By PD31
Disclaimer: I still don't own iCarly, Victorious, any of the episodes or any of the characters.
Rating: T
Pairing: Sheddie (Freddie/Shelby).
Summary: A chance encounter leads to an exciting opportunity as an old friend could become something more, but not everybody is happy about the development.

AN: Hello everyone and welcome to the start of this new story. It is set around the end of iCarly though iGoodbye never happened and both Carly and Sam are still in Seattle.

iCarly Studio, Apartment 8-C Bushwell Plaza

Seattle, WA

Saturday, 2nd June 2012.

"Sam, have you seen Freddie recently?" Carly Shay asked conversationally as the two best friends sat on bean bags in the iCarly studio.

"Why would I want to see him?" the blonde spat back; the brunette blanched slightly but let it pass.

"I just haven't seen him around that much lately," she replied instead.

"Where would he be?" Samantha Puckett asked indifferently. "Most of his clubs kicked him out over that Fred business and I got him thrown out of all the others when we tried to 'share one another's interests'," she shuddered slightly at the memory, "then I got him fired from his job too. Face it, the only thing that boy has in his life is iCarly – and that's just the way we want it," she concluded with a grin.

Carly bit her lip thoughtfully at the blasé attitude of her best friend; she couldn't, however, disagree with the sentiment. "I wonder what he's doing though," she commented thoughtfully.

Vision Quest Sport and Fitness,

808 2nd Avenue

"Your attention please," the tannoy crackled to life, "due to a private function the gym will be closing in twenty minutes. Please finish your work-outs and leave before then."

The patrons looked at the speaker in irritated confusion but most shrugged and began to wind down their activities; a brown-haired boy had music pumping through his ear buds while he pushed himself through his sets and totally missed the call. Freddie Benson was surprised when, ten minutes later, he looked around and saw that the gym was totally deserted. He shrugged, welcoming the solitude and carried on with his work-out.

The next twenty minutes passed quickly for the teenager; he was just finishing one of his activities when a small group entered the gym.

"Hey," one of them called; Freddie, busily preparing his playlist for his next circuit, glanced up idly. "What are you doing here? The gym's closed for private training."

"Really?" he asked in surprise. "I wasn't aware that they did that."

"They do. Get out," he was brusquely ordered.

"Wait," a feminine voice called from behind the speaker. "Freddie? It is you!" The tech producer grinned at the sight of an equally happy Shelby Marx making her way over to him. She pulled him into a bear-hug and he eagerly reciprocated, though marvelling at her strength. "Wow, it's been… well it's been too long," the brunette remarked before turning to her team. "You all remember Freddie, right? From iCarly? The 'exhibition' fight with Carly Shay?"

"Oh," the others nodded as the pieces fell into place.

"So how have you been?" the Ridgeway student asked; the CFC fighter pulled thoughtfully on her pony-tail as she answered.

"I'm good; still fighting – still undefeated," she grinned with unrepressed pride.

"Wow, that's over three years as champion?" Freddie was impressed.

"Yep. Actually," she glanced to her manager, "we were thinking about and looking at new ways to maximise my earning potential; it's a short career after all so I need to earn what I can before it's over. Anyway, we were talking about creating our own TV channel where people could get up to the minute news, sneak peeks from my training regimen, my fights – obviously, stuff like that."

"Sounds great," he encouraged, "I'll subscribe once it launches."

"Y'know," she scratched her chin thoughtfully, "we're still looking for people to be a part of the behind-the-scenes crew. We were looking at hiring a company but some of the prices were higher than we wanted. I know you've been running iCarly single-handedly for years. Why don't you call in for a chat sometime and see about applying for the job."

"That's a really good idea, Shelby," her manager agreed, nodding as he pondered the possibilities. "I assume you'd be cheaper than a whole team." He caught himself. "Obviously you'd be able to hire some staff to work with you but still we'd be able to deliver more for less…"

"Whoa, hold it a second," Freddie's head was spinning. "Are you offering me a job here?"

"A chance to apply for one at least," he was told.

"I dunno, I mean – I finish school in a couple of weeks but then there's going to be college in the fall and…"

"Freddie," Shelby cut him off, "college will be there later and this would be the chance to run your own TV station. You'd learn way more than you would at college – and you'd be getting paid for it."

She grinned confidently as Freddie's smile widened; the idea was becoming more and more appealing to him by the second.

"Oh but," she added as an afterthought, "don't tell anyone about this – at least until it's official. Some people – and some networks – wouldn't like it if they knew what we were planning."

"Alright," he nodded. "I'll leave you to your work-out."

"You might as well stay since you're here," she offered, simpering a little as she appraised him in his workout gear; a thin veneer of sweat glistened under the overhead lighting. He nodded with a smile and carried on his exercise, though he was rather distracted by the statuesque beauty being put through her paces just a few feet away.

Shelby's manager's office,

601 Union Street

Monday, 4th June 2012.

Shelby and her manager had invited him for his 'interview' after school; he left straight from school, to the further surprise of the remainder of iCarly; Carly's concern and curiosity over what he was doing was intensifying by the day.

"So, Freddie," Shelby began formally, "tell us about your experience."

"Well, I've produced the iCarly web show for the last five years. All of the effects and tricks and stuff that you see; the blue remote, the green-screen, the captioning – all me," he fought a losing battle to suppress the pride from his voice.

"We've all seen the site; very impressive," the fighter enthused. Her manager nodded, a little more reservedly, next to her.

"And you do all of it on your own?" he prompted.

"Yes," Freddie confirmed, "the girls are the stars in front of the camera but they neither know nor care what I do. Actually they really don't value it at all," he added bitterly.

"Well we value what you do," Shelby assured him. "Actually we discussed it after seeing you at the gym and we'd like to offer you the position as producer of the channel."

"I've thought a lot about it too," Freddie began, "and I accept." Shelby was delighted; both she and her manager shook hands with him and they began to thrash out the finer points of the contract; Freddie would receive a basic salary with bonuses depending on subscription levels, advertising revenue and other things linked to the performance of the "Shelby brand". In addition he would be able to hire a small team to assist him with the work.

"Does that include presenters for the show?" he asked, thinking – despite what he'd told them earlier – about Carly and Sam.

"No," the manager stated flatly, "we'll be doing that ourselves to keep costs down. It would also help, and leave us more money to pay you and your staff, if we could at least begin by using your own equipment."

"So I'd need to give up doing iCarly," Freddie began to process what it all meant.

"Unfortunately, yes," Shelby confirmed.

"They are not going to like that," Freddie smiled mirthlessly as he again thought of the two girls.

Apartment 8-C, Bushwell Plaza,

Wednesday, 5th June 2012.

"Hey, Spence," Freddie had called around after returning home from school; he was here to pick up his equipment having just arranged for a preliminary testing session in an hour or so.

"Oh, hey Freddo. Carly and Sam aren't here," Carly's brother Spencer informed him. "They've gone to see a movie. Didn't you want to go?"

"I would have but they never asked me," he shook his head in mild annoyance; he'd have enjoyed hanging with them a bit more and getting the chance to break the news to them in person. Maybe, he thought, this is all for the best now I'm not even an afterthought for them. The thought intensified at Spencer's next line.

"Oh, Gibby went with them so I thought you'd have gone too."

"Is it ok if I head up to the studio? I need to do a couple of things up there," he asked vaguely.

"Sure thing. I'm heading out to see Socko so don't wreck the place," the man-child joked.

"That's normally what you do," the teen pointed out with a grin; Spencer shrugged and smiled back before saying goodbye and leaving. Ten minutes later Freddie had packed up his tech equipment and loaded it into his car.

iCarly studio

"That was a great film," Carly laughed as the service elevator opened on the third floor of her apartment; she stepped out, followed by Sam and Gibby, who were both in equally high spirits – at least until they saw what was missing from the room. "Hey," the brunette pointed to where the tech cart usually sat. "Hey," she turned to her co-stars. "Have we been robbed again?"

"I dunno…" Sam's expression morphed into one of horror. "I'll check the fridge," and she raced out of the room; Carly followed her intent on checking the rest of the apartment. She was relieved, albeit perplexed, to learn that nothing else was out of place. She dashed out of the front door and knocked on the door of 8-D, the Benson apartment.

"Freddie? Freddie!" she called as she continued to rap on the door. "Something's happened to your stuff! Freddie!" She punched the door hard in frustration at the continued lack of a reply. "Ow," she muttered as she shook her fist, which was now aching dully where she had hit the door.

"Who would come in here just to steal the tech cart?" she asked, to nobody in particular, as she returned to her own home.

"Ah, who cares? The nub will just replace what's gone," Sam shrugged idly before returning to the plate of ham she was devouring.

"Something's not right here," the brunette insisted, more to herself than the others. She pulled her pear phone from her jeans pocket and tried to call Freddie; to her immense surprise there was no answer. "I wonder where he is," she muttered, shrugging as she returned to her own apartment.

Shelby's manager's office,

601 Union Street

"Very nice indeed," the manager commended Freddie having listened to his explanation of what all the equipment was and did. "There's some really good stuff here; it will certainly do for what we want."

"How many people do you think you'd need to help you out?" Shelby asked curiously.

"Well, why don't we try a run-through sometime soon and we'll see what needs to be set up, how much work there is to do and then try and figure out how many people we need?" Freddie suggested.

"Sure; do you have time now?" his new boss asked.

"I guess," he shrugged. "I have no plans for tonight."

"Is that your phone?" Shelby asked as a ringing emanated from his bag.

"Uh yeah, one second." Freddie walked over to his equipment, retrieved the phone from his bag and glanced at the caller ID; Carly Shay. He declined the call and stuffed the phone back in his bag. "It was Carly," he told them, "she probably just noticed that my stuff wasn't in the iCarly studio; I really don't want to have this conversation with her over the phone – or at all," he sighed wearily.

"Well, it can wait until after we do our run-through anyway," the fighter smiled.

"Ok, I think that went pretty well," Shelby's manager clapped his hands at the conclusion of the test run. He had been watching a live feed that Freddie had set up while one of his minions sat behind a desk giving some details of the brunette's recent fights and activities, interspersed with some highlights and a quick interview with the girl herself. "The lighting needs to be a little better," he commented thoughtfully, "but other than that it looked good."

"Yeah, it is a bit too dark here really," Freddie agreed. "I do have a light-enhancing lens I could use but that would cause issues with the white balance and a couple of other problems. Maybe I can…"

"Freddie," he cut the teenager off, "it's fine. We'll get some better lights."

"Ok," the brown-haired tech producer smiled.

"And as for a staff, we'll see how it goes but do you think you can cope as a one-man operation for now?"

"I think so," he agreed. "I prefer it this way while filming anyway; there's nobody to get in the way while I'm running it all. It would take some getting used to if I had someone else here as well."

"Ok then. We've put in the application to launch the channel so once it's granted we are good to go. In the meantime we could maybe start it on-line as something of a watered-down teaser."

"Great," Shelby smiled. "When were you thinking of starting it off?"

"You said school's out in a couple of weeks?" Her manager addressed Freddie; he nodded. "So maybe we could do something this weekend and next and then start once you finish school?"

"That works for me," he confirmed happily. He shook hands with them both. "Well, I guess it's time to face the music from Carly and Sam."

"You want some back-up?" Shelby asked.

"No, thanks. I can deal with them."

"Well the offer's there if you ever need it," she promised; he smiled his thanks.

8th floor, Bushwell Plaza

"Well the stuff's not in his room." Freddie heard Sam's voice as he walked from the elevator towards his apartment; he frowned in anger as he processed what the words meant.

"They have to be somewhere," Carly called back. "I can't imagine someone stole just his stuff."

By this time he had arrived outside the two apartments; his ire increased as he saw his own home's door was wide open and the blonde was leaning against the frame of Carly's front door looking into her apartment.

"Nobody's stolen anything," he announced; Sam jumped a little. Carly rose from the couch and walked over to join them. "Though I am pretty angry about you breaking into my home," he told the blonde.

"Meh, you've nothing worth stealing," she dismissed airily.

"Not the point – and not what you thought when you discovered my tech cart gone," he retorted.

"So what happened to it?"

"I took it," he shrugged.

"What? Where? Why?" Carly floundered.

"I got a new job," he told them, "so this is me quitting iCarly."

He turned and entered his home, closing the door behind him and leaving two stunned girls staring at the door.

Carly pounded on the door. "Freddie!" she demanded. "Freddie!"

Sam tried the handle; the door opened as Freddie hadn't bothered to lock it, figuring that if he did then the blonde would just break in again. The two teens entered his apartment and saw him lounging on the couch reading a magazine; he didn't bother to look up and greet them.

"Get out!" he demanded instead.

"Freddie!" the brunette snapped again. "What is going on?"

"I told you," his gaze still hadn't left the magazine, "I got a new job. I need my tech cart to do it so I've taken it and I've quit your show."

The two girls looked at one another in a blend of shock, horror and confusion again.

"What new job? Where? With who?" Carly demanded.

"I'm going to be in charge of the production of a new TV channel," he responded calmly. Sam had had enough and snatched the magazine from his hands, flinging it to the ground. The blonde sat on the coffee table and glared furiously at him.

"So you're just quitting on us? Again?"

"I have to; I needed my stuff for this and I'm not going to have time to do iCarly as well as my new job. I did ask if they needed any presenters, but they said no."

"Then you should have turned it down rather than bailing on us!" she shrieked.

"I thought we were friends," Carly tried to lay on the guilt; it didn't work.

"So did I," he fired back, "though I guess it only works one way." She looked at him in bewilderment. "Your little trip to the cinema? I thought you'd have invited your friend," he spat, "especially if Gibby was going as well."

"So that's why you've done this?" Sam challenged. "You're in a funk because you didn't get an invite to a movie?"

"No," he countered, "I got the offer before that. It's a great opportunity for me and I'd think my friends would be happy for me. But no, it doesn't involve you two so you think I shouldn't do it. You don't think I should have a life if it doesn't revolve around you. Well news-flash. Things are changing."

Having unloaded like that he calmly bent down and picked up the magazine Sam had discarded; he found the page he'd been reading previously and continued with the article, totally ignoring the stunned duo in front of him.

Vision Quest Sport and Fitness,

808 2nd Avenue,

Thursday, 6th June 2012.

"And she just broke into your home?" Shelby asked in astonishment between punches.

"Yeah," Freddie grunted; he was holding the bag that the fighter was working on but the ferocity of the blows was still causing him some discomfort through it, especially when the fighter executed a perfect roundhouse kick that forced him to backpedal a couple of steps.

Satisfied with her set and routine the brunette stepped back for a few moments; she picked up a bottle of water and drained it.

"You know," she commented thoughtfully, "there's a vacant apartment across the hallway from where I live. If you want a little more freedom, privacy and independence you could look at that, especially now that you're working and earning some cash."

Freddie paused for a second and then smiled broadly. "That's a great idea," he commended her. "It would solve a lot of my problems. Mom wouldn't be too happy but hey, I'd have been moving out anyway for college in a few months. I have my Daka settlement that I can use for a deposit now that I don't need the college fund; I can replace it anyway with my salary. I like the sound of this," he nodded thoughtfully.

AN: Thanks for reading; I hope you found this to be an interesting start. I hope to continue it soon, depending on my workload and other writing. PD.