Somewhere for the Holidays
Well, right in the midst of working on a school assignment, I was bombarded with this lovely idea of a seasonal one-shot. Plus I couldn't help but RP with a friend it was oodles of fun. It always seems to work out that way, doesn't it? Oh well, its getting written whether I want it to or not! In other news, I've revamped my profile page, adding a rant and more summaries. And have you people seen the new features? Jazz isn't on the characters list! But Star is. Excuse moi?Well, enjoy!
Disclaimer: Don't own Danny Phantom, Macy's Day Parade, the Rudolph movie thing, or tofu turkey.
It was the fourth Wednesday of the eleventh month of the year. The day before Thanksgiving – Thanksgiving Eve, if you will – was always destined to be a day of frustration, confusion, and exhaustion for nearly every family in the grand ole U.S. of A.
Whole families bustled about in the kitchens together to prepare the traditional feast started almost four hundred years ago with friends who quickly became enemies, to thank them for saving their lives as they brought in more strange white men that would eventually cover the continent. Of course, the story only included the nice wholesome parts of the tale, and made all of the cooking seem worthwhile.
Turkeys sat in ovens for eight hours, about how long it takes most distant family members to drive, fly, or ride a train to the annual destination. Stuffing, cranberries, corn, and the fights in the grocery store over the last package of the ready-made pumpkin pie filled Thanksgiving Eve. The next day, the fourth Thursday of the eleventh month of the year, was meant for family gatherings, holding hands in prayer for the many things in life to be grateful for. Dad would cut the turkey, Mom would worry whether or not everyone liked her cooking, grandparents would reflect over tales of their youth to the grandchildren and nephews and nieces they hadn't seen since last year, and random bits of bread and juice would fly over from the kids' table.
Then, by the fourth Friday of the eleventh month of the year, they'd all be in their cars, driving away to their homes, and the entire event would repeat itself in a year's time.
It was tradition. It was normal. It was written into the very framework of American life. So, of course, it should be no surprise that the Fenton family would miss out on another regular holiday of any sort.
Faithful to their own, twisted traditions, the day before Thanksgiving didn't give any member of their household any excuse to pretend that the Fentons lived in a nice two story household, the mom was the best apple pie expert in the world, and the father had a honest, hard-working job. There was no reason to pretend that the son was a chip off the old block, or that their daughter was smart, charming, and the most popular girl in high school.
Well, to be fair, Maddie Fenton was an artist at creating deserts, she just didn't have the time to make a whole fancy dinner. Jack did work hard at his job, but it wasn't in a cubicle… or anywhere outside of their property. Jazz was intelligent, but she was lacking in the social field. Now, as for Danny? It turns out he was following in his father's footsteps, just in a different way than him. It was utterly, unbelievably, incredibly different, in fact.
Danny walked into his kitchen to open the refrigerator to scrounge for a snack. An apple or something would tide him over until dinner. To enter the kitchen, though, he had to pass by the open door to the lab in the basement, and could hear the clanging and twisting and faint voices from below. When a small bang and a puff of light blue smoke came from the doorway, he walked by, hardly noticing it until the foul odor filled his nostrils. He gagged and lifted his shirt over his nose, quickly grabbing an apple from the drawer and running into the living room. He let go of his shirt and gasped for clean air.
Jazz peeked over the book that she was reading on the couch. "Exploded experiment?"
Danny nodded, throwing the apple in the air and catching it. "Exploded experiment. It smells awful, too." He began to nibble on his apple just as the two inventors walked into the living room, coughing and waving away the smoke trails behind them.
The stench filled the room and Danny almost coughed up his apple. Jazz shrieked and dropped her book, covering her face and glaring daggers at her parents. "Dad, Mom! What on earth could you possibly be doing down there that smells this bad?" Her eyes widened in fear. "Oh my God, it's not poisonous, is it?"
"No," Jack said, hacking into a closed fist. "You know we haven't messed with those chemicals again, Jazzypants. Not ever since the last time they filled the house."
"In other words," Danny said, smirking, "no, you're not going to grow another tentacle out of your wrist."
Jazz got up and looked for a can of air freshener, finding one on the coffee table in the hallway. She sprayed the pine and lemon scented liquid in the air. "Once was traumatizing enough on my eleven-year-old psyche," she said. "Again?" A shudder ran down her back.
The mask slipped off of Maddie's head and she sat down on the couch exasperated. "I'm sorry, baby." She ran fingers through her short hair and sighed. "This invention is going to bring in a considerable amount of cash, and it just took a serious decline. We need it done by Saturday and the way things are looking we're going to have to spend the next few days working on it." She smiled warmly at her children. "I'll make dinner real quick, but then your father and I have an all-nighter."
Jazz paused, her finger slipping from the nozzle, but she shook her head and continued spraying the rest of the house. Danny knew what she was about to say. Honestly, if she wasn't going to say it, he'd have to.
"Tomorrow's Thanksgiving, Mom," she said, walking back into the room and setting the can on the table. "In case you forgot."
"No, it isn't," Maddie said in disbelief. She got up and walked across the room to look at the calendar. "Today is… Thanksgiving is in… oh, my goodness, kids, I'm sorry."
Danny shrugged and took another bite of the apple. "It's no big deal," he said casually. Right. That wasn't what he was thinking at all. Every Thanksgiving something came up in the lab. Life for him was already abnormal enough without going through another year with the holiday taken up by ghosts.
"Yes, it is a big deal," Jazz said. She wore the mask of parental chastisement on her face, a familiar one that at this point didn't cause as much guilt as intended. "Don't we owe it to ourselves for just a little bit of normalcy in our lives? One day of tradition? No, one meal of tradition?"
"Jazz, I thought we told you, normal is overrated," Jack said.
"But not family. Not life! Those aren't overrated, are they?" she counteracted. Her red hair set the image for flames erupting from behind her.
"Jazz, chill, okay?" Danny said. "It's not like I'm missing it, we've never had a normal Thanksgiving."
"Now, that's not true, we've all sat down for Thanksgiving before!" Jack argued.
Maddie placed a hand on his arm. "Jack, that Thanksgiving was when Jazz was four and Danny was two. He can't remember." She turned on Jazz. "But you can. I'm sorry, honey, but this is just too important. We're still a family, aren't we?"
Danny choked on his apple again. "We've had a normal Thanksgiving before?"
A hand flew up in front of his face. "Hold on," Jazz said. "Can't one of your inventions wait until Friday?"
"This isn't technically our invention," Maddie said. "The military has finally taken notice of the increasing ghost threat, and they've requested that we design weapons and build prototypes. It's the government, Jazz," she added desperately as Jazz rolled her eyes.
The military? They were going to start with ghosts now? Hopefully that wouldn't put Danny out of a job, he thought to himself. "I don't think I want to know what made that smell," he said before his parents began to talk further about the issue. "Congratulations on the project, you two. I'll be in my room." He tossed the apple core into the small trash bin and walked out of the room, leaving a complaining Jazz to deal with it.
So what? Another Thanksgiving was down the tube. He was just surprised that they'd ever had one in his lifetime. It didn't bother him at all. He'd order Chinese or something tomorrow while his parents made more of that horrible stench, the money from taxpayers rolling in. Maybe he could finally get that stereo he'd been wanting.
He pushed open the door to his room and flopped onto his bed, staring up at the ceiling. What was he kidding? Of course he wanted a Thanksgiving dinner! What kid wasn't really upset, somewhere deep down, that they weren't having Thanksgiving? The only thing that would top off the bad news was a ghost attacking.
And now he waited for irony to enact its revenge and for his ghost sense to go off, because that's how it would always happen on TV.
Instead, the phone rang, catching him completely off guard.
He reached over to his bedside table where his phone was and checked the caller ID. Manson. He swiped the phone fro its stand and pressed the Talk button. "Hey, Sam, what's up?"
"Oh, hi Danny," she said. Her voice seemed very light and happy. It wasn't too hard for him to put two and two together. "Nothing much is going on here; just the usual "Sam on a free day" boredom."
"You have a bowling alley, Sam," he answered, rolling from his back to his stomach. "I didn't know there was such a thing as free day boredom. We're not fighting ghosts, why not enjoy yourself?"
"Are you having a blast?" she asked.
"No. But that's because my house smells like a sewer."
"Do I want to know what happened?"
Danny laughed. "Probably not," he said. "But I'll tell you anyway. They're working on this new project for the military. Can you believe it? The military is paying us to make weapons for ghosts."
"Are you sure they're not planning to use them on people?"
"Sam, I know you're anti-war, but don't get paranoid again. Please."
Sam laughed again. Was it just him or did it seem nervous? Reluctant, even? "Spare me, Danny. So what are your big plans for tomorrow?"
The question that he could sense was coming finally appeared. "Ah…." He tried to find the words. "Since when did I have any plans for tomorrow?"
"I should've guessed. I'm sorry," she apologized. "So…. Err… neither do I, really."
He perked up. This was news to him. Usually Sam could have a large dinner feast with her parents' friends from work and a couple of actual relatives. She hated family gatherings, though, since they always made her cheeks hurt. Why did she seem so depressed? "What happened to them?" he asked.
"Well, my parents had to reschedule this meeting with a delicatessen chain two weeks ago to stay for Gramma's seventy-third birthday," she explained. "But it runs out today was their only free day to meet with them. They flew out this morning to their headquarters to discuss toothpicks and stuff." Her voice was steady and relaxed. "It's just me and my Gramma this year, nothing big and special as usual."
"Oh." Danny twirled the phone cord around two fingers, feeling the awkwardness between them. Neither of them had any family to go to this Thanksgiving. "Are you cool with this?"
"Yeah. Are you?"
"Yeah, definitely," he breathed.
No one said anything for a few seconds, and Danny could hear another bang from two stories below him. From somewhere on the other line, he heard Sam's grandmother call her. She said something back and apologized. Again, no one said anything. Until, the dam broke. "This sucks!" they both exclaimed.
"Every year it's always the same thing, either they're busy or they mutate the stuffing –"
"It's not like every other Thanksgiving has been good memories, but at least there were people…"
"I remember one time, two years ago, the cranberry sauce exploded on Dad and he glowed for three days…"
"So far I haven't enjoyed a single year. Last year Mom actually stuffed me into one of her dresses."
"Jazz is downstairs probably still complaining about my well-being or something…"
"If we even decide to eat tomorrow, Gramma says I have to make the turkey. Me! Cook turkey! Is she nuts?"
Danny took a deep breath and rubbed his forehead. "Okay, I think I've vented it all out."
"Maybe I actually want them here, just one year where it's not a dinner party with a bunch of other people talking about the cellophane business!"
It was evident that she wasn't going to stop soon. "Sam," he moaned. "Are you alright?"
"This is a really bug house, Danny, and at least you're family's going to be there," she continued.
Words kept coming from her mouth until he couldn't take it anymore. "Sam! Back to earth, Sam." She stopped talking immediately. "Look, it is okay. Neither of us is going to have a really normal Thanksgiving until we're married and have our own houses. Well, maybe you'll have a normal Thanksgiving, because I don't know what could happen with me," he laughed, thinking about his powers. He didn't think much about his future with them, but it'd probably be a difficult one. "Sorry about your parents."
"Sorry for the word vomit," she said sheepishly. He could imagine a blush coming up on her cheeks. "Anyway, that's kind of why I called you."
"Um… why would that be, again?"
"Because I know how you feel about your Thanksgivings, or lack thereof." Sam took a deep breath. "I… I was wondering if maybe you and Jazz would want to come over and spend tomorrow with us."
The invitation surprised him. He'd been to Sam's house before, but not often, since she'd just recently opened her doors to him and Tucker. Standing up, he started to pace around his room. "I don't know, Sam," he said. Before she could reply, he said quickly, "I mean I'm not sure what my parents will say. They'll probably say yes but they may… oh, what am I kidding?" He smiled. "Sure I'll come. You don't think your grandma will mind?"
"Definitely not," she laughed, relieved that she'd gotten a positive answer. "That's what she was yelling about earlier, didn't you hear? 'When are you going to ask him, Sammiekins?'"
Danny snorted at the nickname. "Sammiekins," he muttered under his breath. The chance to call her that, without being anywhere near her, was too good to pass up.
"Hey," she snapped, "I'm getting you for that tomorrow, okay?"
"Yes ma'am," he replied, feigning puppy dog fear. "Tucker's not going to be there?"
"His family's actually cooking for him," she scoffed. "Plus I don't want to see him gorging on the turkey."
"Why do you have to make it, anyway?" He stepped up onto his bed and started to hop on the mattress. The phone was beginning to make his ear sweat. "Can't you just call in a whole dinner from some restaurant?"
"It's Gramma's idea to give me a natural dinner," she explained. "And I think you could appreciate a home-cooked meal, as well."
"The turkey's not going to be tofu, is it?" He smiled, imagining how Tucker would react to a tofu Thanksgiving.
"Mine is," she answered. "I still have to make a real one though… please, don't eat it, and tell Gramma I don't need to cook it."
Though he started to feel a little guilty about it, Danny refused to let her off the hook. "I want turkey, Sam, real turkey… but, if you want me to," he said, struck with a sudden idea, "I can go to your house early tomorrow and try to help you make it. We can watch the Macy's Day Parade while we make the meal."
"And watch those old Christmas specials that come on in the afternoon?" Sam suggested eagerly.
"What, you mean that Rudolph movie?" He used to adore that film when he was a little kid. He remembered watching it with Tucker and Sam and Jazz in school, and he had begged his parents to buy it. It had disappeared somewhere in the past few years.
For the next few minutes, the two fantasized about what they were going to do tomorrow. More than once they pointed out how young and silly they were acting, being so excited about a stupid and, in Sam's words, mainstream holiday, but it didn't stop them from chattering enthusiastically about it. It didn't even sound like Thanksgiving anymore, but some get-together they were having that happened to be on the fourth Thursday in November.
After being on the phone for twenty minutes, Danny heard a knock at his door. He stopped hopping on the bed like he had been, and dropped straight down in a sitting position. "Who's there?" he called.
"It's me." The voice of his sister came from across the door. "In case you were wondering, neither of them cracked. Dad almost did, but it didn't work."
Danny remembered that Jazz was supposed to go with him to Sam's house tomorrow. "Oh, yeah, come in," he said to Jazz. "Hold on, Sam." He set the phone down on his pillow as Jazz walked into the room.
"Talking to Sam?" she asked, closing the door and leaning against it.
Danny nodded. "Yeah… she asked us if —"
Before he could finish Jazz held up a hand. "Shush, Danny. I need to talk to you." She moved to his bed and sat down next to him, looking square into his face. Danny felt compelled to scoot back a few inches. "I know you're acting like this doesn't bother, and it probably doesn't bother you too much. But don't try to hide that you're disappointed. This is one chance at normalcy for you, and I know you want that really bad. I just want you to know that no matter what, we're going to have a Thanksgiving sometime before I'm eighteen. That gives us only two years so we'll have to work hard to break them down."
Danny sighed and held up the phone, sticking it in Jazz's face. "Sam invited us to have dinner with her tomorrow," he explained.
For a moment Jazz didn't move. Then, she pushed the receiver out of her face and smiled. "Well, mission accomplished then. That was quicker than I expected." Her face hardened again. "Next year, though, we're pushing for Mom and Dad to have one, too."
Relieved that Jazz was finally done talking, Danny picked up the phone and said, "We're on for tomorrow. See you then."
A high-pitched scream rocked the house after the doorbell tone rang. Reflexively, Danny pulled his finger from the doorbell into his chest and stared wide eyed at the door. Jazz was behind him, a similar look of surprise on her face.
"What the heck was that?" she asked, breaking the stunned silence.
Danny relaxed, letting his hands fall back to sides. "Sam's never had to cook before. Either something exploded or she just saw the dead bird."
The two siblings stood there awkwardly as more screaming and muffled words erupted through the walls. Danny rang the doorbell again, and this time the screams stopped. Listening closely, they heard a set of footsteps running toward them loudly. The next thing they knew, the door was wide open and Sam was leaning against it. She was wearing an apron and one oven mitt, panting heavily. Honestly, she looked like she'd been through Home Economics Hell.
"Do I want to know what happened to you?" Danny asked blandly.
She shook her head, her black hair messy and… was that stuffing in her hair? She leaned forward and grabbed Danny around the wrist. "You're helping. Now!"
"Jazz, help, she's scaring me," he yelped as Sam pulled him into the house and dragged him into the large kitchen that smoke and a burnt aroma was seeping out from.
She released him and ran back to the oven, looking erratically around it for something. "Where's the fire extinguisher?" she cried, grabbing her hair and pulling.
Danny stared at the scene, shell-shocked. "I thought you were going to wait for us to help you! It's only eight!"
"This is the tofu turkey!" she yelled back, finding the red canister and carrying it to the smoking piece of fake meat. "I thought I could handle this."
"Obviously not," he muttered. He moved to her side and took the extinguisher from her. "Take the pan out so we don't have to clean the oven, Sam."
Sam obeyed, squinting as the heat met her face, and with one hand she pulled out the tofu turkey. It clattered onto the stove and Danny began spraying it down with the white foam. At this point, Jazz made her way into the scene. "Wow, Sam, you're house is really… Oh, no, the food's on fire!" she yelled. "Ms. Manson, the food's on fire!"
"No it's not!" Sam yelled. "Not anymore, at least…" Danny stopped spraying the turkey and sighed, setting the extinguisher down on the counter. He gave her an accusing look. "What?"
"Nothing," he laughed. "I guess you're not getting any of your turkey, though. Sucks for you."
Sam hit him on the shoulder but laughed as well. "Shut up. Since when did you know how to cook, anyway?"
"I don't. I just probably cook better than you, anyway. By the way, that apron is very flattering." He ducked as Sam lashed out in anger and ran out of the kitchen before she could cause any more damage in there.
By four o' clock, the meal was ready. It had taken seven hours because they had to go to the grocery store to get Sam's tofu turkey, they watched both the parade and as much football as Danny could squeeze in, there were numerous other disaster with the real turkey and Jazz's stomach, and Danny's hand had accidentally gone intangible and the rolls fell to the floor. Sam's Gramma did most of the actual cooking, while the teenagers only ran around stirring or getting ingredients. They were her legs, for the most part, since she was confined to the wheelchair.
The end result was a sweet smelling buffet to appeal to their tastes. Two turkeys, three different pies, corn, potatoes, cranberry sauce, croissants and rolls, gravy, stuffing, and iced tea filled the dinner table, along with plates and utensils.
Sam looked on, exhausted, but satisfied. She'd never cooked anything before in her life, since all of their servants usually made each meal at her house. It was a holiday, and they were all on leave since there wasn't any huge gathering of businessmen. It was more food than four people could eat, but she'd gone through too much torture to not enjoy it.
Jazz smiled at her as they took their seats. "Thanks again for inviting us," she said. "It was very sweet."
"No problem," replied Sam. "It was… unforgettable."
"The only thing I'm never going to forget about today," said Danny, shaking his head slowly with his eyes closed, "is seeing you in a white and blue apron holding an apple pie. Never, ever show me that again, Sam."
The girls had a good laugh at that. "Kind of like seeing your future, son?" said Gramma when they'd all settled down. The comment only stirred more laughter from her and Jazz. Danny and Sam sank low into their seats and glared at whichever one was related to them.
"Can we eat now?" interrupted Danny. "I'm starving, I haven't eaten all day."
"We have to say what we're thankful for first," said Gramma.
"We do?" Danny raised his eyebrow curiously.
"Thanksgiving, Danny," explained Jazz. "Giving thanks?"
He rolled his eyes and nodded. "I got it, I got it. Who goes first?"
"I will," said Ms. Manson. "Join hands, now." Danny reached over the bowl of potatoes and latched hands with Jazz, then Sam who was to his right, who reached over to hold hands with her grandmother, who grasped his sister's hand. They closed their eyes and bowed their heads. It felt like an old American ritual, when families said grace every night at dinner. These days, families are hardly ever together when eating dinner. Danny's parents usually tried to be, but they didn't hold hands like this.
Gramma cleared her throat. "I'm thankful that my daughter and son-in-law are so successful," she said, earning a slight cough from Sam. "… That my granddaughter has such wonderful friends…" Danny smiled to himself. She was probably a lot for thankful that he was Sam's friend than her daughter was. "And that the rest of the food didn't explode today."
Jazz giggled and took the next turn. "I'm thankful that Sam invited us here, so I could avoid having to convince my parents to take a fifteen minute break to have dinner with us. I've had a really nice time." The words seemed depressing, but her voice expressed her gratefulness.
"I'm grateful… for…" Sam seemed to be struggling with something to say. Danny nudged her encouragingly with his elbow. "I guess I'm grateful for you, Gramma," she finally said. "You sort of get me better than mom and dad. For Danny and Tucker, too," she added.
It was Danny's turn. He opened one of his eyes and looked around. Nothing that he wanted to give voice to, with Sam's grandmother in the room, came to mind. Sam opened one of her eyes as well at the silence and locked sight with Danny. She furrowed her brow, urging him to say something.
"I… I'm thankful for my family," he sputtered out. "Both of them. Without one, I wouldn't… well; I wouldn't be what I am today." He looked at Jazz, who looked up curiously. "Without the other, I wouldn't have stayed that way."
He met an awkward eye with Sam's again and winked. She and Jazz knew what he was talking about, and her grandmother was crazy enough to think he was being metaphorical.
"All right then," Gramma said, as everyone released their hands. "Let's dig in to this crazy meal."
Jazz was standing in the doorway next to Sam's grandmother, bent over and giving her a hug. "Thank you very much, Ms. Manson," she said. "It was a really good meal."
"Aw, you're such a sweet young lady," she replied, letting go. "But you'd better get going. Sam and I have a lot of work to do so her parents don't think you were over here."
"Come on, Danny," Jazz cried, walking down the stoop to the side walk and clutching her jacket.
"Yeah, just give me a second," he called. He was still in the living room, talking to Sam, when Jazz decided it was time for them to leave. It was five thirty now and the sky was nearly dark. Jazz didn't like driving at night, for some weird reason.
He turned to Sam and pulled her into a tight hug. Caught of guard, Sam yelped, but then returned it with a smile. "Thanks for coming over," she said.
"Thanks for telling me to," he said. He released her and smiled. "It was wild and crazy, but it was fun."
"Yeah, it was."
Before either of them knew what happened, Danny leaned forward and grazed her cheek with his lips. He pulled back after a moment and started walking backwards into the entrance hall. "See you Monday, Sam!"
Sam ran a hand over her cheek and looked after Danny. "What the…?" He disappeared out the door and Ms. Manson closed it, leaving her totally confused.
She stared at the closed door and cocked her head, trying to replay those two seconds over in her mind. "So much for a normal Thanksgiving," she said under her breath as her grandmother rolled by her.
Gramma laughed light-heartedly. "Sam, there's no such thing as a normal Thanksgiving."
Yeah, yeah, it's a friggin' one-shot of course I had to put the last bit in there. Anyways, Happy Thanksgiving everyone. This is later than I expected to be but what the heck? Oh, yes: new FFN features are the shiznat.
See you in the afterlife,