Author's Notes: I should be working on a chpater story instead of this. But maybe getting it out of my system will help. This is the first songfic I've ever really written. Enjoy.

Disclaimer: Danny Phantom and all associated characters are owned by Butch Hartman. The song Attack of the Butterflies is owned by the band Gotham Road.

Attack of the Butterflies

It had been months. Five to be exact. Five months since Danny vanished. And Sam still hadn't given up the search. She recalled it all too vividly.

She remembered the day that in the middle of fighting a mad doctor ghost he suddenly snapped and went ballistic. The ghost was defeated, but Danny was still fighting, beating him down. Neither she nor Tucker knew what he was doing. All they could do was stare in shock as he continued to brutalize his enemy before deciding he'd finished and sucked the ghost into the Fenton Thermos. This wasn't like his usual vents of aggression. This was pure, unadulterated violence.

She remembered the day his grades came back at the end of their senior year in high school. His frustration on realizing there was no way he'd make it into his first-choice colleges like this and his dream of getting into NASA wasn't going to happen.

And she remembered the broken look in his eyes when she went to visit him the day before he disappeared. He was silent as the grave as he lay on his bed and stared into space. No matter what she said to him, he never seemed to register that he heard her. Not one word passed his lips. He didn't do anything besides blink. She fell asleep at his bedside, but when she awoke the next morning, he was gone.

It was now October, and Sam pulled up her car to find herself in a town called Pinehurst. She was in Washington state now, following any lead she possibly could to track Danny down, and the search had taken her here now, where people reported sights of a ghost in a black and white suit with pure white hair. It certainly took a lot of trying just to get this far.

She bundled her coat up and got out to begin the search again. She wasn't used to things being this cold back home, living in Central California. But for him she would walk to hell, the arctic, and back.

The search went on for hours. There were a few sightings, but for the most part, nothing else. The evening was drawing in, and Sam felt fatigue tugging at her like weights tied to her limbs. She glanced up at a neon sign and saw a nostalgic diner just up the street called "Crazy Al's." She decided to stop in for a quick coffee before checking into a hotel.

The air inside at least was warm in comparison to the chilly streets. She sipped lightly at her coffee, letting it warm her. It was kind of funny. In high school, she hated coffee. She preferred tea. Black tea. But on the road these last five months, she had acquired a taste for coffee out of necessity.

She sat at her table, ignoring the obvious attempts of her waiter to hit on her. After a moment, she drew out the picture of Danny. She had taken it during their senior year, wanting it for one of her scrapbooks. It was a simple picture of Danny from the shoulders up... smiling. It brought a tear to Sam's eye to think of how she hadn't seen him smile in so long. All the goodness in him seemed to be dying in those last few months, and she cursed herself silently for not seeing it sooner. She sobbed lightly at the thoughts, a tear running down her cheek. "Danny," she whispered softly.

"That your boyfriend?" she heard the waiter ask beside her.

Sam didn't even bother to be embarassed. She just shook her head lightly as she tried to hold back more tears. Danny was the love of her life, and not telling him so when she had the chance was her greatest regret.

"Hey, wait a minute..." the waiter muttered. "Can I see that picture a second? That guy looks kind of familiar."

Sam gasped and her eyes widened. Her hope flaired. That was the most positive response she'd gotten all day. She practically shoved the picture in the waiter's face and jumped up. "Where did you see him?" she asked desperately.

The young man was surprised, but slowly backed up to get a clearer view of the photo. "Uh... I've seen him a couple times on Long Street. He was a... a bum."

The very thought made Sam's chest tighten, and for several different reasons. She threw a $50 bill onto the table with a hurried shout of, "Keep the change!" as she dashed out of the restaurant and to her car. She switched on the GPS to find Long Street and gunned it the whole way there. She parked along the curb and began searching along the street. There had to be some sign of him. There had to be!

Sam passed along an alleyway before doing a doubletake. She saw movement. Hardly daring to hope, she peered further down and saw a human figure huddled among a cluster of garbage bags and refuse. "Danny?" she asked tentatively.

Welcome to my never, never, never world
Come with me, I'll bring you peaceful
Sleep retarded memories

Much to her shock, delight, and horror, Danny looked up at her through bleary eyes. His clothes were filthy and tattered. His skin was smudged with dirt and grime, and his face had a patchy stubble all along it. The muscular build he had acquired from fighting ghosts seemed to have been wasting away, and his skin was a sickly pale color. "Sam," he whispered in a raspy voice. "Shit, thought m' buzz'd worn off. Guess 't still had some left innit." His speech was badly drawled, and Sam gasped in horror when he looked down at his arm and she saw the tracks in his flesh.

She darted into the alley and eveloped Danny in a crushing embrace, afraid to let him go for fear that he wouldn't be real.

For his part, Danny was obviously shocked to discover he obviously wasn't high or dreaming. "Sam? Holy shit... How'd you get here?"

"Ive been looking for you from the start," Sam choked out between her sobs.

A long silence settled in before Danny spoke again. "You have?"

My heroin hold it in
If my smoke gets in your eyes
I apologize

An hour later, and Sam was sitting on the bed in the hotel she had just checked into, waiting for Danny to come out of the shower. She decided against telling him to shave as well. In the state he was in, she wasn't sure if she could trust him with a razor that close to his jugular. She had so many questions she wanted to ask, but decided to take it slow.

Danny emerged from the bathroom, and Sam felt herself go bright red when he walked out naked, towling off his body one part at a time. She sat in mute mortification as he wandered the room looking for his clothes. On the one hand, she had many fantasies involving Danny in the nude. Granted, they usually involved her in a similar state of... undress. But on the other hand, she knew this was a case of him being so delirious that he no longer cared about his dignity. And besides that, he looked terrible. He was deathly thin, and had new scars since the last time she had seen him. Some wounds were still in the process of healing.

When he finally got his still-filthy jeans on, Sam decided to shake off her embarassment and get to the point. "Danny... what's going on? Why did you leave? What's happened to you?"

Danny laid back on his bed and stared at the ceiling a moment. "I can't fuckin' do this anymore," he mumbled.

So welcome to my hello, hello, hello world
Going down a one-way street
Footsteps in the gallery
Sleep retarded memories
My heroin hold it in
If my smoke gets in your eyes
I apologize

It was a long story. And a little disjointed. But as far as Sam could figure, the pressures of trying to be a hero had gotten to Danny. His mind snapped under the pressure. So he left. He didn't know where he was going, only that he needed to get away. And along the way, he had picked up some very dangerous methods of escape.

"And now look at me," he mock laughed. "I'm not even 19 yet, and I'm a god damn junkie. I think my lowest moment was the time I had to give that one dealer a handjob for my fix!" Despite the sardonic, self-deprecating smile, there were tears in his eyes. He obviously knew how far he had fallen, but he felt too helpless to stop it.

Sam herself was crying. Danny, her hero... her knight in shining armor... reduced to a withered husk.

"You know, you were right, Sam," Danny said after a long silence. He looked at the tracks in his arms sadly and frowned. "There's no one up there looking out for us. We're all just ants that'll eventually get stepped on, no matter what we do with our lives."

Sam had know idea Danny would take her atheist rhetoric to heart like that. Unable to take it anymore, she got up and sat down beside him on the bed. It was so much like the night before he left. But this time, he turned his head and looked at her.

I am all you'll ever need
I am the child messiah.
Jesus Christ is dead,
the butterflies are lost inside
and I am where you hide

"Danny..." she started, "I don't believe in any god or anything... but I believed in you... That sounds so trite." She looked over at Danny, but he still had his eyes on her. "You were a hero. To Amity Park. To all those people... To me." The tears were now coming down stronger than ever.

"Sam...?" Danny whispred softly, a flicker of his old self coming to those now-dull blue eyes.

Sam flung herself onto the bed and sobbed into his shoulder. "Why did you leave? Why didn't you tell me anything?" She didn't know whether she was angry with him or just upset with herself for this whole display.

Danny wrapped his arms around her tentatively. Soon he began sobbing with her. "Sam... I'm so sorry. I'm just a coward."

"No you're not!" Sam insisted, now truly angry with him. How dare he say such things about himself? She glared at him through her puffy eyes. "You've put your life on the line more times than I can count. What makes you think you're a coward?"

Danny looked away, but she grabbed his jaw and forced him to look at her. "Answer me," she demanded.

Danny sighed. "Because I can fight ghosts, but I can't do anything else. I just run away from all my problems. Like I've been doing since I left home."

In a twisted sort of way, that made some sense. Sam's anger faded slowly and she buried her face in his shoulder again. She knew the time had come to play the one card she dreaded the most, but knew she would regret forever if she never did. "Danny, please don't do this to yourself. I can't stand seeing you like this... I love you."

There was a tense silence, and Sam felt her heart breaking because of it. Even if he didn't reciprocate her feelings, though, she hoped that it might at least show him somebody still cared.

Danny's body shook in what Sam realized was a cross between a laugh and a sob. "You know what the funny thing is? Part of the reason I left... is because I ddin't think that was possible."

Sam slowly looked up at him. "What?" Now she was truly confused.

"I should have figured that out a long time ago," Danny laughed/sobbed. "I didn't think you'd ever love me back. I thought it would hurt too much to see you with another man."

Sam couldn't believe what she was hearing. For the first time in months, she felt light. She felt a shadow lifted from her heart. Without waiting for another chance, she grabbed tightly to him and kissed him. It was sloppy, aggressive, and his lack of dental hygeine the last few months made it a little less than sanitary. But at this point, she didn't care. And apparently, neither did he.

When they parted, they stared into one another's eyes for a moment. Finally, Danny was the one to break the silence. "Sam... Do you think it's too late to go back?"

Sam just smiled and shook her head 'no.'

I am all you'll ever need
I am the child messiah.
Jesus Christ is dead,
the butterflies are lost inside

Sam stood with her hand on Danny's shoulder as he walked up to the receptionist at the rehab clinic.

"Can I help you?" she asked.

"Yeah. My name is Daniel Fenton... I need help." Everything was going to be okay.


Author's Notes: This is my first attempt at writing angst in a long time. I could really use some constructive criticism on this one.