It's definitely strange but I wrote this and it's here now. Any review would be appreciated and I hope someone might even enjoy this piece of my writing. You may read something in between the lines of this one-shot or you may not. Whatever you may find, I hope it will be to your liking. Thank you.

Alec

(I do not own Danny Phantom or its characters.)


Never The Stars


Up until this day, touching the stars had always been his dream, metaphorically speaking, of course. (You can't touch stars, they're too warm, too bright, too beautiful to get close to.) He had loved the stars from the moment he had first laid eyes on them and up until this day they had always been a comfort. They were always there, far away, but visible. The patterns he had long since learned by heart never seemed to change and it gave him the feeling of safety, the knowledge of knowing where to go if he ever got lost. Up until this day, it had always been the stars.

When Danny looked up, his dazed eyes saw only the black sky. He had finally reached a clearing, a relief from the prison that was the dense forest he was trapped in. (Somebody tell him what freedom feels like, because he thinks he forgot.) The gigantic ghost - wolf? Lion? Something in between? - that had chased him away from their campsite was nowhere to be seen and honestly, Danny was close to okay with that. His leg was throbbing painfully where the ghost had managed to sink his jaw into his flesh - ectoplasm? - and he wasn't sure anymore how long he had been here, running, flying, chasing and fighting the ghost. His exhausted mind had silenced the signals from inside his core to stand, to fight, to protect and all he wanted to do was lie down and sleep and watch the stars that where always there. (Always supposed to be there, always, always, always.)

Danny collapsed onto the cool forest ground, onto his back and focused on the sky above him, not the trees around him, not the grass beneath him and not the pain. (Don't think about the cold.) He knew he was exhausted when he failed to understand why he couldn't see the stars. (Always there. The stars? The cold.) Inside, he was starting to panic, mind racing, but not because he didn't have the energy and he felt restrained by not being able to form thoughts the way he should. (Frozen in the moment and where were the stars to warm him up?) Suddenly, part of the black sky gave way for a single star - not a star, no, the moon? (But it doesn't shine.) Danny couldn't remember ever feeling so relieved and disappointed at the same moment. (What do you mean "up until this day"? He loved the stars.)

Then the moon was gone once more, obscured by invisible clouds, a mindless black force and Danny couldn't help the shiver that vibrated through him. (Don't think about the cold.) He didn't know what it was that had made him believe the stars were too warm to get close to. (Not too warm, too bright or too beautiful. Just too far away.) Stars don't move, they have their place, their purpose. (Someone tell him what having a purpose feels like, because he thinks he forget even that.) But if he moved - too fast, too much - what could even keep up with him anymore?

Danny closed his eyes, the darkness of the sky being replaced with the darkness of his own mind and stayed still. (Just like the stars. Not warm and please don't even think about the cold.) There were steps to his left, hurried movement through the forest vegetation, the brown prison bars - no, trees - and the bed he was lying on - Grass? Yeah. - and then he heard his name. (A whisper, cold breath on his face but those hands were so warm.) And again. He knew that voice.

"Danny?" It took him a moment to recognize the panic in the two syllables. "Danny?!"

That was Tucker.

Tucker doesn't sound panicked.

He shouldn't.

Danny opened his eyes and stared up at the face that took up most of his view and he couldn't understand how there was none of that panic etched into his expression. (He had heard it.)

"I'm okay."

And he was. (He was okay because there was his best friend and he could see him and he could feel his warmth and he was safe.) At least for now. (Never always. There was only the stars that were always. Up until this day.) He wanted to get up, prove that he was alright, but instead he just stared at the pair of green eyes boring into his own and the way that the glow of his form caught in the glasses in between.

"I was worried when you wouldn't come back."

His eyes were wide and he could read the concern in them - no panic, just concern. Danny took note of the lack of comment on his declaration of being okay. He knew he was a terrible liar.

"Sorry."

His response was no more than a whisper. Danny didn't even try to hide how tired he was. Had it been Sam, he would have poured more strength into his words, had it been Jazz, more confidence. (Someone tell him what strength feels like, because he thinks he lost his. Just like he lost sight of the stars.) He knew he was injured and he knew he should stay in this form, but he was just so tired.

The blinding rings of light broke their stare and the way Danny almost involuntarily closed his eyes against the gravity of his exhaustion caused a more definite reaction from his friend. Danny heard Tucker gasp and he imagined his gaze travelling to the wound on his leg, to the red colour that decorated it.

"Oh no," he heard Tucker mutter and then the warm hands that had kept him grounded before disappeared and he almost regretted his choice. (Don't think about the cold, cold, cold. There was always the cold.) But then they were back, a soft trace on his cheek. (He was okay.)

"Danny? Come on, stay awake. We gotta get back to camp, alright? Danny?"

Once more, he forced his eyes open to meet his friend's worried one's. (Green meets blue, warm meets-)

"Danny."

He hummed and slowly lifted his hand. (What if it's not the stars?) With effort, he steered it towards his face. (What if he's the earth, moving, circling-) Tucker's fingers were gone before he could reach them and he lost the energy to hold his hand up. (Not the stars.) He couldn't read his expression and he just hoped it was because it was too dark. (The light he sees is the one his moon reflects back to him. It's never been the stars.)

They didn't talk, either lacking the strength to or not knowing which words to put together. Somehow, Tucker helped him up and soon he was leaning against him, not sure how he was even staying on his feet, but too tired to think about it anyway. He basically clung to Tucker and was about to drag one foot in front of the other, when he was pulled against his chest. (Close and warm. He couldn't think about the cold.)

"I'm so glad I found you," Tucker admitted. "And I- I mean it."

Danny blinked. (Someone tell him how to cry, because he hasn't in so, so long.)

"And I-" Tucker took a long breath and then let go again, not completely, just enough to turn the hug into just supporting Danny again. "Let's get back. We gotta clean your leg and then you can rest. Just- Just stay awake, okay?"

Danny wanted to tell him that of course he would and why was he so worried? But instead he found himself clinging to Tucker's words, urging him to keep talking and remind him to keep his eyes opened. Tucker didn't ask about the ghost. Danny didn't tell him. (Don't think about the cold.) He ended up answering Tucker's questions aboutthe stars instead, because Danny had always lived talking about them.

But then Danny found himself saying that "It was never the stars," and Tucker didn't answer, just waited for him to explain. "Tuck? When you where little, have you ever looked up at the sky and wondered where the stars go by day when you can still see the moon?"

They trudged through the forest, their progress agonizingly slow, the air still around them.

"I guess," Tucker said, strangely quiet. Everything was strangely quiet. (Everything was strange.) "What about it?"

Danny concentrated on his friend's warmth again and tried to pull him closer. He was sure Tucker noticed, but if he did he didn't comment on it.

"It was never the stars," Danny repeated. "Never the stars."

"Danny?"

He hummed, feeling Tucker's gaze on him, finding comfort in it. (Why? Why not the cold? Why the warmth? Why the moon?)

"You're like my moon, you know," Danny continued, thinking - briefly - that he must sound almost drunk. (Definitely strange.) "Only I know you're more important."

He didn't remember if Tucker ever said anything after that. They must have arrived at the campsite while it was still dark. No one interrupted them as Tucker maneuvered Danny into their shared tent. He thinks he probably fell asleep - blacked out? - before his friend could do anything to his leg, but when he woke up the next morning it was bandaged underneath his clothes and he felt a hundred times better. (He wasted no thought about the cold.) Seeing that it was empty aside from him, he climbed out of the tent.

When Danny looked up, his blue eyes found the moon. (Someone tell him what the stars look like, because he's sure they can't be as beautiful as the moon.)

And by the time the clouds moved in front of the moon, Tucker was there, smiling, and he put his arm around Danny's shoulder and he said, "So is it 'Tucker to earth' instead of 'earth to Danny' now? Let's go get breakfast."

They're off to get breakfast and Danny didn't think about the stars. It was never the stars.


It's not easy to see in the dark, but light makes it even harder sometimes.