Parting With Such Sweet Smoothie
Couple after couple streamed out of the movie theater's double doors, hand in hand. Most of them seemed like they had enjoyed the movie, judging by the way they were chatting excitedly with each other as they left the dim theater lobby. Freddie hadn't been all that impressed by the movie, even though he had picked it. He glanced at Sam as the two of them stepped out into cool evening air and began walking along the sidewalk. "So," he asked, "how was it?"
"That was the lamest thing I've ever seen, Freddie."
Freddie felt concerned for a moment - did Sam blame him for picking such a bad movie? He was about to apologize when her grimace turned into a smile. The two of them started laughing. Sam had hit the nail on the head. Even for a romantic comedy, that had been pretty bad. Maybe I'm not so good at picking date movies, he thought.
"Can you believe she decided to get back together with him instead of marrying Billy after he did that stupid dance in the middle of the wedding?" asked Sam. "Like that makes up for cheating on her!"
Freddie laughed as Sam demonstrated the lead character's dancing, although her version had more of an exaggerated dorky feel to it, complete with wildly swinging arms. A few theater-goers stared at Sam as they walked by, but that only made Freddie laugh even more. "That was totally ridiculous," he agreed. "Sorry for picking that movie."
"That's okay. But I'm definitely picking one next time."
Freddie couldn't help noticing several of the couples holding hands as they walked by. He wondered why it stood out to him, until he realized he and Sam had been holding hands ever since they left the theater. Freddie couldn't remember if he had grabbed her hand first, or she had grabbed his. Holding hands with Sam; it was definitely a bit strange. The only time she ever held his hand was when she was in the process of dragging him somewhere, or that one time she had gotten him with the gag buzzer that gave him an electric shock. From the looks of it, she didn't even realize she was holding his hand now. Such a small thing, but it was definitely something that never would have happened with Sam before. Freddie decided he didn't mind it at all.
"So what's the plan now, Fredward?"
"I guess we should get something to eat."
"Now we're talking!"
"There's this nice restaurant down the street I heard about, maybe-"
"Oh no," said Sam, releasing her hand from his and wagging a finger in the air. "No restaurants!"
Freddie smiled at her theatrics. He supposed a fancy restaurant after the movie they had just watched might be a little corny. He knew he was a sucker for mushy stuff sometimes, as he liked to consider himself a bit of a romantic, but Sam probably wasn't into candlelit dinners. "Alright then," he said as they walked aimlessly down the sidewalk, "you have something else in mind?"
"How about the new bowling alley?"
Freddie had no idea there was a new bowling alley, but it sounded promising. You couldn't eat a bowling ball, though.
"It has food," said Sam after she caught his confused glance. "Pizza and stuff."
"Why do I have a bad feeling about you with bowling balls?"
"Relax, I'm not bad at bowling, and I promise I won't throw it at anybody. But just so you know, Freddie, I'm going to wipe the floor with you."
"Oh yeah? I haven't bowled much, but I bet I'd be okay at it. Steady hands from holding the camera all the time for our web show, right?"
Sam shook her head. "No chance! My mom used to take me bowling all the time when she was out trolling for new boyfriends – she said it was cheaper than looking for a babysitter. Plus, I played it a lot when I was in juvie, out in the yard with Sally Stabber."
Freddie was about to ask why Sally had that nickname, but decided it was too obvious.
"So get ready to strike out, chump."
"We'll see about that!"
Although he rolled his eyes, Freddie knew Sam was probably right. She could get pretty competitive, and from the sound of it, she had a lot more experience with bowling than he did. Still, considering they were on a date now, maybe Sam wouldn't be gloating quite as much when she inevitably wiped the floor with him.
The two of them had been taking twist and turns through the streets of downtown Seattle, Freddie following Sam as she made her way to the bowling alley. After another turn, she pointed in the direction of a flashing neon sign over the door of a red brick building down the street. The sky was darkening, and Freddie could see the pulsing flash of bright white bowling pins. They had to cross the road to get to the bowling alley, and Freddie's mother had always told him to look both ways, which – compared to a lot of the things his mother worried about – was surprisingly sensible and not at all insane.
He was about to stop at the crosswalk and wait for the 'walk' signal when Sam raced out into the road and shook her fist at an oncoming car, forcing it to stop. "Come on!" she yelled.
Freddie sighed and joined her as she raced across the street, ignoring several angry honks. Once they passed through the bowling alley's double doors, he heard the chatter of people coming from inside; it sounded like a busy day. A bored-looking teenager stood behind a ticket counter near the doorway, and to Freddie's right was a small cafeteria and concession stand. The bowling lanes lay ahead. Sam was about to race over to the only empty lane in sight, but the ticket-taking teenager piped up with a wheezy 'excuse me!' and stopped her in her tracks.
"What?" she snapped.
"We have to pay to play," said Freddie. "Bowling ain't free."
Freddie was happy to pay up. He wasn't sure whether it was always expected for the man for pay for dates, especially considering that he and Sam had already been friends for a while, but more importantly, Sam wasn't paying any attention and probably didn't have any money in the first place. She was about to run away yet again before Freddie grabbed her by the arm and pointed in the direction of the booths that held the bowling shoes. Apparently, Sam was in a real hurry to beat him at bowling.
"These are so gross," said Freddie as he took a pair out of a cubby hole and started putting them on.
Sam shrugged as she grabbed a pair of her own. "They look better than my shoes. Besides, have you ever tried to go bowling in regular shoes?"
"No, what happens?"
"No traction. You fly right off your feet and go sailing down the lane."
Freddie frowned as he tied his laces. It was hard to tell if Sam was pulling his leg, but it seemed like it was possible. Maybe they'd have to test it on Gibby sometime. The two of them finished putting on their shoes and went over to the empty lane, claiming it before anyone else could steal it. Freddie was starting up a new round on the scoring console when he heard a familiar voice coming from the other side of the alley. He looked up in surprise. Maybe they'd get a chance to test out Sam's shoe traction theory tonight!
Sam looked up too, and the two of them waved at their friend, who was a few lanes down with a crowd of people. Freddie couldn't help noticing they were all girls. Good-looking girls, too. Gibby waved back, finished a conversation with one of the girls, and strode over to their lane with a smile. "Hey guys," he said. "What's up?"
"Not much. We just got here."
"It's just us," said Sam.
"Just you guys?" asked Gibby, his eyebrow raised suspiciously. "What, like – like a date?"
Freddie was about to answer, but wondered if Sam wanted to keep things on the down low for some reason - at least at first. He glanced over; she seemed hesitant at first, but then nodded, which got a whoop of surprise from Gibby. "That's awesome!" he said. "About time!"
"What, did everybody think we were going to get together except me?" asked Freddie.
"Yes," said Gibby, after considering the question for a moment and then nodding. "Yes, pretty much."
Several of the girls who had been playing with Gibby left their lane and joined in the conversation. "Gibby," one of them said, "when are you coming back? It's your turn."
"Oh, my bad. Can you just do my round for me? I'm talking with a couple friends here."
"Hi, Gibby's friends!" said the girl with a giggle.
Freddie and Sam said hello before she returned to the lane with the others. It was a bizarre sight; almost as if Gibby had his own little entourage of groupies. Freddie couldn't make heads or tails of it. Then again, Gibby had definitely gotten a little suave lately, even if he was still willing to go through humiliation and embarrassment for their web show.
"What's with all the girls, Gibby?" asked Sam, apparently sharing his confusion.
"Oh, them? I dunno, really. Just acquaintances."
"Don't you have a girlfriend? Whatsername? Where is she?"
"She doesn't like bowling. Her loss!"
Freddie and Sam shared looks.
"Hey," said Gibby, "you guys wanna join us? I know you're on a date or whatever, so I can understand if you wanna keep things romantic and have your own lane, but our game is almost done."
"Sure," said Sam. "We'll bowl with you. Why not?"
Freddie had no problem with it either. The two of them joined Gibby and his freakishly attractive female acquaintances as they got back into their game. After a few more rounds – during which the girls seemed to jump on Gibby and hug him every time he hit so much as a single bowling pin – the game came to an end, and Gibby started a new one to let Sam and Freddie join in. Sam took the first round, and Freddie watched in surprise as she bowled a strike and pumped her fist in the air before performing a bizarre victory dance around him. She'd definitely be hard to beat.
He took his own turn, and sure enough, he ended up with a gutter ball. Sam laughed at his loss, but for the first time, he noticed a friendly affection in her attitude. Maybe he just hadn't been paying attention to it before. Their first date hadn't been all that romantic so far, but then again, he sort of liked it that way. Going out with Sam was a big change. The kind of thing that might be easier if he eased into it. The kind of thing Freddie would have thought was insane less than a month ago. And yet, here they were. It was almost like they were just hanging out as friends, finally open about how much they enjoyed each other's company. He knew it would go beyond that, but whatever happened with Sam, it would always be rooted in their friendship. And that felt right to him.
What was it about carrots and whipped cream? Carly wasn't sure, but they were definitely tasty. And that was about the only thing she had going for her as she sat on the couch and flipped channels. Nothing on television, no one to hang out with – not even her brother. She had some homework she could work on, but for some reason Carly was feeling lazier than usual.
Thinking about Freddie and Sam sent a thrill of vicarious excitement through her. What were they doing right now? Maybe eating a romantic dinner for two, spaghetti and meatballs, a lone noodle stretched between their lips as they slowly drew into a kiss? Carly couldn't help giggling at the thought. It was way too ridiculous to ever happen, and she couldn't imagine Sam doing anything so corny, but she had to amuse herself somehow. They had been out on their date for a long time; night had already fallen, and she was actually getting tired. Maybe Sam would end up going home after the date, and Carly would have to quiz her on all the details tomorrow. And tease Freddie about it, too.
She had definitely decided that there wasn't anything between her and Freddie besides a close friendship. That didn't stop her from feeling a twinge of jealousy, but she didn't think it was because Sam was going out with Freddie; it was because she wasn't going out with anyone. Carly didn't want to be one of those girls who needed a boyfriend all the time, but it was a little weird. Sam usually couldn't stand boys long enough to actually go out with one, and now – as far as Carly could tell – her two best friends were about to start something together that could end up being pretty serious. Carly was very happy for them, but there was a little voice inside her that said 'what about me?'
Maybe it's selfish, she thought as she nibbled on a bite of sugary carrot. But is that such a bad thing?
Before she could answer her own question, the doorbell interrupted her thoughts. She groaned as she finished her carrot, not wanting to get up from the couch; it was probably Mrs. Benson again. The living room had long since recovered from Freddie's mother's wild outburst after figuring out her little angel was going on a date with Sam, but she had come back to bother Carly several times since then, wondering if Freddie had gotten back yet. There was something amusing about the fact that Mrs. Benson assumed Freddie would stop by Carly's place before he went into his own apartment.
The doorbell rang again, and Carly decided it wasn't a good idea to ignore it. Mrs. Benson was probably almost as good as Sam at getting through doors even when they were locked. She got up and walked over to open it, but it wasn't Mrs. Benson waiting in the hallway. Carly almost jumped in surprise.
"Hey, what's up?"
"Hey Brad!" said Carly. "What's up? There's no web show tonight."
"Oh yeah, I know, but I was hoping I could look around upstairs for some equipment I left when we were doing the last show. I thought maybe Freddie had it, but his mom answered the door and just kept saying he was probably in Mexico with a biker gang or something. I dunno, I was having trouble understanding her, her voice was really high."
"Yes, she's distraught. Come on in!"
Carly stepped aside to let Brad into the apartment. He definitely noticed the plate of carrots and can of whipped cream sitting on the coffee table, but didn't say anything about it. "Where's your brother?" he asked instead.
"Ah. Cool sculpture he's got there."
Carly glanced over to the art project she and Spencer had been working on before he left. "Yeah, as long as it doesn't spontaneously combust."
"Um, is that a regular problem with Spencer's art?"
"You have no idea."
Brad gave her a sympathetic look. "So why is Mrs. Benson distraught, anyway?"
"Oh, Freddie and Sam are out on a date together."
"Yes way! Pretty cool, huh?"
"Definitely. As long as he doesn't do anything stupid and make Sam angry, right?"
Carly laughed, but it was sort of a serious question. And it was true; Freddie probably didn't want to ruin a first date with Sam if he wanted to keep all his limbs intact. But Carly was sure he was doing alright, and Sam seemed to be mellowing out a bit more lately. She had faith in Freddie's ability to stay on Sam's good side, and retain the use of both arms and both legs. Besides - compared to Sam's usual boyfriends, it would be hard for Freddie to do anything all that bad.
Brad took the stairs up to the attic where they filmed the web show as Carly followed behind. She waited while he looked around, but he couldn't seem to find what he was looking for. "I guess Freddie probably has it," he finally said as he gave up the search.
"You can hang around if you want," suggested Carly. "He and Sam might stop by after their date."
"I don't suppose you brought any fudge with you?"
"No," laughed Brad, "sorry. No fudge this time."
Carly frowned, disappointed. Carrots and whipped cream would have to do for tonight.
"But hey, if you have the ingredients, I could show you how to make some."
Her frown turned into a hopeful smile. Spencer was horrible at getting groceries, but he had actually gotten some recently in a freak bout of productivity. And if there was anything she could rely on Spencer getting from the store, it was sugary treats and the ingredients needed to make them. Their chances were looking good.
"Definitely," she said. "Let's check in the cupboard."
The two of them raced back down the stairs to the kitchen. Carly had not been expecting a visitor tonight, but she definitely wasn't complaining; late night snacks were always fun, too. If they did have what they needed to make brownies, they'd have to make a little extra for when Spencer got back, too. And if they didn't, maybe she could convince Brad to join her in a little trip to the supermarket.
Not only that, but Carly was beginning to wonder if picking up some electronic equipment was really the only reason Brad had stopped by. He could have just asked Freddie at school, after all. As long as Brad was stopping by, and as long as Sam's interest was focused on someone else, maybe Carly could figure out if there was anything promising between them. After all – if Sam wasn't interested in fudgy good times, Carly was certainly willing to give it a try.
"So what's up with Gibby and girls, huh?"
Freddie shrugged. Sam didn't expect him to have an answer to the question, as she had only been asking it rhetorically, and it was probably one of those unanswerable mysteries of the universe, anyway. Just a couple of years ago, Gibby had been a total dork – still was, as far as she was concerned – but he had morphed into a total ladies man somehow. Was it because he didn't take off his shirt so much anymore? Maybe keeping the shirt on made him seem classy to girls who had gotten used to him at school walking around bare-chested half the time. Gibby with a shirt on was like a regular person in a snappy suit and tie. Sam would probably never understand. More importantly, she was thirsty.
"Hey, T-Bo, get over here!"
The two of them had been waiting at the Groovy Smoothie's front counter for several minutes. It was dark outside, and the place was pretty empty. Sam would have gotten impatient about T-Bo's absence much earlier if she hadn't been talking about bowling and Gibby-girl-entourages with Freddie. She was about to leap over the counter and look for T-Bo when he appeared from the back. "Hey, Sam and Freddie," he said. "I was just puttin' some stuff on sticks."
"Well, me and the Fredster need smoothies."
"Can do! What kind?"
"I dunno," said Sam. "Banana."
"I'll have an orange," added Freddie.
"You sure? I got a new flavor - asparagus!"
"Um, no thanks. Orange is fine. And if you'll excuse me Sam, I have to go visit the powder room."
Sam could tell Freddie was trying to be funny, and while it came off awkward, it was still amusing in its own way. She waved him off as he left his stool and disappeared to the back of the store. A churning sound came from behind the counter as T-Bo began to make their smoothies, and Sam caught him giving Freddie a glance as he disappeared. "So," he said as he looked over to her, "you and Freddie getting' a smoothie late at night, huh?"
"Just the two of you, I see. No Carly."
A raised eyebrow was more than enough to tell Sam where T-Bo was trying to take the conversation. She was determined not to give him a reaction, but after a moment, she couldn't help smiling. T-Bo nodded, his suspicions confirmed. "I told ya not to worry," he said. "Just had to tell the boy the truth, that's all!"
"Yeah, you were right. Now make me my Banana Smoothie!"
"Alright already. And don't worry, I'll give you two some quality romantic time once he's back. Don't wanna spoil the mood."
Sam felt herself blushing a little, and T-Bo reaching over to dim the lights didn't help the situation. Before long, the two smoothies were finished, and Freddie got back from the bathroom just as T-Bo placed them on the counter. True to his word, he slipped into the back of the store, leaving Sam alone with Freddie as he took a sip of his drink. "So," she said, "how does it feel, getting totally wiped out in bowling?"
"What can I say," said Freddie. "I feel sorry for those bowling pins. Especially the one that broke in half."
Sam nodded enthusiastically – that bowling pin had definitely lost its fight with her bowling ball. Big time. Although, if she was being honest, she hadn't really played that well, it was just that Freddie was worse. And she had gotten a sneaking suspicion during a few rounds that Freddie was actually letting her win. Maybe it was just a first date thing. Or maybe he was just afraid of winning against her and making her angry; she did get a little competitive sometimes. "By the way," she said, "now that we're dating – I can't believe I'm saying this – but I'll try to go a little easier on you from now on. Like, less punching and stuff."
"Less punching is always good," agreed Freddie.
"I'm still kinda surprised you agreed to go out on a date with me. The way you ran off after I kissed you at the lock-in, I thought you were freaked out by the thought of me liking you."
"Well, I was, at first. But I thought it would be worth giving it a chance."
"And was it worth it?"
"Definitely! I've had a lot of fun tonight, haven't you?"
"Yeah. Except for that dumb movie. But I guess that was kinda fun, too."
Sam looked down at her smoothie as she sucked on the straw, hearing a sputtering sound as it ran out. She'd need to get another one, although that would involve yelling for T-Bo to come back, and he might throw out some embarrassing comments about her and Freddie being out on a date. But then again, he might have some tasty meat on a stick back there, too.
"So when did you realize you liked me?" asked Freddie.
"A while ago. After I saw you dancing with Carly here at the Groovy Smoothie, actually."
"Oh. So you were jeeealous?"
Freddie extended the last word to tease her, and Sam resisted the urge to punch him on the arm. After all, she had just promised to cut that kind of thing out in the future. She knew there was no way she'd be able to stop giving Freddie a hard time completely, though. "Yeah," she admitted. "At first, anyway. But I realized I actually liked you after that."
"So why did you decide you liked me?"
"Boy, somebody's fishing for compliments."
Freddie shrugged innocently as he sipped his smoothie. Sam rolled her eyes as she thought about how to answer his question. Why did she like Freddie, exactly? He had nice biceps nowadays, but that wasn't it. He was a nice guy, but that had always kind of annoyed her in the past. He was smart, but again, Freddie's little tangents about technical stuff had always gotten on her nerves. He was pretty much the same guy he had always been, but somehow her feelings towards him had changed over time so slowly that they hit her over the head before she knew what to do with them. Things he did that used to annoy her weren't so bothersome anymore. They were cute, actually. Maybe Sam had just grown up a little.
"I dunno," she said. "You're less annoying than all the other guys in school."
Freddie laughed. Sam didn't mean it to be funny, but she supposed it was.
"You're just Freddie, that's all."
"Good enough for me."
Their smoothies were empty. Sam was considering calling T-Bo back for refills when Freddie looked at his watch and then over his shoulder, out the Groovy Smoothie's glass doorway. Night had fallen outside, and it was definitely getting late. Sam could already tell it was bothering Freddie to be out so late, although she knew her mother wouldn't care when she got back. She never even had to call her when she was staying over at Carly's place.
"It's getting pretty late," said Freddie. "I should probably get back before my mom gets angry."
"You know, if you're going out with me, your mom's gonna be angry anyway."
Freddie laughed and nodded, acknowledging her point.
"And you'll have to push your boundaries a little. Like, we're definitely going to have to throw some Fat Cakes at bicyclists this weekend."
"Do we have to?" asked Freddie with a bit of a whine, clearly not happy about the thought of knocking people off their bikes.
Sam wasn't surprised at his reaction, but she knew he'd warm up to it once he experienced it first-hand. There was nothing quite like getting a direct hit with a Fat Cake. "We absolutely have to," she said. "But I guess it is getting late. We've been out for hours."
"Wanna head out, then?"
Sam got up, about to leave the Groovy Smoothie with Freddie, when T-Bo appeared from the back room as if he was being chased by dogs. He raced up to the counter in a flash and pointed to the two empty smoothie cups. "Pay up!" he said.
Sam was about to tell him she had no money when Freddie plopped a few bills on the counter for the both of them. She considered asking T-Bo what kind of food on a stick he had in the back, but decided Freddie had been nice enough in spotting her for cash already. T-Bo put the money in the register and winked at the two of them as they got ready to leave. "Have fun, you two lovebirds!" he said as they went out the door.
A chilly breeze ran through the night air, and the front of the Groovy Smoothie was illuminated by its neon smoothie sign. Sam looked out over the lights of Seattle, thinking about how her night had gone. About what would happen next. It was surprising how straightforward their date had been. Nothing overly romantic, nothing sappy, and it didn't feel like any of the other dates she had ever been on – not that she had gone on many. It was just hanging out. Having fun. The kind of thing she had done with Freddie before, although usually Carly was hanging around them too.
The night had been totally natural, and other than the romantic movie they had watched, none of it had made her nervous. Everything felt right, and she felt completely comfortable around Freddie. Now that they had passed the test of their first date, Sam felt more and more certain that their friendship would be alright, and she was definitely looking forward to letting it blossom into something more. She hoped Freddie felt the same way.
"I guess I'm going home," he said.
"Yeah, me too."
The two of them stood silently for a moment, listening to the sound of cars driving by.
"So, uh, call me sometime?"
Sam laughed at Freddie's comment. "Of course," she said. "Or I'll just see you at school."
They nodded to each other, and yet Freddie still didn't move.
"What's up?" she asked.
"Well, I was just thinking that maybe our date isn't really over yet."
"Not really. It needs a good ending, don't you think?"
Sam had no idea what Freddie was talking about, but before she could say anything, he took a step forward and kissed her. It caught her by surprise, but as far as surprises went, it was quite a nice one. The kiss was a little awkward at first – as if Freddie was hesitant about whether it was the right move – but when she pulled him a little closer, he grew more confident. It was a little bit different than the one at the lock-in. This time they were both expecting it. And, when they finally pulled apart, she could taste just a hint of banana and strawberry on her lips.
"Good night," he said.
Freddie gave her a brief smile and a wave before he turned around and went off in the direction of his apartment building. Sam wanted to get home too, as it was a little cold out, but she couldn't help watching him as he walked off down the darkened sidewalk. It was hard to tell, but she thought he had just a little bit of a triumphant swagger in his step. What a dork, she thought.
But he was her dork now.
The end! Hope you guys liked the story. Sorry for the long delay in getting the last chapter up, but for some reason I just totally lost my motivation to write anything. And I couldn't resist having another title with a smoothie reference in it, hehe.
This is my only iCarly story, but I have a variety of other stories - a lot for Kim Possible, and a few for various other shows. Check them out if you are interested.