I haven't fiddled with any Ghost Origins stuff lately. Eternal is kind of… I'm planning on focusing on that once all episode-reliant fics are finished. But since all my episode-reliant stories have been KILLED by cannon, I'm filled to the brim with one-shot fever. In fact, WNE is probably going to be discontinued.I wrote this a couple ages ago on paper and haven't gotten it on paper. I thought I'd take a stab at a Ghost Origin. It's a sort-of song-fic, based on "Everything Burns" by Ben Moody. Two chapters, okay?
I do not claim ownership of Danny Phantom or "Everything Burns".
"She sits in her corner singing herself to sleep
Wrapped in all of the promises that no one seems to keep...
But she will sing till everything burns, everyone screams
Burning their lies, burning my dreams..."
The candlelight flickered in the wind that came in through the small, open window. The dancing flame on the wick was reflected in her half-open eyes as they followed every spontaneous yet graceful movement. The wax was slowly dripping onto the wooden floorboards. She was sitting on the floor in front of it, curled up with her chin resting on her knees. A soft humming sound leaked from her lips as they hardly moved.
Song. It could always warm her more than any fire could. Only one thing could ever make her feel safer, stronger than song.
She buried her face into her knees. Well, now, at least, only song made her feel strong.
Strands of hair would keep falling into her face whenever a particularly strong gust of air came into her room. Sometimes she really couldn't stand her long hair, colored blue when she was feeling exceptionally rebellious. It was usually pulled back in a high ponytail, but in private, it fell down her back.
In an almost dreamlike state, her eyes never leaving the candle, she reached one of her arms out toward the fire. Her fingers crawled across the floor toward it, almost apprehensively. She placed her index finger within the light, weaving the rest in and out to feel the heat, but not maim her flesh. It was strangely satisfying, her connection with the candle and the fire currently burning inside of her chest, fueled on emotion. The pool of pearly wax at the base began to move toward her feet.
Other than her and the candle, as well as an assortment of other necessary furniture – a dresser, a mattress – the room she sat in was barren. The small, dank apartment that she lived in didn't require much in the way of money, nor did the owner request the rent frequently from his tenants. As good as that usually was for her, since she could spend her hard earned cash on something useful, it meant that many nights would be spent without electricity. For example, there was no heater tonight in the beginning of January.
All her money went into food, candles, and clothing, but the latter was her priority. Clothing was very important in her line of work. You have to look good while you're on stage, right? She was still in her costume from a gig the other night. Cleaning her clothes, now, that wasn't a priority.
Slowly, with the mechanical movement of a robot she'd seen in an bad sci-fi movie the other night, she turned her apathetic face toward a photograph laying on her mattress. Beside it was a pad of yellow paper with many scratched out words and scribbles on the front page. She pulled the pad toward her and held it in the light, scanning the visible words and humming. Her fingers strummed on her knee as though an instrument were in her grasp.
"Your heart…. abandoned," she sang softly, the words audible only to her. "… Now perishing."
She closed her eyes tightly and pulled her arms back in, shivering. Damn cold. She knew that she had to sleep. It was late and she'd hardly slept the night before because she had been out with Spazz and Ryan.
Sleep was something she dare not do. She knew the torture that would ensure to her.
"Bad dreams," she added, louder and clearer, "in cold December."
Her fingers found the photograph and followed the same path toward the lit candle. A long, quiet ripping sound interrupted her melodies. One half of the printed portrait was held between her thin fingers, the image of a smirking man her age with black and red hair staring at her, while the other fell safely to her feet. She held the piece over the candle for a moment before lowering it closer to the destructive heat. The colors bubbled and blended and melted and dripped, burning ink reaching her senses, as she watched silently.
Retribution in its smallest form filled her inside.
The deformed image was tossed aside and the woman picked up the pen and paper, scribbling once again. "Nothing but ashes remain…" She lowered her head onto her knees.
A rapping rang through her room, echoing against the walls and startling her. She gasped and in the process of standing up nearly kicked over the candle. "Who's there?" she called at her door angrily, disgruntled that someone dare interrupt her moments of reflection. Besides, it was midnight. Who the hell wanted to see her at this time?
"Ember, open the damn door!"
Oh. He would.
She really didn't want to talk to the man on the other side of the door. However, she couldn't just ignore him. Grabbing a hair tie from the floor, she pulled her hair back so that she could look at least half-decent. Reluctantly she opened the door and leaned against it, simply staring at him. The man was nearly her age, only a year or so older, with brown hair grown to his chin and an all-around similar style.
Laying eyes on her, he groaned and invited himself in, stepping past her. "You look absolutely terrible, Ember," he commented with concern in his voice. "Are you doing all right? You look like you've been tearing up in here."
Ember shut the door behind her and smiled softly. "I don't cry much," she explained. "To what do I owe this late, unwanted and unexpected visit, dearest Ian?"
The man sat on the mattress in the middle of the floor, pushing aside the intact half of the picture. "I'm not allowed to stop by and see how my favorite little star is doing?"
"Shut your piehole," Ember said half jokingly. "One: I'm almost a star. Just wait for it. Second of all, quit acting like I'm some other ditz you're managing!" She tore out her hair tie and flung it at his face. "I'm your sister for Pete's sake."
Sister may not have been the legal term for it, but as far as she was concerned, Ian and her were fraternal twins separated by birth when an alien escaped from Area 51, stole her from the hospital, and dropped her in New Jersey. Her 'fake' family decided to move to Chicago five years later. A ridiculous theory, but it was better than the alternative fact that she was actually the spawn of those conservative goodwill adults.
"Third," she continued, "it's midnight and you're usually at either a party or a concert by now. You have something important to say."
Ian pursed his lips and looked around the room. "You need a new apartment in a bad way. It's freezing in here."
"Right. What I need is a shower and a record deal. Everything else can wait."
"So that's what that stink is? Bathe once in a while, okay? For a chick, it helps the image."
Ian frowned and grabbed her around her wrist, yanking her down onto the mattress with him. She stumbled but turned around and sat as he leaned back. He'd suddenly become very stern. "Seriously, Ember," he said, "you look like absolute crap. You're not even trying to pretend that nothing happened." He leaned forward and eyed her closely. "You're still messed up about Jayce, aren't you?"
"Du-uh," Ember said flatly. "The dipstick sort of just dumped me on my butt for no good reason, and he's probably already with another girl. Not only that, but every one of my fans were his fan first, so I don't know how they're reacting. They probably think this is all my doing, which is stupid." She grabbed two locks of hair near her face and yanked at them furiously. "People need to lay off the reefer sometimes."
Ian took Ember's chin in his hand and held her face up to his. "Hey," he whispered comfortingly, "it's okay. He doesn't deserve someone like you."
"Quit flirting with me," she growled dishearteningly.
"It's not flirting. I'm being serious." He moved from the mattress to the floor, crouched in front of Ember as she glanced upwards at him. "I'm not going to try and woo you or anything. Again."
"Ian, you need a girlfriend. Maybe you'll leave me alone after that."
Ember's words easily bit at him, but they weren't exactly new. His infatuation with her had almost become a casual joke between them. "Like hell. I'm always going to make sure my star's safe and happy."
"Well, I'm not. You done then?"
"Yes," he said calmly. "Yes I am." It was obvious he wasn't getting anything happy out of her tonight, so he was just going to stop pushing. Ember needed a lot of space, especially when she was like this.
She turned to the floor where the candle was now nearly completely melted and fused to the wood with hardened wax. That would be a killer to take off. She picked up the pad of paper and looked at it carefully. "One good thing about how totally trashed I feel," she said, "is that it's given me something to write about. I had hardly anything decent coming out of me when I was… well, when I wasn't like this." She handed the sheet of paper with the lyric she'd finished writing to him so he could look them over. "I have a melody and most of my part finished. Ryan can figure out the rest, can't he?"
With a sigh she leaned back and waited for him to finish. "What sucks hardest is that we're still down for two more gigs with Jayce's band."
"Yep," Ian muttered, his eyes scanning the page still.
"Love… love is the worst. It's the pits when it ends," she mused. Her eyes glazed over a bit as she disconnected from the room for a moment, almost forgetting Ian was there. "It's horrible, really. Why do we even glorify it? That is the last love song I am ever going to sing."
Ian tossed the paper at her, bringing her back to life. "That is good. In fact, that is golden." He had a huge smile on his face. "That song right there… from the lyrics alone, you could make it big."
Ember sat up straighter, interested suddenly. "You think? I scratched out so much stuff on it, though, and –"
"Babe, shut your face and listen to me!"
"Don't talk to me like that!"
"Whatever." Ian reached for Ember's most prized possession: her guitar. Blue and pink, some of the latest artwork and technology had gone into it. Ian, Spazz, Ryan, and Jayce had all put money into it for her birthday two years ago. It was the most beautiful thing Ember had ever hoped to see, much less own. "Show me what you've got," he demanded.
Ember took the guitar from him, feeling suddenly on the spot. She cleared her throat and strummed the guitar strings, and soon enough she was ready. It was just Ian; no problems here. She began to sing.
"It was, it was September, when all the dead leaves fall. To you, I did surrender. Two weeks, you didn't call. Your life goes on without me. My life's a losing game. But you should not doubt me – you will remember this name. Ooo-oh-oh! You will remember. Oo-oh, one thing remains! Oh, remember me, so warm and tenderly! Nothing –"
Ian grasped her hands and pulled them from the guitar, which fell to her lap. He stared silently into her green eyes, unmoving. "What?" she asked. "Are you broken or something?"
"That's it," he said excitedly. "That is it. First thing tomorrow you're showing this to the boys." He stood up and began pacing around the room. "What's it called?"
Ember hadn't tought of that yet. She thought for a moment before deciding. "Remember."
"Excellent, excellent." He stopped his neurotic pacing and looked at Ember's very empathetic face, It was obvious that she was in a funk if she wasn't eager about this. Ever since they were kids she'd been dead-set on becoming a rock star. She probably thought he wanted it for himself, too, being her manager and the manager of several other groups. If it wasn't for her dream, though, he wouldn't have even tried to be one.
Jayce had burned her dreams to a crisp. It was all just a matter of looking in her eyes. He would pay for stealing the spotlight from her.
He ran a hand through his long hair. "Ember," he pleaded, "come on. Get your head straight."
"I'm sorry," she moaned. "I'm just… distracted. It's stupid."
"Don't focus on that scumbag." He kneeled on the bed next to her and placed a hand on her shoulder. "You know how I keep talking about talent?"
"On and on about it," she droned. "Never stops."
"Well, you've got more than that." His fingers traced their way down her arm and to her hand. "You've got power. I see it in the audience, even in myself, when you sing. You have them dangling on puppet strings, really. You play a note, and you send a fist of power into their ears. Another string, and you break their hearts."
"I'm not that good," Ember laughed bitterly.
"Yes. You are."
"I don't need this right now!" she yelled, pushing Ian away. Unbeknownst to her why, his words of encouragement angered her further. "I know I've got power, okay? I know I can make it. You don't need to tell me! I know! Right now, all I need is the power to blow Jayce away for forgetting me."
She scooped up the remaining ashes of the picture. With one breathe of air the scattered across the room, invading her senses once more. She turned her head to Ian coldly. "I need to show him and his friends what I can do. I don't need to hear about music."
Well, at least she was back to her normal self, Ian thought.
"You can do that at the next concert. Tomorrow night," he said, completely unfazed by her outburst. "Show him that Ember McLain is worth remembering."
With a nod of agreement, Ember placed her guitar back in the corner. With a calming breathe, she said, "You can leave now."
It wasn't a suggestion. It was a demand.
So, expect the second piece later this week, as well as the first chapter of a Ghostwriter GO, and maybe even another Gray Ghost one-shot. I'll tell you all now: second chapter is going to be tragic. I mean, Ember's a ghost. Put the pieces together.
See you in the afterlife,
Saramis A. Kismet