Summary: A fall romance leads to the death of one of the ghost world's most popular teen idols.
Disclaimer: I don't own Danny Phantom or Remember, Butch Hartman does.
Dedication: To SpookyGirl, for stating that the song was obviously about her death. I had already written this, and hearing her say that gave me the incentive to post it.
She brushed back her bangs with the casual sweep of her hand. They were currently at the length where they were right in her field of vision. Amber was really starting to wish she hadn't gotten bangs with her summer haircut this year. She was growing them out and they were constantly in her eyes. She adjusted the second string and tried tuning again. The note came out much better this time. She shifted the acoustic guitar and leaned against the cracking dry wall.
She strummed about three chords and paused for a moment. Humming a few measures, she nodded and strummed the melody slightly different. "Sounds pretty," came the voice from across the tiny apartment. She turned her gaze from the window to Aaron.
"It's not supposed to be pretty," she saidwith a smile. "It's supposed to be dramatic. No one makes it with a pretty song."
He sat up in bed and grinned over at her. She couldn't help but smile back when he looked at her like that. "You'll make it. Record companies would have to be insane not to sign you."
The sixteen-year-old laughed and twirled her hair around her finger, propping her knee up to rest the neck of the guitar on. She was sure she had looked likea mess, but this morning-after-thing was new to her. Besides, she was sure Aaron couldn't care less what she looked like right now. The smile seemed to melt off his face as he stared at her for a little while longer.
"Go home, Ember." She stopped for a moment. He hadn't called her Ember in months. It had been a joke from when she dressed up as Cinderella for Halloween in sixth grade. Everyone said that Ember fit better for her. For some reason, the nickname had stuck.
The girl shifted and put the guitar back in the case, but didn't close it. She walked over and sat next to him on the bed. "Why? It's Saturday, we don't have to be anywhere."
He looked around the little dumpy apartment he had rented. Amber hated itwhen he did that. It made her feel so transparent, like he could see right through her. She followed his eyes, gazing at cracked, smoke-stained drywall. The single window in the apartment looked like it hadn't been washed in years and the floorboards looked like they could rot right out from under her feet. She knew why he lived like this though. It was hard for him to keep a job right now and being on your own at nineteen had to be difficult.
"Please, Amber, just go home." There was something in his eyes that scared her. Her fear must have been written on her face because his eyes seemed to soften slightly. "I just need some time to think, Ember. I'll call you later okay, I promise. Just go home. I can drop your guitar and stuff off later okay?"
She chewed on the inside of her cheek for half a second. "Okay," she whispered. She stood slowly, almost hesitating. "Talk to you later."
He nodded and she turned. She could feel his gaze locked on her as she left but couldn't bear to turn around.
Amber pulled out the key Aaron had given her and slowly turned the doorknob. "Aaron?" She called softly. It had been almost two weeks before Aaron had called her back, and then he had done it when he knew Amber was at school. She pulled the key from the lock and stepped into the apartment. The smell of liquor lay thick in the air and there were at least five empty bottles strewed across the table along with half-eaten food and some envelopes that looked like bills.
She took a few steps inside. Aaron obviously wasn't home, maybe she should just wait for him. Her quick scan for a clock ended up fruitless. She sighed. He couldn't be that long she would just sit and wait. She sat on the bed and hummed slightly to herself as she waited for him to come home, never noticing the open notebook lying at the foot of the bed.
Amber awoke to hands around her neck. She couldn't even remember falling asleep but there was no doubt she was waking up. Her eyes snapped open to meet Aaron's slightly glazed grey ones. She opened her mouth to talk but all that came out was a strangled, almostanimal-like sound. The rage in his eyes scared her. "How'd you get in here?" he demanded. But rather than loosening his grip so she could speak, his hand tightened.
Amber groped around with her right arm, trying to make her sleepy, oxygen-deprived brain focus. He lifted her head before slamming itback down into the bed. What was wrong with him? He'd promised that he'd protect her; he'd told her thathe loved her. "You think it's funny to play with me?"
She couldn't understand what was going on. It had nothing to do with her. "You just had to go prying didn't you?" Amber opened her mouth but could only make gagging noises. With that, the vicelike grip around her neck tightened. I didn't, she thought desperately, praying that it would show in her eyes that she had no idea what he was talking about.
Amber focused on her hand and raisedit slightly, fingers curling gently. He freed a hand to bat it away, but before she could do anything to free herself, his hand was back around her throat. "It was really funny, wasn't it, Amb. We're all laughing now." His speech was slurred and reeked of the alcohol he had turned to. "But I'm going to be the last one laughing, aren't I?" Those were the last words that registered in the young teen's mind before darkness enfolded her.
It had been two months since Amber McClain's funeral. The school hadn't even taken the day off and the flowers were withered within the week. So much for leaving a legacy, thought Aaron sourly. He tipped up the bottle and let the last few drops burn their way down his throat. He let his eyes drift shut and focused on the pressure in his head. He'd left her body in an alley blocks from his apartment. Everyone had just assumed it was an act of random violence that had occured on the way to his house. No one had even raised a question to his involvement.
It had been days later that it had hit him that Ember probably hadn't read what was written in the book. She hadn't seemed to know anything about it. The truth was, Amber had been an experiment. He had been starting to wonder if she had even known that he was gay. In all truth, she really hadn't acted like it. If she had known, why didn't she run? She had no reason to stick around and wait for him. The only reason she would have stayed is if she really didn't know.
Through his muddled thoughts, something slowly started eking its way into his conscious. It was sort of a soft humming that he instantly placed, despite how tired and foggy he felt. It was that little song Amber had been writing. He opened his eyes and focused on the window. The light made his head hurt but he wasn't able to look the other way. The form stood by the dirty window leaning slightly against the pane with her back to him. "Amber?"
He tried to sit up but the pain in his head stopped him. "You know," the all too familiar voice stated slowly, "It's amazing how you can't write any lyrics for months and then suddenly it just comes." Aaron sat up slightly resting the back of his head against the headboard.
"What are you talking about," he murmured trying to get rid of the pain in his head by pressing his palm to it.
Amber didn'treply, just began humming again. He listened, mesmerized for a few moments. Any minute now he was going to wake up from this dream and it would all be over. "Like a bad dream in December, nothing but ashes remains." It was almost breathed rather than sung. Aaron focused harder, wondering if he had heard her right.
Amber turned and almost seemed to glide rather than walk. But once she was out of the light from the window and his eyes could focus, he noticed things about her that hadn't been seen before. The ligature marks on her neck showed purple against her almost grey skin. Her lips had a light blue-purple tint to them and her eyes seemed covered with a glassy layer. Aaron opened his mouth to say something but didn't.
Amber stared at him for a moment and he stared back fixedly. She seemed to get bored with looking at him and dropped her chin. She picked up a strand of blonde hair and twirled it around her finger. As she did so it seemed to turn into flame and wrap its way around her hand. She pulled it away and examined it. The fire reflected off her glazed eyes, making it seem surreal. After a moment of fascination she slammed her hand into the cheap, warn mattress which lit instantly.
The story premiered on the fifth page on the Amity Park Register. Two days later there was a two paragraph blurb on page eight about how there were still no leads on the fire that had claimed two lives and injured five others. That was the last any citizens thought about the fire of the apartment complex. The police officers would bring it up occasionally when they had nothing else to talk about.
Yet, the clue that no one found was folded up, under a rock, at the Amity Park Cemetery. The gravestone was inscribed with the years 1984-2000. The note, resting next to it, is written out on staff paper. The notes had never been written in but below the lines, spaced as if the melody had been penned in, were four stanzas.
It was September
When showed the deadly fall
To you I did surrender
Two weeks, you didn't call
Your life goes on without me
My life, a losing game
But you should
You should not doubt me
You will remember my name
you will remember
Ember, one thing remains
Ember, so warm and tender
You will remember my name
Your heart abandoned
Your walls now perishing
Like a bad dream in December
Nothing but ashes remains