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Domestic Encounters

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Three weeks. Three weeks had passed since Carly had last heard anything from Sam. Or from Spencer for that matter. Freddie, on the other hand, had called her approximately twenty-eight times a day for the past six months. Six months since she had started a new life. Six months since she had last seen her friends and brother face to face.

She missed them dearly. Spencer's uniquely weird sculptures and his ability to set everything on fire. Sam's aggressive need for food and her butter sock to save the day. Even Freddie's technological chatter she could barely make out a single word of and Gibby's habit to take off his shirts. Although, he had become all mature since he didn't do that anymore.

It was time for her to see these goofballs again, in person, to hug them, laugh with them and do the craziest things together. Sure, she was with her father now, finally, but he wasn't nearly as much fun to have around as the others, not that she expected him to be. And Italy was beautiful, of course it was, but she actually missed Seattle's familiar streets as well as her old apartment. And the hairdryer in her room. And the trampoline. Especially the trampoline.

So, in order to punish Sam and Spencer for ignoring her, she decided to pay her clueless friends a surprise visit to see if they had any excuse to justify their behavior. She was so eager to see the astonished expressions on their faces before they'd lunge out and drag her to the ground with their embraces. And if they didn't, she would.

She smiled. Oh, this was going to be perfect, she was sure of it when she looked out of the plane's window and her home country slowly came into view. She was barely able to contain her excitement as she shifted around on her seat.

Soon, she stood in front of the door that separated her from apartment number 8-C, beaming at it like a maniac.

As quietly as she could, she turned the doorknob, opening the door a crack. She hadn't been able to open it far enough to peek inside when she heard a rather loud thud from the interior, accompanied by a pained grunt.

All glee forgotten, she flung open the door to see what was wrong.

The sight that met her wasn't one she had expected. Not even close to it, as a matter of fact.

Sam was sitting on the couch in the middle of the room, several meatballs scattered around her and the furniture. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Spencer was lying sprawled out on the floor, several feet away from the couch. Which wasn't unusual per se, either.

It were the details that struck her. Besides their wide-eyed and undoubtedly guilty expressions (which resembled one another to a disturbing extent), she noticed Sam's tousled hair, even more tousled than usual, as well as the way that their clothes didn't sit quite right. Carly didn't remember the collar of Spencer's favorite shirt revealing that much skin. And Sam had never before worn only one sleeve of her jacket. She hadn't even bothered completely buttoning up her blouse. Carly was barely gone for half a year and they had forgotten everything she had taught them about style.

"Carly?" her brother questioned, his voice somewhat husky as it indicated panic rather than delight.

"Carls, you're back already?" her best friend joined in, conveying a more controlled version of Spencer's emotions.

The brunette tilted her head and put her hands on her hips. "What's going on in here?" she asked, demanding answers with narrowed eyes.

Spencer snapped his stupefied gaze towards Sam who in turn shrugged with one shoulder and raised urging eyebrows before she turned her attention back to Carly. They stared blankly at each other for several long moments.

"We made out," Sam finally blurted as if it was the most natural, obvious thing in the world for a best friend and older brother to do when the sister came home after half a year.

Carly's jaw nearly dropped to the floor and a high-pitched "What?" was all her voice could manage to get out.

Now Sam looked almost proud, a smug grin spreading over her face. "That's right. We were totally smooching. Told you I've got a crush on him."

Spencer cleared his throat, causing Carly's eyes to hesitantly shift to him as if she were in a daze. "Now, Sam's blowing this way out of proportion. We were merely kissing."

"What difference does it make?!" Carly shrieked, now ultimately losing her cool while her brother simply shrugged innocently.

"Oh, a huge one," Sam drawled and chuckled a moment later. "You should have seen his coy attempts at a peck four months ago." Months?! And they never bothered telling her?

"Says the one who kept rummaging my clothes in the middle of the night," Spencer retorted teasingly, having adopted a smirk of his own.

"I never did that! I know that you keep sandwiches in your drawers and since you denied me access to the fridge I was forced to come up with another way to survive!" Sam corrected indignantly.

"Unlike certain other people in this room I don't store ham in my underwear." He shot her an accusing grin.

"Yeah, and that's in great need of improvement!" She beamed at him and Carly was convinced she didn't even try to hide the way that she was staring at his lips.

"I can't believe it," she breathed, at last finding her voice again, no less shocked, though.

"Do you need proof?" Sam inquired, looking at her dead serious.

"What? No! Ugh, stop it!"

Spencer wiggled his index finger at her, smiling broadly, every trace of his previous discomfort gone. "Not your apartment anymore, remember?"

Carly threw her hands forward in a gesture of pure frustration. "I just- you two- how?" Last time she checked they were just friends. Okay, there was that one time that Sam had let slip out that comment about having 'a little crush' on him but it had been brushed off so quickly that she had almost forgotten about it and certainly didn't bother giving it another thought. And wasn't it supposed to be a little crush?

"Someone had to take care of your brother while you were away after all," Sam said matter-of-factly.

"She's got a point," Spencer agreed, nodding vigorously.

"So, you two are- what- a couple?" Carly asked, the words sounding strange to her in relation to the situation.

They looked at each other in a frustratingly calm and quizzical manner.

"What the hell, guys! Does Freddie know?"

Sam shrugged, pursing her lips. "Dunno. Depends if he was attentive."

Carly's shoulders slumped. "I can't believe it..."

"Yeah, you said that," Sam commented with a renewed grin. Then she finally rose from the couch and picked Spencer up from the floor by tugging at one of his arms and clinging to it when he stood next to her, a good one and a half heads of height difference showing off. "So, can I keep him?" She pouted and Spencer smiled down at her. In an affectionately goofy and conspicuously proud way.

Carly's gaze kept flicking back and forth between the two. When had this happened? Why had this happened? How had this happened? And why did Sam keep ham in her undergarments?

Just like she said, she couldn't believe it. Her best friend and her brother, the brother who was practically a giant next to her and twelve years her senior. Not that she minded. It was simply an odd sight. But, in a strange way, adorable. Definitely one that she could get used to, she noted with a smile as she watched their two matching gazed bore through her.

"Only if you promise to take that ham out of your panties."

Sam cringed. "You know I don't like that word!"

Carly crossed her arms smugly. "My brother, my rules. If you really love him, you must accept them."

Sam grimaced at her, then proceeded to take a deep breath and looked Spencer sternly in the eyes. "Never forget what I did for you."

He beamed at her and bent down while she stood up on tiptoes and their lips met half-way.

Carly caught herself thinking that the idea of them together wasn't as bad as she had initially assumed. The more she thought about it, she had to admit that they did make a good match. And if they made each other happy, which was obviously the case, then who was she to stand in their way? As long as they could still spare time to spend with her everything was fine.

Speaking of which, she finally spread out her arms, darted forward and threw herself against them. They broke their kiss, suddenly preoccupied with making sure that they didn't lose balance due to the sudden impact. A few seconds passed before she felt one arm wrap around her back and another cup her head, a big hand gently stroking her hair as she was finally pulled into a decent, long overdue 'welcome home'-hug. Her smile widened when at last she felt at home again.