Author's Note: Figured I'd add my fic to the huge collection of post-iOMG fics. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: iCarly © Dan Schneider
Her chest felt incredibly heavy as she drew in a deep, deep breath, holding it for a moment, before she let it out in a long gush of air. She swung lazily back and forth, her feet just barely touching the ground. The sun was rising behind her, casting a warm glow across her pale skin and golden hair.
A spike of heat suddenly rushed through her body as she lifted her head, clenching the rusty metal handlebars in each of her hands. She kicked her legs out in front of her and began pumping them, back and forth, back and forth. Soon, she was flying high towards the still dark sky, then back towards the rising sun, her hair whipping behind her as she flew.
She could hear the squeaking noise of the handles as she pumped her legs, swinging like a child without a care in the world. As she pumped harder, feeling the strong breeze blowing against her face, she began to feel exhilarated. Free.
Her hands tightened around the rusty bars as a look of determination crossed her features. She could feel her heart pumping, like her legs, as if in a matching rhythm. She hadn't realized just how high she was swinging now, until she felt the top of her head fleetingly brush against the leaves of a tall tree behind her. Somehow, the sound of the rustling leaves ignited the fire within her, and she found herself unable to resist the temptation any longer.
With one final hard pump of her legs, she let her wild spirit take over, and she jumped off the swing.
She went flying in the air, and as she did, she counted in her head.
She tried to land on her feet, but instead she came crashing down on the sand-covered. A painful grunt escaped her throat as her legs, stomach and elbows collided into the rough sand. She clamped her eyes shut and winced.
Why did I just do that?
She'd thought it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Just like she'd thought kissing Freddie hours earlier seemed like a good idea at the time.
She felt that familiar ache shooting through her chest, but this ache had nothing to do with the fact that she'd just hit the ground. No, this was much more painful than that. It kind of felt like…
Well, she didn't know for sure, but if she didn't know any better, she had a hunch that this was what getting your heart broken felt like.
She gritted her teeth together as she pushed herself up with her hands and got to her feet, hastily brushing the dirty sand off of her red and white striped shirt. She held out her arm to examine her elbow. Not even scratch. No damage whatsoever.
If only she could say the same thing about her relationship with Freddie.
Don't you dare cry, Puckett, she warned herself. Your tears aren't worth crying over that pathetic little nub.
She kicked at the ground, watching as the sand flew a few inches and showered back down. She really didn't know why she was here right now, at some deserted, worn-out playground, when she could be at home, in her nice warm bed.
Like I'd even be able to sleep, though.
Not sure what to do with herself, she decided to pop a squat on the ground. She crossed her legs and rested her elbow on one of her knees, her cheek pressing against her palm.
I have to get over him, she thought suddenly. There was no other way around it. He obviously didn't feel the same way about her, judging by that deeply shocked look he had on his face after she'd kissed him way, way longer than was necessary.
All of a sudden, her sadness once again replaced itself with anger. This was exactly the reason why she never told anyone about her stupid crush on Freddie in the first place. She should've just ignored Carly's "make a move" nonsense. What did Carly know, anyway? She had never truly faced rejection before. If anything, Carly was the one constantly breaking guys' hearts, not the other way around, 'cause she was Carly. She was perfect and sweet and likable.
No wonder Freddie's in love with her.
Why couldn't Freddie just see that beneath all the name-calling and beatings and teasing and pranks and rudeness was a girl who really, truly…
Ugh, no, I'm not gonna say it. Even if his stupid computer app said it. Like I'm really gonna trust something he invented.
Still, she couldn't help but wonder…was it really true? She'd always thought her so-called feelings for Freddie were nothing more than some dumb little high school crush, not some full-blown, heart-wrenching, sickeningly sweet feelings of…
No, she still wouldn't say it. Because that wasn't what it was. She knew it wasn't. She didn't feel that strongly towards him. It was a crush. Nothing more. She'd get over it.
But, she wondered, is getting rejected by a crush seriously supposed to hurt this much?
She could feel her stomach churning, and she knew it wasn't from hunger, but from that disgusting, girly, cliché, warm, fluttery feeling of butterflies.
What is wrong with me?
She'd never felt this way before. Ever. About anyone. And it frustrated her beyond belief, because she knew she couldn't control these feelings. She glared down at the sand, trying to distract herself from her thoughts. She traced her finger along the sand. It felt cold and hard beneath her fingertip, but she didn't really mind too much.
Slowly, and maybe even without fully realizing it, she found herself running her finger up and across the sand to form a long, wide curve. She withdrew her finger for a moment, only to sink it back down into the sand, drawing a similar curve in the opposite direction. Without stopping, she connected the two curves at the bottom, and she didn't even have to think twice about it to realize what she'd just drawn.
Kind of jagged, and a little uneven, but it was still very much a heart. She could feel her own heart pounding away, fast and hard, so fast and hard, in fact, that she could hear it ringing inside her ears.
She bit her lip as her eyes remained locked on the heart she'd just drawn. Why did she just draw a heart of all things? She could've drawn a face, or a picture of a kid getting hit by a bus, or really anything other than a stupid heart. It was just so girly. So unlike her.
Then again, though, maybe it did kind of make sense. After all, she hardly felt like herself right now.
She swallowed a lump that she hadn't even realized had been forming inside her throat. Blinking back the tears that were starting to form, she brought her hand to the left of the heart, where she wrote her name.
Before she knew what she was doing, she began writing another name on the other side of the heart, a name that came out a bit more sloppily due to her trembling fingers.
She brought up her hand as she finished off the final letter, taking a moment to really look at what she'd just written in the sand.
Sam heart Freddie.
I love Freddie.
She blinked, and the unwanted tears escaped at last. They rolled down her cheeks, leaving behind glistening trails on her pale skin. She didn't bother wiping the tears away, though, since she knew more would be coming soon enough.
I hate him, she thought. I hate him because I love him and he doesn't love me back.
It hurt. It hurt a lot, actually, because it was the truth, and the truth sometimes just plain sucked. It sure did in this case.
Suddenly, she wanted to see him. Right at that very moment. She wanted to call him names and do that double fist dance on his face she'd promised him. She wanted to physically hurt him for emotionally hurting her so badly.
She just wanted to…
The voice shattered her entire world. Her heart stopped. Her eyes widened. She quickly, and hastily, rubbed the back of her hand against each of her eyes.
He plopped himself down on the sandy earth, taking a seat right next to her, while her breath hitched in her throat as she looked down in a panic, realizing her little message was still there in plain sight for him to see.
Not wanting to seem overly suspicious by moving too quickly, she tried her best to make it seem like she was still idly running her fingers through the sand. She ran a line through the message, smearing it completely.
"What do you want?" she finally asked, in a purposely rude voice.
She kept running her finger back and forth through the cold sand, her gaze still fixed on the ground, not daring to look at him.
"Why'd you run away?" he asked.
The pace of her finger slowed to a stop. She didn't say anything at first, taking a moment to really think about her answer. Should she make something up?
Or should she just tell the truth already?
"'Cause," was all she said, her voice unnaturally soft now.
"'Cause why?" he persisted.
God, he's so annoying.
"'Cause," she said again. Then, after a brief pause, she finally decided to just come clean already. "I was scared."
The word felt so weird to her as it left her mouth. Scared. She'd never truly felt scared of anything before. In fact, this was the first time in her life that she'd ever felt genuinely terrified.
"Scared of what?" he asked. Somehow, hearing his voice, which she'd expected would only make her feel more afraid, surprisingly made her feel relaxed.
Which was why, at that moment, she felt brave enough to finally look at him. She looked him right in the eyes, and the moment she did, she felt those stupid butterflies explode inside her stomach. Her cheeks grew hot, but she held the gaze, not letting herself chicken out now.
"Scared of getting rejected, okay?" she said, the words spilling out of her so fast that her tone came out much harsher than she'd intended it to.
And then, just like that, her bravery crumbled, and she looked away from him again. She didn't want to start crying again.
Hold it together, Puckett.
"Okay, did you not listen at all to anything I said to you earlier?"
She blinked, surprised by his blunt tone, and she looked at him again, but she said nothing.
"I already told you," he said. "Do you really think you're the only person in the whole entire world who's scared of getting rejected? Everyone is scared of that, Sam!"
The way he said her name, so boldly, and with a touch of anger, caused her heart to jump.
"Well, then, go ahead," she dared him, and when he furrowed his eyebrows, she had no choice but to specify. "Put your feelings out there."
He narrowed his eyes, and she knew he was silently accepting the challenge. She waited. Waited for him to speak. But instead, he held up his index finger, before plummeting it into the sand. Her eyes dropped to watch him, watching as he wrote out an F, and then an R, and an E, until eventually, he'd written out his name. Then, he moved his finger a few inches to the right and wrote out a big, curvy S, and then an A, and finally an M.
She stared at their two names in the sand, wondering just what the hell he was doing.
"Watch closely, Puckett," he said.
He sank his finger in the middle of the small space between their names. He drew a long, steep curve, and then another, forming a heart, and when he finished, Sam felt her own heart turn over in her chest. She looked up at him, and the mischievous smile that graced his face caused her to practically lose it right then and there. She felt herself smile, too, and they stared at one another, smiling like idiots.
She tried to open her mouth to speak, but the words were caught in her throat. Any words she was about to say soon went flying out of her mind anyway, because the next thing she knew, he was leaning towards her.
Her instincts took over as she leaned towards him, too, meeting him halfway. Their lips joined in a soft, sweet, amazing kiss. Unlike the way she'd kissed him hours earlier, there was no urgency in this kiss. They each took their time. It was slow, and gentle, and he was really kissing her back. It was everything she could've wanted and more.
When they parted, they remained inches apart.
"See?" he murmured against her lips. "That wasn't so scary, was it?"
And they kissed again.