Sam drove the Spectre Speeder at a fast speed, her only thoughts on finding Skulker, and making him tell her how to help Danny. She wasn't sure what she was going to do, as she knew Skulker wouldn't want to tell. But there was nothing else she could do; it was the only thing that might save Danny.
As she rounded a corner, she looked over at her friend, who sat in the passenger seat. His cheek was resting against the back of the seat, his eyes closed. Sam's stomach felt sick as she saw his face make small winces, knowing that he was in pain. It made her feel helpless, knowing that she couldn't help him feel better. She looked back at the path ahead of her, more determined to help him, no matter what.
Just as she did, her heart jumped; a few hundred feet ahead, she could see Skulker flying around, seeming to be looking around for something.
As soon as she saw him, her chest filled with anger. He was the one who did this to Danny, and she was going to make him pay.
Without any more hesitation, she searched the controls in front of her. She would have to fight him if she was going to make him talk. Her eyes caught sight of a button that read 'Ecto-Lasers.' She pressed it, watching the red button light up, along with hearing guns unsheathe themselves on top of the ship.
- - - - -
Skulker's head jerked to the side as he heard a loud mechanical sound. He had been looking around for some kind of small prey, just for fun, but could now see a ship coming toward him. As it neared, he could see guns come out of the top and point at him.
It took a few more seconds for him to recognize what it was. The ghost boy's ship, he remembered, as he had seen it before. He looked through its windshield to see who was in it, feeling no fear at the sight of the ship. He finally recognized the ghost boy in one seat, and his 'girlfriend' in the other.
The sight puzzled him slightly. They should be dead by now, he thought, knowing that the Micro-Ghost should have taken control of the ghost boy and disposed of his friends.
Despite his wondering, he wasn't worried. He faced the ship and floated in place, folding his arms and smiling confidently. He would just have to help the ghost along.
- - - - -
Sam couldn't wait any longer. She was slightly puzzled at why Skulker was just floating, acting as if nothing was wrong, but her anger wouldn't let her care. She pressed the button on the wheel, and watched as three beams came from the guns, making their way to Skulker.
The ghost was ready for the attack, and easily dodged it with a small spiral. As soon as the rays passed, he unsheathed a gun from his right forearm and fired at the ship. Sam managed to maneuver it out of the way, letting the attack pass by it.
Skulker didn't seem disheartened by the miss. Instead, he brought himself a few feet higher in the air, then readied another gun from his left arm. He then pointed them both at the ship, and started firing at the opposing weapons.
Sam now realized just how close to Skulker she was. The shot she fired at him had missed, but she was waiting for an opportunity to try again. But as she neared him, she had half a mind to just hit him head on with the ship, considering that he wasn't moving, and her anger was clouding her better judgment.
But before she could decide, Skulker ascended, then started firing two guns at her. She was too close to react, and the blasts managed to destroy all three of the Spectre Speeder's weapons.
As soon as he saw the guns explode, Skulker turned around and, with a great burst from his rocket, took off. Sam didn't hesitate in following him. Her rage built as she saw the weapons destroyed, and searched the controls frantically for another gun.
As Skulker flew off, Sam managed to find another button that read 'Main Cannon.' She momentarily wished she had seen that button first, but quickly forgot about the thought as she pressed the button. She heard a mechanical door open ahead of her, and saw a large gun point out of the front of the ship.
Skulker finally came to a stop over a small piece of ghostly land. He floated above it and faced the oncoming ship, feeling invigorated as he enjoyed this game. He waited patiently for it to get near enough for another attack.
Sam checked the steering wheel for the other fire button, and managed to find it on the other side of it. She prepared to fire, then checked ahead of her. She could now see that Skulker stopped flying, and was floating in place, looking like he was waiting for them. The sight of him just floating there, with that stupid smile that meant he thought he was winning made Sam's anger peak. Without hesitation, she pressed the fire button.
But Skulker was too fast. Just as he flew up, avoiding the large blast completely, he prepared an oversized gun that came out of his back, and fired at the cannon.
Sam's eyes widened as she saw the attack coming. She had no time to react, so her eyes involuntarily closed. Just as they did, she felt the ship make a great surge as the shot made contact with the cannon on the front end of the ship.
The blast blew the cannon into pieces, along with causing the ship to do a front flip at the great force. Sam's stomach jolted as she could feel the flip behind her closed eyes, and didn't see as it managed to position itself upright before coming in violent contact with the ground, throwing her in her seat as the ship skidded onto its belly.
When she felt the ship stop moving, Sam opened her eyes, finding herself taking deep breaths. After a brief glance at the ground in front of the ship, her stomach jolted as she thought of Danny. Her head shot to the side to look at him, finding him slumped toward her, as he obviously hadn't been able to stop himself from being thrashed in his seat.
With her stomach in her throat, Sam reached her hands over and pushed his shoulder, putting him back in a sitting position. As his head leaned against the back of his seat, she felt a great wave of relief as she saw him take a few deep breaths. Danny was aware of the feel of her hands, but he couldn't open his eyes to look at her, finding no energy to do it.
Sam's heart felt like it would erupt from her chest. That scared her too much. Her hands felt like they were glued to his shoulder as she watched his face make small winces of pain. She just wanted to help him; she wanted it to stop.
That's right; she was here to stop it. She removed her hands from his shoulder and looked out the front of the ship. Where was Skulker? Was he waiting for them to come out so he could attack, or did he escape?
Even though she didn't have any weapons or means of protecting herself, Sam undid her seatbelt and opened the door. After stepping out of the ship, she looked up into the ghost sky. She couldn't find any sign of the mechanical ghost, although she was slightly aware of the sound of the mechanical arms coming out of the ship to repair it.
As she turned her head to look, she started to panic. Where was he? If he got away, she doubted there was anything she could do now. The ship had to repair itself before she could go, and Danny's energy was disappearing by the second.
With that thought, she turned her head to look back in the ship at Danny. As her gaze fell on him, she froze; he was completely motionless, no signs of even breath visible.
Before Sam could react to the sight, she heard a loud rocket above her. Her head shot up just in time to see Skulker fly past, toward an area in front of the ship. He flew a few hundred yards away, and landed on the ghostly grass, folding his arms and looking at her with that smile.
As she watched him stand there, Sam's anger rose until she felt it bubbling in her chest. How could he have done this? What right did he have to kill Danny? Her emotions mixed with grief, helplessness, and rage.
Feeling hot tears running down her cheeks, Sam took off full speed toward the ghost. Her mind was too clouded to know what she was doing; all she knew was that she couldn't believe or accept that she had just seen Danny die, and her only thoughts were focused on reaching Skulker and making him pay. Her anger clouded the fact that she had no means of fighting; no weapons and nothing to protect her. But she didn't care. All she wanted was to see Skulker pay for what he did.
When she was a hundred feet away from him, she was stopped in her tracks as a plasma ray from one of Skulker's guns came in contact with the ground right in front of her feet. She almost stumbled forward as she came to a halt, but managed to keep herself on her feet. She looked up at Skulker, seeing him with a gun pointing at her, a look of pure enjoyment on his face.
"Don't move, or you'll end up like the ghost boy," Skulker said.
Sam closed her eyes and silently boiled. She took heaving breaths as sobs and tears continued to assault her. It was just too much; her anger wanted her to advance on Skulker, even if he killed her, but her grief just kept her in place, only wanting her to release her emotions with the feelings she had about what happened to Danny.
Keeping her eyes closed, she was able to hear Skulker say in a menacing tone, "But you'll end up like him soon, anyway."
Sam finally opened her eyes and looked at him. She didn't know what to do; she couldn't handle how she felt right now. She hated Skulker, she wanted him to suffer, but what could she do? If she tried to fight him, he would kill her.
Kill her? Well, that actually sounded ok right now.
Before anything, she forced her cracking voice to form the word, "Why?" She was sickened as Skulker pretended to look confused, saying, "What do you mean?"
Sam's hands clenched into tight fists, and her legs started to shake. "Why did you do this to Danny?" she asked, doing nothing to stop the venom from entering her voice. She doubted she would want to hear his sick excuse, but she still didn't know what to do. She couldn't help Danny anymore, so she at least wanted to know why Skulker did this.
The mock confusion left Skulker's face, and was replaced with that smile. "I thought you'd never ask.
The smile was short lived as his mechanical face formed a frown, now looking more angered than ever. His words were forceful, and full of loathing. "You see, you, the ghost boy, and your other little friend have caused me much grief." Sam could see him taking deeper breaths as his anger started to build. "So, I set out to find the perfect revenge. But not just any revenge; I wanted the ghost boy to suffer."
As he continued, a sickening passion started to enter his voice. He sounded as if he couldn't be happier in telling someone about his plan of revenge.
His eyes seemed unfocused as he talked. It was as if he forgot that he was talking to Sam, and just wanted to recite his plan. "I found information on a Micro-Ghost. It took me a long time to find it; they are very rare, you see. I believe that the one in the ghost boy may be the last. It was perfect; it would drive him to destroy his friends, and then kill him in the end." His gaze finally refocused on Sam. "The best hunters attack the heart. That's why I wanted him to kill the ones he loved, then let himself be destroyed."
He kept looking at Sam, but seemed to be silently trying to figure something out. "I knew the ghost boy would be too weak to fight it. But… it seems that I made a small mistake in his strength."
After the explanation, the passion left Skulker's voice. He now just looked at Sam and used his usual, mocking tone. "But although he did not destroy you, the Micro-Ghost destroyed him. As for you…" He let his arm fall to the side, and readied a large gun from his back.
"I'll just have to do what it couldn't."
- - - - -
Danny's eyes cracked open. He couldn't believe how much his body hurt; his head pulsed with his heartbeat, and his limbs felt like lead.
He had been aware of Sam's hands on his shoulder moments before, but he had passed out and didn't know where she was now. He forced his eyes to open all the way, then focused them by blinking them a few times. He took small breaths as he looked out to the front of the ship.
Despite his pain, his heart jumped as he saw Sam standing in the ghost field, along with Skulker standing a ways ahead of her, with a gun pointed at her.
No… Danny thought. Why was she doing this? Did she want to get herself killed?
His fear and worry seemed to give him enough renewed vigor to undo his seatbelt. He lifted a shaky hand and opened the passenger door, then proceeded to step out of the ship.
After putting his second foot on the ground, Danny's legs trembled, and he almost collapsed. He managed to keep himself upright by forcing his shaking hands to hold the door tight. His head became fuzzy as he stood. He blinked to make it stop, and focused on trying to think of how to help Sam.
But what could he do? He had no energy, and even if he did attack Skulker, he would easily be beaten, and then what would happen to Sam?
But he had to do something. Not knowing what else to do, he released the door with his right hand, and lifted it up, finding it shaking. He tried to fire a plasma ray in Skulker's direction, but nothing came. He tried again, but his lack of energy wouldn't let him do anything.
Frustrated with failure, he let his hand fall to the side. Through the pain in his body, and the fear that continued to rise in his chest, he tried to think of what to do. He had to do something.
Just then, he was aware of a strange sound coming from the ship. He lifted his head to look up, and was just in time to see mechanical arms re-enter their compartments.
The sight puzzled him at first, but then it struck him; although he had been half awake, he was able to realize that the guns on the ship had been destroyed when Sam had used them. He remembered how his parents said they were making an automatic repair system for the ship, and it must have just fixed the cannon.
Feeling like he had a chance to help Sam, he crawled back into the passenger seat. His fatigued body fell onto the seat, as his head landed on the driver's seat. After a small groan, he forced himself onto his elbow, then looked at the steering wheel. He found the fire button, but wasn't completely aware of which cannon it was for. He peeked ahead of the ship to make sure the blast wouldn't accidentally hit Sam. It would be a close call, but he knew it wouldn't hit her, and he didn't have time to re-adjust the aim.
Hoping that the attack would hit its target, Danny pressed the fire button.
- - - - -
Sam froze as she saw the giant gun come out of Skulker's back. She felt slight fear, but it faded quickly. She was starting to feel that she didn't care what he did to her; she couldn't handle what had happened to Danny, and she wanted it to end.
But just before anything could happen, she was caught off guard as she felt a sudden rush streak past her, just barely missing her arm. In the same second, it made contact with Skulker, engulfing him in the plasma ray's light.
Although Sam's stomach had jumped into her throat, she was aware of Skulker's scream, and watched as the blast sent him flying backward, then managed to fall off the piece of ghost land, and disappear from sight.
After he fell, Sam stood there in complete shock. She took deep breaths as she tried to calm herself from the sudden attack.
But when she finally realized that it was a ray from the Spectre Speeder, she spun around. She squinted as she looked at the ship, and her eyes widened as she saw Danny moving around in the passenger's seat.
He's… alive? Sam thought, finding her body frozen with shock. She couldn't believe it; he was alive.
Finding the feeling return to her legs, Sam darted off toward the ship.
- - - - -
After Danny saw Skulker fall off the land, he felt a wave of relief. The blast didn't hit Sam, and she was ok now that Skulker was gone.
A few seconds later, he saw that Sam had turned and was now looking at the ship. It didn't take long before he could see her running toward it.
He wasn't sure what to think or how to feel. She was coming to see him, but what if he heard the voice when she got there? He knew he would have no strength to resist it, and would really end up killing her this time.
But… why was she even there in the first place? Why had she done all of this for him? Sure, they were best friends, but… he hadn't figured it out earlier, and he couldn't now. Why would she be willing to risk getting herself killed to help him?
Although he was worried about what might happen, Danny couldn't stop himself from attempting to get out of the ship. He knew he wouldn't be able to stop the voice if it tried to take over again, but he had to see her one more time. Somehow, even though he didn't know why this voice was consuming all of his energy, he felt that it would soon use up the rest of it.
After forcing himself to get to the door, Danny stepped out of it. But just as his feet came in contact with the ground, his vision blurred, and he collapsed. He made a small yell as his pained body hit the ground, and his eyes shut tightly.
- - - - -
As Sam neared the ship, still unable to believe that Danny was alive, her mind was assaulted with the memory of what had just happened; she didn't know how to stop the Micro-Ghost, and her assumption that Danny was dead had made her think it was pointless to ask. But now, she couldn't find out, and her sudden relief was crushed as she realized that Danny was still going to die.
When she was just a few yards away from the ship, she saw as Danny left the passenger's seat and collapsed on the ground. She closed the distance between them quickly and fell to her knees by his side, watching helplessly as he groaned.
"Danny," Sam choked out, finding sobs escaping as tears streamed down her cheeks. Her heartbeat was almost loud enough to hear as it tried to burst from her chest, and she felt like she was going to be sick. He didn't show any signs that he heard her.
"Danny!" she repeated, finding it more difficult than the first time. His eyes were still shut, but they were no longer shut tight, and he lay on his back, taking deep, struggled breaths.
Sam couldn't take it. She felt so helpless, knowing she couldn't do anything to help him. She could only watch as his energy left his body, and die in front of her.
Still having half a mind not to believe what she was seeing, Sam carefully moved closer to him. She lifted his head and laid it on her lap, keeping one hand on top of his head, and squeezing one of his hands with the other. She stared at his closed eyes, finding her hand gently stroking his hair, hoping it would give him some comfort, anything to help.
Although Danny felt almost no strength left, he had heard Sam say his name. He tried to respond, but he seemed to be unable to talk. He could feel her hand stroking his hair, and despite his feelings, it gave him a bit of comfort, as it was the only thing that gave him a small distraction from the pain.
Maybe it wouldn't be so bad. He knew he would soon have no energy, but… Sam was with him. He still half-wished that she hadn't come, hating that she had put herself in so much danger, and was now becoming frantic at watching him slip away in her arms. But… he decided to just be grateful. Grateful that she was there.
Suddenly, he heard a small whisper in his head. He was able to feel a slight anger, as he knew what it meant, although he hadn't heard it many times.
Before he could think, he heard the voice say, 'Well, you've been one tough customer.'
Danny couldn't handle this. It was enough that this voice was killing him; did it have to bother him right now?
Just go away… he told it in his head. I give up… I'm not gonna fight you anymore…
But, the voice didn't listen. 'Well, that's good to know. One more little episode should be enough to finish off your friend, who just happens to be right here, then I'll take the rest of your energy.'
Danny felt his stomach make a small jump. Instead of just taking his life, it wanted to kill Sam too?
No… Danny said to it. Just leave her alone… You can have my energy… I don't care… Just… leave her alone…
The voice paused. 'No, I think I'll make you kill her first. I mean, your love emotion for this person is high… How can I say my work is done if I don't dispose of her first?'
Danny felt a sudden panic and rage. This thing was making him attack Sam because… it knew he loved her? How did it know? Why was it doing this?
Before he could figure it out, he felt the familiar pang enter his mind as the voice tried to take control of his mind. He didn't have any energy, but he had to fight. There was no way he was going to let this thing hurt Sam.
As he tried to pull away from it, he felt a stronger surge enter his mind. 'You said you weren't going to fight me,' the voice said, sounding like it was enjoying what it was doing. It's tone dropped to one full of malice. 'I cannot be stopped, so don't even try to fight me.'
With that, Danny heard himself yell as the voice shot a sharp pain through his head. It pulled at his mind, trying to take control.
As Danny felt the control start to slip away, he felt helpless. He was going to lose it again, and he was going to kill Sam.
Through the pain, an image of Sam entered Danny's mind. He could see her laughing, the smile he loved so much spread across her face, her violet eyes filled with the sparkle that made him feel queasy.
No. He couldn't let this happen. There was no way he was going to let this voice control him and kill Sam.
Just as he decided it, he was suddenly aware that the pain in his head had lessened. It made him refocus on the voice then, just as suddenly as it faded, the pain erupted again.
After a scream of agony, he focused his mind to fight it. He reminded himself that he was doing it for Sam. It made the picture of her laughter come back in his head, making him feel more confident.
As it did, he noticed that the pain began to fade again. He was slightly confused, wondering what was going on.
Then it struck him; whenever he pictured Sam, the voice started to back off. He wasn't sure why, but if he kept thinking about her, it would back off.
With that in mind, Danny thought of another memory. He let his mind randomly pick one, knowing that he couldn't clearly think of a specific one as his mind was still in pain.
An image of Sam when she was five years old came into his mind. He was looking at her through his own eyes, seeing her sitting in the corner of a small classroom by herself. He realized that it was the memory of when he first met her. She had been sitting alone, as all the other kids in their class had made fun of her because she seemed too… different. He had felt bad for her, and approached her. He didn't know why the other kids made fun of her; she seemed nice, and he didn't like seeing her so sad. She looked up at him, and looked at him as if she expected to hear an insult. But he just asked her if she wanted to come play with him, and held out a hand for her to take. She seemed liked she didn't believe him at first, but eventually took his hand and accepted the invitation. They played together all day, and when Danny went home, he was very excited to tell his family that he met a really cool girl named Sam.
The memory lifted Danny's heart. Even though it had happened so long ago, he knew he would never forget when he first met her. The memory had always made him happy every time he thought about it, and thinking about how far they had come, how deep his feelings for her became, made him feel better than anything ever could.
Suddenly, the memory left his mind as he heard a shattering scream. At the same time, a great wave of agony assaulted his mind. He knew it was the voice screaming, and he could hear himself crying out along with it.
Just as suddenly as it came, the pain suddenly ceased, and the scream stopped. He was aware of a small tingling in his chest, and the feeling of something being extracted from it, like a thread being pulled out of his skin. When it stopped, he took a deep breath.
He wasn't sure how or why, but he knew the voice was gone.
Although he knew it was gone, the pain in his body seemed to have stayed. He felt a great wave of fatigue, and felt his consciousness slip away.
- - - - -
Danny's eyes cracked open. His mind took a minute to try and figure out what happened and where he was.
Finally, he realized that he was in a bed. He couldn't see anything past his blurred vision, but he could feel a soft sheet underneath him, and his head propped gently against a fluffy pillow.
Along with these good feelings, he was aware that his body felt very sore; he felt as if he had overworked all of his muscles, and went for days without sleep. It left him feeling exhausted, and like he would never want to get out of bed again.
But just then, he remembered what had happened; he was in the Ghost Zone, and he had somehow managed to get rid of the voice, and Sam was-
"Sam," he said aloud, finding his voice cracking with fatigue. Just after, he heard a muffled sound next to him, almost like a chair creak.
"Danny?" He heard his name called through his hazy mind. But he knew who had said it; he always knew that voice.
Turning his head toward the sound, Danny opened his eyes a little more. After blinking them into focus, he could see Sam and Tucker, both seated differently by his bed, looking at him with great smiles of relief.
"Hey man, how do you feel?" Tucker asked, his joy and relief plain on his face. He was kneeling by the bed, and Sam was sitting on the desk chair, which had been moved next to it.
Danny looked at his friends and managed a very small smile. He wasn't sure if he should answer them truthfully.
"Terrible," he said, adding a bit of humor to his fatigued voice. It earned a small laugh from his friends. Just hearing his voice seemed to make them feel better.
"Sam told me what happened," Tucker said after the short laugh. "You were able to get rid of the Micro-Ghost!"
Danny's eyebrows met. "The what?"
"Oh yeah, sorry," Tucker said. "I forgot you didn't know about that yet." He paused. "Do you want to rest before we tell you?"
"No," Danny said. There was no way he was going to wait; everything that happened had been horrible and confusing, and he wanted to know why it all happened.
"Ok," Tucker agreed. He moved his legs a little as if getting more comfortable in preparation for a long explanation. With a hint of a smile that seemed to refuse to fade at seeing that his friend was going to be ok, he explained everything he could remember. He told him how he found the information, and what it said; how Skulker used the dart for revenge, and that the Micro-Ghost was what was telling him what to do, and how it targeted anyone he felt love for. Sam had told him what happened in the Ghost Zone, so he summed that up too. Throughout the whole thing, Sam was surprisingly quiet.
After a few minutes, he was finished. It hadn't taken him long to say, but it was a lot to take in. Danny was able to hear everything he said, as his head seemed to clear enough for him to listen.
When it was done, Danny looked at the wall opposite his bed. The entire explanation was surprising to him. He never would have thought that what he was hearing was actually a ghost. He couldn't believe that a ghost like that could exist; he had met a lot of dangerous ghosts but… that had to be the worst, and most dangerous he had ever seen.
As they sat in silence, Tucker took his gaze away from Danny and looked at Sam. He realized that she hadn't said a word the whole time, and he was wondering why. He found her watching Danny silently, as if she forgot that anyone else was in the room. She looked relieved, and worried at the same time.
Despite the current situation, Tucker felt his nosy passion come back. He let a hint of a mischievous smile play across his lips as he thought about what he was going to do.
With a casual tone, he said, "Oh yeah." It caused the other two to look at him, finally pulling Sam out of her trance.
"I forgot that I was gonna go keep an eye out for when your parents get home. I'll be right back." With that, he gave Danny a small smile before getting up, heading to Danny's bedroom door, and shutting it after he left.
Sam watched the door close with confusion. We never said he was going to watch for… then it struck her. She knew what Tucker was doing; Does he really have to try to make me talk now?
Sam did tell Tucker what happened in the Ghost Zone, but she didn't tell him everything; only what was important. She didn't tell him that Danny said he loved her before leaving, and she didn't tell him how she acted when she thought he was dying after Skulker was taken care of. She just told him she saw a strange light come from Danny's chest.
So, Tucker unintentionally left her in a very awkward position with Danny; it was the first time they had been alone since he had told her how he felt (not including the Ghost Zone).
As Tucker shut the door, Danny was slightly puzzled. It was kind of weird that he had just left them alone to watch for his parents. Why would he need to-
Wait… he was alone with Sam? Despite his pained body and head, his stomach filled with butterflies; he remembered that he had told her how he felt about her before going into the Ghost Zone. What was she going to say about it? The sudden realization made him want to pull his blanket over his head and disappear. Hey, he was half ghost; he could if he wanted to.
Deciding against it, he looked at Sam. His stomach felt queasy as his eyes met hers. Sure, his body was still in a lot of pain, but seeing her violet eyes helped calm him. Maybe… she didn't remember?
But Sam did remember. She had been thinking about it while she watched Danny rest in his bed before he woke up, along with hoping that he would be ok. She fiddled with her hands, not sure of what to say. She couldn't figure out how she felt. She was nervous, scared, overjoyed, and relieved at the same time (along with wanting to kill Tucker next time she saw him).
After the silence in which the two had been having their own thoughts, Danny finally couldn't take it anymore. He felt embarrassed, and he wanted someone to say something.
With a bit of hesitation, he started to push himself up. He made a small wince as it sent small pains through his body, but he continued to lift himself. He momentarily wondered if it was a good idea.
As he did, he felt Sam's hands touch his shoulder. She carefully helped him get into a sitting position on his bed, so that his back rested against the bed's headboard. When he was positioned, he took a few calming breaths as Sam removed her hands and sat silently.
Sam put her hands in her lap and watched Danny out of the corner of her eye as she tried to calm her burning stomach. Danny finally seemed to catch his breath, but he kept his gaze on the wall opposite his bed, still to nervous to look at her.
Finally, Sam looked at him. She didn't know why she was still so scared, but… why shouldn't she just say it?
It didn't matter that Danny still felt like he desperately needed to sleep; his mind was racing. He was alone with Sam, and she knew how he felt about her. What was he going to do? What was she going to do? He only told her because he thought he was never going to see her again. So, what if she was going to say it made her feel uncomfortable, and she didn't want to be his friend?
Wait… she had been there in the Ghost Zone with him. She had helped him, and almost got killed trying to do it. If she had done all that…
Finally, he looked at her. He had to ask the question that had been bothering him since he knew that she was helping him.
"Sam," he said. She looked up at him.
He hesitated. Should he just ask? He still didn't know if she remembered that he told her how he felt. But it didn't matter.
"Why…" he paused. "Why did you come after me? …Why did you help me?"
Sam seemed a bit surprised at the question. She looked at him with confusion, not sure how to answer.
Danny continued as she didn't answer. He felt embarrassed for bringing it back up, but said, "I… I know I couldn't control it but… I tried to kill you… Why did you help me?"
Sam's heart beat quickly as she tried to think of what to say. How would she say it? Where would she start? She had been waiting so long to tell him how she felt. She only had one reason not to tell him, and that reason was gone.
"Because…" I'm your friend? Yes, she was his friend, but that wasn't why she went after him. Just tell him the real reason.
With less hesitation than she thought it would take, she reached out and took his hand in both of hers. The contact made her stomach burn hotter, and she kept her gaze down.
Danny looked at their hands with complete confusion. His heart accelerated at the contact, and he had no idea what Sam was going to do.
As Sam spoke she found her mouth trying to shut to stop the words. Still keeping her gaze down, she said, "Because… there was no way I could leave you… not when I…" Her heart tried to beat out of her chest, and her mind screamed at her to stay quiet.
But she didn't listen.
Looking up at him, she said, "Because I love you, too."
The words hit Danny like an unexpected brick. He just expected 'Because I'm your friend.' Not, 'I love you too.' The information was so surprising, but he couldn't help feeling nothing but happiness that she felt the same as he did.
Sam thought that her eyes would involuntarily move away from embarrassment, but the shock and happiness she saw enter his kept hers locked on. She didn't know why she expected him to react differently. She had just been telling herself that he would for so long, she couldn't help it. They both just sat there, not knowing what else to say.
Just then, they heard a voice say their names, along with fast footsteps coming down the hall. It made them immediately turn their attention to the door, releasing their hands at the same time.
As soon as they looked, they saw the door fly open, and Tucker enter, saying, "They're here!"
That made them all put their focus on their usual ghost cover up. Sam turned her chair so that it was facing the opposite wall instead of Danny's bed, and Tucker seated himself on a storage chest that was against the same wall as the door. He quickly unzipped his bag and pulled a book out, throwing the bag aside, and opening it to a random page, pretending he was deep in his reading. Danny wanted to stand up or position himself differently, but he knew the ideas would probably cause him to lose consciousness. He didn't have enough energy. So, he just stayed where he was, trying to pretend he was there for comfort, and nothing was wrong.
They sat silently, listening as they heard the two adults enter the front door. They could hear Jack say something loudly, although they didn't know what he said. They heard a quiet answer from Maddie, then hurried footsteps ascend the stairs and make their way to Danny's open bedroom door.
Jack appeared in the doorway after swinging it open (luckily keeping it intact in its hinges), and yelling, "We saw a ghost!"
Just then, Maddie appeared next to him and addressed the three children. "Yes, but we didn't catch it," she said, glancing up at her husband. Her face looked a bit drawn, but not from their failure; it looked more like a 'My husband is driving me nuts' look.
Jack threw off the comment by throwing a fist in the air and saying with a huge smile, "But we'll get it next time!" Without another word, he turned and ran back down the stairs. Maddie let out a tired sigh as she rolled her eyes, then preceded to follow him, shutting the door as she left.
When the door shut, the friends sat in silence. Tucker looked up from his book at the other two, who looked back at him with looks of relief.
"Well, we got out of that easy," Tucker said, putting his book back in his bag.
Danny just nodded in agreement. His mom usually asked him how school was, but she looked too drained to bother asking. Then again, they never went back to school. He wondered if anybody did, and if his friends' parents had been notified. If they had, he hoped they weren't in trouble.
Sam didn't seem to be thinking about that. She was glad that they got off so easily, but she was mostly just glad that Tucker hadn't caught her telling Danny how she felt, and holding his hand. He would have declared they needed a parade.
Partially as a cover up, and also because her mood was good because of what had happened before they had been interrupted, she turned toward her friend and said with her usual teasing tone, "Yeah, barely. You think you reading a book is good cover up? You reading in your spare time has 'suspicious' written all over it." She smiled as she heard Danny give a small chuckle behind her.
Tucker pushed his bag away and glared at her good-naturedly. "Well, excuse me! I didn't see you trying to use any kind of cover up!"
"I don't need cover-up," she said, putting mock passion n her voice. "I can hide anything I want without even trying."
Tucker rolled his eyes in an attempt too look annoyed, but his smile gave away what he was really thinking. "Well, go hide in the shadows next time if the mask is your true talent."
Finally, all three friends laughed. It had been the first time they had enjoyed a time of real laughter together since all of this started. It made them feel better, and realize that, no matter how bad things got, they could still find a way to bring things back to normal.
After the laugh, Tucker looked at his watch. "Well, maybe we should go. I don't know if any of the parents were told about the ghost at school, but if they weren't, they'll be expecting us home like a regular school day." He stood up and put his backpack over his shoulders. He turned to Danny and gave him a small wave, saying with a smile, "See ya later, man. Get some rest, ok?"
Danny nodded and smiled back. "You know I will."
Tucker smiled and went to the door, opening it, and leaving it open as he left.
After he left, Sam looked at Danny. She smiled, letting herself get lost in his sapphire eyes as he smiled back.
But she knew she had to leave. If she didn't get home in time, her parents wouldn't be happy. With a little hesitation, she said, "Bye."
"See you later," Danny said, now finding his eyes drooping. Sam smiled and watched as he turned his head to the side, and practically passed out from the fatigue. She knew after some rest he would be fine.
Before she left, she bent down and gently kissed his cheek. She doubted he knew it, as he looked to be asleep already, but it didn't matter. She stood back up and smiled, thinking about how different things would be from now on. How much better they would be.
Finally, Sam turned and walked out the door. She peeked at Danny, who lay asleep in his bed, and shut the door quietly behind her.
- - - - -
Well, there's the end. I'm sorry this took so long to post. It took me longer than I thought to decide how I wanted the ending to go. I hope you liked it, and please leave a review to let me know.