The moon rose slowly, contentedly, several hours after the sun had set. Waves of soft metallic light shed itself from her ascending image to pour over the world in the softest, most subtle of places. The beams gently caressed the soft veins of the leaves on the trees, lightly touched the fluttering wing of a bat, whispered across the glittering dew dampened grass, until finally she rested her light, gentle as a mothers kiss, atop the smooth grey headstones of the Amity Park Cemetery.
The motionless image of Daniel Fenton caught the light of the moon upon his smooth upturned face, gazing at the stars he yearned for through a veil of silk black hair. His expression peaceful, almost wistful, and his smooth lips parted slightly as though to whisper his dreams to the cool night air.
He leaned back on his hands, his legs hanging off a thick headstone engraved with loving descriptions of the deceased, though all who knew Danny's secret new he feared nothing from these cold, empty, buried bodies. Their lives had ended, their spirits fled, and they thought little of the bodies they had once inhabited.
Slowly a procession of seven dark, hooded figures approached the grave marker, three in the back carrying folded black cloth, two more before them carrying each a large picnic basket, and the single figure who lead the way through the darkness with a single lantern to illuminate the dark, silvery home of the dead.
They stopped before the large, solitary headstone as though to visit their companion who had recently passed, but the boy remained motionless, continuing to watch the heavens with the young, beautiful, dreamy face of a teenager who placed all his hopes for the future in his dreams. No breeze stirred his hair, no slip or stumble disturbed his posture. He remained, feet planted on the ground, hands clasping the corners of the grave marker, face upturned towards the vast universe in his eternal, thoughtful gaze. For it was his duty to watch over the city, and here, atop this engraved stone surrounded by those he new best, the dead, he could forever fulfill his vow.
The leader stared at the motionless figure as the remaining six set out the blankets like patches of charred black earth atop the grave. Candles were set into holders drove into the ground, trays of small food were set out by the candles, not a meal but a small snack should one or more of the visitors or even the dead become suddenly ravenous.
The one who stood before the headstone reached out to place a large, gentle hand upon the sitting teenager's cheek, but Danny neither flinched nor turned. He showed no signs of having felt the calloused touch of the living, and never would. For what perched upon the headstone was no young high school student gazing out at the stars in longing, but the perfect artist's rendition of a friend and savior.
Dash pushed his hood back, uncaring that the soft woolen fabric mussed his smoothed back hairstyle. The smooth marble felt cool and polished beneath his fingers, the curve of the cheek unnaturally stiff. There was no soft skin, so slight shift in the flesh where his hand pressed softly, no human warmth to meat his chilled hands, and he found tears stinging the corners of his eyes.
Slowly he faced the others who stood and watched him silently. They all knew his feelings, and would wait until he spoke before their night would begin. He took this time to gaze at their hoodless faces, faces streaked by tears from anguished eyes.
How long ago? How long had it been since their lives became so, empty? How many times did they gather in this eerie place to gaze upon the stone image of their friend and peer? How many tearstained faces did it take before the dead would hear their cries and return, once more to the human world and protect their city once more? How many more anti-depressants did he have to swallow, sleepless nights he had to cry through, meaningless days he had to crawl through, before he could gaze upon the true, stoneless face of his…his what?
What did Danny Fenton mean to him? To any of them? That they would gather here, around the final resting place of a body that they had shoved into lockers, pushed, shoved, tripped, punched… When had a face that they had laughed at had became a face they cried out to see?
For they all knew who and what he was, and how he had died. They all new, since the day he died and Danny Phantom was no more, they knew. And never spoke of it, not even to his dearest friends who, without a doubt, knew as well.
But there were no more ghost attacks, no more monsters or screams of terror to fill their days with excitement and fear. What did they need of Danny, Fenton or Phantom?
Dash knew not of the others needs, but he knew his own.
He needed Danny…