Alright, everyone, I'm back with my summer one-shot! And it didn't take NEARLY as long as my first one, I managed to finish this one a week BEFORE school! Once again, this is really sad and kinda depressing, but...
I did one thing that I promised myself I would never do: add an OC. And not only did I add an OC, I added FOUR of them. Crud, huh? But they needed to be there. And don't rag on them too hard, alright? Because they represent myself and my three best friends. Slap myself in the face, I know.
Disclaimer: If I owned Danny Phantom, it would seem more... real. Teenage angst and all that. But I don't.
Claimer: (I'm not sure that's even a real word...) I DO own the song, Unfair, in this story. Please, don't steal it!
Dedication: To my three best friends, who have a part in this story. You know who you are.
"Phantom, look out!" The frenzied voice rang dully through my ears and made my head ache, adding to all of the other pains my body was currently sporting. That cut on my side would need to be stitched soon. Jazz was going to freak when she saw it… "Phantom!" The shout sounded closer and finally seemed to register itself in my mind, making me look dazedly around. "Danny! Move, now!" Suddenly I realized what was happening and my head told the rest of me to move, but my body seemed to have other ideas.
'Boom!' I didn't actually feel a reaction until the missile and the aftereffects were gone, but the pain came rushing full throttle then. Forget about stitches; I was going to need a cast for my arm and burn treatment for my back.
"Come back here, ghost! Maddie, grab the second bazooka!" I clenched my teeth at the sound of my father's voice and willed myself not to cry, aware somewhere within me that if I did I would probably change back, and that was not an option.
My body hardly needed any persuasion to fly downward, but slowing down enough to land was another story. "Ouch." Make that two casts; I think I busted my ankle in the fight earlier and didn't realized it through all of the pain. I wonder how much lecturing I was going to get from Jazz this time…
"Danny." My vision was suddenly overcome with the sight of black and I smelled lavenders and vanilla, something that had me sagging weakly in the arms of whoever held me. "You idiot! Didn't you hear me call?!" Oh; no need to worry about a lecture from my sister, Sam was going to give it…
Suddenly my body seemed to catch up with the pain it felt from Sam's grasp and I gasped, trying to breathe through the agony. She didn't seem to realize my torture and I almost screamed, afraid to move in fear of injuring myself yet almost passing out from my injuries.
"Sam." She stopped talking and loosened her hold slightly, and I almost cried from the relief it brought.
"Oh Danny! We need to get you to Jazz, come one."
"Will have to wait. It's not like you can do anything without taking care of these injuries, anyways. Besides, it's not like you haven't ever been late to school before." She began to fiddle with my shirt, pulling it over my head without shame and starting to rip it up for a makeshift sling and bandages. There goes another good shirt; my mother was going to kill me…
It wasn't until Sam started to tie the sling she had made over my shoulder that I realized I had changed back and I glanced around, looking for gapping mouths and wide eyes. "Relax; no one say you switch back. Your parents are already gone. I 'borrowed' their other bazooka and they're at your house looking for it." I started to chuckle at her prank, but it quickly turned into a groan, my ribs aching. I wonder how many are cracked this time…
"Come on, let's get you to Jazz." She started to drag me to a small purple car gently and I let her, my feet too heavy to lift. She opened the passenger door one-handed and helped my in, talking quietly about something my ears didn't pick up. I sank down on the seat gratefully, hissing as my hastily bandaged burns came into contact with the material. Sam hurried quickly to the other side of the car and got in, hastily putting the key in the ignition and driving forward. She continued to talk as she drove, but the unintelligible sound of her voice above the hum of the motor had me quickly falling asleep. Sorry, Mr. Lancer, I might be late…
"Mr. Baxter, if you would please sit down so I could take roll… in your own seat, sir. Thank you. Now… Cortnie Beatty?"
"Dan― What, MR. Baxter?"
"You didn't call me, sir."
"Well, obviously I know you are here then, don't I? Jane Eyre, Dash, what has football done to your head?"
"Nevermind, Mr. Baxter. Now, Daniel Fenton?...Mr. Fenton?" The silence in the room was almost completely normal and I sighed, slightly irritated. The sight of a sinking motion in the corner of my eye caught my attention and I turned, fixing my gaze on the guilty face of one Tucker Foley. "Where is he now, Mr. Foley?"
"I'm not sure, sir. When I talked to Sam earlier, she and Danny were on their way here."
"Sam's not here, either, sir. I share art with her in first period, and she wasn't there." A quiet mouse of a girl with long black hair peeped up shyly, messing with the hem of her 'I Love Link' shirt.
"Thank you, Elizabeth. He will be marked absent as usual, then." The red 'x' seemed strangely ominous as I scratched it down, and I shuddered softly.
"Are you alright, Mr. Lancer?" One of Elizabeth's friends asked. She seemed to be a wonderful companion to the shy young woman as well, but Alicia couldn't spell to save her life.
"I'm fine, Ms. Lewis, thank you. Now… Nathaniel Hamilton?"
"It's J.J., Mr. Lancer."
"Of course, Mr. Jakson. Taylor Miller?"
"Uh-huh. Tell Alicia to stop poking me, Cree."
"Ali, stop poking TayTay. TayTay, answer Mr. Lancer correctly."
"Fine. Here, Mr. L."
"Thank you, Ms. Miller."
"Uh-huh. Cree, stop calling me TayTay…"
I shook my head at the girls' argument. They had it at least twice a day. The four girls were extremely close, yet Ms. Miller and Ms. Lewis were unbelievably childish towards each other. At least they managed to stay out of Dash's path; the jock's bullying targeted only Mr. Fenton and his friends lately.
"Continuing on… Kwan NiJei?"
"Here, Mr. L!"
"Mr. Lancer?" The voice at the door was extremely quiet, nearly enough so that I didn't hear my name. I saw Cortnie, Elizabeth, Taylor, and Alicia all point to the doorway and I turned, surprised to see Principal Ishiyama standing there. She motioned me to the hallway and I followed her, calling Ms. Beatty up to the front of the room to finish roll.
"What now? Did one of the students get caught with―?"
"It is nothing illegal, Edward. Trust me, if it was, I would not need your help. I am the principal for a reason." I blushed, abashed. I was so used to taking charge on the school battlefield that I often forgot who was really in charge. I had probably stepped on her toes more than once by now.
"I'm sorry; I forgot my―"
"It is perfectly fine, Lancer. No, I'm really here to tell you of a call I just received. I would have just sent Mrs. Robbs to get you, but considering the information…" Dread settled in my stomach and my heart ached, fearing another child was trapped under ghostly fire, or worse, dead. The nuisance Danny Phantom or Inviso-Bill or whatever his name is tried to keep everyone safe, but more times than none he caused more damage than good. At least he was doing something, though. "Danny Fenton is with his sister at the moment."
The terror that I had felt briefly drifted away, only to be replaced with anger. Daniel was a troublemaker, true, but he could be one of the best students Casper High had ever known if he would just push himself… or even showed up!
"You came here to tell me Fenton is taking a family vacation instead of being in school?! Why is he not here?!" My head was spinning with fury. "Daniel should not be gallivanting off whenever he wants―"
"I don't think you understand, sir. He is visiting his sister in the hospital, as a patient." And suddenly my head was grounded again, only to scatter a thousand different directions, shock rolling over me. Yes, other students had been in the hospital before, but never Danny. He nearly always came to class battered and bruised, true, and unusually worse lately, but I had always passed it off as Mr. Baxter's bullying. The injuries also seemed to heal miraculously fast. To have something so grievous happen to put him under his sister's care…
"What was he doing that so gravely injured him?"
"I have little idea. Neither Jasmine nor Samantha, who was the one to bring him in, will tell the hospital anything, and Daniel refuses to let anyone treat him but his sister. He wouldn't even let an intern take his blood work. From what the staff tells me, however, it would be extremely probable that he was attacked by a ghost. He has an unbelievably serious burn that covers his entire back, as well as a broken arm, sprained ankle, multiple bruises, and three cracked ribs."
"Anne of Green Gables! How could he still be breathing?!" A bottle of Tylenol was pulled out of my pocket as I felt the first symptoms of a migraine coming one. The poor boy…
"Again, I have little idea, but he is, and conscious, too. In fact, he would make you think his sprain and the bruises were bee stings, and his ribs little more so. The only things truly bothering him are his arms and his burns. They are ghastly. He refuses any type of pain medication, however."
"Alright, alright." My mind was in a daze, barely catching onto the laughter that leaked out through my open classroom door, sourced from Cortnie's voice reading something about a 'devil cat'. I vaguely thought of asking to read some of her work, but for all I knew, the only ones to see any sort of hard copy with her stories on it were Ms. Lewis, Ms. E. Sanchez, and Ms. Miller… "What will you have me do, then?" She thought for a moment, staring through the hall window of my classroom at the grinning Tucker.
"Act normally. Give them announcements, teach class, hand out detentions. They're seniors; let them enjoy their last few days without worry." She frowned slightly, a worry line creasing her brow. "Not that they don't already." I sighed, silently agreeing. Our town was not one to be worry-free, and the teenagers had some of the worst heartaches.
"And Tucker?" I turned to watch the laughing youth, who was nearly falling out of his seat from something Ms. Beatty was acting out, my heart heavy. How much would my students go through before the end of the school year? Two ghosts fights, five, ten?
"Tell him soon; he deserves to know. If he needs to, he can be excused from school." I turned to her, more surprised than anything, but she just sent me a look and walked away. I stared after her for a few second until she rounded the corner, and then turned to go back into my classroom.
"Alright, Ms. Beatty. Thank you." She sheepishly jumped off of my desk and went to her seat, smiling at the giggles and applause that followed her. "Alright, that's enough." It took a few moments for their actions to dim, and I made a snap decision, something I seldom do. "I've decided not to teach my lesson plan today." There were cheers, but I quenched them. "Instead, you are going to plan the senior talent show fundraiser for your class." Louder cheers. "Now, who takes the lead?" Paulina Sanchez stood up immediately, strutting to the front of the class.
"Chicka." She pointed at Cortnie, who raised an eyebrow. Her group always had been good at defying Casper High's resident queen bee, though it made them a bit of an 'outsider, not quite loser' group. "You will take notes?"
"Alright. Board list, or paper?"
"Board. Foley, you will keep track on your computer thingy." This time it wasn't a question. I turned away as Paulina took charge, wishing I was at home with a good book and a large mug of coffee. I resisted the urge to run away and turned to look at Tucker, who was obediently keeping track of everything on his 'thingy' as Ms. Sanchez had ordered.
"Mr. Foley." He glanced over at me, puzzled, and I motioned him over to one of the back corners. He reluctantly handed his device over to Elizabeth Sanchez with a few instructions, and she eagerly went to work. The boy twitched his red beret in his hand as he came over, his expression not quite blank enough for me not to see the tension and nervousness in him.
"Mr. Foley― Tucker." I think using his given name might have hinted something to him; his shoulders tensed and he clenched his fist, resisting the instinct to reach for his cell phone like I knew he wanted to. "Danny― he's in the hospital." His face paled beneath his dark skin and his shoulders slumped. "He's in intensive care; his sister is taking care of him." Tucker sank into a nearby seat slowly, ignorant of the anxious glances he was receiving from the few students sitting in the back.
"Thank God," I blinked once, twice. That… was not what I had expected.
"Excuse me?" He looked up at me and flushed, mumbling a 'nothing' quickly.
"Can I go see him? Please?" I sighed, but Principal Ishiyama's face entered my mind at the first thought of refusing.
"Alright. Let Mr. Fenton and Ms. Manson know what's going on, and that I will be praying."
"Thank you." He went back to his seat for his knapsack, grabbing a piece of paper and one of the few pens he owned off of his desk. He leaned over Elizabeth's shoulder and whispered something in her ear, writing hastily on the paper he set before her. She nodded shyly once and he straightened, hands absent of his precious PDA as he walked towards me through the rows. As he headed past me for the door, I slipped him a note of excuse.
The door was just closing after his tense back as I started to turn away, but not before witnessing the sight of Tucker breaking out into a full sprint in the hall. Please, let everything go well with the three of them…
"Danny… you need to get back in bed. If someone were to see you…" Jazz's voice filtered through my mind absently as I watched him painstakingly walk around, grunting each time his injured foot touched the ground. "Daniel Fenton! Get back in that bed now!"
"Cool it, Jazz; I'm fine. You know as well as I do that I'll be out of here tomorrow night, the next day at the latest." Danny was right; already his bruises were starting to fade, and I could almost see the skin knitting its way back onto his burned back. A cast, black, was on his arm and his ribs were bandaged as well as his foot, but he most likely would be out of them by the time graduation came around in three weeks.
"I know that, but what about the nurses and doctors that are walking around the halls constantly? I doubt they'll understand how you're healing so quickly." He sighed, irritated, but climbed back into the hospital bed without a word. "Thank you." He sent her a saucy grin and started to do sit-ups where he was, refusing to acknowledge the tears that unwillingly entered his eyes at the pain it caused his ribs.
"Daniel Nathan Fenton!" This time Jazz didn't need to speak; I was already down his throat. He winked cheekily at me, but I refused to pay attention to the butterflies that filled my stomach at the action. I debated over calling in a nurse for restraints, but gave it up for a better idea.
I slowly climbed up onto the bed, extremely conscious of the black overall skirt I wore, and grinned wickedly at Danny. He raised an eyebrow and started to ask a question on the downside of his sit-up when he could breathe, but I sat on his stomach before he could, entrapping him so he couldn't come back up again.
All of the air he had just inhaled 'whooshed' out again at my added weight, and he gasped at the agony it caused his ribs. "Now. Are you going to stop trying to become a full ghost?" He nodded jerkily as I smiled in triumph, sliding slowly off of him to sit on the bed.
"Okay lovebirds. Time for a blood withdrawal. Arm out, Danny." Jazz came over with a needle and syringe, cleaning her own arm with a sterilizing wipe. Danny straightened his arm slowly so that he wouldn't hurt himself, and inconspicuously, Jazz laid her own beside it, inserting the tip into her own blood vessel but making it look like it was in Danny's. She filled it full quickly and then withdrew it, bagging the fake sample and labeling it with a precise, even hand as Daniel N. Fenton.
"Oh. Oh man… I think I'm gonna be sick." We all turned as we heard the voice at the door, just a little apprehensive that someone might have seen our deceit. No one would find I too strange that Jazz pulled out a glowing tube of lipstick, Danny struck a fighting pose and I cranked back my foot in preparation for a steel-toed kick, would they? No, I didn't think so.
"Down, guys, down. It's only me. Jazz, get that thing out of my sight before I really do sick up. You're lucky I even come in here at all." Danny grinned a weak, sheepish grin and Jazz and I both blushed, embarrassed. Tucker walked into the room as Jazz turned towards the counter where an envelope with Danny's name on it lay. His beret was slightly askew and thousands of cables were almost falling out of his backpack, which was hardly closed. He had his PDA in his hand and he was speedily texting something, his face a light green beneath his brown skin.
"Why're you so late, Tuck? Hot date with your computer?" Danny was lying down in his hospital bed again, this time extremely willing to follow orders. Jazz walked over with a needle full of ibuprofen, but the halfa weakly shook his head. The only time I had ever given him any type of pain reliever, his ghost half somehow messed with the properties in the drug so that it shut down all of his nerves in his body. When he went to fight a ghost a few hours later, he couldn't feel the pain from the injuries he was getting from the battle and almost killed himself because of it.
Tucker had gagged at the sight of the glinting metal and started for the door, but I grabbed at his orange collar as he rushed past, sufficiently halting him as his air passage was cut off. "You didn't answer Gimpy's question. Why are you so late?" Danny glared at the offensive nickname I had christened him with, and I stuck my tongue out at him childishly. Oh, we surely are mature eighteen year olds…
"I didn't have a date, if that's what you're implying. I was working on some of the equipment we need for the talent show after school and lost track of time." He seemed smug that he could give such a believable excuse, but his look quickly turned to fear at my stony expression.
"Talent show, huh? And when were you planning on telling us about all of this?" I watched Tuck's Adam's apple bob up and down as he realized his mistake, glee rolling through my stomach.
"Heh heh. I― I didn't t-tell you?" he began to frantically search through his PDA files in hope of finding a note that he had indeed told us of the senior fundraiser, and I rolled my eyes. Techno-geek to the max. "Oh… I guess I― I didn't." His reply was quiet and filled with apprehension, fearing my response.
"Leave 'im 'lone, Sammy. 'S okay. Not like we'd enter 'nyway, righ'?" Danny's voice was slurred and tired, his exhaustion finally catching up to him. Oh, Danny…
"Alright, Tuck. You're off the hook; just tell me what's going on with the fundraiser, and I'll brief our halfa on it when he wakes up." Danny gave me a tired smile in thanks and closed his eyes, deep breaths already making his chest rise and fall.
"Right. The fundraiser is next week, and any senior who wants to enter can. I'm head of Electronics, along with Elizabeth Sanchez, who's in our English class. Star has make-up, Dash and Kwan manage props, and Paulina is backstage manager."
I grumbled. "Of course she'd choose the job with the most control. Power hungry freak…"
"Yeah, well, there are actually four girls with more power than her. Cortnie, Elizabeth, Taylor, and Alicia (you know, the drama girls that are best friends and have practically nothing in common?) are the 'hostesses'. The only thing―" He was cut off as a stream of blue mist came pouring out of Danny's mouth.
The sleeping halfa instinctively jerked awake, sitting up so quickly he hurt his ribs. He started to stumble out of the bed, falling over bed sheets and railings before he stood, wide-eyed but tired.
"Danny… Danny, don't." He smiled grimly at me, but ignored my pleads as he transformed painfully. "You don't have to do this. You don't always have to be the hero." His laugh was empty and bitter, his eyes glinting.
"Yes, I do, Sam. I always do." And he flew through the ceiling, ignoring my frantic cries.
A green swirling shape of mist that looked strangely like the lollipops I used to eat as a girl passed over my ceiling-less part of the Ghost Zone, formed to look like a concert amphitheatre. Had I not already seen the same shape six other times that day I would have looked longer at it, but instead I just sighed. No matter how stupid its inhabitants were, the earth had some advantages; one was soap operas. The other, changing scenery.
Suddenly my ghost sense acted up, and I growled. It was weak, compared to me, but if it was the idiot Box Ghost again… Unlike the dumb ghost brat, not everyone was lucky enough to have trails of fog come out of them every time another spirit approached. Spectra couldn't sense them at all; that was one of the only reasons she really kept Bertrand around. Skulker, my dolt-brained boyfriend, was a hunter; he used his ears to seek them. Me though, I got this tickle in my nose that always felt like I was going to― "Achoo!" … sneeze.
"Thank you." It took me a moment to realize someone was there, but only that. "What the―" A silver glove-clad hand covered my mouth and I glowered, extremely aware of the ectoblast-ready hand pressed against my back. Who…
"Be quiet. I don't need your little boy-toy on me, much less the whole Ghost Zone, got it?" I nodded tensely as I felt rage course through me, but the heat on my back was gone. I turned to face my captor, spitting his other hand away.
"Phantom. What are you…?" His being here didn't surprise me, really. He was the only person I knew who could mask his actual power level. But suddenly his appearance struck me, and I almost gasped. His arm was encased in a silver cast, and his suit was in tatters, showing bandaged ribs and a horrendous burn on his back that had reopened the scabs, making a bloody mess. The shoulder and arm of his good hand was flowing with blood as well, the mix of red-and-green covering multiple deep scratches. His left eye was shut tight and beginning to turn a gruesome blue and purple, accompanied by several smaller scratches like the ones on his shoulder. "You look like―"
His arm shot out to cover my mouth again and he grimaced, ignoring the pain. "Quiet, I said. And I know how I look; what I don't know is how much more of me Sam is going to kill." If he hadn't been so serious and the matter so grave, I would have laughed, but now… "That doesn't matter right now, though. I need a favor." Something in his tone told me it was going to happen whether it was kept as a question instead of a command, and I almost rebelled. Had he been anyone else, or even himself years ago I would have, yet now… Even as injured as he was now, he could still beat me; the only ones to really challenge him anymore were Vlad, the Ghost King, if he wasn't locked up, and probably the psycho time-loser Clockwork.
He seemed to take my silence as an agreement and I let him, focusing only half of my mind on what he was saying. The other part was wondering what had done this to him if only a few ghosts could even hold up against him anymore. "Alright. I need you to…" Phantom launched into a speech and I finally focused all of my attention on him, growing more and more alarmed at what he said…
"Do we have any more extension cords? The one you gave me won't reach the table where the music stuff has to go." I looked out briefly from under the light panel I was beneath, staring at Elizabeth's feet.
"Yeah; in my backpack there are two of them, a green and a yellow. Either should reach…"
"Alright, thanks." I saw her move over to where my knapsack sat. As she started to sort through the tangle of cords, I looked back to what I was doing. This place was so ancient, half of the wires were more dust than anything else. "What are you doing under there, anyways?"
"I'm trying to see what works and what doesn't. If anything salvageable comes out of this junk, I'm going to transfer it over to the other lighting system. If we're lucky, we'll have colored spotlights." A split cord caught my attention and I pulled it out of the mess, tossing it on the garbage pile, which was considerably larger than the 'keep' one.
"Have fun with that. I need to get this downstairs. Paulina is demanding a pre-rehearsal. I swear, the power has gone to her head. She told Mr. Lancer―"
"Eli, Eli! Guess what?" I felt the vibrations of three pairs of feet come pounding through the door and I rolled my eyes. Without a doubt it was Cortnie pulling Alicia and Taylor along; she was always giving people nicknames and then dragging them everywhere. She was the smartest girl I knew, sure, but she was also the ditziest.
"What, Cree? Tucker and I are trying to work." I could hear the exasperation in her voice.
"Well your boyfriend is just going to have to wait. You won't believe who just signed up for the talent show!" The girl was so excited she could hardly talk.
"He's not my boyfriend―"
"Yet." That had to be Taylor; the word was filled with her special brand of sarcasm. "Face it; you're starting to sound like Danny and Sam."
"Shhh, TayTay. If Cree doesn't tell her news she's going to explode!" Alicia this time; she had a problem with exaggerating.
"Who, then, Cree?" Giggles were coming so loudly from the girl that I could hear an echo in the room.
"You tell her, Ali."
"You know Danny Phantom, right?" I tensed; what about Danny?
"Yeah, but I though we agreed we weren't going to go crazy over him like Preppy Paulina?" I snickered. Preppy Paulina. Nicknames were Cortnie's deal, but I had a feeling that was Taylor's idea…
Cortnie finally got control of herself and started to talk again, slightly winded. "Right, but―"
"Phantom is going to sing in the show."
"WHAT?!" "TayTay!" I sat up so quickly I banged my head, and the four girls looked at me. Great, they had forgotten about me and I just made a fool out of myself… "What do you mean Da― Phantom is going to sing?!" Taylor raised her eyebrow and Elizabeth sent me a weird look.
"Just that. He came up to TayTay a few minutes ago and said he wanted to enter. He's going to play the guitar and sing." Cortnie cocked her head to the side like a curious dog as she spoke to me, almost like she was trying to puzzle something out.
"Crud. Um… I gotta go for a sec…" I scrambled out from under the panel, tripping myself on the cords strewn around the floor.
"But Tuck―" I cut Elizabeth off, picking up my sack.
"I'll be right back, I promise." I started to walk away, to frazzled to hear her frantic 'But the extension cord!'. Right as I turned the corner I heard Taylor start to speak again.
"What was up with your boy-toy, Eli?"
"I don't know…"
There was silence for a second, and then the last thing I heard before I was too far away was Cortnie. "TayTay! I was supposed to tell her!"
I had to go all the way from the control room on the second floor of the auditorium to the underground level where the room underneath the stage was that Danny and Sam were supposed to be organizing props in, which I did at a constant sprint. What was he thinking?!
"Tucker! A kid wants to know if we have blacklights we could use for his neon juggling entry." Kwan started to jog next to me backwards as I ran by, waiting for an answer.
"Um…" Blacklights; did we have any blacklights? "Sure!" If we didn't, I could just cajole Sam into 'donating' some.
"Sure what?!" Kwan paused as I turned through the doorway, confused. I didn't answer, as I had finally located my target: Sam.
"Sam!" She turned as I ran up, surprised. That's right, she'd hardly seen me since Danny had gotten out of the hospital…
"Hey Tuck. What's up?" I didn't answer, too focused on the issue at hand.
"Did you know he was doing this?" She appeared puzzled.
"Who? Doing what?" It was hard to tell whether she was being serious or just playing stupid. What was it with girls and being sarcastic so much you couldn't tell when they weren't kidding?
"I'm what?" We both turned as he walked up, a bra in his right hand. He gave a sheepish grin and threw it over his shoulder. "Heh. For a comedy act. So what am I supposedly doing, Tuck?" The innocent look on his face gave him away, and I punched him in the cast, watching him wince.
"Tucker! You could do serious damage!" Sam was going to lecture me, but I didn't let her.
"Don't feel sorry for him, Sam. After all, he's going to be playing a guitar in the talent show with that arm, right Danny?" Sam spun around, shocked, and Danny sent me a half-glare.
"What? Why didn't you tell me about this?!"
"Oh, you haven't heard the best part yet. He's doing it as Phantom." At Sam's stunned silence Danny hurried to make amends, still glaring at me, full-on now.
"I was going to tell you! I promise I was! I need your help anyways. Please, Sammy?" He started to pout, but Sam turned away. She had will power, that woman. Even I couldn't stand up to his pout.
"Why should I help you when you can't tell me your secrets?" He grabbed her hand, desperate, and went down on one knee. What, was he going to propose?
"I won't do it ever again. I'll tell you every secret I've ever had. When I was two, my mom and Jazz dressed me up as a girl for a baby pageant, and I won. When I was four, I asked my mom and dad for the Mermaid Barbie, but I got Ken instead. At six I―"
"Alright, alright." Sam was laughing so hard tears came to her eyes, and Danny sighed in relief, getting up from where he had gotten down on his knees. "What do you need?"
"You still know how to play the piano, right?" I could tell where he was going with this, and grinned.
"How do you know about that?" Her eyebrow disappeared into her hairline, and I resisted the urge to go look for it up in her raven black locks.
"Heh. I kind of eavesdropped on you when you were playing once. Your grandma said I could…" He noticed the look on her face and stopped. Boy, was Granny Manson going to get it tonight… "Anyways! So do you?"
"Yeah… my mom forced me to take lessons when I was little, and I liked it enough I'm still taking them every now and then. Why?"
"I'll tell you later. Tuck, can you do some DJing onstage for me? Scratch my guitar notes or something?"
I thought about it for a second. If we were to hook his guitar up to a DJ board, it might work… "It should. But―" A thought came to my mind suddenly, and I couldn't help blurting it out. I wasn't sure I wanted to know the answer, though… "Where are you getting a guitar? Do you even know how to play a guitar?"
He shrugged, unconcerned. "From Ember; every night we go to Clockwork and he holds time so we get about twenty times the time we would actually have to practice. I'll be ready by the time show night comes around."
"Danny…" Sam did one of her sigh-things. "Why Ember? Why Clockwork? Why are you doing any of this?"
"Because, Sam. Its time everyone faces reality." We both had a thousand questions, but he walked away, limping. Idiot…
"I'm blind!" Sam and I snickered as Cortnie wandered around the stage, zombie-like, as the lights came back on after the last performance. We were waiting backstage, helping Paulina with odd jobs and moving props with Dash and Kwan. Tucker was upstairs in the light room, but he should be coming down by now for our turn. Sure enough, Elizabeth was gone from the stage, hurrying to replace him.
"Cree, open your eyes." Taylor was being even more sarcastic than usual, but it fit her.
"Oh!" The crowd laughed as Cortnie opened her eyes, amused. "Well… thank you, Nathan, for that glowing performance!" He had used neon-painted juggling props and used blacklights to light them, making an impressive display.
"Hilarious, Cree. Now can we go on?" Alicia was obviously trying to keep the other blond in control, whom I had watched inhale about a dozen chocolate bars before going onstage.
"Sure! Wait, where's Eli?" She glanced around, looking for her shy friend. As Alicia and Taylor tried to talk Cortnie into believing Elizabeth hadn't been kidnapped by giant monkeys, the crowd roaring with laughter the whole time, someone came up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. When I turned around, Paulina was standing there, an anxious look on her face.
"Danny… where is Phantom? He should be here already!" I almost swore before I looked over at Sam, who raised an eyebrow; she hated cursing.
"Why are you asking me? Sam and Tucker are the ones performing with him."
"What?" Paulina looked bewildered as she took in Sam's formal black dress. "He never told me that." Crud. I had forgotten that, hadn't I?
"Look, I've got to go… look for Phantom. You guys figure this out." Sam glared at me as I backed away, annoyed at being left alone with her mortal enemy. Paulina started to question her immediately, oblivious to me now as I turned the corner.
"Now. What is going on? Where is…"
As soon as I found an empty room (a storage closet for old costumes) I quickly transformed, feeling the hesitant and unsure teenage guy being replaced by the confident and determined teen hero. Stupid; I couldn't even feel the same.
When I phased out of the closet (after being attacked by a frilly and fluffy pink dress I had seen Cortnie wear during one of our school plays), I hear thunderous applause coming from the audience. I hurriedly flew, invisible, to where Sam was standing, peering out of the wings. She shifted as she felt the cold I was emanating, and reached blindly for my arm, not looking away from the stage.
Apparently they were reviewing those that had already performed as Taylor showed of by managing to chug a gallon of Tabasco hot sauce. I couldn't tell who exactly the crowd was cheering for, the insane girl or the participants, but they were loud.
"So… an opera singer, who I think broke my eardrums, a ballet duet, two juggling acts―" Alicia was cut off by Cortnie, who seemed much calmer.
"I hope the guy's head is alright. Maybe I should try juggling a mallet!" Okay, maybe not that calm.
"Cree, you can't even walk without tripping on air; I don't think you'll ever be allowed to juggle anything." Taylor had paused in burning off her tastebuds, but began again at the crowd's insistence.
"Poo. Anyways!... One magician, minus a bunny, a reenacting of the Three Stooges, a girl that was way too flexible―"
"How do you figure she gets through that broken tennis racket?"
"I don't want to know. Some of my own story," The crowd grew louder at this, and Cortnie bowed. "a clown with way too much time on his hands―"
"That was a girl."
"Really? Someone needs to teach her how to do make-up."
"Who, you? Need I remind you of your 'gypsy' days?" Alicia's eyebrow shouldn't be able to go up that high…
"Hey guys." A soft whisper behind us had me turning around, and Tucker smiled. His tuxedo would have been great, if it weren't for the PDA sticking out of his pocket in place of a flower and his ever-present beret.
"Finally. Now, Danny, stop hiding." Sam was slightly irritated, so I quickly lifted my invisibility. "What's up with this music?" She held up the sheet music I had given her, and I glanced at it. Nothing seemed wrong to me.
"What about it?"
"There aren't any words, and it's really… I don't know, tense or frustrated or something." A sigh fell off my lips. She shouldn't have noticed that. I wanted to keep what I had planned to myself.
"Don't worry about it. Please?" Her sigh was bigger, longer, but it was her way of letting me know of her acceptance. We all turned back to the stage, catching the end of the list of ages.
"A great comedy act―"
"I loved the bra thing! I saw Danny walking around with it, too. I wonder if its Sam's…" Cortnie's pondering expression was hilarious; too bad I was too embarrassed to laugh.
"And now Sam is going to kill you." Taylor was straightforward, at least. And she was right, Sam looked like she was going to explode, her face was so red.
"Back to business, guys! And last but not least, a girl that is too fast at the rubix cube!" Alicia plowed on ahead, finally annoyed enough not to care about Cortnie's affronted look.
"Why does it seem like we're missing someone?" Cortnie appeared puzzled, and I had to wonder how far from their script they had become.
"I don't know…" Suddenly a voice came over the intercom, a distorted version of Elizabeth's.
"Because he hasn't performed yet, Ms. Blond! Have you forgotten about our special act?" The crowd was almost in hysterics now, and Alicia laughed.
"Oh yes! Can anyone guess who it is?"
"Phan-tom, Phan-tom, Phan-tom!" The audience was chanting my name, for the most part. A small section, including my father, mother, and Valerie, were all glowering from their third row seats. Right then I was extremely grateful Lancer had thought to remove them of any ghost-hunting equipment.
"Cree!" All three of Cortnie's friends shouted at her, stunned. "How many people did you tell?!"
"Only Tucker and Star!" She seemed pleased with herself that she had managed to tell so few people, but her friends all growled and she looked surprised.
"Great, Cree. Go and tell the other two biggest blather mouths, why don't you?!" Just when you though she couldn't get any more sarcastic, Taylor does. The girl must put venom in her hot sauce.
"Okay! Who?" Cortnie's cheerful voice and innocent eyes made me wonder if she was acting anymore. Ditz on chocolate…
"Nevermind! Well you already know who HE is, but a new update tells us joining him will be our resident Goth-girl, Sam Manson, and Eli's techno-geek boyfriend Tucker Foley. I wonder why Danny Fenton wasn't asked…" Alicia trailed off in thought, but a glare and a slap on the head from Taylor had her at attention again. "Everyone, Danny Phantom!" Alicia, Taylor, and Cortnie backed off to the wings on the other side of the stage, leaving it open for us. I grabbed Tucker and Sam's arms, going invisible at the same time, and flew onstage.
I dropped Tucker off at the DJ table Kwan and Dash had dragged onstage during the trio of girls' distraction, and flew Sam over to the Grande piano that sat stage right as the crowd gasped at his sudden appearance. She started to lay out her sheet music as soon as I set her on the bench, but grabbed my unseen hand as I started to move away.
"I don't know what exactly you're going to do," She whispered as the audience began to shift in their seats looking for me. "but are you absolutely sure you want to do this?" Her lilac eyes were anxious, and I wished I could calm her fears. But I couldn't.
"I'm not sure I want to do anything, Sam. But I'm unbelievably sure I have to, if only to finally stop all of the lies." Whatever I said caused something to click, and she gasped.
"Danny―!" I walked away, more ready now that she knew. As I reached the guitar Ember had given me and Dash had set on stage from where I had left it in the wings, I allowed my invisibility to fall and the crowd started to scream. Elizabeth trained a regular spotlight on me, and two dimmer, blue ones on Sam and Tucker. I looked out at the crowd, ignoring the glaring light, and felt my resolve strengthen.
My sister sat by her husband, Brad, who was a psychiatrist at the hospital. Next to him were my father and mother, who were trying to kill me with their eyes. Valerie was a few seats away, fuming, and Lancer a few behind her. Star and a few cheerleaders were in the front row, sitting next to their jock boyfriends. More faces flew past my eyes as I looked around, their names unknown but still a key part to my frustration over the last four years.
"This is for everyone that never figured it out." Short, simple, but it confused everyone, with the exception of Jazz, who gave me a stunned look.
A wave of my hand told Sam to start, and she played, soft and sad. "Unfair." I said, and the room became silent, the only sound Sam's playing and my echoing word. "Unfair." The piano became louder, yet still sad and slow. "Unfair." And she started to pound the keys, the hurt behind the medley evident. And I sang.
♫Can't you see me savin' you,
Can't you see I'm there?
'Cause I'm the only one
Who takes all there is to bare!♫
My dad, his large, kind, pudgy face usually smiling in oblivious happiness, looked angry, as if I were insulting him. I wasn't, of course, but it was true, too true.
♫The enemies and the scoundrels,
The hounds and the dogs.
But you keep on forcing me
To fight all your wrongs!♫
Every opponent I had ever faced flashed through my mind: Lunch Lady, Technus, Ember, Desiree, Spectra and her lapdog Bertrand, Skulker, Vlad, The Ghost King, Fright Knight, Johnny Thirteen, Kitty, and Shadow, myself… And then they became too fast for me to name, too common for me to care. I'm eighteen; why was I the one fighting?
♫I'm your Hero,
I'm your pain,
I'm the one
Keepin' you sane!♫
How many times had I saved someone, something, someplace, only to be riled on about something else? I took every punch, kick, blast, bruise, ache only to get a slap in the face for messing something else up. Even with everything I've done, I'm still Public Enemy #1.
I did everything for them; I risked my life, my family, my friends, my future, to protect them. And they didn't care. They wanted me out just as much as the real villains. To them, I was just a dead being made of goop.
Would they understand me if they knew? Sure, they cheered for Phantom me now, when I wasn't doing something wrong, but they replaced me too easily. Would the school dork be any better?
♫Can't you see my trickery,
Can't you see through my lies?
'Cause I keep on foolin' you
To make sure no one dies!♫
The crowd looked shocked as they heard the words, heard themselves being accused. And Valerie and my parents looked pleased that I was admitting to being something other than the good guy. They were right, kind of. I was something different, just not what they thought.
♫The bullies and the cheerleaders,
The Gangsters and the Jocks
I take every punch, the
Painful kicks, all the socks!♫
Star and the others looked confused; they hadn't done anything but adore me, right? Wrong. They hadn't figured it out; none of them had. And so they tormented their protector.
♫I'm the Zero,
I'm so lame,
Yet I'm the one
Takin' all the blame!♫
No matter what I did, how hard I tried, I still appeared the fool. I could have done better, yes, but I had little enough time to be me. Phantom was needed, but not wanted, too much. And me, the first me, suffered too.
Lancer pitied, mother worried, Jazz and Sam and Tuck helped, but it was never enough. The two former didn't care to know enough, and my sister and best friends could only do so much. I was only the idiot as a human, the lame one. No one knew I took on everything.
No one bothered to find out why I went downhill. No one asked me why I was so tired. I would have lied, yes, but at least I wouldn't have felt like the zero.
♫Where one will go,
The other can't follow.
Yet each takes the pain,
Each take on the sorrow!♫
The words made me think of my arm, still encased in its currently silver cast. Ember had been hesitant to teach me with a busted arm, but I'm me. Me. She had little choice. Yet why had no one realized the two Danny's both wore an encasement on the same arm, carried the same burns, limped on the same leg?
♫The black and the white,
The green and the blue.
What is just one,
You make into two!♫
I used to lie in bed at night and wonder when it would click. Anyone could see the similarities; it was harder to find the differences. Why, then, had no one thought to change blue eyes for green, and black hair for white?
♫I'm your pain,
I'm your Hero.
I'm so lame,
I'm town Zero!♫
All of my hopes and dreams had gone downhill because no one knew. Had anyone taken the time to care about what was wrong, I wouldn't be the zero. But they thought the hero could do so much they never gave the zero a break either. Would they care if they knew?
I knew I had no right to be angry; I had every chance possible to tell them. I had four years worth of chances, of time. Why, then, did seeing my loving father's furious face only make me steam? Valerie's conception of Phantom me made me want to bust something apart, and I felt no compassion for my petite mother. I didn't have the right to be angry, but they were so unfair.
I had nearly died in several fights, sacrificed my friendship for 'the greater good', lost everyone I love and cherish, to help the ones who couldn't see that two different people were one and the same. If only they knew.
I looked at the crowd with red around the edges of my vision, wanting justice. Star and the cheerleaders were crying, hurt by something they didn't understand. Cortnie, Taylor, Alicia, and Elizabeth, who must have snuck down from the light room during my performance, were just looking at me, grave feelings in their eyes, almost like pity. How could they pity me, when they knew nothing?!
The cords under my fingers were pulling tighter as I played, taunt with my fury. I tried to breathe, tried to calm myself, and I could hear Sam's harsh playing start to fade, Tucker's background sound start to slow. My friends had gone through so much, not only because of me. How could the people in front of me hurt the most important people to their hero?
The last cord seemed to ring throughout the auditorium, and I closed my eyes, willing the red away. Would they understand? Could they understand?
I could feel the stares and I opened my eyes, and they landed on Jazz, who looked close to tears, leaning on Brad as she looked at me. I'm sorry… She seemed to sense my intent, and gasped, shaking her head. I'm sorry… and if this means goodbye…
I turned to Tucker, who gave me a resolved look, a resigned look. I smiled bitterly at him and he came to join me at the front, laying a heavy hand on my shoulder as I turned to Sam. Her eyes were overflowing with tears, staining her cheeks with mascara, and I wondered how she could have seen the notes, much less played them. Her feet were bare of her strappy shoes as she walked to me, and I grabbed her waist when she was near enough and drew her to me.
I gave them both one last look as I lifted us up in the air, and then turned to the crowd again. Dad, Mom, Valerie, Star, Kwan, Brianna, Dash, Paulina, Nathan, Cortnie, Taylor, Elizabeth, Alicia, Jazz, Brad… the faces flashed before my eyes, becoming to fast as it ran across Lancer, Ishiyama, Danielle…
"How many think they know?" The audience was puzzled as they watched random people stand up, but I ignored their mutters. They weren't important, not right now. I had to have the truth… Lancer, Mom, Valerie, Jazz, Dani, Cortnie, Alicia, Elizabeth, Taylor, and, surprisingly, Dash and Star. Not many.
"How many think they're certain?" Lancer sat down, and Valerie and Star and Dash. I looked at my mother, looked at her wide, aching eyes, and felt my heart shrivel up inside. Jazz held her in her arms as she broke down, and I knew she had figured it out. Finally.
The feel of Sam and Tucker beside me warmed my resolve, and I looked at Elizabeth and her friends before I stared at the rest of my abusers. My past needed to fade; it was time for the future. I set Tuck and Sam down gently, holding their hands for the briefest of seconds. I'm sorry… and if this means goodbye… And then I let go of my ghost form, let go of the confidence and bravery, the side of me that burned to save everyone, everything. I felt the blue rings travel up and down my body, and suddenly fell to the stage, looking at them as Danny Fenton.
"Now who thinks they know?"
Yes, yes, I know, ANOTHER cliff-hanger. You must all hate me...
Just a few notes:
1. I don't THINK I made it apparent whether Danny and Sam are a couple yet or not. Its up to you to decide, because I couldn't. If you don't like that pairing, then don't portray it that way. If you do, have a ball.
2. I seem to have an issue with injuring my characters. SOMEONE is always injured in my story. If you want to fight me on that, go check out my other two Danny Phantom stories. If you don't... go check them out anyways!
3. I will NOT be continuing this. When I write a one-shot, I don't EVER follow up on them. That would make it a TWO-SHOT. However, if someone wants to continue it, by all means, go ahead. Just PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE tell me that you are doing so. I might want to read it, and its only polite.
Alright, thats it. Hope you enjoyed it!