Black and White: Part I
Eight years after the accident
It had seemed like a good idea at the time.
The arguments between Sam and her mother over Sam and Danny's wedding had started almost as soon as they'd announced their engagement, and they'd escalated quickly. Having long since resigned herself to the fact that Danny was in her daughter's life to stay, Mrs. Manson was determined to at least have the storybook wedding she dreamed of. Sam, whose favorite storybook tales included graveyards, zombies, and the occasional bat or raven for effect, naturally had other plans. Danny tried to stay out of it for the most part, as did Mr. Manson, but Sam's grandmother took Sam's side, as she usually did, loudly backing up her granddaughter's disdain for white dresses, colorful flowers, and hotel ballrooms with hundred-dollar-a-plate dinners. Danny couldn't help but notice, however, that whenever the topic turned to the ceremony itself, the elder Mrs. Manson would remain uncharacteristically silent. That, coupled with Danny's desire to prove to his future in-laws that he wasn't the source of all evil in their daughter's life, was what had prodded him to do what no sane prospective bridegroom should ever, under any circumstances do—offer an opinion about his own wedding.
"Maybe a traditional wedding wouldn't be such a bad thing," he'd suggested when they were alone in her apartment after she'd had a particularly ugly fight with her mother.
Sam had looked at him like he'd just suggested that maybe Hitler wasn't such a bad guy. "You're kidding, right?"
"Come on, Sam. Jazz and Nick had a traditional wedding, and it was a lot of fun."
She arched her eyebrow at him. "It was a lot of fun because your Aunt Alicia got plastered at the reception, picked a fight with your dad, he overreacted, decided she was being overshadowed by a ghost, and went after her with the Fenton Foamer. Half the guests got covered in ecto-goo—including Nick's mother—your mom and Aunt Alicia's 'roommate' had to pry your dad and aunt off of each other, and the hotel very nearly called the cops. Not exactly what I'd call 'traditional.' Jazz didn't speak to your dad for weeks."
"And this is exactly my point. If you're marrying a Fenton, your wedding is bound to be insane, no matter how traditional it is. So would it really be the end of the world if you wore a white dress one day out of your life? Or if we did all the traditional Jewish wedding stuff? It's just one day, Sam."
"Yeah, but it's our one day. Not hers."
"I know, but try and look at it from her side. You're her only daughter—her only child at all—and she's already not getting the son-in-law she wants. Would it be so bad to let her have the wedding she wants? We have our whole marriage and the whole rest of our lives to run however we want. Why can't we give her this one day?"
She glared at him. "Do you really want to see me in some Disney Princess monstrosity, and have bridesmaids in matching pink hoop skirts?"
"Sam, I'm a guy. You could wear shorts and a tube top and I'd be happy. I just think it would be a nice gesture to your mom to let her only daughter's wedding be nice and normal. Or as normal as possible with the Fentons involved, anyway. And it doesn't have to be a Disney Princess dress just because it's white. 'Traditional' doesn't have to mean poofy. You liked Jazz's wedding dress."
"Yeah, on her. Danny, you know I don't do traditional." She held up her left hand. "That's why you didn't get me a diamond ring, remember?"
"You're changing your name," he countered. "Even Jazz kept her name when she got married, but you're changing yours, and I never even asked you to do it. Never in a million years would it have occurred to me that you'd even consider it. If you can do something as traditional as changing your name, which lasts forever, then why is one day such a big deal?"
"I'm not changing my name because it's traditional or because you're the big, strong, man and I'm the lowly wife-slash-chattel. And Jazz didn't keep her name because of some sort of rigid feminist doctrine that all women must keep their names. We actually did it for the same reason—because this family is where we belong. For Jazz, it was a way of embracing the identity she spent the first sixteen years of her life trying to escape. For me, it's acknowledging that for as long as I've known you, your family has been my family, too. Let's face it, I'm way more Fenton than Manson."
He gave her a pointed look. "Your grandmother's a Manson."
"Technically, it was my Granddad Benjamin who was a Manson."
"Yeah, and they had a traditional Jewish wedding. She talks about it all the time—how special it was, and how your grandfather was the love of her life."
"He was the love of her life, but I don't think you could really call their wedding all that traditional. Jewish, yeah, but it was actually bordering on scandalous for the 1950s. Grandma was still single in her late twenties in the era when every girl was supposed to aspire to marry out of high school and become June Cleaver. She and Granddad were beatniks, into women's rights and civil rights, and they had to get married in a park because none of the 'respectable' hotels and country clubs would let their black best man in no matter how much money Great-Granddad Izzy threw around. And Grandma doesn't like the frou-frou garbage any more than I do."
"No, but don't you think it would mean a lot to her if you had a Jewish wedding ceremony?"
She glared at him. "Oh, that's low, Danny. Using my grandmother against me."
"Oh, come on. Jewish weddings are cool, with the little tent-thingy—"
"You mean the Chuppah?"
"Right. And breaking the glass, and I could wear one of those little beanies…"
"They're called 'yarmulkes.'" She rolled her eyes. "And you wonder why I didn't invite you to my Bat Mitzvah."
"You didn't invite me to your Bat Mitzvah because you didn't want me and Tucker to know your family was loaded."
"Well, yeah. I was afraid that when you grew up, you'd want to marry me for my money."
"Sam." He shook his head. "You know me. Of course I'm marrying you for your money."
She'd tackled him for that, and the memory of the ensuing wrestling match still brought a smile to his face, but in retrospect, he wished he would've just stayed out of the whole thing and let Sam and her mother work it out for themselves. While Sam's relenting and allowing her mother to plan a traditional wedding had stopped the arguments for a while, as the months had progressed, things had gotten more and more out of control. What had started as a small ceremony and reception in the Mansons' back yard had turned into the Amity Park social event of the season, with well over three hundred guests, a lavish outdoor ceremony and reception at Amity Country Club, and more talk of flowers, photographers, musicians, caterers, and taffeta gowns than Danny would have ever thought possible.
In the final weeks leading up to "The Event," as Danny was starting to think of it, Sam's mother was running her ragged on wedding-related tasks. As the groom, and therefore incidental to the whole proceedings, Danny usually wasn't involved, so he spent most of his time packing and moving their stuff from his parents' house, her parents' house, and her campus apartment in Hammond into the two-story brownstone on which they'd just closed escrow. As he'd predicted, Sam made early decision at the University of Chicago Law School, and all her worries about having to move too far from Amity Park were for naught. They'd talked about renting an apartment somewhere between Chicago and Amity Park so they could split the distance commuting, but then they'd found the brownstone just two blocks away from FentonWorks and decided that with the university well on the south side of Chicago, it was a short enough commute for Sam to make without them having to live outside of Amity Park.
Sunday, one week before The Event, while Sam's mother had Sam and Valerie, the maid of honor, out on yet another wedding errand, Danny roped the rest of the bridal party, which consisted of Tucker, Jazz, Nick, Danielle, and Dash, into helping him move the last of Sam's stuff from her campus apartment. Movers were coming for the furniture on Monday, and the appliance store was delivering their new washer, dryer, and refrigerator on Wednesday, so they only needed to worry about the boxes, which Sam had already packed. With seven of them—Dash had invited his boyfriend along as well—it didn't take long to load up the Fenton RV and head back to Amity Park. There was more stuff than would fit in the RV, but Danny figured a second trip ought to do it. After they finished hauling the first load into the new house, they decided to take a break before heading back to Hammond for the rest.
"Hey, Fen-toady." Dash poked Danny in the back as he followed him out the front door onto the porch. "Didn't you promise us beer for helping you lug all your girlfriend's junk?"
Danny sank wearily down onto the porch steps. "Sure, Dash. It's in the cooler in the Fenton RV. Help yourself." While he was talking, Danielle brushed by them on her way down the steps, and Danny pointed at her. "Not you. You're only nineteen."
"Duh, Dad." She made a face at him. "You did put water bottles in there, too, right?" Without waiting for an answer, she climbed into the RV.
"Hey, Dani! Grab me a beer while you're in there, wouldja?" Dash called after her. "And one for Patrick."
The short, wiry brunet beside him shot him a scornful look over wire-rimmed glasses. "What is she, your servant girl? Get your own damn beer."
Danny had to bite back a smile. Patrick Lawrence was as unlikely a match for Dash as he could imagine. A pastry chef at Le Prix Gonflé, he and Dash had met when Jazz had hired him to make her wedding cake. He was doing Danny and Sam's cake as well, and had even been testing out different vegan recipes for the top tier so they could do the whole cake-feeding thing. Because of his small size and his glasses, Patrick looked like exactly the kind of person Dash would have spent most of high school beating up behind the bleachers. Yet, despite the fact that Dash towered over him and probably outweighed him by a good hundred pounds, Patrick never seemed the least bit intimidated. On the contrary, his quick wit and somewhat snarky personality made him more than a match for Dash. Sam had liked him instantly.
Rolling his eyes at Dash, Patrick started down the steps after Dani. "Never mind. I'll help her. Anyone else want anything?"
"I'll take a beer," Tucker said as he sat down beside Danny.
"How 'bout you, Danny?"
"Water's good. I'm driving."
While Dani and Patrick were in the RV getting the drinks, Jazz and Nick came out of the house. As they passed by Danny on their way down the steps, Nick reached down and clapped him on the back. "This is one sweet place you got here, Danny. I'm so jealous that you can afford something this nice right out of college."
"It's Sam, not me. The bank saw the name 'Manson' on the loan application and practically threw themselves at us. It was worse than Tucker trying to get a date in high school."
Danny shook his head. "I thought they were gonna cry when they found out we were only buying a lowly four-bedroom brownstone and not a mansion out in Polter Heights."
Nick snickered. "I'll bet."
Dani and Patrick emerged from the RV with beers and water bottles, and while they were passing them around, Tucker turned to Danny. "So, you ready for your last week as a free man?"
"I'm ready for this whole mess to be over with, is what I'm ready for." Danny scrubbed his face with his hands. "This wedding is completely out of control, and Sam is a total basket case. Either the stress is gonna kill her, or she'll strangle her mother, and our honeymoon'll be a conjugal visit at the Indiana Women's Prison."
"Well, what'd you expect, dude? You knew she'd hate the whole swanky thing when you talked her into it."
"Yeah, I know. It's just… I guess I thought if we could make her mom happy, everything would turn out fine. But the woman's like one of those energy leeches from Cyber Zombie Four, completely sucking us dry of any life at all. Anytime Sam gives her an inch, she takes a light-year."
"Is it too late to elope?" Tucker asked.
Jazz, who had taken a seat in the open door of the RV with Nick beside her, shot him a look of warning. "You'd better not elope. Mom and Dad will never speak to you again. Although…" She tilted her head as if thinking about it. "Considering what happened at my wedding, maybe that's not a bad idea after all."
"We're not eloping. No way I went through the last eight months just to end up taking off to Vegas or something. Although it is tempting."
Jazz shook her head. "I don't see what the big deal is. Mrs. Manson's a little overenthusiastic, granted, but it really will be a lovely wedding."
"Yeah, but this is Sam we're talking about. She doesn't want lovely. She wants… unique."
"She wants weird," Jazz corrected.
Tucker snorted. "Come on. Dash Baxter is standing up in Danny Fenton's wedding. You can't ask for weirder than that."
Dash punched his shoulder from behind. "I can hear you, Foley."
Tucker smirked at him while rubbing his shoulder. "I know."
Jazz, her arms still crossed, gave them all an admonishing look. "I just think she should sit back and enjoy how beautiful everything's gonna be. Even the bridesmaids' dresses are less than hideous. And Sam's dress? It's gorgeous! Sleek, elegant, and not a ruffle or bow in sight. I only wish I could've afforded a designer gown like that for my wedding."
Danielle, sitting on the sidewalk in front of the Fenton RV, snickered. "What difference would it have made? It still would've ended up covered in green goo."
Jazz glared at her. "Don't remind me."
"Or me," Patrick added. "What they did to the cake was tragic."
Jazz turned back to Danny. "The point is, there's nothing wrong with the dress, but Sam can't stand it just because it's white. Instead, she's drooling over this corseted thing with those spidery chiffon sleeves she saw in the window of that creepy goth store the next block over from the bridal shop. And it's black! Except for the purple corset, anyway. It's pretty and everything, but for a wedding?"
Patrick took a sip of his beer. "I don't know. I think white bridal gowns are overrated. Why shouldn't a bride wear a little color?"
"Color, fine. But black?" Jazz grimaced. "It's for mourning, not celebration. Who wears black to their own wedding?"
"The groom?" Nick offered. It earned him an elbow to the ribs.
"And Sam." Danny leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and his chin in his hands. "I don't know what I was thinking, talking her out of the wedding she wanted. And for what? So her mom could go from barely tolerating me to moderately tolerating me? And now Sam's gonna be miserable and just… not her, and it's all my fault."
Patrick reached over to pat him on the back. "Trust me, Danny. I've seen a million weddings, and everyone gets freaked out over them. In another week, it'll be all over, and you'll all have forgotten why it was such a big deal." Stretching, he climbed to his feet. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to use the little boy's room before we head back to Hammond. You wanna point me in the right direction?"
Danny had to think about it a moment. The house was new and somewhat unfamiliar to him, and it still felt strange every time he realized it was his. "Uh… there's one off the kitchen on the right."
Danielle leaned back against the side of the RV. "I'm with Patrick. I think it would be cool if she wore a black wedding dress."
Jazz groaned. "She'd look like Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice!"
Danielle twisted to look up at her. "So? She always looks like Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice. She is a goth, and Danny's a half-ghost—"
"Shh!" Jazz nudged her with her foot. "Patrick's right inside."
"Oh, he can't hear from all the way in the bathroom. And once he and Dash get hitched, we'll end up telling him anyway."
"Uh…" Dash sounded a little leery. "Let's not get ahead of ourselves."
"I'm just saying," Dani continued. "A goth marrying a half-ghost—their wedding should be weird like that."
Danny sat up straight, his eyes widening. "Wait. I am half ghost."
Dash shrugged. "And I'm half German. What's your point?"
"That I've been looking at this whole thing like a human, when I should be looking at it like a ghost." He turned to Jazz. "I need you to do me a favor. And Dani, I'll need your help, too."
"Yeah. Unless you know of any other half-ghosts in the wedding party?" He stood up. "Come on. The two of us are gonna take a little trip in the Specter Speeder."
"Danny!" Jazz stood up, too. "What about the rest of the boxes back at Sam's apartment?"
"The boxes can wait. This is more important."