Summary: Sam, being a Goth, thought she was familiar with death. But she had never heard of half-death before. Oneshot, set when Danny first gets his powers.
Samantha Manson didn't like labels, but if she had to be labeled she preferred it would the label of "Goth." In truth, Sam did wear a lot of black clothing and dark make-up, and she had a fierce passion for going against the mainstream. Sam also nurtured a morbid interest in death.
It was this interest that had led her to voraciously read Edgar Allan Poe's works when she was in the eighth grade, as well as various other dark novels such as the Turn of the Screw, Frankenstein, and the Witch of Ravensworth. These were books that were considered far above the academic level of an eighth-grader, and had the added advantage of freaking the adults out even more. Her knowledge of such literature allowed her to excel in English class once she reached high school.
Another class she excelled in was History, the content of which was filled with death. The class learned about battles that killed hundreds of soldiers and civilians, about criminals who were hanged or shot, about Jews that starved away to skeletons during World War II, about Japanese who had lived in Hiroshima and had been vaporized so fast when the atomic bomb was dropped that they left only their shadows behind them.
After learning all of this, Sam felt like she was familiar with death. She knew all the different ways it could happen, she had read about it and seen pictures of it, and she most certainly was not afraid of it. Yet Sam's "familiarity" with death was missing one thing: Sam had never experienced someone close to her die. So it was shocking to her when she saw the neon green blast explode from the Ghost Portal while Danny was inside. The blast was blinding; Sam had to turn away, her arms covering her face and her hair whipping around wildly, the coldness of the Ghost Zone brushing against her exposed legs and arms. A terrified, agonized scream echoed around her, and she didn't know who the scream belonged to, or if she had been screaming at all.
And then the blast had stopped suddenly, and Danny had staggered out of the portal. At first, when she had seen his shadow moving around in the swirling green mist, Sam had felt unbridled relief. He had lived! He was going to be alright! Then he had emerged, his hair pure white, eyes the same green as the mist behind him, his skin slightly translucent, and Sam's relief was instantly changed to horror. Danny was a ghost. He had not lived. He was not going to be alright. In that instant, Sam felt the full weight of death. It pressed down upon her, as if saying, You killed Danny. You made him go into the portal and now he's dead. You killed Danny.
No, thought Sam. She couldn't have killed her friend.
And it turned out that she hadn't killed him. Not fully, anyway-- Danny was only half-dead. He could switch between living and dead, human and ghost, at will, and was one of only two people in the world who had that ability. He possessed the powers of ghosts, and used those to fight malicious ghosts that attacked Amity.
Every day he risked his half-life for the town, battling up in the sky where Sam and Tucker couldn't reach. It always made Sam feel helpless, having to watch from the ground while Danny fought. Every time he got hit by an ectoblast, Sam's breath would catch within her. What if he died? Fully, completely, never-coming-back-again died? Sam didn't know if she could deal with that. After every fight, when Danny landed on the ground in front of her and transformed back into a human, Sam thanked the powers that be and started making up excuses about why Danny looked like he just got run over by a car.
After Danny first became a halfa and started fighting ghosts, Sam had looked at her bookshelf. It was stocked with books about death, mocking her with evidence about her life before Danny's accident. Reminding her that she had thought she knew death, when in fact she had never known anything about it. She hadn't known what it felt like to see someone die, or to worry day in and day out about whether death was on your best friend's doorstep. Sam had tucked the books away in her closet and locked the door behind her.
She was still interested in death-- she was a Goth, after all--, but it wasn't the naïve, fearless interest it had been before. Fate had given her a swift kick in the rear, and had shown Sam that maybe she didn't prefer death after all.
Especially when it came to Danny.