Disclaimer: I don't Danny Phantom, or anything that may, in some distant way, be related. Everything is copyright the fabulous Butch Hartman, and many thanks for lending us his genius.
Summary: A night of ghost action is followed by Sam reflecting on the confused mumblings of a spent and drained Danny. A first shot at random, pointless DS pseudo-fluffiness.
Sam is… tough to write. So's Danny, for that matter, but he's fun because he's a teenage boy and anything can come out of his mouth – insert grin here. So anyway I tried my best and I think they're both more or less in character. The plot's lacking, but where there's a plot there usually isn't fluff… and occasionally I like fluff. Oh yes indeed I do.
Started: Late Friday, 06.23.06
Finished: 9ish, Sunday, 06.25.06
We can both hear Tucker's clumsy footsteps downstairs and the way his controlled whiney-turned-persuasive voice echoes up the stairwell. Over the kitchen tiles he paces back and forth, elaborating on some story about how it was pretty cold outside on the walk back home and everyone will be fine with a good long sleep and puffy comforters.
Up here you and I share a glance and a nervous smile. Your parents have bought this cockamamie tale and you can rest easily. Well, maybe not easily – but easier than you would have if two jumpsuit-clad worriers had come to check on you every quarter hour. Now all you have to worry about is drifting off to sleep.
It's not as simple as it sounds. I stand in front of the door and watch your movements, the way your frozen fingers tug at your bedspread and fiddle with the window latch. An hour of defending the town in icy weather is a challenge, is a test, is something that will weaken anyone. And you really are just anyone.
But now you have the warmth of the heater. Now you have a bed with turned-down sheets. Now you have a glass barrier to snow drifts; flannel pajamas; warm water. Now you have me.
"Hey, how are you feeling?" I lean against the wall and make sure to lower my voice so that it's just tender enough, betraying nothing and remaining staunchly no-strings-attached. But it's there: I care and you know it.
You shrug and construct another little half-smile, automatic and painful. You're not fine and it's not fair, and we both read between the lines. My hands are on my hips, a frown is on my lips, and you eventually admit that your "fingers and feet hurt a little" and your "cheeks feel like ice".
I know you're not perfect and I know you're not completely selfless, but if I couldn't untie my own shoes I would have complained. You sit with your back hunched and your eyes on the floor and I have to cross the room and grapple with your laces. Double-knots: I thought they were only used for kids at recess.
We're quiet for a moment and I can hear the murmurs from downstairs, how your parents and Jazz and Tucker talk over hot chocolate. I wish I had something sweet to give you but your eyes are drooping and you need to sleep; I feel like you're a little child and it's good to feel needed.
Your dresser drawers creak when I open them. Some things are both unspoken and understood, like the way your floor seems a distance too great to be crossed, a chasm that will swallow a sleepy you whole. Pants and a shirt fall from my fingers to your lap; my eyelids fall shut as I turn. I hear you undress and it's obvious that I blush.
The world spins under my feet for a second as I think about how you're two feet behind me; the world spins as I hold onto platonic thoughts of just being, just as I spin in response to your embarrassed whisper. "I don't think I can do the buttons so well."
Maybe you're lying; maybe your fingers haven't recovered. Maybe this is a ploy and maybe it's not, but I'm willing to be gullible. I'm willing to brush the cotton against your skin. The buttons and holes match up too easily, too quickly, and I look up to meet the glaze in your blue eyes.
"I'm really sorry about all this."
"That's what we're here for." I'm surprised at how I sound, a little breathless and a little strong, confidant and small at once. Pause, blush: I am allowed to shake my head and give you a quick push towards sleep.
If there was a spell it's broken now, and you slide between your blankets and slide away. I grab the water from your table and let you sip; you stare into space.
"I wish it didn't always have to be like this. I wish we could just go to the mall and grab a shake and not have to worry…."
I've heard this before and I can't help but smile. "I – we – don't mind."
"But I mind." You struggle to sit up, but my hand is on your chest and I have to feel your forehead. Hot: you're burning up as you snuggle into the pillows and led your eyelids settle closed. I take a seat on the edge of your bed and can't think of a reply; I don't need one.
"I mind," you continue. "I mind a lot… I mean one day, just any day, I'd like to be able to take you to the park and play Frisbee with some dog that isn't ghostly and going to tear you to pieces if I make a mistake… or I'd like to… go to the Ferris wheel, and see the top of something good, and see the wonderful, and I can show you the stars without having to transform and fly and… and maybe I'd feel your fingers… your fingers or hair or something and… and anything…"
You're mumbling and delirious. I tell myself this and almost turn away but strain to hear your next words.
"I'd like to be able to go… to go to the beach and give you the moon or sand… snow-sand… and not have to worry about something taking you away… from me."
Maybe I didn't hear right. I am where I am, suspended between wondering and disbelief, the truth and something-like-reality. I am where I am, awake, crackling with energy. Explain, show me your dream, reassure or puncture the thoughts in my head, something, anything, something…
But you're snuggled and snoring.
And Tucker walks into the room, and his shadow falls across my lap. "Mr. and Mrs. Fenton went to bed, and I'm going to crash on the couch. Jazz said her room's open to you if you want it."
"Yeah." His eyes move from the redness in my cheeks to the way I've gripped your hand. "Is Danny okay?"
"He's fine. Really tired, and cold, but fine."
"I see." He taps his foot and glances into the harsh stripe of light that comes from the hallway. "And you. You're okay?"
I take a moment and ask myself that question, turn it over and over in my head, braid it together with your words and find I can't dissect the answer into its yes-and-no parts. It's bigger than I thought, confused, a jumble of things I can't quite grasp.
"I… I don't know. I wish maybe I could be fine."
And then I stare into the darkness and try to understand our frozen friendship and the mumbled future you hold in your eyes.