A/N: No update on Phantom's Sketchbook unfortunately, but this little piece decided it wanted to be written without any input from me at all. So here you go, some Danny angst for you.

Sixteen year old Daniel Fenton lay fully clothed on his bed, staring at his ceiling without ever actually seeing it. He was cold, but it hardly mattered to him as both his body and his mind seemed numb anyway. To Danny the cold and the numbness was a blessing.

It kept him from feeling.

A trickle of blood from a wound on his leg was slowly but surely staining both his pants and his sheets.

That didn't matter either.

It might matter later. Certainly it would matter if either of his parents noticed it, but just right now he couldn't care less about his own blood loss, nor its potential of jeopardizing his secret.

A clock ticked away the seconds, one by one, just as it had been doing when he'd first lay down hours ago. It ticked away the time he had left before he had to go out and face the world like nothing of significance had happened, before he had to pull on his mask of cheerful obliviousness.

It was too close tonight.

And with a single thought the blessed numbness that had kept him sane through the preceding hours fled, leaving the unknown teenage hero struggling to choke back sobs of pain and fear.

The young man curled up on himself, shaking and biting his lip to hold back the sound of his agony.

Because this mattered. More than anything, it mattered.

He could have lost her.

He hadn't, but if Tucker hadn't shouted her name, if Danny himself had been even the slightest bit slower getting there, if the weapon hurtling towards her a been slightly faster . . .

In that moment, as he had flown towards her, not knowing if he'd make it in time, he'd realized he loved her.

And he could have lost her.

And that mattered a great deal.

It was a blessing and a curse rolled into a package of emotion to finally have fully come to that realization.

Danny had no idea whether or not the young woman who was the center his affections returned his feelings or not. That too mattered. But if by some miracle she did feel the same way he did - and Tucker insisted she did - he knew he wouldn't be able to stay away.

And he had to stay away.

You see, he loved her. But he couldn't have her.

It had hit home as she had tended his wounds afterward, as he examined her face to assure himself that she was really still there. She'd been fine, she'd laughed and joked.

She was beautiful inside and out. And being with him could destroy her.

That much he'd learned that night. If being his friend put her in so much danger, being his girlfriend was impossible.

And, to his mind, she deserved better. Deserved better than someone who would always be dragged away by other things, better than someone who would cause her pain and worry, better than someone who had nothing positive to give except his love.

She deserved better than him.

He knew it, and it hurt.

I almost lost her.

Just by existing, by being who and what he was he put her . . . no, it wasn't just her, was it? It was everyone, everyone he knew and loved. All of them.

Was it worth it?

Too close. It was way too close.

He'd be lost without her, without all of them.

She could have died.

And the clock ticked away the night as Danny wondered whether he was capable of losing the ones he loved most in order to save them.

Sam . . .

His tears wouldn't stop falling.

Because it mattered.