Characters/Pairings: main trio, Spencer, mentions of Gibby, a few of my OCs. Carly/Freddie and some Spencer/Sam.
Rating/Warnings: Rated T for language and mentions of themes. Nothing very triggering - if there is please let me know!
Summary: Heart skipped a beat, and when I caught it you were out of reach.Carly and Freddie, trying to grow up. Carly-centric future-fic.
Author Notes: I've been working on this since March as a birthday present for piptheterrible and I just couldn't stop writing. It ended up being nearly 12,000 words - YIKES. Definitely one of my favourite fics, though.
I have two more iCarly fics that I want to write after this and then I think I'm pretty much done with this fandom. I'm not happy with where iCarly is going shipping-wise and I don't feel like I'm watching the same show anymore. This fic is canon-compliant up to iPWV but iOMG is disregarded (partly because of the Seddie and also because I started this before it aired).
If you prefer the ff.net format you can read it here. Enjoy! Feedback is love. ♥
She doesn't cry.
She expects a waterfall, a torrent, when she gets back to her motel room, but she just stares at the wall and hugs her photo album close to her as if she can squeeze the memories away.
Her next two auditions go terribly and she starts calling Sam every day and Spencer every other day.
Sam tells her that nobody makes it the first time and she's still fucking amazing and if they can't see that, she's better than them and their stupid production. Carly scoffs at this and clutches her scripts tighter between her black nail polished fingers.
Spencer tells her about his art and that he's dating someone who he kind of wants for the long haul.
"See," she says, smiling even though he can't see her. "You're growing up."
"I am a grown up!"
"Only in age," she settles further into her pillows and listens avidly while he tells her about his BottleBot sculpture meeting a 'lady friend'.
She's working at the bookshop two doors down from the Skybucks and her shifts are literally right after each other, which makes things exhausting but also a lot easier to co-ordinate. Scott takes her out a few times a week and she starts to like the taste of white wine a little too much.
She's never drunk; only ever rather tipsy. Scott gets drunk; off his head, completely plastered drunk. She giggles while she drags him home and snorts into his shoulder at his moaning about feeling sick and then rubs his back in silence when he pukes into his toilet. They settle into a routine and she moves her things into his guest bedroom after two weeks.
Scott is tidy and a morning person and refuses to admit he's still hurting; she notices all of these within about two days of living together, but not necessarily in that order. He talks in his sleep and the same name crops up twice every night (she counts them while she tries to drift off).
She sleeps very little and keeps a bottle of wine by her bed to sip at two am when everything is quiet and lonely.
She never gave Freddie her number but she stares at her phone sometimes, resentment flaring when it stays silent.
Her ninth audition actually works out and she's an extra in a TV series; she has two lines which she has to snap coldly to the desperate, breathless protagonist while he chases a friend. They do three takes and the actor playing the protagonist asks her out after the second one.
"No, thanks," she says, her fingers tapping on the screen of her phone. "I'm not – I'm not looking for that at the moment."
"I bet I could change your mind," he drawls, his hand on her knee and trailing upwards.
"No," she snaps, and he looks mildly affronted before getting up and stalking away. She rolls her eyes and checks her text messages again- nothing.
She's okay now, money-wise. Her dad put some more money into her account before she traveled to LA, and now she buys the weekly groceries for the house she shares with Scott. He sits hunched over his laptop most days while she mutters lines from scenes to herself over dinner (Scott is a terrible cook), perfecting the lilt of her voice or the sharpness of her tone.
Scott never asks about Freddie and Sam never mentions him when she calls (she says something about Spencer having problems moving the car in the studio and her voice cracks and Carly changes the subject). Carly tries to forget that one afternoon and night when he wrapped her up in his arms and she felt more whole than she had since she left Seattle.
She auditions for a community theatre play and gets the lead role, which is surprising because she thought she'd fucked it all up (she forgot her lines and turned up five minutes late to the audition after hers). It's a modern version of Romeo & Juliet and she hates her character and the guy playing Romeo isn't attractive at all; but he's sweet and blushes when Scott appears to pick her up – so she invites him out for drinks and leaves halfway through the evening.
She catches them on the couch a week later. She's a genius.
Romeo & Juliet gets a sort-of good review in the local paper and Scott raves about how it was brilliant despite the clear bias. Carly is mentioned twice and isn't labeled as a terrible actress. Of course you weren't, says Scott into his boyfriend's hair when she comes into the room to find them cuddling. Don't be silly.
She flicks his nose and grins at Rick (the boyfriend) and hands them a bottle of wine for approval.
She scours the Skybucks crowd and the bookshop regulars for anyone cute enough to make it work without big brown doe eyes, but they all have shy, lopsided grins just like his. She constantly looks for similarities and her stomach clenches when their voices are low enough to cradle her replies safely.
She doesn't sleep anymore.
"Carly?" Scott pokes his head round the door at three am. She's sitting up in bed, fists clenched around her duvet and eyes lost in the patterns of the wallpaper. "Honey, why are you still awake?"
"I don't know," she says after a minute. "I can't sleep."
He joins her on the bed, prying her fingers off her duvet and pulling her towards him. It reminds her of the graduation party that many months ago and her chest hurts.
"Are you stressed about your audition on Tuesday?" She shakes her head against his shoulder. "What's up then?"
"I can't sleep anymore," she says monotonously. "I can never sleep. And I can't cry. I wish I could cry."
"Oh, honey," he hugs her properly and she sighs. "You know, you're still hanging on to him. You're trying to forget him but he's still got this hold on you."
She looks up at him.
"I know, trust me," he smoothes his hand over her hair. "I know. You try to distract yourself and you think of horrible variations of his untimely death, but he's still there, in your heart. And it hurts; it hurts so much and you don't know how to numb the pain."
"I get drunk-"
"-which only lasts for one night and then your head hurts, too," Scott smiles sadly at her. "Carly, it's okay to cry. Really."
"I know," she moans. "I know and I still can't fucking cry. I'm just – it hurts, so much, but I can't let it out."
"Have you tried talking to your mom or something? She's around, right?"
Her eyes close. She hasn't had her mom for a long time. She doesn't know what it's like to ask her mom about clothes and boys and fights with girlfriends. She's never had a soft hand stroking her hair and kissing her cheek goodnight, at least not that she can remember.
"My mom," she murmurs. "she died when I was eleven."
Scott's mouth drops open almost comically. "Oh, God, I'm so sorry, I had no-"
"It's okay," she shrugs. "I haven't been sad about it for a while. I miss her, and my dad, but I had Spencer and Sam. And then Freddie."
"Where was your dad?"
"In the military," she folds her fingers together. "He's been stationed on a submarine for a long time. We talk, and he loves me, but I don't think he's quite over my mom."
"He ran away?" Scott is chewing on his lip, worried.
"She died when he was on duty," Carly says. "He came home for a while after that, but then he got back on the submarine and I don't think he's been on land for years."
"You know he's an artist, right? He got those genes from my mom and he started drawing and painting and sculpting when she died. He kind of buried himself in it." She smiles a little. "That's how he got through it."
There's something building, a pressure, in her head. It pushes at her nose and her throat and down into her lungs and her breath hitches.
"And I – I cried," she says, with a sudden and alarming thickness in her voice. "I cried myself to sleep for weeks and I still cry on the anniversary of her death. I just cried all the time."
Scott is pulling her onto his lap now, and her vision is blurring at the edges and – oh.
Carly buries her face in his shoulder and sobs.
She cries for fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds, and then she falls asleep in Scott's arms and wakes up with Rick smiling slightly at her, perched on his other shoulder.
She sleeps at night, and bounces around LA in her favourite pea coat while she does her Christmas shopping. She gets another small role in a short film and then a soda commercial; it helps her pay for her Christmas presents (and a couple of things for herself so she can wrap herself tight in soft scarves and sequined beanies).
She's going home for Christmas; back to Seattle and another sculpted tree, most likely, so she stocks up on as many FatCakes as possible for Sam (as well as a Chilli My Bowl voucher) and more "special crayons" for Spencer (they're just crayons, really, but apparently these ones are extra smooth).
Spencer calls her the day before she leaves LA, checking she had presents and, typically, time to decorate the house. "I keep knocking things over!" he moans. "Come and help me, little sister."
"I knew I'd have to," Carly sighs. "How are things?"
"Okay. Kind of boring. Oh!" Carly hears a thump and a muffled ow. "Oh, yeah, Freddie's home."
Her stomach clenches. Oh, shit.
"Oh. Oh, that's nice," she says faintly, fiddling with her hair.
"Carly," Spencer says. "Carly, come on. You guys can talk."
"I don't think he wants to talk to me, Spencer," she whispers. "I'll – I'll text you flight details, okay? Pick me up?"
"Of course. I love you, Carls," Spencer says. "I've missed you. A lot."
"I missed you, too," she mumbles. "I can't wait to see you, Spence."
"Bye, Carls," he says, his voice kind of sad. She waits for the dial tone, and only then does she set her phone down on her bedside table.
Her flight is delayed by an hour but she's running into her brother's arms at 5:46pm the next day, her suitcase trailing behind her. Her carry-on knocks against her side every half a second but it doesn't matter; Spencer stands tall and gangly, his hair longer than it was when she left and his jeans slightly more frayed where they meet his converse sneakers.
"Hey, Carls," he says when she barrels into him. "Hi, baby sister."
"Spencer," her eyes are watery and she buries her face in his chest. "I really missed you."
"I know. I missed you too. It's way too quiet in our apartment."
Spencer takes her suitcase and lopes along beside her. Even in her favourite heeled brogues she barely reaches his shoulder; she grins up at him.
"Thanks for picking me up," she says, adjusting her carry-on when it nearly slips off her shoulder again.
"Hey, of course I was going to," He nudges her side with his finger, unconsciously poking her with his keys too. "You didn't even need to ask."
Carly gives him a sort of half-smile and trudges onwards, her shoes clicking on the laminate floor. They reach the revolving doors and Spencer hops into them, beaming at his sister. She shakes her head, watching him pushing the door at arms' length while his legs flail behind him.
Some things never change.
Spencer's car is warm in the quiet cold of Seattle; tiny flakes of snow are falling and Carly shivers in her skirt. The radio is cracked when it blares in the car, words jumping and the music too fuzzy to listen to properly. Carly reaches forward with her black-painted nails and turns it off after ten minutes.
"Is LA warmer than Seattle?" Spencer wonders out loud.
"Anywhere is warmer than Seattle, Spence," Carly says, the corner of her mouth turning up slightly as she glances at him. She directs her gaze out of the window and watches shop windows, cars, people flashing by – she forgets the names and faces almost immediately.
"So tell me about this lady-friend," she blurts out randomly, looking at her brother again.
"Oh," he flushes and focuses on the road ahead. "Um, I need to tell you about that when we get home, okay?"
She frowns. "You're dating a serial killer, aren't you?"
"No!" Spencer nearly swerves into the next lane. "No, Carls, why would you even say that, you know those movies freak me out-"
She's giggling in her seat, fingers trying to seal her mouth shut. "I'm kidding. Oh my God, Spencer."
"You're so mean," he whines. "I'm not even married and all these women are so mean to me."
Spencer can't find the house keys when they reach their front door (they got separated from his car keys, apparently) and Carly is rifling through her carry-on when there is a thump and a curse from behind the Bensons' door.
Marissa Benson does not swear, and will legitimately go and find some soap to wash someone's mouth out if they use a single profanity in her presence.
Carly's head snaps upwards, eyes focusing on the peephole straight away.
(I'm in love with you, you just want to be friends, and I'm totally cool living with that constant pain)
She swallows and tears her gaze from the place where everything started.
Spencer cooks spaghetti tacos, for the occasion, and she's biting into her third helping (it was a long journey, okay) when he decides to tell her who this more permanent girlfriend is.
"Carls," Spencer is fidgeting, even more than usual. "Um, basically, well – please don't freak out. Please. It's stressful enough already."
"Are you sure she's not a serial killer?" Carly wipes her hands on her napkin. "Or he. Really, Spencer, I live with two gay guys in LA, that doesn't matter to me at all."
"Oh, no, it's a girl," Spencer bites his lip. "Oh, God, I don't know how to-"
"I'm home! Spence, open the fucking door, would you?"
Carly chokes on her taco.
"I can't believe this. Oh, God, this is so weird-"
"Carls," Sam munches on her beef jerky. "Carls, dude, I'm not breaking up with him. The sex-"
"Sam!" Carly shrieks, clamping her hands over her ears. Spencer is scarlet. "I'm – look, I'm okay with this, but I don't want to know. I really don't want to know."
Spencer slumps against the counter. "You are?"
Carly bites her lip. "I – I think so. And even if I wasn't it wouldn't make a difference. I can't stop you from being together."
Sam opens up her arms and Carly falls into them, squeezing her best friend tight.
"I missed you, Sammie," she whispers into Sam's soft hair.
"You too, cupcake," Sam mumbles. Carly hears the crinkling of the bag of jerky and then Sam's arms are around her waist. "I really love you, you know that?"
"I love you, too," Carly's voice cracks and her eyes water, and it's so easy to cry now that she screws up her face in frustration as well as she can against Sam's shoulder. There is suddenly something large embracing them, then, long gangly arms encircling their torsos.
Spencer clears his throat dramatically.
"Love you too, Spence," Carly says. Sam makes a non-commital noise of agreement.
They huddle there until Spencer's leg cramps and Sam decides she really, really wants to finish her beef jerky.
Spencer throws a Christmas Eve party and invites the Bensons.
Carly adjusts the decorations every five minutes and nibbles on the food and tries to stay close to Sam, but eventually she's hovering by the stairs, gaze flickering to the door quite literally every five seconds. Every time somebody arrives her stomach lurches and she grips the banister tightly. Her knuckles are white by the time Chuck and his father arrive.
She's actually speaking quietly to an elderly neighbor who had been ill when she hears Mrs Benson shrieking about a stain on the couch. She stops mid-sentence and spins around, hands searching blindly for something to hold on to.
He's taller, again, only half a head shorter than Spencer who shakes his hand briefly. But his face is pale, drawn, and his eyes seem dull.
Freddie's eyes shouldn't be dull. Freddie's eyes shine like most boys' eyes don't; they get darker when they flick downwards to her mouth but then brighter when he smiles, and then they seem to fill up with something (something like love except they never seem to say that out loud, not properly) when he looks at her-
Her heart stops, just for a second, and then picks up twice as fast. She wrings her hands, trying to tell him sorry, so sorry with just her facial expression (because he could always read it before) and imploring that he stays.
He finally looks away from her, blinking quickly, before murmuring something to his mother and striding out of the door. Carly nearly lets loose the wait that surges in her throat, starting forwards with her hands outstretched. The tears threaten again but she fights them back, curling her arms around her waist.
"Sam, we're out of peppy cola, I'm sorry," she says automatically when the blonde appears at her elbow.
"What? Dude, that sucks, I'll get Spencer to buy some more," Sam scowls at the fridge, but then turns her attention back to Carly. "No, no, that's not what I came over here for – cupcake, fire escape."
Carly raises an eyebrow. "What? What about the fire escape?"
"He's there. He's going there," Sam grabs her forearm and shakes it vigorously. "That's where he goes when he's most hurt, remember? He's not leaving – well, he is, but he'll be there."
Carly bites her lip. "He hates me. He has to – I didn't-"
"Maybe," Sam shrugs, "But you could fix that."
Carly grips Sam's fingers. "Are you sure he's there?"
"Positive," Sam nods. "Dude, just go, I need my peppy cola and vodka."
Carly grins half-heartedly and then heads towards the back door. She takes a deep breath and turns the handle, braced against the cold Seattle winds.
Freddie is huddled on the steps, elbows resting on his thighs and face turned away from the big screen door. He's wearing gloves and a jacket and he looks so warm Carly is drawn closer.
She knocks tentatively on the door, her teeth worrying her bottom lip again. He swivels round, eyes still horribly dull.
"Hi," she says, quietly.
He nods. "Hey."
His voice, though slightly hoarse, still settles over her like a blanket, like armour around her, like something cozy she can burrow herself into.
"We need to talk," she blurts out, and it sounds so awkwardly obvious that she grimaces.
"Yeah," he's not looking at her anymore. "I suppose."
"When I walked out," she starts, sitting on the windowsill. "I –I don't know why I did that. I'll always regret it. It just – I just didn't want to have to lose you again, because last time it hurt so much and you're one of my best friends in the whole world, Freddie."
"You were more than that," he says, in a voice that would be angry if it had any life in it left. "You were always so much more than that to me, Carly."
"I know. You – you were more, too. It hurts, being away from Sam, and Spencer," her voice is thickening, clogging with tears. "Because they're family. And I miss them. But – but you. You left and you left a hole in my heart and that's such a weird thing to say but it felt like that. It honestly did."
"I know the feeling," he replies, a humourless laugh accompanying him. "I'd never told you that. I'd never said it. There were moments when I wanted to; there were so many of them. I could name at least fifty."
"I knew," she breathes. "I knew – I did. After you got hit by that truck. I didn't think people ever did that in real life. I thought that stuff was just in the movies; and then – and then you pushed me out of the way and it was all my fault and you kept saying it wasn't-"
She's crying, now, tears slipping down her cheeks and freezing there. She ducks her head and stares at the concrete below her feet.
"I kept thinking," she chokes out. "That you were wasting your time on me. That I didn't deserve to be saved, that I didn't deserve that kind of love because I never felt the same way."
She hears him moving closer but carries on.
"I don't know why you love me," she says. "You shouldn't – we just hurt each other all the time. I'm sorry – Freddie, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I don't-"
A gloved hand finds her chin and tilts her face upwards towards him.
His eyes are blazing.
"I love you," he hisses fiercely. "I love you – more than anything. And I gave you my heart and you neglected it a bit but you still took care of it and you never led me on, not on purpose."
He cups her cheek.
"I will never regret feeling this way about you," his other hand winds into her windswept hair. "Never."
"I think," she sobs. "I think I love you too-"
He kisses her. He pulls her head forward and captures her mouth with his, kissing her hard. She responds immediately, her tongue probing his mouth and twining with his. She places her hands at his waist and tugs him onto the window sill next to her so the angle is less awkward – they're quite a practical pair, really. He sucks on her bottom lip and swallows her moan and caresses the swell of her cheekbone with his thumb.
She's never felt so loved.
The snow swirls gracefully around them, mostly melting pathetically on the black concrete that surrounds them. A siren wails, a baby cries from inside – but it's quiet and the only thing they pay attention to is the stuttering, uneven beats of their hearts.