Wow, the final installment? Already? Well, this being the last chapter I'll ever write for 'The Sleeping Sickness', I think I'll put all of my final notes at the bottom.
Final Disclaimer: Same as the first one. Nothing's changed; not that you would expect it, huh?
It was six o'clock ante meridian that Friday morning when Danny's alarm clock decided to ring.
Danny Fenton woke up, black hair as messy as ever, inwardly complaining that he had woken so early, but still knowing how close he had come in the past few days to not waking up at all.
Assuming that Jazz or someone had moved him upstairs, Danny proceeded to prepare for school, then submitted himself to several temperature-takings and many repeats of, "Are you sure you feel better?" from his mom, while listening to the complaints of his father that "The darn Wisconsin ghost got away again!"
Danny smiled and glanced over at Vlad at that. "I'm sure we'll get him next time," Danny said, carefully directing every syllable towards the millionaire.
School was, as usual, quite the ordeal. Dash had apparently thought that Danny's absence was simply an excuse to stuff Danny in his locker more often throughout the day.
"Not even lunch, and he's already got me... What, four, five times now?" Danny muttered, phasing through his locker so as not to be late to his science class, rubbing his shoulder. Griffin, the Box Ghost, Mortis, and most recently, Dash had all managed to jar his left shoulder painfully throughout the course of a single week.
But there was more of an ordeal to school than a jock's bullying. Danny had finished almost none of his homework, so he was already subdued when he plodded into science.
"Good morning, class. Today is the day you've all be waiting for... The biology test!" The class groaned simultaneously. Mr. Murray paused dramatically before continuing. "Don't worry, it's only worth twenty percent of your final grade!"
Danny thumped his head down on the desk; he hadn't studied once!
He was to be surprised, though. At the end of the class, once the tests had been completed and graded (they were graded in the 'classmates grade each other's papers' fashion), Danny looked apprehensively at the face down paper on his desk.
Do I really want to torture myself?
Finally, the suspense became too much, and Danny anxiously turned the paper over.
Forty-four out of fifty? Danny didn't need to be a math genius to know that was eighty-eight percent. He had passed with a B, and if he was not mistaken, that grade had brought his entire class average up to a C-minus.
Danny couldn't help but smiling as he handed the paper in on the way out to lunch. Finally, ghost fighting had paid off! Perhaps it was Jazz, who had narrated much of the process of creating the cure. Or perhaps it was the fact that Danny had spent more than his fair share of time looking at his notes in the attempt to decipher the ghostly language.
Feeling very satisfied with himself, Danny hurried to meet Tucker and Sam in the lunchroom, even ducking under a very startled Dash to successfully avoid another unscheduled meeting with the inside of a locker.
Danny walked home, oddly unaccompanied by either of his two friends, to find Vlad sitting in his living room.
Danny sighed; if he wanted Vlad to leave, it looked like he needed to take matters into his own hands.
"Hello, Vladimir," Danny said, mimicking the elder halfa's irritating habit of using full names.
"Why, good afternoon, Daniel," he replied menacingly.
"...And goodbye, Vladimir," Danny continued, pointing meaningfully out the door.
"You want me to leave?" Danny nodded. "Oh, but I had so much fun here..." Vlad falsely pouted.
"What part of 'leave my house now' do you not understand, Plasmius?" Danny asked angrily.
"Your house? I was under the impression that this house was owned by your idiot father."
Danny flinched as his ghost sense was triggered. Then he grinned as he saw the purple form of Griffin phase through the wall just behind Vlad.
"You might want to leave now," Danny said, still grinning.
"You know, I don't think I will."
Vlad leapt up and turned around so fast he knocked the chair he had been sitting on over. When he saw the griffin, he relaxed.
"Oh, please, Daniel. You don't think I can't defeat that oversized feather duster as easily as I can defeat you, do you?" Vlad transformed into Plasmius, preparing to fire an ectoblast at the Griffin.
At that moment, the arrival of Jack and Maddie Fenton was hailed by the deep shout of, "Ghost!"
The jumpsuited parents arrived upon the scene, taking in Plasmius with a lit-up hand, standing next to their son, Griffin having cleverly made herself invisible.
"Ah, now, um, what was that you were saying about my so-called 'idiot father', ghost?" Danny asked, trying his best to keep from laughing while looking afraid at the same time.
"Jack Fenton is not an idiot!" the father in question boomed, hefting a bazooka aimed in the general direction of Vlad.
"Prepare to die again, you odd manifestation of ectoplasmic energy and post-human consciousness!" Maddie added.
Danny dropped his voice so only Vlad could hear. "You know, I think you have less than five seconds this time."
"Well, aren't you the clever one, Daniel. I'll get you next time, Danny Pha-er, Fenton."
And with that, Vlad vanished in a puff of ectoplasmic smoke, Danny looking smugly at the place where he had previously been.
"He got away," Jack said disappointedly, lowering the bazooka and hanging his head.
"Quick, Jack!" Maddie cried, flying out the door. "We might still be able to catch him!"
Danny blinked in bewilderment. "Did Vlad just call me Danny?"
Griffin nudged him with her beak, interrupting Danny's bewildered rhetorical question.
"What?" he asked, turning to her. She motioned with her head, stamping her feet. Finally she ran to the window, and ran back to Danny.
"...You want me to follow you?" he asked. Griffin closed her eyes in satisfaction and bobbled her head up and down.
"Okay..." Danny said. He transformed to his ghost half and followed the griffin through the wall.
Danny trailed Griffin to the park, where he had first encountered her the previous Friday. He followed her through the park, wondering where she was going, until she finally stopped beside a tree that looked as if it had recently been set aflame.
Griffin began digging at the base of an oddly familiar oak tree opposite of the charred one.
Looking likely to uproot it, Danny pulled the bird away. Glancing at a space made between two roots, Danny saw something black and shiny in the churned soil.
Picking it up, Danny found that it was a black pen lid. And, next to it, something that looked oddly like that gray lid Danny had come across nearly a week previously. Unearthing the object with a simple display of intangibility, Danny found that it was a lidless gray box, lined with red velvet, and containing a solitary black pen.
Danny looked the two objects over, putting two and two together in his head.
The one place no one would look for a ghostly pen: buried under an oak tree in the middle of Amity Park's park! Danny assumed that the lid he had found was the lid to the box (it looked about the same size) and that the pen had originally come from the box. Griffin, having formerly worked for Mortimer, had been looking for it, and had taken it with her the Friday Danny had fought her so long ago.
Danny turned to the griffin in question and patted her beak fondly, still looking thoughtfully at the items in his hands. It could be partially considered his fault that the Sleeping Sickness had been unleashed, if that were the case. But he simply shook his head and placed the lid, box, and pen inside his purple backpack. He smiled at Griffin.
"You'd better go on home," he said, and the ghost flew off with a loud and happy squawk. Danny turned to follow.
"Hey, um, D-Danny?"
The ghost boy turned back to the person who had hailed him. It was the blonde, hazel-eyed boy he had seen in the park, Michael.
"Yes?" Danny asked, puzzled.
"Was that your bird?" the boy asked.
"Well... she's a griffin." Seeing the boy's fearful look, Danny remembered the incident in which he had saved him a week ago. "Griffin's actually pretty nice when you get to know her. Last Friday, she was just...not feeling well."
"Was she sick?" Michael asked.
"Well...you might say that," Danny said, surprised at how close to the truth the child had come. "Actually, yes, she was. So, uh, did you want something?"
Michael seemed to remember why he was there. "Y-yes!" he stammered, holding out a large notebook he had been carrying. "I was wondering if... if I could have your autograph."
"What?" Danny asked, incredibly taken aback.
"Well, if you don't want to, I'd understand..." the boy said quietly, looking crestfallen. Danny smiled and knelt down to the child's level. He took the proffered pen and notebook, paused, then signed.
"Here," he said, handing the notebook and pen back to the boy.
"Thanks!" Michael said happily. He looked over his shoulder. Danny followed the boy's gaze, to see his mother and sister waving from the playground.
"We come to play in the park every Friday afternoon," Michael explained.
"I see," Danny replied. He glanced up towards the sky. "Well, I'd probably better be going home. See you around, Michael. And, um, tell Serena and your mom hi for me."
"Bye-bye, Danny!" the boy waved. The halfa turned to wave back, before speeding off into the evening. Behind him, Michael looked down at the autographed paper.
Danny Phantom had signed his name in bright green ink.
Whew, that's it! Longer that I had originally intended, or expected, but it's better that way, don't you think?
So, the epilogue... I really don't have any notes to make concerning this. It's the conclusion, so hopefully it answered all of your questions... And if it didn't, now would probably be a good time to ask. I left a little bit of that open there, though, for a sequel I've been considering writing.
So... An incredible review count here, absolutely incredible. Fifty-one people managed to supply nearly one hundred and fifty reviews… Thanks! At times I've felt overwhelmed from all the praise. But where would I be without my beloved reviewers?
And to all of you anonymous people out there, who have been lurking around here, just reading... Thanks for reading, and I hope you've enjoyed it!
So... Now that this story is over, I've got five words for ya. 'The Halfa That Time Forgot'. I'm going to wait a little while before I begin with that, though... I've been neglecting my other stories lately, and I think I'm well overdue for a couple of updates on HF and TPATP. Besides, my rough drafts for the first three chapters of THTTFare currently in another state.
And, yes, as mentioned before, I do have a sequel planned for the future! As it stands, it's only slightly plotted out, and more of an idea than anything... But it'll be there eventually. I'm kinda burned out on the whole sickness idea right now, and I need a bit of a break. You can understand that, can't you? But here's the deal on the sequel:
The Second Strain
Mortimer had, unbeknownst to the Ancient Council, created two strains of the dangerous disease. Danny had found it, but it things don't stay locked away for long... But this time, the lives of Danny's friends and family are threatened! And who is the sorcerer's apprentice, the mysterious AF?
Exciting, no? But, let's see... I've got several other stories to go before that comes around. I
might start it sooner, if I'm so inclined, but for right now, that's how it stands.
Thanks again, everyone! I think I've had as much fun writing this as you guys've had reading.
Happy New Year, everyone!