i. underdog, just look at the mess you made.

Sam knows she should run. Every cell in her body is screaming at her to do just that, her legs tingle with the very urge.

RUN!

It's a normal, natural reaction for her… an almost unhinged compulsion when her carefully structured wall, the one hiding her emotions, has been compromised; a compulsion that she has never had any control over, except for the act of flight itself. That she knows how to do.

But this time she doesn't give in to her predictive urges; something boils deep within forcing her feet to remain firmly planted on the ground, because she needs to stay for this. She needs to hear… she needs to see… she needs to feel his reaction, because her brain, for whatever confusing reason, refutes what she already knows.

He'll choose Carly.

No, not choose; there is no choice. It has always been Carly, that's how things have always been, and that's how they'll stay… there is no other option. Sam would forever be the consolation prize, always a second choice… always the underdog.

Fuck... just look at the mess she'd made.

Their entire universe had been thrown out of balance, and she'd caused it. In one brave and completely reckless, impulsive moment she'd shifted everything they'd ever known. And now, teetering on the edge of his side of the scale she knows the only thing left to do is for him to throw her off. For him to reject her just like she knows he will.

Thus putting everything back in its rightful place, everything back into balance as it once was. With Carly on her end of the scale and Freddie on his… without Sam running in between them trying to balance, trying to find her place, trying to fit in.

No more Samantha 'third wheel' Puckett.

But again, her brain refutes all of that. Some kind of sickening optimism keeping her frozen in place, because he didn't pull away, and he didn't push her off with a splutter... so there's a tiny ray of hope there. One she wishes she was able to squash.

The urge to flee groans inside her as she continues to stare at his adorable, yet baffled, and completely unreadable expression. She used to know that face so well, now she's not so sure. All of this might be easier if he would just speak.

His eyes dart around the courtyard probably looking for answers, possibly looking for a way to erase time, maybe both; and it's then that she realises waiting to hear the inevitable rejection (the one she's completely prepared and at the same time completely unprepared for) is far worse than living in fear of it, like she has done for the last two years. Because first kisses with boys you're supposed to hate changes everything, and two years of denied feelings, broken hearts, lies and repressed emotions makes you numb. None of that can prepare you for the repercussions of one careless act. An act she never thought she'd live to regret.

But regret it she does, more than anything else in her fucked up life, and there are thousands of them. Regrets that is. All covered up with her false bravado and her everything is fine smile.

She hates him in that moment, hates him for making her feel this way, hates him for making her put her heart on the line, hates him for being the one person she can't seem to live without, but will likely have to.

However, hate doesn't mean what it used to, at least not where he's concerned, and it's impossible for her to keep ignoring it. It's replaced by some warped version of love and her heart beats just that little bit faster.

Her body tenses as all these conflictions run through her veins. Her hands, of their own accord, ball into fists and she takes a defiant step back. The first movement either of them has made in close to five minutes.

And it's all she can do not to bolt straight through the door and forget everything when his eyes meet hers again. They're soft, confused, and just a little bit clouded, he goes to speak but looks away and she's furious.

Irrationality takes over and another defensive wall is thrown up in that very second, because damn it, she's not going to let him get the better of her, not this time... never again.

"Just forget it."

It's hard and cold and everything he should expect from Sam Puckett.


ii. it's such a shame a shame, we had to find out this way.

Freddie knows he should speak. Every cell in his body is screaming at him to do just that, his throat aches with the very urge.

SPEAK!

He's never had a problem with words before, but then again, he's never been bombarded, in the most unorthodox way, with the knowledge that the girl who supposedly hated his very existence is actually in love with him.

When did everything begin to move so fast? All the insults, the bickering, the fighting, the first kiss… everything. All of it coming together in one lightning bolt of a reality check. How could he have been so blind?

It was obvious now.

It was just a damn shame that he had to find out this way. But that's Sam, he muses. She's insecure but she'd never admit it, she's scared of rejection but she'd never voice it, she's unsure of herself and of her feelings so she represses everything… apparently until she can repress no more.

Sam has always been a creature of extremes.

Really in the grand scheme of things this should be just another one of those things she does, just another one of those Sam things that are completely out of left field but that he's gotten used to over the years... the ones that roll off his back like water on a duck.

But nothing in their complicated past has come close to being as confusing nor seemingly as paralysing as this one gesture. Causing Freddie to question everything. Nothing means what it used to and nothing will ever mean what he thinks it's supposed to. So where do they go from here? Where does he go from here?

The shift in power doesn't go unnoticed either, he's holding all the cards now and he can see she knows just that, he can see it in the way she's holding herself, see it in her face… that intense vulnerability, that if he really thinks about it, he never wants to see from her again. Because it just hurts too much... to see his strong willed, tough as nails friend, scared.

But scared she is... maybe even petrified and he can't ignore it. He knows she's waiting for him to say something... to react, and not matter how much he tells himself, screams at himself, to do something... anything, he remains fixed to the spot. Motionless. Voiceless.

Eyes looking anywhere but directly at her for too long, because again, it hurts to see her like this; and looking into her soul crushing eyes isn't going to make him process this any faster.

He needs a pause button, or perhaps a rewind button. He's not sure which one would be better right now. He'd take both if he could... in fact he'd take all the functions of a remote control in this very moment if physics would allow.

But he knows that's juvenile, and just a desperate pointless wish people make when they want out of a situation they can't get away from. However, Freddie doesn't want out... he's made aware of that as his mind races, he simply wants time. Time to process this without the regretful hurt filled eyes of Samantha Puckett staring him down.

Freddie's eyes meet hers again, he sees her body tense and he knows the urge to flee is growing strong inside her. No words come out when he tries to speak because his throat is dry and it closes, pinched shut with the desperate attempt to freeze time.

He looks away from her and back to the calming movement of the trees because he can't bare it anymore. He can't bear to see her carefully crafted defences regenerate, and see them he can, almost clear as day right before his eyes, every last brick going back into its rightful place.

She'd let her guard down for one fleeting moment and now Freddie knows he's out of time.

"Just forget it."

It's scathing and it almost elicits a jolt from his suddenly heavy limbs, though it's not surprising.

But he doesn't want to forget it; he doesn't want to try and go back to how things were because there's simply no way to do that now, there is no forgetting this. No matter how much she resists, denies or tries to push him away. This will always hang heavy between them.

His time is up, he'll never have an opportunity like this again, if only he'd been able to speak.


iii. revenge loves company, three makes it a crowd.

Carly knows she should look away. Every cell in her body is screaming at her to do just that, her eyes sting with the very urge.

LOOK AWAY!

But Carly's never been one to keep her nose out of other peoples business before, and right now, especially concerning her two best friends, it isn't any different. It's not a selfish trait of hers, no not at all, because she only ever wants what's best for others, and if that just so happens to benefit her also then she takes it as a bonus.

It's only ever for the good of the people she's trying to help. The thanks and adoration that follows is just part and parcel of that... completely no fault of her own.

So perhaps it is more of a fifty-fifty split. Carly loves the glorification, the attention the limelight... she loves the praise and the feeling she gets from all her good deeds, she'd be a liar if she said she didn't. But there's a difference between being selfish and being helpful, right? And there's no such thing as a selfless good deed. At least not one she's discovered.

So she keeps watching.

Waiting for the aftermath, waiting for Sam to run, waiting for Freddie to laugh... waiting for everything to return to normal. Because this wasn't normal.

Her mind is a jumble, things not processing as smoothly as they normally do, a million different thoughts and questions all rushing through her at once.

She can practically see the tension as a tangible element in the air floating between Sam and Freddie, almost like she could rush out there with a knife and slice it in half. So what exactly was going on here?

She hadn't seen who initiated the kiss but with everything that had happened in the last few hours, the obvious was screaming at her in the face.

Sam. MoodFace. Love. Kissing. Freddie. Awkwardness.

It all made perfect sense... while none at the same time; and Carly isn't sure what hurts the most. Finding Sam and Freddie kissing behind her back or the fact that her best friend hadn't confided in her.

At what point did Sam feel she couldn't tell Carly everything?

It's a question she doesn't want to ask herself, but one that keeps lingering. Much like the jealousy that is threatening to surface. Carly wants it all to go away, desperately, but she can't take her eyes off the pair in the courtyard... and this shouldn't bother her that much.

If only she could look away!

Maybe if she keeps watching, the longer this image of them together is in front of her, being etched into her memory, perhaps it will become easier to deal with.

But it's not easier, it's the opposite of easier, and she can't help but feel as if she's losing herself, losing a part of herself... because things really shouldn't be this way.

His heart is reserved for her, they all know it; that of course didn't mean Carly wanted Freddie for herself, at least not romantically anyway. But the idea that he would no longer be pining away for her didn't sit well.

She doesn't want to give that up, she'd gotten used to feeding off Freddie's affections, and as hard as that was to admit it was the truth... however she also hated that fact about herself and hated just how addicted to it she'd become. To have that slipping away felt...

It just shouldn't be like this, and Carly was certainly not used to feeling like this. So confused, so helpless, so... out of the loop. The thought of becoming the third wheel to Sam and Freddie made her stomach churn, because there's truth in the statement 'three makes it a crowd'. She's never been on the outside before.

Carly prides herself on being a good friend but right now she's feeling anything but; and that kills her. It kills her to be feeling this way, this jealousy, this betrayal... and it's even worse that she can't pinpoint where exactly to apply those feelings.

It was far too much confliction for one girl to handle in one night.

"Just forget it."

She hears Sam's words, scathing and cold; and something almost physically snaps within.

There is no forgetting this, for any of them. Time can't be erased... and Carly is suddenly made aware of the choice she must make. To listen to her stubborn heart and let Sam run from this like she's programmed to do, or to put aside her own ridiculous selfishness and be the loyal supportive best friend she's always been.

She can see the pain in her best friend's eyes, and she knows she'd give up everything to make that go away.


A/N: I just had to get this out of my system guys... seriously. Now that I have I can focus properly on chapter thirteen of Kiss with a Fist. Even if you're filled with a murderous rage for me right now because this isn't my next chapter, I hope you can enjoy it in some way. xD

[BETA'd by iCarlyAngst]