Author: This has been eating a hole in my hard-drive for some time now. It's my first stab at a serious cross-over. Just as a warning: The OCs will be many, they will not be stereotypical, and will be used tastefully. Also, this story will be updated at random. Still working on Daniel Masters, still working on A Year is an Awfully Long Time. Am I a masochist? Not really... One last thing: DP canon through 3rd season but pre-PP; Gargoyles through season 2--no season 3.
Disclaimer: I've written almost 50 stories across many fandoms. I still don't own any of them.
Danny had enough time to brace himself slightly before he was overwhelmed by enthusiastic hugs, six voices speaking all at once.
"Whoa, whoa, slow down!" Danny laughed and phased himself free, pulling down the hood of his cloak to reveal his face. He picked up the smallest of the group and settled the little girl on his shoulders, she grasping onto his cloak with a shriek of happiness. "How have you all been?" Danny asked as he knelt down and hugged everyone back, a smile on his face.
"There's a new one!" a boy of around 8 told him.
"Oh?" Danny asked, ignoring how a 5-year-old boy was climbing up his cloak onto his back.
"Uh-huh," a girl of ten said. "She's really cute." The 'really' was dragged out for some time, and Danny stood, picking up another child by the waist, settling him on his hip.
"Then lead on," Danny said with a laugh in his voice, the eldest of the group blazing a trail further into the compound.
As they walked along, more voices cried out in greeting, and Danny waved at them with his free hand. It was good to be home.
They eventually exited out into what served as the play-room for the younger children (ages 11 to 0), and Danny's eyes lit up as he caught sight of his lover on the other side of the room. Danny deposited his load of children, who ran away to play with their friends (save for the littlest, who clung to his head, making Danny sigh in surrender) before he walked over to his lover.
"Back so soon?" Sam asked, slipping an arm around Danny's waist.
"And not soon enough," Danny answered before kissing him thoroughly. "Samuel, it's over."
"Everything. We found the last preserves of the strain and destroyed them. The South American gargoyles have finally found a cure for the infection, and there's been the vaccine since a few years ago. It's finally over."
Sam's eyes lit up and he hugged Danny with a wide smile. "That's fantastic! Now you won't be running off to go and nearly get yourself killed on crazy missions that only you would have the balls to accept."
Danny snorted and the little girl on his shoulders giggled at the sound. "I'm not that bad..." Danny's face became quickly serious. "Leah said that there's a new girl."
Sam's face fell slightly. "Yes, full ghost. Her parents aborted her once it became apparent that she was going to be half-ghost."
Danny scowled. "That's the worst possible thing they could do. How'd she find her way here?"
"The ley line, I think. I'm never quire sure. Current theory is that and you must leave some kind of...signal. Your Signature must have seeped into here enough that it's a beacon of comfort to the Lost Ones."
"That always makes me nervous. What if...?"
Sam shook his head and gently caressed Danny's cheek. "Listen, love. You have so many locks and checks and barriers here that no-one could possibly get in unless they knew what to look for. That you've also somehow made some of the shields able to detect intent and if the paranormal person is being controlled, even without their knowledge, and keep them out...I'll never figure out how you managed that."
"I'm special," Danny drawled and rested his forehead against his lover's.
Sam rolled his eyes. "Uh-huh."
"So, can I meet the little ghost?"
"She's over there," Sam said and jerked a thumb in the direction of where Marla and Sarah (two adult full-ghosts) were standing. "She's...still disoriented. Perhaps your presence will do her good."
No-one was entirely sure why, but Danny had a...calming...effect on human ghosts and half-ghosts. They seemed to simply feel safer with him, especially when they are newly-come into their bizarre existence. Danny walked over to the two ghosts and caught sight of a small ball of energy shivering in Sarah's arms.
"Is she the new little one?" Danny asked softly when the two female ghosts looked up at him. Marla nodded slowly and smiled faintly as the baby looked at Danny with curious eyes, the little girl on his shoulder looking at the ghost from around Danny's head.
"Yes...we're not sure how she got here without being destroyed in the process. You know how hard it is to ride the ley lines alone, let alone while so young."
Danny nodded and gently took the child in his arms, who immediately fisted her hands in Danny's cape, cooing softly and leaning into his embrace.
Sarah looked amused and flustered. "How do you do it?"
Danny shrugged and gave her a wry smile. "I have no idea. It's not a bad thing, though..."
"I assume you'll be adopting this one, then?"
Danny sighed heavily. "For the time being, I suppose. Until she's less terrified of the transition and can be cared for by other ghosts." Danny groaned softly. "Sam's going to be annoyed with me. He says I take on too many 'charity cases' as is."
The two ghosts looked at each other in poorly-concealed amusement.
Danny rolled his eyes. "I'm going to go pass out now."
"I thought you don't need sleep."
Danny shrugged. "I need to fall into a healing trance. I'm worse than I look. I've just gotten very good at patching myself up so that my lovers don't finish the job my enemies started." Danny cloned himself and took the little girl off his shoulders and placed her on the ground before giving her a wide smile. "I'll be back, Kate. Play nice."
The girl gave him a quick nod before running off, Danny's clone dispelling. Danny looked at the child in his arms and sighed heavily.
"She's asleep, isn't she?" Sarah said with unholy amusement.
"Almost." Danny shifted his hold and lightly kissed the baby on the forehead. "She should feel my presence for a while longer. It will slowly diminish, so it shouldn't be jarring to her and make her fuss," Danny said and transferred the baby to Marla. "I'll see you two around."
Danny walked away from the play area and into the residential quarters. He finally allowed his exhaustion to show and a hand found its way to his side beneath his cloak. When he removed it, it came away tacky with ectoplasm, making him sigh heavily.
But it's over, Danny. Focus on that.
Danny entered his private quarters and collapsed on his futon, a thought leaving him bare except for the layer of skintight cloth that was his constant outfit. Bearing his skin anymore invited all sorts of dangers. He sprawled across the bedding and dragged the covers over him, falling very quickly into the healing trance that would bring his body back to full working condition. It wasn't quite sleep, but it was a good enough substitute.
He'd hate to dream, anyway, after all he had seen...
"Daddy! Daddy, wake up! Sam says you need to get up!"
Danny groaned from beneath the covers before he reached out, grabbed his son, and dragged him against him, causing the boy to squawk in protest and wriggle against him. Danny's grip merely tightened as he held his biological child (of sorts) close. "Don't wanna," he pouted and he could feel the amusement radiating off the boy.
"Sam says it's important grown-up stuff."
"I don't want to be a grown-up anymore," Danny whined. "Think you can take my place?"
"No! They wouldn't believe me!"
"I can make a very convincing illusion...?"
There was a brief, warm silence before his son started squirming again. "Leggo! I'm a big boy now!"
"Mm...10 years old, right? Your birthday's...next week?"
"Yup! I'm gonna be 11!"
"That you are," Danny said softly, with no small amount of pride. That his children had survived this long at all was a miracle in and of itself. They were strong...far stronger than he had ever been. Especially with him gone so much and coming back wounded so often...
"Fine, Vlad, fine!" Danny sighed and released his hold on the boy, who pushed the covers away and gave him a winning smile.
"Julia was told to wake you, too, but I got here first."
"That you did," Danny murmured and pushed himself up to a sitting position. As if the mention had summoned the girl, Danny's oldest—nearly 13!—arrived, poking her head in.
"He got you up, huh?" Julia said in a dry, superior, older-sister voice.
"Better than you could've," Vlad shot back, making her roll her eyes.
Danny stood with a smile and snapped his fingers, his armor and cloak immediately remolding to his body. "Vladdy says that Sam said that I have something to go to."
Julia nodded and stepped out of the doorway, letting her brother and father pass. "Wouldn't tell us what, though," the girl said with a small amount of bitterness.
Danny smiled affectionately and ruffled her hair. "Relax, Jewels. It can't be anything that will take too long."
"That's what you said last time and then you went to area 15..."
Danny gave her an apologetic smile. "Sorry. I have only good news this time, though, so I should be done in an hour, max."
Julia gave him a wary look that broke his metaphorical heart, but he knew it was unavoidable. The past 10 years—most of his children's lives—had been hard, with him coming and going constantly, grabbing perhaps a month of rest at best, less than a day at worst. This time, though...this time things were over and he'd be able to spend the rest of his life being the best father possible to them, and any other Lost Ones who wormed their way into his life.
"What have you been learning recently?" he asked his daughter, catching her hand (and her brother's) in his. The two looked briefly startled at the contact before relaxing.
"I'm learning lots of cool stuff."
"Yeah, well I'm learning cooler stuff."
"Vladimir. Julia. Please. I bet they're both the height of awesome. Let's go one at a time and not argue too much, ok?"
The children gave him a disbelieving look and Danny sighed. "I was afraid that was the case. Fine. What are you guys learning in..." Danny riffled through a few topics in his mind, "...math?"
The two began to chatter away at Danny, who prompted them whenever the conversation lagged. He was walking as slowly as possible, dreading what he may encounter when he finally reached the meeting room. He didn't feel like dealing with crises anymore...
Unfortunately, they soon found themselves outside the door and Danny sighed heavily. He knelt down and gave both his children a quick hug and kiss on the forehead. "I'll see you both soon, okay?"
They both nodded, and Danny's heart ached at the trust in their eyes. He'd hate to see it fade and die...but he knew that it one day would, just because that's how life worked. Danny stood and faced the door, rubbing his hand across his buzz-cut hair and opened the door with no small amount of trepidation.
Inside, the persons waiting were all too familiar, and that familiarity made him both wary and relaxed.
"My children said you had something to talk about?" Danny asked solemnly as he joined the people at the table, propping himself on air, making one of the half-ghosts roll his eyes and mutter something that sounded remarkably like 'show off'.
Xanatos nodded. "We never did get your debriefing..."
Danny sighed. "I'm sorry—I forgot. I just...my children..."
"We understand," Queens told him, her eyes briefly darting up to her beloved and mate, Goliath. "But, how did things go?"
Danny smirked triumphantly. "I'm happy to say everything has been destroyed. There are no more preserved strains of Ectopox left in the world."
There was an near simultaneous sigh of relief, and the tension in the room almost completely disappeared.
"That's wonderful!" Maggie said with a smile.
"True peace at last," Goliath breathed, his massive shoulders slowly relaxing.
"That's the good news," Danny said, his smile becoming slightly sad. "There were casualties, though: we lost Amanda and Miguel among the ghosts, the Gargoyle Takeshi, and the Gamma Squad. It...wasn't easy. I did my best to protect them, but I couldn't be everywhere."
"They will be missed..." Matt Bluestone trailed off, rubbing his face in exhaustion. "I'm just tired of people dying."
"People die no matter what," Fox said, a surprisingly gentle tone in her voice. "But from now on, it won't be a violent death."
"Which is all we can hope for," Xanatos murmured, looking at his wife. "What exactly happened?" he asked, looking back to Danny.
Danny sighed. "We found the location with a little bit of trouble—they were good about hiding it behind a number of physical, ghostly, and magical shields. Everything was keyed, but you know how good a hacker Kim was. We got through the physical and magical with her help, while Miguel took care of the ghost shields. After that...got past booby traps, paranormal and normal guards, etc., etc. We managed to located where the strands were, I took them out. The ones running the complex were desperate, and desperation makes people strong. That's how Takeshi and Amanda were taken out, protecting and healing the gamma squad. Miguel and I managed to phase all the unfortunate soon-to-be-victims out. I set the vortex bomb and, well..." Danny shrugged. "Anything within that complex was sucked into it and blown apart. There's a huge hole in the ground, now, but I suppose it will serve as an artificial lake someday."
There was a long, considering silence before Xanatos sighed. "It's over."
Danny nodded. "It's over." Danny looked around and frowned. "Why aren't any of the fey here?"
Goliath scowled. "They are inconsiderate and—"
Queens put a hand on her love's forearm and shook her head. Goliath looked at her and sighed heavily. "Why bother trying to understand them?"
Danny snorted and smirked. "Point. Is there anything else you need me for?"
"We'll call you if there is. Go be with your family."
Danny was gone before Bluestone had finished his sentence. Danny found his children hovering outside the door and he swept them both up off their feet and into a hug, both of them laughing and protesting the treatment. Danny set them down, but didn't let go of their hands. "What do you want to do? Daddy's home for a long time now."
Both children smiled broadly and dragged their willing father away.
"I was kind of hoping that you'd make them sleep on their own," Sam said with a whimsical note in his voice.
Danny looked up at his lover and smiled faintly, his children fast asleep draped across him. He gave his lover a soft smile and shook his head. "Sorry."
He had done his hardest to be a good father to them—he hadn't left their side until each was at least 1—it had driven others crazy, but the Gargoyles had understood. Clan—family—comes before all else. After that...he had come back to them as often as possible, and once they began to talk, he was in touch with them daily (unless circumstances intervened). He loved them more than he would have thought possible, and they in turn, loved him hesitantly back.
Sam sat down next to Julia and gently stroked her hair. "You give them your all."
"They're my family," Danny said with an edge of protectiveness in his voice, "and no-one can protect them better than I. I just wish I had been able to spend more time with them..."
"You did what you could, dear," the other man murmured.
"But what if it wasn't enough...?" Danny trailed off hesitantly, his arms tightening slightly, pulling his progeny closer. "What if—"
Sam shook his head slowly. "No 'what if's. Being a father and Danny Phantom was difficult. Much more so than the 'working' parents of a decade or so ago. They weren't expected to save the world on a near-daily basis."
Danny chuckled weakly. "I know. Nonetheless..."
Sam sighed. "You're such a perfectionist."
"Only when it counts," Danny replied with a suggestive smirk.
"Danny! Not with the children around!" Sam teasingly rebuked.
The smirk turned into a genuine smile and Danny lightly stroked his son's back. "How were they in my absence? How was everything, actually?"
"Your children were children. You should know their exploits, though, since you talk to them daily."
"I know, I know. But..." Danny sighed. "Nevermind. How was everything else?"
"A few 'deaths', Mark and Kaitlin had twins, much to their father's dismay—"
"Kaitlin kept you from telling him?"
"And that woman can be scary."
"I have no doubt."
"Three more found their way to us, including that baby that you met." A pause. "She's going to be living with us, isn't she?"
"Was afraid you'd say that."
"Who are the other two?"
"They were 'adopted' by their respective age groups, but I know that once people get wind of you being here for a while, that they'll be banging on the door, asking you to meet the newbies."
Danny sighed heavily. "Why, Mother, why?" Danny groaned.
Sam chuckled softly. "Your own fault."
"I know," Danny groused. He looked at his love and smiled softly. "Promise that the day after tomorrow will be devoted entirely to you."
"Because tomorrow you'll be making the rounds and making sure everything's in working order..." Sam sighed, but there was a smile in his eyes. "And to think the stories I heard of you when you were younger!"
Danny rolled his eyes. "20 years changes you. Especially when you gain a family, have to deal with diseases, deaths, loves, and so on."
Sam nodded and leaned carefully over Danny's daughter and kissed Danny sweetly. "Day after tomorrow, you're mine."
"I'm yours every day, but I promise to spend time with you all that day."
"You better," Sam said in teasing warning before lying down next to Julia and phasing into the covers, his arm lightly crossing the girl's stomach to lie on Danny's. Their eyes met briefly before Sam's closed.
Danny spent the night looking up at the ceiling feeling more at ease than he had in years.
Danny readjusted the strap on the harness that he used to hold the smallest children when he traveled, checking to make sure Chistrana—the new baby—was secure.
"You know, how many children have you raised, if you counted all the strays?" Marla asked, amused.
Danny sighed. "A lot. And even if I haven't raised them, because I'm such a presence and everyone hears so much about me, it's as if I've helped many more. There's no-one here that doesn't know my name or face, and I've never introduced myself to any of them!"
"Ah, the perils of life as a superhero."
Danny grimaced. "I'm no hero."
"Funny. From the stories—"
"The stories don't mention that I'm a murderer. They don't mention the poor judgement calls I've made. They don't mention how I've been too late to save someone a number of times. They don't mention how I, in a way, am responsible for this entire mess."
"Someone who wasn't a hero wouldn't bother to continue trying after those setbacks."
Danny shook his head slowly, his eyes haunted. "Think what you will. Where are the two new arrivals? What are they?"
"Both half-ghost with varying degrees of power and control," a voice supplied.
Danny sighed inwardly. "Lucas. How are you?" Danny asked, turning to face the half-ghost.
Danny was known universally, but not liked universally. There was some who rightly blamed Danny for their condition, and so resented him. Many of those had tried to kill him over the years, although there were some, such as Lucas, who saw Danny as a necessary evil. Danny did his part to fix what he had unconsciously wrought, and they recognized how often he put himself on the line. They might respect him, but that was the extent of their tolerance for him.
The half-ghost shrugged. "Same old same old. The surface safe finally?"
Danny nodded. "Every last strain of ectopox has been wiped out, we've found a cure for it, and there're the vaccines..."
A look of relief briefly flashed over the man's face before being replaced by its usual stoniness. "Finally be able to leave this place," the man growled, and Danny restrained a wince.
"You helped build it," Danny pointed out.
"Not to make it a prison."
"You could have left at any time."
"And leave my fami—" Lucas looked sourly at Danny. "One half-ghost is in his mid-40s. The other is a teen. Apparently they're family and had been surviving on the fringes. They're here to recover."
Danny nodded slowly. "Thank you for taking care of them," he said solemnly. While they might not like each other, Lucas made a damn good second-in-command.
"I didn't do it for you."
"Thanks anyway," Danny said with a smile. "We'll have to talk later, debrief each other on what's been going on. I need to make the rounds. So, how about we meet at 3?"
Lucas shrugged. "Fine. Where?"
"Where would you feel most comfortable?" Which meant, 'where would you feel least vulnerable?'
"Very well. See you then!" Danny said cheerfully, which made Lucas snort as Danny walked away.
Once far enough away, Danny let his face tighten in pain. Lucas...before he had become a half-ghost, he had been a highly successful military officer. He had been discharged once it became apparent what disease he had caught. It was with full honors and everything, but Lucas always resented that he was cut down at the height of his career. Danny and he had actually met on a battlefield. Lucas had mistook him for an enemy, they had fought, and, well...Danny had sort of embarrassed him while simultaneously earning an uneasy respect from the man.
Once it was discovered that Danny's genetics were the basis for all three strains of ectopox, however, any friendship between them had been shattered, leaving only a wary mistrust. Lucas was still willing to work with Danny, though, since Danny happened to be the strongest and most capable at defeating what they were up against.
Lucas had been hurt trying to prove he was better than Danny, so now he was stuck working behind a metaphorical desk, being mostly a tactician instead of a warrior. It drove him insane, but wounds from a Gargoyle didn't heal like normal ones. Danny could attest to that as much as Lucas could.
The baby made an unhappy noise, catching wind of Danny's mood, and the older ghost smoothed out his disposition. The baby still made fussy sounds, but slowly calmed. Danny sighed softly. The one good thing about ghost babies was that they didn't make the same messes as human or half-ghost babies. It made Danny's life marginally easier.
Danny pushed open the door leading into the subterranean farming complex and breathed in the scent with a smile. It was nice to smell life instead of decay. He caught sight of an unfamiliar face and walked over, allowing the other half-ghosts present to register his presence instead of just teleporting over, which would have been his normal transportation.
"Phantom! How are you?" a woman with a thick Texas drawl asked, walking over to meet him. They embraced each other and Danny smiled. "Back with good news. But, first," Danny looked around and caught the eyes of the newest half-ghost, "I'd like to introduce myself to our new companion." Danny walked over and held out his hand. "My name is Phantom. Who are you?" he asked in ghost-tongue. He had heard everyone speaking it, so he assumed the man wasn't a native English speaker.
"Vishad," the man answered, hesitantly taking Danny's hand.
"It's nice to meet you," Danny said with a reassuring smile. "I've heard from my second that you've been half-ghost for a while...?"
"5 years, my daughter and I."
Danny nodded. "You are safe here. Take all the time you need to recover. If you need anything at all, ask after myself, Lucas, or Yoshiko. We run things here, more or less."
"Wait...Phantom? The Phantom?"
Danny sighed heavily inward. "Yes, the Phantom."
"I've heard stories...I never believed you were real."
"I am," Danny said with a small smile, "quite real. May I meet your daughter?"
"Of course!" the man said. "She is shy, but a nice girl."
Danny smiled slightly. "I think I'll manage. Thank you. I assume she's with the other teens?"
Danny nodded back. "I'll see you around, Vishad."
The man looked astonished that Danny remembered his name. Danny turned and walked leisurely through the farming complex. The ghosts didn't need to eat, but the half-ghost ones did, so they did what they could. They lived an unfortunately forced vegetarian existence, since it would have been dangerous to keep and raise animals—no-one was quite sure how the 3rd gen ecotpox worked, so they figured to err on the side of caution and not raise livestock and the like. Perhaps later, when there was no doubt that the threat was over, they'd pick up husbandry again.
Danny exited through the greenhouse where the non-sustenance based vegetation was (flowers, trees, etc.). It was calming and gave people something to do. It was better than being bored out of their skulls.
He made his way into the cafeteria and easily caught sight of the newest addition to their teenage population. He walked over, and one of those he helped raise caught sight of him first.
"Phantom, please. You're too old to call me Danny anymore," Danny rebuked the speaker, cuffing him gently on the head.
Alex sneered. "Don't tell me what to do!"
"Wouldn't dream of it," Danny told him dryly. Danny looked at the new girl and gave her a reassuring smile. "My name, contrary to what this one might claim, is Phantom. You are...?" he asked, extending his hand.
The girl hesitated then lightly took his hand. "Anusha."
"A beautiful name for a beautiful young lady," Danny told her and lightly kissed the back of her hand, making her face burn and she snatched her hand back quickly. "I help run things around here, so if you have need of anything, either get one of these yo-yos to show you around or ask for Phantom, Lucas, or Yoshiko. You're welcome to stay here for as long as you need or want to."
"Hey, you got a kid on your back."
"Yes, I do," Danny said, looking over his shoulder at said child.
"A Lost One."
There was a collective wince.
"Her parents caught wind that she would grow up to be a half-ghost and aborted her. This, of course, prematurely made her full ghost. It's remarkable that she found her way here, but I'm not going to complain."
"If she's full-ghost, won't she stay that young forever?"
Danny shook his head. "Before the advent of ectopox and the inclusion of a random 'ghost' gene in the human sequence...yes, she would have stayed a baby forever. But, because she made the transfer from half-ghost to full-ghost, she'll age as a human would. Once she gets a hang of her ghost nature, however, she'll be able to age herself as she wishes, appearing younger or older depending on her whims."
"Full-ghosts can do that?"
Danny smirked. "For all you know, I could be 360 years old instead of 36."
Danny laughed at the incredulous looks and the baby on his back cooed at his good humor. "I'll be around. I have good news that you will undoubtedly know of long before I make a formal announcement."
That comment sparked interest in the younger half-ghosts's eyes and Danny walked away before he could be dragged into a questioning session.
I swear, they'd give any of the 'professionals' we have a run for their money when they're properly motivated.
Danny meandered into the hospital wing, the recreation room, the residential areas, making one large circuit of the sprawling underground complex.
"Find everything to your liking?"
Danny smiled faintly at the old woman who joined him. "An expert job, as usual."
Yoshiko had caught the ecotpox in her late 80s, and the new youth it afforded her had not been wasted. When Danny and she had met, he had immediately taken her in and put her in charge of residential life—all aspects, from who lives where, to how much is needed to get by. She had taken to the role like a fish to water, once she had figured out the ghost language. She had, on her own, recruited a whole posse of people to help run the complex, and Danny had been more than content to let it all fall squarely in her lap.
"Of course," she replied. "You have news?"
The woman blinked. "Over?"
"Finished. Every strain of ectopox is gone, the South American gargoyles have found a cure, and we have a vaccine. We've survived."
Yoshiko's wrinkled face bloomed into a smile. "Wonderful! But, now is the hardest part."
"Rebuilding, I know." Danny sighed. "In some ways, fighting for survival is easier than this step."
"Can't give up now, ghostling."
Danny rolled his eyes. "Must you call me that?"
Yoshiko merely smiled.
"I take that as a 'yes'," Danny groused.
"What do we have to work with outside?"
"Not enough," Danny sighed. "We're starting from close to square one. There are leftovers of previous buildings, but natural resources are dangerously low. We'll probably coordinate with everyone to find out what is and is not habitable, what's leftover that we can use, and what defenses we need. Remember—not everyone is happy that things turned out the way they have."
Yoshiko sighed. "The vultures."
Danny nodded. "Unavoidable."
Yoshiko looked inscrutable for a moment before asking, "I've always meant to ask—how'd you build this place? It's far more advanced than anything else that should exist."
Danny sighed and ran a hand across his scalp. "Long story."
Yoshiko looked at him hard before sighing. "You're not going to tell me."
"If I haven't told Sam, I won't tell anyone."
"You have many secrets. Many people still aren't even sure how you came to be. To most, your past is a mystery."
"And it will stay that way," Danny said emphatically. His past...
Yoshiko looked at him and sighed softly. "It is a source of pain. You should tell someone."
Danny gave her a sad smile. "I don't trust anyone that much."
"Not even Samuel?"
"Especially Samuel," Danny replied softly.
The two stood in front of the Meeting Room doors and Danny pushed them open, gesturing Yoshiko in first, who gave him an amused partly-bow.
Danny followed her in and closed the door. Lucas was already waiting for them, rubbing the stump of his left leg uneasily, the fake one propped against the table. "At least you're not late," he growled.
"Wouldn't dream of it," Danny replied. "I assume you want me to start?"
Both half-ghosts gave Danny a look. "Right, right," he said with a sigh. "You remember the intelligence we got from the human we captured, right? After debating it for a few hours, it was decided that myself, along with a small strike team of two half-ghosts, a gargoyle, and the gamma squad would go in and check if the intelligence was correct, and, if it was, to take it out. If it was correct, it would be the last stand of research laboratories devoted to the containment and production of ectopox." Danny sighed and rubbed his head. "The information was correct. It wasn't easy, but we got in..." Danny stopped and sighed. "It never gets any less horrific. We found that they had nearly developed a new strain, but I got rid of it. We checked the mainframe when we finally found the research computers, and wiped the data on the production and composition of the disease. We were damn thorough. We left no stone unturned..." Danny's eyes closed. "We killed the ones who were too far gone, mentally or physically. We destroyed the carriers, the machines, the holding cells." Danny sighed. "I'm pretty sure they knew we were coming, though. They had weapons that neutralized the half-ghosts, and those...creatures...that feed off Gargoyles."
Danny sighed. "I was lucky. I tend to be. Myself, Bill, Cassandra, Revy, and Zhao appeared to be have survived, everyone else having been killed. This wasn't bad. There's a reason the gamma squad is considered the best out there. I vortexed the place, but something felt...off." Danny shook his head. "Bill was infected. I killed him, quickly and painlessly. The man was a dick, but even he doesn't deserve the infection." Danny took a shuddering breath. "But, before I could kill him, he had attacked the other human survivors."
There was a silence. "So it's just you."
Danny hung his head and rubbed his eyes. "Yes." Danny's face tightened. "I try and I try but I can never save them!" Danny snarled and hit the table with his fist.
"This is why it is best not to form friendships with humans," Lucas said in a slightly hollow voice. He, too, had experienced exactly what Danny had.
"We must though. Isolation will destroy us all."
Danny nodded and rubbed his eyes. "I didn't bring up all the details in the general meeting."
"Because the fey weren't visible. Whenever that happens, they're plotting something, so I figured it was best to keep things to a minimum."
The two others looked at each other uneasily. "And whenever the fey are plotting, bad things are sure to follow," Lucas murmured.
Danny took a shuddering breath and put himself back under iron control. "Now, I need logistics. Also, do we have anyone to spare? I know that Xanatos or Goliath will put in a request soon for those capable of recon missions. They'll be wanting to map out how much resources we have left and what we will be able to manage with the manpower we have. It's time to reclaim the planet. It won't be easy."
"Nothing worth having ever is."
Danny wrapped his arms around his lover's waist and pulled him back against him, nuzzling the back of his neck. Sam laughed in slight surprise, and Danny could feel the love coming off him. He felt kind of bad that he could only partly return it, and was relieved that Sam couldn't pick up on emotions like he could.
"Your news was well-received," his lover told him in a quiet voice.
Danny snorted. "Understatement."
There was a brief, comfortable silence.
"Everything's finally finished, love. You now need be nothing more than my lover and a father. There are no more epic battles to be fought, no enemy to be defeated, no world to save."
Danny sighed softly, pressing his lips against Sam's neck in a brief, chaste kiss. "The world will always need help. There will always be work for Danny Phantom...but that doesn't mean I don't deserve a very long vacation."
"That will revolve exclusively around your family."
"Damn straight," Danny muttered, his hands lightly stroking his lover's chest.
Sam leaned back against him, his head fitting snugly beneath Danny's chin.
"I'm lucky to have you all," Danny said softly, kissing the top of his lover's head. "I don't think I would have survived with my sanity intact if I didn't have my children and my love."
"You're stronger than you give yourself credit for."
"Perhaps," Danny said after a long moment of silence.
"DADDY! JEWELS HIT ME!"
"I did not!"
Danny sighed and disentangled himself from Sam, who chuckled softly, following him. Danny walked out of his bedroom and sighed at the mess in what served as a parlor. He navigated the treacherous pathway to find his children bickering. He picked both of them up around the waists, carrying one slung over his shoulder and the other supported on his hip. He sat them both down on the couch and crossed his arms, eyes narrowing.
"Start from the beginning."
Both started talking at the same time, and Danny didn't bother to make them speak one at a time, sifting through the half-argument silently. Eventually, he decided he had heard enough.
"Julia. Vladimir," he said, a hard edge in his voice.
Both quieted immediately, looking at their father nervously.
"I've told you not to get into fights with each other, haven't I?"
"Yes." The both answered simultaneously.
"And you got into a fight anyway."
"Which means you didn't listen to me."
"But she started—"
Danny shook his head sharply. "It doesn't matter who started it. You both know better."
The two looked away from each other, fidgeting under their father's disapproval.
"This will be your punishment: together, without fighting, you are to clean up this mess. Then, Vladimir, you are going to help the farmers for two days without complaining. If you do complain, and I will know, you will have more days tacked on. You, young lady, are going to help out Sam in the medical ward for the same amount of time."
"The same applies to you. If Sam reports that you've been complaining or shirking your duties, you get more time tacked on. Do we have an understanding?"
The two looked at each other sourly before nodding unhappily.
"Good. Now, get to work."
Danny caught Sam looking at him and raised an eyebrow. "What?"
"You pick very strange ways of disciplining your children."
"Vladimir dislikes manual labor and Julia needs to learn to be more physically gentle. They're both doing something they won't like doing, but that they'll learn from. They'll certainly get more out of it than my physically disciplining them."
Sam sighed and shook his head in amusement. "You are a strange one, love."
"So I've been told," Danny replied with good humor.
"Now, if you don't mind, you promised me that today would be dedicated to me..." Sam trailed off, giving Danny a significant look that had Danny grinning.
"I did, didn't I?"
Sam turned and started walking away, Danny quick to follow. About two steps later, Danny found himself stuck. He looked down in annoyance and yelped in surprise, catching the attention of his family.
"Danny!" Sam cried, slight panic in his voice as Danny fought against the bands of light that sought to pull him into the steadily growing pool of brilliance at his feet. Danny strained against the hold, trying to phase out of them, but found himself bound. "Sam! Julia! Vlad!" Danny cried out, reaching out a hand to his family. "Don't get too close to the portal!" That was all it could be, really. "I don't know what'll happen to y—"
Danny's fingertips just barely brushed against his son's before he was wrapped in the searing light, yanked downwards.
It is time.
Post-note: Thanks to all who read this far. I promise you that everything will be explained in due time...