A/N: Last one! Yes I know it stops quite suddenly but you can fill in the rest yourself. I've considered several endings in various degrees of happiness, but I've decided to just leave it at this.
Disclaimer: I do not own Danny Phantom.
"I'll be there in a little while."
That was what he had said. Two whole months ago. Maddie had gone through the stages of hope, anxious anticipation, dread, losing hope and finally acceptance. He wasn't coming back. Her little boy was gone and she felt empty.
The sun was shining brightly outside, people were smiling on the street, oblivious of her distress. They had tried to look for him, but they were seriously impaired by the fact that the Boomerang had disappeared. It simply hadn't been there when they looked for it in Vesa's liar in the ghost zone.
Sometimes she wondered if Danny had taken it with him. If that was true then he didn't want to be found. She lived on that thought, that somehow he was still alive and would come back some day.
Vlad Masters had been found in his Colorado chalet, shot dead after having been missing for two months. The investigation was at a stand still. There were no fingerprints, no clue that someone entered the house. They did find some strange equipment in the house, but most of it had been smashed to pieces. The computers were gone too, apparently destroyed in some intense fire.
Maddie knew Danny had done that to prevent others finding out about Vlad's ghost research and his secret. But why hadn't he come home afterwards? She could think of only one reason. He couldn't come home because he was unable too. Because he was dead.
And so she was torn back and forth between her hope that he was alive and her despair that he was dead.
Automatically she loaded her groceries into the GAV. She just had to keep on going, life went on. It had surprised her that the world kept moving, while everything had seemed to stop for her. People were going about their business as usual, unknowing of the tragedy befallen onto others, laughing in the streets, having fun. It somehow seemed inappropriate and she wanted to scream a them to stop and think, Danny was dead and they were laughing.
She supposed it was always that way.
Sam had really taken it hard. She had been out of school for two whole weeks until her parents made her go again. She seemed like a shadow of her former self, withdrawn and quiet, her eyes dull. Tucker was unable to cheer her up with his optimism that Danny would return when he was ready, that nothing could bring him down. Lately, his optimism seemed strained though.
The both of them came by often, as if somehow they could hold on to Danny by being where he was supposed to be. Maddie found their presence disturbing in a way, as they were constantly theorizing about what might have happened to him or where he might have gone. She didn't have the heart to send them away though. They discussed his mental state often and openly, sitting at the kitchen table and Maddie listened to them, learning things about her son that astounded her.
She closed the back door of the GAV and walked to the front of the oddly shaped vehicle, looking around as usual, scanning the area for Danny. She did it subconsciously now, noting every dark haired teen that remotely fit the description, discarding them when convinced it wasn't him. They no longer tried to lock her up for doing that and she restrained herself, not approaching and scaring these innocent boys.
Wiping the sweat of her brow she climbed behind the wheel and closed the door. For a moment she just sat there, then shook her head, started the car and drove away slowly. She moved with the traffic in a haze, automatically stopping at traffic lights, turning where she was supposed to turn, switching lanes at the appropriate moments. Before she knew it, she was approaching her home.
Jazz seemed to be the most calm about the situation. On the way back through the ghost zone she had explained Jack's suddenly remembering by stating that his worst fear had always been rejection by his children, knowing that he wasn't the ideal father for them. You can't get more rejected than being shot.
Through the past two months the only comment Jazz had made about the whole situation was that they had to be patient, he'd work it out, insisting doing it on his own. She refused to discuss the matter any further, but Maddie had heard her crying in her room late at night.
When unloading the GAV, trying without much success to grab all of the bags at once, she remembered the strange, yet encouraging happenings from a week ago. She had been unloading the GAV, just as she was doing now, when she had heard a voice behind her and she had almost dropped her bags.
She had turned and had found herself face to face with none other than Mr Lancer, who was holding a brown envelope in his hands and looking at her uncertainly. He had approached her quietly and had handed it to her.
"Strange thing occurred," he had said, "And I believe this is your...son's. I seem to remember him attending the school before and yet he was introduced as a new student. And then I found that."
He had pointed at the envelope and she had opened it. It was an old report card from eighth grade and on the front was the name of it's owner in curly letters: Daniel Fenton. She had just stood there, staring at it.
"We had a ghost attack in the school's office and it was severely damaged. We found it when we were cleaning up. It was under one of the filing cabinets."
He had seemed at a loss for words after that while she had clutched the report card so tightly it almost crumbled in her hands, her knuckles going white. She had managed to thank him and he had left, still bearing a slightly confused look on his face.
She looked at the bags resignedly, deciding it was too much to carry after all, so she took only half of them in her arms, the bottles in them slightly clanking against eachother, while fumbling with her keys. She turned to walk to the front door and stopped. Someone was sitting on the steps, a thin figure with long black hair obscuring his face, dirty green oversized coat, torn jeans tucked in tattered black combat boots. His head was hanging and his elbows were resting on his knees, which somehow gave him a defeated appearance. He looked totally unfamiliar and she was about to ask him to move out of the way when he turned his head to her and she looked into his blue eyes.
With a loud crash the bags fell on the sidewalk.
This is it, I'm done, finally! This story has gotten way longer than I thought it would be and I had some trouble staying focussed on this. I think I managed to improve my writing during this story, I'll use everything I've learned in the next one (well, I'll try). I won't be using flashbacks this way again, too much trouble and too confusing. On the other hand, it was fun trying to obscure the the whole story, slowly revealing what was going on.
Thank you for reading and of course a big thank you to all my reviewers who kept encouraging me:
ShonaiulaRose, animegurl088, Ali Phantom, Emissary of Honesty, Twilight-Phantom66, FunkyFish1991, DP fan, Arashi Inu, cordria, Kovva, mushroomcloudslooklikebroccoli, I Collect Bananas, DPshadow, TexasDreamer01, Kybo, bluename, Dannyandsamlover, KieiNeko, hittocerebattosai, Cloud97, Anna Lee Gray, Karimlan di Sindihan, gjcoolio, Writer's-BlockDP, NNF, fan-girls2.0, Souxie 2.0, egyptianqueen777, passionateartist, christine, EvilRanma, stefania.
I'm off, I'll be back in about three weeks, I'll answer any reviews then.
Edit 12/10/2008: There's a companion story to this in my one shot collection 'Oneshot Wonderland', chapter 15: Two Roads.