A/N: This story is a LONG time coming. It's finished, chaptered, and took me about a year to complete. This takes place in a world where there is no iOMG, no "little crush", no Gibby in the main credits (but I have excellent foresight), and it is one-hundred percent, complete canon - the way it should happen.
It's a Thursday night, and Carly laughs as Sam and Spencer veer into their own side conversation, one where, almost immediately, she has no idea what they're talking about. She tells them how ridiculous they are, and that she's going upstairs to do some homework. Spencer tells her to do what her heart tells her, and Sam keeps talking, waving a hand in Carly's direction. Forty-five minutes later, she comes back down the stairs to see them sitting in front of the television; they immediately shush her, engrossed in a celebrity reality show Carly never wants to see again.
To get away from the stupidity on the screen, Carly decides to go over to Freddie's apartment to watch the newest edition to Freddie's Steven Spielberg movie collection. Sam and Spencer don't notice her leave, but five hours later, when she realizes she should come back home, they don't notice her either. They're both asleep in front of a blue television screen, slumped down low with their heads on top of each other. Carly walks over to them, poking Sam to wake her up. Carly doesn't really think a whole lot of it, because she's woken Sam up before in the exact same manner many times, but she's never gotten the reaction she receives now.
As she pokes her in the shoulder repeatedly, Sam shakes her head slowly and shifts into Spencer, moving her head onto his chest and circling her arms around him, in turn waking him up to re-position too – his arms wrapped around her holding her to him, resting his head back on the couch. Carly pokes Sam again, but she doesn't move, mumbling, "I'm sleepin'. Leave me alone," and with more pokes she continues, "I'm comfy, go 'way, stop it." And with a grunting sigh, nuzzling her head down, Sam falls soundly back asleep.
Thoroughly frustrated, Carly tiredly walks to the kitchen searching blindly in the dark for their air-horn, now determined to wake them up. It takes her a good ten minutes of blind rummaging to remember it was actually in Spencer's room, and a few more to find it in there. Back in the living room, she covers an ear and presses the button near their heads. Both Sam and Spencer jerk awake, sitting upright, and Carly, satisfied, drops the air-horn. Sam barks, annoyed, "Was that really necessary?" while Spencer covers his ears, simultaneously trying to cover himself back up with the blanket.
Carly just croaks at them, "Bed. Now," lightly shoving them so neither falls back asleep on the couch. It works as they start to shuffle to bed, and so does Carly, too exhausted to think about anything else.
"So Sam, what're we doing on Saturday?" Carly asks, plopping down into a beanbag chair after their weekly rehearsal, tired from her faux enthusiasm.
Sam looks at her confused, plopping down herself, "We're doing something on Saturday?"
"No, what are we doing?"
"I didn't know we were doing anything."
Freddie butts in, "Carly doesn't either, that's why she's asking."
Carly rolls her eyes, "Thanks, Freddie."
"Hey, just trying to help the brainless wonder over there."
Sam doesn't seem to catch any of this, telling them, "But I'm already doing something on Saturday."
"You are? What? With who? Did you get a date and not tell me?"
Sam still looks confused, "Me and Spencer are going to that concert I told you about. With the lead singer I'm dying to meet? Spencer says he's got a plan to help me meet him."
"Wait – wha- ?"
"I don't know how he's going to pull it off, but he seems really confident and I just want to see them live. Up close. In person."
"You've got plans with Spencer?"
"I thought he told you?"
Carly doesn't really remember what else happens in that conversation, but she knows Sam knows almost every detail of her plans with Spencer on Saturday – that Carly doesn't think actually needs to take all day, but it does. When Saturday comes, she's left alone in the loft feeling awkward until Freddie comes over, insisting they go out to a movie. It's the new movie Carly's been wanting to see and she really enjoys herself. When she gets home she never realizes that Sam and Spencer aren't back yet, even though they told her they would be back an hour before that.
Wednesday rolls around, and Carly is particularly content as she sits in Mrs. Briggs class. She only has one class after this, she got an A on the test and the paper she got back, and every time Freddie smiles at her she gets a little flutter in her stomach. So on the whole, Carly is having a good day. She would attempt to skip home if that wasn't lame and if she didn't look so stupid skipping. That is, until Ms. Briggs barks out, "Sam!"
Sam jumps in her seat, clearly not paying Ms. Briggs any attention, and Carly knows that this will not end well. "Sam, what do you have under your desk?" She walks closer, staring Sam down, and for once Sam looks both guilty and upset at being caught. "Is it a cell phone?"
"No, it is not a cell phone."
"Hand it over."
Sadly, Sam gives her phone to Ms. Briggs, and watches as it goes to the front of the room in a box marked "Dangerous Items." Carly watches her best friend's expression throughout the rest of class, and she acts like nothing but herself. It's an incredibly irritating situation for Carly, because it doesn't add up in her head; Sam doesn't listen and looks bored and unworried, but she did look genuinely upset and sad that she had her cell phone taken away. Ms. Briggs's policy is that all confiscated items can be retrieved after school, or after any school day after today, but when class ends, Carly decides to try her luck.
"I know Sam can't have her phone back until after school, but I was wondering if I could have it." Ms. Briggs raises her eyebrows, and she knows it's time for her 'Sam is such a delinquent, and I know because she's my best friend, and I put up with it all the time' spiel. "Sam and I don't even have the next class together, so I won't actually see her until after school, and we both know that Sam won't come to pick it up after school – she'll forget about it for days and it'll just be sitting there, and I'll be the one who has to pick it up anyway. So why not just skip to the end?" There's a pause where Carly hopes this'll work, and once she senses it won't, adds, "Plus, this way I can hold it hostage longer, maybe actually get her to do her homework."
Carly stands there being scrutinized, hoping she's giving off the impression Ms. Briggs is getting the better side of the deal here. A few seconds later, she gets the nod of approval and grabs the phone before there's a chance for Ms. Briggs to change her mind. In the hallway, Carly smiles widely at her success, but before she reaches her locker Sam is in front of her. "You got it! Yes." She goes to take it back from Carly, who pulls back.
"Hold on! Who were you texting?" She opens the phone and scans through all of Sam's newest read and unread texts, and the further she goes the wider her eyes get. "These are all from Spencer!"
Sam grabs her phone out of Carly's hands, "I know!" She scans through her phone, "He texted me the whole time, too – jerk." Even though she knows she just said 'jerk,' Carly watches Sam smile broadly looking at her phone, and an uncomfortable feeling starts to gnaw at the pit of her stomach.
The next Thursday night, Freddie, Carly, and Sam are in the iCarly studio rehearsing for that week's show, and everything is going perfectly. Unusually, it's going to be a shorter show, and when they get to the end, Sam complains, "I still have energy! We need it to be longer!"
Freddie frowns at her, "It's not even three minutes shorter than usual!"
Carly rolls her eyes and brings up the fact, "You were fine with a shorter show when we planned it out."
"Yeah, but I think this now."
Freddie chimes in, "Okay, but we don't have anything. Do you have a bit we could use?"
"I dunno," Sam shrugs, but a split second later she says, "Spencer has some great new sculptures we could show. People love that."
Freddie raises his eyebrow in interest, "That could work."
"Yeah, but we have to ask Spencer…"
Sam just gives Carly a look and hollers, "SPENCER!"
"What?" echoes up the stairs.
"Can we use your sculptures?"
Sam looks like she going to keep yelling, so Carly interjects, "GET UP HERE."
After a minute Spencer walks into the room, covered in paint and dried clay, "What's up?"
"We want to show some of your stuff on tomorrow's show."
Carly cuts in, "She means, is it okay if we –"
"Yeah, sure – which ones?"
Freddie shrugs, and as Carly thinks about it for she realizes she hasn't seen sculptures around recently, but Sam is looking at Spencer thoughtfully. "Did you finish that leaf – "
"What about the whole 'the earth is flying so fast' whatever it was?"
"Finally finished it yesterday."
Sam hits him on the arm, "You didn't show me!"
"It wasn't done when you were here! So ow," he pushes her back lightly, "maybe I won't show you now."
Sam's face falls a little, but Spencer smiles and she continues. "And, what are you wearing? Can we show that?"
He looks confused for a second until Sam picks off a chunk of clay from his shirt, "Yeah, it's just drying now."
Freddie speaks up, commenting on the layout, timing, and asks some questions that are actually pertinent. Carly just stares, amused by all of them, wondering when her life turned into whatever the hell this is, because she has no clue.
As a rule, Carly has fun doing the web show, but tonight there isn't a moment when her smile falters, or she isn't a second away from laughing. The art stayed in the studio the whole time, so both girls had to keep weaving in and out of the sculptures, ducking and trying to be seen over Spencer's work. And it wasn't clear if he was helping with that problem, or he just decided to come in early, but Spencer showed up halfway through the show, which increased their comedy, but greatly reduced their efficiency. Not that Carly noticed through all of her laughing. Either way it was one of the most chaotic, most hilarious, unplanned webisodes they ever did, and Carly feels extremely triumphant by the time they sign off.
Freddie stays calm but amused until he can put his cameras away properly, away from danger, and then he comes over to Carly smiling and jumping in time with her. She doesn't have to explain and he doesn't have to ask, they can both feel the high from a successful webcast. They take a minute, bouncing and giggling before calming down enough to turn and see Sam and Spencer among the sculptures. Carly stops bouncing but her smile won't fade; watching Sam pelt Spencer with stuffed animals, the two dodging in and out of the towering sculptures, throwing out insult after insult. Standing next to her, Freddie grins too, and after ducking a flying wiener dog, suggests they get out of harm's way.
While Freddie attempts to whip up a snack downstairs in the kitchen, Carly realizes something important: while her best friend and her brother are extremely entertaining, she hadn't felt like part of the conversation, or fight, or even the show the whole time.
The small gnawing at the pit of her stomach grows in size as Freddie sets down her plate in front of her, "Hey." Her voice is low and she asks him slowly, "Will you watch Sam and Spencer for me?"
Freddie doesn't comment; she's pretty sure from the way her voice is wobbling he understands. "Sure."
"He really wants to interview you?" Spencer pours everyone some punch, looking ecstatic.
Freddie nods from his laptop. "Yeah, but not in person."
"He wants to do it online. Like a chat room or something."
"Because we're not worth flying out to really meet him."
Spencer looks like he's been struck. "But he still wants to interview you! And you are a webshow, so it does make sense…" All three teenagers just glare back at him until he continues. "Okay, so it's not all that. But it's still David Letterman, watched by millions of people all over the country. Plus," he adds, "anyone who watches that is old and has never heard of you."
Carly nods slowly, still upset. "Yeah, I guess it is still pretty good."
Freddie thinks for a second and says, "And it does make it easier for us, too – I mean, the ACT test is the next day."
"Nobody cares about the stupid test, Freddie."
Carly interjects, "Yes they do!"
"I just really wanted to go to New York," Sam pouts, lying down on the couch.
Spencer rolls his eyes towards Carly and Freddie. "You can be on a talk show more than once." After a second of thought, he adds, "And if you're lucky you might even move up from Letterman to Leno."
He plops down on the chair next to her and Sam smirks, turning on the TV. "Leno does kick Letterman's ass."
And with that the discussion's over, Freddie digging out what may or may not be homework (no one can ever tell), and Carly staring at Sam and Spencer in disbelief for a while before remembering her own schoolwork.
Saturday morning, Carly wakes up tangled in the sheets of her bed, and as she plops back onto her pillow in frustration, she presses the number 3 on her speed dial. "Freddie? I need to talk to you. Meet me at the Groovy Smoothie in ten minutes?"
It only takes her five minutes to get there, two of which she spends untangling herself from her bed, and she spends ten minutes after she gets there pacing through the chairs sitting on top of the tables. Even though the Groovy Smoothie doesn't open for another four hours, Carly knows how to jiggle the handle to get in. Or maybe T-Bo forgot to properly lock up the previous night, she isn't sure, but she really couldn't care. Freddie walks in on her fifth lap around the shop, his hair sticking out oddly, buttons mismatched on his shirt, and boogers in his eyes.
"Hey," he mumbles, trying for a second to sit down before realizing there were no chairs.
He waits for her to go on, but she doesn't and he has to ask, "So what?"
"So?" her voice is anxious and pointed.
"Carly, it's six thirty, and I'm here, and that's all I got. I am not the conversation starter here."
She starts to pace around him as he takes down a chair and slumps into it. "Sam and Spencer!"
"Oh, right. Everything's normal." He looks down and notices his buttons. "There's nothing to notice."
"Aha!" Carly shouts, "Exactly!"
Freddie gives up on his mismatched buttons. "Okay, I'm confused."
"You think everything's normal, but it's not. And that's totally the worst part, Freddie. I don't know how much more I can take."
"Of what? Being normal? I still don't – "
"It's – I just – Freddie. They do stuff together all the time, they're like, best friends, and I've found them asleep on the couch more than one time."
"But so what? They're friends, right?"
"No, Freddie. It's just all weird, and then they act like they always have and it's just all really weird. Because they fall asleep all cuddly and I have to wake them up and they don't even notice. The whole thing is wrong, but Sam and Spencer don't notice that everything is wrong, and that's the worst part!"
Freddie is bent over, elbows on his knees and face in his hands. "Okay," he draws the word out and pauses long enough for Carly to take some deep breaths and take down a chair for herself. Taking his head out of his hands he asks, "What do you mean they fall asleep all cuddly?"
"I mean, her head's on his shoulder, arms around each other, cuddly snuggling!"
He cocks his eyebrow at her. "No way."
"I'm not lying! It just really bugs me because they didn't even notice! They just went to bed!"
"So I don't know if something's going on, or what they're not telling me, or… I don't know. Freddie, you have to help me."
He burrows his face in his arms on the table. Then he peeks up to see Carly and huffs, saying, "Okay, fine – but it's six in the morning, Carls."
Carly lays her head in her own arms and she whispers across the table to Freddie everything that's bothering her, and eventually they come up with a plan.
A/N: Like? Do you want more? Would you like to know what the plan is? Do you want to see Gibby? The more you review, the faster I update! I actually have the next chapter completely ready!