[AN: This….all I can say is that it wrote itself. Either that or I've started sleep writing. I know I'm slacking hardcore on Wonderful and I swear to you that I haven't given up on it. At times this story is a little hard on Carly. It's nothing too harsh though; just a little frustration on Sam's part. I was going to split this into actual chapters, but they were really short and that bothered me a little. Also, my Batman obsession managed to work its way into this story. Sorry about that…Based on the song "Always Midnight" by Pat Monahan. I don't own iCarly or Always Midnight.]

{Freddie hearts Carly}

"Because I love her!"

And he means it, even though he's only thirteen he's not exaggerating when he says he's in love with Carly. It's that lovely and dangerous, all-consuming love. Lovely if the object of your affection returns the sentiment and you can ride off into the sunset towards your happily ever after. Dangerous if they, like Carly, deny your advances at every turn and gush about who their own candles burn for in front of you, as if exposure to such pain will snap you out of your feelings. (It doesn't.)

He still longs for her, waits for the day when she'll turn to him and say "It was you all along Freddie" and he won't have the ring ready (because he's determined to never become that desperate) but sooner than later they'll take their vows in a private ceremony in front of his mother, Spencer and Sam (who by then will be on proper medication or maybe just less Sam-like) and they'll spend the rest of their lives together and never will he bring up to her that he was right all along.

On days when she's even blinder than usual, he almost welcomes Sam's behavior. It's a constant in his ever-changing world. He'll be invisible Tuesday when Carly will announce her love for (insert latest crush's name here) from the fifth floor or school or across the street from the Groovy Smoothie and Wednesday they'll actually have a conversation and she'll plan their wedding instead of the next show. But by next Friday she'll be crying in the studio and he'll be the one explaining to her that she just needs to find a boy who deserves her and it's only then that she smothers him with compliments and says that she has no idea what she'd do without him and that hope starts to build up again….

And then Monday they start all over.

But he can count on Sam to always be vicious. Monday she gives him a wedgie and Tuesday she dumps her half-eaten mashed potatoes in his bookbag because Carly saw something green in them and Wednesday she calls him a nub and shoves him into a locker and Thursday they tease Carly's new love together because Carly thinks he's perfect but really he's been in his "awkward phase" for about fifteen years and Friday they'll comfort her together and once she can handle laughing Sam will insult Freddie because that's what she does. That's how it's supposed to be.

It's another Thursday and Carly is texting Ted from 6C and Sam is laughing because Ted is sort of jumpy (or as Sam calls him "an absolute puss") and he nearly cried when Carly put her hands over his eyes and asked him to guess who. Freddie laughs along with her until Sam abruptly tells him that Ted may be a pansy but he's way better than a germophobic mama's boy. They begin to argue and Freddie bites back a sigh of relief because he can't hear the clicking of Carly's phone over Sam's yelling which means he can't hear his chances with Carly dying all over again. He says he hates her, but honestly he's grateful for Sam and the fact that he'll never go through any of this with her.

{Sam hearts Freddie}

He cannot possibly be this stupid. He'd said it himself: "When a girl rags on a guy it means she likes him." And sure, she'd played it off well but seriously? She's starting to trip over all of the hints she drops to him. How many times does she have to say "Carly will never love you" before he finally accepts it and opens his eyes to the other options around him?

Or, more specifically, right in front of him.

Sam is so not a sappy chick. She doesn't romance anything but food and her idea of flirting is not snapping a guy's bone when she fights him. Sometimes she envies Carly's embodiment of girly essence. Boys always know when Carly likes them and nine times out of ten, they like her first. Guys think Sam's cute until they get to know her; she can't count how many times an initially interested guy has tucked tail and run because he found out she's a better wrestler, a harder hitter and a bigger eater than he is. And of course Carly's always there for her when it all falls apart, telling her that she just needs someone who knows her (even though they both know that Sam typically doesn't just give those chances away) and that the right person will show up. They joke that they need the male version of Carly and everyone laughs about it but deep down Sam knows that she's already found that person. He's just so wrapped up in his female doppelganger that Sam's barely even a blip on his radar.

So instead of letting it get to her (because once it gets to her it's only a matter of time before it actually hurts her) she lashes out. She does it to throw him off track even though she could walk in with a Penny Tee declaring "I love Freddie" and he'd go right on staring at Carly. She does it because she needs an outlet and he's there and he just sort of takes it; sure he dishes it back out but really it's become so normal to him that it doesn't upset him, so it doesn't upset her either. She does it because he only ever really sees her when they're screaming at each other. It's only during fights that his Carly-colored glasses can be removed and Sam is finally given his full attention. And even though sometimes the sting of her words even hurt her, she can't stop because she's afraid if she does he'd never look her way again.

{Freddie + Carly = Sam puking blood}

Carly is my very best friend. She's practically my sister and I love her. I do not hate her. I just hate what she's doing.

Because Carly's hero worship was cute on the way to the hospital and touching once there but seriously? Seriously? This boy has been panting at her heels since they were eleven and she's said no more times than Spencer has set decidedly non-flammable objects on fire and now they're all lovey-dovey in the middle of the hallway like Freddie was hers all along. He saved Sam from being run over by her own mother's car and she didn't go sticking her tongue down his throat. And the fact that she'd shown that much restraint was a feat in and of itself considering the amount of money she'd just robbed him of because let's face it, taking advantage of the stupid is a rush and at that moment, he was being pretty freaking stupid.

At first she lets it go. Let him have his fantasy and let Carly get it out of her system and eventually it will all burn out. But then every time she looks instead of seeing what should be the heroic Man of Steel and his starry eyed reporter all Sam can see is The Joker and Harley Quinn, except Freddie was the one in ponytails. How could he let her crush his heart beneath her shoe for so long and just keep wanting her? (Sam does her best to ignore the little voice in the back of her head that calls her a hypocrite during this train of thought.) And why, why, why does Carly always get what she wants? Sam would never take from her, but just once Sam would like to have something to herself. And it sounds stupid and wrong and territorial but Freddie was the one thing Carly never wanted. So Freddie's friendship, like it or not, had been the one thing that Carly hadn't tainted but now all she'll ever see is his hand around Carly's waist and his lips on hers and really, what happens can't be helped.

"You're Carly's bacon."

And the realization makes him reel and for a split second Sam thinks she's going to have to grab him to keep him from falling over but then Carly's spell breaks and he sees what Sam sees and later he texts her and Sam is so happy to have her Freddie back that she almost cries.

I was kinda stupid huh?

Generally. But it's understandable. You've been in love with her since you could breathe.

Wanna know something?

No. But I doubt that's gonna stop you.

I was totally cool with just being friends. I'd finally grown out of loving her but all of a sudden this chance just falls in my lap. I just couldn't pass it up you know?

Yeah I get it. And the lap stuff? TMI dude

Leave it to you to dirty up my metaphor Puckett.

I do what I can.

{Freddie sees the light}

If Sam's bacon revelation had slapped him, this one kicked him square in the junk.

Sam had saved him from Carly's blindness so many times that she'd started to become to him what he was to Carly: a safety net. She was overused and underappreciated but she still managed to come through for him every time. When he finally figured this out he texted her to apologize even though she wouldn't know what he was talking about and would be pissed that he woke her.

Predictably her response was The hell are you waking me up for?

I treat you like crap and I'm so sorry.

Are you drunk?



Sam… (And when he sent this he knew she'd at least grin because he'd perfected the art of texting an exasperated sigh specifically for her.)

You better not be. If you're intoxicated without me our friendship is over. There's barely a minute between this text and her next. I honestly have no idea what you're talking about.

I treat you the way Carly treated me and I never should have. Especially since I know how it feels on the ignored side. Sam doesn't respond for a while and Freddie figures that she's either fallen asleep again or doesn't know how to respond. He prepares himself for sarcasm in the event of the latter.

Congratulations. Can I go back to sleep now?

Freddie smiles as he responds. Sure. Good night Sam.

Night Benson.

The next day he knows she didn't sleep because he didn't either. At school he manages to get to her locker before Carly and hugs her before she can stop him.

"I really am sorry Sam. I promise you I'll never take you for granted again." And to his surprise Sam reaches up and hesitantly hugs him back.

"Okay," she says softly against his shoulder. "Okay." And Freddie realizes what has just happened: Sam has finally opened a teeny little hole for him to peek through in the wall that defends her heart. He pulls back and holds her at arms' length and she's trying her hardest to hide the hesitation in her eyes but…

"What's wrong?" Carly comes around the corner and looks at the scene before her with worry. "Are you okay Sam?" Because Sam only allows public affection when she's sick and even then it's never for this long.

"She's okay," Freddie answers for her. "I'm going to keep an eye on her."

These words are absolutely not the reason Sam smiles, but just so that no one incorrectly assumes that they are she turns to Carly before the smile is fully formed.

"I'll be fine Carls. Nothing a math class naptime won't fix."

Freddie manages to stay close the entire day and finally, Sam doesn't have to hit or snap or hurt to get his attention; it's just there.