A/N: I am so sorry this is so late. Just read it. Not all questions answered, read the sequel.
P.S. I'm retconning. Youngblood's eleven now. I never mentione his name in the story, and it was never mentioned in the series. Roll with it.
Disclaimer: Danny Phantom copyright Butch Hartman, Nickelodeon, Billionfold, and Viacom.
The first thing Vlad realized as he came to consciousness was a feeling of…emptiness, was the only way to describe it. It was a feeling that he had gotten in the early days of his powers when he was in ghost mode, but had since gotten used to to the point where he had stopped noticing it.
Giving a groan, Vlad opened his eyes and found…nothing. Twisting his head in all directions, he could see nothing but blackness in every direction. Instantly his normally composed attitude disappeared as he began to panic. He reached for the Crown. It was gone.
"What is the meaning of this? What's going on?" he demanded.
"You're dead," a blunt voice answered him.
Alarmed, he turned around, and panicked when he saw there was another figure with him. Or at least, he saw part of another figure. The dark cloak that covered a good deal of his body, as well as a hood that covered his face. But he saw the white bones that made up his hands, as well as the long scythe that the right hand gripped. It was a figure Vlad had read about in his studies, but prayed never to see.
Death. The Grim Reaper.
"Your body couldn't handle the sudden change in power," Death explained, not waiting for the former halfa to snap out of his shock. "And without the Gem to brace you, what power of the Crown that was left inside you ripped you apart. You're completely a ghost now."
"…W-what?" Vlad said, for once completely at lost for words.
"You're dead, must I repeat it? Now come on, time to go to Judgment."
"Actually, I'll be taking him," a new voice announced.
Death was surprised for the first time in a millennia. He turned. "Who dares…"
Had Danny been there, he would have recognized the figure Death saw…almost. The red eyes, and the twisted clock. The same figure seen at Vlad's death.
"You…" the reaper began, but a flash of red saw him knocked back, far past his intended target.
Vlad, already shocked by what was happening, looked at the figure with the utmost fear.
"You could be useful to me."
As Youngblood drifted back into consciousness, the first thing he felt was a severe pounding in his head. Giving a groan, he reached up and rubbed his head. As he did, he felt his green hair underneath his fingers and realized his glove was removed. As he flexed his other arm, he realized his hook had been replaced by his more natural prosthetic.
He opened his eyes and found he was no longer on the battlefield. He was in Danielle's room, in her bed. He sighed a breath of relief that his friend wasn't one of those girly girls. He didn't think he could handle waking up in some pink, lacy bed.
Scanning the room, he saw nothing. Finally, he looked to his side and saw his first sign of life in the room. Danielle was sitting in a chair beside her bed, her head buried in her hands, unmoving.
"Danni? Hey, Danni, what's going on?"
At hearing her friend's voice, the youngest halfa looked up. Youngblood was stunned by the fact that her eyes were red, she had been crying. "Hey, what's…"
He was cut off when Danielle jumped up and threw her arms around him, crying anew into his shoulder.
"Hey, what the…"
"I…I…I thought I was going to lose you," she sobbed, hugging him tighter.
Youngblood blinked. She was this worried?
As if she could read his mind, she continued. "Danny sent me and Sam into the Ghost Zone…when we got back, some of Frostbite's men were gathering up everyone who got injured. Everyone except Amorpho and that nerd were unconscious. Danny, Jazz, my parents…and you. I was afraid I was going to lose everyone."
For once, the pirate ghost was unsure of what to say. "Is everyone okay?"
Danielle broke the hug and looked at her friend. "Mom, Dad and Jazz came to. So has nearly everyone else…but Danny…he still hasn't woken up…he's been in one of those medical tubes since the fight."
"H-how long ago was that?"
"Nearly two days ago," Danielle said sadly. "They won't let us in the lab where he's being treated. I've been waiting here since then."
At that point the boy noticed that his friend's hair was mussed and there were bags under her eyes. She hadn't been sleeping.
"You were that worried about me?" the boy asked, stunned.
Danielle looked down, trying to find the right words. "You're my best friend. I mean, school's torturous with everyone staring at me, begging for my brother's autograph, and treating me like it's a big deal I'm breathing the same air as them. But you…no matter what, you treat me the same. You may be a little jerk, but I like you."
Danielle hugged her friend, and this time he hugged back.
For a few moments. "You've been sitting here since the fight ended?"
"I can tell. You need a shower."
Danielle pulled back, glaring at him. "Why did you ruin a nice moment?"
"Why don't you shower better?"
"Me? You only bathe when you can't get away with not doing it!"
"I'm a guy. We're supposed to smell."
"No, you're not! You're such a disgusting pig!"
"Yeah, well you're a goody-goody pest!"
"Yeah, well you're a little jerk!"
"Yeah, well you're stupid!"
In the doorway of Danielle's room, Jazz stood smirking with Parrot on her shoulder. "Uh, it's only been two minutes and they're already at it," the skeleton bird moaned.
"I know, isn't love grand?" Jazz smirked.
Clockwork was preoccupied with setting the clock on his staff. Still, he noticed when the new figure entered his domain.
"Don't you ever knock?" the master of time said. "You're as bad as the Observants."
"How can you talk formalities at a time like this?" Death demanded. "Surely you've noticed what's happening!"
"You mean that he's loose? Yes." Clockwork said nonchalantly. "He was already here while I was in a meeting with the Observants. It seems he was interested in a certain piece of temporal abnormality I picked up a few months ago," he motioned toward the table that previously supported a dented thermos.
"Why didn't you prevent that? You should have known this was going to happen!"
"In case you've forgotten, he operates outside of time," he said, finally finishing adjusting his staff and turning toward his guest. "We can't predict what he's going to do."
Death shook his head. "Well, I suppose we knew this day would come. Do you think…"
"Yes. I knew for years that the boy was the one we were waiting for. The Observants are already making long term plans about this," he explained as his form shifted into that of a child.
"So what do we do in the meantime?" Death asked.
"For now, just watch…and wait. And if I were you, I'd get ready for a significant increase in work."
Danielle mumbled as she finally finished changing. Despite the fact that her friend had ruined what was supposed to be a touching moment, she couldn't deny the fact that she truly needed a shower.
Now dressed, she left the bathroom. She hadn't taken three steps before she heard her mother screaming from the first floor "Everyone! Danny's awake!"
That was all the incentive the young clone needed. She phased through the floor and into the kitchen, where her parents, Jazz, Sam, and Frostbite were already waiting.
"Is it true? He's okay?" the small girl asked, filled with joy.
Maddie responded by hugging her de facto daughter. "The doctors said he just woke up. As soon as he's dressed we can see him."
"Which is now," one of the yetis said, coming out of the lab. "You may see him…"
Neither Frostbite or his assistant had ever seen someone run by him so fast.
"…now," the doctor finished.
"Let them be," Frostbite ordered. "The Great One has earned a few moments alone with his family."
Danny still felt sore, but the prospect of seeing his family alive and well was enough to get him walking. As expected Danielle was the first one down, tackling him in a fierce hug. Normally he wouldn't mind his little sister being affectionate, but his sore body couldn't handle such aggressive touch.
"Ow! Ow! Danni, please, I'm happy to see you, but could you let go? I still hurt."
"Oh my gosh!" the girl said, letting go. "I'm so sorry! I didn't mean…"
Danny was cut off by Sam crashing into him, then his parents and Jazz. Unfortunately, they hugged harder than Danielle.
"Ow, Ow! Get off, get off, get off!" he pleaded, causing his loved ones to back off instantly and start apologizing so much that no one's words were understandable. "Okay, stop, stop, stop!" he said, and the group silenced themselves.
After taking a deep breath, the world's savior spoke again. "Alright, let's try this again, slowly," he said, turning to his little sister and stretching out his arms. Danielle gently went into her brother's embrace, hugging him back in relief that he was still alive. They were immediately joined by the others, each giving their own words of relief.
"Thank goodness you're okay," Sam whispered, kissing him on the cheek. "I was so worried."
"My boy, my baby boy," Maddie cried, fussing over him. "I thought I'd lost you."
"Danny, my boy, you pulled through. Tough as nails, just like your old man," his father gushed.
"Alright, alright, I'm fine, really," he assured as his family backed off. After collecting himself for a moment he spoke again. "So, is it true? Vlad's dead?"
"It's completely true," Jazz said. "A bunch of DGA agents scanned the battlefield. Enough of Vlad's body was found to confirm that he's dead."
"Yeah, so we don't have to worry about him anymore," Danielle pointed out.
Danny paused, then sighed. "I'm afraid it's not that simple, kid."
That confused everyone. "What are you talking about, Danny?" Sam demanded. "Maybe you don't understand. The evidence is absolutely certain. Vlad's dead…"
"So is Ember, and Youngblood, and Johnny, Kitty, Technus, Desiree…want me to go on? I can name more."
The group was silent once they realized what Danny's incredibly valid point was.
"Danny…can a halfa keep living after his human half gets destroyed?" his mother asked.
"I can't tell you," he answered honestly. "As far as I know, only four have ever existed. But we should assume he's still out there until we can make sure he's not still a ghost."
An uneasy silence fell over the lab. Danny, realizing he was destroying the good mood, quickly changed the subject. "Well at least everyone else is alright, right?"
"Um, actually, Danny…" Maddie began nervously.
Suddenly Danny felt nervous. It was then that he realized that his family and Sam were the only ones to greet him in the lab. "W-where's Tucker? Where's Valerie? Are they…"
"Don't worry, they're fine," Sam assured quickly. "Tucker just had to do some mayor stuff about Vlad's rampage, and Valerie's helping the DGA patrol the town, seems some ghosts are trying to take advantage of the fact that most of Team Phantom is out."
"Well," Maddie spoke again. "The Lunch Lady…Vlad vaporized her. She's gone."
Danny felt bad. He didn't know the Lunch Lady very well, but he didn't want anyone dead. "Anyone else?" he asked holding his breath.
"Well, when the Ops Center fell…Ember…she's alright, but," Maddie sighed. "She had a miscarriage as a result. Her baby…it's gone."
Ember lay on Jazz's bed, which the teen had thankfully let her use instead of the emergency beds in the Ops Center where she had been sleeping. She just sobbed into her pillow while holding another one like a teddy bear, truly surreal for anyone who knew her.
As indifferent as she had appeared, she had been looking forward to being a mother. The maternal instinct that was embedded in every sentient creature existed in her, and she had loved the creature growing inside her. It seemed that after all the suffering with Adam and her hated enemy foiling her plans, it seemed she would finally get some happiness.
And then, just like everything else that had given her hope, it had been taken from her, in the worst way possible. The Fentons had been supportive, consoling her and caring for her in her time of need, but it did little. She felt once again she had nothing.
"…Ember?" a voice sounded.
The ghostly siren slowly looked up, her emerald eyes sparkling with tears. Youngblood stood next to the bed, fidgeting nervously.
"Um, look…I'm not sure how to say this, but…I'm really sorry about that happened to your kid…I mean…"
The young boy was unable to finish his sentence, because at that point Ember grabbed him by his jacket and pulled him into a hug, using him to replace the pillow that had previously been used as a substitute teddy bear. While initially shocked, the pirate ghost eventually hugged her back.
For a long while, the two laid in silence, not sure of what to say. Finally, Youngblood broke the silence. "Why?"
Ember looked at the child, puzzled. "What are you talking about?"
"Why did you ditch me? During our plan to kidnap the adults, why'd you just teleport away and leave me alone when everything went wrong?"
The singer was caught off guard by the question, but nonetheless had an answer. "Listen, it might not seem like it, but it was for the best…"
"How? Leaving me to save yourself?" the boy accused, breaking away from the girl.
"No, it wasn't like that!" Ember protested.
"Then what? What was it?" he demanded, balling his remaining fist.
"I knew Phantom wouldn't hurt you!" the fiery woman yelled, causing her former partner to jump back. "Look, has Phantom ever hurt you? Sure, he's pushed you around a bit for show, but has he seriously hurt you?"
The pretend pirate tried to come up with an argument, but stopped. He realized she was right, his former enemy never really hurt him. Maybe he used a few scare tactics, but he always walked away from their battles relatively unhurt.
Seeing that he wasn't going to say anything, she continued. "Phantom's always been too much of a goody-goody to seriously hurt a kid, but I didn't have that luxury. I only left so that one of us could stay free to save the other."
Youngblood was now timid again. "Then…why didn't you?" he asked nervously, fidgeting.
"Because Phantom was like gum on my shoe, he was practically following me everywhere. Then when the Ghost King got loose, I knew you where safer in that shield until he was gone. But I always planned to come back for you. But when you got loose, you wouldn't even talk to me."
The eleven-year-old fidgeted some more, looking at the floor. "I-I'm sorry. I-shouldn't have…"
"Kid," Ember cut him off, "I didn't want to hurt you. I…I…" she stuttered, unsure of how to say what she meant. "I really care about you, okay?" she finally said, blushing a little.
Youngblood blushed as well. When he spoke, it was barely audible, but Ember heard it. "I…care about you too."
The rocker pulled him back into a hug. Neither said it, but both knew. At that point, a little brother and a big sister were reunited.
"After the long battle Vlad Masters, known better as the infamous Plasmius, was declared legally dead," the evening news anchorman droned. "However, there were losses on Phantom's side. The ghost identified as the Lunch Lady, one of the first ghosts employed on Earth, was destroyed in battle. Also, the unborn child of Ember McLain, revealed a few months ago to be a ghost, also suffered a miscarriage as a result of Plasmius's actions. McLain herself has been revealed to be in physically stable condition.
"Danny Phantom himself was seriously injured, but according to recent reports from Far Frozen doctors, he has recovered. It was of good fortune that Samantha Manson managed to pull him from the battlefield so soon after collapsing. According to a statement from her…"
The television never broadcast a message, because at that point its remote control flew into its screen.
With that, Paulina Sanchez screamed, and began demolishing her room.
For the last four months she had been forced to watch as the single hottest guy on Earth fawn over that goth freak Manson. It wasn't fair! She was the most beautiful girl she knew! Didn't the hero always end up with women like her? Wasn't that how it worked?
With no answer, she continued her tantrum. Eventually one of her thrown objects flew toward the ceiling, hitting the ceiling light and shattering it, plunging the room into darkness.
"Princess, are you okay?" her father called from downstairs.
She didn't answered, but stopped throwing things. She just stood there, clenching her fists."
"Tsk, tsk, tsk," a new voice scared the Latina, "Such behavior is unbecoming of a lady of your position."
Paulina turned and nearly screamed when she realized another figure was in the room with her, large enough that it looked like it would dwarf her father. Try as she might, however, she couldn't make a sound.
"Don't be afraid, I'm here to give you something you want…the only thing you want…"
Youngblood stirred from sleep, memories coming back from the previous night. After comforting his big sister (not that he'd ever admit that he cared for her that way…at least, not yet) Maddie had been insistent he get some rest. To his chagrin, he ended up bunking with Danielle. Apparently they weren't old enough for the parents to worry about it.
Grumbling, he opened his eyes.
Danielle began to return to the world of the awake. As her memory returned, she remembered that she had been forced to share her room with Youngblood. Groaning at the thought, she opened her eyes.
The screams of two eleven-year-old ghosts rang through Fentonworks.
"Ew!" Danielle screeched, pointing an accusing finger at her bunkmate. "You were cuddling me!"
"Me? I was trying to sleep! You were the one doing that mushy stuff to me!"
"You are so vile!"
"And you're a…a…mushy…girl," the boy replied lamely.
"Oh, great comeback, smart one," the girl rolled her eyes.
Some light giggles stopped the verbal fight from going any farther. The two kids turned to see Tucker and Jazz standing in the doorway with smug smiles.
"Aw, looks like the lovebirds are up," Jazz said with a mock sweet tone.
"We're not lovebirds!" the two shouted vehemently.
This only increased Tucker's amusement. "Wow, they already have the vehement denial down. They are moving fast."
"What are you talking about?" the youngest Fenton demanded.
"Well, your brother and Sam were exactly like this," the techno geek replied, causing the preteen's eyes to widen in horror.
Jazz clasped her hands together cutely. "Just think, soon one of them will fall for the other, but the other will be clueless, until eventually he starts to realize his or her feelings, and the next thing you know they're dating, flirting, kiss-"
"Did you hear that?" Death asked.
"The screams of horror from two eleven-year-old children? Nothing we need to worry about," Clockwork said nonchalantly.
The scream had woken Danny. After rushing to make sure everyone was alright, he came back to his room and began changing. Just when he was back in his trademark white shirt and blue jeans, there was a knock at his door.
"Come in," he muttered. The door didn't open. Rather, his girlfriend phased in and wordlessly wrapped her arms around him, pressing her lips onto his.
The halfa kissed back until she broke it. "Feeling better?" she whispered softly, stroking his cheek.
"Much," he answered with a wide grin.
"Nothing hurting?" she asked gently.
"None at all," he replied.
At that point, the gentleness stopped. "Not for long," the goth said before swiftly punching him on the cheek sending him to the ground.
"Ah, what was that for?" Danny demanded, rubbing his smarting cheek.
"For sending me to Ghost Zone when I should have been fighting Vlad!" she yelled, kicking him in the side with her combat boots when he tried to get up.
"Ah! Look, I just didn't want you getting hurt!" the teen begged as he finally got up.
"In case you've forgotten, I'm not some defenseless little girl!" Sam shouted, "I can take care of myself!"
"I know that!" the ghost boy said defensively, putting his hands up. "It's just that…"
"Just what? What is it?"
"…I couldn't stand the thought of losing you," he said finally. This caused Sam's expression to lighten slightly, which Danny took as a sign to continue. "Look, I know you can take care of yourself, but…I care about you too much to care. If anything happened to you…I don't think I could go on. It's just…"
Danny was cut off, but not by another kiss, brought on by a now more placid girl. After she broke the kiss, she spoke. "I know you're worried about me, I understand that. But I'm willing to risk anything for you. You shouldn't forget that."
"I won't," he whispered. Then, he decided to tempt her patience, "…Sammy."
To his surprise, Sam smiled…a devious smile. "I know you won't, Doodlebug."
Suddenly, Danny backed up, his pupils shrinking to the size of pencil points in sheer terror. "Wh-what'd you call me?"
The plant girl leaned in, her smile growing into a sinister grin. "Isn't it cute? Jazz said your mom called you that all the time when you were a kid, and it's so cute, I think I'll start using it."
"…H-huh?" was the only response.
"Yeah. In fact, I think I'll go down and announce it to the whole team right now," she daid, heading for the door.
"No, wait, Sammy…I mean Sam, Sam, wait…" the boy begged, rushing to his girlfriend and wrapping his arms around her to try and restrain her. This only caused her to laugh, so he played it up by lifting her up and playfully tackling her onto the bed. After pouncing on her, she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him into a kiss.
And at that moment, at that location, everything was peaceful.
But somewhere, someone was watching.
"Enjoy the moment, Phantom. Because Vlad, Pariah, your evil self, they were mere worms. Soon, you will face me."