Author's Introduction:

I sorely needed to see "Urban Jungle" on the Monday of a really strange week. I'm still annoyed that Nickelodeon aired the episode way out of order (it's actually the sixth episode of the final thirteen), but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Most of all, I'm glad it inspired me to write!

A huge, heartfelt thanks to everyone who's read and reviewed "Eye of the Beholder" (or any of my other fics!). That story's very close to my heart and I swear on my affidavit that it will be completed. I work on it a little each day.

But while we're taking a break…

Stay With Me

A Danny Phantom fanfiction by Firestar9mm

"Stay," Sam had said.

She'd been barring his escape, her possessed eyes shining in the dim light of the lab, that spiked garter glinting like pure sex on her thigh, and she'd almost whispered it. "Stay and rule with me, Danny." And for one fevered, longing second, he'd really, really wanted to say yes.

He was afraid of the feeling that had burned through him at the sound of that cream-soda voice beckoning, begging him to stay with her. He'd wanted it.

Well, no. It wasn't like that exactly. He didn't want the evil coursing through his veins the way it had taken over everyone he'd cared about. He didn't want power over a planet of weeds that had once been his home. But he'd wanted her—wanted to hold her and be close to her and hear that voice saying his name the way he'd always secretly wanted her to say it.

Danny fiercely hated Undergrowth, not so much for enslaving Amity Park and trying to turn the world into a hothouse hell filled with carnivorous plant life, but for stealing his Sam and turning her into an empty marionette, a vicious queen who in no way resembled his beloved best friend. Sam's love was fierce, but it was for all things—plants, animals, people. He hated the ghost for using her love as a weapon—for using her as a weapon.

But most of all, he hated that only ghostly possession of the worst kind could make her say his name like that. "Danny."

The chill was back, but he knew where it had come from. It wasn't ghost sense, it wasn't some new ice power—it was that chill that flooded his chest when she wasn't near, the cold of the empty spaces in him that she filled so well. And there was no way to stop it; he found that no matter where he turned the cold had gotten there first and was waiting for him.

It had been a quiet night—ghost-wise, anyway. Danny's thoughts had been ringing loud and clear, but his nightly patrol had been quick, and he'd looked forward to going to bed early and getting a full night's sleep for once.

Except every time he closed his eyes, he heard it. "Danny. Stay."

I'll never sleep, he groaned inwardly. Might as well go out.

His transformation was quiet; no need for a battle cry when there was no one to hear it, no enemies to frighten, no friends to reassure. Phasing through his wall, he was out into the night like a shadow. The air was brisk, but nothing compared to the cold that flowed from mind to heart and back again. Glowing green eyes desperately scanned the streets, the sky, the horizon for a distraction.

And found none.

He liked looking at the town from overhead. It all seemed so neat and tidy—there was no evidence of the social caste of its high school, the recent corruption in its government, the terror of its haunts. Not up here. He purposely didn't look at the house that tried to draw his eyes like a magnet.

Coming to a slow stop in midair, he gave in to the fact that his errand was futile. There would be no disturbances tonight. "Ghosts," he called softly, scared at how young and unsure his voice sounded. "Here, ghosts."

The only phantom out this night was him.

Glancing back in the direction of Fentonworks, he decided to walk back home. It would take a lot longer, but he might tire himself out enough to get to sleep. Eventually.

The wind whistled in his ears as he dropped gracefully to the ground, landing noisily enough to scare the only other person out on the street that night.

"Eeh!" Sam shrieked, whirling to see what had startled her, clutching a small paper bag to her chest.

Danny was surprised, too—enough to change from ghost back to human. "Sam?"

"Danny!" she said.

"What are you doing here?" he asked.

She looked at him as though he'd just asked her why she didn't sleep standing on her head. "I live here."

His eyes focused on something gleaming over her shoulder—the golden numbers of her address on the side of the door. Her house. He was on her street. How embarrassing—even when he wasn't thinking about it, he was drawn to her like a man possessed. A blush heated his face.

"Danny?" she asked gently. "Are you all right?"

He rubbed his eyebrow, shame and confusion combining to create a headache. He was aware of how stupid he sounded as he said, "I—I couldn't sleep. I thought I'd patrol—but it's too quiet. I…I was going to walk home…"

With three quick strides, she was off her doorstep and taking his hands in hers. "Do you want to come inside for a little?"

Those violet eyes could fill the whole world, he thought. "Yes, please," he said softly.

Following her inside, he basked in the sounds of her homecoming—the jingle of her keys, the crinkle of the paper bag she held. "What's in the bag?" he asked.

She smiled. "Nutmeg. I couldn't sleep, either. I was going to heat some milk."

He arched a brow. "Does that really work?"

"Works for me," she said. "Want some?"

His expression was skeptical. "Warm milk?"

She speared him with a look of her own. "You said you couldn't sleep."

"No. No milk, thanks."

She motioned with her head for him to follow her as she walked further into the house. Tossing the paper bag onto the table in the dimly lit kitchen, she asked, "Do you want to talk about it?"

Although he knew it was a waste of time—she was no fool—he lamely tried to keep up the pretense that nothing was bothering him. "Talk about what?" he asked, pulling a chair out from the kitchen table and taking a seat.

Pressing her lips together at the sound of his lie, she sighed through her nose and leaned against the counter. "Okay, let's try something else. What do you want?"

This was a novel approach, Danny decided, and much more effective than any of Jazz's attempts to get him to "talk about his problems". No one had ever asked him that before.

And then his synapses sparked as he realized Sam didn't even know what a loaded question she'd just asked him. He couldn't tell her everything he wanted, but there was one thing that wouldn't be too demanding of her.

"Can I just sit here with you a while? I won't bother you if you're busy. You won't even know I'm here. I just…can I just sit here with you?"

Her smile made him glad he'd been honest. "You are always welcome here. You know that."

Relaxation was already flooding his body; he felt ten times better in the light of that smile. "If it were up to your parents, I'd be anything but."

Posing a little against the counter, Sam gave him a pretty wink. "It's not up to them."

Warmth filled him. He watched her as she moved around the kitchen, coming out of a cabinet with a saucepan. He opened the bag and took out the tiny bottle of spice. "You really put this in your milk?"

"Don't tell anyone," she said somberly as she poured milk into the saucepan. "The other goths will make fun of me."

He grinned. "Here, catch." He tossed her the bottle gently and she snatched it out of the air. Uncapping it, she shook a very small amount into her milk. Sam, the modern sorceress, armed with spice and a love for botany instead of a cauldron and a spellbook.

"Are you sure?" she asked softly, glancing at him from the corner of her eye.

"About the milk? Yes, I'm sure. Thanks, though."

She turned back to him, turning off the heat. "I meant are you sure you didn't want to talk."

He did and he didn't. But the truth became clear to him as she took the seat across from him. He reached for the hand that wasn't curled around her mug. Closing his fingers over hers, he said, "It doesn't matter, Sam. Everything's all right."

She liked that and smiled. "Okay." Lifting her mug, she took a long sip of milk, then sighed. "Nice. You're missing out."

He chuckled at the sight of her, a milk moustache making her pale skin look pinker. He let go of her hand and cupped her cheek, wiping his thumb across her upper lip. He felt the heat of her blush against his palm, and their eyes met, no ghosts, no Tucker around to ruin the moment.

Danny felt the tug at his heart again, that feeling that had only grown stronger over the years. Longing. The need to be close to her, to tell her what he'd sort of told her when she was possessed—how wonderful he thought she was.

"I should go," he said nervously, still cradling her face in his hand.

Her own hand shot up, curling around his hurriedly. "Wait," she said desperately, then checked her passion. "You just got here," she added. "Can't you stay a little longer?"

His heart shuddered as he realized exactly what she was asking him, and then she said it aloud so there might be no mistake.

"Stay," she said. "Danny, stay with me."

Stroking his thumb across her cheek, he nodded at her. "Yes, please," he said once more, just above a whisper.

Relief filled her eyes. Maybe she felt that tug at her heart, too. It was so much better this way—to know that when she said Stay, she really meant it.

Oh Sam, stay with me…

Aloud he said, "You look so relaxed. Maybe I should have had some of this stuff."

She returned his smile, nudging the mug closer to him. "It's okay," she said, eyes twinkling. "We can share."

Author's Notes:

Well, I feel better now that that's down on paper!

I drink warm milk and nutmeg. My very wise friend suggested it to me and it does tend to calm me down. And a snickerdoodle never hurt.

Now back to the fanart and EoB…..never to rest!