Lyrics by Pink - Give Me A Reason
"Hey, are you..."
"You're going to be okay."
Learn to Love Again
~Right from the start
You were a thief
You stole my heart
And I, your willing victim~
"You woke up outside again?"
Danny shut his locker closed, greeted by the wary face of his best friend, Tucker. The African flashed a look of disapproval, but Danny merely smiled when the tech wiz pushed a pair of ray-bans up the bridge of his nose.
"Relax," Danny said, waving off Tucker's paranoia. His sneakers squeaked against the tile floor when he turned. "I was out for like two minutes. No one even saw me."
"Dude, that's the least of your problems!" Tucker looked suspiciously at the gossiping teens around them and whispered, "If these 'moments' keep happening, you're gonna have to tell your parents."
"Mom," Danny corrected, shooting him a dark look. "Tell my mom."
Tucker stopped, adjusting the strap on his backpack. He watched as his friend's demeanor quickly shifted. "Hey, I didn't mean it like that."
Danny took a sharp breath, meeting several different pairs of eyes. Everyone stared curiously at him and Tucker, before returning to their own conversations. "I know you didn't. I'm just not in a good mood."
"Are you ever?" There was a playfulness to Tucker's words that made the boy smile. "There's no moping around, dude. It's senior year. We're finally at the top of the food chain!"
"I'm guessing the lack of Dash Baxter put you in a good mood."
"Hey, we all know how it's going to work out. He might have that sports scholarship now, but in twenty years that ape is going to be working for me." He jerked a thumb to himself. "It's only a matter of time before I discover the cure for cancer, make my millions and buy that mansion I always wanted."
"And where do you see me in this alternate universe of yours?"
"You'll be right beside me, bud. I'll need someone to dust off my medals when I'm out partying."
Tucker laughed as they walked down the hall. Danny shrugged off Tucker's joke when a freshman ran into him.
"Oh! Sorry!" The small kid apologized, fidgeting with the backpack in his arms.
Danny's hand shot out, grabbing a fistful of the defenseless freshman's button up shirt. In a moment, Danny shoved him into the lockers so the crash rung in his ears. The metal shuddered against the force of Danny's hit and he smiled when the boy's head snapped back, blood tainting the gray paint.
A hand came to his shoulder and Danny flinched.
"Hey, Danny," Tucker whispered, tightening the hold on his friend's shoulder. "Dude, are you okay? You look white."
Blinking, Danny's eyes landed on the freshman boy passing them, walking without a giant gash in the back of his head. Tucker glanced over his shoulder in confusion.
Danny held a hand to his face, the world coming in and out of focus. He clenched his jaw before turning to Tucker.
"You're apologizing for daydreaming?" Tucker chuckled, fixing the red beret on his head. "If I had to apologize every time I imagined Paulina in a bikini, I wouldn't have time to feel sorry about anything else."
"If you apologized to Paulina for that, she'd probably get a restraining order on you."
Danny forced out a laugh as they walked into third period English. That's where he spotted her. She silently gathered her books to the back of the class, taking a seat in a secluded corner of the room. Despite the fact that she stood out like a raven in a sea of doves, she was doing a fantastic job at being invisible.
"Hey." Danny cut off whatever Tucker was going on about. "I'll catch up with you later."
"What do you mean?" Tucker whined. "We're in the same class."
Danny ignored the comment and strolled to the back of the classroom, taking a seat beside the quiet goth. Violet eyes connected with his and she immediately glared at his presence.
First time speaking to her. Don't screw it up.
He grinned, folding his arms over the back of the chair. "It's a little hot to be wearing a turtle neck, don't you think?"
She pursed her lips, raising the eyebrow that was pierced. "And you of all people have the right to tell me what to wear?"
No one had that right, Danny figured. Judging by her limited choice of black, green and purple, it was clear the teen girl was trying to make a statement. Her face held as much attitude as her clothes: heavy eyeliner, purple lip stick, the eyebrow piercing. Her hair was short and raven, cut uneven so one side was longer than the other.
"Are you going to keep staring at me or can I go on the rest of the day without the added testosterone?"
Danny smiled, despite the hostility she was giving him, and reached for the collar of her shirt. She lifted her hand in order to catch his wrist, stopping him.
"What are you doing?"
Her hand looked small and weak against his wrist, and yet there was something firm about her grasp that he couldn't shake. "Helping you out?" He played it off with a smile. Instead of pulling at the turtle neck, he merely brushed a piece of lint away from her raven locks. "Are you hiding something, Sam?"
Her eyes narrowed and she released his hand. "How do you know my name?"
But the bell rang and Danny simply bowed his head in response, standing and making his way to his original seat.
Sam mentally face palmed herself as Danny Fenton made his way up the row of desks to sit beside Tucker Foley, best friend and tech wiz of the school. Of course he knew her name. Everyone knew everyone at Casper High, no matter where you were located on the popularity ladder. The school system was designed to associate the same kids since birth together. It didn't exactly prepare them for the real world, but who was Sam to judge small-town educational standards?
Knowing this, most students chose to stay away from her, calling her the Manson girl or goth freak. It was a lot better than her old nickname, Black Kid, which had been both offense and racist to the core, but that statement didn't work. Sam Manson was pale, a pure American born European, so the name eventually died down, especially after word spread to the principal.
Jocks she could handle. Attention whores she could ignore. Mr. Lancer she could tune out, but Danny Fenton was another story.
He was infamous.
While Danny wasn't the star athlete, he was notorious for skipping school and getting into fights. He had a temper problem often taken out on the jocks. Still, the fact that he beat up anyone made Sam frown. He was a bad boy and obviously the fan girls came with that title. Girls had even admitted that he had gotten cuter over the years, developing a body women swooned over.
She studied him now; shoulder blades peeking slightly through the back of his shirt; tousled black hair only overpowered by cold, blue eyes; developed abs that showed whenever he lifted his arms in order to stretch. The white tee clung to his form and the jeans, faded, appeared casual enough to be considered effortless.
Not exactly the look she was expecting from a rebel with anger issues. It seemed like everyone was trying so hard to fit in. She pulled her shirt closely, knowing she stood out like a needle in a haystack. She was sweating in the winter outfit as the kids around her sported T-shirts and shorts. Well, that wasn't true. Goths didn't sweat. They simmered.
Even though Danny was the strongest guy on campus (according to the football team, who were still tending to injuries from the last fight) he didn't look tough at all. He sat perfectly straight in his seat, his eyes scanning left and right, waiting. Someone without fear shouldn't have to keep looking over their shoulder.
For a moment, she felt sympathy for this monster. Everyone was so afraid of him, but maybe, in reality, he was the one hiding in fear.
"I hope you all had a wonderful winter break," Mr. Lancer announced from the front of the classroom, shrugging out of a tan trench coat, "because we're starting the new semester with a paper."
The students in the room groaned. Danny kicked the basket under his desk so the metal shook and Sam was able to see the bottom of his shoe. Remains of dried dirt rested against the white of his soles.
She was probably reading into it too much, but for a moment her thoughts flashed to the forest. She imagined Fenton dragging a body into the woods and burying it deep in the damp earth.
Tucker and Danny sat in the cafeteria, each with red plastic lunch trays. Tucker happily bit into his sub, ignoring the mystery meat he was putting in his mouth. Danny merely stared, blank faced, at his sandwich.
"Hey, ah you gonna eaf tha?" Tucker asked, his mouth full. He pointed at his friend's lunch, spewing meat as he spoke.
Danny smiled sadly, shaking his head. "Nah. You can have it."
Tucker gratefully, but suspiciously, grabbed Danny's meal. He swallowed before speaking again. "What's up with you, man? You haven't been hungry for a while."
"Yeah, you know that thing we used to do together before you turned into the hulk." He motioned to his scrawny arms and flexed.
Danny frowned. "Stop."
"What? Telling you that you're ripped?" He flashed the blue eyed boy a metal smile. "Because if I had muscles like you, I would-"
"Tucker." His voice rang with so much venom that the techno geek stopped talking. Danny sighed and picked at a random crack in the tabletop.
"So...what happened in English today?"
He glanced up at Tucker. "What do you mean?"
"Well, you were talking to a girl, which hardly ever happens, and she's not even your type. Remember when you liked Paulina? She'd probably go out with you if you showed interest."
Danny shook his head. "I'm not interested."
"Not even in the goth chick?"
He stuffed some fries in his mouth, suddenly thoughtful. "You haven't been on a date since Valerie..."
The words hung in the air. Danny tensed and looked to the side where curious bystanders stared. Swiftly, he brought his gaze to his lap. His hands were shaking.
"It won't happen again," Tucker added quickly, but his voice faltered at the end.
Danny met his gaze again and smiled. "You have ketchup on you face."
"Huh?" Tucker wiped his hand against his cheek then the other side. "This reminds me of when I pretended to have a noise bleed to get out of gym class. It worked great until Mr. Stevens caught the ketchup packs."
Danny's eyes widened at the red substance on his best friend's hand. His seat scraped against the tile when he stood. "I have to go."
"It's the middle of lunch, dude." Tucker finally found a napkin, wiping his face clean. "Where are you gonna go?"
But Danny was already five paces out the door.
Amity Park was the kind of place that was hot 24/7. Even as New Years past, the weather remained a steady seventy-five and was slowly creeping higher. What Sam would have given for even one snowflake.
Still, she found it wasn't all that bad, especially for her garden. In the backyard was the greenhouse her parents had built for her when they missed her eighth birthday. Sam had spent the day with Frowny the clown and Ms. Gretchen, the hired maid at the time. Surprisingly, it was one of her better memories.
She slipped on her gardening boots and tended to the flowerbeds in front of the house, before heading out back. Sunlight reflected off the glass of the green house, creating a crystal sheen. Inside, it was a good eighty degrees. Perfect weather for a desert snake.
Sam began watering each plant with careful consideration, wearing a pair of ear-buds to keep her occupied. She turned up the volume so the music eventually hurt her ears, throbbing with every beat of the song. Sam welcomed the pain. Closing her eyes, she was lost in her own world, disconnected from others.
She made her way towards the back and sneezed, pulling at her loose tank-top when she shivered. She was cold...cold? It shouldn't be cold in the greenhouse. Sam rubbed her arms in confusion, staring at her surroundings.
And suddenly it was gone. The cold breeze left and was replaced by the sticky temperature of the room. Sam took a deep breath, mentally checking over her daily to-do list. Had she taken her meds?
She jumped at the sudden tapping on the glass, turning to the maid. Samantha. The woman mouthed, gesturing she come forward.
Sam closed the entrance door, giving the thin woman a polite smile. "Yes?"
"Your parents sent you a letter." She held the white envelope to her. "They asked me to bring it to you personally."
Sam hesitated, staring at her outstretched hand. She glared down at the paper. "That's all right. I can read it later-"
"They specifically asked you read it the moment I gave it to you."
With hesitation, Sam grabbed the envelope. She opened up the note and read the first word.
The paper crumpled in her hand. The maid flinched. "Is something the matter?"
"That will be all."
"But Samantha, your parents insisted-"
"That will be all," Sam said in a harsher tone.
The maid shifted slightly, keeping her gaze on the ground. "Of course." She nodded and quickly retreated back into the house, eager to get away from the goth's dark gaze.