Title: Sessions & Sanity

Rating: T (for language mostly)

Synopsis: iLost my Mind speculation – sort of. My take on Sam's time in the mental hospital she checks herself into. Spoilers for iDate Sam and Freddie. Surely I can't be the only one who's mind raced about the late night chat session? :P

A/N: I wrote the majority of this pre-iLLM and the end was post iDSAF. It's my take on Sam's internal monologue. It might not appeal to everybody but hey. There's nothing very offensive in there that needs mentioning. Some light-hearted mental institution humour, nothing major and some mentioning of broken families. I hope you guys like it - it's one my favourite things I've written so I'd appreciate your input on it :) Onward now, to fiction land!

i. it's empty in the valley of your heart – Mumford and Sons

Her mother didn't care when she told her she was checking herself into a mental institution. Well, that's not entirely true - she cared but with rather gleeful enthusiasm. Indeed she actively encouraged Sam's decision, taking the initiative to order her emotionally perplexed daughter a taxi to the hospital.

Sam tells the counsellor this without much of a flickering of anything, really. She thinks it unnerves the other woman sitting across from her in an overly large, garish green leather chair. This woman, a listless, artless stern-looking teacher type complete with quintessential glasses and bright red lipstick is not someone Sam would have pictured herself spilling her guts to. She is emotionless (but not in the good way), clinical almost to fault. Sam does not really connect with her but then, she thinks, there are a few that truly understand Sam Puckett's motivations. She never really believed a few sessions with some quack would change that and she is evidently proven right.

The woman scrawls long sentences in silence, the pen scratching achingly along crisp white paper.

"You wrote trust issues again didn't you?" Sam asks coolly.

"And you read my writing upside down," the doctor retorts without looking up and Sam hates that she has no smart comeback. She sits back in her armchair, pulling her legs up underneath her.

"So," the doctor initiates again, "Sam. Why did you check yourself in?"

"Because….I completely lost my mind," she replies like this is the most obvious thing in the world.

"Because you kissed a boy?"

"Ssh!" Sam instructs, glaring, "Don't go spreading that around."

She catches the smallest smile on the raven-haired lady's lips but her eyes remain cold, unflinching in their intensity.

"We're not in the business of treating people who go boy crazy," she jokes and it falls flat with Sam, her brow knotting into a furrowed line across her forehead.

"Listen Doc-"

"Kelly," the other woman corrects, "You can call me Kelly."

"Ok, whatever. Listen Kelly. I did not go boy crazy! I just went plain crazy. And here is the only place I can be safe from that crazy. Do you see?"

"Sam…no. I don't see - mostly because you won't tell me anything of value. And anything you do tell me makes me wonder if you're a violent psychopath!"

Sam laughs heartedly at this but it fades when she quickly realises that that wasn't a joke.

"Can't I just stay here for a while? Just until school ends and I never have to see him ever again?"

"We are not a hotel, Samantha."

Sam cringes at the use of her full name but the doctor is unwavering, shutting her pad with a clap.

"I'll begin the paperwork and we can have you checked out by this afternoon, can I call anyone to get you picked up?"

"No lady! Please! You can't send me out there!" she begs and she isn't even that embarrassed. She has no dignity left anyway; whatever shreds she was desperately clinging onto vaporised when her lips voluntarily connected with the dorks.

"I'm sorry Sam b-"

"Ugh! I'll talk…I promise," Sam concedes, settling back into the chair she jumped out of just moments ago.

"You'll talk? And not about this Gibby character you're convinced is a mermaid?" Kelly presses, cautiously toying with the pen.

"Yeah," she breathes out, drawing her knees to her chest, "But you should really check him out anyway. I'm probably right."

"Not if you're certifiable," the woman jokes again and either Sam really is going crazy or she is becoming conditioned to doctor humour because this time, she laughs.

"Right, start at the beginning?"

The request flutters in her chest and suddenly her hands are more interesting than they have ever been as she considers where on the earth the beginning is.

"The beginning," she echoes in a mumble.

Mental anguish, she concludes, is a difficult thing to heal.

ii. and who do you think you are running around leaving scars – Christina Perri

"Your dad."

"What about him?"

"Where is he?"

"You probably have a better idea than I do," Sam smiles but it falters and it doesn't go un-noted by the medical professional opposite. She scribbles again and Sam has the incontestable urge to grab the pen and shove it out the window. But the thing is, she has noticed herself dial back on her crazy here. The irony is not lost on her.

"I'm not masking anything with humour by the way," she adds because she thinks it's important the doctor knows this, "Humour isn't a defence mechanism. Now my fists – they're a defence mechanism."

"You realised you just made another joke?" Kelly points out.

"That wasn't a joke."

"When did he leave? Did he leave?"

"He did. He bailed when I was about eight or nine. I don't remember much about him. He went out for milk and cigarettes and just…didn't come back."

"And?"

"And what?" Sam frowns, bemused by the open-endedness of the question. The doctor merely shrugs. "Do I miss him?"

"Do you?"

"What's there to miss?" Sam scoffs, playing with bright red Velcro (they don't allow shoelaces and if only for a second, she didn't know why), "I barely knew the guy. Even when he was here he was just a drunk layabout."

"What about the ideal of a father figure? Do you miss that?" the doctor asks, unrelenting.

"What do you mean?" Sam says even though she's already fully aware.

"You know? A Dad who would take you to ballet practice, someone who will vet your boyfriends and walk you down the aisle? Do you wish you could have had that?"

"Pfft lady, do you know me?"

"No, but I'm trying."

"Well, if you knew me, you'd know none of that fluffy crap means anything to me. So no. No I don't miss that, I don't want that."

"So that's just it? You're absolutely fine your dad left, you don't miss him or need him?" Kelly clarifies and Sam has a feeling whatever she says next will come back to bite her on the ass.

"Yup," she replies without much thought to the word popping from her lips. The doctor begins to write again but it's shorter and she finishes with a sharp full stop to one word.

Lying.

Sam opens her mouth to admonish her for such an outlandish claim, she wants to throw a tantrum walk out and give a very rude gesture but she realises letting the other woman know that she had once again read her notes, the whole 'trust issues' thing might rear its ugly head again. Sam would take the term liar over trust any day.

"What about your mom?"

"Oh we're totally cool," Sam says and this she actually means.

"Really?"

"Yeah. I mean we've had our issues, but what moms and daughters don't? She's cool. She does her best. That's all you can ask right?"

"That's very wise Samantha," Kelly grins and Sam spots a little pride gleaming through emerald green irises.

"Yeah?" she seeks confirmation almost like a child.

"Yes. Very wise indeed. Once we come to accept the people in our lives completely – faults and all – we find we often do the same with ourselves."

"Awesome."

"Astute observation. But what about your dad?" the doctor delicately approaches again, maintaining eye contact.

"We just talked about him. I don't know him. How can I accept someone I don't know?" Sam frowns.

"Well first you can understand he was an alcoholic. Understand his leaving might have actually been better for you. Accept his faults," Kelly suggests. Something inside Sam snaps, anger curling in her stomach at the thought of accepting someone who barely left a mark on her life. Like she owed him something.

"That's stupid," she spits venomously, "Why would anyone do that? I don't know him. Going by your logic I should accept every drug addict and bum I come across in life. Because seriously, they mean about the same to me as he does."

"He?"

"Dad. What? Are you completely retarded or something?"

"You never refer to him by name," Kelly points out, leaning forward on crossed legs, her chin tucked into her hand.

"Maybe because I think the term dad doesn't really fit him well," Sam rolls her eyes.

"You could use his name?" the doctor suggests.

"I don't know his n-" she halts mid-sentence, biting back the words. Kelly looks suspiciously pitiful of her and Sam hates it. She doesn't want pity or sympathy. She just wants her to understand.

"You don't know his name?"

Sam's lips draw into a tight line and she focuses her gaze on a blank spot on the wall behind Kelly's head.

"No."

"You've not seen him since?"

"No."

Lying.

Sam thinks the good doctor should write it again.

iii. I can't keep up with your turning tables - Adele

"You came."

"You called," Sam throws back at the forty-something, aging man sitting by the window of Starbucks. Both stay like that – Sam standing, him sitting for what is perhaps the most awkward twenty seconds of her life before he kicks out the chair opposite and offers it to her. Biting her lip, she looks him up and down still considering whether she should just punch the dude's lights out and leave or whether she should indeed hear him out (she would still kick his ass after). Maybe it's the fact it's cold outside and she'd like a cup of coffee before she storms off or it could be that she might just be slightly/a little intrigued by what he as to say. Whatever it is, she withdraws her hands once nestled warmly inside her hoodie pockets and falls into the chair opposite. He's older than how she remembered, hair greying around the edges, thick creases along his forehead. But he is cleaner too. A sharp suit set off by a bright expensive looking tie and Sam thinks of many a quip of how they could have sold that tie for food when he drank away their grocery money. She holds back.

"You look good Sammy," he observes, his lips curling on one side.

"You too Doug, Nice suit."

"Thanks," he swallows heavily, casting his eyes to the coffee in his hand, "Can I order you one?"

"I already did on the way in."

He nods and she's already growing tired.

"What do you want Doug? What did you call me here for?"

The question is brash and sharp and catches him off guard a little.

"I…I wanted to see you Sam," he says solemnly, his hands coming up around the coffee cup on the table. He leans in a little and she wonders if it's deliberate.

"That would be a first wouldn't it? Didn't you want to see me when I was sick with appendicitis in hospital? Or when Mel broke both her legs when I pushed her off the slide? Speaking of Mel, she's fine by the way."

"You haven't given me a second to ask."

"You've had plenty of time to ask," Sam snaps back, seething. The man falls quiet again unable to look at the blonde sixteen year old on the other side of the table. She can't stop looking at him though; he's like car crash.

"I've gotten married Samantha," he tells her like it's useful information, "I've gotten married and I got a new job. I've been sober for four years."

"Well congratulations," she says flatly.

"You have a little brother."

This takes her by surprise. It cuts right in and she feels something akin to her heart physically breaking in half and she has to repeatedly tell herself that she cannot cry. She won't cry.

"Why would you tell me that?" she asks, incredulous.

"Because I thought you might like to meet him. Melanie too."

"Who do you think you are?" she grits out, leaning forward on the table top, "You think you can just come back and me and Melanie will be here? We're not toys Doug! You can't just leave for years, not tell me where you are, not even send a stupid birthday card and expect me to be giddy at the news that you have procreated again!"

"I thought you'd be excited."

"Well you thought wrong," she sighs, half-laughing at the ridiculousness of it all, "Jesus Doug. You broke every single promise you ever made to me. To Melanie. To Mum. You realise you haven't even said you're sorry?"

"I didn't want it to be the first thing I said to you," he mutters, like he's mad with her. She stands up at this, but not because she's angry or even because her fists now shake with bloody violence, but rather because she's just too goddamn old and wise to engage anymore.

"It should have been the first thing you wanted to say," she laughs, mirthlessly, "Bye Doug…Dad."

She walks away without looking back and wonders if he remembers doing the same to her on a driveway eight years ago.

It's the last time she ever hears from him and she's not even a little disappointed.

iv. I will never let you down – Alexi Murdoch

She decides to tell Kelly the story the next day and the woman goes suspiciously quiet after, jotting note after note on fancy, letter-headed writing paper. In fact she's silent so long Sam busies herself by the window on the other side of the room, heaving breaths on the pane and drawing random animal shapes in the condensation that forms. There are bars just past the glass and Sam realises more and more every hour how utterly imprisoned she is.

"Have I opened Pandora's box or some chizz?" she hums, resting her head on the peeling white of the wooden window frame.

"Hmm?"

"Telling you the truth about my dad. You're writing an essay there."

"Oh no, sorry Sam," Kelly chuckles a little lamely, "I get so caught up in taking notes sometimes."

"S'cool," Sam shrugs, re-joining the doctor on the sofa.

"You rejected him," she says but it's not a question and more a statement of fact.

"It wasn't revenge if that's what you're thinking," Sam's eyes narrow, trained to the other woman's face, "My kind of revenge would involve a lot more violence and wedgies."

"Then what was it?"

"It was…it was me just not needing that kind of crap in my life. I've a low tolerance for bullshit and it seems to follow my father around. That and I was kind of getting hungry. I had a hankering for fried chicken."

"Would you say you were protecting your sister and Mom?"

"Ugh! Why do you have to get all touchy feely about this stuff?" Sam groans, bending backwards over the arm of the chair.

"Because Samantha, that's life. It's touchy feely."

Sam throws her a pointed glare and the doctor seems to concede defeat, sighing heavily as she returns to her note pad.

"What about yourself? Would you say you were protecting yourself?"

"Of course. Like I said – low tolerance for bullshit."

"Do you think that's what you're still doing? Rejecting your father? Rejecting every boy since? Every person? Are you still protecting yourself?"

Her nose scrunches affronted by the suggestion that her coldness of temper, her aloofness is nothing more thanSam being Sam. That there should be a deeper meaning to her behaviour or, God forbid, a reason.

"Listen lady, it's a tough world out there. If I reject some guy 'cause I'm thinkin' ahead to the trouble it will cause then maybe I'm a forward thinker. Maybe I'm saving myself some hassle."

"Love and trust shouldn't be a hassle Samantha."

"No, they aren't but people walking all over you is. And trust me that is what the real world is like Doctor."

"Carly hasn't betrayed your trust. She seems to love you," the woman offers earnestly, sitting forward.

"One person."

"Spencer?"

"Ok…so two people…." Sam rolls her eyes.

"And Gibby?"

"Gibby doesn't count as a real person."

"Well then….Freddie. Freddie hasn't left, Sam. Freddie hasn't hurt you even though you've hurt him. Freddie still wants to be around."

Sam's head snaps up, her arctic eyes tightening into slits. "Only because I'm friends with Carly."

"Do you really believe that? You really believe he takes you to the meat market on Sunday's for Carly? Or that every time you manage to ruin your laptop with viruses he cleans it out for you, it's for Carly? Or when he buys you a new Pear phone because your old one has broken? Is that for Carly too?" Kelly questions sceptically, eyebrows raised.

"I knew telling you that stuff would come back to bite me on the ass," Sam grumbles, suddenly preoccupied with picking non-existent lint off her bright purple pyjama bottoms.

"Has he tried to contact you since you checked yourself in here?"

Sam shrugs non-committedly as if that's enough to avoid the question and evade further scrutiny but she knows with the way the other woman looks at her now there will be no let up today. It's one of the looks she gets when there's a buffet on in Pizza Hut; nothing is safe.

"Sam?"

"Ugh! Why do we have to talk about Freddie? Let's go back to talking about my violent slash psychopathic tendencies."

"Freddie is the reason you checked yourself in here, remember? The reason you've gone bonkers, as you so eloquently put it," Kelly laughs again at her own brand of mental institution humour but Sam finds it less than amusing. Almost like the woman is not taking her seriously.

"You know what? Forget it," she huffs shifting from the window to the armchair, "Just forget it."

Kelly watches Sam from across the coffee table, disconcertingly quiet and unwavering in her scrutiny. Sam would reprimand her, tell her to take a picture because it would last longer, but she is pretty sure losing her temper will just add more group therapy sessions to her already packed schedule. It's like their own sort of mental institution detention and if this were school, she apparently would never see the light of day again. So instead of losing her cool Sam fixes her gaze out the window, the sun breaking in jagged light through the bars and blinding her in spots. It's a nice day out; summer just edging its way past spring so shrewdly many would not notice. Sam wouldn't usually either but she finds herself paying attention to the subtleties of life in here. Things like Sunflowers blooming on the grounds and butterflies landing on her mud nests remind her a little of what she is missing in the outside world and she imagines a life where power is removed. Where she never gets to the leave this place and never has to make a single decision again. It's a comforting notion to think that you cannot make any mistakes ever again without the ability to blame someone else. But then she recalls back on the night she came and she thinks of the violation of her things (the removal of her shoelaces, her phone charger, her toothbrush) and being told she must earn them back and it dawns on her that deep down she knows she really doesn't belong here.

"Maybe I should go home," she murmurs so quietly the doctor barely catches it.

"What would you do if you did? Would you speak to Freddie?" Kelly asks after lengthy consideration.

"Freddie won't want to speak to me," she heaves, fixing her gaze to the floor.

"Why not?"

"Because….I'm not Carly Shay."

v. "Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss." – F. Scott Fitzgerald

12 missed calls.

Ignore list.

Five Voicemails.

Press 1 to hear your messages.

"Hey Sam! Just wanted to check in….you left in a hurry last night and…we never got to…yeah so I'm just checking in on you. I think I said that already. Call me back?"

Press 7 to delete.

"Hey Sam? It's me again. Yeah I know, ringing you twice in a six-hour period. Guess I've blown my yearly allowance of calls to you right? It's just…I haven't heard from you yet and I'm getting worried. I mean we're all worried. Just call back yeah? Even if it is to yell at me."

Press 7 to delete.

"Sam this is getting ridiculous. The world isn't going to end just because you and I kissed. My life might end when you get a hold of me just for acknowledging that it happened but it's a risk I'm willing to take. Lame joke, I know. I just want to talk to you Sam."

Press 7 to delete.

"Sam, just pick up for Christ sake! You're really starting to piss me off."

Press 7 to delete.

"I didn't mean that last voicemail….I'm just really worried is all. I really need to hear you're not dead in a ditch somewhere mmmkay? Please Sam? Just talk to me."

Press 7 to delete.

One unread text.

Frednerd: I miss you, Sam.

Save to folder.

vi. "Oh you know me. I have no emotions. I'm a robot. Or a nun. A robot nun." – Emma, 'One Day' by David Nicholls.

"I think Carly might get mad if she found out."

"That you kissed Freddie? Or that you checked yourself in here?"

After throwing open the door to her office and banging it against severely marked grey walls, it surprises Sam that the doctor barely acknowledges her sudden ostentatious presence in the room, not even bothering to hazard a glance up from mounds of paperwork piling up on dark mahogany. Sam thinks she's losing her touch at the old dramatics. It was her best door slam and everything.

"That I kissed Freddie. And that I checked myself in here. And that I haven't called her."

"You seem to care an awful lot what Carly thinks of this situation," Kelly mumbles through the tip of her pen, twisting the plastic between pearly white teeth.

"Well duh. She's my best friend."

"And?"

"And the closest thing I have to a sister," she says without thinking of Melanie.

"And?"

"And….the love of Freddie's revolting and pathetic little existence, both of them so goddamn perfect for each other they make Barbie and Ken look like freakin' amateurs." She spits the sentence with such seething venom, such contempt, she has to physically remind herself that Carly and Freddie are her friends, her only friends, and she loves them. Still, the words fizzle like acid dissolving into the now stunned silence of the room and Kelly finally regards her with a look of sheer bewilderment.

"Glad to get that off your chest?" the woman asks even toned. Sam tries to read her expression, struggling to gauge whether she has just bought herself a lifetime pass to the loony bin but it proves rather pointless. The Doctor clearly has had practice.

"I didn't mean that," she tries and not even she is convinced.

"Yes you did. Of course you did. It's the first brutally honest thing you've said since you got here."

"No it isn't, I'm brutally honest most of the time."

"Not about anything that matters. Your opinions, brash or not, aren't relevant to anything Samantha. You live in absolute fear of saying what you mean or meaning what you said. Thus nothing you say is relevant. It fades into obscurity or worse, into the heart, and you don't realize the damage you've done simply by lying about how you feel. That's why Freddie didn't kiss you back. You've lied to him all this time and he's damaged. You've lied to yourself and you're damaged."

Sam's mouth hangs open, heart pounding in her chest and she thinks for the first time since Freddie got hit by that Taco Truck, it might actually just break in two.

"Who the hell do you think you are, lady? You don't know me!"

"I know you better than anyone else in your life Samantha. That's why you've no smart comebacks now, no snappy remarks. I've hit something; something you recognize exists in you. And it hurts. Hurting is good."

She swallows thickly, glowering at the doctor. "I…I didn't tell you Freddie didn't kiss me back."

"You didn't have to," Kelly looks back at her with something that looks suspiciously like pity and Sam just wants to knock the look right off of her face. She wants to strangle the life out of the hard faced woman in front of her and she thinks the doctor has never looked so harsh, all rigid angles and pointed features. Like something out of a nightmare. She feels alone, attacked and hurt utterly so and so, she cries. Wet tears roll down porcelain leaving rivulets of red, stinging skin in their wake and she wipes at her cheeks furiously to hide them.

"Sam…" the doctor softens considerably, her eyes fluttering at the sight of the crying young woman in front of her, "Sam come in. Close the door."

"Have I really damaged him?" she chokes out.

"No Sam," the doctor lies and Sam can tell, "I was just trying to provoke a reaction. I had this theory that if I went a little bit harder on you…well it's doesn't matter now. Even doctors make mistakes."

"He hates me doesn't he? I've just gone and completely embarrassed him and me by kissing his stupid face haven't I?"

"Quite the opposite," Kelly says, standing to offer a plastic cup of water from the cooler, "I think Freddie might just surprise you yet."

Sam accepts it with cautious regard, staring at the bubbles floating in the clear liquid.

"If I can make it better," the doctor breaks the silence, touching her hand off Sam's, "I think you're just convincing yourself he loves Carly so you have more excuses not to risk anything. I think…he might have stopped loving Carly a long time ago."

"Even if he has…it doesn't matter," Sam sniffles despite herself.

"Why not?"

"Because….Freddie dates the Carly Shay's of the world. Not the highly dysfunctional, certifiably violent Sam Puckett's."

"Then why didn't he stop you kissing him? He might not have kissed you back Samantha, but he didn't stop you either," Kelly smiles coyly, finally removing her hand from Sam's wrist and meeting the blonde's gaze with like for like intensity. In the outside world, Sam thinks, she might actually be able to tolerate this woman. She has this undeniable likeness for people who don't bullshit her, who aren't afraid of her and Kelly is certainly not afraid of Sam Puckett. Sam snivels one last time, giving the doctor a small smile as she turns to leave the room.

"Oh Doc…" she says pivoting on her heel, "I never cried."

"And I never made you cry," Kelly counters and Sam realizes they might not be so different after all.

vii. "They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered." – F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise.

When she sees him her heart stops and all she can think is to yell at him to leave, forgetting momentarily that she might be smothering her best friend. It is only when Carly's tongue darts out against the palm of her hand Sam loosens her grip, but only a little. She won't look at him - she can't - and so instead she focuses on holding Carly in place figuring she can use the pretty brunette as some form of human shield. He says her name and there goes the fluttering in her chest again and she wants to scream at him to get out and never come back. But he's advancing quickly and the feel of his hand on her wrist is so distracting that she forgets everything she's learned to keep inside and she relaxes, if only for a moment. Carly seizes the opportunity and slips free, chastising her friend for the vulgar taste on her tongue.

After she leaves the atmosphere hangs over their heads like a guillotine and for the first time, he's the one in control with all the power of an executioner but none of the conviction. Freddie Benson is nothing but virtuous charm and innocent perplexity as he follows her around the tightening confines of her room, asking why.

Three days she has been here and she still cannot ask herself why let alone proffer an answer. She knows she feels and that in itself is a personal leap, perhaps even an achievement of sorts. She had thought before only of skepticism and disdain and now she thinks of hope and dates and kisses. She will never again underestimate the power of a kiss. She sees a pity in his eyes though, a pathetic manifestation of sympathy and it tells her all she needs to know.

"So I like you a little bit? I could never date you or be your little girlfriend-"

The words tumble like rocks, relentlessly throbbing in her stomach and she feels like she could throw up if she doesn't physically eat the sentiment away.

He's nice to her – of course he's nice to her – and she is horrible. He touches her and she shrugs him off; he speaks softly, she speaks austerely. He must be confused, she thinks and if she could only convince him that it means nothing than maybe, just maybe, they can go back. She takes solace in his reassurance of her sanity (even if a part of her thinks he's lying) and she recalls what the doctor told her about letting herself feel something, even if it's not entirely good. She remembers the woman urging her to consider how she felt when she took a risk and kissed her best friend pushing her into accepting life in the outside world, even with all its downsides, might just be worth it. She realizes then if she stays here in denial, albeit blissful, she'll never risk anything again and that feeling is something she is not willing to compromise on.

viii. "He smiled understandingly - much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced - or seemed to face - the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself." – F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Sam doesn't believe in corny Hollywood endings because, simply, they just don't exist. That happily ever after is never happily ever after, the world doesn't slow down at the slightest of touches and boys don't show up in the middle of the night only to cuddle. At least not for girls like her. But when he kisses her, oh when he kisses her, how the world seems to stop and blur and she feels ten kinds of nauseous at the thought that she could do this forever. And then, just when she thinks she might just pass out at the feeling, it kicks her that she's being a freaking girl about it and it's back to the violent pull and tug she's used to.

When he grabs her in front of everyone at the hospital, hands gripping her waist and pulling her forcibly to him, it's such a sheer violation of her will (of her better sense) that she physically pulls back, hands pushing lightly on his shoulders to let him know that she doesn't understand. She doesn't understand why he's choosing her over everything else, over his better judgment because deep down Sam knows Freddie's senses tell him to run. She's pretty sure that Kelly would have something to say about that and probably would have much more to say about this but the woman invades so much of Sam's rationale these days she's not sure whether she would actually approve or it's simply that Sam cannot cope without the Doctor's opinion. Indeed when Freddie finally pulls back her first instinct is to turn in search of the medical professional and ask her what the hell this all means. She's sure that's a worrying sign.

But he's smiling at her now, his lips quirked on one edge with a cheeky grin solely reserved for her and any thoughts of staying in Troubled Waters fly away. She has to get out if only to kiss the life out of him again and see him smile like that after. She could live with that smile.

ix. "Well, love is insanity. The ancient Greeks knew that. It is the taking over of a rational and lucid mind by delusion and self-destruction. You lose yourself, you have no power over yourself, you can't even think straight." – Marilyn French

"So….you're leaving?"

Kelly hovers in the doorway watching her patient pack away her things.

"Yeah. Mom finally came back from Tijuana and signed me out. Although I had to bribe her a little. Should I tell you that? Or is that reason enough for you to make me stay?" Sam frowns, stopping packing her world-worn backpack. The doctor chuckles at this stepping inside the room, albeit a little hesitantly.

"I'm not here to stop you from doing anything Samantha. The only person that has control over that is you."

"So….if I asked your opinion on me and Freddie-"

"It would be irrelevant. Only you can control the decisions you make. You thought by coming here you could relieve yourself of some of that responsibility. That you wouldn't have to make any of the big choices, someone else would do that for you. And to an extent you were right. But being in here…it's not just the big decisions that are taken away."

"It's the little ones too," Sam finishes, feeling a lot like she's trivialized something big and rather important. "Did I waste your time?"

"Do you feel you've gotten anything out of being here?" Kelly counters.

"I feel like…I feel like I'm not crazy for liking him anymore. Well…I mean I can like him and feel like there are reasons now."

"Reasons like?"

"Like he cares about me. That I can trust him."

"Then to answer your question Sam, no. No you have not wasted my time," Kelly smiles like she's conquered Everest and Sam feels a lot like she's made someone very proud. It's a foreign feeling, uncomfortable and intense and Sam thinks, if only for a second, that she could do with a lot more than one week at Troubled Waters.

"It'll be weird."

"What will?"

"Not having someone to talk to. Having someone I can be honest with," Sam admits and inside, she feels rather sad at the thought of leaving this behind.

"You've plenty of people you can be honest with Sam. Starting with yourself."

"Ugh! You sound like some kind of horrible corny, 1990's film. Do you realize how clichéd therapist you just sounded?" the blonde teases mercilessly and the Kelly laughs into the space between them thinking she might just miss the Puckett brand of humour. She reaches out taking the young patients hands and for the first time in years finding herself unable to fight back tears. Sam immediately looks uncomfortable, shifting on the balls of her feet as if she's about to run far and away from the connection forming. Kelly suspects Sam doesn't get much in the way of maternal affection or indeed affection from anyone and it doesn't surprise her when the young girl stiffens at the contact. Trust issues the doctor ticks off mentally, gripping just that little bit tighter.

"Knock knock," a dark haired boy announces his presence in the doorframe and both women look startled by his arrival, Sam pulling away sharply.

"Freddie," she breathes and it's surprised sound as if she weren't expecting him to show up at all.

"Hey," he says with a look and a smile that makes Kelly nostalgic for the days in which love was awe inspiring and boys made everything better. She can tell he's the type of boy girls fall for and other boys hate; a dangerous combination of sweet and adorable with the ability to lead even the most virtuous girl down the wrong path, even if he realizes it or not.

"Hey," Sam echoes, matching his grin with one of her own.

"Hey," he repeats and suddenly Kelly feels like she's caught in some sort of space-time continuum. She thinks it best (and maybe even her civic duty) to break the cycle.

"Hi, I'm Kelly Attwood, Sam's doctor," she introduces herself with an extended hand and the boy looks a little surprised when she intrudes on their moment. She has the distinct feeling it is the first time he has even realized she was in the room.

"Hi, Freddie Benson," he returns with a firm handshake.

"You've come to pick up Sam?"

"Yup. I wasn't sure if I needed to bring anything. I noticed you were wearing pajamas so I got your mom to pack some clothes just in case."

"That's very thoughtful Freddie," Kelly grins turning to Sam, "Isn't that thoughtful Sam?"

"Yeah, he's the James Dean of the dating world," she deadpans, as if embarrassed by the older woman. "C'mon Benson, let's blow this Popsicle stand."

"Uh sure," he agrees letting her lead him blindly out the door while waving a little at the doctor as he goes. Kelly stands there for a moment chuckling soundlessly at the whirlwind that is Sam Puckett. Just like that the blonde is gone most likely (and hopefully) forever. Kelly doesn't often feel like she'll miss a patient not because they're particularly trying or because they're difficult, but more because she feels like she is sending them equipped for dealing with the real world beyond the bars and harsh lighting. The feeling of satisfaction eclipses the feeling of nostalgia. In the case of Samantha perhaps she's grown a little more than attached. It is this, which the psychologist in her attributes to the familiarity of her own daughter but the mother in her attributes to over-wrought concern.

Deep down she wonders if Sam is ready.

xi. I think I love you better now – Ed Sheeran

"I can't believe you made me come all the way over here to prove my mother is weirder than yours Benson!"

"I did not!" he protests indignant, "I told you not to come over. You said you were coming over anyway."

"Because you left me no choice! And now look what you did! You pissed off Carly by waking her up! You made her mad," she argues gesturing wildly back at the Shay's apartment.

"You wanted to wake her just as much as I did!" he gasps, "you suggested it!"

"Everyone knows not to listen to me when I haven't ate in two hours! I don't make any sense! This is all on you Fredlumps," she heaves a laugh at the last part, shrugging her shoulders as she turns for the elevator.

"You're just going to leave? We haven't sorted this!" Freddie calls after her, hushing his voice in the vacant hallway. She fixes him with a look - one of those you really are as stupid as you look looks and suddenly he feels like he's missing something big and important about this whole thing.

"It's 3 in the morning," she reminds him jabbing at the buttons, "Momma likes her sleep."

Something pops into his head; something he knows is probably the worst idea Freddie Benson has ever had. The thought rolls about, gaining momentum as it reaches the tip of his tongue and it blurts out before he has the chance to rethink what he is about to suggest.

"You could…." he drags off under the scrutiny of ice blue eyes, dismissing whatever proposition hung from his tongue only moments ago by turning to his own front door.

"I could what?" comes the curious voice from behind him.

"I was gonna say you could stay over," he breathes, eyes clenched shut and he's grateful his back is to her so she can't see him silently curse his own reluctant suggestion. He knows in the thinly veiled fog of teenage sexual tension such a suggestion can lead to her thinking one thing and one thing only and he doesn't want to add a whole other level of complicated to this. Whatever this is.

"Uh…your Mom?" she reminds him but he's more surprised that it isn't a vehement no.

"Um, I'll sneak you out…before she does her checks," he explains turning round. She has stepped away from the elevator; one foot poised forward, one backwards and he wants to laugh at how literal she is. Subtly isn't a part of Sam Puckett's inventory. "I mean…it's late out and by the time you get home…it's only an idea."

"Ok," she decides taking a tentative step forward. It's a hesitant agreement, a shy acknowledgement of not wanting to leave but knowing that the walk back to her apartment at 3am is probably safer than what she has just agreed to.

"Ok?"

"Yeah. This way I can get up super early tomorrow with a list of why my mom is the bigger freak," she says slipping back into their normal, easy repertoire as she silently urges him to let them into his apartment. He leads her inside quietly and she follows the path he makes through the dark living room, expertly dodging misplaced furniture and walls. Just as she reaches the hallway her ankle connects with the doorframe and she has the inexplicable urge to yell out, cursing the pain throbbing through her foot. He's there immediately, finger pressed to her lips reminding her to stay quiet and unintentionally stealing her attention from her injury. It hits her then that she's following a boy into his bedroom – a boy is sneaking her into his bedroom to be more precise. As the realization dawns her face must show it because Freddie suddenly looks uncertain about…well she doesn't know what he isn't sure about (her?). He looks gravely serious, much like earlier when she told him about the bees and the car and the ambulance and inevitable chaos that follows her around. She wonders if she should have given him a manual in the mental hospital – guide to dating Sam Puckett. Somewhere in her haze she hadn't felt his free hand curl around hers and she glances down recognizing the contact. When she looks back up his eyes are trained down the hallway, fixed on the far door. He leads her there, slipping wordlessly inside.

She's surrounded in a room full of him and it's distinctly weird. She can smell him everywhere, the scent of new plastic and cologne clinging to the dry air. She watches as he makes himself busy, pulling and shaking back his sheets, fumbling through his bedside locker and checking through random pages of paper on his desk. She gets the impression it's a lot of show hiding an apparent mutual nervousness at the newness of the situation and she chuckles at that, drawing his attention to her ghosting his doorway.

"You ok with the bed or would you like me to get the sleeping bag?" he asks in a rush of air, his hand hanging from his neck.

"Bed's cool," she shrugs, "Unless…you're not a sheet stealer are you? Or a night farter?"

He laughs and it catches her off-guard, making her jump a little.

"As far as I'm aware no. Although…there's no one to give me a frame of reference really."

"Ok….well be forewarned. I move a lot in my sleep," she advises, taking small steps towards his overly dressed bed and tracing a hand along cotton throws. "And this…another reason why my mother is more of a freak."

"Huh?"

"I'm lucky to even get a bed never mind fancy sheets," she grins.

"They're anti-allergen too," he informs her and she shrugs like he has just proven her point. "I don't have allergies."

"Uh huh," she smirks, climbing in first to initiate the actual sharing a bed process. She has a feeling if she didn't they might have stood staring at each other all night. He follows suit, slotting easily to the right hand side of the double bed.

"You like a light on?"

"No but you do," she smiles, turning her back to him. She feels him sigh but he still leaves the dim blue night light next to his bed and she's sort of vindicated. She always knew he was a nerd.

"Sam."

"Yup."

"What was it like?"

"What was what like?"

"Troubled Waters."

She's quiet and he's not entirely sure she hasn't fallen asleep so he says her name again just to remind her he's there.

"I'm thinking," she grunts and he watches the back of her head like it's the most interesting thing in the world. They never talk about her time there mostly because when they do, it's all one big joke. If it isn't a joke it's something else, a different entity completely and he's not sure if he wants to recognize that about her yet.

"Was it scary?"

"I was the scariest thing in there," she replies but with very little emotion and with her back still to him. He sighs again, hands twiddling on his chest.

"It looked scary is all," he says.

He feels her shift onto her opposite side and when his head lulls sidelong he is met with a pair of enormous blue eyes, illuminated in the glow of his Galaxy Wars night-light.

"Why you want to know Benson?"

"I don't know….we never talk about it."

"With reason."

"Which is?"

"That I don't want to."

"Because it was scary?"

"Because…because it's personal," she admits in hushed whisper.

"It wasn't all about me, was it?"

"No."

"Sam…." He says her name again and her eyes drift open again at the sound, now acutely aware of how close he has gotten. Their bodies align perfectly, legs beginning to tangle out of some sort of misguided instinct, some sort of need for physical intimacy.

"What Freak?"

"You can tell me anything. I promise I'll keep it a secret."

Usually she would rebuke him for such a ridiculous suggestion because her tell him something? Something personal? Never in a million years. Except this time she sort of kind of believes him. Indeed she might just trust him. She is sure however somewhere Kelly Attwood is cheering, victorious.

"Yeah whatever," she sighs like he's being the biggest nub alive. It doesn't stop her snuggling closer, her lips finding his and rewarding him with deep kisses. She knows that if he was confused before, he must be dumbfounded now. She swears it isn't intentional. Hands grip her waist pulling her closer and she wants to laugh at how intimate this all is, how normal it seems to be. After a minute or so he relaxes, dislocating from her mouth with a quiet pop, his arm going limp around her slight frame.

"Tired?" she whispers, smiling when his eyes float closed.

"Arguing with you makes me tired," he mumbles sleepily into her forehead, "I wish we didn't argue as much sometimes."

She watches and waits until she is sure with his even breathing and slightly parted lips that he is indeed no longer part of conscious.

"Being in hospital didn't scare me," she confesses to his sleeping form, her fingers coming up between them to trace his lips, "Trusting people scares me. How I feel about you scares me. Sometimes I scare me. I'm trying Benson. Really trying here. I feel like I'm losing me a little in this…like I'm changing? I don't know. It feels like I'm softening, like I'm turning to mush. Without someone to talk to, someone like Kelly, it's harder to understand. I guess…I guess I just want to be safe. I want to stay safe."

His eyes snap open and she's only a little surprised, her hand trailing the side of his face.

"Did you hear…I mean…everything?" she stutters, frowning.

He doesn't answer directly, but his eyes hold hers with an intensity she can't yet fathom. It's not a look she's used to – it's one with an intent that's beyond her emotional age and she briefly wonders if she will ever understand what he meant by it in that particular moment.

"You can trust me," he tells her solemnly after a period of contemplative quiet, "You can learn to trust me. I'll give you reason to."

"Says the sleep faker," she teases and it has the desired reaction. He laughs into the soft hum of his bedroom, his chest rumbling against hers. He pulls her into him, his arms regaining some of their earlier elasticity and curling around her so her face is buried into the warm crook of his neck, her hands now resting on his chest. She feels his heart then and she thinks how absurd it is how something as simple as a rhythmic beating holds her attention until she drifts off somewhere between sleep and dreaming.

When she hears the words I love you uttered with virtuous sound she convinces herself then – she must be insane or dreaming.