I've been wanting to write this one for a few weeks now, and I'm just getting the time to get my ideas out of my head. Don't worry, I know I'm still working on those other three, but I'm adding this to the list. It's my personal project.

I'm really pleased with how this chapter came out. Not gonna lie. :D I hope you guys like it as much as I do! (:

I don't want to give anything about this one away yet...this is already shaping up to be one of my favorites that I've written so far! All I'm going to say is...if you like music...you'll like this one. Hopefully.

I don't own Danny Phantom or anything else you might recognize ;)

All Around Us

Chapter 1: Vanilla Twilight

December 22, 2011

I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already in me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity to me - like food or water.

- Ray Charles

Samantha Manson was NOT a musician. Animal rights activist, absolutely. Ultra-recyclo vegetarian, incredibly so. Goth, sure. But musician? No. Absolutely not. Not in any world. Not even a little.

...okay, well, maybe a little. Her mother's closet was cluttered with tubs of old instruments, including a chipped ukulele with only one string just barely connected, a rather dinged up rainbow xylophone with one tattered mallet, and an electronic keyboard that had definitely seen better days. Home videos showing Sam at various young ages banging on a grand piano and wailing tunelessly along, followed quickly by enthusiastic applause, joined said instruments. Tattered papers bearing nonsensical lyrics written in five-year-old scrawl littered the bottoms of each tub.

...alright, maybe more than a little.

But that was in the past. Sam was NOT a musician. No way.

She decided to quit her piano lessons (which she had been taking since the age of five) when she was fourteen, and nearly had a stroke when her father had suggested guitar lessons as a replacement. Choir, band, and orchestra made her nauseus, and nothing put her in a worse mood than musicals. I mean, really, who sings about singing in the rain? How about catching a cold in the rain? Or crashing your car in the rain? You don't see normal people with normal brains singing and dancing in the rain merely for the sake of singing and dancing. Honestly. Grow a brain cell.

Now, of course, she was not opposed to listening to music. But only real music, like Evanescence, Avril Lavigne (BEFORE she got popular with that piece of crap song she called Girlfriend) or Linkin Park. Not the crap that they play on the radio, no. That was just bubble gum pop specifically created for morons like Paulina who had no taste or personality.

I'm sure you're wondering why on earth I've gone into such detail describing Sam's loathing of music. Don't worry, it's important. You'll see.

On the morning of September 16th, Sam awoke at 7:04 on the dot. She rolled to one side and swatted blindly at her alarm clock, groaning when the shrill alarm seemed only to grow louder despite her attempts at shutting it up. Once she had successfully turned it off, she rolled out of bed and attempted to rub the sleep out of her eyes before shuffling across her bedroom floor. She pushed the door open and trudged down the hall and down the stairs. She seized her toast from the plate her parents' personal chef had prepared for her, shoved it in her mouth, and trudged back up the stairs with the bread clamped between her teeth. Once she was inside her room again, she shut the door and leaned against it, chewing her toast rather mindlessly.

As the morning progressed, Sam seemed to wake up more. She dressed in her usual drab, fixed her hair her normal way, had her daily argument with her mother regarding her fashion choices, and did her usual make up. All things considered, it was turning out to be a pretty good way to start her day.

At 7:46, Sam was skipping down the stairs, humming quietly to herself. Wait, humming? She hit the bottom of the stairs hard, blinking and shaking her head. No humming. No stupid music.

She grabbed her car keys, shouted her farewells to her parents and the help, and slammed the door behind her. The sun was shining, the air was clean and brisk. It was windows rolled down, convertable top down weather. It was going to be a good day.

Her ride to school was uneventful. A squirrel narrowly escaped with its' life on 5th Street, but luckily Sam saw it before the worst could happen. Dash blasted past her in his huge earth-destroying candy-apple red F150 on Parks Avenue, honking and shouting rude explitives to her out his open window, to which Sam replied with a friendly smile and choicy hand gesture. The Box Ghost swooped down from on high on her Mustang as she turned on Ravensway, shouting for her to "Beware!" before being caught with a scream in the tractor beam of a Fenton Thermos. Sam smiled and waved to the ghost boy on the other end of the Thermos as she drove by, knowing she would see said boy's alter ego in a matter of minutes.

All in all, a normal ride to school.

She pulled into her usual parking spot, between Tucker and Valerie. Valerie's white Ford Explorer was already in its' usual spot, though the owner had already gone inside. Tucker leaned against the hood of his tan Jeep Grand Cherokee, absorbed in his PDA. He looked up when Sam pulled in, squinting at the morning sun reflected from the metal of her recently-washed, coal black Mustang.

"Morning," He yawned when she climbed out.

"Morning." She chuckled, popping her trunk. She closed her door and walked to the open trunk, pulling her backpack out as Tucker followed.

"Is the coast clear?" A familiar whisper called from the other side of Sam's Mustang. Sam and Tucker glanced around the empty parking lot.

"You're good." Tucker called. Danny appeared, grinning goofishly. He brushed a few stray hairs out of his eyes, glancing back and forth between his two best friends.

"Close call there with the Box Ghost," He chuckled, his twinkling cobalt eyes on Sam as she slammed her trunk closed and locked her car. She rolled her eyes.

"I bet he would have a heart attack if anyone was ever actually afraid of him," She muttered, hiking her backpack higher up her shoulder. "When are you ever gonna get a car?"

"Why do I need a car?" Danny asked, sounding slightly exasperated. "You and Tucker both have cars."

"Oh, so we're your personal chauffers now?" Sam asked sarcastically, though she smiled good-naturedly.

"No, I mean y'all have cars to drive in case of an emergency. I can fly. Flying is way faster and way more fun, anyways."

"You don't know what you're missing out on," Tucker sang as they began making their way toward the school.

"Actually, I do," Danny countered. "I'm missing out on spending two hundred and forty bucks a month on gas,"

"That's only if you get a gas guzzler like Tucker's crap-mobile," Sam said.

"Sheila is not a crap-mobile!" Tucker cried indignantly. He glanced over his shoulder at his car, as if ensuring that it had not heard Sam's comment and run away.

"If you get a hybrid, it's way less. Trust me. I drove that Prius for a while, remember? I think I only ever spent like...one-twenty a month on gas, and that was at the most."

"Oh, that makes it better," Danny said sarcastically, rolling his eyes. They were in the school by then, walking toward their homeroom. "I'm not getting a car any time soon, okay?"

"I don't think I've ever known anyone who actually didn't want a car," Sam said as they entered their homeroom. They paused as they shuffled down the rows of desks toward their seats in the back corner of the room. "Really, I don't."

"Well, there's a first for everything," Danny grinned. They were settled by then; Sam lounged in the desk pushed furthest to the corner, Tucker fiddled with his concealed PDA beside her, while Danny turned to face her from the desk in front of hers. He was still turned toward her, grinning like an idiot, when Mr. Lancer walked in.

"Good morning class." He called tonelessly.

"Good morning, Mr. Lancer." The class droned. Danny turned and straightened up.

"Miss Manson, may I speak with you out in the hall for a moment?"

Sam blinked, caught off guard. "Um, sure." She stood and shuffled past Danny, glancing over her shoulder and answering his What does he want? face with an I have no idea... face of her own.

"You're not in trouble." Mr. Lancer said as soon as the door shut behind her. She nodded. "There seems to have been a bit of a discrepincy with your grade on the most recent test we took in English."

"Oh? What kind of discrepincy?" Sam asked nervously.

"You sit beside Paulina Sanchez in class, don't you?" Mr. Lancer asked, casting a curious eye down on the dark-haired girl.


"She copied your test. Answer for answer. At first, I gave you both zeroes, but as I thought about it, I realized that there was no way you would have helped her. I can tell how much you detest the girl." Sam grinned in spite of herself. She always knew there was a reason Lancer was her favorite teacher. "If you want your correct grade, drop by the auditorium after school. We're beginning preperations for the Battle of the Bands today, and as I am in charge this year," He shivered, as if the prospect of organizing fifty whining hormonal musicians was a daunting task for a middle-aged English teacher to take on.

"Sure thing, Mr. Lancer," Sam chuckled. "I'll be by around 3:30."

"I'll see you then."

The rest of Sam's day was exceedingly normal. She snored through calculus, watched an incredibly interesting video in psychology that discussed the effects of manic bi-polar disorder (the woman in the video that protrayed a manic bi-polar strangly resembled Sam's mother), and carefully constructed a scale-sized model of the Sharon Tate crime scene in her forensic science class, complete with fake blood. By the time lunch rolled around, Sam was absolutely starving; she scarfed down her salad and drained her water bottle in ten minutes, a new personal best. She used the rest of her half-hour lunch period studying for her government exam with Danny and Tucker, which would be happening in the period after lunch. Government came and went, and then she was in English, carefully reciting prose from Much Ado About Nothing. Mr. Lancer gave her an approving smile when she finished.

After English, Sam recieved an urgent text from Danny. She skipped economics to help him and Tucker rope in Technus behind the school, and made it back just in time for gym, her last class of the day. After breezing through a mile-long jog, she showered and changed. Her day was over.

Well...almost over. She still needed to swing by the auditorium to pick up her freshly graded test from Mr. Lancer, and then she was free to meet Danny and Tucker at the Nasty Burger for their usual post-school rendez-vous. She took her time walking to the auditorium, not feeling any rush.

The doors to the auditorium were closed, but not locked. She cautiously opened one and stuck her head inside. The debris of sets from plays past littered the stage; it was obvious that no one really cleaned it until it was about time for that years' play. A lone grand piano stood rather lop-sidedly to the left side of the stage, looking as if plenty of sets had come crashing down on it in years past. There did not appear to be anyone in the auditorium.

"Mr. Lancer?" She called, stepping into the auditorium. Her voice echoed against the empty stage, jumping back toward her rather creepily. "I'm here to pick up my test..."

There was no response. Sam stood there for a moment longer, before dropping her bag. She walked slowly toward the stage, her eyes on the piano. For some reason, she felt the urge to play. Maybe it was because there was no one around. Maybe it was because the piano just looked like it desperately needed a loving caress on its' chipped ivory keys. Perhaps it was because the urge to play was always there, buried deep inside her, and she was finally giving in.

Whatever the reason, she was drawn to it. Climbed the steps to the stage slowly, her eyes never leaving the piano. She stopped a few feet away from it, her hand outstretched, itching to touch the keys. She hesitated. She glanced around. There was no one else there.

She crossed the distance between herself and the piano in a few short strides. Before she was really aware of what she was doing, she was settled on the bench, her fingers already stroking the keys. After one more glance around the auditorium, she began to play. Softly, but steadily, she picked the notes of a song she'd heard once. Vanilla Twilight. It had reminded her of Danny.

Her fingers slowed, the music fading. What were the lyrics again? Oh yeah! The music became louder. The stars lean down to kiss you, as I lie awake and miss you. Pour me a heavy dose of atmosphere. 'Cause I'll doze off safe and soundly, but I'll miss your arms around me. I'd send a postcard to you dear, 'cause I wish you were here.

Slowly, the realization that she was singing dawned on her. But she was so wrapped up in the music, she didn't care.

"And I'll watch the night turn light blue,

But it's not the same without you

Because it takes two to whisper quietly.

The silence isn't so bad,

'Til I look at my hands and feel sad

'Cause the spaces between my fingers are right where yours fit perfectly.

I'll find repose in new ways

Though I haven't slept in two days,

'Cause cold nostalgia chills me to the bone.

But drenched in vanilla twilight,

I'll sit on the front porch all night

Waist-deep in thought because when I think of you, I don't feel so alone.

I don't feel so alone.

I don't feel so alone.

As many times as I blink, I'll think of you, tonight.

I'll think of you tonight.

When violet eyes get brighter

And heavy wings grow lighter

I'll taste the sky and feel alive again

And I'll forget the world that I knew

But I swear I won't forget you

Oh if my voice could reach back through the past, I'd whisper in your ear:

Oh darling I wish you were here."

She continued playing for several more moments, before finally tapering off. She grinned from ear to ear in spit of herself, feeling happier than she'd felt in a long time.

That is, until a quiet one-man applause from behind her scared her half to death (no pun intended).

"Bravo, Miss Manson," Mr. Lancer smirked.

I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already in me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity to me - like food or water.

- Ray Charles

For reference, the song Vanilla Twilight is by Owl City. Absolutely brilliant man, he is.

So...what did you guys think? Review, let me know! I'm so curious to see how you guys are gonna like this (:

OH and the title/description is from a movie called August Rush. The description is a quote at the end of the main musical piece at the end of the movie. (:

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned! (:

- Tori