Days had passed since the Phantom showdown and since then, Sammy had been discharged from the hospital, hearing fully restored though her body was still a bit sore. The gym and school had been corrected, security reinforced. She was even going back to her dance practices, fellow dancers thinking she had just been in a car accident. Everything was back to normal.
Well. Mostly back to normal.
There were the dreams. The ones where Phantom stepped out of every shadow, forcing her to fight, draining her of her strength. He made her fight and fight until every ounce of strength was his again. Taking back the ability that was rightfully his. Then she would wake up scared, terrified that she would wake up to a silent world. More often than not she would catch herself calling for Lash, but she fought the urge to call for him from her window or send a text message. Better to try to deal with it on her own, she didn't want to burden him with her night terrors. So she buried her face in her pillow to smother her own voice, keeping her phone out of reach.
Lash was different as well, if just a bit. He refused to let Sammy out of his sight with the exception of a few moments or classes. He became jittery when she wasn't around, distracted. It was absolutely eating away at him that he couldn't protect his Sidekick. Sure, they still bantered and laughed and had a great time picking on each other and flirting. But if there was a long enough lull or if a particular nerve was struck, he would flashback to the fight and pull Sammy to his side, to be sure that she was physical and protected. He couldn't help it. It was becoming compulsive.
Speed was a constant presence now since Warren Peace had arranged for Amelia Watson to become his Sidekick. Which was fine by all the seniors as Lash and Speed work well together and it was hardly an adjustment on Sammy's part. She liked working with him, he helped her with the combat training while Lash allowed her to practice long distance. Even with the training and the constant presence of people, Sammy would still feel those eyes on her and every now and again, jump and her breath would hitch. Yet there was no one to be seen, even with her eyes.
"Hey, what're you doing tonight?" Lash asked Sam.
They were currently laying out in the courtyard during their break, the three man team, The Triad. A name some Sidekick had dubbed them and since, it stuck. They were the only three man team and the teachers even used the term. They didn't mind, and it was interesting to work as a team rather than a pair. Speed was sitting against the trunk of the tree while Lash was laying out on his back and Sammy made herself comfortable, head resting on his torso as she read her book. It was nice and sunny outside, perfect for lying about and avoiding homework. Actually, Sammy was reading up on their lesson, Speed messing with his ipod while Lash was trying to catch a nap.
"I've got practice," she told him, turning the page. He groaned childishly, arms flopping out to the sides.
"You always have practice!" he whined. She gave a short laugh at his antics while Speed gave a short roll of his eyes before closing them again, hoping to get some z's himself.
"Well, the recital's coming up, so of course I have practice," she reasoned. "And Lauren wants to go dress shopping afterwards."
"Dress shopping?" he quirked a brow. "Lame."
Now she rolled her eyes. "Prom dress shopping. Totally different and not lame." Her head lifted with his exaggerated breath as she was resting against his chest and she smiled at his attitude, amused.
"Is prom really that soon?" asked Lash, brow furrowing. "I thought we still had another month?" Samantha closed her book and set it to the side, blue eyes closing. They still had a bit of time until their next class.
"Nope. Next weekend," she answered. "But we've been busy with the recital we haven't had a proper chance to go shopping yet."
"What? A couple of girls who didn't get their dress three years before the dance? I'm shocked, seriously," snarked the Hero. Huffing, Sam tried to whack him on the shoulder but he simply caught her hand, opting to hold it instead.
They had quiet moments like this too. When they would just stay still, connected to each other somehow. Sometimes they would doze off to sleep and other times they would just allow the moment to play out peacefully. Usually it was ended with a joke or a particularly good reason to fuss in good humor. They had their first "quiet moment" when Lash had insisted on following her to practice one day. He had pestered her all day about watching her dance and she had finally caved and agreed for him to come sit in one of the back rows of the theater.
Lash had to give her credit. His Sidekick knew how to dance. At first he wasn't overly impress with all of the younger kids dancing and performing their routines. Yes, it was slightly adorable when they didn't know what on earth they were supposed to be doing, and yes, it was funny to see Sammy in her tights helping out the kids who were so short next to her. Hearing the kids call her "Miss Sam" made him snort and watching the guys prance in tights and slippers just about had him in silent stitches. It was when Sammy started her scene, the finale as he learned, when he seriously paid attention.
It was just her on the stage, center spotlight following her as she moved across the floor. The live music traveled well, reaching his back row without difficulty and she stepped to every beat. Like each time she took a step, she pressed an instrument's key. It was very interesting to watch. The music was dramatic and increased in the dynamics as she moved, leaping high into the air. Suddenly, there was an upset in the music and Sammy turned to look at the back corner, opposite to her.
Warren Peace stepped onto the stage and Lash tensed. He was dressed entirely in black, not that he was surprised, and he approached Sammy confidently, her own steps well trained as she moved to him, attracted like a magnet's pull. The fire wielder quickly became coupled with the ghost girl, their movements mirroring each other. Lash's gaze turned into a glare the longer he watched them dance together. Peace, with all his dark and brooding intent that made him such a desirable character to the girls, while Sammy was light and happiness personified. They worked well together and that just ticked him off even further, fuming in his solitary back row. He didn't like Peace dancing with his Sidekick, his girlfriend. He didn't like how close they were. He didn't like how good they looked in their roles. He especially didn't like how Peace could kiss her if he ever so wished.
Sure, Peace had his new Sidekick, that Amelia Watson chick, and yeah, Sammy was his girlfriend. There was no reason for them to kiss. They were just doing their job and the girls were lucky that Warren agreed to help them out. Lash folded his arms as he slouched in his squeaky chair, bitter about their close proximity. They were just practicing a routine, but it sure as hell didn't mean he had to like it.
Afterwards, Sammy hurried to pull on her jeans and meet him back at his lonely row, breathless and cheeks glowing from the practice, dance bag loose in her grip. She apologized for taking so long, blonde hair mussed and coming free from her ponytail as she smiled up at him. The jealousy from before was completely washed away as he took her hand and led them outside so to start walking home, bag tossed across her body now.
Their conversation was short, focusing on his opinion of the recital and Sammy promising that it would be so much better with uninterrupted music and costumes. Lash laughed and said that the best part was the Warren-badass-Peace jumping about in tights and that he would never forget the moment as long as he lived. Shortly after, Lash noticed that Sammy's footsteps were dragging, slow, which was odd since Sammy was usually an exceptional walker and always kept pace with him. Glancing over, he saw her dazed expression, like she was trying to figure out how to sleep and walk without sidestepping into traffic.
So, without formal warning, Lash scooped up the girl into his arms, which made her gasp in surprise. She protested at first, but he was determined and could overpower her if she tried to get down. It didn't take long for her to accept her fate and she wrapped her arms around his neck, head lowered.
"Hey Sammy," he started after the first block of silence. It was nice. To be able to be with each other and not say anything.
"Mm?" she managed.
"I'd like to learn your dance." She didn't fidget as much as he expected her too at the question. She must be really close to sleeping.
"Yeah. I mean, no way am I wearing tights or anything," he defended. "But yeah. I'd like to learn to dance with you."
"M'kay..." Then they resumed their content little piece of quiet, walking on.
Lash felt perfectly at ease. He was laying out in the courtyard with the sun pleasantly warm against his skin. His best friend was now on his Hero team, and his Sidekick was now his girlfriend. They worked together seamlessly. Phantom was nowhere to be found. Graduation was nearing. Prom was coming up. He wove his fingers with Sammy's, enjoying how they fit together as the hero triad sat together under the tree, content.
Lauren and Sammy dashed throughout the mall, arms linked so not to be separated as they giggled with their enthusiasm. They managed to sidestep those who threatened their woven grip and Lauren pulled them into the first store that promoted prom dress, as was the season.
"Hurry!" she encouraged. "Just grab your size and get to a dressing room!"
"Right!" nodded Sammy. They split up and scoured the store for their designated sizes. They had just finished with practice for the day and high tailed it to the mall before it closed. Fortunately it was Friday and they had a couple of hours to work with. Prom was closing in and neither girl had purchased a dress for the senior occasion, both having been too busy with rehearsal and school. The deadline was near and the stores were running out of product, the people who had the motive to get their dresses well before prom weekend. They honestly should have thought about shopping at least a week ago, comfortably two weeks to be absolutely certain, but alas, there they were, shopping hurriedly with prom for both schools taking place the following weekend.
Lauren pushed through the racks of dress, shoving tacky material aside in hope of finding a decent style or at least a complimentary color. So far she had at least three draped over her arm and she huffed, unsatisfied with that particular section of dresses. Looking up, she spotted a tall boy in stripes following his mother, looking less than thrilled. It took her a moment but the light bulb came on in her head. She grinned and gave a big wave to catch his attention.
"Hey! Jason!" she called. He turned and stared at her for a moment, giving a wave, her name escaping him.
"Hey...Sammy's friend...?" he greeted. His mother gave a humored huff and swat him on the arm for his memory. She laughed and made her way over.
"It's Lauren," she refreshed. "So what're you up to?"
"Prom shopping," he grumbled. Because he mentioned to his mother that Sammy was talking about it, which in turn reminded her that her own son was ill prepared as well. Wonderful. He hated clothing shopping.
"It's about near impossible to get him fitted for a tux since he's so tall," explained his mother. "We were supposed to take care of it last week, but someone decided to earn himself a detention and we missed our appointment," she chided. Lash huffed. The freshmen mouthed off to him and he and Speed took the liberty of locking him in the janitor's closet. They would've left him there too if Sammy hadn't caught them and made them unlock the door. Spoil sport.
"Well that sounds fun," chatted Lauren. "Sammy and I are here too, trying to find a dress!"
"Sam's here too? That's perfect then!" chirped Mrs. Livingston. "Once we're done with the fitting you can go figure out what color she's decided on."
"Or how about, no fitting and I go figure out the color?" suggested Lash innocently. "That seems like a very busy, fully focused job to me." His mother smiled sweetly before tugging him along, making Lauren laugh and give a wave before she skipped off to the changing rooms. They had to be quick if they wanted to get everything done today.
"And no scaring the seamstress by getting taller every time she tries to take your measurements, young man."
Lash snorted at his own cleverness.
REVIEW! Yes, it's a little short. Yes, it's been a long while since my last update, I know and I do feel bad. But hey! Here's an update plus I made a little banner/book cover thing for this story, so now that's chilling at the top of the page!
So I do hope to hear from you lovely reviewers even though this is kind of a filler/fluffy chapter, just to get me back in the game and to act as recovery since the Phantom attack. The semester for Sammy and Lash's senior year is starting to wrap up! So excited!