Author's Note: This is a one-shot idea I had a long time ago, but didn't pull out of the attic until now. Let me tell you, it's good to finish it, and I'm already halfway through the sequel one-shot. I'm totally proud of this, as I got to put some really original stuff in, so I hope you all like it. Please, PLEASE review!
Disclaimer: I don't own Danny Phantom, but I do own The Signs. Don't dare take it, because I plan on turning it into a screenplay. I will hunt you down. You've been warned.
She was staring at him again.
Sam Manson purposefully directed her gaze to the font of the room, though she wished her sight could be met with something other than Mr. Lancer. Ew.
So as their psychotic teacher rambled on about Chinua Achebe, Sam's mind wandered. And, of course, her eyes wandered back to Danny.
Danny Fenton was one of Sam's two best friends, and had been for almost as long as she could remember. They had been through everything together, including the accident in Danny's parents' lab that turned him into a half-ghost. So when, in sixth grade, she looked at him and got jitters in her stomach, she chocked it up to hormones.
But she was fourteen now, and apparently hormones didn't take vacations.
Sam was snapped from her reverie when Danny looked over and caught her eye. He smiled and made a funny face. Tucker, not to be up-staged, smacked him upside the head. They began a subtle two-stooges act that made Sam roll her eyes.
She loved them both. One like a brother, one like…
Well, we won't get into that.
"Hey, guys, look! They're holding two school plays, one just for freshmen. That way we get a chance at leads!" Sam ripped down a flier for the freshman play, The Signs.
"The Signs?" Danny read. "I've never heard of it."
She glared at him. "If you paid any attention to what I say, you would. The Signs is an amazing play, telling the story of a dark, brooding femme fatale—Ebony—trapped in a meaningless existence of loneliness and a sales-clerk job at the mall. She fears she'll never escape the torturous monotony, until one day she finds a bag full of money, buys a car, and hits the road. She travels freely, following random street signs with names of towns she likes. On her way she happens upon an enigmatic stranger nicknamed Shadow, and together they cruise through life, simply going for the moment and the thrill." She sighed happily.
Tucker turned to Danny. "Did she just tell us the play or the story of her life from ages fourteen to twenty-seven?"
"Probably both. Sam, if you like the show so much, you should try out."
She immediately blushed. "Oh, I couldn't. I'd never get the part."
Of course she would, and Danny knew it. He also knew that Sam wanted to do this badly. So he smiled that half-smile of his—the one that tells you he knows exactly how cute he really is—and touched her shoulder.
"We'll do it with you," he offered.
"What?" Tucker sent him an odd look. Danny pinched his arm discreetly. "Ow! I mean… oh. Oh, yeah. Sure we will."
Sam's face lit up like fireworks on Independence Day. "Really? You guys are great."
They walked home, Sam beaming, Danny watching her, and Tucker grumbling and rubbing his arm.
"Are you nervous?" Danny asked quietly as they sat in the school auditorium.
Sam's eyes shifted to him quickly. "Nervous? No! Why would you say that?"
"Because you're cutting off the circulation to my hand," he replied, and his eyebrows rose. Sam glanced down to where her fingers were a vice around his wrist. She pried them off, smiling sheepishly as Tucker sat down beside them. Looking for a distraction, Sam talked to him about his audition.
"So what are you trying out for?"
"I figure I'll go for the boss at the mall, Johnson. He gets a lot of jokes, and that seems like my kind of character."
She smirked. "It figures."
"If I don't get the part, I'm joining stage crew. I looked over the script, and there's some awesome technological stuff I could do."
"That'd be cool, but don't throw the audition just to be on stage crew. You promised you'd do this with me."
He sighed as Danny chuckled. "I know…"
Sam turned on Danny. "You, too! You guys have to take this kind of stuff seriously."
"I know, I know. But lighten up, Sam. If you get too nervous, you're going to blow it."
With a conceding roll of the eyes, she nodded. "You're right. Well, you guys know who I'm trying out for, but what about you, Danny?"
"I figured I'd go for Shadow."
There was silence for a long moment.
"Ah… Danny? You know that Ebony and Shadow get together at the end, right? They have to kiss? Actually, in the real play, there's a love scene, but they toned it down for high school."
"Yeah. If we both get the parts we want… are you going to be cool with that?" Sam's heart was in her throat, and her hand had clenched on the arm-rest.
"You know, actually, I think I would be. I mean, look who else is trying out for Shadow." He counted off on his fingers. "Dash, Kwan, and Mikey. Out of the group, who would you rather act with?"
"You," she answered instantly.
"And if you're comfortable with it, then I'm comfortable with it. We're best friends, Sam." He leaned over and draped his arm over her shoulder. Sam laughed with him, but inside, little caterpillars of doom had metamorphosed into big, angry butterflies. She glanced at Tucker who sent her a knowing look, and suddenly taking on this audition was even more daunting than before.
Minutes later, auditions began. Mr. Lancer was the director, and he started with the minor roles first, going through the kids and picking them off like flies. Tucker went up for Johnson, but messed up a line… something about the Bon-Ton, which he turned into won-ton, and then started to improvise about Chinese food. Yeah, it was a complete mess, but the silliness of it lightened everyone's mood, and Tucker got his place on stage crew.
When the people trying out for Ebony were called, Sam almost got sick to her stomach. Danny gave her a squeeze for comfort and pushed her off, forcing her to the front of the auditorium.
The other people auditioning were… alright. One girl messed up the monologue so badly she ran off the stage crying. Another was very good with the tone of her voice, but she was stiff and obviously nervous. Another had amazing facial expression, but her voice was so soft you could barely hear it.
And then came Paulina.
"Oh, Shadow," she began, and immediately her voice grated against Sam's ears. "I hate this. I don't know what to do. Everything I know… Ah, Mr. Lancer? I was wondering; does she have to be so unsure? I mean, shouldn't the lead woman be strong and confident?"
Lancer's forehead had long ago hit his judging table. "Did you read the whole script, Paulina?"
"Was I supposed to? You didn't assign that."
"We'll discuss it later. Next!"
It was Sam's turn. She came up on stage and stared out at the auditorium. Not many of the seats were filled, but she could imagine a full house, and it scared her. She took a deep breath, however, when Danny smiled at her. He knew she could do it… so why not turn her nerves into inspiration?
Gently, Sam wrapped her arms around herself and looked down. When she spoke, she forced herself to project, and to add the right inflection. "Oh, Shadow. I hate this. I don't know what to do. Everything I know is back at home," she said, flinging one arm out to an unseen horizon. She tried to imagine a real person behind her, listening to her. Her voice rose. "But I think for once I'm looking for something different. I've got the means, I've got the motive, I've got the opportunity… but that makes it sound like this is a crime. Is it?" She spun around, facing the invisible Shadow. "Is running away from myself a crime?" With an exasperated sigh she let hopelessness overcome her again. "I can't go back, but can I really expect to go forward? I can see myself running off alone, ending up on the streets like some naïve little girl. I'm not naïve; if that's where this road is leading, then I'm taking the next exit off." She lifted her eyes then, staring straight down at Mr. Lancer. "All I want is something to believe in. Can you give me that?"
Mr. Lancer erupted into applause, standing. He turned to the girls sitting in the audience. "Do you see that? That is acting! Black Beauty, Manson that was amazing. Thank you."
Sam grinned and jumped from the stage, running to her friends. They laughed and congratulated her, giving her further praise which only succeeded in embarrassing her. They only had a few moments together, though, as Danny had to go up to audition for Shadow.
Mikey was first, but the poor guy had no idea what he was doing. Three words into the monologue he was stopped and Danny was ushered up on stage. He adopted that cocky half-smile and hooked a thumb in his belt loop. "I think you've got the wrong idea about me," he said. "I'm not the kind of guy to go chasing after dreams. I take what's given to me and make what I want out of it." He shifted and walked a few steps, crossing his arms. "Ebony, you'd best not be looking for a knight in shining armor. All I've got is a leather jacket, and that doesn't stand up so well against slaying dragons. I'd be burnt to a crisp." Danny laughed bitterly. "I can't tell you whether to go home or go on, and I won't pretend to know what you should do. All I know is that in two hours I'm pulling out of this town, and I'll be headed for the next hell-hole. Take that as an invitation, or take it as a dismissal. Your choice."
He'd managed to get through the whole monologue, and a smattering of applause met his descent from the stage. He returned to his friends, who were grinning.
"That was great, Danny," Sam said warmly. "I could absolutely see Shadow's character."
"Yeah, well, I've got to spare you from having to kiss those jerks, right?" He nodded toward Dash and Kwan, the latter of which was on stage, fumbling through his lines. Sam rolled her eyes and sat down, leaving the chairs on either side of her for her two best friends. Auditions ended about ten minutes later, and Lancer turned to everyone.
"The cast list will be posted tomorrow by the front office. I want to congratulate everyone on a job well done, and wish you luck." He bent to gather his notes, and the kids were dismissed.
"I can't look."
"I can," Danny said and jumped forward to the cast list that hung on the wall. Sam's face was hidden in her hands, showing an uncharacteristic nervous streak. She really wanted this part, and if she'd lost to someone like Paulina, she didn't know what she'd— "Sam, you got the part!"
"Really?" Her head lifted and she stared at him while Tucker laughed at her insecurities. Danny nodded and kept reading.
"And…" He laughed almost maliciously. "Pucker up."
He walked back to her smiling, though her expression had turned dark. "Oh God, who do I have to kiss?"
"Me, Ebony. Looks like Johnny's isn't the only Shadow around anymore."
"Really? You got the part? That's great! Congratulations!" Sam catapulted herself at him, wrapping her arms around his neck. He was almost bowled over but caught her just before losing his balance.
"Are you that enthusiastic about kissing me?" Both guys laughed, though Sam slapped Danny's arm.
"This is too good," Tucker commented, beginning to walk to class. "I smell love in the air… is Mrs. Manson going to have to get another restraining order on you, Danny?"
"Tucker!" they both yelled, and he smiled.
"Oh, yeah. This is going to be real good."
"Looks like you're having trouble."
Ebony turned and lifted her eyebrows. "Trouble? The thing won't start, and I've got absolutely no idea about cars. The guy inside won't help me, and there's some old woman on the phone that won't get off, and—"
"Whoa, hey there, slow down," Shadow said, striding over. "I don't offer this much, but let me take a look. I happen to know a thing or two about motors."
Ebony took one look at the man—dark hair, leather jacket, cocky smile—and decided she'd better not get involved.
"I don't need someone thinking I'm incompetent to help me."
"That's not what you said ten seconds ago."
She frowned. "And how do I know you're qualified?"
Shadow laughed. "I'm more qualified than the jerk inside that dump," he said, indicating the gas-station restaurant. "But hey, if you don't want my help, I shouldn't have offered. I'm not going to force you…"
He began to walk away but Ebony took one last look at her smoking engine and stopped him. "Well, maybe you could just take a look…"
He grinned and moved over to the hood of her car, bending down underneath and checking the engine. "Sure. So, what's a smart-looking woman like you doing way out here?"
"I'm on my way to Sugartown."
"Sugartown? That place is smaller than my bike mirror. Why are you going there?"
Ebony shrugged, trying to be nonchalant. "I liked the name of it."
"The name of it, huh? What, you've got nowhere to be?"
He was looking at her with a piercing blue gaze, and she turned away, trying to be aloof. "I've got everywhere to be. I just don't know where I'll end up yet."
He said no more, simply fiddled in her car. She began to get antsy, and soon was pacing. "Listen, we haven't really met each other yet. I'm Ebony."
She'd moved close to him, and he looked over his shoulder at her. "Shadow. I'd give you my hand, but I wouldn't want to dirty yours."
She took it as the insult it was, turning away in a huff. The guy thought she was too good to get her hands dirty? Well, she'd show him! She was about to turn back when his laughter met her ears, and she realized that if she spoke to him, he'd only manage to win the war of wits again. She'd have to think about this 'Shadow.'
Darkness closed in around them, and a voice called out.
"Great! Lights up, people. Sam, I need you more dramatic. Danny, you're close to perfect, but you should be more condescending. To you, Ebony is some poodle trying to be a rottweiler." Mr. Lancer directed his attention to the stage crew. "How's our car construction coming? It looks stupid having them leaning into nothing. It took absolutely all my creative power to imagine it there, so I want it there for real!"
"Three days, Mr. Lancer!" Tucker called from the wing. "I found an old stage car in the basement, so I just need to give it a tune-up and hook up the new wiring. You'll have it for Friday's practice."
"Good. And the set pieces?"
Anna, the school's most talented artist, stepped out. "I'll have the curtains done in a week or so, and then you'll have your backdrops."
Joe, another guy from stage crew, said, "Minor props are coming along pretty well, but we're having trouble with the moving buildings. The restaurant/cabin keeps bottoming out, and the mall/hotel is too heavy to move quickly enough."
Mr. Lancer sighed and climbed up on stage to go meet with the stage crew about their set problems, and Sam and Danny moved to talk to each other about the practice.
Sam shoved Danny in the chest lightly. "So, exactly how fluffy do you think I am?"
He smiled. "About as fluffy as a porcupine fish. I honestly can't believe how fast practices are going. It seems like only yesterday we were running through the first scene of the play, and now we're pretty much half-way through."
"Yeah, three weeks does a lot. You know, I'm almost kind of glad Tucker didn't get Johnson. Kwan does a pretty good job acting stupid."
They laughed together. "I'm just happy to finally get some stage time. I've spent the whole three weeks just reading the script and memorizing lines… at least now I finally get to act them."
The two friends sat on the stage together. Around them, sets were being built and lighting was being hung. Hammers and clangs didn't allow for any semblance of quiet, but it created a feel of business that filled everyone with a sense of accomplishment. They were doing something worth-while, and throwing their all into it.
"Yeah, well," Sam continued. "We've only got the restaurant scene before we drive away into the horizon and then it's the end of Act 1. And then, things get really interesting…"
"Car thieves, creepy hitch-hikers, a vengeful hotel manager—"
"Played by the oh-so-qualified Dash Baxter," Sam mentioned, rolling her eyes.
"And then a kiss."
They both fell quiet, and Sam sent him a look. "You know, as absolutely awkward as it is to say this, I think we should practice."
Danny's eyes widened. "What?"
"Well, all I mean is, we don't want to get up on stage in front of these people and completely screw up the kiss. We've got a few weeks until we get there, and we don't have to start right away, but I think before we hit the actual thing on stage, we should make sure we're comfortable with each other." Sam had said the entire thing in about eight seconds, and took a deep breath afterwards, trying to gauge Danny's reaction.
It had been so nerve-wracking these last weeks, gearing herself up to flirt and seduce her best friend. It was so out of place, and yet it was kind of what she wanted in real life, and that created a problem with jitters and quick speaking, which absolutely would not go well on stage. She knew she would have to learn to control her feelings for Danny before they went any further with this production.
But he just shrugged. "Yeah, I guess that makes sense. Like you said, we've got a while yet."
Lancer spoke to them then. "Danny and Sam, I want you to start practicing the end of the show tomorrow. I know I'm going out of order, but it's the hardest scene in the entire show, and I want to make sure it's perfect. Be prepared to go all out tomorrow, as there aren't really set pieces you need to interact with. I want to see it like I was watching on opening night!"
Both laughed nervously. "Well, there goes the 'we have a while' approach," Sam said. "I guess… my house after practice?"
It took him a moment, but he nodded.
Minutes later, places were called, and Sam had to be seductive over a scarred and chipped restaurant table. She threw her absolute everything into it, making her voice huskier, her glances smokier, and her posture slinkier. Danny was impressed, apparently, as he played the intrigued and interested loner role very well. By the end of practice, you could hardly understand what Lancer was saying between all the literature titles, he was so pleased.
Her parents weren't home.
She knew that was probably a good thing, as practicing kissing with Danny while they were present would most likely end up with him not allowed within twenty feet of her—yeah, that would go over well with Mr. Lancer—but being alone with him in her house suddenly seemed… rebellious. She had that exhilarated feeling like she was about to do something incredibly against the rules. Adrenaline was up, and her heart was pumping.
Sam forced herself to calm down. After all, showing Danny how nervous she was would definitely not be a good thing, and she figured he must be nervous, too. Having them both awkward would not be conducive to a serious practice.
The knock on her window made her jump, but didn't surprise her. She knew he wouldn't use the front door. He hardly ever did. She motioned him into her bedroom and he phased through before turning human again.
"I can't believe Lancer sprang this on us," he said as he joined her on the bed.
"I know; it's real short notice. He should have figured we'd want more time…"
She trailed off, but knew Danny understood. They looked at each other for a minute, and then turned away, blushing. "So, I guess we should start," Danny suggested.
Sam cleared her throat. "Ah, yeah. So, do you know the lines?"
"Like I said, I've been memorizing for a while."
"Right. I guess I'll just pick it up then." Sam shifted to face him and took on a shocked and indignant expression. "You can't honestly think I'm going to just turn around and go home."
Danny's voice was purposely tight when he said, "All the trouble we've gotten into—it's my fault. I once said I'd live me own life, but never drag anyone down with me. I'm not the kind of guy—"
"You always say that: 'not the kind of guy.' But you've changed, Shadow. We both have. This journey has changed us!"
"Yeah, maybe. But it hasn't changed the fact that you don't belong in this kind of life. When I started out on the road, I made a lot of promises to myself. I don't break my word, Ebony."
"If I didn't want to be here, I would have turned back long ago. I kept driving for a reason."
"I never asked you to stay. Now, I'm asking you to go."
"Oh yeah? Well…" She shifted closer, letting her eyelids close half-way. Sam tried her best to keep her hands from shaking as she slipped them over his chest and behind his neck. Her gaze flickered to his lips, and she noticed that he swallowed. "You once said you would give me whatever I wanted. I'm taking you up on it. What do you have to say to that?"
The silence stretched. "You're a really good actress," Danny said, breaking character.
Sam laughed and let her arms fall. "Danny!"
"I know; I'm sorry. I'm just nervous. This is kind of… different."
"Yeah, I know it is, but we have to make sure the kiss is perfect. I warned you before you auditioned that this would be weird."
"I know you did. Can we try again?"
She nodded and linked her fingers behind his neck. "You once said you would give me whatever I wanted. I'm taking you up on it. What do you have to say to that?"
"You've tempted me one too many times." He started to reach out, but the moment his hand touched her waist, he withdrew. "I just don't know the boundaries!"
Sam was exasperated. Her mind was screaming, just kiss me, damnit! But she knew she couldn't say that out loud. Control, Sam. Control. "Danny, you probably won't hear this from me often, but… there are no boundaries. You're playing a part, and Shadow's not the kind of guy to worry about whether what he's doing is right or not. He just does it. So… just do it.
He took a deep breath, eyes down. "You're right." This time, he lifted her arms around his neck for her. "Say the line."
"You once said you would give me whatever I wanted. I'm taking you up on it. What do you have to say to that?" Her voice was soft and full of emotion, the tone designed to entice.
"You've tempted me one too many times." His arm came out and grabbed her around the waist, yanking her flush against him. She was so afraid he could feel her rapid heartbeat against his chest. Their lips were inches apart, and his voice was coarse as he said, "I take what I want, and right now, that's you. Kiss me… and make it seem like I'm the reason you kept driving."
Another jerk of his arm and they came together, mouth to mouth. Sam could literally feel the heat of her own skin, and the touch of Danny's lips only increased it. His hands spread and pressed against her back, succeeding in bringing her even closer than before. She ran her fingers through his hair, letting them stay there when she reached the nape of his neck. She could feel herself bending, torso curving as he leaned forward. In her mind they made the classic pose; hero grasping heroine. It was exactly how she'd wanted it to be… absolutely incredible.
Finally they reached a point where under normal circumstances, the decision is to stop right there… or escalate the situation. Common sense seemed to return to them both at once and they pulled away, Danny running a hand through his hair while Sam braced herself against the bed.
"Well…" she said, not quite sure where they stood. Her mind was telling her they were just doing this for the play, but her heart was wishing it was more.
"Yeah… well…" Danny mimicked, clearly unsteady also. He looked at her, though his gaze wasn't on her face. When she noticed his line of vision, she lifted an eyebrow.
"Have something to say to me, Danny?" she asked, crossing her arms over her chest.
He snapped to attention. "Oh… er… no?"
"That sounded more like a question."
"Well, I don't want to make you embarrassed or anything."
Her stomach fell. He'd hated it; she knew. He wanted to drop out of the play so they wouldn't ever have to kiss again. "Just tell me. Maybe we can fix the problem."
He shook his head. "It's not a problem, just something I noticed. You know, really, considering what we're doing, it's probably a good thing…"
A good thing? "Okay, now you have to tell me."
"It's just… when I'm holding you like that, and you're breathing hard, your—" His voice cracked and he had to try again. "Your breasts rise and fall and I can feel it and it's really… well…"
She started laughing; the tension was too much. "It's okay, Danny, don't be awkward. I know what you mean now. Do you want me to try and not breathe?" she asked, only half kidding.
"No! No, like I said, it's probably a good thing. More in-character, you know? Ebony seems like the kind of girl to not hold anything back, especially if it turns Shadow on…"
WHOA! Did he just say she'd turned him on? Sam fought off the high-pitched squeal of feminine happiness. Hell, yes! Out loud, Sam allowed herself a simple, "Whatever you say."
"Right… so, figure we should do it again and try to get through the rest of the scene? I mean, we've kissed now. We know we can do it. Now we have to add on the dialogue after that."
"Do you just want to do the dialogue, or go from the beginning?" she asked, almost dreading the answer.
"If it's okay with you, we'll go from the beginning. After all," he said, shifting closer. "It's got to be perfect, right?"
Sam had to mentally smack herself to keep from grinning. "Yeah. Practice makes perfect."
"Okay, people, set up the final scene! Forget the lighting for the beginning, just black-out; spotlight Danny and Sam. I need as much of the hotel room set as you guys have ready. Places!"
As crew members rushed to do their jobs, Sam turned to Danny. "You ready?"
"As ready as you are." To Mr. Lancer he asked, "Where do you want us to take it from?"
Lancer paged through his script. "Ah… go from once you get into the room, I guess. You guys have the dialogue before that, I'm sure. I'm more concerned about the kiss."
"Right." He turned back to Sam, smiling. "See? Exactly like we did it last night."
She nodded. "Exactly. And hey, we've got props now." She looked around her, finding a fake bed to her right and a dresser behind her. Stage left, a door stood on its own. There were duffel bags beside it, supposedly theirs. Sam walked over and tossed one to Danny, who placed it on the bed and stood beside it. Sam grabbed the other and opened the door, posing herself as if she'd just walked in. "Ready when you are, Mr. Lancer," she told him.
"Perfect. Lights!" he yelled to the students in the lighting box. Almost every light went out, except for a spotlight on both Danny and Sam. "Remember you two; I want this like it is opening night. Start right in."
Ebony turned and closed the door, sighing in contentment. "Another night, another couple hours of rest before we hit the road again. As tiring as this is, I can't say I don't like it. I feel… dangerous," she said with a shake of her shoulders, moving toward him.
"Yeah, more like 'in danger.' I can't say I'm happy about getting tailed by that manager. Two weeks, and we didn't even notice him following us." Shadow reached out and took her bag, laying it on the bed. "You could have gotten hurt," he said, eyebrows furrowed.
"But I didn't," she reminded him, laying a hand on his arm. "You were there to protect me."
"That's just the thing, Ebony. I told you before we left for Sugartown that I'm not a knight in shining armor. I can't always be there to protect you, and I don't want to bring you into any more danger." He sighed and pulled away from her hand. "Tomorrow morning, I plan to leave alone."
Ebony's mouth opened in shock, and she staggered back a step. "You can't honestly think I'm going to just turn around and go home."
Strained and obviously having a hard time doing this, Shadow said, "All the trouble we've gotten into—it's my fault. I once said I'd live me own life, but never drag anyone down with me. I'm not the kind of guy—"
"You always say that: 'not the kind of guy.' But you've changed, Shadow. We both have. This journey has changed us!" She was angry, and balled her hands at her sides.
Shadow wouldn't look at her. "Yeah, maybe. But it hasn't changed the fact that you don't belong in this kind of life. When I started out on the road, I made a lot of promises to myself. I don't break my word, Ebony."
She stepped toward him again. "If I didn't want to be here, I would have turned back long ago. I kept driving for a reason."
"I never asked you to stay. Now, I'm asking you to go."
"Oh yeah? Well…" She tugged on his leather jacket, forcing him to turn and face her. Slowly, she slid her hands up and over his chest before letting them rest on his shoulders. "You once said you would give me whatever I wanted. I'm taking you up on it. What do you have to say to that?"
Shadow turned his face away, obviously fighting with himself. When he turned back and spoke, his voice was rough, but decided. "You've tempted me one too many times." He reached out and grabbed her by the hips, pulling her forward. Once again they were pressed stomach-to-stomach, and Ebony was at well aware of what her breathing did to her chest. It only made her heart beat faster to know that Shadow felt it, too. Good; she wanted him unsteady. "I take what I want, and right now, that's you. Kiss me," he ordered. "And make it seem like I'm the reason you kept driving."
He kissed her suddenly, and Ebony was lost in feeling. She gave her all to this one kiss, letting herself be curved by Shadow's strong embrace. At last their lips parted, and her hand came to rest on his chest. Otherwise, they stayed as they were.
"You are the reason I kept driving," she told him honestly.
And Shadow grinned. "That's what I was hoping you'd say. To hell with danger, Ebony. Let's let the road signs take us where they will."
"I'll follow you anywhere," she said.
He kissed her again, and darkness closed in around them.
When the lights came back on, Sam and Danny had separated and were smiling down at Mr. Lancer. They knew they'd done the scene perfectly, and they weren't disappointed by his reaction. In fact, they were happily surprised—he was crying.
"You two," he said, standing and making his way to the stage. "Have chemistry like I've never seen. That was… perfection." He began clapping insanely, and soon was joined by those in the wings. Danny's and Sam's eyes widened.
"Jeez, Mr. Lancer," Danny said. "It's just a practice."
"No, my boy. Every time you walk on stage, it's a performance. Also, as Shakespeare once wrote, 'All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.' You should be proud of yourself; both of you. Now!" Lancer redirected his attention. "I want the set out for the beginning of Act 2!" he called to the stage crew. He began shouting directions, but Tucker managed to break away and come running to Danny and Sam, who were grinning at each other. He tried to get their attention, but it was like they were in their own little world. Finally, he dealt a low blow.
"Danny and Sam, kissing in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-"
"Tucker!" they both yelled at once.
"Gee, and here I though I was in the Twilight Zone. Nope, I guess everything's back to normal, right guys?"
"Yeah," Sam said, glancing back to Danny. "Why wouldn't it be?"
"We're acting, Tuck." Danny stepped forward, and despite his words, his arm found its way to Sam's waist. "Just because we're good at it doesn't mean there's anything weird going on."
"Uh huh…" Tucker muttered, promising himself he'd log this odd behavior in his PDA. His friends might not notice it, but they were getting closer. Much closer.
They'd met at a gas station. He'd taken her for a wild ride and together they'd been robbed, frightened, stalked, chased, and almost killed. Together they'd gotten through it all, and now she was finally getting what she'd wished for. His lips were both hard and gentle on hers, and his hands on her back felt like they were meant to be there. He'd asked her to go home, but she already was home. Home was Shadow, whether he chose to believe it or not. In his arms, she felt… complete.
It felt so good to hold her. He'd wanted to for so long, and finally he had his chance. He crushed her to him, barely able to even think of letting go. All he wanted was her happiness, and apparently he made her happy. In his memory, it was the first time something like that happened. Usually he was the one to bring pain and misfortune. But Ebony loved him and wanted him as he was… and now he was returning the favor.
Oh, he loved her.
It was almost painful to pull away. And when she said those sweet words, "You are the reason I kept driving," he knew he was lost to her.
"That's what I was hoping you'd say." He refused to let her go. She was dipped back, and he knew his hands were supporting her. That's the way it would be from that day forth… "To hell with danger, Ebony. Let's let the road signs take us where they will."
He could feel her happiness, and because she was happy, it made him happy. "I'll follow you anywhere," she said, and he believed her with all of his heart.
Yes, Ebony had changed him. She'd changed him for the better. He kissed her, letting all of his newfound emotions pour into that kiss. Darkness met them, and they broke apart.
The lights came on, and the audience exploded into a full standing ovation. Danny and Sam were nowhere to be found, but the rest of the cast was filing on stage amidst the thunderous applause. They bowed and then retreated. Danny ran on stage to the front and bowed, and people screamed. He grinned and held his hand back, just in time to meet Sam as she came forward. The screams were even louder as she curtsied, and then they held hands and bowed together. The rest of the cast came forward, and made final bows as a full production team. The curtain came down and still people applauded, though now their clapping was joined by the triumphant yells of all who had performed.
Hugs were given, laughter was shared, and everyone was too happy to express it. They'd spent three months working on this show, and after opening night, they couldn't feel more accomplished. They had three more shows to do, and then it was over, but they'd have the memories forever.
Together, Danny and Sam went out to meet the crowds, followed by the rest of the cast.
The Fentons were crazily ecstatic; the Mansons eloquently proud. Both teens were embraced by their families, and of course comments were made about… the kiss. One special warning from Mr. Manson to the effect of, "Kiss my daughter like that off-stage and I'll cut your lips off," hit Danny loud and clear, but the laughter that followed it calmed his nerves. Pictures were taken, congratulations given, and the auditorium slowly began to empty. Danny and Sam told their families that they had to go and hang their costumes, but they'd be back in a few minutes.
On the way to the changing rooms, they were met by Tucker.
"Great show, right guys?"
"Absolutely! Tucker, those effects of yours were awesome. The car, the motorcycle, and what you did to remote-control the larger set pieces… I have to admit, you've got skills." Danny patted his friend on the back.
"Yeah, and the way you guys looked on stage, apparently you've got some skills as well, dude." He wiggled his eyebrows and earned an elbow in the ribs from Sam.
"Shut it, Tuck. Just because Danny's a better kisser than you are…"
"Oh, come on, Tucker. You deserved that." Danny reached forward and tugged Sam beside him, dropping his hand to her hip. "You did good, Manson."
"Not so bad yourself, Fenton," she said, gazing up at him. They grinned, and Tucker watched, amused.
This was most definitely the start of something new. Follow the signs, guys. They won't lead you wrong.
Whoop! I know, kind of cliffy-esque, isn't it? I'm evil. You love me anyway.
SagePoint: Why did I name the lead role in "The Signs" Ebony?