Author's Note: This is extremely important. This is a sequel! If you haven't read the first story (A Helping Hand) there will be things you don't understand and I will not pity you… Ok maybe a little bit. Anyways, you have been warned. I do not own Danny, Ember, Jazz, or Walker. I do however own Echo, Henry, and Bill. Let's see did I miss anything? Sequel… don't own… do own… No I think that's it. Alrighty then! Without further ado here is A Helping Hand Part Two!
A Helping Hand: Part Two – Chapter One
(Walkers Prison: Maximum Security Level)
Henry floated alongside his veteran partner Bill. He had just been approved to work at the prison as a guard and sure enough as his first duty he pulled Max Security watch. The stoic ghost beside him grumbled to himself about something Henry could only guess at. The hallway they traveled down was long and pretty eerie. Even for a ghost. As they passed their fourth guarded door they arrived to see two other guards standing outside the fifth and final door.
"Ugh. Finally Bill! You're twenty minutes late! We should've been relieved at six!" One of the guards yelled angrily.
Bill snorted. He had been dead for far too long to let this punk push him around. "Oh I'm so sorry I took up your precious time but Walker wanted to see me." He said sarcastically narrowing his view and getting close to the foolish ghost. "You got a problem? Go tell him yourself."
The ghost stared at Bill contemplating whether it was worth the risk asking the warden if he was lying or not. He finally conceded and shifted his gaze towards the new ghost. "Who's the kid?"
"New recruit. Jessie or something." Bill said obviously not caring enough to get Henry's name right.
"Uh my name's Henry sir." The recruit spoke up.
"Whatever. Just stand over there." He said pointing to the left side of the door. Henry complied and the door locked behind the two ghosts essentially making them the first line of defense if whatever they were holding in there got out. Speaking of which, nobody had told him what they were guarding.
"Hey Bill?" He asked.
"Yeah kid?" The older ghost responded not moving his eyes to look at him.
"I was wondering… What exactly are we guarding?" Henry asked.
Bill's mouth twitched a bit as he looked over at the guard, then he went back to staring at the door in front of them. "You don't need to worry about that."
Henry opened his mouth to voice an objection to the answer he had received but he soon realized the conversation was over so he dropped the subject allowing his naturally curious mind to wander. "What in Pariah could possibly be bad enough to be put in here?" Henry thought.
(Behind the Door: Inside the Thermos)
Echo stared into the empty blackness that was his prison. Since his battle with the young halfa his wounds had healed over, including his ear drums. In fact it had been a few months since he was stuffed unceremoniously into this cylindrical jail and the only reason why he wasn't trying to escape now was because he had already spent his first week attempting to break out. The effort left him exhausted and the container was none the worse for wear. Apparently his jail somehow sapped a good amount of his strength keeping him from being able to do any real damage to it.
So, over time, his tactics changed. From brute force to a subtle escape. He had made several attempts to get out during the first few times they fed him his allotted ectoplasmic rich food. He shivered. Simply thinking about that vile food made him want to vomit. Echo craved energy. Energy in its purest form. A ghost's ectoplasm. That was what really charged and strengthened him.
But once again his thoughts turned back to escaping and then revenge. This was his cycle. All day, every day. Food, escape, and revenge. Suddenly, his ears perked up. Despite the iron confines surrounding him, his hearing was still excellent. He pressed his head up against the side and was able to make out a few voices. That was Fred or the whiner as Echo liked to call him. Then a deeper voice. "Aha Bill." He murmured to himself. "Still curmudgeonly as ever I hear. Although I must say it's good to hear your voice."
And then a new voice appeared. This caught his attention. Echo closed his eyes and listened intently. He could just barely make out what was being said. "Henry?... Hmm." He said to himself as he leaned back. Walker couldn't possibly be foolish enough to send a recruit down here. Could he? "This might work in my favor… If I play this correctly… Yessss. This will work." Echo whispered. As a plan formulated in his head he wondered silently to himself if Bill's ectoplasm had improved with age.
(Amity Park: Fentonworks Nine P.M.)
Danny was laying down on top of the observatory enjoying the cool night air. It was a clear night for once with bright stars shining through the black sky. He watched them intently, searching for the constellations he knew so well. His years of dreaming of becoming an astronaut had given him the knowledge to pick out the figures that floated through the night sky.
First was Ursa Major, an easy enough one to pick out and not far from it was Ursa Minor. And in between those two laid the long row of stars known as Draco the Great Serpent. Across the sky he found Taurus, Orion, and Pisces. He closed his eyes and smiled to himself. Only two things could bring him this kind of peace. The first was this. A small wisp of cold air escaped his mouth but before he could sit up to look for the offending ghost a pair of soft lips came over his sending a warm and tingling sensation through him. And there was the other.
He opened his eyes to see a ghost floating just above him. Her flaming hair swirled above her, just barely illuminating the area around them. Bright green eyes watched him with amusement. She smiled. "Penny for your thoughts Baby pop?"
Danny reached up and grabbed her shoulders. He gently pulled down until she was resting on top of him. One of his arms wrapped around her back while he stroked her hair with his other hand. Ember rested her head on his chest wrapping her own arms under his shoulders. "Not that I'm complaining but how did you get out of the ghost zone this time?" Danny asked her smiling.
She looked up at him and said. "Hey is it my fault your dad made that thing so easy to go through?"
"Ember." Danny said prompting her to tell him.
She sighed. "I know you want to plug up every hole out of the ghost zone, but I like being able to come see you when I want to."
"You could always teleport out." He suggested.
"You know I hate doing that. I mean what if I do it in the middle of your living room? Your mom and I aren't exactly on the best of terms." She replied. When Danny remained silent she sat up on his chest and asked. "Speaking of which when are you going to tell them?"
"It's not that easy. I mean I've been keeping this from them for a long time. I have no idea how they're going to react." He responded looking away from her.
Ember shook her head and tilted Danny's face back towards hers. She leaned in and planted a small kiss on his lips. "You do need to tell them at some point. Before they find out on their own."
The halfa opened his mouth to argue but the ghost girl kissed him once again. "That's all I'm going to say about it tonight. Just think about it ok?" She said.
He smiled and nodded as she smiled back, laying on his chest again. "So what were you doing up here?" She asked.
"Thinking." He replied simply.
"About?" Ember asked tracing a single finger down his chest.
Danny stayed quiet for a second then said. "Remember how I told you I wanted to be an astronaut?" She nodded waiting for him to continue. "This is where I go to forget."
Ember looked up at him confused at what he had said. Whatever he was trying to say it was obviously important.
Danny sat up bringing her with him slowly. The girl shifted her position so she was sitting next to him. "Not about wanting to go into space but about… It's just… There are so many things I'm responsible for. Half of which I never wanted to be. On top of school, my job, and chores I'm "the great Danny Phantom"!" He said flexing the pointer and ring fingers of both his hands in a gesture that universally meant air quotes.
"You see out there, I've become Amity Parks first line of defense against ghosts. Some love me for what I've done. Others hate me because of what I am… But when I'm up here… It's like looking at my problems a different way. Up here they don't seem so important. It's just me and the sky." He said looking up.
Ember placed a hand over his and squeezed gently. "The Great Danny Phantom huh? Is that your new title or something?" She asked obviously teasing him.
"Better than Inviso-Bill." He muttered as his girlfriend sniggered.
"Danny I know you have a lot to deal with. And it can't be easy living with the responsibilities of a teenager and a super hero… Have you ever thought of… I don't know… taking a break?" Ember said this last part kind of quietly.
The ghost boy looked at her. "Oh please don't start that again Em." He replied using the pet name he had adopted for her.
"It doesn't have to be forever just maybe… Like a week or two. See if Amity can handle things without you. I mean, wouldn't that make things easier if they could?" She said attempting to argue her point.
A female voice spoke up behind them. "Danny's too big a hero."
The two turned in a bit of shock only to sigh with relief as they saw Jazz standing there. The doorway of the hatch that led onto the roof was swung wide open. "You should really lock this door when you come up here." She said talking to her brother.
"And you shouldn't sneak up on people like that. Why are you up here anyway?" Danny asked standing to face her.
"It's windy up here." She said pulling a folded up blanket from behind her. "I thought you might be cold."
She handed him the blanket smiling to herself at the look of bewilderment on her brother's face which slowly changed to amusement. "Thanks Jazz."
"You're welcome. And try to go to sleep inside tonight. Otherwise you'll never wake up for school tomorrow." She peered around Danny. "Hi Ember. Good to see you again."
"Hey Jazz." Ember said with a little wave. "Good to see you too."
Jazz pulled back and grabbed the door handle. Just before she closed it she gave Danny a small wink and said. "Night you two."
His cheeks flushed as the door shut and he turned back towards Ember. "You gonna come sit back down or what?" She asked smiling as she pat the space next to her.
(Ten minutes later)
Ember's right arm was wrapped over Danny's chest and her head rested on his right shoulder. He held her with both arms, one rubbing the small of her back gently. The blanket Jazz had brought up covered them both, comfortably shielding them from the wind and the cold steel. Ember's eyes had begun to droop from exhaustion and comfort.
"I'm not sleeping." She protested as Danny pulled the blanket up over her shoulder.
"I know you aren't" He replied kissing her forehead.
"I mean it. I'm not." She said quietly before stifling a small yawn.
"I know." He repeated softly.
Ember sighed happily and whispered. "Tell me a story to keep me awake."
Danny watched the girl for a second before looking up at the night sky finding the right story to tell her. "The American Indians believed that great and powerful spirits roamed the sky. They created stories about these spirits to help explain why things happened like the seasons changing or thunderstorms. One story tells of a mother bear and her young cub. She was an ancient bear with very powerful magic running through her and as such her cub also had magic inside of him. But his was a very pure and untarnished magic. Very rare and very strong."
"Draco the great serpent heard of this young bear. You see more than anything he desired power and he knew by eating this cub he would gain the magic inside it increasing his own. And so one dark night he slithered into the bears cave and while the mother slept, wrapped its coils around the cub. But before he could devour the young bear, the mother awoke and an epic battle ensued." Danny relayed the story quietly and entirely from memory. He had read quite a few about these constellations. But this one was his favorite.
"Their fight was terrifying and equally matched. The serpent always blocking the mother from getting to her cub while she fought a desperate dance to keep him busy so he could not eat him. Finally the destruction of their ongoing battle was so great that the Great Spirit did the only thing he could do. He placed them in the sky, where their fight still goes on to this day." He said nodding towards the three constellations he had described. "Every year a few drops of their magic blood falls from the sky, which falls on the leaves of the trees turning them different colors. And that's why autumn comes every year." He finished.
There was a silence that lasted about a minute before Danny finally decided to break it. "Ember?"
A soft snore from the ghost girl was the only response he received.
Danny rolled his eyes. "Great. The one time I try to be deep." Ember snuggled closer to him in her sleep, nuzzling her face into his chest. Danny sighed and smiled, turning them intangible and ghosting down into his room.
They floated onto the bed turning tangible again. He slipped out of her embrace just long enough to make sure his door was locked, his alarm was set, and to take off his shoes. As he did, Embers eyes opened and watched him sleepily.
She enjoyed these little moments. Watching him. They were almost like her guilty pleasure. It never ceased to amaze her at how fast their relationship had changed. Just three short months ago she wouldn't have thought twice about laying a pounding on him. But now it felt like she had known Danny all her afterlife.
There was something comforting about him. And although she couldn't place it, something familiar as well.
He started to change out of his clothes peeling his favorite shirt off and tossing it to the carpet beside him. Ember bit her bottom lip as she watched being very careful not to move. "You are a perv." Her conscience said to her.
"You again? Look you wanted me to get together with him. Besides, you're always telling me I need to get a hobby." She thought back as Danny stretched in front of her, his back still turned.
"Sorry for doing my job. I'm your conscience. I'm supposed to give you a hard time. And I don't think peeping is the healthiest hobby." It retorted smugly.
"Oh come on. I can't look at my own boyfriend now? I mean, it's not like he's gonna find out is it?" She asked.
"You really shouldn't stare Em. It's rude." Danny said quietly with a hint of humor in his voice.
"Saw that coming." Her conscience said.
Ember sat up in surprise as he put on a more comfortable shirt to sleep in. "What? I wasn't… I mean you… I…" She said frantically trying to put words together while blushing furiously.
"Speak English! Form words!" Her conscience yelled at her.
"Em relax." He said turning towards her with a goofy grin on his face. "I think it's cute." He said blushing ever so slightly.
"I think it's creepy." Ember's conscience murmured.
She didn't pay any attention to what her head said as Danny slid under the covers and up next to her. The ghost girl watched him get close until he was barely a foot away. Their eyes met. Glowing green staring into piercing blue. Without realizing it she had moved up closer to him.
"Hey." Danny said softly running his hand through her fiery hair.
"Hey." Ember said back slowly rubbing his muscular chest through the shirt.
The two leaned in simultaneously kissing each other. Their soft lips feeling each other, not fighting for dominance in a fit of passion but rather sharing the intimacy between them with tenderness. Ember's legs wrapped around his drawing them even closer.
Their heartbeats increased and both of their cheeks started to flush. Slowly the kiss became more urgent between the two of them. Hands reached and touched hungry for the feeling of one another. Ember rolled on top of him straddling his stomach and never breaking their kiss.
One of her hands snaked under his shirt feeling smooth and strong skin. Then she accidentally brushed a hard and rough circle of skin.
"Ah." Danny groaned grimacing and grabbing her hand out of reflex.
Ember quickly pulled her hand away. "Oh baby pop I'm sorry I didn't mean to touch that."
His face slowly returned to normal. "I know you didn't. It's ok."
"It's still bothering you? After all this time?" She asked referring to the scarred tissue she had just touch.
"Not all the time. Just every now and then." He replied.
She touched his cheek. "You need to get it looked at. An injury like that isn't an easy thing to walk away from. Even with ghost powers."
"I'll be fine Em. I just need to let it rest." He said as she got off of his chest and laid next to him.
"You're so stubborn." She said touching his cheek and bringing him in for a gentle kiss.
"That's me." He replied once their lips parted.
Ember snuggled close to him and closed her eyes. She was concerned for him. "That wound shouldn't still be hurting." She thought. A few other thoughts crossed her mind that added to her worry. But a warm and comforting pair of arms wrapped around her effectively brushing away her woes. She sighed and allowed herself to fall asleep with a small smile playing on her lips. Danny on the other hand was already sleeping.