Twelve years after the accident
At first, Sam hardly noticed the ghost attacks. They were such a common occurrence in Amity Park, such a part of the regular routine, it didn't occur to her that they were starting to happen a little more frequently and involve more ghosts. Along with the Fentons, Tucker, and Valerie, she was too preoccupied by her grief and the political and legal battles they were waging to put more thought into it than the usual fight-capture-release that they were used to. It wasn't until three weeks later, when nearly every ghost Sam had ever seen began rampaging in the streets, that it began to sink in.
With Danny Phantom gone, it was open season on Amity Park.
The worst part was that, in their own bizarre way, they were doing it for Danny. Jazz had overheard Skulker say as much, that the humans would pay for having removed the one thing that stood between them and chaos. Never mind that the people of Amity Park, who were Danny's biggest supporters, were the ones suffering for it, and an all-out ghost siege wasn't likely to convince anyone, least of all the anti-ecto politicians in Washington, that ghosts weren't all evil.
"We so don't need this right now," Sam complained to Tucker as they dashed down a street along the docks in the industrial part of town. Amity Park's ghost hunters—which now consisted of the two of them, the Fentons, the Grays, Danielle, Jazz, Nick, and Dash—had divided into pairs to cover as much of the town as they could manage, and Sam and Tucker had pulled dock duty. The Box Ghost was busy tearing apart a packing warehouse, Johnny 13 and his Shadow were wreaking havoc in a construction zone, Walker and about a dozen of his Goons had invaded the nearby police precinct and taken over the jail, setting loose the prisoners that were already there and bringing in new ones of their choosing, and Ember was performing a rooftop pop concert that was putting anyone within earshot under her control. Tucker and Sam, each with a pair of Fenton Phones jammed into their ears, were immune from the ghost music's effects, but still were completely outnumbered, not only by the ghosts, but by the humans Ember was controlling.
"Sam, behind you!"
Sam whirled around, spraying another one of Ember's victims with the Fenton Foamer. It packed less punch for humans than the usual ectoplasm weapons and seemed to briefly break Ember's spell on them, but still wasn't enough to actually stop them. The dockworker that had been bearing down on her with a crowbar stopped, looking dazed, giving Sam enough time to duck into an alley, Tucker on her heels.
Sam leaned back against the wall, already exhausted. Not good, seeing as they weren't likely to be getting a break anytime soon. "We've gotta prioritize here. Johnny and Shadow are doing the most damage, and Walker's the biggest all-around threat, but we're never gonna get anywhere if we don't stop Ember from siccing all these humans on us."
"What, you don't think we should take out the Box Ghost first?"
A twinge of cold prickled Sam's gut, giving her goose bumps, as the chubby blue ghost poked his head out through the wall behind them as if on cue. "Beware!"
Sam rolled her eyes, not sure whether she was more annoyed with the Box Ghost for the intrusion, or with herself for letting him of all ghosts give her the chills. "Yeah, there's a threat."
"Hey! I'm right here! I am the—" He stopped short, sucking in a breath and gaping at Sam is if she were the ghost, and then he fled, phasing back through the wall.
Tucker arched an eyebrow. "Well, that was easy."
"Oh, forget about him. We need a plan of attack. Either we pick off one target at a time, or we need to split up."
"I think we're already spread thin enough as it is. I say we go after Ember together, which will take care of the human problem, then we can decide whether Walker or Johnny needs to be next."
She gave a curt nod. "Works for me. Now we just need to get up on the roof."
Tucker glanced at her waist. "Where's your Specter Deflector?" He patted the white and green belt around his own waist.
"I think it was broken, so I ditched it. It kept… I dunno. Not shocking me, exactly, but it felt weird, like I was wearing a live wire wrapped around my waist. It's okay; I've still got the Fenton Phones."
"Yeah, but that only filters out ghost noise. It's not gonna stop her from blasting you. You want mine?"
"Do I look like a damsel in distress to you? I'll be fine. Let's just get up there and stop the music."
They managed to get to a fire escape attached to the warehouse where Ember was playing without incident and climbed up, Sam in the lead. When she reached the roof, she kept low, crouching down along the parapet as she made her way toward Ember, whose back was to them as she played a riff on her guitar from the side of the warehouse overlooking the docks. Sam felt another chill starting in the pit of her stomach and gritted her teeth in irritation. This was no time for a case of nerves. While Tucker covered her with a Fenton Blaster, Sam pulled a Fenton Thermos out of her backpack and took aim.
As if it were part of the show, Ember whirled on her heel and blasted a power chord on her guitar, smirking at them. "Sorry, no backstage passes!"
Although the Fenton Phones filtered out the mind-controlling music, it couldn't stop the sheer physical power from the otherworldly guitar, and Tucker and Sam were rocked backwards. Sam, without the protection of a Specter Deflector, took the harder hit, her back slamming into the parapet behind her, which sent the Thermos flying out of her hand and over the edge, tumbling down to the street below.
Tucker cried out her name and took a shot at Ember, but the ghost pop diva batted away the blast with her guitar, sending him diving for cover. She then jumped on the instrument, riding it the way Valerie did her jet sled, and flew straight towards Sam, who grabbed the Fenton Foamer. She grimaced when she realized she wasn't going to be able to bring it up to bear fast enough, but to her surprise, Ember stopped short, pulling up so quickly that the guitar dropped to the rooftop like a stone, toppling her backwards off of it to land in an ungraceful heap on her back. Propping herself up on her elbows, she gave Sam a startled look. "You're—? I can't attack you!"
"Really? 'Cause I have no problem attacking you." A stream of green ecto foam shot out of the Fenton Foamer like water from a fire fighter's hose, knocking Ember backwards off the roof.
Tucker scrambled to Sam's side. "That was weird. Why'd she stop and give you time to aim?"
Sam got to her feet and holstered the Foamer behind her back. "Don't know, don't care. That ecto foam isn't gonna keep her down for long. We gotta get down there before she gets more human zombies to go after us."
They ran back to the fire escape and climbed down as quickly as they could, then headed out of the alley back towards the docks and the direction Sam had sent Ember flying. Sam grimaced as she felt another twinge in her gut, but she soon had bigger worries when Walker, flanked by two of his Goons, appeared in the opening of the alley, trapping them. Tucker fired with his blaster, nailing one of the Goons, while Sam reached behind her, bypassing the Foamer in favor of a more powerful Fenton Phaser. She managed to pick off the other Goon, but then there were three more to replace the two they'd shot, and Walker was still advancing.
"Well, well. The Ghost Boy's bride." Then he stopped, his eyes widening. "What's this?"
Sam fired before he could finish his question, but one of the Goons blocked with his riot shield. Tucker, meanwhile, was hemmed in by the other two. A dangerous look crossed Walker's eyes as he glared at Sam. "Don't mess with me, girl. Not when you're breaking so very many rules." Then he ordered his Goon, "Bring her to me."
Sam backed against the wall, still firing, but the Goon's shield blocked everything as he pressed towards her. She reached behind her back, hoping maybe the Fenton Foamer could get past the shield, but before she could even get her hand around it, something flew in from above, blasting both Walker and his henchman back out of the alley. Sam blinked when she realized who it was. Ember?
"What are you doing, Walker? You can't touch her! It's against the rules!"
Walker was on his feet and fighting back. "Not my rules."
Ember hit another power chord on her guitar, which sent a wave of pink energy, bowling Walker over once more, then she turned to Sam. "Get out of here!"
Sam gaped at her. "You do know we're not on the same side, don't you?"
"We are now. Go, before he—" She was cut off by a blast from a Goon's nightstick as six more of them rushed into the alley. Tucker, finally clearing the two Goons he'd been fighting, shot at a couple of them, and Sam started firing as well, but they were outnumbered, even with Ember's inexplicable assistance.
The roar of an engine sounded in the mouth of the alley and suddenly ghosts were being knocked aside as Johnny 13 raced in on his motorcycle. He screeched to a halt between Sam and Ember, looking from the former to the latter. "Is it true? The Box Ghost said—"
Ember cut him off. "Get her out of here! Take her to Skulker!"
Johnny made a grab for Sam, but she managed to twist away from him just enough that he caught hold of her backpack instead. As he started to drag her towards him, she wriggled out of the straps, figuring it was better to lose her weapons than be trapped. He was quicker, however—as soon as she was free of the backpack, he tossed it aside and made another grab for her, this time catching her arm. She cried out in protest, trying to shake him off her as he swung her up onto his motorcycle, but he held fast, gunning the throttle, and then they were sailing up out of the alley.
Below her, Tucker cried out. "SAM!"
He started to take aim, but Johnny yanked the handlebars hard, clearing the beam from Tucker's blaster. She struggled in a vain attempt to free herself, but Johnny clucked his tongue at her. "Hang tight, dollface. It's a long way down if you fall."
Looking down, she realized he was right; they were too high for her to safely get free, so she switched to verbally assaulting her captor instead. "What do you think you're doing?"
"Saving your—look out!" He jerked the bike upwards, hard, as three more Goons sailed past below them. "Man, Walker is wiggin' out! Shadow, defend!" His Shadow separated from him and went after the Goons while Johnny raced off, with Sam clinging behind him.
They flew to the park, where Skulker had set up some sort of command post by the outdoor amphitheater. There was no fighting going on here—apparently there were worse threats around town, and the ghost hunters were spread too thin. Johnny skidded to a stop on the stage beside Skulker, and Sam scrambled off, anxious to be free of the ghost biker.
Skulker looked up, a confused frown crossing the features of his mechanical mask. "What's going on? You're supposed to be down at the docks. And what's the Ghost Child's bride doing here?"
Johnny leaned on his handlebars. "Walker's flipping out. You know how he won't accept the human chick, and now he's attacking her—"
Skulker cut him off with an impatient wave of his hand as he stepped closer to them. "Why is that any concern of ours? I—" And then he stopped and looked at Sam, an odd expression on his face, almost as if he were a predator sniffing his prey. When he got confirmation of whatever it was he was looking for, he straightened. "I see. And Walker's not honoring the code?"
Johnny snorted. "You know how he is, following his own rules. Ember was holding him off down at the docks while I got the gloomy chick out."
Sam looked back and forth between them. "Would one of you like to tell me what the heck is going on?"
Ignoring her, Skulker continued to address Johnny. "This changes everything. I think it's about time we showed Walker we don't live by his 'rules,' don't you?"
Johnny flashed a spiteful grin. "I'm game."
"Then gather all the ghosts, explain the situation. I'll make sure the Ghost Child's bride stays out of the way, since she's clearly too stubborn to do so on her own." He gave Sam a contemptuous scowl.
As Johnny revved his motorcycle and flew off, Sam turned to glare at Skulker, her hands on her hips. "If you think I'm gonna 'stay out of the way' while you attack my town just because you have some cracked idea of ghost relations and toasted me at my wedding, then—"
"This isn't about you! It's about protecting the Ghost Child!"
"You're a little late for that! And you're making it worse! If you wanna do something for Danny, then honor the sacrifice he made by showing the world that they don't have to always be afraid of ghosts! Don't attack his town!"
Skulker looked confused a moment, then rolled his eyes. "No, not that Ghost Child. I'm talking about the baby."
Sam blinked. "What baby?"
He made a contemptuous sound. "Oh, please. You think you can hide it from us? We're not as thick as humans. Ghosts know our own."
"Hide what from you? I have no idea what you're talking about!"
He stared at her a moment, then gave her a derisive smile. "You don't know, do you?" Snorting, he threw up his hands as if she were completely hopeless. "Humans are even thicker than I thought. How can you not know what's happening in your own body? Can you really not sense the life inside you? The life you helped create?"
Sam felt her face go slack as her mind completely blanked for a moment, and then a thousand thoughts rushed in, as if her brain was the Red Sea that had parted for Moses and now the Israelites were across and the waters were crashing back into place. The exhaustion. The nausea. The way smells that never bothered her before had suddenly become intolerable. But… it wasn't possible. Was it? Even putting aside the fact that she was on birth control pills, the timing wasn't right. Hadn't she had her period the week before Danny's…? She had to shake off the memory of that night to keep her mind on track. The last six weeks were such a nightmarish fog, she couldn't think straight. The week in Washington, the crowds, their return home, the train, the Guys in White, Danielle—and yes, she remembered bleeding several days before that last night, and one week couldn't have been enough time. True, it had been lighter and a little earlier than usual, but with everything that was happening, it was only natural for her system to be off. And the rest of it… who wouldn't be exhausted and nauseous after everything she'd been through the last three weeks? The last six weeks, actually, since the day Danny had revealed his secret to the world.
She shook her head, looking up at Skulker. "No, there must be some mistake. And why would you care, anyway? What's one more human life to you?"
"It isn't just a human life. It's one of ours. We're ghosts, not animals. We follow a code—except for Walker, apparently. You and the Ghost Baby will have our protection until such time that it can fight on its own, and then I look forward to having its pelt on my wall."
She tried, somewhat unsuccessfully, to wrap her mind around the absurdity of that statement. "But I can't be—" And then she realized what he'd said. Ghost Baby. "Wait. Are you saying that not only am I pregnant, the baby's a ghost?" The Specter Deflector hadn't felt right, almost like a live wire… She felt her legs buckle beneath her.
Skulker, rolling his eyes, grabbed her arm and held her upright. "Humans. You—"
He never finished the thought. A ray of pink ectoplasm blasted him back and away from Sam, knocking her off her feet as well. She landed hard on her side on the stage, and then Valerie roared into view on her jet sled. "Sorry, Skulker, but you just missed Human Season. Try hunting ducks."
Skulker jumped to his feet and aimed his arm-mounted bazooka at Valerie, but didn't shoot. "I don't have time for you, Ghost Hunter Girl. Just take the Ghost Child's bride home. She shouldn't be out fighting anything right now." And then he blasted off.
Valerie landed her sled beside Sam and jumped off, kneeling down to help Sam up. "Are you okay? Tucker called and said Johnny 13 grabbed you! I've been looking for you for the past ten minutes."
"I'm—" Sam couldn't finish. Leaning over away from Valerie, she threw up onto the stage.
Valerie jerked her head back in disgust. "Okaaaaay. I guess you're a little under the weather."
Sam wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. "I… I must've gotten some chicken broth in my dinner or something." After more than a dozen years as an Ultra Recyclo-Vegetarian, she couldn't stomach meat products of any kind, and it wasn't unheard of for her to get violently ill after eating a so-called vegetarian dish that had been cooked in chicken broth or lard.
"Chicken broth my ass. I think the past few weeks are finally catching up with you, Sam. Your body's telling you it needs to stop and grieve."
Sam wasn't in the mood to quibble. "Yeah. Maybe you're right."
"Listen. I'm gonna get you home, and you're gonna take it easy, okay? I'd give you a ride on my sled, but you're looking a little too green for that, so I'll walk you home instead. And I'll give Tucker and everyone a call on the way to let them all know you're okay."
"They're bugging out. Most of 'em already headed back to the Ghost Zone, and those that haven't started attacking Walker instead of the humans." Valerie shrugged. "Ghosts."
Under other circumstances, Sam might've laughed. Valerie had said "ghosts" in exactly the same tone Skulker had used to deride humans. As it was, however, she merely put a hand to her abdomen. "Yeah. Ghosts."
Sam stared at the row of home pregnancy tests on her bathroom counter. There were seven of them—every brand she could find at Elmer's Pharmacy. About an hour after Valerie had brought her home, she'd gone to Elmer's dressed in one of Danny's old bright red Casper High hooded sweatshirts and a blonde wig she'd found in the attic from the "tragic pop divas" Halloween when Danny had played Britney Spears to Tucker's Janet Jackson . The wig was matted and looked fake, but tucked under the hood of the sweatshirt, and with her face scrubbed clean of all makeup, she was sufficiently disguised that she wouldn't be recognized as "Mrs. Phantom" while out buying a home pregnancy test or seven.
And now all seven tests were lined across her bathroom, and each one showed the same results.
For several minutes, she stared at the tests. Then she got up, went out into the bedroom, and picked up the phone. It was answered after three rings.
"Tucker? I know it's late, but I need to talk to you. Can you come over?"
Tucker stared at her across the kitchen table, his mouth hanging half open. "You're what?"
He blinked. "You're… are you sure?"
She nodded. "I took seven different home pregnancy tests, and they're all positive."
"That'd be a 'yes.' But… how?"
She raised her eyebrows, smirking at him in spite of herself. "Do I need to draw a diagram?"
He groaned. "No, I don't mean how. I mean… how? Weren't you taking birth control pills?"
She reached into the pocket of her bathrobe and pulled out a small, pink compact. "I found this in my medicine cabinet. It's last month's pack." There were three pills still in it. For the eight years she'd been on birth control, she'd never been so much as an hour late taking her pills, and now she'd completely missed three in a single month and hadn't even realized. "I don't know when I missed taking them, and I was so distracted last month, I didn't even notice until now that there were some left. I just… I opened a new pack on the day I was supposed to start it without even looking at the old pack. If I had to guess, I'd say it was probably when we were in Washington."
"But that was six weeks ago. You didn't notice anything before now?"
"I thought I had another period since then, but it was light and early. I looked it up on the internet after I called you, and that could've been implantation bleeding." She felt numb, like she was reciting to him the text of some law she'd learned before taking the Bar. "That night in Washington, before the press conference. It was our anniversary, remember?"
Tucker blinked again. "You're… you're really pregnant? This… it's a good thing, right?"
The numbness broke, and she laughed, an almost hysterical laugh, as tears filled her eyes. "Well, the timing could be better. I mean, no offense, but I'd always kinda hoped if I got pregnant some day, Danny would be the first person I'd tell, not you." In the time it took for Tucker to absorb this, Sam felt everything crash in on her. "Tucker, what am I going to do? I can't do this alone." She buried her face in her hands, unable to hold back the sudden flow of tears.
Tucker pulled her into his arms and let her sob against his chest while he stroked her hair. "Shh. Sam. It's gonna be okay. You aren't gonna do anything alone, you know that."
"But what if…?"
"No 'what ifs.' Everything's gonna be fine, I promise you." He pulled back, taking her by the shoulders and looking her in the eye. "You're gonna have a baby, Sam. Danny's baby. This is a good thing. Heck, it might even make the bastards feel bad for what they did to him."
Sam closed her eyes and pressed her lips together. "No, it won't. Tucker, that's the other thing that scares me. What do you think they'll do when they find out I'm carrying Danny's baby?"
"I…" And then he understood, and his face hardened into a mask of anger. "No way, Sam. No way they're touching you, or the baby. You got me? No freakin' way."
"They'll try, especially when they find out it's half ghost—"
"You don't know that it's half ghost."
"Yes, I do. Tuck, why do you think the ghosts all freaked out tonight? They knew. Because they sensed it. Like a Ghost Sense. And apparently they have some sort of injunction against messing with pregnant ghosts, like the Christmas Truce, or the way they all came to our wedding. But they knew. That's why I went to get the pregnancy tests in the first place, because Skulker said I was pregnant. With a ghost."
"Just 'cause Skulker says—"
"No, he's right. I know he's right. I couldn't wear the Specter Deflector. And… all night I kept getting this weird cold feeling in my gut. It was tiny, just a prick, but Tuck… I think it was a Ghost Sense. The baby's Ghost Sense…"
Tucker leaned back and scrubbed his face with his hand. "Okay. Okay. So let's think this through. Does anybody else know?"
"No. I'll have to tell Danny's family, of course. And mine, too," she added, almost as an afterthought. "Maddie especially needs to know—I might even call her tonight. No. I'll go over there first thing in the morning. If this baby's a ghost, she's the only one who's gonna know how to make sure nothing bad happens during this pregnancy." For not the first time tonight, she had to shut out the thought of what might happen to a fetus with intangibility powers. Danny hadn't been able to control his at first, randomly phasing through things at inopportune moments, and he'd been fourteen years old.
"What about when you went to the drugstore to buy the pregnancy tests? Anyone see you?"
"No. I wore bright clothes and that blonde wig from that Halloween when Danny dressed up as Britney Spears. My own mother wouldn't have recognized me. And I paid cash."
"Okay." He drummed his fingers on the table. "We keep this quiet, then. No one knows but family and our very closest friends."
"That'll work for a little while, but eventually it's gonna be a little hard to hide."
"Yeah, but by then, we'll have worked out a contingency plan for you, to make sure they can't come after you. And you need to make sure you have a doctor who'll be willing to fight to keep your medical records private."
"All medical records are private by law."
He shook his head. "Come on, Sam. You're a lawyer. You know damn well they'll try and subpoena the records. But by the time they even know to try, we'll be ready for 'em."
"It might be sooner than we hope. You know how the tabloids love a good pregnancy rumor." She wrinkled her nose, remembering the tabloid pictures of her and Tucker from that rally last week and the speculation that they were having an affair. "Especially if they can find a reason to question who the father is."
Tucker rolled his eyes at that, then cocked his head. "Actually, that stupid rumor might work in our favor. If there's any reason for them to doubt that it's Danny's—"
"Oh, thanks a lot!"
"I'm not saying we actually play up that angle or anything. Lord knows it wouldn't be good for my career, although they've pretty much backed off since I laughed off the whole thing with that 'confession' about you and I raising that flour sack baby together in ninth grade. But still, any reason for them to doubt that the baby might have ghost powers could be a good thing. We'll cross all those bridges when we come to them, though. For now, it's just you, me, Val, the Fentons, and your parents, if you wanna tell them. No one else needs to know."
"What about Dash? The way he's been sticking like glue to me, I'm surprised he even let me pair up with you instead of him when the ghosts attacked."
Tucker gave her a sad smile. "Danny's folks hired him mostly to protect Danny. I think he feels like he failed him."
"Yeah, I know." Sam tried not to think about the ways she'd failed him. Which reminded her… "What about Danielle?"
"Well, yeah. We'll have to tell her."
"Tuck, she won't even speak to me."
He chewed on his lip. "She'll come around. This'll probably help."
"I don't know."
"Val can tell her, if you want. Then we can just see what happens from there."
She nodded. "Yeah."
Tucker sat back again, looking at her, and his face broke into a sudden smile. "Geez, Sam. You're having a baby. This is so awesome!"
Sam took a deep breath, then let it out slowly, allowing all the fears and worries out along with it. She was having Danny's baby. A part of him was growing inside of her, right now. She put her hand on her abdomen, feeling more protective of the life developing there than she'd ever felt of anything.
She'd let them take Danny from her, but they would not get this baby.