A/N: YO! This is for a totally awesome, super cool, AMAZING friend of mine, Swift! You're da best! This takes place during the Spongebob movie, before and after they reach Shell City. This thing actually came from ONE piece of dialogue lol. ENJOY!

The hills rolled over, running and tripping faster than their vehicle could go. The moment one came into Spongebob's view, it dashed on by, and he had seen at least three more by the time he realized it was gone. How fast was he pushing it, anyway?

He darted his eyes from the road for a moment. He was going sixty. Then again, with the importance of their journey, they should have torn right on through Bikini Bottom and onto the road, but something loosened his grip on the wheel and held him by the collar. Fear? Insecurity? Doubt? Probably all three and then some.

If he failed, he lost everything. He already decided that, if he didn't get the crown, he would probably just stay in Shell City. After all, what did he have to come home to? Neptune would kill Mr. Krabs. He would lose his job, his work, his passion. His friends would certainly desert him for failing. Patrick would stick by him, thank goodness, but everyone would hate him just as terribly. Spongebob had no choice; he had to get the crown. It wasn't even an option to fail, he had to choose to get that crown, no other choice existed for him.

"You ok, buddy?" Patrick pat his best friend on the back, interrupting Spongebob's deep trance. "You look like you're doing some of that math stuff."

Spongebob offered up a weak, half-smile. "I'm ok, thanks, Patrick. I'm just a little worried is all." He didn't want to let Patrick in on how terrified he really was, no matter if it would improve his mood. He bit his lip, drenched with anxiety, at how his hands, damp with sweat, slipped on the wheel, how his stomach bit into him, and the terrible way everything in his view blurred.

"It'll be ok." The simple words calmed Spongebob, to a degree. "Hey, look, it's Sandy's place! Let's stop over there, it might make you feel better!"

As Patrick reached for the wheel, Spongebob tried to gently wrestle him away with one arm, careful to not hurt him, but using every ounce of desperation to stay away from his other best friend's house. "No, Patrick, we have to get to Shell City!"

Unfortunately, where Patrick lacked in finesse and technique, he made up for in brute strength. Before SpongeBob could get his hand back on the wheel, Patrick had pushed him against the seat, grabbed control, steered them next to Sandy's house, and parked the car. "We're here!" He announced, as if they pulled up to Goofy Goober's on a lazy Sunday morning.

Spongebob gave Patrick a light glare. "Great."

Taking his sweet time, Spongebob hopped out of the Patty Wagon and onto the ground, letting his shoes sink into the familiar, soft, malleable sand. Did Shell City have sand? Was it even under water? For all he knew, it was on the moon, and a rocket ship awaited him just miles off.

"Sandy!" Patrick banged on the gateway to the dome. "Come on out, we're all gonna die!"

Next thing Patrick knew, he was face-down in the sand with Sandy's door, boot, and strength in his back.

"WHAT'S GOIN' ON?" She glared down at Patrick, who quickly regretted such an overstatement. "Patrick?"

While Spongebob's bitter, sarcastic side usually lay dormant, sleeping for years at a time, on occasion it decided to wake up and shout something out towards the world, much like today. "Oh, please, not again. SANDY! Everything is fine, Patrick just paraphrased."

Sandy rolled her eyes and hopped off Patrick. "Again, Pat?"

"Well, sheesh, I'll make sure I won't do that again!" Patrick whined, sitting up and dusting himself off. "We're going to Shell City, so I didn't think it was such an exaggeration."

Sandy's eyes nearly jumped out of her head at the all-too familiar name. Those words echoed in her mind and recalled every terrifying, horrific, murderous thing she had ever read about the city. Just hearing the name left a shiver through her spine. "Shell City? Are you two mad?" She slapped Patrick in the back of the head for good measure. "No one goes there and comes back with their lives!"

Again, Spongebob felt the need to amend Patrick's hasty explanation. "In short, Mr. Krabs is frozen, and we need to get Neptune's crown back so he won't kill Mr. Krabs. We only have a couple days."

Sandy walked over to him, and her hotheaded anger subsided, welcoming in protective anxiety. "How many is a couple?"

"Six." He bit his lip and gazed up at her. "Six to get there and get back, actually."

Of all the stupid things he had ever done! Trying to fight the clam, the ripped-pants fiasco, of every dangerous, idiotic, childish thing he had done, this one topped them all. Did he know what he was doing to her? Did he know that his chances of coming back were slimmer than jumping off a cliff and not breaking a bone? No, of course he didn't! He never did!

"I'm coming with you." Sandy knew better than to try to dissuade her friend from doing something like this; Spongebob was nothing if not persistent. And energetic. And optimistic. Sweet. Cute. Wait…never mind.

"She's driving, I don't trust you," Patrick said from a few paces off.

"No, she's not." Spongebob turned from Sandy, walked over to his best friend, and helped him up out of the sand as a perfect yet transparent excuse for not meeting her gaze, which was sure to grow more hazardous by the minute. "We took this mission, and we're going to Shell City."

"Aw, no way in heck."

Her contradiction sparked the determination in Spongebob's heart to finish the job. She was challenging him. She told him he couldn't do it. She didn't believe in him. "Sandy," He said, his voice coarse, harsh and cruel. "You have to stay here, it's dangerous." He patted the door to the passenger seat, running his fingers over the bun seeds and swallowing the cold animosity down his throat. It tasted terrible, like mushed, oily antibiotics left out for weeks.

She crossed her arms over her chest in blatant, crude defiance. "That's exactly why you need me. Spongebob, you can hardly pick up two marsh-mellows on a stick."

Patrick gulped and inched, in his seat, as far away from the lightning bolt of tension between his two friends. He was used to seeing Sandy hotheaded and temperamental. Her personality made itself known routinely, so he was used to it, he had to be. And he was ok it. But Spongebob? His easy-going, calm, funny best friend? Sure, he had taken up his fair share of 'outbursts' in his life, and Patrick had stood next to him for a good portion of them. But this? And with Sandy? If someone started throwing insults, Patrick's safety was as good as dead.

"We're going." As if choosing the least evil of two poisons, Spongebob turned to face her. Her eyes were stubborn and enflamed, like she had already made up her mind and planned to leave him behind if necessary.

"No, you're not."

"Yes, we are!"

Patrick piped up, for his friends' safety and his own. "Uh, can you guys do this…somewhere else? Preferably far away from me?"

Spongebob crossed his arms over his chest. "There's no reason to, because we're going right now."

The smirk on Sandy's face practically slapped Spongebob's pride into the dirt. "You may feel confident now, Spongebob, but Shell City is no place for a–"

"A what, Sandy, a kid?" He stomped a foot so hard in front of her that Sandy nearly flinched. "Well, if I'm such a kid, how about a friendly karate match before I leave?"

The ocean stood still, not a wave rumbled past and the flower-clouds hung in dense, fevered anticipation.

Sandy looked him up and down, and for the first time in all the years of their relationship, she didn't recognize him. This wasn't Spongebob; this was someone who didn't care what she thought, and would drive out of her life in the blink of an eye if he had to. This was someone who had a job to do and wanted to do it.

And so did she.

She had a job. She had to protect him. She had to keep him safe, keep him from getting hurt, from getting himself and Patrick killed, from getting lost or kidnapped in the worst place any living sea creature had ever gone. She wouldn't let that happen to him. She wouldn't play the soldier's wife, content to watch him walk off into danger with a smile on his face and a gun on his back. She wouldn't do that. She loved him too much to do that.


"Fine," she replied, her voice curt and defiant. "One match. If I lose, you can go. If you lose, I go with ya."


She marched off into her treedome and crashed the door shut so hard the ripple slammed into them through the water.

"Do you know what you're doing, Spongebob?" Patrick asked, shuddering and quivering from the passenger seat. He watched in dirty conflict as his best friend suited up in his karate gear. From where he retrieved it, Patrick had no idea. "You've never beaten Sandy before, have you?"

Spongebob pulled a glove over his hand. "Of course I have."

"Oh yeah? How many times?"

Spongebob sighed harshly beneath his breath. Statistics and facts meant nothing. He could beat Sandy. Of course he could. She wasn't that tough. Just like he chose to get the crown, to save Mr. Krabs, to save Bikini Bottom, he chose to win this match, and win it, he would. "Don't worry, I'll beat her."

"Just protect your head, I need someone to drive."

Behind his best friend's words lay a hint of fear. Spongebob looked over, and Patrick stared right back. They remained silent, for a moment, before he replied, gently. "I'll be ok, Pat."

Patrick smiled. "Good."

"Ok, ready for me to smash your face into the ground?" Sandy's words thrashed through the water just as hard as her door thundered shut.

Spongebob pulled his helmet over his head. "I'm ready. Let's go back behind the treedome, I don't want Pat to see this."

Patrick agreed wholeheartedly.

They walked to the back of Sandy's treedome in silence, each wound tightly in their own thoughts, separate, yet entwined.

Fighting was foreign to them. They never fought to fight, they fought to get better, to practice, to have fun, like children. They did not fight like street gangs or men in bars, they fought like boxers or kids, for sport and sport only. It was never to hurt each other, it was never to win anything, it was never for a higher purpose than improvement, and that hit a chord neither had ever experienced before.

Sandy dug her boots into the sand as soon as they were behind the dome and out of Patrick's innocent view. She would not hurt him. She would take him down within the minute, he would give, and she would go with them. Then, she could keep him safe. "I won't hurt ya."

Spongebob scoffed. "As if."

The new attitude, the cockiness, wore on her nerves. "Three, two, one."

As soon as he heard her mumble, they lunged, and she took a harsh swing to his head.

She missed.

The shock wore off just in time to see him chop at her side and jump out of the way. I missed? How did I miss? I never miss him!

She backed away a few feet, looked for an opening, and by the time it flashed before her eyes and she chased after it, it vanished, and he delivered a swift hit to her arm.

First hit, Spongebob.

The confident smirk on his face, even in the sweat and heat of their battle, stuck a needle in her pride she couldn't get over.

She lunged again, and this time, faked him to get him in his side. For a moment, it felt wrong to engage in such a fierce fight, but when she thought of her two best friends, alone and afraid in Shell City, she swung again, and missed.

His new-found attitude cost him, however, when he tried to slide into a kick, and she caught his arm.

Before long, the sea spun around him, once, twice, and a third time until all he saw was the inside of her dome, felt his chest pressed against the glass, and her elbow in his spine.

"Give?" She grunted through a curt breath, pressing her elbow farther into his back, as if he would escape.


She stepped back, yet she couldn't shake off the strange sense that he had shoved her off. Who was this guy? He made her sick. "Well, we're going," He mumbled, avoiding her eyes and taking off his gloves. "I'll see you in a couple days, Sandy." His arctic eyes finally shot up in her direction, and in that moment, she knew what he was doing. She knew his defiance, she knew he meant to play with her heartstrings, she knew he had never meant it.

"What are ya talkin' about? I won!" She ripped off her gloves and thrashed them to the sea floor. "I'm going!"


The question finally silenced her, and she realized that she was just as cocky and snarky as he was.

They remained silent, eyes locked and loaded, unwilling to move until one or the other spoke. A million questions, a million words, a million memories and thoughts passed between the two. You can't go. You'll get hurt. So will you. I can handle it. I could do it. You're stupid. You're childish. You don't trust me. I love you. So do I.

Spongebob sighed. "Until you can answer that, Sandy, I'm going." The longing in his eyes nearly moved her to rare, shameful tears. "Bye."

"Gosh darn it, Spongebob, I'm worried about ya!"

His feet halted in the sand.

Like one artillery bomb after another, he couldn't silence her if he went in with guns blazing. "You do these stupid things all the time! You're gonna get hurt, then what? Are you really gonna make me run into Shell City after you, only to find you…" She refused to finish the sentence. "…I won't let you go!"

"I have to go." Spongebob's snarky face fell back, retreated, and waved the white flag. She nearly sighed at the sweet smile on his face, the one she had nearly lost. "I'll be ok, I have Patrick."

She chuckled lightly. "Small consolation, buddy." The break in the feud felt good.

Sandy wasn't used to relenting. She wasn't used to giving in, to letting others have their way, and sacrificing what she knew was best to let others learn, figure things out of themselves, and live on their own. And, before she moved to Bikini Bottom, she wasn't used to having friends, or people trusting her, or living near a sweet, sentimental guy who cared about her like no other.

For once, for him, she was going to take that chance, and trust him, even if it got both of them killed.

"You be safe, ok?" Her voice cracked on itself, fell from her throat and mixed with the tears and sobs rising to the surface. "Don't talk to people. Don't do stupid things. Don't listen to Patrick. If it gets to be too much, come back here, and we'll figure something else out."

She paused, let her head hang, and whispered just loud enough for her words to make it to him, "Just come back, alright?"

She hadn't noticed, until he gently tipped the glass of her helmet up, that he had walked over to her as she spoke. "I'll come back, Sandy. I promise."

Shock jumped from her shoulders to his when she swiftly removed her helmet, bent down, and kissed him. It was brief, momentary and silent, but it held back longing the two had not known for all the years of their lives.

Just as his head stopped sprinting in circles, she stood up, rushed her helmet back on, and drained the water. "You get the next one when you come back."

"WELL, IN THAT CASE, I'LL HAVE HIM BACK IN THREE DAYS, TOPS!" Patrick promised, shouting at the cliff of his lungs from the street.

The pair giggled.

"I'll be b-back, Sandy." If his confidence had retreated, now it was long dead, as his sweet, nervous smile overtook his face.


He reached out, squeezed her arm quickly and quietly, then ran off to the car as she watched, the soldier's wife, wondering where her strength had flown to.


Sandy had heard it all. He was manager. In hardly a week, he had proved all of Bikini Bottom wrong, saved his boss, saved everyone's lives, thrown Plankton in jail, and got a new job. All in all, he had a pretty productive week.

She had called him that evening. He, Patrick, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, King Neptune, and Mindy went out to Goofy Goober's in celebration, but she had respectfully declined over the phone, instead asking to see him afterwards, at her place, alone.

A hero. Her best friend, Spongebob, was a hero. She wondered how far it would go to his head, if at all, what with his shining humility.

The future played and tugged at her heart, yet she knew it quivered, shook, and shuddered just as hard as she did. After all, what would tomorrow bring? Would he finally get his license? Would he move? Would he leave them all for better work opportunities? Would he get a girlfriend?

The last possibility struck a nerve, and she sent a quick thrust to the wall of her dome. Stupid hopes, climbing too high just to fall and splat like a bug.

Three weeks ago seemed so perfect. She knew exactly what to expect, she knew where her life was going, and how it would go. Or, at least, she knew the future wasn't going to plunge a dagger into her back, like it seemed to do now.

She should have been happy for him. She should have gone to Goofy Goober's with him. Now she was just the one who wouldn't go, the one stuck in the past, the one who wouldn't change for the better.


The happy tone drudged the mud out of her mind, and she leapt from the grass and towards the door to greet him.

"Spongebob, you're ok!" She grabbed him as soon as he stepped in the door, hugged him tightly, and smiled. "I've been worried like heck about ya, I'm never letting you do that again!"

Spongebob smiled. "Don't worry, I don't think I could ever do it again! You have no idea, Sandy, it was crazy!"

He pulled back, yapping about this crisis and that crisis that he had endured on the trip, smiling with giddy pride the whole time, a characteristic she found rather cute and somewhat noble. She stood there, smiling, as he told his drawn-out story, waiting patiently.

"…and then, we shot down into the Krusty Krab! I didn't think we were gonna make it, but we did, and then…" He trailed off, finally noticing the strange glint in her eyes, one that he didn't recognize. "…uh, Sandy? Are you ok?"

"Remember what I said to ya before ya left?"

He thought.


Spongebob smiled.