So I decided to rewrite this chapter. Enjoy!
Chapter 35- Danny- The Light Behind Your Eyes
It's funny, how in the midst of chaos and tragedy, one can find peace. Broken souls cried out in agony, friends screamed, yet I felt nothing. I was nothing, and the world was nothing.
Death was such a funny concept. Some fear it, some beg for it, some find it an insult to humanity. Death, however, wasn't scary, nor was it the relief of life. It was just a different state of being- a new plain of existence. Being dead was calm.
However, somehow, it felt wrong too. Why wasn't my soul granted freedom? Or, on the flip side, how was it deemed pure enough to be granted access to this hell, but avoid residence here?
You aren't dead. That pesky voice inside my head wouldn't let me have peace; whispers filled my head insisting that, despite where I was and how I felt, I wasn't dead yet. Remember the mission, they said. Come back to us, they would beg.
Where was back? What was there that was better than here? Why live in a world full of hurt, when you could exist in a realm where not even death could do you part?
There was a significant lack of holiday spirit in the tower. Desiree brought with her a sense of dread and anxiety; we all knew her plan would end up being unforgiving and dangerous, and her silence sent our minds down the darkest paths.
Dani tried hard to get people into the spirit, she made cookies and helped Beast Boy and Starfire decorate the Christmas tree. Her laughs and smiles were forced, and despite her best efforts, everyone could tell.
Leon suggested putting on a Christmas movie, like Frosty the Snowman, but everyone watched it without seeing it. Finally, when the sun went down, Desiree came out to the living room.
"You do not seem happy." She said quietly.
Robin put his hand up. "Don't try to be delicate. We know you have a plan, and we've all come to realize that we probably won't like it." Desiree looked at me for a moment. "That being said, we're ready to know it. The anticipation is worse than knowing."
The look on Desiree's face bordered on human- she looked pitiful and sorry, almost as if she didn't want to say whatever she was going to say next.
"If you are to understand this plan, you must first understand how she died."
My heart skipped a beat- was Liz actually dead? But then, why did we have a plan? Confused, I stood and followed her and everyone else to the infirmary. It was clear that Desiree had been in there doing research- she had messed up Cyborgs perfect filling system and computer set up in the process.
"There were two unidentified elements in Elizabeth's blood- three if you count the one you ignored- appearing only after she was shot." She pointed to the medical records. "This one," she pointed again, "Was ignored. Why? Excellent question. Because it made her blood normal on a human spectrum."
Cyborg raised an eyebrow. "What does that mean?"
"Ghost's are dead- yet we exist in a dimension where we can be hurt and get sick; we have our own ghost biology. Thus, we have a 'ghost metabolism'. We aren't hurt by things in the human world because our metabolism is faster than humans and our biology is tuned for a different world. Humans can hardly get hurt by ghost weapons; ghost weapons focus on the dead, human weapons don't Different biology, different metabolisms.
"Now, let's take a moment to think of our two true half bloods. Complete freaks of nature. To be blunt, they are quite literally half dead, half alive. But, their dead half is fully ghost, so, they have ghost biology AND human biology."
Everyone turned to give me a strange look, and I shifted uncomfortably.
"That being said," Desiree continued, "More often than not, ghost biology beats out human biology. So Daniel and Elizabeth are stuck with faster metabolisms, faster healing abilities, despite being susceptible to both human and ghost weapons, and ghost powers. Even the fact that their physical appearance changes when 'going ghost' is a part of Ghost biology."
Beast Boy yawned. "This is making my brain hurt. Can we skip to the important part? Like, the point you're failing to make?"
Desiree glared at him. "This-" she pointed to the supposedly ignored unidentified substance from Liz's blood report. "Slowed her metabolism down to a lower than regular rate- lower than most humans even. Had this happened to Daniel, it wouldn't have been nearly as disastrous."
Leon cocked his head to the side. "Why?"
"Elizabeth was born with ghost biology, Daniel was gifted it. It was unnaturally introduced to his system, and he was lucky enough to survive it. What was given can be taken away. Elizabeth? Her body has never functioned at a human rate, so this was a major issue. Now, see that?" Desiree pointed to another unidentified substance. "That's Blood Blossom extract; the only known poison for ghosts. It was spreading throughout her body, even after the bullet was removed. How? Yet another excellent question." The ghost was getting hyped up now, eyes shining with excitement and voice quickening. "This last unidentified material is nanobots."
"Nana-bots?" Beast Boy asked, suddenly perking up. "Like, little old lady robots? Are they knitting sweaters and baking cookies?"
Cyborg pinched the bridge of his nose. "Nano. Nanobots, Beastie. As in small. Like, microscopically small."
"Oh," Beast Boy grinned sheepishly. "That makes more sense."
Robin folded his arms over his chest. "How did we miss nanobots? Don't we have tech that can detect that?"
"Not unless you have technology from ten years in the future." Desiree said dryly. "I can only detect these because I've seen them before. Robert was working on something very similar."
My heart stopped, my blood ran cold. "Robert, as in Liz's dad Robert?"
"What do they do?" Dani asked as I stood still, speechless and shocked.
"They released chemicals; blood blossom, nerve stimulants, electric shocks mimicking brain waves."
"How do you know they do all that?" Raven questioned suspiciously.
"As I said, I've seen this technology before. I am aware of what it does."
"What the hell were ghosts going to use this for?" Robin asked. Desiree ignored him, and my stomach clenched.
"I still don't get it." Beast Boy complained. "How does all this sciencey stuff explain how Liz died?"
Desiree rolled her eyes, letting out an unamused laugh. "Are you all stupid? Nerve stimulant, fake brain waves!" She sighed in disappointment at our blank faces. "Elizabeth can transport herself, yes? And she does so by thinking of the place she wants to go- she sends brain waves to her powers, or her nerves. If these nanobots could control that, then what if, in her last moments, when you witnessed what you assumed was death, she just teleported."
"You...You're basing this on a 'what if'?" I asked, anger replacing my shock and confusion. "As in, 'what if she's been in a cell with the Guys In White this whole time'?"
"You really should try and finish high school, Daniel." Desiree told me. "You can't get very far in this world with a pretty face and super powers. Clearly you are forgetting the magic of her charm."
"It's supposed to take her to the ghost zone for help if she's ever fatally hurt."
"Exactly. Clearly that didn't happen."
"So where is she then?"
"Daniel, please get a higher education. I'll try to explain this slowly; if her body is being compelled to go somewhere on Earth- let's say the Guys In White HQ- while her magic ghost charm is trying to take her to the Ghost Zone, what do you think happened to her?"
Robin's eyes widened behind his mask. "She'd be pulled across reality's."
"And only be able to appear as, well, a ghost. Finally someone understands!" Desiree beamed at Robin, moving closer to him. "You obviously understand, then, that there are an infinite number of reality's and thus finding her would be impossible."
Everyone in the room stopped breathing. "There's a 'but' after that sentence, right?" Leon said hopefully.
"But," said Desiree, earning a victory 'whoop!' from Leon, and a collective exhale from everyone else in the room. "She has shown herself to us, or at least Daniel, in many different forms. If I wasn't a legitimate ghost, I'd say he was haunted. That means she can only be in one place; the dimension of Lost Souls."
The room suddenly grew cold, and a chill went up my spine. Just the name of the place sounded creepy, but saying it out loud seemed to make the entire world darker, more hopeless.
"I've never heard of that place, and I've heard of a lot of places." Raven said.
"No one is meant to know of this place. It is the truest form of pain and sadness. It is where souls in flux go, souls that got lost somewhere along the way, and they can never escape. If you are one to believe in Hell, then this is it."
"Take us there." Starfire said, speaking up for the first time since Desiree began her explanation. "If friend Liz is there, then we must save her."
Desiree dropped her eyes, suddenly becoming serious. "It is possible she is alive in the dimension of Lost Souls," she began. "But is just as likely that she truly died there, and her soul is all that remains."
"What does that mean?" I couldn't breath right.
"If she is even barely alive, we can save her." Said Desiree. "But if she is gone and is just a soul? There is no coming back from that."
"We have to try." Robin said, a hand on my shoulder. "Either way, we need an answer. How do we get there?"
Desiree explained how she could send the 'living soul' of one person the dimension of Lost Souls. With Ravens help, the team could even stay in contact with the person. The person who was, unarguably, me.
"You will have to be nearly dead." Desiree warned. "But I'm sure that this medical equipment will keep everything under control and safe."
Everyone stared at her as though she had suggested we skin live puppies, and tell children that Santa was really that drunk homeless guy, Sticky Joe.
"The living aren't meant to enter that realm," She explained. "There will be chaos enough if Elizabeth is there and alive, an entirely live soul there could upset the universal balance, not to mention prove fatal for Daniel."
No one spoke. No one wanted to, because as much as they felt the need to, they couldn't argue. This was our answer. This was how we got Liz back, how I got her back. Desiree had nothing more to add, saying she would explain the rest in the morning, when we were all rested and ready for the plan.
No one was ready for the plan.
So we didn't talk about it. We didn't talk about anything, because saying anything would sound too much like saying goodbye, too much like planning for the worst. Instead we spent Christmas eve together, not speaking, just enjoying. For hours we watched old animated Christmas movies. As the night wore on I watched our tree sparkle, more beautiful than the stars in the sky.
Starfire encouraged us to go to our rooms and sleep, worried that Santa wouldn't come. Instead we migrated to the roof, looking at the city at night, lit up with Christmas lights. We didn't talk about tomorrow, we didn't cry. We were just together.
It was the best Christmas Eve of my life.
Christmas morning was cold, dark, and serious. No one was running to the tree to look for presents, or checking stalkings, or seeing if Santa's plate of cookies had been touched. No one was merry or bright.
I was still sitting on the roof, letting reality finally sink in. Cyborg was downstairs, prepping the equipment that was going to kill me. Raven was with Desiree, planning on how to keep a connection to me. Dani and Leon were being taught what to do if the equipment malfunctioned, and I accidentally really and truly died. Beast Boy and Starfire were doing their best to help, but Starfire's hands wouldn't stop shaking, and Beast Boy was too distracted to focus on anything.
Robin sat next to me on the roof, pulling his jacket closer to him.
"Aren't you cold?" He asked, avoiding the obvious question.
"No." I stared at the dark clouds overhead. Snow storm, probably.
After an awkward few minutes Robin said, "You okay?"
I took a deep breath. "I'm not sure." I was going to almost die, on purpose. Only to go to a dimension where I could die, for real, and forever. "Do you think she's alive, Robin?"
A cold breeze blew past us and I shivered. "Do you think I'll die?"
"Are you afraid you will?" Robin answered.
"Yeah." I said quietly. "I think I am."
Robin turned to look at me seriously, his mouth set in a line. "Good. That fear will help you stay alive."
Leon opened the door to the roof, his eyes red from crying. "It's time." He said, voice cracking. He crushed me in a hug as I walked past him, taking the stairs to the right floor.
"This is a stupid plan," Dani was saying when I opened the door. "We still have time to change our minds!"
Desiree crossed her arms. "We might, but Elizabeth might not."
Before Dani could argue more, I put a hand on her shoulder. "It's okay. I want to do this. I have to."
Cyborg looked grim next to the cot I was going to die on. It was surrounded by machinery, and I had to take a breath and remind myself that this wasn't the Guys In White. I wasn't going to be hurt here, I wasn't going to be strapped down.
Desiree gave me a crash course on the dimension of Lost Souls and Cyborg began to hook me up to the equipment. I had to be dead- or as close to it as they could get me- because lost souls could kill me. They can escape if they find life and drain it, which is why access to the dimension is so difficult, and almost no one knows about it. Souls didn't think, they just acted. However, they'd be able to tell I was a 'live soul' and was thinking, and they would attack me. If they touched me, it would hurt, and they could grab me, but they couldn't drain my life away unless I touched them. Desiree didn't know what the dimension of Lost Souls looked like, but she had heard things. I had to stay in neutral ground, somewhere I wouldn't get 'lost'.
"Daniel," Desiree grabbed my hand. "Few have ever ventured into this dimension, and none have lived to tell the tale. The world will mess with your mind, you might become very confused. If you hear us speaking listen to every word. If you become detached or lost then we won't be able to bring you back. If we tell you to move, you move, no matter what. Is that clear?"
"Crystal." My voice shook.
Raven and Robin stood next to me as I laid back on the cot, waiting for Cyborg to prick me with the needle that would end my life.
"If you need anything," Raven said. "I'll be listening. And if anything goes wrong, even if you don't think it's going wrong, we're pulling you out of there." I nodded.
"You'll be okay," Robin promised. His tone was uncertain. "We have your back, no matter what."
Cyborg nodded at me as he slid the IV needle in my arm. I hardly noticed it. "Here we go," He breathed, starting the flow of drugs as I leaned back.
The wold seemed to slow down, and I took a moment to appreciate the moment. I wasn't scared. For the first time in my life, I was nearing death, and I wasn't afraid; I wasn't beaten to the point of death, or starving, or tied down and treated like a lab rat. Nothing hurt. I wasn't alone. I was surrounded by people who genuinely cared about me, and I felt peace.
The drugs were making my head feel light. My eyes focused on the wall behind everyone, the one that was splattered with paint. The colors began to swirl together, yet I still wasn't afraid. I realized for a minute that, while I wasn't completely dying yet, there was a very real possibility that I'd never see these people again. My team, my friends.
As my vision turned dark, I realized that this was good. This was nice. If I was going to die like this, then I was okay with it.
"Are you ready, Danny?" Ravens voice sounded a million miles away.
Pro tip; don't say 'yes' when asked to go to the dimension of Lost Souls.
There is no color in the dimension of Lost Souls. Everything is gray, except the souls themselves, which are black, faceless shadows. I was thrown into the dimension without warning, and suddenly I was in a tornado, being thrown around in erratic circles; the sound of static filled my ears deafeningly loud.
A million thoughts filled my mind and for each one of them, a soul clawed at me, dragging me in various directions, digging into my arms and legs, breaking skin.
"RAVEN!" Was this supposed to happen? Was I dying? Was I not dead enough?
"I'm here!" I could hardly hear her over the static. "Give us a minute! Try and calm down!"
I'm okay. I'm alright. I'm here for Liz. I am not dead. I am here for Liz.
The souls seemed to back off, and I was able to escape from the walls of the tornado, instead floating in the eye of the storm.
I looked down at myself; I didn't look anything like the shadows of souls. My body, or soul, I guess, was white instead of black, and seemed to be more dimensional.
"You okay?" Raven asked me. I didn't feel bad, but I didn't feel good either. My head was spinning, I could feel my heart thump in my chest, but I felt like I couldn't breath- like I was drowning. At the same time, I felt numb, like I wasn't connected to my body at all.
"Feel weird..." I muttered, flinching as a soul lunged for me.
"Hold on." Slowly, every sense I had of the real world, of the tower, vanished; I didn't feel my body anymore, or the blanket under me, or Starfire's hand crushing mine.
"You body is fighting really hard to keep this stuff out of your system." Raven informed me. "We have to give you really big doses to keep you at 'Lost Soul' levels." She paused. "This is really dangerous Danny. If you feel weird in the slightest, tell us."
"Where are you? Do you see her?" I didn't. I didn't see anything but shadows, didn't hear anything but static, felt nothing but wind, trying to pull me into the walls of this tornado hell. The walls continued up and down infinitely, infested with souls crawling around like roaches.
The souls ran over each other, were thrown over each other, tossed around by the wind. They grabbed violently at one another, pushing and pulling to get to wherever it was the wanted to go, ripping shadows apart only to have them reform somewhere else. It was barbaric.
"I don't know where to go." As soon as I spoke, the souls closest to me, turned, only for a moment, before returning to their chaos.
"Try calling for her." Desiree suggested.
"Liz?" Souls turned to me. "Liz, are you here?" Some began to move towards me. Suddenly, my soul was turning black, and Raven was screaming.
"What's happening!?" I was thinking and I was panicking and the souls knew it, and they attacked me, pulling me in a hundred different directions at once. We were in the wind, being thrown in circles.
"POWER-OUT-DYING" I could only make out so many of Ravens words. "OUT-ID- SNOW- ELP. OK?"
Every second, my soul grew darker. I was dying. The power had gone out. They had to overdose me to keep me here. I was going to die here. God, I was never going to escape this place.
I couldn't think straight, couldn't control where I was going. I grabbed on to whatever I could, but those things happened to be souls. As I grabbed them, I gave them permission and access to begin draining my life away.
"STAY- ME!" Raven was yelling. A soul tackled me, and as Raven screamed words that were impossible for me to hear, we plummeted down.
The ground was hard and cold. Everything hurt. To my left, a monster or demon sat, scratching up and down my arm, white light flowing out of the cuts he made. He bent to drink it, like a vampire, before another one, or twenty, would begin to charge him; some trying to tear into him, others fighting for his previous spot. The demon monsters couldn't cut into their friend- not like they could to me. With him, their marks were worn away quickly, no blood or light shed. I, on the other hand, seemed to have enough to fuel many of these monsters, more and more butchering each other in order to find some light.
My head hurt- everything was fuzzy. Where am I? What's happening? Am I dying? That was the only explanation.
Faintly, I could hear voices. "This wasn't supposed to happen!" "He's dead, isn't he?" A gentle voice whispered to me, "Please, Danny, please answer me."
I didn't know who Danny was, and even if I did, I didn't think I could speak. Everything was too cold, too numb. I wasn't even sure I could move. I was being killed by demons, and I couldn't fight them off, or even cry for help.
Why am I here?
"Danny, don't give up, please." The voice sounded very familiar. "Danny," The voice repeated, sounding closer. "You can do this. You can come back to us. C'mon, Danny."
I shifted, trying to get away from the monsters. It seemed pointless. Everything was dark, this world was hopeless, the voices were crying, and I was dying.
Why am I here? What am I doing?
"Danny!" A girl was shrieking. "You can't do this!"
More demons ran over each other, and I realized they were becoming less interested in me, and more fixated on each other. The monsters that had light were being attacked, and I was being more or less left alone, save for being trampled in their stampede. I rolled away slowly, every part of my body sore. When I looked down at myself, it became obvious why the demons had lost interest in me- there was hardly any light left in me at all. Just the smallest pinprick of light shown in my chest.
It started snowing. Snowflakes fell on my outstretched palms, collecting into fistfuls of snow. The demons paid it no notice, the snow passing through the entirely dark ones, sticking to the ones with light. It didn't seem right to me- why would it be snowing here? Could it even snow here?
All at once, the demons stopped fighting. As if a switch had been flipped, they stopped attacking and began to race up the walls of wind, once again flooding over each other. The snow began to fall heavier.
Something told me to follow the demons, that they were going somewhere important, somewhere I needed to be. It was painful to get up, but I did, following the crowd slowly. The further up I got, the snow became thicker, the winds became harsher, but my head was clearing.
Danny. That was me. I was Danny. Those things weren't demons, they were souls. I wasn't dead yet, but I was pretty close- those souls had been draining my life.
"Raven?" I asked cautiously, using my arms to block the blizzard from my face. There was no answer. For a moment I was afraid that they were convinced I was dead- or that in the real world I had died, but it didn't matter. I saw what the souls were swarming towards.
Two souls were fighting- not barbaric ripping and clawing like the other souls, but hand to hand combat fighting. One was purely red, the other had a light that was slowly shrinking. The lost souls were trying to attack them both, but they seemed to be unable to touch the red soul at all. The other, however, was not so lucky. Like me, it was slowly being bled of light.
As the souls fought, my chest tightened. Somehow I knew, this was it. Right here, in front of me, was what I'd been searching for.
It was Liz.
I shouted her name, and the world froze- lost souls stopped moving, snow ceased falling. The red soul seemed to turn to me and stare for a moment before a jack-o-lantern smile appeared on it's face, and it disappeared.
The lost souls remained motionless, snowflakes frozen in air. I moved towards Liz, and she flinched.
"Liz?" Her soul was pulsing like a heart beat. "Is that you?"
The soul seemed to sit there, regarding me, and for a moment I was scared I was wrong, and this wasn't Liz. Then, the soul put it's hand on my ripped up arm, and I knew. Every fiber of my being was filled with happiness at the familiar touch, a touch that, even in soul form, could only belong to Liz.
She moved forward and hugged me, and I wanted to cry. I had her back. I was almost dead, she was almost dead, we were souls, but we were together. I wanted the moment to fast forever.
As we floated there, I leaned down and whispered, "Liz, are you ready to go home?"
Very faintly, I heard her answer. "Please. Please, Danny. Let's go home."
THE END OF BOOK TWO There will be a book three- don't know when yet. I'm going to have it finished before I start posting it this time- I haven't done that with my stories and then I end up having really long gaps between updates and that annoys me. So SORRY IT'LL BE A LITTLE BIT!
Might do some really short fics in the meantime though!
Thank you guys so much for reading! Love you! (::)