Such is the Price

"Don't ever be sorry for coming to me; no matter why, never be sorry."

Disclaimer: I do not own any of those things, characters, situations, or ideas trademarked by other respective parties. This is fan fiction written by me using ideas from other media. Should you recognize a pop culture reference that is because it is a pop culture reference. No copyright infringement or plagiarism is intended.

AN: It's been a while since I've posted anything for Danny Phantom and since I've been on a DP kick recently, I drug out my Immeasurable Lengths story. I'm not ready to post anything but this popped into my head and I thought…why not? Not beta-ed, sorry! Please enjoy!

Sam groggily pulled her eyelids apart, dazedly sweeping her dark room looking for whatever had woken her from an all too pleasant dream involving a certain raven haired boy. "Sam?" a voice rich with an ethereal echo slipped through the quiet like a caress once more. Sitting up to stretch and rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, Sam realized the dark wasn't actually all that dark. Giving off a soft otherworldly glow, the photo-negative of the man she'd just been dreaming about knelt on her bed at her side, his weight causing gravity to pull her to the side towards his knee rather than straight down.

"Danny?" she asked muzzily, doing her best to politely cover a yawn. Glancing at her alarm clock she saw the bright scarlet numbers reading 3:12 AM. Danny wouldn't have woken her without a good reason, and her all too active imagination was immediately racing to leap to the most horrific of possibilities. "What's wrong? Are you hurt!?" He didn't look too hurt or distressed, but that was hardly reassuring. Danny had all but mastered the art of hiding his pain. He could have an arm amputated and solemnly swear it was merely a flesh wound.

His eyes widened at her panic, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, hey! It's not that bad!" he hastened to reassure her, his hands out in front of him as if trying to gesture calmness at her. Great, it was even worse than she'd imagined! Scrambling to release herself from the covers bunching about her legs and trapping her in useless motionlessness, she reared up on her knees and started fluttering her hands about in an attempt to look him over without unintentionally harming him further. "No, seriously Sam," he insisted, gripping her shoulders to still her, "it's not bad!" His grip tightened around her arms in a comforting squeeze, "It's not bad, I just can't reach it myself and I didn't want to bother Jazz since she's got a huge exam tomorrow." His voice was calm and authoritative. He was simply stating cold, hard, emotionless facts. He was keeping himself calm, the least she could do was the same. Taking a deep breath, she forced herself to still completely. He smiled softly at her, "Really, I wouldn't even bother but ectoplasm stains are entirely impossible to bleach out and I don't want my parents to get suspicious. I just need a Band-Aid, that's all." he grinned.

Sam took another deep shuddering breath and smiled weakly up at the love of her life. "Okay," she answered breathlessly, fisting her hands at her sides, "let me get the kit." No longer even remotely sleepy, what with adrenaline singing through her veins, Sam reached over to switch on her bedside lamp, eyes closing as she relished the sensation of Danny's cold, rubber encased hands sliding down her arms as he released her.

As she stepped off the bed and headed to her bathroom she thought she heard him whisper after her, "That's my girl." Even as dread coiled in her stomach, she couldn't help the whirling of butterflies winging about in her belly or the rush of heat to her cheeks.

Returning with her massive just-short-of-surgery-ready first aid kit, Sam found Danny sitting on her bed waiting for her, smile firmly fixed upon his face. Forcing herself to feel reassured, she approached him quickly. "Where are you hurt?" she asked him calmly, fully in control of her riotous emotions…only he could do that, only Danny. She used to always be calm and collected, level headed despite any circumstances…and then she had to fall in love with a hero…or rather, the boy she loved stepped up to his true potential far sooner than could ever be considered fair. Just as there was a fine line between brave and stupid, there was a finer line between love and heartache. Such is the price we pay for those we love.

"My back." he shrugged, wincing slightly. "Which, of course, is why I can't reach it myself." he hurried on, as if to draw her attention from the proof of his pain. Sam had learned a long time ago that the more nonchalant Danny was about his injuries the worse they were. He'd howl like a wounded animal over a paper cut or a kick to the shins but he went quiet when the pain was real.

Taking a deep breath and locking her jaw at what she was afraid to find, she raised her arm before him; index finger pointed down she twirled her hand, wordlessly telling him to turn around. She kept her face neutral, if slightly disapproving with a sardonically arched brow. It was as reassuring as she could be for him, letting him believe she was merely upset that he'd done something foolish rather than having her stomach twisted in knots of worry over him. He shifted so that he was sitting in the middle of her bed, his back to her, and it took everything she had, including biting her cheek and digging her nails into her palms, to keep from crying out in dismay. His back was one huge burn. Whatever he'd been hit with had been hot, massive, and prolonged. The rubber of his hazmat suit had actually melted into his skin in some places.

Shoving her fist in her mouth to keep the strangled sob from escaping, she blink rapidly keeping the tears that threatened to fall at bay. How he could smile at her when he had such an injury, when he had to be in such pain…it hurt. It hurt her that he hurt, but it hurt more that he was forced to hide how much it hurt because he was trying to spare her. He was always trying to spare her and she couldn't help but hate it, even as she loved him so much it caused her physical pain…he didn't realized there was no such thing as sparing her. Loving Danny was pain, a pain that hurt so bittersweet. Taking several shallow breaths, keeping as quiet as she could, she forced herself to focus. He would already be in so much pain but…cleaning burns was a nasty business and it was going to be so much worse.

She cleared her throat, forcing herself to suck it up. It didn't matter if her heart was breaking, her pain was nothing next to his. "We—" she bit off, stopping the crack in her voice from sounding, "we need to ease your suit off." she informed him softly, her tone deceptively calm. "Unzip the front and I—I'll p—peel it from the edges as carefully as I can. It's…" she took a breath that wasn't soothing at all, "it's a pretty extensive burn, Danny."

He groaned, running one of his white gloved hands through his even whiter hair, "Ugh, I fracking hate burns." Releasing a resigned sigh, giving no indication that he was in any pain, he reached up to unzip the front of his hazmat suit. "I'm sorry I had to wake you, Sam." he grumbled as he started to shrug out of the suit. Sam flinched forward, grabbing his shoulder to stop him, the need to screech at him to stop that almost overwhelming. He froze at her touch, before turning to look at her over his shoulder. Her eyes were riveted to where her skin met his, her fingers splayed over the taunt skin covering his broad, muscular shoulders. "Sam?" he asked hesitantly.

She blinked rapidly again, refusing to cry in front of him…sure she'd cry herself to sleep after he left…that is, if she ever managed to fall asleep after this…not that she'd want to since if she did sleep it wasn't pleasant visions of her lips on his or his cool fingers running over her feverish skin that she'd be visited with…the point was, she would not cry in front of him, not when he was pretending to be fine, all for her sake. She cleared her throat, her grip on his shoulder loosening, "No." she told him softly, looking up into his glowing acidic green eyes, "Don't ever be sorry for coming to me; no matter why, never be sorry." she told him firmly. His eyes softened and she had to look away or else risk breaking…or at least, his seeing her broken because there was no stopping something that already happened.

"And I meant what I said," she retorted with a little bite in her tone, "I'm going to ease your suit off." Danny scoffed and rolled his eyes, turning to face forward again. Taking and releasing a deep breath, Sam shifted closer to his back, close enough that she could feel the cold of his icy nature radiating from his skin, a strange contrast considering his skin was scorched…that was something at least, his elemental core provided at least a little comfort for such a horrific injury. Careful to keep from pressing up against him, she reached around him. Hovering over his right shoulder, her head canted in the same direction so she could watch what she was doing, she gently eased her fingers under the rubberized fabric. Her breath was stirring the hair by Danny's ear and it looked like he was suppressing the urge to shiver. She bit her lip; this was going to hurt him so badly.

As gently as she could manage, she slid her fingers along his skin, sliding the fabric back and over his shoulder. Holding the right side in place, she reached around with her left and did the same. "Okay, hold her arms back slightly. I'm going to pull the fabric off your back as I slide it down your arms. It's going to pull, so…brace yourself."

She shifted again so that her knees were on either side of his hips, and he brought his arms back so that his hands were planted on the outside of her knees. "I'm ready when you are Sam, no big." he assured her, throwing her a grin over his shoulder. In a painstakingly slow progression, more and more of his poor tormented flesh was exposed as she peeled the form fitting rubber from his skin. She winced as it stuck in places, pulled skin in others, and tearing skin, as it was literally fused to his body, in yet more places. A coppery taste on her tongue told her she'd bitten her lip hard enough to draw blood. She ignored it and shifted further away from him to angle the peeling process better.

Once the mangled fabric was free from his person, she bunched it up between his backside and her knees, his torso now exposed in all its naked glory. As many times as she'd fantasized about running her fingers along the sharply defined muscles of his back, or along the tantalizing grooves of his abs, she couldn't help but shudder at the macabre parody of her desires. She didn't want her touch to cause him pain. She didn't want to be the one he associated with getting hurt. But it was the only way she could trust that he'd be okay. She needed him to be okay far more than she needed him to want her…and that was definitely saying something. "Maybe…" she grimaced at herself, she needed to suck it up already, "maybe you ought to lie on your stomach? It might be easier to…" she couldn't finish because the word 'endure' was going to be too much for her composure.

"Sure thing Sam." he responded brightly as he flopped over on his belly. "I know cleaning the bottom of the burn would be at a really awkward angle otherwise." he shrugged. She could actually see where the careless action pulled at the inflamed skin, how the injured area rippled over his muscles. He was so damned insistent at playing the injury off, like it didn't hurt! It was maddening even as she bitterly admitted it actually helped to keep her from freaking out again. The selfless idiot.

Sam swallowed back the urge to chastise him. She blinked back the urge to cry. She forced back the death grip strangle hold her emotions had on her heart. This next part was going to be rough. "D-Danny…" she began hesitantly, "This is going to hurt." she warned him.

He smiled up at her, "I'll be fine Sam."

By the time Sam had gotten his burn cleaned and prepped for bandaging, her nerves were frayed, her composure was in tatters, and her face was streaked with silent tears. Danny had done a marvelous job of pretending it didn't hurt, but he'd never been able to lie to her, not with his words and not with his body. He'd been in agony. She'd been thorough.

"Alright, I need you to sit up for me." she instructed him, surprised that her voice sounded calm and composed when she was anything but. Danny shifted to his knees, bracing his hands on her headboard, his head hanging down below his shoulders in exhaustion from keeping quiet. Bandaging him was a cinch, it was something she was proficient enough at that she could do it with little to no input from her mind…which was good considering the state of it at the moment. Once she taped the gauze off, she instructed him to lay back down. "Just lay there and get your bearings." Her tone was still calm and composed, her hands weren't shaking, but that wasn't going to last much longer. She gently combed her fingers through his hair as he settled down on her bed, his face turned away from her, "It's over." Trying to swallow past the lump lodged in her throat, she spoke one last time, low and close to his ear because any louder and it would have betrayed her, "Wait right here, I need to fetch something." Yeah, her self-control.

It took everything in her to keep from bolting. As it was, the journey from her bed to her bedroom door lasted a short eternity before she was free. She fled down the hall and barricaded herself in one of the upstairs bathrooms. The tears were flowing freely now and there was no stopping the sobs clawing their way from her chest. No matter how much air she gasped into her lungs she felt like she couldn't breathe. Her whole body was trembling and her knees gave out beneath her, unceremoniously depositing her on the unforgivingly cold tile floor, her nightshirt not long enough to provide even a modicum of defense for her pale skin.

Since the lab accident, Sam had slowly become conditioned to associate a cold touch with comfort, with the feeling of protection and love. She felt none of that as she huddled on the floor and tremors wracked her small frame. She jammed a towel in her mouth just as her internalized misery released itself in a howl of agony Danny would have been able to hear even without his enhanced hearing otherwise. Sam absently found herself rocking back and forth as she frantically tried to purge her anguish so she could get back to Danny before he became suspicious of her absence even as she tried to reconcile the fact that there'd be no rushing this. She should have realized it was for naught.

Cold arms wrapped themselves around her and pulled her tightly against a well-defined, pulse-palpitatingly broad chest. Goosebumps shot down her spine and limbs as too-cool skin slid up her back and threaded through her hair. She felt her hair stir softly in a chilly breeze as her head was tucked beneath a chiseled jaw. He held her tightly, as if even the slightest bit of laxness on his part would cause incomprehensible, irreversible damage to her. He held her as if she was his most precious possession and she'd nearly been snatched from him. He held her as if he loved her so much it hurt to have her too far from him. He held her as she desperately wanted to hold him but couldn't.

"It's okay Sam." he murmured into her ear. "I'm fine. I swear to you I'm fine. Please don't cry." Sam shifted so she could wrap her arms around his neck. She didn't want to cause him any unnecessary pain but she needed to hold him. With her face buried in his neck, her arms wrapped around the least wounded part of him, she fought back her tears. She hadn't wanted him to see her like this. He was supposed to see her as the strong, independent, tough-as-nails partner that he could always come to. That he could always depend on. And here she was, crying like a child in the face of something too difficult.

But it was too difficult. Every injury, every 3 AM wake-up call highlighted the danger he was always in. It pointed out that there'd never be a peaceful night because it was those nights that he didn't come to her that she worried the most. Even if he was hurt, as long as he was here she knew he'd be okay. If he wasn't here, if she couldn't see him, or touch him, or breath him in as he held her like she could right now, then it was worse because he might be out there too hurt to get to her. To hurt to call for help. Too hurt to…just, too hurt. Every morning she woke up with her heart in her throat as she turned on the news or waited for him to return a text; as she waited for any reassurance that he'd survived the night, another encounter with supernatural forces bent on destroying him.

Her breathing finally under control, Sam simply sat there, keeping her body pressed against his and determined to savor every moment she had with him because the reality of it all was that she didn't know when it'd be her last. This could be the last time she ever held him. The last time she felt his supernatural coolness against her skin. The last time she smell his particular blend of shampoo, body wash, and boy. It could be the last chance she ever got to tell him that she loved him.

And that last thought made her so ashamed of her selfishness. How many times had she had that thought only to trip and fall on her face? How many times had she had the words on the tip of her tongue only to wimp out and shy away? How many last chances had she faced with the delusion that it couldn't really be the last? When he had to face his evil alternative future self? When he was enslaved to the will of Control Freak? When she was possessed and the one trying to kill him? When he faced Pariah Dark and actually asked her if there was anything she wanted to say to him? Where would she be when—if his luck finally ran out? On the sidelines or at his side?

Sam took a deep, shuddering breath and pulled away from his arms. "Sam?" he asked hesitantly, trying to hunch down enough to look her in the eyes. His ethereal glow was once more the only light in the room, more powerful than usual because so much of his lighter colored skin was giving off the glow through his bandages rather than the black of his jumpsuit, but it was more than enough for her to be able to look him in the eye. She knew he had to stay in his Phantom form because it was harder to hide his injuries as Fenton, and he did heal faster as a ghost. It didn't matter though. It didn't matter what color his eyes were, or his hair, or how cold he was or if he glowed in the dark. He was Danny despite any of that, and it was Danny that held her heart in the large hands he'd finally grown into. It was Danny that filled her every thought and it was Danny who had the power to lift or crush her with even the most careless of words. One person shouldn't have such power over another, but he did…wasn't she lucky that she had such a responsible, upstanding young man to have hold of her heart? A man with a hero-complex, a guilt-complex, who was the most stubborn, kind hearted, fool to ever live. A man who didn't think twice about his own danger because he was too worried about everybody else's.

Looking up into his luminous eyes she knew she was doomed. Doomed to forever have her heart wrung out like a rag, to have her nails bitten to the quick, to the thudding roar of her pulse in her ears as her blood sang with worry induced adrenaline, to sleepless nights of tossing and turning or emergency first-aid, for her stomach to be endlessly tied in knots, for her heart to never slow to a resting rate again…doomed to tears, and screams, and an aching heart…doomed to pain, the pain of just how much she loved him, though the word failed to encompass any of what she truly felt for him.

Sam slid her fingers along his jaw until it was cupped in her hands. Her thumbs brushed his cheekbones, her fingers curled in the hollows beneath his ears. Her eyes fluttered closed and she pressed her lips against his. His arms tightened around her, pressing her into his chest as he fervently met her kiss with his own. She never wanted it to end, but when it did she made sure the first thing he heard would be something she'd never hesitate to say again, "I love you."

Such is the price she'd pay for him.

AN: Hoped you liked it! In fact, you could even let me know, you know, but leaving me your thoughts in the nice little box provided below. Everybody's got their own opinions and I'd like to hear yours!