This is the last chapter I'm going to post on this story. I've had a few requests to write a few things in Danny's point of view, which I'm thinking about doing. But it would be in a different story all together.
Okay. My long list of thank-you's. Holy crap.
Team04Phantom - not only have you been reviewing since day one of this fic, you're the one that came up with using Eyes Open as Sam's song. Fantastic work, my friend. Everyone, a round of applause for Team04Phantom!
To everyone else who dropped a review, whether it was just one or one for each chapter, I send you my most sincere thank-you. You guys have no idea how empowering reviews can be to an author. I have to say, seeing you guys get so into this and beg for more is the main reason I was able to update twice in one day for a lot of these chapters.
To those who favorited this fic/me as a writer, thank you for contributing to my swelling ego (I'm completely kidding, guys, come on). Seriously, though, I'm really glad you guys enjoyed this, and I really hope this chapter makes up for all the stress from the earlier chapters.
I think some artwork inspired by this fic might be in the works. I'm not sure. I'll update the cover photo if something like that comes up, but for now, check out that badass picture of Sam with a gun. She'll kill you dead, you know.
To those of you asking questions about the editor or about my personal writing style, I'll probably respond to each of you individually. I don't want to clutter this A/N up too much. Hehe.
Alright. This is it. Chapter 34, AKA Epilogue. My name is not Butch, it's Tori, therefore I do not own Danny Phantom. Sadly.
But hopefully I will own a little somethin-somethin in the next year or so. WE SHALL SEE.
Until then, here lies the final chapter of my longest, epic-est fic yet, They Had Lights Inside Their Eyes.
They Had Lights Inside Their Eyes
September 12, 2012
A raven-haired couple slid into the cab of a truck, slamming the doors shut behind themselves. They were not speaking; the silence between them was icy, in stark contrast to the warm, sunny day surrounding them. The male, sitting in the driver's seat, turned the keys in the ignition and revved the engine. The female shot him a single disparaging look before rolling her eyes and turning her gaze to her window.
Their silence stretched on for one endless minute before the male finally lost his nerve. "I don't understand why you're mad at me." He muttered, keeping his eyes on the road.
The female scoffed. "Yeah, right. You don't know. Psh. Good one."
irritation pulled the corner of his mouth down, but his eyes were dancing. "It wasn't my fault."
"You're the one that wouldn't let me leave." She grumbled, crossing her arms over her chest defiantly. The ghost of an ache throbbed in her shoulder, but she ignored it. It was all but non-existant to her now. "We could have been out of there hours ago, but no, you wanted to stay..."
The corners of his mouth were now twitching as he fought a smile. "I'm not the one that promised your parents you would have lunch with them when they got back in town..." He teased.
Sam whipped her head toward him, eyes blazing. "I did that to get her off the phone." She hissed. "I didn't realize we would be going to a friggin' ball when I said we could do lunch today."
Danny laughed. "It was just a luncheon, but that's beside the point. Really, I should be mad at you, since you're the one that signed me up for it." He teased. Sam opened her mouth to retort, but he cut her off. "Don't even talk to me. I'm so mad at you right now."
"That is...that's so not...I can't...you make no sense!" She spluttered. "One second you never want to leave and the next you're pissed that I even made you go?"
He glanced at her, eyes twinkling in mirth. Sam growled and turned in her seat, staring stonily out of the windshield. Danny poked her side, laughing when she jumped and squeaked. "Aw, you're cute when you're mad." He sang.
"I wonder if I'm cute when I'm murdering a half-ghost," She muttered, splaying her fingers across her exposed side in an effort to protect herself from Danny's wandering hand. "I can't wait to find out."
"Scary goth!" He teased, shaking his head and chuckling as he pulled his truck into the parking lot of a Starbucks. He whipped the car around to the side of the building, sliding into the drive-through line. They were silent again, save Danny's occasional snickers, until they reached the menu board. Danny rolled his window down and gazed at the menu, furrowing his brow in concentration mostly because he knew that face was the reason Sam even began liking him as more than a friend in the first place. He heard her sigh in impatience behind him and grinned.
"Thank you for choosing Starbucks, what can I get you today?" A nasally voice asked from the speaker mounted beside the car.
"Hi! Can I get two iced teas, please?" He asked politely. Sam released a strange, strangled growl, and Danny looked around at the noise.
"I don't want your pity tea." She spat. Danny closed his eyes and laughed, turning back to the speaker.
"Actually, can I make one of those a green tea instead? My girlfriend is cranky." Sam slapped his upper arm, her face a mask of mock offence. Danny turned back to her, a wide grin on his face. "What? You are!"
"Because of you!" She shouted, though she knew her eyes were sparkling with amusement.
"O-kay, that's gonna be eight seventy-nine at the first window. Thank you!" The Starbucks employee laughed audibly, causing Sam to sink back in her seat with a blush and Danny to chortle as he pulled the truck around to the first window.
The employee was a young blonde, Sam realized with dismay. She looked familiar, like perhaps she once worked for Tucker back at the beginning of his career as mayor. Her blue eyes widened upon recognizing Danny and Sam, and she practically crawled out of the window to shake their hands. "I'm such a huge fan of both of y'all, y'all are amazing!" Her Texas twang was achingly familiar; Sam nibbled her bottom lip as she tried to place the girl's face.
"Have we met before?" Sam asked slowly as Danny handed the employee the money.
"No, but I was in a commercial once! A few years ago! For Snuggies!" The blonde gushed. Sam snapped her fingers, finally recognizing the girl.
"Yes! That's it! Thank you, that was seriously bothering me!" Danny cocked an eyebrow at Sam, which she ignored. "That's awesome!"
"Thank you, thank you!" The blonde squealed. "Oh, gosh! Okay, okay, your drinks are at the next window. It's been such an honor meeting y'all!"
Danny pulled forward a few feet, effectively putting the blonde out of earshot. "A Snuggie commercial?" He quipped, glancing back at the window through his rear-view. "You recognized an actress from a Snuggie commercial?"
"I'm still mad at you." Sam informed him loftily, turning her chin up and away from the driver's side. Danny dissolved into laughter again, poking her side playfully and dodging her attempts to swat his hands away. "Just get the stupid drinks!" She screeched as yet another star-struck Starbucks employee appeared in the window with two cups.
Once their drinks were safely in the car, one in a cup holder and one held closely to Sam's face, Danny pulled back onto the road in the opposite direction from his apartment. Sam stared out the window, blinking in confusion, but thinking better than to ask. She knew Danny was just trying to get her to ask so that he could tease her for talking to him again, so she kept her lips firmly planted on the rim of her cup. They drove north for a while, right out of the city limits of Amity Park.
How long is he gonna keep this up? She wondered as they passed into Camden county, which was situated north east of Amity Park. It was a quiet, rural community. Most citizens who lived in Camden commuted to Amity for work, as it was so close and the jobs were so plentiful. Sam repressed a longing sigh as a rolling field opened up on her side of the car. She always nursed a secret desire to live in Camden, but she never shared this with anyone. Not even Danny.
Danny pulled onto a side road and began cruising, a field to their left, a forest of trees to their right. Finally, curiosity got the better of Sam. "Where are we going?" She murmured, her eyes on the shadows of the forest.
He glanced at her, grinning in triumph. "I wanna show you something." He said cryptically. Sam leaned back, clutching her green tea a little closer in relief that they were actually doing something out there, rather than Danny just egging her into speaking. They road on in comfortable silence, Danny finding Sam's left hand and holding it over the center console.
A large, two-story house loomed into view on Danny's side. Sam's eyes widened as they neared the building; had it been in the center of Amity Park, Sam would have guessed it was an old library. But sitting there in the middle of a field in Camden, she understood that it was nothing more than a very eccentric-looking house. She felt Danny watching her from the corner of her eye and she glanced at him. He had a strange smile on his face. "Wanna go inside?" He asked.
Her heart leapt into her throat. "Yeah," She breathed. They were already turning up the winding driveway, the house growing larger and larger as they approached. Danny squeezed her hand before dropping it and putting the truck in park. Sam left her tea in the second cup holder, next to Danny's, as she climbed out of his truck. Her boots hit the dirt driveway as Danny's door slammed shut. He crossed over to her side, an easy smile on his face, and offered her his arm. She kicked her door shut and took his arm gladly.
"I think it's unlocked..." He said uncertainly as they climbed the steps to the front porch. He paused, his free hand digging through his pocket, before he gave up and gave the door an experimental push. It swung open easily, granting them access to the rooms within.
Sam released his arm in the entry way as he shut the door and locked it. Her eyes wandered to a spiraling staircase a few feet before them, to the arches towering in the ceiling above, to the warm cherry oak wood beneath her feet. A fireplace with a roaring fire stood proudly in the center of the room, which was otherwise bare, but large enough for Sam to imagine a large entertainment center with several plush faux-leather couches and chairs. She felt Danny's hand on the small of her back and she turned to find him peering into the room as well. "This is the living room." He said, sounding certain. "Kitchen's through this way," He lead her through the cavernous room to the kitchen. She could not tear her eyes from the acid-stained concrete floors, which were positively shining from wax, even though state-of-the-art appliances twinkled beneath a large sky-light where a ceiling should be. She ran her hand over the marble counters along the sides of the kitchen and on the island in the middle, unable to keep her jaw from dropping.
Danny chuckled at her expression. "It's nice, right?" He glanced around the room, looking rather impressed himself. "C'mon, I want to show you the rest of the house." Sam nodded dumbly and let him lead her out of the kitchen, into yet another conjoining room, which was not as large as the living room, but just as warm. "I think this is supposed to be the family room." He said uncertainly, glancing at the plush carpets and warm, forest-green walls. "I dunno. I wasn't listening very hard."
A million questions burned in Sam's throat, but she swallowed them. She knew he would answer them all eventually; she had to let him get the tour over with before he could explain. Her heart thumped in anticipation, but she berated herself for jumping to conclusions.
The family room had a door on the far wall that opened to a short hallway. At the other end of the hall, a large archway gave way to a ridiculously large bedroom, already furnished with one king-sized bed. "This is the master bedroom." He sounded entirely too pleased with himself at the size of the room, but Sam let him usher her inside anyways. "Master bath is right over there." He pointed to another, smaller archway, through which Sam could just barely see the corner of a large, jet-stream bathtub. Her toes curled in her boots in pleasure. Oh please, please, please please...
"C'mon, I still gotta show you upstairs." He chuckled. He took her right hand and pulled her back into the hallway, making sure he walked slow enough for her to glance down at the wood floors, to the sides at the sleek painted walls, and up to the ceilings, where several warm lights were installed into the exposed wooden beams. They were back in the entry way again, and he was pulling her up the staircase. It was wider than she originally thought, giving them plenty of space to walk up side-by-side. "There are only a few rooms up here. I think they're gonna add on, but I'm not sure..."
Her heart dropped. She knew it was too good to be true; her imagination ran rampant the second the house came into view. Images of herself and Danny several years older, married, playing with their future raven-haired children out in the fields before the house vanished in her mind. She tried to keep her disappointment out of her eyes, but she knew Danny could see right through it. Strangely enough, when he glanced back at her, his smile seemed to widen despite her sudden despair. He showed her the two rooms that could double as bedrooms or offices, before pushing the door to a washroom open. "This is the coolest part," He murmured to her. A large window stood proudly to the right of the door to the room. He turned the latch and pulled the window open on hinges Sam did not notice, suddenly turning the window into a door to the roof of the building. Sam took a cautious step forward, but before she could climb out, Danny was closing it. "We'll go out there later, I still haven't shown you the backyard." He explained, taking her hand again.
"Danny, Danny," She said, pulling his hand. He stopped turning back to her, his face the picture of innocence. "Why are you showing me all of this?"
"Trust me, okay?" He murmured. He brought his free hand up to stroke her cheekbone, before planting a swift kiss on her unsuspecting lips. "You trusted me last night. Trust me again now, okay?"
Heat rushed into her cheeks at the memory of the night before. She pushed the memories away quickly, filing them away to review whenever Danny went out of town again. She focused on the feeling of her hand in his as he led her quickly back down the staircase and toward the family room, chatting excitedly the entire way. "I think the location is great, it's right next to Amity Park, easy driving directions, there's no chance in hell anyone will ever get lost coming here..."
"Where are we going now?" Sam asked, ignoring the jealous ache in her heart for whoever owned this gorgeous house.
"Oh, I'm gonna show you your favorite room," He shrugged. They were back in the hallway, trotting quickly toward the master bedroom. A door Sam did not see before suddenly came into her line of vision to the left of the bedroom, just seconds before Danny's free hand caught the door handle. He glanced back at her, a smug grin on his face, before pushing the door open.
Sam gasped. She was standing in the entry to a well-sized personal library. The shelves were empty, allowing her imagination to run free on what books she could fill them with. She dropped Danny's hand and walked a few steps further in, covering her mouth with her right hand. The jealous ache was like a knife in her heart, now; she wanted that house more than anything in the world. Her eyes traveled from the towering bookshelves to the large arching windows, down to the plush, cushioned window seats. She could even picture the pillows she would put there; they would be large, but not overpowering. The perfect kind to lean back against and read a book. The center of the room was vacant, leaving room for chairs or couches or cushions or whatever her imagination could conjure. She turned back to Danny, not bothering to hide the greenish tinge of envy in her vision. He chuckled and reached for her hand.
"I just have one last thing to show you." He said softly. She took his hand reluctantly, not quite ready to leave the library. But he lead her back into the hallway, closing the door behind them with a soft click. "The backyard has got to be my favorite so far." He informed her as they walked back to the family room. Curtained French doors stood proudly against the back wall, unable to hide most of the light from the setting sun, but effectively covering the yard beyond. Danny glanced back at her before dropping her hands and opening both French doors with a dramatic flourish.
The sunlight blinded her for a moment, but as she blinked, the scene in the backyard came into focus. A blindingly white gazebo stood several yards away from the back porch, though a twisting concrete path connected the two. Quiet music was playing in the background, wafting lazily over the garden to the right of the wooden porch. Sam stepped out cautiously, her eyes on the bees busily working over the lilies and bluebonnets, before movement caught her eye. She looked back up and gasped when she realized that half a dozen couples were dancing around the back yard to the music.
Tucker and Valerie were the closest to Sam. They were both watching her, their grins blinding, as Danny's hand gently touched the small of Sam's back. "Wanna dance?" He breathed in her ear. She turned to him and nodded.
He led her down the porch, past Tucker and Valerie, who were watching them excitedly. Sam glanced away just as Valerie's head dropped to Tucker's shoulder, finding Jazz and Micah lost in each other a few feet away. Jazz glanced back at them as they passed her, mouthing 'I love you' to Danny, who smiled and mouthed it back to her. Sam spotted Jack and Maddie a few feet behind the gazebo; Maddie was crying softly and even Jack was mopping his eyes, both watching their son in adoration. Her parents were just beside them, smiling serenely at her. Suddenly Sam understood why she was forced to go to lunch with them. Dash and Paulina were on the opposite side of the gazebo from Jazz and Micah, and Sam even spotted Star dancing - though not very closely - with Marcus. A sudden move and the sunlight caught something around Star's neck; Sam realized she was wearing Kwan's engagement ring on a chain around her neck. Memories of Kwan's funeral flashed in her mind, but they vanished again when Danny lead her up the steps to the gazebo and wrapped an arm around her waist. He took his other hand and held it aloft, waiting until her right arm found his shoulder and her left landed in his.
They danced slowly, their eyes never leaving each other's. After a few moments, Sam forgot the others were there, blatantly watching them; she was so lost in Danny's eyes that all else ceased to exist. His forehead touched hers and they closed their eyes. Sam decided that standing there, breathing his air, his arms around her body, was not such a bad place to be. Though she would prefer to be that way on that king-sized bed in the bedroom of that amazing house.
"So what do you think of the house?" He asked her quietly. His voice was low and rumbling; she made the mistake of telling him that when he spoke in that voice, she all but melted.
She sighed longingly. "It's...amazing." She admitted, pulling back a little. She brought her right hand up to cup the back of his neck, scratching lightly right at the place where his hairline stopped. He closed his eyes and growled in approval. She chuckled. "Your parents are really lucky."
His eyes snapped open, flashing in confusion. "Why are my parents lucky?" He asked, glancing at the people in question. Sam suddenly remembered they had an audience. The music was still playing that same soft, slow song as before.
"Their new house is amazing and I am insanely jealous. I've never told anyone this, but...I've kind of secretly always wanted to live in Camden. You know, when I got married and had a family and all that. I've always loved Camden."
Danny's eyes brightened in understanding. He threw his head back an laughed. "This isn't my parents' house!" He chuckled, bringing his face down to hers and kissing the tip of her nose lightly. "It's mine."
She felt her heart stop. Despite what she said the day she left the hospital months earlier, she never bothered looking for her own apartment. Living with Danny felt right. But living together in a house?
"Wh-where...I don't...when did you...?" All of the questions that burned in her earlier were bubbling to the surface, each fighting to get through at the same time. "When did you buy a house?"
"The day after you got your cast taken off," He said, grinning smugly. Four months, this punk has been hiding it from me, she thought. "You were at work all day, so I came out here to look, and...well, and I ended up buying the place. Surprisingly, it didn't need a whole lot of renovation. A lot of painting, putting in the wood floors, turning the library into your library, and the backyard were the major projects. I had a lot of help," He glanced at Dash sheepishly. Sam craned her neck around and shot the jock a thankful look, which he responded to with a single thumbs-up. "But, uh...yeah. I've owned it for about four months now."
"When were you gonna tell me?" Sam asked, unable to conceal her blinding grin.
"Well, I was thinking, like...now." He shrugged, tightening his grip around her waist. She threw both arms around his neck and squeezed, hardly daring to believe the joy she felt in her heart in that moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, could make that moment in time any better.
She felt Danny sliding down, and for a moment she thought he was going to pick her up. But she quickly realized he was sinking to the ground. A moment of panic as she thought he was collapsing, but she quickly realized he was kneeling. And digging in his pocket.
Her heart stopped.
"Look, I know the implications that come with an unmarried couple moving into a house together," He said, pulling a small, circular box from this pocket and drumming his fingers against the lid nervously. "And I know your views on it, and your parents' views."
She was touched. He actually talked to her parents. He asked for permission, not that he needed it, to marry her. She had to stop herself from falling to the ground beside him. "So I was wondering...do you, you know...d'you wanna marry me?"
He popped the box open, revealing a tear-drop shaped diamond mounted on a thin silver band. Her breath caught in her throat as the crystal caught the sunlight slipping into the gazebo, before she turned her gaze to Danny's face. He was waiting, his eyes shining almost as brightly as the crystal, a small hopeful smile on his face.
"Yes," She whispered. His grin was blinding as he lurched to his feet and buried her in his arms. She squeezed him back as tightly as she could, laughing over the sounds of applause from their friends and family. He pulled back long enough to yank the ring out of the box and slip it over her finger before pulling her into the deepest kiss he had ever given her...in public. The guys surrounding them began to wolf-whistle, while the girls sighed dreamily.
Somehow the ring box ended up in her hand as their friends and family descended upon them, begging to get a glimpse of the ring. Danny explained how he saw the ring in a window on his first day in Rome, and the moment he saw it he knew he had to get it for Sam. Her face was already aching for how hard she smiled as the girls sighed lustfully at her ring and the boys smacked Danny on the shoulders in congratulations.
The box in her fingers suddenly became so cold it burned her skin. She cried out as she dropped it, but instead of hitting the ground, it soared up into the air. The Box Ghost appeared, catching the ring box as it soared toward his outstretched hand. "BEWARE!" He screamed, before rocketing off across the field.
"Oh hell no! Not today! Not that box!" Danny screamed, flashing to Phantom and kicking off after the Box Ghost. "YOU BRING THAT BACK, YOU LITTLE FREAK!"
Sam watched her new fiancé chase after the Box Ghost, unable to contain her laughter. Standing there, bathed in the warm light of the sun with her friends and family - both current and future - while watching her future husband wrestle her ring box out of th Box Ghost's hand, Sam realized she forgot what home without Danny felt like. And she felt absolutely no desire to remember.
TWO references to Texas! HA! I'll give bonus points to whoever can review with both references. (:
Alright. I think I'm gonna take a few days to rest my writing chops before I get back into those other stories. Anyways, I really really REALLY hope you guys enjoyed this as much as I did.
And for reference, we'll pretend the song they were listening to was Marry Me by Train. Because Marry You by Bruno Mars is a little different.
Okay, my lovelies. I'm outta here.
- Tori Stone
PS This is the longest chapter yet, by over 1,000 words. Which makes sense, because I really didn't want to stop writing this. At all. But everything must end at some point, I suppose. Just like this A/N. (: