This is it, guys. This is the end of Phantom City. It has been a wild ride and this story went to places I never expected it to go. I know my update schedule was absolutely crazy towards the end, and I'm glad you guys stuck with me through this. I enjoyed hearing from each and every one of you. I always enjoyed hearing your feedback and comments on what you liked.
So, as this is the end of Phantom City, could each of you lurkers (and non-lurkers) drop a note and let me know what you thought? I'd love to hear from you! :)
P.S. I've been posting some of my stories over on DeviantArt. It's a slow process due to the HTML formatting. I'll be putting Phantom City up there soon, so if you have a dA account, feel free to drop a note there!
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Danny Phantom or Teen Titans.
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Chapter 24: Epilogue
The entire Ghost Zone was frozen when Danny stepped through the vortex – frozen in time that is. He wouldn't have noticed ordinarily, except that he stepped onto a ledge and noticed that his friends and family were suspiciously motionless.
Then he took a closer look at their body positions and his heart sank.
Sam's hands were clasped together and her head bowed, eyes squeezed tightly shut. Tucker was right by her, a hand on her shoulder and face paler than he'd ever seen it. His parents were clutching each other and his mom's face was buried in Jack's chest; Jack looked stoic, but his eyes seemed suspiciously shiny. Jazz was sitting on the edge of the ledge, face hidden in her hands. Dani was standing in the middle, head bowed and hands clenched into fists at her side.
"She just called for me," Clockwork said, catching a stunned Danny's attention.
"Sam?" Danny whispered, taking in the silent picture's expression of agony. "Why…did you stop time?"
"Keepers are a myth amongst ghosts," Clockwork said.
"Clockwork's existence is suspected but it has never been confirmed," Beobachter elaborated for Danny's benefit. "The rest of us are considered a bedtime story."
"So none of you can just pop up in the middle of the Ghost Zone, yeah?" Danny concluded, sighing.
"Yes." Clockwork shifted into an old man, placing a hand on Danny's shoulder. "Now, as humans would say it, 'good luck'."
Danny nodded in thanks, giving the Keepers a small smile. "Thank you…all of you."
Beobachter opened another portal, into which Fatima disappeared. "It's our job," he said, winking at Danny before he also left.
"I know I'll see you around again," Danny told Clockwork with a feigned air of weary acceptance.
Clockwork just smiled mysteriously. "Will you?" Then, stepping back into the portal, he gave Danny a farewell tilt of his head before the rip in space closed, leaving only the swirling green of the Ghost Zone.
"Time in," Clockwork's voice echoed.
Time restarted as if it had never stopped in the first place. He could hear the confused murmurs of the ghosts around him as they recovered from traveling through whatever dimension they had been stuck in. His ghost sense threatened to go into overdrive, and he resolutely pushed the chill into his core, knowing he would have to expel the cold at a later time to avoid getting frozen the way he had during Undergrowth's attack.
It was Tucker who saw him first, as he'd been keeping his head up. His face slackened in disbelief, before pure happiness and relief washed over it. "Danny?" he whispered, his voice as clear as day to the halfa.
Danny grinned sheepishly as Sam's head snapped up. "Hey."
"Danny!" Sam rushed to him, jumping up and pulling him down into a desperate hug that he reciprocated (though far more delicately, as he'd probably crush her). "You're all right!"
She stepped back, only to be replaced by Jazz, who was examining Danny's face in disbelief. Exhaling sharply, she hugged him tightly. Danny barely had time to blink before they were enveloped by Maddie's arms and then Jack's enormous figure.
When they had drawn away, Danny was given a rather surprising hug by Tucker, who held him tightly for a short moment before drawing away, rather embarrassed.
Then Dani was there, staring at Danny in what seemed to be a mixture of pride and relief. "I knew it," she whispered. "I knew you'd come back. I told them that you would!" She flew at him in a rush, almost bowling him over as she hugged him fiercely.
Rather guiltily, Danny hugged her back, thinking that he didn't deserve her confidence. If it hadn't been for Clockwork, he wouldn't be here. He never would have come back.
Dani drew away, smiling shyly. "Oh and," she said, eyes twinkling, "they know who I am."
Danny put her down, meeting the eyes of his parents and Jazz. "I would've introduced you the next time you came," he insisted.
"I know; Sam and Tucker told me." Dani smiled beatifically. "I just wanted to see what you would say." Her face suddenly morphed into a frown and she squeezed Danny's arms threateningly. "Don't ever do something like that again, do you hear me?"
"I'm sorry," Danny apologized, sighing, "but that's something I can't promise."
"You were a jerk, you know," Sam said, her voice sounding unusually thick. "You just left, saying something about wanting to be home but not saying you'd come back."
Danny looked guilty. Yes, he'd said that, but it was the only thing he could. He didn't think he would've been able to come back. As it was, he almost didn't. But that wasn't a conversation he could have here in the Ghost Zone with ghosts listening in.
"I'm sorry." It seemed to be the only thing he could say. He was sorry for scaring them but not sorry for going off to fight the ghost.
"You keep saying that." Sam stared hard at him. "You weren't here a moment ago. You just appeared. Are you really all right?" She grasped his arms in alarm. "You're not…full ghost?" Her voice had dropped to a whisper.
Exhaling slowly, Danny shook his head. "Just…hold on a moment."
He grabbed the thermos at his waist and uncapped it, pointing it away from them. Pressing the release button, the Cake Ghost, Technus, Ember, a monstrous lamp post, and Desiree were ejected. Having been stuck in the thermos for so long, they were very disoriented and simply floated for a whole before managing to fly off, still dazed. The lamp post garnered incredulous stares from all the ghosts, until it snarled and snapped at them, sprinting off into the distance.
Attaching the thermos to his belt, Danny turned back to the others. Then, he released his ghost form, making sure to keep the transformation slow so that they could see. When it finished, he said, "There, see? I'm still—"
He was cut off as Sam threw her arms around his neck again. "Thank God," she breathed against his neck. "Thank God."
"Dude, what's up with your clothes?" Tucker blinked at him. "You've gone all Goth."
Danny chuckled, pulling back from Sam so everyone could see. "Yeah, that was all Starfire. She incinerated my other ones so I didn't really have a choice."
Sam ran a hand over the emblem on his shirt. "Let me guess: she liked your jumpsuit?"
"She just really liked the color black on me."
"You even have a hat!" Tucker lifted the hat attached to the chain looped through the belt loops on the pant. "You hate hats!"
"I don't wear it, but it makes for a great lasso," Danny said by way of explanation.
They stared at him.
"There's a joke there that we're missing, isn't there?" Tucker asked finally.
"What happened, Danny?" Maddie asked. "Where were you?"
"Here is really not the place to have this conversation." Danny looked around, seeing the numerous ghosts around. He lifted his shirt up a bit and pulled off the second thermos, releasing the Box Ghost this time. "Okay, I think that covers everyone."
"You're really going to tell us everything?" Sam asked, sounding slightly skeptical. "Everything?"
Thinking of Raven and everything she had helped him with, Danny smiled. "Yeah. Everything."
Jazz looked at him, eyes narrowed. "You seem different," she finally observed.
"I guess you could say that I've had a life changing experience," Danny said, smiling crookedly. "I'll tell you guys everything…even if you might not want to hear it."
"So that means there's something we won't want to hear?" Dani accused.
Thinking of how he had died, Danny managed to refrain from wincing, instead nodding slowly. "Yeah. But like I said, the Ghost Zone really isn't the place to have this conversation."
"So, home?" Tucker suggested.
Danny smiled, taking Sam's hand and looking round at his friends and family. "Yes. Home."
Clockwork, Beobachter, and Fatima watched Clockwork's viewing screen, where the small group of half-ghosts and humans taking off through the Ghost Zone and to the human realm could be seen. A moment later the screen faded to green.
"There are still things planned for Danny, are there not?" Beobachter asked, turning to Clockwork.
"Danny has a very long future ahead of him," Clockwork acknowledged. As he said this, the screen changed to show an older Danny with longer hair that extended over the back of his neck flying through a very futuristic looking city. He was taller, athletically muscular and streamlined, and with a grimmer face than the Danny Phantom the three ghosts had just left behind.
"That wasn't what I meant and you know it," Beobachter said peevishly. "You're the one who came to me about the ghost, saying that he would steal my staff the next time I came to visit and that I should let him."
"Was it not fun?"
Beobachter winced. "Fun? Watching him tear through the dimensions like they were paper rather than doors? Ah…it was interesting…but I wouldn't call it fun." He shook his head, watching Clockwork shift to an adult. "But tell me, you still have more in store for Danny, don't you?"
Clockwork didn't answer but the screen shifted images. This time the scene was that of a mini-asteroid hurtling toward Earth. The scene shifted to a starry night sky where a shooting star was streaking. A second later a small fireball impacted the earth, burying itself in a crater in the middle of a forest. Changing again, the scene was now that of Danny Phantom curiously inspecting the crater but finding nothing.
"His fate is intertwined with someone else's," Fatima said, smiling as she watched the next scene, that of Danny fighting a blue-skinned vampire-looking ghost. "I asked Clockwork to make the path easier."
"I see." Beobachter observed the viewing screen showing a sinister black coffin on top of a flight of stairs; a pumpkin and a sword sticking in it sat by the bottom. "My, my…playing with fire, Clockwork?"
Coughing slightly, Clockwork morphed into a small child just as the two Observants floated into the room. Beobachter instantly threw his hood over his head, throwing his face into blackness. He also snuck Fatima a small doll, which she held to her chest.
"Clockwork!" The Observants stopped upon seeing that Clockwork had guests.
"Beobachter!" the first Observant snapped. "What are you doing here?"
The master of dimensions turned to the Observants, his face completely hidden in the black shadows under his hood. "Can't a ghost visit his old friend?"
Fatima floated over to the Observants, smiling rather vaguely. "Want to play dolls?" she asked, holding out the doll she was holding.
"No, thank you," the second Observant said. "How are you, Fatima?" His voice was kind.
"Want to play," Fatima said, her face set in a pout.
"You can play later, Fatima," Beobachter said, resting a hand on her head. He gave the Observants a dismissive look. "We just came to tell Clockwork hello, and to retrieve my staff."
"You found it?" both Observants asked simultaneously, staring at the staff.
"Danny Phantom was most helpful," Beobachter said, tracing a finger over one of the silver spikes that made up the claw. "Tell him hello the next time you see him, will you?" he requested Clockwork. He didn't wait for an answer, instead floating out. "Come, Fatima," his voice drifted back into the room.
The first Observant looked rather sour, though this was hard to make out as his entire face constituted of only an eye. "Did he say Danny Phantom was helpful?"
"We watched the fight! The staff exploded!" the second Observant exclaimed. "And it was his fault!"
"The staff seemed intact to me," Clockwork said, raising an eyebrow as he shifted to an adult. "Unless that was an imitation?"
"We trust there will be no more surprises?" the first Observant said, his tone making it clear it was not a request.
"Can you not see?" was Clockwork's reply. He waved to the viewing screen, which remained stubbornly green.
"We see," the second Observant said; "but you are not doing your job."
"Am I not? I am the keeper of time and I have been…keeping time." On cue, one of the clocks in the tower struck, its chimes ringing throughout the entire room.
"Then what of the elder half-ghost?" the first Observant demanded. "Are you doing anything about him?"
"Everything is fine," Clockwork intoned, his viewing screen revealing Danny Fenton and his friends and family sitting in the living room and talking. "Everything is exactly as it should be."
"Be it on your head, Clockwork!" the Observants chorused.
Then, as one, they turned around floated out the same doorway Beobachter and Fatima had exited.
"Oh yes," Clockwork murmured, smiling as the screen changed to the image of the shooting star streaking across the sky and landing in the forest of Amity Park. "Everything is exactly as it should be."
The shooting star hit the ground and the image exploded into green flames. It then zoomed out to reveal Danny Phantom facing the screen head on, taking a deep breath, and releasing his ghostly wail; immediately, the image broke into fragments that morphed into green smoke, eventually merging to form the familiar green swirls.
As you can see, there's going to be a sequel. That's right: I'm not yet done dabbling in this universe. There are still unanswered questions and other things I have to explore.
When the sequel is eventually up and posted, I will post an extra chapter to this story, so either alert this story or author alert me to get the heads up on the sequel! It will be a mini-crossover with Teen Titans, as Danny will still be communicating with them. However, because their involvement is so small, the story will be put in the Danny Phantom section. I don't know when it will be up, but I have started writing it. It was kind tagged on to the end trail of Phantom City, as I had been on a writing spree during spring break.
In the meantime, I will be finishing up Shinigami Phantom and working on my Harry Potter story during summer vacation. Once I have one less story on my platter, I'll get started on one of my other projects that's been sitting in the rafters (and that includes a rewrite of The Return!). I don't know when the sequel to this story will be up, but I'd like to at least plot it out so I know what I'm doing. I have a general idea of what it's going to be about, but I have to flesh out the finer details.
Thanks to Leo112, Mak8907, aslan333, Kung-fu Blaziken, Sniffles, rebecca, Akela Victoire, lunalovegood0628, bug349, Mysterious Prophetess, hypersreak, kirara the great, seantriana, Wilona Riva, Totem Prime, coopt98, HalfafanD, Midnayuki, cocoa85715, and book phan44 for reviewing the last chapter!
Sniffles: Yes, this is the wrap-up chapter (mostly, anyway). I wasn't going to leave it at that! I'm glad you found it emotional; I was aiming for that.
rebecca: Thank you! :)
Stats: Pages: 367; Word count (excluding author's notes): 129,788