It's almost over. I could never have finished this fanfic without my two awesome beta-readers, Bluemoonalto and Pearl84. Thank you so much for everything!
For everyone who has read this story: Thank you so much! I hope you liked it.
Disclaimer: I don't own Danny Phantom. The series and all its characters are property of Butch Hartman.
With a sigh Danny rolled over in his bed and buried his head in his pillows. He had been lying in bed for almost two hours now but still hadn't managed to fall asleep. Then again, how could he after all what happened that night?
Suddenly, a wisp of blue smoke escaped from his mouth. "Oh no." He groaned. "Not again, not now." He slowly turned around, and his narrowed eyes opened wide when he saw someone sitting on the foot of his bed.
It was that ghost again. The same ghost who had given him so much trouble, and he was looking at the teen with sadness in his eyes.
Danny had not expected to see him again so soon. "W-What are you doing here?"
The ghost stared at the teen for a few more moments, his eyes filled with regret, his shoulders slumped; before lowering his gaze.
The boy cleared his throat. "Juukka?"
The creature slowly lifted his head, afraid to look at him.
"You're feeling sorry, aren't you?" Danny asked cautiously.
He nodded before looking down again; the ghost now gazed at his feet, and seemed to nervously wait for the boy's reaction.
The young half-ghost smiled. "You don't have to be sorry. Vlad has tricked us both." Danny slowly reached out and placed his hand on the ghost's shoulder, who tensed for a second but then relaxed. "I'm not mad at you, really."
A sign of relief appeared in the ghost's eyes. Juukka gave Danny a grateful look. He moved forward and enveloped the boy in a heartfelt hug. It took Danny a moment of surprise before he returned the embrace.
He heard a voice in his mind.
"Thank you so much."
Juukka then moved back a little, and raised his right hand in front of him. Instinctively, Danny did the same. Somehow, maybe because he was part ghost, Danny knew what his intentions were. He slowly moved his hand forward.
As their hands made contact, a green glow appeared around them.
That night, Juukka kindly and patiently answered every question Danny had.
That night, he had made a new friend.
And his name was Danny Phantom.
Jacqueline had just put the last plate on the table. Bread, cheese, soft-boiled eggs, butter. No, she hadn't forgotten anything. Her father was still showering so she walked to the living room were the TV was still on. She sat down on the couch for about a minute, staring somewhat bored at the screen. They kept repeating the same news about the incident last night, as well as the short interviews with Mayor Masters about his kidnapping and with Danny Phantom who had saved him. The girl couldn't really explain why, but at the way Danny Phantom and the mayor looked at each other between questions it felt almost as if something was not right between them. With a sigh Jacqueline stood up and turned off the TV.
She stifled a yawn. It had been a long night and they had only gotten home around 2:00 AM. They were brought home by a kind officer. Dad's Toyota is probably still being checked for possible ghost-residues or something like that. Despite everything that happened last night her father told her he had slept quite well. She on the other hand, had not. Stifling another yawn, she headed upstairs, intending to grab her favorite book from her bedroom. She knew her dad took long showers, and so, it would probably be a while before he was ready for breakfast.
Jacqueline froze as she reached the last stair. She could see someone looking around in her room. She recognized the figure immediately.
The girl rushed to her room and gasped at what she saw. Sitting in front of her bed was the ghost who had saved her life. She couldn't believe her eyes, there was a real ghost in her very own bedroom! Jacqueline gave the creature a friendly smile, wondering what she should say to him. Just as last night, she didn't feel any fear being near him. He was giving her a curious look with his head slightly tilted to the left.
Jacqueline slowly moved forward -the ghost following her every movement- before sitting on the floor in front of him. Although she tried to be careful in her movements he still leaned back, a nervous look growing in his eyes.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. I just..." She gave him a grateful smile. "Thank you... for saving our lives."
The ghost rubbed the back of his head. He made several short, high-pitched sounds. She didn't understand what he was saying, but the yelps had a happy tone to them.
The girl placed a hand on her chest. "My name is Jacqueline or Jackie. It's nice to meet you. Do you have a name?"
He looked down for a moment, as if pondering something. He then slowly raised his right hand and held it in front of him. Surprised, she raised her left hand, but wasn't really sure what the ghost's intentions were. He opened his hand and moved it closer to her.
"Do you want me to place my hand against yours?" She felt a bit nervous, but she trusted him.
"Alright, if that's what you want." She moved her hand closer while the ghost did the same. As their hands made contact she could feel the ghost's fur pressing against her palm. Suddenly, a green glow appeared around them both.
Jacqueline gasped. "I... I can hear you." The ghost lowered his head and closed his eyes, while doing so the glow began to intensify.
"Your... your name is Juukka."
A series of images started to appear before her eyes. "This is... this..." Even though they were only images, each one seemed to tell her a story and she soon realized that Juukka was communicating with her through his mind. Closing her eyes, Jacqueline concentrated on what the ghost was showing her. She learned about his past, as well as the existence of a mysterious realm named the Ghost Zone and the portals linking their worlds together.
Juukka slowly moved back his hand. The glow disappeared and the teen opened her eyes. She looked at the ghost with a mixture of sadness and sympathy. The creature had opened his eyes as well but seemed to be avoiding her gaze.
Jacqueline tried to make eye contact. "Juukka."
He didn't look up.
"You..." Suddenly she moved forward and locked Juukka in a big hug. The ghost yelped in surprise but she felt him relax within seconds. "I'm so sorry." He gave her a grateful look and gently placed his right paw on her back.
The teen gasped in horror. Dad! She had entirely forgotten about him.
Both Jacqueline and Juukka looked up in panic at a baffled man, who stood in her bedroom doorway with a towel wrapped around his waist. His face frozen in utter shock.
But not for long.
His expression changed from astonishment into anger. "You! Stay away from my daughter, you freak!"
Jacqueline immediately got up and stood between a nervous ghost and her steaming father. "Dad, you don't understand. He's not evil, he's—"
Her dad almost seemed to explode. "I don't understand!? I understand perfectly! He's a ghost and I don't want him anywhere near you!" He turned toward a shaking and tensed Juukka. Pointing a trembling finger at the creature, the man hissed threateningly, "You hear me? If you ever dare to get near my daughter again, I'll—"
Juukka let out a high-pitched yelp, turned around, willed himself intangible and leaped through the window.
Jacqueline went after him and threw open the window. "No, please wait!" She could see him disappearing over the hedge into the alley. "He's gone." Only then did she notice their neighbor, Mrs. Watson, pausing from hanging the laundry in her yard to give her a weird look. Somewhat embarrassed, she closed the window. As she turned around she looked directly into the eyes of her dad, whose face had turned red.
"Did I hear that right?" he said, his voice filled with disbelief. "Did you actually wanted him to stay?"
"Yes, I did." Jacqueline stepped forward. It had been quite a while since she had seen her dad this furious, although she could understand why. "Dad, didn't you recognize him? It was the same ghost from last night. You know, the one who saved our lives."
The harsh look on her father melted a bit. "Well, that might be true, but he's still a ghost." His expression hardened again. "And ghosts can't be trusted!" He made a swiping motion with his arm as if to emphasize the point. "Not after everything they've done to us."
Jacqueline crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow. "Dad, what about Danny Phantom? You said plenty of times you trust him."
In an instant, the man's angry expression changed into one of confusion. "Ehh...well..."
He stayed silent, his frown indicating he was thinking about something. Jacqueline didn't say anything. She knew her dad well.
To her surprise, he turned around and walked away. He halted in the doorway -his back still turned- and sighed. "You know, Jackie." He looked at his daughter, and gave her a soft smile. "Why don't we discuss this matter at breakfast in a few minutes? I'm going to get dressed."
Jacqueline smiled back. "Okay, dad."
As soon as her father went into his own room her smile vanished. Although she was glad her dad wasn't angry anymore, she felt worried about Juukka. She stared at her ceiling, unable to believe what she had seen; the images still dancing before her eyes. She had no idea how it felt to be hunted all the time, to be always on the run.
Juukka was an experiment, created to be the ultimate weapon of destruction. He escaped just before those ghosts were able to insert his final programming. She felt anger rising within her. Why couldn't they just leave him alone? He just wants to live in peace.
She sighed and moved back to the window. Her mouth fell open. She could see a figure on the roof of the house at the other side of their backyard. She recognized him immediately.
Another image flashed before her eyes, showing the moment when she had held the ghost's hand, just after the accident on the intersection.
He waved at her.
Jacqueline waved back, smiling.
From that moment, she knew she would see him again one day.
"Until next time, my friend."