Disclaimer: I don't own Danny Phantom – I never have and I never will. Sorry, world.
Author's Note: This is a special birthday present for Chaos Dragon, since it is her birthday today (wish her happy birthday)! I hope this doesn't suck out loud, and if you're unhappy with it, I'll give it a round two.
Please, review when you're done and tell me what you think, please! If there are spelling errors, give me a break, it's three in the morning. Thank you!
November 12, 2007
The day he left was what she thought would be the most earth-shattering moment of her existence. She was proved wrong so quickly, so harshly, but at that time, with him being gone from her... she thought her world had ended.
She didn't know, then, that it had only just begun.
Two years. It had been two long, difficult years in the Ghost Zone, but what he gained from the experience was invaluable, he had to grudgingly admit. Differences that had arisen over the years after the planet had almost been destroyed were pretty much at rest, thanks to him and his determination to keep everything and everyone under control. He knew that ghosts had vicious tempers, especially when it came to their obsessions and aspirations; forcing his own aside, he had to do the noble thing, the right thing, and sacrifice his own happiness and well-being to ensure the serenity of the ghostly sanctum.
Stepping out of the portal, he surveyed his surroundings. Not much had changed, he knew, since nothing really changed down there in the lab. Ever since he was little, nothing ever changed. All that happened were development–generally from Mom's side of the laboratory–that would hopefully not explode or turn every ounce of food in the house to ectoplasmic goo.
Doing something he hadn't done in what seemingly felt like forever, he transformed back to his human counterpart. After he felt the rings of energy completely pass over him, he stretched, feeling whole again.
He felt whole, even though he was half dead.
Running a hand through his hair as he began his ascent up the stairs to the kitchen, he felt overjoyed to be home. Finally.
"Mom? Dad? I'm home!" he shouted into the kitchen, hoping that someone was home to greet him. He smiled, meeting the eyes of his mother that rushed into the kitchen. "Hey."
He didn't know what to say the first time he saw her. His mind was swimming with questions he couldn't seem to vocalize. Whatever it was, the look in her eyes stunned him more than they should have. Did he see hurt in those eyes? Well, what could he expect? He had left for two years, only with a... oh yeah, that goodbye, and he vanished. Literally, he just vanished.
"Danny," she smiled, giving him a once-over. They each had done some growing up, she surmised, noticing some attributes of his that weren't so strong as they were now.
Without saying a word, he closed the distance between them and engulfed her in a hug. He had longed to feel her body close to his again after so long; it had been torture during the time that they were apart, to not have her nearby for comfort. He felt her squeeze back.
"How are you?" he said finally, pulling away from the hug and taking a step back.
She shrugged, "I can't really complain. I finally moved out of this house." She motioned to the structure behind her. "I find it weird that you've found me here, at this time, but I'm never far from this place anyways. Mom likes to keep in contact more so now than ever."
He smiled, nodding, "You're closer with your parents, now?" It seemed that a lot of changing had gone on.
Shrugging again, she replied, "More or less. I mean, the relationship isn't perfect, but I haven't been denounced as a daughter, so I'm fine."
"Why would you be denounced, Sam? I hardly doubt you've done anything that horrible," his eyebrows furrowed as he watched her expression change.
"That's a story for an entirely different time." Clearing her throat, she changed the subject, "How long have you been back? It's felt like entirely too long."
"Not even an hour," he replied. "I had to find you. Especially after what happened..."
She nodded, grabbing something from out of eye-shot and pulling it to her. Revealing a purse, she slipped it onto her shoulder, shouted that she'd be back later, and shut the door behind her. "Yeah, I know. A lot has changed since then," she sighed, bounding down the steps with Danny.
"Like your hair, for one," he commented, having noticed before that her hair was a bit shorter than her usual length. She had her hair the same length for so long, it was shocking to see the change. "Why is it so short?"
"My hair? Oh," she trailed off, running a hand through it, "I have to keep it short because of... James."
"James?" he asked, his heart suddenly plummeting to the bottom of his chest. She was dating someone new? He sighed in anger internally. Who was he to expect that she would wait around for him after two long years? That was a stupid thought.
The air was thick with tension. How could she break something like this to him, just when he got back from trying to help protect the Ghost Zone? She wouldn't. Not now.
"Yeah," she chuckled awkwardly, "We're close, you could say. Sometimes he pulls on my hair a bit too violently, so, trying to turn him off from the idea, I've cut my hair a bit shorter."
"He hurts you?" Danny asked, feeling his temper flare. He would be supportive, no matter who this new guy was, but if he was hurting her, he would intervene immediately. "Sam, you can't–"
"Danny," she cut him off, a stern tone to her voice with a matching look in her eye, "I'm fine. Everything's fine, and has been for about a year. It started out rough, but he's actually pretty cute. And, you know my feelings on that word."
He was floored. She had been dating someone for over a year now? He hadn't even been gone for a solid year yet and she moved on like a snap of the fingers? He didn't know whether to salute her or gag at the thought of someone other than himself touching her the way he had.
"Yeah, I do."
Nearing a shiny black vehicle to which he assumed was her own, he stopped as she did. She removed the alarm and walked over to the driver's side. "I have to go get him right now, actually. I'd invite you to come, but he's probably not going to be in a good mood."
Danny shrugged, not wanting to meet this James character anyway. He didn't know if his heart could take it. "All right."
The reason for coming back, the sole reason for his hope for the future... gone. He just wanted to retreat and brood, in all honesty.
"I'll give you a call when I'm free and we'll go out for dinner. I promise," she smiled, suddenly feeling very horrible for what she was doing.
He nodded, then turned to leave. Only did he stop when he heard her call out to him. "Danny!"
"He looks a lot like you, you know." With that, she got into her car, started it, and drove off.
What the hell?
"And you're telling me that you think she's seeing someone else? Someone else named James?" Tucker asked, giving his best friend a look. After being brushed off by Sam to meet her James, he felt dejected enough to try and talk it out with Tucker, hoping he knew a little bit more about the situation. "You've been back for five minutes, and this is what you're telling me? Nothing about how things in the Ghost Zone are going? Man, get your priorities in check."
"They are!" Danny sighed loudly, crossing his arms across his chest and frowning. Leaning back in the kitchen chair, he trailed his eyes along the counter, watching the beads of condensation slowly drip down his glass. He grumbled softly to himself, "I was planning on asking her to marry me when I got back. Now that's seemingly out of the question. She's seeing this James character and I have no clue who he is!"
Tucker shrugged, "Well, you gotta give her time, man. There are certain things you don't know, and you shouldn't assume anything in this case."
"I shouldn't assume that he's hurting her? She said she had to cut her hair short because of him! How is that not abuse?" he asked, slamming his palm on the counter.
"How is that not overreacting?" Tucker shot back, raising a brow. "You're doing exactly what I told you not to do, Danny. Just chill and wait until she comes clean about everything. I can't tell you anything, since it's not my place. She has to do it."
"What? Do what?" Danny asked, more frustrated at the fact that his own best friend knew something that he wanted to know so badly. "Why won't you tell me?"
"Like I said," he clapped his hand on Danny's shoulder, showing sympathy. "It's not my place. I would tell you if it would save the beating I'd get from my wife and Sam."
"Yourwife? How the hell long have I been gone for, Tuck? Who's the sorry–"
"Finish that sentence, Fenton, and I'll smack you so hard your offspring will feel it," the redheaded woman spoke as she entered the kitchen, looking rather irate. The look that Tucker shot her went unnoticed by the younger Fenton in the room.
"Jazz!" Danny exclaimed as he stood to give her a hug. "You and Tucker tied the knot? I can't say I'm not surprised. But, hey, today's full of surprises, isn't it?" As he neared his sister, without the kitchen counter blocking her body anymore, his eyes widened at the sight of her, "Really big surprises." With a small smile, he hugged his sister, wishing her congratulations.
"That's not all," Tucker mumbled through his hand, clearing his throat before taking a sip of his drink.
"There's more? Sam again, right?" Danny asked, wondering if his mind could comprehend any more emotional bombardments.
"More that I can't say without overstepping my boundaries, Dan," Tucker sighed, putting his glass down. "Go find Sam. You should really talk to her about things."
"But she left to go meet James the last time I saw her. The first time I see her in two years and she goes off to be with her abusive boyfriend. Shit," he growled, glaring intently at the floor.
Without a sound, Jazz smacked her brother on the back of the head, glaring at him, "Are you kidding me? You are that thick, aren't you? You're twenty years old, for Christ's sake!"
Tucker pulled her aside. "Jazz, he doesn't know–"
"How can you be jealous of–"
"Jazz, stop! It's Sam's place, not ours," Tucker argued, glaring at his wife. "Not now, not here. Let him find Sam. If he still feels this way after the fact, then you can rip him a new one. Deal?"
She took a deep breath, trying to regain her composure. "Deal."
When they turned around, Danny was gone.
"Sam, we need to talk," he spoke, stern and collected into the receiver of the phone, hoping she would agree to meet up with him. This secret was driving him insane. Either that or the jealousy he had festering for her "boyfriend" was eating him alive. He needed to settle things or he knew he would explode.
"Meet me at the park in fifteen. You know where I'll be," he heard her say before the line went dead.
After sitting on that lonely bench for fifteen agonizing minutes, he finally saw her. The crisp autumn breeze flowing through her hair. She hugged her light jacket closer to herself for warmth as she neared him. She looked stronger, if possible, and yet so afraid at the same time. What was she afraid of? He would find out.
As she finally reached him, he stood; he didn't know what possessed him to, but he did. Smiling softly, he greeted her, "Hey. Sorry about the short notice, I didn't want to interrupt quality time with your boyfriend."
"Sam, can I just ask you something?" Without even pausing for an answer, he sighed. "I mean, doesn't anything we had mean anything to you? I thought we still had it, but I guess two years can change a person more than I thought. I'm sorry I left in the first place, but before we left, I thought we were at our best. We even..." he trailed off, looking away.
Keeping his vision on the dancing leaves that were being swept away by the wind–on anything but her face–he continued his speech. "I love you, so much that it hurts me to think that I've lost you so easily. You've been dating him for over a year now, and I've been gone for two? You didn't waste much time, huh? That bastard didn't give you a chance before he swooped in and took you. And even though he hurts you, how could you even–"
"Daniel Fenton, you shut the fuck up right there," she said, concise and to the point. He stopped talking immediately. "First off, if you ever insult James again, I'm going to take one of my boots to your face. I'll introduce you to him soon and you'll be eating those words. I have a question for you, though, maybe to jog your memory quite a bit. What happened the night before you left?"
"We, uh, well..."
"Yeah, we 'uh, well,' about three times, right?" she shot back, giving him a look. "The day you left was one of the worst days of my life, but I managed to keep a brave face because I knew you would be coming back this time around. I knew you were strong enough to come back in one piece when you said you would, and I had been planning on counting down the days. But, do you know what happened? I found out I didn't just have to think for myself, I had to think for–"
Her cell phone's sharp melody broke her speech, and she pulled it out of her pocket. Glancing at who was calling, she answered, "Hi, what is it? I'm kinda busy right now. He's what? Why? You did what to him? Mom! That's completely what I told you not to do! It's amazing how I was raised at all," she sighed, glancing at Danny's confused expression every so often during the conversation. "I'll be there soon. Yes, I'm bringing him. Get over it, mom. He hasn't been here because he's been away on business. Yes, I can make it sound–" she paused, growling at what her mother was saying. "No, no, no, not the time for this. I'll be there in a few minutes." She snapped her phone shut.
"Need a quick ride home?" he asked, extending a hand to her.
Two minutes later, he brought them both down on her front stoop. Transforming before she opened the front door, they entered the Manson Mansion without a word.
"Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy!" a little voice shouted as she entered the home. Like a shot, tiny legs carried the little boy to his mother, who happened to be standing next to a very confused, very pale Danny.
"That nasty woman didn't make you try and eat snails, did she?" Sam smiled down at the little boy, running a hand through his hair.
"Yucky!" he said, then reached up his arms and wiggled his fingers for her to pick him up.
Smiling, she hoisted the small boy in her arms, hugging him to her. "You threw every single one on the floor, right?"
Finally, getting out one, single word, Danny spoke, "Mommy?"
Turning to him, she nodded slowly. "Feel stupid now, Daddy?"
"J-James?" Danny managed to choke out, looking back and forth between the two of them so fast he felt like he would receive whiplash. Or die–completely. This was the infamous James? This was the man he was jealous of? He would be ashamed of himself if he didn't feel excitement bubble in his chest at hearing the word "Daddy" being chirped in his direction.
"Yeah, I think it's safe to assume I feel like an as–uh–idiot," Danny said, still starting at the little boy with the bright blue eyes and the contagious smile. The apple didn't fall far from the tree.
"It seems you were mistaken about something, weren't you? There are two men in my life, who each mean everything to me," Sam smiled, leaning over to Danny and kissing him softly on the lips, the first time in what seemed like forever. "I wish I could've told you, but there was no way. Your parents tried to find you, but you were unreachable. I couldn't open up to you until you saw him... I figured you'd think I was crazy."
He nodded, "I understand. I wouldn't have thought so, but I understand."
"Just... know this," she ended, just as she began; this time, she cradled their child in her arms. "The day you left... I thought my world had ended. I thought that you would somehow not be able to come back, that you would get hurt and I would be left alone. Even if that did happen I would always have a piece of you with me. It wasn't the end for me. It was only the beginning... and, now... I have you here with me, to begin again."
Ignoring his child's protests of "ew" and "yucky," Danny leaned down, giving Sam a soft, heartfelt kiss–one of many more to come. "I wouldn't have it any other way."