Danny Phantom: Facing the Future
The calming silence after the battle made the neighborhood streets feel like a ghost town. Luckily, with the danger passed, Tucker would soon be bringing people back into the area and begin cleanup efforts. Meanwhile, Danny and Sam could only stand in the middle of the street. Looking over at their future selves standing just a few feet away, and now with time to actually think, they suddenly found themselves with a lot to ponder. But any questions they may have wanted to ask were again put on hold as Clockwork suddenly appeared through one of his time portals.
"Here," Future Danny said, tossing the Fenton Thermos into Clockwork's hands, "Let's hope he stays in there a little longer this time."
"Between his weakened state and this new containment device, I imagine it will be quite a while," Clockwork replied simply, "Still, only time will tell."
With that, Clockwork prepared to return to his palace, but he took one last moment to give everyone a parting glance.
"Not bad. Well…not REALLY bad."
"Gee, thanks," Future Danny replied with an amused smirk, "Maybe next time, we'll just let you handle it yourself and see how well YOU do."
"Hey, hang on a minute," Danny sounded, Future Danny's words suddenly making him very thoughtful, "Why DIDN'T you handle it yourself? With your powers, there had to have been a ton of better ways you could have dealt with him getting out. Why drag us into it?"
Clockwork paused, tossing another glance at Danny and Sam before flashing a cryptic half smile.
"How are you ever going to learn anything, if I have to do all the work?"
And before Danny could ask what he meant, Clockwork faded into his time portal and disappeared. But his words suddenly made Sam think of something as she turned to see Future Danny and Future Sam still assessing the damage that had been done to the area. Suddenly, a question entered her mind that she hadn't thought to ask before.
"Hey," she walked over to Future Sam, getting her attention, "You said before that I didn't know how it went down with you…how you got your powers…This IS how it went down, isn't it?"
Future Sam didn't reply right away. She and Future Danny only exchanged glances for a moment before she spoke.
"Well, about 80…90 percent," she said with a shrug, "I mean, you did pick up on a few things faster than I did, some, not so much. And that whole thing with Vlad just came out of nowhere! I mean, we honestly did NOT see that coming!"
"Speaking of Vlad, I guess we'd better figure out what to do about…!" Danny started to say, but was cut off when he and the others noticed that Vlad was gone, glacier and all! What none of them DID notice, however, was Vlad glaring at them from the darkness of a nearby alley, with the frozen Vlad right behind him. He must have split off a copy while he was still in the building to throw off Danny and Sam during the fight. But having had his own fill of fighting for one day, Vlad simply picked up his frozen copy and quietly flew off into the distance.
"Well, this time I have to say, I'm really NOT surprised by this," Danny sighed, leaving Sam to ponder her original question. But Future Sam's answer didn't seem to put her mind at ease. If anything, she seemed even more confused as she shrugged her shoulders and shook her head.
"But…I don't get it," she added on, "If you knew this was the way it happened, why didn't you just say something? Why did you get Jazz to try and stop me? And the things you said after…why the whole song and dance?"
Again, Future Sam didn't answer right away. She only looked at Sam with a serious gaze.
"Because it wasn't my decision to make," she said finally, "I had already made the decision and understood why I did what I'd done. This time, it was your turn. You're the one who had to weigh the options and make the choice, no one else. It wasn't my place to tell you any different."
Sam had to let the words sink in for a moment. Part of what Future Sam had told her seemed to make sense, yet part of her was still unsure. What if she had decided NOT to go through with it? What would have happened then? Unfortunately, she wouldn't get the chance to ask the question.
"Oh gee, look at the time," Future Danny announced, rolling his eyes, "I guess we'd better get moving now."
Future Sam nodded in agreement and tossed Danny and Sam one last parting nod before walking over to him as the pair pulled out the Time Medallions they received from Clockwork. But Sam was still stuck for answers to her questions.
"Well…wait! Wait a minute!" she called out, running after them a couple of steps, still looking confused, "So…what happens now?"
Future Sam paused for a moment before looking at Future Danny. Then, the two of them just started snickering as they shook their heads.
"That's up to you," she laughed, shrugging her shoulders as she and Future Danny removed their Time Medallions and began to fade away, "Come on, haven't you been paying attention?"
"And hey!" Future Danny quickly called over to Danny as he pointed at Sam, "You watch her like a hawk! At least for the first couple of months…!"
And with that, they were both gone, with the carnage of the battlefield the only evidence that they had ever been there at all. Sam could only look off in the distance, feeling momentarily lost. That is, until Danny walked up and put his arm around her, pulling her close. At that moment, Sam felt some small measure of comfort as she put her arms around Danny's waist and gently rested her head on his shoulder.
But just then, another tender moment was shattered as the Fenton RV came roaring through the air, crashing just a few feet behind Danny and Sam! An annoyed Maddie and Jazz came storming out of the vehicle just a few moments later.
"Next time our son is facing a life-or-death crisis, I'M DRIVING!" Maddie shouted.
"I still don't see what the problem was!" Jack argued, still in the driver's seat, "The sign said it was a one-way street! We were only going one way!"
"Well, that's very logical Dad, but did you happen to notice how all the other cars were going IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION?!" Jazz argued back before she turned around to notice Danny standing with Sam in the middle of the street, "Oh, Danny!"
The sight of her son standing just a few feet away was enough to make Maddie smile from ear to ear. But it didn't stop her from running over and hugging Danny as tight as she could, with Jazz not far behind. It wasn't enough for them to just see that he was alright. They had to reach out and make sure.
"Oh, thank goodness," Maddie sighed, snuggling against Danny's cheek before backing away to take a second look and make sure he looked alright, "Are you okay, sweetie?"
"Well…yeah. I'm fine, Mom," Danny replied with a shrug, unsure of what other answer to give. He still didn't remember much about his mysterious transformation from earlier. But he figured it must have been a pretty big deal to get Maddie and Jazz all worked up like this.
"Well, don't ever do that again!" Jazz shouted, grabbing Danny by the shoulders and shaking him, "You scared us half to death!"
"Well okay!" Danny protested, "As soon as I figure out exactly what I did, I'll make sure not to do it again!"
Sam just looked on as Maddie and Jazz continued hugging Danny while Jack reached over and put a hand on his shoulder. And she couldn't help but give a warm smile. Despite the wreckage surrounding them and no matter how embarrassed it may have made him, seeing her boyfriend alive and well and in the middle of such a tender moment made her feel as though everything was right with the world. That is, until Jack spotted her out of the corner of his eye and immediately went on alert, whipping his bazooka out at her!
"Halt! Who goes there?!" he shouted threateningly! It was at that moment that Sam looked down at herself and realized that she hadn't transformed out of her ghost form yet! And Jack's reaction to her was so sudden, she couldn't think of the right way to respond! Fortunately, Jazz was quick to come to her rescue!
"Dad, calm down!" she yelled, pushing the barrel of the weapon up into the sky, "She's…one of us."
It was at that moment that Maddie looked up and really took notice. Since she was now fully aware of what Danny changed into when he transformed, it wasn't hard to start adding things together. Her hair may have been white and her eyes may have turned green, but it was the same hairstyle. And any mother would know the face of the girl her son was dating.
"Sam…is that you?" she asked with a hint of surprise, her words sending chills down Sam's spine as she realized the jig was up, "What on earth did you do to yourself?"
"Uuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhh…" Sam's eyes darted back and forth, finding herself at a loss for words as Jack and Maddie were immediately standing over her. And she could only laugh nervously as they stood there, impatiently waiting for answers.
"Uh…bet this looks funny, huh?"
"Bet it doesn't," Maddie replied dryly as she crossed her arms, her and Jack both looking at Sam with irritated frowns. Sam could only get out a few more nervous chuckles before realizing she had to resign herself to her fate. There was a major earful coming her way in a few short moments. And that was IF she was LUCKY.
"Hoo boy," she sighed, slumping her shoulders in submission. Jazz meanwhile, innocently rolled her eyes and quietly slunk back to the security of the RV.
A very long day had finally given way to evening and Sam was relaxing in her room, the only light being a dim table lamp and the flicker of the nearby television. From a top view, all anyone would have noticed was Sam lying back on her bed, her hands rested behind her head. Of course, anyone walking into the room would have been greeted by a far more unusual sight as Sam was actually floating in the air a good three feet above her mattress!
Every so often, Sam's head tilted over at the TV, listening to the news report of the day's events. Cleanup efforts were reportedly underway and most of the residents had been returned to the evacuated area while others had been temporarily assigned to shelters. Tucker had wisely held a press conference to immediately get in front of the situation, mostly by leaving a few things out. Of course, the one major omission was any mention of Dark Danny or of Future Danny and Future Sam. Only a select few were privileged to that particular information.
"And let me just restate that despite eyewitness claims, my team has concluded their analysis of the area and have found no evidence of any connection between this ghost attack and Danny Phantom," Tucker spoke on the news clip, "In fact, had it not been for his heroic efforts, this attack may not have been stopped so quickly. Once again, Amity Park, and possibly the entire world, owes Danny Phantom a debt of gratitude."
Sam felt an amused smile crossing her lips as she heard Tucker speak. Admittedly, she may have looked at "Mayor Foley" to be a showboating goofball at times, but he certainly seemed comfortable behind that podium. He was even smart enough to have Valerie and Masters' Blasters arrayed behind him at the press conference to make his statements look even more legitimate. And Sam felt a certain sense of relief that Tucker was around to run damage control and keep Danny's public image positive. It seemed as long as Tucker had the media's ear, it would safe to say that Danny was going to have a pretty powerful spokesman in his corner.
But as the news reports faded into more trivial matters of the day, Sam found herself tuning out as she stared up at the ceiling. It was only now when everything was said and done that she found herself feeling the true power of everything that had just happened. At the time it was actually happening, it didn't seem like much at all. But looking back on it, it all piled on to a crushing weight.
What a difference a day makes. That was the main thought rolling through Sam's head as she held her left hand in front of her face. Suddenly, her hand turned invisible, once again giving her a crystal clear view of her ceiling. She knew her hand was still there, she could feel it. She just couldn't see it. And the knowledge that her body was now capable of doing these things made her heart pound inside her chest.
She knew deep down that she didn't regret the decision she'd made. She might have, at one time, but not now. Although she did have to endure a pretty thorough tongue lashing from Danny's parents on how Ghost Portals aren't toys. Still, Sam knew that Danny was going to be the final yardstick this decision was going to be measured by. Sure, he seemed okay with it at the end. And Future Danny and Future Sam really did look good together. But she knew deep down that none of that meant Danny was going to support her in the long run. And she wasn't entirely sure what she would do if he didn't.
However, before Sam could question the issue anymore, a sudden chill crept up her spine as an icy breath escaped her lips. This feeling was starting to become eerily familiar as she knew it could mean only one thing. Unsure of her ghostly visitor was friend of foe, Sam chose to err on the side of caution as she turned invisible before phasing herself to poke her head up through the roof. Peering cautiously, it took only a split second to recognize the figure sitting on the roof, leaning back on his arms and looking up into the sky.
"Danny?" Sam blurted out softly as she floated just high enough through the roof to find her footing.
"Hey," Danny replied, greeting her with a smile, "Got a minute? You look like you could use someone to talk to."
But as it turned out, talking was the last thing they ended up doing. It was a good 10 to 15 minutes before anything was said between them. Until then, the two of them just laid back on the roof, looking up at the sky. Sam could hear Danny's heartbeat as she rested her head on his chest. It was every bit as soothing as feeling her hand caressing his or feeling his other hand occasionally running through her hair. But it didn't change the fact that there was an issue she felt needed to be resolved.
"Hmm…too bad it's so cloudy tonight," she uttered, trying to break the ice, "This would be a great night to see some stars right now."
"Mmm," Danny only murmured in response. Sam wasn't sure whether to take that as a positive or a negative. But rather than dwell on it, she decided instead to keep going.
"I'm surprised your parents didn't tell my parents about what happened," she mentioned, her voice sounding a little more nervous, "You know…me and the whole ghost thing?"
"Well, I think they're still trying to work out how to do that," Danny replied, "After all, there isn't exactly an easy way you can work a topic like that into a casual social discussion."
"Yeah, not to mention the fact that your parents and my parents hate each others' guts," Sam added.
"Yeah, that too," Danny noted with a shrug. Sam smiled in amusement, but it was only for the briefest of moments. She knew there was no getting around it. It was a question she had to have answered before things went any further.
"Danny…" she looked away reluctantly at first, but managed to drum up the courage before looking him in the eyes and turning her hand invisible, "…are you really okay with…this? I mean, I just…I HAVE to know, okay?"
"Sam," Danny looked at her seriously for a moment before rising to his feet and reaching his hands out towards her, "There's something I want to show you. It'll just take a minute. Can you come with me?"
Sam wasn't sure what to expect, but decided to go along as she took his hands and Danny helped her up. With that, they both transformed into their ghost forms and with Danny still holding her hand, they both flew straight up into the sky. Sam still didn't know what was going on, especially when Danny flew them both up into the clouds. All she knew at that moment was that she was glad Danny was holding her hand, otherwise she would have lost him for sure in the haze. After all, he was right next to her and she couldn't even see him. Fortunately, that was only for a brief moment. It took Sam's eyes a moment to adjust as they finally burst through the clouds, but when she did, the sight that greeted her was dazzling!
The entire night sky lay stretched out before her, like an endless sea of flickering lights! The moon hung full in the sky, larger than she had ever seen it before! And all Sam could do to react was hang her mouth open in astonishment. She had stargazed before, but never like this. With the clouds just under her feet completely blanketing the earth below, she felt as though she was actually floating in space.
"Whoa…"was the only word she could get out of her mouth, her eyes still wide.
"Like it?" Danny replied, "I come up here sometimes when I've had a rough night. It calms me down. Cloudy nights are my favorite. Kind of makes me feel like I have the whole thing to myself, you know?"
"Danny…I can't believe this…" Sam stated, still taken in by the sight.
"Hey, you should come up here during a thunderstorm. Then you'll REALLY see a show," Danny added, "Just…make sure you put earplugs in first."
"Danny, I really don't know what to say," Sam looked back at him, her eyes dancing, "It's just so…incredible."
"Yeah…that's true," Danny replied, "But sometimes…it's a little lonely too."
Danny paused for a moment, sighing before floating over to Sam and taking her hand.
"Sam, the thing is…I always wanted the chance to share this with someone. And to be honest…I was always hoping it would be with you…," he continued, pausing once more as he hung his head, "But…I just never wanted to take the chance before…well, because…"
"…Because I couldn't fly." Sam immediately understood as she folded her hands over his and looked deeply into his eyes. Danny may have had the strength to lift a school bus, but even that wasn't enough to change the possibility that if he had brought her up to this height when she was just plain old Sam, he could have still dropped her. And he might not have been able to catch her in time to save her if he did. Pulling a hand away and reaching up to slide it down his cheek, Sam offered up a reassuring smile. At that moment, she was pretty sure that she was starting to understand.
"Sam, I'll admit it. There is a part of me that thinks this is really cool right now," Danny said, "But every time I think that way, then I start thinking about what could happen and…I just can't help worrying about you."
"You mean the way I worried about YOU every time you were out there alone?" Sam replied.
"Okay, point taken," Danny conceded, "I guess there's just one thing to know."
"Hmm?" Sam looked at him curiously. Danny gave her serious look.
"Are YOU okay with it?"
As soon as she heard the question, Sam looked away thoughtfully. That really was the bottom line, wasn't it? Whether or not the decision met with her OWN approval. She seemed thoughtful for a few moments longer before she suddenly reached up and softly wrapped her arms around Danny's neck.
"What do YOU think?" she replied, looking into his eyes with a warm smile. Danny could only smile back as he pressed his forehead against hers and put his arms around her waist. The last thing he wanted to do was break up this moment, but he still felt the need to say a few things. Still, as they looked into each others' eyes and their lips slowly moved closer to each other, they seemed almost in a trance as they spoke.
"I'm still going to be watching out for you, you know."
"I think that's supposed to be my line."
"You know you're not going to be on the sidelines anymore. It's going to be a lot different now."
"Yeah. But I like it different."
It seemed as though Danny had finally run out of things to say as his lips met Sam's in a long, gentle kiss. Neither one of them wasted any time in pulling the other close as they held each other tight, both of them savoring the soft touch. It would be another few moments before their lips finally parted and they simply stared into each others' eyes both of them smiling with pure affection.
"It took you long enough," Sam stated quietly, "If you'd let a view like this go to waste much longer I was going to have to give you a smack in the head."
Danny simply chuckled under his breath as he gently pressed his forehead against Sam's and the two followed up with another soft peck. It was unsure how long they remained floating in the sky, holding each other. All they knew as they closed their eyes was if time stopped and the night never ended, that would be just fine with them.
Unfortunately, the night seemed to have different ideas as they both suddenly felt a familiar chill as the cold breath passed through their lips. It could only mean one thing as they looked into each others' eyes. But the feeling this time wasn't one of disappointment, as it had been before. Now, it was almost like a feeling of…anticipation.
"I guess that's our cue," Danny said, "Ready to go?"
Sam simply nodded with a confident smile as the pair flew back down to ground level at top speed.
The warehouse was almost pitch dark, save for the streetlights peering through the windows. It was long since closing time and the entire building was locked up tight. Of course, that wasn't going to stop any spectral intruder from making their presence known.
The main floor of the warehouse was littered with piles of boxes and crates, waiting for shipping. A virtual treasure trove for one such as the Box Ghost as he phased his head through a wall and looked around before floating through the warehouse, gazing over his find. Wringing his hands in anticipation, his sinister grin held an expression of pure joy, almost like a child at Christmas. But before he had a chance to do anything, or even open his mouth for one of his famous gloats, a green flash pierced through the darkness just under his chin!
"You know, I'm going to be perfectly honest," the female voice immediately caught the Box Ghost's attention as he tilted his head slightly to see Sam leaning against a stack of boxes just a few inches away with a wicked grin on her face, holding a Ghost Ray blade to his throat, "I was reeeeeeeeally hoping it was you."
The Box Ghost could only look on in shock at what he was seeing! If he was expecting anyone, it was Danny Phantom! But this was someone entirely new! And Danny himself was floating just a few feet away, grinning with approval at what was happening. He didn't seem in any hurry to get involved either. He actually looked almost amused as he crossed his arms with a Fenton Thermos in hand, ready to go. But the Box Ghost wasn't going to get the chance to ask any questions as Sam grabbed the straps of his overalls with her free hand and yanked him over. Pulling back her other arm, the Ghost Ray blade shrank into a cocoon of ecto-energy around her hand!
"Allow me to re-introduce myself!" Sam announced as she pulled back her glowing fist!