AN: So my first story, which I had promised myself would not be cliche... is a Tucker/OC romance fic. I'm sorry. I know that premise has been done more times on here than the Carameldansen has on YouTube. It's probably not going to be as original or as emotional as I hoped it might be, but once the idea crawled into my mind it just simply would not die. Eventually I decided that even if I fail miserably, writing something is always better than nothing. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. This is my attempt at fic and I'm hoping either it'll be good or people will help me understand how to make it good.

Please note no Sam or Danny bashing will be going on in the long term. There's some angst and some misunderstandings, but name a group of high school friends that hasn't accidentally said the wrong things to one another. Nobody's a bad guy here, they're just prone to normal lapses of judgment.

Tucker had been acting weird.

As the only person with any romantic sense out of the trio of friends, Sam recognized the signs of a crush when she saw them. There was the embarrassingly unmanly sigh as he gazed out the windows, something that never failed to make her groan inwardly. Then he began spacing out during their conversations, usually masking it by pretending to be consumed in his new iPhone. An iPhone that had, currently, a girl's picture for the background, although Sam had never gotten a good enough look at it to tell who it was. He had squeaked when she tried to look at it and pocketed it immediately. He had even begun the most girly crush behavior in the book: doodling their initials in his notebook.

He would have been embarrassing himself if anyone had been able to figure it out. But Tucker's normal approach to seeing a cute girl was to throw himself at her headfirst with not-really-admirable-anymore gusto, and this time he was just keeping his distance. Maybe all the rejections had gotten to him. Maybe this was serious and not fleeting this time. Sam wasn't sure if this was improvement or not. On the one hand, it was nice for him to show the opposite gender some respect. On the other hand, he was becoming increasingly absent from both her life and Danny's. He seemed distant, sometimes not even noticing their jokes or smiles and just muttering 'yeah' without the barest hint of enthusiasm. It was different somehow, significant; things had changed since she began dating Danny, but Tucker was never this aloof before.

Danny seemed to not notice at first, with ghost activity picking up. He was busy, exhausted and often struggling to get through schoolwork. Then even his alarm bells went off. Tucker was just being so obvious. Even if he was trying to conceal it, he was really bad at that, having never done it before. The whole thing was poorly suited to Tucker's naturally enthusiastic, talkative personality. It was baffling to both of them, though, why he hadn't approached whoever this was. Or maybe he had. He had apparently spent more than one lunch period in the school computer lab lately. If Danny had been a less moral person he'd have just gone invisible and poked his head in to end the growing awkwardness. Unfortunately, he was above the obvious solution on the basis he wouldn't want Tucker doing the same to him. Sam had to agree. She didn't like it, but she agreed.

So she had asked him. It was the more mature thing to do, and it seemed like somebody had to be the first person to address the issue. With Danny MIA half the time due to paranormal activity, it might as well be her.

"Tucker, what is with you lately?" Okay, not her best approach, but it came after a minute and a half of saying his name and getting no response until she waved a hand in front of his face.

"What do you mean?" he asked, not looking up from his iPhone.

"I mean, who is it you're going out with? You don't have to hide anything from me. Or Danny – we're your friends," she stressed, watching him pause. The discomfort on his face was obvious. "You know, I don't think there's a girl in this school with the initials I. A. U. I don't even think I know a boy with those initials."

"...she doesn't go to this school," he said after a long pause, looking at the iPhone and not her, the screen reflecting a smaller version of the picture he kept on his phone. And he seemed so uncharacteristically sad for a moment she felt bad for bringing it up. Then he volunteered, his voice gaining more determination, "I don't care about that, though. And she doesn't either."

"That's great." Sam smiled, but noted his teal eyes still wouldn't meet her lilac ones. "So how come you didn't tell me and Danny? It sounds like you two have it worked out even if she's a private school kid."

"You're just going to think I'm being stupid." He scoffed, pocketing his phone. "Everyone does. Nobody believes I can be serious about someone."

"That's not true. It's just all news to me. I mean, you never even mentioned a girl who's a friend." She studied his serious expression, and felt a pang of guilt. "If I've ever made you feel like I don't take you seriously, I'm sorry. Ever since I got together with Danny, I feel like we've been leaving you out sometimes. But you're like a brother to me. Whoever you're dating, I'm sure she's awesome. And I don't think you're being stupid. I took years to figure Danny out when he was right in front of me. How could I think anyone was stupid after that?"

" know me. How I've hit on every girl in school. I don't blame anybody for thinking I'm as shallow as a puddle." He looked so forlorn Sam hugged him on the spot. "No, stop. Seriously. It's okay."

"Oh, Tuck. It's really not. I never meant for you to feel like that."

"Sam. People are staring. It's fine. I'm fine. Everything's fine now that I have her."

The sentiment was so blatantly romantic it just about gave her a headache to hear it out of his mouth. But that was the problem, wasn't it? That she had always pegged him as being interested in a couple of dates and nothing more. Danny had done the same thing. They'd hurt him, that much was clear. Why else would he go to these kind of lengths to keep her identity a secret, even now? Of course he didn't want them to meet her. They'd ruin it for him. Maybe they had been all along. Every teasing remark she'd ever made to him went through her mind.

"Tucker. I'm sorry."

He slipped out of her grip and muttered something about needing to go as the bell rang. The lack of acknowledgement stung. Then again, so had all the needling she and Danny had done about him being willing to ask out anything that moved. She watched his retreating form, noticing how he couldn't help but take out his iPhone to look at whoever it was again. A smile instantly formed on his face, gentle and real, a small one more reserved for tender moments than day to day life. Sam wondered how many of his smiles and laughs had been forced after they had beaten this topic, this joke into the ground.

She didn't see his face fall as he collapsed into his desk in Mr. Lancer's class, looking right at his notebook the entire time Lancer went on about Anne of Green Gables and Anne being in love with Gilbert even though they were separated for three years. He tuned out at some point in the reading. He needed no further study on being far away from someone he… felt intensely about. This whole lesson was like systematic torture, the universe laughing at him, pointing out just how unlikely it was he would ever have what Danny and Sam had.

After all, behind the girl on his iPhone, the Northern Lights shone brightly in the background, spanning across a pitch black sky like a green and gold halo.