Well, well, well, I usually announce if something's going to be the last chapter, don't I? This time I didn't see it coming myself. Anyway…welcome to the final chapter of the first part of Melody in Black. The second will arrive shortly. In the meantime…enjoy…
Twenty-Four: Everything's As It Should Be
"Alright…" Danny took a deep breath, "I'm going to do this. I'm doing this for my family. And for Amity Park." His blue eyes locked with Sam's lilac ones, "And I'm doing this for you guys." He nodded at Vlad who rolled his eyes but helped the young boy into the second containment unit.
Danny smiled at Sam as Vlad stepped back and threw the switch.
Brilliant white light lit the entire lab and the humans all raised their hands to shield their eyes. Crackling energy shook dust from the ceiling. Tucker stumbled sideways into a control panel. There was a loud cracking noise and the sound of something shattering into a million pieces.
In seconds it was over.
The glass of the containment units had splintered into tiny fragments all over the floor and there was thick, gray smoke billowing out of both of them. Sam waved her hands through the air, coughing, trying to get the stuff out of her eyes.
A cold gust of wind raised the goosebumps on her arms.
A shadowy figure loop-dee-looped through the dissipating smoke, hands on their hips in a triumphant pose of victory.
As the smoke cleared, a messy mop of snow-colored hair became visible, a familiar smile followed on pale lips, then the white DP symbol emblazed upon a black chest, and then Danny came all the way into view.
He scanned the group below him with a grin, sucked in a huge breath of air, and burst out laughing, doubling over in midair and just plain laughing. Then he flipped over backwards and shot towards the floor, tackling Sam to its cold surface. He was still laughing.
"Oh my gosh! I've never felt so alive!" Danny shouted. Then he grabbed either side of Sam's face in his cold, gloved hands and kissed her full on the mouth.
Sam's eyes widened at first but then she closed them and wrapped her arms around Danny's waist. Danny ran his fingers down her neck and over her shoulders to her sides where he teased the edges of her shirt. Sam arched her back, smiling in the middle of the kiss, and rolled over, pinning Danny underneath her.
"None of that." She muttered, hair curtaining her red tinted cheeks that matched the boy's beneath her. Confusion replaced her smile, "Danny…you're eyes…"
"What? What about them?" Danny wriggled out from underneath the girl and looked around at the others, "What? Why're you all giving me that look?"
Clockwork chuckled, "Perhaps everything was not put together exactly as it should be."
Dan gave a barking laughing, "You're telling me! How you're gonna explain that one to Mom and Dad is going to be tough!"
"What!?" Danny yelled, stomping over to snatch Tucker's PDA from his hands ("Hey!" Tucker made a valiant swipe to get it back), "What's so funny!? Oh…" Reflected in the surface of his friend's device was his familiar face with one slight difference. Instead of two solid, neon green, glowing eyes looking back at him from underneath his bangs there blinked one green eye; his left; and one crystal blue eye from his human form; his right.
"I must say, Daniel, it gives you a rather mysterious look." Vlad teased, unable to help himself. Jazz was hiding her laughter behind her hand.
"Oh you have got to be joking!" Danny shoved the PDA back into Tucker's hands and stepped back, clenching his fists. A white ring of light sparked into existence around his middle and split u and down his body. His black and white jumpsuit was replaced by a white and red T-shirt, baggy blue jeans, and red and white sneakers. But his eyes remained the same; one blue and one green.
"No joke, Little Brother." Jazz snickered, "Glad to have you back!" She drew her younger sibling into a hug. Danny twisted uncomfortably in her grasp for a moment or two and then hugged her back. As they were about to release one another, Tucker suddenly threw himself onto his best friend's back.
"T-Tucker!" Danny shouted, "You're throttling me!"
Tucker merely laughed.
Sam and Dan both grinned at one another, the first non-negative interaction the two had really had, and then joined the giant group hug. Clockwork and Vlad stood away from them, watching them laughing and hugging each other. Vlad's expression was one of soft blankness. Clockwork raised an eyebrow at the man and Vlad scowled.
"Don't even say "I told you so."" The millionaire growled, eyes narrowed.
"I don't need to." The Time Master said quietly, "Dan." The tone in the ghost's voice made everyone turn around, the laughter dying on their lips, "I think, perhaps, it is time for you to go home." Clockwork spun his staff through the air and a portal glimmered into life, depicting the ruins of Amity Park.
"Oh…yeah…home…" Dan Phantom huffed, sending his white bangs into the air for a brief moment, "I've got a huge mess to clean up and a lot of explaining to do. Hopefully I can get it all out before Valerie blasts me into oblivion." He gave a half-hearted snort of laughter, "Alright, no point in delaying the inevitable." He moved towards the screen.
"Dan, hold up!" Danny lunged forward and his future self turned back around, "Thanks." The human-formed halfa held out his hand, a genuine smile on his face.
Dan processed exactly what had been said to him and then smiled back. He hadn't heard those words in almost thirteen years. He took Danny's hand and shook it, "Next time I see, you'd better not be falling apart." He chided.
"You can bet on it!" Danny laughed, "See ya'!"
"Yeah…" Dan said with a vague smirk, "See ya'…" He saluted Vlad and Clockwork, winked at Sam, Tucker, and Jazz, thumped his chest with a clenched fist to Danny, and then fell backwards into the portal to his own time. As the last, tail-end of his cloak vanished, the portal closed in itself with soft ringing noise.
"Guess that means it's time for us to go too." Danny said with a sigh. Then he screwed up his courage, set his shoulders, and goose-stepped up to Vlad, "Thanks." He muttered.
Vlad hid his surprise with a well placed sneer of superiority, "You're most welcome, Daniel. About the compensation…"
Danny's eyes narrowed and glowed white with anger.
"…you don't have to worry." The millionaire added hastily. The façade melted away slightly and Vlad put a hand on Danny's shoulder, "Take care of yourself, Danny, and your family. You won't have to worry about me for a while. I think I'll take a little…vacation."
"Bye, Vlad." Danny grabbed the man's hand off his shoulder and pumped it up and down, "Don't forget to write!"
"Off with you!" Vlad Masters scolded and disappeared behind his contraptions.
Danny wheeled about and pounced on his two best friends and older sister before spinning around to face Clockwork.
"Okay!" He told the Master of Time, "Let's go home!"
It felt so good to be back.
Danny raced around the whole house, laughing and shouting, and got scolded by the others who were making an attempt to clean it up. Clockwork had left the four-some to their own devices but not before taking Danny aside and speaking with him privately. The other three had no inclination of what had been said and Danny wouldn't tell them. He simply chuckled and said: "Fear is natural. Charging into battle despite the fear is what makes someone a hero."
The house was cleaned up fairly easily. There was an ectoplasmic stain where the couch had been that wouldn't come out but once they'd set the furniture the way it was supposed to be you couldn't see it anyway.
Then Jazz made Tucker and Sam call their parents while she cooked something to eat. Tucker's parents were relieved to hear from him and completely bought his excuse that he, Sam, Jazz, and Danny had run to Mayor Masters who was Jazz and Danny's legal guardian when their parents weren't around. Sam's parents were not so forgiving; she got a huge lecture but amazingly escaped without being grounded. Not doubt due to their relief of finding her alive.
While they ate there was much talk and laughter. Dinner was delicious. Danny ate twice as much as he had in days and then slumped onto the couch in the living room, exhausted but extremely happy. Sam sat down next to him and he wrapped his arms around her, burying his face in her neck.
Sam stifled a giggle as his cold breath tickled her skin and pushed him back so she could look at him. "You're eyes are beautiful." She told him.
"So are yours." Danny replied, face turning red even as he said it.
"And that's the cue!" Tucker wrapped an arm around his best friend's neck and hauled him backwards over the arm of the couch, "Sam and I have to get home before we're grounded for life!"
Danny coughed and pried himself free of Tucker's grasp, rubbing his neck and scowling, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, alright. Whatever." The boy laughed and yawned loudly, "I'm tired anyway." He grinned at his best friends, "Tomorrow. Sam's place. Ratchet: Deadlocked. You and me."
"Count on it!" Tucker shouted and bounced out the door to where Jazz was waiting with her car to take them home.
"Don't try and disappear again or I'll kill you myself." Sam teased. Then she leaned in and kissed him. Danny ran his hand through her hair, the other lightly resting on her waist. He'd missed this so much.
"Bye…" She whispered, pulling away. And then, in a louder voice, "And I call a match against the winner!" She ran out the door as well.
Danny stood for a few moments, eclipsed in bliss, and then bolted upstairs to his bedroom as he heard the car pull away. He jumped onto his bed with a yell of joy, bounced off the mattress, and fell to the floor on the other side. Giggling like a child, he pulled himself back onto his bed and stretched out on top, tucking his hands behind his head.
His mismatched eyes watched the models of space shuttles turn lazily around on his ceiling.
It was so good to be home.
Life was perfect.
He closed his eyes, smile fading as his thoughts trailed to other things.
Well, almost perfect.
TO BE CONTINUED…