Disclaimer: I don't own Danny Phantom. Rawr.
Just a little drabble-eque-thingamobobber. No fluff or humor, sorry :( I just had to get this out of my system though.
After they graduated from Casper High, Danny lost track of Valerie for a few years. Then one day, he was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from her, inviting him out to lunch. He accepted, and found himself with an old friend, laughing and reminiscing about their high-school days. Somehow, the topic morphed around the A-listers: Dash, Kwon, Paulina, Star…
"You know why Dash hated you?" said Valerie, twirling at her salad.
"Um, because I was a loser?" Danny chuckled.
"No, because he was jealous of you."
"Really? Dash? The football and basketball captain, jealous of me?"
"He wasn't jealous of your status in high-school, he was jealous of you. He was jealous of the friendship you had with Tucker and Sam, and how you could be yourself with them. He was jealous that you never cared what other people thought of you."
"Huh. Well, I did go through a phase during freshman year when I wanted so badly to be popular."
"But in the end you gave that up."
"Yeah, I realized the true meaning of friendship, and felt like a jerk abandoning Tucker and Sam to go to one of Dash's parties…"
"See, that's the thing. Dash never knew what true friendship was." Valerie paused and starting rolling a cherry tomato back and forth on her plate with her fork. "He was always popular, but being in the A-list didn't necessarily mean they were all friends. It was a ridiculous group composed of fake people more concerned about their outer—rather than inner—image. Dash never had what you had with Tucker and Sam."
"That's really what it was like to be…popular?"
"Sadly, sometimes, yes. I was one of them at first, so I should know. It was all about image. But at the end of the day when something terrible happens, you have no one to lean on. Just because they let you sit with them at lunch and talk with you, doesn't mean they'll be there for you when things go downhill. Everything was about outward image, and if anything was in danger of tainting their perfect reputations, they would ignore it without a moral debate."
"But they seemed to enjoy each other's company all the time…"
"Because they had no one else. Everyone else either hated them, were afraid of them, or couldn't be bothered to stick around to learn more about them."
Danny leaned back and thought about her words. "I guess that does make sense… So what about Paulina? Was she jealous of…Sam, or something?"
Valerie laughed. "Nah," she replied, "Paulina was just truly narcissistic in nature, and really thought no one could be as flawless as her. She really did look down upon people with a one-dimensional reason." She paused, and then added, "But you know who was jealous of Sam…"
Danny grinned. This was just too interesting. "And who would that be?"
Danny merely gawked at the girl sitting across from him. "You? Really?"
Valerie shrugged and looked away, slightly embarrassed. "Well, I did like you…a lot. And well, I envied the closeness she had with you—has—with you," she corrected herself, "And even when we dated briefly that one time freshman year, in the back of my mind I always knew Sam would be the girl you would go home to at the end of the day." She looked back at Danny. "If you know what I mean…What she possessed was what I had always dreamed of having…"
"No, not what you're thinking!"
"How do you know what I was thinking?"
Valerie simply smiled and pointed her fork at Danny. "That. I was jealous of that."
Danny stared at her fork, confused. "You were jealous of…my chest…?"
Valerie snorted and continued, "No! I was jealous of how she could always tell what you were thinking, and how she could finish your sentences for you, because you two were such close friends."
"And I guess I was just a tiny bit jealous of the fact that she became your girlfriend, and not me." Valerie gave Danny a small lighthearted smile.
Danny chuckled. "And so are a lot of other girls in this world, apparently…" He looked away for a second, thinking, and then wondered out loud, "What would have made Dash stop…hating me in high school then?"
Valerie shrugged. "I think…if you had become friends with him."
"Easier said than done!"
"Yeah but…I think he just wanted to be understood for who he was, and not what he was." Valerie paused and started spinning the tomato in circles with her fork. "Humans are social creatures—we crave company and can't thrive without it. But humans are also loving creatures, and we also crave the bond that exists between families and true friendships. Without it, we fall apart, and people become angry and depressed, which turns slowly into all the hate we see today."
Danny nodded slowly. "That's um, wow, that was deep."
Valerie laughed. "Sorry. Psychology major. Can't help but babble sometimes."
"So," Danny leaned back into his chair, smiling, "I guess the lesson learned today is that popularity really isn't what it's cracked out to be?"
"Yup," agreed Valerie, "It's so much better just to be yourself."
"By the way, you've been playing with that tomato for the past ten minutes, are you ever going to eat it?"
Avoid popularity if you would have peace. – Abraham Lincoln
Popularity—a fool's gold.