A/N: Beware! Angst and depressing material ahead!

This is just a random short story. I think we can all figure out whose POV this is.


He stared blankly at his fingers, twisted limply together on the desk top. Lancer was speaking but he wasn't listening. Right now, school seemed like one of the least important things in the world. Why was he here, at school, anyway? Why was he wasting his life sitting in a desk while a middle-aged guy droned on about some book that was written centuries ago?

A small square of paper flitted onto his desk. He mechanically unfolded it and saw Sam's sharp handwriting. It's not your fault. It was never his fault, was it? Whenever some bystander got hurt or some building was irreparably damaged, it wasn't his fault.

Okay, so maybe it really wasn't his fault, but as he'd told Sam and Tucker before, it was his responsibility. And he'd failed.


He knew that they were wondering where Danny Phantom had been. He'd heard it on the news, from interviews with grief-stricken friends and family. He's our protector! So why didn't he protect Alyssa? Part of him resented that they expected him to stop every attack and every tragedy. Although they didn't know it, he was only human, and he couldn't be everywhere at once. He couldn't patrol the whole town every single night, because he too needed sleep.

Yet, part of him agreed with them. He was supposed to protect them, and last night he had not been doing what he was supposed to. He had not swooped in at the last moment and turned Alyssa and her friend intangible and kept them from being in The Accident.


Alyssa Heber. Nineteen years old with wavy brown hair and hazel eyes. Pretty but not gorgeous, smart but not brilliant. Average, not exactly memorable, but now remembered forever, etched into Amity's history as surely as her blood stained the concrete. Etched into his mind, looping over and over in his thoughts. Alyssa Heber. Alyssa Heber. Alyssa Alyssa Alyssa. I'm sorry.

Her friend, Miriam, was still in the hospital. She would be okay, they said. She would make it. She did not yet know about Alyssa.


Tucker and Sam were exchanging glances again. They'd been doing so all day, and it was painfully obvious that they wanted to say something but had been refraining. Maybe because they knew it wouldn't help, or understood that he needed to work this out on his own.

Jazz...she wouldn't be so self-controlled. She would pester him when he got home, trying to persuade him to share his thoughts and feelings, and for a so-called psychologist she sometimes wasn't very perceptive.

When he finally escaped from Sam and Tuck's oppressive silence and crept into his room, he immediately went ghost and fled before Jazz could catch him.


It had been weeks since Alyssa had been buried in her chestnut coffin. The majority of the townspeople had been there, even those who hadn't known her. He had hovered nearby, invisible and intangible, not daring to show himself for fear of how the crowd would react. When the last of the congregation had drifted away, he had landed nimbly on the fresh-turned mound of dirt, ready to pay his respects properly, when his ghost sense had gone off and he'd been forced to leave.

Now, he found himself at her grave again. The headstone had just been installed, and the stone was smooth and unnaturally polished. Wilted white lilacs and red poppies were tumbled against the stone, and he took a moment to straighten them before he knelt on the earth. Then, for the first time in a long time, he cried. He lost track of the minutes as he lay curled on Alyssa's grave—Alyssa who he had never known, and here he was sobbing on her grave as if she had been Sam or Tuck—and when his tears had all dried up he felt strangely better.

He straightened up, rearranged the lifeless flowers again, and disappeared.