I know I said in the A/N of my last one-shot that I wouldn't be uploading anything until I finish those two that I mentioned, but in light of recent events around the US I found myself distracted with yet another one-shot. I wrote it out and decided to go ahead and upload it, since you guys have been so patient with me.
Yes I tackle bombs. Yes I tackle a major tragedy. Yes the setting is a public high school. No, there isn't a whole lot of character development. I'm not 100% satisfied with it, but I don't know what else to write and I just want to get it out of my system right now.
I tried to do another no-dialogue piece, but you'll see there are at least two places where dialogue was sort of necessary.
I mean no harm by this piece. If anything I've said or done in this piece offends you, I am sorry. I mean no disrespect. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the Boston and West explosions.
Also I know it's not the most creative title I've ever come up with. Description and title are taken from the song Explosions by Ellie Goulding.
I don't own Danny Phantom or the aforementioned song.
April 18, 2013
For the first time in nearly three years, Danny Fenton was scared at school. Not because of a ghost attack, or a taunting bully, but because of the dust that cascaded down from the ceiling like rain and the fires licking the walls of the classrooms he sprinted past. The oxygen his body so desperately craved was thick with dirt and debris and other things that were once part of the building around him, and it made his lungs burn and his throat ache. The sounds of the explosion were deafening; his ears were ringing, which he guessed was not completely irregular since it had only just happened moments before. The frightened screams of his classmates were strangely garbled, like he was hearing them under water, and it made him want to run faster.
He found it difficult to run faster when he could scarcely find a straight path through the chunks of building littering the hallway floors.
Eventually, though, he was buffeted out of a gaping hole in the side of the building that might have once been the gym. He allowed himself to be swept up in the current of students racing away from the crumbling building, only infinitesimally aware of the emergency responders trying to fight through the crowd to get to the people still trapped inside. His ears were still ringing, but he distinctly heard someone calling out for Danny Phantom to rescue them.
The crowd seemed to be slowing, coming to a halt, so he willed his legs to stop pumping furiously so that he could actually try to find clean air to breathe. While the taste of smoke was still very much present, he found it much easier to breathe there on the far end of the block that so prominently displayed what was left of his high school. He turned back to look at it, to find himself face-to-face with a tidal wave of his peers. The bits of their faces visible beneath a thick layer of soot were ashen. A few were hit with flying shrapnel and debris in the explosion, he could see blood on some of their faces and staining the edges of substantial rips in their clothing. Beyond them, beneath a thick, billowing tower of black smoke, was his high school.
Or at least, what was left of it.
The ringing was starting to die down, allowing him to hear his classmates desperately calling out the names of missing friends. Fear, a whole new kind of fear that had nothing to do with the possibility of dying, suddenly wound his belly into knots. He heard himself yelling, felt himself shoving people out of the way, desperation to find any sign of Tucker or Sam nearly driving him to tears. He nearly ran headfirst into Dash's chest, but one glance up at the jock's face told him that he would not need to apologize. Dash's mouth flattened into a thin line. He nodded once, before stepping around Danny and calling out for Paulina. Danny turned and watched him work his way through the crowd for a moment, before reality hit him and he resumed his search.
Tucker was among those students who reached that designated safe area after Danny. Danny found him on the outer edge of the group, his glasses cracked and shirt torn. The moment his forest green eyes landed on Danny, though, a powerful surge of relief made his knees buckle. Danny dropped to his knees as well, grabbing Tucker and yanking him into a hug. Tucker leaned away after the appropriate amount of time two best friends should spend hugging each other in relief and his question was clear in his eyes.
"I-I don't know," Danny said, his voice wavering as his stomach threatened to empty its' contents on the ground between them. He turned back to the crowd, searching desperately through flailing limbs for any sign of Sam's slight figure. Smoke was still billowing from the school, rising up in a swirling pillar to the sky above. It stood out in stark contrast to the impossible blue above them; it was the only blemish to an otherwise perfect day. His eyes drifted down to the base of the pillar; a flurry of activity was just barely visible at the hole blown in the side of the school. Flashing red and blue lights sat in a ring around the school, several ambulances and firetrucks pulled up into the lawn of the school while police cars formed a protective barrier along the street to block any morbidly curious civilians from conducting their own investigations.
They stood together, subconsciously moving closer as they stretched and craned to see over the heads of their classmates. Once or twice Danny thought he spotted her, just to find he had spotted another girl with feathery raven hair desperately searching for her friends. He swallowed hard and tried to ignore the sweat trickling down his face and back.
Tucker was just suggesting that they move into the fray themselves when a second explosion from down the street made the ground quake beneath their feet. A split second of silence rippled through the crowd before deafening screams drove Danny to plug his ears with his fingers. The line of students evacuating the building had dwindled considerably by then, and Danny was painfully aware of the fact that he still had not seen Sam's face among them. He kept his eyes glued on the school, which was beginning to collapse in earnest, before turning to Tucker. A wave of understanding passed through them and they quickly made their way between two nearby houses, where a curious flash of white light momentarily ignited the walls of the alleyway. Milliseconds later Danny Phantom rocketed into view and shot down the street, ignoring the sudden, half-hearted cheers from the crowd beneath him.
He also ignored the shouts of protest made by the police and firefighters as he flew into the school, narrowly avoiding being crushed by a sizable chunk of roof by flitting into intangibility at the last possible second. If the air had been clogged before, it was all but solid dust now. He had to use his night vision to see just a few feet in front of him. All around him, his senses were assaulted; bright fires and flashes of electricity burst through the darkness at sudden and unexpected times, while the sounds of students still trapped and building collapsing made it impossible to distinguish who was screaming for help and where they were. He could see the flashlights of emergency responders bobbing around certain areas, but Danny did not stop to investigate.
He was adding to the chaos by screaming Sam's name repeatedly. He did not care that his lungs were burning or that his eyes were caked with dust. He did not care that he was positively drenched in sweat. His desperation to find Sam alive drove all other thoughts directly out of his head.
He rounded the corner of the hall, into what was once B-Hall, to find himself right in the crater where the second bomb was set off just a few minutes before. The second floor had caved in, half the floor gone, leaving the little bit of floor that was left to fall into a sort of ramp between the first and second floor. Through the smoke still swirling through the air around him, he was just able to discern the shapes of students carefully lowering themselves down that ramp, carefully avoiding exposed wires and rusted, jutting edges of the steel beams that once supported the floor, now bent and twisted into grotesque shapes, as they went. The ones that made it to the first floor turned and spotted him immediately, signs of relief crossing their faces.
"Sam Manson?" He shouted down to them.
They pointed up the ramp. Danny shouted for them to exit through the doors by the library, on the other side of the crater, before soaring up the ramp and onto the second floor. The air here was even thicker with smoke and dust, but it was a bit easier to make out the screams for help here than downstairs where the inferno was quickly unfolding. He could clearly hear them crying, begging for someone, anyone to save them. But then, through the noise, he heard her.
She was not crying or begging for help. She was shouting instructions, yelling for the less injured to help those who were hurt to make it down the ramp safely as she dug through the debris and lifted people out. He followed her voice like a moth to a flame, and it did not take him long to spot the shape of her crouching in the debris.
He landed beside her and their eyes met in a hard stare. Blood was dribbling down her face from a large slice in the skin above her left eye, and he could clearly see that she was probably very close to the bomb by the stray cuts and bruises playing hopscotch across her face and arms and even into her clothes. Her boots were dusty and faded, giving him the impression that she did not immediately run the way he and most of their classmates did after the first explosion. Defiance sparkled in her amethyst eyes, daring him to tell her to get out, to save herself. So he merely nodded once, hard and begrudgingly, knowing there was not enough time to argue with her because she was going to win no matter what he said.
She screamed for him to help her and he did. He immediately started lifting students out of the rubble, desperately avoiding having to look at their injuries, flying them out of the school and into the arms of the EMTs. He got six students out before an ominous crack sounded through the air.
He shot back into the school and skidded to a stop beside Sam, who was still desperately attempting to dig a non-responsive student he did not recognize out of the rubble. He seized her upper arms, holding fast to her even when she began to thrash against him. He bellowed that the school was about to come down on top of them over her desperate, stomach-churning screams of protest. They passed through the ceiling just as the building went down in a deafening crash that hung in the air with a dull, morbid sense of finality.
Sam stared at it in disbelief, no longer fighting against Danny's grip. She watched the smoke rise up in a mushroom cloud as the remains of the building began to settle. Her hands, caked in dirt and bleeding profusely, balled into fists in the spandex material over his chest as a flurry of emotions battled in her mind. He soared over the emergency responders, all of whom were watching the scene unfold in stunned silence, landing on the roof of a house one street away. And even though every molecule in his body called out for him to watch the building he'd been attending school in for three years fall to pieces, he kept his eyes on Sam.
He was glad he did when the realization of what happened hit her like a sack of bricks and she collapsed against him. Her sobs wracked her entire body and her hands scrabbled against his back as he pulled her closer to his chest. He could feel her body protesting her movements and he wondered if he should insist she be taken to the hospital right then and there, but he decided to hold off on his hero complex desires to enjoy the immense relief that came with knowing his best friend in the entire world had escaped a near-death experience by the skin of her teeth.
Eventually, when she seemed to have composed herself enough to be seen by strangers, Danny flew them down to ground level where she was immediately whisked away by two EMTs. She glanced fearfully over her shoulder as they hustled her into the back of an ambulance, but Danny answered her fear with a small, reassuring smile. She seemed to calm slightly as they helped her into the ambulance.
He waited until the ambulance was out of sight, en route to the hospital, before kicking off toward the crowd of students still gathered at the other end of the street. He flew over them, glancing down to find Tucker's face standing out in the crowd, still alive with fear. He nodded once before flitting into invisibility and circling back down to that same alleyway. He was just flashing to Fenton when Tucker appeared. Fear danced in his eyes like wildfire.
Danny assured him that she was safe. He told Tucker that she was in an ambulance as they spoke, on the way to the hospital. She was not seriously injured, she would be okay. And for the first time ever, in the eleven years he had known Tucker, Danny saw him cry. Tucker fell to his knees, buried his face in his hands, and sobbed. Immediately his own cobalt eyes filled with tears and he had to look at the sky where helicopters were circling to keep his composure. Those tears would come later, when he was alone and the gravity of the situation became apparent. He would cry when the reports of fatalities came to the news. He would cry when the school was rebuilt and they would come back and attempt to adjust to the fact that they were the target of a terrible crime. He would really cry when he began to realize he could have done more, that he should have done more, but he was too shocked to realize any of that at the moment. Right then and there, he was just relieved to be alive, relieved that his best friends were okay, and that even though none of them would ever be the same again, they would all still be there.
Tucker's sobs eventually dwindled into quiet sniffles and he looked up, adjusting his glasses further up his nose. He asked in a voice thick with tears if they could go to the hospital to see her, and Danny stood in silent wonder. It was not exactly a secret that Tucker hated hospitals. But he nodded and flashed to Phantom and they were off.
The streets leading to the hospital were jam-packed with bumper-to-bumper traffic as parents desperately attempted to get into the hospital to find their injured children. Danny flew over them invisibly and passed through the wall of the hospital soundlessly, not bothering with asking anyone to help them find Sam. He was fairly confident that they could find her on their own.
She was alone in the eighth room they checked, perched on the edge of her bed and chewing on the inside of her cheek as she stared at the wall. White gauze wound around her head, the faintest spots of blood just becoming visible over her left eye, but her eyes were clear and she seemed to be okay. She practically leapt into Tucker's arms when she saw him, a breathless laugh escaping her lips as he buried his face in her neck. Danny flashed to Fenton and tried not to act too impatient. Eventually they broke apart, exchanging watery smiles, as Tucker mumbled that he was happy she was okay. She released a strange sound that was somewhere between a laugh and a sob and repeated his sentiment.
And then her eyes were on Danny and he was at her side in a heartbeat. Their hug was not as big as her and Tucker's, but it was much, much longer. A kind of tension built quickly in the room and when Danny briefly opened his eyes to tangle his right hand in Sam's hair he could see from the corner of his eye Tucker shuffling backwards and trying to blend in with the wall.
They were interrupted, though, by a nurse knocking on the open door and asking if they would mind giving the room up to someone with more extensive injuries. Sam stood immediately and they vacated the room. The halls were alive with activity, injured patients leaning against walls or slumped in wheelchairs sent wave after wave of nausea washing through his stomach. He felt Sam take his hand and he glanced down to find her exceedingly pale and looking at him in alarm.
Two familiar voices rang out over the sounds and Danny turned to find the Mansons fighting their way toward the trio. Immediately Sam dropped his hand and ran forward, launching herself into her father's arms as her mother sobbed in relief. Vaguely Danny wondered where his parents were and if they were yet aware of what happened at his high school; they said something about working on a new invention earlier that morning and generally that meant that they would not resurface from the lab until about ten minutes before he needed to be picked up from school. Jazz would have heard, though, so there was a chance that his parents would know already through her.
It turned out that his parents did not know about the explosions until Danny got home. He arrived right as Jazz did. She leapt out of her car and sprinted to him, jumping on him much the same way as Sam did with her father. She was hysterical, her words becoming harder and harder to discern as her tears became more prominent. Danny merely stood, rubbing her back soothingly, waiting for her nerves to calm. That was how their parents found them, clinging to each other in the middle of the sidewalk, Danny covered from head to toe in the remnants of his school and Jazz a quivering, quaking ball of nerves.
Danny retired to his room early that night, keen to avoid the television as he went. He collapsed on his bed and tiredly pulled out his phone, which he luckily kept in his pocket rather than his backpack like he usually did. He texted Sam and Tucker, asking if they were doing okay, and got a fairly fast response from Tucker saying that everything was as okay as it could be in the situation. Tucker sent another moments later saying that he thought Sam might have lost her phone in the school.
Danny sat up, drumming his fingers across the screen of his phone in indecision. He lurched off his bed and locked his bedroom door, before darting to his radio and turning the music up loud enough to ward off any visitors. He flashed to Phantom and flitted out of his room.
He made it to the Manson's in record timing. Sam's window was blazing with light and as he approached he could hear the sounds of a pounding baseline that he assumed was her music. The corner of his mouth drifted up as he got closer.
He poked his head into her room and spotted her sprawled out on her back across her bed, staring up at her ceiling. He entered fully and she was already looking at him before he was fully visible. He was struck by how timid she appeared.
He crossed the distance between her window and her bed in a few short strides and dove across her mattress, pulling her on top of him as he went. She held on to him desperately, and while she did not cry or even speak in any way, her desperation was clear. Danny pressed his lips across the gauze lightly while running his hand up and down her back in a movement that was both calming and possessive. She tilted her head back and suddenly there was pressure on his lips. He melted into her kiss instantly, lifting his left hand to lightly cling to her neck and stroke her cheekbone with the pad of his thumb and shivering as her hand drifted up his back.
That was how he fell asleep that night, with his forehead flush against hers and her sweet breath washing over his face. And even though he knew the coming weeks were going to be horrible for them all as fatalities were counted and investigations overturned what he was sure were going to be painful and shocking answers, he was able to find some small comfort that he would face them with her.
Like I said, not a whole lot of character development. I feel like I probably could have done more on that front, but I was already pushing 3500 words and I didn't want this to turn into a multi-chapter. If anyone wants to expand on this story, please feel free to send me a message about it.
And again, if anything in this story offended you in any way, please know that I meant no offence by it. It was just something I couldn't get out of my head today.
Thoughts and prayers for Boston and West.