Hello all, and welcome to my newest story, inspired by the Paula Abdul song of the same name. My previous two DP stories focused primarily on the nice side of romance, so I decided to focus more on the dark side of teenage crushes, such as how it feels when you like someone that doesn't like you back. I'm planning a lot of angst for this story, coupled with the romance.

But, oh, I digress. Here is the story.

Disclaimer: I do not own any aspect of the Danny Phantom series, nor do I own any of Paula Abdul's work.

Samantha Manson awoke feeling relatively normal for once, but she knew that that would all change soon enough. As she ate her breakfast, she dreaded having to brush her teeth, knowing it would bring on another attack, like it did every morning.

After clearing her dishes from the table and rinsing them off, Sam took out her cough syrup. She drank a couple sips of water, took the medicine, then finished off the glass of water. Taking a few deep breaths, she braced herself for what she knew was coming as she went to the bathroom after partially refilling the glass with tepid water.

Sam set the glass on the counter, readied her toothbrush, and began to scrub her teeth. She finished in a hurry as she felt the urge to cough welling up in her throat. Gripping the counter, she coughed until she gagged, and her abs ached from the force of it all. Putting her toothbrush away, she took quick, shallow breaths, then slowly sipped at the water until the attack dissipated.

Later that morning...

Sam took her favorite seat on the bus. Environmentally-conscious, she refused to be driven by car to school, but it was too far to walk and too ht to ride a bike, so she settled for public transportation. Besides, Daniel Fenton, her best friend since kindergarten-and crush since middle school-took the bus as well.

Sam's heart went aflutter as the bus neared Danny's stop. She could see him standing outside, attempting to shield himself from the relentless Sun. He smiled warmly at her as he boarded the bus, and she moved her book bag to the floor to make room for him.

"Hey, Sam," he greeted her, sliding into the seat.

"Hey, Danny," she responded, stifling a yawn as the drowsiness from the cough medicine began to overwhelm her.

"Had to take that medicine again?"


"You know, you really should talk to your doctor about that cough."

"Yeah, Danny, I know, okay?" Sam snapped.

"There's no need to get mad at me. I'm just trying to look out for you."

"I'm sorry, Danny," Sam sighed. "I'm just so exhausted. All the stress is really getting to me."

"I know, Sam, I know, but you'll get through it. You always find a way," Danny soothed, patting his lap.

Sam put her legs on top of Danny's, sitting perpendicular to him. He slowly massaged her calves, eliciting a calm sigh from her.

That feels so amazing, Sam thought, fantasizing about his hands wandering elsewhere.

"Sam, we're here," Danny informed his best friend, ending her reverie.

Sam let out a long sigh as they grabbed their things and got off the bus.

"Danny, over here!" Valerie Gray yelled from across the front lawn of Casper High, waving her arms. School had just gotten out for the day, and Danny was in the process of walking to the bus stop with Sam.

"Save me a seat, Sam?" Danny asked, imploring his best friend with his bright blue eyes.

"Sure, Danny, whatever," Sam muttered, rolling her eyes.

"Thanks, see you in a few, he called, having already closed half the distance between his starting point and Valerie.

Sam tried her best to disguise her jealousy as she boarded the bus and waited for it to leave. She stared out the window as Danny and Valerie chatted. Promptly at 3:00, the bus began to pull away from the curb. The last thing she saw was Danny and Valerie climbing into a car together.

During the twenty-minute ride home, Sam could not tear her mind away from Danny and Valerie. If he liked Valerie so much, then why did he flirt with her? Or was he really flirting with her at all? Perhaps she was simply mistaking his friendliness for flirting because she was so blinded by her feelings for him.

Sam fished her house key out of her book bag and unlocked the front door. Opening it, she was yet again welcomed by an empty house, her parents on another business trip and her grandmother playing Bingo at the Amity Park Senior Center. She dropped her things in the foyer and went into the kitchen to snack on whole-wheat crackers and soy milk.

As she flopped onto the couch afterwards, her cell phone rang. She got up quickly, and, upon pulling out of her book bag, noticed it was Danny calling. Against her better judgment, she answered it, hoping to put aside her frustration with him for the time being.

"Hey, Danny."

"Hiya, Sam. Are you busy?"

"Not at all."

"Okay, well, I just wanted to explain about earlier. See, Valerie's dad kind of gave me a ride home. I wanted to call you and let you know, but it was a very last-minute decision. And I thought it would be rude to make a call from the car, since Valerie and her dad were doing me a favor."

"No problem, Danny. Are we still on for later?"

"What do you mean?"

"You know, the sleepover at Tucker's," Sam reminded him, referring to the house of their other best friend, Tucker Foley.

"Oh, no, I totally forgot. Sam, I'm sorry, but I made other plans. Valerie invited me to see a movie with her, and I said yes because I thought Tucker was saying something earlier this week about canceling the sleepover. I forgot that he decided to leave it as it was."

"Okay, Danny, have fun," Sam said, hot tears stinging her eyes. "Talk to you tomorrow, I guess. Bye."

"Thanks for understanding. Bye Sam."

Sam called Tucker to tell him Danny wouldn't be there, then went upstairs to take a hot shower. Unfortunately, however, even the water hitting her bare skin was not enough to settle her nerves about Danny. As she finished up, a thought occurred to her. She got out, dried off, and put on a robe, then went to her CD player and pressed Play. The song that came on was like a guilty pleasure for her, and she let the lyrics flood her mind as she returned to the bathroom to start packing her toiletries for Tucker's house. As she collected her things, her eyes caught sight of her razor.

Sam's mind went back to Danny as she listened to the song, and she started to cry again. The lyrics focused on a woman lamenting a one-sided relationship, and reminded her so much of the friendship she had with Danny, that she'd been wishing could be so much more. Wiping her eyes, she glanced at the razor sitting on the counter, its metal blades reflecting the fluorescent lights overhead.

Sam reached over and picked it up, her mind temporarily filled with memories of the first time she shaved.

She was doing well, until she nicked her knee. She could hardly believe that such a small nick that bled so little could sting so much, like a paper cut on her leg. But after she cleaned and bandaged it, it stopped hurting and disappeared after a very short time.

Her thoughts lingered on that last recollection before turning back to Danny getting in the car with Valerie. Sam knew he liked Valerie, but something inside her always hoped that he would fall for her instead, and they would become more than best friends. But all that hope was lost earlier, during her conversation with Danny. She felt like things would never develop romantically between them now, and couldn't deny how much that hurt her.

Sam was now firmly gripping the razor with her left hand and the counter with her right, straightening her right arm. The cold metal grazed the skin of her forearm, and she squeezed her eyes shut. As she put more pressure, she felt a release, but with it came physical pain. She cried out and dropped the razor, and it clattered into the sink basin.

Sam quickly picked it back up, rinsed it off, and put it away, the concentrated on cleaning up her arm. When she finished, she still had an hour to ready herself for the sleepover, which now involved only her and Tucker. She finished packing her things and locked up the house.

A cool breeze swirled through Amity Park, gently rustling the branches of the blooming trees as the Sun dipped below the horizon. While Sam made her way over to Tucker's, a sense of calm at last settled itself upon her. Screw Danny, she thought as she reached her destination. If he wants to forego our Friday-night tradition to hang t with the girl that's trying to vaporize his ghost half, that's his problem.

Danny had been harboring a secret for the last two years regarding his identity. Most of the time, he was Danny Fenton, a somewhat-average sixteen-year-old young man. But when spirits attacked his hometown, he morphed into Danny Phantom, a ghost with a shadowy body, white hair, neon-green eyes, and the abilities to float/fly, phase through objects, overshadow humans, turn invisible, and go intangible.

And he certainly had good reasons to hide his secret. His parents were ghost hunters. Other ghost hunters pursued him as well. Even ghosts themselves went after him. The residents of Amity Park, who referred to him as "Inviso-Bill," never realized he was actually protecting them; instead, they only saw him as Public Enemy #1. And on top of all that, the girl he wanted to date was also moonlighting as a ghost hunter, and Danny Phantom was her primary target.

Danny hated that Sam seemed so impatient with him lately, as he didn't realize that she was angry because she felt like they were growing apart. And Sam was aggravated that Danny seemed so aloof and flaky, unaware of how hard things had been for him lately. However, as Sam rang the doorbell, she did feel bad for being mad at Danny and decided to call him later that evening and tell him that she hoped they could spend some more time together.

"Hey, Sam, glad to see ya," Tucker greeted her upon opening the front door. He moved aside to let her in, then took her things and put them in the den.

"It's so weird not to have Danny here," Tucker admitted as he joined Sam in the living room. "You two always arrive together."

Sam blushed a little at this, but the young man didn't seem to notice. The two sat down and chatted for awhile, and Sam removed her sweater after some time. When she did, Tucker noticed a large bandage on her inside right forearm.

"Hey, what happened?" he asked, gesturing at her arm from his place across from her on a sofa.

"Oh, nothing really," she lied, covering the bandage with her left hand. "Just a little accident with the scissors in art class."

"Shouldn't you get a Tetanus shot for that?"

"Tucker..." Sam said, exasperated.

"Okay, okay, sorry. Just curious."

At that moment, Tucker's parents arrived with burgers, fries, and sodas for themselves and their son, and a tofu burger, tortilla chips, and a non-dairy strawberry smoothie for Sam. They smiled at the two teenagers as they set the bags of food on the dining room table.

"Ooh, boy, dinner's here," Tucker said, jumping up from the sofa and rubbing his hands together eagerly.


Danny returned to his seat after a trip to the concession stand, carrying a large bucket of popcorn covered with butter, a medium soda with two straws, and a box of chocolate candy. He handed Valerie the candy, placed the soda in the drink holder between them, and sat down just as the previews began.

After the two finished their snacks, Danny pulled the old yawn-and-stretch, placing his arms across Valerie's shoulders. She smiled and rested her head on him, and they remained like that as they watched the rest of the film. When it ended, they left hand-in-hand and strolled to a coffee shop to have dinner.

An hour later, they found themselves on Valerie's doorstep.

"I had a lot of fun, Danny," she said, gazing up into his bright blue eyes. "Thanks for everything."

Danny was about to thank her, but was interrupted when she stood on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek.

"Good night," she murmured, squeezing his hand.

"Good night," he answered dreamily.

Despite the late hour and the cool night air, Danny elected to walk home instead of flying. Two years of being chased by ghost hunters had taught him not to go ghost except when absolutely necessary.

Danny arrived home at 10:30, bid his parents good night, and went up to his room. When he took his cell phone out of his pocket, he noticed he had a missed call from Tucker, which he promptly returned. As Tucker's end of the line rang, Danny replayed the evening in his head, figuring that Tucker had called to ask him how it went.

"Hey, Danny, I'm glad you called."

"What's up, Tuck?"

"It's about Sam. I'm worried about her."

"How come?" Danny inquired, detecting the concern in his best friend's voice.

"She's been acting really funny all evening. She kept saying that she was hungry, yet hardly ate any of her dinner. And she has a huge bandage on her arm, and when I asked her about it, she got all flustered and said she hurt herself in art class. I don't know what her deal is, but I'm really concerned. Hey, hold on, I think I just heard her in the hallway. I'll call you later, okay?"

"Okay, Tuck. Bye."

As Danny sat at his desk to use his laptop, he puzzled over what Tucker had just told him about Sam, especially because she seemed fine when he'd talked to her just a few hours earlier. At any rate, he knew Tucker wouldn't have said anything unless the young man truly believed that something was seriously wrong. Thinking back to that morning when Sam was exhausted and moody, Danny found himself waiting impatiently for Tucker's call. So impatiently, in fact, that he decided to go to Tucker's house to meet with his two best friends in person.

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