Hurting You, Killing Me
I slammed the door behind me as I followed Danny out of Danielle's room. "Look, punk," I said, jabbing my finger toward his chest. "You have no right to sit there and act like she's ever been more to you than an object!"
"You know damn well that she meant more to me than that!"
"No, actually, I don't! You never acted like she mattered to you!"
"I called every month, didn't I? I asked about her and made sure she was okay!"
"You weren't here, Danny! You weren't here every night that she had nightmares, you didn't hold her every single time she woke up crying!"
I realized that our voices were getting louder, and I had heard the silent threat in Kitty's voice before we walked out, but I didn't really care. "Johnny! I know I made a dumb mistake! I understand that! I was an idiot! I'm here now though, why can't you just let it go?" Danny shouted.
"Because you hurt her! She's a little girl, Danny, a little girl! She looked up to you, thinking you would always be there to save her, and you completely broke that trust she had in you!"
"I never meant to hurt her!"
"Yeah? That still doesn't change the fact that you did!"
The door we were standing in front of suddenly swung open, "Both of you," Kitty snapped, closing the door behind her, her cellphone clenched tightly in her hand, "stop acting like children! Danielle is scared, sick, and needs you both! Frostbite just called, but I told him I'd call right back. You two need to get in there and be there for her! Johnny, you're always harping on Danny about how he isn't there for her, and look what you're doing right now! Stop being a hypocrite!" With that, she stormed down the hall, into our bedroom, and slammed the door shut.
I looked at Danny for a second, then turned and walked into Danielle's bed; he followed behind me.
Danielle was lying in her bed, her eyes closed, her breathing shallow. "Danielle, honey, are you awake?"
She opened her eyes and looked up at me, "Yes," she whispered.
I brushed her hair out of her face and leaned down to kiss her forehead; she was burning up. "Is Danny still here?" she asked.
"Yes, sweetheart, he's right here," I said, waving him over.
He walked over and I stepped out of his way, "Hi, Danielle," he said quietly.
"Danny," she said, her voice breaking as tears filled her eyes.
He took her hand, "What is it, baby?"
"I-I'm sorry," she sobbed suddenly.
Danny shot me a startled look, but I only shrugged, hoping he would know how to handle her. "Shh," he whispered, pulling her into his arms gently. "Don't be sorry. Don't ever be sorry."
"If I hadn't been created, none of you would ever have to put up with me!"
It took everything in me not to take her from him then, to hold her and tell her how much I loved her, but I knew this was something he had to fix.
"Danielle, don't ever think that way!" he said. "I was stupid, baby. I made a decision and it was the wrong one, but there was a second that passed that I wasn't thinking of you."
"You weren't here," she whimpered.
"I know and I am so, so sorry."
"I needed you! Danny, you were never there! I was all alone!"
"That's not my name anymore!"
"Get away from me! I hate y-" she cut off, leaning forward. I lurched across the room and put the trashcan under her chin just in time for her to vomit. It was a waterfall of bright green ectoplasm. Tears were streaking down her face and, with one hand, she was clutching Danny's hand.
I was expecting her to lean back, exhausted, like she had been doing, but she didn't. She fell to the side; Danny barely had time to register that she was unconscious and catch her before she fell.
In a moment of panic, he shoved her into my arms. I cradled her like a baby. "Go get Kitty Now!" I snapped.
Danny ran from the room and I sat down on the bed, balancing Danielle on my lap. "Danielle, honey?" I asked, patting the side of her face gently. She was breathing and had a pulse, but she was completely unconscious.
Kitty and Danny ran back into the room. Kitty still had her cellphone pressed to her ear, but tears were streaming down her face. "Okay. Okay. Be right there." She snapped her phone shut. "What happened?" she asked.
"She threw up and passed out!" I yelled. "What did Frostbite say?"
"He wants us to take her out there."
"Then let's go!" I grabbed a blanket off of the foot of her bed and draped it around her, then started toward the door.
"Johnny!" Kitty called. I stopped, one foot out the door, and turned to look at her.
"What?" I asked.
"Let Danny take her and we'll meet him out there."
I looked at her, completely appalled at the idea, but the look on her face clearly meant that she did not want me to argue. I placed Danielle gently into Danny's arms, then clamped my hand down tightly on his shoulder.
"Take care of her," I growled.
He nodded, "I will."
Once he left, I turned to Kitty, "Why would you do that?" I asked.
"Because I needed to talk to you and I know he is perfectly capable of getting her out there by himself."
"Talk to me about what, Kitty?" I exploded. "Danielle is obviously very sick and I would like to actually be with her!"
"Johnny, listen to me! I totally get that you're mad at Danny for what he did to Danielle. You act as if it didn't piss me off, too. I understand how angry you are, but yelling at him and making a scene in front of Danielle while she's so sick isn't the best idea! All it does is upset her!"
I sighed, backing down, "You're right. I'm sorry. I won't fight with him in front of her anymore. Can we please get out there now?"
Kitty and I threw on our jackets and I started the motorcycle. I drove faster than I ever had before. I was scared and that wasn't something I was used to.
Frostbite was waiting for me when I got to the Far Frozen. He seemed a bit surprised that it was me and not Kitty or Johnny, but he didn't comment on it. He simply took Danielle from me, who was still unconscious, and told me to wait in the waiting room until he had her settled in.
The Medical Facility in the Far Frozen was one of the most high tech places I'd ever been. It was just about the only building that wasn't made out of ice and that actually had a heater, but everything in it seemed to be white.
I sat down on one of the clear, ice-looking chairs, but I couldn't stand it; I got up and started pacing the room. I was worried and upset and guilty. I should never have treated her the way I did. I should have been here for her, instead of pretending not to care.
I was still waiting to hear from Frostbite when Johnny and Kitty burst into the room. "Where is she?" Johnny asked.
"Frostbite took her back to a room. He told me to wait in her until he gets her settled in," I explained.
I swear, if looks could kill, I would have dropped dead from the glare Johnny gave me. "How long has he been back there?"
"Twenty minutes," I replied immediately, knowing only because I'd been counting the seconds since Frostbite had taken her out of my arms.
"He had better hurry up," Johnny huffed, sitting down in one of the chairs and crossing his arms over his chest.
Kitty sat beside him and placed her hand on his shoulder. He shrugged her hand off roughly and she folded her hands in her lap. I looked away, feeling like I was intruding.
It was then that Frostbite walked back into the room. Johnny jumped up. "Well?"
"I've got her settled in a room. I'm going to run some tests and see what I can figure out, but I will take you all back to see her now."
Johnny nodded. Frostbite led us down the hallway to the room Danielle was in. After what she'd said before she passed out, I was a little bit worried as to how she would react when she saw me. She was propped up in a hospital bed in the center of the room, her eyes half closed.
"Kitty?" Frostbite asked quietly. "May I speak to you for a moment?"
Kitty kissed Danielle on the forehead, then walked out of the room.
I stepped out into the hall with Frostbite. "What is it?" I asked, apprehensive about leaving Danielle alone with Johnny and Danny.
"She's very sick, Kitty. I've run a few tests on her blood and ectoplasm samples, but the results won't be here for awhile. The best case scenario is that she just has a bad case of the Ecto-flu. The worse case scenario is that she has a rare disintegrating disease that is eating apart her DNA."
I felt myself go pale at the possibility. "Can that be cured?"
Frostbite smiled sadly, "There is a cure, but in most cases, the patient is too far gone. And with Danielle having been unstable before, it would probably make the disease worse for her."
"Frostbite, you have to try!"
"Kitty, I promise, I will do everything in my power to make sure that we save her."
I nodded, biting my lower lip in an effort to keep myself from crying again. "Why don't you go back in there with her now?" he suggested. "I'll be sure to tell you as soon as we get the results."
I walked back into the room to find Danielle asleep. Johnny was standing over her protectively and Danny was at the foot of the bed, his arms crossed over his chest.
"Johnny, Danny..." I said, my voice trembling.
Johnny walked over to me and pulled me into his arms. "What is it, honey?" he asked.
"Frostbite is running some tests, but...but..." I broke down in tears.
"But what, Kitty?" Danny asked.
"Frostbite said she could either have a bad case of Ecto-flu..." I trailed off, clinging to Johnny's jacket. "Or...or a rare disintegrating disease."
"Disintegrating disease?" Johnny asked.
"It's a disease that eats apart her DNA. And because of her unstable nature, it would probably be worse," I explained between sobs.
"Is there a cure?" Danny asked through his teeth.
"Yes, but the patient is usually too far gone." I couldn't force myself to keep talking; I broke down in tears again, bawling my eyes out.
"Kitty, honey, I'm sure Frostbite will take care of her," Johnny promised, stroking my hair. I tried to calm myself, all any of us could do for now is wait for the results to come in.
Danielle had been asleep since Frostbite had let us come back to see her. He assured us it was just because he'd given her a light anesthetic. It was getting late and Frostbite still hadn't gotten the results back. Danny was slouched over on the uncomfortable, vinyl couch in the corner of the room; he was snoring. Kitty was on a chair next to the hospital bed, she had her knees drawn to her chest and was sleeping lightly. I was sitting on the foot of the bed, trying my hardest to stay awake.
I had a Styrofoam cup of coffee in my hand, but it was cold; it had been steaming when I'd got it. I got up and dropped it into the trashcan, then sat back down.
I looked up at the clock, for what had to be the thousandth time in the last hour. It was almost midnight. I heard the door open and looked up; Frostbite had walked in, holding a file in his hands.
Kitty woke up, seeming immediately alert, and she nudged Danny awake. "Well?" I asked.
"I'm afraid she has the disintegrating disease."
I looked at Kitty, sure she was about to burst into tears, but Frostbite continued. "Luckily, we've caught it fast enough that we can start the treatment."
"So what are her chances?"
"I'd say about 40/60 in her favor."
"When are you going to start treatment?"
"Well, her anesthesia should be wearing off in a little bit, so as soon as she wakes up. I'll need time to prepare the serum anyway."
"Serum? What serum?"
"It's an antidote for the disease. An antitoxin of sorts. You see, when she was created, Vlad must have allowed the toxin, Hyglotelin, to be mixed into her DNA."
"It's a toxic chemical in ectoplasm. A small amount of it needs to be in you at all times, to keep you alive, in a sense, but Danielle's body has too much of it. Vlad must have been overcompensating for the fact that she has more human DNA than ghost DNA. Most ghosts, when making the transition from human to ghost, experience this as soon as they become ghosts."
"But Vlad and I didn't..." Danny said.
"You were both created by a shock to your system. That's more natural. Danielle was created in a completely different way. Vlad didn't measure anything correctly and that's what's caused this now."
"She was fine for all these years, though," I pointed out.
"Not necessarily. She wasn't aging correctly, right? That was due to her DNA sequencing."
"Are you saying we could have caught this and fixed it sooner?"
"No," Frostbite quickly reassured me. "This disease doesn't show up on tests until the patient starts to get sick. I'm going to go mix the serum, if she wakes up sick before I get back, don't hesitate to come get me."
"Thank you, Frostbite," I said.
"Anytime." He walked out of the room and closed the door behind him.
I was slightly frightened when I woke up and found Kitty, Johnny, and Danny all standing above me. "What's going on?" I asked.
To my surprise, Kitty burst into tears and Johnny stood silent like a stone. It was Danny, of all people, who took my hand and held onto it tightly. Now, I was really frightened.
"What?" I asked again.
Johnny cleared his throat and stepped forward. Danny backed away, giving my hand a final squeeze before dropping it, and wrapped his arm around Kitty's shoulder. Johnny, the man I know thought of as my father, sat on the edge of the bed beside me. "Danielle, honey, this is going to be hard to explain," he began. "You're very sick with a degenerating disease."
I felt my breath catch in my throat at that word. I was instantly petrified. Johnny continued quickly, "But Frostbite has a serum that can cure it. He's getting it right now and everything will be okay."
"Are you sure?" I asked, my voice quiet.
"Yes," he replied, leaning down to kiss my forehead.