Chapter 18: Stand Up Strong
A/N: Boo! Scared ya? I know, I'm surprised too. It's been months since I last updated anything. Please enjoy the chapter, I will give a longer Authors Note at the end of the chapter to bore you with!
Recap: Danny, Sam, Tucker and Valerie are in Zanar Headquarters to fight Z1, also know as Alexander, in a battle to get Danny's memories back. The four of them faced the 'Z' members and it was revealed that Z-5 (Jake), Z-7 (Noran), and Z-9 (Lilia) have betrayed Zanar to work with Danny and his friends to defeat Alexander.
Meanwhile, Youngblood, Danielle and Wulf were captured by the Dark One and its master Vlad Plasmius. Youngblood and Wulf are trapped and asked the other ghosts in the Ghost Zone for assistance.
"I really don't think you should be moving yet, dude." Tucker placed his hand on Danny's shoulder as he attempted to sit up.
Danny held his breath for a moment as his torso began to cramp and flare up with pain. However he managed to sit up completely, leaning forward with his arms wrapped around his stomach as though to support it in some way. The bandages were wrapped tightly around his entire stomach and chest, making it nearly impossible to twist or even maneuver correctly. "I think you may have put a few too many layers of gauze on me, Seven."
Noran smirked, "you can never have too many layers." He was on his knees only a few feet from Danny, packing up all of his medical stuff into a small white box. "You should feel lucky I had my medical equipment with me, otherwise you probably would have bled to death. A bullet wound to the stomach is no joke, you're extremely lucky it didn't hit anything critical! If it had pierced your lung or any vital organs there's no way we could have saved you."
Danny chuckled, "well, thanks for wrapping me up."
"No, seriously, Danny." Noran looked at him with a stern glare, "you have to be careful. You know very well just about everyone who works here has a gun, try not to get shot again. You've already lost a considerable amount of blood," he held up his hands to show, even though he had cleaned them, they were still stained red from Danny's blood. "I'm not a miracle worker, if you get hurt again, I can't guarantee we can keep you alive!"
"Alright," Danny waved at him limply, "I'll be careful." He gave a weak smile, "but seriously, thanks for helping."
Sam put her hand on Danny's forehead, "do you have a fever? You aren't looking so good. You should rest longer."
At this, Danny narrowed his eyes, "did you forget where we are, Sam? This isn't the time to take breaks or rest. This is a real fight. You have to keep going until you don't have any strength left in you. Get it? We came here for one purpose, and until we succeed, none of us will be able to rest." He leaned toward Sam and lightly kissed her on the forehead, "don't worry about me so much. I'm not going to die that easily."
"You better not." Sam wrapped her arms around Danny for a few seconds before pulling away. With Tucker's help, the two of them assisted Danny with getting to his feet.
"Well isn't that touching." A frighteningly familiar voice reached their ears.
Every single one of the former Zanar members felt a shiver run up their spine, each of them standing tall and proceeding to pull out their weapons. Danny especially, his eyes widened and he gasped with horror and nostalgia.
With the area they were all standing, there didn't seem to be a lot of openings to attack from. A shriek was heard. All heads turned to Lilia, who was now sliding down the wall, eyes closed and unconscious. Nobody could be seen near her.
"Sam! Tucker!" Danny stepped in front of them, his arms out to either side as though to create a wall in front of them, "don't move!" He looked over at Valerie, "Val, stay behind..." He gasped, noticing that Valerie was lying on the floor, eyes closed just as Lilia was.
Jake moved a step closer to Noran, both of them just a few feet from Danny, Sam and Tucker. "Danny, we have to grab them and go! Now! We're no match for-" Jake felt the wind completely knocked out of him. His body arched forward as a punch was delivered straight into his gut. The force of the hit sent him crashing into the wall located only three feet behind him. His head was thrown backward from his back colliding with the wall. The back of his skull exploded with pain. A small splatter of blood could be seen from the force of the blow on the wall. His body then fell to the floor, limp as a sock.
"Jake!" Noran cried out.
Sam, Tucker and Danny all had their attention on their recent fallen friend.
"Seven!" Danny barked at Noran, "take Sam and Tucker and go!"
"Danny, what is happening!" Sam cried out, looking frantically at all of their friends who had been knocked to the ground in an instant.
"It's Z-2!" Noran answered for Danny, "He's the fastest of any Zanar member! And one of the strongest!" He looked at Danny, "Danny, we can't possibly get away."
Danny clenched his hands tightly, "damn it." he muttered, "get close to me!"
All of them moved closer to Danny. He reached his hands up into the air and from them a green transparent wall of ectoplasm created a dome around the four of them. The green wall then froze into a solid wall of ice.
Noran shook his head, "this wont stop him completely. He'll be able to break through in no time."
"I didn't create it to stop him, I wanted to slow him down. He can't get through the ice without us noticing which way he's coming from." Danny's body had been trained for years to be able to think clearly in these sorts of situations. Even though his heart rate was speeding up with anxiety and worry over the safety of his friends, he knew that worrying too much would ruin his decision making and most likely just create chaos. Even with this ice blocking us, I know he can easily break through...hopefully it can give us a split second to react. "Sam, Tucker, stay on your toes. Don't fight Z-2. There is no way you stand a chance, if you see an opportunity, just run. We'll be able to find you later if need be."
"Who is Z-2!" Tucker asked, wide-eyed with shock. "He just took out all of them in, like, a second!"
"He was my teacher when I lived here. He's one rank above me...but even so, if he's fighting seriously, there's no way I can possibly defeat him." Danny pressed his hand to his stomach and cringed, "especially as I am now." In his mind, Danny thought of all the possible ways to escape or fight and be able to keep everyone alive. None of the strategies had a high chance of working, in fact the chances that they would succeed was less than one percent at best. The ghost boy shook his head with frustration, "the best thing we can do is for me to fight him, you guys grab everyone and find a different place to hide in the building."
"Like hell that will work!" Tucker barked, "did you see what happened out there! With you injured, you'll end up on the ground in the blink of an eye. I don't even know this dude, but he isn't someone we should mess with!"
Sam nodded, "I agree with Tucker."
Danny sighed heavily.
"And also..." Sam raised her eyebrows, "is he...still here? He isn't attacking."
They weren't able to see anything out of the ice frosted dome, all they could see was the white snow-like walls protecting them.
"The others haven't moved..." Noran replied, "Danny and I can sense their presence. But Z-2 is too good, we can't tell where he is."
Danny shook his head, "there's no way he-"
From every angle around them, the ice shattered as though hit with a large hammer. The once thick, solid wall was now broken into thousands of small pieces. Each of them reacted, bringing their arms up to block any ice that wanted to hit their head. Danny quickly realized that all of them were vulnerable for that split second. He fought against the instinct to protect himself from falling ice and started to reach for Sam and Tucker.
Danny stopped, and saw very briefly as Z-2 took down both of his friends and Noran in one go. Tucker lay on the floor only a few feet away, still conscious, but holding his head delicately. Danny saw as Z-2 hit Sam across the face with enough force to bring her off her feet for a split second and land on her back with a thump. He wasn't able to see how Noran was defeated, but could easily see that the boy wasn't going to be waking up any time soon.
Danny looked left and right, unable to see his former Master anywhere near him. "Is this what you were going for!" Danny shouted at the top of his lungs, "you were trying to talk to me alone? You could have just said so!" When he didn't receive a response, Danny turned and quickly started moving toward Sam and Tucker.
Half expecting it, Danny didn't make it even two steps before his body was flung in a completely different direction. He landed on his back and skid a few feet. Normally he would jump up right away, but in his case right now, that wasn't physically possible. He rolled to his side and started to push himself up with his arms. He was only half-standing when a harsh kick to the leg brought him to the floor again, this time he let out a cry of pain.
Danny didn't get up this time, he stayed where he was and looked up at his teacher, now standing over him, looking down. Danny smirked nervously, "You finally show yourself, huh? Did you not want anyone else to see you? Or did you just want to act like an invisible man."
"Ah, well you know, kid, I always enjoy making the fight more fun for me." Z-2, or rather, Charles muttered.
"Now I know that's a lie. You hate fighting dirty." Danny groaned and once again made an attempt to stand up.
Charles lunged forward, grabbing a hold of Danny's shirt and swung him around, launching him directly at the wall. Danny's back slammed into it. The pain from his bullet wound increased tenfold, spreading across his entire torso. Danny fell forward from the wall, wrapping both his arms around his chest, heaving in and out with strenuous effort. He crash landed on the floor, laying on his side. Then Danny curled his legs up toward himself. The force from hitting the wall could very well have almost broken his spine. Danny had to think that the massive amounts of bandage on his mid-section softened the blow at least a little bit. Even so, it hurt badly.
Danny looked up at Charles, "So," he breathed heavily through his nose, having some trouble getting the words to come out, "you're serious about this fight? You're going to kill me and my friends here? Because that's how they do things here at this damn place!"
Charles, though not with all of his strength, kicked Danny while he was on the ground right in the stomach. Danny felt as though he was shot again. Danny's eyes grew wide and his body reacted to the blow. Danny vomited a mix of water, blood and some unpleasant food bits onto the floor beside him.
"Why did you come here!" Charles began to shout, "you knew you wouldn't be able to make it out alive. Alexander would never let you leave here alive with your friends! You knew this and yet you still came here! You should realize it isn't fun for me to have to fight my own student! Someone I viewed as my friend!"
Danny looked up at Charles with wide, caring eyes.
"You think that just because you have these ghost powers back you can suddenly stand up against Zanar!" He motioned toward Danny's appearance of white hair and black outfit. "one person alone doesn't have all of the power to fight against an entire organization!"
Hissing and groaning with agony, Danny replied "that's why I didn't come alone!" He glared at his Master, "I brought friends! Sam! Tucker! Valerie! They stayed by my side the whole way, all because we wanted to get my memories back! They care about me more than anyone else has. Don't tell me we don't stand a chance! I know that it is a one in a million chance, but that isn't necessarily impossible!" Danny growled, "and what is this bull about being my friend! I did trust you! But I found out the truth from Alexander about my memories!"
Charles narrowed his eyes slightly.
Danny growled in the back of his throat, holding the phone close up against his ear with his hands firmly gripping it, "Fine. One last question. You worked with the Guys in White, and they said that you guys are the ones that took my memories, is that true!"
Alexander replied, "That is accurate information. In fact, the one in charge of the operation was none other than Charles, all the information on that subject is kept with him."
"Was he telling the truth!" Danny snarled, "Were you the one in charge of stealing my memories from me!"
There was a long pause. Charles and Danny stared long and hard into each others eyes. "You're a smart kid, you should be able to tell."
Danny used the wall as support to slowly crawl up to his feet, "why didn't you tell me?"
At this, Charles let out a barking laugh, "you think I would just tell you that I was one of the people who ruined your life! I destroyed everything you had! I didn't have the heart to tell you that!"
At this, the corner of Danny's mouth turned to a smile. "I knew it." Danny reached into his pocket and pulled out a small piece of paper with only one small sentence on it: "Take care, kid." He tossed it forward, allowing it to flutter to the ground with the words facing up, "you sent this to me a little while back. Remember?"
"Of course." Charles answered honestly.
"You didn't want me to come back here. You wanted me to find a better life, right? You did care about me."
"Obviously I did, you brat!" Charles barked at Danny, "I thought of you as my own son! Even if it was only a few years...I still..." Charles held back what he was going to say.
Danny smiled the slightest bit, "I felt the same."
Charles shook his head, "no, if you knew the truth you wouldn't think of me that way. I don't deserve your respect or kindness whatsoever. I ruined everything for you."
"If it's true that you are the one who took away my memories, you can return them! Right? You can leave Zanar like the rest of us are planning to! You didn't ruin everything for me, you were there by my side the whole time I was here, you took care of me!" Danny took a few painful steps toward him. "You can choose a different life than this, Master!"
At this, Charles snarled, "I told you never to call me that! You are an ignorant child!"
"I care about you like my own family! I don't want to have to be your enemy any longer, Charles!" Danny felt strange calling his master by the name Charles. He had always referred to him as Master, and each time, Charles got mad.
"Do you want to know the truth, Danny!" Charles barked. This was the first time he had called Danny something other than 'kid' or 'boy'. "Did you ever find out what happened that day?"
Hearing Charles call him by his true name felt like both a warm embrace as well as a punch in the stomach. "What day?" Danny inquired, standing up as straight as he could.
"The day that your family was killed!" Charles yelled.
Danny could swear he saw a tear in Charles' eye. Danny's mouth opened slightly, "what do you mean? Of course I don't know about it...I don't remember it."
Charles raised one of his hands up and covered his face, inhaling and exhaling deeply for several moments. "I was there...I was there when your family was murdered..."
-5 years Previous-
It was easy to break into the house, not only was the front door unlocked, but the all the windows didn't seem to have high security. There was some odd security around the house, but it didn't seem to do anything to them at least. Having gotten a few details of the place, Charles knew that this family was a family of researchers; ghost researchers. That idea itself was almost laughable for Charles. In his hand, he held his gun, loaded and prepared to fire.
"Is the coast clear?" The man next to him asked as they slowly crept into the living room.
Charles pursed his lips with annoyance. The man next to him was wearing all white, which stood out way too much; also the man wouldn't shut up. Charles was worried that he might mess up the mission. He didn't understand why he had to go on this job with a man like this. But Charles didn't ask questions like that to his boss. He brought his index finger up to his lips to tell the man to be quiet.
Agent C was what the man was called, and Charles didn't care to know his real name.
Charles could hear noises from the kitchen. He narrowed his eyes. Is that Danny Phantom? From what I could tell, he was upstairs. Damn it, Agent C said that his family wasn't home! If it turns out to be someone else, we'll have no choice but to kill them. This is one of our only chances at capturing Phantom, anyone that stands in the way will be eliminated.
Agent C was the first to go forward and turn around the corner into the kitchen with his gun raised.
What the hell are you doing, you idiot! Is your way of killing someone to just walk right up to them and assume that everything will go well! Charles knew that there was no point to hiding himself anymore. He followed Agent C and also turned into the kitchen.
A woman wearing an odd blue jumpsuit and goggles stood there with a weapon in her hands. "Who the hell are you!" She spat coldly. "Answer me, now!" She raised the gun to eye level.
Agent C kept his own gun raised but replied, "We're not here to hurt your family, we just need your son."
At this, the woman tightened her grip on the weapon, Charles could see that she was serious about shooting them. This woman was a fighter. He knew that she wouldn't let up very easily.
"What do you want with Danny!"
Agent C replied, "Ma'am, that information is confidential. Now, we just-"
"You think I'll just let you take my son and leave!"
"Ma'am, your son is a serious threat! We're trying to help!" Agent C barked, "by keeping him here you are bringing danger to your family as well as the city!"
Charles glared at Agent C, you're telling her too much information!
"I won't let you hurt my family!" The woman grit her teeth and her body tightened, building up for an attack.
Charles bit the inside of his cheek and fired his gun. Neither Agent C nor the woman knew that Charles would do that. His Zanar gun created no noise. Nobody else in the house would know that anything was happening.
The woman dropped her weapon and brought her hands around her stomach to press against the wound that spilled with blood. She opened her mouth several times, but no sound escaped. The woman dropped to her knees, leaning over and still clutching her stomach. Charles walked forward until he was next to the woman and crouched down, "I'm sorry," he apologized, "We didn't realize that your entire family would be here. This wasn't our intention."
Tears began to spill from the corners of her eyes, "M-my son is not dangerous." She quietly said to Charles. "My son is a hero." Her lips twitched to a smile.
Charles raised his eyebrows, "from what I heard, his family had no idea he was half ghost."
"I…would be a terrible mother…if I didn't notice something like that…" She grunted in pain, blood trickled from her mouth and trailed down her chin.
Agent C walked up and stood next to Charles, "she won't live much longer." He loaded his gun, "might as well end it now."
"Wait-" Charles cringed when the gun was fired. The woman dropped to her side, blood soaking the kitchen floor around her. "What the hell are you doing! Do not do anything unless you check with me first!"
"We have a job to do, I don't have time for you to chit-chat with our targets." Agent C turned and walked out of the kitchen.
Muttering under his breath, Charles said "killing innocent civilians isn't part of our job!" He looked at the mother on the floor, "you did well to stand up for your family until the very end." He stood up slowly. That bastard! If he keeps doing things like this, it won't go so well for us!
Charles had barely stood up when he heard some commotion in the living room. In his mind, he hoped he would get a chance to shoot Agent C.
"Mom? Dad?" A girl's voice called out. "Guys? Are you here?"
Charles narrowed his eyes, damn it. Now the daughter is here. He rubbed his temples with his forefingers. He knew in his mind that it was only natural for them to kill the entire family, he was an assassin after all. But Charles liked to avoid killing people if possible.
"Who are you!" The girl barked.
Charles walked to the entrance of the kitchen and looked out, staying hidden from view of Agent C as well as staying out of view of the girl. She, unlike her mother, was wearing normal teenage clothes that consisted of blue jeans and a black shirt. Her long orange hair was held back by a blue headband. From where he stood, Charles could see Agent C holding a gun up to the girl.
"Impressive," Agent C smirked, "I wasn't expecting any resistance from you."
"Don't judge a book by its cover!" The girl attempted to kick but was much too slow. Agent C easily jumped back far enough to avoid being kicked and before the girl knew it, she was slammed against the wall with the gun pressed to her head and Agent C's free hand clasped her throat. "What do you want?" the girl demanded to know.
"I'm here for Danny Phantom."
Charles brought his palm up to his face, there you go again with telling the whole world what our mission is!
The girl's eyes widened, "what do you want from Danny!"
Agent C's grip on her throat tightened to the point that she couldn't breathe. "Even I don't know that answer, I'm just here on orders."
At this, Charles raised his eyebrows. He doesn't know anything? Earlier he told the mother that Danny Phantom was dangerous and a threat to the city…he pondered further. Or it could be that he knows the reason Danny Phantom is wanted, but he doesn't know what they're going to do to him. Even I don't know what they're going to do with that boy. The Guys in White don't tell us anything.
"Danny will defeat you!" The girl smirked, "my little bro' is strong! He won't lose to someone like you!" Tears began to spill from her eyes, "He'll defeat you! You can count on it!" She smiled with confidence even as tears streamed down her cheeks.
"You're so noisy." Agent C pulled the trigger on his gun. The girl's body fell limp body fell to the ground, blood splashed across the wall and pooled around her.
From behind the corner, Charles took a step back and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. He hated seeing innocent lives taken away, especially children. He stepped around the corner to face Agent C "how many more lives are you going to take before you're satisfied?"
Agent C reloaded his gun with a smile, "as many as it takes."
Agent C crouched down and scooped up the teenage girl's body.
"What the hell are you doing?" Charles grit his teeth.
"The ghost boy is upstairs, if we lure him down here, he'll know something is wrong the moment he sees his sister's body. I'll just take her to the basement. Then we can move the mother as well."
"I don't approve of your ridiculous ideas!"
"In this case, you work for me! Alright!"
It was technically true, the Guys in White were the ones that hired Zanar.
"Do what you want." Charles reluctantly said. He turned around and walked over to the book case on the other side of the room where a few pictures were standing upright in picture frames. In the pictures he could see a happy family close together, smiling brightly and creating memories with each moment. In the last couple minutes…we've completely destroyed those happy, special moments between them. He bit his lip. Damn it, I can't let my personal feelings get in the way. No matter how hard he tried, Charles wasn't able to get rid of the memories of his own past. And seeing such a happy family ripped apart like this made his heart ache.
Charles's ear twitched slightly. He jumped behind a nearby couch to hide from view. He could hear someone walk into the living room. It was a man, Charles was able to tell from the way the man was humming loudly. Thankfully, the man didn't walk into the kitchen. However, he headed over to the stairway toward the basement.
Don't go down there! He knew for certain that Agent C would finish what he started. Two dead, two alive. Soon, it would only be one alive. I shouldn't have taken this case. Charles told himself, this is too much.
For several minutes, Charles stayed behind the couch even though there was no one in the living room any longer. The man who had walked by had already gone into the basement.
"Hey, Z-2." Agent C called out.
Charles sighed and stood up from behind the couch, "someone else walked by here." He knew that he didn't need to tell Agent C that.
"I took care of the guy. He was much less of a hassle than the other two. I don't think he even noticed me firing the gun!" Agent C laughed.
"This isn't a game!" Charles stormed up to the man, "you can bet your ass that I'll do everything I can to have you punished for this! You killed everyone in this whole damn house!" He grabbed onto Agent C's shoulder, "go back to base! I'll bring Danny Phantom in. If I let you do it, you'd kill him in an instant!"
"Get your hand off me!" He pulled his shoulder back, "don't order me around."
Charles held up his gun, pointing it directly in between the man's eyes. "Leave or I'll kill you and drag your dead ass out of here!"
"What the hell has gotten into you! Have you finally lost it, Z-2!"
"Go!" He snarled.
Agent C backed up a few steps, "alright, alright. Take it easy. I'll head over and grab the van, you get the kid and I'll be back in exactly twenty minutes and we'll get out of here. Sound alright?"
Charles nodded and Agent C turned to leave the house. The moment the man was out of sight, Charles lowered his gun and looked at the carpet below his feet. Pull yourself together. He wiped the tears that threatened to fall from his eyes.
"Mom? Dad?" A voice called from upstairs.
Charles once again went and hid behind the couch. That's him. It has to be.
The boy quickened his pace and was nearly running down the stairs. "Mom? Dad? Jazz? Where are you?" He reached the bottom of the stairs and looked all around him. "Where are you guys-" The teen made his way over to the kitchen.
Then, the next thing Charles heard was the boy's horrified cries, "Oh god! Mom! Mom! Wake up!" Heavy, rapid breathing echoed through the whole house. "Damn it! Mom! Answer me!" He let out an ear-piercing wail of horror and disbelief.
There was a pause before the boy called out, "Dad!"
Wheezing with shock and horror, the boy began muttering to himself, "oh god. What do I do? What do I do? Mom. Wake up. Please wake up. You can't die! Who did this? How did they get in without me noticing? Damn it!"
Charles stood up and walked out from behind the couch to wait for the boy to come out of the kitchen. Charles put his gun away and pulled out a different, odd looking hand gun which was loaded with something other than bullets. His hand firmly grasped the gun. His eyes widened when he felt the room temperature drop several degrees, causing his hair to stand on end.
"Show yourself!" The boy screamed at the top of his lungs, his voice echoing throughout the house. Before long, the boy stumbled out of the kitchen, his body was engulfed in a dark green glow. "I'll kill you! Whoever you are! Get out here!" Tears streamed down the boy's face, his body convulsed uncontrollably. After only a few uneasy steps, the boy dropped to his hands and knees.
Charles walked forward from where he stood to come before the boy. His boots stopped only a foot from the boy's place. "So, you're the one they call Danny Phantom?" Charles asked. He's only a kid. Despite what I've just seen of his powers, I can't picture this kid being a threat to the entire city. Charles pointed his gun at the boy's head.
The kid on his hands and knees brought his head up to get a look at Charles but never got a chance to see his face; before he could, Charles pulled the trigger on his gun. Charles was given the gun, having been told to use this particular one on this kid, but didn't know exactly what it did.
From the barrel of the gun, a strange bullet rocketed forward, but rather than imbed itself into the boy's head and kill him, it seemed to go straight through his skull, going through his head without leaving a trace of a bullet wound. But some kind of wound was created, blood began to drip heavily from his nose, mouth and even his eyes which stained the carpet. Whatever the strange bullet was, it did what it was supposed to. The boy, Danny Phantom dropped to the ground like a rag doll.
Charles bent down and picked up the strange bullet, observing it in his hands for several seconds before placing it in his pocket; then he proceeded to scoop up the teen gently in his arms.
To his surprise, the boy opened his mouth and quietly muttered "I'm sorry." It was barely audible, but Charles managed to hear it and his heart gave a pang of guilt.
"Are you apologizing to your family?" Charles asked the boy, "I understand how you feel kid." He spoke to the limp boy, knowing that he wasn't able to hear him, "I lost my family too, several years ago." Charles shook his head, trying to clear away any painful thoughts, "I'm sorry for everything, kid. I know you didn't ask for any of this." Charles proceeded to walk out of the house, carrying the boy, and refused to look back at the home of the family he had just helped destroy.
A/N: And here's the authors note you are ALL looking forward too. Here we go:
I'M SO SORRY EVERYONE! I am very, very, very sorry! You all have every right to be mad at my absence. I really did take way too long to update this story. For a while I was a full-time college student, right now it is winter break and I of course have some time off. Thank you to those of you who sent me messages telling me to update. Haha, I don't get angry at them whatsoever, in fact I love hearing from you guys, I like knowing that there are a few people out there who read my stories and enjoy them!
I really hope this 'waiting several months' doesn't become a habit of mine. I do love writing, and I am still a huge DP fan.
Thank you all so much! You're amazing! Review if you feel like it, let me know what you think. Criticism is welcome! Oh and if any of you have any questions about the story up until now, I am more than willing to answer them!
Take care, and of course, Merry Christmas (or Happy Holidays)!