Wow, I certainly didn't expect it to take so long to update this! Thank you to everyone who has reviewed my story and/or added it to favorite/alert lists. I truly did not anticipate this chapter taking so long to finish, and apologize for the extended delay. At any rate, I hope the next chapter will not take nearly so long.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Danny Phantom series in whole or in part. Nor do I own any work by Paula Abdul.
Over the next two months, Sam took her medicine daily and went to therapy once a week. She and Danny strengthened their love for each other, but instead of having a strictly physical relationship, they focused on getting closer through dates, long talks, or even just hanging out with Tucker, as if nothing had changed.
It was now the first week of June. School would finish for the year in just three days, and Sam would be celebrating her sixteenth birthday that weekend. Much to everyone's surprise, she'd actually agreed to have a Sweet Sixteen party.
Since her parents were out making last-minute party arrangements and her grandma was visiting friends, Sam invited Danny and Tucker over to study for their finals together. As they prepared for their Astronomy exam the next day, Sam could feel the pressure getting to her. Excusing herself, she jumped up from the table and went upstairs.
Sam went to her parents' room and found it locked. Desperate, she grabbed her student ID card from her backpack and slid it between the door and the jamb, popping the lock.
Sam turned the knob, and the door creaked open. She crept inside, closing and locking the door behind her. Going to the bathroom, she found the keys to the cabinets. Unlocking and opening them, she dug around until she found what she sought.
The door and cabinet locks had been installed after Sam admitted she had been cutting herself. Sam could still shave, but someone was always with her. When her parents were out of town, Sam would stay with Danny or Tucker.
Even though she would wear clothes when shaving, so people could watch over her, just the awkwardness of it all prevented her from relapsing. Until now. Now was different. Now, she needed a release.
Danny heard the noise upstairs and stopped studying. Motioning for Tucker to follow him, he quietly made his way up the steps. Once at the top, they began to head towards the noise coming from Sam's parents' room.
Trying the knob, Danny found the door locked. Worried, he phased through it. He heard a gasp of pain and traced it to the sink area, where he found Sam with a razor to her arm.
"Sam, no!" he screeched, his voice causing her to drop the razor on the floor in surprise. But not without cutting herself somewhat deeply in the process.
Danny dove for the razor and grabbed it, throwing it into the bedroom. Meanwhile, Sam clutched the wound, blood starting to stream out of it. Seeing she was still in shock over being caught, Danny retrieved a washcloth from a shelf near the shower. Removing Sam's hand from over the wound, he wrapped the washcloth around her arm, ordering her to apply light pressure until the bleeding stopped.
Danny yelled to Tucker, telling him to call Sam's parents. As reality began to sink in, Sam leaned against the wall, and slid down to the cold tile floor, tears streaming from her eyes. Danny searched for and found the razor, then locked it away in a drawer in another room. Tucker then handed him the phone and went to check on Sam, while Danny talked to her parents.
"Is our daughter alright?" Jeremy Manson inquired.
"She had a relapse, but it looks like I caught her before it got too bad. When I surprised her, she got scared and gave herself a big cut by accident. But I'm sure she'll be fine. She's applying pressure to the wound right now, and once it stops bleeding, I'll rinse it off and look at it. If it appears to need medical attention from a professional, I'll let you know."
"Can I speak to her please?"
"Of course. Just let me check on her first, to see if the bleeding's stopped."
Danny went back into the bathroom, to check on Sam's injury. Deeming her arm okay-for now-he handed the phone to her. "It's your dad," he informed her.
"Sammykins, what happened?"
"I don't know, Dad," she admitted. "I guess I just started getting panicky over finals, and I...I..." Sam started to cry again. "I'm so sorry," she sobbed.
"Shh, don't cry honey," her father soother her. "It'll be alright."
"No, it won't, Dad," she suddenly screamed, hanging up the phone.
"This is going to sting a bit," Danny warned Sam as he soaked a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol.
"Ow, fuck!" Sam said with a sharp hiss. "Damn it, stop that, Danny!" she screeched.
"Just relax, Sam. I'm almost done cleansing the wound," Danny answered calmly.
"If it'll help, you can squeeze my hand to help ease the pain," Tucker offered.
As Danny finished cleansing Sam's cut, she gripped Tucker's hand with all her might, causing him to yelp in pain. "Ouch, Sam! I said you could squeeze my hand, not break it!" he complained, yanking his hand from hers to shake off the pain. Sam glared at him, causing him to immediately shut up.
Danny gently dressed the wound, then asked Tucker to give him and Sam some private time for a talk. Once the door closed behind their friend, Sam laid on her back on her massive bed, and Danny laid on his side, facing her.
"What happened, Sammy?" he asked her outright, concern in his eyes.
Sam averted her gaze from him. "I just got nervous, Danny. It happens."
"But why, Sam? Why did you cut yourself?"
"Look, Danny, I don't know, okay?" Sam growled. Suddenly tired of putting up a front, she broke down and cried. "I don't know why I did it. I just got so nervous about finals, and the next thing I knew, I was breaking into my parents' room to get the razor. And then you caught me."
"Sammy, you've been doing so well. I know finals suck, but you need to find a better way to relieve stress."
"Don't you think I know that, Danny? What do I look like, an idiot?"
"Of course not, Sam. It's just-"
"It's just what, Danny?" Sam cut him off.
"I'm worried that you're going to seriously injure yourself, Sammy. And I'm not going to let that happen, whatever it takes. You can stop this, I know you can," Danny explained, tilting Sam's head up gently to get her to look at him and see that he was in earnest.
Sam again shifted her eyes away from him. "Maybe I just don't want to," she barely whispered.
"What was that?"
"Maybe I just don't want to quit!" Sam nearly screamed.
"Sam, I don't understand," Danny said softly.
"That's exactly it, Danny. You don't understand. You don't understand what it's like to be so stressed that you feel like you're going to have a nervous breakdown over a stupid test. And you don't know how it feels to have people stare at you and make fun of you to your face just because you don't look or act the same as they do."
"Yeah, Sam, I have no idea," Danny said sarcastically. "All I do is balance work, school, ghost hunting, and a social life. And I've revealed myself as a human-ghost hybrid that protects Amity Park, but no matter how much I save the town, people still treat me like a freak of nature. But you're right, I have absolutely no idea how you feel."
"See? It always has to go back to you. Every time I try to explain how bad things get for me at times, you always have to counter it and make it seem like whatever's going on in your life is so much worse, that I'm nothing more than a big baby with nothing better to do with myself than sink into a pool of self-pity and wallow in my own bitter sorrow."
Sam stormed out of the room, leaving Danny speechless, his mouth agape. He could hear footsteps as she raced down the back stairs. He heard the back door open and slam shut, then open again, and then he heard Tucker calling her name.
Danny went invisible and intangible, phasing through Sam's wall so that he was floating over the backyard. He looked down and saw Tucker exit the backyard through the side gate, still looking for Sam.
Danny swooped down and returned to normal, not wanting to waste energy by maintaining his ghost form. He and Tucker ran in opposite directions. At last Danny found Sam sitting under the shade of a tree, less than half a mile from her house, sweaty and gasping for breath from running.
Danny quickly called Tucker's cell phone to let him know he had found Sam. He then approached his girlfriend, who didn't pay him any mind. She simply sat there, staring at the ground, using the back of her hand to wipe the sweat from her forehead.
"Sam, are you okay?" Danny asked, trying to catch his breath.
Sam continued to ignore him, leaning back against the tree and sighing longingly.
"Lila," he whispered, calling her by a nickname he'd given her.
Sam finally looked at him, tears in her eyes.
"I'm sorry," he said softly.
"I'm sorry, too," she whispered back.
Danny reached down and helped her up, and hugged her tightly to him. "I love you," he said, and she said it back to him.
The two started to share a deep kiss, just as Tucker came racing around the corner.
"Ew, you two, get a room," he proclaimed, disgusted.
The two immediately broke apart, flushed with embarrassment.
"You doing okay, Sam?" Tucker asked.
"Yeah, I'll be fine, Tuck."
"Hey, since we're halfway there, what do you say we go to the ice cream shop for a study break," Danny suggested. "It'll be my treat," he added, taking Sam's hand.
"In that case, I'm getting a triple scoop," Tucker said, prompting a laugh from the other two.
Later that evening, long after Tucker and Danny went home, Sam laid on her bed, just thinking. Curious, she carefully peeled the bandage off her arm. As soon as the air hit her wound, the irritation made her cringe. Sam quickly put the bandage back in place, then became lost in thought again.
Maybe I just don't want to quit! The words that Sam had screamed at Danny earlier echoed in her head. She felt bad for yelling at him, but, at the same time, he just didn't understand what she was going through.
And what made it worse is that, while she was gradually getting better, it was getting harder to keep her illness a secret. She worried about disclosing her condition, for fear of being called neurotic, crazy, and so on. Although Danny was like a second therapist for her, there were a lot of things she kept to herself, and, thus, she mostly suffered in silence.
Sam sighed deeply as she got up. She walked to the window and stared up at the stars. It used to scare her as a child, trying to figure out how big the universe really is, and all its nuances. But lately she'd found that the more she learned about it, the less she feared some sort of random catastrophe.
Sam stepped away from the window, walking to her dresser to take out her pajamas. She found one of Danny's t-shirts and slipped it on, reveling in the fact that she could still smell his scent on it. She breathed deeply and smiled before finally crawling into bed.
Sam was reaching to turn off the lamp when, suddenly feeling inspired, she opened the top drawer of her nightstand and removed her journal. She also took out a pen and, opening the journal to a blank page, began to write.
I love Danny so much, and, as cheesy as it may sound, I hope we are together forever. He means the world to me, and I can't imagine life without him. I am ever thankful to him for all that he has done for me.
I wish I knew how to show my thanks to him, outside of... well, you know. We only did that the one time, and while I don't necessarily regret what happened, I wish we'd waited longer. After all, we're both so young to be so physically involved.
But, anyway, I'd best be off to bed. I have a long day ahead tomorrow. Good night, Diary.
Sam put away the diary, turned off the lamp, and snuggled under the sheet. Taking notice of how stuffy the room suddenly felt, Sam kicked off the sheet. That didn't help much, however, so she got up to open a window. Yet as soon as she got out of bed, the temperature in the room seemed to plummet.
Sam's mouth widened into a toothy grin. "Danny, come out, come out wherever you are," she whispered.
"Hey, Sammy," Danny whispered back as he materialized in front of her. He quickly went human before pulling his girlfriend into a big hug.
"I missed you," Sam murmured into his chest. "And you only left a few hours ago."
"I missed you, too," Danny answered, leaning over Sam and captured her lips in a soft kiss. "By the way, my shirt looks even better on you than on me," he whispered, his breath tickling her ear.
"Danny," Sam murmured, "would you like to stay the night?"
Danny raised his eyebrows. "Are you sure that's a good idea?"
Sam looked up at his face and actually laughed. "Shit, Danny, I didn't mean it that way. I'm just nervous about the test tomorrow, and I could really use the company."
"Okay, Sammy. But you'll have to set your alarm for a little bit earlier, so I can get home before my parents wake up. And before Jazz wakes up, for that matter," Danny commented, referring to his nosy sister, who pretty much mothered him quite a bit, yet insisted that she was "just helping."
"Will do, Danny," Sam smiled up at him before walking over to her alarm clock to adjust it. She and Danny then crawled into her bed, with him pulling the sheet over the both of them. Danny wrapped his arms securely around Sam's waist, and the two of them drifted off to sleep.
Danny's eyes popped open, and he noticed Sam's bedside lamp was on. His girlfriend was sitting up against a few pillows, going through her notes for the final.
Wondering if he'd subconsciously heard the alarm sound, Danny, stifling a yawn, looked at the clock. 3:00.
"Sammy," he murmured sleepily, "what are you doing?"
"I had a dream I failed the test, so when I woke up, I decided to get in some extra study time, just in case."
"Don't be silly," a half-awake Danny murmured, shielding his eyes from the light. "You'll do fine tomorrow, but you still need a good night's rest."
"I suppose so," Sam conceded with a sigh, putting away her notes before turning off the lamp and laying back down next to her boyfriend.
Now facing each other, the couple smiled at one another and shared a kiss. They held each other close and quickly drifted off into a peaceful slumber.
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