AN: So this is the last chapter! I'm so sad! :( thank you all tons for reading, reviewing, favoriting, etc. You're all amazing. In other news, I'm going to be thinking on ideas for another fanfiction (not a sequel to this one) and some one-shots. And now, I'll shut up and let you get to reading. Oh, and do enjoy!
I vaguely recalled a red and black blur, and feeling or imagining strong arms wrap around me.
There was a scream, possibly my own. I remembered chills, feeling like I was having hot and cold flashes simultaneously. The image of the ground coming to meet me; coming faster every second. Another scream, a feminine one this time. My name, being cried over and over. Black asphalt, and a burning sensation. Finally, just black.
Then there was white. All around me, everything was white. The bed, the walls, the furniture...the beeping machines I was hooked up to.
The paper wristband on my arm read "Amity Park Hospital" in large font.
I shifted a little in my bed. I noticed Vlad was sitting on a chair in the corner, cradling his head in his hands. When he spoke, it startled me so much I jumped.
"Daniel, when I saved your life, I didn't do it simply so you could attempt to throw it away and I would have to do it again."
So he was the one who had saved me from plummeting to my death.
He looked up at me, and his face shocked me. Lines of worry crisscrossed his brow, and the bags under his eyes were the size of golf balls. He looked like he'd aged ten years since I'd seen him last.
"Why, Daniel? Why did you do it? We've all been eaten alive with worry. In the two days you've been unconscious, your friends have refused to leave this hospital. They think your condition is their fault. Your sister has become an absolute nervous wreck, she never stops crying. Your parents haven't eaten or slept at all, and I can't believe what you've been doing to yourself...on top of all the pain inflicted by others...I just don't understand..." his voice faded away.
"Wait, my parents are here?" I asked, a spark of panic lighting within me.
"Daniel, they know your secret now. They're not going to hunt you anymore," he said, slightly irritated at the fact that I'd ignored everything else he'd said.
The door opened, and my mom walked in followed by my dad.
"We heard voices and-Danny...you're awake..." My father sounded happy enough to see me, but I could hear traces of something else in his tone.
I cowered in one corner of the bed, too weak to move but terrified that they would take me away and hurt me again.
My mom's heartbreak showed plainly on her face as she knelt by my bed and cradled my head in her gentle hand. "Danny...we don't even know what to say, except that we're sorry. We foolishly blinded ourselves to the truth. We didn't want to believe that our own son could be...well, could be part ghost. Now we understand why you wouldn't have wanted to tell us."
My dad chimed in. "But we've stopped deceiving ourselves. We want you to know that we love you, son, no matter what happens, but we understand if you don't want to forgive us. And not just for not believing you when you told us, but for everything we've done in the past that would lead you to start...to start injuring yourself...or to...to try to take your own..." he trailed off, unable to finish his sentence.
So they knew, I thought. "I forgive you guys. And I love you too." My soft reply brought weary smiles to faces that hadn't smiled in a very long time.
"So wait, why am I here?" I asked, remembering how I'd tried to kill myself. It all seemed so dramatic in hindsight, almost as if I were looking back on someone else's memories. But they were all right there in my mind, and I knew they'd haunt me for the rest of my life.
"Severe loss of blood from self-inflicted wounds and attempted suicide. They've prescribed you medication for depression until you can get back on your feet," Vlad relayed flatly, avoiding my eyes.
"Wait, the doctors don't know that-"
"No, Daniel, I told them we found you in your room on the floor in a puddle of your own blood. They haven't the slightest idea about your so-called ghostly powers, or that there could be any connection with said powers to your injuries." Vlad answered. It occurred to me that he was trying to feign ignorance about my ghost half, probably to cover up his own. My parents still didn't know his secret, which led me to wonder, where did they think the "Wisconsin Ghost" had taken me?
As if she could read my mind, my mom said, "We searched for you all over town after the Wisconsin Ghost came and took you away and Jazz explained that you'd been telling the truth. Sam and Tucker said they were at her house when he appeared out of nowhere, gave your body up and disappeared without a word. I hate to say it, but we sort of owe him." She paused, embarrassed at admitting the benevolence of a ghost. "Anyways...they said you woke up and seemed to be healing normally, so they let you rest. Then they came back to find you...passed out...from blood loss." she finished, looking away.
So they had lied to my parents, even about the method I'd tried to use to commit suicide. I supposed it was to cover up Vlad's identity and make his ghostly half look better. It would raise questions as to how I'd been rescued if they were informed of the method I'd actually used.
It really was the least I could do to help him, seeing as he flew all the way from Wisconsin just to save me from my parents. I was still curious about one thing, however. "So, when did Vlad get here?" I questioned, wondering what fabrication he'd fooled my parents with.
"I decided to come to Amity Park to pay your family a visit two days ago," Vlad interjected, with a look that dared me to say otherwise. "It appears as if I arrived at the perfect time to give your parents some much-needed moral support."
"Where are Jazz, Sam and Tucker?" I rapidly changed the subject, wanting to avoid the topic of why I was in the hospital.
"They're sitting in the waiting room. They haven't left the hospital since you were checked in." my mom answered.
"I'll go get them!" my dad offered. He seemed to gradually be getting back to his old enthusiastic self, but he still harbored some obvious guilt.
We waited less than a minute before we heard footsteps in the hallway approaching at a rapid pace. Jazz was the first to enter, and she looked even worse than Vlad. Her hair was a mess and her eyes were bloodshot, but her wide grin made up for all of that. She approached my bedside and wrapped me in a tight embrace, whispering, "I'm so glad you're okay, little brother." When she pulled away, her face was tear streaked and I could tell she was doing her best to resist the impulse to attack me with psychological questions.
Tucker came closer to me and looked on the verge of tears himself. "I hope you can forgive me, for not being there for you. I can't even begin to say how sorry I am. I've realized now my mistake...I can't believe I let you get this bad..." he wrung his hands and stared down at them. His guilt was so present, I could taste it.
"Of course I forgive you, Tuck." I told him. "We're best friends. Besides, you and Sam have sacrificed for my ghost hunting time and again. It's only fair I give you a little grace." It was still weird talking about ghost fighting in front of my parents, even though they knew all about it now.
"But you could have been-!" Tucker started to protest, but I cut him off. "Tucker, just accept my forgiveness."
Sam was the only one who hadn't spoken yet. She lingered behind everyone else, unable to meet my gaze.
She edged closer, still looking at her combat boots, until she was at my side.
"Danny...I'm so ashamed of how I've acted." she said after a long silence. "I can't believe I spent so much time with that jerk Gregor that I ignored my own best friend's cries for help." She sounded angrier now. "He lied about everything, even his name...he never cared about me like you did. You were just trying to protect me, and I was such an idiot to be blinded to that. I...I don't deserve to be your friend." She was thoroughly choked up. This was the first time I'd ever seen her cry. I made a mental note to find Gregor, or whatever his real name was, and give HIM a reason to cry.
I grasped one of her hands with both of mine, and she finally looked at me. After a few tense seconds of staring into her amethystine eyes, sparkling with tears, I pulled her into a hug. There were no words needed to tell her she was forgiven, but I whispered them into her ear anyways.
My mother, who had been building up the courage to speak, finally did so. "Danny, I really hate to question you so soon...but I have to know...what could have driven you to this?" She had finally asked the question that everyone in the room wanted to know the answer to, but no one wanted to be the first to say, for fear of being thought insensitive. Six pairs of eyes watched me intently.
I took a deep breath. "I guess it started with the pressures I usually deal with. Between the schoolwork, the bullying, the ghost fights and the expectations at home, I needed an outlet. I would have turned to my friends, but they seemed to have been distracted lately." At this, Sam and Tucker looked at the ground, wracked with guilt. "It wasn't their fault, though. Everything just kept building up and getting worse, until I finally couldn't hold it in anymore. Then, when you guys caught me...well, we know how that turned out." Now it was my parents' turn to feel ashamed. "It wasn't your fault either, though. You didn't know my secret, and you didn't want to believe me, either. It's okay." I reassured them.
"That doesn't excuse our behavior." That was my dad. "We're going to be a lot more open-minded and less obsessive about ghosts from now on."
"Thank GOD!" Jazz blurted out, earning halfhearted laughter from everyone in the room.
I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned to see that Vlad had gotten up from his chair and was now standing behind me. "Daniel, I'm glad you're safe." There was no hint of sarcasm or even his normal smirk of self-satisfaction this time. Only sincerity.
"I hope you know, you've got a big support system from now on," Sam added, and everyone in the room agreed profusely.
I looked around at my family and friends and, for the first time in a long time, I felt cared for. Like I was wanted, like I was loved. All of the stupid things that had mattered so much to me didn't anymore, not with these people around.
Maybe life really was worth living
AN: Again, in case you didn't catch it the first time, I don't own Danny Phantom. If I did it would still be running and Sam and Danny would have been a couple in more than ONE FREAKING EPISODE.
Ahem, excuse my little rant there. I hope you've enjoyed this fanfic, and I hope it wasn't too difficult to follow, seeing as it is my first. So I think you guys should decide. Should I write more fanfiction, or no? I'll leave you to think on that. Until next time, ciao, babies. ;)