A/N: Okay, last chapter. Man, I'm gonna miss this fic! Little surprise at the end of the chapter for you kind readers. I'll say it one more time. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own any Danny Phantom characters…I wish, though.
Chapter 27 Homeward Portal
"What? You don't like me touching your ear?" Rhodes giggled over to Theo as she messed with the sensitive cat hairs on his ear with an index finger.
"You know it's annoying," Theo said softly.
The two were lying on their backs in the middle of a wild flower patch. A cool summer breeze made the ocean of multicolor plants sway ever so slightly. Thankfully it was late in the morning, so the sun wasn't blazing harsh rays upon them from above and making them sweat in its heat. They were blessed with pure blue skies that they had been staring at for around an hour, just talking gently with each other.
"When do you think the others will find us?" Rhodes asked. "We were supposed to pack up and be on our way a few minutes ago."
Theo rolled to his side to look at her. He didn't even know that he was smiling until she looked over to him with her violet eyes and smirked, her secret way of telling him that she caught him having a good time. This time he didn't mind. Lately he had caught himself smiling for no reason at all. It was a strange, new feeling, but he decided he liked it.
"Aw, don't you like the excitement of being found out at any moment?" Theo asked her slyly.
"Our love relationship isn't secret, Theo," Rhodes stated with a laugh. "I swear, you love the life of peril. You're going to go restless without some action in your life."
"Maybe you're right," Theo said, "But thankfully I have you who are the same way. We can go have our own adventures together."
"Sounds like fun," Rhodes said with some excitement. "Where do you think we should travel first?"
"Into the future," Theo said without a second thought. "Let's leave this stupid life behind, jump into a portal and disappear." By now their faces were only an inch away from each other.
"You almost sound romantic," Rhodes teased.
"I try," Theo said with a wry grin.
They leaned in closer for a kiss. The two lovers were a second into their bliss when, with a loud yell, Danny slid across the patch of flowers toward them as if pulled by something that he hung desperately onto with one hand. Theo and Rhodes were forced to part as the boy stopped his crazy ride right between them.
"Danny! What in the Underworld do you think you're doing?" Theo exploded at his friend now lying beside him. He was ready to set the whole field of flowers on fire if his friend didn't come up with a good answer.
"You might want to get this fixed, dude," Danny mumbled after spitting dirt and flower pedals out of his mouth. He held up Theo's map with a painful groan.
Theo took the map out of Danny's hand with confusion. It was the half done Infi-map that they had been using to find the spot where the next portal would open up. Theo didn't think it had enough power to give instant results like Danny had said it did in the future, but he had been working on it.
"What did you do?" Theo asked, no longer angry. "I've been trying to get it to do that for a whole week."
Danny dusted off his hair and clothes as he sat up. "All I did was say your name," he said innocently. "Sam and Tuck wondered where you were. While joking around I picked up your map and said your name. Then it jerked me around and took me all around the forest for a few minutes before arriving here." He looked between Theo and Rhodes and suddenly made a connection and blushed. "Did I interrupt something?" he asked.
"Yeah," Theo said with a cruel grin. "I'll never forgive you."
"He'll get over it," Rhodes told Danny as she placed her hands on his shoulders from behind. She started to mess with his raven colored locks with her slender fingers. It was weird at first to get over the girl's strange interest in messing with others' hair, but Danny was now used to it.
"No, I won't," Theo said without looking up from his map. There were a lot of kinks in the thing still, but at least it always eventually got the person to the right destination.
"You look sleepy, Danny," Rhodes said to the boy as she made little braids throughout his hair. Her fingers were swift and precise as they did their job. "I bet you were too excited to even close your eyes."
Danny yawned before saying, "I've been away from home for about a month. I miss my parents a lot. Who knew I'd miss their take-that-ghost-apart-molecule-by-molecule speeches so much. They must be worried sick about me."
"I wonder what it would be like to have parents," Rhodes said thoughtfully.
"How should I know," Theo said with a shrug, still engrossed into his map. "So all you did was say my name, right?" he asked Danny.
"Yeah," Danny answered with another yawn. "You'll figure it out at some point. Let's go already so we won't miss this portal. How many hours do we have left?"
"I told you, it doesn't work that way, ghost boy," Theo said. He stood up while saying, "The portal will show up at the location it said it would, but we don't know what time it will. My Infi-map is so basic right now, I don't even know how long the portal will be open."
"There you are, Danny!" Sam called from where she spotted him a few yards away. "Tucker, I found him," she said into a communicator on her wrist. She jogged over to the group while looking at Danny strangely. "You know she's making braids in your hair again, right?" she asked Danny, stifling a laugh.
"Oh, come on, Rhodes!" Danny said while whacking her away with a hand. Frowning, he stood up while rubbing the braids out. "You know I don't like it when you do that!"
"But they look so cute on you," Rhodes said while standing. She grinned at him even with him still scowling at her.
"They look so cute on you," Theo whispered to Danny evilly.
"Cut it out!" Danny snapped back.
"Make me!" Theo dared him.
"Do I have to separate you two babies?" Sam intervened. They both gave her guilty smiles. After two weeks of traveling to the portal, all five of them were like brothers and sisters with each other. It was going to make parting hard on all of them, but Theo and Rhodes had already promised to visit them multiple times.
"That map thing is out of control!" Tucker said as he finally showed up in the Specter Speeder. He jumped out to join the others.
"I'll fix it," Theo said before muttering, "After I figure out how the dang thing works."
"So are we going to leave now?" Tucker asked. "You said were going to start out an hour ago, Theo, but I guess making out with your girlfriend is more important than getting us home."
"It is," Theo said while drawing Rhodes close. "Kidding," he said after seeing Tucker's look of outrage. "Plus, we're here."
"Huh?" Danny and Tucker asked in union.
"Care to repeat that last part?" Sam said. She had on a look that demanded answers.
"We're where the portal should open at," Theo explained. "I told you last night that we weren't very far."
As if on cue, a bright green streak formed in mid air behind the group. The teens turned around to watch as the portal magically opened into the Ghost Zone. It was the first familiar thing three of them had seen in a long time. They couldn't wait to be home.
"Better hurry," Theo told them. "I don't know how long this portal will stay open."
"See ya guys later," Tucker said to Theo and Rhodes as he hopped into the Speeder again. Sam scooted in beside him while saying her own goodbyes. "Wish you could come with us," she said to Rhodes. "Having another girl in the group was really cool."
Rhodes smiled shyly. "Thanks, Sam," she said. "I'll miss you."
"Visit us soon," Sam said, "Just leave Theo behind."
"Oh, I will," Rhodes said with a laugh.
"Hey! Be nice for once," Theo teased Rhodes. "See ya, Sam," he said to the Goth girl. They waved goodbye as Tucker pressed on the gas and flew into the portal. He almost crashed into something because he was so busy waving back. Sam yelled at him to watch where he was going. They could hear the friends argue as they vanished into the other dimension.
Now it was Danny's turn to say goodbye.
Rhodes threw her arms around his neck for a hug with a girly squeal. She planted a kiss on his cheek before telling him, "You're adorable, kid. Coming from a 200 year old Kitsune, that's a compliment. Don't let that girl go." She laughed when seeing him go beet red.
"What girl?" he asked, oblivious.
"That's just her whacky fox spirit powers going off," Theo said, butting Rhodes out of the way. "Ignore them." Rhodes crossed her arms in annoyance, but she didn't say anything. It was rare for human beings with their souls and afterlives to understand the spirits and what they know and dare to tell.
For a moment the two boys were silent. Theo scratched the back of his neck out of nervous or awkward habit. Danny pretended that his shoes were the most interesting thing to look at as he tried to think of something cool to say in front of Theo. How do you say goodbye to someone so close to you?
"Well, it's been fun dude," Theo finally said while giving Danny a friendly pat on the shoulder.
"Yeah," Danny said quietly. He still didn't make eye contact.
Finally Theo threw his arms around Danny, caving into some emotion buried deep inside of him that he had barely any control over. Danny grinned when he realized that he hadn't been the first to give the goodbye hug. Just a month ago Theo was his worst nightmare as someone to hang out with because of his bitterness and habit of pushing people away. Now he was the one hugging. It's amazing how people can change.
"Ah, jeez, this was harder than I thought it was gonna be," Theo said while shoving Danny away and pretending like the earlier tender moment had never happened.
Danny chuckled in response. "I'm gonna miss you, man," he told Theo with a sad smile. "Good luck with your map." In a flash of bright light, the dark haired mortal transformed into his ghostly counterpart. He hovered close to the entrance of the portal, wishing he could stay just a few days longer.
"Thanks," Theo said with a wave, "Thanks for…everything." Danny grinned and prepared to fly through the vortex that would lead him home. "And Danny," Theo said before his friend went. Danny turned his head around, curious. "Don't ask me any favors anytime soon. One adventure with you a decade is good enough for me."
"Dude, you suck at goodbyes," Danny responded, laughing.
The world was in a vortex of a downward spiral, never to be rescued on Jazz's part of the world. She had spent a whole day keeping Danny's absence a secret from her parents. The two were pretty oblivious when it came down to knowing exactly what their kids were up to. Face it, they were two of the world's greatest ghost hunters that had no clue that their own son was one of their constant prey. They weren't very smart in the knowing.
It was the caring Jazz had worried about. By the time the second day of Danny and his friend's absences rolled around, the Fenton family knew that their son was gone…and freaked.
"Listen up kids!" Jack yelled into his microphone.
It was day three of the three teenagers' disappearance, and Mr. and Mrs. Fenton were at Casper High, letting the whole student body know that their son was missing. The other two sets of parents were with them, but it was the weird ones that were doing all the talking, or more like screaming. The two were practically hysterical as Jazz put it.
"Our babies have been missing!" Maddie told the teenagers sitting before them in the auditorium. All they did was either cringe from the voices amplified from the speakers making them go deaf or were in the back trying to catch a few more Z's so they could actually do their homework in Study Hall that day.
"Have any of you seen our son, Danny?" Jack asked them. No body answered. Jazz tried to see if she could melt into her seat. Unfortunately she wasn't the one in the family with superpowers.
After a few more tries to get the teen population in Amity Park to answer but with no success, the parents went home empty handed of information. Jazz went with them, trying her hardest to calm them with reassurances of Danny showing up, but nothing would sooth their fretful minds.
What was she going to do if Danny didn't return? When was she going to see him again? Another week? Month? Year? These questions tormented her mind as she walked a few paces behind her distraught parents.
To their surprise, the Fenton's returned home to find their kitchen full of the ones that had been gone. For a moment the three teens looked fearful to see the adults after a month of being gone. Danny could see the dark bags under his parent's eyes, probably from weeks of searching for him and the worry. How were they going to react now that he finally showed up? Would they be mad at him for taking off for a whole month without saying anything?
"Danny!" both parents shouted at once. They ran to their son and hugged him tight. Maddie actually had tears in her eyes. Jazz sighed in relief. She knew her little brother would return, she just wondered why it had taken him three whole days to do so.
"He looks like he's suffocating," Tucker observed out loud. Sam was trying to keep down a giggle of the sight of Danny's parents hugging him to tight.
"Can't…breathe," Danny managed to get out. The parents let their child go at this, but they still hovered over him. Danny felt kind of smothered, but in a good way.
"Where have you been these past three days?" Maddie asked them. The group looked at each other. Apparently their leap into the past hadn't cost them much time in the future. It was kind of neat in a way.
"You know," Danny said, racking his brain for a credible lie for them, "We walked into the forest and got lost. Kind of embarrassing once I think of it." Sam and Tucker nodded to convince their friend's tall tale to the adults.
For the moment, Danny felt good. He was back home where his mom and dad loved him, no one found out his ghost secret, he'd saved the ancient world from a god and mortal war, Vlad would be gone for a few days because of the time lapse, and he had made a new friend. It was rare, but for once things were going great in his life. Even his parents believe his bogus lost-in-forest story.
"Then why are all you guys in togas?" Jack asked.
Or is it?
TIME: 1:45 PM
LOCATION: EAST SIDE OF TOWER
PROBLEM: PERSONEL ESCAPE
PREPARING RETINA SCAN…
RETINA SCAN SUCCESSFUL
FINDING MATCH FROM FILES…
MALFUNCTION: LOW BATTERY
A hooded figure watched with a grin as the machine suddenly shut down and fell from its place on the side of the building above him where he stood at a window. Twisting his head, he lost sight of the small android as it plummeted earthward and mixed with the multicolor of bright night lights of the city 70 stories below. Any average person would be nervous and fearful at that height, but the escaper had performed this stunt a good number of times. Something that becomes an everyday thing tends to lose its first initial emotion.
"Looks like bribing the guards to forget to charge the probe bots was a good idea after all," the figure said with a chuckle. "Note to self."
For a moment the young man stared down at the city that had for the past 50 years been his home. With his heightened senses he could smell the decay and smoke, and he could feel the pain and struggle it went through each day. He had seen it in its prime and glory…and he had seen it fall to the dreaded state it was in now.
Throwing off his daydream thoughts of what lived on below; the figure flexed his gloved fingers, pressed a button on the back of his left one, and then placed them on the smooth and cool metal surface above the window outside. Toned arm and shoulder muscles flexing under his skin, the young man used the stick gloves to pull himself up and out of the window and onto the side of the building as if he was a spider or other kind of insect sticking to a wall.
Soon the person had his stick shoes on the wall. He knew exactly what he was doing as he slowly took one of his hands off the side of the building and placed it up higher. He did the same to his opposite side foot. Using that leg, he was able to push off it to propel his body upward. He then repeated the same process, always slow, but always perfect and precise.
A strong gust of wind blasted up from under the climber. His baggy and rip kneed jeans and red hoodie rippled and flapped wildly in the powerful gust. The laser pistol shoved between the back of his leather belt and jeans threatened to loosen, but the boy knew he had it secured enough to survive the climb.
On the wind, the young man could smell every part of the city. On it was the tang and saltiness of the food sold on the corners of busy streets, the rust of eroding metals, the sickening odor the rich and stingy hover cars produced, and the usual pollution of millions of chemicals combined into one. Taking a deep breath, the boy relished this non pleasant smell, because on it was a hint of freedom, of hope.
The young man continued his way up. By the time he reached the top of the Tower, he was sweating and breathing hard and heavy. He pulled himself up over the edge, turned off his sticky gloves and shoes with the button, and then checked his watch with a relieved sigh. He was right on time.
He looked up and saw a portal split through the air. He watched it open and spread out as if inviting its lonely visitor to come in. His heart pounded loudly in his pointed cat ears hidden under the hood with anticipation. Would this time work? Would this time be like his other many failures?
The chance of a win was too great to deny. It was his only hope…the world's only hope. He needed this win, just this once.
He hesitantly walked over to the opening mouth of the green swirling portal. His line of work made him confident as to where it went, so he didn't know why he was so timid about it. He dealt with vortexes and portals like this one daily now. But for some reason he was shaking a little.
Summing up his courage, the young man set his jaw and looked at the portal with determination in his narrowed brown eyes. This time it would work. This time he would find him. This time he would not fail.
The figure jumped through the mystery vortex. He arrived on the other side with someone there to greet him. The young man smiled at the person there, an old friend and helper of his.
"Ready to change the future, Theo?" Clockwork asked the young man standing boldly before him.
"I've been ready for 50 long years," Theo answered.
A/N: None of you guys saw that one coming! SEQUAL! I've been dwelling and thinking on it for months, but wanted to surprise you readers with it just now. Oh, it's gonna be awesome! I want the first chapter out next weekend, but I'm not sure about that date. Expect to see it then, though. The title will be Future Mythology, so look for it soon!
Also, the first chapter of Soul Searching is up! I have many dark and creepy plans for that one, so check it out! The first chapter is slow, but it picks up.
Before I end this fic, I gotta say that I'd be nothing without you guys. Before this fic I was ready to pack up my fan fiction writing and maybe writing all together and be done with it because I got no reviews on everything I wrote. I personally thought I was a bad writer. But because of all the reviews and praise on this fic, my spirits have returned and I enjoy the challenge of writing more than ever. You're constant support was something I really needed. It made me really want to go to college for a Creative Writing major. I want to become a teen fiction novelist and I'm prepared to strive for that goal. You readers and reviewers are great! I enjoyed every one of your reviews. I love seeing how others feel about my work. You guys are awesome! I'd like to thank you guys for the help and inspiration.
Well, this fic has been so much fun, but all great things must come to an end. Have a good one, guys! I'm done here!