Author's Introduction:

I took a break in the middle of Eye of the Beholder, and Tucker came by to keep me company. Thanks Tuck!

This was mostly written at work, mostly. And no one said a thing. Am I just really good at multitasking, or is everyone just choosing to ignore me? XD

Tucker's Day Off

A Danny Phantom fanfiction by Firestar9mm

Didn't everybody deserve a day off once in a while?

Yes, they did. Tucker was sure of it. Looking around at everyone he knew, he could see how hard they worked at what they did, good or bad. He could see how they might need a break.

Take Mr. Lancer, for instance. Sure, the teacher spent a lot of time haranguing Tucker and his friends, throwing detentions like confetti around the classroom, but it had to be hard to teach teenagers, even when there wasn't the possibility of a ghost attack at any second. There must have been a horrible sense of finality to waking up to the same tie selection every single day, to the sea of blank, bored stares that greeted a teacher in a two o'clock classroom. It made sense that Mr. Lancer would want to stay as far away from school grounds as possible when the bell rang. He probably spent his Saturday nights home shaving his back or something, happy as a clam.

Take the class that was going on right now, for instance—it would be enough to drive any teacher to retirement.

"I was a child and she was a child, in this kingdom by the sea," Lancer read. "But we loved with a love that was more than love, I and my Annabel-Lee, so that the winged seraphs of heaven coveted her and me."

Lancer's poetry reading always gave Tucker the feeling that he was settling slowly to the bottom of the ocean. Since the teacher's voice wasn't usually directed at the class in such a soothing manner, most of the students were taking advantage of the makeshift lullaby, but Tucker was trying his hardest not to go gentle into that good night.

"So that her high-born kinsmen came and bore her away from me..."

Danny, on the other hand, was having major trouble keeping his eyes open, Tucker noticed. Every so often his friend's lashes would droop over those baby blues, like window shades lowering slowly, only to be yanked up again by the occupant when he realized what was happening. Poor Danny. They'd had a really hard time last night chasing Youngblood through the playground—an obstacle course that was a lot harder to squeeze yourself through at fourteen years old than it had been at six, even if you were a ghost kid. Despite his ability to walk through walls, disappear, and fly (as the story went), Danny had been wheezing when he'd finally gotten the little spectral brat into the Thermos. Tucker had already given up by the sandbox, while the more physically fit Sam had made it through the jungle gym and across the monkey bars only to collapse at the base of the slide, chasing her breath.

Danny's head tipped again, and he gasped as his senses rattled back into wakefulness for the fourth time. Tucker did not envy him the suffering he would endure till he could get home and collapse into bed. Now there was a guy who definitely deserved a day off.

Meanwhile, just behind Danny, Sam was wearing her Thoughtful expression, the one that suggested she was listening to some inner music only she could hear. Sam's mind was a complicated place to say the least; Tucker and Danny often wondered what it looked and sounded like in there. Every so often she would put pen to paper, then draw it back again. Her head would tilt as she crossed things out and made corrections, as though the sounds in her head were directing what she wrote.

Whatever she was listening to, it definitely wasn't "Annabel-Lee". Not that she had need to; it was Edgar Allen Poe, and therefore Sam had read it all to death when they were in the eighth grade and she was just starting to realize how much fun it was to freak out her mother.

Suddenly, Sam jumped to attention, dropping her pen and catching Danny, who'd finally fallen asleep for good and was about to tilt backwards onto her desk. Tucker smiled at her as she gave Danny a gentle shake to wake him, but it was too late.

"Ms. Manson, what are you doing?" Lancer interrupted.

Sam covered her book guiltily. "Nothing, Mr. Lancer, why?"

"Well, I've noticed you've dropped your pen, which is odd because there is no writing permitted during my poetry readings," Lancer quipped. "And while it is very nice of you to attempt to wake Mr. Fenton, he should know better than to be sleeping in my class in the first place." The tone of the teacher's voice rose as he approached them, and Danny's eyes flickered open again.

"Huh?" he asked. "What'd I miss?"

Sam shook him, a little harder this time. "You were asking me about the poem," she supplied helpfully, even though there was no way in hell Lancer was going to buy it.

Taking in his less-than-favorable surroundings, Danny snapped to attention. "Yikes! I mean—yes! I was, ah, what line are we up to?"

Lancer didn't even grace that one with an answer. He simply gave them a withering glare.

Tucker wondered if he should step in, but it was obviously already too late.

Despite Lancer's caustic gaze, Sam was still doggedly trying to insist they had been paying attention. "We were right with you, Mr. Lancer," she said. "Honest. No soul can ever dissever my soul—"

"Save it, Ms. Manson, I know you know this poem by heart. We're on to the discussion, anyway. Who wants to try their hand at interpreting this poem?"

Star immediately put her dainty hand in the air, waving it impatiently. "Ooh. Ooh!"

Lancer arched a brow, apparently surprised that the popular satellite was willing to put in her two cents. "Ahh, Star. Yes."

He was going to regret that, Tucker thought.

"Okay, soooo, like, these two kids are too young to date, right? But he's saying that even though her family is locking her up in her room, he'll still wait for her because their love is pure!" She drove this point home by smacking her fist down on her desk.

"Stupid," Paulina said. "They're totally popular and everyone's jealous, duh. But she forgets to take her sweater one night and catches a cold, so now they can't see each other until she's better."

Regret had occurred in record time; Lancer looked oh so disappointed in his students. "Paulina, Star, while your interpretations are...unique, I believe you're missing the point of this poem."

"I wouldn't make out with someone who had a cold," Paulina insisted. "That's just gross!"

"Yeah," Star said. "And they should be allowed to date if they're in love."

Lancer's eyelid twitched. "Does anyone else want to try to salvage this interpretation before we can all hear Poe rolling around in his grave?"

Silence for a moment, and then Sam sighed heavily and raised her hand.

"Anyone besides Sam?" Lancer asked, adding a sigh of his own.

Sam dropped her hand, looking annoyed.

Valerie raised her hand. "It's simple. Jeez. He's so in love with her that when she dies of consumption, he thinks it's the angels getting their revenge because they're jealous of a love that's so pure and strong."

Lancer looked relieved. "Exactly, Ms. Gray. That's perfect."

"I knew that," Sam muttered. "Big deal."

Tucker gave Sam a sympathetic look. While Sam was definitely the most non-offensive goth he knew, her individuality even within a trend she chose to follow hadn't stopped her from gettingpigeonholed by the faculty, especially Lancer. While most teachers would have let the goth dominate a conversation on a subject such as this, Lancer pointedly never called on Sam for discussions on Poe, Lovecraft, Kafka or the like. It was just too easy for her, and Tucker had to grudgingly admit that it was a good teaching tactic—it would force the other students to try and figure out the lesson because Lancer wouldn't let Sam explain it for them.

Tucker wondered if Sam ever wanted a day off. Sure, she had to know the way she dressed and the causes she upheld would draw unwanted attention to her, but did she ever just wish everyone would let her be herself without preconceived ideas or a running commentary?

"Which moves us to the next point of our discussion," Lancer said. "Do we think that Annabel-Lee's untimely death was truly the vengeance of angels?"

Even Sam looked up, apparently interested to see where this would go.

Valerie chuckled cynically. "Oh, come on! Does this guy really think he's so cool that angels will kill his girlfriend just so he can't have her?"

Murmurs of appreciation from the girls. Meanwhile, the boys in the class exchanged glances. Feeling that someone had to step in for the Y chromosome, Tucker took the helm.

"Who cares whether he's cool or not? He could be the geekiest guy in the world. But his girl obviously thinks he's da bomb. She's crazy about him. Right, Mr. Lancer?" He turned to their teacher for support.

Danny smiled sleepily at Tucker. Even Sam looked like she approved, which made him feel better about putting the smackdown on Valerie's comment.

Lancer was looking amused and pleased. "Yes, Mr. Foley, it's safe to assume that Annabel-Lee does think the narrator is...'da bomb'. So, do you think that the angels really did take revenge?"

"Dude, I'm just saying that they're in love, and if they're really in love, they're not really separated. I mean, he's still devoted enough to her to write a poem and hang around her tomb like a creepy weirdo," Tucker pointed out. "Now what girl, living or dead, wouldn't like that?"

Sam laughed out loud, then clapped her hands over her mouth.

It was one of those May days that was so close to perfect—the heat was nice, but not oppressive, and there was a breeze every so often to break up the strength of the sun. Danny was taking full advantage of the weather and the lunch break; he was happily stretched out, sunning himself in the grass next to Sam.

The goth laughed softly. "I get the strangest urge to rub his tummy when he's like this," she said.

"Thanks, that'd be nice," Danny murmured, eyes still closed, his smile dreamy.

Tucker rolled his eyes good-naturedly. "Danny, if you're going to sleep all through lunch, can I have your sandwich?"

"Go for it," Danny murmured. "It's roast beef. Sam won't want it."

"There's no drink in here," Tucker said, pawing through Danny's paper bag.

"Didn't bring one," Danny murmured.

"Aw, man." Tucker got to his feet and dug in his pockets. "I'm going in to the cafeteria to get one. You guys want anything?"

Sam perked up. "A Cherry Coke? All I've got's a fin, though. Just pay for both. And whatever Danny wants." She handed Tucker a five-dollar bill.

"Thanks, Sam," Tucker said. "Danny? Anything?"

"I'll just share with Sam," Danny yawned.

"Oh, you'll share with Sam, will you?" Sam teased, feathering her fingers lightly against Danny's stomach.

The halfa sprang to life, squirming away from her. "Hey, hey, hey! What's with the tickling?" he whined. "What happened to the tummy rub?"

Tucker shook his head and smiled, their laughter following him into the cafeteria.

The smile didn't last long—it got knocked off his face, along with his glasses, when he was grabbed and slammed into the wall. Blinking, he tried to focus his blurry eyes on his assailant—Dash Baxter. Surprise, surprise.

"Y'know, Foley, it really throws off my bullying schedule when you and Fentina and the gloom cookie hang out outside. It would take me five extra minutes to go out there and find you guys, then come back in here. Nice of you to come back inside, though—saves me a lot of time." The blond quarterback grinned, showing off surfboard teeth.

Tucker sighed. Sam probably had a lot more money in her wallet, but he hated to lose her five dollars to this moron anyway, simply because his arm muscles weren't as big. It was the principle of the thing.

"Ever think of taking a day off, Dash?" he asked mildly, waiting for the inevitable punch. At least his glasses were already on the floor somewhere.

But the bully's troglodytic brow crinkled in confusion. "What?"

Tucker hadn't expected to have to explain his statement, but if it was going to delay getting beaten up, he was willing. "Well, you just said that you have a schedule. You seem to work really hard on this bullying thing. Do you ever get tired of working so hard?"

A look of wonder crossed Dash's face. "Well, I do hate to work hard..."

"Don't we all?" Tucker agreed. His neck was starting to hurt from the painful angle of being held against the wall by one's collar.

Dash frowned again, then dropped Tucker and shoved him away from the wall. "Get in line, Foley! Go back to your loser friends and quit making extra work for me!"

Pleased (and, admittedly, shocked) that his random remark had spared him, Tucker knelt to pick up his glasses. Replacing them on his face, he saw Kwan wave to Dash. "What's going on, Dashmeister?"

Dash jerked a thumb in Tucker's direction. "Foley's trying to make me work on my day off! Can you believe that?"

"The nerve of me," Tucker chuckled, getting into the lunch line for his drinks.

"Finally," Sam cried as soon as the final bell rang. "Is it me, or did this day seem to take forever?"

"No, it's not you," Tucker sighed, stretching his arms above his head as he rose from his desk. Glancing over at Danny, he smiled. "Do you wanna wake Sleeping Beauty, or should I?"

"Leave him alone," Sam laughed, smiling wryly back. Touching Danny's shoulder, she said, "Hey, Danny, wake up. You can go home and go to bed now."

"Yaaaayy," the halfa groaned, eyes flickering open, but he didn't attempt to get to his feet.

Sam tugged on Danny's arm. "Danny," she whined. "I've been carrying you around all day!"

"Wanna sleep," Danny murmured.

"You can sleep at home," Sam cajoled, pulling harder. "Get—"

Danny had already started to rise from his chair at the same time Sam punctuated her words with a particularly vicious tug on his arm. His momentum carried him right into her; she stumbled beneath the weight of both Danny and her own surprise. "Ooh!"

Danny's eyes were open wide now; he blinked at Sam, eyes focusing on how close their faces were.

"Uh…" he said.

"Um," she answered, a blush tinting her face.

They stood like that for a few more seconds, staring into each other's eyes while Tucker watched, a bemused smile on his face. Finally they turned to him as one to ask the question.


Tucker raised his hands in a not-it gesture. "Hey, don't look at me," he chuckled. "Ruin your own moment. It's my day off!"

Author's Notes:

"Annabel-Lee" is of course by Edgar Allen Poe. That class discussion was actually a deleted scene from Eye of the Beholder. As things turned out, I realized I couldn't use it in the story, but I did like it and I was glad when Tucker found it in the wastebasket and strolled by my cubicle with it, asking me to give it a second chance. We chewed on pens and drank cherry Coke and it was a lot of fun. I really adore Tucker, and I think he doesn't get nearly enough air time.

As for Poe…I was never allowed to answer questions in class about his work, either. My teacher let me define "cadaver" for the class during The Fall of the House of Usher because I was truly the only one who knew the answer (sad for a room full of seventeen-year-olds), but that was it. She actually used to say exactly what Lancer says: "Anyone besides her?" This sequence is my revenge.

Oh, yeah—Dash refers to Sam as "the gloom cookie". Gloom Cookie is a very cool comic series by Serena Valentino and various artists like Ted Naifeh and Harley Sparx. It's one of my favorites and really a lot of fun both to read and to look at.

Okay, this one was kind of short, so I hope I didn't miss anything. But the Seven-Eleven on the boulevard is still not open, and the only soda in the house is regular, not cherry, but it will have to do. (I talk too much. I want this author's notes part to be over. I'm tired and thirsty.) This was just a bit of fun (at least it was fun for me! XD ) and maybe now I can get back to chapter four of Eye of the Beholder. Maybe at work tomorrow. Grumble grumble.