facing fears

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Sam/Freddie

Continuation of iOMG, AU

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For the first time, she doesn't lie to him.

As she stares at Freddie with wide eyes, all that goes through her head is oh my ham, I just kissed him. Really, she probably shouldn't have. Everyone knows that Sam Puckett hates Freddie Benson and Freddie Benson loathes Sam Puckett, so everyone knows that he would never like her back.

All she has done right now is destroyed any chance they had of being friends.

He stares at her, shocked, and the only thing she can think to say is the truth. "Sorry."

"It's cool," he mutters, and all she can think about is how he's wrong, for once. No, it's not cool. No, nothing will ever be the same again after this moment- after she's gone and messed everything up, once again. Everyone knows that Sam Puckett destroys things. Everyone knows that Sam Puckett is so wrong for Freddie Benson.

There is nothing else to say. Though she suspects that Carly thinks she is unseen, she can see her lurking in the shadows, as utterly shocked as Sam feels. Sam's gaze travels back to Freddie, to the look on his face that she can never decipher, as long as she stares at it. Then she bites her lip before turning to him again. "It's all wrong, Freddo. I shouldn't care about you, and definitely not as much as I do. There are so many more important things in life."

He turns around as if to protest, but it is too late.

She runs off, her hair blowing behind her in a spiral of curls as she tries to think and reason out what has just happened. There is no explanation other than the fact that maybe she likes him, but no, she hates him.

Everything is scrambled in that way that she doesn't want to figure out.

She runs away once again that night, and it starts a chain of reactions.

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She does something so typical of Sam Puckett. She runs from her problems.

Head spinning, she runs home and tosses as many clothes as she can into an empty suitcase. She tries to sort out her thoughts on everything, but she can't think at all. She ends up falling asleep on the bed. But in the morning, she zips her suitcase up and runs down the stairs.

As she appears downstairs, her mother asks her, "Where are you going?"

"Away," Sam hisses, crossing her arms across her chest. "Not like you care, anyway."

"You could stay with Melanie," her mom replies absently. "Or your aunt Hannah, I'm sure that she would love to have you for a while…"

"Are you actually considering this?" Sam replies crossly.

"I don't know where else you're going to go," Pam informs her briskly. "You could go live on the street, I suppose, but if Melanie would be glad to have you…"

"Yeah, sure, like Melanie would ever let me stay with her," Sam crosses her arms, trying to think about everything. She can't imagine her oh-so-perfect twin ever allowing her to stay with her and mess up her perfect school life.

Pam chuckles, her face splitting into a small smile. "Haven't you heard what Melanie said? No, never mind, you probably were not listening. Anyway, she said that she has an empty bed any time you want to go stay with her. You refused and told her that you wouldn't want to stay at a prep school anyway."

"What about school? " Sam wonders, deciding to be the responsible one for once.

"You already miss enough school anyway," her mom laughs, before just shaking her head. "But you have Monday through Wednesday off anyway, and Sunday's always off. I doubt you'll make it much longer than that."

"How am I going to get there?" Sam growls, feeling upset that her mother has all this planned out while she can't think enough to figure out where she was meant to go once she left.

"I'll drive you," Pam tells her simply, scooping up the keys and tossing them into the air before catching them. "It's not as if I have anything else to do. Get your bags; we're going to the school."

Scooping up one of her bags, she pulls the suitcase along behind her as she follows her mother closely out of the house. As if to indicate how horrid her life is going, rain pours down from the sky. Thunder roars above her as she tugs her suitcase down the stairs.

The ride there is long and uneventful. She taps on her window pane, tracing pictures into the foggy glass with her finger. The last thing she wants is to stay in Seattle, yet she feels a bit guilty about leaving. But she can't stay here, not when she's gone and messed up any chance at a relationship she ever had.

Lightning and thunder blaze the skies as it darkens, the sun setting in the sky. By the time they get there, it is late- nearly ten. She steps out of the car, hiking her bag onto her shoulder and pulling her suitcase out of the trunk. "Listen. If Carly or Freddie ask you where I am, don't tell them."

"But-" Pam begins.

"Don't tell them," Sam hisses, pulling the strap tighter over her shoulder.

"Fine, fine," Pam replies dismissively. "You don't need me to kick the rapists in their parts for you, then? You're just going to go by yourself?"

"I can take care of myself," Sam tells her mother scathingly, turning around. "I'll see you when you decide to come back."

"See you soon," Pam smirks at her before turning around, her footsteps crushing the leaves as she walks away.

Her heart pounding in her ears, Sam turns and walks away, feeling free but confused. She finds her sister's dorm room in no time, having been to visit her before, but she feels awkward as she walks in, dripping wet, to see her sister on the couch with a couple of her friends.

But her sister runs up to her anyway, having always been the sweet one. "Sam! I didn't know you were coming! Oh my gosh, you're soaking wet, do you want a towel or something?"

"Yes," Sam manages, biting her lip. "Yes, that'd be great."

Melanie takes off, leaving her to drip in Melanie's doorway, staring awkwardly at the group of girls. Then one of them makes a noise of recognition. "Oh! You're Sam Puckett from iCarly, aren't you?"

Sam Puckett from iCarly. She nearly snorts because this is what her life has become, being recognized by random friends of Melanie's for being on a web show. It's not as if she dislikes it, but she wonders sometimes if fame is all it's cracked up to be.

Forcing a half-smile on her face (for her fans), she replies, "Yeah, I'm from iCarly."

"I love your show!" one of the girls, a pretty brunette, exclaims, and then the rest squeal in approval. Sam forces herself to nod, trying to think of what to say.

Finally, Melanie returns with a towel, draping it around her sister's shoulders. "Want to explain why you're here?"

Feebly, Sam shakes her head. "It has to do with dorks."

"I think I get it," Melanie shrugs, leading her over to the group of girls. "We're just watching a movie… if you want to watch as well?"

"I would-" A vibration in her pocket interrupts her words, and she reaches into her pocket, groaning when she sees the caller ID. "Oh, heck no. Sorry, guys, this will only take a second." Frowning, she flips it open. "Yes?"

"Sam," Freddie's voice is as breathy as she remembers, and just as haunting.

"Benson. Now that we've got that down, what do you want?" Sam hisses into the phone, aware of everyone's eyes suddenly glued on her.

"Where are you?" he demands. "You can't just kiss me and run, you know."

Frowning, she informs him, "I can and I will. That kiss was a bad decision, one that I won't make again, dork. So you can just shut up and leave me alone."

"You're not answering me," he replies, his voice annoyed. "Where are you, Sam? Carly and I are so worried…"

"Don't be, I'm fine. Better without you, actually," she says, her words packed with venom. "Don't call me again. I'm turning my phone off."

"Sam, wait," Freddie's voice sounds as if he's panicking, and with good reason, Sam believes. It sort of thrills her somehow that she's hurting him, after all of the pain he's caused her. "You can't do this. You can't just disappear. You can't ditch me, Carly, iCarly- remember that? Our web show?"

At first, a wave of guilt runs through her as she remembers her best friend and the web show they do together. But the guilt vanishes as she remembers that she's Sam Puckett and she doesn't do guilt. Heck, she doesn't even do feelings. "Watch me."

Then she hangs up, satisfaction curving on her lips as she switches her phone off. Turning back to the girls, she says, "Let's watch a movie, then?"

Giving each other looks that clearly ask what is going on, the girls press the play button, resuming the movie.

Sam just watches and tries to forget.

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She watches iCarly, as if she could resist. She's never missed an episode of iCarly, and she doesn't plan on starting now. For a second, she feels like Freddie, sitting on the fire escape as he watches her give away one of her deepest secrets. But then she pushes the thought away, as with it comes painful memories of their first kiss.

Slowly, she opens up her laptop, making her way to and wincing as Carly's face comes on screen. There is no one beside her. Sam did not expect there to be.

"I'm Carly," Carly croaks, sadness prominent on her face. "And this is iCarly."

Scrolling down, she notices that all of the live feed comments involve some version of the question probing everyone's minds- where is Sam?

"Sam can't be with us today," Carly looks forlorn. "The problem is, we don't actually know where she is… she disappeared after she did something kind of…. un-Samlike."

The blush stains her cheeks as she regrets what she's done once again. She feels like slamming the laptop down in anger, but curiosity seizes her and she continues to watch.

She hears Freddie mutter something behind the camera, and Carly's face falls. "Sam, if you're watching this- actually, I'm pretty sure that you are- we need you. Come back. Freddie's not angry about what you did, well, he kind of liked it, even if he won't admit it-"

She can't watch this, she thinks. She's too far deep in, thinking that Freddie will never feel the same way. And she's feeling guilty and homesick, but no, she can't go back. She can't face the sheer reality of what she's done, or the consequences that she's set into action. He's probably going to hate her or want to date her and she can't decide which one she would rather deal with.

"I miss you, Sam," Carly finishes, her voice wavering. "And I know that you'd never miss an episode of iCarly. Freddie misses you too. You should come back. We're worried about you. Turn your phone on, at least?"

Her voice fades into the background, and Sam leans back, her head hitting the soft pillow. Melanie's voice drifts upstairs. "Sam! Sam, what are you doing up there?"

"Nothing," she lies, sitting up and slamming her laptop shut. "I was just watching a scary movie. Why, you want me to help you make some ham?"

"Yes, that'd be great," Melanie says politely. Resisting the urge to roll her eyes (after all, she is the guest), she goes downstairs and the smell of the ham fills her nostrils.

She decides that maybe she can try to fill up the void that he has left with ham. It probably won't work, but hey, there's no harm in trying.

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A lot of the time, she misses him.

She misses him like there's a big hole being ripped in her chest, tearing her from the inside out. It's sort of like there's a part of her missing or something, and she hates it because it's cliché and she's anything but cliché. But she's fairly certain that this isn't some childish crush- no, it's something more.

She hates that as well.

Sam Puckett does not like nerds. She beats up on them, yes. She gives them wedgies. But she does not fall in love with them, no, not ever.

Except, she sort of has, and it's basically a sign of the apocalypse, in her opinion.

Her computer dings with yet another email, probably from Carly or Freddie, and she slams her lid shut, not wanting to read it. She doesn't want to face reality still. She's locked up in her sister's house, trying to hide away from the world and pretend that Carly and Freddie don't exist anymore.

In her brain, they actually don't.

They exist in an alternate universe, one where she was sort of a different person. She doesn't feel like the same girl that she used to be.

That scares her.

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One day, while Melanie is out, the doorbell rings. Sam sets down the photo album that Carly gave her a while ago and that she takes everywhere she goes, wondering who could possibly be here. Melanie had ensured that no one would be coming over while she was gone.

Curiously, she walks down the stairs, peering around as if someone could be sitting down on the couch when she comes downstairs. More knocking on the door tells her that the person is still outside.

Not bothering to take any safety precautions, Sam flings open the door. "What do you want?"

But before her stands a boy that pretty much takes her breath away. Tousled brown hair, developed muscles- all she can think is that the boy is absolutely beautiful. She recognizes him immediately as one of Melanie's friends, one that's been at various parties Melanie's thrown. She's talked to him a few times, but she didn't think that he and Melanie were such good friends.

"Melanie's not here," she informs him when he doesn't answer immediately, crossing her arms.

"I didn't come to see Melanie," he retorts. "I came to see you."

A scowl spreads across her face, and she hisses, "I don't know why you would want to see me, Camden. What do you even want?" If it's being with you, she adds mentally, I'm not interested.

"Relax, Puckett," he leans against the doorway, offering her a reassuring smile that's hardly reassuring. "I just… well, there's a party this weekend, a big senior party, and I kind of need a pretty girl on my arm, if you know what I mean."

"Actually, I don't," Sam crosses her arms, her eyes flickering between hatred and annoyance. "I don't want to be your girl candy at some stupid meatheaded senior's party. I'd rather stay at home, thanks-"

"That's why I wanted you, though," Camden prods, smirking at her. "You see, I would have asked Melanie, but you and I both know she's not daring enough. She'd probably tell me that I shouldn't even be going in the first place because Melanie is boring. But you, Sam- you're different. You're daring and you're impulsive. You rebel like no other girl I've ever seen. You do things that are unexpected. You're different, Sam Puckett, and it's slightly endearing."

"Oh," Sam feels her cheeks heat up, but she doesn't blush so she just bites her lip instead. "So… high school party, then?" Absently, she wonders when she became so easy to convince.

Maybe she's just broken and insecure from her little endeavor with Freddie, or maybe she's just lonely. Maybe he's just a cheap replacement for Freddie. But for whatever reason, she laps up the compliments like a thirsty dog coming near water for the first time.

"Yeah, this senior guy is throwing a party and it's going to be wicked awesome," Camden tells her with a smirk. "I guess you're in, then?"

"I guess I am," she says. "Give me a minute; I've got to get ready and… chiz."

Rushing up the stairs, she peers at herself at the mirror, at her long blonde curls and blue eyes. For a second, she wonders why he would want to take her. Is she only a cheap replacement for Melanie?

But then she finger-combs her hair and regains her confidence. He asked her because she is Sam and she is essentially awesome. She quickly changes into a more suitable outfit, rushing down the stairs and nearly tripping over the dress shoes she's changed into, but she jumps back to her feet. "Let's blow this cupcake stand."

He leads her to the car, and she feels the thrill of rebellion running through her veins as she steps into his Dodge Charger. The engine purrs as they roar off onto the street, her hair blowing with the open window. It feels so good, as if she's a rebel in one of those cheesy movies that she sometimes watches on television.

But then they arrive and all feeling of belonging leaves her as she looks around the senior party. Everyone is about a foot taller than her, and much prettier.

But she's never let that stop her before, so why now?

Grabbing hold of his jacket, she tugs Camden through the crowd. He stares at her. "What are you doing?"

"Going to get food, duh," Sam says flippantly. "Why else did you think I came to this party?"

"To have fun?" he replies obliviously, staring at her. "I mean, that's why most people come…"

"That's stupid," Sam retorts, glancing around. "Do you honestly know all of these people? There's so flipping many!"

Camden starts to say something, but she walks away from him, blue eyes searching the party. For a second, she feels sort of guilty that she's ditched him. That is, until her eyes land upon a brooding sort of boy near the back.

Smirking and crossing her strong arms, she saunters over to the boy. He gives her the once-over before raising an eyebrow. "Aren't you a little young to be here?"

"Is that a bad thing?" she retorts. "Just means I'm more… mature than the rest of you. I'm Sam."

"Mature, Sam? Are you sure about that?" the boy cocks an eyebrow. "I'm Trevor. Hey, you wait here. I'm going to go get some drinks for us." He disappears into the crowd, all wavy brown hair and silvery grey eyes.

Being the rebellious girl that she is, she does not want to just wait on him to go back, so she slips away into the crowd as well, mingling with the older students and smirking at every boy who stares at her. She dances quite a bit, awing some of the girls and boys that are sprinkled around the room. The night ticks away before her eyes.

Then the boy reappears before her eyes. "I got you some beer," he slurs, holding out a can. "I thought you could be a drinker."

She takes it, and then tactfully pours it all over his shoes. He doesn't even seem to mind; she takes that as a sign of how very drunk he is.

"You're so very funny, S-Sammy," he stutters, clapping his hands loosely and laughing at the sound they make. "You're pretty. You're a pretty girl."

"Uh, thanks," Sam starts to say. "It's too bad that I don't take compliments from drunk guys-"

But she's cut off when his lips slam onto hers. For such a sexy guy, she's strangely disappointed. His lips are slimy and taste vaguely of beer and something strange that she assumes is drugs. She can't help but think that kissing Freddie was never like this. Annoyed, she pulls away from him, anger searing through her. "Idiot," she hisses through her teeth, her hand pulling back in response and slapping him across the face, watching as the handprint leaves an indent on his face. The drunk boy stumbles back, looking bewildered but not entirely aware of what's going on. Biting her lip, she kicks him in the leg and runs off, feeling the eyes of everyone on her.

Catching sight of Camden, she makes her way through the crowd and seizes his sleeve. "I have to go, like now… you're taking me, and you're taking me now."

"I thought we were friends, Sammm," the boy drags out her last name in a way that's vaguely disturbing.

Sighing, she grabs his arm. "I'm serious, Camden; we've got to go. Grab your keys and your jacket or whatever; we're leaving this party now. I'm done with this chiz."

He stumbles along behind her as she walks, muttering nonsense under his voice. She knows that he's drunk, that much is obvious from his words and his gait as he walks. But she doesn't think anything of it as she drags him through the crowd, stopping to get his jacket before dashing out the door. He is sober enough to unlock the car, but she begins to question how much he's drunk when he sits in the car. He just sits there, not moving, not doing anything.

"Um, Camden," she prods, leaning forward, "You have to actually drive, now."

She starts to worry when he says, "Oh, right," and fidgets around with the keys, trying to find the right one to start up the car. Once the car finally starts and he pulls out of the driveway, Sam thinks that it is obvious that he should not be driving. He swerves back and forth, fingers loosely clutching the wheel, and she feels fear course through her veins as she tries to get a hold on things.

"CAMDEN!" Sam shrieks, trying to reach for him in the enveloping darkness. "CAMDEN! Slow down; don't you know what you're doing?"

It is too late. She sees the car approaching, not registering that the guy driving is drunk and probably hasn't the slightest idea what he's doing. She knows what's going to happen before it happens. Squeezing her eyes shut, she waits and prepares for death.

Bam.

With an echoing crash and the screeching of metal, the car hits the car that is driving toward them. She feels the burn, the pain coursing through her veins. A sudden wetness appears all over her body. She peels one eye open, looks around at the damage drowsily. But all she can see is red, the dark colour of the blood that now paints the seats, and orange, a small fire near the back. Smashed glass decorates the area, along with the smell of burnt rubber. She feels suffocated from the lack of space.

Closing her eyes, she allows herself to drift off again. For a moment, she considers that maybe she's dying. She can't, no, she has to see Freddie, tell him that she loves him. But she can't keep herself from drifting off any longer. Her eyelids flutter shut.

Obviously, her rebellion was always going to be her downfall.

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Everything is blurry. The memories, the room, the people that surround her. It starts to give her a headache, so she closes her eyes, basking in the comfort that it brings.

She's alive. She hasn't the slightest clue where she is, but she has a feeling that it's a hospital, which is enough to bring her to. She can't stand hospitals.

"Where am I?"She hopes that the words will come out like a scream, but instead, the words are feeble, weak. Silence follows, a silence that reminds her of the awkward silence when someone has died but they do not want the person to know. "This is jank, guys; I don't know where I am and you guys aren't bothering to tell me-"

"You're in the hospital, Sam," comes an all-too familiar voice. Her blue eyes fly open.

"Freddie?" she croaks, feeling like a young girl again. "What the heck are you doing here?"

"You're hurt," he replies simply. "Did you honestly think I wouldn't care?"

"Yes," she responds simply, trying to sit up. Pain courses through her body, rendering her unable to speak. She simply whimpers and lies back down, pressing her head into the cold pillow. "Why are you all here? I left you all, ditched you. I don't see why you'd still care."

"Do you not hear me when I tell you that you're always my best friend, Puckett? No matter how many stupid decisions you make?" Carly says teasingly, reaching forward to ruffle her friend's curls.

"I don't listen to most of what you say, Shay," Sam smirks back.

"I've missed you," Carly says, smiling at Sam. "It has not been the same without you, not that I expected it to."

"iCarly's gone downhill," Spencer jumps in, causing Carly to smack him on the arm.

"Wait," Sam rubs her forehead, trying to take in all of this. "What even happened? I don't remember anything from that night. Before that, I remember. And why am I here in Seattle? Last time I checked, I was staying with Melanie…"

They all look at each other, exchange glances that clearly ask 'how does she not know?' Tentatively, Carly asks, "You mean you don't remember the party?"

"What party?" Sam asks, trying to sift through her memories of that night, which all seem to be covered with a thick layer of fog. "I went to a party?"

"Yeah," Carly says slowly. "With Melanie's friend Camden, do you remember him?"

"Sorta," she responds, brain spinning of images of the ruggedly hot Camden pop into her brain. She starts to remember how he'd complimented her, how he'd begged her to go to some party with him and she'd agreed. But she doesn't get how that relates to her being in the hospital. "You're not answering me, though- why am I here?"

Freddie, who's been brooding near the back, lifts his head to look at her. "That idiot got drunk and then he drove you home. He crashed into another car. Simple as that." The rage is painted on his face, and she can't imagine why.

"I- I got into a crash…" Her breath catches in her throat and she remembers, just like that. She sees vivid pictures of the blood, the broken glass, everything her brain had obviously been trying to avoid. Gasping, she looks around, biting her lip. "I remember now. That- I'm so stupid, but I'm going to kill that boy-"

She lunges forward, as if she's actually going to strangle him, but pain ripples through her. Sitting back again, she blinks rapidly. "What happened to Camden? And, um, the people he hit?"

"The people he hit are fine," Spencer tells her with a frown. "Camden, he's… he's in another wing of the hospital, but it seems like he'll be fine as well. We hope."

"You hope?" Sam's voice weakens as she looks around the room. "He's in the hospital?" Her voice sounds like she's on the edge of freaking out. "I demand you let me see him."

"Sam," Spencer's voice sounds tired, weakened. "We'll go out for a minute, let the news sink in."

She wants to protest, but her head spins far too much for her to think. Honestly, it's been all her fault. She forced Camden to drive her home; she agreed to go with him to the party. She's set off this downward spiral and now it's sucking everyone else down as well.

As they walk out, she watches them, unsure of what to say. There's no way to explain or apologize. All she can do is watch them go and hope that they don't hate her.

Then, Freddie hesitates, walking over to her and brushing back her hair softly. Wide-eyed, she stares at him. "What are you doing, Benson?"

"I don't like seeing you like this," he responds quietly, staring at her. "I don't like you being weak. Hit me or something."

"You're a freak," she laughs, but she feebly lifts her hand up from where it lies limply beside her, smacking him softly in the shoulder. Her arm burns a bit, but it makes her smile and she lifts her arm up again to hit him, this time a lot harder.

"Ow!" he protests, rubbing his shoulder, but then his face splits into a smile. "I've missed that."

"Yeah, missed your dorkiness too, Fredalupe," she shifts so she's sitting up and she can see him better. "Why are you staying here? You could go with Spence and Carly, you know."

"I could, but the thing is," he smiles, crossing his arms across his chest, "well, this is probably entirely the wrong time for this, but then you left and I haven't seen you in weeks and why did you kiss me?"

Startling, she stares at him, not knowing what to say. This is why she had left, what she'd been avoiding for ages but now, she's having to face it. Really, there's no way out now. "I like you."

"You… you like me," Freddie sputters, staring at her with wide eyes. "I thought you hated me."

"I do," she says quietly.

"What… how even?" His brown eyes are wide.

"I didn't ever make sense, now did I, Freddork?"Her voice softens as she speaks, staring at him, taking in everything she's so sorely missed- the curve of his nose, the softness of his eyes, the muscles he's so suddenly developed. "Not to you, at least. Carly was safe. She made sense. I've just screwed everything up, haven't I?"

"You don't screw everything up," Freddie looks at her with smoldering eyes before shaking his head. "You should get some rest; you've just been through a traumatic experience. Trust me, it'll help. We can talk about this when you wake up."

Sort of disappointed, she nods, burrowing herself under the covers and closing her eyes, deciding to listen to him for once. But as she starts to drift off, she feels a pair of soft lips pressing against her forehead.

She wonders when her life became so confusing. Never would she have imagined that the feeling of Freddie's lips would bring her… pleasure, or anything of the like.

She guesses that she has been imagining things wrong.

.

When she wakes up, golden sunlight is streaming through her window, in bold contrast to the setting sun she remembers seeing the previous night. Bolting up, she asks the nurse (who's taking down her temperature or something), "What time is it?"

"Ten AM, hon," the nurse replies in one of those passive voices. "You slept about fourteen hours."

Fourteen hours? She thinks, eyes widening. That's a new record, even for her. She sits up, blinking and yawning. "Is anyone still here?"

"There's some boy," the nurse tells her flippantly. "We kicked him out a while ago to run some tests on you, but he's still here now, sitting out in the waiting room chairs for some reason."

Her eyes widen, and she thinks of only one person that it could be. "Freddie?"

"I don't know," the nurse tells her, raising an eyebrow. "But it's obvious that the boy, whoever it is, really loves you, so you better treat him right."

Gathering up a few tests or something, the nurse leaves, and Sam considers the truth that rings in her words. She doesn't think that Freddie loves her, but obviously, he must consider her at least a friend if he stayed with her for the night. She lies back onto her pillow, confused and considering everything that's happened.

"Heard you were awake," a voice comes from the doorway, startling her. Turning, she sees Freddie and relaxes a little bit.

"You heard right for once," she teases, staring at him.

Shrugging, he walks over so that he's standing beside her bed. "You know, I'm still not happy with you for ditching us and iCarly. Really, Puckett, did you think that would solve anything? Running away? You always do that, and it never works. I've just been holding back this lecture cause you're hurt and all."

"Aw, does widdwe Fweddie pity me?" she coos, smirking up at him.

"Maybe a little," he admits, his eyes tracing the ground as he blushes. "But really, Sam, everyone was so worried- all the viewers, Carly, me, Spencer, Gibby…"

"Hang on," Sam laughs, "Gibby was worried?"

"Yes, he did you a shirtless dance," Freddie's eyes trace the ground. "But that's irrelevant! You still thought that running away would solve your problems, so you pulled a Sam Puckett and once again you vanished into nowhere. Look where that got you. What were you even scared of?"

"You," she replies, pulling at the covers of her hospital bed.

"Me?" He looks unimpressed. "Honestly, Sam, why in the world would you be scared of me? I'm hardly intimidating, and all… I mean, I'm just Freddie."

"I was scared… heck, I'm not explaining this to you, loser," she replies playfully. But once she sees the stern expression on his face, she just sighs. "I was scared that you'd hate me because I kissed you, all right? Not pretend to hate me, like you always do, but legit hate me. Think I'm stupid, just another silly little girl with a crush or something jank like that."

"You know I'd never hate you," he sighs, leaning against the wall beside her bed. "I don't think you're a silly little girl with a crush, either. I know how hard it is."

Rolling her eyes, she reminds him, "I gave you heck about liking Carly, so you very possibly could think that of me. And anyway, does that mean that… that you don't like me back, dork?"

For a moment, her insecurity spills out for all to see, all of the things she's tried to keep inside showing themselves to the world, and for once, she feels just like a silly little lovestruck girl. Of course he would never like her back or love her back. The nurse had been wrong. For him, it was always Carly, wasn't it?

But then he responds, a small smile taking over his face. "Means I'm considering it." Reaching over, he takes her hand, squeezing it softly. "You know that, despite the fact that we're always fighting, you're still one of my best friends, right?"

Best friends. For a moment, the word feels like a thousand poison darts being launched at her heart. Then she figures out what he's trying to say and just nods. "You too, nub."

Silence overwhelms them, and for a second, it's really awkward. Then he clears his throat. "I'm going to go get something to eat now, all right? Don't do anything stupid."

"As if I would," she laughs, watching him go. "Bring me back some ham?"

"Anything for you, Princess Puckett," he teases as he turns around to offer her a wink, and gosh, she's never felt the overly cliché butterflies in her stomach until this very moment.

.

They let her out of the hospital not long after that. Euphoric, she demands that Freddie push her wheelchair that they force her to ride in out of the hospital, down all of the ramps at top speeds. She screams the whole time, absolutely ecstatic that she's finally out of the hole she's been forced into.

Carly demands that Sam stay with them, at least for a few days, and she relents. The first night, she and Carly stay up late to catch up on things.

"Got yourself a boyfriend yet?" Sam inquires, her cerulean eyes shining with mirth.

"No!" Carly splutters, her face turning red. "How could you even think that? Is there anyone in this school, well, anyone that I know that's worth dating?"

"Brad," Sam points out, stretching herself out and smirking. "You seemed pretty excited about getting me hooked up with him. Who's to say you won't do the same with him?"

Blushing a bit more, Carly just shakes her head and quickly changes the subject. "What about you and Freddie, anyway? You seemed more than a little cozy… and I mean, well, you kissed him, I saw you. What was that all about?"

"How did you see that?" Sam tenses up, her words coming out as growling.

"It's not that hard," Carly bites her lip innocently, blinking faster by the minute. "I mean, there was a window and you guys were just outside and why did you kiss Freddie?"

"I like him," she responds with a shrug. Lie. She loves him.

"Wait," Carly's expression turns from shock to surprise and understanding. "Freddie's emotion thing… it was accurate. You were in love… but not with Brad… you are in love…"

"I'm not in love with the dork," Sam splutters, but for once, her lying fails and she finds herself turning a light shade of pink. "Oh, shut up, Shay."

"I didn't say anything," Carly tells her, but she has a knowing smile on her face.

Turning over, Sam hides her face in the pillow. "But the problem is, he hates me, so… yeah."

"You don't even know, do you?" The grin takes over Carly's face, telling Sam that she (once again) knows something that Sam doesn't. "While you were gone, Freddie was basically a wreck and all that. He was always griping about how there was no one to insult him. He tried to get me to insult him and I sort of… well, I failed, okay? But anyway, when we heard that you were in a car wreck, he was all torn up, but once he saw you, he was smiling again for the first time in a while. I'm fairly sure that he's in love with you as well…"

"Don't lie," Sam retorts, but she's smiling as well. "Don't you dare lie to me."

"I wouldn't lie to you," Carly smirks back at her, and then they're laughing again. The sleepover continues with no more talk of love and the like, but Carly's words keep ringing in Sam's ears. I'm fairly sure that he's in love with you as well.

Could she be telling the truth?

.

The Saturday after she returns to school (much to the dismay of her teachers), while Carly's off with Brad and Gibby and Sam's chosen to lounge at home, someone pounds on the door. Confused, she stretches out and goes to get the door.

Freddie's on the other side.

She has the desire to just slam the door in his face there, but she smiles anyway. "Carly's not here."

"Dude, I know," he frowns at her, looking confused. "She asked me to go with her, Brad and Gibby to the movies, but I turned her down."

Sam looks at him as if he's crazy. "Why? You turned down Carly-time? You could've made a move or something, idiot."

"I obviously don't like Carly anymore," he rolls his eyes at her. "I was actually wondering if you wanted to go to the Groovy Smoothie with me?"

Confused, she crosses her arms across the chest. Why would he turn down Carly to come ask her to go with him to the Groovy Smoothie? But she shrugs and nods anyway, not bothering to turn down such a golden opportunity. "I guess I'll go. Got nothing else to do, anyway."

"You could've gone with Carly and the other guys," he reminds her as she grabs her jacket. "Not that I'd want you to, anyway."

"So could you," she retorts, pulling her arms through the sleeves. "I just didn't want to be the awkward fourth wheel while Gibby and Brad attempt to win Carly's attention."

"True," Freddie chuckles as they walk out the door.

The walk there is slightly awkward, because she feels like they should be holding hands, that is, if this is a date, which she doesn't know if it is. But once they get there and T-Bo offers the two sort of friends pickles on a stick, Sam begins to feel more comfortable than before.

Grinning, she tells Freddie, "You know, dork, you're paying for my smoothie."

"Guessed as much," he tells her. "I always keep an extra stash of money on hand for situations like this."

"Would your mommy approve?" she teases.

Frowning, he shakes his head. "No, probably not. She doesn't approve of most things that I do, anyway, so I've pretty much given up on that."

Meekly (for once), she asks, "Would your lovely mother approve… of me?"

"Probably not," he tells her with a shrug, and makes a move as if he's going to continue, but it's then that her phone goes off.

She fumbles for it, feeling embarrassed. Internally, she decides that she's not going to answer it. But when she sees the name on the caller I.D., she realizes that she has to. There's no other choice.

Feeling upset, she tells him, "I have to take this, sorry." He simply nods in response.

Sliding the bar across to answer it, she asks urgently, "Camden, what do you want? I'm kind of in the middle of something, and it would be great if you didn't ruin this for me as well. I mean, seriously, though, what was that-"

"Sam Puckett," he hisses into the phone, "what is your problem? We get in a wreck and then you simply disappear. You don't come to see me, don't ask how I'm doing. No texts, no e-mails, nothing. Honestly. Melanie doesn't even know where you are."

"I'm in Seattle, my hometown," she informs him. "And apparently, you are too."

"I was born here in Seattle before my parents shipped me off to boarding school," Camden responds angrily. "But that's not the point. The point is that you've gone and ditched me."

"We're not friends, you loser!" she yells back. "I only went to the party with you because I thought that you were responsible, that you wouldn't get drunk or anything like that. You proved me wrong and I don't want anything to do with you."

"So what?" he replies, his voice taunting. "You're just going to run from this problem like you do everything else? You can't live like this, running away from everything bad. It's going to catch up with you eventually. We could meet up, talk this out. You don't have to run away from everyone all the freaking time-"

"Watch me," she hisses, pressing the end button and watching as his face on her screen fades away to nothing. She does feel guilty, because really, it's all her fault, but she's Sam Puckett and she doesn't feel guilt.

As she sits down, Freddie stares at her, confused. "Who was that?"

"A friend," she tells him uncomfortably, loving the jealously written all over his face. "It's really nothing, I swear. Don't worry about it."

So they sip their smoothie, talking and laughing, pretending as if nothing has happened, though really, the whole issue is still weighing down on her heart. She doesn't know how long she can keep this up.

Everyone knows that Sam Puckett runs away from every problem. Sometimes, it catches up to her.

.

At first, she teaches herself how not to feel. She ignores every guilty twinge. Most of the time, she goes to get ice cream or something to just push everything away.

But one day at school, the reality of her situation sets in. One moment, she is daydreaming, doodling sketches of some random burning house. The next moment, her mind travels back to the wreck and Camden and the fact that she's an absolutely horrible person. This boy has been through an immense amount of emotional trauma and guilt from the wreck, and she's just going to ignore him?

Guilt sears through her once again as she remembers how he'd sounded when she'd spoken to him on the phone. Maybe, she thinks, running away is selfish. Maybe she is selfish.

Running away only gives her time to think while hurting the other person or people involved as they wait for her decision. She'd caused her friends to worry, and now she is causing Camden some sort of pain, probably emotional as well.

She can't take it anymore, nor can she concentrate with these feelings overwhelming her. So she stands up, slams her half-done essay on the teacher's desk, and runs out of the classroom.

Once she gets back to Carly's home (which has quickly become her home as well), she realizes that all she's doing is running away again. Confused and tired, she lies down on the bed and tries to sleep, dreams clouding her head and confusing her all the more.

She wonders when her life became so complicated. Inside, she supposes it was when she kissed Freddie Benson.

How was she to have known that it would set off this complicated chain of events?

Her arms ache, along with the rest of her body, but she suffers in silence until she finally drifts off.

.

She wakes up to the sound of Carly's voice. "She left school, Spence, according to almost everyone. She stood up in the middle of writing a history essay and fled the school."

"You don't think that she's mentally unstable, do you?" Spencer replies, worry leaking through his voice. "That stuff sometimes happens after accidents, you know, especially ones where the person is at least partly at fault…"

"Mentally unstable?" Carly responds, as if she's actually thinking about it. "I-"

Sam cuts in. "I can hear you, you know," she says casually, leaning against the railing. "And I'm not mentally unstable, thank you very much."

"Sam!" the siblings exclaim in unison, staring at her in surprise.

"Yeah, I'm here," she responds, scowling at them. "And now, I'm not."

Their words still swirling through her head, she walks out the door, the remnants of a frown on her face. She pounds on the Benson's door until Freddie pops out, looking scared until he sees her. "Sam! What are you doing here? You ditched school and now you're showing up at my door and…" he trails off when he sees her face. "Are you okay?"

"No," she manages to tell him before tears start to slide down her cheeks. He walks over to her, wrapping his arms around her, and she realizes that she's never cried in front of him before. Wiping her cheeks, she tells him, "Never mention this again."

"No problem." He looks shocked, probably because he hadn't realized that Sam Puckett has feelings (though he really should've by now). "What's wrong?"

"I'm a coward," she informs him, staring at the ground. "I'm a freaking coward… that's what's wrong. I ran away from you guys, now I'm running away from the people I ran away to." She chuckles humorlessly at the irony.

"You're not a coward," he tells her honestly. "You're one of the bravest people I know."

"I would rethink that," she responds, realizing that he has not removed his arms from around her and kind of reveling in the embrace. "Camden called me before and… he told me I was running away again. I am, aren't I? I run away from everything, and I'm running away once again. I'm just so selfish."

Silently, his arms tighten around her, as if to offer some sort of comfort. She doesn't know what to do but to pull herself closer to him as he speaks once again. "Is that the guy who got you into this mess? The one that got drunk then drove you home and got into a wreck? I don't think he should be allowed to call you." His fists ball up beside him.

"It's not his fault as much as it is mine," she admits, sighing. "But I still don't want to talk to him, the jerk. The nub has no idea what it's like to…" She trails off as she notices how intently he's looking at her.

Then he leans in and presses his lips to hers.

And oh man, she can't tell if he's doing this out of pity or what, but she decides in that moment that she doesn't really care. Pulling herself closer, she revels in the feeling of like or love or whatever this is, rather than the horrid taste that she remembers from kissing Trevor. Freddie is soft, almost fragile, and he kisses her lovingly rather than forcefully.

Once he finally pulls away, he gives an awkward laugh. "I hate you."

"I hate you too," she tells him before kissing him again.

.

Her phone rings. At first, she's overcome with the urge not to answer it (she's quite antisocial at times), but then she gleefully thinks that it could be Freddie and answers it without even looking at the caller I.D.

It's Camden.

"Sam," he says urgently, the anger leaking through his voice. "Thought any about what I said?"

No, she wants to say. She wants to claim that she hasn't thought a bit about what he said, that he hadn't affected her in the least with his words. But she knows that she has to be honest for once because if anything, he at least deserves that, so she replies, "Yes. I have."

"Good, cause you owe me big time," he replies, his voice making him sound like even more of a jerk. "I mean, I try to do you a favor and you get me drunk then make me drive. How fair is that? Not to mention ditching me at a party I brought you to…"

"Yeah, I know, I'm a big nub just like you," she hisses into the phone. "I don't know. What do you want me to do in return to make up for your jank mistake?"

"A party," he replies. "One where I won't get drunk and screw up but will still have fun."

"You want me to find you a high school party where there's no alcohol," Sam pauses before she laughs. "Good luck with that, nub."

"Or throw me one," Camden pauses for a second. "Or, you know, you could live with the guilt while I tell the press who've been hounding me about driving drunk and getting the oh-so-famous Sam Puckett into an accident the complete truth. We'll see what people think of your lovely little webshow then."

"All right," she replies, and upon realizing that her voice is trembling, she steadies it. "All right, I'll throw your stupid little party, but don't think I'm going to enjoy any moment of it, you nub. Your blackmail is not appreciated, by the way. I can't believe I ever thought you were decent."

"We understand each other, then," Camden lets out a laugh. "Come on, you'll have fun."

She starts to protest, but he hangs up the phone and she's left with her thoughts, wondering what the chiz she's gotten herself into this time.

Absently, she wonders why everything always happens to her.

.

"You have to throw him a party," Carly states, completely deadpan as she stares at Sam.

Freddie glances over at Carly from his spot beside Sam, his arm thrown around Sam's shoulder. To Sam's chagrin, Carly's been watching the two of them for most of the time that they've been talking. But Sam tries to forget all of this as she responds, "Yeah… I mean, what else can I do? I can't erase his memories or the fact that I went to the party in the first place."

"You could beat him up, because that's what you're good at," Gibby tells her, his chubby face lighting up at the suggestion. "I'm pretty sure that you could take him!"

Freddie and Carly both laugh, but she wrinkles up her nose. "Yeah, and go to jail? That'd make for even worse press. First, he'd leak out the true story of what actually happened, and second, the fact that I beat him up. I can see the headlines now- iCarly Internet Star Sam Puckett in Jail for Beating Up Random Jerk."

They all laugh again at that one, and Sam sighs. "What am I supposed to do? All teen parties have alcohol or some form of stupidity."

"Not iCarly parties," Carly responds, and Sam can already see the evil smirk forming on the normally sweet girl's face as she develops a plan. "We could throw a party, a real iCarly party, sort of like the first one that you did! We don't need alcohol to have fun, of course, and we could advertise on iCarly so that our fans would come. It would be a lot of fun, admit it."

"All right," Freddie agrees almost immediately, and it vaguely reminds her of the days that Freddie was crushing on Carly, except his arm wasn't around Sam's shoulders then. "But Sam here is going to have to help plan."

Three pairs of eyes focus in on her, and she finds herself blanching. "I don't do work."

"If you want to keep your reputation, you do," Carly sings, and so what can she do but agree?

.

Sam Puckett hates picnics. But when it comes to picnics that are an attempt to keep her good reputation and near role-model status intact, she has to compromise that.

The night is warm and quite humid, much to her despair- she hates humidity as well. But she keeps a straight face, greeting all the guests as they arrive and both worrying and rejoicing about the fact that Camden has not arrived yet.

Then he steps out of his still damaged Dodge Charger that his rich parents probably attempted to repair, smirk on his face, looking just as sexy as before. Too bad she's learned too much to be fooled by him again.

"Camden," she greets him stiffly, grabbing hold of Freddie's hand so that she doesn't take Gibby's advice and try to beat him up.

"Sam," he responds in his normal cocky tone. "This is what you call a party? It looks like a gathering for five-year-olds."

"I got more people here than you ever could, nub," she retorts, squeezing Freddie's hand so that she doesn't try to beat him up. The intense urge to slap him in the face only multiplies as the smirk on his face becomes more developed.

"Oh, well, I guess you're right," he says sarcastically, looking around. "I'll just go socialize with all these lovely children."

Mentally, Sam adds Camden to the long list of people that she hates before turning to Freddie. "Freddie, this is my… enemy, Camden. Camden, this is my… my…" As she turns to Freddie, she realizes that she has no idea what to call him. Friend seems too loose a term, but they have not confirmed that they're boyfriend and girlfriend yet. "My friend, Freddie."

"Friend," Camden laughs, looking from Freddie to Sam. "More like boyfriend. Treat her right, you hear?"

"I've always treated her better than you have," Freddie spits back, and she can feel the tension in the air so strongly that she tugs Freddie away from Camden.

"We'll see you later, loser," Sam tells him, scowling at him.

"By the way, you look nice tonight," Camden calls after her, a satisfied smirk on his still handsome face, and she almost feels her face heat up.

Almost, until she sees the completely irritated look on Freddie's face and decides it's best to stay out of the fire , staying unscathed. Everyone seems to be lining up to get their dinner. Grinning, Sam tells Freddie, "FOOD! If no one brought ham, I'm honestly going to kill someone."

"I'm sure someone did," Freddie replies softly.

To her delight, someone's brought a whole ham, and when she sees the look on Freddie's face, she decides that she thinks she knows who it was. She doesn't mention it, though, because she hates thanking people for things as well.

As she sits there on a log beside Freddie, she stuffs her face with ham and watches as Camden kisses her sister Melanie on the cheek. She thinks it could be sort of cute, actually- the bad guy with the good girl- but the only problem is having Camden as a brother in law.

Once she finally finishes her huge plate of ham, she looks over to see Freddie watching her. "What?" she whispers, her cheeks suddenly feeling warm at the fact that he'd been watching her eat.

"Want to, um, go somewhere else?" he asks, and she almost teases him about his obvious awkwardness, but she decides that would make things even more awkward.

Nodding, she tells him, "Why the heck not?"

So they get up, his hand encasing itself around hers, and walk through the woods that surround the picnic area until they decide to stop. She kisses him first because she's always been the more daring out of the two and she can't really resist any longer. Honestly, she doesn't care if he's not her official boyfriend or whatever because they've never been one for labels and clichés and the like.

He pulls her closer to him, and for a moment in time they are Freddie-and-Sam, until Freddie pulls away, that is. Breathily, he tells her, "Look up at the sky."

For once, she obeys him, and she looks up to find an array of colours highlighting the sky- fireworks, blasting off just like the fireworks that exist between the two of them for whatever reason. Mesmerized, she keeps her eyes upon the sky, watching as they explode. She feels like a child again, but hey, they only perfect the moment, so she doesn't care.

Once the fireworks finish and she hears the applause roaring in the distance, she turns back to him with a smile. He pushes a stray blonde curl behind her ear. "I suppose that you're done running away, then?"

She looks from him out to the forest and back, as if she's debating. Really, running away is what she does best. But then she remembers the mess with Camden and all the other horrid consequences that running away has brought about, and she nods her head. "I'm pretty sure I am. I've gotten myself into enough horrible messes already, who knows how much more damage I could do?"

He leans in, kissing her once again, before pulling away with a breathy laugh. "A whole lot more damage."

Then they're kissing one more time, and when he decides to pull away (because heck knows he's always had more self-control), he asks her, "Would you, um, consider being my girlfriend?"

She has to laugh because really, isn't the answer obvious? But he looks hurt so she quickly replies, "Of course I will, you nub."

Then he's laughing again and kissing her like she's never been kissed before, and for a moment, again, it is Sam-and-Freddie, two opposites that somehow blend together into one person. Two people who are somehow learning not to run away from the things that might seem hard.

And just for tradition's sake, when he pulls away this time, she informs him, "I hate you."

And just for tradition's sake, he answers back, "I hate you too."

They both know that deep inside, they mean the exact opposite.

Stars shine above them. All she can think is that all right, maybe she's all wrong for him, and maybe she's not supposed to like him. Maybe he's not supposed to like her back. But if, after all that, they can still be together, surely it means something, right?

He takes her hand in his again, strong and tiny in big and weak. It feels like a contradiction in itself, or maybe two opposites that just happen to work perfectly together. But as they walk back off toward the picnic, toward everything that she's been dreading facing, she decides that maybe she can do this, now. Maybe he can help her as well.

Of course, Camden is there, and he walks over to her, smirking and crossing his arms. "What were you doing off in the woods with your little boyfriend?"

That catches everyone's attention, and they all stare at Sam's hand in Freddie's. Frowning, she tells him, "Not like it's any of your business."

"Making out against a tree?" Camden snickers. Annoyed, she reaches out and slaps him across the face- something she's wanted to do since she found out what a jerk he always has been.

Then she grabs Freddie's hand. "I'll see you later, idiot. Come to me when you finally gain some sense, yeah?"

She leaves him and the crowd stunned, but she finds herself laughing despite it all. And she can't contain her laughter when she turns to find a similar expression on Freddie's face.

Maybe facing her fears isn't so bad, after all.

.

A/N: Well. How's that for a welcome-back into the Seddie fandom?

Seriously, though. I was previously limegreenrocks and I wrote Seddie like, all the freaking time so maybe some of you remember me? :P

But yeah, uh, I don't know. I'd been planning on writing a Seddie 10K and with the premiere of iLost My Mind coming up, I supposed I'd write one in celebration?

This is not what I thought would happen in iOMG. This is what I wished would happen after iOMG. I had a lot of fun plotting this and playing around with the characters, especially Camden, who's obviously an OC.

Um, I hope you enjoy this and decide to leave me a review, because I'd honestly love it? And yeah. R&R and please don't favorite without reviewing, thank you very much. Should I keep writing Seddie or?

And before I forget, this is completely and wholeheartedly dedicated to some of the most awesome Seddie shippers out there (some):

Coffee (coffee-stained lips), Jenny (inescapable scars), Aly (red, white and beautiful), Summer (iloveyoumorethananything), and mirage888 (who wrote me a lovely Seddie drabble and gah I wanted to write something in return so yeah).

You guys are all awesome.