Disclaimer: I do not down Danny Phantom in any way, shape, or form; the lovely and talented Butch Hartman does, however.

Author's Note: I'm not dead, I swear! I don't know where the inspiration came from when writing this, but it does mirror an event that has happened within the past month in my own life. I hope you enjoy this one-shot (and only a one-shot), and please review! I want to see if I've gotten any better.


Vindication

A. LaRosa

January 20, 2007


The moral that the young, eighteen-year-old Samantha Manson had learned in her short life, to this date, was that nothing truly lasted forever and she should never take such things for granted. When it came to her life, people came and left as easy as the sun rose and set. The most recent case of someone walking out on her would be her now current ex-boyfriend, Gerard. Over the past seven months, she had been completely enthralled with him, his talents, his appearance, and the way he managed to knock her off her feet with admiration or her character.

Her friendships became tense with her two best friends, and she spent less and less time with them due to Gerard constantly being with her wherever she was, doing whatever she was doing, and just occupying most of her time. Tucker tried to find solace in the fact that the relationship probably wouldn't last long enough for anything serious to happen, but Danny wasn't having any of it. Danny wanted to run the first time he saw her kiss Gerard lovingly and give him a tight hug. It crushed Danny to see her so infatuated with this punk she barely even knew; he was jealous, so green with envy, that it wasn't him.

If he only knew why she jumped into a new relationship so fast.

The beginning stages of her and Gerard's relationship were simple and sweet; he would take her out places despite her many pleas to stay in and be chill, and he treated her nicely, calling her all the time and showing her attention, the attention she always craved from men. She loved whatever attention she could get. As a result, she wound up driving her two best friends away. Day after day, week after week, and month after month, they became more distanced than ever before, and it grew to be natural, an every day occurrence. The two males found female companionship in other places, hanging out with new girls, not only to fill the void Sam had left, but to just try and move on in the world they were left in.

However, around the sixth month, things were taking a turn for the worse; the relationship she had tried so hard to keep above water was slowly sinking. Sam noticed Gerard spending more time with his best female friend; even though that would seem normal, especially in her case, but she knew better, she knew that they had a history following them ever since they were children. Because of that strong friendship beginning when they were younger, she felt like she shouldn't intervene whenever they wanted to spend time with each other; she knew how it was, to have a best friend that you want to spend every waking minute with. In her case, however, there was a different type of friendship following her and the friend of hers that she was thinking of specifically. Automatically, a little red flag went up whenever this girl came around to call.

When that fateful day came, not even a month later, Sam broke off the relationship so fast it was like the relationship never happened at all; deciding to be a sweet girlfriend by surprising him with take-out and a movie, she had walked into his house, the door being unlocked, right into his livingroom. She walked right into the room to witness both of them, Gerard and his best "friend", in various states of undress, breathless and writhing on the floor in passion, passion that should not occur through best friends with a platonic relationship, as well as a young man who had a girlfriend in which he supposedly adored and loved. She felt so betrayed, so hurt, so used... that she ran out of the household without even shutting the door, leaving what she had originally intended to surprise him with in a crumpled mess on the floor.

She needed to get away, to find someone who would listen to her and be there for her; she craved the attention in which she lacked. There was one person she wanted to run to, to jump into the arms of... but she was afraid. Pushing down her first instinct, she drove to the closest place she could think of to find someone, and that was the Nasty Burger, to find Tucker working his shift, as usual; she knew she would find him there, or at least someone relatively sane to talk to.

Walking into the fast food restaurant, she spotted her African-American friend standing at the counter, his eyes below the counter, where his hands were, most likely playing around with his PDA without allowing anyone to see what he was doing. She cleared her throat, and his eyes immediately darted to her violet eyes, the eyes in which tears were streaming out of.

Of course he had some aggravation and resentment towards the raven-haired woman, but seeing her here, so broken and so vulnerable, he couldn't help feel his heart go out to her. He pocketed the device he had been toying with and looked at her, his heart going out to her.

"Do you want me to take my break now so we can talk or do you want to wait until I get off of work?" he asked in a voice mirroring sympathy, tilting his head to further show the concern gleaming in his gaze.

In a detached way, her eyes glazed with tears, she nodded and mumbled, "Now, if you can." Her knuckles where white with how tightly she was clutching her car keys in her hand. She tried to compose herself, only allowing one or two more tears to fall. She felt so betrayed with everything that was going on in her life now, but she felt the need to go back to her family, starting with Tucker.

After clocking out to go on his break, he chose to pull Sam into the break room, which was completely vacant of anyone else who would even give two shits about the situation Sam was going through.

"So, what's wrong?" Tucker asked sympathetically. "Did Danny get to you?"

She looked up at him in confusion after she placed her keys in her pocket, "Why would you say something like that?" She was confused as to why Danny would even be mentioned; she hadn't even talked to him in the past two weeks, maybe even a month, or even heard about him and what he was up to. She missed him greatly, but she knew it was her fault for losing touch.

"Never mind," Tucker said, shaking his head of the thought, realizing he was going down the wrong road of attacking the problem. "What's wrong, then?"

"Gerard," she started, then sighed, "cheated on me, and I dumped him not even an hour ago."

"How heavy was the cheating?" he queried, curious.

"I walked in on him and that slut best friend of his fucking on his livingroom floor. You know, that girl Alexandra? Some people have no shame!" she seethed, the anger beginning to seep out of her sadness.

"I'm not taking his side or anything, but wouldn't the situation be the same if Dan–"

She interrupted with a glare, "Can you please not finish that sentence?"

"Fine," he scoffed, then sighed, giving her a look. "You get my point, though."

"Yes, I get your point," she coincided with him, mumbling that small agreement to herself.

"So what are you going to do now?" he asked her, moving on from one sensitive subject to another. "Things are already tense with everyone as it is."

She looked down at her clasped hands in her lap, scratching some of the black nail polish she had on her thumbnail with the other thumb. "I'm going to try and repent."

"You're going to church?" he asked, dumfounded that she would even suggest a thing.

"No, you moron, I'm going to try and beg Danny for his forgiveness. I don't know why I should even bother, he hates me!" She grumbled and sighed yet again, putting her head in her hands, hiding even more tears that were beginning to fall.

Tucker put a hand on her shoulder comfortingly, "Sam, you should never think that Danny hates you. He's just confused with everything that's been going on. You should've listened to us in the first place, but I guess you had to learn that on your own. I'm forgiving, sure, but I don't think that this whole situation will blow over so easily with Danny. He has been really hurt over the past several months; ever since you started going out with Gerard–"

"Can you not mention his name?" she requested, not moving an inch to look up at him.

"–that fucker," he continued as if he never even stopped, "he's been heartbroken. He basically took out that hurt on every ghost in the Ghost Zone and left them all running for cover."

"He did that?" she asked, now looking up, wiping her eyes.

"Yeah, he did," Tucker's tone softened, "and he misses you like you wouldn't believe. He's too stubborn to even admit that, though. He doesn't want to make the first move to try and reconcile things; he blames you for our friendships being put on hold."

"Of course. It's true," she moaned, putting her head back into her hands with a glorious heave of a sigh.

"You shouldn't have come to me first," he said suddenly, glancing at her over his glasses. "I know you wanted to cool off, but you should've went directly to him."

"Oh, Tucker," she started, "you know more than anyone else how confusing my relationship is with that boy. He's a mystery in himself and I'm sure he would say the same thing about me. I've done some fucked up things in my lifetime, but this one takes the cake. I've basically demolished my relationship with my best friend who loves me for who I truly am over a guy who I thought even remotely liked me. I wanted to get away of the whole possibility of me and Danny ever being something... something more than friends, and I wound up messing everything up that we had going over it."

"I don't think that everything's messed up," he replied, patting her on the shoulder in comfort. "You still have a chance. You said it yourself, he loves you for who you are... just take that and throw caution into the wind. I want to see the both of you happy and together, something I haven't seen in a long, long time."

Looking up at him, she felt a hope coarse through her veins, "You think I still have a chance?"

"Of course you do; it's Danny for Christ's sake."

"Then... I should go over to his house and try and talk to him?" she asked tentatively, running a hand through her dark locks, a nervous habit that the boy in question had passed on to her.

"I strongly recommend it, as well as calling me afterwards to tell me how everything went." Glancing at his watch, he realized that his short break that he took was just about up. "Oh shit, I gotta get back out there. Are you okay driving?"

"I drove here, didn't I?" she asked, wiping her eyes again, hoping to herself that she didn't look like an absolute horror show.

"That's true," he agreed, then stood. "Good luck, Sam."

"Thanks. I'll be needing it," she said, getting up as well. She leaned forward and gave him a hug, smiling when she felt it being returned. "I'm sorry for everything that I've put you guys through over the past several months. I promise I'll never do it again."

"You'd better, or I'll have to sic Danny on you."

After leaving Tucker at the Nasty Burger, she sat in her car for a good five minutes before heading over in the direction of the Fenton household. She knew the way by heart, she normally felt as if she was on autopilot whenever she was in the area. It was always so easy to find him, no matter the time or place. Why was it so hard now?

Parking a ways down the street, she got out of the car and walked down the sidewalk to the ominous structure, Danny's house, which seemed to loom over her, its shadow extending out over onto the street. Noticing Danny's car in the driveway, she felt reassured that she didn't come all this way for nothing. Taking a deep breath, she rose her hand to ring the doorbell, but hesitated, a million and one thoughts running through her mind.

Before she had a chance to even press the doorbell, the door swung open and she was greeted with a beaming Jack Fenton. Her nerves kicked up a notch, wondering what the hell was going to happen now. Did Danny pass along his dislike to his family?

"Sammy!" he bellowed, reaching out to give her a huge hug, one she felt like she didn't deserve. "Thank goodness you're here! I always knew you'd be around soon enough!"

The last thought was already banished from her mind; no, his family still loved her.

She blushed at the realization of Mr. Fenton, then cleared her throat, "Um, is Danny around?"

"Of course he is!" Jack smiled, stepping out of the way to allow Sam a way into the house. She glanced into the structure and saw Danny nowhere in sight; that was somewhat of a relief factor at that moment.

"Is it all right if I go right up?" Sam asked timidly, waiting for Mr. Fenton to answer. When he nodded emphatically and patted her (more like shove her) on the back in affirmation, she walked up the staircase and up to Danny's room, a room she hadn't been to in months. The outside of his room still looked the same; she wondered what was happening on the inside.

Gathering every single ounce of courage she had in her body, she knocked five times, which was her customary knock whenever she came around to call for Danny. Hopefully he would answer his door.

There was no movement inside the room at first, but after about thirty seconds, the door swung open to reveal a young man with dark hair, dark blue, quizzical eyes, and furrowed eyebrows. He waited there for her to speak.

It almost pained her to look into those azure blue eyes, the ones she remembered falling in love with not so long ago. Taking a deep, steadying breath, she asked, "Can I please talk to you? Maybe... come in?"

He stepped out of the way without a word, allowing her to enter his room. After she walked through the threshold of his bedroom, he shut the door behind her to secure privacy. He then walked over to his bed and sat down, again waiting for her to explain herself. Sam chose to sat in Danny's computer chair, trying to collect her thoughts before she spoke.

"I came here to tell you something and to give you a long, overdue apology. Which do you want first?" she looked up at him, seeing that he was staring intently at his ceiling instead of at her.

Speaking the first words she had heard in over a month, he said, "What do you need to tell me?"

Eye contact was a struggle. Taking another deep breath, she said, "Gerard and I are no more."

"Oh, gee, I'm so terribly sorry," he said, his words dripping with sarcasm. "Are you expecting a pity party?"

"No, I'm not," she said, her tone never changing. "I wanted to tell you the reasoning. I walked in on him having sex with his best friend, Alexandra. Remember her? Remember how you said she was bad news, as was he? You were right all along, and I'm a fucking idiot for not realizing it sooner. I had to find out for myself, and lame as that sounds, and I wanted to come tell you the facts before you heard it from anyone else. I walked into his house, the door being unlocked, to find them both on the livingroom floor. I dropped everything I had in my hands and ran out without looking back. I sped off, and then I... well... I went to go think, and I felt like I should come to see you."

"What good would it be to talk to me? I'm the one who you deserted, remember? What good is anything I'd have to say?" he asked, now turning his gaze to fixate on her face. "I'm the one who you thought wasn't able to comprehend a relationship enough to even be your friend anymore. I'm sorry that everything wound up happening this way, but you never had to shut me out. I know I didn't like the guy, and my instincts were right. You need to listen to me more; give me more credit, Sam."

Now it was her that couldn't bare to look at him, "I know." Her voice shrunk to an even smaller size, "I was wrong. I tend to not notice what's right in front of me in hopes I can deal with it my own way on my own time. I wish I hadn't wasted all that time with that bastard."

"I wish you hadn't either, but you did," Danny replied, then let out a soft sigh. "Can you look at me?"

In a second, her eyes darted to meet his, "I'm sorry."

"Are you really?"

"I made the biggest mistake of my life seven months ago, do you know that? I jumped at the chance of a new relationship because I didn't want to... I didn't want to see you hurt yet again."

"What does this have to do with me and my emotions? How do you know what I can and cannot handle? In fact, it had the opposite affect than what you intended," he said.

"We were getting close," she started, "too close... so close that I was beginning to realize how much you mean to me. I'm a rough person to deal with, and you were getting so close I got afraid that I would lose you altogether if anything horrifying happened as a result of our relationship going to the next... well, the next level. I wound up driving you away when I accepted to date Gerard, and that was the biggest fault I could ever have made. I just wanted to push you back a couple steps, not push you away completely."

Her eyes began to water at the thought, and she continued, "So here's my apology as well as my confession: I would give anything to rewind my life and to get the last several months back, but I know that won't happen. All I ask is that you don't hate me... because I, well, I..." she trailed off, a hot tear rolling down her cheek.

"...you?" Danny asked after the period of silence, his heart clenching at the sight.

"I'm sorry for crying," she said absentmindedly. She felt that crying was the biggest form of weakness and vulnerability, and she hated to do it. At this point in time, she didn't care as much as she normally did.

"Don't be," he said, his cynical and caustic attitude fading at the sight of her in tears. He moved over and reached for a box of tissues on his night stand and held them out for her, "Here." He always had a soft spot for her, even if they were fighting.

She pulled two of the tissues out of the box and dabbed at her eyes, "I love you, Danny; I love you more than anyone that lives and breathes on this earth. More than my parents, more than any of our other friends, more than the trees and wildlife of this world... but I was scared. I still am scared."

He couldn't meet her eyes again, "You're just saying that because you want a rebound fling, isn't that right? You just want me to console you in your hour of need and then it'll be over, right?"

That struck a nerve.

"What?" her eyes widened as she looked at him. "Do you think I'm that shallow of a human being to use another person for my own lust?"

"Well you like to desert people who love you, so I don't know, maybe you'd use them, too."

"I didn't mean to desert people who–" she trailed off, then gathered what she had overlooked. "Is it the same way in which I just said towards you or... is it the other kind of love?"

"I refuse to be a rebound from your shitty relationship, Sam," he stated clearly, now turning back to her. "The only reason to be in a relationship with someone is if you have true, honest-to-God feelings for–nothing more, and nothing less. You can't force something that's not there and you can't just try and fudge it to see if the pieces fit. You have to feel it, and I felt it, Sam!" his voice picked up momentum as he stood up. "I felt it, with you, and I swore to God that maybe, just maybe, you felt the same way! But no, as my luck would have it, you go off with some other punk who I couldn't even stand, leaving me to be forgotten. And now you come back saying you love me the day of breaking it off with this guy and you expect me to open my arms and welcome you back with a hug, a kiss, and adoration? To the girl who pushed me out of her life when she, at the time, was my life? How would that feel to you, if the person you believed you were in love with just pushes you away and tells you to, basically, fuck off, and–"

"Valerie," she said simply. "Paulina."

His rant stopped short at those two names, and he realized where the stories aligned.

"I didn't know how to react to you liking me back, I didn't know how to tolerate it. I was so used to hanging out in the shadows with Tucker, just watching while you obsessed over Paulina's shallow antics and then pine after Valerie with every fiber of your being? Huh? How the fuck do you think I felt? Nothing's ever so simple, Danny, nothing ever works out like a fairytale. In the world of today, a fairytale would be not getting knocked up or having an STD before you're twenty-one and actually having a steady job, getting married, and having kids. I don't know if you felt the pain that I felt, having to watch you, day in and day out, but–"

"Oh, I felt it, alright. At least I never pushed you so far away that we weren't speaking!" he shot back, looking down at her. He crossed his arms across his white t-shirt and heaved a heavy breath. "I never ignored you for months on end, did I?"

"No, you didn't."

"What did you have to gain from doing that?"

"Absolutely nothing." The tears began to fall again, and she wanted nothing more to be wrapped up in those arms. She missed being hugged by him. "It's one of my biggest regrets."

"What's the biggest?" he asked, even now wanting to go over and give her a hug despite what his brain was screaming at him.

"Never telling you how I felt sooner... how I wasted all these years... how I lost whatever chance I had with you," she said softly, then wiped her eyes. "All for that fucking asshole who wound up turning around and stabbing me in the heart."

"You weren't really falling for him, were you?" he asked, scared to find out what the answer could be.

"Actually, after seven months... no, I wasn't falling. I liked him, sure, but I never felt any more love than I would for Tucker. I was in love with someone else," she mumbled softly, hoping he didn't hear the last part.

"It killed me to see you turn your back on me so easily," he said softly, then took a step closer to her. "But it kills me even more to see you his unhappy." He held out his arms for her tentatively, unsure if she would take his advance for a hug. She looked up at him, and looked at his now extended arms. "Come on," he urged gently.

She stood, and then completed the hug, leaning her head on his shoulder. Just smelling his scent, the smell of sandalwood and something she couldn't quite explain brought her back to times where she would just lean against him when he wasn't paying attention and just take in the smell of who he was; it nearly broke her in two the way how he accepted her back. She knew it was somewhat forced for the better, but she definitely was happier than she was before.

"It's all right if you don't want me in your life anymore; I'll understand if you want nothing more to do with me and hate me. We can say our goodbyes now and you'll never have to see me again," she said softly, not wanting that to happen, but not wanting to appear too clingy, as well.

He spoke softly, "Firstly, I still am upset, but not as much as I was before. I will eventually get over it. Secondly, I could never hate you; despite my brain telling me one thing, my heart says another, and most likely right, thing. Lastly...I think you made the right decision."

"What do you mean?" she replied, facing her head in the direction of his neck. "How did I make the right decision?"

"You came clean about everything to me even when there was the possibility I could've kicked you out, and you dumped that asshole. That, and you came back to me. I missed you. I don't want to sound womanly or anything, but I just think that's the truth." he rubbed her back comfortingly.

After a few minutes of silence, he asked, "Can you make me a promise?"

"Anything," she replied, pulling away slightly to look into his eyes. She didn't realize how close they were to each other until she could feel his breath on her forehead.

"No matter what happens to us, can you never pull that stunt on me again? Not talking to me for months on end for another guy?"

She smiled weakly, seeing the emotion behind his azure gaze, "I promise." She couldn't break her gaze with his for the life of her; there were a couple times before this where she was drawn in. She loved this feeling and she never wanted to let it go. There was such a conflict of emotions in her; firstly, she dealt with the heartbreak of her, now, ex-boyfriend cheating on her, but then at the same time, her heart was trying to mend itself quickly feeding off of Danny's love for her and that look in his eyes.

"I don't want to ever lose you," she whispered softly. "I know not everything will be perfect, or at all, between us, but I want to try. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow... but someday, and maybe someday soon."

He nodded, a small smile gracing his handsome face. Normally being in an embrace with her for this long would be awkward, but he felt comfortable with her, the most comfortable he had felt all year.

Still, she couldn't break his gaze; she was being drawn in. Those rosy cheeks, flushed with the blush of closeness, the glistening of his blue eyes, happiness finally shining through, hurt and betrayal finally leaving. He was gorgeous, and she couldn't resist.

The second her lips brushed his, she knew that it was destiny, karma, or something even remotely close. They felt like velvet against her own lips, the feeling to which she had only been granted pleasure to only a couple times before. She could sense his surprise, but in almost an instant he kissed her back, pushing his lips against hers in acceptance. Before it could register in his mind completely what was currently happening at that time, she pulled away, and out of the hug.

With a small smile on her face, tears still fresh on her cheeks, heavy black mascara running, and a mess of her hair, she thought she must have looked horrifying; he never thought she looked more beautiful.

With the small smile still remaining on her face, she said, "Thank you for not completely shutting me out of your life... and for being you throughout this mess. I know I can count on you for anything."

He was still stunned. "So, uh, what was that?" he asked, in regards to the kiss.

She blushed, "I just wanted to show you how appreciative I am of everything you've given to me as well as how much you mean to me. And I know nothing is ever going to be exactly the same, but I'm willing to try if you are."

"Try what?" he honestly wanted to try kissing her again, but he composed himself and waited patiently for her answer.

"Us," she stated as if it was as plain as day, as if it was the most common thing to talk about.

"Oh, I see," he said, thinking about the idea that he had pushed to the back of his mind for so long. He missed that idea.

"And if you believe I'm really trying to make you out at the rebound guy, we can wait a while and just... remain friends, good friends–"

"Best friends," he added, smiling sincerely.

"Best friends," she repeated, wiping her eyes yet again, the smile never leaving her face. "Until whenever you feel like it, I'll be fine waiting. I have been for a while, and I won't mind it if you're uncomfortable with the idea right now."

"Okay," he said, unsure of what exactly his heart was feeling. His brain began to wave a little white flag of surrender as his heart took over with permission, for once, "That's a good idea, actually."

"Thank you," she said, running a hand through her hair, clearing her throat while doing so. "I should get going, though. Call me later?" He nodded in response.

She turned to leave, and he spoke, "You know, for the record, I am sad to see you unhappy about your break-up, and so help me God, if I see that asshole anywhere, I'm beating the shit out of him."

"Oh no, don't–"

"You can't stop me," he interrupted, deadly serious in his threatening. This guy proved that he was a Grade-A asshole and he deserved to get stomped on, even in the least sense of the word. For anyone that hurt Sam, they deserved to be hurt themselves, not get off scott-free to fuck their newly-appointed "toy," even if they were best friends.

"Go for it, then." She felt like he deserved any beating that came his way for wasting her time like that for seven months of a relationship gone down the drain; however, she would only allow Danny serve him said beating.

Giving him a quick hug and a quick goodbye, she turned to leave, saying, "If you need me or anything, just call." With those final words, she left the Fenton household, got into her car, and began her journey home.

Not even five minutes after she left, Danny called Sam's private line at her house (wanting her to get this message when just arriving home), leaving this voice mail, "So, I was thinking... why waste any more time? Call me when you get this, I have an important question to ask you."

Love is a word that holds many meanings especially to a young woman; the word "love" can hold as complete and total devotion and admiration, or just a simple like. The way the word is weighted depends on the person, place, and time period. The greatest lie ever told in the world today is "I love you," especially among teenagers today. Only few can be vindicated in regards to those three little words. Sam made it a point to prove herself every single day to the best thing that ever happened to her, and he knew it was the truth.


Note: I hope you enjoyed that, and please don't forget to review! That's what keeps me writing.

- A