And there she went. There she went with the new love of her life. Puberty had been good to her. She now had all the right curves in all the right places. She wasn't the fourteen-year-old girl I wanted to believe she was. Her hormones weren't crazy anymore. She was a woman now. An adult. And unlike back in our teen years, she wouldn't even look at me now. We were friends. Not best friends (we'd drifted apart during college). Just friends. So basically, I was in the friend zone, and I honestly didn't want to get out of it. I wasn't on her list of potential boyfriends. If by some fortunate chance I used to be, then that was long gone now.
But I still loved her. Call me stupid. Call me crazy. It didn't change anything. I still loved her, I loved her like there was no tomorrow and for me...there really wasn't a tomorrow. She was my whole life. She had always been my life, my world. But I was a fool, and I still am a fool. I loved someone far beyond my reach, someone completely out of my league. I loved her too much...
I had loved her since I was fourteen. And it had been eight years. An entire eight years. We were all twenty-two years old. It was a long time. I'd had a long road, and I was stupid enough to follow it. Where did it lead me? It led me to watching Sam date everyone but me. I was on the sidelines now, always hoping to gain just one smile, just one glance in my direction.
We still met up, but she always brought her boyfriend along. And she always had a boyfriend. Tucker...well, he still hasn't had much luck with women. He's had a few girlfriends, but not nearly as many as Sam. And me? I didn't want another girl. Sometimes one would would flirt with me but...my eyes were set on Sam. I looked at her and her only. It made Tucker feel sorry for me. He never said anything to Sam, who by the way was still goth and ultra-recylco-vegetarian, or dropped her any hints that I was interested.
I poured myself another glass and started draining that one.
Thing is, I wasn't interested in the least. I could be called "head over heels" for her, but I would prefer the term "love". Pure love, that's all I had. I should've mustered the courage to ask her out when we were fourteen, and then maybe none of this would've happened. Maybe Sam and I would be together. But apparently I waited too long, and now a million different men went straight for her. Sadly I wasn't one of them. God only knows what those men wanted from her. Not to say that at least a few of them were innocent and honest, but I could easily guarantee that at least half of them wanted to do her.
I couldn't help but wonder if Sam had already lost her virginity, and which man had taken it. I wanted to believe she had never given her innocence to anyone. Well, not yet at least. I knew it was only a matter of time before someone took her, but honestly I would rather that special someone be me. Maybe it sounded perverted but I just didn't want some other man taking her in bed. At least I knew I would stay with her. I would love her and hold her and whisper sweet nothings in her ear... I would do anything for her, and I wanted her to know that.
I didn't bother with a glass this time. I cracked open a can and drank straight from that.
My whole life was going downhill. I was going downhill. Everything was crap now. Every ghost I fought was fought without Sam. At least I still had Tucker, but I needed Sam... I just couldn't let her go...
But then, did I really have a choice? I never left her, she left me. And not just me, she left Tucker, too. Her two best friends, and she'd left us behind just for some random guy that happened to be flirting with her. It was like she was just picking them up off the streets! Where did all these men come from?!
Damn you... If you had asked her out when you still had the chance your life wouldn't be shit right now. So congratulations, you fool! You've lost her forever!
"I hate myself..." I muttered.
I was all alone in my apartment. No one could hear me talking to myself. It was just me. It had always been just me. Tucker could move in, I wouldn't mind. Being alone had a lot of downsides. It made life more miserable, more unbearable. But...again, we had all drifted apart during college. None of us got accepted into the same one, so we all parted, went our separate ways. I still fought ghosts. Tucker still came with me to fight ghosts. And Sam...well...I couldn't tell anyone to save my life. I had no clue what she was up to these days. I didn't get to see her very often, and when I did, she was too lost in her boyfriend's eyes to pay attention. So my questions went unanswered and I was always ignored. I tried to stay close to her, I really did, but...it seemed to be impossible.
I really was losing her...
I worried about my friend. Ever since college he's been depressed and angry all the time. It makes it easier to fight ghosts that way, but harder on me to see him suffer so badly. And of course it didn't help that the woman he held so close to his heart was never interested in him, and instead was always dating someone else. In fact, every time we saw her, she had a new boyfriend. And it broke Danny's heart. Every time.
I didn't understand why he clung to false hopes all these years. I didn't understand why he couldn't move on. But if there was one thing I did understand, it was that he loved her with every fiber in his body. In my eyes, he was the perfect man for Sam. He was strong, protective, caring, and overall, loving. He tried to put up this reputation of a rock-hard person who only focused on his job. He pretended not to have eyes for any woman. But I saw past his whole tough act. Underneath he was nothing more than a big marshmallow. Every smile from Sam sent his heart fluttering. Every time she talked to him he smiled.
But then she got yet another boyfriend and the both of us were passed off as less than friends. Danny would slump back and try not to cry. He always thought about Sam, I know he did. So when she brushed us off like that, Danny might as well have died. Sometimes I couldn't help but think that he wanted to die. After awhile it became too much for him and he couldn't take it any longer. He still chose to cling to her, for reasons I could never explain. But he didn't have it in him to deal with any more of this. He wanted to stay close to Sam, and in order to do that he needed to try to imagine that those boyfriends of hers didn't exist.
And sadly...it didn't help. He chose to drown his problems in beer. Beer, scotch, vodka, wine...you name it, he drank it. Any alcoholic beverage was good enough for him. He refused to let Sam know about this. It wasn't my place to tell her. But he was almost always drunk, and I always tried to help him. I won't lie, he was a drunken idiot for doing this. I didn't care how much he hated his life, I wanted him to stop. It would be fine if he had just a glass of whatever every now and then, but he didn't. He drank every day and it wasn't like most men do when they watch a football game. He drank heavily. Every damn day was filled with beer.
When he wasn't working, he was trying to make arrangements for the three of us, plus Sam's new boyfriend, to get together and hang out. But...lately things haven't gone as planned. Danny's been having medical problems recently...I think. It really did kill me to see him that way, always so fatigued and unfocused. His eyes were actually glazed over and hazy. Occasionally he would have trouble keeping perfect balance. Occasionally he would fail to walk in a straight line, but only slightly veering in a different direction. Still...my heart went out to him.
He was getting bad. And the worst part was, Sam would never notice, which would only make him get worse.
But right now I had to head over to his place. I was regularly checking up on him and probably about a third of the number of times I came, he was completely smashed. This was a part of that whole "one-third" thing. Yes, he was definitely drunk and yes, there were empty beer cans scattered everywhere, some of them from the day prior and ones that had been opened and consumed today.
"Hey," he greeted, his speech horribly slurred. "I'm...jus' gunna...y'know..." He leaned against a wall. "M'yeah..."
I sighed. It didn't seem to be as bad as yesterday... "Yeah, hey, Danny."
He grinned. "I's especin' ya..."
Drunk Danny translated to English, "I was expecting you."
The first several times I had come over here to find him like this, I was shocked and couldn't really handle him. I also had no clue what he was saying. But as the days passed, I learned everything...how he worked, what his new language was, the ability to determine the level of drunkness. All that jazz.
I hated being over here. It was just...I felt like he needed me, especially when he was so drunk. I also feared for his safety when he got like this. All he had to do was turn on the stove, or pick up a knife with shaky hands... He could walk out the door and trip down the stairs that led up to his apartment. Who knows what kind of dangers he could put himself in? He was too far gone, too illogical. He couldn't think straight at all. The only thing he could do was act drunk.
"You're drunk again, huh?" I murmured.
He closed his eyes and snickered, his head hanging down.
"Yeah. You're even laughing at it," I continued. This was normally how I amused myself. I would push aside beer cans, sit on his couch, and keep talking about whatever. It was fun watching his reactions considering he wouldn't remember any of this in the morning.
"What do you think Sam would do if she saw you like this?" I asked.
"I'm not...gay..." he replied.
I couldn't help but laugh. I couldn't believe he actually thought I meant a guy's name when I said "Sam". "No, no, Sam as in Samantha."
He looked up at me, confused. "S'weird, I know a girl name' S'mantha. S'weird name idn' it?" (That's weird, I know a girl named Samantha. That's a weird name isn't it?)
"Yeah, I'm talking about her. What do you think she'll do if she finds you like this?" I repeated.
He snickered again and tried to focus on getting off the wall while still standing. "Ca-Can som'n see dis?" (Can someone see this?)
"See meh. I's jus' wund'rin...'cuz...th'walls, n'stuff," he said. (See me. I was just wondering...'cause...the walls, and stuff.)
It took me a second to mentally translate that. I doubted he could even try to pronounce his words correctly. I could talk and he would understand it. He would talk and I would just barely understand it. Thankfully I came by here every day. He usually got drunk around afternoon, which was good for me considering that not only could I time it, but that I could also get him to go to bed and sleep when nighttime came around. For now I would have to settle for keeping him distracted and letting him roam his own residence while babbling nonsense to either me or himself.
"So," I started, "anything new?"
He chuckled and merely looked at me before speaking, "I dun th'nk so. Maybe. Um, I dun'no. M'I walk'n' funny?" (I don't think so. Maybe. Um, I don't know. Am I walking funny?)
I smiled and bit my lip, trying to hold back my laughter. He was a drunken moron right now, of course he was walking funny. He was hitting everything around him. "No, what makes you say that?"
This time there was another look of confusion. "Why's all thi'stuff movin'? I'keeps blockin' meh in...n' I dun't like't. S'piss'n' meh off!" (Why is all this stuff moving? It keeps blocking me in...and I don't like it. It's pissing me off!)
I snorted a couple times and almost erupted in laughter. Nothing was blocking him in, he wasn't even out of the hallway yet. He kept bumping into one wall and stumbling back into the other. "Nothing's moving, you're fine."
He nodded. "I'ink I'm stuck... Sum'un needs'a get meh outta here. Where'sa exit...?" (I think I'm stuck... Someone needs to get me out of here. Where's the exit...?)
I got up and walked over to the hallway, where Danny had made little progress getting out of, and grabbed his wrist. I started leading him out but he yanked his hand back and pouted.
"I'han do it!" (I can do it!)
I raised an eyebrow and looked him straight in his dazed eyes. "You want to get out of here or not?"
He groaned, whether it was because he was drunk or whether it was because he was protesting I didn't know, and held out his hand. I led him out and into his living room.
"Uz r' a ghost attack right now?" (Is there a ghost attack right now?)
"N-" I stopped short when I saw the reason he'd asked that question. Danny may not have had much logic or sense right now, but he seemed to know what was happening...sort of. An icy blue breath released itself from his alcohol-ridden mouth and he looked up, his feet unstable and his eyes unfocused. "Uh..."
"I's goin' ghost!" (I'm going ghost!) he shouted to no one in particular as he transformed. At least he could focus on one thing.
I held my breath. I wanted to tell him to stop, to back down for once and not fight. But...for one thing, he wouldn't listen to me; and sadly, he was the only legitimate ghost-fighter this city had. As dangerous as it was to go after a ghost in his current condition, we were limited in our options. I had no idea what would happen if he tried to fly or shoot ghost rays. And if his parents came after him and saw all the destruction he could potentially cause, they could have no problem catching or even killing him. Or the ghost could end up killing him. But right now he was drunk and his temper would flare in battle. It might just be enough to get a clean shot, to fly in the right direction, and to suck the ghost into the thermos.
This was just in theory though. Well, no, not really; this was just in high hopes right now.
He stumbled forward a little bit before turning intangible and flying through the ceiling.
"Oh no," I whispered, rushing to the nearest elevator and pounding on the first floor button.