Danny Phantom: Strength in Numbers
Sam could feel her heart pounding inside her chest as Danny's lips gently pressed against hers. Danny could feel Sam's arms wrapping tighter around his neck as he gently pulled her close. They could both feel the aura of warmth surrounding them like a protective shield as the soft, steady sounds of their breathing echoed in their ears. It was as if the rest of the world had simply faded away. Nothing else existed in the universe but them. One thing was for sure, no matter what else happened, they were going to savor this moment.
Neither one of them even heard Jazz walk down the stairs of the Fenton Works as the kiss continued. Jazz meanwhile, was considerate enough to shield her eyes with her hand as she walked past them at the front door. But she had to give a sigh of frustration as she walked down the hall to the kitchen, where Jack and Maddie were tinkering away at the table with various components.
"Is he still saying goodbye to her?" Jazz noted as she walked in, "It's been over an hour already. What's the big deal? Sam's just going to visit her grandmother for the week."
"Oh relax, Jazz," Maddie replied, "It's perfectly natural. I remember one time I was going out of town for a weekend with my family. Your father actually camped out on our front lawn the whole weekend so he would be able to see me the absolute microsecond I got back."
"I was the desperate little Romeo, wasn't I?" Jack stated proudly as Maddie kissed his cheek, both of them oblivious to the fact that most people would find absolutely nothing in that story to be proud about. Jazz merely gave an annoyed sigh and began rummaging through the cupboards for something to eat.
"Is all this really necessary?" Sam mentioned softly as her lips finally separated from Danny's, "I mean, you DO know I'll be back by the weekend. It's not like I'll be gone like, for-EVER."
"Well, you can stop this anytime you want, too, you know," Danny replied with an affectionate grin. Sam could only smile back warmly they moved in closer and kissed again. But this warm moment was interrupted as suddenly, dark organ music began to blare from Sam's cell phone.
"Who's ring tone is THAT?" Danny asked curiously as Sam sighed heavily.
"The ring tone of she who is queen of all that is truly vile and deplorable in this world," Sam replied, sighing again as she pulled out her phone and answered the call, "Hi Mom."
"Samantha, where ARE you?!" Pamela Manson's chirpy voice scolded into the phone, "Your father and I have been ready to go for 20 minutes! You've known we were going to visit your Nana for weeks now! How hard was it to be on time for this?!"
"I know, Mom. I'm on my way. I'll be there soon." Sam answered as she hung up the phone, sighing as she looked into Danny's eyes. It didn't seem like there was any way to put it off anymore.
"Well…do you…want me to walk you home?" Danny asked with a shrug, unsure of what else to say.
"Actually, it…might be better if you didn't," Sam replied as she reluctantly pulled herself away, "'Cause I mean, if we walk together…we're gonna want to hold hands and if we hold hands we're gonna want to put our arms around each other and if we put our arms around each other we're gonna want to start hugging and if we start hugging we're gonna want to start…"
"I…get what you're saying," Danny cut her off, conceding her point. Sam still didn't want to leave, but after she gently grabbed Danny's face and softly kissed him once more, she managed to trail a weak smile across her lips.
"I'll be back soon, okay?" she whispered, pressing her forehead to his.
"Sure," Danny answered. Sam then turned around and opened the door, backing outside. Neither one of them took their eyes off each other as Danny closed the door. They both did their best trying to put up a tough front, but Sam barely made it down the front steps and Danny didn't even make it halfway down the hall before they each turned and looked over their shoulders solemnly. They didn't even realize at that moment that they were thinking the exact same thing…
" I m i s s h i m a l r e a d y . "
" I m i s s h e r a l r e a d y . "
Sighing once more, Sam turned around and trudged down the street in the direction of her house. Danny meanwhile, turned around and headed back to the stairway.
"I'll be in my room. No calls," he said in a depressing monotone as he plodded up the stairs. Jazz merely peeked around the kitchen and sighed heavily.
… … … …
"I'm really getting worried, Tucker" Jazz spoke into the phone, "It's been two days now and the only time he's left his room is to use the bathroom. I don't even know if he's eaten. Unless he's got some food stashed away up there and we'll leave how much I DON'T need to know that for ANOTHER conversation."
"What are your parents saying?" Tucker asked, using the speaker phone in the mayor's office as he practiced putting onto an indoor golf green.
"Oh, they're saying, 'It's just a phase. He'll get over it sweetie'," Jazz replied in frustration.
"Well, maybe they're right," Tucker answered, "Look, it took a long, Long, LONG time for those two to get together and believe me, you have NO idea how much whining I had to put up with during the wait. Realistically, they REALLY haven't been together that long. Maybe they just haven't gotten each other out of their systems yet."
"So what, now they're just allowed to get away with moping every time they don't get a chance to make out?" Jazz shot back.
"No," Tucker replied, "But they're entitled to be a little selfish right now. And I have to say, I really don't know if I blame them."
"I guess," Jazz said with a shrug, "I just wish something would happen that could snap him out of this."
"Oh, relax. It's just three more days, Sam will be back and everything will be fine," Tucker said as he made one more putt. At first the ball seemed to be veering off as Tucker desperately waved his arms over to get it to straighten out. But suddenly, it began to gently spiral back on course as it dropped down into the hole.
'YES!' Tucker worded under his breath.
"Okay, I'll talk to you later," Jazz said and sighed as she hung up the phone. But as she walked out of the living room, she didn't notice an eerie voice sounding off behind her.
"So you have wished it…" came the reply as the head of Desiree, the Wishing Ghost appeared through the wall. And her voice lowered to a wicked hiss as her eyes began to glow with menace.
"…and so shall it be."
… … … …
With Danny upstairs and Jack and Maddie in the lab, Jazz was the first to respond to the doorbell. Curiously, she opened the door, only to be even more curious of the young man in a brown delivery uniform standing on the step. His eyes were so wide, they looked like they were going to pop out of his skull and go bouncing around like rubber balls. And his mouth was curled into what had to have been the cheesiest toothy grin Jazz had ever seen in her life.
"Special delivery!" the stranger announced in a voice that sounded far cheerier than it had any right to be, "Is there a Dan-Wy…Feen-Tone…here?"
"You mean Danny?" Jazz wondered aloud before turning up to the stairs, "DANNY, GET DOWN HERE!"
It was a few moments later that the door to Danny's room creaked open. But Jazz was definitely not happy with what she saw shambling down the stairs. Between the tangled hair and the fact that he was dressed only in an old T-shirt and pajama bottoms, Jazz couldn't help but wince at Danny's appearance. It looked like he hadn't gotten out of bed for the last two days.
"Jazz, I'm tired, I'm cranky and my girlfriend is 200 miles away," Danny muttered, still in his droopy monotone, "This better be important."
"Greetings, Mr. Feen-Tone!" the delivery man announced before Jazz could utter a word, "You have just been specially selected for a free all-you-can-eat dinner for two at the newest location of Buffet Planet! Tonight, for one night only!"
Jazz immediately perked up as the delivery man's arm snapped out to hand over the envelope. This could be exactly the thing to get Danny out of his Sam withdrawl. But as she looked back up at Danny, all she got was the same deadpan expression he'd had when he walked out.
"Eh," he replied dryly as he turned around and slothed back up the stairs to his room. The delivery man, meanwhile, oddly showed no change in his goofy facial expression. But this was far beyond Jazz's notice, who found herself almost grinding her teeth in frustration.
"That does it. I don't care WHAT anyone else says. I am NOT putting up with this for another three days," she spoke through her teeth before turning back to the strange delivery man and snatching the envelope from his hand, "Give me that! He'll be there! DANNY!!!"
Even as Jazz whirled around and slammed the door in his face, the delivery man showed no change whatsoever in his expression. That is, until his skin and clothes melted off his body to reveal a glowing green skeleton! Mere moments later, the skeleton itself melted into a puddle and disappeared!
… … … …
"Excellent," Desiree gloated from an isolated area of the Ghost Zone as she became aware of the fruits of her work, "Step One is complete. It won't be long now. Soon, he'll be all ours."
"You don't seriously expect me to go along with this, do you?" Skulker's voice sounded off behind her as she rolled her eyes and turned to see his arms crossed in defiance, "Such crude tactics are FAR beneath my abilities."
"Who are YOU to be so picky?" Penelope Spectra chimed in, interrupting Skulker's disapproval, "It's not like YOUR track record is anything to gloat about either, you know."
"Let's get one thing straight," Skulker replied, turning to face Spectra, neither one budging an inch, "When I DO capture him, rest assured that it will be MY way. ALONE!"
With that, Skulker activated his jet pack and flew off for parts unknown, leaving Spectra to glare in frustration. But the familiar roar of an electric guitar would soon command her more immediate attention.
"Aw, who needs him anyway?" Ember Mclain announced wickedly, "The five of us are more than enough to get the job done."
"Uh, excuse me?" Spectra's servant Bertrand perked up, "But I DO believe there are actually SIX of us."
"Oh…yeah, right. I guess…I…didn't…see you…there…" Ember trailed off dismissively, much to Bertrand's annoyance.
"I still don't know why you called US in for this," Johnny 13 mentioned, with Shadow and Kitty right behind him, "I mean, that Phantom kid may be a pain sometimes, but…"
Unfortunately, before Johnny could finish his thought, Shadow suddenly appeared from behind him, growling and snarling at the mere mention of Danny!
"Oh Johnny, throw your dog a bone," Kitty chimed in, looking more than a little irritated, "I've been getting really sick of his attitude lately."
"Oh, alright," Johnny sighed, realizing he seemed a little outvoted.
"So we're all in agreement," Desiree announced with a cruel laugh, "In just a few short hours, Danny Phantom will be out of our hair for good!"
… … … …
"…ow…ow…ow…ow…ow…" Danny uttered in his droning monotone. He was so far outside himself, he barely noticed his head bouncing off each step of the main stairway.
"Danny…I am your big sister…and I am telling you…this is for your own…good!" Jazz grunted as she strained to drag Danny's limp body down the stairs by his legs.
"…ow…" was Danny's only reply as his head hit the floor at the foot of the stairs, "Jazz, this is stupid. I just don't want to do this, okay?"
"No, it's NOT okay!" Jazz shot back as she walked around and struggled to lift him to his feet, "Now stop…whining. Sam is going to be gone for three more days…and you are NOT going to spend them…congealing up in your room!"
Danny didn't offer up a verbal reply. He simply responded with a heavy sigh.
"Now I called Tucker. He is going to be here any minute," Jazz continued, "So you are going to go with him to this thing. And you are GOING to have FUN."
Just then, Jazz was interrupted from her lecture by the doorbell.
"That must be him now," Jazz announced. And Danny could only sigh again as she started pushing him to the door.
"Hey, Dude," Tucker piped up enthusiastically, as Jazz opened the door, "Ready for a night of non-stop, gut-busting action?"
"Yeah…I guess…" Danny trailed off as he turned away and hung his head.
"Woooooooooow," Tucker noted sarcastically, "I can see you're going to be a BARREL of fun tonight."
"Just take him, please?" Jazz replied, "Look, if anyone can help snap him out of this, it's you."
"Alright," Tucker said with a shrug before putting his arm around Danny's shoulder, "Come on man, this is gonna be great. Trust me."
Danny merely slumped as Tucker led him to the waiting limo. But Jazz simply smiled and gave a sigh of relief. Maybe, just maybe, by the time Danny got home, he would be feeling at least a little bit better. But she might not have been quite so sure if she had seen a group of shadowy figures peering down from the surrounding rooftops.
… … … …
Inside, the restaurant was bustling with the sounds of murmured conversation, clattering plates and jingling cutlery. The same sounds that would be heard on any normal night. Of course, were anyone able to see the six invisible figures arrayed against one of the far walls, the loudest sounds would more than likely be screams of terror.
"So…what makes you think he's going to stuff himself so full he's not going to be able to fight back?" Johnny asked as he and the others spied on Danny and Tucker.
"Oh, he'll eat. He'll have to," Desiree replied wickedly, "I placed a charm on every piece of food here. One bite and he'll be forced to eat as much as he can, until he can eat no more."
"So basically, to get this party started, he has to eat something," Ember emphasized as Desiree giggled evilly, "And…what happens if he doesn't ACTUALLY eat anything?"
"Huh?" Desiree replied, her confusion snapping her out of her boastful mood. Looking over, her jaw dropped as she saw Danny slumped over the table, staring out the window with his head propped on his hand. Placed in front of him was only one small plate with a sprig of parsley and a glass of water, neither of which had even been touched!
"I get the sense you didn't think this part through too well," Spectra added cynically as Desiree could only look on in surprise.
"Eat, EAT! You're skin and bones!" Tucker stated from across the table. There he sat, surrounded by plates so loaded down with food that his end of the table looked as though it might collapse under the weight. Danny meanwhile, simply sighed and continued staring out into space.
"Tuck, I'm just not hungry, okay?" he replied simply. At this point, even Tucker was beginning to get annoyed by his attitude.
"Man, your sister was right about you," he argued, "You've gotta lighten up. It's not like you and Sam haven't done stuff by yourselves before. What's the big deal?"
"I don't know," Danny replied, sighing again, "I guess it's…just a boyfriend/girlfriend thing."
"Oh, so I wouldn't understand, right?" Tucker retaliated, "No wonder you're not hungry. Must be hard to have an appetite when you've got your foot in your mouth like that."
"Tucker, that's not what I meant," Danny said defensively.
"Wow, five whole days away from your girlfriend. You're just so hard done by, aren't you?" Tucker shot back sarcastically, "Yes sirree, I'd sure hate to be you right now."
Danny merely sighed as he slumped over the table again. He couldn't stop himself from feeling the way he did at that moment. But at the same time, he was gradually starting to see Tucker's point.
"Okay, I think I've taken enough of a browbeating for one night," he replied solemnly. Tucker meanwhile, just shrugged his shoulders and shook his head.
"Dude, when I get a girlfriend, don't EVER let me act the way you're acting right now," he stated, "I mean, come on, you've got a free meal at the best all-you-can-eat joint in town. You're out with the mayor of Amity Park, of whom you are a close personal friend…"
Danny took note of Tucker's last statement with a cynical look. There was still a hint of smugness there.
"…So Sam's not here right now. All things considered, this is still a pretty good night for you. Why not just enjoy it?"
"I know I should be, but…it's just not the same," Danny replied, swirling his finger around the tablecloth.
"Look, just take one bite, okay?" Tucker asked, lobbing a small chicken leg onto his plate, "It's great. Trust me, you'll love it."
Danny shrugged as he picked up the simple looking piece and brought it to his mouth. Of course, he had no way of knowing what Desiree had done to it. And across the room, her eyes were practically popping out of her head in anticipation.
"Here it coooooomes," she murmured through gritted teeth as she wrung her hands violently, "Just one bite…"
And sure enough, no sooner did Danny take a bite of food, than a strange glow flashed over his eyes and his stomach immediately started growling.
"YES!" Desiree shouted in triumph.
"Blind luck," Spectra remarked cynically.
"Mmmmmm hmm," the others chimed in with a simple nod.
"Oh, shut up," Desiree muttered with a huff.
"Dude, are you okay," Tucker immediately noted the change in Danny.
"I don't know. It's weird," Danny replied, "I mean, I wasn't hungry before, but now I'm just starving."
Without another word, Danny grabbed the nearest plate he could find and made a mad dash for the buffet. Tucker merely looked on and flashed a cocky grin.
"I told him he'd love it," he said cheerfully.
Of course, a natural eater like Tucker couldn't possibly have noticed any REAL change in Danny's behavior as he kept going back to the buffet for plate after plate. It was almost unnatural, but Danny was so busy eating, he didn't even notice it. It wouldn't be for another two hours that he was finally able to stop himself. But his stomach was so full, he couldn't even stand up because the pain had him doubled over. Tucker had to prop him up on his shoulder as they walked out the door.
"There, that wasn't so hard, was it," he said as he helped Danny walk through the parking lot. Danny, however, merely groaned in response, voicing his disagreement.
"Although I've gotta tell you, Dude, you really should pace yourself," Tucker continued as he patted his own stomach, "Don't try to shoot the moon your first time out. I mean, you've got a long way to go before you can even think of challenging the master."
Again, Danny could only reply with a groan of agony as he clutched his stomach. But suddenly, a new sensation came into play as a chill ran down his spine and a cold breath passed his lips.
"Oh, no…" he groaned, putting his hand over his mouth to suppress a belch, "…not now…!"
Just then, a booming laugh filled the air as Desiree appeared in front of them, with Ember, Spectra, Bertrand, Johnny and Shadow close behind! And Danny could only glare in anger as he clutched his chest in pain!
"Dude, is there a convention in town that I don't know about?" Tucker piped up.
"Oh, you might say that," Desiree replied.
"Let's just call it, the Danny Doomsday Festival!" Ember chimed in, her guitar bellowing out chords!
"Okay, I am in NO mood to deal with you guys tonight!" Danny shouted, tearing himself away from Tucker as he transformed! But he wasn't nearly as prepared for battle as he would have liked as he doubled over, pain once more gripping his stomach.
"Awww, what's wrong, Champ?" Spectra taunted, "Something you ATE?!"
… … … …
"I hope Danny doesn't mind me dropping by for a little while," Danni Phantom thought out loud as she flew down the street, "Thing's have been kind of dull for me lately. Maybe something exciting is happening around here."
Little did Danielle know exactly how much excitement she was in for. Because no sooner did the words escape her lips than she felt a familiar cold chill and her breath grew icy.
"Whoa," she blurted out, "Talk about 'On Demand Service'. SOME-thing's going down around here. Better check it out."
… … … …
Stumbling away as fast as he could, Danny was just barely able to avoid a barrage of Ghost Rays flying right at him! The concussion was still enough to knock him off his feet, but he managed to roll away to just barely dodge a second Ghost Ray assault!
"Hey! We didn't bring you along to be eye candy!" an already irritated Ember shouted at Johnny 13, who had yet to involve himself in the battle, "Are you getting in on this or what?!"
"Yeah, yeah, fine," Johnny replied with a decided lack of enthusiasm, "Shadow, go."
Snarling with evil intent, Shadow made a beeline straight for Danny, knocking him into a building with crushing force! Still dazed with the pain in his stomach, all Danny could do was let out a belch as he slid down the cracked wall to the sidewalk.
"Danny!" Tucker cried out, trying to run to his aid! But his efforts were quickly thwarted as Bertrand transformed into his wolf form and sent Tucker rolling along the street with a flying tackle! Tucker tried to get up, but all he saw was a drooling Bertrand standing over him! And he could only whimper in fright as Bertrand snarled, ready to strike! That is, until a flying trash can came out of nowhere, sending Bertrand flying across the street with a yelp and bouncing into a nearby alley! Tucker looked up in the direction the can had come and was immediately greeted with a hulking figure standing over him.
"Hanson!" Tucker shouted in joy at the sight of his limousine driver, who spoke not a word in reply. He simply stood silent, cracking his neck as he smacked his fist into his palm.
"Oh, now what?" Desiree remarked, "Johnny, take care of this!"
"Yeah, whatever," Johnny shrugged as he gunned his bike, charging towards Hanson at top speed! Tucker, meanwhile, could only scramble to his feet and hide behind his driver. But the hulking man refused to budge an inch as he simply reached back and then lunged forward, bashing Johnny hard in the chest with his massive palm! As the bike roared past and toppled farther down the street, Hanson clutched Johnny in his enormous hand before smashing him into the street!
Johnny was definitely hurt, but not so much that he was unable to think clearly. Pinned to the street by the driver's massive frame, he simply phased himself through the street and managed to escape. This drew a curious look from Hanson before he looked up to see Ember standing in front of him.
"Hmmm, big guy," she commented with a flirty tone. But then, she charged up her guitar, blasting a chord which turned into a giant fist, smashing Hanson into a nearby building!
Danny, meanwhile, was still trying to struggle to his feet, just barely avoiding Shadow's slashing strikes. But just at that moment another burst of pain claimed him and he stumbled to the ground to see Desiree standing overtop of him.
"Tch, tch, tch, never accept goodies from strangers. And you really shouldn't overeat like that," she stated in a boastful tone, her voice lowering to a wicked hiss, "You never know who might show up!"
But before Desiree could do anything else, a pair of Ghost Rays struck her hard in the face, sending her skidding along the street! And Danny and the other ghosts looked over, only to gasp in shock at seeing Danielle standing just a few feet away, her hands blazing with ecto-energy!
"Lady, you're not kidding!" she shouted, her voice showing that she was itching for a fight!
"…D…Danielle…?" Danny groaned weakly.
"Okay, who…or WHAT…is THAT?!" Ember exclaimed, her eyes still wide with surprise! But before Danielle could reply, she was struck in the back with another pair of Ghost Rays, sending her flying into Danny and knocking them both unconscious as their ghost forms dissolved! As it turned out, the attack had come from none other than Penelope Spectra, who simply stood with a confident smirk.
"Well, I guess it doesn't matter now, does it?" she replied simply. Johnny 13, meanwhile, had collected his bike and rejoined the group with Bertrand as Shadow collected Danny's limp form and Desiree hovered overhead.
"Time to go! We've got what we came for!" she announced as streams of glitter and vapor swirled from her hands, blanketing the ghosts and Danny as they slowly vanished. Within seconds, they were gone, leaving Tucker alone to tend to his and Danny's would-be protectors! The only sound he could hear was Desiree's laughter echoing into the night.
… … … …
"Danielle? Are you okay?"
Danielle awoke with a groan at Tucker's voice. Rubbing her head, it took her a few moments to recall what had just happened. But as the memories bubbled to the surface, her eyes snapped open wide as she leapt to her feet, looking around desperately!
"Danny! What happened to Danny?! Did they…?!"
"They got him," Tucker replied with a tone of helplessness. Danielle could only look away and shut her eyes tight in frustration before turning back to him with a look of pure resolve.
"Well?! What are we waiting for?! I've got to go after him!"
"Danielle, wait!" Tucker called, just barely preventing her from running off, "You don't know where they took him! And even if you did, you can't fight all of them alone! And I can't call in any of my help without having to answer some questions I'd rather not have asked."
Danielle could only sigh, feeling completely helpless in the heat of the moment. Tucker meanwhile, remained deep in thought.
"Well, there's Sam. She might be able to help, but she's…Wait…"Tucker thought out loud as an idea began to form, "Maybe there IS something you can do. But it's not going to be easy and you're going to have to move fast!"
… … … …
"Uunnhh," Danny groaned as he slowly came out of his daze. As his eyes slowly began to adjust, he soon realized that he didn't like what he was seeing. Hovering in the center of a wide cave, his arms and legs were being held with ecto-energy restraints! Of course, even if he broke out of that, he was still plagued with stomach pains and surrounded by a group of some of his most powerful enemies! And even IF he got through them, the eerie aura outside the cave entrance immediately told him that they were now in the Ghost Zone. But where, he couldn't possibly know. One thing was for sure though. He was REALLY in trouble THIS time.
"Ah, look who's back in the land of the living…so to speak," Desiree piped up, being the first to notice Danny had regained consciousness. Meanwhile, the other ghosts turned around and flashed their own wicked grins of triumph, including Kitty and another newcomer to the party, leaning against the cavern wall and sulking.
"Skulker! What are you doing here?" Danny noted with some surprise.
"Oh, him? He's not in on this. Yeah, we just let 'Mr. High-And-Mighty-Hunter-Man' come over to see how the job is REALLY done." Spectra replied boastfully. Skulker merely responded with a huff. But Danny didn't have time to worry about that.
"Alright Desiree, what are you up to now?" Danny demanded, sounding quite defiant in spite of his current situation.
"Moi? Well, I have to say, I can't take ALL the credit," Desiree answered, "After all, it was your sister who wished for something to take your mind off your little girlfriend."
"Aaaaaaawwwwwww," Ember, Spectra and Kitty chimed in with batted eyelids, making kissy-faces at Danny who could only roll his eyes and glare with embarrassment.
"But the rest of the plan…"Desiree continued with a smirk, "…that was all me."
"'Plan'?" Danny remarked, "You stuffed me with food and ganged up on me. You call that a plan?"
"IT WORKED, DIDN'T IT?!" Ember shot back. Lost for words, Danny could only hang his head and look away with an annoyed look on his face.
"You know, the REALLY sad thing is, I don't have any way to respond to that," he said dryly before turning back to his captors, "Okay, you got me. So what happens now? I'm assuming you're going to do something with me."
Danny was preparing himself mentally for some hideous plan involving his demise to be brought underway soon. But the last thing he expected when he asked the question was to be staring out into a room full of bewildered faces. It was only when the first shoulders were shrugged and the ghosts started looking at each other for ideas that he realized it was really true. None of them actually had any idea what they were going to do next!
"Well," Danny noted sarcastically, "Isn't THIS an amusing little development?"
… … … …
Danielle didn't have any time to waste as she flew to the Fenton Works at top speed. Turning invisible and phasing through the walls, she had only enough time to catch part of a conversation between Jazz and Maddie in the living room with Jack.
"You know, I'm feeling very proud of myself right now, knowing that I've done my sisterly duty for the day," Jazz remarked, "Considering that it's been almost three hours and Danny isn't home yet, I'd say my efforts to get his mind off Sam not being here have met with overwhelming success."
"Oh, I wouldn't be so sure, Honey," Maddie replied as Jack put his arm around her, "Jazz, look, you are an incredibly smart girl. But you've got a LOT to learn about love."
Danielle didn't have time to listen to anything else as she flew down the hall and through the kitchen to the basement. Luckily for her, the Ghost Portal has been left open and Danielle didn't waste a second blasting through it.
"Alright," she thought out loud as she pulled out one of Tucker's PDA's, "I just hope this map Tucker made is accurate enough to get where I need to go."
And with that, Danielle was off again. It took her some time…far more time than she would have liked, in fact…but eventually, she came across a floating island covered in glaciers and snow covered peaks.
"Okay, that's gotta be the place Tucker was telling me about," she said as she made a beeline for it and landed in the middle of a snowy valley. But she still had no idea where to go next. So all she could do was keep walking.
"Frostbite!" she called out, desperately looking in every direction, "Come on, whoever you are, I need your help! Where are you?"
At that moment, she chanced to be walking backwards and as she kept going, she found herself back into something soft…and strangely warm. It was almost like fur. Without turning around, Danielle looked up, only to see a huge wolf face staring back down at her curiously.
"…whoa…," she blurted out simply as her eyes went wide.
"How is it you know of me, Small One?" The creature asked, revealing to Danielle that it could only be this "Frostbite" she had been seeking, "And how is it you come to look like our savior?"
"'Savior'? Oh, you mean Danny? Right, Tucker said something like that," Danielle rambled to herself for a moment, collecting her thoughts before flying upwards so she to see Frostbite eye to eye, "Look, it's a very long story and I'd be more than happy to tell you all about it later. But right now, you're the only one who can help me. I've got to use the Infi-Map."
"The Infi-Map?!" Frostbite exclaimed, "Small One, the Infi-Map is the most sacred and most closely guarded treasure of the Far Frozen! And it is FAR more powerful than you can imagine! It is not simply to be given away to anyone frivolously wishing to use it!"
"I know, I know!" Danielle replied, pleading her case, "And I wouldn't ask, but this is an emergency! Danny's in trouble and I need the Infi-Map to…!"
"Danny?" Frostbite noted, his mood lightening considerably, "Ah, so you ARE a servant of the Great One!"
"Well, the thing is…we're…kinda…sorta…related," Danielle said with a shrug, "But I don't have time to explain it to you! Danny got captured by a bunch of ghosts and I need Infi-Map to find Sam! Tucker said she could help!"
"Hmmm, yes, she would be a powerful ally," Frostbite said thoughtfully, even though Danielle had absolutely no idea what he was thinking or why Tucker even suggested her help, "Very well. I will take possession of the Infi-Map and we will find her together!"
"Really?" Danielle's eyes lit up as Frostbite merely offered an encouraging grin as he turned and headed in the direction of his village. Danielle was quick to follow close behind.
… … … …
Sam was lying on her stomach on her bed in one of the guest bedrooms, lost in thought. Her parents had decided to take the time while they were in town to visit some old friends for the evening. Of course, Sam and her grandmother had opted to remain behind. After all, there's only so much bubbly, happy banter one can stand.
Unfortunately, Sam hadn't been very good company for her grandmother. And as much as Sam didn't like neglecting her, she already knew why. She knew that her mind and her heart weren't in this house. They were 200 miles away, in Amity Park…where HE was. The class ring that Danny had put on her finger was evidence enough of that. But she seemed helpless to do anything about it. All she seemed able to do was let out a heavy sigh and bury her face in her pillow.
"Sam?" just then, her grandmother's voice sounded as Sam could hear her making her way up the stairs, "Sam, are you up here?"
"I'm here in the bedroom, Nana!" Sam called back, even if it was more of a courtesy than anything else.
"Sam?" her grandmother sounded again as she popped her head inside the doorway, "Are you alright?"
"Huh?" Sam immediately turned around to face her, not wanting her to worry, "Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine. I'm good. I'm okay."
"Really? Because you don't LOOK fine," her grandmother noted as she walked inside and sat on the edge of the bed. Sam turned back over, hiding her face. She didn't want her grandmother to see the obviously lousy job she was doing trying to put up a tough front.
"It's…it's nothing Nana," Sam replied, not wanting to reveal the truth about what she was going through, "I'm just…I mean, I…"
"You miss Danny," her grandmother cut her off. Instantly, Sam's eyes went wide as she flipped around in shock!
"How…how did you…?!"
"Experience," her grandmother replied simply, "I'm old, Dear. I've seen that look on a lot of faces in my time. The one that says you're not with your boyfriend and you don't like it. And then your father mentioned that you'd been seeing Danny and that's what clinched it."
"Nana," Sam trailed off, starting to feel a little guilty, "I…I didn't want you to think…"
"Oh, come now," her grandmother said reassuringly, "I wasn't always a withered old prune, you know. I know what it feels like. Besides, I was actually wondering how long it would take for you two to get together. I always thought you looked good with him."
Sam didn't offer a reply right away as she sat up in bed. She simply looked away with a shy smile.
"He really is great," she said finally. And her grandmother immediately took note of the lighter tone in her voice as she reached over and put her hand on Sam's shoulder.
"Tell you what. If it'll make you feel better, why don't you go and give him a call? I think I can afford the long distance charges."
Sam looked over with a little surprise as her grandmother simply looked back with a reassuring smile. Somehow, it was enough to instantly make Sam feel at ease as she reached over and hugged her around the neck.
"Thanks, Nana," she said, feeling a profound sense of relief.
Sam was down the stairs a few moments later, walking through the kitchen on her way to the phone in the living room. But an obstacle showed up that she didn't expect as Danielle suddenly phased through her grandmother's dishwasher, flying at top speed into the kitchen island with a loud crash!
"Whoa," Danielle groaned in a daze as she rubbed her head, "Now THAT was a ride…"
"DANIELLE!" Sam blurted out in surprise. Just then, her grandmother called from upstairs.
"Sam, is everything alright?! What happened?!"
"Uh…it's nothing, Nana," Sam stammered, trying to come up with an excuse on the fly, "I just…wasn't watching where I was going and…knocked over some pots. I've got it, don't worry."
No response from her grandmother. Sam chose to take that as a good sign. But she didn't waste any time grabbing Danielle and dragging her into the living room.
"Danielle, what are you doing here?!" Sam whispered in a scolding tone, "And how did you get in my Nana's dishwasher?!"
"I…I came through a Ghost Portal," Danielle explained, still dazed, but clearly showing signs of panic, "And…I guess that's where it ended up."
"…There's a Ghost Portal in my Nana's dishwasher?" Sam noted curiously as she looked back in the direction of the kitchen.
"I…guess so," Danielle replied, shrugging her shoulders.
"…Why is there a Ghost Portal in my Nana's dishwasher?"
"I'm sure I don't know," Danielle said in frustration, shaking the cobwebs out of her head before grabbing Sam's arm, "Look…you've got to come with me. It's Danny. He's in…"
"Danny?!" Sam immediately took notice, grabbing Danielle's shoulders, "What about Danny?! What happened to him?!"
"That's what I'm trying to tell you," Danielle explained, "He's in trouble! He was coming out of this restaurant and a bunch of ghosts jumped him! I tried to help him, but one of them got behind me and…!"
Danielle continued to explain what happened to the best of her knowledge. But by this time, Sam was no longer listening to her. The thought of Danny being assaulted by a bunch of ghosts and she wasn't there to…Suddenly, here eyes snapped open, glowing green with rage!
"…and then Tucker said to look for this Frostbite guy because he said he could use this Infi-Map thing to find you," Danielle continued, "I don't know why, but Tucker thought you could help and…and your…eyes are glowing. Did you know your eyes are glowing? Why are your eyes glowing?"
Sam was still too lost in her own anger to answer. Without a second thought, a familiar white ring of light flashed around her body! Within mere seconds, Sam had completely changed! Her boots and hair became white! She was wearing a suit that looked a lot like Danny's, except the midriff was gone, as was the neckline, replaced with a white collar around her neck! She had the same white gloves, except all the fingers but the two middle ones were cut away! And she was wearing a long black coat with lace trim around the sleeves! And Danielle was more than a little surprised to see Sam standing before her in her ghost form!
"Ooooookaaaaayyyy," Danielle said, feeling a little apprehensive, "Apparently…I've been out of the loop for a while."
"Come on, let's go!" Sam demanded as she grabbed Danielle's arm and headed back for the kitchen. Flinging open the dishwasher, a familiar green glow came from within as she tossed Danielle inside and quickly followed suit. However, she did make a brief detour back to stick her head out and look around the kitchen first.
"Huh. There really IS a Ghost Portal in here," she noted with a hint of surprise before closing the door behind her and going through.
"So…when did THIS happen?" Danielle asked, clearly referring to Sam's Ghost form.
"It's a long story and we don't have time to go into it now," Sam answered, before turning her attention to Frostbite, "Okay, tell me that thing can find Danny."
"The Infi-Map can locate anything within or connected to the Ghost Zone," Frostbite announced, "If the Great One is here, it WILL locate him."
"Okay, that's one problem solved," Sam commented before going back to Danielle, "Okay, do you know how many ghosts there were that attacked him?"
"Well…five…six, maybe more," Danielle replied, trying to recall as best she could, "It all happened so fast, I couldn't get a good look."
"I guess that means we'll need a little bit of help," Sam noted, "Frostbite, we're going to have to ask for a favor."
"No asking is required," Frostbite replied dismissively, "Any assistance that my people and I can offer to the Savior of the Ghost Zone is but a privilege, not a favor."
"Good to know. Because we're about to show those freaks that they did this all wrong," Sam noted as she grit her teeth. And her look turned positively acid as she cracked her knuckles and her voice turned menacing.
"They want my boyfriend…they go through ME first!"
… … … …
"Look, what about Walker?" Johnny 13 piped up, "That's dude's always giving us a hard time. Maybe if we hand the kid over to him, he might get off our backs a little."
"Oh yeah, that's a great idea, Johnny!" Kitty replied sarcastically, "Let's just march him into the prison and then Walker can nab ALL of us!"
"I don't see how you even get a vote here! You didn't DO anything!" Spectra noted, getting in Kitty's face before pointing over at Johnny, "Even HE was barely useful out there!"
"Alright, that's enough!" Desiree's voice boomed through the cave, "I'M the one who set this up and I'LL decide what we do!"
"Alright then, 'Fearless Leader'," Ember shot back defiantly, "So what ARE we going to do?!"
Desiree could only respond with an angry glare. But her silence spoke volumes.
"Wow, big surprise," Ember remarked.
Danny, meanwhile, was finding himself bored to tears with all the bickering that was going on around him. If it wasn't for his stomach still aching terribly, he probably would have fallen asleep already. Looking over, he noted Skulker still standing in the corner of the cave, as the only ghost who hadn't said a word. But as he exchanged an angry glance with Danny, it was clear that Skulker was just as annoyed as he was at what he was seeing. Still, there didn't seem to be anything either of them could do about it. But just then…
"I've got a suggestion…!" a familiar voice sounded off over the din, immediately grabbing everyone's attention. Of course, the last thing anyone was expecting to see was skinny little human Sam Manson standing in the cavern entrance!
"How about you let him go," Sam continued, "and nobody gets hurt! At least not today!"
"Aw, isn't that cute? It's the girlfriend to the rescue," Desiree replied mockingly as the other ghosts showed equally little concern, "You can't be serious. Tell me something, child. Just what do you think YOU'RE going to do?"
"Oh, I see your information is still a little out of date. So how about I bring you guys up to speed a little bit?" Sam stated as a familiar transformation took place! And except for Danny, every single jaw in the cave nearly dropped from shock as Sam stood firm in her ghost form, just itching for a fight!
"Now tell me something Desiree," Sam shot back, her hands blazing with ecto-energy, "WHAT DO YOU THINK I'M GOING TO DO!!!"
"It's just like the Box Ghost said," Skulker thought out loud, looking over at Danny, "She really DOES have powers like his."
"No way!" Ember blurted out, her eyes still wide in surprise, "You mean that dork was telling the TRUTH?!"
"Oh, would you all stop?!" Spectra replied, her surprise wearing off, "How tough could she be? Bertrand, would you handle this already?"
Bertrand merely flashed Sam a grim scowl before transforming into his wolf form and charging right at her, snarling! But Sam wasn't about to waste any time either as she lashed out, firing a set of Ghost Ray strands that bound Bertrand's legs and jaw! And with a hard yank, she sent Bertrand flying right towards her before ramming the palm of her hand into his side and smashing him hard to the cavern floor!
Shadow was the second to launch an attack, not bothering to wait for Johnny 13's say so! But Sam appeared equally unimpressed as her hand formed a set of Ghost Ray claws! And to everyone's surprise…especially Shadow's…Sam took one swipe as he bore down on her and easily sliced him into a set of black ribbons!
Sam still hadn't said anything, but she was still looking at everyone else with an expression that seemed to say, "Who's next?" But Danny wasn't about to celebrate prematurely. Sam had only taken on the little fish so far. The heavy hitters were still to come. Not to mention that it was still six against one!
"Okay, so the kid's got SOME moves," Spectra noted with a shrug, still unconcerned, "But you're still WAY out of your league here. I mean, to take US on, you'd need…an army!"
"Which army? THIS army?" a little girl's voice called out, and everyone immediately took notice once again. Everyone except Sam, who simply smirked. After all, she didn't need to look up. She knew what was there behind her. Namely Danielle, sitting on Frostbite's shoulder, with another half dozen warriors of the Far Frozen arrayed behind them! Upon seeing who was in his corner, Danny suddenly began feeling a sense of relief. They just might get out of this yet!
"Frostbite!" Sam called over, not taking her eyes off their opponents, "I think you know what to do now!"
"At once, Milady!" Frostbite announced, "Forward, men! For Lady Samantha and the glory of the Great One!"
Danielle hopped off Frostbite's shoulder as the Far Frozen stood strong against Desiree and the others. Moments later, they charged forward as Danielle walked over to stand beside Sam.
"Hmmm, 'Lady Samantha'" Sam thought out loud, feeling a little smug, "I think I could get used to that."
"So what, are we going to let THEM have all the fun?" Danielle remarked, her tone of voice indicating that she wanted a piece of the action.
"What, are you kidding?" Sam smirked as her and Danielle's hands blazed. With that, they both jumped headlong into the battle!
Bertrand, still in his wolf form, had managed to break free of Sam's restraints and jumped in front of Frostbite, growling violently. But Frostbite remained unfazed and responded with a deafening roar into Bertrand's face, causing him to whimper and run off to hide behind Spectra!
"My hero," Spectra stated sarcastically as she rolled her eyes. It looked like she was going to have to take care of Frostbite herself. But as she unleashed a pair of Searing Ghost Rays at him, a shield of ecto-energy suddenly sprang up, protecting Frostbite from her assault!
"Sorry pal," Danielle said to Frostbite as the dust settled before turning her attention beck to Spectra, "THIS one's ALL mine!"
And Danielle wasn't about to waste a second! Throwing her hands out, she fired two full force Ghost Rays! The attack hit Spectra hard in the chest, sending her flying into the cavern wall, knocking over Bertrand in the process! Slowly, she tried to pick herself up, but as she looked over, she saw Danielle standing just a few feet away, her hands blazing!
"Not so tough when you're not shooting someone in the back, are you?!" Danielle called out confidently! That was all Spectra needed to hear! Glaring at Danielle, she was on her feet in a flash and back into the fight!
Meanwhile, on her way to rescue Danny, Sam had found herself a dance partner in Ember as her Ghost Ray blades traded strikes with Ember's guitar! Unfortunately, things were not going as well as Sam would have hoped. Ember was holding her own surprisingly well, despite having to fend off two weapons with only one. And she was a lot stronger than she looked too. As they crossed weapons in a heated standoff, Sam was completely unprepared as Ember lunged forward, sending Sam flying back into the cavern wall!
"Sam!" Danny cried out, forced to watch helplessly as Ember had her cornered!
"Still pretty new at this, aren't you?" Ember gloated as she prepared to strike, "Maybe you should've tried tackling a few more of the little guys before trying to take on ME."
But this time, it was Sam's turn for a surprise. As Ember brought her guitar down, Sam phased through the attack, sending the guitar smashing into the wall! The force of the impact rocked Ember's arms, flipping the guitar out of her hands! But Sam wasn't finished yet! As she whipped around to Ember's side, Ember had just enough time to turn and see Sam pull back a glowing fist before she was smashed across the face with an ecto-powered punch, sending her spiraling head first into a cluster of stalagmites!
"I may be a rookie! But YOU'VE got a lot to learn!" Sam replied before going back to what she was intending to do. Danny could only look at her and smile with relief that she was okay. And Sam couldn't help but reach up and hold Danny's face in her hands, giving a warm smile of her own.
"Oh, I can't leave you alone for a second, can I?" Sam sighed affectionately as they remained focused on each other. At that moment, the battle taking place just a few feet away might as well have been on the other side of the Ghost Zone.
"Guilty as charged," Danny replied. Just then, a small explosion burst in their ears, knocking them out of the moment! Both of them turned to see a small crater in the wall beside them, only to turn to the opposite direction and see Skulker standing with one of his arm missiles, ready to fire!
"There's no challenge in shooting your prey from behind," he stated simply, staring at Sam wickedly.
"Hey! I thought you weren't in on this, Mr. 'I-Do-Things-My-Way'!" Danny shot back angrily!
"What can I say? Good hunting is where you find it." Skulker replied with a shrug. But he wouldn't get the chance to fire a second shot, as Frostbite came thundering out of the fray with a roar and took Skulker down with a flying tackle!
Sam wasn't about to waste a moment of the opportunity! Re-forming her Ghost Ray blades, she sliced through Danny's restraints as he slumped over her shoulder. Unfortunately, his stomach was still in too much pain for him to move much.
"Danny, are you okay?" Sam asked immediately.
"Not really," Danny said, suppressing another belch, "I know this is going to sound stupid, but I can't fight on a full stomach like this."
"Oh great," Sam replied, trying to think fast, "Well, there's one thing we COULD do, but…you're REALLY not gonna like it."
"Oof. I ALREADY don't like it," Danny replied as his stomach churned, "If you've got an idea, just go for it!"
"Are you sure?" Sam asked, sounding even more apprehensive.
"Sam, just DO it already!"
"Okay…here goes," Sam winced as her fist blazed with ecto-energy. The same fist that a second later, was fired straight into Danny's gut!
"Sorry," Sam whimpered as Danny dropped to his knees. What happened next was purely academic as he felt the churning rise into the back of his throat. And a moment later, the battle was paused, with everyone looking on with utterly disgusted looks as Danny's retching echoed throughout the cave!
"You…okay now?" Sam asked nervously as Danny's coughing and hacking sputtered to a stop. Danny didn't answer at first as he slowly rose to his feet, wiping his mouth. But as he whipped his head up, the look of confidence on his face spoke volumes!
"You might say that," he replied as he clenched his fists and transformed! And in that instant, what was once anybody's battle had now become decidedly one-sided. Danny Phantom was back in the fight!
"Just don't think I'm kissing you until you've brushed your teeth," Sam noted, starting to feel more relieved.
"I think I can live with that," Danny said with a smirk as his fists began to blaze.
Skulker was the first to respond, knocking back Frostbite with one of his ecto-nets before turning his attention to Danny and Sam. Sam stood ready to fight, but Danny suddenly whipped around as he spotted Ember out of the corner of his eye. Having reclaimed her guitar, Ember lunged into the air, straight for Sam! But a quick blast from Danny's blue ecto-energy put a stop to that, trapping Ember in a cocoon of ice!
Skulker was quick to notice Danny's distraction and immediately whipped out all the weapons of his armor, ready to fire in one explosive assault! But Sam was quicker on the draw, unleashing a flurry of her Ghost Ray strands that skewered every weapon Skulker had drawn before wrapping him up as tight as they could! At that moment, Danny turned back around and reached around from behind Sam to grab the strands. And with a hard pull, they whipped Skulker around, smashing him through Ember's glacial tomb and sending them both flying into the cavern wall!
"Hold still, you little brat!" Spectra shouted as her fight with Danielle continued. So far, Danielle had managed to avoid everything Spectra had thrown at her, which was annoying Spectra beyond belief. But Danielle was just about ready to wrap things up as she unleashed a pair of Ghost Rays at the ground under Spectra's feet, knocking her over!
"I may be little…!" Danielle called as she built up speed, bouncing back and forth off the cavern walls before finally turning her attention on Spectra, ramming into her fists first and sending her flying into the cavern wall on the far side!
"…but I pack a BIG punch!"
"Okay, I think this party's getting just a little too wild for me!" Johnny noted as he picked up the tattered remains of Shadow and made a run for his bike, "I think it's high time we split!"
Kitty was in no position to argue as she hopped onto the bike behind Johnny and the two took off, with warriors of the Far Frozen right on their heels! The pair managed to escape the cave by the skin of their teeth, but they weren't going to get much farther. For just then, the warriors that had been pursuing them unleashed a barrage of ice blasts, freezing the wheels of Johnny's bike and sending both him and Kitty careening off the trail and hurtling into the Ghost Zone!
Everything seemed to be going the way of the good guys, but they weren't finished yet. There was still one last obstacle to deal with as Danny and Sam found themselves squaring off with Desiree herself.
"This isn't over yet!" Desiree bellowed, ready to fight. But it was at that moment that she looked around to discover that everyone who was with her had either fled or been put out of commission! Suddenly, her confidence began to rapidly dwindle.
"Sorry Desiree. It's a whole new ballgame now," Sam said with a shrug before whipping out her hands and unleashing a wave of Ghost Ray strands that wrapped her up tight. It was at that moment that Danny walked up behind Sam and put his hands over hers, activating his blue ecto-energy.
"Take this, for example," Danny said as he and Sam exchanged smirks, "This is something new we just came up with. See what you think."
With that, Danny unleashed a blast of his blue ecto-energy, sending it along Sam's Ghost Ray Strands and trapping a shocked Desiree in a frozen tomb, which immediately fell to the ground! With that, it seemed as though victory was assured. The ghosts who hadn't fled were gradually coming to, but they were in no condition to put up any fight. But Sam wasn't quite done yet as she stormed over to Skulker, who seemed to be recovering the quickest, and slammed him hard against the cavern wall.
"Okay, listen up!" Sam stated threateningly, "As of right now, the entire Ghost Zone is officially on notice! Danny's got backup now…LOTS of it!"
Sam paused for a moment to point her finger back at Danny, as well as Danielle, Frostbite and the rest of the Far Frozen who stood confidently behind him.
"Anyone who messes with HIM…messes with ALL of us! ESPECIALLY ME!" Sam concluded, "Now, do we understand each other?! GOOD!!"
With that, Skulker was dropped unceremoniously back onto the ground, leaving Sam and Danny to leave with the others. But Danny made a slight pause at the cavern entrance.
"Oh, and one more thing," he noted. Just then, he took a deep breath and unleashed his Ghostly Wail on the cavern, sending it crumbling down around the defeated ghosts! After that, the area was eerily silent.
"Nice touch," Danielle noted with an impressed nod.
Sam didn't waste a single second running over to Danny and hugging him tightly. Danny was quick to return the favor as he pulled her close. And neither one had any intention of letting go anytime soon as Danielle, Frostbite and the others simply rolled their eyes and turned away in a futile effort to give them some privacy.
"Mmmm, I missed you so much," Sam sighed as she savored the moment as long as she could.
"I missed you too," Danny said softly as they gently pressed their foreheads together. They savored the moment for a few moments longer before they finally pulled away.
"You really do need to brush your teeth though," Sam noted after the moment had passed, "Your breath…not so good right now."
"Well, barfing up a two-hour eating binge will do that to you," Danny replied defensively.
"Two hours? Oh, Danny," Sam said with a disappointed tone, "Not again."
"Again?" Danielle noted curiously.
"No! No! No 'again'!" Danny retaliated, "This was 100 percent completely different! Desiree put a spell on the food, okay? This was nothing like that other time!"
"Excuse me. What 'other time'?" Danielle chimed in again.
"Nothing. It was nothing, okay?" Danny answered, trying to dismiss the situation.
"Well see, here's the thing," Sam replied, "A few months after Danny got his powers, he started…"
"Uh, she doesn't need to hear that," Danny interrupted.
"Oh, come on," Sam said, with no concern at all, "Lighten up. It's funny."
"Hey, you didn't think it was so funny THEN."
"Well, it wasn't funny THEN. But it's funny NOW. How long do you want it to not be funny? So anyway…"
"Uh, don't you have to get back to your grandmother's before someone notices you're gone?" Danny interrupted again.
"Oh, that's cool, she can come with," Sam responded, "She'll want to hear this anyway."
"Anyway, our story begins, as these stories so often do, with Danny in a pretty bad mood…," Sam continued, ignoring Danny's protests as she put her arm around Danielle's shoulder. Frostbite simply rolled his eyes and sighed as he followed behind with the Infi-Map in hand.
… … … …
"Danny, I am SO unbelievably sorry," Jazz pleaded, following Danny down the hall, "I swear I had NO idea that was going to happen when I said it."
"Jazz, would you relax?" Danny said, starting to become annoyed, "I forgave you, like, three days ago. Just get over it, will you? Okay, Mom, Dad! I'm heading out now! I'll be back in a couple hours!"
Saturday night had rolled around and Danny wasn't about to waste his first night out with Sam in a week. After all, that whole business in the Ghost Zone didn't count as far as he was concerned. Sam had actually come back on Friday. But while Danny was there to greet her when she got back, he decided to give her the night to rest up. Although so far, the evening didn't seem to have much in the way of specific plans. They just seemed to be enjoying as much time together as they could.
"So Danielle just took off again the next day?" Danny asked as they looked out over Amity Park from the top of a radio tower.
"Yeah, looks that way. I wonder where she even goes," Sam wondered, "So is Jazz still apologizing to you?"
"Are you kidding? She's still on at least two apologies an hour," Danny answered, "I mean, at first it was amusing, but NOW it's just getting sad."
"Maybe…Still, after thinking about it, I've been wondering if what happened hasn't been at least partly our fault," Sam noted, "I mean, I don't know about you, but I know I haven't exactly been at my most mature this week."
"Yeah, I've been acting kind of stupid myself," Danny agreed. It was at that moment that he felt Sam take his hand and hold it warmly.
"You know, it's not like this is the last time we'll ever be apart from each other," Sam didn't look at him as she spoke. And she couldn't disguise the disappointment lingering in her voice.
"I know," Danny replied, holding her hand a little tighter, "I just wish this whole 'being miserable' thing didn't have to be part of it."
Just then, Danny felt something cold placed in his hand. Looking over, he opened his hand and found a small keychain with a round locket on the end.
"I figured a necklace or a bracelet might be pushing it," Sam replied with a shrug, "I don't know if it'll help or not, but maybe this will give you a little piece of me to hold onto when I'm not around."
Taking a closer look, Danny noticed an inscription on the front of the locket. It was so faint in the dim moonlight, but he managed to make out what it said. And once he read it, he couldn't help but smile.
(D and S)
"Oh great. Now I feel guilty. I didn't get you anything," he said with a hollow chuckle. Sam merely smiled as she lifted her hand, flashing a familiar class ring around her finger.
"Oh, how quickly they forget," she said with a sly glance as Danny rolled his eyes in amusement, "Oh, but check inside. There's a picture in there that might help you keep your head in case if you ever start to lose it again."
Danny opened the locket and peered inside. Sure enough, there was indeed a picture inside, but it wasn't anything like Danny was expecting. It was a picture of Sam, but she was glaring angrily at the camera, shaking her fist threateningly! Danny was taken aback at first, but after a moment, he couldn't help but chuckle under his breath as he shook his head and turned back to see Sam smiling at him warmly.
"Thanks Sam," he said affectionately as they moved in closer, sharing a long, soft kiss. After another quick peck, Sam leaned over, holding Danny close and putting her head on his shoulder as Danny put his arm around her.
"Anytime Danny," she said as the two of them savored the moment, staring up into the starry night.