I got enough requests for an epilogue that I decided to write this. I hope you guys like it!
"Tired?" Danny mumbled in question to Sam.
She yawned, "Yup. You?"
"Yup." Danny sighed, rubbing his eyes in an, almost, childish way. "How 'bout you, Tucker?" Danny turned his attention to his techno-geek bets friend.
"I'm actually pretty awake! I don't know why you two are so tired though!" Tucker replied, bouncing on the balls of his feet.
"Because while you got to play with her last night, we had to sneak Dani into Sam's house at one in the morning." Danny grumbled at him.
"Oh- you guys were up pretty late, then, huh?" Tucker chuckled. Danny rolled his eyes.
"At least Ida is watching her for now. I still need to make a portal for her in the tree house we built for her." Danny finished with a smile. Sam nodded, and stretched. "Two minutes until first bell. Wanna get to class?"
"Sure," Sam grinned lightly. Sam and Tuck held onto Danny's shoulders as he shifted on the crutches to begin walking. They stopped by each of their lockers, saying hello to Jazz when they passed her in the hall.
Team Phantom had missed the Thursday and Friday following their return home, as many children had. Danny had spent most of those two days off his feet, resting and trying to keep himself from panicking about all of the other students and their observations about the past few weeks. Sam and Tuck had mostly stayed with him, except for when Tuck got a call from Frostbite and went to pick up pain medication for his brother. Snow Fort had called Danny on Saturday, glowing and laughing about his date the previous night, and how his father was beginning to be more lax with him when they were alone. The rest of Saturday was spent watching horror movies and Danny testing his ghost sense as a just-in-case. Sunday, they'd wanted to go to the park, but because Danny was grounded, they merely went into the backyard of the Fenton household. Danielle loved to play with her uncle, while Sam couldn't have been happier tending the babies she planted last spring for Mrs. Fenton. Danny wanted with all his might to join both of them in their endeavors, but easily became too wrapped up in the sunlight on his face. For these days, they'd managed to switch Dani between their homes to rest late at night. Danny still had to furnish his daughter's new home in the tree-house that they built where he and Sam met.
"Hey, Foley!" Dash called out in their direction. Sam stopped shifting to see what was going on. Danny, careless about the pain and energy it took, spun completely around, his eyes beginning to glow green in a threatening way. If someone messed with Tuck, they'd be in for it due to the drastic increase in protectiveness that Danny now gave off. It was as if the new Dad was a tightly coiled spring, ready to bounce if someone merely looked at his family wrong. Tucker shook his head to Danny and gave a smile, 'I've got this.' Although his flare of protectiveness stayed lit, Danny lowered his gaze and tried to calm his temper.
"Yeah, Dash?" Tuck asked, smiling as Danny was forced to cool his jets.
"Can I talk to you?" the football player asked carefully, obviously a bit more wary about Fenton since the trip. Tucker gave a smile that was defined enough for Danny to see it and reassure himself.
"Sure, dude," Tucker said calmly, following the blond to the other side of the lockers. Danny gave a smirk, remembering that he would always be able to hear was Tuck was thinking.
"Is he getting any better?" Dash asked, concern obvious.
"It's taking some time, but by this Friday, he should be getting used to walking without the braces and crutches again." Tucker replied steadily.
"That's good," Dash sighed in relief. "I feel so bad for him, dude. Y'know? It's no fair that he's grounded for everything." Tucker smiled, nodding, and reading in between the lines. I feel so bad I hurt him so much before.
"You don't need to worry about it, Dash, really," Tucker said. "He'll be un-grounded on Thursday, and I don't think it bothers him so much. He's completely fine, so long as nothing like that happens to him now." Tuck knew Dash got his drift at the statement, and smiled when the quarter-back nodded eagerly.
"Cool." Dash said, finishing the conversation. Tucker smiled, before walking over to his friends again. He gave them a nod, and they left for class again.
Around eleven that day, an assembly had been called. It was surprisingly unsurprising that Lancer had called it to address the trip the previous several weeks. Danny waited awkwardly at the doors of the school theater, wanting everyone to file in quickly so he could make his way to his seat with Sam and Tuck without being trampled over or fearing stepping on others' toes. Finally, Danny found his seat in the back row, staring out over the monolithic mass of teenagers.
"Hello, everybody," Lancer began with a smile. "In light of the events of the past several weeks, I decided to hold this assembly and drive down the rumors." Danny's eyes widened in fear- what was Lancer to say of the truth?
"On the Thursday we left on our trip, we came across some issues in our plane. I'm unaware of the sort of issue," he said, staring straight into Danny. "However, the issue caused us to crash in what is called the Ghost Zone, which we receive multiple visitors from, living in Amity. A trio of students had visited this place before and were able to escort us home. I'm also unaware as to how and why they visited before, but I find that detail of very little importance. It was by their wit that we are home; and by their strength that we are home, safe-and-sound. The students are typically pretty shy, so I'm sure they wouldn't enjoy me telling you their names. However, I'm sure that all of the students who were on the trip will either be truthful or be protective of the people who gave nearly-everything to protect us. Isn't that correct?"
Dash was the first to call out his agreement. He was followed sporadically by each child who'd been on the trip. The one to finish off the role-call of-sorts was Mikey, who called out "Yes! Thanks again for the sandwich!" Danny chuckled and leaned back in his seat. Although he wasn't typically a fan of his classmates and their typical mob-like behavior, today was a day that gave him a bit more hope for them. Of course, he'd probably be asked multiple questions, seeing as his legs showed that he had been injured severely. But, frankly, he didn't mind too much. He would heal. It would be fine.
"I'd like to discus this further with all of the children who were on the trip, and I'd like to ask them to meet me on-stage after I dismiss the assembly." He put his hands together, before smiling, "You are all dismissed."
Danny growled at the stairs to the stage. He'd had enough trouble getting to class on time because of stairs- how was it fair that the Ghost Kid of Amity Park could defeat anything except a couple stairs? He growled again, before putting one of his crutches on the first step. Sam and Tuck rolled their eyes at his stubbornness, before grabbing onto his shoulders and waist, lifting the light-weight up the staircase. They set him down at the top of the stairs, and he gave them an embarrassed glare.
"Danny?" Lancer called to him, and motioned for the trio to come closer. Danny couldn't help but stare at the boot his teacher wore from his recklessness in the Zone. "Alright, kids," Lancer began once a circle was formed of the students. "Danny, what do you want us to say?"
Danny's eyes widened. They were asking him? And every student looked sincerely troubled and concerned as to what they were to say. "I..." he coughed, flustered. All of his confidence and bravery seemed to disappear when in the human realm, or at-least, not in 'hero mode'. "Thank you guys for asking me," he began. "I'd really appreciate it if you kept the whole thing to a minimum, y'know? I got hurt by a ghost while in the Zone, I took you guys to a bunch of ghosts who could escort us home quicker. Things like that? Just be vague, I guess. I mean, I don't want them to know what really happened."
A moment of pause.
"What did really happen?" Paulina asked sincerely.
Danny's eyes widened temporarily, before he managed to calm himself. "I... I guess there's no hiding it now, huh?" Danny asked.
"Danny!" Sam and Tuck chorused, scared for him. "I'm not going to tell them the secret guys, don't worry," Danny responded through the link.
"Look, you all know Sam, Tuck, and I have been there before. Well, when one goes places where they aren't familiar with the culture, it's easy to make people mad. Same thing with the ghost zone. I made a few enemies because I'm clueless, but I managed to learn the slang and culture of the place before I made too many enemies. Sadly, I mainly made Trechor mad at me. We got in a fight before, and we got in a fight again. This time, I had learned a little..." he paused, trying to figure out his own lie, "... a little saying that made ghosts disappear. I used it on him because of the dire circumstances, and now here we are."
"So... you're like a pope now?" Kwan asked.
"...Sure, let's go with that." Danny replied easily. "I won't tell you what it is, though, because ghosts are either lost souls or were just born in the zone. It's their home, and I don't think killing them in their own home out of just fear, instead of self defense, is justifiable."
"You won't tell anyone this little 'saying'?" Valerie asked, an air of flirting to her tone. Sam glowered at it possessively, but Danny squashed it immediately.
"No. No one should have that type of power. I shouldn't even have it," Danny said earnestly. "Honestly, Valerie, Sam and Tuck can't even know it. Neither can Jazz. Do you honestly think I'd tell you?" She grumbled at him incoherently, but Danny got the point. "Feel free to be mad at me. I can't stop you from being mad. But my reasons are valid."
"Fine," she huffed at him.
"How are you healing so quickly, Danny?" Star asked, knowing that Dash had been asking about him.
Danny sighed at the question, "Because I have a lot of practice." He said exasperatedly. Dash raised his brows, guilt-ridden by the statement. "Not you, Dash. Other ghosts. I'm not popular, guys. You know that." Everyone agreed to this statement, and nodded. He relaxed a little, a smile on his face. "Any more questions?"
"What happened to the kid?" Dash asked suddenly.
"Dani is in good hands, and she's staying with her aunt currently." Danny smiled. "You shouldn't worry about her. She knows how to handle herself."
"You guys seemed pretty close- aren't you gonna miss her?" Dash questioned.
"We're pretty close with her parents," Sam supplied. "We'll see her as often as they need us to watch her."
"Cool," Dash gave them a smile. He seemed genuinely concerned for them, "and it kinda warms my heart," Danny thought. He hoped Dash would lay off them for a while, and he figured he could convince the rest of the football team to lay off him while they were recovering.
Sam stood up on her tip-toes and wrapped her arms over Tuck's shoulders, since she couldn't do the same to Danny. "So, what do you guys think happened?" Tucker asked them with a chuckle. Danny nodded at the question, and sincerely gave each of them a questioning look.
"I feel like you guys are a lot stronger than you let on," Dash said quietly. "You guys are far stronger than I am, at least. With those rocks and all."
"Necessity sometimes gives people that extra push. When we've been in the zone, that push has been given to us so often, we've grown into it. But, admittedly, it's easier to let you guys think you're stronger than us." Danny said calmly, his composure growing back.
"But you guys have so much endurance! And I don't think I saw you eat one time through all that, Danny," Mikey questioned.
"Ghost food and human food are very different. Same with ghost water and human water. Ghost food and water has too much ectoplasm for people to eat without dying. But to ghosts, it tastes just like human food does to us. That being said, we've all gone a long time without eating because of the zone."
"I've missed my four o'clock feeding and my four o-five feeding!" Tucker said teasingly, earning a laugh from Sam and Danny.
"How about the part with those riddles?" accused Lester. "You guys are a lot smarter than your test scores show! Same with the entire navigation."
"And why did those polar bears call you their ally?" Star asked, "I mean, you're not some political genius, right?"
"Well, again, necessity. It isn't necessary that I pass all my tests with flying colors. It isn't necessary that I hand in all my home-work in time. And as much as I would love to do so, sometimes sleep is more necessary. And getting you guys safely out of the zone was most certainly necessary. And I'm not too good with politics, but Tucker is, and the people of the Far Frozen are our friends. They're just loyal and protective enough of us that they call us allies when they're being formal, because in a war, they'd be with us."
"What's your definition of necessary, Mr. Fenton?" Lancer questioned. He seemed curious, but also suspicious.
Danny responded with a warm smile, "Necessary means if it doesn't happen, then people will get hurt or die. My low scores don't kill anyone, unless Dad gets really angry," he chuckled, "but without rest, the human body starts to break down and stop working. With my odd sleeping habits, I'm afraid rest in a few classes is the best I get all day. And getting you guys out was the only way to keep you all safe."
"It didn't keep you safe, though," Ashley countered, speaking up for the first time.
Danny looked to her curiously, before his brows lowered in thought. "I don't count myself as a people," he responded finally. "Your lives are far more important than mine, to me. Of course I want to stay alive and unhurt, and God, these crutches will be the death of me, but in that Zone, I'm in charge of all human lives." He seemed a bit darker suddenly, and the room a bit colder. "In that Zone I am your parent, guardian, older sibling, and all of the above. Your parents weren't aware but the moment we crashed you were no longer in 'adult' hands. In that moment, I became your charge, and I owe you to them." He blinked hard, hiding the green light that would've escaped his eyes in his moment of protectiveness.
"As much as you may think that, it seems to me that our parents owe us to you." Lester replied evenly, a calming smile on his face. Danny felt a smile rise to his own cheeks, and he turned and nodded to Lester in thanks.
"Thank you very much, Lester. I would like to ask you all to keep what happened to yourselves, but I know that can't happen. So I'd like to ask that you keep the more dangerous details to yourself." Danny said, more than inquired. All of the students nodded, most muttering that it would be good to down play it some for fear of their parents becoming overbearing.
"After you returned home on Wednesday, Mr. Fenton, I informed all of the students and parents that everyone would be discussing it today before informing others of what happened. I assume it's been mostly successful." Lancer said graciously. Danny gave him a wide smile.
"That's perfect. Thank you very much," Danny replied. Lancer opened his mouth as to question why he didn't want people to know, but that challenging wink from Danny stopped him. An invitation to question internally what had happened and why. Lancer narrowed his eyes and grinned, accepting the challenge from the student. Danny gave a warm smile to everyone, leaning on one crutch to brush his bangs out of his face.
"I suppose you're all dismissed then, if there's nothing more to say or ask?" Lancer asked. When no other questions or comments were raised, the teacher smiled and motioned for everyone to get to class. The trio shared a look or two, and Lancer couldn't help but watch them. "What on earth are they thinking -talking- about?" he wondered, noticing their reactions to each other, despite their closed lips. He couldn't figure it out for the life of him, and realized he wasn't meant to. However, he was determined to conquer the challenge Fenton had issued him. For some reason, he just knew it would be worthwhile.
"Hey there, pumpkin," Sam greeted, picking Dani up. Danielle and Ida had been the only ones home for the day, and would be the only ones home for the entire week. Sam sighed, yes the trip had gone over, and yes, she knew her parents had a business trip the week following their scheduled return. But with all the excitement, you'd think they would've postponed it for a few more days, right?
"What's wrong, mom?" Dani asked at the sigh.
"Nothing, little one," Ida replied for Sam, knowing where her granddaughter's mind was easily. Sam nodded, and lifted the little girl into the air. Giggles continued even after Sam had pulled her back into her arms to cradle her more securely. "Tucker will be here in a few minutes, I trust? Have I enough time to make hot chocolate?" Ida asked.
"Yeah, and Jazz is coming too, I think," Sam said thoughtfully. "I know it'll make Danny mad, but he seriously needs to rest up. And being grounded is the perfect excuse for him to just relax."
"He's still growing too, y'know," Ida commented. "He needs to remember to grow up well - you know that old saying I always use!"
"We love young girls for what they are, and we love young boys for what they promise to be." Sam quoted for her grandmother. "But he's not a boy anymore, grandma."
"Well, unless you have some superior knowledge you'd like to argue with, he's no man either. Not yet anyway. Oh, don't look at me like that! The boy is plenty grown as it is, but he's got potential he needs to grow into that he still hasn't yet. Plenty grown, with still more growing to get to."
"He's a super hero and a king of an entire alternate world, Nan. I'm not sure how much more growing up you can expect from him."
"Accomplishments don't signify growing up, young'n. His potential does." Ida replied with a tone that sounded near scolding, though it wasn't. Sam sighed, looked to her grandmother, and mumbled a small agreement.
"True as that is, his parents don't see it like you do. They don't see him like you do. They figure he's man enough as it is, after this trip." They had gradually made their way to the back bedroom where Dani had been sleeping. It was the same room where Tucker and Danny would sleep if Sam invited them over for a night while only Ida was home. The two boys had shared this room on Sam's parent-less weekends since they were eight, and thus, a few tiny sweaters and pairs of jeans were left peacefully in the drawers. Sam held Dani on her hip, and used her free hand to grab an old space t-shirt that belonged to a nine-year-old Danny, and a pair of sweatpants that used to belong to an eight-year-old Tucker. She put the clothes on the bed before asking Dani if she wanted a bath or shower.
"Um. Bath. But can I wait until everyone goes home?" Dani asked, using her father's puppy-eyes.
"They'll be going home after your bedtime," Sam supplied. "So, we'll get you ready for bed now." An overly-exaggerated groan escaped the girl's mouth, making her sound more like a teenager than a tot. Sam rolled her eyes, and took the girl and the clothes into the bathroom. "You'll be able to show everyone in, Nan?" Sam asked, though it wasn't necessary.
"You know it, missy," Ida replied cheekily, before going to wait in the living room. Sam smiled, and began her daughter's bath. When Dani had felt it and approved the temperature, Sam kissed her head and shut the door behind her. She didn't lock it, in case there was an emergency, but she flipped the sign on the door handle so it read 'occupied.'
After about ten minutes, Jazz and Tuck arrived. And in the two minutes following, Dani had gotten out of her bath and dressed, and had come to see her aunt and uncle. Jazz was still freshly fascinated with the little girl, and took the halfa onto her lap within seconds of seeing her. Tuck chortled at the display and followed them in sitting down. Sam sat cross-legged on the ottoman, so she could face her grandmother, future sister-in-law, daughter, and brother.
"So..?" Sam began to Jazz, who smiled warmly and soberly at her.
"I helped him finish homework and he fell straight asleep after that. I'll have to wake him up when I get home so he'll eat dinner. It's hard to believe he's so exhausted after such a relaxed day for ghost-fighting."
"High school in itself is exhausting, Jazz," Tuck breathed, relaxing himself against the couch.
"True," Jazz muttered, concern for her friends shining. Sam stretched backwards, cracking her back in the process, she gave a typical 'don't worry' smile to Jazz, before straightening up again.
Tucker smiled, "I got the lines up today, guys. And I checked the tree house before I came. Almost everyone believes the woods are haunted, and not a soul would venture far enough to find it."
"Not including us, I hope."
"I wouldn't dare count you and Danny in that mix," Tuck replied to Sam with a laugh.
"So, are you guys going to give Ida and I the details of what happened now, or what?" accused Jazz playfully. Sam and Tuck shared a smile, knowing that Danny would prefer them tell the tale to these two. They began the details to their story, (similar to the one you are now reading,) and they only stopped when the grandfather clock kept in the hallway rang.
"Seven o'clock, stinker," Sam teased, picking Danielle up from Jazz's lap.
"But you were just getting to the good part!" Danielle argued. She knew if she truly wanted to, she could escape Sam and stay up as long as she wanted. But respect for her mother and love of being genuinely cared for and part of a family kept her from truly being rebellious.
"You were there, bug, you don't need to listen to the good part," Sam chuckled at her. She took the girl to the bed that had belonged to her uncle and father, and tucked her in with a quiet kiss. She put out the light, but kept the door opened. "If you get scared, you know where my room is. And I've pretty good hearing, okay? If you call, I'll be down in a flash," the mother reminded, and Dani nodded. Sam gave her another warm smile and a reminder of love, before making her way back to the living room.
"We can go shopping for her on Saturday if you want, Sam. Until then, I can loan you some old clothes I still have in the closet somewhere," Jazz started as soon as Sam was back.
Sam nodded gratefully, "That would be great. Thank you."
"Continue the damn story," snapped Ida. Tuck and Sam laughed, but continued none-the-less. They decided to leave out the details of Danny's horrid plan, knowing how it would hurt Jazz and that they only had until eight to finish their tale. The story finished and eight finally came, and Tucker and Jazz said adieu. At least now, Jazz knew what to be on guard for, in terms of Danny's sure nightmares. The exhausted goth made her way upstairs, and was dead asleep within seconds of biding her grandmother goodnight.
The week continued without much of a hitch. There were comments made to the trio, but no physical altercations. Whether that was because no one wanted to mess with the kid with crutches, or if it was because the recent discovery of Danny's strength made it to their ears, no one really knew.
It was Saturday, following the long getting-back-into-the-swing-of-things type of week, when ClockWork and Wulf arrived in Danny's room. The small family had been expecting him, and greeted the pair warmly.
"Greetings," ClockWork's younger form grinned.
"Hai," said Wulf, sounding more like a small blue alien puppy-dog, than the huge ghostly wolf-man he was.
"Hey, guys," greeted Danny. "So, what'd you need to visit for?" he asked.
"I've discovered a few things since you've been home I thought I should inform you of," ClockWork said, shifting into his older self. "For starters, it seems that because of your young age the Observants have been fighting to regain control. They've even come to me, thinking they were a greater ally to me than you were."
"They gave the throne to Trechor," Danny growled. "If they could get a hundred ghosts to honestly tell me they preferred that cowardly council, I'd easily step down."
"I would be happy to alert them to your challenge," ClockWork winked.
"Please do," Tuck chortled.
"What else?" Sam asked, knowing there was more than that joke of a government to their visit.
"Well, because you have defeated both Pariah Dark and Trechor, you've skipped yourself over the King regent title, and despite your age, all tribe leaders and law-makers have agreed that you're rightfully, fully king. Because of this, Wulf here and I have come to create a portal to your own lair for you."
"Wait, what?" Danny asked, "I thought I wouldn't get a lair until I was twenty-one."
"This is true, typically, of born ghosts and the young. But it isn't quite the age requirement so much as it is the title. A born or young ghost becomes an adult ghost when their ghost form achieves the maturity of a twenty-one year old human. In the same way you bypassed being king regent, you bypassed the few years it would take for you to reach full maturity in the Ghost Zone."
"Cool," Danny commented, relaxing. "How do you do it?"
"We figured since Wulf is the only portal-maker you know and are close to, he would be the one to make the portal for you. In a few years, he and I will teach you to make your own." He smiled and Wulf ripped a portal into the back of Danny's closet.
"If you are the first to enter it, it will remain permanent. You are to imagine what you want your lair to look like as you enter, alright? You'll feel it if it worked." ClockWork informed. Danny nodded, and crutched himself into the portal with closed eyes.
He opened his eyes, and somehow knew it was just as he had thought it. The black-and-white tiled floor was proof enough that it was perfect. Without checking any of the doors or peering through any of the doorways, he stepped back into his room.
"The third door on the right is yours, Danielle." Danny smirked. "Can we put a portal in Tuck and Sam's rooms too?"
"Go on in, and we'll see."
Danny stepped in again, followed by everyone. He remembered that he was the one who designed the place, and made his way to the final two doors that sat at the end of the last hallway. He opened each of them to reveal the insides of Sam and Tucker's closets. "Nevermind," he called. "I already got it."
"Atta boy," Tuck said, holding onto Danny's shoulder. Sam smiled, and opened a random door.
"This is yours, Tuck," Sam called.
"And here's yours, Sam," Danny added, opening a different door. Danielle was already jumping on her own bed with a smile.
"I think this one is mine," Jazz giggled at a photo of Bearbert on a large canvas above the bed of the room.
They explored the new lair from top to bottom all day.
Lancer was growing close to them, day by day. Danny could tell he was one conversation with Ida away from figuring everything out. He wouldn't mind so much, but he hoped it would be some time until Lancer met Ida. His parents were starting to collect a few clues, but he knew he would have to spell it out for them if they were ever to figure it out. He wasn't quite ready to do that yet either. Dani had a new home and a way to reach her dad, mom, uncle, and aunt (if dad wasn't home) easily. Danny only had half an inch left between his nerve ends. The football team was practically ignoring the trio. All of the kids on the trip were given two weeks to get their make-up work finished. No one had said a thing about the trip to the trio, and no one had asked questions. Danny and Sam had a date Sunday afternoon and earlier that day, Danny had received a call that Snow Fort's own date had gone swimmingly. Tucker was finishing up those video game character sketches for Danny's birthday.
And most importantly, everything was looking up.
I hope you guys liked it. I wanted to do a scene where they were playing together like they had in the zone, but with Danny's injury still healing and all, it didn't fit right in. So I hope you guys liked it! I spent so much time on this. This is my baby, and I adore it. I hope you loved my baby as much as I did.
I love you guys-
and in case you're going through a hard time, Auntie Em has a few reminders for you:
You have features, not flaws
Don't have the person for something the human caused (mistakes are in our DNA, but there is no such thing or intent in our souls and personalities)
Optimism is no better or worse than pessimism.
Every storm in the history of forever has come to an end.
In the end, it's all okay; if it's not okay, it's not the end.
Even if it's a little messy, it's all part of the plan. Okay?
Don't give up on anyone. Especially you.
~The End~ (never really, though)