See, see! My fasted update ever!
Summery is in Chapter 10 if you need it. Let me know if you think I should add to the summery and put it before every chapter. I'm not going to do that unless it is requested, that way I know if people still need it.
Thanks for your reviews! I didn't get many at first and I won't blame people for giving up on this story because I'm taking so long. But over time I got more, and loved every single one of them. So again, thank you.
"What are we going to do, Robin?" Cyborg asked from the opposite end of the table. The whole team looked up from where they were sitting, awaiting their leader's response. The alarms would go off if Phantom tried anything and Sam had finally gone to sleep, probably exhausted from her injuries.
Robin had decided that this was the best time to hold a team meeting, despite how uneasy he felt leaving either prisoner or guest alone for long. But this meeting was necessary. His team was just as confused and unsure about their situation as he was. However, as a leader it was his job to stay in control, to dispel all doubt, and to make the final decision.
Robin began, addressing his team with a somber face. "Alright, team, we knew the risks in taking on an enemy that we knew almost nothing about. And the only adviser to our situation was a stranger who we also knew nothing about. We did the best we could and we captured him like we were supposed too."
He could tell by the looks on his friend's faces that they didn't feel like they had succeeded in anything. Not only had their prisoner escaped and hurt someone, but they felt like they failed Phantom as well. Every one of the Titians had sensed the humanity in Phantom, and despite his past actions, they believed there was a way to get though to him- to help him become a hero instead of a villain.
But they had failed. This is what they all wanted to say, but none interrupted, knowing what Robin was going to say next would be important. "But we learned the hard way that we don't have the ability to continue to protect the world from Phantom. That's why I have decided to give that responsibility to someone who can handle it: Vlad Masters."
No one seemed happy about this prospect, but they didn't disagree, either. The real shock came in the implications of Robin's decision. None of the Titans had ever seen Robin give up before. Handing their problem off to somebody else seemed to go against everything the Titans stood for. But Robin's decision was a mature one. Their priority was to the world first, their pride second. Vlad had the ability to keep the world safe from Phantom. Perhaps they should have listened to Mr. Masters in the first place when he asked them to deliver Phantom. Instead, they had stubbornly tried to do things themselves.
"I am going to call Mr. Masters after this meeting. I just wanted to see if any of you had any objections first." Robin couldn't see any other option before him, but if his teammates could think of one, he would gladly listen. Honestly, Robin hated this plan, partly because he did not trust Mr. Masters. Why would a man who lives so far away and had so much money care about one villain in a small town? Something just didn't feel right.
"What about what Phantom said? That Vlad was a half ghost like him?" Beastboy reminded them. "What if it's true and we're just handing him to an even worse villain?" Their green teammate's theories have never been particularly sound, but everyone considered this option nonetheless. After all, if there was one half-ghost, then why not two? They had dealt with stranger.
Robin was a bit uneasy as he spoke again, although he hid it well. "There is no reason for us to suspect Mr. Masters of being anything but human. All we have is Phantom's word, and I find it very hard to put any faith in that ghost now."
"Friend Robin, I do not understand…" Starfire spoke up this time, her voice decidedly troubled. "Phantom has hurt Sam, so he is undoubtedly evil, yes? Then why does she still defend him?"
Before Robin could respond, Cyborg broke in. "Yeah, and what happened to that friend of Sam's, Tucker? If Phantom attacked her, then why is he still missing?"
"There are too many missing variables. There is something we aren't seeing…" Raven closed her eyes in concentration, no doubt going over the facts again.
Robin sighed in frustration. "I know this isn't the ideal situation, but what else can we do?" Suddenly Robin's voice became hard, and there was new determination in his words. "I won't let him hurt anybody else."
The team watched Robin with knowing admiration and hardened agreement in their eyes. Robin was right; there were lives at stake here. And they couldn't continue to risk hundreds of innocent people just because everything didn't feel right.
However, there was one member of the team that was thinking of another life at risk. One right here in the tower who had as much right to life as anyone else. "What if…" Beastboy began tentatively. "What if Danny isn't lying?" It was the first time any of them had used the name 'Danny' instead of 'Phantom' since Sam was attacked. "What if his memories aren't false and he never did attack Sam? We might have the wrong guy! What if we've been wrong since the beginning?"
Beastboy's words hung in the air ominously. The silence was heavier than most of them could stand, but still no one broke it, all desperately waiting for Robin's response. Everyone had considered this before, but nobody had brought it up until now, afraid of what the answer would be. Even now they wanted Robin to dispel their doubt, for him to assure them Phantom was evil. To say they hadn't locked away an innocent person.
Beastboy was the opposite. Out of all of the Titans, he had become the closest to Danny. He never believed he was completely innocent, of course, but attempted murder against a friend? Beastboy just couldn't believe that the normal, fun kid he had played video games with was the monster his friends made him out to be. He knew this outlook could be perceived as being naïve, but he didn't care. Beastboy knew monsters, and monsters didn't have friends that traveled for hours just to see them. Monsters didn't pace their cell, constantly questioning if the person they attacked was alright. And most importantly, monsters were not fun to hang out and play video games with. Danny Phantom was no more a monster then any of the Titans were.
At least… he hoped not.
Robin shook his head. "The evidence against him says otherwise, Beastboy. He's been a menace to Amity Park since he showed up: attacking citizens and causing property damage. But as we know, public opinion and the media are not always right. That's why we gave him a chance and let him freely roam the tower while we kept an eye on him. But he took advantage of that freedom and Sam almost got killed because of it. The facts say he is guilty."
"But Robin, we do not have all the facts," Starfire reminded him.
Raven nodded. "She's right. There are huge pieces missing, and some gaps that don't make any sense."
"We may not have all the facts, but we have enough," Cyborg offered.
Beastboy groaned and leaned back in his chair, "I'm confused! Is he guilty or not? How come putting a Villain in jail has never been this difficult before?"
"Because we have never dealt with a Villain like this before," Robin answered, his eyes narrowed in thought.
"Or because you aren't dealing with a Villain at all." The Titans jumped at the unfamiliar voice. Twisting around, they saw Sam standing at the door: bandaged, tired, but determined nonetheless.
"Sam! What are you doing out of bed?" Robin made his way towards her, but Starfire beat him there.
"Oh, how is your head feeling? I do not think it is wise for you to be standing. Come, I'll take you back to-"
"No!" Sam attempted to shove her away, but her lack of strength made it a feeble attempt. "I am not going to lie in bed while you decide his fate," she almost growled. "I'm staying."
There was a palpable tension in the air as Robin and the girl glared at each other, locked in a battle of wills. Starfire looked helplessly at her other friends, but they couldn't do anything more than she could.
Finally, Robin sighed, having recognized something familiar in Sam's eyes. "Fine, you can stay." Sam beamed victoriously, but at the same time Starfire opened her mouth to object. "But first you have to sit down, and after the meeting you have to go back and let Starfire take care of you. Agreed?"
"Fine." She nodded curtly before walking slowly to an open chair, shaking off Starfire's assistance all the while.
Sam's condition hadn't seemed to improve very much, probably from her lack of sleep, but the fact that she was walking was impressive.
Robin sat back down in his chair and ran his fingers through his hair. Sighing, he asked, "How much did you hear already?"
"Most of it, I think. Enough to know that you're sending him to Vlad's and that you've never heard the saying 'innocent until proven guilty'."
"Where do you get that idea?" Cyborg asked, scratching his head. "We have plenty of evidence to prove he is guilty of several crimes, most all of them against your home town."
Sam shook her head. That's just it. Your evidence is based off of the police reports from a town that is constantly being attacked by ghosts. Of course they are going to say Danny is evil. They hate ghosts! The evidence is biased and so are you! I'm sure if he was human-"
Robin cut her off, "We would what? Treat him differently? Give him a chance? We tried that already and you got hurt because of it. And as for us treating him differently because he isn't human, …hey, look around you." He motioned to the others around the table.
Sam did as he requested, finding herself locking eyes with a green shape shifter, a sorceress, a cyborg, and an alien.
Robin's voice was surprisingly soft when he spoke again. "We aren't the type of people to judge someone because they aren't all human." Sam found herself nodding involuntarily as she swallowed that part of her argument. She realized these people had seen a lot, probably more then she had. They also weren't unreasonable, not like the ghost hunters back home. Perhaps they weren't prejudiced; maybe they really were just innocently confused.
"Okay…" Sam breathed out slowly. This was the closest she would come to apologizing, especially to the people who had her friend locked up in a cage. "Let's go back to the facts. You said you had enough to charge him for several crimes, but I also heard you say you were missing a lot. So which is it?" she demanded.
"Both," Robin stated. "We have enough evidence to lock him away, but we feel like we don't have the whole story."
"Whatever happened to reasonable doubt? If you have reasonable doubt that someone is guilty, then they have to be let go!"
"I don't have any doubt," Robin assured her coolly.
"Even though, like your friend said, some of the facts don't even make sense?"
"But the ones that matter do."
"You can't just ignore facts because you don't like them!"
"What I can't do is continue to put the world in danger from Phantom! Not to mention I have an eye witness to Phantom's most recent crime."
Sam looked taken aback. "Who, me? But I'm the one defending him!"
By this time they were both standing up, fists clenched at their sides, arguing loudly back and forth.
"Shouldn't we do something?" Beastboy whispered to the rest of the Titans.
"Nah," Cyborg whispered back, watching the scene with amused interest, "I think its best if we just let them work it out of their system. Kinda wish I brought snacks, though…"
Starfire gasped. "This is not like your entertainment theater! Sam is not well enough to be partaking in such strenuous activity." She clasped her hands together in worry as she continued to watch the fight.
"Look." Robin tried to direct the argument back to the original situation. "I get that you think he didn't attack you. But if not him, then who did?"
"I don't know! Any other ghost could have done it."
"But there weren't any other ghosts around."
"That you know of!" she protested.
"And why would they attack you over hundreds of people that were out that day?"
"I don't know, okay? I just know you're wrong."
Robin sighed. "You know that doesn't help us out any, right?"
"You want me to help you out? Fine, let me put things in perspective for you. I don't have any proof that he is innocent, but the last time I checked, that wasn't necessary." She gave them a pointed look and continued. "I know you have been going by facts, but how good are they, really? You seem to be missing most of them anyway. So please, forget the facts for just one minute and hear me out."
Sam looked around to find five pairs of eyes watching her intently. "I've known Danny since preschool. We've been best friends since as long as I can remember. When he first got his powers, Tucker and I were the only ones who knew. I know it was hard on him, but we were by his side the entire time, helping the best we could. Now tell me, who do you think would know him better: you or me?"
Robin wanted to say something, like that her history with Phantom would cloud her judgment, or that Phantom could have the ability to manipulate memories. But he kept his mouth shut and just listened.
"He has been through a lot, but he's always stuck with his original decision to use his powers to help people. Never, and I mean never, has he used them to hurt an innocent person." She watched their faces closely, searching for something. "You guys know what I'm talking about, don't you? You've seen that he's not just some mindless ghost. He's a person. And a good one at that."
Sam was silent then, and so was everyone else. The only sound that could be heard was Sam's heavy breathing. The argument had taken a lot out of her, and her health seemed worse than before.
Robin's voice was calm; obviously he was trying to do his best not to argue with her again. "We understand your feelings for him… but that still doesn't change the facts-"
"It wasn't supposed the change the facts," Sam replied bitterly. "It was supposed to give you a chance to perceive them differently. After all, it's what angle you look at things that determine what view you see."
Silence followed as each Titan considered her words.
"Listen," Sam sighed; they could hear the tired and injured girl through the voice this time, "I'm not asking for you to be one hundred percent sure he is innocent. But if there is any reasonable doubt in your mind that he's not…then don't send him to Vlad. You have no idea what would happen." Sam chewed her bottom lip in worry.
By this time, Robin was exhausted, too. He was tired of arguing, and he knew Sam would never give in. She would keep going for as long as he would. He needed a different perspective. "What do you guys think?" Robin addressed his team.
Nobody spoke at first, but then Beastboy began rubbing the back of neck nervously, something obviously on his mind. "I-I don't know dude… I know what the facts say, but… something's just not right."
Raven nodded. "Something hasn't been right from the start. If we send him away, we will never learn the truth. I don't think we have enough information."
"Robin," Starfire said, her voice was wonderfully gentle, "I do not doubt you, but I fear I have doubt in Phantom's guilt. I am sorry, Robin." She looked slightly ashamed.
The Boy Wonder forced himself to smile, "it's okay Star, I understand." And he did understand. He wanted his team to have their own opinions and to not be afraid to share them.
"Robin," Cyborg began, "we are behind you with whatever you decide, even if we don't agree with it. You're our leader, after all, and we trust you to make the decision you feel is right." The rest of the team nodded in agreement.
Robin smiled again, and this time it was completely genuine. "Thanks, guys." But now it was decision time. "And thanks for telling me how you feel. And you say you trust me, but I want to be a leader that trusts his team." He took a breath and turned to Sam. She looked as though she was afraid of what he was going to say next. "Okay, you win. We have reasonable doubt."
Sam's face lit up brighter then Starfire's when Raven agreed to join her at the mall. "Good! Now let him go!" she demanded.
Robin had do give her points for perseverance. "Hold on, we won't send him to Mr. Master, but that doesn't mean we're going to let him go. He's still a criminal."
Sam was beyond frustrated. "If you can't prosecute him, then you have to let him go! It's the law. What are you going to do? Wait around for someone to prove he's innocent? Are we back to that again?"
Cyborg spoke up this time. "We already have him guilty of property damage and resisting arrest. The things he is in question for are attacking citizens and attempted murder. We have the law on our side for keeping him here."
"I don't believe this! So he's just going to stay here until you are convinced he really is a hero? How is he going to prove anything if he's locked up in a cage?"
"He is going to stay here until he tells us the truth and we can make a more informed decision." Sam looked like she was going to object again, and so Robin added one more point. "Unless you want Vlad to make the decision himself?"
Sam closed her mouth, but glared hatefully at the teen. "Fine, but I want to see him."
"No, I've already told you that's not going to happen. It's too dangerous."
"How?" Sam's voice cracked. "You said there were extra safety precautions. I bet he can't even use his powers."
Cyborg cleared his throat. "She's right, man. I really don't think Phantom can do anything right now. And if we're all there, it would be stupid for him to try anything."
Robin shot him a tolerant glance that said, 'whose side are you on again?' "Just because it's unlikely still doesn't mean it's safe. Besides, I thought we agreed you would rest now that the meetings over?"
Sam stood up and walked quickly towards him, perhaps to demonstrate that she didn't need rest. Leaning towards him, she pointed a finger in his face. "I don't know why you think it's your job to keep me safe, but it isn't. I can protect myself. I don't need you telling me what I can and can't do. I am going to go see my best friend and that's my decision. You're not responsible for it, so please, move out of my way." Her dark eyes and determined scowl would have made her look quite formidable if it wasn't for the white gauze bandages around her head.
It seemed like he was doing a lot of giving in today because of this girl, but he supposed it could also be considered compromising. "If I let you see him, then you have to promise to stay in bed until Starfire says it's okay. And you actually have to do it this time," he added, remembering that if she had kept to her last deal, Sam would be resting by now.
But he realized Sam would get no rest until she could see if her friend was alright with her own eyes. And he supposed it wouldn't really be dangerous – not if the whole team was there. Robin was probably just being overprotective because he felt guilty that she had gotten hurt in the first place.
The six of them entered the prison level of the tower; none of them had spoken since they left the main floor. The injured girl was practically leading them the whole way, despite the fact she had no idea where they were going. And Sam, as always, had refused any help from them. Even though she had a few badly bruised ribs and a head injury, which included a small concussion, she worked very hard to act like she was perfectly healthy.
"Okay, we're here. You can talk to him, but stay close to us." Robin entered the thirteen-digit combination and the heavy door hissed open.
"Danny!" Sam gasped and ran into the cell towards black and white figure on the floor.
"So much for that plan," Beastboy commented.
"Sam?" Phantom looked up from his kneeling position. When the ghost saw her, he struggled to his feet, which was made difficult by the fact that his hands were still cuffed behind his back.
The Goth girl was across the room before Robin could even blink. Robin fought the urge to go after her, putting his faith in Cyborg's assurance that the cuffs would block Phantom's powers.
Without even hesitating, Sam threw her arms around the ghost's neck in a relieved hug. Phantom was beyond surprise to see her, if the wide eyes and tense posture were any indication. But at her touch, he slowly seemed to relax as he closed his eyes and rested his head on her shoulder. Sam didn't even shudder at his icy touch.
"Sam…" he breathed. The Titans moved into the room, just in case. After a few long seconds, Phantom spoke again. "Are- are you okay?" Sam detangled her arms and they broke apart. The half ghost looked into her eyes intensely, as if he was searching for something. When those inhuman eyes were on Robin he had to fight the urge to flinch, but Sam just smiled up at him, slight confusion on her features.
"Sure, I'm fine. But I should be the one asking you that." She reached out and placed a hand on his arm; as if she was compelled to touch him, afraid he would disappear if she wasn't holding on. "You're the one they have locked up like an animal," she spat.
His voice was thick with raw emotion. "It's just… the last time I saw you… you were hurt, badly. I-" He broke off, closing his eyes momentarily, as if he was the one who was in pain. "I was really worried. I thought-"
"Relax, Danny." Robin had never heard her voice so gentle. "I'm fine, you see?" She stepped back so he could get a good look at her. His eyes examined everything about her, her face, her slightly torn clothes, the tightly wrapped bandages around her head, before he seemed satisfied.
Phantom sighed in relief and admitted quietly, "You really scared me, Sam." He locked eyes with her once more, his green orbs soft and troubled. But then his jaw tightened and his voice became low and dangerous. "Who did this to you?" he demanded. "I swear, I'll find them and kill them." Phantom pulled at his restraints, itching to have his powers back, and Robin was glad to see the cuffs were holding.
"Danny…" Sam warned, but couldn't hide the fear in her voice. She wasn't frightened of him, but of where this anger could lead him. "You don't mean that." she told him sternly.
Phantom looked taken aback, unsure if she was right. "Sam, don't you get it? You were almost-" but he broke off, unable to finish.
"I know, but I'm not. I'm fine, right?" Danny nodded slowly, reluctant to see the logic she presented. "So don't dwell on it. We have more important things to deal with, like getting you free and finding Tucker."
"Tucker's missing?" he asked, distracted from his thoughts of revenge.
Sam nodded. "Yeah, he was with me when we were attacked, but I haven't heard from him since."
"Something must have happened to him," Phantom concluded fearfully. Robin noticed that Phantom, like Sam, had totally ignored the fact that Tucker might have just run off.
"What are we going to do?" Sam was never one to rely on others, always coming up with her own ideas, but she was completely at a loss here. She needed him to say something, to announce that he had a plan, like he always did…
But he just stayed silent, lost in thought.
"Sam," Robin prodded softly. He had let her talk with Phantom longer then originally intended. It was time to get her back to the hospital room.
Suddenly she whirled around, eyes flashing dangerously, daring him to try and pull her away. Robin surprised himself when he actually hesitated.
Beastboy spoke up, chuckling uneasily. "Good luck, dude. I think I'd rather fight him-" he pointed at Phantom, "-than her right now."
The half ghost chuckled, "You've not been giving them an easy time, have you?"
She turned back to him. "Why should I? After everything they did and were going to do? They almost sent you to Vlad!" She was positively livid.
"Almost?" he echoed.
Robin took a step forward. "Sam had a few good points in your defense. So instead, you will be staying here where we can keep an eye on you."
The ghost was surprised at first, but then his expression turned thoughtful as a frown found its way onto his lips. He regarded the ground carefully as if the flooring held the answer. When he finally spoke his words held the weight of his decision. "I want you to send me to Vlad's."
"What!?!" Sam yelled, her mouth agape.
Phantom refused to look at her; instead he turned his determined eyes to Robin, who met his steady gaze. "I thought you didn't want to go there?" Robin asked, giving no indication whether he would allow it.
Phantom shrugged. "I changed my mind." He didn't elaborate any further.
Before Robin could answer, Sam made it painfully obvious she didn't like being ignored. Balling her hand into a fist, she punched the ghost in the chest hard enough to make him stumble backwards.
"Oww, Sam! Why did you-"
"What the hell?" she hissed.
Robin had been ready to intervene in case Phantom retaliated, but it looked like the hybrid was the one in trouble.
"What are you thinking, going to Vlad's? Look at you! You're completely defenseless!"
"No way! I won't let you go. Why would you even say something like that?"
"I just saved you from being sent there! Why would you choose to-"
"Sam!" he yelled, finally managing to gain her attention. "Listen to me."
She blinked in surprise and let him continue.
"I don't want to go, believe me. I know it will be dangerous, but Vlad is up to something and I have to find out what."
"Can't it wait until we sort this mess out first?" She nodded to the Titans.
"No, because he is behind that too. You know Vlad, he works fast, and if we wait it will be too late."
Sam bit her lip, trying to think up another excuse. "If he's behind your capture, then you're probably just playing right into his trap!"
Phantom nodded, "I know, but I have to." Seeing Sam was going to object again he added, "I think he has Tucker."
So am I doing better with Robin's character? Hopefully this chapter helped bring things together a little better. Please review!