I'm uploading another one because I've been having a rough day and I needed this.
There is a major character death in this piece.
(If you're sitting there like WTF what do you mean another one I'm referring to the one-shot I uploaded probably about four hours ago, titled Explosions.)
I might add a second chapter if enough people want one.
That's all I'm gonna say in this part of the A/N, besides the generic 'I don't own Danny Phantom' bidness.
What A Thing To Choose
Chapter One: Sam
April 18, 2013
I died lying on my back in a pool of my own blood on the floor of a national corporation jewelry store that I hate.
How's that for a hook, Mr. Lancer?
I remember laying there, staring at the ceiling, and the only thing I could think of was how disappointed I was that I was going to die in a mundane run-of-the-mill human robbery. After all the earth-shattering ghost battles I'd survived, all the radical protests I'd not only participated in, but lead, two stray gunshot wounds to the stomach would be the thing that would do me in. I wasn't thinking about anything else, just how much of a let-down it was. Of course now I can appreciate the irony of a dying girl being disappointed by her mode of death.
But at the time it's what I was thinking about and I guess that makes sense. It was my brain's way of distracting me from the pain of the whole ordeal. Sometimes I can still feel that ghost of an ache in my abdomen, but it's gone as soon as it comes and I'm left to wait here.
I probably won't have to wait much longer. Probably.
This whole thing started three weeks before I died. I was at the park, with Danny of course, and it was getting late. But we didn't care. We were lying on our backs on top of a hill, watching the stars drift by. We weren't really talking much, just watching the earth move. It wasn't the first time we'd done something like that. I was just about to check my phone to see how close I was going to cut my ten o'clock curfew when Danny rolled to his side, propped his head up on his hand, and asked, "Do you ever think about dying?"
I turned to gauge his expression. He was serious. So this wasn't just some ploy to distract me and then tickle the living daylights out of me like the last time he brought something like this up. I turned my attention back to the stars, chewing my tongue thoughtfully. "Yeah, sometimes," I admitted, crossing my arms over my chest. "Why?"
"I was just thinking about it," He said, twirling a strand of grass between his fingers. "If you could choose the way you die, how would you go?"
"Um," I thought about it for a moment. Not because I didn't have an answer, I just wasn't sure how to phrase it so that it didn't sound like I was crazy. "Well, I want to participate in protests when I get older. I want to be a radical, a rebel, and I think that I would choose to die in a subsequent riot. Y'know, like get trampled by a mob or clubbed to death by a cop or something like that."
"Violent," Danny smirked.
"I try," I grinned. "What about you?"
He heaved a sigh, rolling back onto his back. "Well, if I could choose, I would die of old age, surrounded by friends and family," I blew a raspberry. He chortled. "But given my luck, I'll probably die in a ghost fight or something like that. Like Technus will get an upgrade that could actually do some damage or Skulker's weapons system will finally be up to par with his standards."
"Or the Box Ghost will find a box of knives," I laughed. He shot me a dirty look before a grin broke across his features. "Hey, it could happen!"
"You're right. In fact, I'm kind of shocked that it hasn't happened yet," He said, chuckling a little. He covered his face with his hands and groaned. "I don't wanna die young, Sam,"
"I do," I said. He peered at me between his fingers. "I mean I want to experience life and all that junk but I don't ever want to be so old that I can't even stand on my own. I don't like other people taking care of me. I don't trust other people enough for them to do that."
"That's a whole separate issue that I'm not even gonna touch," Danny said, letting his arms fall to his sides. "That's for you and your therapist to discuss."
I snorted. He had a point. "What made you ask me that?" I asked, watching the way the leaves twitched on the branches above me as a slight breeze rolled through.
From the corner of my eye, I saw him shrug. "Just something I've been thinking about lately," He said, his voice wavering in his lie.
I was just about to open my mouth to call him out on it when my phone rang, loud and shrill in my pocket. I sat up and pulled it out, and in the upper corner of my screen I saw that I'd missed curfew by a full hour. "Damn it," I hissed.
My parents promptly demanded that I get my arse home as quickly as humanly possible. Danny flew me to the corner of my street and without turning back I shouted my thanks over my shoulder and raced toward my house.
"This is the fifth time you've missed your curfew in the last month, young lady." My father said sternly, his elbows planted on the dining room table. My mother was busy trying to blister my mascera across the table with her best scathing glare. "You're grounded. Three weeks."
"Three weeks?" I spluttered. "That's a bit much, don't you think?"
"We've told you over and over again, Samantha, your curfew is ten. Not ten fifteen, not ten thirty, ten. You blatantly disobey us on a daily basis and we've had enough of it. Complain one more time and we'll make it four weeks."
I shut up real quick after that.
Those three weeks passed in (almost) complete solitude. I was only just able to send texts to Danny and Tucker explaining what happened before my father burst in and took my phone and my laptop, effectively cutting me off from the outside world. Danny dropped by later that evening, but his visit was cut short by an attack carried out by Ember on the far side of town.
By the last Thursday of my grounding, I was going absolutely stir-crazy. My parents informed the staff of my punishment, insisting that none of them help me do any of my chores around the house. I guess they didn't really realize that I never ask for their help, so it really wasn't much of a punishment. But eventually I was going so insane that I actually got down on my hands and knees at my mother's feet and begged for her to let me out of the house to run errands. The butler, Hobbes, was out sick with the flu.
"You must call in every time you finish an errand," My mother said sternly as I practically skipped to the door. "Do not call or text any of your little friends. I don't want you speaking to anyone while you are out. Have I made myself clear?"
"Yes, mother," I said, rolling my eyes in exasperation because my back was turned.
"Be back her by five, no later." She said.
"Okay, mother." I said through clenched teeth.
I bolted out of the front door before she could say anything else, and the moment I was around the sidewalk I started whistling. There was a spring in my step and for a few minutes, there, I was just happy to be alive. Yeah, yeah, more irony, I get it. But honest to God, I was so freaking happy to be alive and walking down the sidewalk, even if the sun was too bright and the air too humid and my boots were chaffing the backs of my ankles. None of it mattered.
I made it through the first two errands without any hitch, and both times my mother answered the phone sounding anxious. I was a bit too impatient with her, I regret that, but that last phone call ended with her telling me she loved me, and me telling her that I loved her, too, and I glad that's the last thing I said to her.
I don't remember what the last thing I said to my father was.
I entered the jewelry store to find it empty except for the man behind the counter and one other customer browsing the earrings. I smiled cheerfully at the jeweler.
"I'm here to pick up an order for Pamela Manson," I said, leaning across the counter. The bags from my previous errands were bumping into my legs as they swung slightly from side to side.
"Just one moment," The jeweler said. I nodded, and he disappeared behind a curtain on the other side of the counter. I nibbled the inside of my cheek and glanced down at my nails.
I heard the door chime tinkling behind me and the next thing I knew loud voices were screeching at me and the other customer to get down on the floor. I whipped around, snarl on my face, before blanching and complying immediately; the shock of having a rifle pointed at me drowned out my fighting instincts. I was just pressing my nose into the carpet when the jeweler came out of the back room.
The gunshot was so extraordinarily loud that I nearly jumped out of my skin. I know I screamed, even though I didn't hear it. I felt it ripping through my throat. Before I was aware of moving I was on my feet and running toward the men.
Yes, that's right, I ran toward the danger. The other customer ran out the door, and I threw myself at the robbers. I'm proud of that.
There were two of them, and I launched myself at the bigger one. He turned, though, before I could hit him, and I guess I caught him off-guard.
He squeezed the trigger in his surprise and I felt those two bullets whiz right through me. The momentum of it knocked me backwards and I crashed through a glass case before I hit the ground. Stars danced in my vision as I struggled to inhale. Blood rushed through my ears and I peered up blindly to find a curious red liquid spreading alarmingly fast across my bare stomach. I let my head fall backwards into the floor, not keen on figuring out what that substance was.
I couldn't understand what the robbers said, but I recognized the panic in their voices. I don't think they intended to kill anyone, I think it was just an accident. A robbery gone wrong. One of them was definitely hyperventilating, his breaths were coming in time with mine. The other was a little more calm, but only a little.
The calmer one shouted something about a back door and then they were gone. A distant alarm was ringing in my ears, probably set off by me breaking the case, but I couldn't wrap my mind around what was happening. I could feel the life leaking out of me, all the feeling in my body was slowly starting to recede and a curiously bright light was igniting in the center of my vision. It was still a long way away, but it was moving closer all the time.
This is it, I thought. This is how I die. Not in a blaze of glory defending the rights of the defenseless, but as part of the aftermath of two very stupid men.
I felt Danny before I saw him. Something shifted in my mind and instantly I knew he was going to be there. I started to panic, I didn't want him to see whatever wound was going to do me in, but I realized I was scared of dying alone and I wanted to see him more than I wanted him to see me. And seconds later he was there, his face ashen and alive in horror as the reality of the situation began to dawn on him. I lifted my hand blindly and he took it in both of his, squeezing gently and running his fingers down my wrist. I could feel my pulse fluttering spastically beneath his warm fingertips.
"It's gonna be okay, Sam, don't worry, I'm gonna get you to the hospital and they'll take care of you, you're gonna be okay," He was whispering, but the tears running down his face and the sobs making his voice tremble told me otherwise.
"N-no," I whispered, and I discovered that speaking was difficult. Something flickered in his eyes and he moved closer to me so that I didn't have to strain as hard to speak. "I'm...not..."
"Yes, you are," He said firmly. The edges of his cobalt eyes were red, making the blue appear even brighter. "You're gonna be okay, you have to be okay,"
"S'not...gonna...happen," I choked. I could taste blood now, and that probably wasn't a good sign. I swallowed. "Told...you..."
"You can't die before me," He whispered. "I won't let you,"
My chuckle was watery and forced. "I...never...listen," I wheezed. The ghost of a smile flashed in the back of his eyes. I lifted my free hand and pressed my trembling fingers to my lips, before lifting them and pressing them to his lips. That light was getting brighter and closer.
I felt his lips pucker against my fingers and I smiled. I probably looked terrible, blood gushing from my stomach and trickling from the corners of my mouth, but I really was happy in those last few seconds. I knew what that kiss meant, I knew what he was trying to tell me when he took my hand and smashed my fingers into his lips.
The last thing I heard was the faintest whisper of my own name, and then that light blinded me and I no longer felt Danny at my side. I drifted, allowing my body to completely loosen and relax, and after an immeasurable amount of time I heard a voice.
"Greetings, young traveller," Clockwork said with a knowing smile. I opened my eyes to find the familiar ghost watching me with timeless eyes as his figure flickered from child to man and back again.
"Clockwork," I said, finding that my voice was clear. His smile widened. "Where are we?"
"You tell me," He said, not bothering to glance around.
"I don't know," I admitted. It was white, all white, but I recognized that I was standing on solid ground and my clothes were warm and dry. "Am I dead?"
He nodded once, and I noticed that his grasp on his cane tightened ever-so-slightly.
"Am I a ghost?"
He shook his head no. "Well...not at the moment. You have a choice."
"Explain," I said cautiously.
"You are dead, but there are two paths you can take from this point." He said, and I could tell by his voice that this was not the first time he'd made this speech. "One path will lead you back to Earth, but as a shadow of your former self. A ghost. You will haunt the Ghost Zone and Earth alike until the end of time."
"And the other?"
"You can choose to move on." He said, his black eyes sparkling.
"'Move on?' Where would I be moving on to? I thought it was just the Ghost Zone and Earth,"
"Beyond," He said simply, and something told me that he would not be expanding on that answer.
I chewed my lip in indecision. Part of me wanted to go back and find Danny, since he was probably quickly spiralling into self-destruction, but I knew he wouldn't choose to go back if he was the one that died. I swallowed hard and dropped my gaze to my feet, before a sudden idea struck me.
"I'm going to wait." I said firmly. Clockwork raised an eyebrow. "You didn't say that I couldn't wait. I'm going to wait right here."
I crossed my arms over my chest and dared him to tell me no. But to my surprise, he chuckled. "Okay," He said.
And that's where I've been standing ever since. I understand now why so many people choose to go back as ghosts. Pure, unadulterated need drove them back to see the ones they love, but none of them ever realized that waiting was also an option. And for Danny, I would wait until the end of time.
Although, knowing his luck, I probably won't have to wait much longer. Probably.
I'll add a second chapter from Danny's POV if you guys want it. Probably not tonight, but in the near future, I suppose.
Also, I haven't forgotten about Wide Awake or the other one. If you guys are wondering why I'm uploading all these one-shots all of a sudden, go read the A/N of Be Careful What You Wish For. Seriously, go read it. You don't even have to read the story, just read the A/N. It's important if you want to know what's going on with me right now.
Alrighty. I think that's it from me for today.
Thanks for reading, you guys.