A/N: Hi all. I know, I know, I'm starting another WIP fic when I haven't updated Lo Douleur in awhile. I got this idea from writing Melanie in the Lo Douleur verse and wondered what would happen if a situation like this arose. I know I won't be able to work it into the Lo Douleur universe in any way so my mind conjured up another story. I just want to say that unlike Lo Douleur this story is outlined and plotted. I definitely know where I'm going with this and I'm excited about writing it. I hope you'll enjoy reading it as well. :)
Also, this story is story is rated M but the M rated parts won't be coming until later on. I want to say around chapter 8 or so (though that could change) and I'll give full warning when it does.
Disclaimer: iCarly and its characters sadly do not belong to me.
Sam walked out of her office and looked around at the packed restaurant and the line that was forming at the door. Yes, the weekend dinner rush had begun. She sighed and tied her hair up into a bun, making her way to the kitchen. On nights like these she much preferred to help out in the kitchen than in customer service. She'd come a long way since her brief stint working at Chilli My Bowl when she was younger, and she could usually paste on a smile and deal with her customers in a polite way, but she still had very little patience for rude or stupid customers that seemed to populate the restaurant at especially busy times.
She walked into the kitchen, which was a blur of busy chaos as her team of chefs and assistants moved around, filling orders. Sam put on an apron and a hat and walked over to the stoves.
"Hey Emilio," she greeted her head chef. "How's those hot meat sandwiches coming?"
"Selling like hotcakes," he said.
"Or hot meat…" she joked, grinning at him. He grinned back and wiped drops of sweat off his brow.
Sam took the spatula from him. "Take a short break, I'll take over here. We don't want you dripping sweat into the meat."
"Right, thanks Sam."
She waved him away and turned her attention to the meat mixture before her.
Gibby's had gone from being an underground restaurant at Ridgeway High School to a real above ground operating restaurant. Sam still couldn't believe it sometimes. She had done two things that she never would have thought possible five years ago, one was graduate high school and the second was get a real and legal full-time job.
After Gibby's had become a success at Ridgeway, she and Gibby had pooled together their earnings towards the middle of senior year and bought a lease on a space that had been put up for sale just a couple blocks down from Bushwell Plaza. They soon quickly found out that trying to open a real restaurant in the city of Seattle was not the same thing as opening an underground, illegally run restaurant in the basement of their school. It cost money that Sam and Gibby were quickly running out of, they had numerous permits to get, and since they had both just recently turned 18 at the time, no one took them seriously. It had been looking more and more like they would have to give up on their dream of expanding Gibby's into a real business. And then Principal Franklin had stepped in.
He advised Sam and Gibby that opening a restaurant needed more capital than they had and the best way to get that was through financial backers. He offered to become a silent backer himself and from that moment on the wheels were set in motion. Spencer was fully supportive of the endeavor and because he didn't have the money himself, he contacted his dad and Col. Shay became financial backer number two. T-Bo came on board and offered a lot of surprisingly helpful advice, since he had actual experience in running a successful business. But perhaps the most surprising source of help Sam and Gibby had was Mrs. Benson. She became financial backer number three and had a big part in getting the permits signed. No matter how many people thought that two teenagers running a restaurant was a ridiculous idea, no one could resist Mrs. Benson's stubborn force of will for very long.
And so it was through this force of unlikely team work that Gibby's opened for business only two months after graduation.
"Sam!" Julie called across the kitchen from where she was stirring marinara sauce in a large pot. "Aren't your friends coming tonight?"
Sam cursed as she transferred the hot meat from the pan to sandwich buns. She had forgotten all about that.
She gestured for one of the assistants to take her place with the sandwiches.
"Why don't you take a break and join them for dinner?" Julie asked as Sam walked over to her. "You've been breaking your back working so hard here all week."
Julie was the second chef and was someone that Sam had become very close to, looking to her as like an older sister. Julie was a pretty and tall redhead in her mid-twenties and had been dating Sam's recently paroled cousin Stuart when Sam hired her. They had since broken up and Stuart had moved to California but Julie stuck around despite the fact that she could probably get a job in any restaurant in Seattle. Sam knew that part of the reason she stayed was to look out for Sam and she appreciated it more than she could express. And Sam was pretty sure that Julie has a big crush on Spencer, though why those two don't get it together already, she doesn't know.
It was also Julie that had helped Sam apply to the Seattle College of Culinary Arts, where Julie herself had graduated from. Sam was in her second year there and enjoying it far more than she ever expected. Well, except for her Chemistry classes. They were a pain.
"If you went out there you'd see how likely my taking a break is," Sam tried to quip but she could hear the exhaustion in her own voice. It really had been a long week.
Julie put down her ladle and took her arm. "Sam, you're working yourself to the ground."
"Don't give that I'm fine crap that you've been using all week. Between school and working here, you hardly ever take a break and you hardly ever see your friends. Come on, Sam," she said more gently, rubbing her arm. "Just take an hour. I promise that the restaurant isn't going to fall apart."
Sam sighed. Julie had a point, and she really hadn't seen Carly and Freddie in awhile.
"Okay! Just one hour."
Julie smiled and took off Sam's cap. "Now go."
She took off her apron as she made her way through the kitchen and hung it on the hook by the door. If it was possible, the restaurant was even busier than before but Sam knew exactly where her friends would be. They had a corner booth that was reserved for them when either Sam, Gibby, or even any of the wait staff knew they were coming.
She made her way there, smiling and greeting a few regulars that she knew by name. It took her nearly fifteen minutes to make it from one end of the restaurant to the other. She really had been spending too much time at this place.
Finally she could see the booth where Carly and her boyfriend Ian were sitting together. As she got closer she could see that Freddie was sitting across from Ian. Completely and totally without her permission, Sam felt a smile come to her face. Until she got to the booth and saw a pretty and petite brunette girl sitting beside Freddie. Her smile fell.
"Hi Sam!" Carly grinned up at her.
"Hey Carls," Sam said and greeted the boys in turn. "Ian, Freddo." She stopped when she got to the girl.
"Sam, this is Emily," Freddie said. "Emily, this is Sam, she co-owns and manages this place."
Emily reached out her hand which Sam shook, a tight smile on her face.
"So you're Sam! Carly talks about you all the time. I've heard some great things about this restaurant and I'm glad I finally get to try it."
"Uh, Sam," Carly cut in. "Emily's in my Psychology class. I set her up on a blind date with Freddie here."
"Great, great," Sam said. "So did you guys order?"
"Yeah, Tom took care of us," Carly said.
"Did you want to join us, Sam?" Ian asked.
"No, no. Look at this place!" She gestured around. "We're packed tonight. I need to get back to the kitchen. I just wanted to stop by and say hi to Carly."
"Can we hang out sometime?" Carly asked. "I feel like I haven't seen you in forever."
"About a month and half," Sam said flippantly. "But who's counting? Sure, we'll hang out. I'll just leave you guys to it. Hope you enjoy your food."
"We always do," Ian assured her.
Sam turned away, carefully avoiding Freddie's eyes and Emily's far too perky smile. She walked straight across the restaurant, making her way down the back hallway and to her office, where she closed the door behind her, blocking out the sounds of the restaurant. She sat down heavily at her desk, putting her head in her hands.
She and Carly hadn't been seeing each other so much or really talking a lot. They had stopped broadcasting iCarly at the end of their senior year. Carly was now a Communication Arts major at the University of Washington, and just as Sam was thriving at the restaurant and at Culinary Arts school, Carly was having a blast at college. She lived in the dorms on campus and she was involved in a lot of student clubs and organizations. And on top of that, she had been dating Ian, a junior pre-Law student, for almost a year now. Her longest relationship ever. All of that combined made a Carly that rarely visited this side of Seattle anymore, even Spencer sometimes complained to her that he barely saw his little sister.
Two years ago Sam would have sworn that nothing could ever change the friendship that she and Carly had. Now she it seemed that she and Carly were just drifting further and further apart. And she couldn't believe that Carly would set Freddie up on a date with that complete twit.
Speaking of Freddie, he was now attending Seattle Technical University. He had gotten into a lot of fancy schools on the east coast but he chose Seattle Tech, saying that they had the best Computer Engineering program on the West Coast. He still lived at home with his mom, which Sam teased him mercilessly about but he seemed happy to save money on rent. Sam had a feeling that Mrs. Benson's chicken crisis a few years ago had hit their family finances harder than Freddie had ever admitted, which made Sam wonder where she had come up with the money to back Gibby's. But Freddie never talked about it and Sam had never broached the subject with him.
She saw Freddie marginally more than she saw Carly because she lived in an apartment building that was right in between Gibby's and Bushwell. One of the best things about having a successful restaurant is that it gave her the financial freedom to leave her mom. Not that she didn't check in once in awhile and gave Pam money but she was immensely glad not to have to live with the woman anymore. But even with physical distance not really being a problem, the friendship between her and Freddie isn't what it used to be.
After graduation, Sam had to accept that the 'one day' that she had been waiting for since that night on the elevator would never come. Freddie had plenty of chances to pick things up again, he had even stayed in Seattle despite Sam's full belief that he would jet off to the other side of the country as soon as they were free of Ridgeway. But he never did or said anything that even hinted he wanted to try again with her and Sam was tired of waiting around. Fortunately she had the restaurant and then school to fully throw herself into. It was not only the perfect distraction, it was the best avoidance technique. It ensured that she couldn't spend enough time around Freddie to do or say something stupid. And so they had drifted apart just as she and Carly had.
If someone had told Sam five years ago that out of their whole group, the one that she'd be closest to after graduation was Gibby, she would have broken their thumbs. And then laughed in their face. Back then she had tolerated Gibby because he was good for iCarly, Carly and Freddie liked him, he helped them out sometimes (like when he saved them from Nora the first time), and she could admit that his random weirdness was funny sometimes. But she never actively sought out his company, unless she felt like giving someone a wedgie. He was always an easy target when they were younger.
But then they had opened Gibby's in the basement and Sam had started spending more time with him. She realized that underneath all that weirdness, there was a real person. In a way, it was Gibby's dream that had paved the path for Sam to realize her true calling in life. If it wasn't for the underground restaurant then Sam would likely be floating adrift in life post-graduation, not really doing much of anything, she certainly wouldn't be in school and running a successful business.
When Gibby's had started out, Gibby had been just as invested and involved in the restaurant as Sam was. But as they entered their senior year and Gibby's at Ridgeway was fully on its feet and generating a profit, Gibby had started to turn his attention to other possible business ventures. It turned out that Gibby had a short attention span and he was more interested in thinking up ideas than he was in maintaining a long-term business. That was fine by Sam, Gibby's had become her baby anyway. He had still helped her expand Gibby's onto the streets of Seattle and get it on its feet in the first year. But now Gibby was at the University of Washington with Carly and majoring in Entrepreneurship. He was still co-owner of the restaurant and her partner but mostly he came by and helped out when Sam was really overstretched and had her plate too full. He was also a better people person than her so he took care of the advertising and getting word of mouth about Gibby's out there. But even he had admitted that Gibby's had turned into Sam's thing more than his. He had even given her permission to change the name of the restaurant but Sam decided against it because it clicked well with the iCarly viewers and the sentimental part of her was grateful to the potato that his dream had made her realize a talent and drive that she never knew she had. The two years they had spent running a business together had forged a bond between them that Sam never in a million years would have dreamed possible. Now she thought of Gibby as almost like a brother and lately she had been feeling like she could count on him more than she could on Carly and Freddie. And that made her a little sad.
Sam looked down at the accounting book on the desk in front of her, knowing that she was in for a long night of adding up the day's expenses and profit. She could hire an accountant, she knew that she probably should, but she just had a hard time trusting anyone with money. Years of not having enough food in the house because of her mother's poor spending choices had taught her to rely on only herself in that regard.
A knock came at the door and Sam lifted her head wearily, expecting Julie to come in and ride her on not spending time with her friends. Like she really wanted to be a fifth wheel on their perfect little double date.
"Come in," she called out.
The door opened and Freddie popped his head in. "Hey," he smiled. "Busy?"
Sam waved him in and he took the seat across from her.
"How are you, Sam?" He asked.
She frowned at him. Was that the best he could come up with?
"Did you really come in here to make small talk? Don't you have a date waiting out there?"
"I'm asking because I really want to know, Sam. We haven't really seen each other in almost a month…"
"And whose fault is that?" Sam cut in. "I'm not exactly hard to find, am I?"
"No, but you're always busy. I try to eat here as much as I can just to have a conversation with you but you can't sit down for five minutes without something around this place needing your attention."
"And here I thought you just had a lasagna fetish," she smirked.
"It is good lasagna," Freddie allowed. "Better than Pini's. How did you do that, by the way? I think you're single handedly putting them out of business."
"Sorry, can't reveal my secrets," Sam smiled.
"Seriously though, I was there last week and the place was half empty. On a Saturday night!"
She grimaced at the reminder, Saturday nights were majorly busy for them and that was tomorrow. And then Sam's brain zeroed in on what he had said.
"What were you doing at Pini's on a Saturday night?" She tried to ask casually. "Hot date?"
"As a matter of fact…"
"I thought Carly had just set you up with that Emily chick tonight?"
"She did but I sort of went out with a girl in my comp sci class last week." He rubbed the back of his neck in that nervous habit he had.
"Look at Freddie Benson being a little player," Sam teased, careful to keep her face blank.
"That date didn't go well and this one, well, I know Carly means well but…"
"Emily's not your type?"
"She's a nice girl…" He hedged.
"She's too perky, isn't she?"
Freddie rolled his eyes. "It's annoying!"
"I've heard so much about you! I've always wanted to eat here!" Sam mimicked in a high pitched voice and Freddie laughed.
"I've missed this," he said once the laughter died down. "I miss you."
Sam shrugged and looked away, not wanting to admit that she missed him too. But God, she really did.
He scooted forward in his chair and reached for her hands that were lying on the table. "We should hang out," he said. "Just us. And not here at the restaurant where you always get distracted."
Sam tried to ignore the tingling in her hands that were encased in Freddie's, his thumb absentmindedly rubbing circles on her palm, but it felt like the tingles were climbing up her arms and short circuiting her brain and she could swear that Freddie was leaning in. His face coming closer…and closer…
The door opened suddenly, making them both jump and pull apart. Freddie dropped her hands.
"Sam! Did the supply of meatballs come in this morning?" Julie asked. "We're almost out…" She looked at the two of them. "Did I interrupt something?"
"They're in the freezer, I'll go get them," Sam stood up and walked around the desk and Freddie stood as well.
"Sam," he called after her and she paused in the doorway. "I'll call you?"
"Sure, whatever," she tried to sound nonchalant but she knew that her smile gave her away. A matching one spread across Freddie's face, lighting up his eyes, and Sam had to force herself to turn around and walk out the door, otherwise she might never leave that office.
Julie was waiting for her in the hallway, a knowing grin on her face.
"Come on, let's get those meatballs," Sam said, walking quickly down the hallway, leaving Julie behind her.
"You're giving me details tonight, Sam Puckett!" She yelled.
Sam waved a hand in the air dismissively but she knew Julie was right. She was in for one hell of an interrogation once Gibby's doors closed for the night. She found that she didn't mind so much, her heart was skipping happily in her chest and she could use someone to talk to.
Sam walked into her apartment, closing and locking the door behind her, feeling the exhaustion from the day, the entire week, pressing down on her bones like heavy weights. All she wanted to do was pass out on her bed and sleep for the entire weekend but that was impossible. The most she could do was sleep in until ten and then she had to go into work for the lunch grind.
She fell face first onto the couch and groaned. Maybe she could just sleep here…
Her phone buzzed and Sam pulled it out of her pocket. It was a text message from Freddie, she sat up completely.
Hey, I skipped out on the movie I was supposed to see with Emily, Carly, and Ian. Carly's really mad but she'll live. Wanna hang out tom?
Sam smiled and pressed 'reply' but before she could begin her reply another message popped up on the screen.
Even if you say no, I'll just hang out at the restaurant all day.
That sounded stalkerish, sorry.
Sam fought against the grin spreading across her face, her palms were sweaty and dammit, it was like three years ago all over again.
You know what? I'm just going to call you.
Freddie's face popped up on her screen as it started ringing and she was about to accept the call when a knock sounded on the door. She looked down at her phone and up at the door. Was it Freddie?
Sam got up and opened the door, the still ringing phone in her hand. She was fully expecting to see Freddie on the other side being the dork that he is but instead she found herself staring at a carbon copy of herself.
"Melanie," she said.
"Hi Sam," Melanie greeted her, exhaustion evident in her voice and all over her face. Sam knew that she was looking pretty rough herself but compared to how her sister looked right now, it was like she was going to step out and compete in another beauty pageant. Melanie was wearing clothes that were baggy and old, her usually neatly tied up hair was loose and looked like it hadn't met a comb for days, she had no make-up on and the heavy purple bags under her eyes made her look a bit like a basset hound. Even in the face of this wreckage, Sam's eyes immediately gravitated to the stroller that was in front of Melanie.
"Can I come in?" She asked.
Sam stepped out of the way and Melanie pushed the stroller in. The phone was still ringing in her hand and she pressed the 'ignore' button then turned it off.
When Sam turned to her sister, Melanie had made herself comfortable on her couch.
"What the hell, Melanie? Please tell me that baby's not-"
"It's mine," she said.
Sam sat down on the arm chair, her mind going blank and her vision blurring. This wasn't happening. This was a dream. This whole day had been a dream…
Her focus came back and Melanie was kneeling in front of her, shaking her shoulders. "Come on, Sam, stay with me. Don't go into shock."
She pushed Melanie's hands away. "Please tell me you kidnapped that kid. A felony kidnapping I can deal with. You giving birth at nineteen? No, no!"
Sam got up and walked to the kitchen, pulled open the refrigerator and took out her super sized package of ham. She ripped the plastic open and shoved five pieces into her mouth.
Melanie had followed her and was watching her carefully. She wisely waited while Sam chewed and swallowed, eventually calming down enough to face her sister.
"When?" Sam asked.
"She was born two weeks ago."
"Her name is Charlotte. Charlotte Elizabeth Puckett."
"That's my middle name," Sam said.
"Yeah, it is," Melanie said gently.
Sam shook her head, trying to wrap her head around all of this. "Who did it? Who knocked you up?"
She bit her lip. "It doesn't matter."
"What? How can you say that, Melanie?"
"He's gone, okay? He left as soon as he found out I was pregnant."
"Give me a name, Mel."
"Because you're going to tell Uncle Carmine and he's going to hunt him down with a knife then he'll never get out of jail!" Melanie wailed, wringing her hands.
"No, I'm going to hunt down the weasel myself and cut his balls off," Sam growled. "Then I'll feed it to him."
"Sam, please, just forget him."
Sam paced around the kitchen, fighting down the anger that someone could do this to her sister. And that perfect Melanie could be so stupid.
"I just don't understand, Mel. You're the good one, the responsible one. You're at Princeton on a scholarship, for god's sake. If anyone was supposed to get knocked up and ruin her life, it was me!"
"You think I don't know that?" Melanie cried back. "My life was perfect, Sam. I was made for Princeton, it's the best place I've ever been in my life. My first year there was like a dream, I was getting straight A's, I'm on student council, I had a great boyfriend…And then the test came out positive. I can't do this, Sam. I can't be a mother." Melanie broke down crying, huge heaving sobs that Sam hadn't heard since they were six years old and had realized their dad was never coming back.
She walked over to Melanie and put her arms around her. Melanie cried into her shoulder, clutching at the back of her shirt.
They stood there for several minutes until Melanie's sobs turned into little hiccups and then until she had quieted down completely. Sam knew that her shirt was soaked through but she didn't care.
"What do you need me to do?" She asked.
Melanie pulled away and wiped her eyes. "I need you to take her."
"What?" Sam was sure she couldn't have heard that right.
"I can't raise a kid, Sam! I'm going to med school after I graduate, I'm going to be a doctor! I've already had to take a year off, when I go back I have to put my whole focus on school. Plus, I've never wanted to be a mom. Kids were never in my plan, ever."
"Maybe you should have thought of that before you went and spread your legs!" Sam yelled. "God, you're just like mom, Mel. I thought I was going to turn out like her but it's you, you're Pam 2.0."
Melanie burst into tears again and ran to the living room.
Sam slowly breathed in and out, putting her hands on the counter and stretching her arms as she bent her upper body forward at waist level. She counted slowly to ten, feeling her head clear little by little. After a few minutes of this and a few more pieces of ham, she felt calm enough to go into the living room and face her sister.
Melanie was sitting on the couch on the furthest end away from the baby. She wasn't crying anymore, just sitting there and playing with her hands.
Sam sat down on the arm chair again. "Look, Mel, I'm sorry…"
"No, I deserved that," she said quietly. "I was going to abort her, you know. I made an appointment and everything. But then I got to the clinic and I couldn't go in. I just…couldn't. I kept thinking of mom, she was this age when she had us. What if she had…?" A tear rolled down her cheek. "I couldn't do it."
Sam grabbed one of her hands and held onto it. "You should have called me, Mel. I would have been there."
She shook her head. "No, you had your restaurant and you sounded so happy. It was my problem, I had to deal with it. After that, I thought about putting her up for adoption. I researched different agencies in New Jersey. Even up to last week I was thinking about it. But I can't do that either."
"I can't raise a kid, Mel," Sam said honestly.
"I have no other choice! Please, you have to help me. Please, Sam?"
"Maybe adoption won't be so bad…We can look at agencies here, make sure she goes to a good family."
The baby started crying right then and Melanie looked absolutely terrified.
"I hate it when she cries," she whispered. "And she does it all the time."
Sam blew out a breath. "She's a baby, Mel, it's pretty much all she knows how to do."
The baby kept crying and Melanie just sat there, running her hands through her frazzled hair. Finally Sam got up and went over to the baby because Melanie certainly wasn't going to. She slowly picked up the baby, feeling terrified of how small she was. She didn't think she'd ever held a baby this small and new before. Sam made sure to support her head and slowly started rocking her, gently swaying side to side.
She had to admit, Charlotte was a beautiful baby. She had a full head of blonde hair, plump rosy cheeks, and her bright blue eyes blinked up at her as she stopped crying. Sam's heart melted. Okay, yeah, this was an adorable baby.
"Hey, look, I made her stop crying."
The sound of the door closing answered her. Sam turned around. "Melanie?"
She was gone. Sam quickly put the baby back down in the stroller and she immediately started crying again but Sam ran to the door and threw it open.
"Melanie!" She yelled at her sister who was at the end of the hall and frantically pushing the elevator button. She turned around and Sam could see the tears pouring down her cheeks.
"I'm sorry, Sam," she said. "I can't do it."
"Get back here, Melanie! This is your daughter!"
The elevator doors opened and Melanie stepped in. "I trust you, Sam. More than anyone else in the world. I know you'll take care of her like she's yours."
The elevator doors closed and Sam had half a mind to chase after Melanie, knock her out and bring her back tied up if she had to, but the baby was still crying behind her. Her baby niece that had just been abandoned by her mother.
Sam slumped against the doorframe. She had no idea what she was going to do.