Danny and Sam get into a fight. Sam starts hanging out with Ricky (the cause of said fight), Tucker becomes an impartial party, and the once infamous trio begins to split up.

The fun is in the apology, for no ordinary one will do.

Disclaimer: I do not own DannyPhantom, related characters, orany of the mentioned movies or songs. The first of said songs being 'Wind Beneath My Wings' by Bette Midler and the second being 'It's Tough to Have a Crush' by Ok Go. Amazingly, this ISN'T a song-fic. Oh yes, I do own the plot and Ricky Morter. Hooray!

:AN: Little side note... This fic is set in the start of second semester junior year. (Perfect timing for being posted in September, huh?)

Title: Apologize With Flare

Ohh, Sam Manson was absolutely furious! Danny Fenton had really crossed the line this time, blowing up at her like that for having a new guy friend. Since when did he have the right to dictate who she could and couldn't hang out with? Never! - that's when!

Sam growled as she stomped off towards Ricky Morter, the new guy friend in question.

Danny scowled at her retreating figure. "Can you believe the nerve of her?" he asked Tucker Foley, his best friend and resident tech geek. "I'm only acting out of concern! That guy just doesn't look trustworthy to me!"

Tucker arched an eyebrow, "Dude, you do realize he's like, the male version of Sam, right?"

Danny stared blankly at Tucker, "So what's your point?"

Tucker sighed. There was no point in even trying to get through to him, he was dead set on not liking the boy. "Nothing man, nothing. No point at all."

The rest of the lunch period was spent in silence. Danny kept glaring in the general direction of Sam and Ricky; Tucker really didn't want to get in the middle of things. Personally, he thought Ricky was alright, but he could see what Danny was so upset about. Ricky was good looking and, judging from the way he carried himself, he knew it too.

But he really didn't think that was why Sam was so fond of him. He, like her, opted for a darker look and a diet sans the meat, plus, as previously stated, he was an alright sort of guy. He was nice and funny, he didn't seem to have any qualms with being himself in any sort of situation, and he always seemed to have something witty to say.

Even Paulina was rumored to have said something about liking him. And that was saying something, seeing as he was deemed "uncool" by current mainstream status. Man, the school was shallow, well at least Paulina was.

But, again, these were just more reasons to put Danny on edge. But that was his own fault; he had plenty of time to make a move on Sam before hand. If Sam was happy with Ricky, whom she claimed to have a platonic relationship with, why shouldTucker say anything against it?

Oh yeah, he was Danny's friend too.

That was the problem with having two best friends; if ever they got into a fight, you were instantly pulled in and put in the middle. Hmm… maybe this would be a good time to start doing homework in the library during lunch. Wait a second, homework during lunch! Nah, and he couldn't leave Danny hanging; besides it wasn't like Sam was pulling at him to have lunch with her.

What was up with that?

Oh right, that was a good thing.

Tucker sighed; there was just too much politics in life.

Danny, on the other hand, just couldn't let go of the fact that Sam was willingly putting herself at risk with that random guy! He was new to the school, nobody knew anything about him! How was she to know if he was a drug dealer or something? Yeah, he was only looking out for her best interest and this was how she thanked him; by giving him the cold shoulder and eating with the aforementioned random guy. This was rich; really, really rich.

Well she could just go and get herself in trouble. See if he cared.

Crap. He did care, but that didn't matter because he would be proven right. And that would make everything worth while. It would be nice to get an apology from Sam; one that he really would deserve. Although he'd rather she didn't have to get hurt in the process. Oh man, he'd kick little Ricky's ass if he did anything to Sam. Forget about him being three inches taller and the fact that he wears a chain. He would just go Phantom on his ass!

Danny and Sam continued avoiding each other for the duration of the week, save for the occasional scowls and glares. Tucker was, inevitably, forced to choose sides. Opting to stay out of it, he was forced to hang out with other people; other people, of course, being Valerie Grey, but whatever works.

And thus the trio had been broken apart.

Ricky did not like this. Sam spoke often of the great friendship she'd had with the two boys. Well, she didn't exactly use the words "great" and "friendship", but she did talk about them enough (with an emphasis on Danny). He had a feeling there was more to everything than she was letting on. Call it intuition, if you will.

Sam was in the middle of telling him for the third time about Danny's 'pants incident' back in freshman year and how much of a dweeb he was when Ricky decided it was time to put an end to it. This was getting ridiculous.

"You know," he said, interrupting her in the process, "I could just talk to him for you. He probably doesn't know-"

"No!" Sam cried. "Danny's put himself in this mess, don't go helping him out!"

"Sam," he said with an attempt at reason. "The boy is obviously jealous, confused, and hormonal. You can't blame him for jumping to conclusions."

"He called you a drug dealer," Sam replied dryly.

"Did he now?" Okay, so Danny was allowed to be jealous, but name calling was just uncalled for.

"Still want to talk to him?" she asked hopefully.

"Yeah," Ricky nodded. "Maybe I'll ask him if he wants me to hook him up."

Sam laughed but shook her head. "Please don't, I wanna make him sweat it out a little, you know? He was a real ass."

"Sure," he said reluctantly, "I promise." Not that he'd admit it, but there had been some finger crossing going on. No matter though, karma would make sure he'd pay for it later. Maybe by then he'd start to believe in karma.

"Alright," she said with relief. "Thanks. Oh yeah, my parents are going to this benefit thing in New York next weekend, wanna come over and watch movies or something?"

"I'll have to check the old schedule, but sure, if I don't have to work or babysit or anything," he shrugged.

The bell rang signaling the end of lunch. Sam and Ricky went their separate ways and after the final bell rang, releasing the school for its mandatory two days of freedom, Ricky started to devise a plan. When Monday rolled around he showed up at school with only his homework, binder, and a burned CD. He was ready.

During passing period between third and fourth, he managed to corner Danny in the bathroom. It was time to put his plan into action.

"Danny," Ricky said nonchalantly, "Fancy meeting you here."

"Well, it is the boy's bathroom," Danny pointed out. "It was inevitable we'd run into each other eventually."

"Yeah, well I was wondering if I could talk to you."

"What about?" Danny asked. "The fact that you stole my best friend or maybe that you stole my best friend!"

"Hey, I didn't steal anything," Ricky defended. "You chased her away."

"Oh yeah," Danny laughed darkly. "And I'm so sure you had absolutely nothing to do with it. So when are you planning on dumping her –one week, or two?"

"Dump her?" he asked. "Dude, I'm not even dating her."

"Why," Danny spat, "She not good enough for you?"

Geez, Danny was really determined not to like him no matter what. This was definitely a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' kind of scenario. Luckily, he had his ace in the hole. "Danny, look," he began to explain. "I know I'm a hot piece of ass and everything, but first of all, my ego is not so big as to consider myself too good for anyone like Sam –who is a really awesome girl, by the way-, secondly she's not interested in me like that, and third –dude- I'm not into her like that, or any girl for that matter."

"You mean…" Danny couldn't even finish the statement. Oh no, if it were true he'd have to dig a hole and jam his head in. Then he could just emphasize how big of an ass he really was, waving it out in the air and everything.

"Yup," Ricky nodded. "I'm just about as gay as they come."

"Oh shit," Danny muttered.

"Oh shit is right, my friend," Ricky patted Danny's shoulder. "Oh shit is right."

Danny approached the tile wall and allowed his head to fall forward and hit it. Then he pulled his head back and hit the wall again. He did this repeatedly. "I am so… ugh."

"I think the word you are looking for is 'stupid', but lucky for you, I want to help set things right," Ricky informed him. "Unfortunately our time now is running short so just meet me in here after school and I will show you the light."

Danny agreed, feeling rather miserable about the whole situation, which had been entirely his fault... although Sam could have just told him. Wait… him being gay would make him alright to be around, but being straight made him a drug dealer? Danny made another 'ugh' sound; his uncalled for jealousy had driven Sam to Ricky and Tucker to Valerie and forced him to become even more of a loner. It would take one hell of an apology to make Sam forgive him.

Danny couldn't look Sam in the eye for the rest of the day, not that she'd noticed. She was still freezing him out. He tried to talk to Tucker about it, but all he had to say was "Sorry man; if I'm going to be impartial I have to stay out of it." So all he could do was trudge and drag through the day until, finally, school had let out.

He could finally get his much-needed help.

Danny returned to the bathroom at which he and Ricky had met in that morning, it now sported a sign that read "Flooded, Use Other Restroom", but he went in anyway. The bathroom was, in fact, flood free. Ricky was already there owning to the fact that his last class was right across the hall. He gave Danny a friendly greeting.

"So will you tell me what to do to apologize?" Danny asked tactlessly.

"Of course not," Ricky replied. "But did you know that Sam's parents are going out of town this weekend?"

"No," Danny said. "What does that have to do with anything?"

"Uh… nothingnothing at all," Ricky said. "Look, I can't tell you what to do, but I can give you some eerily specific advice that really shouldn't be traced back to me when Sam comes back into your picture, catch my drift?"

"No," Danny said with determination. "But keep going."

Ricky sighed. "Danny, you do realize that no ordinary apology is going to work here, right? I mean, you totally undermined Sam's judgment, not to mention made some brash –and untrue- accusations about myself."

"So what do you suggest I do?"

"You need to apologize with flare," Ricky advised. "You know, you might have to do something that puts yourself on the spot, something out of the ordinary for you, embarrassing even." He looked Danny in the eye. "Are you up for the challenge?"

"Yes."

"Good," he nodded in approval. "Well, you are armed with the knowledge, now all you need are the proper tools, inspiration, and a little ingenuity." He pulled out his burned CD and handed it to Danny. "Just listen to this; it should give you an idea."

"Okay…" Danny flipped the CD case over in his hands. It was unmarked.

"Alright," Ricky said. "Good man, you're ready to go. Oh, and if anyone asks, this conversation never happens and you came up with everything on your own. I am an utterly impartial party, got it?"

"Yeah," Danny said.

"Okay," Ricky nodded. "I'm off. Oh yeah, and Sam's parents are going away for the weekend."

"I know, you already said that," Danny replied.

"Oh did I?" Ricky asked, "Because that is totally arbitrary and unhelpful information to you." He winked and then disappeared through the door.

Danny exited a few seconds behind him and vaguely noticed the'flooded restroom' sign was missing. Hehurried home and played the CD. It was interesting… very interesting.

He didn't get it.

The next day Danny found Ricky alone and questioned him. Said boy merely smiled and ominously asked "How's your singing voice Danny?" It didn't help that he walked away with a cackling, almost evil laugh.

Danny's face paled. No. But then Ricky's words came back to him, "You might have to do something that puts yourself on the spot, something out of the ordinary for you, embarrassing even. Are you up for the challenge?" And Danny told himself he was.

The remainder of the week went by fast, but only because of Danny'santicipation for the impending event. But when he thought of the results it would bring, he told himself it would all be worth it. He practiced and prepared for the plan he hoped to execute that Friday night, even getting through Tucker's 'impartial barrier' to get him to cover for his sure to be late night. By the time he was supposed to do the deed, he was free of trepidation… almost. But he'd do it for Sam. Besides if he chickened out at the last minute he'd have that song stuck in his head eternally for no reason. And that just wouldn't be cool.

At around 9 pm on Friday night, after being disappointed by discovering that Ricky had to babysit his little sister, Sam was startled by the sound of a familiar tune, and then by a familiar –yet off key- voice singing. She looked out her window. Oh god, what was Danny doing?

"It must have been cold there in my shadow, to never have sunlight on your face. You were content to let me shine, that's your way. You always walked a step behind.

So I was the one with all the glory, while you were the one with all the strength. A beautiful face without a name for so long. A beautiful smile to hide the pain." Danny belted to the best of his (very) limited ability.

Sam poked her head out of her bedroom window with a somewhat mortified look on her face. This just egged Danny on with a smile. He sang louder into his karaoke microphone, the music blared. He pretended he was Tucker at Ember's concert. It worked.

"Did you ever know that you're my hero, and everything I would like to be? I can fly higher than an eagle, for you are the wind beneath my wings!

It might have appeared to go unnoticed, but I've got it all here in my heart. I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it. I would be nothing without you."

Soon though, Sam realized how utterly comical the whole situation was. Danny was singing outside her window, serenading her with 'Wind Beneath My Wings' no less! The serious, concentrated look on his face as he continued to sing (badly) only started to make her laugh.

But her parents would murder her if she let him keep on like that. There was no doubt he was disturbing the peaceful neighborhood and it was just a matter of time before one of her neighbors decided to contact her parents. They'd never let her stay home alone again, not that she'd be alive to enjoy such a luxury.

"Danny," she called wiping the tears of laughter from her eyes. "Danny, would you stop? Someone's going to call the cops on you or something!"

"Only if you say you accept my apology!" Danny called back. "And you'd better do it soon because the heart-felt ending is coming up!"

Sam laughed again and a giddy sort of feeling rose in her throat, but she quelled it. "Okay, okay, I forgive you already, will you stop now?"

Danny smiled and flipped the 'off' switch on his small stereo. "As you wish."

"Hold on a second and I'll come down," Sam called before rushing off to the front door. True to her word, she opened the front door moments later. She leaned lazily against the frame and crossed her arms and eyed him as he approached.

"So we're cool?" He asked.

"Yeah... for now," Sam smirked. "You wanna come in and watch some movies?"

"Sure," Danny nodded and followed her inside.

"You know," Sam remarked as they made their way to the basement/movie theatre/bowling alley/... well, you get the idea. "It's a good thing you decided to come tonight. If my parents had been here you'd be dead."

"Yeah I know," Danny replied. "That's why I chose tonight."

"Wait a minute, how did you know they were going to be gone?"

Danny mimicked a deer caught in headlights, but quickly regained his composure. "Tucker told me."

"Tucker?" Sam asked. "How'd he know?"

"Got me," Danny replied, keeping up with his white lie. "But I do know he was more than willing to help me apologize. He's actually covering for me right now. My parents think I'm over at his house."

"Ah, right," Sam nodded. She made a mental note to interrogate Ricky later. "So what would you like to watch? We've got Donnie Darko, The Labyrinth, Wayne's World, Spiderman, um… Ghost Busters… We could watch something scary or funny… or we could watch your favorite chick flick, Say Anything."

"Har-har," Danny replied. "Why not watch Ghost Busters? It would be a nice sort of irony and make me think back to the days when ghosts were nothing more than bad special effects."

Sam laughed, "Alright. I'll make some popcorn and put it in."

They watched the movie and enjoyed the popcorn. When it was over they decided they might as well watch the sequel to the ghost infused movie, but first Sam wanted to change into her pj's for optimum comfort. During her absence it occurred to Danny that if he stayed for the second movie, he wouldn't be able to leave until 1am or later. He voiced his concerns to Sam when she returned adorned in pj's and free of her gothic makeup.

She shrugged. "I'm assuming your parents think you're staying the night at Tucker's seeing as it is already way past your curfew, so why don't you just stay here instead in a guestroom or something?"

"Alright," Danny agreed. "That works."

Having that settled, they started the second movie. Soon Danny grew bored with the it, it was a 'been there, done that' sort of feeling. It sort of lead him to wonder why he'd chosen it in the first place. Then he noticed that Sam was watching intently, almost unaware of his presence. He smirked, what a perfect time to take advantage of the fact that Sam was incredibly ticklish. Sure, she'd make him pay for it later… but it would be worth it.

Slyly, he made the hand furthest from Sam go intangible so as to create the whole 'cold ghost' thing. When his hand was properly chilled, he slowly reached up and touched the warm crook of Sam's neck.

She shrieked and raised her shoulder, squeezing Danny's hand in place. He laughed and pulled it away and quickly poked her in the stomach.

"You are dead," she threatened as she prepared to pounce on the boy and inflict the same treatment upon him. But Danny leapt out of the way.

And the chase was on.

In the glow of the forgotten movie Sam tried desperately to catch Danny. Said boy was doing his best to evade her. Unfortunately he tripped over the discarded popcorn bowl. Sam immediately took advantage of his disabled state. Having pinned him down, she smiled smugly.

Now, however, it was Danny's turn to be smug. "You do realize that I could just go intangible and, once again, have the upper hand, don't you?"

Sam rolled her eyes and slipped off of him. "You may have won this round, Fenton, but rest assured that I will have my revenge."

Danny laughed, but they both settled down and finished watching the movie. By the end of it, both teens (with a slight emphasis on Sam) were quite drowsy. They made their way upstairs and Sam gave Danny his spare clothes (the three friends always made a point to keep a stash at each other's houses, just in case) and helped him get situated in the guestroom across the hall from Sam's room.

In the hall the drowsy Sam gave Danny a quick hug and a peck on the lips before muttering "G'night" and going into her room. Her head hit her pillow before she realized exactly what she'd done. Upon the realization her eyes flashed open. 'Oh no.' She raced back into the hall where, sure enough, Danny stood with a slightly confused and dazed expression.

"Danny?" Sam said timidly. "Um… about that little kiss, sorry. I was half asleep after all; I didn't realize what I was doing. At the time it just seemed sort of natural, you know, the right thing to do." Hmm, on second thought maybe that wasn't the best thing to say. Blast her and her sedated mind!

Danny looked up and was Sam leaning on her bedroom door and chewing nervously on her bottom lip. He slowly registered what she'd just said. "So wait a second, kissing me seems natural to you?"

"Umm," she laughed sheepishly. "Well, you know, again I was half asleep! I wasn't thinking clearly because otherwise it wouldn't have happened."

Oh yeah, Danny understood. With a smug sort of smile he said, "So when you aren't controlling your animal urges you kiss me? Dear Sammie, is there something you aren't telling me?"

Sam scowled, but picked up on what he was doing, making light of the moment. "Really Danny, is that anyway to talk about the 'wind beneath your wings'?"

"Hey now!" Danny feigned hurt. "That was a heartfelt apology!"

"Danny, you wouldn't stop singing until I forgave you!" Sam argued. "That wasn't an apology that was an ultimatum!"

"I had to go through the trouble of learning the lyrics you know," Danny replied.

"Oh boohoo," Sam retaliated. "After the things you said about Ricky and -indirectly-about me, I deserved an awesome display of apology masterpiece."

"Right," Danny nodded. "But we seem to be going off topic. You see, I'm still a bit confused by the fact that your subconscious thought kissing me was 'the right thing to do'. I mean, I wasn't in danger was I? Because I know you like to use it as a defense mechanism."

Sam scoffed. "Are you insinuating something? I'll have you know that those two instances you speak of were both to save your sorry ass! And if you'll be so kind as to remember that incident in front of the ghost portal… after I accidentally wished we hadn't met, you kissed me! By the way, weren't you the one who came up with the term 'fake-out make-out'?"

Danny rolled his eyes. This wasn't getting them anywhere. Hardly realizing exactly what it was he was doing, he walked up to Sam (much like she had walked up to him earlier), hugged the girl, and gave her a quick peck on the lips before muttering "G'night" and trudging back into his room.

His face broke into a grin when he heard her yell "FENTON!" in a way very similar to Dash's style. He turned around casually, sporting a very small smile knowing full well he'd be questioning his sanity in the morning, well, you know if he was alive enough to do so. "What?" He shrugged. "It seemed like the right thing to do."

Sam did that gaping mouth thing. You know, the mouth hangs open, then it closes, then it opens again like the person is about to say something, but all they end up doing is closing it again and repeating the process. Yeah, she did that. She even held up her index finger as though she was about to say something very smart.

Then Danny said something he registered as quite witty, "You know, they say imitation is the highest form of flattery."

Sam finally decided to speak. "I really hate mind games. Either you like me, or you don't. Which is it?"

Ah, and Danny was questioning his sanity sooner than he thought. But did he really regret kissing her? Well that was just like asking if he regretted earning an A or helping a little old lady across the street… not that kissing Sam was remotely comparable to those things. The boy just didn't take well to being put on the spot… in Fenton form at least. He pulled at the neck of his shirt and cleared his throat. Might as well be straight forward, though you'd honestly think it'd be easier than kissing her was. "Er, the first one." Smooth Fenton, real smooth.

"Oh," Sam said in an unusually chipper voice. "Okay. Well, good night then. I'm really beat, you know?" She started for her door.

"Hypocrite!" Danny accused. "You said you hated mind games!"

"Well Danny," Sam smirked, "If you're really upset I suppose I could just serenade you… Oh it's tough to have a crush, whoever knew such hullabaloo, well it's tough to have a crush when it only leaves you blue, perhaps they'll find you in the river in a month or two, but it's tough to crush on you!"

"You don't mind if I take that literally, do you?" Danny asked. "Well, you know, except the part about the river."

Sam shrugged. "Do as you please."

"Alright," Danny replied. He decided to take that as an invitation. He had a weird sort of giddy feeling as he approached Sam. She smiled at him encouragingly. For the first time it seemed that everything was perfectly clear. Crystal.

Well, obviously he had kissed the girl. Again.

And while it did give them a rush, the teens were both exhausted, having been up since the ungodly hour of 6am as per necessary for school and it was, at that point, exceeding 1:40am. But the parting message was very clear; they would be doing that again. In the near future. It was fairly certain on both parts that they'd surpassed the friendship level. And with that happy feeling, they went to bed.

The next morning and days following it was established that Danny Fenton and Sam Manson were officially (and finally) an item.

Danny's cover worked flawlessly too. His parents were none the wiser to his little (harmless) sleep over at Sam's house. And Tucker was just happy to have the fight over and things almost back to normal. Let's face it, the dating changed things, not that anyone minded. Oh yes, and Ricky was also assimilated into the group. Valerie came around every so often too. It seemed that (somehow) she and Tucker had gotten friendlier over the past week.

But it happened that one day when Sam and Valerie had not yet arrived at the table with their lunches that Danny decided to full heartedly thank Ricky for his help in the dilemma. This proved to be a dire mistake, a mistake Danny would have realized had he eyes in the back of his head.

"What can I say, man," Ricky had replied, oblivious to the looming danger. "I have an eye for music, and when I heard her parents were going out of town, well, it just-"

"You LIED to me?" Sam growled.

Danny sighed. Without Ricky's eerily specific advice he might not make it out of his relationship with Sam alive. Not that he wanted out. No, he'd have to find another way to apologize with flare. And only slightly less frightening that the things Sam was aiming to do to his head with her lunch tray was the fact that he'd have to do it by himself this time.

Maybe he'd recite something at the next poetry slam?

And what were Ricky's thoughts as he too attempted to avoid Sam's lunch tray wrath?

'Ah, sweet karma, I finally believe.'

The End


:AN: This fic is the product of hearing "Wind Beneath My Wings" on a long, boring, silent car ride home alone with my step-father. Yeah… Over active imagination. I don't really know where Ricky came from, but I think he's cool. Was Sam a little OOC with her violent streak? Eh... let's blame it on two and a half years of ghost hunting.

All in all, I'm rather proud of this, Danny got the girl and a new friend. So everything works out. Yay!

R&R!

And not that I've ever been given a reason to ask, but please no flames! Constructive criticism is welcome, however, and always will be.