I am so beyond sorry for the delay in updating. I won't make excuses, but I do want to thank everyone who encouraged me to keep going with this story – your messages and reviews really motivated me. Don't worry! I never intended to abandon it; it WILL be finished! I just get distracted easily… But I've got most of the plot all planned out, and it's really just a matter of finding the time to get it down on paper properly. I'll try to get the next chapter up soon!
Great. Thought Sam as she was yanked through the air by what appeared to be nothing more than a patch of darkness. Kidnapped twice in one day. This is really going to help Danny believe I can take care of myself.
That was all she had time to think before a voice boomed, "Shadow! To me!" and she was finally released only to be hurled into the arms of another waiting ghost – this time, one she recognized.
"Johnny 13." She spat as he pulled her roughly onto his motorbike.
"I'm…. sorry" Johnny mumbled as he settled her in front of him. "I have to." Sam was startled to see how haggard he looked up close, and his eyes were so… sad.
Broken. Sam thought, the word coming to her abruptly. He looks broken. She found herself almost feeling bad for the biker, but quickly pushed the emotion aside and tried to force herself away from him. Shadow swooped down and shaped itself into a rope, pinning her arms to her sides. Sam struggled feebly but it was clear she wouldn't be able to throw herself off the bike as she had hoped. Johnny revved the engine as Sam searched desperately behind her for a glimpse of Danny. That Shadow had grabbed her so suddenly, and had taken such a winding path through the school at such a furious speed that she wasn't certain Danny had been able to keep up. The courtyard behind the school where Shadow had taken her was plainly deserted, and Sam began to feel the beginnings of panic gnawing at the back of her stomach.
"DANNY!" She yelled, hoping against hope that somehow he would hear her and be able to follow. Shadow quickly snaked up and covered her mouth, preventing any further exclamations, but Sam felt her panic die as she saw Danny phase through the school's back wall at last. It took a moment for him to spot them and his blazing eyes met Sam's for only an instant before the bike roared to life and began to speed away from Casper High.
Danny pursued, and Sam hoped desperately that he would be able to keep the bike in sight until Johnny reached wherever they were going. For a moment she thought he had been lost again, but then – did her eyes deceive her? – Danny actually seemed to be gaining on the motorcycle.
I didn't know he could go so fast… Sam thought as the bike screeched around a treacherous curve, forcing her to face front again. Wait, she knew this street. Either she really was beginning to hallucinate, or they were heading towards Fenton Works.
Why would Johnny lead Danny to his own house? Sam was getting seriously confused. She decided to hazard another look back, and was heartened to see Danny only a few feet away. He was so close, Sam wondered why he wasn't letting loose with an ectoblast to knock the bike out from under stupid Johnny 13.
Me. She suddenly understood. He's afraid he'll hurt me. She felt a twinge of irritation. She'd rather have a few scrapes and bruises from falling off the bike than allow whatever Johnny was planning to happen to her. Danny had to stop being so overprotective!
Her thoughts were interrupted as Johnny swerved and turned his bike right at Danny's house, confirming Sam's suspicion about their destination. Johnny turned them intangible at the last moment and drove straight through the front wall of Fenton Works, and then down into the basement.
"Shadow! Open the portal!" Johnny shouted as the bike screeched to a halt.
Of course. Sam felt Shadow releasing her as she finally understood why Johnny had taken her here. He wants to take me back to the ghost zone. One of the first things Danny had done after saving the world that summer was to help his father rebuild the ghost portal in their basement. For the first time, Sam wished he hadn't.
She was about to get up and make a dash for it when Danny burst through the ceiling and charged into Johnny, smashing him into a wall just as Shadow had managed to pry open the portal doors. The dark creature gave a screech and flew over to aid its master.
"No!" Johnny shrieked at his Shadow as he struggled under Danny. "You have to take her! NOW! Leave me!" Shadow keened in agony, but obeyed. Sam tried to jump past it, but the darkness wrapped itself tightly around her legs and began to drag her towards the open portal. She clawed at the ground trying to slow their progress as Danny struggled against Johnny who was desperately trying to hold the halfa back from interfering with Shadow.
With a mighty heave, Danny pulled himself free and managed to shoot off an ecto-sphere. It was a perfect shot! Shadow lost his grip on Sam and was knocked into the ghost zone with one final wail. Johnny let out a cry and tried to leap past Danny and grab Sam himself, but the Phantom was quicker and delivered a hard kick to Johnny's stomach. The biker crashed into a table and looked up to see a furious teenager standing between him and Sam. Johnny hesitated for a moment, but the green light of a powerful ecto-attack had begun to gather at Danny's hands and Johnny knew he couldn't win. Before Danny could unleash his rage, the unlucky biker gathered up the last of his energy and dove into the ghost zone. With a sigh, Danny returned from Phantom to Fenton and shut the doors to the portal.
"What the heck was that about?" Sam asked as she got up.
"I wish I knew." He rubbed the back of his neck, thinking. Two attacks in one day was nothing new, but why were they both focused on Sam? "Let's go find Tucker. We've got a lot to discuss." He glanced at his watch, "And only 20 minutes before lunch is over and we've got to be back in class!"
"So you're saying these ghosts are after Sam?" Tucker was skeptical. "I dunno guys, it would make a lot more sense for them to be after Danny, as usual. You were probably just in the way Sam."
Danny opened his mouth to reply, but a wisp of blue came out instead of his retort.
"I AM THE BOX GHOST! BEWARE!" The Box Ghost flew down and threw a cardboard box at Sam's head. Danny sighed as the ghost began to feebly tug at his girlfriend's arm.
"You see?" Danny said to Tucker as he shot the Box Ghost with an ecto-sphere that sent the ghost flying far into the distance.
"Okay, you may have a point there." Tucker conceded as Sam removed the cardboard box from her head and threw it over towards a nearby recycling bin.
"Besides," Danny said "Johnny 13 told his Shadow to get Sam into the ghost zone even though he needed help. He wasn't interested in me."
"But why did he want to take Sam into the ghost zone?" Tucker was puzzled.
"Do you guys remember Skulker this morning?" Sam asked. "He caught me, but he was really interested in getting Danny. They know they can hurt you through me." She took at deep breath and looked squarely at her boyfriend. "And you can't let them. You're way more important to the world than I am and you know it." She took his hands. "I want you to promise that you won't jeopardize yourself for me. Ever."
"What?! No!" Danny pulled back in surprise at the request. "Sam, I try to be a hero so I can protect the people who are important to me. How can you ask me not to fight for you?"
"I'm not worth it!" She yelled.
"You are." He said firmly. Sam looked away in irritation but Danny took her chin and turned her face back towards him. "You are worth it. Nothing you can say will make me change my mind." The anger in her eyes softened. She wasn't happy, he knew, but at least she seemed resigned.
"Besides," Tucker cut in, "I'm not convinced, Sam. You've been Danny's girlfriend for months. Why would the ghosts decide to go after you now? And Danny's got a mom, a dad, a sister, an awesome best bud," he gestured at himself with a grin. "Heck, Danny would put himself in danger for Mr. Lancer if the guy was in trouble. Why would everyone suddenly choose you as 'hostage-of-the-year?'"
"Yeah!" Danny was eager to get Sam away from her previous theory. "And it seems weird that everyone has the same plan. I mean did Skulker and the Box Ghost really wake up this morning and think 'boy, revenge sounds good today!' And then decide to go after you to hurt me? Unlikely."
"Then what is going on?" Sam asked, out of ideas. Before anyone could hazard another theory, the bell rang. The trio exchanged a look and bolted into the school.