Hi guys! :3 Lookit! I updated! I'm sorry if this chapter is lame. :( It seems kinda flat to me...
Next goal? Update Unexpected Abuse!
P.S. I don't own Apple. Or their stupid itampons or pads or whatever... Yes, I'm still bitter. It's like Zelda: Windwaker all over again. (although, I actually ended up enjoying that game)
That was it. No more words were exchanged as we walked to school. I didn't even get out my PDA. Sam stared ahead in stony silence, her face expressionless. At first glance, a stranger might think nothings out of the ordinary. I'm not stupid though, I know it's still killing her on the inside...about Danny...
We passed the Nasty Burger along our way to school, the restaurant holding a couple teenagers grabbing a quick breakfast. Some guy was attempting to put up a new sign on the billboard behind the fast food joint. I would have laughed at him, cause the overlarge sign was all curled up and folded over his head, but I was too tired. Me and Sam walked on, not even affected by the clear blue sky above our heads.
We made it to school a little early again, hung out with Mikey and Lester cause there was nothing else to do, and dutifully marched to first period when the bell rang. A heavy sigh escaped my chest, disappointment ghosting through me. A small part of me had been hoping to catch a glimpse of Danny before school started, not that I would ever tell Sam that.
We pushed our way through the halls in silence once more. Fellow students were starting to fully wake up now, the beginning shouts of teenagers erupting sporadically from the crowd. I stopped at my locker, glancing at Sam for a moment to see her digging through her own piled mess of textbooks. In no time at all we were done, parting ways to head for first period.
"Sam, Tucker! Wait!"
Jazz's voice carried over the receding sounds of teenagers. We stopped and turned around in surprise, jolted from our usual, monotone morning routine. The red head pushed her way past a last group of stragglers and skidded to a halt before us, breathing heavily.
"Jazz?" Sam said, raising an eye brow.
"I...need...to tell...you something!" She gasped, hands on her knees.
"Uh, the bell's about to ring." I reminded her, trying not to snicker at her disheveled hair.
"This...this is important!" she coughed, taking a deep breathe and standing straight. "Yesterday-"
And at such a perfectly clique moment, the dinging bell echoed through the hall and interrupted Jazz mid-sentence. We all gave a start and Jazz looked around in disappointment. Although, I'm not sure if she was upset cause the bell interrupted her or if it was because she was late to class for the first time in her life.
"Just tell us at lunch, Jazz. I gotta get to Civics. Mr. Bennett hates it when people are tardy."
"Sorry Jazz." I shrugged at her defeated expression, rushing off to first period with Sam. I'm sure whatever Jazz wanted to tell us wasn't that big of a deal. She looked kinda panicky but she usually overreacts to stuff, so it's probably nothing.
My first class was STLP, one of the best classes of the day. Unfortunately, I just haven't been able to get into the right mood to really enjoy it, not that it's too hard to imagine why. My fellow nerds greeted me via email, as usual, commenting about my lack luster mood and the latest Apple technology. Apparently something really awesome is supposed to come out in a few months. Maybe, assuming it's not something stupid like a larger form of an ipod touch or something, I could distract myself with the new technology. I wasn't getting my hopes up though. Like I said, technology has just seemed...bland, lately.
All my projects for the class had been finished months ago, leaving me with nothing to do but play computer games for the best part of fifty-four minutes. The supervisor of the class was pretty relaxed for a teacher. He basically let us do whatever we wanted as long as our projects were in on time and we didn't complain when some noob with a computer asked for help. I had an older version of Doomed up and running in minutes, the pixelated graphics making me smirk nostalgically.
Videogames were probably the next best invention after the computer, the PDA, and the Internet. Simple yet fun, these time consuming entertainment devices were the perfect distraction. The only problem was that the time flew by. One instant you'd be battling for your extra-life in level ten, and the next you'd have to shut down your computer. I spent fifty-four, mind numbing minutes with my biggest priority being to get the next key when the teacher told us to close up.
I debated ignoring him, but the consequence of possibly loosing my videogame time was too risky for me to actually go through with it. I shut down my computer with a sigh and grabbed the moderately dusty textbook, following my kinsmen out the door. It was irritating having to push my way through crowds just so I could get to my locker for a class I didn't even want to go to, but I guess that was life. Lonely, though. Sam caught up with me about five feet from Lancer's class, yawning and looking bored out of her mind. We nodded to each other, automatically falling in step and entering my least favorite class of the day, English.
Immediately, I looked for Danny. Relief I hadn't expected melted through me when I saw him sitting behind Mikey, his face hidden in his arms. The usual guilt I often had when thinking of him soon followed. It didn't help that I still couldn't get his crushed expression out of my head from Monday... Without a word I sank to my seat, thinking about following Danny's example and burying my head in my arms. The invisible weight on my shoulders was making it difficult to sit straight anyways.
"Alright, alright, quiet down." Lancer's loud voice rose above the sounds of laughing, talking teenagers.
Slowly, everyone found their seats and stared blankly at him. He surveyed everyone with his usual calm expression, a big, foreboding book in his hands. He seemed to sense everyone giving the massive paper weight wary looks because he raised it up with a smirk and announced,
"Today, we start with British literature."
A unison groan resounded throughout the classroom. Lancer held up a hand for quiet, aloof expression intact as he continued.
"Now I know you covered Romeo and Juliet with me last year, but Shakespeare has many many more plays and poems for us to go over, starting with-Cantabury Tales! Somebody wake up Fenton!"
Seeing as this was pretty much standard for Danny, most of the class barely spared him a passing glance, although a few snickered. Sam didn't turn around, but I sneaked a look, watching Mikey poke Danny's limp head with an odd feeling of jealousy. Usually I'm the one who wakes him up, but... And just like that the guilt came back, crushing everything in it's path and bringing on the misery. I wasn't going to lie, I missed Danny like crazy.
My best friend snapped his head up on the fifth poke, lidded eyes blinking blearily as the snickers increased. He looked exhausted, expertly ignoring everyone else and rubbing the bags under his eyes. I noticed something different about him though, and I ended up staring more than I intended to. Despite his tired appearance, there was something lighter in his eyes, his shoulders held taller...
"Sorry Mister Lancer." he winced, rubbing the back of his head and yawning.
Lancer's frowned deepened, eyes narrowing slightly.
"Since you happened to be absent on Monday and more inattentive than usual yesterday, I suggest you try to pay a bit more attention in class today, Mr. Fenton."
"Yes Sir." he mumbled, looking as though he hadn't understood a word Lancer said. I felt the corners of my mouth twitch up.
Lancer gave a deft nod and continued yapping, but I wasn't listening anymore (Not that I'd been listening to begin with, but whatever). Danny was staring tiredly at the board, but it wasn't the usual blank, empty stare he's had all week. He was acting different; I noticed it yesterday too. It's like some of the stress has been lifted from his shoulders, but could think of why... Oh well. I guess I'm just jealous. It'd be nice if I could be a little less stressed too.
With a quiet sigh I turned back around in my seat, resting my chin in a hand and staring out the window. It was starting to get to me-well, no, it started getting to me about the third day Danny came back from Vlad's. I never imagined life would be so lonely and boring without my best friend. I know Danny's been having a really hard time. I can see it in his face almost everyday. It's probably killing him just as much as it is me that we don't talk anymore. Granted, it's only been a week and a half, but it still feels like ages.
The worst part is, I know all this misery is my fault. I mean, Danny was the one who lied to us and stuff, but the more I think about it from his perspective the more I can't blame him. Like, at all. If I was in his shoes-well if I was in his shoes I never would have screwed around with the fruitloop in the first place, but that's just me. Anyways, if I had I definitely wouldn't have told my friends. At least not for a long time.
Unfortunately that means the real reason I'm not talking to Danny isn't cause he lied to us, it's cause I don't like who he's 'dating,' which it totally crappy for a best friend to do. Even if his...uh...boyfriend happens to be a villainous, 40-something year old billionaire. I know the situation is a little different, but I once tried to date a girl who wanted Danny dead. He still stuck by my side though, even if he wasn't particularly happy about it. He never stopped talking to me or anything...
But there's so much more to consider with Vlad, and I mean besides the obvious. What if he really is just jerking Danny around? He could do some serious damage to my best friend if he's so close to him! I know Danny says he's changed, but I just can't trust that fruitloop so easily. At least with Valarie Danny could take care of himself. Then again, Vlad's been teaching him how to use his ghost powers. So does that mean Vlad isn't planning on taking advantage of him? After all, why would he help him get stronger if he's gonna have to fight him eventually?
Ugh. My head hurts just thinking about it. Maybe I'm over analyzing things. Sometimes genius can be a curse. Or maybe I'm just making it too complicated. Danny...obviously trusts Vlad, so doesn't that mean I should trust Danny's judgment? He is my best friend, after all.
My eyes shifted down ward guiltily, the swirling pit in my stomach making the real reason for my hesitancy obvious. If it was just a simple matter of trusting Danny, I would have accepted Vlad ages ago. But that's just it, isn't it? It's because it's Vlad.
A bubble of anger steamed in the pool of guilt, resentment building up. Well why shouldn't we be upset cause it's Vlad. Danny expects us to welcome him with open arms like it's no big deal or something, but the dude's as old as my Dad. So maybe it is just the age thing, and the super villain thing, but I see those as pretty valid reasons to not like Danny and Vlad's relationship. It's just...not right, you know?
But just like that I felt the bubble of anger evaporate, sluggish guilt filling the void once more. Just because I don't think it's right doesn't mean I should treat Danny like a stranger over it. No matter what choices he makes...he'll always be my best friend.
Lancer's voice started to become less muffled as my thoughts slowly inched away from my conflicting emotions. He was talking about Shakespeare again, the same holy reverence in his voice he always has when talking about English stuff. Sam was staring at him with a blank expression, probably only listening to every other lecture. I glanced back at Danny to see him struggling to stay away again, smirking slightly. Must have been a ghost attack last night. But before I could look away, Danny yawned and suddenly met my eyes.
I froze up, my mind instantly reminding me that this was the second time in ten days that we've looked at each other. Sadly enough, it's the closest thing to communication we've had recently. Danny looked as frozen as I was, waiting on pins and needles to see what I'd do, just like he did Monday. His crushed expression from those days ago blazed across my mind, as though reminding me of what I'd done to him and daring me to do it again. Something like defiance blossomed in my chest, savagely stomping the dare out of existence and growling rebelliously. I wasn't about to let Danny go on thinking I hated him, no matter how pissed Sam and Jazz still were.
However, before I could so much as send him a smile, the intercom above gave a loud beep, distracting and silencing everyone in the room.
"Attention teachers!" Principle Ishyama's jubilant voice echoed from above, "Please turn your TV's to channel 5!"
The once dead looking class instantly livened up, smiles spreading at the momentary break from class. Lancer, unsurprisingly, frowned at the intercom, grumbling about interrupting precious class time for pointless news broadcasts. Dash volunteered himself to turn on the TV cause Lancer was moving too slow for everyone's preference. I took the moment to glance back at Danny, only to see an odd expression on his face as he stared at the TV. He looked nervous, eyes occasionally jumping to me but barely lingering for a second. Obviously, he knew what the news was. I was tempted to whisper and ask what it was just as an excuse to talk to him. Dash finally found the right channel, though, and the all-too familiar face on the screen made my stomach drop.
Vlad Masters was standing next to a reporter, looking as calm and dignified as ever despite the crowd of people surrounding the two and the several microphones being shoved toward his face.
"Tiffany Snow here with none other than world famous billionaire and business tycoon, Vlad Masters, here in Amity Park to announce a surprising new turn of events!"
The crowd of people set behind them were waving banners and flags with Vlad's name on it, all cheering and screaming madly. I glanced nervously at Danny, and was surprised to see him glancing at me. We both froze again, and for a moment I almost forgot about the TV, but then Tiffany started talking again and what she said made my mind go blank.
"Coming in as a last minute candidate, Vlad Masters will run in Amity's Mayoral election, due to be held at the end of this month!"
"Mr. Masters was placed on the ballot early this morning and intends to start campaigning immediately," Tiffany turned to Vlad, "What caused the sudden decision to run for office in Amity, Mister Masters?"
I watched as a catlike smile spread on his face, amusement dancing in his eyes.
"I'm here as a personal service both to someone close to me and the citizens of Amity Park," I froze when Sam suddenly whirled around, giving Danny a dirty look. Guiltily, I turned around as well. Danny looked like he was stuck between the choice to smile or turning metaphorically invisible.
"I've spent personal time in this fair city and have grown attached to its unique charm." The crowed laughed, "I believe I can make a positive influence on the people of Amity Park, both by taking an active involvement in its educational system and helping with the ghost crisis. This is a fine city, full of fine, hardworking citizens. Amity Park deserves the best, and when I'm in office, I intend to give just that."
The crowd behind him went wild, cheering and jumping as he flashed a million dollar smile. I glance back at Danny to see him snicker quietly, rolling his eyes. Sam was rigid, tense and seething. Most of the class was watching the TV with either indifference or approval. Lancer looked rather pleased, smiling at the educational system part. I had a bad feeling about that one, though.
"I hear you even moved to the city itself, am I correct?"
"Indeed. After all, what better way to understand a people than to live amongst them yourselves?"
"Yeah, probably in a high class mansion just like everybody else in Amity Park." Sam hissed under her breathe.
"In addition to making personal sacrifices, you've also had to sell several companies to keep up with the demand of campaigning. How is this going to affect your stockholders?"
"I've left my old companies in good hands. It all depends on how the new CEO's handle the businesses, though I have complete confidence..."
And now he was talking pointless business, which I didn't care about. My brain was still running in circle. Mayor? Mayor? I felt a little betrayed, but I couldn't manage to feel angry enough. I should have seen this coming. We've been treating Danny like a stranger for the past week, Vlad was bound to retaliate some how. Like this is all some sick game.
I looked back at Danny slowly. Apparently the smile won out. He was calmly listened to Vlad with a light expression, obviously not in the class room anymore. I watched as Sam kept shooting him foul glares and then bowed my head, staring at the grains in the desk.
Did Danny ask Vlad to run for Mayor, or was Vlad doing this all on his own? Probably on his own. Danny's been way too miserable to try planning anything, and it's not the sort of thing Danny would do. But it's obvious that Danny knew about this, so does that mean he's seen Vlad recently? What about what Jazz threatened?
I got a nervous bubble in my stomach at the thought of Jazz telling her parents Danny's secrets, especially the one about his powers. It just didn't seem right, you know?
Danny's put up with a lot and deserves the right to tell his parents about his ghost half when he wants to. Besides, we already stumbled across something we weren't supposed to find out about, something that was just Danny's business. I have secrets that Danny doesn't know about. Granted, none of them are as big as his, but his life is a different story. Now if Vlad were hurting Danny it'd be different, but he's not. I don't know...I just...can't imagine telling his parents. That would be too much, you know? And I think we've done enough.
"Well there you have it folks! Last minute Mayoral candidate, Vlad Masters, is officially on the ballet! His first speech will be given at City hall this Friday evening; you can check exact times at our website! And don't forget to vote for citizen Vlad on election day!"
Commercials came on and Lancer turned the TV off. Everyone else immediately started a light chatter about the broadcast or high school gossip, ignoring Lancer as he surveyed the students with a light smile.
"Well," he called over the chatter, "What do you all think?"
"I think his name is weird!" Star called from the back, earning a few giggles.
"Yeah," agreed a jock, "It's, like, a super villain name or something."
Ah, irony. Can't get through a day without can I? Danny seemed to be having similar thoughts, snickering to himself. Sam didn't think it was funny.
"I'm sure his name has little to do with his politics, Star. Now if no one has anything meaningful to say we'll continue-"
"I think his name has a lot to do with his politics, Mr. Lancer," Sam suddenly vented, throwing a steaming hand in the air.
The humor is the air left as quick as it had come. I felt the chilly beginnings of a fight coming on. The fact that Danny was giving Sam a cool glare wasn't reassuring.
"How so?" Lancer looked confused.
"Russian name, Russian politics. He's probably a communist." she shrugged.
Some people in the class laughed while others just rolled their eyes. Lancer gave Sam a reproachful frown, obviously not amused by the comment.
"I disagree with Sam's profiling!" Danny announced, raising a challenging hand in the air.
High schoolers, while generally stupid when it comes to book smarts, are pretty smart when it comes to drama. The entire class went quiet when Danny challenged Sam, able to feel the icy thrill of a fight just as I had. A few of the students were even grinning in anticipation, the jocks muttering, 'lovers spat.' Lancer looked oddly at Danny, but motioned for him to continue.
"Just because he has a different name that doesn't mean he's a communist. You don't know anything about him. Don't you think it's a little hypocritical to judge people, Sam?"
Someone yelled "Oooooo!" in the back of the class, a hush coming over the crowd. Even Lancer was starting to look nervously between the two, obviously having heard about the shouting match in Mrs. Hue's class and not wanting to have a repeat here.
"Now, Mister Fenton, keep the conversation on track..." he scolded lamely.
"He's a stuck-up billionaire from Wisconsin who knows about as much of this town's well being as Danny Phantom. What more does anyone need to know?"
Ouch. I felt that one.
"That was low, Sam." I muttered so she could hear me, making sure she heard the disappointment in my voice.
Danny looked smacked in the face for half a second, but the furious glare that replaced it a moment later quickly covered it up.
"You just don't like Vlad because he's a billionaire. Super imposing your hate for your wealthy parents on strangers isn't healthy. Maybe if you get over yourself and just accept the fact that you're filthy stinking rich you'd be able to smile a little more."
"Mister Fenton! That was completely uncalled for. Please take your seat!"
But already people were pointing and whispering, staring at Sam in a whole new light. The disappointment I felt for Sam spread to Danny, and I shook my head in shame for them both. This was just sad. Sam looked around in surprise for a moment, her guilty face affirming the truth loud and clear. However, juggling secrets with Sam when she was angry was a very dumb thing to do, especially for Danny because he had a lot of secrets.
"So that's how you want to play, huh?" she muttered through gritted teeth, and I sat a little straighter in my seat.
"Sam..." I began warily, but there was no hope on this one.
"You're only supporting Vlad because you're that 'special someone' he's running to be mayor for!"
"KNOCK IT OFF!" I exploded. That's it. I was done. Jazz was gonna spill Danny's secrets to their parents, Danny had spilled Sam's secret to the class, and now Sam was dangling his secrets like a sadistic puppeteer. No one was friends with anyone any more, and if you get right down to it, it's all because we don't like who Danny likes, which is the dumbest reason in the world to loose a friend to!
I felt like someone else was in control of my mouth, causing me to stand up and round on my friends. I turned to Sam's surprised face, pointing a finger at her and glaring,
"You're just mad because he's friends with a billionaire, and you," I pointed to Danny, still seething, "You're upset because you know she has a good reason to be angry with you! So why do both of you get over yourselves and just grow UP!"
And then the bell rang.
It was priceless. No body moved a muscle, not even Lancer. They were all looking at me like I was an alien. Danny and Sam had matching expressions, reflected on the faces of every classmate in the room.
"Uh..." I mumbled, suddenly remembering myself.
"So...so quit fighting...yeah..." I trailed off lamely, looking around and waiting for someone to stop staring at me. I vowed never to step out of my comfort zone again, consciously nor not.
"What about you, Tuck?" Danny suddenly asked, an anguished glare on his face, "Do you have a good reason to be upset with me?"
We stared at each other, and I can go on and say it was some dramatic kind of thing, but it wasn't. We both knew the answer to that. It just took me a little while to accept it.
"No..." I muttered, "It's you're life dude."
Danny's sky blue eyes widened, shocked disbelief on his face as Lancer finally started getting people to move.
"Come on everyone! The bell rang two minutes ago and I'm not writing notes for anyone!"
Me and Danny were still staring at each other, as though waiting for a cruel shout of 'April fools.' I wasn't even paying attention to Sam, who was probably looking at me like I was some traitor.
"Come on you two. You can kiss and make up some where else, get to class." Lancer frowned, hands on his hips as me and Danny jolted into action.
He fumbled his books a bit but managed to keep a hold of them. I saw him glanced at me a little awkwardly and then to Sam, as though unsure if he should wait or not. However, he quickly made up his mind and headed to the door. Danny glanced back at me one last time, still not sure whether to take me seriously or if I was playing a cruel joke. I waved, knowing I'd see him in health where I could finally make this right.
Unfortunately, once he left that basically fed me to the sharks, the sharks being Sam.
"What are you doing?" she hissed, following me through the halls as I made my way to next period.
"Going to Health class."
"Tucker, for once in your life be serious! Why are you talking to him?"
I stopped in the empty hallway, her comment striking a nerve.
"Because I'm not five years old, Sam," I glared, "Danny's our friend."
"Our friend? He got a psycho villain to be in charge of our city! Not to mention how he lied to us-"
"What would you have done, Sam? Huh? Told the truth? Don't kid yourself, you're not mad at Danny cause he lied, you're mad cause you don't like who he's dating."
"He is not dating him, Tucker." she looked horrified, "They're breaking about twenty laws, morals, and common ethics, that's it!"
"Whatever Sam." I mumbled, not wanting to explain myself to her.
But Sam grabbed my arm before I could walk off, looking more desperate than angry. A teacher's shadow loomed over the far wall and I thought I was free, but she just dragged me into a janitors closet. Her determination scares me sometimes.
"You can't tell me you actually support his decision!" She hissed.
"No, I don't, but that's not the point. We aren't going to agree with every little thing Danny does with his life, and that's just it, it's his life. I'm going to be his friend no matter what he does."
"Even if he becomes an evil jerk and tries to take over the world?"
"Danny would never do that." I scowled, "And you know it."
"But if he did-"
"He wouldn't. Even if he stay's with Vlad for the rest of his life, he'd never turn into a jerk. That's why I'm his friend."
Sam was trying to glare at me. It was plain to see that she wanted to be furious. However, as she stared at me with those brilliant amethyst eyes, she looked more pitiful and alone than anything else. It was unnerving to see her without the stubborn fire in her eyes, the will to stay angry sapping her personality.
"Sam..." I said quietly, pleadingly, "I know you miss him too."
She bit her lip, looking away and clenching her fists.
"You don't...I just can't Tucker." she forced out through gritted teeth.
There was a new wall between us. As ridiculous as it sounds, this was turning into an us versus them thing. Sam shook her head and stomped out, muttering 'traitor' under her breath. I reeled back, though she didn't see it. Traitor? How was I the traitor?
It was pointless thinking about it though. Sam was just angry and she had a habit of saying hurtful and irrational things in her temper. I just hoped she would see that me and Danny are still her friends soon. I didn't want our friendship to fall apart. It's seemed like a farfetched hope though. I'm not cool with Danny and Vlad cause of the age thing, which is easy enough to get over compared to Sam's problem. She's upset cause she got beat out by a forty year old man. Major ouch.
Wincing and shaking my head, I slipped out from the closet and ambled away to health. I was already ten minutes late, which means I'll be having a detention for sure. I groaned, wishing I could just pop into my seat. Luck seemed to be on my side though (for once), cause we had a substitute. Even better, she was fresh out of college, which means I could get away with anything. And if things couldn't be anymore perfect, it seemed the other students hadn't gotten wind of the fight in Lancers yet. But that was the last thing I was thinking about.
"Oh, hello! What's your name?" she asked politely when I slipped into the class room, her eyes a soft hazel.
"Tucker Foley." I mumbled.
"Ah, here you are," she smiled, checking off my name and then looking back at me, "I'm Ms. Townsend, it's a pleasure to meet you Tucker."
"No," I grinned, "The pleasure is all mine."
Whoa, she was hot.
Making sure I wasn't drooling, I walked to my seat half backwards half forwards. Her soft blonde hair seemed to reflect the sun, creating a dazzling halo where ever she walked. Having not been scarred by years of teaching, she still had that ever present smile, teeth pearly white and complimenting her flawless skin. I think she started talking about some body part or organ, but the only body part I was paying attention to was-
Something hit me in the side of the head and flopped to the space in front of me. I frowned, looking down at the note and suddenly remembering why I should be feeling awkward or nervous or something. I looked over at Danny to apologize for getting distracted, but he was just smirking at me, eye brows quirked perfectly and giving me a look.
Smiling weakly, I shrugged and fumbled with the little paper, smoothing it out between us so we could talk. I looked down and saw Danny's familiar scrawl, tangible happiness blooming in my chest at just the sight of his handwriting.
I grinned, suddenly feeling unbelievably light with the return of our usual joking antics. I'd forgotten how much I missed this. Almost excitedly, I scribbled a response.
Dude. She is H-O-T.
Yeah, and totally out of you're league.
I beg to differ. She just hasn't experienced "The Tucker" yet.
And she never ever will.
Hey, just speak'in the truth.
Unfortunately, our cheeky banter was just stalling the inevitable. We could both feel it, that slightly awkward, slightly apprehensive blob in the air. Things weren't exactly right yet, and I was tired of it, but Danny was the one who started the unwanted heart-to-heart talk. It was a necessary evil for our friendship to go back to normal.
So...did you mean it?
Danny paused, frowning at the paper for a moment before writing.
Why now? What changed your mind? I figured you'd hate me even more after the news broadcast.
Well, it doesn't actually surprise me to be honest. Figures Vlad would do something nutty like run for office just to get around us and see you. But I was a complete jerk, Danny. I guess it just took me a while to realize it. It's uh...kind of a big thing to get used to...
Yeah, I'll give you that.
I wasn't exactly sure what to write next. I wanted to let Danny know I was there for him, but I still didn't support his decision. I chewed on my lip, fiddling with the pencil for a moment before trying to bring it up.
So...you and Vlad...
I just don't-I don't wanna-I gotta make it clear-
I scowled at the paper, violently scratching out my scribbles as I tried to find the right words.
What you do with your private life is your business. You're my best friend and I'm not gonna let this ruin our friendship. But...you should know that I don't agree with it, and I'm only letting you stay with him cause I know you can take care of yourself. But if he hurts you one time I swear I'll make him regret it! I don't trust him, Danny. I guess I just want you to know that I'm here. You know...if you need me or something...
It took nearly fifteen minutes to write that. Danny sat next to me the entire time, glancing down at the paper and back to the board with flickering, impatient eyes. I passed the note to him and he all but ripped it out of my hands, scanning my scribbles with wide eyes. He read it and took it in, sitting back in his seat with calm relief filling every inch of his skin. Danny let out a silent sigh and wrote back,
Thanks Tucker. You have no idea how much this means to me.
Trust me, I do.
I smiled in contentment, feeling happiness flow through me for the first time in days. Danny was smiling too, looking at me gratefully. I almost forgot about one other potentially disastrous thing until it inexplicable slammed into my head.
Oh! Dude! What about Jazz? Is she gonna spill your secret to your parents?
Both, I guess.
Ah. No, I'm all good there. Vlad running for mayor wasn't my idea, so she can't 'punish' me. :) Yay, loophole.
I forgot, Vlad's pretty good at finding those, isn't he.
She's still super pissed though. We helped him move in yesterday and she was glaring daggers the whole time. Even though it wasn't my idea, she's still pretty mad at me. If I do one thing she doesn't like she'll turn my life into more of a hell than it already is.
She shouldn't spill your secrets dude. It ain't right.
Not like I can do anything about it. She's practically got me wrapped around her finger.
I stared at his wording, remembering Jazz saying almost the same thing not too long ago. I shook away the creepy feeling though, taking a moment to smile encouragingly at Danny. He looked really nervous about the whole situation.
Don't worry dude. I got your back.
I'm counting on it. ...what about Sam? She still...you know...
Danny stared at my note for a long time, a drawn, tired expression on his face. Finally, with a quiet sigh, he slowly scribbled a response.
Any chance of her spontaneously forgiving me too?
She's really hurt, Danny. You gotta admit, you we're pretty clueless about her crushing on you.
Well she never told me! How was I supposed to know?
Heck, I dunno. Women are nuts. I just know she had it bad for you, so it'll probably take her a lot longer to get used to you and Vlad.
Assuming she ever does...
The class passed without much more excitement. I spent the whole time passing notes with Danny and staring at Ms. Townsend's boobs. It's amazing how much we had to catch up on after only a week and a half. Time flew faster than ever and before I knew it the bell was ringing, signaling lunch. I actually jumped in my seat a bit, interrupted mid-note-sentence and glancing around in confusion.
"It's already time for lunch?"
"Yeah," Danny smiled, still feeling the same giddy high as I despite the momentary downer while talking about Sam, "You mean you weren't watching the clock?"
"I was distracted." I replied, staring pointedly at the substitute teacher.
"What?" I grabbed my books and stepped in line beside him, heading to the sweet freedom of the cafeteria room. As soon as we were done with our lockers, at least. "You can't say she doesn't have a nice rack."
"I'm just going to agree with you and move on. I know better than to get between you and breasts." he discreetly phased his books through the metal of his locker and smirked at me.
"Smart choice, cause I'm Tucker Foley and I'm always right. Here, stick my books in your locker too. I don't wanna walk all the way to mine."
"It's like, right down the hall!" He laughed, taking my books anyway.
"And your point is...?"
Danny shook his head, looking happier than I'd seen him in a long time. We gladly walked to the lunch room in our own little word as we continued to talk and joke. It wasn't until I could just start smelling the succulent meat that Danny's smile died down, the glow in his eyes dimming a little. I fell quiet, looking ahead to see what he had-
She walked into the lunch room, alone and friendless. Danny watched her retreating form with a forlorn frown. I furrowed my own brows, not liking the dampened spirit in the air.
"Hey, give it some time. I didn't say she'd never come around." I placed a hand on his back.
"Yeah," He sighed, turning his gaze away when she disappeared into the crowd, "I just hate seeing her so alone."
I'll never understand Danny's ability to be compassionate to those who scorn him. I'm not complaining of course. It's because of his habit of giving second chances that I'm still his friend now. Even so, if I was in Danny's shoes I wouldn't give two squats about Sam's loneliness. Danny soon shook me out of my thoughts though, jerking a thumb to the lunch line and supporting a wane smile.
I glanced back at the spot Sam disappeared for a moment, but then pushed it to the back of my mind. It's not like I could change her mind for her.
"Yeah, hurry up, we're gonna get a cruddy place in line!"
Danny yelped at the force of my tug when I dragged him to the lunch line. Immediately we fell back into our joking and laughing banter, so immersed in the conversation that I almost got vegetables by mistake. Some of the student body was pointing and whispering at us, probably wondering if this meant the drama was over. Me and Danny both knew it wasn't though. It was lunch time, however, which meant no depressing subjects were allowed. My best friend led the way outside, stopping at the top of the steps and looking around the sea of laughing, eating teenagers.
Again, I noticed a few students whispering and pointing at me and Danny. I had the feeling they were talking about the fight in Lancer's though. Some of the kids were the ones from the English class itself. Jeez, didn't high schoolers have anything better to talk about. Danny was expertly aloof to all the gossip though, still searching for someone.
"Who ya' looking for?"
He found her the moment I asked, a pleased smile stealing his features.
"Valarie." he replied, and I scrambled to follow after him.
He sat with her yesterday, something both me and Sam were quick to notice. She'd looked away in an attempt to pull of the I-don't-care thing, but I know she did. Personally, I'd just been glad that he wasn't sitting alone anymore. Now, however, I didn't know what to think.
"Oh." was all I said, but I don't think he heard me.
"Hey Val." he smiled, sitting across from her. I sat next to him.
Valarie cast me a suspicious glance, looking between me and Danny and then looking for Sam. She decided not to pry though (thank god) and looked at Danny with a smile.
"Hi Danny. What's up?"
"Nothing much. You?"
"Eh. Had a test in math today, but it was easy. ...Hi Tucker."
I choked on the meatloaf I was attempting to swallow whole, giving Danny a muted thanks when he thumped me hard on the back.
"Hi Valarie." I coughed.
"How are you?"
"Dying." I gasped, still trying to dislodge a bit of meat from my esophagus.
"Yeah, the meatloaf usually isn't very safe to eat." She winced, looking in disgust at my tray.
"Aw, it's no problem for me," I waved a hand, "I can eat anything."
"No kidding." Danny muttered.
Valarie smiled weakly, glancing between us again. It was obvious she was dying to talk about Lancer's. She pushed some of the food around on her try, picking out the edible parts. I shouldn't have been as surprised as I was when she finally brought it up.
"So how about that news broadcast in Lancers today?"
We froze for barely a second, but I think Valarie noticed it. Damn, she was more perceptive than Sam...
"Uh...yeah, how about." I winced, quickly stuffing my mouth full of food.
"You guys think Vlad Master's will make a good mayor?"
Danny shrugged, making a noncommittal noise and staring at his tray.
"Do you?" he asked.
"I think so." she replied confidently, "He's a good man. He helped me out when my father lost his job."
There were so many things wrong with that sentence that I didn't even want to think about it. Danny just nodded quietly, knowing to keep his mouth shut.
"Sam doesn't seem like him." she began, gauging our reactions.
Danny stiffened, probably wondering if now was when she would start asking questions about the fight. I was wondering the same thing.
"She, uh...has some personal issues with him." I supplied, glancing at Danny to make sure he was okay with my explanation. He nodded in silent agreement.
"Oh..." Valarie fell silent. "Is...is that why...well...never mind, it's not really my business."
"Yeah, it's part of the reason why we're fighting." Danny answered her unsaid question, a dark expression on his face.
Valarie looked a little awkward, regretting broaching this subject. For a long, thick silence, no one said much of anything. It didn't help that Sam was sitting alone under a tree not fifteen feet from our table. I coughed, trying to dispel some of the tension. At least she wasn't asking about why me and Danny were talking again.
"Well, I guess we'll see the outcome of the election at the end of the month." Valarie said quickly, a smile on her face that clearly displayed her desire to put the conversation behind us, "How about these ghosts? Haven't been too many flying around lately, huh?"
Ignoring how lame that subject change was, her words were an understatement. The last time Danny fought a ghost must have been three days ago (at least as far as I know for sure), and even then I could see from the news feed that it was just a low level ghoul. Are the ghosts still staying out of Amity Park on Vlad's orders? How much power does that guy have over ghost zone anyways? The thought was kinda scary, to be honest.
"Yeah, my parents have been really freaked by it. They say it's because of some planetary shaping thing," Danny rolled his eyes, "But even I can tell that's a long shot for them. They have no idea why the ghosts are acting this way."
"When was the last time you saw one?" she asked, a blazing look starting to fire up in her eyes.
"About three days ago." He shrugged, scooping up something mushy and orange.
"I wouldn't eat that." I muttered. He carefully placed it back on the tray.
"What did it look like?"
"Are you sure it wasn't Phantom?"
"...Yeah. I'm pretty sure."
Valarie fell silent, thinking hard about something. Three guesses as to what it was.
"You still hunting him?" Danny asked. I was the only one who caught him wince.
"Of course. He's dangerous." she waved a hand, still lost in thought.
Danny glanced over at me, his exasperated expression easy to decipher. He just shook his head, returning to his food in resignation.
"Hey," I nudged him, talking so only he could hear me. Valarie was in her own little world anyways. "Is it cause of Vlad?"
"I guess," Danny shrugged. "He never told me he changed his orders in the ghost zone, so I guess the ghosts are still staying clear."
"Damn," I breathed, "I can't believe he has that much sway in the ghost zone."
"A little intimidating, huh?" He smirked wryly.
"Yeah, no kidding."
The rest of lunch passed on a light note. Danny smiled the entire time, me and him enjoying numerous inside jokes as Valarie started a tirade about ghosts. Luckily Danny never noticed it, but I caught Sam glaring at us once or twice from her lonely tree. I was a cold reminder that things weren't back to normal, no matter how much I wanted them to be. Still, all I could do was manage with what I had, which was a lot in my opinion. Danny is my best friend, and he always will be. Even if everything else around us changes, that simple fact never will.