Warning: Okay, people, this is the last chapter of Moving Forward and thus the end of Danny's Story. This chapter has language, time lapse and unresolved issues. Enjoy the final chapter of the final installment!
Disclaimer: I don't own Danny Phantom.
Chapter 20: Destiny
I didn't know what to say. It had to be awful to find out this other version of yourself existed. I remember how it felt when I discovered Blue and Danielle and I didn't even have connections to them. Dawn and Megan have been connected since birth. They've dreamed of each other and called out to each other when they were scared. We allowed Megan and Dawn to catch up while we explained the truth to Doc. He was very upset and confused but he forgave us. Then Mom called Vlad and said it was okay for us to see Blue.
"What were you thinking," Blue scolded Vlad. "It's only going to be harder to break you guys up now!"
"You're not leaving," I stepped in. "I let you leave once, Blue. I'll be damned if I do it again."
"You do not control my family, Red," Blue retorted.
"Look, I know you're still upset about what happened twelve years ago but you need to let it go! Blue, we need you and your family here. We need Vlad and he has to be able to use his powers! I'm over Vlad, okay."
"That's what you said the last time," Blue retorted.
I yelled in rage, pointing my hand at him. I opened a portal below his bed. "Be right back," I said as Blue's bed arrived on the island.
"Wait," Mom called.
"Jump through. Only you, though. We need to have a heart-to-heart conversation," I replied. Mom eyed the portal eerily but jumped through. I followed her. I closed the portal.
"Take me back this instant," Blue declared. "And what are we doing on the island?"
"We needed to talk frankly in a place where your kids couldn't hear," I declared. Mom began to hook Blue's bed up in the room I dropped him off at. "Blue, it was one mistake twelve years ago. Twelve! Vlad has let go of the past. He has learned to live in the present but you are sounding like Vlad fifteen years ago! You have allowed this to corrupt you, Blue. Vlad and I made a mistake and we have moved on. It's your turn."
"You and Vlad," Blue retorted. "Vlad is mine, not yours!"
I smacked him. "Danny," Mom declared.
"I know Vlad is yours, you self-centered, egotistical, piece of shit land ape! I get it, okay. I stole something that was yours and now you are protective of your possessions but Vlad isn't a possession. He's a person, Blue. He has five other children that he loves and you have forced him to walk away from those children. And Goddammit, he did it. Do you have any idea what that man has given up for you? Now you need to get your shit together. I am happily married and for some damn reason, so is Vlad. He has bent over backwards trying to please you and all you can see is how he's doing wrong. Blue, this is fucked up. Vlad is the good one now!"
"Are you saying I'm evil," Blue hissed back.
"No, I'm saying Vlad has finally made the transformation to good and you're still stuck on doing better. What are you going to do about that," I said, pointing a finger at him.
"I'm going to get better and see how brave you are with me out of a hospital bed," Blue declared.
"I call it as I see it, brother," I declared. "When someone is being a fucked up ass wipe," Mom called out again, "I call him a fucked up ass wipe!"
"You have no right to tell me how to deal with my family," Blue declared.
"And why the hell not," I retorted. "If you haven't noticed, you are the step-mother-father, whatever the hell you want to call yourself, to my children! Your children and my children are siblings. I'd expect no less from you."
"Vlad has no place in your family. Your five children are Sam's."
I started towards him to hear Mom exclaim and grab me. She held me back a fraction but then slipped a bracelet on my wrist. "You need to chill. Blue is sick!"
"I don't care what the hell his problem is," I declared. I narrowed my eyes at Blue. "I'll kick his ass every time he needs an ass kicking!"
"This was your fault," Blue screamed. "You're the one who came into our lives. You're the homewrecker!"
"Don't you think I regret that," I retorted. "We're human, Blue. We make mistakes. If you'd open your eyes enough to see clearly, you'd see our affair was the best thing that ever happened to you. You didn't have him, Blue! Vlad was using you until he could get me back! Us fucking made him realize that he loved you."
"Okay, we just need to take a deep breath," Mom called out.
"Wait," Blue said, furrowing his brow. "You called it fucking. I only call it fucking when there's nothing behind it."
"There was nothing behind it, Blue," I declared. I hated being so rough with him but we had to reach a breakthrough. Okay, so maybe I didn't entirely hate it. The fucker kept my kids from their father for twelve years because he was insecure. "Vlad and I fucked one last time." I'm going to have to give Mom something nice. I didn't realize I'd cuss so much. My language is usually tamer than this—nine kids.
"I don't know how to trust you, Red. I put my faith in you. I believed you when you said you were over Vlad and he was mine. You betrayed more than Sam that day. I trusted you with my husband and you stabbed me in the back. I know Vlad loves me. I've seen him go through hell in the last twelve years to prove it to me. It's you I don't trust. Don't you see? The reason I didn't want Vlad to see the kids was because seeing them only hurts him. I love Vlad, Red. Don't you dare say I don't. I only want to protect him."
"I'm sorry, Blue. I thought I was over him, too. The truth is, I'll always love Vlad but I love Sam more. I always have. Vlad and I will forever be intertwined together but we were too weak all those years ago. We didn't have the strength to resist each other. I'm strong enough now, Blue, and I'm pretty sure Vlad is too."
"Blue, honey, I know how hard this is. I've been married to Jack for nearly thirty-two years now and I still worry if I'm good enough for him. But you, Danny, Vlad and Sam are unique. The magnetism you four have found yourself in has really screwed with your families. Danny and Vlad started magnetism, Blue, and once it starts, it can't end. The only reason Danny was able to fall in love with Sam was because he was strong enough to break away when Vlad created Danielle. That bond, though, can't be broken. They will die if it is. So there had to be a fourth person. It's not easy but it's the first time this was done. You have to learn to work with Sam and Danny. If you don't, your family will never be complete."
"Are you saying Vlad and I are married to Sam and Red," Blue asked.
"That's my theory," Mom said, looking between Blue and I. "Danny and Vlad will always be connected, Blue. The only choice you have is to tear your family apart or make it work. What are you going to do?"
"Now, wait a minute, what about Sam and Blue? They don't fit into this theory."
"Not yet," Mom replied. "If they did, then it wouldn't be a theory. I'd say it's fact. I don't know how Blue and Sam fit into this. They have to have a place besides your spouses."
"If you think you can lay a hand on Sam you have another thing coming, bub," I said, pointing a finger at him.
"It doesn't feel so good, does it," Blue taunted. "Besides, I don't like her like that. She's great but she's just a friend."
"That's weird," I said, furrowing my brow. "Even Dan likes Sam. He's just too afraid."
"Of you," Blue said, raising his eyebrow.
I scoffed. "Ha! Of Sam."
"That makes sense," Blue nodded. I laughed.
"Blue, you can't return to the east coast. You are destabilizing and I don't know if I can stop it or just slow it down. We have a war coming up and you are in the line of fire. Please, baby. You have no idea how much I've missed you."
"Mrs. Fenton," Blue said, looking down.
"Blue, will you stop," Mom declared. She marched up to him, taking his hands, bending down to his level. "I am not Mrs. Fenton. You are not a clone of my son. I know you gave up this life a long time ago but I care about you. Not because you're a part of Danny, I care about you! I can even tolerate Vlad. He didn't seem so bad." Hell just froze over. "Don't you see how much love you have here? Can you not see how many people consider you family? Come home, baby. I'm not asking for your love and respect. I'm asking for a chance."
"We have friends in Connecticut, though," Blue said, looking down. "We've built a life there."
"And walking away from established family and friends is always hard, honey. I know. I've done it. But we love you, Blue. It's time to come home."
"We'll talk it over," Blue sighed. "I don't care what this theory of yours states, my family is Vlad, Dawn, Mada and Alexander. Anyone else is after those four."
I bent down to his level. "I agree," I said, grabbing his shoulder. "My wife and nine kids come before anyone else. We're connected, though, Blue. Our daughters have been dreaming of each other. Our family has been incomplete. I have Vlad's mansion and I have the house in Elemerton. Of course, there's other places you can pick as well. It's your choice."
"Thanks, Red. If we do stay, it won't be at the mansion. I'm teaching my children humility. They have rules and they have chores to do. We will earn what we have, keep only what we need and give to those less fortunate than us. Granted, it was Vlad's idea but I liked it. It's a great lesson to teach the kids."
"Anything you need, I'll help. Just please, don't break up our family again. That includes you. I miss my brother."
"Not you, too," Blue groaned, rolling his eyes.
"Come on, what else are we if not brothers?"
"I don't know about me but I can think of a few choice words for you," Blue grumbled.
"Why hold back. I didn't."
"Because we've shared enough for today," Mom cut in. Mom unlocked the bracelet, allowing me to have my powers back. "Now, open a portal, Danny. Let's go home."
"Okay, Mom," I smirked. I opened the portal below Blue's bed again and Mom jumped back to Fentonworks. I laughed, following her.
By dinner time, I was fantasizing about Dawn's outburst behind closed doors when Blue asked their family about moving home. Blue, Vlad, Dawn, Mada and baby Alex went to their bedroom in Fentonworks and the rest of us went home but the way Dawn and Megan were, I knew there'd be hell to pay if they tried to take Dawn away again. The girls were so close, just like they were when they were younger. They had the same interests and they loved the same movies. They talked non-stop until we forced them to go their separate ways. Before they left, though, they hugged tightly, already close.
That night as Sam and I laid in bed, I was thinking about Mom's theory. It was such a unique situation. Once that bond was forged, breaking it was supposed to be impossible. Clockwork had told me, though, that our future was secure and he was right. We only have the twins left and we're six years from their birth. Could that have been the arrangement we made? Was Sam my gift for having to go through that hell? Vlad and I never stuck. I was constantly going back but I was able to leave in the first place. Others who have that problem are Ember and Kitty. Ember has a fight with Skulker every twenty years and Kitty has a fight with Jonny every three months, I think. I had a fight with Vlad six times in three weeks.
Vlad and I were never meant to be together. The only reason we paired was because we were the only conscious eleven's. Now that there are numerous elevens, I think back to that time and wonder what I was thinking. I wasn't thinking, though. We were both forced into that relationship but it worked out for the best. I wouldn't change a thing, even if I could. I love my children and I love who Vlad has become. I'm just glad I wasn't forced to stay in that relationship. I couldn't let go of the rape. I couldn't forgive him for hurting me that way.
Who decides that a universal law like magnetism needs an exception, though? D.J. said that Clockwork was able to manipulate the time stream and have D.J. be born at the same time as Clockwork's obliteration. Does that mean Clockwork, who promised me my future with Sam was secure, has the power to write new laws? Does Clockwork… did Clockwork have that kind of power or does he know someone who did? Clockwork was so certain that Sam and I would get together and he knew this world would be doomed without us. Sam and I have the strongest children. Pammy is as strong as Lilly and Megan and D.J., Donnie and Jay will surpass everyone. Even Sammy, who is the weakest, can hold her own. Vlad just isn't as strong as Sam is and Sam fits so well as the Queen of the Ghost Zone.
Sam turned over, stroking my arm. "What's wrong?"
"Just thinking," I said, using my arm to stroke her face to her leg. I placed my hand on her thigh, pulling her close to me. I kissed her head. "Mom has this crazy theory but I can't explain it any other way. She thinks you and I are in magnetism with Vlad and Blue. That our families are connected."
"They sort of are," Sam said, snuggling into my chest. "Think about it, Danny. We aren't complete without them. Vlad and I fought before but when we were getting along pretty well, we did fine. If we could all do that, maybe our family could actually experience peace."
"But I thought we were experiencing peace," I said, tilting my head back. I was laying on my side so my head was almost behind me. "We've been the happiest we've been in years."
"Of course we have but just imagine with all of us together. Danny, our family is starting to complete itself. It won't be long before the last of this generation will be born. Soon, we'll be welcoming the third generation."
"Do not curse us. I had a baby at fifteen. I don't want Lilly to either."
"If you ask Lilly, she already has," Sam said. I looked at her as Sam kissed my chest. She ran her finger over my upper torso, drawing circles and hearts on my muscles. "This generation is coming to a close. We're twenty-nine years old. That gap closes at like thirty-two."
"You're thirty-five when you deliver twins, honey. Your clock is still ticking."
"It'll tick on forever," Sam said, propping herself on her arm. "But the twins are the last ones. I don't know about you. You and Vlad have one more to catch up with me and you and Vlad's back in town."
I jerked up. "No! My clock stopped ticking at eighteen. I'm done!"
"I've heard that before."
"I wonder what birth control pills would do to a man," I said, shaking my head.
Sam laughed. "I could see you taking birth control."
"I am done. If I have to cut off his tongue, I will. I am not having any more babies!"
Sam started laughing uncontrollably. "I love you."
"Goodnight, Sam," I said, kissing her head. Sam turned her back to me, spooning against me. I held her, drifting off to sleep.
"Sammy," I called out, a large lump in my throat. I could hear sirens going off in the background, flashing lights.
A young woman turned to me, her hair long. I saw my eyes look back at me, but everything else was her mother. She was dressed for battle. "Yeah, Dad."
"You know I've never asked you to sit a fight out before, butterfly. You know I know you are just as capable as your siblings. You know I've bit my tongue before when I was terrified. I can't bite my tongue this time, Sammy. Please, sweetheart, stay home; for me."
"I know why you're saying this, Dad. I promise, I will fight. I'm not going out there to die. I'm going there to stand for what I believe in; just like you and Mom taught me. If I die today, Dad, know I did it for everyone. I'm not afraid, Dad, you shouldn't be either."
"But I am," I said, fighting tears. "Sammy, there is no one else I'd rather have by my side in a fight. You're strong, resourceful and smart. You may not be the strongest, but you are not weak. I see you for the woman you are. I also see you as my little girl, though, and if I had this knowledge for anyone else, I'd ask the same of them. I don't want to lose you, Sammy. You have your entire life ahead of you."
"No one knows how much life we have ahead of us. Eddie, Jake and Will died before they were born. No one knows when their time is but I'm not going to live my life in fear."
"Neither am I, Sammy," I pleaded. "I have let you go places I didn't want you to go. I have let you do things I wanted to protect you from. All my children have paid prices any parent would want to protect them from but this is the ultimate price, Sammy. This affects more than yourself. Please, stay honey. Please."
"It could be someone else, Dad. It could just be my time. Maybe my death would bring something good. I don't know, Dad. I'll fight, to the very end, but I'm going."
Tears fell from his eyes as he took Sammy in his arms. "I love you, Butterfly. No matter what happens, I will always love you."
"I'll always love you, too, Dad."
I forced myself away from her with the last bit of strength in my body. Everything was protesting this. I wanted to protect my daughter but it was her choice. He left Sammy to finish packing, walking with a destination in mind. I had no idea where he was going but he did. "Donald, Jayden," I said, walking in a room. Sam was there, her hair up in a ponytail. She looked to him with pleading eyes. "She's going."
"No," Sam shrieked, covering her mouth.
"Mom," Jay asked, his blue eyes wide. "What's wrong?"
"Mom is just scared, boys," I said, bending down to my twins. I took them both by the arms. "Donnie, Jay, you need to promise me you won't come to the battlefield. It's too dangerous."
"I promise, Dad," Donnie nodded his head. Passion and determination burned in his orange eyes. I only hoped it was for our cause and not one we didn't know about.
"Look after your niece," I said, rubbing their hair simultaneously. "I need my big boys here."
"Be careful, Dad. We love you," Jay said, hugging me. I hugged him tightly, only holding him. He went to Sam as I hugged Donnie.
"Please, Donnie, don't come to the battlefield. It's too dangerous."
"We won't, Dad," Donnie said, hugging me tightly. I stood up, looking to Sam.
"Ready," I asked.
"I need to talk to Sammy," Sam said.
"Sam, she's not going to change her mind. She's going."
Sam released a breath. "Then I guess that's it. It's time."
"It's time," I nodded. I pulled Sam in, kissing her deeply. Sam returned it and it was very reminiscent of our first real kiss. We were both willing to die for our kids but the risk of dying, for no one, was too great. This was the last memory I wanted before I died. The last time I died, it was so hard to come back. Just trying to go through the tunnel was hard but with the realms completely collapsed, I nearly obliterated myself just trying to come back. Anyone attempting to stick around risks a lot. That's why I've warned my kids about becoming unfinished business ghosts. Once you hold on, it's hard to let go. They may be better off as full ghosts than trying to stick around.
Finally, Sam broke the kiss. I didn't want to. She touched my face, tears in her eyes. "I love you, Danny. No matter what."
"I love you so much, Sam," I said, taking her hand in mine. My entire body was just out of whack. I didn't want to be here. My future self prayed this was just a dream but only I got that luxury. For him, it was very much real. There was no running away from this and he couldn't wake up from it. The fate of the world rested on this response. If those shields couldn't hold, if they couldn't keep the ghosts in, if Sammy dies, there are no do overs. This was it.
Sam and my future self made their way to the conference room. Lilly, Megan, Doc, Sammy, Pammy, D.J., Tucker, Jazz, Danielle, Jacky, Jamie, Rosalita, Dawn, Mada and Alexander stood in the room. Sam and I joined them.
"What about Valerie and Courtney," I asked, looking to Tucker.
"They're with the humans. They're helping everyone get where they need to be."
"Good," I looked to Doc who just so happened to be by Sammy. "You two can do the same."
"I'm going, Dad," Doc said, clenching his fists together. I didn't like my two weakest kids going out on the most dangerous mission we've ever had but I was going to force myself to let them go.
"Okay, guys, we know this is the big one. Anyone wanting to back out now needs to do so. There is no shame, even if you are a pure halfa. Rosalita, you are not a pure halfa. You don't have to come."
"I'm not afraid, Danny. I can do this."
We had taken the longest to respond to this call. The last four times the alarm went off, we went immediately because it was weeks from that date. Even though today is only the fourteenth, it's too close to the date we know to be the Battle of Amity Park. They won't be getting out right away but if we go in halfcocked, we could lose everything. "Okay, let's roll out," he said, his voice nowhere near riled or energetic. This was the last place he wanted to be.
The seventeen of them dispatched.
The fight was intense from the moment they arrived on the scene. There were a lot more people there than what I remember dreaming of and he noted that too. It satisfied him. There were human division agents there but there were also Demis too. I recognized Adam in the group. He wasn't a leader but he was there. Adam was thirty-five years old but he didn't look a day over eighteen. In my world he just turned nineteen but he looked just as he did now. The sight didn't catch my future self's attention. Either he knew why or he was too occupied.
The additional members on site was very helpful. The demis were amazing in the way they could protect people. More than us, they protected the agents but one even saved my life. It was like they were immortal. I healed quickly; Adam was impenetrable. However, dawn broke over the old wall and still there was no sign of an decrease of activity. Today was the fifteenth and he had a bad feeling. I was afraid I was on the same thought process as he was and I didn't like the conclusion I was drawing.
The fight continued and so did my dream. If I made it to school, it'd surprise me. No matter how many ghosts we captured, there were always more to fight. The humans on my team were being interchanged but the demis and the halfas were going on their twenty-fourth hour of continuous fight. My future self began going over the options internally. This fight would wage on for days.
The ghost he was fighting was suddenly wrenched away from the fight and Sam swooped down from the sky, sending out a wide red energy blast. "We have to make a decision now," she declared, giving me a firm look. "We're not going to win this fight, Danny! We are pushing the inevitable!" Two ghosts took target at us as five backed them up. Three demis I didn't recognize took out the five ghosts in the back but Sam let out an aggravated growl. A large tree that had grown up along the old wall bent forward as if it were alive, swatting the two ghosts with its massive braches. "I'm having a conversation!"
"Could you live with yourself abandoning the fight," I asked her. He was being sincere. He could.
"I've told you: my daughter's life comes before the world! We cannot keep this up! The battle is lost, Danny. There's too many. The question is between losing big or losing small. I'm leaving this up to you but it's over. Whether now or in three days, these ghosts are escaping. Those shields cannot withstand this kind of siege. It's too widespread! We didn't know to prepare for this."
I looked around my team, everyone dragging and exhausted. He tried to lie to himself and say walking away would be easy; losing his daughter was harder than losing this fight. We both knew it wasn't the truth. I would sacrifice all of our lives if I had the guarantee this war would stay right here. But we both knew there was no such guarantee. One death, one hundred, one thousand wouldn't change a thing. No matter what we sacrifice, the same outcome would happen.
"Forgive me," he said, floating up.
"Danny," Sam screamed, not understanding his actions. I couldn't call him me. I didn't know what he knew. His mind was blank, keeping his secrets his own. He sucked in a breath of air and I wished with everything in me to stop him. There's a difference between walking away and doing what he had planned. He released the Ghostly Wail on the portal.
"Dad," Lilly screamed and I heard my name, in various forms, being shouted. The shield was strong but I was stronger. First a crack and then it shattered. The pulsing Ectoranium turned to a solid sheet of glass and fell around us. I turned around, his sight clouded by tears. The ghosts immediately dropped what they were doing, fleeing their prisons. We were left alone.
"What—I don't—how could you do that," Sam asked, her face frozen in horror.
"Tell me you didn't do that for me," Sammy demanded.
"I did it for all of you," I said, looking to the group. "Walking away wasn't an option. If we wanted to get out alive… I had to give them something better."
"Please, tell me you planned for this," Megan asked. Her eyes filled with tears. "The entire shield defense was riding on this network!"
"And now the shields are down," he said, his voice devoid of emotion.
"This goes against everything you've taught us," Pammy said, horrorstricken. "I don't understand."
"Sam was right. It was over."
"But I didn't mean to hand them the Goddamned world," Sam screamed.
"This would have happened in the end," he defended his decision.
"You don't know that," Sammy accused. "How many did you just kill, Dad? We are supposed to lose nine thousand—tomorrow! They have hours of more time."
"I know you don't understand," he said, turning away. "Maybe someday, you can forgive me."
"Where's D.J.," Sam asked. "Kids, have any of you seen him?"
"He's gone," Megan declared. He turned back to his family.
"He didn't," he said, his eyes wide. "He wasn't supposed to leave!"
"Oh, my God. You don't think," Sam said, covering her mouth.
"He's trying to stop them," I said, zipping in the sky. I sensed for my son. We couldn't lose him. The entire time stream would collapse if he dies. He knows better than going out alone. "D.J.," I screamed, flying at top speeds.
I finally got a lock on his signature and flew a b-line straight to him. D.J. had flown to Nashville, the first major city outside the walls. It wasn't much but it was the perfect place for a ghost to get a quick snack. I stopped above his signature and scanned the ground below. A surge of power came from behind me and Tucker swooped to the ground, picking up D.J. and carrying him away. I took after them.
"Are you insane, D.J.," Tucker scolded as I arrived.
"I'm not the one crazy! He is," D.J. said, pointing a finger at me. "We have no guarantee this will work, Dad. There are thousands of factors at play here. Your dream only experimented with one and you don't even know of the others! Sammy could die in two minutes. You didn't know that, did you?"
"What," I asked. "But-but my dream said she survived. The decision to destroy the shield haunted him forever but his daughter grew old."
"In that one timeline. How many times do I have to tell you that your dreams explore one timeline where one outcome came from thousands of possibilities. You cannot understand the complexity of the time stream! I know of millions of time strands that Sammy's death is unavoidable. You stopped one!"
"I can't let this be for nothing," I said, turning away.
"And you," Tucker declared. "You're sticking with me. How many time strands do you know end in your death?"
"A few. Don't worry, it's not now."
I flew back towards my family. "I'm so sorry," I said, hanging my head. "I had a dream that told me about a way Sammy survived. I didn't know the whole story."
"I'm still alive," Sammy declared. A blast came from behind Sammy, her blocking my view of what happened.
"Sammy," I screamed by her surprised look. She turned around.
"Techno called," one of the demis said, coming into my sight. She turned around, eyeing the ascending ghosts. "We've got company."
"Not right now," I declared. "Sorry, Sammy. You're too valuable."
"What," Sammy asked as I shot a blast of ice at her. From her neck down froze. "Dad!"
"I just very possibly sentenced millions to death because I thought you'd be safe. I'm not losing you now."
"Let me go," Sammy screamed.
"I'll take her to the castle," I said, looking to Sam. "Be careful honey. I'll be right back."
"Mom," Sammy screamed.
"No, Sammy. I agree with your father. You're too valuable. Too many are dying now for you, honey. Don't let their sacrifice go to waste."
"Their sacrifice," Sammy declared. I opened a portal. "No! Let me stay and fight." I picked her up, flying her to the castle. "Dad!"
"No, Samantha," I declared. "I'm sorry, butterfly. Not now. You can sacrifice yourself later but you will not die this soon after what I done."
"Daddy, please," Sammy cried. "Those are my siblings out there! Do not make me stay here, not knowing their fates."
I rubbed her hair. "I'm sorry, butterfly." I kissed her head, opening a portal back to the fight.
"Daddy," Sammy screamed as I walked through. Her scream was cut short as I closed the portal. He got to work.
I shot awake, breathing hard. My room was empty with the curtains drawn tight. It was late. I pushed the covers off me, coming to a seat on the bed. I put my head in my hand. Sammy can survive but it will possibly cost more lives. There's not even any guarantee that my choice would work in the end. She could still end up getting herself killed.
I came to my feet, going into the private bathroom. Outside my window, a dusty orange lit up the sky. Please let that be morning sky; not evening. I shaved and took a shower, standing under the pouring water. I want my daughter to grow old but putting that on her head would be worse than death. In his original plan, he could keep his decision being based upon her survival chances secret. With D.J.'s reveal, though, Sammy became a valuable player. We couldn't let her die.
Worst still, I didn't know how it ended. I imagine we chased the ghosts, splitting up and trying to keep the damage to a minimal. I'd imagine we'd want D.J. to go to the castle, go to the tower or buddy up but he'd probably refuse. Megan had declared that the other shields relied upon the shield in Amity Park but we fixed that a long time ago. For that to be true today, the old system would have to still be in place, dozens of failsafes corrupt. I'd say it's almost impossible to do.
I finally looked to the analog clock and it was nearing seven-thirty. That didn't give me any indications of the time—AM or PM—though. The sun rises and sets at about the same time this time of year.
I dressed as if I was getting ready for the day and came downstairs. It's too early or too late for the kids to be in bed but if it was in the morning the kids would be heading for school. I entered the living room and inwardly groaned when I found Lilly on the couch, doing her homework.
I walked into the room and went to take a seat. "Dad," Lilly declared, shutting her laptop's lid. "You're awake."
"What did they do for my class," I asked, rubbing my eyes.
"They canceled your classes. It kind of sucked. They brought in a sub and we had to sit through the entire ninety minutes. It was really boring. I'll be glad to have you back as my teacher." She mumbled, "Never thought I'd ever say that."
I laughed softly. "I was once like you. My parents embarrassed the crap out of me, too. Now it's my turn."
"Yeah. Well, your parents were never your teacher."
"True, but I had a fear once." I gave her a face.
"Lucky for you, it didn't come true." We laughed.
"Come on. Your dad is Danny Phantom and your mom is Gothica Phantom. Isn't that cool?"
"If only you could be as cool as Danny Phantom when you're Danny Fenton, we'd be getting somewhere."
"Hey," I objected. "I'm the same person!"
"Yet, you somehow manage to lead separate identities."
I rubbed her hair. "Finish your homework. Where are your brothers and sisters?"
"Mom, D.J., and Pammy went to Grandmas and Grandpas. Megan and Dawn have ran off who knows where and the four musketeers are participating in the largest failure in the history of the world."
"What does that mean," I asked, bunching my eyebrows together.
"They're hitting on the most popular girl in their grade. She'd never go out with those losers."
"Jacky, Jamie, Joey and Doc aren't losers," I rolled my eyes. Only Lilly was in high school but the classifications begin in fifth grade. It's transformed a lot since my days in school. The only class still existing from my days is the A-List and that's twelve members for six grades. The girl the boys are after must be an A-List member. They're not the bottom of the heap as I once was but Team Phantom doesn't hold the 'political' power it once has. You have to be on Team Raven to have that.
"Please, those four will always be losers. They're just good at hiding it." Okay, I'll let sibling slash cousin aggression slide.
"Finish your homework. I'm going to make dinner. I owe your mom."
I stood up, stretching my back. I slept a long time and my old muscles weren't moving so smoothly. "It's not your fault you can't wake up once your dreams begin. How do you owe Mom anything?"
"Well, it's not your mom's fault either. She's still stuck with the consequences."
"Point taken," Lilly said, nodding in my direction. She flipped the lid of her laptop back up, getting back to work. I went into the kitchen, beginning dinner.
The back door opened heavily and two toddlers ran in the house as Sam brought up the rear. "Danny was having a prophetic dream when I left. I have no idea if he's awake or not."
"Oh, he's awake or Lilly's cooking," Vlad's voice announced.
"Danny," Sam declared happily when she saw me.
"Hey, honey. Sorry I slept all day."
"Hey, it's not your fault. I invited Vlad, Blue and their family over for dinner. I hope you don't mind."
"Not at all. I made some extra." I was starving so I planned to have leftovers. I'll just have a midnight snack. Giving up an extra helping is worth having my entire family here.
"We appreciate this," Blue said, nodding.
"Have you made a decision," I asked as the door closed. Megan and Dawn were in the very back. Either the girls were at my parents' house or they rounded them up. Considering the boys aren't home, I'd say they were at Fentonworks.
"We're staying," Dawn spoke up.
"Not at this moment," Blue said, trying to maintain control of his family. Ha! Good luck. The kids do run the show and only becoming a parent made me realize the town was right. How my parents done it for fourteen years is beyond me.
Then again, my parents lost control when I became half ghost and my children were born half ghost. They did have an unfair advantage.
"If they go back to Connecticut, can I move in here, Uncle Danny," Dawn asked. I wanted to laugh but that would be the wrong thing to do.
"Dawn, you are always welcome in our home but you need to talk this out with your dads. I'll tell you what: if you to go back home, you can fly down here any time you want and we'll give you a room all your own. Megan too if it's all right with Vlad and Blue." I started to look to her dads when a secondary thought hit me. "Fly as in airplane, not ghost powers."
"I appreciate the gesture but thank you for pointing that out and of course Megan can stay with us. We haven't decided yet but the girls are family. We never turn away family."
I smirked at Blue. "I'm on Dawn's side here, though. I want you to move down here."
"Even if we see each other every week it wouldn't be enough," Megan whined. "Please, Blue! You're the only one who's not decided."
"Pammy," Mada cried.
"Alex hasn't had a say," Blue pointed out.
"Please," Dawn retorted. "Give him six months to start talking and he'll put the nail in the coffin."
"Please use another metaphor," Vlad said, looking uncomfortable. Blue put his hand on Vlad's shoulder.
"Any news," I asked.
"Your mom wants to purify my ectoplasm for six hours a day and we'll see if it has any impact in a week. She examined Danielle today to see if she shows any of the symptoms I had early on and she's saying she'll be giving Dani annual exams now. We can't decide if Vlad screwed something up in the lab when I was born or if my childbearing did this to me. Either answer will hurt someone I love so I don't care to get that answer."
"It's been thirteen years. There should be no problems so it does boil down to those two choices. Either way, I'm sure you wouldn't have done it any other way."
"With my children, darn right but with Vlad, I didn't have any choice." Blue took his hand. "This is not your fault."
"I'm not implying Vlad done anything wrong. Vlad just isn't as smart as my parents, no offense."
"I'm certain Vlad would rather have you for thirteen years than to never have you at all. Either way, though, you'll be around for a long time. Mom and Dad can reverse this."
"Has your dreams told you something mine hasn't," Blue said, raising an eyebrow. "I'll survive this so long as nothing unforeseeable happens but long time? I haven't seen into the future very far."
I looked down. "I don't see you around a whole lot in the distant future but I'm sure you're around. You're probably spending a lot of time in the Ghost Zone."
"Why would I spend a lot of time there," Blue asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Do you have plans to stay in the Real World," I asked Vlad.
"We don't discuss that," Vlad replied. Blue looked away sharply.
"Come on, Blue, you know we never really say goodbye. It'll happen but it's far off in the future. I bet it happens when he's warm and snug in his bed, sleeping by the man he wants to spend the rest of his life with."
"What are they talking about," Mada asked. Megan pushed Pammy towards the living room as Dawn did the same to her little sister. I don't know what experience Dawn has with death but my kids understand the concept well. Ida passed away before D.J. turned six months old. It took Sam a long time to get over it even though we saw her immediately after. I miss Granny but she's doing so much better now. It's a great sight to see her walk.
"It's not something we talk about," Blue said, miserably. "Drop it."
"You do need to find the time to talk to your kids about loss. The chances of us avoiding it in fifteen years is getting smaller and smaller."
"You didn't," Sam said, her eyes widening.
"I did. That's why I slept for so long. It's not a day battle, Sam. It starts on the fourteenth."
"That explains why that could happen. What did you dream about?"
"Consequences of having a dream," I said, sighing. "Apparently, the dream he had was speaking of regret. His future self spoke of the grievances he had but all he heard was Sammy survived. D.J. saw it coming and we had a bit of a scare with him. As Tucker and I were scolding D.J., he gave us a lesson about timelines and I found out that just because it worked out in one timeline doesn't guarantee it would work now. I flew back to Sammy and almost watched her die for real but D.J. had told Tucker… maybe he read it. I don't know. Anyway, Tucker reached out to a team member and she protected Sammy. Sam and I both agreed that for what we gave up, Sammy's life had blood soaked value and we couldn't lose her during this attack. I trapped her and delivered her to the castle. That's when I woke up."
"I look forward to watching it," Sam replied.
"I slept all day," I said, incredulously. I was summing it up not because we'd watch it but because I figure I'd be giving a clip notes version at Fentonworks later. "Do you know how long watching that would take?"
"We can skim it," Sam said, shrugging.
"Most of it was pretty boring," I agreed. I wished my powers would have skimmed it.
"Well, I'm going to get a jump on feeding Alex," Vlad said, turning to Blue. Blue was holding their son. "Any place private I can do this?"
"Follow me," Sam said, leading out of the kitchen.
"Dinner will be ready in ten minutes," I replied.
"That's plenty of time. He doesn't feed for long periods of time."
"I'm coming with you," Blue replied, still holding Alex.
"Okay," Vlad agreed. Sam took the guys to the breastfeeding room. With as many kids as we have, Sam turned one of Pam's closets into a quiet place for her to breastfeed. It's big enough for both of them to sit together. I watched Sam breastfeed our three many times.
The Masters ended up staying the night with us. Our rooms were much larger so Vlad and Blue could literally keep all three of their kids in the same bedroom as they were. Of course, Dawn and Megan roomed and Pammy and Mada roomed but it was a nice gesture.
Today was Friday so the kids and I had school. As I was heading out the door, I sent out messages to my family that we'd meet at Fentonworks this afternoon. Vlad knew he could stay at our home as long as he wanted but Blue had to go to my parents' house for his treatment. Mom didn't usually let Vlad stay with Blue during the treatment. I also told him where the keys to his mansion were. He could get a ride there himself. We may be rich but we don't splurge. We only have two cars at the moment.
Dawn and Mada didn't have anything to do all day so they tagged along with Megan and Pammy. It's not common for children who don't attend the school to tag along but it's not forbidden. I vouched for them and got them a visitor's pass. It would be up to the girls' teachers if they'd let them stay in the classroom or not. It was only ten minutes per class so it wouldn't be long.
I apologized to my classes for the sudden absence and didn't assign too much work. During my first block, I read a message from the school board announcing I had a transfer student. It was unusual for me to receive a brand new student but I knew I had those other three kids that transferred here. I guess one of them was in high school. That meant I'd have to dedicate the entire class to his training.
He would be coming into my class third block. That's the same class Lilly has with me. I reviewed what I needed to do (it's not very often my students don't have any clue how this works) and prepared for the student's arrival. The boy showed up right on time. He had short black hair and he looked out of place. I knew this was a lot for him to take in. I've talked to other teachers and they've all said they don't know which class is the best for new students. The first and second blocks were the ones that the student doesn't know what to do but by the time he may be adjusting, he's wore out from the overload.
"Have a seat, class. We've got a new student," I announced as the bell rang. Lilly was sitting in the very back of the classroom, her head ducked close to the desk. She's been in my class for two weeks now. You'd think she'd learn to get over it. "Please retrieve your laptops and sign into your science class. We're going to begin biology next week. I'd like to review the organs of a frog."
I saw Lilly reach across the aisle, pointing to the science class icon. "That's it right there. You use your user name and password upon the prop." She was whispering so only he and I would hear her.
"Thanks. I'm Trevor Gates."
"Lilly," she introduced. She left off her last name. I wonder why.
I quickly reviewed the lesson and helped the students know what to do. The frog dissection was my favorite part. It was all done virtual now but no one missed out on the experience. The dissection was so lifelike and we usually done it in the classroom and I'd pass out samples of what it felt like, what the smell is like and even allowed them to cut real frog flesh. I added the last part by turning a frog half ghost and freezing it before the dissection. It doesn't feel a thing (I made sure. I'd hate to be done that way) but it allows the frog to still live and the kids to get to experience cutting on a real thing. We don't dissect it but the kids get to experience what it'd be like if Sam hadn't taken away the lab experiment our own Freshman year.
At the end of class, the students started to file out but Lilly hung around. "You want to hang out during lunch," Lilly asked.
"Lunch is after this block, right?"
"Yeah," Lilly nodded. "You'll have to stay here but you already know that. I'll return for the last five minutes of class so we can walk to the cafeteria together."
"That'd be cool, Lilly."
"Thanks, Trevor," Lilly smiled. Oh, no. Lilly has a thing for this Trevor and I think this Trevor has a thing for Lilly… and I'm stuck with him for the entire class.
Lilly stood up, putting on her backpack. "It's a date." My jaw clenched and I had to take a deep breath. Lilly walked up towards my desk.
"Please don't screw this up," Lilly whispered under her breath.
"Oh, I'll try not to," I said, not looking to her.
"Later, Mr. Fenton," Lilly replied.
"Bye, student I barely know."
"Hello, Mr. Fenton," Trevor replied, having no idea he was talking to the father of the girl he just hit on. "I'm Trevor."
"Hello, Trevor. How has your day been so far?"
"Really confusing. Everyone's been so nice, though, so it's been manageable." I wished one person hadn't been so nice to you.
"It'll get better," I replied. "Lilly already showed you how to access your science class. You'll need to also access the school website to reach my wall. Assignment postings and web lectures are there. You can also reach out for help from your fellow students. There's a way to contact me if you need any help."
"And all I do is sign in the website and go to Science nine, right?"
"That's right. You can only access your classes, though. If you have the class next semester, you can preview the class but nothing major. We learnt that the hard way." We had students turning in assignments that was done the year before and I'm not talking about done personally. They'd have their 'nerd' complete the assignment in the beginning of the year.
I reviewed school policy, classroom policy and the rules with him for the entire block. I didn't go too much in detail because he's probably got this all morning. I tried to take cues from Trevor as to what he was having trouble understanding. He was a bright kid. At the end of class, he and Lilly went to the cafeteria together and the poor boy still didn't know I was her father. I tried to be patient and understanding but it was hard watching my little girl fall head over heels.
After school, we watched my dream and discussed ways to improve it. The most obvious was not destroy the shield and I promised not to do that, no matter what. Mom couldn't understand why Megan thought the other shields were reliant upon the one in Amity Park either but we all agreed she was right. We reviewed the shield design again and made some changes. We were trying to prevent the war still. We hadn't given up.
Blue was getting better but Mom still couldn't find what was out of balance. Vlad, Blue and the kids were staying with us and Blue was slowly coming around to the idea of moving to Amity Park. Vlad and I could finally be around each other, exposed and open, and not feel that pull. It was as if the magnetism was dead inside us. I felt complete with him here but I had no longings to touch or kiss him. I think Blue was starting to grasp that, too.
Danielle's tests, though, yielded something really surprising. Danielle was fine but she was pregnant. It caused a big fuss because, a) Mom wasn't sure if it was Vlad's doing or the childbearing that had Blue like this and b) Danielle didn't want any more children. Danielle, Nathan and Lester were fine with Jacky and Jamie and in fact, the singleton child caused a bit of a mess in her family. Who is the father? Mom observed Danielle closely but as weeks became months, the pregnancy ran smoothly. Danielle had a baby girl April 18, 2020. Brooklyn Alexis Fenton-Johnson looked just like her mother except she had dark brown hair, a mixture of her parents' colors.
I had several dreams about the Battle of Amity Park over the years. There was never a clear, concise answer as to whether Sammy would live or die. I did not let my dreams impact my actions, though. We took what my dreams gave me and we tried our best to improve the situation. I would not allow any dream, though, to make decisions for me. If a dream told me a way Sammy could survive, we discussed it and tried to improve it. As I got older, I began to think much clearer. My children were just a big part of this as the genesis generation was.
Lilly graduated high school in 2023. Trevor was a love interest but he quickly became a best friend. When I found out who his mother was, though, I really thought he'd be something more. Trevor's last name was now Gates but it used to be Finkle. Trevor was Jina's little boy and she met a ghost hunter at Champaign-Urbana named Marion Gates. Jina's two boys had a darker complexion like their father but Trevor was included in the entire family. Lilly eventually told Trevor that their teacher was her father but he didn't mind. They dated for a while but then turned into real good friends.
It broke my heart when Lilly went to college. She wanted to experience life so she moved to Switzerland to attend one of the best medicine schools in the world. She says she chose the University of Zurich because of its reputation but I know she chose it because it never gets above seventy degrees. That girl hates anything hot. Megan and Dawn had similar ideas the next year but instead of picking somewhere that doesn't get hot, they picked somewhere that doesn't get cold. The girls attended the best school for biological research in California. At least they stayed in the country, though.
Jacky and Jamie had the choice to go anywhere they wanted to go. I promised them a full ride and they could get into any school they wished but they joined the military. We thought Joey would do the same the next year but he ended up changing his mind and accepting me on my offer to pay for his schooling. He and Doc went to New England. Doc got into Yale to go to law school like his mother but Joey went to a local school and got a degree in psychology. Surprised us all.
We had to fight Sammy to go to college. It wouldn't mean anything if we forced her so we tried talking to her. She never said why she didn't want to go—"I just don't want to"—but we all knew why. We were open with our children about the eerie future ahead but we were firm in our message too. We heed these warnings not to ensure their execution but to know the future is always changing. I'm sure we got through to Sammy but I can understand her hesitation. When I first got my powers, I was reluctant to make long term plans too because I didn't know how long I'd be around to see them through.
Teresa and Philip went to school in Denver, both of them pursuing a career in business. The twins didn't have any powers so they wanted to remain relevant in this fight. Philip was talking about following in his father's footprints and getting a degree in security and technological engineering. When Pammy graduated, Sammy went to college with her finally. That was Summer of thirty-one. Sam and I both knew the next one would be the hardest. D.J. had not only knew about his destiny as the Master of All Time, he had already begun his work. D.J. had plenty of time for a career but he has talked about putting his energy into doing the one thing he wants most—starting a family. Despite our message of not putting life on hold for the future, we couldn't heed that warning for D.J. The fact we were pushing it until his forties was amazing. I agreed with D.J.—family is the most important thing in this life.
So when Brit and Mikey's oldest went to college, we respected D.J.'s decision to settle down. His high school sweetheart was going to college but D.J. would only be traveling with her. Jayleen Wright was a great girl and she was the same age as D.J. too. I liked the girl a lot. Her grandfather was a ghost hunter with whom she lived with. Jayleen spent a lot of time at our house from the time D.J. was in eighth grade. D.J. and Jayleen didn't become a couple right away but D.J. let us know up front that this woman would be his wife. I thought he was being a boy until I dreamed of their wedding.
Lilly finished her medical degree and returned home. She completed her eight years in a row and only came home for holidays. I missed her terribly. She got her own apartment, though, when she returned home. I was faced with the horrible concept that my baby had grown up. It felt like I cried on Mom's shoulder a lot through that year. I ended up being right about Trevor, though, a year after Lilly returned to Amity Park. Trevor was married to another woman when he and Lilly got involved. I highly disapproved but it was their life. I have a granddaughter now, Vanessa Rose Gates. Lilly and Trevor aren't married yet but the baby took his name. They're only waiting for the divorce of Trevor's first marriage to finalize.
The day my granddaughter was born was the third time I died. A group of ghosts had targeted Lilly during her pregnancy and wanted to take the baby. We knew our granddaughter was in danger so we planned on having Lilly deliver at the castle. As we were transporting her to the castle, our speeder was attacked and we were forced to land. There was only Sam, Lilly, Trevor and I in the ship when they attacked and Sam was briefly overpowered. These ghosts were dangerous in the way they could kill ghosts easily. They didn't use Ectoranium but whatever they used, I watched one of their members obliterate and they turned the barrel on my wife. I wouldn't let Sam die and dived in front of her.
When my death was felt in the castle, our army arrived. My army was too much for them to handle and the gang was chased away. They're still out there somewhere and it frightens me. As my dream had stated, coming back to life was nearly impossible. We managed it, though, and it made me even more frightened about the upcoming fight. What's worse: that gang could be a part of the Forbidden Zone. They were ruthless enough to be. I don't think we've seen the last of them. I believe they'll even return for Vanessa. We'll be ready for them, though. They left their gun and Mom and Dad made a defense for whatever the element is.
Trevor stopped by the house one night after work. He was a patroller for the Division and Lilly worked at the hospital full time and the free clinic part time. Sam and I babysit frequently now that most of our brood was gone. Boy, this house was a wild party at first but now it's as quiet as a tomb. We still have the twins but they're pre-teens now. They have their own things to do. Only Vanessa, Eddie, Jake and Will keep this house alive with activity now. The boys come over more than they used to but they're still really young.
"Hey, Danny, how have you been," Trevor asked me.
"I'm doing great. Nessa was great, as always."
"Thanks," Trevor smiled. He picked her up, resting her on his shoulder. The baby slept peacefully. She was eight months old now. Her powers were active and she could easily keep Grandma and I on our toes. "Tomorrow's the big day. Are you and Sam ready to welcome your first daughter-in-law?"
"I'm not sure we are but we'll manage," I smirked. "I'm more worried about what's coming in June."
"Lilly's been talking about it," Trevor nodded. "She's really worried, too. I'll tell you like I tell her. We have no idea what two months from now will hold. We can only work to the best of our ability."
"I know," I nodded. "And believe me, I've spent the last thirty years preparing for this. It still feels like I haven't done enough."
"It never will. I'm always afraid I'm not doing enough for Vanessa. There's only so much we should expect from ourselves."
"Have you and Lilly set a date yet? The divorce comes final July."
"We have two dates set. Next year or in five years. It all depends on what happens in two months."
"Don't put your future on hold, Trevor. We don't know when our time is."
"That's true and it's not because we'd put our lives on hold. Losing a sister would take time to heal. We're only being practical here. I rushed into one marriage and look where that took me."
"If Trinity doesn't stop, she's going to have a half ghost on her ass," I said, crossing my arms.
"Trinity already has had a half ghost on her ass. Lilly just didn't use powers. Remember when Lilly was eight months pregnant. Trinity thought she could push her around because she was pregnant. It took eight of us to pull her off my ex."
I laughed. "Yeah, that's not a half ghost. That's a Fenton."
Trevor laughed. "True." He breathed out, content. "All right, Danny, I'll see you tomorrow for the ceremony. Give my best to Sam."
"She's running down the twins," I said, rolling my eyes. "I will."
"Bye," Trevor replied. He took Nessa out to the car and I watched from the door.
"Get your butts in this house this instant," Sam's voice scolded. I turned in the direction I heard her voice but I didn't see her. I impatiently waved Trevor and Vanessa off and ran to the kitchen. Sam had Jay's ear in her left hand and Donnie's ear in her right.
"Ow, ow, ow," Donnie cried. "Mom!"
"I have raised six children before you and never have I seen two kids hell bent on trying my patience."
"Boys," I said, crossing my arms.
"It wasn't a big deal," Jay said, shrugging. That kid is the snake of the pair. Donnie may appear to be the troublemaker with his obnoxious attitude and his wild behavior but it's calm and quiet Jay that surprises people. The white hair always catches people's attentions but Jay's learned the way of the duck: calm on the top, paddling like the devil underneath.
"You stole from that boy," Sam scolded. "I don't care if he was a bully, how many times do I have to tell you not to mistreat others?"
"You used your powers to rob someone," I said, very disappointed. Sam gave me a deadly stare and I knew I just made the situation worse.
"No! We worked together, relying on human skill and strength to remove a tyrant from power," Jay replied.
"I don't care if you used powers or not. It was still wrong," Sam declared.
"Did you return the money," I asked.
"Yes. Along with an apology. He got better than he deserved," Donnie said, crossing his arms.
"Donald Jason Fenton, that is no way to act," Sam scolded.
"Donald, Jayden, upstairs, now," I said, pointing my hand to the stairwell. "Your mother and I will be upstairs to decide your punishment."
"Okay, Dad," Donnie sighed, walking up the stairs.
"We love you," Jay said, giving us his best innocent look. The kid doesn't know innocent.
Donnie and Jay sulked up the stairs. "What do we do," I asked.
"Power grounding and no TV until their homework is done," Sam replied immediately. She didn't need any time.
"I agree on the power grounding but I think the homework thing isn't going to work, sweetheart. School is almost out. There isn't a lot of homework. That wouldn't last long."
"Okay," Sam sighed, "what do you suggest?"
"Your choice. Power training with you or study sessions with me. Ninety minutes a day."
Sam smiled. "They hate both. I think I'll take the power training. They could use the additional gym time."
"Let's go tell them the good news."
I shook Greg's hand before the ceremony. "How ya been, Greg?"
"I've been fine, Radar. I can't believe we're becoming family," Greg smirked.
"The Division is one big family," I smiled. Greg didn't know his granddaughter's fiancé was half ghost but Jayleen did. It took her a while to adjust to the idea of Danny Phantom being her future father-in-law but she got it.
"Don't you think they're rushing it a bit, though? They just graduated last year, Radar."
"It's their decision, don't you think? They both made this decision with a clear head. I support them."
"D.J. is a great boy. I love him like my own son. It's not that. I just think they're rushing this really fast. You don't think it has anything to do with what's coming up, do you?"
"It could," I falsely conceded. The reason for the rush has nothing to do with June. I just couldn't tell Greg that.
"I just don't want to see either one of them rushing into anything too fast, that's all. I can't wait to welcome D.J. into the family."
"What about Michelle," I asked, holding my head down. "Her showing up would mean the world to Jayleen."
"Michelle doesn't care about Jayleen anymore, Radar. Sometimes, your kids can't take the fact their parents believe in ghosts. You're lucky your kids are so supportive."
"My kids don't understand the concept of non-believers," I said, raising my eyebrow. "I used to not believe but I'd never go to the extremes Michelle did."
"I was fine until she got with that biker. There was no way in hell I was going to allow my grandbaby to be raised by someone who was in a gang." Michelle was a little older than I was. She had Jayleen out of wedlock and then started dating a motorcycle gang leader in LA. Greg contacted us at HQ and we brought Jayleen home. D.J. and Jayleen didn't become friends until eighth grade. Greg got too old to deal with the ghost attacks and they fell on hard times. We weren't paying so much for just a former member even then and Jayleen started wearing hand-me-downs. When one of D.J.'s teammates started picking on Jayleen for being down on her luck, D.J. befriended her. They started dating in ninth grade but it didn't get serious until their eleventh year.
"Jayleen was lucky to have someone as good as you as a grandpa," I smiled.
"Jayleen was lucky to meet someone as good as your son. Thank you, Danny, for raising such a good boy."
"Two out of four isn't bad," I said, frowning as Sam and the twins walked in. "Donnie, Jay, this is Greg. He's Jayleen's grandpa."
"Hello, Mr. Wright," Jay nodded.
"What's up, Mr. W.," Donnie replied. See what I mean. They'd never suspect Jay.
"Hello, boys," Greg laughed.
Sam hugged Greg. "Welcome to the family, Greg."
"You too, Sam, my dear," Greg returned the hug. Sam lead the boys to their seats.
As the start time got closer, I greeted all our friends and family. Lilly came in with Vanessa near the beginning. "Dad," Lilly smiled.
"Hey, baby. You look beautiful," I said, hugging her.
"You look not bad yourself," Lilly replied, returning the hug.
"Paw-paw," Nessa called out happily.
"Shh," I said quietly. "Eight months old can't talk, Vanessa."
Lilly snorted. "In our family they can."
"That's true," I said. I kissed Vanessa and then kissed Lilly. "Where's Trevor?"
"He's coming in on his own. He has to go to work afterwards."
"When is your next shift," I asked.
"Tomorrow night. I'm working hoot owl."
"Do you need us to babysit," I asked.
"No. Megan and Dawn have agreed."
Megan and Dawn share an apartment in town. I'm just waiting to get the call from Anthony any day now. They've been together for three years and he's flown in from California eight times. If that man isn't crazy for her, I don't know who is.
Dawn's had a couple boyfriends but nothing serious. She's been in an on again, off again relationship with a boy from Saint Louis but she's been hesitant to bringing him home. Until she commits to seeing his reaction to her two dads, she'll never know if it can go anywhere. Everyone else isn't looking. They like the temporary flings more than forever.
I finally had a seat and we watched our nineteen year old get married. Our first to marry. At the reception, my grandparents could mingle. Grandpa Fenton died when Sam was pregnant with the twins but we see everyone all the time. I've even met Gabriel Manson. Everything was going smoothly until I got a message from the division. Everyone knows today is D.J.'s wedding so it has to be important for us to be getting this call. After I read the address of the shield generator, though, I knew we were in big trouble. A moment later, the Team Phantom distress code beeped for the adult halfas. We've got to go.
"I'm so sorry, Jayleen," D.J. said, kissing her on the cheek. "I'll make it up to you, sweetheart, I promise."
"Be careful, honey, and I'll see you back home," Jayleen replied. Sam, Tucker, Jazz, Danielle, Valerie, Lilly, Megan, Dawn, Jacky, Jamie, Doc, Sammy, Pammy, Mada, D.J. and I left the party. A few of the family friends were leaving behind us but most were D.J.'s friends, not ours. The hunters I trained are all now administrative members. After a certain age, it becomes unpractical for a human to be a ghost hunter. Especially now.
Doc was our eyes and ears and since it was the shield, he was crucial. We flew to the generator and six ghosts were there, tearing the hell out of the very life source of our shields. "Tech ghosts," Tucker declared, his eyes widening. "Pulling these guys away isn't going to cut it. We have to capture them!"
"Tuck, you reverse the damage they've done. Sam, I want you to take Mada, Pammy and Lilly and protect Tucker. D.J., you and I are securing this area. Sammy, Megan, Dawn, take down those ghosts. Jazz, Dani, Valerie, head to the power house and keep the power on as long as you can. Jacky and Jamie, check the main shields. Doc, check the power to the rest. Let's move!"
Sure enough, more ghosts arrived shortly after we did and D.J. and I were handling them. It started out with six ghosts, it ended with a complete and total failure of the failsafes. Tucker was able to reverse some of the damage but it wasn't enough. If our shields experienced any stress—like the kind they'll experience this June—then all is lost. All the dreams were right. This is the last line of defense.
Jayleen was at the mansion when we arrived. D.J. hugged her, asking her what she was doing here.
"I didn't want to go home," Jayleen said, laying her head on his shoulder. "It's going to happen, isn't it? The shields won't hold."
"It was going to happen no matter what but now it's official. There's nothing we can do. If that attack happens in two months, we'll be in the honeymoon stage during a war."
"I'm scared, D.J.," Jayleen whispered.
"You're going to be fine," D.J. said, kissing her head. "I won't let anything happen to you, sweetheart."
"Today is your wedding day, little brother," Sammy said, heading to Jayleen's car. "You mind?"
"Go ahead," Jayleen said, looking to Sammy. Sammy hooked her music player up in Jayleen's car, a love song playing over the speakers.
"No matter what happens in June, we have today. Let's not waste it." Most had dates waiting at the house for us but Doc, Sammy, Megan and Dawn didn't. Sam asked Doc to dance as Megan and Dawn started to dance. I held my head out to Sammy. "I'd be delighted," Sammy smiled. Sammy and I danced and as I held her tight, I felt a tightness in my chest. In two months, I could lose my daughter. The date has been looming over everyone, family and total strangers alike, but holding her was the first it registered on me. My time could be winding down with her. It was terrifying.
We were ready for the siege on the fourteenth. It happened early in the day, around two in the afternoon. The alarms started going off and we put the plan into action. The humans and anyone not capable of sticking it out for the long run were to put the evacuation plan into motion. We had everyone in a three hundred mile radius under these plans. There were others in more closer proximity but us agents in the Amity Park area were responsible for the area around Saint Louis. If the shield falls, hopefully we'll have enough time to get the message out. All shelters, regardless of location, opens now. Hopefully, they won't be needed outside the three hundred miles. All inside that area though have no choice; door to door force evacuation.
When we arrived on the scene, the amount of ghosts there was staggering. We went in headfirst but everyone knew the odds. If any of us thought this was going to work, we were kidding ourselves. The shields were busted up and the repairs needed weren't finished. That shield isn't going to hold up and once it goes, this war begins. Until that shield falls, though, we're stuck here. We can't give up. I had a schedule set up to relieve the humans but I had no way to relieve the halfas (the demis didn't need to be relieved. They're immortal). We were going out there to stay for more than twenty-four hours. Just a lack of sleep could be manageable; we're fighting against some of the most aggressive, powerful and deadly ghosts in the world, though. This isn't about sleep.
I had D.J. on Sammy duty but he's not a fully realized Master of Time. There could be bends in the time stream that he won't see coming. In that case, Sam and I are both willing to sacrifice ourselves to protect our family. I've seen Sammy's death play out dozens of times though; we're always too late. I have to keep her signature in my mind. Her energy swelled in my senses and it was somewhat satisfactory. The fight was young so as time progressed, her power would wither.
It seems we were doing better than my first dream. I had a better setup because of the dream. The dream I had thirty years ago had us just keeping the ghosts busy. Today, we had assignments. I was still swatting off ghosts because I was one of the strongest. Sam, Tucker, Jazz, Danielle, D.J. and I were stationed along the shield, protecting the shield projectors from the ghosts. The rest were in stages. The weakest of our group: Sammy, Doc, Rosalita, and the humans were cutting down the numbers. They focused on one ghost and attempted to capture them. Most times, the ghost they were fighting had already been weakened by the second stage. That was our most valuable players. They were the demis and the natural born halfas. They fought the ghosts in large numbers, weakening them so the first stage could capture them. I was a part of the final stage. If they got past us, it was over.
The first day was hard but we all survived. Sammy's energy was holding fine but I was nervous about the next twenty-four hours. Sammy is supposed to die on the sixteenth and it's the fifteenth. I don't know when the shit hits the fan, but it's in the next twenty-four hours. This is the most crucial in everything we do. If we are going to keep the ghosts in (still doubt it) and more importantly, keep Sammy alive, we can't afford any mistakes.
It was late at night when the first sign that this wouldn't end well happened. It must have been the sixteenth already for how late it was. Jazz made a slip and a ghost slammed into one of the projectors. No one was available to help Jazz because all of us had ghosts of our own to beat back. If the projector took another hit, though, it'd fail. If all six projectors are taken out, it's over. The ghost went to hit the projector one more time as Jazz pulled herself to her feet. We all thought the projector was done for when the ghost was thrown back all of a sudden.
"Are you okay, Aunt Jazz," Donnie asked as he pulled Jazz to her feet.
"Donnie, Jay," Sam cried, upset. "What are you two doing here?"
"Your mother and I told you to help Grandma," I declared. "Get out of here, boys!"
"No, you could use our help," Jay declared. "We're capable and we're staying."
"No, no, no," Sam declared. She controlled one of her vines to capture the ghost she was fighting. "You are ten years old, boys! I will not have my babies on a battlefield."
"Why not," Donnie said, crossing his arms. "We've fought alongside you many times!"
"This is the biggest battle yet," I defended. "This is the worst time for you boys to show up. I don't know when they're going to break through today!"
"Then isn't that the best time," Jay objected. "If today's the day they win, shouldn't you have everyone you can here? The evacuation is complete, Dad. Now it's time to save the world!"
"It's too dangerous for you to be here," Sam declared. She turned to the battlefield. The ghost Sammy was fighting was captured. "Sammy, come here."
"Oh, no," Sammy retorted. "Do you think I'm stupid? Take them home yourself. You're not getting rid of me that easily."
"Sammy, it's not a request. Take your brothers home."
"Mom, I'm not leaving this battlefield." I felt my throat tighten. Should we be distracting Sammy with an argument on the day she is supposed to die?
"Fine. I'll take them home. Just do not distract her, Sam. It's the sixteenth. I don't know when on the sixteenth it happens."
Sam looked to the sky. "It wasn't dark."
I looked up to the pitch black sky. "True but let's not take any chances."
"You're going to abandon your post to take us home," Donnie asked, crossing his arms.
"To keep you boys safe, yes," I replied. "Besides, I won't be leaving. I'll duplicate."
"You can take me home a million times. I'll keep coming back," Jay said, crossing his arms. He's usually not this brash in his defiance. He's more like Vlad. He loves his uncle but he learned it from Megan.
"Let the squirts stay," Megan replied. "They'll be fine, Dad. They're the strongest of all of us here. Maybe they can make a difference."
"But they've been there in my dreams. It's never changed anything!"
"Come on, Dad, they're just like us," Lilly replied. "If this had happened when I was ten, I'd be here too. They're going to inherit this; they should be here."
"This isn't a democracy," Sam declared, incredulously. "Donnie and Jay are our sons. When your father and I say for you to do something, we expect you to do it!"
"You can drag us back and waste precious time or you can accept our help and let us stay," Donnie declared, staring Sam and I both down.
They're only ten years old and this is so not the fight for them to get involved in but if I know my sons, I will waste more time fighting with them than we can spare. I looked to Sam. "No. Absolutely not! They are ten!"
"I know and believe me, if I thought I could change their minds, I'd be trying. We made them this way, though, honey. We expected them to stand for what's right. We can't expect them to stand for what's right and sit this fight out. Lilly is right. They're going to inherit this mess; forcing them to sit it out could only make things worse."
"What if we're so busy protecting them we miss an attack on Sammy," Sam asked, tears coming to her eyes. She grunted angrily, capturing every ghost by the shield in her vines. She put the squeeze on them.
"I don't need your protection," Sammy objected. "I'm doing fine, Mom."
"You're the only one we know we lose," Sam objected. "We're keeping an eye on everyone but you're the one we're worried about. We know something bad is supposed to happen to you."
"We could be on Sammy duty," Jay volunteered. "We're strong enough to back her up."
"Hey, I'm your big sister," Sammy protested. "I protect you, not the other way around."
"We protect each other," Mada stated. "I don't care who your parents are, how old you are or if you stole my boyfriend in college. I'm going to protect you if you're in trouble."
"Jeez, let it go, Mada," Pammy objected. I chuckled.
"Okay. You win, boys. Protect each other and if we say get out of here, you'd better listen. We'll retreat before we lose anyone. That was the whole point of the evacuation."
"We got you, Mom," Donnie nodded. The boys flanked Sammy. "You're safe now, Sammy."
"My heroes," Sammy said drily. Sammy done a handspring, kicking a ghost in the core. More ghosts were already showing up, even though Sam had just captured every one a few minutes ago. We're in this for the long run. Sammy returned to fighting.
"Are you sure about this," Danielle asked me.
"No," I admitted, "but what can I do?"
"That's up to you," Jazz replied.
"No matter what, the twins show up," D.J. replied. "It's still anyone's guess."
I released a sigh, wrapping a ghost in my ghost stinger. My mind was somewhere else as I sent that ghost back to the Ghost Zone. There was a part of me that wanted to get this over with but on the other hand, I wanted this to never end. Tomorrow, will I know where this all went wrong? I know Sammy won't give up. She knows she's an equal contributor to the family. There was no place for Lilly to tell Sammy what happened. When Sammy started getting curious, we sat everyone down. I don't think there was anything else we could have done. Hopefully, our work will pay off. If not, we'll find out sooner than I want to.
AN: I didn't leave it here to create this huge cliff hanger. I've said it before: this is canonical. Sammy's death is a pivotal time. As Danny said, it could go any which way. The last thing I needed to add was Donnie and Jay getting involved. No matter what, Danny always dreams of the twins getting involved. This is how they get there. As to whether Sammy survives or not, it's up to the timeline. So I didn't do this to give the readers a cliff hanger. I did this because Sammy's death is neither canonical nor alternate universe. It's just a shaky time in the time stream.
This may be the ending, but there are plenty more plot bunnies for me to experiment with. Of course, there is Eternity which is in Sam's POV, then there is Dimensions, a series of one shots that is in connection with this story. I will be publishing Dimensions tomorrow. I hope you will check out some of my other works :)
Thanks to everyone who has been with me through this story. It started out as a project that was never meant to be published—a hundred pages in a notebook—and now look at it. I have had a blast, guys, and you have made it worth it. I'd love to send a thank you out to PrincessBetty01, Toothless20, Cutegrly and Invisible0One. You guys have sent in numerous reviews and I appreciated every one of them. Thank you so much! :) To everyone else who reviewed, I appreciate your words. The reviews truly made the fuss and fight worth it!
I hope to see you around!