Chapter 1: Here Comes The...

Disclaimer: I own my Diet Coke addiction, but I don't own iCarly.

Note: At the end of this chapter is a rather lengthy author's note. I know many people hate to have their word count distorted by the author's notes, and I will try (but not promise) to keep them in check in subsequent chapters, but I wanted to explain my thinking in relation to this story, especially those who are thinking the same as the"dude" comment I mention in the second paragraph of the author's notes. If you don't care about the inner workings of my thought process when it comes to the formation of this story, please feel free to skip. Again, I will try to keep the non-story word count down from now on.

February 19, 2012

It was five days after Valentine's Day and about ten months since Freddie Benson became my boyfriend. Nobody expected us to last that long, including me. Maybe Freddie did. Something had changed with him in the last day, though, and I wanted to figure out what it was.

I stood in the hallway between Carly's apartment and his. I brought my hand near the door to knock, but didn't. Instead I walked down the hall and stepped onto the fire escape. My breath was caught in my throat. I wanted to know what was going on, and yet I was afraid. Puckett rule 23: Never show fear.

The fire escape was where we shared our first kiss. Not just the first kiss Freddie and I had with each other, but the first kiss either of us shared with anybody. In the years between that kiss and the one we had in the breezeway during the lock-in, I would often come out here, when I was spending the night with Carly and I knew that Freddie would definitely be asleep. I had liked Freddie soon after I met him, but of course the little nub fell in love with Carly. I couldn't blame him. She was everything I wasn't. But Puckett Rule 2: When somebody hurts you, hurt them more. Freddie didn't know he had hurt me, though, so it just looked like I was bullying him. Which was what I just ended up doing, after a while. That became who we were. No matter how hard I pushed him, he never deserted me, though, and that only strengthened my feelings for him, which I had to hide by insulting him more. Freddie and I were a vicious circle.

Then after I had told everybody Freddie had never kissed a girl, I found out just how badly I had hurt him and apologized. And then the kiss. It was amazing. If you're into all the romantic goo. So, yeah, maybe I sometimes thought about the kiss. And maybe when I went to the Groovy Smoothie and saw him dancing with Carly I was a little jealous. Maybe, though I felt bad about it, I was a little happy when he broke up with Carly, since he knew she only was with him because she only thought she loved him, but it was really because he had saved her life. Yeah, maybe I was the one who pointed that out to him.

But I had him now. I had ever since he came out to the breezeway to talk about that stupid PearPad app that said I was in love. He and Carly thought I was in love with Brad. So stupid. I kissed Freddie. And, long story short, here we are.

I went back inside and stood in front of his door again. We had gone to Sycamore Meadows for dinner last night, and when he had walked me to my front door after, he had been so quiet. The kiss he had placed more on my cheek than my lip...well, I imagined that was a kiss he might have given his mother, and, believe me, that's a thought that keeps you up at night.

I was so lost in my thoughts I didn't notice Freddie had opened the door and was staring at me.

"What's up, Sam?" He looked at me with his crooked smile, the one I didn't know whether I wanted to punch off or kiss away.

"You tell me, Benson." Puckett rule 7: Always keep your opposition cornered.

"What are you talking about?' he asked, shrugging. Freddie was always hard to read. If you asked him a direct question, the boy couldn't lie for chiz. But if you gave him room to maneuver, he could deflect like a ninja. I would almost be proud of him, except I realized how many times he had done it to me over the years. But all the time I spent with him, especially the last ten months, had clued me into his tell. It was his eyes. That slightest of flicks that told me he was going to skirt around the truth.

"You know what I'm talking about, Freddifer." Pucket rule 9 (applies only to Freddie Benson): Nickname him into submission. He sighed.

"If this is about last night..."

"Yeah, last night. And the fact you haven't called me since. Or responded to any texts. Doing the whole communication thing is your job, not mine." His eyes flashed again, but in anger this time.

"It's actually supposed to be a two-way street, Sam."

"Whatever. What happened last night? We were having fun, and then you turned Mr. Freeze on me."

"I..." He paused and looked around. "Look, my mom's in her bedroom, so why don't we go out to the fire escape to have this discussion?"

I didn't want that. Going out to the fire escape meant this might be long. And painful. I just wanted him to say he was sorry and he had been on his man-rag or something. But I headed to the fire escape without a glance back. Puckett rule 3: Never back down.

Once we were both out there, he stood facing me, much closer than required for talking. He had been using this technique for a while, but I hadn't really noticed it until about six months after we began dating. If he was this close, it made it difficult to establish sufficient force or velocity when I hit. Not that I had really hit him for a while, but it was probably a habit by now. I was going to chastise him about it, but he began kissing me, and I let it go.

He intertwined his fingers with mine and folded his fingers over the back of my hands, lightly stroking with his index fingers. Freddie was one of the world's all-time hand holders. I had found it a little weird at first, but was getting used to it. The feel of his fingers was like a shot of caffeine.

"So what's going on, Benson?" I asked.

"Gee, I don't know, Puckett. Seems like you didn't want to be too close to me last night."

"What are you talking..." But then I understood. "This is about Susan?" Susan was a classmate of ours at school and a highly-ranked gossip. Nowhere near Wendy, but she had potential. "Dude, you know when she saw us, she was going to be running up and down the halls broadcasting our business."

"Perhaps," he said, appearing to think the matter over. But I had felt his fingers tense, and his index fingers had stopped moving. It seemed my only option might be tossing him off the fire escape. Or myself. Neither was particularly enticing. But compared to the look that I was seeing in his eyes, I was still keeping them as possibilities. "Of course, what could she have said? I know we haven't been PDAing it at school, but everybody knows we're dating. And don't you think that may be the gossip of the day is how much effort you put into moving away from me so quickly?"

"You know, that's probably the stupidest thing you've ever said, Freddie, and you own like all the records on saying stupid things."

"Perhaps." If he said "perhaps" one more time, I was going to scream. "I know how closed up you can get, Sam, but I've put up with it. I've put up with you pretending you can't stand me in front of other people, of you ramping up the insults whenever anybody else is around. 'That's my Sam', I thought. But..." He stopped.

"What's bunching your boxers, nub?" I pushed him.

"I love you, Sam," he said. He didn't sound particularly happy about it. I pulled my hands away.

"So? What's the deal?" I felt sick. Going off the fire escape was looking better and better. I knew where this was going, but like that stupid girl in the movies who would walk out into the woods after all her friends had been murdered, even though she know she shouldn't, I was helpless to stop it.

"That's the deal, Sam. How many times have I said I love you?" Eighty-seven, counting that last one. The first one had been on this fire escape. August 12, a little before our senior year started. Even though it was hot, there was a slight breeze. Our hands had been entwined then, too. They were hanging by our sides, and I had my head on his chest. I could hear the echo of his words vibrating against my ear. I didn't say anything in return, and he asked nothing, but my heart didn't stop racing until well after I had gone into Carly's bedroom to sleep. I had tried to eat something, but found I couldn't. I couldn't eat! I didn't cry, whatever you might think. I didn't!

"Who knows? You're such a girl sometimes, Frederica." Couldn't he just stop? Couldn't he just say it didn't matter and take me into his arms and make me feel protected, even though we both know I didn't need to be protected?

"You've never said it to me, Sam," he said, and the sadness in his voice made me want to apologize, except Puckett rule 12: Never apologize. Okay, I've broken that before, but still, what if I apologized and I told him I loved him, and then he said my love wasn't enough to keep him there? "And I guess it would be one thing if you just didn't love me. You couldn't control something like that. That wouldn't be your fault." He began pacing, like he did sometimes when he was trying to figure out a problem. "But I know you do love me. But you won't tell me."

"You're a little presumptuous there, nerd," I said. I crossed my arms. I know it looked bad, but there was Puckett rule numero uno: Protect yourself at all costs. I learned that one a long time ago.

"No, I'm not." He stopped pacing. He stood in front of me again. "Say you love me."

"What?" I stepped back, breaking rule number 3.

"Say you love me. Say it, and we can move on. We can stay together and love each other.

Stay together?

"I'm not gonna be blackmailed."

"I'm not blackmailing you, Sam. Maybe you think it should be enough, but I just can't continue in our relationship if you aren't able to express your feelings for me. Maybe I would be okay with it for a while, but I know eventually I would resent you. And I just need to stop it before then. Say you love me." His voice cracked in the middle of "love". I wanted to hug him.

"God, Freddie, you know how I feel about you."

"Then say it, Sam." He moved closer to me. Freddie always backed off. People who didn't know him thought it was because he was weak or cowardly. I thought so, a long time ago. But it was because Freddie was the kindest, sweetest, stupidest nub there was, and there was little pain or insult he wouldn't take for somebody he cared about. But he wasn't backing off here. "If you don't say it, Sam, then what's the point of us when I know you're always going to hold yourself back with me?"

"Freddie, if you want to break up with me, then just do it! I'm tired of your stupid games."

"Sam, I love you. I won't disappoint you. I'm not Jonah or Pete or any guy who doesn't understand how special you are." He paused. "I'm not your father, Sam."

It happened before I knew I even did it. My fist went out and connected with his shoulder. It was probably the hardest I've hit anybody since that one football player who had harassed Carly. Freddie winced and stumbled back a few steps, but he didn't cry out.

"Sam, I'm sorry for mentioning him. But I know how he hurt you, and you have to know I'm not like that..."

"Oh, yeah, Freddie, you're a prince. Nobody has hurt me like you hurt me. Let me make it easier for you, Lovemaster. You want to break up? Fine, we're broken up. Maybe if you're lucky, Carly will give you a little tickle before you leave for college." I was so off my game. How did this happen so quickly?

He sighed. I would not notice the tear that had slipped down his cheek. Or the quiver of his lips. He nodded at me and then went halfway through the window. He turned back to me.

"I do love you, Sam," he whispered. He left. I stood there, fists clenched, until I heard his door close.

"Me, too," I breathed. And burst into tears.

A/N: When I first wrote my first iCarly fanfiction, "Box Kicker", I thought that was probably going to be it. I figured it was a good stopping point, as I'm pretty sure that Sam and Freddie will get together on the show and will at least be together by the end of the show (maybe a little break-up here and there). Then I was listening to my iTunes on Shuffle when Butch Walker's "Passed Your Place, Saw Your Car, Thought of You" played. By the time the song had completed this story had written itself. I thought. There were a couple of issues, though.

The first one being that I thought, probably much like some of you did after you read the first chapter, "dude, you're a dick." We went through all of Sam and Freddie getting together, and then you start the story with them breaking up, and we don't really get to see anything in between. The quick response is: yes. Yes, I am a dick. Sorry. I'm not a big fan of the angst, but as the song played I knew this is how it had to go.

A second issue is that I honestly didn't want to read another story from Sam's point-of-view. There are so many of them already, and, anyway, Freddie is my favorite character. But, except for the gender, the song is definitely more Sam than Freddie. So I decided to write it from Sam's perspective. The story changed as I thought more of it (I'll get more into that later), but by that point I had everything in Sam's point-of-view (I'm not a fan of the constantly changing POV).

When my muse originally smacked me around like Carol Kane in Scrooged, I planned on following the song concept, in that there would be three chapters, corresponding to the three verses (and, unlike the song, I didn't plan on having anybody "pass away". As of now, I still don't, but I can say at least that Sam and Freddie are alive at the end of the story, as I already have that finalized in my mind, if I still don't know the freeways and dirt roads we might take to get there). The more I thought about it, though, I realized that the third chapter would likely be three or four times the length of the first two chapters together. And it would involve a lot of exposition. So I did a basic outline (even though I hate outlining), and it now appears the story will be at least nine chapters. And it is now "inspired by" the song more than the "slightly based on" it was before. Edit: I am writing this a few days after I first wrote the author's note, and I have to say now I'm not sure how long it will be. I don't think my story will be able to buy alcohol legally, but it might be able to vote. I keep thinking of different things I want to add to the story. However, I know when the end of the story is, so I am not going to squeeze anything into the story that will not naturally fit.

Another inspiration for this story is a concept I have seen in many other fanfictions about Sam and Freddie, and that is Sam's inability to express her feelings for Freddie or to say, "I love you." In many of the stories this is something that Freddie accepts, tolerates, or is bothered by, but understands. What if, I thought, Freddie actually needed the validation of Sam expressing her feelings? I think he would. So that thought helped form the first chapter. This is not a condemnation of those other stories, just my thought of another way it might happen.

I stated in my previous story that I did not want to interpret or unknowingly be incorrect on issues iCarly has not covered yet. But my previous paragraph required me to make a decision about part of Sam's history we haven't received any information on yet (and I don't think we are going to). There has to be something about Sam that prevents her from expressing her true feelings to Freddie, and I just found I couldn't write the story without making a decision about what caused it. Since most of this story goes so far into the future, it turns out I am going to probably breaking a lot of my own rules. Sorry.

I appreciate any reviews you provide. This story will not be updated as quickly as my first story, in which I published my last update two days after I posted the first chapter, but I will likely have it up up within two to three weeks.