So, big deal. Sam Puckett had found the one guy in the world that could not only compete with her, but dominate. Was she going to take it lying down? Yes. But standing up, is a different story.

*- Yes, I know. Not canon.

Sam blew a strand of hair away from her face. On second thought, maybe she should have stayed with the ponytail.

“Do you have to look bored all the time, Sam?”

She looked up to see Carly, smiling at her, offering her a big bowl of popcorn.

“Not when I’m eating,” she said happily, eagerly grabbing a handful.

Carly smiled at her best friend of seven years*. “I’ve noticed. So, what do you want to watch today? Should be a new episode of Drew and Jerry tonight, right?”

Sam hummed to herself while she popped a kernel into her mouth. “No, I think that’s Saturday. Nothing new airs on Thursdays.”

Carly was already turning on the television. “The Guide says they’re airing a Girly Cow marathon tonight.”

Sam barked a laugh. “Aren’t they only halfway through the first season?”

“When a show is good, it’s good.” She paused. “Okay, not very good, but okay, I guess.”

Sam had already finished the last of the popcorn in her hand. “Please, Carly, we could make a better show than that.”

Carly chuckled to herself. The two sat in silence, reaching for their popcorn. Sam enjoyed the silence. It allowed her to think.

She had been doing that much too often lately, and she didn’t like it. She thought in her daydreams, she thought in her sleep, she even thought when she ate. Even the popcorn couldn’t distract her.

All of her thoughts had led towards Freddie Benson and what happened two days ago, and she couldn’t be more agitated.

Yes, she admitted it; she liked it. More than liked it, really. If she didn’t have any semblance of pride left, she’d go back to him and demand more. She still felt his fingers on her, in her, and as she trembled under her own fingers the previous two nights, he was the only face she could envision. The first night, she was too pissed off to even try a second time, knowing that as he had told her, that whenever she came, he wanted her to look at him. That he had that much power over her was near-devastating. The fact that she was picking up masturbating again the same day he had her on the ground was a mere coincidence.

Yesterday, the day after he had touched her, was a complete mystery to her. Carly had taken Sam’s words to heart, and during the breaks, she had tried to get to know Freddie. Sometimes, in the past, Freddie seemed to have been blinded by Carly. Sure, he was able to hold a decent conversation with her, but there was an underlying crush that was so obvious, and sometimes beyond frustrating, if not hilarious. Sometimes he would stammer, he would turn away and murmur things, and one time he had ran away to his apartment room when Carly had taken a piece of Hershey’s Chocolate out of the fridge and asked if he wanted a kiss.

How the hell did that guy end up giving her the best time she’s ever had during learning hours?

But that following day, was quite clearly a new Freddie. His shirt was no longer tucked – in fact, it didn’t even have buttons, something she had never seen on him before. His hair was no longer straightened and pressed to the stitch – it had been combed, but not excessively.

But his new fashion had nothing on his very different personality. While it was clear the boy had low self-esteem before, there was no hint of it when they ran into each other at the lockers. Carly and he talked normally, and he was definitely wittier than she remembered. His charm was what stunned her the most. Carly couldn’t stop laughing with him as they talked about nonsensical things, and while she had zoned in and out, sometimes Sam was caught chuckling to herself.

Then they had involved her into the conversation. Carly was talking about TV Shows that sucked, and how she wished that there were such things as good television anymore. Freddie commented that while Splashface had some mildly interesting videos, most of them were so poorly produced and horribly executed, that sometimes it was painful to watch, even when there was good content in the actual video. Sam shrugged and said that it wasn’t like he could do any better. Instead of an indignant cry and a proclamation of how mean she was, he had chuckled and agreed, stating that he didn’t even have a camera. Carly raised an eyebrow, but didn’t comment. After a few seconds of consideration, Sam slowly admitted that none of them could do any better – after all, they were just kids.

Carly certainly looked surprised at Sam’s words, as that had almost seemed like a compliment in her eyes. When Freddie replied that with the right equipment, kids can be better than adults at some things, Sam found herself blushing. When Carly agreed, Sam had to hide her face in the locker, pretending to look for her leftover ham.

The entire conversation snowballed from there. Even Sam had to admit that they all had some very good ideas, ideas that she wouldn’t mind watching on TV or online. Some were funny simply because of its absurdity (Really? A bra that told scary stories? Risqué, but undeniably funny). Some were very original, and she couldn’t contain her excitement on one day seeing that vision coming true. It’s not like she had anything else to do.

It was a surreal experience, talking to someone you had bullied two days previous, who had dominated you the very next day. And she was laughing with him. She was actually enjoying his company. She hated it.

They spent all of the breaks like that the next day, and as they were walking home from school. Freddie and Carly walked together while Sam leaned back, studying Freddie, until he unexpectedly grabbed her hand and pulled her up next to his other side. Carly didn’t notice, she was too engrossed in thinking about another idea for their imaginary show. He let go before she could notice, and before Sam could protest. Sam glared at him, and he smiled.

That night, she came three times. And she couldn’t get him out of her head, no matter how hard she tried. Did she want to try? Was she doomed to have him in her head for the rest of her hormonal life? Those thoughts scared her. She didn’t want to confront them.

This morning, however, was different. Carly approached the topic first, asking about their date that Friday. She had wondered what movies he liked.

It truly terrified Sam that every movie he had said he liked, were in her top favorite movies of all time.

The Scissoring? Of course she loved that movie! It had revenge, murder, and mayhem – with scissors! No one she knew had even heard of that movie before, and he mentioned it first!

She hated him.

When Carly blanched at his choice of movies, Freddie smartly backpedalled, and suggested that they could watch a B-horror movie that she hadn’t heard of before, that was more shock than gore.

She hated him for that, too. She knew every horror movie, ever. He had to have gotten the title wrong or something. Dreadful Daydream: Part 5? What the hell happened to the other four?

Carly said that she had a thing, a quirk really, where she couldn’t see the sequels before she saw the first movie. When Freddie suggested that they had a movie marathon, she smiled so brightly that Sam had to wonder to herself who had the obsession to begin with, and agreed.

She paused and looked over to Sam. She hesitantly told Freddie that Sam had wanted to join them. Sam raised an eyebrow. Was Carly asking for permission?

Freddie shrugged and promised that he’d bring enough food for everyone, and Sam could have fainted if it wasn’t such a pussy thing to do.

She hated him. She hated him so much, and she hugged him before they all left for class. When Freddie offered a hug to Carly as well, she blushed and leaned into the hug.

“So,” Carly cut through her thoughts, “Wanna go to the Groovy Smoothie? Spencer left me some cash, and while it’s not enough for clothes, it’s enough for two Jumbo Blueberry Banana Blitz smoothies.”

Sam blinked. They were out of popcorn, and the episode of Girly Cow had already ended.

“Uhh, no thanks, Carls, I’d rather stay here. I think I need actual food right now. Besides, might as well finish the marathon, right?”

Carly laughed. “Suit yourself, but if you want one, you know where I’ll be.”

Sam waved as Carly left. Honestly, she just didn’t feel like getting up. It had nothing to do with Freddie, right now she just felt lazy.

Girly Cow was an interesting show to her. Enjoyable, sure, but she occasionally pointed out things that they could have done better, tweaked jokes that, in her opinion, were funnier. She kept doing this until the doorbell rang.

After a few seconds, Sam realized that Spencer wasn’t home, and slowly got up. “I’m coming,” she yelled, and when her hand touched the knob, she stopped.

Could it have been Freddie? What were the chances of the person being Freddie? Carly had left ten minutes ago. It could have been Spencer, or Carly forgot something. If Freddie was peeking through the peephole – something he had not snooped down to yet, even when he was considered creepy in her eyes – he would have come over by now.

She couldn’t look through the peephole, as it was a few inches higher than her head. Before the person behind the door could get antsy and ring it again, she took a gamble and opened the door.

She gasped.

“Sam! My, have you grown! How have you been?” Maria exclaimed, rushing to hug the young blonde.

Sam gave a squeal of discomfort. “I’m doing good, mom. I thought you were going to be gone for a few more days!”

“Why? Are there any boys here?” She smirked, looking down at her surrogate daughter.

Sam shook her head. “Not today, no. It’s nice to see you back.”

Maria nodded. “It’s good to be back. Where’s Carly? Thought she would have come down by now.”

“She went down to the Groovy Smoothie,” she informed her, letting go of the hug.

“By herself?” She muttered, a concerned frown on her beautiful features. “Well, since it’s right down the street, I suppose it’s okay. But don’t you two make a habit out of it; I don’t want one of you out without the other.”

Sam nodded. She didn’t feel the need to mention that they had always done it before, but now that she was back in town, it was time to go back to the routine.

“Well? Aren’t you going to let me in to my own home?” She laughed.

Sam blushed. “You don’t need me to invite you,” she joked, as she allowed Mrs. Maria Shay into the apartment.

“True,” she sighed, “but sometimes I like to trick myself into thinking that your manners have improved.” She looked around. “Where’s Spencer?”

Sam shrugged. “He didn’t answer the door, so I guess he isn’t here.”

“I saw him an hour ago,” a very familiar voice sounded from the doorway. Sam’s stomach lurched in a painfully pleasant way as she turned back to the door to see Freddie Benson. “He was talking to a guy in the hall about a concert they were going to. They were wearing really weird socks…”

“Socko,” Maria deadpanned, before she brightened. “Hello, young man. Would you happen to be Freddie by any chance?”

“Yes ma’am,” he smiled. “It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Shay.”

“It’s especially nice to meet you. Carly has told me a bit about you.”

Freddie chuckled. “Uh-oh.”

Maria laughed as she stepped forward and shook his hand. “They were all good, I assure you, Freddie.” She led him inside the apartment, and Sam closed the door. “And I don’t think she would appreciate it if my first actions of coming back are to leave you out in the hallway.”

“I won’t tell her if you did,” Freddie promised.

“And that’s why we’re going to get along just great,” she smiled, setting down her briefcase next to the sofa. “Apparently, Carly’s at the Groovy Smoothie, but you’re welcome to wait here until she returns. The kitchen’s here if you need anything to eat or drink.”

The next few awkward seconds, Sam wasn’t exactly sure if she was in hell or not – she honestly couldn’t decide yet. Maria had gone into the kitchen to microwave some noodles, which left Freddie and Sam to talk. As Mrs. Shay was right in the next room, she didn’t know what to say. If she wasn’t right there, Sam probably still wouldn’t have known what to say.

He glanced over at the High Definition Television. “Girly Cow? I’m more of a Nym Probable kind of guy.”

Sam scoffed. “A middle school cheerleader that saves the world part-time with a goofy, bumbling, sidekick of a best friend? What’s her name again?”

“Lin Evitable,” he answered instantly. “And you got to love it when she bumbles. She helps get the job done.”

“More like Lin Competent,” Sam muttered, and Freddie couldn’t help but chuckle. “Seriously, in real life, no one would choose a partner like her. She’d be completely useless, and probably dead by the second mission.”

“You could say the same about the villains. They never use guns, they announce their plans from the beginning, and no villain lair would be complete without a self-destruct button.”

“They do put a lot of defenses around that button, though,” she countered, half-smiling. “Not their fault that their pet lemur gets through it easily enough.”

Carly slurped at her smoothie demurely, staring up at the small television in the corner of the Groovy Smoothie, but not really watching it. She found herself thinking about Sam and Freddie.

One of the most profound and meaningful conversations she had ever had with her best friend was written on a sheet of paper in the middle of class. It was crazy, really. One part of her wanted to frame the paper, analyze it and keep it locked to memory. Another wanted to burn it.

Sam had written some mean and hurtful things to her, and she shamefully agreed.

Except about the ‘shallow’ part. Carly Shay was not shallow. But she could admit that she had a certain demographic of guys that she usually envisioned herself with, and if a guy didn’t fit the description, then she would never have bothered thinking about them.

What Sam had said was right, unfortunately. She needed to expand her horizons. And she was going to start doing that – with Freddie.

What had started as an experiment was turning into something much more. Freddie was a very cool guy, with a very great sense of humor. He was completely different now that she had gotten to know him. Granted, she had only gotten to know this new, improved version of Freddie for about two days, but she had loved their interactions so far. If she was honest, she enjoyed Freddie’s company since day one. She really couldn’t wait for their date in two days.

Well, it wasn’t a date. Sam was going to be there.

That brought her back to the note, again. What did Sam mean by distracting him? And what was with the wink emoticon?

She was absorbed in her thoughts as she finished her smoothie. She went to the register and asked T-Bo for another smoothie for Sam, and after some thought, one for Freddie as well. It was the least she could do, after Freddie made the promise to bring food for their movie marathon. He had seen Sam ‘in action’, and still made the promise – it was one of the bravest things she had ever seen. She still remembered the shock on his face when Sam had hugged him.

Still, she had no intentions of ‘distracting’ him, whatever that meant, while Sam gorged away as they watched the movies. She had never heard Sam imply anything like that before. But then again, a lot has changed about Sam recently.

She walked out the door, thankful that the large cups were Styrofoam – much easier to hold the cold frosty liquid for her dainty hands. There was another reason that she wanted to keep that paper, to transcribe, to figure out what had happened and when it happened; Sam had changed. And she wasn’t sure it was for the better or worse.

She had noticed that Sam was the nicest that she had ever been – exclusively towards Freddie. Their circle of friends were small, so she didn’t know if it was just to Freddie, or everyone in general, but she hadn’t tortured, tackled, or even viciously insulted Freddie since that day that she tackled him. Since the day that they had stayed behind and talked for thirty minutes. Since the day that a more confident Freddie joined Carly at the table, and a Sam with a ponytail and an utterly mystified expression sat on her left.

She was pretty sure that whatever happened, Sam would give her the full story when she was ready. She hoped.

What happened between those two? And why was Sam nicer because of it? Had she truly considered Freddie as a friend? Sam had given Carly an honest enough answer to believe that she didn’t have a crush on him.

She tilted her head. That would be strange, those two together. They were practically polar opposites. She just couldn’t see it happening. While opposites do attract, there was just nothing there that she could see. But if there was an attraction…

Carly sighed. She would cross that bridge when she got to it. Hopefully, she’d never get to it.

She found herself quite fond of Freddie. Sam had seen something in him first, and had convinced Carly to give him a chance. Maybe she thought of Freddie as a brother?

Maybe. She wasn’t completely sure.

But one day, she’d find out. Carly Shay was stubborn that way.

Maria Shay smiled at the banter between the two kids. She had never seen Sam this outgoing with anyone other than Carly, and wondered about the new kid. What made him so special? Because he was Carly’s crush?

She frowned slightly. She hadn’t yet allowed her daughter to date, and Carly seemed to still be okay with that rule. She had seen Carly’s past crushes. They were either stupid kids that found their daddy’s steroid pills, or boys who try to trick out their bikes to make them look like motorcycles.

But Freddie looked like a very decent guy. He didn’t look prim and proper and Steve Urkle-ey, but he also didn’t look like… well, a tool. He was smart, and according to their laughs, funny, and the boy was pretty cute to boot, with a charming smile.

He would be quite the catch one day, and she had to praise her daughter for seeing it early – earlier than Maria wanted, but early nonetheless. As long as Carly kept this streak going when it came to boys, actual dating material, then she’d happily lift the ban.

“So what are you going to bring for Movie night?” Maria overheard. “Bacon, chocolate, nachos, what?”

“It’s a surprise,” Freddie replied, sitting on the other end of the sofa from her. Maria chuckled; Sam had quite clearly marked her territory on the couch, kicking up her legs and taking two of the three cushions, as she leaned back on the arm.

“Mama doesn’t like surprises,” she replied, narrowing her eyes at the boy.

“Then I guess mama doesn’t want to eat the goodies I’m going to bring.”

“Oh, I’ll eat it. I just don’t want it to be a surprise when I do. I like fatcakes, by the way.”

Freddie chuckled. “Those things? Good. They’re not that hard to make.”

The room was silent for almost a full minute. Maria had already turned her back to her noodles, and she wasn’t sure if Sam was just in shock or if she had fainted.


“The bread’s pretty easy to deep-fry, and the frosting is very easy. I don’t eat much of it, but yeah, it’s a very tasty way to get fat.”

The room was quiet.

“I guess I ruined one of your surprises, huh?”

Sam sputtered for a moment. “No – you’re full of surprises, Benson.”

Mrs. Shay struggled not to laugh. Honestly, she was worried that Sam knew that their new friend could cook; she would never leave him alone. She would rather stock the fridge daily than let that happen. She didn’t want Sam to make him her slave.

“Besides,” Freddie said, “I owe you, anyway. It’s the least I could do.”

“Got that right,” Sam muttered. “Wait, what?”

“You set me up with Carly,” he reminded her. Maria raised an eyebrow. Set up? As in, for a date? Damn, Carly worked fast. Or was it Sam that worked fast for Carly?

“Oh,” Sam said slowly. “Well, it’s not a date. It’s a movie marathon between three friends. You two just ignore me, while I have some home-made fat-cakes to enjoy. If you give me enough, you won’t even see me that night.”

Sam could say it if she wanted, but Maria knew that this was Carly’s first date, and she would treat it as such. Though she briefly wondered why Sam would want to be there – Really, sometimes she wondered why Sam wasn’t at her home most times she didn’t see the girl – she hoped she could get the girl to take pictures.

“I’m not sure if that’s bribery or you being nice, but you don’t have to go. You’re great company,” Freddie said sincerely.

The room was silent, once again.

Sam froze. She looked over to Freddie, her mind reeling with thoughts. ‘Only when I’m on my back‘, was what she wanted to say, but when she saw the serious look in his eyes, she was more confused than ever. He meant it? “Uh… thanks. But why do you say that?”

She wanted to hear this. She wanted to see him try to think of an excuse, in front of Carly’s mother and herself, why she was ‘great company’. She expected him to stammer out a few lies that Mrs. Shay would instantly pick up. Then she’d undoubtedly keep a closer eye on Freddie.

“You’re smart, for one,” Freddie muttered, smirking at her. She felt uneasy; he had clearly picked apart her thought process when she asked that question. “Now that my life isn’t in danger anymore every time I talk to you, you can actually pretend to be a good friend.”

“Don’t push it,” she said before she could stop herself. But, in her defense, she really didn’t want to.

She was aware of all she had been doing – this silent understanding that they had. She had attacked him so much in the past month since she had known him, and in one swoop, he had exacted revenge and then some. It was a war that he had won, and while it was hard to accept, she forced herself to admit it.

But he had no right to call her his friend. She wasn’t going to stoop that low.

And then Freddie smiled.

“Pushing it is what I do best, Sam.” His fingers ghosted over her bare feet, stroking the arch, and she squealed at the shock that went through her, pulling her legs back to her.

She glared at him. He smirked back.

“Ticklish, huh? Interesting.”

Maria chuckled to herself as she went up the stairs behind them. “Don’t hurt him, Sam,” she warned the blonde as she disappeared into the second floor – most likely to her room.

Freddie chuckled. “You tried that already,” he whispered when he heard the door click.

Sam glared at him. This was the first time she had ever been left completely alone with him. She had never really considered what she was going to do when she finally had the chance.

She wasn’t going to admit it – she would never admit it – but she respected the hell out of Freddie. It was an extremely begrudging respect, but he earned it nevertheless. She hated him, yes. That would probably never change. But deep inside her, she had to admit that he surprised her. He had shown her a side of him that she never knew he had. He was vicious, relentless, and he handled her like no one ever did and would again. For one, fleeting moment, she was his.

Once again; she would never admit this.

She tested the waters. “So… raped any chicks lately?”

Sam didn’t exactly pride herself on subtlety. She just never saw the point in it.

She expected him to be mad. She half-expected him to glare at her and try to attack her. A small part of her wanted him to break down and cry, finally seeing the gravity of what he did, and ask to be beaten.

Instead, he chuckled. That seemed to be a common reaction from him. She must have been really funny. “Not lately, no. Don’t plan on it anytime soon. Tried making anyone’s life a living hell lately?”

Her left eye twitched. “I know a friend who has. He’s a real dick.”

Freddie smiled. “Oh, so I am your friend.”

Her foot lashed out, and he only grunted as she kicked him with her bare sole. Before she could pull back, he caught her foot in an iron grip. She tried to rattle her way out, and he leaned on her leg, ensuring that she’d have to drag him with it. “Well, that hurt.”

“It was supposed to,” she growled, her leg twitching from him occasionally pinching her. She moved her other leg to kick him in the head. She succeeded as she smacked against his ear, and he released her foot. She retracted and stood up, her fists clenched.

And then she fell over, her leg gone limp, her head smacking loudly against the table.

“Sam? Freddie?”

“Sorry, Mrs. Shay! My knee hit the table! I’m okay!”

“No problem, Freddie! As long as you’re not hurt!”

“Hurts like hell,” Freddie muttered to himself, rubbing his side. He stared at her prone form for a minute.

“But worth it.”

Freddie looked both ways before crossing the hallway to his apartment, Sam hoisted on his shoulders. He smiled at how light she was – for such a strong, domineering girl, he had to remind himself sometimes that she was still a lithe, small, pretty girl.

Of course, he knew that – it was burned into his memory just how feminine she really was.

He quickly got into apartment 8D, knowing his mother was still at work, and went to his room.

Carly, after a few seconds of staring back and forth between the smoothies and the door to her apartment, slowly brought her cheek to the knob of the door. After a few attempts, she finally got the knob to actually start turning. After realizing that the knob wasn’t going to open unless it was turned a full 360 degrees, and her head just wasn’t made to work like that, she began to put the cups on the ground when she heard a familiar voice.

“Need help, Carly?”

She quickly spun around and blushed. She really hoped he didn’t see that. “Oh – hey, Freddie!” she smiled.

Freddie chuckled as he reached around her to open the door. She almost shuddered at his hot breath on her neck, but before she could truly enjoy it, he had already stepped back, the door now wide open.

She smiled nervously. “Thanks.” She raised a smoothie. “Peace-offering?”

Freddie cocked his head. “I didn’t know we were at war. What kind is it?”

“Blueberry Banana Blitz,” she said easily, having picked the same flavor for both smoothies. It was her favorite flavor.

“My favorite,” he smiled, taking the offered cup. “Oh, Sam left, by the way.”

Carly raised a delicate eyebrow. “What? Why?”

Freddie shrugged. “She said something about not getting in the way of the reunion.”

Carly was even more confused, and it showed. Freddie nodded his head at the door behind her.

“I think she’s in her room. Thanks for the smoothie.” And before she could fully process his words, he leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. It was quick – so quick that she could have believed that it was a dream – but none of her dreams made her face burn to such a degree. Freddie leaned back and smiled shyly at her.

“Yeah… y-you’re welcome,” she stammered, and he smiled brighter. And Freddie had never looked so good to her. He turned and went back into his apartment, the door making a soft click as it closed.

She just stared at the entrance to his apartment. She had only known Freddie a few weeks, and he was a riddle, for sure. And while she had liked his company before his change, now there was just something about him that made her…need him. How did he manage to catch her so… vulnerable?

She shook her head. What was he saying about Sam? Someone was in their room?

Her eyes widened, and with a squeal, she rushed into her apartment.

Freddie had no idea what love was. He had, of course, heard of the concept, but it was a completely foreign idea.

Did he love Carly? It was way too early to tell. There was a time when he had a best friend, that he thought he loved, and he felt something close to that with Carly now. He never gave up on the girl he once loved – in fact, he had sent a text to her the day he was on the plane, on the way to Seattle, about his feelings.

She never replied, and he was crushed.

He had admitted that he was a bit of a pushover. But he thought that they had at least liked each other to a point where they could be honest with each other – at least she never pushed him around. He could have sworn that he saw her crying as he was on the plane – her hand pressed against the window, her other hand waving somberly, her cheeks flushed –

And that was the moment that he could pinpoint what that probably was. Love? Some could have considered them the best of friends. They had known each other since kindergarten. They were inseparable.

Keyword – were. She certainly knew how to get over him quickly. He knew the slightly gothic beauty wanted to one day be an actress, but – there was no doubt in his mind that those years he had known her were genuine. He had thought that maybe she liked him? She showed no interest in other boys when he was around.

Maybe she did like him? He had tried calling her since – it was disconnected. That was his only hope – that she had lost her phone, and never got the text. Only problem was that he had no way of contacting her.

Whatever. Maybe she didn’t care. Maybe she did? Did it really matter? Whatever Freddie Benson felt for Jade West was in the past. His present was Sam, and his future was Carly. And Sam. She would learn.

Freddie Benson was not a pushover. Not anymore.

He opened the door to his room and stared at a sleeping Sam on his bed. After a few minutes, silently weighing his options, he left her.

Jade sprinted straight to her room, threw her Hollywood Arts book bag down, and turned on her computer. She tapped her feet impatiently, reminding herself to get a faster computer. With the monthly checks from her estranged father, she could certainly afford better.

And as she pulled up her Splashface account and found her contacts, she grit her teeth.

Freddie Benson hadn’t logged in since he had left. He probably hadn’t gotten internet yet. Completely understandable, it’s only been almost four weeks. That didn’t make her any less pissed at herself.

It was some sick, sadistic twist of fate that still had her head churning. She was thumbing out her first message to Freddie on her TekMate, when she stumbled, and it fell into the decorative fountain at the airport. The tears that had been shed when Freddie had left her, multiplied when she fished out the dead phone.

It took everything in her power to not jump on the next flight. Her mom wasn’t with her at the airport; she could have left the house for a few days. It would have been so much easier, in hindsight. But no, she restrained herself.

She checked the corner of her screen. Thursday. She could have waited another day, if she didn’t already wait four weeks.

She went to the airline travel site and grinned at the next available flight. Three hours.

She could skip school for a day. Jade was on her way to Seattle.