So this is a Pitch Pearl one-shot I wrote with a good friend of mine. She won't let me mention her name to you all, but I'm sure you can figure it out. =] She's amazing at angst.

Enjoy!

Suddenly out of no where, a floating ghost boy flew into the teenager's room. Danny was surprised by his sudden entrance, but he dismissed that feeling when he noticed Phantom's bleeding body. In shock, he pulled the ghost down to this bed and instantly brought out the first aid kit.

"Dude – what the – Phantom! What happened?" he cried. The ghost gave no immediate response, other than a weak moaning sound, his head rolling back and his body doubling over in pain. A horrible grinding sound emanated from Phantom's right side - and Danny cringed in visible horror as he turned his companion over to assess the damage: a rib, maybe more, was broken.

"We need... to get you down to the lab... somewhere... anywhere! I don't have anything here to help ghosts." Danny was at a loss of what to do; the ghost was completely incoherent as he mumbled a few words back to his human. The boy decided to take the ghost downstairs without a response. Carefully, he lifted the bleeding, weightless spirit into his arms, walking as fast as he could without bringing more pain to the now unconscious soul.

He set Phantom down on one of the tables lining his parents' cabinets, frantically looking around the lab for anything that would help the ghost... nothing. If anything, every object in a ten-foot radius was meant to harm ghosts rather than help them, so any sort of ghostly first aid kit was out of the question. "Damn it," he whispered, his eyes turning worriedly to his companion. The worst injury was to his side, and that could probably be fixed by... setting the broken bones... "Phantom - can you hear me?" Danny gently tapped the side of his counterpart's face, sighing in relief when the ghost seemed to be brought back into the present. "I – I need to fix your ribs, it's going to hurt..."

Phantom opened his eyes slowly until he noticed Danny staring hesitantly at his broken figure. The boy was no doctor, but he wasn't going to risk losing his beloved partner. "Just... stay still, okay? You're going to be okay..." As soon as Danny laid a hand on Phantom's bleeding, bare chest, the ghost's eyes shot open. An unbearable amount of pain burned from his lower chest as Danny pressed his palm as hard as he could into the glowing skin. He yelped like an animal, but his human counterpart hushed him, reassuring him that he will be okay. While Danny desperately struggled to put the rib back into place, the ghost moaned in agony, tears rolling down his face. The afterlife wasn't supposed to be this painful... right?

The pain was burning, white-hot, and all-consuming. Phantom gripped the edges of the table like it was the last thing anchoring him to the earth, his teeth bared and his eyes squeezed shut as Danny struggled to slam the grossly-uneven rib back into place. Just when he thought it could get no worse, when the pain would never, ever end, a loud snap! was heard - followed by a wave of throbbing that dulled back into tolerability. Phantom shuddered and trembled, his forehead slick with cold sweat, until he collapsed back onto the table. Already he could feel the ghostly endorphins ebbing, masking the ache into something bearable. As Danny wiped the sweat away with a towel and laid a reassuring kiss on his forehead, the ghost felt himself drifting off into exhaustion. A small smile crossed his mouth. "Thanks," he slurred.

"Phantom... who... what could have done this to you? I need to know," Danny whispered to the ghost, petting his hair and pushing strands of stray, white hair from his eyes. "I'll kill them... I swear to God..." The ghost could barely turn his head to face him, but managed to get a few words out.

"Guys...White...They caught me... fought back... Ghostly wail... barely made it..." He gasped in pure exhaustion as he suddenly realized he was fading fast into unconsciousness. "I had...to keep ... moving... Danny would help me... He always does..." The ghost closed his eyes and drifted off into slumber, there on the counter of the basement lab. Danny was left there deep in thought.

A mixture of anger and fear welled inside Danny's stomach, and he took a shaky breath. If the government had captured Phantom this easily, there was no telling what risks a simple flight outside would entail. Banishing the worry from his mind, the boy grabbed a nearby first-aid kit (which were always present in such a hazardous part of the house). He picked through the box's contents until he found some disinfectant and gauze, which he used to tend to the bloody cuts and scrapes that littered the ghost's body.

Eventually, the wounds had been cleaned and wrapped. All that was left was for the ghost to get his rest, so Danny carefully picked him up and carried him up both flights of stairs to his bedroom, where he gently set him down on his bed.

As he set Phantom down into bed, making sure the sheets covered his shivering body completely, Danny wondered how he'd ever be able to let this continue on. The Guys in White were getting smarter every day, and it just wasn't becoming safe for ghosts like Phantom to wander the skies alone and unintended. Danny never wanted to risk losing his ghost, especially to the slimy hands of the government. Phantom would have to chill at his house until he could figure out what to do with him. He watched silently as Phantom took deep breaths in, slightly smiling from relief. His wounds were treated and with his human at his side, he was in peace. For a couple of minutes, Danny was bent over his bed, petting his head gently, when suddenly the ghost's stomach growled. He was hungry.

Danny couldn't help but smile – it was obvious how hungry his counterpart was, and that was something that could certainly be fixed. He planted a small kiss on Phantom's forehead, then left the room, closing his door softly.

Almost giddy with excitement at the prospect of taking care of his ghost, Danny bounded down the stairs two at a time, then rushed into the kitchen. But he came to a sudden halt in front of the pantry, opening the door and staring doubtfully at the cans and boxes of food inside. What was a ghost supposed to eat?

"Let's try something simple," he muttered to himself, digging around in the pantry. A few moments later, a loaf of bread, peanut butter, grape jelly, and a paper plate all found their way onto the kitchen counter. Danny took his time in setting up the meal, even making the spread on the sandwich as smooth and even as possible - he wanted to impress Phantom, didn't he?

He added a small pile of Cheez-Its for good measure, then set about pouring a glass of water from the fridge. Diet Coke was tempting, as was milk, but Phantom needed his rest, and all the water he could get.

With great joy, Danny took the plate and glass of water up the stairs to where the ghost was resting. Phantom would love this snack. He loves everything that Danny gives him. The door creaked open and Phantom turned his head toward the direction of the sound. In came a smiling Danny, holding the plate close to his chest as he pushed the door closed with his foot. "I brought you some food," Danny started, setting the plate on the bed stand and pulling up a chair next to the ghost. "It's peanut butter and jelly... I hope it satisfies you..." Phantom looked over at the neatly made sandwich, his mouth starting to water. "No, this will definitely do Danny, thank you so much." The young boy pulled a piece of the sandwich off and fed it to Phantom; the ghost was in no state to get up from his bed. While he munched the food away, Danny's stomach gurgled in protest. Paranoid, the ghost stopped chewing and asked, "Are you hungry too, Danny?"

"Wh-me? Oh, no, I'm fine!" Danny insisted with a nervous laugh, his cheeks flushing a little. He tried to hide the damn response by tilting his head down, letting his bangs fall over his eyes, but the ghost somehow managed to catch it either way.

"If you say so," Phantom muttered with a smile. "Hey, pass me the plate. I think I can sit up and feed myself, thanks."

Danny's face only turned redder – which, obviously, the other noticed, bursting out a small chuckle. "You know, you're kind of cute when you do that."

"C-cute? What, me?" Danny asked the ghost as his face turned even redder. With an embarrassed chuckle, he handed the plate of food to his counterpart. Phantom crossed his legs as he took another large bite of the sandwich, swallowing it down with some water. "Yeah, and the way your face can change colors so quickly. I wish I could do that." Danny couldn't help but smile. The boy never knew of a ghost that could actually tolerate humans.

God damn you, Danny thought with a laugh, doing everything he possibly could to try and lessen the awkwardness surrounding the fact that his blushing was being forced into the spotlight. He fiddled with his fingers as the ghost finished up his food, glancing around his bedroom and thinking of a topic to switch to. Finally, he found one - and it hit him in surprise, and a touch of fear. "Er - I just realized something," he muttered nervously. At Phantom's confused look, he went on. "What if Mom and Dad see you?"

Phantom took a moment to answer that. He sipped his water contemplatively, then stared down at his fingers. "That's... a good question," he said quietly.

"You're gonna have to stay hidden... Okay?" Danny said with worry. The last thing he wanted was his parents finding out that he was harboring a ghost in the house. Danny didn't worry about the punishment they'd give him, because he could manage a month without video games or hanging out with Sam and Tucker. What really scared him is what his parents would do to the ghost once they found him. Phantom would be destroyed for sure. Dissected and studied first, of course. "But I can't keep myself invisible all day... Do you know how much strength it takes to stay that way for long periods of time?" The ghost questioned, finishing the last piece of his sandwich.

Danny was entirely lost with what to do. Surely his parents wouldn't pop into his room spontaneously without a knock right? "Better safe than sorry... We need to put you somewhere. I doubt you're up for living in my closet, right?" Danny chuckled handing him the rest of his water. Phantom stared with disapproval.

"No. No, I'm not." The ghost took the last few gulps of his glass and gratefully handed it back to Danny, then settled down under the covers. He rolled on his side with a wince, facing his counterpart with a worried look. "Maybe the closet's the only option if there's nothing else to choose from."

"I'm not making you stay in my closet!" An exasperated sigh slipped through Danny's lungs, and he ran a hand through his hair. "And I don't want to leave you here alone... with my parents... while I'm at school. What if they find you up here?" Anxiety ate its way through the boy's heart as he drummed his fingers anxiously across his knee. "What if they find you and I can't get to you in time? I don't know what I'd ever do ... if anything ever happened to you..." Danny whispered to the ghost, resting on hand on his forehead.

Phantom pulled the covers away from his unnaturally cold body and held onto Danny's shoulder. "Hey... don't cry... Nothing will happen to me," he comforted the boy, putting a finger to his chin. They stared into each other's eyes for a moment, before Phantom positioned himself to face his counterpart. "We're going to figure a way out of this, okay? We'll both be together through it all."

Danny shook his head with a smile, swallowing away the lump in his throat that had threatened to crawl up into his eyes. "Sorry," he mumbled, wiping his eyes a little. "I'm such a wuss."

"Don't worry about it," his ghost said with a smile – a smile that managed to melt Danny's heart and send a grin onto his (yet-again) blushing face. "Like I said – I'll be fine! There's no way I'll be reckless or anything. I'll manage to hide..."

Danny sighed, taking Phantom's hand and playing absentmindedly with his fingers. "Alright... Just don't even think about getting out of that bed until you've rested," he said with a fake glare. "I don't need you reopening a wound and bleeding all over my floor or anything."

Hey," the ghost chuckled, "you're the one who woke me up in the first place! That sandwich-"

A knock on the door – causing them both to freeze. "Danny?"

Danny couldn't move. Opening his mouth a little, he glanced at Phantom – then back to the door.

It was his mother.

Before even a word as simple as "Hide!" could bubble up from his throat, the door opened, his parent standing there with a basket of laundry in her hands. "Hey, hon, why aren't you in school? You didn't sound sick this morning."

"Uh...H-hey mom!" Danny started with hesitation and awkwardness. "I just woke up a little late for school and wasn't feeling that great..I figured I should, stay home to catch up on some homework."

The invisible Phantom didn't dare move a muscle as the boy's mother walked into the room to set a pile of folded clothes near his bed. Danny bit his lip in paranoia as she pulled apart the blinds at his window inches away from where Phantom was sitting. "Well, what are you doing out of bed? I don't want you to get sicker! Here..." she pulled the Phantom's sheets from underneath him, only to send his back falling backwards, hitting the headboard of the bed with a small thump! Maddie's head jerked upward to the sound. "What was that?"

"Tha- uh, nothing. I-it was nothing." Danny couldn't keep the growing anxiety out of his voice. His heart was pounding like a drum during a rock concert - if Phantom returned to visibility while his mother was here...

No. No, don't go there, he snapped to himself, quickly standing up despite the growing look of confusion on his mother's face. "I'm uh… yeah, bed. Right. I'll just, uh, l-lie down; I need my rest, could you leave?" Idiot! She's never going to believe me/

In his haste, Danny never noticed the indentation on his mattress where he plopped himself onto his bed. He hit something – hard. A pained yelp – more like a scream, really – pierced the room, and in horrifying realization that he'd put nearly all his weight on the injured ghost, Danny scrambled off the bed, his eyes wide, just as Phantom lost what little control over his invisibility that he'd had.

Danny's head whipped around to see the ghost doubled over in the fetal position and clutching his side with a grimace of agony. There was a surprised gasp from behind him – his mother! Frozen in shock and horror, both boys lifted their eyes to Maddie's.

Nothing happened at first. The woman stood there, blinking for a moment – and then it hit her. There was a ghost in her son's bed. She snapped her arm back to retrieve a pistol hanging at her waist, knocking over the laundry basket on Danny's bed in the process. "You!" She screamed, aiming the deadly gun right at Phantom's forehead.

Phantom just lay completely frozen next to Danny on the bed his eyes locked on the woman that was ready to blast him to bit and pieces. What luck, half an hour of living in Danny's house and they were already caught. Danny, immobilized by fear that his mother would shoot, moved his eyes back and forth from Maddie to Phantom. "M-mom... don't shoot... He doesn't mean any har-"

"DANNY, what is this GHOST doing in YOUR room? Better question, why is it PHANTOM?"

Danny stayed completely silent for a good moment of time, unable to form words. He couldn't believe this was happening. Not now, not already. It was too soon for any more complications. "JAAACK! GHOST!" Maddie called out, in order to bring her husband rushing into the boy's bedroom without invitation.

"Get behind me RIGHT now Danny, we're taking this thing down to the lab." Danny exchanged glances with the frightened ghost, desperately trying to find a solution to this problem. And then Danny regained control of his body just enough to come between Maddie's ectogun and Phantom's shivering body.

Phantom stood completely frozen next to Danny on the bed his eyes locked on the woman that was ready to blast him to bit and pieces. What luck, half an hour of living in Danny's house and they were already caught. Danny, immobilized by fear that his mother would shoot, moved his eyes back and forth from Maddie to Phantom.

"S-stop," he ordered - but his voice was so small, so quiet, that it could barely be heard over the pounding of his father's footsteps up the stairs...

"What? Where is i- Phantom!" Jack barged into the room, armed with a frightening-looking gun as well, obviously eager to take on a specter in his own home. But Phantom's presence shocked even him, so much that he even let his attention wander away from the ghost and to his son. "Danny – what is this spook doing in your room?"

"We'll get to that later," Maddie interjected, her eyes glittering with silent fury as she looked at her son. "Danny, get away from it. Now."

"N-no," the boy whispered, swallowing as he moved even further onto the bed, almost blocking Phantom completely from view and nearly pressing the ghost up against the headboard with his back. "Stop. M-mom, listen, he's harmless-"

"/Harmless/?" Maddie snapped, cocking her gun with a high-pitched whine that sent spikes of fear straight through Danny's heart. "It's a /ghost/, Danny. Get away from it! Now!"

There was no time for Danny to answer- Jack wasn't allowing it. Faster than one would expect, the large man barreled forward, latching onto Danny's arm and roughly pulling him aside, out of harm's way. "Maddie, grab it!"

Hardly a beat passed before Maddie was on the other side of the bed, slamming Phantom into the nightstand while pressing her gun professionally to the side of his head. "Get up. Now," she hissed, quietly enough for only the two of them to hear.

"Phantom! Fly away, do something, please!" Danny cried out desperately, even as his father pulled him farther away from the terrified ghost. "Please... Just fly... please..." he muttered, tears making their way down his cheeks.

Both of his parents had their eyes locked on the ghost, who was still too frightened to move. From his watery eyesight, Danny could see that the ghost's chest was heaving up and down at a tremendous rate. He was shaking like an abandoned puppy in the middle of a thunderstorm, weak and defenseless.

"You will be more than regretful for floating into this household once we're through with you. Get off of the bed /now/." Ever so slowly, Phantom attempted to slowly raise himself from off the bed. He couldn't help but let out a soft whine as Jack powered up his ecto-rifle. Danny could do nothing else but bawl his eyes out, hoping that this would all be settled without any violence. He never saw Phantom so scared before.

"Move!" Phantom gave a gasp of pain as Maddie slammed her gun into the ghost's back, sending him stumbling onto the floor. A series of coughs dragged themselves from his lungs - yet she did not take any sympathy toward him, as she gave him a rough kick. "I said move!"

"I'm sorry," Phantom whispered, his bright green eyes watering with pain and absolute terror as he gazed up at Danny, who struggled vigorously against his father's hold. "I'm too weak..." Despite his counterpart's protests, there was no way he could just jump out the window and fly to safety. He was just too weak.

"Phantom – no! Go! Dad, get the hell OFF!" Danny lunged against his father's hold, but it was no use. Maddie herded the ghost toward the bedroom door, forcing him to scramble back - but it soon became clear that he simply couldn't stand up, so she grabbed his arm, jerking him up on his feet. Phantom cried out in pain, tears finally leaking from his eyes... the action obviously put stress on his broken ribs, and Danny couldn't imagine the pain his counterpart was feeling.

"I've had enough of this," Maddie growled. She stalked out of the bedroom, dragging the weakly struggling ghost behind her. "Jack, meet me down in the lab."

"Sorry, son, but it's a ghost." Pushing Danny aside onto his bed rather roughly, Jack turned to give him a hard glare. "Stay here. You're grounded."

When Danny was finally alone, when he couldn't hear Phantom's strangled cries anymore, he collapsed to his knees in defeat. He should have known that he couldn't dare keep a ghost in the house for long. They caught him, and it was all his fault. It's all my goddamn fault...Why did I jump on the bed...God, why couldn't I have been smarter about all of this...

Time seemed endless. Suddenly a half-thought streaked into his mind, festering until it became the only thing he could focus on. It was stupid… reckless… but Danny was desperate. Eyes snapping open, he got up on his shaking feet and ran down to the kitchen, his mind half-tainted with delirious horror.

He almost tripped on his way down the stairs, turning as quickly as his body would let him into the kitchen. Instantly his attention focused to the block of knives that rested near the microwave. He took the longest one from out of its holding place, and keeping the tip pointing away from him, he walked down the steps to the basement where Phantom was being held.

"Idiots for keeping the door unlocked," Danny whispered to himself as he reached the bottom flight of stairs. It didn't take long to locate where Phantom was being held - the ghost's screams rang loud and clear as soon as he'd passed the soundproof walls into the lab. Tears sprung to his eyes instantly as he walked in on the sight. His parents were holding the struggling ghost down on a steel table, with Maddie working on restraining his limbs with thick, heavy leather straps.

"Mom! Dad! STOP!" Danny rushed forward with the knife, sheer panic dominating his actions. His parents glanced up at him, Maddie freezing half-way in tying the ghost down, her eyes wide at the object her son held. His hands trembling, he brought the butcher's knife up to his throat. "S-stop or I'll h-hurt myself!"

"Danny!" Tears in his eyes, Phantom lifted his head up gazed in shock and fear at Danny - and more importantly, the knife. "Danny – no! Put that down!" His chest heaved, sweat ran down his forehead, and his face occasionally squinted in agony.

No...I'm not gonna let my parents take away the person I love the most!" He declared at the top of his lungs, still keeping the knife in his hand close to his skin. His parents dropped what they were doing and looked at each other in confusion before turning back to Danny. Maddie put her hands back to her side, scared she would push Danny into hurting himself.

"...Love...? What...? Danny, you're saying you love a ghost?" Phantom couldn't help but stare in shock, mouth wide open, a look of confusion imprinted on his face.

The boy took a few steps closer to Phantom, before replying back. "Y-yeah... I love him... I couldn't ever live without him... It's almost like h-he's a part of me... I won't let you take him away..."

"Danny..." Maddie shook her head. "Just... put the knife down, honey. We can talk about this."

"Not until you let him go."

"Son," Jack warned.

"No!"

Phantom turned his head weakly from where he lay, his breathing labored and pained. Lifting his head up (with great effort), he looked at his human counterpart with frightened green eyes. "Danny, do as they say. Just... please... drop the knife..."

"I won't let them do this to you." In warning, Danny suddenly ran a short, thin line across his neck with the sharp blade, just enough to make Maddie yelp in worry. A tiny rivulet of blood oozed out. Eventually her eyes began to water, becoming more and more frantic with what choice she should make.

"Danny, please don't do this...Stop hurting yourself... I can't... do what you want me to do..." She turned over to Jack, her face obviously torn, unsure of what to do next. Danny began to grow more afraid. To his parents, was capturing and dissecting the ghost more important than their son's safety and life?

Minutes in complete silence passed by as Phantom tugged as the restraints holding him down, hoping he could fly away and save both his and Danny's life. No use. "Please... Danny... God, why do you care so much?" As blood slowly trickled down his throat, he carefully walked his way down to the table where Phantom was being restrained and held his nearest hand.

"Because I love you... And… heh, I guess love makes you do crazy things." They smiled as Danny's parents continued exchanging glances with each other.

Jack set aside the last leather strap from his hold. "Maybe... Maybe we should listen..."

Reluctance evident in every inch of her face, Maddie hesitated – then withdrew her hands from the deadly-looking tools on the rolling tray beside the examination table, and quietly undid the leather straps keeping Phantom's limbs restrained. She looked up at her husband and gave him a single nod, and he too began to un-restrain the ghost.

Danny noted the way his parents' shoulders slumped in relief when he lowered the steak knife from his throat. A tiny sting followed in its wake, along with a small trickle of blood – but it was just a prick.

Danny set the knife aside and gently pulled his ghost off of the table the instant the last strap had been undone. Silently he brought Phantom into his arms, turning his back on his parents, ignoring them. He swiftly left the lab without so much as a glance behind them and carried him up the stairs, across the kitchen, and into the living room with his tongue in his cheek, not even making eye contact with Phantom.

As fast as his legs could take him, he made his way to living room sofa and lowered the ghost, wincing at how weak and utterly pitiful he looked. Any more of these problems and Phantom would sure have lost his energy completely. The Guys in White electrocuted and blasted him with weapons, his parents had uncaringly dragged him down to the basement in pure agony, and even Danny did his fair share of damage when he accidently jumped on him.

There was only so much someone could take in one day. As the ghost attempted to get up from his resting place, Danny softly put a hand to his chest, pushing him back down on the sofa. Phantom moaned in protest, but eventually accepted that he saved him. "Why would you do something... So foolish Danny? Things will never be the same again with your parents."

It was true, the boy realized with a slight start. But he banished the thought. As long as you're safe…

Ignoring Phantom's remarks, he covered the ghost's fragile body with a blanket and tucked him in to the best of his ability. "I love you... I'll take care of you, okay?" He lied down next to the sofa near the ghost's face. He could care less about his parents at this point. All that mattered was his companion.

The boy shuddered as he ran his fingers gently through Phantom's hair, a lump of tears creeping up his throat. He'd threatened to kill himself. In front of his own parents. What had he been thinking? Now they probably thought he was mentally unstable or something... and now they were going to drag him off to some doctor or mental institution.

Danny's thoughts were broken by the sound of footsteps going quietly up the basement stairs. The boy's head whipped around, and he tensed, moving slightly in front of Phantom so he could block the ghost from view. His parents came into view from behind the door, both having worried looks on their faces. "Danny...?" Maddie asked softly. Her gaze shifted to the ghost lying on the couch. "Can we... talk?"

"Sure... But not here... He needs his rest," the boy said, eyes glancing back to the ghost who appeared to have fallen asleep. Poor thing was through way too much... he keeps getting pulled out of sleep...

Two deeply-concerned parents nodded as they motioned toward the kitchen. Danny followed them in silence, his head bent down, and his hands in his pockets. This is going to be awkward... When they were in the kitchen, away from Phantom's range of hearing, Maddie suddenly rested a hand on Danny's shoulder, pushing him down into a chair.

Jack was too deep into his thoughts of past events that he stared into space, until Maddie began to talk. "Danny...Please, you need to tell us everything you've been keeping from us...Who is Phantom to you?"

Danny could only fidget in his chair, desperately trying to come up with an answer. "Well? I-I mean, we knew that you supported the ghost... but... didn't know... you had relations... with it..."

His fingers suddenly clenched. "He's not an it. Stop calling him that. He's different from the other ghosts...he's almost /human/...Why is it so bad that I'm friends with a ghost?"

he mother put a hand to her forehead and she sighed deeply. "That's what I'm talking about, Danny. Are you sure you're just friends with him?"

"I-I... er..." Danny let a hand migrate to the back of his neck, where he rubbed it nervously. "That's the thing... I don't... exactly... know..." God, this was so hard. He couldn't just tell them he loved his own ghost counterpart more than platonically – he he wasn't that kind of person, though! He liked girls; he swooned over Paulina, he had hidden feelings for Sam... he wasn't gay.

...was he?

"You don't know...?"

His mother's voice broke him from his thoughts. The tumult of confusion he agonized over was too much to bear at once. Swallowing, Danny unconsciously pressed his back into the chair, leaning away from his mother when she placed a hand on his shoulder. "I don't... Ugh, it's hard to explain, Mom... I..."

"Son, if you like other guys, that's... nothing to be ashamed of," his father suddenly spoke up. Jack shifted uncomfortably, obviously torn over this as much as Danny was. "We're... a little angry and... confused you kept this from us – but it's because we don't want you getting hurt." The man glanced over into the living room, his mind obviously drifting to the ghost sleeping on the couch. "Phantom is, well... a ghost. It – he is dangerous. We're just concerned-"

"There's nothing to be concerned about!" Danny suddenly snapped, standing up. "Look - I know you two care, and - that's great... but us two... well, we - we've been hangin' out for weeks. Phantom would /never/ hurt me... it hurts me inside when you talk like he will."

Danny's body began to shake after his last sentence. All these secrets being revealed all at once... It couldn't be real. Even if his parents did find out about Phantom in the house, he didn't expect he'd have to explain to them his relationship with the ghost boy. It all felt too close for comfort, but he knew he had to get his parents to listen to him. Phantom wasn't just a ghost; he was a ghost that Danny cared for deeply. They had to understand.

"We're sorry...son. It's just...You see..." Jack cut off, his mind too lost to process any sort of reply. He sighed and turned away, unable to form a sentence.

"What your father is trying to say," Maddie broke in, "is that our science has always proved that ghosts are malevolent, hostile creatures. We always thought they had no emotions, no feelings... that... that they possess the minds of the living. How can we be so sure that Phantom won't fly off after he's taken everything away from you?" As his parents looked off to make sure that the sleeping ghost was still on the sofa, Danny ran two shaking hands through his hair.

"Mom...it's called love," the boy snapped back, deciding that if he was going to keep Phantom, he'd have to be assertive. "After everything he's done for this town, for me, how can I not trust him?" Before Maddie could reply back, Danny cut her off. "Why can't you put aside your beliefs just for me...? Just this once? I love him... Why can't you trust him? Trust me?" For the umpteenth time that day, tears slid down his face. He didn't even bother to brush them aside; he wanted his mom and dad to see how important this was for him. He allowed weak little gasps to jump from his throat in an effort to guilt-trip his parents. "Please let him stay...? I'll c-clear up all those misunderstandings... j-just please do this for me..."

Maddie glanced upward to her husband as he laid a hand on her shoulder. "Well, Mads?"

Maddie was silent for a painfully long moment. The entire house was silent save for the occasional gasp or sniffle from Danny. Her face torn with indecision, she looked at her son - looked into his watering eyes, at the sheer desperateness that swam within his irises. Finally, she released a heavy, relinquished sigh from her lungs.

"He's not a guest. Either your father or I will watch him at all times. He's not to be alone with you for any length of time until we both have trusted him..."

A grin was inching across Danny's face before his mother could even finish her grudge-sounding statement. He leapt forward and embraced her, more tears streaming down his cheeks - but they were tears of relief. "Thank you," he whispered, leaning into his father as well. "Thank you – thank you..."

"Yeah ...you're welcome sweetie..." Maddie quietly replied, returning the hug. "For now, go to your room and get some rest. We'll watch the gho- Phantom."

For the first time that day, Danny felt like everything would be okay. As he walked out of the kitchen and up the stairs, he shot one last glance at the sleeping ghost. You're going to be safe Phantom...I'll take care of you... He could hear the water running from the kitchen – maybe his mother soaking a towel for Phantom? – as he closed the door, comforted with the fact that his ghost was okay.

A smile settled on his face as he shut his bedroom door, proceeding to pick up the small mess his parents had caused during the scuffle earlier. For once, everything seemed like it would be okay.

At least, until he heard Phantom scream from downstairs.