Title: i'll be a soldier, but i can't fight without you
Summary: My continuation of iOMG *hears echoes of groans considering lack of orginality*. I know, I know but guys I can't help it. That kiss was freaking perfect.
A/N: I want this to be a multi-chapter but I'm not so sure it should be. I'm not sure it's up to par. This isn't a pathetic attempt at garnering more reviews, I'm honestly just not sure whether it's worth continuing or if it's fine left where it is at the end. If you guys call for it, I'll continue it, deal?
/what do you do when your hearts in two places/
He looks at her like she's just lost her mind. Like there's nothing crazier in the world she could do, or could have done, than kiss him.
And maybe she is crazy. Maybe she fell the wrong way off the emotional precipice she teetered on only minutes ago. Maybe she has finally gone to the wrong side bizarre. But if she did, at least she'll know. She'll know if she was right to take a chance. She'll know how he feels.
Sam does not like relinquishing control but she will admit that in this instance she has none of it. What happens next is entirely in his hands, the ball is in his court and whatever other pathetic euphemism she can think of that describes his hold on her heart. A year ago she would have laughed in the face of anyone that told her she should want for Freddie Benson's approval. That she would stand in front of him completely at his mercy, her heart on the line. The notion seems ridiculous even now. She tries not to laugh at the absurdity, swallowing the sound in an odd cough like splutter that raises his eyebrows. She wonders if he thinks she's laughing at him, and oddly uncomfortable under his bemused stare, she shuffles and forces a smile which even to her does not feel genuine.
"I…" he repeats, still focused on her eyes. She wishes he wouldn't do that. She remembers some crap Carly told her once about the eyes being the window to your soul and (not that she believes it) she really doesn't want to take that chance. Mostly because she is afraid that her soul (if she has one), is rotten through and through and not that it really bothers her, but of late she worries it would bother him. It stirs something inside her, a concern that he sees her, genuinely views her as that sort of person. This new feeling is making her want to be a better person. She shudders at the thought. She has this sudden need to impress him, to make him see her in the way he sees Carly. So she did things differently, little things, but he noticed. Just not in the way she wanted him to (what way do you want him to see you?). He thought she was plotting, believed there was some ulterior motive and it makes her question herself in a way she never did before. He was abrupt and brash when querying her on it and she wonders if she deserved it. She hasn't really given him any other reason to trust her. It's a niggling thought and the recognition of it weighs heavy. She then asks herself, does she have any other motives? Is she being false and devious in an entirely different way? The methods are different but she wonders if the goal is the same. The new Sam Puckett, a false pretense in order to get what she wants, entirely selfish and utterly deceitful. She likes to believe she's changing for the better but what she wants to believe and what she actually does are two entirely different entities.
Because that's another thing, it's just how he makes her want to change. There are certain other factors at play. For example, she has become acutely aware of how tanned his skin is and how soft his hair looks (honestly, would it be so bad if she just threw him down and ran her fingers through it, just to see?) and every time he brushes up against her or reaches over her to get a prop (when did he get so tall?) she feels a little dizzy. At first she thought her abhorrence of him had finally overwhelmed her and she had developed some odd Benson allergic reaction, but then she realized: if it was such a horrible feeling, why did she go out of her way to educe it again? She would deliberately stand in front of his locker and refuse to move so he would have to reach over to get his books, she would sometimes (not often) let him win their frequent wrestling matches just to feel the weight of his body on hers and was becoming more and more mindful that this was not right. It wasn't just being close to him that was the problem. She was beginning to enjoy his company. Despite everything to force him to the contrary, Benson was being nice to her. He held doors, pulled out chairs, walked to the outside of the curb all in an effort to be a gentleman. When she thinks of it now, it is kind of charming. She still called him a nub though - some things can't change.
On occasion, Sam Puckett did think about kissing Fredward Benson before aforementioned event. Those occasions started becoming more frequent and less far between but it was still on occasion. It wasn't consuming her or taking up all her time. She hardly sat staring at his mouth in class or dreaming about him in bed at night. She could still function, just not in the Sam like way she had before. Now that she's actually done it she wonders if she can go back. She wants to press the rewind button because with the way he his looking at her now, she does not want to see how the rest of this plays out. Mostly because she thinks she knows how it will. He'll be sweet and kind (because that's all Freddie knows) and he'll let her down gently. Something along the lines of "I don't feel the same" or "I love Carly", something rational and true but something that will inevitably twist in her gut like a six inch blade slicing through ice-cream. Suddenly she's angry, irrationally angry at the thought. What was she thinking? Why would he possibly want her over Carly? Why is he so obsessed with her best friend? Why hasn't he said anything?
Her face falters and her lips twist into a scowl he knows all too well.
"You know what Benson? Forget it!" she snaps without any real justification and leaving the boy even more bewildered with the turn of events. She pushes past him and back into the school, not noticing Carly hiding behind the doorframe.
Sam wonders if she is running from Freddie or herself. Comparisons to Carly Shay are all too harsh in the deathly hours of night and perhaps stir something in her she would much rather keep down and hidden. She knows if Freddie conducts the same assessment he will reach the same conclusion and that, above all else, terrifies her. The idea he will reject her on the basis of failing to stand up to Carly sized measurements is something that doesn't sit well. At least if he said "sorry, but you're just too awful a human being" at least then she would not be compared to anyone else but herself. If she's going to lose, it has to be on her own merit. She keeps moving until she reaches the back emergency stairwell, climbing up on a rickety chair to disable the security alarm above the double grey doors.
Once through she finally takes a breath, long and hard. It feels like she hadn't breathed in at least fifteen minutes. She wishes when she kissed him it hadn't felt so inexplicably right. She wishes that it had have been a let down; a realization that her crush was some misguided attempt in procuring a boyfriend. Instead all she felt was buzzing and humming and every other corny thing they talk about on television. Truthfully, she's scared. Sam always considers herself brave and impetuous but in this instance she is simply terrified. She wonders if she can find her way out now. If he rejects her is that the closure she needs to finally move on? First loves, she concludes, shouldn't be this hard. First loves should be fluid, easy, new and innocent.
This already feels complicated.
"Have you seen Sam?"
Freddie grabs Carly's elbow, guiding her into the corner. Blowing a limp strand of coal black hair from her eyes she already looks irritated. He dreads to think what she'll be like when she knows. He debated not telling her (hell a huge part of him doesn't want to tell her) but eventually he decided in the name of friendship, trust and all that other nonsense she spouts on about, it was in all their interests that he just tell the truth. And quite honestly he could do with the insight. He does worry of her reaction; a small part hopes she will be jealous, another part hopes that she isn't just so this can't get any more complicated. He decides to come straight out with it before he changes his mind.
"She kissed me!"
Carly doesn't look even a little bit stunned and he wonders once again if this is all one big joke that he's not in on. Some late April fool's thing that is absolutely masterful and horrifically cruel at the same time.
"Huh," she huffs, crossing her arms.
"Didn't you hear what I said? Sam. Kissed. Me."
"I heard you, I just said 'huh'," she reminds him, looking distractedly at the door.
"And you don't look surprised because…."
"Because I caught your happy lip dance in real time, full HD. Shame I didn't bring 3D glasses!" she rants in that adorable Carly way of hers that makes him want hush her with a kiss. He wonders if thoughts like those are inappropriate now and is foolishly worried that somewhere, somehow Sam knows what he just thought and is hurt. The idea doesn't sit well and he ponders as to whether it is something he'll have to get used to now.
"Uh…you wouldn't need 3D glasses."
"What?" she scowls, brow furrowed.
"Because…life is in 3D. That's why we wear glasses in the cinema. To turn 2 dimensional images int-"
"Freddie!" she scolds, uninterested in his correction.
"So? How long has this been going on?" she interrogates with a raised brow. He knows that look. Whatever answer he gives now will not be enough to quell the anger swelling within. He just braces himself for the onslaught.
"Nothing has been going on."
"Oh really?" she asks, taking a step closer.
"Oh really?" she repeats, taking another step.
"Ye-es." He emphasizes.
"Oh my God, Carls," he stops her, exasperated, "Nothing was happening behind your back. Sam just kissed me. Like there now. I didn't even see it coming…here's me rambling on about feelings and taking chances and the next thing I know she's on me. All lips and hands."
She regroups, leaning back on her hip with crossed arms.
"Ok….so Sam's in love with you?" she clarifies.
"No! Yes. Maybe…I don't know! This is Sam for god's sake! This could be some bizarre, insane form of mental torture!"
"And…." She drags off, inhaling sharply, "Do you love her?"
That question catches him off guard. Does he love her? Well, yes, probably somewhere in his befuddled boy heart he holds a special place for his friend/sometimes foe. But does he love her? That's where the question becomes infinitely more complicated than he would like. Loving her right now, he can answer a resounding no. The potential for loving her in the future? Well that's alive and kicking violently. Freddie can never claim he has not thought about it. After their first kiss it was all he thought about. After he danced with Carly it was all he thought about. After Sam's speech about bacon, Carly and relationships, again, it was all he thought about. But never before had the existence of something else between them been so tangible, so real. Carly notes his hesitation and her eyes narrow.
"I'm not in love with her…" he drags off.
"But…I mean. The kiss…wasn't that bad. And Sam, ya know contrary to what I might have said before, isn't completely horrible…."
"You like her!" Carly accuses shrilly.
"I…no! I don't….know," he stammers, rubbing the back of his neck. "I'm still scared of her."
"What are you saying? Are you going to ask her out?"
"I don't know. I just…need to talk to her."
Carly falls silent, her foot tapping against the garish blue of the classroom tiles. She stares at him considering something behind dark brown eyes and he realizes he just can't stay silent and not ask.
"Yeah. Why I wouldn't I be? I mean my two best friends just made out in the courtyard, totally out of the blue, and now one of them is telling me he's considering asking the other out and everything's going to change and be completely weird and different and…."
"Let me finish! And…and it's ok," she breathes after her lengthy rant. Out of every possible scenario, every way that outburst could have ended; Freddie did not foresee composure and acceptance.
"It's…ok? You mean - you're ok?"
"Yeah. I mean, like I said, it's weird and I don't think I've fully processed yet, but you know what I said to Sam before she went out to the courtyard and…well you know, you were there. I told her I wanted her to be happy. Why should that change because the person that makes her happy isn't the person I thought it was?"
Silence radiates between them and he could answer in an immeasurable number of ways with endless numbers of consequences, but he bites his tongue. Pointing out their colorful history would not serve to un-complicate an already complicated situation.
"Do you want to speak with her first?"
"No," Carly laughs humorlessly, "Trust me, I'm probably the last person she wants to see about now."
"You're her best friend," Freddie states, perplexed.
"Yeah and she couldn't tell me it was you she was in love with," she reminds him with a sigh, "She's not ready to talk to me yet. She needs to be ready. And she won't be until you two clear things up. When that happens…we'll talk."
"Ok," Freddie agrees reluctantly backing away, "I'm gonna go find her. Wish me luck?"
Carly smiles, soft and genuine. "Good luck. Go easy on her yeah? Even if she acts out and punches you…and stay away from barns."
"I'll bear that all in mind." His attempt at a smile is swallowed up by a nervous disposition and instead he frowns, his brain preempting the conversation ahead and the conversation he is leaving behind.
Sam Puckett, even with innocent intentions, has an uncanny knack for complicating things.
"Well, well," a voice says from behind her, "Many could construe what just happened as a hit and run. You're lucky I'm not suing."
Freddie Benson's lame attempt at a joke (honestly, why does she even like this nub?) falls flat in an already weighted atmosphere and she refuses to even turn to acknowledge him.
"Oh come on, that was some of my best material," he tries again, "Not even a smile?"
"No chance," he replies, determined, "See I have this problem now. And the problem is a good friend of mine just kissed me. Out of the blue. No warning. And then, when I was trying to process everything, get it all straight in my head, she throws a tantrum and runs away."
He moves forward, staring down at the back of her head trying to will her to turn around. Alas, Samantha Puckett is still as stubborn as ever. He gives in a little (he supposes she already took more of a risk today than he has in his entire life) and he falls down, sitting beside her on the stairwell.
"Are you deaf or retarded or something? I said-"
"Go away. Yeah, I heard you the first time," he sighs, exasperated. "Sam. What was that?"
"What was what?" Playing dumb never suited Sam, mostly because she was too bright to pull it off.
"You know," he stresses, ducking his head to try and catch her gaze, "The whole mouth assault thing you just pulled?"
She groans, loud and sudden and he has the undeniable urge to shake the petulant little girl out of her.
"I knew you'd be a total nub about this," she mutters, her fingers tracing circles on the concrete steps.
"I'm being a total nub?" he chuckles, incredulous.
"Yes, you are," she spits back, "wanting to talk about our feelings and chiz."
"Sam! You can't turn this around on me."
"Dude I saw your face!"
"Huh?" he asks dumbly.
"Your face. After the kiss. I get it, I understand. We're cool. I just need some time on my own that's all."
"Ok Sam, you lost me somewhere around faces," he sighs again, heavier this time.
"I saw you. You looked…grossed out."
An awkward silence passes and he tries to remember if he has ever seen her this vulnerable before. It's not something he likes and certainly not something he could grow accustomed to. No matter how many times she hurts him, he does not relish in doing the same to her.
"I wasn't…I was just…." He drags off, "I was just surprised."
She laughs but it's dry and sullen. "Surprised? Hmm."
"It's true!" he cried defensively, "I mean, c'mon. I thought you hated me. You haven't exactly given me any reason to think otherwise."
"As you so aptly documented earlier."
"Sam, please." It's a tired, frustrated plea and it doesn't fall on deaf ears. Her façade cracks a little and she lifts her head, slowly meeting swirling chocolate irises.
"What do you want to know?" Her question is choked and forced, something she doesn't want to ask but knows she has to.
"Well….do you…I mean are you in love with me?"
She's silent, her gaze retreating back to the cold hard stone. She considers her answer carefully; she could lie, tell him that no she isn't and this is all a big misunderstanding, one she wants to rectify accordingly. Or she could be honest. She doesn't often choose honesty especially when it comes to protecting her feelings; if she is honest they are exposed and she is vulnerable. She felt it when she kissed him and she feels it now, except now she knows there's no running away. She cannot go back.
"I dunno," she mumbles with a shrug. To hell with being specific.
"You dunno?" he repeats skeptically.
"Yeah. I don't know. I mean…I feel something."
"Like…like sometimes I think you're cute. And sometimes I think you're smart. And sometimes the way you bite your stupid lip when you stupidly check your stupid iCarly equipment is stupidly adorable."
"Huh. Weird how you think someone so stupid can be attractive," he smirks with a raised brow.
"I may think you're cute Benson but does not mean that I won't mess up that cute face of yours if you push me to it," she warns, narrowing her eyes.
"I can't believe you think I'm cute." His smirk breaks out into a wide grin and when she punches his arm and he thinks he may never feel below the elbow, it feels normal again. They feel normal.
"I think we have just broken the record for the number of times cute has been said in a conversation," she chuckles lamely, biting on her lower lip. He has the ridiculous urge to touch her there and it's new and foreign and something he cannot fathom.
"So…what do you want to happen?" he broaches the subject gingerly, not wanting to startle her. She shrugs again, averting her eyes to her hands.
"I don't think it matters what I want to happen," she murmurs quietly, "So far, I don't have a clue what you're thinking."
"I'm thinking….I'm thinking that the kiss wasn't that horrible," he teases half-heartedly, "And I'm thinking you are not that horrible."
"Wow," she chortles, "You're such a smooth talker Benson."
"Tomorrow is Saturday."
"And smart too, did I mention you're smart?"
"Listen a second Puckett," he instructs with an impatient growl and she feels something pool in her stomach, a burning that she struggles to handle. "Tomorrow is Saturday. And I have no plans - none."
"What a gripping social life you do lead," she quips with a playful smirk of her own.
"You wanna make plans together?"
The question catches her off guard and she stops tracing patterns on her knees, her eyes widening slightly at the prospect of what he has just suggested. Indeed his own brain motors over the potential consequences of such a suggestion, least of all the damage it could do to their already fragile relationship if it goes wrong. And if he was honest, a Freddie Benson and Sam Puckett union had a good chance of going very wrong. Because of this a large part of him hopes she will say no, but an even larger irrefutable part sort of hopes she will say yes, simply out of morbid curiosity.
"S'pose. As long as we don't have to do anything nubish."
He's not sure why but his heart rate speeds up, his stomach lurching. He realizes the pressure on him then and the weight of responsibility on his shoulders. He hasn't just offered to date any girl; he has offered to take none other than Samantha Puckett out on a social venture. There's an absurdity there that evokes laughter and a reality that arouses caution.
"Ok," he breathes out and it's then he realizes his hands are shaking, "Ok. So….it's a date?"
She nods the affirmative and he wishes she would stop chewing on her lower lip like that. It only draws his attention to places his boy mind should not be. He stands to leave.
"Will we get back to our project then?"
He starts to head for the double doors before an utterance from her lips grinds him to a sharp halt.
It comes out as barely a whisper, a croaking noise bouncing off the bare stairwell walls.
"What about her?" he says as coolly as he can manage.
"Well, do think…I mean. What about…."
He raises his eyebrows expectantly, wondering if she can phrase the question better than he can. They both know they're thinking it.
"Never mind. It doesn't matter."
Evidently she can't.
"C'mon. Brad's waiting," he ushers, escaping back into the school hallway.
Back in the classroom, he can't stop staring. He knows he's doing it; in fact he is horribly aware he is obsessively tracing her movements back and forth. He also knows she knows, what with the way a smile curls on her lips every time she walks past him. He wonders if she is teasing, wonders if she's doing it on purpose. Truthfully, he's desperately trying to figure her out. He is still baffled and dazed by the sharp turn in events, struggling to comprehend her feelings never mind his own.
"You're staring Benson," she whispers with a grin when she reaches over him for some wires. Her skin brushes against his wrist and it makes his own skin pimple with goose bumps. He can't deny the electricity there and she's so absurdly close that if he leaned in just so they could recreate earlier courtyard events right there in the classroom. Instead, she pulls away, still smiling.
He knows it's the start of something and a change in everything else. If he is ready or not is an entirely different consideration.
Ok, so what did we think? Orginally I wanted to do a chapter after this about said first date, but maybe this is ok as a standalone? Also a quick mention of thanks to Emma and Josh whose endless chats keep me sane and motivated to keep writing. Mostly because their motivation and talent makes me jealous. And to my good friend Beth whose updates come so fast and furious I can barely keep up. I hate her really. Do check out their stuff though (the earl of sandwich, aussiemaa, & pigwiz), I can personally guarantee you will not be disappointed. And one more bit of shameless pimping: ChampagneScene is writing again! Yayers! Go check her out, encourage her to not disappear again ;) Ok my pretties, fly! FLY!