iWant to Say

Sam Puckett had a bit of a reputation for speaking her mind. She's the kind of girl who leaped before she looked, and that had always applied to the words spewing from her mouth as well. Usually hostile, often loud, she never really wanted to think about how she came across to others.

Until now.

Now, she's watching her words carefully. She takes that extra second or two to process thoughts before she acts. She's punching people in the arms just a little bit softer. She's rolling her eyes just a bit more dramatically, putting on a bit more of a show, rather than simply being her usual hostile self. And sometimes, the words that bubble to the surface and fly out of her mouth are not the ones she really wants to say. Not at all.

Like when she sing-songed out "I'm bored," while trying not to watch Freddie Benson flex for their arm wrestling match just before class started. What she really wanted to say was more along the lines of how much do you work out now, Benson, because your arms are kind of distracting me. But she didn't. She swallowed every single one of those words and tried to look away.

And when Carly asked if she was ready, though Sam knew she was only talking about the arm wrestling match, what she really wanted to say was something akin to of course I'm not ready because I'm terrified out of my mind right now and I have been for months. Instead, she calmly directed her best friend to "call it," and let the class think she was too cool to be interested in the challenge; she was just pestering Freddy yet again. She took a whole extra second to calm the jumping in her stomach when his hand gripped hers though. And when she beat him, it was a second slower than it had ever been before.

Snapping out a "congratulations" while Freddie celebrated his loss, her arms folded against herself, was something else that took her a split second longer to add the sarcasm too. Because what she really wanted to tack on to the end of that felicitation were the words, you're driving me crazy, so of course my reaction time was slow, you idiot. But she held them inside. Saying something like that would only lead to even more bickering than normal. And she didn't know if she had the energy for that. She wouldn't be held responsible when he started snapping back at her and she found it endearing and she -

No. Those were more things she wouldn't say.

And when Brad came on board to do his first iCarly show, she thought it would be good to have another guy around. Gibby was... well, he was Gibby. He only served as a distraction for so long. There were only so many bad things she could do to him before she felt like she should be the one paying his therapist instead of his mother. Brad could be her buffer. Because it had to be a guy. Carly was too touchy feely. And she hadn't been working out too well as a buffer for a long time. Brad would also be a good way, at least she thought so, to ease into being a little bit nicer. So she complimented him on his work.

Carly responded with surprise at her compliment, and Freddie just had to throw his two cents in there as well, saying she was more into "insults, followed by beatings" than she was compliments. What she wanted to say was if I don't insult you and smack you around a little bit, I might do something worse. But she didn't. She didn't say anything at all, just played with the bottle of water in her hands and tried not to show how much that comment hurt her. She'd like to think she had been doing better over the last month or so. Apparently, she was still volatile and angry Sam. She wanted to ask if she would get some sort of gold star since she was abstaining from making any nasty retorts, but she didn't.

When Freddie mentioned that he and Brad were working on their project together, Sam asked for more information, and she even volunteered to help. What she wanted to say was I bet Freddie thought of that idea because he gets so confused by girls. But it was an insult she kept to herself, just to prove that she could keep thoughts like that inside. And because she didn't like the idea of Freddie thinking about other girls. She hadn't for a long time. But she wasn't going to say that out loud either.

And when she asked "can I work with you guys on your project," what she really wanted to say was can I test out my theory of Brad being a good buffer now, because I really want to spend time with you away from Carly again. But she couldn't very well say that, now could she? Then the jig would be up. So she endured the teasing from her friends, and she tried hard to stop herself from blushing when Freddie grabbed her arm, squeezing gently, to check her muscle mass to make sure it was her.

And when Brad asked her if she wanted to catch a movie with them after one of their project meetings, though Freddie's eyes were wide and just a smidge apprehensive, she simply shrugged and said, "sure, sounds cool." She kept her expression nonchalant and she only gave a minimal argument about which movie they should see, just to get Freddie's reaction to her picks. She finally sided with Brad on seeing some action movie where they blew a lot of stuff up. What Sam really wanted to say to Brad though, beyond agreeing with the movie, was thanks for hooking me up with more optimum buffer time, dude. But she didn't. And she made it through the whole movie sitting next to Freddie. And she only pinched him in the side once in the dark, citing his stealing the armrest as the reason. He couldn't see her smile slightly when he jumped.

And when they were all locked into the school, set to work on their projects that night, and Freddie pulled her aside to find out what was going on with her, she asked, "why don't we get on with the project?" What she really wanted to say was how long do you think we can drag this out, because I'm actually having a good time working on this, even though I only understand how about half of the software works.

Working on the project would become much more than she bargained for though. When she sat there, letting herself be the next test subject, she started to get a little uncomfortable. She might have liked sitting and staring under normal circumstances, but she was having to sit and stare in Freddie's general direction. And she could feel that squirming in her stomach again, that itching in her skin, that made it difficult to be around him. So, when she said, "can I move now" what she really wanted to say was can I look in another direction now, because I know that you're looking at my expression on your computer screen, and I think your looking at it just a little too closely.

And when Carly asked how the project was going after Freddie had left without a real explanation, Sam chewed her sandwich and remarked, in an offhand sort of voice, "good, I think. Though I'm not sure cause Benson freaked and ran out the door a few minutes ago." It seemed like the kind of thing normal Sam would say, and the way normal Sam would say it. But normal Sam had been replaced by concerned Sam. And concerned Sam was using the taste of her ham sandwich to block out what she really wanted to say, which was if he's freaking out, there must have been something really bad on the screen, like it told him I want to be a mass murderer or something equally awful.

Of course, that concern was momentarily derailed when Carly confused her by telling her that she knew Sam was in love with Brad. She was not in love with Brad. In fact, she wasn't even in love. Right? And the conversation went a little something like this.

What Carly said: When Freddie tested his Mood Face app on you, it said you were in love.

What Sam said: Who says his app really works?

What Sam wanted to say: I am not not not not in love because that would be crazy.

What Carly said: Well, does it?

What Sam said: No!

What Sam wanted to say: Oh my God. What if it does really work? What if I am?

And there may have even been a split second there where she bit her lip in hesitation, the idea of talking this whole thing out with Carly crossing her mind. But then Carly was all Carly-like with the sing song voice and the teasing, and Sam couldn't do it.

Instead, she found herself alone with Brad in a dark room due to the combined efforts of Carly and Freddie, standing in awkward silence. So what she said was, "I think Carly got the wrong idea about me being friends with you." What she really wanted to say was please don't like me because things will be even weirder than they are right now, and I still don't completely understand what's going on with me. Lucky for her, Brad just nodded his head in agreement and asked if she wanted to get back to work, followed by a "no offense." She grinned her agreement and she didn't even have to say thanks.

But eventually, Brad's curiosity got the better of him. He wanted to know why Carly thought turning the lights down and leaving them alone was a good idea. He hadn't seen her mood reading. So Sam made up an excuse to go set Carly straight. Setting her straight didn't go the way she planned though. She tended to forget that for such a nice girl, her best friend could be awfully stubborn.

And when Sam emphasized the words "I don't love Brad," only barely keeping herself from shouting them at Carly, what she really wanted to say was why can't you read between the lines here, Carls, and see that if I'm in love, but it's not with Brad, then it must be with... because I can't just tell you, but if you figure it out, than maybe you can drag it out of me instead, and I won't have to keep holding on to this.

And after Carly's spiel about nice boys and no warrants that ended with "I just want you to be happy," Sam almost didn't know what to say. She covered her feelings well by drawling out "then bake me a pie" in response. What she really wanted to say was you're supposed to be my best friend, but even you don't get it, and I don't know how to make you see this without making it real, and I don't know if I want this to be real, so I'm just going to keep denying it for as long as I can because I don't know what to do anymore.

And after that little spat, Sam decided now would be a good time to be alone. She needed to work things out in her head. She needed to find some sort of middle ground between the things she was actually saying and the ones that she wanted to say. Sitting on the steps in the courtyard, she drank her water, and mulled over what Carly and Freddie had both said to her. She had been acting different. She was nicer. The app said she was in love. It didn't matter that she had been trying to make a gradual change. That she had been trying to ease Freddie into her good graces. The stupid computer program had ruined that all for her. Now, they both thought she was in love with Brad and that all of her efforts to be better were for him.

And when Freddie eased open the door to the courtyard with a "yo, yo" of a greeting, Sam said, "Carly sent you to find me." It was more of a statement than a question. Because he always did what Carly told him to do. What she really wanted to say was why can't you be out here just for me, instead of because of Carly.

But in a way, he was there for her. Because Carly hadn't sent him. And that realization made the whole situation worse, if that was possible. Nerves eating away at her, Sam just wanted the conversation to stop. Or she wanted to clamp a muzzle over her mouth so she didn't say anything stupid. She could just let him talk it out, and she could ignore him like she usually did. And everything would be fine.

Except that she didn't have a muzzle. And when Freddie told her that she must be in love with Brad because she wanted to hang out with the guys, but she hated him, well, she couldn't let that go. "I never said I hate you," she mumbled. It was unconvincing because she knew she had said it. She had said it so many times and in so many ways. But she hadn't always meant it the way he thought she meant. What she really wanted to say all those times was I'm saying I hate you because I don't know why else you could possibly make me this angry all the time, so it must be hate. She knew now that the old saying, about a fine line existing between the most extreme of emotions, must have been true this whole time.

And when he kept talking, she finally groaned, "Just leave," from her spot on the floor, even gesturing to the door with her water bottle, dragging the syllables for the words out with her groan for as long as she could stand to stop herself from saying anything else. What she really wanted to say though was just leave now before I do something I regret. She didn't remember it being this difficult to be alone with him.

"Fine," Freddie agreed, "I'll leave." He made an effort to stretch out the word as long as her groan had. "But before I do-"

"That's it," Sam snapped, jumping up from her seat, immediately feeling off balance without the stone at her back. "Get out of here before I do a double fist dance on your face." What she really wanted to say was if you don't leave, I know that I'm going to change everything and neither of us is ready for that.

That's when he surprised her. If she had always been volatile, Freddie had always been predictable. He yelled back at her when he was mad, or when she was mad, but he always ran at the first sign that she was going to get physical. At least, he did when she gave him any kind of sign. But now, he stood his ground. And he he gave her a speech about fear and feelings and putting yourself out there. And they were standing too close together and his eyes were staring too hard into hers. She was barely listening.

"You never know what might happen," he was explaining, his voice low and soothing, "if you-"

But that was all she could take. Because what she wanted to say was you're an idiot, and you're amazing, and I think I'm in love with you.

But she didn't. Instead, she grabbed him by the shoulders and kissed him, putting into action every word that she had wanted to say over the last few months. No, if she was honest, it was everything she had wanted to say over the last few years.

And Freddie surprised her again. He didn't pull away. In fact, he kissed her back. She didn't know if it was just pure, physical instinct though, or if it was something more. Because when she forced herself to pull away, he hadn't put his arms around her, he hadn't tried to touch her at all. He was in a state of shock instead, his lips still pursed even though they weren't touching anything now. It would have been funny if terror wasn't making her seize up.

She didn't say anything at first, just stood there awkwardly, too scared to even move completely away from him. He tried to talk, but it didn't appear that he knew what to say either. This wasn't like the last time when they had both agreed to one kiss for the sake of getting it over with, and then gone back to being frenemies right away. This was different. Because she had ambushed him.

"Sorry." Voice flat and expression as neutral as she could get it, that was the only word that would come out. What she really wanted to say was somewhere between I'm sorry I just ruined the friendship we might have had and I'm sorry it took me so long to finally tell you how I really feel.

Because Sam Puckett saying what she really wanted to say only seemed to be so difficult when it concerned one Freddie Benson.

A/N: I realize that this story just kind of stops, but I wanted to end with the episode and not continue on into the rest of a story that we haven't seen play out yet. I've never finished an iCarly fic before, and I realize that there are probably a good few dozen coming out concerning this episode, but I couldn't resist writing this. Jennette McCurdy's facial expressions in the episode were too good. They made me think about what was going on in Sam's head while she was busy playing nice and denying her feelings. Hope you guys enjoyed this.