A/N: I don't really watch iCarly anymore. When I think about what I used to love about the show though, I think of three things: Jerry Trainer, some more Jerry Trainer, and of course, Sam&Freddie.
and i don't understand the same things as you, but i do
The closest she comes to telling him is at their high school graduation. There's a sea of people, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters all around them. It's just at the end of the ceremony, when all the kids from the graduating class are supposed to throw their graduation caps into the air.
She tugs on the sleeve of his gown and he looks at her, bright-eyed and grinning. "Yeah?" He asks.
She sucks in her breath, forces the words itching to come up back down, and gives him a shaky smile, "Nothing—just, I guess—congrats, nub."
He cocks his head to the side, shaking it slightly in amusement, "You'll never change, will you? Congratulations to you too, Sam."
She keeps smiling, something amiss about the beat of her heart she knows, before remarking in almost a whisper, "Guess not."
Suddenly there's a wave of cheers and both of them quickly look up to see the countless number of black caps tossed up in the air, flying momentarily in the open space like a flock of black birds. He looks back down at her, still beaming, and behind her she can see Carly starting to rush over. When she looks back at him, she notices something different in his gaze, something softer.
"Good." He finally says out of nowhere, and she looks at him curiously.
"Don't change. Never change, Sam." He requests, and he's looking at her so earnestly, she feels like she can break into two right here, before him. He bends down suddenly and gives her a light peck on the cheek, his lips lingering on her skin for a millisecond too long.
"Guys!" Carly interrupts, voice filled with joy and excitement, "We did it! We're out of high school, can you believe it?"
Carly grabs Freddie's face and kisses him soundly and Sam doesn't think she's ever seen two people that are more perfect for each other than her two best friends.
She's broken out of her reverie by Carly engulfing her into a big hug, whispering and chanting happily into her ear about how they've made it, they've actually made it—together.
It echoes in her head for the rest of day and into the night, even as she's falling asleep.
She opens the door one evening in early August to find him standing there in her doorway, a strange sad look in his eyes.
"Hey," she greets him casually.
"Hey." He says back and she's noticed how ever so cautious they've become around one another these past few months, like they're afraid of stepping on glass or something.
"What's up?" She asks, leaning against the doorframe, trying her level best to remain composed, indifferent, always.
He doesn't say anything for a while. Inside, they can both hear the light snores of her mother taking her daily 'afternoon' nap. Finally, "You're not going to be there at the airport, are you? To say goodbye."
She keeps quiet, debating whether to lie and mess with his head or to simply dodge the question. The thing is, she's starting to realize, they're both getting a little too old for these games. So for once, she decides to give him the truth.
It's that simple.
He nods his head slowly, eying her intently, and she hates the way he looks at her, like he can see her inside out if he chooses to. But maybe, she figures, that's also what she's grown to love about him too. He's the only one she's ever met with that ability over her.
"This might come as a surprise, but," He laughs and it comes out like a croak, "I'll miss you, all the time when I'm gone, I think."
Her heart begs to whisper back, I'll love you, all the time when you're gone, I think.
She resists the desire to confess it though, instead standing a bit straighter, eyes meeting his in slight defiance, smiles lazily. "Course you will." She murmurs instead and he laughs at this too, something complacent and sentimental in his eyes.
"I guess that's the closet I'm getting to an 'I'll miss you too' then, huh?"
He's too good for her, she realizes for the billionth time, and this time, she can't be strong enough to let him walk away with just this from her.
"No," she says, her voice hollow, as she repeats, "No, it's not." She gets up on the tips of her toes and returns the favor from graduation. Her lip meets the skin just above his jawline and she presses them against it, savors the moment and its innocence in its entirety. This is it.
"That's the closet you're getting to one of those." She says against his skin, feeling raw and a tiny bit more liberated than a second ago.
She moves away immediately, takes a resounding step back. The two stand there, in front of each other, and take one last good look at one another, for however long it is until they meet again.
She studies every detail, desperate to have a photographic memory of him standing there, his surprised expression, probably because of her previous gesture, something akin to a struggle also swimming in the brown hue of his eyes, the chapped texture of his lips, long eyelashes, broad shoulders, everything.
"See you around then." He finally says, at a loss slightly, and she forces a nod, brings her arms up and crosses them across her chest, imploring her heart to not spill out of her mouth and fall all over his shoes, a mess.
"Mhm," she barely gets out, making sure to keep her gruff tone intact, "See you around Frederico."
He smiles one last time at the nickname, nods again, briefly, and then turns around and starts walking away, his steps slow but steady.
When his figure gets far away and turns around the corner, she closes her eyes tight, wills herself to not break. She slowly opens her eyes, a familiar harshness back in place, then turns to go back inside. She takes one last look out towards the hall where he's not anymore then shuts the door.
She holds true to her words. She doesn't go to see him off and some time after his plane has surely taken off, she sits in front of the round table next to the kitchen, stares off into space, and wonders why she feels so incredibly lonely suddenly.
Later on in the night, Carly will call and say quietly, "You should have been there, Sam. You should have come and said goodbye to him." and Sam won't say a thing back in return.
After a year or two of community college, she packs up her things and leaves Seattle. For good, she thinks to herself, too many memories back here. The truth is though it just hasn't been the same for a while now too.
Somehow after months of wandering from city to city, and town to town, she lands in Evanston, Illinois and decides it'll suffice.
She gets a job as a waitress at a nice little diner close to that university everyone seems so gung-ho about around the area and even finds herself an apartment to live in. It's enough to get by, she thinks, and she's never been one to expect anything more from herself than just getting by anyway.
People still annoy her but she's learned to hold her tongue a bit more, though a few sarcastic jabs and roll of the eyes might slip off time and time again, it's no big deal though. Most of the time they're directed towards the university boys that come around and try to hit on her.
"So what's your major anyway?" They try to be smooth, try to giver her an easy, flirty smile, as she sets their cups of coffee and plates of scrambled eggs or whatever the hell they've ordered onto the table.
She gives most of them her infamous deadpan look and a snappy response that usually goes something along the lines of "Not gonna happen, buddy," before walking off to her usual spot at the far corner of the front counter.
Carly calls every Saturday and Freddie gave up on trying to keep in touch with her a long time ago, some time between the twentieth and twenty-first voicemail he left on her cellphone when she still lived in Seattle. She wonders if he asks Carly about her sometimes. She probably shouldn't care either way.
Carly doesn't say much about Freddie to her either; even though Sam's pretty sure the two of them are still maintaining a long-distance relationship. She suspects Carly doesn't speak a word about it because she's aware her two best friends lost contact a while back and she doesn't want to make things more awkward than they're already getting. Lately, she's noticed, her conversations with Carly have started to feel a bit more forced and polite and distant than they did before. Sam can't stand it.
"How's winter in Evanston this year?" Carly asks one night.
"Fucking freezing," Sam grits through chattering teeth. Carly laughs. But the laughter soon dies from her lips and the silence sinks in between them all over again.
"I miss you Sam." Carly confesses suddenly and Sam believes her, can hear it clear as day in her voice.
"Miss you too." She murmurs back, pulling her knees up towards the rest of her body, and nestling her head against the woven material of the legwarmers around them.
"I just—" Carly starts and then stops abruptly, clearly restraining herself from saying whatever she wants.
"What?" Sam asks carefully.
"Being a grown-up, it just doesn't seem as amazing as I once pictured it to be in my head, you know? Especially if it means being away from everyone I love."
She stays quiet for a long time.
"Sam?" Carly asks finally over the line, "You there?"
Sam swallows hard, "Yeah. I'm here."
Eventually she gives in. To this one English major who he refuses to get the message. She thinks she might secretly be kind of impressed by his resilience. Because otherwise, there's no way in hell she'd give in to anyone, especially some nerd who likes to study Ernest freaking Hemingway willingly.
He picks her up the next Saturday afternoon. She's clad in jeans and a sweatshirt, a bored look on her face, just to make sure there's no wrong impression here. She's not really interested in him, doesn't think he can really change that, but she'll give him the benefit of doubt this one time, she figures.
He takes her out to the park, buys her seven hot dogs and five ice cream cones, and doesn't once protest or look disgusted by her ridiculously huge appetite.
They play Frisbee for a bit, she deliberately tries to hit him in the face with one of her throws and just barely misses. He's actually sort of good, she has to grudgingly admit to herself later on.
At some points, he tries to talk to her. He tells her about where he's from, reveals he used to play Ultimate Frisbee back in high school, never brings up his affiliation to the school nearby, and asks her about where she's from somewhere in between.
She gives him a vague response to each of his questions but he doesn't seem to mind. In fact, she thinks half the time, she can see a hint of a smile at the corner of his mouth, but only if she looks close enough.
At one point while he's walking her back home, he remarks, "You know. You look so familiar but I can't seem to point my finger on where I've seen you before."
She instantly stiffens, her mind instantly going to iCarly, probably still packed away and collecting dust in the studio above Carly and Spencer's apartment back in Seattle.
She snorts, "Yeah, okay. I'm sure you have, Matt."
He smiles amusedly, "Are you like this with every guy you go on a date with?"
"Yeah, is that a problem?" She retorts, tone indicating she could care less if it is.
He shakes his head, still smiling. "Nope."
When they finally get in front of her door, he looks at her good-naturedly and she can't help feeling a bit frustrated that he hasn't seemed perturbed by her behavior even once during this entire outing. "We should do this again." He says, grinning boyishly.
She gazes at him intently for a second, thinking about it for a second, before shrugging, "Yeah, I guess we could."
Her way of giving this, whatever it's going to be, the green light to go and he's smart enough to pick up on that by now. "Cool." He replies breezily, "I'll call you tonight or something, okay?"
She nods before turning towards the door and letting herself in with her key. She looks back at him one last time before entering, "See ya." She mumbles in a brusque tone.
He simply nods back at her before turning around and walking off.
They go out on more dates. Sometimes he takes her to Chicago for the day. They go watch a baseball game or go out to eat and then walk around for hours it seems. She realizes what she likes about him is how he doesn't have these high expectations set up for them to match up to. He talks when he needs to talk, knows how to keep a conversation and knows when not to probe too much into her past.
After their tenth or eleventh date, he takes her back to his dorm and they have sex. It's not her first time so it's not that big of deal but it isn't high school anymore either, so it's not exactly the same. He's the first guy she's actually dated steadily and he goes to college and everything suddenly seems too much like the real world with him.
They don't really talk when they're done. She wraps the blankets tighter around her body and turns to the side away from him, tries to pretend she's falling asleep. Beside her, she can feel him looking at her back, but she pretends to be too sleepy to notice and turn back around. It's not that it was bad, just that it hasn't changed anything like she might have been secretly hoping it would. She feels just as empty and alone as she did before she met him. It makes her feel unbearably sad and she hates that.
She wakes up the next morning and leaves before he has a chance to wake up and confront her. On his side table, she leaves a note that has one hastily written word on it: Sorry.
It's probably not necessary. He was probably smart enough to pick up on where this was heading a long time ago. It doesn't lessen the slight ache of her heart by much though.
Carly calls in the middle of the day on a Thursday and Sam knows something's off right off the bat when she sees her number blinking up on the screen of her phone.
"Bob, I'm taking my lunch break right now," she informs her boss matter-of-factly, already walking past him to get to the door.
"What? No—Sam, get back here—"
The door slams behind her.
"Hey." She says into the phone, sitting down on a bench near the café.
"Hey." Carly's voice greets back, sounding uncharacteristically feeble and heavy.
"What's up?" She asks, pushing a strand that's fallen out of her ponytail and onto her face behind her ear.
"Not much. Just wondering what you were up to." Carly's voice drifts back, painfully measured and desperate to hide any conflicting emotion she might be struggling with.
"Yeah? You sure?" Sam responds, mindful to keep her tone informal. When Carly needs to tell her something, she'll tell it on her own. That's how it's always worked.
"Mhm," Carly says back and Sam can't help notice the teary-eyed and congested texture to her best friend's voice. "You still seeing that boy. Matt was his name, right?" Carly continues, clearly wanting to steer the subject away from herself.
Sam looks to the front, "No, we broke up a few months ago." She answers distantly.
"Oh." Carly offers and from her uneven breathing Sam knew for sure she was struggling to keep something to herself.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Sam asks again, softer this time, and unable to mask her concern from her tone.
"Yeah!" Carly forces out and Sam can picture her nodding her head vigorously, trying to convince herself more of that answer than her. "It just feels like we've been living in two separate worlds these past few years and it's sort of terrifying because sometimes I feel like I hardly know anyone anymore but—we'll always be best friends, won't we Sam?"
The question comes out of the blue and Sam feels herself stiffen slightly at the uncertainty in Carly's voice.
"Why wouldn't we be?" Sam replies, jarred in place for a second by the weight of the question, by the fragility of it. "Of course we will be, Carly." She finally assures her, knowing that was Carly was looking for, what she needed urgently at the moment – reassurance.
She thinks for a second or two, searches her brain for any source she could directly link to the way Carly's acting right now, flighty and a nervous wreck. And then it comes to her. Her throat goes dry but she packs up the courage anyway.
"How's—how's Freddie?" His name sounds to foreign on her tongue.
There's a deafening silence for a few seconds and Sam's throat constricts.
Finally, "Fine. He's fine."
She finally breathes. "Okay."
There's more silence between them outside Carly's laborious breathing. Eventually, Carly starts talking again. "I think I have to get going now. Sorry for calling so randomly. I guess I just really needed my best friend with me for a while." Sam doesn't speak for a minute, absorbs the grainy quality of her voice over the line.
"Yeah," she finally responds, nodding her head to herself, "I understand. Talk to you on Saturday then?"
A beat passes by and then Carly murmurs back, almost half-heartedly, "Saturday."
"Bye." Sam hears herself say back and then there's a click.
She sits there for a good while, studies the cracked pavements and rubble scattered across street corners. She sits there vacantly until Bob comes out and yells at her that her break's over and she needs to get her butt back into the diner and get back to work pronto. She gets up and follows his orders without any protest. Even he finds himself taken-aback by her newfound compliance to his demands.
Around 5, Bob comes over while she's grabbing some napkins for another customer, "Hey kid," he calls out and she looks up, "Go home. Get some rest."
"But my shift's not over till—"
"Yeah I know. But I called in Michelle to take over for the rest of your shift, so it's all taken care of. Go home now."
"Bob," she glares at him, irritated now, "Who asked you to call Michelle in for me exactly because I sure as hell didn't—"
"You haven't been acting like yourself since you got back from that break you took, without my consent, I might add." Bob cuts in, "Anyway, something's clearly off so I'm cutting you a break today. You're a pain in the ass most days kid, but I guess I've gotten too used to it to not see it around here. You've got spunk. So go home tonight and come back tomorrow with that smart mouth of yours back on autopilot, alright?"
She crosses her arms across her chest, a wry arch to her eyebrow as she scoffs, "Wow, didn't take you for a sap, Bob. Guess even people like you can be full of surprises, can't they?"
"Shut the hell up and get your ass out of my café before I change my mind." Bob retorts gruffly.
She smirks, already taking her apron off. "Whatever you say, Bob."
Carly doesn't call on Saturday.
She's not really surprised. She probably could have seen it coming from a mile away.
Her pride stops her from calling her herself though, just to make sure everything's okay, like a good friend would.
It goes on for a while.
She doesn't think she'll regret anything more whatever this is that's just happened between the two of them.
"Hi, my name's Sam and I'll be your server today—"
She instantly freezes up at the familiar deep voice. Quickly looking up from her pad full of silly drawings and doodles, she's meets familiar brown eyes, enough of a confirmation for her. She draws in a sharp breath, before narrowing her eyes at him.
"What are you doing here?"
"I'm here for a week to help one of my professors with a special seminar he has at Northwestern—"
"Stop talking." She bluntly cuts in.
He stops immediately, looking at her with wide eyes, "It's you. It's really you." He mumbles in disbelief.
"Look," she says, trying to sound strong and apathetic, "I have a lot of work here so I don't know if—"
"I can wait." He affirms, the look in his eyes making it clear he's not going anywhere.
"Fine. See if I care. " She snaps coldly. "Just tell me what you want to order so I can do my job."
"Coffee, just one cup of coffee. Thanks." He says politely.
She stomps away without another word, slightly resentful. This might possibly be the worst day of her life.
They sit next to one another on the bench just outside the diner when her shift is over for the day, careful to keep a polite bridge of space between their bodies. Sam keeps her upper body bent down, refuses to acknowledge the pounding of her heart against her chest, and glowers at the ground.
"So." Freddie starts, "Do you do anything outside of this." He gestures towards the diner. "You liked art back in high school right? Still doing that?"
She looks at him with a withering stare, "Oh yeah. I've been taking a bunch of classes, dabbling in some art projects myself."
His face brightens up, "Really? Sam, that sounds amazing—"
"No, of course not!" She blows up, "This is me we're talking about. Sam Puckett, in case you forgot."
"Sam…" he starts but she won't let him continue.
"You really haven't changed, have you? You're still that gullible nub you were in high school, always looking for the best in people." She scoffs, shaking her head, and leaning back against the bench.
He's quiet for a second, lost in thought, and then, "It's not about being gullible, Sam…I just want to see you happy, whatever that is for you."
She rolls her eyes, "Well, do I look happy to you?"
He shrugs, "You seemed okay back in there, until you saw me that is. You're not really happy to see me, are you?"
His last observant question guts her in and suddenly she feels that familiar mix of guilt and frustration churning inside her. He'll never understand how he makes her feel, even after all these years, and it's not exactly his fault, but still.
"I was just surprised." She mumbles awkwardly. "Still sort of am, I guess."
"You and me both." He offers, smiling kindly. She feels that familiar pang of her heart.
She can't even muster back a proper smile, the nervous energy inside her abound. God, she feels like she's back in high school, pining for something she shouldn't. She hates it and yet—She looks away again, can't bear to look at his face too long in case he's not real, in case this is just some fucked up dream she'll wake up from in a couple of minutes.
He continues, a slight hesitance to his tone, "Why'd you stop returning my calls that first year of college, Sam? Why wouldn't you let Carly tell me where you were going when you left?"
She tries to breathe, closes her eyes shut for a second, "How is she anyway?" She rasps out, not brave enough to answer his questions just yet, "She hasn't called me in a while."
He's quiet for a second before responding, "I wouldn't really know either. We broke up recently."
She laughs, "You'll get back together. You guys always did back in high school."
He shrugs, looking restless and moody suddenly, "It's been a couple of months now…I don't know. Guess we'll see."
She nods her head methodically, "Yeah," she tries to swallow, "Guess we will."
Silence lapses over them once again. Finally, Freddie stands up, "So, you want to show me around Evanston or something?" He eyes her carefully, not sure if she'll completely shut him down and walk away or take him up on the offer. She always was so unpredictable.
She takes a long hard look at him, keeping her expression stone-faced for a second, before finally sighing and getting up. "Don't really have anything better to do, do I? Let's go. Word of warning, if you can't keep up, I'm leaving you to fend for yourself. No joke, Benson."
He chuckles, grinning lopsidedly, "Like I could expect anything else from you, Puckett."
She smiles back. For a second, it felt like old times, just the two of them hanging out on a Saturday night back in Seattle, nothing better to do, and perhaps, secretly enjoying each other's company, though they'd never admit to that of course.
There's not to really show so they end up walking around the college campus. He still makes the same kind of dorky comments he used to when they were younger, tries to explain what exactly he's doing here, despite her reiteration that she really could care less what nerd convention he's come to participate in.
He's not let down by this though, just goes back and forth between giving her scornful looks and laughing her jabs off. Some time between their back and forth banter and verbal abuse towards one another, she realizes she hasn't had this much fun in forever.
He buys them McDonalds and on top of all the fast food she forces him to get for her, she eats his French fries and half his chicken nuggets (he still orders a Happy Meal, the dork) and despite his groans and protests, and weak attempts at swatting her fingers away from his food, he lets like have her way, like old, ancient, times.
At one point he says something so incredibly nerdy she burst out laughing, mid-bite, and he grins goofily and she's missed this, a lot, she can't deny that.
Once, he leans over to swipe at the corner of her mouth and get rid of the remnants of ketchup that's been left behind from her last bite and she can hardly breathe, the feel of his thumb against her skin making her almost drop the chicken nugget in her hand. "There," he says, smiling in triumph and leaning back, completely unaware of his effect on her. "You really haven't changed, have you?"
She forces a smile and stuffs the chicken nugget into her mouth before gurgling out a messy, "Nope."
When they're done and walking again, she tries to catch him off guard and grab him by the neck and put him in a headlock but he gets away just in time.
"Hah!" He calls out cockily, "Guess you've lost your touch, Puckett." He tsks mockingly.
"Come a little closer and say that again," she threatens him darkly and he instantly backs off, still laughing to himself though.
"Nah, I'm good right here, thanks." He smirks from a distance and she shakes her head, secretly amused, and continues walking onwards. He eventually catches up and they continue, side by side.
They buy a bottle of champagne and go back to her apartment. There in the living room, they set up a makeshift tent out of bedsheets and it's pretty crappy looking but it'll do, they decide. Crawling in, champagne still in hand, they sit in front of one another, legs crossed pretzel style, and take turns sipping from the same bottle. Somewhere between getting tipsy and laughing too hard at each other, she hiccups, "You don't have to do anything for that nerd convention of yours tomorrow, do you? Cause," another hiccup, "this probably isn't a good idea then."
He shakes his head hard, "Nope." Pops the 'p' sound in the word and then grins wide, "Aw, look at that Sam. You do care, secretly. Don't deny it."
She snorts, "Whatever helps you sleep better at night, loser."
He cocks his head to the side and takes a good look at her. "What?" She snaps finally, feeling slightly uncomfortable.
"Nothing." He replies, glassy-eyed from intoxication, before quickly looking away. He grabs the bottle out of her hand, takes a long chug from it, and then swiftly changes the subject. "So. Tell me something about yourself I've missed out on these last few years."
She looks at him blankly for a second, before looking off to the space behind his head, "Dunno…" she mumbles finally.
"Do you like it here better than in Seattle?" He probes.
She shrugs. "Gets lonely sometimes, I suppose." She turns towards him, looks up from under her bangs, tilting her head slightly and giving him a small smile. "But you get by, you know? You make what you can out of what you find."
He looks at her strangely, like he doesn't know who she is, blinks a couple of times and then leans over, settling his nose against her cheek. She remains motionless, not sure how to act or what to say. "Why'd you leave, Sam?" He asks quietly against her skin, breath warm and sweet.
She gulps down whatever air she can, tries to keep a straight face, closes her eyes slowly at his touch, "Everyone else did. I thought I should too." She confesses, the thought making her sadder now that it's been spoken out loud.
He kisses her lightly on the cheek, lips lingering on her skin, and she takes another shaky breath. "Missed you all the time when you were gone." He murmurs, a ghost of the words he had spoken years ago.
She turns her head slightly, looks at him head on. Without thinking, she closes the gap between them, latches her lips onto his, gentle but assured. He instantly deepens the kissing, lays his hands on either side of her face to get a better angle of her mouth with his.
They stumble out of the tent, his palms still cupping her cheeks to pull her even closer to him than she already is. He kisses her fervently and she matches up to him with equal intensity, their tongues mingling over and over again. Her hands are everywhere, against his chest, around his neck, pulling at his hair—none of it is enough.
Somehow she leads them backwards towards her bedroom, never once letting their mouths break contact, probably out of fear of dispelling the moment and losing it forever. The bed gives in to their weight, groaning slightly under their tangled bodies.
He moves his lips away from hers and trails it down her collarbone, leaving kisses anywhere he can, and she closes her eyes, the feel of his lips like heaven against her flushed skin, "Don't stop," she murmurs breathlessly once he's near her shoulder blade and pushing aside the fabric blocking his mouth from directly kissing her skin in that area.
He comes back up to kiss her, his tongue easily gaining entrance back into her mouth. She makes a funny noise against his lips and she can feel the shape of his smile at the sound. "You don't know how long I've wanted this," he mumbles into her mouth, "How long I've wanted us—I couldn't get you out of my head—" she stiffens instantly, a coldness creeping into her bones as he continues with his affectionate ministrations, nose traveling up to her left earlobe now, "—you were always there, inside my head."
She pushes him away slightly, sits up on the edge of the bed, and refuses to look back at him.
He lies there in shock, somewhat disoriented, "What? What did I do—"
"Don't lie." She hisses, the words coming out harsh and accusing.
"What?" He looks at her in bewilderment, "What did I lie about—"
"It's Carly. It's always been Carly!" She says a little louder, the words coming out of her mouth in a half a sob and half a laugh and she feels a bit insane, a bit vulnerable, a bit hysterical, things only he can make her feel without meaning to, "The least you can do is not lie about that when we're about to…" She doesn't finish, looking away as she stands there at the side of the bed, arms crossed and shaking her head forcefully.
He's quiet again and her head's spinning, and she's about to tell him to leave, that she can't—still can't—stand him and nothing's changed and nothing ever will, when he inches closer and sits down next to her. He looks to the front, towards the empty wall in front of them, eyes like a storm, and remains uncharacteristically silent.
"I wasn't lying." He finally says, his voice unwavering. She looks up from the floor to meet his gaze. He doesn't look away, "Sam, I…" He doesn't finish his sentence, can't bring himself to it seems and she feels slightly sick for some reason.
"What did you and Carly fight about when you broke up?" She asks, almost inaudible.
He looks at her, his expression in his dark eyes telling enough for her to understand. She closes her eyes tight and takes in a shaky breath. This can't be happening, not right now, now anymore. They're too old for this now.
"We can't do this." She finally says, feeling slightly light-headed, "You—you need to go back to her. You need to fix this with her, okay?" She's talking so fast, she can barely understand her own train of thought.
"Sam—" He tries to intervene, grabbing her by the shoulders, probably to calm her down, but she shrugs him off.
"No, stop. I don't know where you come off now—after everything—" She lashes out in anger, crying now—she didn't even notice—and she hates where this is going because this is exactly what she's been trying to run from right from the very beginning and now, it's come back, all her desires and fears, just to vindicate her and it's tearing her apart.
He kisses her unexpectedly, just presses his mouth against hers, fingers splayed against her wet cheeks. The kiss is wet and salty and far too unraveling for her to handle. When he finally lets go, she's still choking on her sobs, but not as hard. Finally, she calms down, breathes in slow and steady, the silence enveloping them soothing her.
She looks up finally, from beneath wet eyelashes, and clears her throat with a laugh, "Sorry. Alcohol makes me kind of—yeah—think I got it from my mom—" She rambles on hoarsely.
He keeps staring and it's slightly disconcerting, so she stops talking, clamping her lips tight against one another. She suddenly feels exhausted, like she hasn't sleep in years, slumps back down onto the bed and looks off. She feels his hand slowly map itself over hers, fingers weaving into the spaces between hers, "How long?" She asks, voice gravelly.
He laughs brokenly, "Who knows, since junior year of high school? Probably longer. I was so good at burying it inside me though, at convincing myself it was nothing. We both were." She nods her head detachedly in agreement.
"It's never been easy with you." He continues honestly, "We're not really good for each other, are we?"
She shakes her head in agreement, "And you'd never fight for me the way you fought for Carly all those years, would you?" She turns to him, "Why would you just give all that up, now, after everything? Sorta dumb, isn't it?" She plasters a questioning smile across her face.
He shrugs, "Maybe." He sighs, "I really don't know anymore..."
"I think she's mad at me." She reveals, remembering their last conversation.
"It's possible." He replies truthfully. "She's always hated when people she cares about keep secrets from her."
"But, we never—"
"I think," he cuts in, "she's angrier at herself for not noticing or refusing to notice, whichever it is. She just needs to be alone for a little while."
Her head hurts from all these revelations she can't avoid any longer, "What do we do now?" She asks, never feeling more lost than she does right now.
He finally looks at her, his gaze softening, "Your call."
She holds his hand tighter, holds it down like she's afraid of what will happen if she let's go. "Okay." She whispers, half way to making sense of everything she thinks. "Okay."
This time, she comes to see him off at the airport.
He seems taken-aback to find her standing there, "Hey." He says.
"Hi." She says back, trying to be nonchalant.
They wait there, in front of each other, and it all feels like déjà vu except for the fact that they're older now, more jaded now, and possibly more conflicted of what they are to each other than they once were.
She leans over and kisses him quick before her courage can escape her again. He doesn't respond for a second or two, but the pounding of her heart drowns out any concerns she should have about that. He starts to kiss back, tongue outlining the inside of her mouth, as if to make a memory of it to take back with him.
When it's over, they stand there, trying to catch their breaths, his forehead against hers. He closes his eyes, eyelashes tickling her eyebrow lightly.
"I'll miss you, all the time when you're gone, I think." She echoes his words as they finally break apart.
He gives her a small smile, tries to put on a brave face, "Course you will."
Funny, how the tables have turned this time around.
She laughs, although it feels nothing like a laugh to be honest, and tugs on the lapels of his jacket and gives him a wiry look. "Just shut up and get on that plane and get your stupid degree, got it?"
He replies back evenly with an earnest request, "Call Carly and talk to her? She really needs you right now."
She nods her head in consent, "Alright."
Her heart begs to whisper, come back when you can, but from the look in his eyes, she's pretty sure she doesn't have to say it out loud. She knows better than that by now.
"Guess I'll be seeing you then." She says instead, swallowing hard.
He nods, "See you." He says in a low voice, eyes dark and knowing. She knows he'd drop his bags in a second, call in and change his flight to another day, another time, just to stay a little longer with her, if she only told him to. But they're not ready for that, not yet anyway. There's too much going on, too much to fix up, and for once she can't avoid it.
She takes another step back, hand grappling the back of her other elbow, and watches him start to walk away.
"Hey!" She calls out, when he's a bit farther away. He turns around, waiting. "That's me inside your head, Freduccini." She reminds him jokingly, tapping the side of her head. Her voice cracks at the end.
He smiles, half-hearted, waves one last time, turns back around and continues down the terminal.
When she gets home, she tosses her keys on the coffee table and curls up on her couch, sees the blue and white images flickering on the TV screen but can't bring herself to actually make sense of any of it.
She picks up the phone and dials a number slowly, listens to it ring patiently, and then with a deep breath, "Hey Carly? It's me."