A/N: Alright, trying something a bit different out this time. This actually started out being a one-shot, but my muse went to town on this idea and I got a story arc out of it. I usually don't do just straight romance and angst, but I figured what the heck! It will probably get a bit gritty as the fic progresses, but I'll post warnings in the beginning of each chapter for y'all. Hope y'all like it, enjoy!
Ashes to Ashes
Part One: Spark
She stared outside as the rain pelted against the window, a steady melody that reminded her of all the times she used to run outside in it and splash in the puddles just to anger her parents. A smile crept onto her lips as she thought about when she would dance around in the cold droplets in those stupid, frilly dresses her mother tried to force her to wear, always making sure to save one for such an occasion to utterly ruin it so she would never have to wear it out in public. She had always swore to murder Tucker if he so much as thought to take a picture of her in those get-ups to later use as black-mail, and Samantha Manson could be pretty threatening despite her peaceful views when she wanted to. Her hand curled around the mug of hot cocoa she had made earlier to ward off the unnatural cold that this winter rainstorm brought to Amity Park in the middle of May. Sam furrowed her brows as she contemplated whether or not all the ghost activity her hometown had endured over the years had had somehow permanently affected the weather pattern, but it hardly seemed plausible that undead spirits had that much influence on the living world.
"Unless you count Danny of course," Sam whispered to herself with a small smile on her face that could tell anyone the depth of feeling she had for the aforementioned boy. She made herself blush for a moment before chiding herself how stupid she was acting, shaking her head and causing her shoulder length black hair to sway back and forth. Her strangely lilac-colored eyes stared down into her cocoa cup for a moment in a strange look of bittersweet regret and ironic surprise before she lifted the mug to her lips and drained the rest of it with one large gulp. She rose off the couch she had been sitting on and walked a fair distance to get to the kitchen to put her cup in the sink, running cold water over it so not to burden the maids with extra work. She could hear the phone ring, but she ignored it, letting whoever wanted to talk with her absent parents wait until they returned later that evening, and made her way back towards the large window to stare at the rain.
"Isn't this so damn hilarious Manson?" Sam asked herself in a mocking tone that sounded horrible even to her. "After all the denying and telling him that you didn't want to ruin the friendship, you fall right into the same trap he had once upon a time. I even went so far as telling him I didn't feel that way, telling him that I viewed him only as a friend, and now our roles have flipped…someone up there must have a sick sense of humor." Her gaze was clouded over with burning tears that she refused to let fall, she wouldn't give the…situation…the satisfaction that it had finally gotten to Sam Manson, as if love was an actual person laughing at her.
"Remember when we'd run all day in the rain?" Sam asked the boy who wasn't there, seeing a small boy with hair as dark as hers running around outside with another small boy with glasses and dark skin and a dark-haired girl she recognized as herself. "We used to pretend that it was us who had commanded the rain to fall, and we'd play out there until dark, or until our parents finally made us come inside. Then we'd talk about how we'd always be friends while drinking hot chocolate in whatever house we were at. Everything was so fun back then…everything was so simple."
She heaved a sigh and cast her gaze over towards the door that was the hanging rack for the deep red graduation gown she would have to wear in exactly eight days in front of the whole school as she gave her salutatorian speech to her graduating class. Even she didn't know how she had managed to keep her grades so high throughout high school with all the ghost-hunting she helped Danny with, but somehow she had managed and had been awarded the honor, to the surprise of her parents and the rest of Casper High.
"When we were eight," Sam continued as she looked back outside at the raging gale. "We never worried that we would end up falling…well, just falling for each other. We never worried about going to separate colleges, or about leaving behind those that we lo--…care for. When did things get so complicated between us?"
Sam didn't answer her question, already knowing the answer full well. It had been when Danny had first become half ghost, when he had first accepted the mantle of responsibility that no fourteen year old should have to accept without question. He had been so unsure of himself, Sam remembered with a nostalgic smile, and had needed her and Tucker's help so much…but then he had started to protect them with growing powers and control; even when the town he protected spurned him and called him a menace to society. She had feelings for him back then, but she had ignored them and called them passing fancies so often that she had actually come to believe herself. She had convinced herself that anything more than a platonic relationship between the two of them would ruin the great friendship she had with him…she had been selfish and afraid, and she still was. He had been hurt, but he respected her wishes and never mentioned it again, although Tucker had been furious with her and refused to talk with her for a month.
She could still recall the incident like it was yesterday, it burned her throat and made her stomach turn so much that it made sure she would never forget it. Or maybe it was just her guilt that made her remember…it was rainy that day too.
"Sam, wait!" he called as she hurried under the bleachers to escape the rain that had begun to fall with a fury. He was still in Phantom form after a fight with the Box Ghost, for which she had snuck out of class to get the Fenton Thermos to him so the annoying little apparition could be sent back to the Ghost Zone when Danny got home.
"Well come down here then," she had called out playfully as she started to shake out her damp hair with her fingers. "Not all of us have your immunity to the cold mister Phantom."
"Very funny Sam," Danny said with a lop-sided grin as he floated down to her level, his impossibly green eyes glowing with something she couldn't quite place. "And not all of us have that tongue of yours; go easy on a poor ghost-boy that just got finished with a vicious fight with one of his mortal enemies."
"Oh stop whining you big baby," Sam said with a light laugh at the puppy dog eyes her best friend was now giving her. He smiled ruefully at her and transformed back into his human form, black hair replacing snowy white and a vivid blue phasing out the green as two bands of white light enveloped his body and then dissipated. He looked back up at her with that unknown look in his eyes again and took a big breath as if he was internally convincing himself of doing something life changing.
"Listen Sam," he said in a total serious tone that made her a little worried. He only used that tone when talking about Vlad or some other powerful ghost that he had made enemies with at some time or another. "I've been meaning to ask you something for awhile, and I figured that now would be the best time rather than any. What are you doing for the prom Sam?"
"Um, nothing…why?" Sam asked back as something began to flash warning signs in her mind.
"Well," he replied in a slow and nervous manner. "I was wondering if you wanted to go with me."
Sam felt a whole bunch of things flood her synapse the minute he uttered those words and while she felt a thrill of some feeling swell up her heart, her fear of what this might lead to crushed everything else. "Sure Danny…you know as friends."
His face went from being the happiest she had seen him in three years to the saddest, and she took a moment to amaze at how much power those four words had on the halfa. "No Sam," he said in a hollow voice as he shook his head, causing his tousled hair to become even messier. "Not as friends…I meant as a date. Don't you get it Sam? I feel more than that about you, I think I always did and I was just too dense to see it until recently! I've wanted to tell you for so long…Tucker was the one who finally convinced me to just do it, so here I am. Samantha Manson, I'm in lo--"
"No Danny," Sam said as she covered his mouth with her small, pale hand, her purple eyes wide. "Don't say it, please don't say it. I don't want to hurt you, but I don't want to ruin anything between us! I just don't…I don't feel that way about you…I'm sorry…"
She saw a cold mask of indifference cover his features immediately, the face he wore as Danny Phantom, and he simply nodded his head. He didn't say anything more to her and just turned around and walked back into the rain, back towards the school and away from her. She didn't try to follow him, or even call out to him, just watched him walk away…let him walk away…
A single tear had trickled out of her eye and fallen down her cheek slowly as the vision of his retreating form faded and she found herself back on her couch, a little over a year later. She wiped at the tear furiously as she remembered how Tucker had bounded up to her the next day, eager to hear that she and Danny were now a couple, only to be shocked when she told him what had happened with a passive face and tone that amazed even her. He had glared at her and called her stupid before storming off, something that had taken a month to wear off. Danny had not avoided her as she thought he would, but he wasn't the same around her…he put up a brave front that fooled everyone but her and Tucker.
That light that had made his eyes so intoxicating had been dimmed whenever he talked to her, and he threw himself into ghost fighting and, surprisingly enough, schoolwork and avoided hanging out with her unless Tucker was with them. It had killed her, but she never voiced a complaint and continued to help him with ghost fighting, all three pretending that everything between their shattered friendship was fine…fooling themselves that everything would stay fine.
"But it didn't," Sam said in a whisper to the boy who still wasn't there. "It didn't stay fine…it was all shot to hell and it was my fault. I caused the rift because I was too afraid of a feeling I was too cynical to believe existed at our age…but didn't we all grow up quicker than anyone else? And now, right when I realize that I feel like I'm in…something…with you, I have to leave. I have to grow up and go away to college while you are tied to this city and its problems because of a choice you made so long ago. Who's going to take care of you when you get to beat up by a ghost now? Who's going to tell you when one of your ideas are so hopelessly stupid? Who's going to watch over you now?"
Sam let the wave of sadness wash over as she watched the rain fall harder outside, as if giving shape to the frustration she felt bubbling inside her. She refused to let anymore tears fall though, and wiped her eyes quickly and got control over her emotions, locking them away again like she had so many times her senior year. She let out one last forlorn sigh before she decided to go up and work on her salutatorian speech, but her plan was interrupted by the familiar jingle of her cell phone in the kitchen. She hurried over and answered it right before it went to her voice-box, noticing briefly that she had missed four calls.
"Hello?" she answered in a slightly out of breath voice; despite her slim form, she wasn't in the greatest athletic shape.
"Sam?" a worried Jazz replied from the other end, her voice sounding raw, as if she had been crying recently. "Where have you been! Tucker and I have been trying to get a hold of you for the past hour, but you didn't answer! Tucker's on his way there now…we didn't know what else to do! No one can find him, and it's getting worse out there and after that fire…"
"What's wrong with him Jazz?" Sam asked in a calm voice that didn't betray the cold dread that was gripping her stomach. She didn't have to ask who Jazz Fenton was talking about; only one person ever inspired this kind of worry in her voice. "What happened?"
"Haven't you been watching the news Sam?" Jazz asked in a frantic voice. "It's all over the news channels…oh my God I don't know why he hasn't come back yet!"
"Hold that thought Jazz," Sam said as the doorbell rang. "I think Tucker's here."
"I have to go," Jazz said suddenly. "My parents want us to go and search for him, and I need to keep my phone free in case he calls. Turn on the T.V. and watch the news."
Before Sam had even opened the door, Jazz had hung up and all she was listening to was the dial-tone. She took the phone away from her ear and opened the door to let the soaking Tucker in, asking immediately, "What's going on Tuck? Where's Danny?"
"We were kinda hoping you could tell us," Tucker said with a forlorn look as he hurried over to the T.V. and turned it on to channel 8, the news station for Amity Park. Sam was about to ask another question, but Tucker turned up the volume of the news show before she could, but what the T.V. was showing quickly took any more questions out of her mouth.
"…the fires had been over twenty feet high earlier this afternoon, cause still unknown, and it seems that all that remains are the charred remains of what once was the premier apartment complex in Amity Park. Now, looking at earlier footage when this fire was taking place, we can clearly see what makes this story so saddening. Rick, why don't you tell us and our viewers what they are seeing here?"
""Well Sharon, it looks like Amity's own Phantom came flying to try and help some of the people escaping from the building, going intangible so the fire would not scorch him. As you can see, the fire was now starting to spread onto the neighboring buildings, and was steadily growing higher, nothing the firefighters or Phantom seemed to be working. So you see that mini tornado now forming around the building?"
"Yes Rick. Was that Phantom creating the cyclone?"
"Why yes Sharon it was, and it worked too. He quickly had the fire put out, and even stopped it from spreading…but then something went terribly wrong…see how--"
Sam didn't need to listen to the anchorman anymore to watch the building start to sway on its weakened supporting beams, knowing what was going to happen. It was only when she saw the small family of four still not completely cleared of the building did she understand what had happened. She saw the cameraman pan up onto Danny's face as well as he could, and the horrified look that passed over his features as part of the building fell on top of the family, snuffing out their lives forever. Danny sped down like a bullet towards the wreckage, phasing through it in an effort to try and reverse what had happened…but it couldn't be reversed, Sam knew that. Danny phased back out of the rubble, slightly covered in dust and debris, with a look that broke her heart. The cameraman caught Danny zooming away before the clip ended and only the two anchors were left to discuss the incident, for what Sam suspected to by the tenth time.
"When did this happen?" Sam asked her other best friend in a no nonsense tone, not taking her eyes off the television.
"About four hours ago," he answered in a dull voice that spoke volumes to Sam about how worried he was about his best friend. "We've been looking all over ever since, but we can't find him anywhere…and then it started to rain and Danny's parents got concerned on where he was. Jazz told them he went out earlier, but they're afraid he got in an accident or something…if they find him before we do Sam…his secret isn't going to be secret anymore."
"Where were these apartments?" she asked as she grabbed her dark purple trench coat and threw it over her purple corset top and black skirt.
"On Fifth and Corral," Tucker said in a confused voice as he watched Sam pull on some of her warmer socks and hunted down her boots. "What are you doing Sam?"
"I'm going to go and find him," Sam said as she laced up her black combat boots and stood back up. "He's obviously blaming himself about that family's death, and someone needs to talk some sense into him before he does something stupid. You should probably stay here in case, for some strange reason, he decides to come here…I don't want him to be met with an empty house if he's been gone this long."
"Uh Sam," Tucker said in a flabbergasted tone as he waved to the weather outside. "Have you not noticed how bad the storm is out there? You'll catch pneumonia or hypothermia! How do you even know where he is?"
"A little rain won't hurt me," Sam said in a quiet voice as she looked at Tucker with lilac eyes full of emotion. "And I know where he is because I know him better than even himself."
The techno-geek stared at the gothic beauty for what seemed an eternity, his eyes calculating everything about her demeanor, before he said in a half amused and half annoyed voice, "Finally figured it out did you? Took you long enough…well, you may be the only one he'll listen to right now, you were before anyhow, so you better get going. But if you run into anything, just call me and I'll hurry over and help."
"Okay," Sam said as she hugged Tucker like she used to when she was little. "I'll find him and bring him back…I promise."
Tucker nodded and let her go, giving her an encouraging smile as he pulled out his phone to call someone, Jazz probably, and let her know what was going on. Right before Sam exited the safe confines of her home for the wild and angry storm outside, Tucker called out to her and said softly with that infuriating grin of his, "Just trust in what you feel Sam. You may be surprised in how small your fear is when compared to…well, something else."
Sam walked around slowly in the whipping wind and rain for nearly an hour before she even got close to Fifth Street, the storm causing visibility to be horrible on top of the fact that it was now after eight at night. She had paused at various areas to briefly look and see if the snowy-haired halfa was hiding out there, but her instincts told her that he was most likely in one spot. After fighting ghosts and evil billionaires for four years, she had come to learn that he tended to linger at the sights of fights or disasters if he felt guilty or just depressed after Phantom's work was done.
She pushed some of her wet, jet-black hair out of her face to look at the street sign as she passed another intersection, and trudged on determinedly, only four blocks away from the fire sight. Cars were whizzing past her on the almost empty streets, occasionally spraying her legs with even more water, but she couldn't care less about that; all of her thoughts were focused on Danny. Her eyes were alight in a fervor that had been absent for nearly a year, only a burning desire to find and help her best friend occupying her thoughts and energies. She blinked a few times and strained her eyes to focus on what she knew to be the remains of the apartment complex, only a hundred or so yards in front of her, when her cell phone started to give a familiar jingle in the front pocket of her coat. She cursed quietly to herself as she fished it out and dove under a store's front canopy to escape the rain for a moment.
"Hello?" Sam half shouted as she answered her phone.
"Sam?" a confused voice that the lilac eyed girl recognized as Valerie Grey asked back in return. "Where are you? Are you outside! Are you insane girl?"
Sam had to bite back a laugh at her friend's incredulous tone, knowing that Valerie had a habit of being a little over-protective from time to time. She had really been who Sam spent to majority of her time after her 'fall-out' with Danny and Tucker, a stable rock who supported Sam's decision even if she also thought the gothic girl was lying to herself. When Valerie had discovered who the mysterious 'Ghost Boy' was in the middle of the trio's sophomore year, all three of them had really been concerned about the situation and tried to convince her she was delusional. It didn't work, but surprisingly enough, Val didn't oust Danny, or even attack him openly at school; all she did was avoid him and occasionally help him fight a nasty ghost here and then.
It had taken the poor girl the better part of a month to wrestle with her own feelings and finally confront Danny about everything, with Sam and Tucker nearby of course. After a fair share of yelling, whispering, crying, and cursing Valerie had become the fourth member of their little ghost-hunting squad and had even dated Danny for a month or two. Afterwards, she and Sam had discovered that they actually had quite a lot in common and had become good friends, which was refreshing for Sam to have a good girlfriend after hanging around only boys for so long. It was to Valerie that Sam had first divulged earlier that year that she really did have feelings for her best friend, a revelation that the wise-cracking ghost hunter didn't find the least bit surprising. After all, it had been during her own short relationship with the halfa that Valerie had noticed her new friend suppress her feelings over her best friend…something that would plague her for an additional two years.
"Yes I'm outside Val," Sam answered back in a tired voice, interrupting her friend's tirade about how stupid and crazy she was for being out in that kind of weather. "I probably am crazy, but I have to do this…he almost never listens to anyone when he gets like this, but maybe…maybe he'll remember that he used to listen to me."
Sam was met with shocked silence for a moment or two before the surprised girl on the other end responded with, "Finally admitted uh? You were almost too late ya know."
"Already got this from Tuck," Sam said in an exasperated tone, even though a bitter smile had covered her face for a moment. "You two are practically the same person when it comes to reprimands. I still may be too late, but I can't let him beat himself up over something he had no control over…you know how bad he gets about these things. I will not allow him to put himself through that pain if I can help it…he used to listen to me, so maybe he still will."
"You must be cold," Valerie said in an amused voice. "You're starting to repeat yourself. Well, even though I don't feel right about you out there when it's this bad outside, you do have a point about his depressing state of mind…you're probably the only one he'll listen to anyway."
"Or so I hope," Sam answered in a self-pitying tone, her eyes losing some of their fire.
"Shut up right now Manson," Valerie snapped back, slightly surprising the gothic girl. "That kind of attitude won't help him anymore than help you so just stop now. You have to be strong if you're so determined on helping him, because he sure as hell isn't going to want to accept it at first…I do know how he gets. Do you know why we broke up Manson?"
"Uh, no," Sam replied startled, not knowing why Valerie asked that question completely out of left field. "Maybe because you realized that you were better off as friends?"
"No Sam," Valerie answered with a slight laugh. "We were never friends like you were with him in the first place. No, we broke up because he had a major revelation during one of our, well I'm sure you can imagine what we were doing, and I discovered that no matter how much I may feel for him, it paled in comparison to what he feels for you. Maybe you did make a mistake, hell you made a big one, but that doesn't mean he stopped caring…why do you think he avoids you as much as possible Sam? I swear, sometimes you're as dense as he is! So go and help him Manson…you were the only one who ever could."
Without letting Sam protest or affirm, for both were floating on the tip of her tongue, Valerie hung up the phone with a soft click, only the dial tone now comforting the dark haired girl. Sam slowly hung up her end of the line and looked back out at the now calm downpour, the moonlight shining despite the shadowy clouds hanging heavy in the night sky. Pulling the trench coat tightly around her, she walked back out into the rain and made her way towards the now visible charred remains of the luxury apartments, her boots splashing in the puddles.
It didn't take her long to finish the rest of the distance to the remains, the now mist-like rain not hindering her any longer, and she let the coat fall loosely around her as she walked through the doorway, eyes looking back and forth for a familiar green glow or crop of white hair. She shook her hair out lightly with her hand, hoping the partially covered lobby area and lower level apartments would allow her to dry out enough, and then cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted as loud as her cold frame would allow, "DANNY! WHERE ARE YOU? PLEASE COME OUT! IT'S SAM DANNY!"
She received no answer save the hiss of the wind echoing through the broken building for her cry, causing her to probe deeper into the building for a sign of her friend. She walked for a few minutes down one hallway, pausing to look at the burnt doorways and broken frames before moving on, but quickly deduced he wasn't down this way. She turned around and searched all around the lower level, but her search was fruitless every which way. Sam was just about to rethink how well she thought she knew the halfa, when she suddenly noticed a lone staircase that was still intact, leading up to whatever dark recesses may exist in the destroyed apartments.
"Leave it to Danny to be melodramatic and climb up the stairs to overlook the city when he's depressed," Sam said to herself sardonically. "And it'll probably be raining up there too…" She didn't allow herself to waste anymore time and started to climb up the questionable stairs, albeit she was very cautious whenever she stepped on a new step. Due to the careful way she was climbing, it took Sam much longer than she may have wanted to walk the entire expanse of the stairs that looked together, but she breathed a sigh of relief when she finally noticed a small opening that led to an open area that overlooked the city. She took a wary step on the burnt roof of an old home for someone, and felt a jolt of emotion shoot through her body at the figure perched on the ledge, snowy hair wet and clinging to his face.
Sam's breath caught in her throat when she saw the look of absolute fear and resignation on the young man's face; it was a look that she hadn't seen for over ten years…
A five year old Samantha Manson was swinging on the swings in the middle of a park that was in the middle of her new home, Amity Park. She was so upset with her parents for moving her here, she liked it in New York at the preschool with her friends, but everyone here avoided her like the plague. In her black shirt and spandex shorts with big boots for a five year old, all the pretty little girls in their swirling pink skirts and dresses called her 'weird' and 'scary'. Not that she minded; she didn't want to be friends with those girls anyway!
A high pitched laugh caught her attention, and she turned her dark haired head over to look at two young boys playing on the monkey bars, squealing when one fell to the ground, which always caused the other one to fall. Their carefree play with another boy with sandy blond hair, who was a little bigger than they were for a five year old, and Sam wished she had the courage to go over an introduce herself to them so she could play too. One had glasses and curly black hair that was a shade darker than his skin, wearing a green baseball shirt with blue shorts, and the other was wearing a pair of black shorts, a dark blue shirt adorning his torso. He turned around and Sam saw that he had dark black hair all over his head, messy due to the playing on the monkey bars, and impossibly blue eyes that seemed so warm and trusting. He looked over at her and smiled, something that was such a simple action that caused her to giggle and wave back, happy to finally make a friend. He looked like he was heading over to where she was sitting, but then the sandy-haired boy called for him to go and get a ball that had rolled into the bushes so they could play catch.
He disappeared into the bushes after the missing sphere and Sam waited patiently, hoping he would ask her to play too! A second became a minute, and then a minute became five, and then five became fifteen and Sam hopped off her swing, worried for the unknown friend who had vanished. She saw that the sandy-haired boy was being taken home, trying to explain in his child-like way that he was waiting for his ball to his mother, and then the dark-skinned boy was also taken home by his mom, whining something about 'catch' and 'Danny' as he looked over towards the bushes. Sam became worried and started over towards the bushes, only to collide head first into the black haired boy as he went bolting out from the bushes, no ball in hand.
Sam got up and looked over to where was on the ground beside her, looking at her with a frown in case he hurt her. He then looked at her with eyes that were so full of fear; she almost gasped and looked around herself. He then started to edge away from the bushes, as if he had just remembered that was where the monsters lurked, and asked in a terrified whisper that was so full of panic it made Sam nervous, "Are the bad men still there?"
Sam gave him a quizzical look and peered through the bushes herself, finding no such evidence of anyone, much less men, hiding behind the shrubbery. She turned back around and gave the boy a smile and shook her head, "No…no one there! Where's your Mommy and Daddy? They'll make your bobo better!"
The boy looked down to where she was pointing at the neat cut on his forearm, blood slowly leaking out of it, and looked back up in alarm. He gave a little whimper as he clapped a hand over the cut and cast another frightful glance at the bushes, as if he knew any second a big, slimy monster was going to jump out and attack him.
"You're safe now," Sam told him in high voice, looking deeply into his eyes for the first time. "No one's over there, don't worry."
"He said he'd see me soon," the boy said in a resigned tone, blue eyes sending her lavender ones a terrified glance. "He promised he would…he said my Mommy and Daddy were bad peoples! What if he keeps his promise?"
"Well, I won't let him then," Sam said in a brave voice as she pulled him up, her hand wrapped around his free one in a caring way. "I'll beat him up!"
Both children gave a little giggle as they made their way back over towards a pretty woman with longer red hair who looked worried, holding hands all the way.
"I'm Danny," the little boy said as he saw his mother catch sight of him and hurry over.
"Samantha," Sam answered with a smile. "But I hate that one…I like Sam!"
"Okay Sammy," Danny said back happily as his mother hurried them over to where her first aid kit was when she saw Danny's arm. A tall man that Sam said was her Daddy walked over and after a brief exchange of words with Danny's mother, started to lead Sam away, saying they needed to get home for dinner, but that she'd see her little friend again the next day. She waved goodbye as she was pulled away by her father, and smiled happily as they headed back towards the limo her father owned.
She felt a tug at her sleeve and turned around to find a smiling Danny holding a white lily he had picked from one of the pond's lily pads in his hand. He gave it to her and said quietly before he bounded back towards his mother, "Thanks Sammy." Sam clutched the flower in her hand and mouthed 'you're welcome' to his retreating form, a wall around her heart breaking down as she looked at the flower.
That was the day that Sam Manson changed her favorite flower from an iris to a lily…
The past blended back into the present as the scared little boy turned into the depressed looking young man before her, looking forlornly out on a city with dead eyes. Sam took another cautious step towards him, careful to not make too much noise and send him flying away. Then, she whispered in a breath so faint that it was almost the sound of the wind, "Danny…I…my favorite flower is still the lily."
He looked over at her in a mixture of alarm and confusion, his eyebrows drawn together in a way that gave him an adorable bemused expression. "What are you talking about Sam?"
"Remember the first day we met?" she asked as she took another few tentative steps towards him, already wet again from the drizzle. "You gave me a white lily for taking you over to your mom after you hurt yourself in the bushes…as a thank you. I kept it until that thing was dust…"
She looked back up into his intense green eyes his Phantom form took on, thinking to herself that she much preferred the blue ones, and let the small smile fall when she saw the way he looked at her.
"What do you want Sam?" he asked her in a heavy voice as her turned back around to stare at the city, searching for something Sam didn't know.
"Well," Sam answered back in her usual sarcastic tone. "I wouldn't mind if you got out of the rain for one, and quit beating yourself up for things you had no control over for another. Everyone's really worried about you, and I don't think that standing out here in the rain, trying to catch pneumonia, is a great way to ease their anxiety."
"I don't feel the cold," Danny said in a hollow voice that made Sam's heart want to cry. Her hero, Danny Phantom and Fenton, didn't use that tone of voice, he stopped her from using it. She walked over to the edge to try and get him to look at her again, determined to make him listen.
"Danny please," she said in tone that begged him to look at her. "Stop thinking that way! You couldn't help what happened to that family earlier today; you saved countless others by putting out that fire and what happened to them was just a freak accident! Stop blaming yourself for every little thing that goes wrong in this town, you're not God!"
He turned to look at her then, his green eyes glowing in anger and pain. "So, those four people were expendable? It doesn't matter that I saved those other homes from being burned down, I didn't save four lives! And what's worse, it was my stupid wind storm that brought the crumbling roof on top of them in the first place! Don't you get Sam? I screwed up, and when I screw up, people die…it's my fault what happened today, nothing you say is going to change that!"
Sam's eyes narrowed as she fixed the ghost hybrid in front of her with a glare. "You can't really expect that little tirade to scare me off do you Danny? Yes, that family did die, and nothing you do is going to change that, but that doesn't mean you have to dwell on it for eternity! Don't you see how much you've done for this town, how many lives you've saved? Who cares if strangers talk about how you can't do everything? You have so many people who care about you, so many who want to help you that it seems a poor waste of their affection to just throw in the towel now."
Danny turned away from her and floated off of the ledge, saying harshly to both himself and to her, "Just because I've saved others, doesn't mean I can just shrug off the ones I can't. All my life, I've wanted to help people, and when I got these ghost powers, I thought I finally had a way to do that…but I'm more of a menace than a savior to these people. I'm just some freaky little kid who's not human, and not a ghost…who was I kidding when I thought I could actually do this!"
"What the hell is your problem!" Sam yelled at Danny, with such vehemence it caused him to look back at her in wonder. "Why is it that you can only focus on what you can't do and what you aren't? If you stopped for just one second, maybe you could finally see what it is you are Danny…one of the most amazing people on the planet. You've been sacrificing so much over the past four years to help people, and you've saved humanity a couple of times to boot. And now, you're about to give up your dreams to keep on helping these people…why can't you see how much good you've done for everyone here? How much you mean to everyone here…"
Neither moved for what seemed to be an eternity, the only sound passing between them was the wind and soft pit-pat of the rain still hitting the roof of the ruined apartment complex. The moonlight was shining down on them through the clouds, illuminating each of their features for the other to see, their tense expressions also apparent in their stances. Sam slowly looked back up at him and softly closed almost all the distance between them in a second, her hand taking Danny's cold one, eyes glittering with something that he couldn't quite place.
"Sam," Danny started in a shaky voice, a familiar feeling started to flood his hand and spread through out his body at an alarming speed. He had spent a good part of his senior year suppressing these feelings for his best friend, and now with one touch she was making all that hard work fly out the metaphoric window. It scared the living, well kind of, shit out of him, but he couldn't bring himself to tear his hand away…this risk seemed worth it to him.
"I realized something this year," Sam said in a whisper, that even in his close proximity, Danny had to strain to hear. "Something that desperately made me want to go back in time and change it…but you can't do that Danny. Nothing will change the past if it wasn't meant to change in the first place, and you can't dwell on it or it'll eat you up inside. All you can do is learn from your mistakes and failures…and keep moving forward. It took me a slow, angry year to realize just how bad I had messed up between us…but I'll be damned if I let you make a similar mistake as me and let yourself fall. So here I am, letting you know that I was wrong…wrong about everything that ever mattered between us, hoping you'll find it somewhere in your heart to forgive me and to forgive yourself."
"Sam…" Danny started to say before he was soundly interrupted by the very real feeling of Sam Manson's lips on his own, softly brushing his own as if asking for permission. It felt like someone had brushed silk across his lips for a fraction of a second; it intoxicated him. She pulled away, lilac eyes gazing deeply into his azure ones in a vulnerable way that he had never seen on the strong, independent gothic girl. It took him a moment to find his voice before he asked her, "Did you do that to just try to get me to go back down and home?"
"No," she whispered back, shaking her head and causing rain droplets to spray the ground. "I did it because I…I think that…I think I fell in love with you Danny Fenton, despite my own fears and warnings. But, maybe I won't be so afraid anymore if…"
"Good," Danny interrupted her as he reached a hand around her waist and pulled her back towards him, locking his lips with hers for another time hungrily. His other hand snaked behind her neck as her own arms flung themselves around his neck, one roaming into his wet, now black hair. It only took a moment before she was kissing him back with the same intensity as he was, letting out a soft moan as he darted his tongue into her mouth. This time, both were acutely aware that this was not another one of their 'fake-out make-outs,' but full blown kiss between two people who had been in love all along, just to afraid to see it. They both knew in the back of their minds' that they would need to discuss quite a number of things eventually, but all that matter at the moment was just that, the moment.
As his hand pressed against the small of her back, Sam was amazed by the jolts he could send through her body, making her feel as if her entire body was tingling and warm, despite the cold wind around them. He tasted like the rain and peppermint all mixed into one, something she wanted to commit to memory for as long as she lived. Even the feel of his tongue in her mouth felt like it belonged there, like she had been supposed to be in his embrace from the first time he had smiled at her on the swings from the monkey bars.
His hand pressed her into his body, as if he was afraid that she would disappear if he didn't maintain a hold on her. Her frame melded into his lithe body so perfectly it didn't seem possible, as if she had belonged there all along. He shivered, from something else other than cold, as her hand dug deeper into his messy dark locks, and he could taste the mint from her lip-gloss. Despite his colder body temperature, he felt as if every nerve was on fire…it both thrilled and frightened him but he figured that was what falling back in love felt like.
They finally broke apart for air, lips still so close to each other that they were almost touching, and breathed in heavily the oxygen they had deprived themselves of caught up in their moment. Sam rested her forehead on his chin and clung to him as if her very life depended on it, which it might have at that very moment. She felt him bury his head in her wet hair as he tightened his embrace, bringing her slim even closer than before. After a moment, he whispered into her ear, "Thanks again Sammy…for saving me again."
"I promise to not ever let you fall again Danny," Sam answered back in a quiet, but unwavering tone that made his heart swell. "You will never have to go through this again alone…I'll always be there for you, no matter what happens after tonight." He lifted her chin to capture her lips again in a gentle kiss that, while lacking its predecessor's passion, carried along something else that made Sam weak in the knees.
When they broke apart for the third time that night, Sam smiled at the bright light that had seemed to return to his impossibly blue eyes and she said in an uncharacteristic shy voice, "I think we need to get you back home…we're both soaking wet! Plus, you're parents are probably worried sick and if I don't keep my promise to your sister, she'll probably come hunting me down too."
He nodded and changed back to his Phantom form, offering his hand out to her, which she took without a moment's hesitation, neither really surprised anymore how perfectly her small hand fit into his strong one. He turned himself and Sam intangible and floated into the air, his other hand wrapped around her waist in a protective manner that made her feel completely safe. The flight was short, and by the time they arrived back at Danny's house, the rain had finally stopped for the night, but the gray clouds still hung in the sky, ominous and foreboding. Sam watched Danny change back into his human form, a smile playing on her lips the entire time, and still staying when she noticed a small, black piece of paper poking out of his jean pocket that she had not noticed earlier. She didn't know what compelled her to ask what it was, but a feeling flooded through her, the same kind of feeling that those clouds gave her.
"What's that Danny?" she asked in a sarcastic tone as she poked at the note in his pocket. She didn't want her voice to betray the feeling I her heart, in case it was nothing and she was just over-reacting. "Another girl's number or something?"
Danny's expression turned from completely content to tense as he turned his eyes to the black piece of paper in his pants. He pulled it out, unfolded it, and read it quickly before looking back up into Sam's now concerned lilac eyes. Maybe those clouds weren't so wrong after all, and Sam had a flash of a man with a tattoo of a rose on his upper forearm in her mind, leaving her wondering what was happening to her. Did kissing Danny give her something more than just tremors and blushes?
"I have to tell you something Sam," he said in a voice that made her blood run cold. A tone that told her that she was going to have to uphold her promise to Danny much sooner than she had anticipated…
A/N: There it is guys! The first part of this little fic that used to be a one-shot! Let me know what you guys thought please! I love getting reviews and they honestly make me write faster! The story will actually live up to its rating as the story progresses, so be patient if you think this was weak for a 'T' rating. Again, Review Review Review!