Ok, this is it, the last chapter of The Great Experiment! I'm so glad you guys liked it, and I'm grateful to all my reviewers. :)
And yes, a little more Sam/Danny fluff. I just can't help myself :).
Maddie did the only thing her brain could comprehend: she broke down.
Jack held fast to his wife as her knees gave out. His own mind was still trying to process exactly what his wife had just said.
Maddie, on the other hand, was in hysterics. "My baby! My baby boy!"
Jack gently lowered his wife to the floor and held her close. "Are you sure, Mads?"
Maddie's gaze met her husbands in astonishment. "How could I not be, Jack? He just disappeared!" She buried her face in his husband's hazmat suit and cried. She held him tightly.
Jack ran his fingers through Maddie's hair trying to sooth her. He began to realize the seriousness of her words. "If he's Phantom…that means…"
Maddie nodded into his suit. "We shot at him! We hurt him! My baby boy, I shot him!"
Jack became solemn, a feeling of dread surrounding the two of them. "Why didn't he tell us?" Jack whispered.
Maddie sniffed as she pulled her head from Jack. "Would you have? We shot at him on an almost daily basis, not to mention all the times we said we wanted to rip him apart. Danny ran because he doesn't trust us." She was shaking now.
She was right. How many times had he hunted Phantom? He couldn't count how many times they had actually hit him with an ecto blast. And all those horrible things they said to him…
"If he would have just said something, we could have helped him." Jack reasoned. He understood his son's distrust, but it still hurt.
"He's a teenaged boy, Jack. He was scared." Maddie said, her voice barely a whisper. She was beginning to calm, but her sobbing had given her hiccups.
"We need to find him." Jack started. "We need to find him, and talk to him. He needs to know its ok, we still love him."
Maddie nodded and wiped her eyes. She stood with determination. She would find her baby boy, and bring him back to her.
Danny dialed Sam on his cell. It rang a few times and he growled. "Come on, come on, come on!" Finally, Sam answered.
"No time to talk, Sam. Call Tuck and meet me at the Nasty Burger in ten!" he hung up and flew towards the restaurant. His heart was beating a mile an minute and the pain in his shoulder was nearly unbearable at the speed he was at, but he refused to slow down. He needed as much distance from him and his parents as possible.
At the Nasty Burger, he flew behind it and changed back into Fenton. He entered the restaurant and sat at the normal booth. It would be a few minutes before his friends showed up, so he took the time to calm himself as much as he could.
Sure enough, a few minutes later, Sam and Tuck showed up, both with worried and confused looks. They sat across from Danny. "You ok, Dude?" Tuck asked.
Danny was shaking as he tried to hold himself together. "They know…" he said, his voice barely a whisper.
Sam and Tuck shared a look. "What did you say?" Sam wasn't sure she heard him right.
"They know!" Danny repeated in a harsh whisper. "I told you, Sam, my mom is too smart. She figured it out!" he waved his arms around in frustration.
"Alright, alright calm down." Sam warned. Her best friend's antics were beginning to draw stares.
Tucker shook his head. "How did she figure it out?"
Danny stilled, his gaze focused on the table, a solemn look on his face. "I'm not sure exactly. She was making breakfast and suddenly dropped a plate. She felt faint so dad and I went to help her over to a chair. She lost her balance and leaned on me, I couldn't help but jerk away from the pain in my shoulder. When I looked up, the look on her face…she knew instantly."
Sam placed a hand on Danny's. "Was it just her expression that told you?"
Danny shook his head, flipping his hand over to hold hers. "She wanted to see my shoulder. She knew I'm injured. I'm pretty sure she put two and two together…especially since I went invisible." He whispered the last part but his friends still heard him.
"Dude, you went invisible right in front of them?" Tucker said, wide-eyed.
"I panicked, Tuck. I didn't know what else to do." He was so absorbed in the conversation he failed to realize he had begun playing with Sam's hand. She noticed it, however, and blushed lightly, but refused to move her hand away.
"If they know now, Danny, your only choice is to face them." Tucker reasoned.
Danny sighed. He knew that, he just wasn't sure he could do it. "You were going to face them, right?"
Danny remained silent and Tucker shook his head. "What did you expect to do, dude? You can't run away from this."
"I know, Tuck! I'm just not ready." Danny pulled his hand from Sam's and crossed his arms over his chest, gazing out the window.
Sam sighed and closed her eyes a moment before opening them again. "Danny, they love you. They're your parents; they'll love you no matter what you are."
Danny closed his eyes, a pained expression on his face. He looked at though he was about to cry. As he spoke, his voice cracked. "I know. I-I'm scared. What if th-they don't accept me as I am?"
"We've known your parents forever, Dan. Trust me, you're their son. They will accept you." Tucker wasn't sure of what else he could say.
The Fentons had gone to Sam's and Tucker's but Danny wasn't at either home. He had to be with his friends if they were gone too.
They searched the arcade, the library, the theatre. Everywhere they went; there was no sign of their son. As they began to give up hope, they struck an idea.
"Hey, sweetie, what about the Nasty Burger? Don't they hang out there a lot?" Maddie put a hand on jack's shoulder.
Jack stopped at a stop light and thought about it. "Yeah, I suppose so. That's where a lot of the teenagers go. It can't hurt to look."
With new found hope, the two headed for the Nasty Burger.
After more than half an hour of debating, Danny still refused to go home and see his parents. He just wasn't ready.
"Can't I stay with one of you tonight?" Danny pleaded.
Both of his best friends shook their heads. "You need to confront them today." Sam said sternly.
Danny let his head fall to the table with a thud. He sighed heavily and covered his head with his hands. He really was at a loss for what to do. He knew what he should do, but it went against what he wanted to do.
As he brought his head up to say something he paused. His eyes went wide and he began to sweat. Sam and Tucker stared at their friend's odd behavior before following his gaze. Outside the window, the Fentons had just parked and were about to head inside.
Danny began to hyperventilate. Sam grabbed his hand. "You're not going anywhere." She said as she realized he was about to run.
"Yeah, dude, you need to stay here. Just talk to them."
Danny licked his lips nervously as his eyes darted from his parents to his friends. "Please…" he begged. "I can't do this."
"You have to." Sam held tighter to his hand. She knew he could run if he wished, but she hoped her grip on him would make him think twice.
Danny shut his eyes and tried to calm his breathing. "Please, don't tell them I'm here."
"We won't lie to them." Tuck stated plainly.
"Please!" Danny begged again. As his parents entered the restaurant he turned invisible. Luckily the restaurant wasn't too busy this morning and no one noticed.
Tucker shook his head but Sam nudged him in the side and motioned towards her hand. He had gone invisible, but he hadn't left. She still held his hand.
"Sam! Tucker!" Maddie hurried her way over to the two teenagers. "Oh thank goodness, have you seen Danny?"
Sam and Tucker exchanged looks, clearly unsure if they should lie or rat their best friend out.
Jack came up behind his wife out of breath. "Please, we really need to talk to him." His eyes were full of sorrow.
The pair said nothing and their silence upset Maddie. "Please, you two. I have to see him! I want my baby boy back."
Sam's heart ached at the hurt in Maddie's voice. She did accept Danny. After one last look at Tucker, she squeezed Danny's hand. Jack and Maddie noticed the action and watched Sam's hand. At first, nothing happened. Sam squeezed again and this time, after a few moments, another hand slowly appeared intertwined with hers. Little by little, Danny's arm became visible and it continued until he was fully visible.
His eyes stayed on the table, clearly nervous and unable to speak to his parents. Maddie sat down next to her son and wrapped her arms around him. Danny tensed slightly.
Jack smiled lightly at his son when Danny spared him a fleeting glance. Other than that, the halfa looked everywhere but at them. "My baby boy, why didn't you tell us?" Maddie whispered, her voice shaking with emotion.
Danny licked his lips again and lifted his free hand to grab his mothers arm. She pulled back and he finally found the courage to look at her. He didn't say a word, but what he wanted to say was seen clearly in his eyes.
Jack placed a firm hand on Danny's shoulder making him wince in pain. Jack pulled back quickly. "Sorry, son." His eyes softened. "For everything."
"I wish you would have told us sooner, Danny." Maddie said. Danny's eyes began to tear and Maddie wiped a stray tear from his cheek as it fell. "You're our son; we don't care what you are. We love you anyway."
Danny finally let go of Sam and hugged his mother back. Jack wrapped his large arms around them both. The action had a few people staring, but it was quickly dismissed.
"When did it happen, son?" Jack asked.
Finally finding his voice, Danny pulled back. "Two years ago, when I was fourteen. There was an accident in the lab…Remember when the portal suddenly started working?"
Maddie and Jack both nodded.
"That was me. I walked in to help figure out what was wrong with it. I tripped over a wire and hit something. It just…turned on while I was in it."
Maddie gasped lightly. "Were you hurt?"
Danny nodded. "At first it hurt a lot. It felt a lot like sticking metal into a live socket, only it's not just your hand getting shocked, it's your whole body and ten times worse."
Maddie placed a hand over her mouth. "My baby…"
"I'm fine mom. After it was over, it didn't hurt anymore. I woke up and…I was Phantom."
Sam and Tucker smiled at their friend as he looked to them for support. They encouraged him to keep going.
Danny cleared his throat. "Sam and Tuck were there. They've known since it happened. Jazz found out a few months later. I've been fighting evil ghosts ever since."
"That's what all the bruises were actually from?" Jack questioned and Danny nodded.
"I'm clumsy, but I don't trip and fall on a daily basis." He smiled, the tension staring to ebb away.
Maddie smiled back at her son. "We were so convinced that Phantom was evil. You really aren't, so what was all that we saw?"
Danny chuckled. "You guys have crappy timing. You always seemed to show up when things weren't going my way. The mayor thing…he was overshadowed. The ghost was trying to make me look bad. And the reason I shot at you…I thought you were overshadowed too." He laughed again. "I was trying to force the ghosts out of you."
Jack furrowed his brow. "Have you ever over shadowed us?"
Danny laughed nervously. "No, no! Of course not!"
His parents gave him skeptical looks, but left it at that. Maddie bit her lip, unsure if she should ask. Her curiosity won out in the end. "How do you do it? Transform, I mean. Can we see it?"
Danny looked around. It was early, but there were to many people to risk it. He shook his head. "Not here. I need cover."
As those words left his lips, a loud crash was heard outside. A woman came running by the window screaming, "Ghost!"
Skulker came into view. "Come out, Ghost child! I will have your pelt today!"
Maddie scrunched her nose in disgust at the ghost's choice of words. "Looks like that's your cue." Jack said, smiling.
"I guess it is. Want to help?" He smiled back at his parents.
"Be glad too!" Jack roared as he held up a fist. Sam and Tucker shook their heads at his antics.
They all left the booth and went around the back of the Nasty Burger. Tucker pulled a Fenton thermos from his backpack and tossed it to Danny. Danny caught it and smiled at his friend.
"You both ghost hunt as well?" Maddie asked.
Sam nodded. "We're Team Phantom!" Tucker stated proudly. Sam and Danny rolled their eyes.
"Time to kick some ghost butt." Danny's eyes flashed green. He reached within himself for his ghostly presence and a few moments later, white rings formed around his middle; one traveled up and the other down. When it was done, Phantom stood in his place.
Jack and Maddie stared in awe.
Sam pulled out the Fenton lipstick laser and Tucker sported the wrist ecto blasters. All three put on their Fenton phones.
"You guys really are prepared." Jack marveled.
Danny shrugged. "This is just the story of my life."
He took off, Sam and Tucker hot on his heels. Maddie equipped her Fenton Bazooka and Jack held the Fenton Fisher in one hand and the Jack-O-Nine Tails in the other. "Let's go get 'em baby!" he yelled and ran after this son.
Maddie giggled and followed.
Danny spared a look down at his parents. He smiled, grateful they knew and accepted him. They would make great additions to Team Phantom. He snorted and rolled his eyes. Tucker is rubbing off on me. He scoffed in his head.
Yup, this was the story of his life. And he wouldn't have it any other way.
I hope you guys liked it. I'm not extremely satisfied with the ending, but I hope you enjoyed it anyway!
I had fun writing this, and I thank all my reviewers for your feedback!