Disclaimer: [Insert witty comment, but basically, I don't own iCarly.]
"And try cleaning up that pigsty you call a room before I get back!" Sam heard Pam Puckett yell as she slammed the door, off on another road trip with yet another boyfriend of the week. This one was a used car salesman (clearly a winner based on that sole fact alone). Pam had originally only started dating him in an attempt to get a free car.
She had not only gotten a free car out of the deal, but also an impromptu trip to Vegas for the weekend.
"Bye mom. Love you too," Sam said to the empty room. She lay lazily on her bed, staring at the space around her. There were empty food boxes strewn across her bed, crumpled up homework assignments she had no intention of doing piled high on her desk, and a thick layer of clothing covered the floor. Her cat Frothy lay on top of a pile of dirty laundry stretching languidly as he basked in the sun that broke through the window's blinds.
Her mom had a point. Her room was a mess.
Maybe I should clean it up, she contemplated.
Or maybe I'll just lay here. Yeah, I'll just lie here, she finally decided.
Sam's eyes scanned her floor once again and the sheer number of plaid shirts covering it struck her. She hadn't noticed it before, but they easily made up the majority of the clothes covering the top layer of her floor. There were black ones and grey ones, but mostly red and blue ones. It was weird. She had no recollection of buying any of them, and yet they were everywhere.
Then a slight smile spread across her lips.
Freddie had always dressed in what Sam had long ago affectionately dubbed, "Nub Chic." Nub Chic consisted heavily of khakis, polo shirts, and button downs. Essentially, he tended to look like as if his mother had dressed him. Which was, in fact, true until very recently. She'd teased him about it on multiple occasions in the past, but as she'd gotten older, she'd found herself growing fond of his nub-ish sense of style. There was one particular item of clothing from the nub's collection that she'd grown exceptionally fond of: his plaid shirts.
She wasn't sure why. Maybe it was because he seemed to wear them more than any other item of clothing. Maybe it was because he had a knack for wearing them at pivotal moments in their relationship's history. Maybe it was because she liked how big they were on her and how comfortable they felt. Maybe it was because she liked how they still smelled like him when she wore them to sleep…or maybe it was a little bit of all of those things.
Sam scanned the floor and her eyes stopped on a blue and white plaid button down. She got up from her spot on the bed and walked over to the shirt, picking it up and pulling it on over her white tank top. Her mind flashed back to the night he'd worn it.
"I don't care what your stupid pear pad app says about me being in love. I'm not into Brad like that," Sam yelled.
"Lately, every time I tell you Brad and I are doing something together, you want to come hang with us," Freddie replied, exasperation in his tone.
"And that means I'm in love with him?" The whole situation was making Sam feel nauseous. Why didn't he get it? It wasn't Brad she was in love with.
"Well, you hate me!" Freddie replied, almost sounding as if he was trying to convince himself as much as he was trying to convince Sam.
"I never said I hate you," Sam said quietly as she fiddled with the water bottle in her hands. Sure, she knew it was lie. She had told him she hated him on many different occasions. But she'd never meant it. Not once. She'd thought he'd understood that. That saying 'I hate you' was their thing…their thing that meant something so much different than the words actually did at face value.
"Yeah, you have, like 900 times. I still have the birthday cards you gave me that say 'Happy Birthday. I hate you. Hate Sam,'" a tinge of exasperation still noticeable in Freddie's voice.
"Just leeeaaavveee," Sam groaned. She wanted him, but at the same time she wanted him gone. He was the problem. He was the reason she was feeling like a mess, moping against the steps of Ridgeway like a scene out of a terribly angsty after school special. He was making things worse and he just didn't get it. She wanted him to leave.
"Fine, I'll leeeaavvvee," he began mocking her.
"But, before I go-"
Sam cut him off. "That's it. Get out of here before I do a double fist dance on your face!" It was a threat that would have sent a younger Freddie running, but not now. She watched as he stepped closer to her, squaring off his shoulders as if preparing for a show down. She could feel her sense of logic fading.
"You can threaten your double fist face dancing all you want. But Carly is still right. Look, I know it's scary to put your feelings out there because you never know if the person you like is going to like you back. Everyone feels that way, but you never know what might happen if you don't-"
And then, without thinking about what she was doing, she kissed him. Maybe it was the soft sound of his voice, pleading with her and trying to comfort her. Maybe it was the way he was looking at her, his brown eyes sparkling with a soft glint. Whatever it was, she grabbed hold of his shoulders and held him there as she kissed him, kissed him like she'd wanted to do since their very first kiss on the fire escape two years ago. He didn't move or pull away until a sense of reality came crashing back down upon Sam. She pulled away to find a bewildered Freddie standing in front of her. His face shocked, but otherwise unreadable. His mouth moved as if he was trying to figure out something to say. Anything.
Sam stared back at him. She'd never been more scared in her life. Here he was, the boy she'd teased and tortured for the better part of both their adolescences'. He'd been convinced that she hated him and that she loved somebody else…but it was him. It was him all along and he was standing there staring at her as if she'd grown a second head. This was not what she had wanted.
"Sorry," Sam muttered.
"It's cool," Freddie replied, though it clearly wasn't.
She had ruined everything. She was sure of it. And with that, she turned on her heel and ran, leaving a confused and shocked Freddie in her dust.
There was a sort of bitter sweetness to the memory. As scary as it had been at the time, she now realized that without it, Freddie's confession of his feelings three days later at Troubled Waters Mental Institution wouldn't have happened.
Her mind flashed back to that moment, which, while it had happened nearly a year ago, still felt like yesterday.
He marched towards her, with more determination than she'd ever seen on his face in the entire time she'd known him and kissed her. He kissed her in front of the entire room, in front of the entire iCarly audience, and with a passion she admittedly didn't even know he was capable of.
"You mean it?" she asked nervously after they'd parted, as if to say, you're not just messing with me, you mean it, you actually like ME too?
He gave her that smirk that always made her melt and nodded slightly.
"I guess we're both insane."
None of it would have happened if she hadn't kissed him that night.
Her gaze drifted across the floor and her eyes now landed on another plaid shirt. It was stripped with red, blue, and white. She laughed silently to herself as she remembered the day he'd been wearing it.
"Sam, what if my mom comes home? We really shouldn't be-" Freddie rambled, before Sam cut him off.
She kissed him lightly as they sat on the sofa of the Benson's apartment.
Sam pulled away, a smirk playing across her lips.
"You already said she's working the night shift at the hospital tonight, Benson. We're fine. She's not going to just barge in. She's at work."
"You're totally right. She's working the late shift. We're fine. Totally cool," Freddie said, clearly trying to convince himself that he believed it.
Since he and Sam had begun dating, they'd been particularly vigilant of keeping it from Mrs. Benson. To say that she didn't like Sam was an understatement. She vehemently disliked her. She'd voiced on several occasions how she thought Sam was a delinquent who would inevitably corrupt her innocent Fredward. She worried Sam would lead Freddie to a life filled with juvie and trans fat food addictions. She'd even once created a petition to pass a law that would put Sam in juvie simply for being Sam.
Sam felt no more cordial towards Mrs. Benson. She called her crazy to her face and neurotic nut case behind her back. And that was Sam being polite.
It was a mutual dislike that made it best they rarely cross paths, especially now that Sam was not only getting Freddie into crazy situations that could potentially lead to juvie, but also now kissing him senseless.
"So, where were we?" Sam smirked.
Freddie leaned over and began kissing her again. There was something about kissing Freddie that somehow both dulled her senses and intensified them. She was dulled to the things around her, like the sound of 'Celebrities Underwater' playing on the TV in front of them, but intensified to the feeling of his lips upon hers and his hands in her hair.
Suddenly, Freddie stopped and pulled away quickly. "HIDE SAM!"
"WHA-?" She began before Freddie cut her off.
"Coat closet. Now," he whispered. Suddenly Sam heard what had made Freddie jump: the faint sounds of someone outside of the door, keys jingling as they entered the lock. Sam now ran as fast as she could over to the closet and shut the door behind her. As soon as she did, she heard the door to Freddie's apartment open.
"Hello, Freddie Bear," Mrs. Benson's cheerfully overanxious voice rang through the apartment.
"Uhmm…Uh…H-Hi, mom. Mother. Uhm…what are you, ya know, doing home so early?" Sam could hear Freddie stuttering through the door.
"Mrs. Cartwright and I switched shifts so I got the night off. I didn't tell you? I could have sworn I mentioned it."
"Oh…uh no. I d-don't remember you telling me."
"Oh, well sorry about that Freddie, but since I have the night off, I was thinking we could go try out that new mother/son ballroom dance class they started down at the community center. Wouldn't that be so much fun?" she asked excitedly.
Sam had to bite her tongue to keep herself from laughing loudly and exposing her presence.
"Uhmm, no actually. If it's okay, I have to…I have to…Carly's. Sam and Carly are waiting for me. We're working on something for iCarly, so I have to go over there. Now," Freddie fumbled.
He was such a bad liar, Sam thought. She could teach him a thing or two.
"Well, maybe when you get back later on we can go?" His mom asked hopefully.
"Actually, we're going to be working pretty late so I don't think I can."
There must have been a deflated look upon Mrs. Benson's face because as soon as the words had crossed Freddie's lips, he added, "but tomorrow we can finish that puzzle we started and we can even finish knitting those matching mother/son sweaters we started too."
"You're such a good son, Fredward. I'm so lucky to have such a good boy…Such a good good son," Mrs. Benson cooed before pausing.
"Though you'd be an even better one if you ditched those Carly and Sam girls. Carly is nice enough I suppose, but dense, a bit of a bimbo if you ask me. And the Sam girl is an absolute nightmare, a real mess of a girl. I'm surprised she hasn't been permanently carted off to juvie yet. Such a delinquent. I worry about you being around her Freddie."
"Mom, Carly and Sam are my friends. They're great," Sam heard Freddie say.
"Well, as long as that's all either of them ever are to you."
"What is that supposed to mean?" Freddie asked and Sam could sense the vague anger in his voice.
"Just…well, you deserve someone special, a nice girl, Freddie. I don't think either of those girls are good enough for you," she said matter-of-factly.
"Mom, you don't know Carly…or…or…Sam. Sam is…I mean, they are…amazing."
"Just trust me on this Freddie. I know their types, especially that Samantha girl…nothing but trouble. Anyways, I'm going to go sew your name into that new underwear I bought you. Have a good night, Freddiekins."
With that Sam heard the sound of footsteps as Mrs. Benson left the living room.
Sam was seething. Seething that Mrs. Benson had the nerve to speak of her like that when she didn't even know her. Even more than seething though, she was hurt. She'd always known she wasn't good enough for Freddie. She'd convinced herself of that long before they'd ever even begun dating, but it was different actually hearing someone else say it, even if it was Crazy. Sam knew how little sense she and Freddie made. Freddie was polite, studious, and well-mannered. She was your cliché girl from the 'other side of the tracks'. She was aggressive and abrasive. She didn't care about school or grades and had always had the sinking suspicion that she was destined to end up like her mom. In the weeks since she and Freddie had started dating, she'd done her best to push her doubts to the back of her mind, but she could never really shake the feeling that this was all just some dream and soon she'd wake up and reality would come crashing back down on her.
And the reality would be that Sam Puckett wasn't good enough for Freddie Benson. He would find someone better, whether it was tomorrow or two months or two years. He would find someone who really deserved him, and Sam would be left even more screwed up than she'd been before.
Suddenly a bright stream of light hit her face and pulled her out of her thoughts.
Freddie stood in front of her, an apologetic look on his face as he quickly pulled her out of the closet, through his apartment door, into the hallway, and finally into the Shay's apartment.
He slammed the door behind him as he stood with his back against it.
"What's with the door slamming?" Carly said, a vaguely amused look on her face as she stood in the kitchen over a pot of spaghetti.
"My mom," Freddie grimaced. "She really is a nightmare, isn't she Sam?" Freddie turned to Sam, hopefully.
"Yeah…" Sam said non-committally. "Carls, do you have any ham? I need ham," she said, attempting to change the subject. What Mrs. Benson had said had hit a sore spot, but it wasn't something she wanted to talk about right now…or ever really.
Freddie walked closer to Sam and, in almost a whisper said, "You're amazing Sam. Don't take what my mom says seriously. You've said it yourself. She's a nutcase. I really like you Sam." He looked down at her with that look that always made her melt, before leaning down and kissing her.
"Oh look, it's Sam and Freddie making out in my living room. That's new," Spencer said loudly as he entered the room.
Freddie and Sam broke apart.
"Well, considering both me and the nub's moms are crazies, we really don't have any other place to go," Sam smirked and nodded slightly in Freddie's direction.
In time, Mrs. Benson would come around. Sure, she and Sam still didn't really get along and they certainly weren't sitting around the Benson's kitchen table laughing over Freddie's baby pictures, but they tolerated one another.
Sam's gaze finally drifted over to a dark blue and white plaid shirt. Just looking at it made her heart flutter a little (which caused her to mentally gag at herself for being such a daffodil.)
"Sam, why are you doing this?" Freddie asked, sadness visible in his eyes.
"I don't know what you're talking about, Fredweird," Sam replied, no sign of emotion in her voice.
"Breaking up with me. Ignoring me. Acting like the past few weeks never happened," irritation and annoyance obvious in his tone.
"Stop being such a drama queen, Benson."
Freddie stepped towards Sam; squaring off his shoulders again as he had the night at the lock-in when Sam had kissed him. She knew what it meant. She knew he was preparing for another show down, and she really wished he wouldn't.
"Sam, I like you. A lot. You like me, why are you doing this?"
Sam looked up into his eyes. There was a sense of pleading about them that wrenched at her heart and made her stomach turn.
He was right. She did like him. She wanted nothing more than to lean forward and kiss him and forget about everything else. But she couldn't. She couldn't do it because Sam Puckett was a realist, and she knew it was going to end badly. So, she needed to end it now before she was too invested and he could hurt her.
"We don't work. Ok? We don't and we never will so lets just save ourselves the dramatic chizz and get over this ok?" Sam finally said matter-of-factly. She had to applaud herself for the seeming lack of emotion her tone of voice was displaying.
"But what if I don't want to 'get over this'?" Freddie asked, using air quotes as he spoke.
"Well, then you need to."
"Sam, just tell me why you're doing this?" He looked down at her as if she'd just kicked his puppy…or poured a bag of lemonade all over his laptop and camera.
Sam sighed heavily. He really wasn't making this easy. Why did he want to talk things out? Why couldn't he just let it go?
"I'm abrasive, pushy, and naturally vicious. I beat you up for years. We argue about everything, so much so that we need to use Carly as a buffer. I don't care about school or about my grades. Soon, you and Carly are going to graduate and go to some fancy colleges and leave me here in Seattle. I'll have my mom and frothy for company while I'm stuck working at Chili-My-Bowl again. Meanwhile, you'll be out there living some fabulous life with some daffodil of a girlfriend."
She paused and laughed bitterly.
"You, you deserve someone smart and polite and nice. You deserve someone who's sweet and has plans for herself. You deserve someone pretty…some daffodil like…Carly."
She paused before whispering the next words she spoke. "You deserve someone better than me."
She stared determinedly at the floor, avoiding Freddie's gaze that she now felt boring into her.
She heard him laugh. Yes, laugh. She jerked her head up and saw that there was a hint of a smirk on his face. Why was he smiling? It made her want to punch him in the stomach. She contemplated it, but before she could decide upon it, he spoke up again.
"When will you get it," he said as he reached forward lifting Sam's chin with his hand and holding it there, "I don't want Carly. I don't want some daffodil. I want you, Sam. I want the abrasive, brilliant Sam who can hold her own against anyone; who doesn't need to dress like a daffodil to look pretty because she's the most beautiful girl I've ever seen without any of that stuff. I want the strong willed, firecracker that can knock out a truck driver with a carton of milk, but at the same time drive me crazy with the way she kisses me. I want the girl who is so much more amazing than she ever gives herself credit for. Sam, I want you…Sam, I love you."
Freddie lifted her chin slightly and leaned in to kiss her. His hands traveled into her hair as she eased into the kiss, wrapping her arms around his neck. She wasn't sure how long they stood there like that before they broke apart.
"I…guess I kind of love you too…dork," she smiled.
Sam was pulled out of her thoughts by a knock on the door.
Quickly she made her way to it and when she looked through the peephole she saw none other than Freddie standing on the other side. She opened the door.
"Hey, Sa-," Freddie began before pausing. "Is…is that my shirt?"
"Nope, I don't think it is," she replied playfully.
"Oh, so you just happen to have a shirt just like the one I lost a few weeks ago," he smirked as he raised an eyebrow.
"Guess so. So, what do you want nub?"
"Just wanted to see my girlfriend. Is that a problem, Puckett?"
"Yeah. It is. I'm kind of busy doing really important things, Fredward," she said teasingly.
"What are you doing that's so important?" Freddie asked, a bemused look on his face.
"Cleaning my room," she answered with a straight face.
"You…as in Sam-never cleans anything ever-Puckett, is cleaning her room? Who are you and what have you done with the real Sam Puckett?" he joked with mock surprise.
"Ha, ha, ha, Benson."
They were silent a moment before Freddie spoke up again.
"Let me help."
"What?" she asked, mildly taken aback.
"Let me help you," he said, no sign on his face that he was joking.
"You really want to help me clean my room?" she asked incredulously.
"Yeah, so can I?"
"I guess so," she replied after some consideration. "But I'm not paying you, dork."
"No payment required. Simply doing it out of the kindness of my heart," he laughed in a mock tone of valiance.
"Ugh, don't make me gag Fredloser."
She led the way through her living room, down the hall, and finally to her bedroom. As they stepped in she immediately remembered what she'd really been doing before Freddie had gotten there and her eyes flitted across the room at her stolen collection of Freddie Benson plaid shirts.
Freddie caught her eye and immediately locked in on what she was staring at.
"So, this is where all my shirts have been going?" He smirked, raising an eyebrow.
"Like I said Benson, not a clue what you're talking about. These are definitely mine."
"Oh, really?" Freddie walked over to the dark blue and white striped one Sam had been lamenting over before Freddie had gotten there. He picked it up and flipped it inside out so the tag was visible.
FREDWARD BENSON was sewn into the tag in bright red thread.
He smirked. "Leave it to my mother to still be sewing my name into my clothes, despite the fact that I'm 18."
Sam blushed slightly. The thing was, Freddie had never actually given her the shirts. More like she'd taken them. She had unknowingly, or maybe more knowingly than she cared to admit, stole them from him at various times. She'd go over to his place when his mom wasn't there and come up with some excuse to explain why she needed to "borrow" one of his shirts (Particularly intense make-out sessions were always good excuses. He certainly never bothered to argue with her about anything after one of those, let alone a shirt.) Eventually she'd "forget" to take it off and end up wearing it home. Once or twice, she'd even snuck into his room when he wasn't paying attention and taken the shirts out of his drawer without him realizing.
That was what she had done with the light blue and white one she was currently wearing. In fact, it was her newest acquisition.
Freddie stood up and looked her up and down, as if taking all of her in.
"You know, that looks a lot better on you than it ever did on me anyways," he replied as he gestured to the shirt she was wearing.
"Glad we agree," Sam smirked.
He walked over and kissed her gently before stepping back. He began to unbutton the shirt he was wearing. Ironically enough it was a red, blue, purple, and white plaid button up.
"Whoa there, Benson. Do you think you're getting lucky or something?" She half-joked.
He didn't answer, but finished unbuttoning his shirt. He then pulled it off and handed it to her, leaving himself in a thin white cotton undershirt.
"What?" Sam asked confused.
"Take it. For your collection."
Sam laughed, realization dawning on her.
She took it from his outstretched hand.
"Thanks," she said before kissing him. "Though I've got to say, it's a lot less fun when I don't have to steal them from you."
"You're kind of a kelpto, ya know that?" He laughed.
"And yet you love me anyways," a smirk played across her lips.
"I do. I really do, Sam."