebrows down at her. "Not into a State Representative's house!" He put his hands on his waist. "You're breaking and entering. That's a crime." Not that she would care- knowing her, she'd feel encouraged, but the situation was different now. "You're 18 already, you could go to jail!" he reminded her.

"Eh, I've been in jail. A few convenience store thieves, mostly a bunch of hobos..." She shrugged. "It's not that bad."

"Oh, that's reassuring," he quipped, dryly.

"You know that you're trespassing since the moment you cross the edge of the property, right?" she asked him, in an unconcerned tone, like she was commenting on something inconsequential. "So, technically, you're breaking and entering, too."

"I know tha-" He started, full of determination, only to realize halfway through that he hadn't actually thought about it. "I know that," he finished, lamely.

She noticed. He could see it from her smirk. "Seriously, just chillax. You're acting like I'm an amateur at this." She kicked against the pool wall and dove backwards into the water. As she did an underwater back flip, he dimly wondered if he meant "this" as in trespassing in general, or as in going swimming in someone else's pool without an invitation. She surfaced again, her hair had gone straight around her head from the water; it made her look... different. "Hey, aren't you going to come in?" she asked, once again leaning against the edge of the pool.

That made him think that she actually meant the second "this." Going swimming in someone else's pool without an invitation... and probably with someone else. He wasn't sure how to feel about that. Either way, he shook his head, partly to get the thought out of his head, partly as an answer to her question. "No, I'm good." It wasn't a lie, exactly; Sam was always more sensitive to the heat than anyone else he knew, and while the day was warm, he felt quite alright, even wearing two layers.

Her expression got all mischievous, and then she pouted, mockingly. "Aw. Is little Freddiekins afraid of the water?" She chuckled, moving back slightly so her arms stretched. "Don't tell me you need to wait 20 minutes after eating before going in the water."

He rolled his eyes. "I didn't eat anything. You didn't even let me take one bite." He crossed his arms.

"It was my hot dog," she retorted.

"That you bought with my money," he reminded her.

She ignored that like a pro. "You really don't want to come in?" she asked.

"No," he repeated. "I have a..." He surreptitiously looked down, hoping there was no noticeable evidence that the proximity to a half-naked Sam had affected his... erm, composure. However, he wasn't crazy enough to say that out loud. "Leg cramp," was what he finally decided on. "I'll just sit here while you swim." He took off his sneakers, rolled up the legs of his pants and sat down, legs dangling in the water. Her face was very close to his left knee, one of her arms grazing his thigh. She was right, the water was cool.

"I'll splash you," she threatened.

"Go ahead." He had been dealing with her taunts and teases for years, and he'd come to understand that she got her high from his reactions. If he let her comments get to him, she'd think it was hilarious and keep doing it. So the key was to stay collected; if she didn't think she was going to get a reaction, she wouldn't bother. "It doesn't really bother m-"

He was interrupted by a spray of water to the face. Yeah, that whole "stay Zen" thing was a bunch of BS.

"I warned ya," she quipped, though it was quite unnecessary. The second splash she sent his way was also unnecessary. Great, now his clothes were soaked. "Hey, I bet your Mom makes you wait 20 minutes before going in the water even if you've only been near food." She laughed. She thought she was so funny. He would've liked to tell her this, but the truth was that... yeah, his mother had actually done that a few times. Dammit. "But don't worry, Fredbug. I'm sure she'll lighten up by the time you guys get to college."

"For the last time, I'm not taking my mother with me to college," he declared, emphasizing his words as much as he could while still keeping his voice low. "Besides, she may go a little overboard, but I know she does it because she cares."

She pushed herself off the wall again, choosing to float toward the middle of the pool. She was quiet for a while. Then: "Must be nice."

He looked at her, because she had said the words in that tone. The one he didn't know how to respond to. Most of the time, it was hard to for him associate Sam with feelings, unless those feelings were hunger or disdain. Still, he didn't like feeling like he had hurt her, even if she probably deserved it, and he was aware the topic of whether mothers were good or bad was sensitive for her. "I didn't mean it like that," he let her know, sincerely. "You know your Mom cares for you. She's told you."

"Yeah, but it would be nice if she could show it once in a while," she admitted. He could tell she wasn't entirely comfortable discussing this with him- probably because he was SuperMom's "perfect" baby boy, but she was the one who brought it up in the first place. He thought it was probably the water that had mellowed her out. Heat made her cranky (even more than she normally was), so the water was probably soothing her.

It was probably soothing him too, because he kind of wanted to try and cheer her up. "Ah, but see, some people just don't know how to express their emotions," he started, swinging his legs back and forth in the water, creating very light waves. "Some people are okay with just saying how they feel, or hugging, or kissing. And that's nice. Others..." She was actually paying attention to his words, and for some reason it made him chuckle. "Others prefer to say those things through teasing... or pranking. Or kicking. Or name-calling..."

He smiled at her. She wasn't quite smiling back at first, although the corners of her lips seemed to be itching to crinkle up against her will. Eventually, she let herself, flashing him a small smile. He knew she got his meaning. "Hm. Maybe you have a point for once." She pushed up until she was floating on her back (his eyes were immediately drawn to her body, he couldn't help it. He could see the red stripes of her boyshorts just under the edge of the water). She paddled herself back to the edge, not as close to him as she'd been before, but still near.

She leaned her head back against the edge of the pool, eyes closed. "Hey, put on some music, will ya?"

He gave her a look. "Are you crazy? They'll hear us!"

She opened one eye and regarded him curiously. "Who's 'they'? There's no one home; I checked."

It took a second for that information to sink in. Then he gaped at her. "Seriously? Then why the hell have we been whispering this whole time?" he exclaimed, at the top of his voice this time. He couldn't believe she hadn't bothered to relay that particular bit of information to him.

She shrugged. "I dunno. You started it."

Technically she was right; he had started it. Oh, that was just rich! He started chuckling, but just a few seconds later, he had evolved into full-blown laughter, practically holding his sides in his mirth. "Why are you laughing, you freak?" she asked him, but she seemed to want to start chuckling, as well.

He shook his head, and made to reply, but couldn't catch his breath. It took him a few seconds to be able to talk. "Nothing, nothing." He wiped tears of laughter off his eyes, he had laughed that hard. "I'll put on some music," he relented, still gasping a little.

He turned the volume of his phone speaker loud enough that they could both hear it clearly over the noise coming in from the street, and looked up some songs they both would like. He leaned back on his elbows. She swam around, humming a song here and there, and splashing him every once in a while. When she started singing at the top of her lungs to "We Built This City on Rock and Roll," he couldn't help but join in.

Sundown was starting by the time Freddie's cell phone battery started dying. She swam back to the edge and pushed herself out, just as he got up, moving to put the phone back in his bag. He just happened to stumble on the strap. Fortunately, he managed to hold on to one of the patio columns before he fell. Unfortunately, as soon as he touched the column, they were almost left deaf by a loud, intermittent beeping that suddenly started blaring from a loudspeaker attached to the roof.

Freddie looked at Sam, frantic. Sam looked at Freddie, irritated.

"You're such a moron, Benson."

What followed was a mad dash to get out of there. He picked up both their bags as she struggled to get into her pants, and hastily threw her his outer shirt for her to wear (her tank top was white; when it got waterlogged against her skin, it didn't really offer much decent cover, and he wasn't particularly keen on any random passers-by being able to catch a glimpse of her gray bra while they were walking together). Then he grabbed a hold of her and they both ran out as fast as their legs would take them- he was practically pulling her by the hand, because she'd been swimming for a while and her legs were tired. Neither of them bothered trying to put on their shoes until they were well away from that neighborhood.

By the time they reached Bushwell Plaza, the Shays had already made it home. As to why they were soaked from head to toe, Sam let them know she was trying to make a bold fashion statement. Freddie simply said it was all Sam's fault. Carly decided not to ask.

When he got back home and ready for bed, he reflected that his day hadn't been that bad at all. Sure, she had stolen from him, roped him into trespassing on private property and drenched him in so much pool water that his mother still fretted over his clothes even three hours after the fact. She still called him names, taunted him and pushed him around, but as it turned out, when she was laughing with him instead of at him, she wasn't so bad. He wouldn't mind spending more time with her, if they could be like that.

She didn't even need to be in her underwear while at it, he thought. She just needed to smile at him more often. She had a nice smile.

He turned to his side, trying to make himself more comfortable so he could get to sleep. He fluffed his pillow with a few heavy pats, and re-accommodated it against his neck. He pulled the bed sheet up to fully cover himself, and closed his eyes. And that's when it hit him: he was falling in love with her.

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"Alright..." He took at deep breath, then let it out slowly. This was a big part of him he was coming clean with, and it merited taking his time. You don't just blurt out stuff like this. "You know that whole thing about me being in love with you?" He hesitated. This was a hard thing to say. "Well, I'm not."

Carly didn't even blink. "...So?"

Freddie gaped at her, dismayed. Here he was thinking he did a good job setting the mood. All that suspense, for nothing! "You knew? How did you know?"

She shrugged. "Well, you haven't even tried to ask me out in, like, two years," she said, matter-of-factly.

That made him pause. Seriously, two years? "...Really? Wow, I never thought of it like that." Maybe he'd been hanging onto the idea of still having feelings for Carly because that's what he was used to, so he hadn't realized he'd actually had very little to hang on to after so many years of rejection. He'd moved on, unknowingly. "That's kind of amazing, how feelings can change so fast. I hadn't even noticed that-"

"Um, so you were telling me you're not in love with me," Carly interrupted him before he could go of on a tangent, still curious about whatever else it was that he wanted to say.

He tended to do that sometimes (go off on tangents, that is), so he was thankful for her small prod in the straight direction. "Right. Well, see, the thing is..." Once again, hesitation. Would he ever actually get the words out? He needed to speak with someone about this, or he'd go crazy keeping it inside. No, he could do this. "The thing is, I think I'm falling for someone else."

Now that certainly got Carly's attention. "Oh my god, really? That's great, Freddie! So, who is it? Is it someone I know?" He nodded and was about to say the name, before she waved her hands at him. "No no no, wait, let me guess. It's that girl you're partnered with in Chemistry, right?"

Freddie frowned. He felt wretched, but he could honestly say he was barely able to picture the girl. Carly wasn't in that class and Sam wasn't allowed to take it (she'd been banned from the Chemistry lab early on in her high school career), so he always regarded that class as relatively uneventful and didn't think much of it. "No, it's not her-"

"Ooh, is it that Lindsay girl? The tenth grader?" She asked again. Apparently she was having fun with this guessing game.

He didn't even know there was a tenth grader named Lindsay at Ridgeway. "No, it's not her either," he shook his head, trying to get her to stay quiet for one second. "It's just I've been spending a lot of time with this person lately, and-" He saw her cringe. Why would she cringe? Had she figured it out somehow?

She hadn't. "Awww, man. It's not Spencer, is it?"

"No, it's not- WHAT? NO!" he exclaimed, horrified that the question had even come out of her mouth. The very thought, he just... oh, god, he would need brain bleach. "Why would you even- why, why?" He shook his head energetically, as if to get rid of the bad, bad mental images.

Carly's eyes widened, and her hands flew to her mouth, in embarrassment. "I don't know! I mean, you said it was someone you've spent a lot of time with lately, and whenever you're not with us you're always hanging out with Spencer!"

"Because he's my friend!" Freddie had gotten up from his seat, and was pacing the length of the couch, gesticulating madly. "A friend! In a totally platonic and non-homosexual way!" He pinched the bridge of his nose; he could feel a headache coming. "Not that there's anything wrong with that but- FRIEND!"

"But you said 'this person' instead of 'her,'" she was almost flailing because she didn't know how to rectify her mistake. "And you're being all dodgy and not telling me straight up who it is so what was I supposed to think?" she finished, defensive, and pointing a finger straight at his chest.

"Not that I'm GAY!" he reiterated, not understanding how this couldn't be more obvious. He paced a little bit more and ran a hand through his hair, exasperated. "And I would tell you who it is if you would let me get a word in!"

"I'm sorry," she told him, in a slightly whiny, highly apologetic tone.

He sighed and sat down beside her again. "It's okay. Let's just never bring this moment up ever again, okay?" He punctuated his question with a pleading expression.

She nodded. "Right." She cringed again. "I'm really sorry, Freddie." When he gave her an annoyed look for bringing it up again two seconds after she promised not to, she got the idea. "Alright, then, just tell me who it is you're in love with." She took a minute to make herself more comfortable in her seat, and waited for him to speak, hands in her lap, expectant.

He took a deep breath. Okay, now he was going to do this right. Just say it. Real quick. Rip off the band-aid. "It's Sam," he confessed, and hung onto her reaction for dear life.

Her reaction was the equivalent to him falling off the ledge and into a 50-foot precipice that ended a river full of gators with a taste for nerd meat- she laughed. She laughed. And not your average girly giggle, either, but a side-splitting laughter attack like the ones she would sometimes get when she found something really hilarious. "Oh, man! Oh, man, that's a good one, Freddie! You and Sam. Oh, it's too much..." She opened her eyes to see him glaring at her, and suddenly it didn't seem so funny anymore. "It's too... You're... you're not joking, are you?"

He was as deadpan as he'd ever been. "I'm not joking."

She was deathly quiet then, for almost a minute, wide-eyed and jaw dropping as she processed what he'd just told her. Then, she stood up, arms stretched out at her sides like she didn't know what to do with them. "Oh my god." Her voice sounded somewhat airy, like she was truly too shocked to do anything but react.

He watched her very carefully, like she was a bomb about to go off. This is the part he'd been dreading. Would she be happy for him? Would she think he was being ridiculous, masochistic and pathetic? Would she hate him forever for falling in love with Sam and making everything awkward? "Carly? Are you... Look, I wasn't sure if I should tell you, I want to know what you think, but I don't want you to freak out..."

"Freak out? Why would I freak out?" She replied, still with that airy tone. Was she even blinking? Freddie braced himself; that reply had come entirely too quickly, and her tone was way too composed to be true. "I don't freak out. My reactions are always perfectly normal and proportional to all the crazy stuff that happens around me."

He thought about it for a second, and he had to admit she had a point. Things got too crazy sometimes for her, what with the oddball brother, the sociopath best friend, the determined next-door-neighbor suitor, the random kid who didn't like to keep his shirt on, and that's not even counting the slew of whack job characters that regularly made an appearance in their lives. It was a miracle Carly managed to be as normal as she was, he had to give her that. He stood up slowly, addressing her. "Okay, so... you're... not freaking out, then?"

"OF COURSE I'M FREAKING OUT, THIS IS HUGE!" She flailed her arms and the surprise flung him back down on the couch. Thankfully falling down on the couch didn't hurt, but he was still left wondering if she'd been possessed by a banshee while he wasn't looking. He was about to tell her that no, she was the absolute epitome of self-control (that was Sam speaking in his head, he just knew it) when he saw her start to pace. Boy, there was a lot of pacing involved in this conversation.

"No, wait, I can deal with this. Just give me a second," she muttered, more to herself than to him, he guessed. She stopped, lightly massaged her temples with her hands, and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "Okay, let's just talk about this calmly." She looked at him for a beat, then sat down again. "So, when did this all start? 'Cause, you know, if you tell me you've been in love with her since the first time you saw her and all that arguing was just a cover-up, I might just kill myself." She laughed, but it didn't really seem like she was amused. At all.

"No, it's not like that," he assured her. "It all started about a month ago."

She nodded. "But- how? I mean, how did you know...?" She left the question hanging, but he could see that she really wanted to understand, for his sake.

He wasn't sure how to answer that. Should he explain about the boyshort thing? She might think he was a pervert. But he didn't have much leeway to carefully choose his words, as she was waiting on pins and needles for him to describe it. He sighed. "Promise me you won't think I'm disgusting? It's... normal for guys, really." She raised one eyebrow at him, curious, but nodded anyway. "Okay." He explained the circumstances as best as he could. Carly remembered that one Sunday, so it wasn't too hard. "And I guess at that moment I just sort of... noticed her, for the first time."

She shook her head, somewhat in disbelief. "You're telling me you hadn't noticed her all these years she's been insulting you and pranking you and physically hurting you?"

He rolled his eyes. "Yes, but it was a different type of awareness. I knew she was a girl, obviously, but... I couldn't see her as a girl girl, as in could-be-someone's-girlfriend kind of girl. It's like Sam and the idea of liking girls were in totally different, uh, compartments in my brain, and neither could cross to the other side. The idea was just too out there for my brain to handle." He shrugged, ghost of a smile on his lips. "I don't know why I had her labeled like that in my mind, but the label's gone now. All of a sudden she was... a girl that I could very well have feelings for if I let myself."

She nodded, seemingly understanding. "I get that." Her expression turned mischievous. "You've got a thing for boyshorts, Freddie!" she said, with a giggle.

"No, I don't."

"Yes, you do!" She retorted, extending a finger to poke him in the side playfully. He felt his cheeks going red.

He yelped, sliding back a few inches so she wouldn't poke him again. "Only if she's wearing them," he admitted, somewhat sheepish. Carly "awwww"-ed. He was glad to see her taking this well. "You don't think I'm a creep, then?"

She shook her head. "I think it's very sweet," she concluded, with a grin. He smiled. With a little trepidation, she asked him one more question. "So... are you guys, like, together now?"

"No," he replied with a shake of his head. He cleared his throat. "I haven't told her. Don't think I will, at least not for a couple of years. I sorta don't want to die before I reach my eighteenth birthday," he admitted. Dealing with Sam was always a gamble, even when the gamble itself had nothing to do with romance. He could just imagine what would happen if he went out on a limb and confessed to her: best case scenario, she laughed in his face and teased him about it for the rest of his life. Worst case scenario, he came back home without a limb. Not the most reassuring odds ever.

"So... are you okay with... this?" he asked her, moving his hand in a circle to illustrate their entire conversation. Once again, he really wanted to hear what she thought of the situation. Also, he had already gotten over Carly, but he'd be lying if he said he didn't hope she would be a little bit jealous. It was a pride thing; a sort of small payback for those years of rejection. Even if she was jealous in a friendshippy way, that worked for him.

She seemed to be more confused than anything, though. "Well..." she started, and seemed to be measuring her words. "Let me put it this way: This was very unexpected. And it's just... so weird," she added, almost as an afterthought. "And I'll probably need some time to process it, because, really, it's just weird. Have I mentioned it's really weird?" she laughed, a bit of a nervous laugh, to cover the awkwardness. "But," she grew serious again. "I really think you should tell her."

He groaned. "Really? You think so?" He grimaced at the thought. "She'll murder me. Or at least try. I'll have to seek asylum in Canada."

Carly shook her head. "You never know!" she said, giving him an encouraging smile. "Besides, it's always nice to hear that someone loves you." She took one of his hands, which was still shaking a little, between hers. "Even if you don't feel the same way."

He nodded. He loved Carly; she was his best friend. She might not yet be down with all the changes that were going on in their little trio, but she was honest to a fault, and deep down he knew she was right: he had to tell Sam. No matter how much the idea made him feel like he figured a man on death row would.

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They'd been procrastinating on making extra videos for iCarly dot com for a while, so they'd decided to tape a short "Wake Up, Spencer" episode, just to have something to upload. However, when Carly opened the door nearing 4 am, he was surprised to find Spencer standing behind her, picking his keys up from the coffee table. (And he was actually awake this time).

Freddie didn't even have time to utter some random greeting in Spanish, when Carly explained there had been a slight change of plans: Spencer had... passed the key a little while ago and they were going to the hospital so he could have a quick check-up. Technically, if nothing hurt it meant he was okay, but Carly didn't want to take any chances.

Sam, who had stayed the night at Carly's because there was no point in going home only to come back at four in the morning (duh), had frowned. "Why couldn't this couldn't wait until a decent hour?" she asked. She had that expression that said she'd been complaining about this for a long while.

Carly had glared at her for prioritizing their web segment over her brother's well-being. "I would think having to... pass a key through his system is enough misery for one week, don't you agree? We have to go, the doctor said he'd be at the hospital and we don't want to make him wait after we woke him up before dawn."

Sam had grumbled that she had no problem with skipping the Wake Up segment, so long as she never again had to hear the words "Spencer" and "pass" in the same sentence. "I mean, life is crazy enough without the knowledge that Spencer once had a key come out of his-"

"Okay! You two stay here and work something out for the website." ("Or they could, you know, go to their own homes for a change," Spencer quipped). "We're going now," said Carly, pulling her brother by the arm. It gave him just enough time to wave at the two teens and tell them they'd come up with something fun the next week, before they were out the door.

So Sam and Freddie had decided to go up to the studio and film random stuff; maybe they'd hit something good they could upload to the website. Sam had somehow ended up behind the camera, pushing Freddie into the frame with the suggestion that he "channel his inner Ryan Seacrest!". And all of a sudden he was very nervous. This was partly because since he figured out he was in love with her, he wasn't sure how to act around her. And partly because he was deathly afraid she'd damage his precious equipment.

"Hi. It's me, Freddie. Today, we're going to talk about... uh..."

She pretended to snore. He glared at her. "Never mind."

He waved a hand at her, as if trying to swat the camera away ("Wow, fifteen seconds in front of the camera and you're already acting like a diva," she quipped), then dropped himself on the yellow bean bag. Sam, ever relentless, followed him, zooming in on his face. Up his nose, actually, although he wouldn't know it- but almost immediately she zoomed out. "Come on, Fredaroni. Your adoring fans want to know what you do when you're not geeking around."

He questioned her with one eyebrow. "Oh, I have adoring fans, now? Whatever happened to me being unloved?"

She shrugged. "I'm sure there are a couple poor, desolate souls out there whose life is bad enough that yours seems interesting in comparison." She appeared to get bored of filming him, and started looking around in search of something more interesting. "Sadly, since all you do is pine after Carly, they're probably wasting their time as much as you are."

"I'm not in love with Carly anymore," he almost growled. He hadn't meant to say it, but she had this uncanny ability to bring up the confrontational side of him with minimum effort, and so he couldn't help himself from blurting it out.

She lowered the camera and turned to him, sporting a surprised expression on her face. "Wow. That's a breakthrough if I've ever heard one, Fredward." She didn't sound like she bought it. "How'd that happen? Some other girl came up?"

He almost gulped. Oh, crud, how had he gotten into this? Stupid, stupid instinct to try and one-up her at her own game. He should know by now that almost never worked and when it did, the victory usually didn't last long. "I..." He was sure he was looking like the proverbial deer in the headlights right about then.

She didn't notice, however, as she was filming the walls of the studio in some detail. "'Cause you do that, you know," she continued, facing the opposite wall, her back to him. "When a girl tells you they like you, you immediately start liking them back. Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing," she added, looking at him over her shoulder, "because it's such a rare occurrence that you can never be sure if it'll ever happen to you again." She dodged his scowl by turning back to the wall. "But you don't have to like a girl just because she likes you, you know."

Oh, the irony. He had to laugh at it. "Believe me, I don't like girls just because they like me." He shook his head. "Quite the opposite, sadly," he muttered to himself, in a self-deprecating tone.

"Did you say something?" she asked, now filming the picture wall Carly had put up of the three of them and Spencer.

"No," he replied, a little quicker than necessary. Looking at her from the back, he grew curious. "What are you doing?"

"Just filming the walls. I figured we could put up a kind of studio tour, so the visitors to the site can know about all the knickknacks and funny stuff we've got around here." She was taking shots of one of their boxes of props, he could see Carly's pompoms sticking out from the top. The box was labeled "SPENCER'S BIRD FEEDERS," which made him wonder what crazy stuff it had held before Carly appropriated it for iCarly use.

"That's actually not a bad idea," he admitted, once he thought about it. "We've had people email us asking what's the story behind some of the things we have here." He was pensive for a second, before adding: "We could do a voice over explaining what each thing is."

She thought that sounded good, and filmed a couple more random things before letting out a big, resigned sigh. She put the camera down on Freddie's "tech cart," right beside the computer. "Man, this blows. I can't come up with anything even remotely funny to do for this clip."

He rubbed his eyes, trying to flush out the sleepiness. It was like four thirty, after all. "Well, maybe you just can't think right at this hour."

"Maybe you just can't think right, ever."

He stuck his tongue out at her, but she barely heeded it, deciding instead to look at the back of the room, near the window, to see if she could find anything else she'd missed on her first sweep of the room. "Hey, look, there's another box of props back here. I hadn't seen this one before." She signaled to something up on the shelves. From his angle he couldn't see it, a beam obscured it from view, but from the direction she was pointing to, he figured she wasn't tall enough to reach for it. Of course, she'd never think of asking for his help, so he just put his hands behind his head and laid back.

She was grumbling to herself and cursing the box because she couldn't reach it. She had to stand up on her tiptoes to even be able to touch it. Unfortunately for Freddie, all the stretching caused her t-shirt to ride up slightly. And since her jeans were so tattered she was standing on the hems, they didn't rise up as much. Which meant he was subjected to a barely-there peek of an electric blue elastic waistband under the denim.

He had to groan. He couldn't stop himself in time. "Oh, Jesus," he let out. "Don't do that."

He thought he'd said it quietly enough that she wouldn't hear it, but this time he wasn't as lucky. "Don't do what?" she asked, turning to him. On the one hand, this was good because he wasn't looking at her underwear or her skin anymore. On the other hand, it was bad because now she was expecting an answer out of him. "Hellooo, Earth to Dorkward. What is it?"

"Nothing," he told her. In a huff, he got off the bean bag and onto his feet, strode all the way to where she was and pulled the box off the shelf, setting it down on the ground by a column.

"I didn't ask you to do that," she shot at him.

"You were struggling," he shot back, once again feeling the familiar annoyance rise up at her attitude.

"So what if I was? That doesn't mean I needed your help," she insisted, defiant as ever, arms crossed.

His jaw clenched. "I'm well aware that you don't need my help, thank you," he retorted, voice tight. How could she make him go from hot to cold in one second flat he had no clue, but this always happened. Always. He turned on his heel and stomped back in the direction of the bean bags. "I was just trying to be nice, I don't even know what I was thinking."

"Ok, what the hell is wrong with you today, Benson?" She didn't even give him a decent head start before striding in the same direction- not that the distance between the window and the bean bags was that big, of course. "If you have something to say to me, then say it!"

He stopped by the live-audience seats, and she almost careened into him. Yes, there was something he had to tell her. Something really important. But he didn't want to say it like this. He sighed. "I said it's nothing, okay?" he told her. He sighed. "Just let it go."

She wasn't taking "nothing," though. "When have you ever known me to let anything go?" That was a good point. If he knew her, and he did, she wasn't going to back down until she either got through to him, or punched it out of him. She stepped closer, one of her usual intimidation tactics. She was almost a head shorter than him, so it wasn't quite face-to-face, but she was close. Really close. "What is it?"

He was cornered. And she was so close. She was playing havoc with his senses. He could feel her breath in his neck. God, he could just lean in and... "You're going to kill me," he warned her.

She blinked, not expecting that. "Yeah, that's likely to happen eventually, but I think I would like to know what stupid thing you did to make me want to kill you before I actually go ahead with-"

That was as far as she got before he took her face in his hands and kissed her.

It was exhilarating. Her lips were soft, and sweet, because she was wearing lip balm that tasted like root beer. She was very still for the first second or so, because he had caught her off-guard, but soon she started responding, pushing back at him when he pushed forward, much like she did in any other situation. He sighed into the kiss, his hands tangling into her blonde curls.

Briefly he flashed back to what seemed like ages ago: their first kiss. They'd been young, inexperienced and deathly afraid that something might break the spell and push the other back into their "enemy" corners. It had been tentative, a short eternity of discovery of things they never knew about the other, and after she left, he had felt like he could take on the world. It had been something neither knew they wanted, but for one sweet moment, it was definitely what they needed.

This was something completely different altogether. He was still deathly afraid in a sense- that she might reject him- but that flew out the window the moment his lips touched hers. He didn't care, all he cared about was drawing her closer, kissing her as she'd never been kissed. Her lips opened under his and he drank her in, as her hands moved to his torso and grabbed fistfuls of his shirt, possessive. This was pure exhilaration, like he'd never felt it before. Seven, eight seconds? No, he wished he could hold her like this forever.

He nibbled at her lips, unwilling to part from her warmth. Her face was still tilted up to his, eyes still closed as he leaned back to look at her. Her lips deliciously swollen as she breathed hard, and he knew they had to talk about this eventually, but right then he just wanted to lean in again and repeat as necessary. He was sure every kiss with her would be a new experience, because that was just the box of surprises that was Sam, and he couldn't get enough of her.

It didn't happen, though, as that was the moment she opened her eyes and realized what had just happened. Her expression turned surprised, confused. "What the hell was that?" She took a few steps backward, her eyes wide. She turned around, walked all the way to the opposite corner of the room, and ran a hand through her hair, flummoxed. Two seconds later she stalked back in his direction, pointing an accusatory finger at him. "I don't know what you're playing at, Benson, but I don't. Like. Games. And I swear I'll break all your teeth-"

Alright, he had to say something before she started swinging wildly. "Wait! Wait, Sam, I'm sorry but I just had to kiss you. I couldn't help myself," he tried, entirely aware that he sounded incredibly desperate, but he had to take a leap on this one.

She stared at him like he'd grown an extra head. "Why on earth would you want to kiss me? Do I suddenly look like Carly to you?"

"No!" he exclaimed. Hadn't he just told her he wasn't in love with Carly anymore? Why couldn't she just hear what he was saying for once? "It's not about Carly! It's not any other girl, either; it's you. Just you." He looked straight at her, hoping she could see he was standing before her in utter sincerity. "For the better part of a month, I've been thinking about you all the time. I just can't get you out of my mind." He sighed again, shaking his head. "Look, if you don't want this, if you don't care like that about me, I'll never do that again. I swear."

She was still staring at him in complete disbelief. Had he rendered her speechless? He couldn't believe it had finally happened. And at the worst possible moment for her to choose to remain silent, too. But soon enough, she took one step closer to him, and spoke again. She didn't sound angry anymore, but her tone was guarded. "Are you nuts?"

He must've analyzed those three words to death in the 1.5 seconds it took him to respond. It wasn't quite a yes, but at least it wasn't an outright rejection. "I probably am," he admitted with a shrug. "I mean, do you really think I want to feel this way? You've hated my guts since the day we met! You're pushy, and violent, and annoying-"

"Wow, Fredberg, don't turn up the charm like that, I might not be able to resist," she threw him an impervious expression, her every syllable dripping with sarcasm.

He didn't let it get to him. Her sarcasm, he could deal with; he was a pro a letting her taunts slide off him without consequence. He'd had years of practice. "-But lately things have been getting better between us, and I just feel..."

She let out a dry bark of laughter. "Better? Oh, you mean like when I rigged your locker to squirt you with glue and feathers whenever you open the door?" She crossed her arms, in that perfect mocking position she'd perfected over her years of practice.

He didn't disappoint. "You rigged my locker to squirt me with glue and feathers whenever I opened the door?" he cried out, dismayed. And he'd just gotten it cleaned out from her last prank, too! Damn it, was there any lock in this world that she couldn't crack?

"Oh, right, I hadn't told you about that one yet," she tapped her hand on her forehead as if saying "oops!". "Sorry," she added. She didn't sound the least bit apologetic, the she-devil.

He gaped at her for like a minute. Then, he shook himself. He wasn't going to let her sidetrack him. He was getting to her, he could see that; she only got aggressive when she felt she was losing control. So he insisted. "And even with that, I still want to be with you." His breath came out of him in one huff. He dared take one step forward. "I want to be with you... Sam. I want to give us a try."

She shook her head, scoffing. "What us? There is no us. You're... you, and I'm me, and this is how it works between us. We don't make out, we fight and we argue because that's just what we do. It's our routine, and we're used to it. Anything else would be... mind-boggling," she finished, gesticulating about with her hands.

"Well, maybe if we made out every once in a while we could develop a different routine," he tried, trying to sound nonchalant, and utterly failing at it. Then he heard what he had just said, and frowned. "That was lame, wasn't it?"

"Yes, yes it was," she agreed with him for once, nodding, her words coming before he had even finished speaking. There was a prolonged silence, and it was slightly awkward. She was staring at him, gaze fixed on his face. He wondered if this was the part where she laughed at his patheticness and let him know she could never like a loser like him in that way. Then her arms relaxed a little, instead of them being crossed it was like she was hugging herself. "This is crazy, you know." She took one step closer, shaking her head. "I mean, you can't even confess without us arguing! You and me, together? The universe might implode," she finished, with a small laugh.

He took that as a good sign; no pretenses. "I don't care about the universe," he said, his heart on his sleeve like never before. He took one more step forward- they were less than five feet away, now. Somehow that felt significant to him. "I just want you."

Once again she simply stared at him, mostly expressionless. He hoped that meant she was thinking about this; he'd pretty much poured his heart and soul to her, and now the ball was in her court. He put his hands in his pockets and looked down, waiting... when it finally occurred to him that she might be making fun of him again. He couldn't help it; years of being around her had made him paranoid. He groaned. "Okay, I know that was probably really cheesy, too, but-"

"Just shut up, you dork." Before he knew it, she had crossed the space between them, wrapped her arms around his neck, and planted one on him. Well, he wasn't about to argue about that particular case of rudeness.

He held her to him by the small of her back, leaning down to kiss her, as she was shorter than him. She had one of her legs in between his, and as she raised herself on her tiptoes to get closer, they stumbled back, and momentum carried them until his hands on her waist steadied them enough that she could support herself against one of the walls. They didn't know which wall it was, and it didn't particularly concern them. They were more concerned with her hands messing with his hair, and his sliding under her t-shirt to touch the skin of her lower back, fingers teasing at the waist of her jeans and a certain tantalizing strip of blue cotton...

"Did you really rig my locker?" he asked, as he leaned back for a second to take a big gulp of air. He didn't wait for her to reply, just dove back in right away, because, really, he didn't care about his stupid locker right at that moment.

She seemed to agree, when she managed to extract herself from him for one moment. "Just shield yourself with Gibby, I don't care." She nodded against his lips, breathing hard, the slightest smirk adorning the corners of her mouth.

He made sure to thoroughly kiss it away.

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Somehow, a clip of their kiss and consequent decision to start dating made its way online.

Apparently, Freddie's camera that Sam had been using that day was still recording when she put it down on the cart, and since they were standing directly in front of it for most of the conversation, pretty much everything wound up on video. Thankfully, when they practically tripped their way toward the wall, they had also moved out of the frame. Not that they had done anything that wouldn't be considered PG-13, but you never knew with people. Apparently whoever found the video didn't think random sounds with a fixed background of the live-audience seats were very entertaining.

As to who uploaded it to iCarly dot com, both the Shays pleaded the fifth, even through Sam's threats of breaking out Mrs. Briggs' old bagpipe tapes and playing them at full volume through the Shay apartment from an undisclosed amplifier they would never find, let alone be able to turn off.

While Freddie was freaking out about how there was no longer any privacy in the world, he was half afraid Sam would go on a murderous rampage and their dating experience would be limited to conjugal visits once a month while she served sentence. However, when the video was done playing, with her resting her forearm on his shoulder as she watched the screen, her only comment was: "Hey, we're kinda hot," which made him laugh.

She did whine later, while they were having nachos on the couch, that her reputation was shot to hell now. She catapulted cheese, beans and pico de gallo at Freddie's shirt as "payback," and he retorted that it had been her own fault anyway, as she was the one who forgot the camera was still recording. The whole thing escalated into yet another argument, as expected. Carly and Spencer declared them "certifiably insane" and left them to their own devices, lest they end up covered in guacamole. Which wouldn't be that bad, at least according to Spencer, but Carly cut off his protests by reminding him he had a sculpture to finish.

Needless to say, it was the most watched video in the history of the website. Just minutes after it was posted, the site boards were already flooded with people's comments on their relationship, with only about a quarter of it being hate mail from people who didn't "ship" them. (Freddie quickly set up a filtering system to send those straight to the trash).

Outside of the world wide web, everything went pretty normal that weekend. Well, except the fact that his Mom nearly burst a blood vessel when she caught wind of the video. He'd forgotten she occasionally visited iCarly dot com. He knew she didn't by any means like Sam, much less as her "baby boy's" girlfriend, and she seemed to be kind of in denial about it still, so he'd have to have a talk with her about that. When he could look her in the face again, that was. Sam would go into random fits of laughter whenever she thought about it.

Obviously, because iCarly simply had that "instant sensation" magic they hadn't quite figured out yet, by the time they arrived at Ridgeway on Monday, they were bigger than Brangelina. Everybody had something to say about it, most people expressing utter disbelief, while a few kids told them they "saw it there from the beginning." To which Freddie and Sam themselves expressed disbelief. Even Principal Franklin congratulated them, expressing his wish that Freddie be a bettering influence on Sam- which she immediately turned around, stating that she was more likely to be a bad influence on him. The older man let out a resigned sigh as he went back to his office.

From an outsider's point of view, their relationship seemed very similar to what their friendship (frienmity?) had once been. They hung out with Carly all the time, she still called him names and took every opportunity that arose to laugh at him, he still spent most of his time telling her to shut up and demanding some respect. The second week, she scapegoated him in one of her pranks on their math teacher, which got him detention, and he fumed for the entire day.

The difference was that afterward she went and earned herself her own stint in detention to make it up to him (not that her dropping a slug on Mr. Prentiss' onion soup was a bad thing, mind you- she was doing a service to the whole school, if you asked her, saving them from the man's perennial bad breath). It would've been marginally (read: much) better for her to confess to being the original culprit instead of him, he told her bitterly, but she insisted her way was better; at least none of them would have to be bored out of their skulls in detention, because they'd be together. He thought it was sweet, in that very odd, Sam way.

And after they were finally out, when they were back at Carly's pretending to watch this really bad David Schwimmer movie, she had laid her head on his shoulder as she fell asleep slowly, her hand curled over his stomach, and he held her by the waist. And it was good. Yes, it was very good.

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Epilogue.

Sam liked to ambush her boyfriend in school corridors.

To kiss him, that is. They weren't usually terribly affectionate while in school. They would occasionally hold hands, or he would wrap an arm around her every once in a while, but nothing spectacular. He didn't mind, not really; their relationship had already gotten much more exposure than they wanted, and the school discouraged heavier PDA, anyway, so he was fine with it.

Every once in a while, though, he would be walking down a hallway on his way somewhere, when he would find himself abruptly pulled into a janitor's closet, or some teacher's office, or the A/V club room, and she would push him against the nearest solid object and start making out with him like there was no tomorrow. He didn't know if it was that she really couldn't wait until they were out of school to kiss him, or if she just did it to defy school authority. Probably both. But hey, he wasn't complaining; at least he was getting some.

Apart from a couple awkward times ("Ow! You hit my head against the shelf! Sam, stop- not sexy, not sexy! Owwww..."), this arrangement had been working fine for them. They'd never gotten caught, and she'd even begun to take care to do it when she knew he wouldn't miss class (she didn't know he'd noticed, but he had. He knew she would just deny it if asked, though).

On this particular afternoon, they were in an empty classroom, and he had her pressed against the edge of the teacher's desk as he kissed her neck. She was letting out pleased sighs and he took the moment to slide his hand down to the waist of her pants, feathering the tips of his fingers against her skin until he came to an elastic band-

"A-HA!"

Next thing he knew, he'd been flung three feet back toward the students' desks, lips still puckered. What had just- did she just push him away? "What? What is it, what's wrong?" he asked, somewhat frantic. A guy's mind just can't go that quickly from making out with a girl, to not. It just doesn't work that way.

She was pointing at him, a triumphant expression on her face. "I knew it! You always do that," she said. She was still short of breath, and her hair was all over the place, and she was really proud of this discovery, whatever that was. When he shakily asked what it was he always did, she sounded sardonic. "Touching my underwear."

He grew worried. Most of the time he didn't even do it consciously, but it was true. She didn't think he'd gone too far, did she? More than the fact that she'd probably castrate him if he ever overstepped her boundaries, he was scared that she'd misinterpret his actions and think he was pushing her to do something she wasn't ready for. Because that was absolutely not it. He never wanted her to feel uncomfortable around him. "That's- you don't, uh, like it?"

"Oh, no, I don't mind," she waved off his obvious concern. He was so relieved that he missed her getting that look. The "I'm about to do something evil" look. "It's just interesting," she added with a shrug. "You know, a little bird told me you have a thing for boyshorts."

He groaned. He should've known Carly would tell her about that. Girl talk would be the death of him one of these days. He was about to say something to defend himself, like remind her of the fact that he was a seventeen-year-old young man with all the normal urges and how could he not when she was that hot? But before he could get any of this out (not that it would've helped much), she signaled for him to be quiet. "Alright. Off with the shirt, then."

He blinked. "...What?"

"Your shirt," she repeated in an exasperated tone, like he was a particularly thick five-year-old. "You've seen me in my underwear, so I figure to make things even I should get to see you with your shirt off," she concluded, for all the world sounding like her argument made perfect sense.

"But you've seen me in my underwear before," he countered, matter-of-fact. That's right, she was the one who used to think it was hilarious to pull down his pants in front of the entire school. She didn't do that anymore (at least he hoped she wouldn't), but either way he didn't see what the big deal was, now.

"But that's not what I'm really interested in seeing, now is it?" She smirked, directing a "give it to me" hand gesture his way. "Come on, Freddense. Mama wants to see the goods."

"Sam, I am not taking my shirt off inside school groun-" Before he could finish the sentence, she had stepped up to where he was, and started unbuttoning the shirt herself. The sight of her taking his clothes off effectively quenched any protest he might have about this, and when she touched his chest he had the very reasonable thought that she might as well take his pants off too, else he'd make a mess in them. Or maybe she wouldn't be opposed to taking her pants off, he thought as she practically crawled over him on the desk and kissed him for all he was worth.

Fortunately he hadn't gone through with this idea when Mr. Palladino walked in on them.

Oh, yeah. Life with Sam was never boring.