Please condider this one-shot an apology for my long absence. I...have no excuses.

But I do have a proposition for you.

IF I don't have all of my unfinished stories updated by August 4th, 2012 (my birthday), I will do whatever you, my infinitely patient readers, want me to do.

PM me with what you want me to do. Hopefully, I'll have my crap together by then.

But no promises.

I don't own anything you recognize in this story. And again, I am SO SORRY for my long absence...)':

BUT HEY, at least I'm back (:


July 28, 2012

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.


Breathe in.


Breathe out.

"Oh God...no, no!"

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

"Stop the bleeding, he'll lose his arm if we're not careful!"

Breathe in.

"Omigod, he's barely breathing..."

"Sam, you falling apart won't do him any good!"

Breathe out.

Breathe in. Flex fingers.

"He squeezed my hand! Danny, can you hear me?"

Breathe out. Leg's twitching. Can't open eyes. Pain, unbelievable pain.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

"I've almost got it...Jesus, he's coming back again! Sam!"

Breathe in.


Breathe out.

"I've got this." She sounds pissed.

Breathe in.

You were fighting Skulker. But now, you're not. Now, you're on the ground. You're bleeding. Badly, it sounds like.

Breathe out.

"Sam, no!"


Breathe in.


Breathe out.

Skulker. Sam. Skulker and...no...NO.

Dark. You can't see. But you can feel, oh God, you can feel. You feel the blood on your face and the pain in your arm and the bones protruding from your skin and God it hurts. You can feel the effort it takes to expand your lungs, like a fifty-ton weight is crushing down on you. But mostly you feel panic at the realization that Sam is fighting Skulker.


Breathe in.

Sit up.

Fight Tucker off.

Breathe out.

Force eyes open.

Don't look at the arm. Run forward blindly.

There. You spot her darting through the trees, running for her life while Skulker is bearing down on her, nipping at her heels, and suddenly the pain becomes irrelevent. Because she's your angel, your saving grace, and you would rather die than watch anyone hurt her.

So you do what a proper hero should do. You lunge forward and plant a solid punch right between Skulker's eyes. He flew into it, which makes it that much more enjoyable for you to watch him crumple to the ground in a useless heap of scrap metal. Sam's pale and sweating and crying and clinging to your good arm and begging you to lie down, but you have to be sure, you have to be absolutely positive that she's okay. That she's safe. Because the value of her safety far outweighs the value of your well-being.

You're almost satisfied, until you spot it. Her lower lip is split. Blood is just starting to ooze down her chin and her eyes are shining, not from concern for you, but in pain, you're sure of it. You splutter and stagger into a tree and tell her she needs to go to the hospital and get stitches before a curious darkness swallows you whole.

You float there for a while. You're not sure how long, it could be a few minutes, it could be a few weeks. But when you start to surface, it feels as if it has been a thousand years. Your body is sore and stiff and you feel as if you have been mummified for all the layers of gauze binding your limbs. You try to groan but the effort it takes just to split your dry, cracked lips apart very nearly drains your severely depleted energy source. So you lay very still and stare at the inside of your eyelids, half-focused on the quiet noises around you, half-enjoying the swell of virtigo in the back of your head.

Wherever you are, it's quiet. Mostly. You hear the quiet whirs of a machine. Someone rustles a few papers. A quiet cough sounds like a cannon being fired. You lay there, comatose, feeling slow and sluggish as your brain adjusts to being awake again.

Unfamiliar smells assault your nose. Something clean, obnoxiously so, like bleach. Lotion. Rubbing alcohol. All unpleasent to you on their own, almost suffocating when mixed together. You're on the verge of vomitting until a faint waft of something very familiar nearly jolts you out of your half-sleep.

Something warm, like vanilla, but floral. Lilies, you think. Sam's there in the room, or else she has just been there.

Suddenly you're desperate to wake up. You need to see her. Or hear her. You need to know that she is okay, that she has been well cared for while you have been absent.

And then you catch the familiar musky scent of Tucker. And like the true best friend he is, he senses your desire to confirm Sam's well-being.

"Your mom still on her tirade?" He's to your right, fairly close by the sounds of it. You can picture him leaning sullenly in a wooden chair, glaring at the walls of the hospital you're surely in.

"Yeah," She's to your left and she sounds tired. Her voice is low and rough. "I can't deal with her anymore." Her voice cracks and your heart screams in your chest. Every muscle burns with the desire to hug her, to hold her. Inwardly you laugh because you know she would choke at the possessiveness you feel for her, but truly, you don't care. You need her more in that moment than you've ever needed anyone else in your entire life thusfar.

Tucker is speaking, but you find it difficult to focus on his words. You're busy trying to find your voice, but your throat is even more dry than your lips. Suddenly a word jumps out at you and all of your energy turns to focusing on Sam and Tucker's conversation.

" - lucky we didn't die, it could have been a whole lot worse," Tucker was saying.

"We would have been fine if it weren't for me crashing the stupid car," Sam sounded upset. "We almost had her..."

"Considering it was one of the first ghost fights we've ever handled without Danny around, it went pretty well. You know, except for the whole broken nose thing." Your heart freezes in your chest. Sam broke her nose?

But she chuckles. "It makes you look so debonaire..." She teases half-heartedly, and you want to cry out in relief. Tucker has broken his nose. Not Sam. Somewhere behind the virtigo, you feel and twinge of guilt at not being more concerned for Tucker, but at the moment you just don't care. Sam's alive and safe and that's really all that matters.

"How much longer do you think he's gonna be out?" Sam's voice is different now, full of some emotion that sounds vaguely familiar, but completely foreign at the same time. Your heart does sommersaults in your chest when you feel something small and warm snaking through your left fingers.

"Nurse said it should be any day now. I hope she's right," You hear creaking wood as Tucker readjusts himself into a more comfortable position in his seat. "We can't keep up with these ghost attacks by ourselves much longer. One of us is gonna get seriously hurt one day."

"With Jazz around, I seriously doubt that," You sense her thankfullness for your sister behind the scoffing tone of her voice. Desperation seizes you. You push against the dead weight holding you down with everything you've got. Sam and Tucker's voices drift into the haze as you fight against the darkness. Your surroundings are changing, the blackness that had enveloped you now shifting and forming darkened shapes and blurry colors. You blink as those shapes and colors slowly drift into focus.

You're lying on a hospital bed in a windowless hospital room. Your head is turned to the left so that the first thing you see is Sam, but she's not looking at you. Her face is turned down, she's absorbed in her laptop, and in the unnatural glow of the screen of her laptop you can tell she's taken a beating, figuratively and literally. Her skin is pale and her hair has lost its' usual luster. Dark circles cling to her face and hang beneath her eyes; a dark purple bruise skirts around the outside of her right eye. You realize with horror that the bruise vaguely resembles the shape of a fist. The place where her lip had split had long-since scabbed over, but you spot a fairly deep gash that streaked from just beneath her left earlobe across her jaw to under her chin. You wince and shift your legs restlessly as a wave of anger washes over you. Someone hurt her.

She feels your movement and looks up. She looks directly into your eyes and stares without seeing. You smile a bit hesitantly at her.

"Ohmygod!" She gasps when she realizes what she is seeing. You chuckle noiselessly as she scrambles to put her laptop on the ground beside your bed and lunges forward to seize your hand. "Tucker!"

"I see, I see!" He says excitedly. You turn your head slowly, reluctant to look away from Sam, but you smile when you spot the goofy grin on Tucker's face. He looks terrible, far worse than Sam. His nose is bandadged and both of his eyes are bruised, and several cuts populate the skin of his face and neck. You try to reach out to grasp his hand, but your arm is pinned to your side.

"Danny, man, we've been so worried about you!" Tucker says, and you can tell he means it. The pressure around your left hand tightens and you turn back toward Sam.

She's looking at you and her eyes are big and shining and you know, now, that it isn't in pain or frustration or fear. It's that same emotion you feel when you attempt to imagine what would happen to you should something take her away from you. It's a desperate, gnawing terror of life without her, only now you see it in her. Suddenly everything else in the room disappears and it's just you and her. You are only infintessimally aware of Tucker extracting his PDA and turning the camera function on you and Sam. The epiphany that she feels the same way about you that you feel about her has knocked you senseless. But you see the other side of it in her eyes, too. The fear of rejection.

You rack your brain quickly to find some word that would expell that fear. Pain shoots through your temple and for a moment you nearly slip back into that dark place again, but you fight it. You have to. She needs to know.

"Did you get those stitches?" Your voice is strange, several octaves deeper than normal and scratchy, as if someone had spent a few hours rubbing sandpaper against your vocal chords.

Her eyes sparkle with tears. "I...I don't...even...you..." She splutters, but she's laughing a little, and you know that she knows. You chuckle hoarsely again and squeeze her fingers. Emotions swell in your chest and make it hard to breathe, but it's okay. You don't mind. Dozens of emotions are flickering in her eyes and she looks as if she has a thousand things to say but you know that she has no idea where to even start, because you're in that same position. So you settle for your usual question.

"You okay?"

She nods, apparently unable to form words. Conflict forms in her eyes, but passes quickly. With a single glance at Tucker that looks suspiciously similar to a smirk, she leans forward, coming out of her chair a little, and kisses you. Right on the lips.

All the turmoil in your body quiets at her touch. You close your eyes and allow yourself to get lost in her kiss because you know that no one else on the planet could ever even come close to making you feel this way. Nobody holds a candle to your Sam. You lift your left hand and brush your fingers along her flat belly before you find the dip of her waist. Her fingers are ghosting along your face, a featherlight touch across your cheek that dances down your neck.

It's over far too soon. You open your eyes slowly, reluctantly, almost sullenly. Sam's watching you and you're struck by how timid she looks. Perhaps she only appears that way because of the bruise on her face, but you're almost positive you spot hesitance in her eyes. As if she is unsure of what she just did. So you do the natural thing.

You take her hand, which she had braced on the matress beneath you for support, and run your thumb across her knuckles in soft, gentle strokes. You carefully note that two of her knuckles are split. You'll ask her about that later, because it doesn't matter right now.

All that matters is that you're alive and she's alive and you have each other. You're so wrapped up in the adoration you harbor for her that you nearly miss the ding! from Tucker's PDA.

Sam, however, is far more aware. Her eyes snap up and harden instantly. Her mouth is open and pulled into a snarl, and you can physically see the insults she is about to hurl at Tucker rushing to the surface.

"Too late!" Tucker cackles. "It's already on Facebook. And YouTube. You're welcome."

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

So that was Breathe.

Randomly came to me while I was at work today, specifically while I was brainstorming for my book. Meh.

I can't resist Danny. *sigh*

I won't ask you guys to review...I don't deserve them after ditching you guys for so long.


I love you guys, though. Lots and lots (:

And it's really good to be back.

- Tori