Author's Note: Yes, this is a love triangle fic, meaning that it contains both Seddie AND Creddie. Don't hate; just give it a chance. It does have a resolution.

Disclaimer: The iCarly characters belong to Dan Schneider, not me.

-:-:-:-

Carly Shay has a weakness.

It comes out one day, innocently and unintentionally, but when it does, it begins to create a downward spiral that ends up accidentally exposing her two best friends' weaknesses as well.

She stands next to Wendy, her lab partner for chemistry class, at a table filled with tests tubes and various liquids. They have goggles pressed to their faces as they mix up some kind of weird chemical that Carly can't remember the name of. She adds a drop of hydrochloric acid to the long test tube she's holding, before she hands it over to Wendy, who carefully takes it from her and begins to slowly pour the concoction into a large beaker.

The liquid inside the beaker changes colors, from a dark blue to a much lighter blue, like the sky. It fizzles and bubbles up, rising up the glass, where it just barely misses pouring over the edge.

"Whoa, close one," Wendy says, letting out a relieved giggle.

Carly joins in on the giggling, although her laugh somehow sounds a bit more nervous than it does relieved. She reaches up and adjusts her goggles, and from the corner of her eye, she can see Freddie, who's already done with the blue liquid and is currently working on another test tube.

She can't help but notice that he looks so…sure of himself right now. He holds the test tube up to his eyes, unblinking, as he gently twists it in his hand, swirling the clear liquid inside of it.

And Carly, without even fully realizing it, finds herself staring at him for quite a bit longer than just a moment. It somehow goes from a curious fleeting glance to a full-on stare, and Wendy immediately notices it.

"Hey, earth to Carly," she says, and Carly literally jumps out of her trance as she promptly looks back at Wendy.

"Sorry," she mutters, feeling heat rise to her cheeks. She drops her eyes and picks up another test tube, trying to look busy. It doesn't work, though, because when she dares to lift her eyes again, she sees that Wendy is still staring at her, a suspicious look on her face.

"What?" Carly asks, though she knows it's a pointless question.

"Any particular reason why you were staring at Freddie just now?" Wendy asks, and there's a slyness in her voice, like she already knows something.

"Oh," Carly says, trying her best to come off as casual. "Yeah. I just wanted to make sure we were doing it right."

Wendy stares at her for quite a long time, and Carly feels her cheeks grow even hotter. She prays that Wendy will do her a huge favor and just drop it.

"Okay," she finally says, and instantly, Carly's chest relaxes with overwhelming relief.

They move on to the next mixture, and as they work, Carly thinks she's totally in the clear. They manage to work silently for a few minutes, until Wendy suddenly speaks up again.

"So, about you and Freddie…"

Carly feels her chest tighten again.

"What about me and Freddie?" she asks, nervous to find out where this is heading.

"I dunno," Wendy says with a shrug. "You guys are like, really close, right?"

"Yeah…" Carly says hesitantly.

"And," Wendy continues, "you don't have to answer this if you don't want to, but I've always just kinda wondered…are there any…y'know…feelings between you two?"

Carly drops her eyes to the table again, staring at all the beakers and test tubes. She slides a beaker filled with water towards herself, before she picks it up and begins to twirl it gently.

"I don't know," she finally mumbles, although it is an honest answer. "I mean…" She sets the beaker back down on the table. "We were kinda together at one point last year, but Freddie broke it off after a few days because it turned out that he was just bacon."

Wendy furrows her eyebrows.

"Long story," Carly explains. "Anyway, we've just always been really close friends. That's all."

She waits for Wendy to respond, but the crimson haired girl simply picks up a beaker and looks down at her notebook, returning to the lab experiment. Carly starts to get back to work as well, and she thinks that the conversation has been permanently dropped.

That is, until Wendy makes an innocent little comment that unintentionally sets off the crashing chain of events.

"Well, all I know is that you two would make the cutest little brunette babies together."

The feeling that hits Carly then is unlike anything she's ever felt before. It's confusion and amazement. It's slight embarrassment. It's a little bit of fear and a sudden rush of unexplainable excitement.

Carly turns her head then, looking straight at Freddie, who's carefully sliding a clean test tube back into its holder. She feels a hard thump in her chest that she's literally never felt from looking at him before, and suddenly, she finds herself grinning dreamily.

"We would, wouldn't we?" she breathes, and now, her weakness has struck.

(She constantly dreams of a picture-perfect lifestyle, a romantic fantasy in her head, a happily ever after…she wants to be a princess in a fairy tale.)

-:-:-:-

Freddie Benson also has a weakness.

It becomes stronger (which must be some kind of cruel irony) later that same day, when Carly walks up to him in the hallway.

"Hey, Freddie," she says, a smile on her lips and her hands clasped behind her back.

He looks up at her, backpack slung over his shoulder, as he closes his locker door.

"Hey, you," he says teasingly, smirking a little. "How's your day going so far?"

"Good," Carly says.

An air of silence passes between them. It's brief, but noticeably awkward. Carly shifts on her feet and diverts her eyes. Freddie looks up at nothing, reaching behind his head to scratch the back of his neck.

"So I was wondering if you'd maybe wanna come over tonight and watch a movie with me or something?" Carly suddenly blurts out, and Freddie's hand freezes mid-scratch.

"Uhhhh…you mean like you, me, Sam and Gibby?" he asks, letting his hand drop back down to his side.

"No…" Carly drawls, shifting her weight on her feet. "I mean just you."

And Freddie's heart literally stops.

"Wh—really? Just…just me?" he stammers in complete and utter disbelief (because, really, is this what he thinks it is?)

"Uh huh," Carly says with a single nod of her head. "Just you. And me."

His heart immediately starts beating faster. Now he knows it's what he thinks it is.

"Like a date?" he says all in one breath, sort of accidentally, but not really, because he really just wants to be sure.

The look that Carly gives him says it all. She grins, not in a friendly way, but in a far more flirtatious way that Freddie finds undeniably…well, hot.

"If you want it to be," she says with just a touch of seduction in her tone, yet it's still more than enough to get the message across (it's a big fat yes.)

Freddie has to literally remind himself not to grin like an idiot.

"Oh…okay," he says, allowing only a small grin to slip across his lips.

(He's desperately in love.)

But wait, there's a little more to his weakness.

(He thinks it's with Carly.)

-:-:-:-

Sam Puckett has a weakness as well.

She walks through the hallway after the last bell rings. As she approaches her locker, she spots Freddie (her frienemy), and a smirk instantly washes over her face. She hides behind the corner and waits for him to close his locker. When he does, he turns and starts to walk towards her, unaware that he's getting closer and closer. Just when he's about to turn the corner, she jumps out in front of him, slamming her sneakers hard against the floor as she holds up her arms and lets out a short but loud growl.

Freddie screams and jumps back, nearly dropping his books, and Sam immediately explodes into a triumphant laughter.

"Sam!" he shrieks like a whiny little kid. "You practically gave me a heart attack!"

"Ohhh, man," Sam says as her laughter slowly begins to calm down. She wipes a tear from her eye. "Wow. You're way too easy, Benson."

Freddie straightens his backpack and makes a face at her; it's one of those looks that she can only describe as somehow disapproving.

"Well, as always, Puckett, it's been pleasant," he says in his sarcastic tone that he thinks is so clever when really it's just annoying and stupid. "I'll see you later."

He leaves without another word, and the smile on Sam's face slowly fades as she turns her head and watches him go. She's left standing there, staring at the big doors that he's just walked out of. There's a sudden empty feeling in her chest then, one that she always gets whenever he leaves, though she'd never actually admit that, so instead, she simply passes it up as hunger. She quickly slides her backpack off her back and unzips it, pulling out a package of Fat Cakes that have unfortunately been smashed from being at the bottom of her backpack all day.

She tears the plastic wrapping open with her teeth and pulls one of the Fat Cakes out. Frosting oozes out of the spongy pink treat, and she licks it up, moaning contently through her lips. She bites into it as she begins to make her way to after-school detention.

No, her weakness isn't food (even though she'll admit that she loves it more than life itself, and she can barely go more than two hours without eating something.) Her weakness is far more complex than that, yet somehow, it can be summed up in only one word.

(Freddie.)

-:-:-:-

That night, Carly finds herself feeling extremely nervous for Freddie to come over. She's so nervous, in fact, that she's unable to sit still. She starts pacing back and forth, wringing her hands together. She pauses and turns towards the door, thinking she's heard a knock, but after a few seconds go by and nothing happens, she resumes her pacing. She starts to play with the hem of her floral-print cotton dress, smoothing out an invisible wrinkle in the soft material. When she finally does hear a knock on the door, she stops right in her tracks, feeling her heart jump.

"Carly? It's me."

"Come in!" she says, and she takes one last hasty moment to run her fingers through her hair, making sure it looks perfect.

When Freddie opens the door, Carly drops her arms to her sides and grins at him.

"Hi," she says as casually as possible.

"Hey," he replies.

He looks nice, just like he always does, but he looks a little extra nice tonight. He's dressed in a short-sleeve black polo shirt and dark jeans. Carly realizes suddenly, as she's looking him over, taking in his appearance, that he must be doing the very same thing to her right now. It makes her feel self-conscious, and her nerves suddenly start bubbling up inside her stomach all over again.

"You look beautiful, Carly," Freddie says in a sincere tone.

And, although he's said it so many times before, this time, it has an unexpected effect on her. She can't fight the blush that spreads to her cheeks, and she can't fight the shy smile that breaks out across her face.

"Thanks, Freddie," she says sincerely. "You look really nice, too."

Another wave of silence passes between them, but neither one of them moves. They just stand there, a few feet apart. Finally, though, Carly walks to the couch and sits down. She crosses her legs, very lady-like, then looks up at Freddie and pats the seat right beside her.

He smiles as he walks away from the door and takes the seat next to her. It's still completely silent between them, and all they're doing is looking at each other. Carly becomes aware that Freddie is most likely just waiting for her to say something first, and even though she knows this, she can't think of anything to say.

Which is why, instead, she does the one thing she was planning on doing at some point during this little…date of theirs. Her lips part the slightest bit and, as if by some gravitational force that's pulling her towards him, she begins to lean her head towards his. His eyes start to widen, the same way they did the very first time she kissed him, after he saved her life. The only difference, though, is that this time, he's able to lean towards her, too. He meets her halfway, and when their lips connect, with the gentlest amount of pressure, Carly feels a comfortable warmth immediately spread through her entire body. She brings her arms up and winds them around Freddie's neck, letting her fantasies take over.

It's all very sweet and innocent and just so wonderfully romantic, just as Carly's always dreamed of.

-:-:-:-

Hours later, Freddie returns to his apartment with the most enormous grin on his face. He closes the door and slumps against it, getting lost in his own little world as he reminisces about everything that's happened on their date.

Their date.

He can still barely believe it, yet it's happened, and now, he's standing here, daydreaming, with most likely the dumbest-looking grin on his face.

A vibration in his pants pocket causes him to snap out of his daze. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out his phone to see that he has a new text.

so im guessing ur pretty happy rite now fredsicle

He stands up straight then, feeling his shoulders tense up. His eyebrows begin to furrow as he stares at the message, reading it over several times, before he finally types out a reply.

-:-:-:-

Sam's phone lights up and vibrates with a new message. She immediately snatches it off her bed and opens the message.

What are you talking about, Puckett?

She smirks, because she can just imagine the confused look on his dorky little face right now. She quickly types her response.

carly just told me that u and her had a little date tonite. so r u guys like a couple now or wut?

She presses send without even bothering to read over her message. She thinks nothing of it, really, because it's mostly just a question out of sheer curiosity and nothing more. It's when almost a minute goes by without him texting her back that she starts to realize that maybe she shouldn't have asked that question, because she actually doesn't want to know the answer if it's what she thinks it is.

She starts to place the phone down on her nightstand when it suddenly vibrates in her hand. Hesitantly, she opens up the text.

Maybe ;)

Her face falls; her heart simultaneously plummets.

She doesn't bother to respond to the text, and instead turns off her phone entirely. She lets it slip from her hand and hit the carpeted floor with a soft thud. She sharply flops down on her bed and draws up her blankets. She'll just pretend that she never got that text.

(She'll also pretend that the furiously hot blood that's now coursing through her veins isn't from an unexpected surge of jealousy.)

-:-:-:-

On Saturday, the following night, Freddie takes Carly out on another date.

He's very polite and gentlemanly, just as she would expect from him. He holds the door open for her to every place they walk in and out of; he even offers her his jacket when she mumbles something about it being kind of chilly outside.

Towards the end of their date, they wind up at the Groovy Smoothie, sitting across from one another at a table for two.

"So did you have fun tonight?" Freddie asks, biting his straw.

Carly's holding her smoothie, moving the straw up and down. It makes a squeaking noise as it rubs against the plastic lid. She finally sets the cup down on the table.

"Of course I did," she says, smiling sweetly. She hasn't realized until now just how comfortable she feels with him. So comfortable and safe. "You?"

Freddie releases the straw from his mouth.

"Do you even have to ask?" he asks, smiling, but there's a touch of sadness in his voice that Carly easily picks up on. (She knows that he's trying not to get his hopes up again.)

She impulsively decides to try to lighten the mood then, so she stands, extending her hand out towards him.

"Dance with me?" she asks, giving him that look that they both know he can't resist, no matter how hard he may try.

He smiles his charmingly handsome smile as he sets his smoothie down and rises to his feet. He takes her hand, gently lifting it to his shoulder. She tilts her head and brings her other arm up, wrapping it around his neck. She feels his hands take her by the waist as they begin to calmly sway, moving to the soft music that's playing in the background.

It's not new at all, of course. In fact, literally everything about this moment is a little too familiar. Carly knows that Freddie must be thinking the same thing as her right now, about the time they danced like this together after that horrible Girls' Choice Dance. She remembers laying her head on his shoulder, feeling so comfortable and so utterly relaxed. She remembers how she'd finally allowed herself to just let go of all her worries and dance with him without any fear of hurting him.

Suddenly, she feels his warm lips drawing closer to hers, and she closes her eyes as their lips gently meet, letting herself get lost in the kiss, if only for a little while. Their calm swaying stops, and they're just standing there now, as if in their own little world (their own perfect fairy tale), their lips softly pressing together.

"Mmm," Freddie moans, before he abruptly pulls away from her, and there's a breathlessness in his voice as he says, "I swear, I'll make you so happy, Carly."

Her eyes widen, her pupils flickering back and forth. She can hear her own breaths coming out shortly, and she can feel her lips throbbing from their intimate kiss. The look in his eyes is begging, pleading, give me a chance! It's a promise; she knows he could never hurt her.

She smiles for a brief moment, her head filling up with all of those wonderfully happy fairy tales again, a handsome prince and a beautiful princess, riding off into the sunset together.

"I know you will," she whispers, suddenly, before she can lose her nerve.

And they kiss again, signifying the beginning of them; the real beginning of them.

(She's so caught up in her daydream of a perfect fairy tale life that she seems to momentarily forget the fact that she isn't even in love with him.)

-:-:-:-

From the moment they tell her the news, Sam's smile officially breaks.

"Wow, so this is the real deal, huh?" she asks with a playful (shattered) smirk on her face, trying to keep her tone lighthearted.

"Yep," Freddie replies, and the smile that plays across his lips is somehow so cocky that it makes Sam want to punch him. "No more bacon."

Carly re-enters the iCarly studio then, and as she passes by Freddie, she touches her hand to his shoulder. His smile brightens as he catches her by the waist, wrapping an arm around her and kissing the side of her head. Carly smiles and leans her head against him, looking like she's in her own blissful little world.

"Well…I'm gonna go downstairs and stuff my mouth with ham real quick before we start the show," Sam announces, and she brushes right past Carly and Freddie, not daring to look back at either one of them.

(She still refuses to admit to herself that she is, in fact, totally in love with that nerdy little nub.)

-:-:-:-

"Happy one month anniversary, Carly," Freddie says as he holds out a box topped with a pretty pink bow.

"Freddie," Carly says in a grateful tone, one that's really saying, 'aww, you shouldn't have.'

He places the present down on the table they're sitting at, inside a fancy restaurant. She picks it up, admiring the cute bow and nice wrapping, before she carefully begins to open it, making sure not to tear the wrapping paper too much. She finds herself holding her breath a little bit as she looks over the black velvet box. Slowly, she snaps it open, and her eyes widen with wonder as she draws in a breath.

"Oh, wow," she gushes through the gasp.

"You like it?" Freddie asks; she can hear the smile in his voice.

Carly takes the gift out of the box, a beautiful necklace. The pendant hanging off of the golden chain is a solid gold heart, and as Carly rests it over her palm, her eyes dazzling from its beauty, she hears Freddie say something else.

"Huh?" she asks, at last looking up at him.

"I said turn it over," Freddie says, gesturing the motion with his hand.

She does, and on the back, there's a message scrawled over the surface of the heart in fancy cursive writing:

I love you

She doesn't know why (yes she does), but the moment she reads it, she feels tears spring up in her eyes. She looks back up at her boyfriend and grins warmly at him, trying her best to hold back the tears.

"Thank you," she whispers, and she feels her heart break a little as she adds, "I love it."

(She can't say I love you, because they both know it just wouldn't be the truth, and she's not ready to start lying to him yet.)

-:-:-:-

The chain feels much heavier around Carly's neck than she expects it to feel. It's an anchor, weighing down her heart.

-:-:-:-

"You've seriously got that kid whipped, Carls," Sam says as she examines the gold necklace hanging off of her best friend's neck. It's gorgeous; it suits her perfectly.

"Don't say that," Carly says. There's a somberness in her tone that causes Sam to immediately flicker her eyes up to meet the brown pair.

"Why?" Sam asks. Because it's true?

Carly sighs as she closes her locker door and begins to walk to class. Sam follows, quickly catching up to her, so that they're walking side-by-side.

"'Cause it makes me feel guilty," she admits quietly.

And just when Sam's about to respond to that, out of nowhere comes the loser king of the dorks himself.

"Hey, sweetie," he says to Carly, making Sam shudder and suddenly want to gag.

"Hey," Carly says as she smiles at him in a seemingly loving way, but Sam can tell that it's all for show. She watches as Freddie leans in and gives Carly a kiss, and just like that, the nausea that Sam is already feeling completely intensifies.

"Sam," Freddie says in acknowledgment, as if he's just now realized that she's standing there.

"S'up, Fredboy," she greets, before she nods her head in Carly's direction. "Nice gift you got Carly there. Betcha had to take out a huge chunk of cash from your big boy piggy bank to pay for it, right?"

Freddie tilts his head slightly, his lips in a straight line, giving her that lame disapproving look that she knows all too well. But then he looks at Carly again, and just like that, the smile returns to his face as he wraps an arm around her.

"Well, it wasn't cheap," he says, and it's what he says next that makes Sam feel sick to her stomach, "but Carly's definitely worth it."

She grimaces then, her whole body automatically tensing up, that ugly feeling of jealousy raging through her once more. Freddie doesn't notice any of this, of course, because he's too busy smiling at Carly now.

(What Sam doesn't realize is that Carly notices it.)

-:-:-:-

As time goes on, the trio of Sam, Carly and Freddie seems to fall into a comfortable little pattern. They continue to do iCarly every week, and they continue to hang out together, just the three of them, occasionally tagged on by Gibby.

Carly never brings up anything to Sam during this time. She continues to watch her, though, specifically whenever Freddie's around. She continues to notice all the little things that are actually big things. She notices how Sam's comments towards Freddie have a little extra hate behind them that really have nothing to do with hate at all. (Carly thinks she knows what it is, but she's not entirely sure.)

Eventually, they find themselves in May, and Prom is in the air.

"What do you mean you're not going?" Carly asks, clenching her cell phone with both hands, because for some reason she feels like she's going to drop it.

"I mean I'm not going," Sam says on the other line, successfully repeating what Carly's just said, as if there's nothing else for her to explain.

"But why?" Carly demands. She finally allows herself to drop one of her hands from her phone, but she quickly picks up one of her decorative pillows off her bed and settles it into her lap. She listens with a disheartening ache in her chest as her best friend lets out an exasperated sigh.

"Okay, one, I don't wanna go out and buy a stupid dress that I'm only gonna wear once," Sam starts. "Two, I ain't paying two hundred bucks to go to some lame reception hall to dance to boring music and eat cold food. And three…" She says this last one very reluctantly. "I don't have a date."

Carly's quick to offer a solution to that problem, however.

"You could always go with—"

"Dude, if you say Gibby, I swear, I'm hanging up on you."

The fretful look on Carly's face deepens, because unfortunately, that's exactly who she was going to suggest. She squeezes the pillow in her lap, running her fingers over its frilly edges.

"Well, you know, you don't have to go with someone," she says, but Sam only snorts at that.

"Yeah, Carls, 'cause it's gonna be so much fun going to senior prom all alone like a total loser," she says sarcastically.

Carly bites her lip.

"You can hang out with me and Freddie," she says, maybe a little too quickly, maybe without thinking it all the way through, because as soon as she says it, she hears nothing but painful silence on the other line. She even thinks for a moment that maybe Sam has hung up on her, but no, she can still hear the shrill sound of Sam's vicious cat, Frothy, meowing in the background.

"I really don't wanna spend the whole night standing around watching you two suck each other's faces, Carls," Sam says, suddenly, quietly, bitterly.

And Carly feels a rip in her heart, like it's literally tearing open, and now, she can't keep her suspicions to herself any longer.

"Sam, are you in love with Freddie?" she asks in a rushed voice, but it's not accusing, nor is it fed up or angry. It's just a simple question, somewhat impatient, but genuinely curious.

Yet, the moment she asks it, Sam panics and begins to completely trip all over her words.

"What? Are you—what? Carly, are you crazy? Freddie? Really? I can't stand that dork! You know that! I mean, yeah, I guess he's my friend or whatever, but I don't love him—"

"I didn't ask if you loved him," Carly says. Her voice is surprisingly calm and straightforward now, because she's tired of messing around. "I asked if you were in love with him. There's a difference."

A clear second of silence passes, and then…

"No. I'm not."

(Such a lie.)

But because Carly's weak (still so weak and selfish), she can't bring herself to call her out on it.

-:-:-:-

"Sam, would you stop running for just one second and tell me where we're going already? It's dangerous out here!"

"Oh my God, Benson, quit complaining and just trust me for once. Mama knows what she's doing."

It's a cool spring night, and it's dark, so dark that Freddie can barely see where he's going. He follows the outline of Sam's figure as she pushes past tree branches and jumps over rocks as they walk deeper and deeper into the forest. Her blonde curls are the only source of light that's helping him see through all this blackness.

"You're honestly insane," he says, a bit breathlessly, as he pushes past the endless amount of bushes. "You know that, right?"

"At least I'm not a scared little dweeb," Sam throws back at him, and she even lets out a laugh that manages to send blood rushing through Freddie's ears. She always knows just what to say to push his buttons. "Seriously, dude, you really gotta learn to stop being such a pansy and just live a little."

Freddie doesn't say anything to that, because part of him (all right, all of him) knows she's right.

"Okay, seriously, though, how much farther? I can't just be wandering around the woods with you all night. My mom's gonna—"

"Dude, if you don't want me to start ripping on you about how much of a momma's boy you are, I'd suggest not bringing her up right now."

"But I—"

The unexpected sound of splashing water suddenly cuts Freddie off, and he moves a tree branch out of the way to see Sam stepping through a little stream, completely soaking her sneakers and the bottom of her jeans.

"Sam!" he calls as he starts running to catch up to her. The cold water splashes against his own sneakers, seeping through his socks, but he ignores the sudden coldness as he dives towards Sam just as she's about to take a big leap. He catches her by the waist, and the two of them go crashing right into the water with a much louder splash.

"Freddie!" Sam gasps as the freezing water rushes over their skin.

He immediately sits up, water dripping down his face, and gasps a huge breath.

"Why'd you do that?" Sam demands as she sits up as well, her hair now totally soaked and clinging to her face. "I was trying to jump on that log."

Freddie's suddenly so full of adrenaline that he only now realizes just how fast his heart is beating inside his chest. It's wild and erratic; it's making him feel sort of dizzy. (He's never felt like this with anyone before; not even Carly.)

"I know," he says, voice still breathless, "but you were gonna fall, so I had to catch you."

"I fell because you caught me, fudge-brain," Sam says, and then she slams her hand into the water and thrusts it towards him, sloshing cold water over his body.

He grins in spite of himself, closing his eyes and shaking his head. When he opens his eyes, though, he sees that she's starting to get up. He acts on the adrenaline that's still somehow pumping through his body and grabs her hand, tugging her back down into the water. She lets out a shriek as she collides into the wet ground, and he immediately lets out a laugh, unable to stop himself.

"Dude, that's not funny!" Sam says, splashing him again.

"Quit splashing me, Puckett!" Freddie warns, but it's far from threatening, since he's still struggling to calm down his laughter.

"I'll splash you all I want, Benson!" she says, and there's a chuckle in her voice, too. "You're not the boss of me!" And she splashes him again.

They break out into a full-on water fight then; it's all splashing and shrieking and laughing and wrestling. It's childlike and playful, so much so that Freddie doesn't even seem to realize as it's happening that it's probably not as fun and innocent as it seems.

(Because they're totally flirting right now.)

They're eventually left lying on the grass, right near the stream. They lie on their backs, out of breath and shivering. Their clothes are soaked, making it feel that much colder outside, and it's really late now. Freddie knows his mom is definitely going to kill him when he gets home, but right now, he just doesn't care. He can't even remember the last time he's had this much fun.

He doesn't even remember to ask why she'd originally brought him out here in the first place. Something tells him, though, that even she didn't know. But then again, that's Sam: totally unpredictable.

"You should really go to prom, Sam," Freddie says out of nowhere. "It won't be as much fun if you're not there."

They look at each other, and when they do, Freddie can't help but notice how unbelievably beautiful (uh-oh) Sam looks right now, with her hair drenched and her skin still glistening with water.

"You're not the boss of me, Fredward," she repeats, but her tone becomes much more serious as she releases a long sigh. "I'll think about it, all right?"

Freddie slowly grins.

(He's falling a little bit more in love with her, and he still has yet to realize it.)

-:-:-:-

When prom night arrives, it's like a sheet of sparkling fairy dust has been torn from the sky, sprinkling itself all over Carly. She feels dazzling and beautiful in her gorgeous red prom gown. It flows when she twirls, making her feel like a real life princess. Her hair is bouncing in loose curls, and she has on a pair of stunning white heels that make her feel like a woman, not a teenage girl.

She's glowing, inside and out.

"Aww, my little sister's going to the prom!" Spencer teases as Carly comes down the stairs, her dress swaying gently with her steps. When she reaches the bottom, she gives her older brother her 'really?' look. He finally loses the jokes and smiles a genuine smile. "You look really pretty."

"Thank you," she says, returning the smile, and just then, she hears the door open. She turns around, and in walks her prince, dressed in a handsome tux and a silky red tie that matches her dress. When she sees him, her face lights up, and her eyes sparkle. "Wow, Freddie," she breathes, honestly impressed, but it's all she's able to get out before he walks up to her and places his hands on her waist.

"Wow to you, too," he says in a lighthearted tone.

They both begin to lean in, their lips almost touching, when Spencer suddenly slaps his hands on each of their shoulders, jolting them apart.

"Ohhh-kay, let's save all the kissing for later, shall we?" he says, a nervous chuckle behind his voice.

Carly looks at him, a small grin on her face, because she knows that he just gets embarrassed by this kind of stuff, even if it is only Freddie.

"Yeah, actually," Freddie starts to say, and she looks at him again to see a small smile forming on his face. "We should really save the kissing for midnight."

"Midnight?" Carly repeats, eyebrows furrowing. Immediately, though, she thinks about the story of Cinderella, the chiming bells, the glass slipper…

"Yeah," Freddie says, his grin widening. "I don't know if you've realized this, but at midnight, we'll have been going out for a hundred days."

The hundred-day kiss.

"Wow," Carly says in a marveled tone. She begins to picture herself with Freddie, on a balcony, with a moonlit backdrop behind them, their lips slowly meeting in a perfect kiss. She imagines herself gently lifting her foot off the ground, like the girl in that princess movie, as romantic music plays somewhere in the distance. Her smile widens then. "I can't wait 'til midnight."

-:-:-:-

The bass from the music pounds beneath their feet, warm and thriving. Carly and Freddie stay close together the whole night; they dance and sway and smile at each other, but behind Freddie's smile, there's a sort of brokenness that he can't really comprehend.

"Are you okay?" Carly asks towards the end of the night, as they sway to a slow song; her hands are on his neck, his on her waist.

Freddie feels a strange swoop inside his stomach then, like he's just been caught doing something bad, though he's not even sure what it is.

"Yeah, I'm fine," he says, but his hands begin to slip from Carly's waist. "Actually, I just…I need some air. It's kinda hot in here. I think I'm just gonna step outside for a minute."

"Oh," Carly says, a touch of disappointment in her voice. Freddie knows that she's expecting him to ask her to go with him, but for some reason, he just can't. She releases her hands from his neck and forces a smile. "Okay."

"I won't be long," Freddie promises.

And with that, he turns and makes his way through the crowded dance floor, pushing couples out of his way, until he finally reaches the door in the back of the room that leads to outside. He pushes it open and immediately inhales a huge breath of relief; the fresh air in his lungs is already making him feel better. As he walks away from the reception hall, where he can still hear the DJ's booming music and people laughing and silverware clattering, he looks out at the new scenery in front of him. There's a cobblestone ground, at the center of which is a huge fountain.

He's eventually able to drown out the music from his ears, and all he hears now is his own footsteps and the soothing rhythm of crickets chirping. It's all very peaceful…

"Well, don't you look pretty."

Freddie literally stops dead in his tracks when he hears that voice; it's an abrupt halt, and for a moment, the world seems to halt along with him. But then time starts again as he turns around, and who does he see?

"Sam?"

She's wearing a sky blue dress that's tight around her waist and comes down to reach just above her knees. Her hair is wrapped up in a side bun, and her lips are a vibrant shade of red that makes her entire face look brighter.

"Fredmunch," she replies, smirking, a hand on her hip, as she begins to walk up to him, her black heels clacking against the cobblestones. When she reaches him, she brings up her hand and brushes it over his shoulder. "You clean up good, kid." Then, as an afterthought, she adds, "You know, for a nerd."

"Uhhh…thanks?" Freddie says unsurely, cocking a sideways smile at her. "Did you just get here?"

"Pretty much," Sam says. "I was trying to find you and Carly for a while, until I got a little side-tracked by all the food, and then I eventually spotted you walking out here, so…" She shrugs. "Here I am."

"Yeah, here you are," he repeats, and then he smiles as he adds, "I'm glad you came."

"Oh, you are, are you?" Sam asks, a suggestive intonation in her voice as she grins slyly.

And as Freddie stares at her, he can feel his heartbeat picking up inside his chest. A sudden rush of adrenaline whirls through his body, making him feel lightheaded again, and then—

(The weakness takes over.)

—he kisses her.

And she kisses him right back; intensely. She winds her arms around his shoulders and pulls him in close. He feels her hair tickle his fingertips as he slides his hands over her face, cupping each of her cheeks.

It's surprisingly not a wild and passionate kiss, the way one would expect from Sam Puckett. Instead, it's slow, lingering, like a farewell kiss; they're completely drinking in the taste of each other.

"How long?" Freddie mumbles against her lips, a heavy ache in his heart.

"Mmm?" Sam moans, and then he suddenly pulls away, panting, heart pounding.

"How long have you wanted me to do that?" he asks, struggling to breathe properly.

Sam's blue eyes widen; her perfectly pinned up hair is coming undone now, and her red lipstick is completely smudged.

"Since we started dating."

Sam and Freddie simultaneously turn their heads, and there's Carly, shocked beyond belief. The feeling that smacks Freddie then is one of the ugliest feelings he's ever felt in his life: guilt.

"Carly," he says in a strangled breath. He lets go of Sam and takes a step towards her, but she immediately turns and starts running as fast as those high heels of hers will let her, anger and sadness buried deep with each of her steps.

(And the clock strikes midnight.)

-:-:-:-

She refuses to talk to him (or her.) She ignores every single text message and phone call that comes her way. She ignores Spencer when he tries to bribe her with spaghetti tacos. She lies on her bed for hours, clutching a pillow to her chest, so hard that her already pale knuckles are turning even whiter.

She's crying, but she doesn't know why exactly (because she never really was in love with him.) All she knows is that it hurts, this betrayal, and even though she knows that Sam and Freddie can have a far more beautiful happily ever after than Carly and Freddie could've ever had, she's still struggling to let go of her fairy tale.

She goes to reach for the tissue box on her nightstand, but instead her fingers brush against something cool and smooth. Her hand instantly freezes when she comes into contact with it. Then, hesitantly, she picks up the gold necklace that Freddie gave her. She stares at it, her vision blurry with tears. She sniffles, squeezing it tightly, before she simply releases it.

(Her fairy tale is over.)

She suddenly thinks that maybe there never really was one to begin with.

-:-:-:-

When they graduate, it's far less momentous than it's supposed to feel. The trio of Sam, Carly and Freddie is officially shattered and completely screwed up. They all avoid each other's eyes when they put on fake smiles to take fake happy pictures.

And, later that night, at a huge grad party being thrown by none other than Gibby, Carly gives the heart necklace back to Freddie.

"It was never really meant for me," she tells him as she lets the gold chain slowly pool into his palm, before she finally lets go of the heart pendant. She watches as his fingers automatically enclose around it.

There's silence between them; she's staring at him, but he's staring down at his hand, eyes glazed. Without another word, she stands up and walks back into the house, leaving Freddie sitting there, alone on the patio. She doesn't want to cry again (because princesses don't cry; they always get their happily ever after.)

But the tears come anyway.

(And now, she has no choice but to face the fact that maybe she isn't a princess, after all.)

-:-:-:-

"I just feel like I screwed everything up," Freddie admits to Sam one night.

It's August now, and the summer air is extremely hot and humid. There are fireflies glowing around them, and the moon is shining down on them, watching, observing.

"With Carly?" Sam asks. Her voice is emotionless. She's staring out blankly in front of her, not looking at him. One of her hands dangles over the railing of the fire escape, while the other presses against her cheek.

"With Carly," Freddie repeats, and then he says, much more quietly, "With you."

Sam looks at him then, but she doesn't say anything. The summer is ending; things are changing; everything's happening so fast. Freddie swallows, trying to control his emotions.

"I don't think you and me would've worked out anyway," she finally admits, and then she turns, heading back inside without another word. Freddie doesn't go after her. He doesn't move at all. He simply closes his eyes and lets out a long, long sigh.

They've both left him now.

(He's starting to think that maybe it's for the best.)

-:-:-:-

They all end up going to different colleges (obviously): Carly to NYU, Freddie to ITT-Tech, and Sam…

"Hey, you…dude!" she yells at the first person she sees on campus. "Could you tell me where the main lecture hall building is?"

The college guy walking in front of her stops and turns around, and when he does, Sam's eyes pop, struck by a pair of piercing blue eyes.

Why, hello there, gorgeous.

He seems to like what he sees, too, because the guy immediately flashes a sexy smile at her.

"I'm actually heading there right now," he says. "I'll walk with you."

Sam grins as she begins walking alongside him.

(So much for Freddie.)

It's all right, she tells herself. She's always hated that dork, anyway.

-:-:-:-

That's how it all plays out for a while: Freddie focuses on his academic career, Carly on hers, along with her social life, and Sam…

"You're so hot, baby," her boyfriend (Mr. Gorgeous Blue Eyes) says as they fool around on his uncomfortable little bed in his gross little dorm room.

"Don't call me baby," she pants, but her voice is fogged with pleasure as he sucks on her neck while running his clearly expert hands down the curves of her body.

"Why not?" he asks, kissing below her jaw. "Princess?"

She grips his shoulders harder and bites back a moan as he continues to tease her skin with his warm, wet lips.

"Don't call me that either," she breathes.

And as they begin to remove their clothing, Sam shivers, as if she's soaking wet in icy cold water. The memory of that night at the stream suddenly flashes through her mind.

(She can't stop thinking about him, and it scares her to think how much she actually misses him, how she wishes she would've talked to Carly about her feelings for him when she still had the chance.)

-:-:-:-

It's nearly one o'clock in the morning on a random Thursday night when Freddie receives an unexpected phone call.

"Hey, Freddie," she says, hoping she sounds friendly.

Freddie finds himself feeling exhausted from this conversation already, despite the fact that hardly anything's been said yet.

"Hey, Carly," he says, closing the advanced computer engineering textbook he's been studying from. "How's NYU?"

"It's great," Carly says. She doesn't bother asking him about ITT-Tech, though, not because she's being rude, but because she honestly just wants to get to the whole reason she called him in the first place. "So, listen…Sam just called me. By any chance, have you talked to her at all recently?"

Freddie feels a skip in his heartbeat, but he's quick to respond.

"No, and there's really no reason for me t—"

"She's still in love with you, Freddie."

His heart completely freezes then, mid-beat, but he still tries his best to stay calm and rational.

"But she sai—"

"I know you're in love with her, too, otherwise you never would've kissed her that night at prom."

And just like that, Freddie's instantly struck with that ugly feeling of guilt again.

"Yeah, uh, about that," he starts sheepishly, "I know it was months ago, but I never got the chance to tell you how sorry I am for hurting you the way I did. I really don't know what came over me that night. I just…" He trails off and sighs, running a hand through his hair. He doesn't even know what he's trying to say anymore, so he decides to just speak from his heart. "I just hope you know that I'd never do anything to intentionally hurt you like that. So, you know, for what it's worth…I'm just…I'm really sorry, Carly."

"It's okay," Carly says softly. "I'm sorry, too, Freddie…for, you know…everything."

"So…friends?" Freddie asks.

"No matter what," Carly says; he can hear the smile in her voice. "Now, as your friend, I'm gonna tell you this one last time: go get Sam. She needs you, Freddie. And you need her."

He sighs, because despite everything that's happened, he knows she's right. He knows what he wants, and what he wants is Sam.

(And maybe this weakness of his was never really a weakness at all.)

-:-:-:-

Sam doesn't going through with it (you know, it it), and because she doesn't go through with it, Mr. Gorgeous Blue Eyes dumps her on the spot. It's a little after midnight on that same random Thursday night, and she's driving home, barefoot, her blonde hair a mess and her clothing all disheveled.

She's not upset or angry about the break-up though, because not only was it a short-lived relationship, but she honestly never really cared about the guy in the first place. Only now is she finally willing to admit to herself that she was really only with the kid to try to fill the ginormous hole that Freddie left in her heart.

(Yeah, okay, so maybe she does still like him a little bit. Or a lot, actually. All right, fine, maybe she is in love with the king of all dorks. Okay, so it's not even a maybe. She is.)

She realizes then that it's about time she finally tells him.

And so, in an impulsive decision ('cause that's pretty much how Sam Puckett always makes big decisions), she takes the next exit and starts speeding down the highway. As she drives, she reaches for her phone and presses a number that's on her speed dial. She puts her phone on speaker as it begins to ring once, then twice, then…

"Hello?"

"Hey, Carls. I really gotta talk to you."

-:-:-:-

It's almost two o'clock in the morning now, but there's Freddie, hastily packing up all of his essential belongings into a small suitcase. He leaves a note for his roommate taped to the door, letting him know that he'll be taking an impromptu early trip back home for the weekend. (It's all so very unlike him, to just drop everything and go back home without any notice, but at this point, it's now or never.)

He zips up his suitcase and turns to grab his keys from his desk. He takes one last look around his small dorm room, making sure he has everything he needs…

…when he suddenly hears the sharp and frantic sound of someone's fist pounding against the door. He jumps in surprise as he whips around, staring at it in confusion for a few seconds.

He leaves his suitcase on his bed as he walks up to the door, where the person behind it is still banging away, sounding even louder and faster now. He grabs the knob, turning it and pulling it open to see…

(You guessed it.)

"Sam?"

Her hand remains suspended for a moment, knuckles tight, elbow bent, until she lets her arm sink back down to her side, slowly. Freddie blinks, and the first thought that crosses his mind is, 'Am I imagining this right now?'

"Sam, how—"

"Okay, look, before you start with all your annoying nubbish questions, let me just say something."

Freddie lets his hand slide off the doorknob, waiting patiently for Sam to speak. She takes a deep breath.

"I drove like two hours to get here," she starts. "I'm exhausted. My feet hurt. I'm flippin' starving, and to top it all off, I just got dumped by a totally hot guy because I wouldn't—" She stops suddenly, becoming flustered. "I wouldn't…y'know…go all the way with him."

Freddie's eyes widen at that, but he doesn't say anything, knowing that she still has more to say.

"And the reason I wouldn't go all the way with him," Sam continues, disregarding the shocked look on his face, "is because of you, Freddie."

The look on his face instantly softens as he feels another skip in his heartbeat.

"Because I…" Sam's voice is now much softer and sounds far less confident than it sounded just a moment ago. Freddie can tell that she's feeling completely vulnerable now, probably the most vulnerable she's ever felt in her entire life. She even starts to look a little sheepish as she suddenly looks down and mumbles, "I…you know."

The silence that follows seems to punctuate everything that she's struggling so hard to say. It's there, hanging in the awkward tension in the air, waiting to be said out loud.

I love you!

"Do you…" Freddie begins, and Sam looks up at him with that same shy look on her face. "Do you maybe wanna get something to eat? I know a place close by that stays open late."

Sam begins to furrow her eyebrows then, and of course, Freddie realizes that his offer must seem not only totally out of the blue, but maybe even a little bit too casual, especially after everything Sam's been trying to tell him just now.

"I'll pay," he adds, and that's the moment when Sam's uncharacteristic shyness breaks, and she smirks her cute yet clearly devious little smirk.

"So, what, is that like, a date?" she asks, raising an eyebrow.

Freddie returns the smirk.

"If you want it to be," he says.

The smirk on Sam's face slowly widens into a full-on grin; Freddie's does, too, as he holds out his hand, which Sam takes without any hesitation.

-:-:-:-

So, it's not exactly a fairy tale ending, but then again, it's not a fairy tale at all, nor is it even an ending. It's real, and more importantly, it's just the beginning.

(And now that the trio has been restored to Carly, Sam&Freddie, their weaknesses will finally become strengths.)

-:-:-:-

Author's Note: That happy ending basically just wrote itself. I honestly had such a different intention for this fic, but I'm happy with the way it turned out.

Anyway, what did you think? Were you able to feel the crazy roller coaster of emotions throughout the story? Please review; I worked hard on this story and I'd love to receive some feedback on it. Tell me what parts you liked, if any particular line or scene stood out to you, etc. I'd really appreciate it! :)