Author's Note: I've actually had this written for a while, after I went on a certain... kick, I guess you could call it. It runs along some of the same lines as "Missing," you know, big scandal involving Clockwork drags Danny away from home, but the plot is different, and honestly, aside that it's DxS and involves the same basic problem, the stories are completely unsimilar...((shifty eyes))
It's Not Forever: Rated K+ because there's a kiss at the end... aw, how sweet.
Just in case I forgot to mention, I don't own Danny Phantom at all. Seriously. I don't even have a lawyer, so you can't ask them. Just trust me.
They were staring at each other like they had all the time in the world, but they knew they didn't. Danny gazed at her, and in that moment he realized how beautiful she really was. The ghostly wind was flowing through her hair, causing it to dance over her bare shoulders. Her dress was nice, but it was the body that wore it that took Danny's breath away. She was small but so strong, and he wished he had her inner strength just then.
For Sam, it felt like her world was falling apart. His white hair shifted in the breeze, and his posture was that of a true hero—strong, determined, and never-faltering. But it was his eyes that captured her. In them she could see his fear and anger, and his bitter regret. He touched her before she noticed he moved.
"I'm out of time."
Her head dropped, and suddenly it was hard to breathe. "Danny, can't you wait just—"
"I've waited too long already and you know it. I stayed as long as I could, but I can't anymore. But hey," he said, reaching out to lift her chin, a tiny smile on his lips. "I'll see you again. This won't be forever; I promise you."
She willed the tears away, but to no avail. They streamed down her cheeks as her lip quivered. Danny's brow furrowed and his smile fled. "Danny…" she whispered, almost too soft to hear.
"I hate it when you cry," he said.
Tucker and Clockwork arrived then and Tucker stood next to Sam. Danny sent her one last look, gave a curt nod to Tucker, and strode purposefully toward Clockwork. Tuck's arm looped comfortingly around Sam's shoulders and she turned toward him, burying her face in his shoulder as sobs racked her body. Over her bent head, he and Danny shared a knowing look. There was a flash, and both Danny and Clockwork were gone.
Sam's legs gave out from beneath her, and she crumpled to the floor. Tucker followed her quickly, bringing her close in his arms.
"Don't worry, Sam, he'll be okay. He knows what he's doing. Just have faith."
"I didn't tell him!" she cried; her pain and self-anger tearing her heart to pieces. "It was my one chance, and I didn't tell him… I didn't tell him I love him…"
She broke down once more; giving in to Tucker's healing arms. He rocked her gently, knowing he could vent later, alone. He'd promised Danny he'd be strong for her… He just hoped he could hold it up long enough for Danny to come home.
Sam accepted her diploma with a smile, turning and waving triumphantly to her parents. She hurried down the steps and practically jumped on Tucker, making him stumble and laugh. "I'm free!" she said as he placed her quickly away. "No more high school, no more SATs, no more Paulina—"
"Hey!" the popular girl said indignantly from behind her. Sam just shrugged and grinned.
Tucker shook his head. "Sam, you're my best friend, but sometimes I wonder if I should commit you. Why the hell do you want to get out of here so badly?"
Her grin disappeared like a rabbit chased by a fox. The look she gave him was so telling, he grimaced at his stupidity. Of course Sam wanted to leave. Amity Park held too many painful memories for her. He sent her an apologetic glance and hooked his arm through hers, leading them away from the excited throng of graduates. Her head dropped to his shoulder.
"It's been over two years, Tucker."
"Not like we've been keeping track or anything," he said gently.
"It's okay. He promised he would come home. Just because it's been so long and we haven't heard from him or even of him doesn't mean he's gone, it just means that he's working, and he'll definitely come home; I mean he said he would and Clockwork would have told us if something went wrong, because I mean we're Danny's best—"
"Sam, you're rambling."
"It's okay. I understand. Listen, why don't you go home and celebrate with your 'rents? I'll stop by later."
She nodded and gave him a hug. "Thanks, Tuck. You're the best, you know that? You've really grown up."
His smile was sad. "I had to."
It was like a kick in the chest. Yes, they'd all had to grow up. Sam pasted a grin on her face and went to find her parents, who fussed over her and showed her off to all of their friends before taking her home to the biggest vegetarian dinner of her life. They'd decided that this was her day—no arguing over fashion or lifestyle. For that, Sam was grateful.
Tucker came and picked her up later that night. They were going to the senior's banquet, the final goodbye. She dressed in a slinky halter gown—her little black dress. Tucker's suit was very like him—bold and loud, a stark and shining white. He looked dashing, and Sam knew he was going to go after Valerie again. In that get-up… she might just take a chance on him.
When they arrived at the banquet hall, the party was in full swing. Tucker and Sam split up and mingled, conversing with those they'd come to know over the years. The music was fun and loud… until a slow song came on.
Sam's mood plummeted. She withdrew to the sidelines; keeping an eye out for Tucker should he be free to rescue her from her pain, though part of her hoped he was having a good time on his own.
As couples swayed by, she caught a glimpse of him. He was smiling down at Valerie, whose matching grin and happy eyes told Sam that Tuck had finally lucked out. She was happy for him—he deserved the best. Silently, she slipped from the room.
The hallway was deserted, thankfully. She paced along it, holding herself.
Nothing was right without him. Every day she lived with the worry and the longing. She yelled at herself. She cursed the Fates. She prayed to God to bring him home. She did so then.
"It's been forever…" she said to the entity she couldn't see. "Why hasn't he come back yet? He promised. He said that it wouldn't be forever, but it's felt like it! I just wish I knew that he was safe. I'd still want him here, but at least I wouldn't have to worry that he's floating somewhere in the ghost zone, his human half… no…" She fell to her knees, bracing her hand against the wall. The pain lanced through her with the image of Danny broken and bleeding. She pushed the thought away, refusing to accept it. "No, he's not gone. I couldn't take it." Her tone changed, going from harsh to soft and plaintive. She wasn't speaking to God anymore. "I love you! I wish I'd said it then… I've always loved you, Danny. You've been gone for so long, and I'm not sure how much longer I can take this. I miss you so much. Everything reminds me of you. My hopes and dreams all lie in you. I want you to come home and never leave again, please… I think if I lose you for good, I'll die." She drew further into herself, fighting desperately against the way her heart broke over and over again. "I love you. Please come home."
The night was so beautiful, and she was lost in it. They were all together on the night of the Valentine's dance, and though none of them had an actual date, it was fine to just hang out and laugh. They had their own little table, and it was their own little world.
Finally, Sam's urge to do something impulsive took over. She stood and turned around, feeling the hem of her dress swish around her knees. "I want to dance. I don't care which one of you goes with me, but I'm going on that dance floor. So, who's coming?"
Danny and Tucker shot each other a glance, silently arguing. Finally, Danny stood. "I'll dance with you, Sam. I think Tucker would feel like he's cheating on Valerie, even though he's not with her" he emphasized. Tuck just glared at the two as they walked away, laughing. Once on the floor, Danny took Sam's hand and twirled her, making her laugh. The song was some contemporary hip-hop number but he seemed oblivious, leading her in a fast, ballroom-like dance. It felt mismatched but completely right for them, and just for the hell of it Sam broke from him, swiveling her hips like a salsa dancer. Danny grinned as she danced her way around him. He grasped her hand once she was in front of him again and spun her toward him. The song ended, and he dipped her low. Sam smiled up at him and they shared a moment, the odd couple in a sea of conformers.
She knew she had to make the most of this time. Clockwork had approached them nearly two weeks earlier, speaking of revolts in the ghost zone that needed Danny Phantom's expertise. He'd been stalling, she knew. She'd told him she didn't want him to go, and he was trying to please her.
She loved him so much. She knew she had to tell him; she'd never be able to live with herself if she didn't.
The slow song was over, and Sam forced herself to her feet. She couldn't let Tucker see her like this. Her major breakdowns she kept to herself, knowing she had to be strong at least on the outside. She stopped quickly in the bathroom and checked her appearance, and then entered the hall proudly. She was tired of waiting. If Danny didn't come home soon, she was going to find a way to get him there. She would give anything to have him back.
She'd walk through hell to hold his hand.
The night was over, and Sam sank to her bed in exhaustion. She hadn't danced too much or exerted herself, but… pretending was the most tiring thing she'd ever done. She had to pretend that the world was completely okay, when in reality it was completely and absolutely wrong.
She didn't bother changing from her dress; it made her feel special, and if she could hold on to that for just a little longer, maybe she would sleep better. She moved to her stereo and chose a burned CD of sweet songs she'd found in her collection. The crooning notes poured over her and she closed her eyes, pretending she was outside beneath the stars.
She swayed and then spun slowly, holding out her arms. Her hips circled and she did a gentle leap and bend, her classical ballet training coming into play. She pirouetted and danced around a tiny space in her room. If she tried hard enough, she could imagine that Danny was her partner.
Her movements calmed further and she lifted her hand over her head, twirling as she'd done for Danny the last time they were together. It was like he was there. She took a classic ballroom stance, one arm bent and the other extended. If she held her hands just so, she could feel his solid body beneath them. She waltzed in a tiny circle, letting her imaginary Danny lead her. She grinned then; remembering what she'd done next. She jumped aside, eyes still shut tight as her torso moved lithely and seductively. She could imagine his shining eyes as he took her hand…
Next was the dip, and she didn't dare attempt it on her own or she'd go crashing to the floor. But as she spun in, a hard arm across her back surprised her. She went dipping anyway and one leg kicked out, but somehow she was held steady and away from the ground. She could feel a very real chest against her side, but she was afraid to open her eyes.
If it wasn't Danny, she didn't know what she would do.
But she had to check.
Her eyes lifted open, and a smiling face with light blue eyes and dark shaggy hair smiled down at her. "I remember this," he said, and his voice was sweetly familiar. He lifted her back to her feet and she threw her arms around him, holding him tightly, as if she'd never let go. Danny was chuckling and somehow maneuvered them to her bed. He sat down, but held her waist so that she would remain standing. He looked at her for a full minute, raking his eyes over the girl he'd wanted to see for so long. He could see the astonishment and happiness in her eyes. "You look beautiful," he said.
"Are you real?" she asked.
"Well, if I'm not, it will be a surprise to me." At her frown he pulled her down next to him. "I promised you I would come back, Sam. I know it's been forever. I'm sorry."
She shook her head as if clearing it. "No, don't be. You couldn't have helped it, but—oh, thank God for answering me finally. I'm just so happy you're home, Danny, I…" She began to cry, launching herself into his embrace. A few tears escaped his eyes as well. Danny stroked her hair softly, breathing deep of the essence that always hung around Sam.
"I missed you," he said.
She pulled away, and though she looked like she wanted to say something, he could tell she was apprehensive. For Sam, she was arguing with herself. She'd regretted missing her chance to tell him she loved him, but he was back now, and… what was the point of taking a chance at ruining what they had? There would be other times—but part of her remembered thinking that before he had to go away.
"I'm in a daze. It feels like I'm dreaming again. I can't hold a thought down."
He nodded. "I know what you mean. Sam, I need to tell you something."
She withdrew instantly, putting up her wall of self-protection. "You're leaving again."
"No!" He shook his head quickly and grasped her shoulders. "No, I'm never leaving you again. Ever. Sam, I never told you, and I've been kicking myself for more than two years. I love you. I don't know what this will do to our friendship, but I know I can't keep going without telling you. I love you, and I've always loved you."
For the first time in two years, the weight lifted from Sam's chest and she felt like she could breathe properly. The extra air put her on a high, and she smiled. "I love you, too, Danny. You left and I never said it, and ever day that passed that you didn't come home I felt like I'd never have the chance. I can't pass this up now. I love you, and I've missed you like crazy."
He reached out and touched her cheek lightly, and when she didn't show any sign of objection, kissed her softly. It was sweet and lingering, and it filled Sam with a sense of completeness she'd never had before. With a laugh she tackled him to the bed and kissed him soundly, wrapping her arms around him tightly. When they broke apart, Danny's eyes had glazed over.
She snuggled down into his arms. "Hold me and never let me go."
He was surprised by this show of weakness in her, but accepted it, using his hand to lay her head on his shoulder. "Never," he whispered, and lay with her. A few minutes later, he was pleased to see she was sleeping peacefully. Sensing a presence by the door, he looked over to find his best friend. "Hey, man. What are you doing here so late?" he asked quietly.
Acting as if nothing out of the ordinary was going on, Tucker shrugged and entered the room. He leaned against the foot of the bed and gazed down at Sam. "I was only home for a few minutes, but something was bothering me about the way she acted tonight. I wanted to come back and make sure she was okay." He smiled. "I guess she is."
Danny stared at Tuck, seeing how much he had changed in only a couple years. "Thanks."
Tucker shrugged again. "I promised I would take care of her, Danny. And even if I hadn't, I cared about her too much to let her give up hope. It was tough, for both of us. How was it on your end?"
"Hell," Danny replied simply.
"Yeah, I kind of figured," Tuck replied, nodding. "But everything's okay now."
"Yes." Danny looked down to the woman he loved and brushed some hair from her eyes. "Everything is okay now."
Keep in mind that the SagePoint only goes to the first five people to answer it correctly in this story. In the others, everything is fair game, but because these are songs and others can just look and see what other people have guessed, I had to put some guidelines in. So, only the first five to answer correctly receive the SagePoint.
SagePoint: This song is by Nickelback, from the "All the Right Reasons" album. It's very special to me.