So this is the prequel to Darkness. It tells the story of the night Danny and Sam were almost killed by Vortex that I've been mentioning/half-describing in Darkness. It is a mere reference point for that story, the later chapters specifically.
If you haven't read Darkness yet, this story technically makes sense. But it makes even more sense if you've already read Darkness. Just sayin'.
What? No, I'm not advertising my other story.
...just shut up. No one asked you, anyways.
Last time I checked, I didn't own Danny Phantom. Hang on, lemme check again...nope. I still don't own Danny Phantom.
Hmmm...I think that's it. (:
Darlin', Everything's On Fire
January 3, 2012
"Danny!" Jazz shouted indignantly. The siblings were settled in their kitchen, homework spread all over the table. It was nearing 5 o'clock on a peaceful Sunday evening; the first peaceful Sunday evening Danny had enjoyed in a long while. The first peaceful evening in general Danny had enjoyed in a long while.
"What?" He said defensively.
"You just spilled your juice all over my psychology paper analyzing the physical and psychological effects of sunlight versus artificial light on human beings!" She seized the mass of soggy papers and shook them, trying to rid the juice that was now dripping from the corners of the pages. "I worked all day on that!"
"It would take me all day just to repeat whatever you just said," Danny said lazily, looking back at his algebra book. "I swear I'm reading German right now," He added as an afterthought.
"Oh, please. What are you working on? Slope-intercept?" Jazz asked sarcastically, still trying to beat the juice out of her papers. Danny gritted his teeth, feeling his cobalt eyes flare to neon green for a moment.
"So what if I am?"
"Why don't you come over here and make me?"
"Hope your teacher likes grape juice,"
"I hate you!"
"Kids! Keep it down in there, will you? Your father and I are working on a new ghost tracker that uses the sounds ghosts are known to make to pinpoint their exact coordinates!"
"I hope it picks up on you," Jazz hissed.
Danny glared at her. Just as he opened his mouth to retort, a piercing siren drove them both to cover their ears.
"What is that?" Jazz cried, all anger toward her brother evaporated.
"I don't know!" Danny answered. He looked up, his hands still clamped over his ears. His parents appeared at the bottom of the stairs, heavily armed with anti-ghost weapons.
"Ghost attack! We need to get to the bunker, now!" Maddie shouted. In an instant, they were on their feet, sprinting for the door. Danny was the first one out; he jumped down the stairs and leapt backwards, flattening himself against the brick walls of his house to avoid being run over by hysterical people pouring out of their respective homes and sprinting up and down his street. His parents were at his side in an instant, Jazz on their heels.
Guess I'm not gonna be goin' ghost tonight, he thought wryly as his parents each seized his arms and hustled him down the street.
The Ghost Bunker was a huge fortress, whose walls were ectoplasm at the core, reinforced by three feet of pure iron, which was in turn reinforced by another three feet of concrete. It was utterly impenitrable. The entrance, which jutted out of the ground near the center of town, was currently overflowing with people trying to cram inside. That whole drill thing was a complete waste of time, just like Sam said it was going to be.
The Fentons shoved their way inside. The whole bunker was big enough to fit their entire town; rows upon rows of cots had been set up, each with a pillow and a blanket. Emergency rations had been stored in the event of a prolonged ghost attack. His parents, who had designed and overseen the entire process of creating this building, had thought of everything.
The four ran to an empty section of the bunker and claimed four beds - two across from each other, two beside each other. "Stay here, we'll be back!" Maddie shouted. And then they were gone, vanished into the steady stream of people.
"They'll be back in time," Jazz said uncertainly.
Danny didn't respond. His mind and heart were racing. He watched the crowd of people for signs of Tucker or Sam. Finally, he spotted a red beret bobbing around in the crowd; when the people parted, Danny made eye-contact with Tucker. Tucker lifted his hand in a salute, a sign that he was okay, before following his parents further along the row he was on. One down, one to go, Danny thought.
People continued pouring in, though the flow had lightened considerably. As each minute passed, Danny grew more and more uneasy. He still hadn't seen Sam or her parents.
"Where is she?" He muttered to himself.
"I'm sure she's here somewhere. Maybe she was already in here before we got here. Relax," Jazz said soothingly. But Danny wasn't listening to her; he had spotted the shining, immaculate hairstyles that belonged to no one other than the Mansons. Only, Sam wasn't with them.
Something stirred in his chest. A primal beast, bound and determined to protect Sam. A beast whose soul reason for existance was protecting Sam. It growled and clawed painfully at the inside of his chest, urging him forward.
"I have to go find her," He muttered, not caring if Jazz heard him or not. Before she had a chance to argue, he was on his feet, sprinting for the door. Hardly anyone was coming in anymore; almost everyone had made it inside already. Danny sprinted out the front doors, down the streets, which were completely empty at that point, and toward the Manson Mansion. Luckily, her house was relatively close-by; he turned his third corner when it slid into view. He saw her through her window; she was sprawled across her bed, the noise-cancellation headphones he himself had bought for her as a birthday present covering her ears, eyes glued to her laptop screen. She must not have heard the sirens.
Danny flashed to Phantom and rocketed through her wall, not bothering to knock to announce himself. He landed on her bed, slamming her laptop closed and ripping her headphones off. "Come on, we have to go!" He screamed over her startled shout.
"What -?" He cut her off by seizing her around her waist and soaring through her wall again. She gasped and clung to his waist. "Danny, what in the world is going on?"
He ignored her. No one's on the streets. That means that everyone's already inside. Which means that the doors are already locked. Sure enough, when he soared around the last corner, the bunker had been sealed. They were trapped outside.
"Danny!" Sam screamed. Her voice was different. Higher. Strained from fear. He whipped around and spotted a giant fireball hurtling toward them. He ducked out of the way just in time and took off in the opposite direction.
"Who is it?" He screamed over the wind to Sam.
"Vortex!" Was her muffled reply.
Fire...he's a fire storm. Everything's gonna burn to the ground...
I have to get her out of here...before... The beast in his chest roared at the possibility of the unthinkable happening to Sam on that very evening. Don't even think about it, he told himself firmly.
Smoke was already filling the air. He heard Sam gasping and coughing, and realized that he was doing the same. They needed to get inside where the air was clean, get out of the line of fire, and sooner rather than later.
Think, Danny! What's fire-proof?
Oh God. There's a reason I'm being tutored in science.
This is not the time for sarcasm. Your life is in danger. Her life is in danger. Serious, deadly danger.
Suddenly, an old house loomed into view. A house whose exterior was composed entirely of concrete.
Concrete is fire-proof...right?
The bunker is made of concrete. It must be...
It's the only hope we've got, he thought desperately. He phased through the walls, stopping when he reached the cluttered basement. He gingerly sat Sam on her feet, placing his hands on her shoulders and holding her at arm's length. He checked over her body, making sure she was unharmed. Her hair was singed and there were black soot marks on her face, but other than that, she appeared to be unharmed.
He nodded. Satisfied.
Well...here goes nothing, he thought. "Stay here!" He turned away from her, bracing himself for what was sure to be one hell of a fight. He was caught off-guard by the feel of her slim fingers closing around his wrist.
"Don't leave me here alone!"
The beast in his chest whined at the sound of her terrified voice. And he knew he couldn't leave her, not ever. Guys in White can handle this one. He turned back to her and dropped to his feet. He took her hand and led her to an empty corner. "Sit," He ordered. She sat. He settled beside her, keeping his grip on her hand firm. Any other situation, he would have been shy and reserved for holding her hand, but this was different. He was different, as was she. They sat like that for a good hour and a half, watching in silence as the glow the fires cast through the small window near the ceiling grew steadily brighter and brighter.
A loud crack! of a tree falling made Sam jump a good foot in the air. She whimpered involuntarily, burying her face in his shoulder. He wound his arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer, feeling a sudden spike in his inner temperature when she nuzzled her face into his chest. It was wrong, so wrong, to be so excited at her closeness in this situation...the scent of her strawberry shampoo washed over him...the beast in his chest purred...
He felt a growing dampness on his shirt, right where her eye was; he realized her shoulders were shaking. "Sam...are you crying?"
"No...shut up," Her voice was muffled, thick with tears.
Sam is crying. She never cries. Especially not in front of other people. The beast in his chest growled. The hairs on the back of Danny's neck stood on end.
"Why are you crying?" He asked softly, running his fingers through her hair in an effort to comfort her. He had seen people do it in movies before; the girl is sad, the boy runs his fingers through her hair, the girl feels better. Simple enough.
"Fire," She said.
"Yeah...are you afraid of fire?"
"Sam...it's okay to be afraid. I understand. I'm gonna protect you, I won't let you get hurt,"
He felt her nod and shift closer to him. She was practically in his lap by then, which he was perfectly fine with. They were silent for a while. Danny continued running his fingers through her hair, facinated by how soft her tresses were. Maybe this whole playing-with-her-hair thing is beneficial to both parties, he thought. Her breathing was slowly evening out. He planted a soft kiss on the top of her head.
"Hey...I'm gonna get up for a minute," Her head whipped up, a hard edge coming into her face. Her arms around his waist tightened. "I'm not leaving, I promise. I'm just going to look out the window for a minute, to see what's going on out there," Her face softened into an apology as she nodded, removing her arms.
When he reached the window, he couldn't help but gasp. Their town had been transformed; nearly everything he saw was on fire. The tree that had fallen earlier narrowly missed crashing into the house. Danny couldn't help but to think that if the tree had hit the side of the house, it would have crashed right through the walls and trapped them beneath an avalanche of rubble. He felt Sam moving to stand beside him and the beast in his chest whined. She couldn't see that. He couldn't let that haunt her nightmares.
He turned to her and held his hand up. "Don't you dare," He whispered. "Everything's on fire,"
Her eyes widened. She leaned back against the wall, her breaths coming in sharp gasps. She's hyperventilating, Danny realized. He reclaimed his spot beside her and held her, resuming the steady stroking of her hair. Hoarse, punishing sobs were breaking through her tough composure. Danny held her tightly, doing everything he could to still her trembling form. He realized he was whispering to her, quietly soothing her while her sobs subsided and her composure was rebuilt.
"It's okay, you'll be alright. The sun's going down now, go to sleep. By the time morning comes, you and I'll be out of here. You'll be safe and sound back at your house." He kept up this string of whispered comforts, lulling her to sleep. He rested his lips against the crown of her head. "I'll never let you go," He whispered into her hair. He caught a stray tear as it slowly rolled down her face with his thumb and wiped it away. It was in that moment, taking in her sweet, sleeping face, that Danny realized something: his school-boy crush on her had grown into a deep, irrevocable love. He wished he could freeze time, live in that moment forever, never having to worry about the possibility of losing her or losing himself or being torn away from her by forces he could not control. He closed his eyes and memorized the way she felt, the perfection with which she fit into his body: like he had been designed specifically for her, and she for him.
They stayed like that all night, wrapped up in each other, almost forgetting the fire outside. But at about six o'clock the next morning, the moment was shattered when Danny was awoken by the sounds of people entering the house upstairs.
"Well that was terrifying," A woman was saying.
"For real. I'm just glad I'm not in the Fenton or Manson families. They were going ballistic, did you see Maddie trying to rip the doors down when they realized their son was missing?" A man said. Danny swallowed hard, hardly daring to imagine the scene these strangers were half-describing.
"Please, that was nothing compared to Pam. I thought she was gonna murder that Foley kid when he tried to help. He's lucky he's got such sharp reflexes, I'm pretty sure her purse has bricks in it. He would've had a concussion for sure,"
"It's gonna be one hell of a search for their bodies. Did you see how bad everything was out there?"
"Where do you think they were when...you know...it happened to them?"
"I don't know. If it were me, I would have just broken down in front of the bunker. I would have died right there."
"That's a horrible vision I've got in my mind right now. Don't ever get locked out."
Danny slid his hand over Sam's mouth and gently shook her awake. She groaned into the palm of his hand, before her eyes opened. Her eyes widened and her fingers scrabbled against the back of his hand as the instincts she had developed over the years of being stalked by ghosts kicked in, before she realized that it was Danny's hand silencing her. He held his index finger over his lips. She nodded.
They stood silently. He could still hear the couple upstairs talking as he took Sam by the waist. He slid into intagibility and flew through the walls of the basement.
The scenery outside of the house was horrific. Everything was charred, burned a deep black. The stench of burning trees nearly suffocated him. He landed in the alley behind the house. Sam stepped away as he flashed to Fenton. He took her hand, nodded encouragingly, and together they stepped into they bright yellow rays of the rising sun, stirring up the ashes that had settled on the ground beneath them as they walked.
People milled about aimlessly in the streets, staring in ghastly disbelief at the utter destruction left in Vortex's wake. Huge potholes dotted the landscape where fireballs had crash-landed. Everything was destroyed.
"This is why I hate fire," Sam whispered. Danny turned to her to find her eyes darting around, taking in the destruction of their little town. "It destroys nature. It kills. Nothing good can come of fire,"
He squeezed her hand with his fingers. She gave him a tight, forced smile. She was still scared, he could see, but she was being brave. His heart skipped a beat. "We have to find our families," He heard himself say. "They think we were killed."
Sam nodded. They took of in the direction of their houses. One of the many blessings of living in a small town was that everyone seemed to live next door to each other: Danny's house was just two streets north of Sam's house, and Tucker, who lived on the other end of town, was only a short ten-minute walk away. Within minutes, they were rounding the corner to Sam's house. It appeared completely empty.
"They must be at your place," Her voice was small. Danny wondered if it was from the fear of the fire or from their parents being in such close contact to each other, but he dismissed the thought quickly. It didn't matter. She was uncomfortable.
"Let's get going, then," He said. His voice was low, soft, gentle. She glanced up at him, and he saw something in her eyes shift. His heart suddenly kicked into overtime. She was looking at him with the same expression he was sure he had the night before when he realized he was in love with her. But before he could be sure, she had nervously licked her lips and looked away.
Sam's guess was correct: they caught sight of their mothers standing in the living room of Danny's house from down the street. They appeared to be arguing. "That can't be good..." Sam murmured, her eyes locked on the back of her mother's head.
Tucker and Jazz were sitting on the steps leading to the Fenton's house. Tucker spotted them first.
"Danny! Sam!" He shouted. Jazz's head whipped up and she cried out in relief when she found them.
"Oh thank God!" She screamed. They leapt from the stairs and careened toward them. Jazz caught Danny around the neck in a bone-crushing hug while Tucker seized Sam around her middle, lifted her feet off the ground, and spun her around. Danny and Sam were forced to let go of each other's hands; Danny could feel their last connection, the last remnant of their night together break. He had to cling to Jazz to keep from stumbling from the shock of actually mourning the loss of that night, like it was an old friend he hadn't seen in years that he just discovered had died a month earlier.
"What happened?" Jazz's sharp demand snapped Danny out of his sudden, gripping depression. He glanced at Sam and saw that she appeared to be shaking something off as well. Maybe she felt it too, he thought hopefully.
They launched into a detailed description of the events that had occurred the night before, all the way up until Sam's break down.
"We landed in a basement, and..." Sam stopped suddenly, avoiding Danny's gaze.
"...and I decided to stay with Sam to make sure that the building would hold up in the fire," Danny said quickly. She glanced up at him, eyes wide in relief. "I stayed all night, I figured the Guys in White would have a handle on things."
"Yeah, took 'em all night to catch Vortex, though," Tucker muttered. "It was torture. We thought you guys would have been killed. Your parents..."
"Let's just say it wasn't pretty," Jazz said. As if on cue, she and Tucker shivered theatrically. "They'll be so happy to see that you guys are okay, though,"
She pranced inside, Tucker in tow, shouting to the adults that Danny and Sam were outside, and that they were okay.
Danny took a step toward her, angling his body to be facing hers. He felt a wave of delight when she mirrored his movements. "You alright?" he asked quickly over the tumult that had just broken out inside the house.
"Fine," Sam whispered back. Her eyes met his. "Safe and sound, just like you said."
He smiled. "Safe and sound."
Her smile faded and her eyes drifted out of focus, shifting to a point in the distance over his shoulder. "Safe and sound..." Her voice was soft, melodic almost. Like she was singing a song. Danny was about to ask what she was thinking about, but before he could, their parents were out the door and on top of them, ripping them apart and buffeting them in opposite directions.
I'll just ask her later, Danny thought.
Ahahahaha...do you see what I did there? XD
Drabble. Pointless drabble. I just had that story in my head as I was writing Darkness and I desperately needed it out of my head so that I could have room for other, more important things.
Like the square root of 144.
I definitely use that.
No sarcasm here. Nope. None.
Well. I hope you enjoyed it.
And if you want to know why Sam was acting all spacey at the end, go read Darkness. Right now. :D
Thanks for reading!