Author's Note: This is the longest oneshot I've ever written, so prepare yourselves for quite a long read. There are certain parts that are lighter than others, and there are certain parts that are more significant than others. The ending gets really heavy, just to warn you.
I hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: iCarly © Dan Schneider
This room is so old and dusty now. That's the first thing he notices about it as he makes his way inside, gently closing the door behind him. The click of the lock sliding into place sends an unexpected chill throughout his entire body. It's way too quiet in here. That's the second thing he notices. It's so eerily quiet that literally every sound seems to be amplified. Even as he lets out a soft sigh, it's heavy enough to immediately shatter through the silence of the room, carrying his breath along with it.
He's all grown up now, in his early thirties, and it feels like forever ago that he's looked through—let alone actually used—all of this stuff that's currently packed away in large cardboard boxes. He walks over to the pile of stacked up boxes, and as he does, the old wooden floorboard makes a low creeeeeak beneath his feet. He stops in the center of the room, standing completely still for only a moment, before the silence becomes so deafening that he can no longer stand it.
He quickly focuses on the boxes again. The top one reads CAMERA EQUIPMENT on the side in big black letters. He places his hands on either side of the box and carefully starts to lift it from the pile, but the moment he does, his arms start to shake under the weight. He feels his knees nearly give out from beneath him as he struggles for a moment to balance the surprisingly heavy box properly in both of his hands.
And suddenly, an image of her flashes in his mind. He pictures her face, scoffing, as she rolls her eyes and shakes her head in a condescending way.
"God, Princess Fredalina, you're such a weakling," she'd say mockingly, before she'd walk up to him and grab the box right out of his hands like it was nothing. The sting of her insult to his strength—or lack thereof, really—would somehow be softened by the teasing, almost flirtatious smile she'd give him right before she'd turn her back to him and start walking out of the room, the box perfectly leveled in her hands.
He would just stand there like an idiot, feeling beyond confused as to what that smile was for. Overpowering his confusion, however, would be embarrassment, because at that moment, he'd realize just how painfully obvious it was that she was a lot stronger than he was.
Then again, she'd always been really good at making him feel inadequate.
"Ow," 13-year-old Freddie groaned. He winced in a sharp and sudden pain as he dropped the box he'd been attempting to carry up the stairs. It landed on one of the steps with a smacking thud. He ignored it, though, as he rubbed his now sore shoulder, clamping his eyes shut as he sucked in a long breath through his teeth.
"Aww, what's wrong? Did wittle Fweddie hurt himself?"
Freddie's eyes flew back open at the sound of that mocking voice. He turned around to see Sam Puckett standing at the doorway of the Shays' apartment. There she was. The evil demon herself. The very bane of his existence.
"Knock it off, Sam," Freddie said in his high pitched, pre-puberty voice. He squeezed his shoulder softly to relieve the tension. "That box is seriously heavy."
Sam stared at him for a moment, clearly already bored to death. She looked down at the box sitting at the bottom of the staircase.
"That box?" she asked, pointing to it, and before Freddie could even say anything in response, Sam had marched right over to it and, with a slight grunt, heaved the box up into her arms. Freddie's eyes bulged slightly as his hand dropped from his shoulder.
"Wha—how did you…?"
He didn't bother finishing the question as Sam started ascending up the stairs, her footsteps loud and heavy beneath her. As she walked past Freddie, she 'accidentally' bumped into him, causing him to nearly topple down to the ground. Luckily, he managed to catch the banister just as he was about to lose his balance.
"Watch it, Sam!" he screamed, clutching onto the railing for dear life. She was already too far up the staircase to hear him, though. Either that or she had purposely chosen to ignore him.
He figured it was probably the latter.
Freddie sighed loudly, straightening himself up before he began walking up the stairs to join her. As he reached the hallway, he saw her already standing outside the door of the iCarly studio. She had the box pressed between her stomach and the wall as she tried to open the door without dropping the box. After a moment of struggling, Freddie walked up to her and turned the knob for her, pushing the door open. She immediately steadied the box in both of her hands once more, before she walked right inside without so much as a glance at him.
"Where do you want this thing?" she asked as Freddie walked in behind her.
"Uh, right there is fine," he said.
Instantly, Sam let go of the box and let it fall to the floor with another loud thud. She turned to Freddie and smirked briefly as she started making her way back to the door again.
"What the heck's in that box anyway?" she asked curiously.
"Brand new camera equipment," Freddie answered as he crouched down in front of it. "I figured I'd need a bunch of new stuff since we're gonna be doing the web show with Carly every week now and I—"
He cut himself off when he suddenly heard the door slam shut. Knowing that Sam had just left the room, he let out a disappointed sigh.
"And I…guess you obviously don't care," he muttered to himself.
He began taking out the equipment in silence.
He crouches low to the ground and places the box gently on the floor, before he rises back up to look at the next one on the pile. It reads PROPS on the side of it. He finds himself compelled to open this one for some reason. He does so slowly, opening one flap, and then the other, peering inside to see a collection of random objects that had been used at one time or another on their web show. He recognizes all of them, each one bringing back a different memory.
As he rummages through the old props, something in particular suddenly catches his eye. He pushes aside some of the old stuff to get a better look at it. It's laying in the corner of the box, and it most likely doesn't even work anymore. He carefully reaches into the box and withdraws the item. He holds it loosely in his hand, just staring down at it, feeling a familiar sting in his chest as he does.
Sam's blue remote.
"Hey," 14-year-old Freddie said one day.
Sam Puckett shifted lazily on the yellow bean bag chair that she was sprawled across, stretching her arms above her head.
"Yeah?" she questioned in a bored voice.
The two of them were alone in the iCarly studio. Carly was downstairs, getting them all snacks, since the three of them had just finished rehearsing that week's upcoming show.
Freddie pointed to the blue remote that was sitting on the floor next to Sam.
"Do you like that thing?" he asked curiously.
Sam's eyebrows scrunched together in confusion as she glanced down to see whatever it was that he was pointing at.
"What, this?" she asked as she scooped up the remote from off the floor. She stared at it for a moment before shrugging indifferently. "Well, sure, who wouldn't love doing this?" She then pressed a button that she rarely ever used on the actual show, the one that made the obnoxious 'booooo' noise. She smirked in satisfaction, letting it drag out for a second or two before she finally released the button. She turned her head to look at Freddie again. "Any more questions, Freddweeb?"
Freddie frowned, unable to hide his growing disappointment any longer. Feeling a sudden and rare surge of confidence, he took a step forward, planting his foot firmly on the ground. He pointed at Sam.
"You know something, Sam?" he said, catching the blonde demon off guard as a look of confusion crossed her face. "You could at least pretend to show me a little more appreciation once in a while."
Sam stared at him for a while, as though trying to figure him out.
"Okay," she said in a noticeably annoyed tone. "I get what's going on here."
With a groan, she pulled herself out of the bean bag and stood up to face Freddie. As she started advancing towards him, his first instinct was to flee from the room, but he surprisingly managed to maintain his stance. His eyes widened slightly, though, which he knew would be a clearly visible sign that would let Sam know that he was definitely intimidated by her.
But seriously, how could he not be intimidated? She was one scary chick when she wanted to be.
"Don't hurt me," Freddie muttered in a sheepish voice, to which Sam smirked in amusement.
She crossed her arms over her chest, the blue remote still clutched in her hand and a new smirk on her face. Freddie honestly didn't know what she was going to do. He was preparing for the worst, which was probably why he was very surprised, to say the least, by what she said next.
"Thank you for providing me with this special little remote to use on each week's show," she said, unfolding her arms so that she could wave it out in front of him, "and thank you for being such a helpful loser tech nerd."
Freddie's eyebrows scrunched together the way Sam's did earlier.
Did she really just say thank you?
"Happy?" Sam asked simply.
Freddie just stared at her, trying to read her expression. Somehow, she now had more of a smile on her face, rather than a full-on evil smirk. He'd just barely started nodding his head before Sam suddenly reached out with her free hand and punched Freddie hard on the shoulder.
"Good. 'Cause I'm never gonna say that ever again."
And with that, she walked out of the room, leaving Freddie there by himself, gawking stupidly while rubbing at his newly bruised shoulder.
He tosses the blue remote back into the box. The sound it makes as it hits the bottom—thunk—seems to echo throughout the entire room. He closes the box the same way he opened it, sealing one flap first, followed by the other. He decides against opening up another box, because he knows that whatever's in there is only going to wind up re-opening all of his old wounds.
And he's just not in the mood to deal with that heartache right now.
He lets out another heavy sigh, deciding that he should probably go ahead and start actually clearing out the boxes now. After all, it was what his wife had asked him to do in the first place. His brother-in-law apparently needed more room to stash all of his old sculptures in, and naturally, since this room hadn't been used in about 15 years, it would be the best place to put them in.
He crouches down to the box with the camera equipment inside of it. With all of his momentum, he stands back up while lifting the box up into his arms. Steadying himself, he exhales a hard breath, making sure that the box won't fall, before he turns and starts making his way towards the door. Once he reaches it, he keeps one hand underneath the box, the other fumbling with the doorknob.
"You should've opened the door before you picked up the box," an obnoxious voice in the back of his mind ridicules him. "Or better yet, just take the elevator, you dumb nub."
"Shut up, Sam," he snaps back to the empty room.
And his heart freezes mid-beat, because he realizes he just said those words out loud.
"Sam," 15-year-old Freddie said in a stern voice. His voice was about two octaves lower now.
"What, Benson?" Sam asked with a heavy mumble, almost as if she were eating something.
Freddie turned towards her and immediately rolled his eyes, not surprised in the least to see that she was, in fact, stuffing her face with food. This time she was eating a chicken drumstick, which she'd most likely stolen out of the Shays' refrigerator from downstairs.
"Enjoying that drumstick?" Freddie asked in a bit of a sarcastic tone.
Sam glared at him for a moment, before smirking and opening her mouth to show him the half-chewed food. Freddie pulled a face of disgust.
"God, Sam, don't you have any manners?"
Sam finally closed her mouth and continued chewing.
"'Course I do," she said as she chewed.
"At least finish chewing your food before you talk."
Sam finally swallowed the large piece of chicken.
"Dude, you sound like your mom," she scoffed.
Freddie looked completely horrified then.
"I do not," he said defensively.
"Do to," she immediately spat back.
"Do to, Mrs. Benson."
"Hey! Don't call me a Mrs! I'm a guy!"
Freddie let out the loudest, longest growl of frustration, fighting back the overwhelming urge to just pick something up and hurl it hard across the room.
Why was Sam being so…Sam today? It was beyond frustrating and annoying. There she was, just sitting on that stupid bean bag chair, chomping away on a drumstick, acting all uncaring like always, as if nothing even happened between the two of them just a few nights ago.
Sure, they both agreed that they'd go right back to hating each other as soon as it was over, but that didn't mean they could just pretend like it never actually happened. Because, if they were to do that, then it would almost seem like it really didn't happen.
And he didn't want that. He wanted to at least talk about it, just once, so that he could find out how she actually felt about it.
If she liked it.
Or hated it.
"Look," Freddie said in a much calmer, softer voice, "I know we said we'd never tell anyone, but does that mean we're just never gonna bring it up ever again?"
There it was. He asked it. Now it was out there, whether she liked it or not. Judging by the look she was giving him, he guessed that she definitely didn't like it at all. It was a familiar, deadly serious look, with hardened eyes and absolutely no mercy. It was a look that could probably kill if it had the power to. After a while, she abruptly averted her gaze to look down at the drumstick in her hand. She stared at it uneasily, reaching out to pick off a random bit of skin.
"That's what we both swore," she muttered in a shockingly soft tone, as though her mood had suddenly changed. She examined the piece of chicken skin for a moment before she brought it up to her lips and ate it.
"No, we never actually said that we could never speak of it again," Freddie pointed out.
Sam looked him dead in the eyes again. It was such a cold look that it managed to send an unexpected shiver down Freddie's spine. She stared at him like that for only a few seconds, before she pushed herself out of the bean bag chair and started walking up to him.
"Well," she began, deliberately taking her time with her steps. That cold look was still on her face as she stopped walking and said, point-blank, "Maybe we should promise that right now. Neither one of us will ever speak of it again."
Freddie felt his breath hitch inside his throat.
She brought the drumstick up to her mouth and angrily tore through it with her teeth. Freddie just kept staring at her, and before he could even open his mouth to protest, she walked right out of the studio, ending the conversation right then and there.
And it was never brought up again.
He finally manages to open the door with a successful click of the lock, and he smiles triumphantly. After pulling the door open wide enough so that he could fit himself through, he hoists the box back up into his arms and walks through the doorway. As he walks down the hall and turns towards the staircase, he hears a familiar voice that sends a warm rush of tenderness throughout his body. He can hear her downstairs, chatting excitedly to her mother. He picks up his steps as he treads down the staircase, his smile widening when he finally reaches the bottom. He hears her squeal in delight.
He just barely crouches down to place the box on the ground before his 3-year-old daughter, dressed in a pale pink leotard with her brown hair wrapped up in a tight bun, starts running towards him. He opens his arms wide, and his daughter eagerly dives right into them. He smiles fondly as he wraps his arms around his little girl, rocking her ever so slightly as he gives her a light kiss on the cheek.
"Hi, sweetheart," he says warmly after they've pulled away.
She smiles a bright smile at him, the kind of smile that lights up his entire world.
"Guess what! Guess what I learned to do in ballet class today!" she says with growing excitement in her young voice.
"What did you learn to do in ballet class today?" he repeats, unable to take the grin off his face.
He watches as his daughter turns and walks a few steps away from him. She turns back to face him and stretches her arms high above her head. She lifts her pink slippered feet off the ground and twirls on her tip toes, smiling an adorable smile the entire time. When she stops, she turns back to him expectantly. His smile widens as he brings up his hands and claps enthusiastically for her.
"Wow, that was amazing, baby," he says with fatherly sincerity. "You know, one day, you're gonna grow up to be a world famous ballerina."
"That's what Mommy said too!" she tells him.
That's when he looks up and sees his wife standing near the door. She meets his eyes, smiling her beautiful smile. He rises to his feet and walks towards her.
"Sorry we took so long to get here, babe," she says.
He accepts her apology by taking a gentle hold of her chin and leaning down to give her a slow, tender kiss on the lips. Her lips are warm and soft against his own, tasting sweet like fruit. He feels her smile against his lips as she kisses him back tenderly, giving him that heartwarming, fluttering feeling that never fails to have him melting in a puddle right at her feet.
"It's okay," he whispers after he breaks the kiss. A smile graces across his lips as he adds, "Babe."
She returns the smile as he reaches out and places his palm on top of her stomach. He spreads his fingers open wide, allowing his hand to rest there, in hopes that he'll be able to feel the tiny life growing inside of her.
16-year-old-Freddie opened the door to the Shays' apartment in a purposely cautious manner. When he peered inside, however, he was surprised to see that the person he expected to be sitting on the Shays' couch wasn't there, and instead, it was…
"Sam?" Freddie said in confusion.
"Fredgeek," she greeted.
He limped his way inside, briefly letting go of one of his crutches to close the door. He hobbled over and glanced at the TV to see what Sam was watching. It was a random re-run of Girly Cow. When he looked back over at her, she was already staring up at him expectantly, probably already knowing what he was about to ask her.
"Across the street buying a can of squirtable cheese."
Freddie raised an eyebrow.
"'Cause cheese is better in squirt form, duh," she answered, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world.
"Huh," Freddie said. Well, he couldn't really argue with that statement. "All right then."
Without another word, he took a seat next to Sam on the couch, placing his crutches beside him. As he got himself settled, Sam hardly moved at all, aside from a slight shift of her arm moving closer to her body. Freddie stared at the TV screen, trying his best to focus on the episode of Girly Cow in front of him, but it was difficult considering that his mind was far too preoccupied with other things. Sam was staring intently, though, her eyes glazed over as she watched.
"So how are things with you guys?" she asked out of nowhere.
Freddie glanced over at her, completely caught off guard by the question. Sam eventually turned her head towards him, her expression unreadable.
"I…" he started to say, but trailed off. "Wait, what do you mean?"
"I mean you and Carly," Sam specified. "You guys cool or what?"
Freddie still wasn't completely sure as to what she was talking about.
"Uh…yes," he said unsurely. "Why wouldn't we be?"
"Well, after your tragic break up and everything," Sam said in her usual mocking tone, "I figured things might be a little awkward between you guys now."
"It wasn't a tragic break up," Freddie clarified. "I basically just told her what you told me…you know, about the whole bacon thing."
"Oh, I know," Sam said. "Carly already told me."
Well, Freddie couldn't say he was surprised. After all, Carly and Sam were best friends, and best friends obviously discussed those kinds of things with each other. He didn't really mind, since the three of them pretty much told each other everything anyway. It wasn't like it was a big secret or anything. In fact, there were almost no secrets whatsoever amongst the three of them.
Almost no secrets.
"Then…why'd you ask if things were cool between me and her?" Freddie asked.
"I dunno," she said. "Just makin' sure."
But Freddie was nowhere near convinced by that answer. He knew for sure that there had to be something more to it than that. Sam wasn't the kind of person to just ask things on a whim for the sake of keeping up a casual conversation. No, there was definitely something much deeper behind it.
"Well…" Freddie found himself saying, "I'll admit that things might be just a tiny bit awkward between Carly and me right now." He paused, but then made sure to add, "But I know everything will be back to normal with us in a matter of time. After all, we're still friends."
This seemed to catch Sam's attention as her eyebrows shot up slightly.
"All right, let me just take a wild guess here," she said, bringing up one of her arms so that her elbow was propped up on the couch cushion. She looked Freddie over for a moment. He could see her eyes flickering back and forth, as though trying to read his mind or something. Finally, after a moment, she just said it. "Now that you and Carly dated for a little while and broke up, you're afraid that she's gonna get over you for good, which means that she'll never want to take you up on your pathetic little offer of her becoming your girlfriend again after your whole hero thing wears off."
Wow. Carly really did tell Sam everything.
"Am I right?" Sam asked.
"Pssh. You could not be more wrong, Puckett."
"Oh, shut up, Fredalupé," Sam said, lightly smacking him on the shoulder. "I'm right. You know I'm right."
Maybe it was from her playful tone or something, he wasn't sure, but for whatever reason, a small smile broke across Freddie's face then. It lasted only a moment, but he was sure that Sam must've noticed it anyway, because she smiled, too. A real, genuine smile. Not one of those smirks or vicious grins. It was weird to see a smile like that coming from Sam Puckett, but…it was actually a really pretty smile. It suited her nicely. Freddie briefly found himself wondering why she didn't smile like that more often.
"Don't be too bummed out about it," Sam said, pulling Freddie out of his thoughts. "Eventually, you'll get over her, too."
This only further surprised Freddie. Was she actually trying to comfort him right now? This was definitely one of those rare, too good to be true moments. He couldn't really tell if she was up to something, or if she truly was being sincere. Regardless, he continued listening to what she had to say. Maybe she was actually going somewhere with all this.
"And then one day…" Sam went on, withdrawing her arm from the couch cushion and letting it flop back into her lap, "…you'll meet a chick who's not completely brain damaged that, for some incredibly insane reason, would actually want to go out with you."
Freddie was intrigued to hear that.
"Oh, yeah?" he said with a playful quirk of his eyebrow. "Like who?"
"I dunno. Someone who's into pathetic tech geeks that spend way too much time with their mom and actually enjoy doing their homework?"
Freddie frowned. Well, there it was. The mood was officially broken. He didn't bother responding to that, since he knew that more insults would inevitably follow if he did. Instead of going through that same emotional abuse, he simply fixed his attention back on Girly Cow, which was almost over now. Sam did the same, only little did Freddie know that she wasn't actually paying attention to it, and instead, she was thinking about what she really wanted to say:
"Someone like me."
He slowly withdraws his hand from his wife's stomach.
"I'd better head back upstairs so I can finish bringing down the rest of the boxes," he says.
"I'll help you," Carly says, but he promptly shakes his head.
"You can't lift heavy boxes in your condition!"
She lets out a soft snort.
"My condition?" she repeats, clearly amused by his overly protective tone. "Sweetie, it's perfectly fine. I'm only 16 weeks along."
"I know, honey, but I just don't want to take any chances," he says, and he knows that she knows that no matter what she says to try and convince him, he isn't going to change his mind. "Okay?"
With a defeated sigh, she mumbles back, "Okay."
"Good," he says, satisfied. "There's only a few more up there, anyway. I'll just bring them down so I can load them into the car."
"All right. I'll bring it around right outside the building to make it easier for you," Carly says. She turns towards their daughter. "Sammy."
The young girl skips over towards her mother.
"C'mere, sweetie," Carly says, extending her hand for their daughter to take. He watches as Sammy's tiny hand slips into his wife's larger one. "Daddy is just going to finish cleaning up some stuff, and when he's done, we're all gonna go get some lunch, okay?"
"Yay!" Sammy says, jostling her mom's arm as she jumps up and down in excitement
They both smile at their daughter. He looks back up at Carly, who smiles warmly at him, before she leans in and gives him a quick kiss on the lips.
"Meet you downstairs," she says when she pulls away.
"All right," he replies.
He watches as the two of them walk over to the elevator, still hand-in-hand. Carly presses the button, signaling the chiming ding, and a moment later, the metal doors slide open, and they both walk in. He waits for the doors to slide closed, before he turns and makes his way back up the staircase.
Sam was the one to put it out there.
She just said it one day, completely out of the blue. She and Freddie were alone, yet again, in the iCarly studio. His eyes were fixed on his laptop screen, while Sam drank from her clear glass bottle of cream soda, listening to him type briskly away on his keyboard. She swallowed the refreshing drink and absentmindedly brought up her free hand, drumming her fingers against the side of the bottle. After a little while, she stopped, let out a small sigh, and started walking towards Freddie.
"Hey, Fredweird," she said to get his attention.
He glanced up from his laptop, his typing ceasing for a moment. She stared at him blankly, tapping her fingers against the bottle once more. Her lips tightened a bit, as though she were hesitating about saying whatever it was she wanted to say.
Finally, though, she just asked it.
"Don't you feel like we're all starting to get a little too old to keep doing iCarly anymore?"
Freddie took his attention off the laptop screen completely. He slowly closed it and stared at Sam, trying to understand her, trying to make sense of that question, since he was by no means expecting her to ask something like that. After all, they were only 17 years old, and after four years of doing iCarly, it was going stronger than ever. He'd never really thought about ending the web show anytime soon. In fact, it was something the three of them had never really discussed before.
"What do you mean?" Freddie asked, sincerely curious. "We're not that old, Sam."
"Oh, come on," Sam said impatiently. "We're freakin' seniors now. You seriously don't feel like we're getting too old to still be doing some silly little web show every single week about pointless, immature comedy just for the sake of making kids laugh?"
"You don't like making kids laugh?" Freddie asked.
Sam groaned loudly. Freddie had an odd feeling then that he was probably somehow missing the whole point she was trying to make. He couldn't help it, though. He honestly had no idea where she was going with this, or better yet, why she'd even brought it up in the first place.
"I just feel like there's more important things for Mama to be doing with her time than helping Carly come up with new ideas for this stupid web show each and every week."
Stupid web show?
"What?" Freddie said, shock evident in his tone. "What are you saying right now, Sam? That iCarly isn't important enough to you anymore? That it's stupid and not worth your precious little time?"
"Don't mock me," Sam said in a chillingly serious tone.
"I'm not trying to mock you," Freddie said in his own defense. "I just can't believe what you're saying right now. How long have you been thinking stuff like this?"
Sam shrugged, her lips pursed.
"Well…have you mentioned any of this to Carly yet?" Freddie asked curiously.
"How can I mention this to Carly?" Sam wanted to know. "I know the show means a lot to her, and I don't want to hurt her feelings. She's my best friend. As for you, well…you don't matter to me as much, so I figured it's fine if I talk to you about this stuff."
Oh, sure, that made sense, Freddie sarcastically thought. Of course she didn't care about his opinion as much as she did Carly's. He should've known that she didn't actually care what he had to say. She was just thinking out loud.
Still, those words she'd just said cut him deep to his core. You don't matter to me as much. Did she really mean that?
"You know what, Sam?" he said, looking her dead in the eyes. "If you don't want to do iCarly anymore, then just quit. It's not like you really help Carly with the show anyway."
"Uh, are you being serious with me right now?" Sam asked, clearly half-amused. Of course she wasn't taking him seriously. "You know, me and Carly already had a fight like this a few years back, so don't even get me started, Benson. You have no idea what the chiz you're talking about. I help plenty with the show. I'm not as lazy as you think I am." What she said next suddenly took the conversation in an entirely different direction that Freddie was nowhere near prepared for. "And maybe, if you hadn't been so busy trailing after Carly like a pathetic little puppy all this time, you'd actually see that."
"What?" Freddie said, completely taken aback. "I've never trailed after Carly like a pathetic little puppy!"
Sam rolled her eyes in a purposely dramatic manner.
"Yeah, okay," she practically laughed. "And I don't think ham is the most beautiful food in the world. Just admit it, you'd do anything for Carly, wouldn't you?"
Freddie didn't answer. He didn't even have to, though, because they both knew what his answer would be.
"Yeah," Sam said, as if reading his mind. "She knows it, too. The pathetic part is that you just can't seem to understand the fact that, even though she knows you'd do anything for her, she still doesn't really want to be with you. She never did." She stared at him for a long time before she spoke again. "And honestly, dude, if you still can't see that…then you're just even more oblivious than you already are."
That was when Freddie finally found his voice again.
"Than I already am?" he repeated, feeling more confused than he'd ever felt in his entire life. He couldn't remember how this conversation even got to this point, let alone why he was discussing this with Sam of all people. "What are you talking about, Sam?"
"Nothing," Sam said right away. "Just forget it."
She was about to make a break for the door then, but Freddie quickly caught her by the arm before she could leave.
"Ohhh, no, you're not getting off that easily, Puck—"
She turned around and kissed him.
It was hard and forceful, and when it happened, he just froze, his mind going completely numb. His senses were so overwhelmed that he could just vaguely feel the warm stickiness on her lips, and he could just vaguely taste the lingering sweetness of cream soda inside her mouth.
His grip on her arm loosened as the sound of their lips tearing apart filled the silence of the room. He let go of her altogether and blinked dumbly, staring at her with wild eyes and his mouth agape.
"That's how you're oblivious."
She turned and ran right out the door, her thudding footsteps echoing down the hall.
And he just…stood there.
10 minutes later, after packing up nearly all the boxes into the car, only one more remains. And, just because it's there, and it's the last one, he impulsively decides to open it up.
He grabs both flaps and simultaneously pulls them apart, and once he does, his eyes widen when he sees what's inside.
Sam wasn't in school the next day.
Freddie half expected that she wouldn't show up, though. He knew that after what happened between them last night, she'd be too scared—or maybe even too embarrassed—to face him again, especially so soon.
And so, being that he knew Sam so well—more well than he'd even realized up until that point—he decided that he'd simply wait for her to come and talk to him when she was ready.
So, he waited patiently. But the following day, Sam wasn't in school again. She hadn't shown up to the Shays' apartment either. Carly attempted calling her a few times, but every time she did, Sam never picked up.
By Saturday night, it had officially been three days since Freddie—or anyone else for that matter—had heard from Sam. He thought about going to her house, but for some reason, he had a feeling that she wouldn't be home.
He sat out on the fire escape and stared up at the night sky, sprinkled with a few scattered stars and a thin, crescent shaped moon. He glanced down at his Pear phone and tapped the screen with his thumb. He chewed nervously on his lower lip, contemplating whether or not he should completely go against what he told himself earlier and just try calling Sam himself. He just couldn't get her off his mind, and he realized that the longer he waited for her to contact him, the more time he was wasting.
Which was why, as a last resort, he decided to send her a single text message:
you cant avoid me forever Sam
He reaches into the box and pulls out the item that's neatly folded inside of it. It's soft, yet slightly wrinkled, and it smells like faded fabric softener and accumulated dust as he presses it to his face.
Several hours passed, and yet there was still no response from Sam. Freddie would be lying to himself if he were to say that he wasn't feeling just a tiny bit worried about her. Seriously, why was she avoiding him like this? So, she kissed him. So, she basically confessed that she liked him. So, the whole 'oblivious' thing on his part was that she'd apparently liked him for a long time now, and that he'd just been too dumb to notice.
But how was that his fault if he didn't notice? After all, it wasn't like she'd given him any hints over the years. Unless, of course, the constant name-calling and physical abuse were meant to be taken as secret codes for, "Hey, Freddie, I like you!"
If that were the case, well then…Sam certainly had a unique way of expressing her feelings.
Freddie let out a long sigh. A strong breeze rolled in out of nowhere. It blew past his cheeks in a cool gust, causing him to shiver. He glanced down at his Pear phone and read the time. It was getting late. He decided he should probably get to bed. Maybe he'd try calling her in the morning or something.
He took one last look at the dark blue sky and the pale silver moon, before he got up, walked over to the open window that led into his apartment, and stepped inside.
He pulls the soft fabric away from his face, and it's when he opens his eyes to look at it again that he realizes it's now damp with his own tears. He reaches up with one hand and swipes his fingers across the salty wetness on his cheeks from his drying tears.
And he doesn't fight those tears, instead allowing more of them to roll freely down his cheeks, because it's been so long that he's grieved like this. And he knows that it may seem selfish of him, because Carly's not here right now to share the grief with him, but at this moment, he just doesn't care. He allows the selfish grief to consume him as he lets out a choked breath and brings the shirt back up to his face, sobbing away the memories.
Freddie made his way through his darkened apartment, being especially quiet with his steps so that he wouldn't accidentally wake up his mom. He opened the door to his bedroom and walked inside, not even bothering to turn the light on. He flopped down on his mattress, suddenly feeling exhausted. His eyes fell shut on their own accord, and the moment they did, he pictured Sam in his mind. He brought a hand up to his mouth and gently touched his lips, lightly grazing his index finger over his bottom lip.
He tried his best to remember the sweet taste of Sam's lips, and the way they felt against his own, meshing together clumsily, yet beautifully. He couldn't help but realize that there had been so much passion in that kiss. So much heat and desperation. And then there was that look she'd given him when she pulled away. That intense, heated gaze. The last words she'd said to him rang out repeatedly in his mind.
"That's how you're oblivious."
His cheeks grew warm from the memory. He hadn't noticed until this very moment that the tone in her voice when she said that had sounded so…hurt. Had he seriously hurt her for not returning her feelings right away? In his defense, it wasn't like she'd even given him a chance to tell her how he felt.
How did he feel, though?
Well, for one, he knew he didn't hate her the way he used to. Far from it, in fact. The more he thought about it, the more it became clear to him that he never really truly hated her. It was more of…an intense disliking because she was just so evil.
But now, he truly did consider her to be a close friend. He also knew that for some crazy and unexplainable reason, she was one of the very few people he honestly trusted from the bottom of his heart…
An unexpected vibration of his phone caused his eyes to abruptly snap open and his heart to practically skip an entire beat. He fumbled for his phone inside his jeans pocket and hastily pulled it out. The tiny light from the screen illuminated across his face as he slid the onscreen button open to read that he had one new message.
u still up?
He stared at it, dumbfounded. Almost immediately, he texted back:
Her reply surprisingly came just as quickly:
b there in 10
The shirt is permanently stained with his tears now. He attempts to hastily fold it up again, but after a few seconds of trying, he gives up and angrily wads it up, before tossing it back into the box in a wrinkled up mess. It lands on the neat, folded up pile of the other shirts inside the box.
Dozens of unworn penny tees.
They're all the exact same shirt: a deep purple, inscribed with a special phrase that thousands of their former iCarly fans had requested from them back when they were still doing the show. Right in the middle of each shirt, in pale purple letters, reads a single word:
And it hurts him even more to see it written out before him in plain sight, because he knows it could've been, had they just been given a chance.
Had he just given her a chance.
Not even two minutes later, Freddie was already standing outside of the Bushwell Plaza, waiting for Sam. He tightly hugged his arms to his chest as another chilly breeze swept up and whipped across his face. He briefly considered going back inside to wait for her in the lobby, but he decided that he'd tough it out and simply wait for her outside in the bitter nighttime cold.
So, he stood there, shivering every so often as he stared out at the few lone cars that drove by. After several minutes of this, he yawned unexpectedly, his exhaustion now heavier than it was just minutes earlier when he'd still been lying on his bed.
He was about to take a seat right on the ground when, out of nowhere, he saw a very familiar car pulling up in front of the building. Its bright headlights blinded him a bit, causing him to squint. He uncrossed his arms and brought one of them up to shield his eyes as Sam's mom's beat up old car slowed down to a screeching halt.
The lights went off as she turned off the ignition. Freddie lowered his arm, finding himself holding his breath as the car door on the driver's side opened and slammed closed a moment later.
And then, finally, he saw Sam herself walking around the car and up to him. He hesitated for a moment, wondering if he should walk towards her and meet her halfway, or simply stand there and wait for her to reach him.
She'd stopped in front of him before he could decide.
"Hey," she said gruffly, in her typical Sam Puckett fashion.
"Hey," Freddie responded in a much more timid voice.
Silence immediately fell between them. Sam folded her arms over her chest, blowing some air through her lips so that her bangs blew out of her eyes. Freddie awkwardly shifted his feet below him.
"Look, Sam, I—"
"Look, Fredwad, I—"
They both stopped talking when they realized that they were both starting to say something at the exact same time. They looked right at one another, as if silently daring the other to speak first. After a moment of just staring and no talking, Sam sighed impatiently.
"I really don't know why the fudge I'm here," she finally blurted out.
"I didn't ask," Freddie said.
More silence. Sam didn't look at him this time. Freddie was the one to eventually speak up again.
"Sam," he said, hoping that she'd look at him, but she stubbornly kept her gaze locked elsewhere, at the sidewalk, the street, the sky, literally anywhere but at him. "Sam, look at me."
And then she finally did, much to his surprise. She looked right at him with those serious, deep blue eyes of her. The familiar look sent a chill down Freddie's spine, but it still didn't stop him from saying what he wanted to say.
"You know you're my best friend, right?" he asked sincerely.
He could tell by the way Sam's eyes momentarily widened that she was caught off guard by the question. She seemed to catch herself, though, because immediately after that, her eyes narrowed, giving her a familiar cold look.
"I thought Carly was your best friend," she said spitefully, but at the same time with a tinge of hurt in her voice. "I mean, no chiz, she is your girlfriend."
Freddie bit the inside of his cheek, unable to mask the feeling of guilt that struck deep within him. She said those words so easily, and yet, he felt stupid then, because it hadn't even dawned on him until this very moment. Only now did he realize why Sam hadn't exactly seemed too thrilled when he and Carly announced to her that they'd recently started dating again.
It was because she was jealous.
"She is," he admitted reluctantly, his tone still serious. "But that doesn't mean I don't appreciate your friendship any less."
His voice was soft now. Gentle even. And she was standing there, staring and actually listening, which was why he knew he had to keep talking, before he lost his nerve, or she lost her patience.
"You can play games with me all you want, Sam, but deep down, I know you need me in your life more than you'd like to admit."
That was when everything exploded like a crash of thunder. Sam lowered her eyebrows and parted her lips and started shaking her head at him.
"Don't flatter yourself, Benson. You've got it all wrong, okay? I don't need you."
Her tone was strong but her eyes were soft. He could see that she was starting to break right before his very eyes, and the sudden change in her mood almost scared him.
Sam Puckett was not only jealous; she was upset.
Her guard was completely down now. She was hurt and vulnerable, and it seemed as though the more Freddie tried to reach out to her, the more Sam tried even harder to push him away.
"Kissing you the other night was a huge mistake," she said seemingly out of the blue, her voice wavering. "And if I could take it back, believe me, I'd do it in a heartbeat." Her eyes were becoming glassy. "Because you're Carly's boyfriend, and I totally betrayed her by going behind her back and kissing you like a selfish idiot. And that makes me feel like the worst best friend in the world."
Freddie gently placed his hand on Sam's arm, in an attempt to somehow comfort her.
"Sam, please, just listen to m—"
"No!" she shouted, violently ripping her arm out of his grasp. The tears she'd been trying to fight all this time had finally escaped then, trickling down her cheeks like glistening raindrops. "I don't want to hear about how much my friendship means to you! I don't care, okay?" She sniffled, at that point no longer trying to hide the fact that she was crying. "And do you want to know why? Because you're nothing to me!"
When she said that, she shoved him hard, with both hands, nearly knocking him to the ground with the amount of force she used. And before he even knew what hit him, she'd already turned around and started sprinting towards her car.
"Sam!" he called out to her, but she disappeared from his sight as she got into the car. "Sam, wait!"
The engine started up with a roar. The tires screeched long and mercilessly as she recklessly drove off the curb and onto the street. He watched in a matter of seconds as the car sped away so fast that, before he could do anything, it had already happened.
In the blink of an eye.
She swerved into the wrong lane, running right through a red light, just as an oncoming truck was making a left turn.
And the crash he heard that night was the most horrifying and disgusting noise he'd ever heard in his entire life, to this very day.
"Holy shit, SAM!"
Freddie Benson never swore.
Dangerous sparks shot off in the air as both vehicles immediately burst into thick, suffocating orange flames. Freddie ran right into the middle of the street, approaching the heavy cloud of smoke. All he could see was shattered glass and bright flames and Sam's mom's car destroyed and turned upside down.
"Sam!" he shouted desperately, his voice a million miles away from him.
He crouched down and crawled toward the wreck, where at last, he saw a pale arm and a heap of blonde curls. His heart stopped beating for a moment.
He grabbed the limp hand and pulled it. His heart was pounding now. He turned her over and heard her coughing uncontrollably.
"Oh my God," she whispered in a meek voice that sounded absolutely nothing like her.
"Oh my God," he echoed, barely able to breathe, let alone think straight. "The police." He reached for his phone and dialed 911. He looked down at Sam, then back up at the accident, where the fire was growing and cackling in the wind.
"I NEED AN AMBULANCE!" Freddie screamed into the phone. He tried his best to speak as coherently as his voice would allow him. "Car accident. O-Outside of Bushwell Plaza. In Seattle. There's…a girl. And a truck driver." His eyes flickered back up to the flaming truck. "I-I think he's already dead."
"Check to see if the woman is still breathing. We're sending the police and paramedics right away."
"Okay," he choked, his hand shaking violently as he ended the call.
He looked down at Sam again. Her eyes were struggling to stay open, but she was still breathing.
And she was bleeding.
"S-Shhh," Freddie stuttered, swallowing a massive lump in his throat. "I-I'm here, Sam."
"Freddie…" she said again, in the weakest voice he'd ever heard from her. "I'm…"
"I know, Sam," he whispered gently, because she was so close to him, so incredibly weak and trembling, and it was scaring him to death. He could see the tremendous pain in her eyes, and his heart was sinking, because then, right at that very moment, he just knew.
She didn't have much time left.
Her breathing came out sporadically. Her chest heaved up and down as her eyelids began fluttering closed. She breathed in…and breathed out, in…and out, exhaling harder and harder with each breath.
"I'm sorr…" she tried again in her breathless voice, and he knew she was trying so hard to fight it, to fight this weakness, because that was just what she did. She was never one to just give up without a fight. It was just in her nature. She opened her mouth to try to speak again, but all that came out was another ragged breath as her chest lurched downward, and then back up, even harder than before.
He could feel hot tears stinging in his eyes as he gently, cautiously, moved a shaking hand to her face and brushed away a matted, blood-drenched curl of her hair from her forehead. His heart pounded against his chest in a way that made his whole body ache all over. Slowly, very slowly, he started leaning his head down towards her.
"I know," he whispered again, allowing his own weakness to get the better of him. He dipped his head down, closing the small space between them as he pressed his lips to hers. It was fragile, and it was hesitant, and he could taste her anguish and feel her pulse and hear her fear all through this one long and incredibly desperate kiss. Her chest was still heaving violently beneath him, and her body was still shaking uncontrollably, but her lips were quivering now with a dull throbbing and an overwhelming sense of need. The tears were still stinging in his eyes, but he kept them tightly squeezed shut, drinking in the taste of her as their soft kiss intensified. He listened with a sudden sense of fear as she let out a halfhearted whimper against the corners of his mouth, and she tasted so sweet yet so salty and bitter as her blood continued pooling around her at an alarming rate.
Their lips tore apart with a light smack of suction that echoed into the night as he slowly pulled away. Their eyes opened to lock onto each other once more. The broken sight of her crashed right down on his heart, but he watched as the most beautiful, genuine smile spread across her pale lips. He blinked back the burning tears as he let out a strangled breath, because she was so close yet so far away from him, so incredibly strong yet so physically and emotionally weak, and he knew that there was nothing left he could do.
"I'm sorry," she finally whispered in her broken voice, still shaking hard and struggling to breathe as she continued, "I'm sorry for every single mean thing I've ever said or done to you…Freddie."
He didn't realize how hard his own body was shaking until the tears that had been trapped in his eyes suddenly escaped. They quickly rolled down his cheeks, landing in small, invisible droplets on her torn up and blood-covered shirt. He shook his head, swallowing hard.
"The truth is that I…" she began, but her voice faded from there.
Please, God. Not yet.
She tried to lift her hand then, but it stopped halfway off the ground as her face cringed in noticeable pain. With a soft grunt, her hand flopped back down onto the grimy, blood drenched pavement. She panted heavily, still fighting as hard as her fragile body could. Her eyes were closing again, and her breathing was slowing down drastically. He could see that her body was growing weaker and weaker with each passing second. She was slipping away from him, and fast. She let out another barely audible whimper.
"I just…I'm so in love with you," she confessed at last in an extremely weak whisper. She closed her eyes, releasing one final long and shaky breath. "You dork."
And her body stopped shaking.
And her heart stopped beating.
And his body, in turn, started shaking harder than ever before. He felt an enormous lump swell inside his throat as his heart shattered to pieces. Tears streamed uncontrollably down his face. His heart pounded frantically inside his chest, begging her to come back to him.
"I-I love you too, Sam," he whispered into the darkness, just a moment too late.
In the distance, he could hear the faint sounds of blaring ambulance sirens rapidly approaching.
And he just buried his face against her lifeless chest, crying harder than he'd ever cried in his life.
32-year-old Freddie Benson closes the box of the Seddie penny tees. He silently picks it up and carries it to an empty corner of the room, deciding to leave it there, where he knows it probably won't ever be touched again.
He feels empty inside as soon as he places the box down. With a quiet sigh, he turns around and makes his way over to the door. When he reaches it, he stops for a moment, and turns around again to look at their old iCarly studio one last time.
He smiles sadly.
"And we're clear," he whispers.
He closes the door.
Author's Note: I'm sorry the ending was so unbelievably depressing. I feel like it was painfully obvious throughout the whole story, but I dunno, maybe that's okay, since maybe, it didn't hit you as hard when Sam died? Or maybe I'm completely wrong, because after all, I'm the one who wrote the story. I know it feels completely different when you're reading a story for the first time as an uninformed reader.
Well, regardless, thank you so much for reading this. It means a lot. I put a lot of time and effort into this story, so hopefully that shows in my writing as well as in the storyline itself. I hope you wouldn't mind taking just a few seconds or so now to review and let me know what you thought of it. Maybe share with me what your favorite and/or least favorite part was. I'm always interested to know that, for some reason. Either way, though, I sincerely appreciate each and every review that I receive.