Author Note: Another one-shot AU.
Title: Reaping Roads
Summary: AU. When Sam died, she didn't expect the reaper escorting her to the afterlife to be so cute. Good thing the road to the afterlife is so long.
Rated: T for death (one actual death and two mentioned deaths), mild gore (at the beginning), and two to three swear words (no f-bombs).
Disclaimer: I do not own nor claim Danny Phantom.
Notes: AU- One shot. WARNING- a bit gruesome at the beginning.
When Samantha Manson envisioned the possible ways she would die, she pictured being an old woman and dying of old age. She thought about dying in her sleep peacefully. She once thought she would die in a car accident. She never thought that the latter would be correct.
They were headed to the next city over to get a hotel as her parents had an important business meeting in that city. To get there, however, they had to drive through the country at night. The driver of their car- as her parents never actually drove anywhere themselves- had to swerve in order to miss a deer on the country road. The car skidded down a ditch before it hit a tree. Everything seemed to move in slow motion for her- the glass shattering, and puncturing their driver and themselves. The screaming of her parents mixed with her own screams seemed to echo in her ears.
The driver was killed instantly from impact. Sam was struggling to breath and she strained to look over at her parents- her breathing stopped entirely as she saw them. They were covered in blood- some of it was the driver's, but most of it was their own. Glass shards were punctured in their necks and their eyes stared at her lifelessly. She tore away her gaze as tears streamed down her cheeks. She forced herself to focus on herself. Her parents were dead. She could still save herself. She looked down at her own body- she wasn't in much of a better state. As soon as she saw the glass in her stomach, she became aware of all the pain. Her whole body was screaming with pain and she let out a blood curdling scream despite how much it caused a burning sensation in her stomach.
It hurt. It hurt so bad. As she closed her eyes, she felt a small pain in her head that seemed different from the rest of the pain- it seemed to reach her soul. Her eyes shot open as her life flashed before her eyes- every friendship, every birthday, every school day, every sick day, everything.
Then there as nothing.
When she opened her eyes, she looked down at her body- there was blood still on her, but she felt no pain. When she looked around, she saw that she was no longer in the back of the car. She wasn't sure where she was actually. She was on some sort of road made of concrete and surrounding the road was a forest. In front of her, the road seemed to get brighter and brighter, yet behind her, it only grew darker. It was if one way leaded to death and the other life.
Then she noticed it. The figure stood in front of the road covered in a black rode with a hood that hide his or her face. There was a scythe in their hands, causing the robe to open to reveal nothing but black clothing. If she wasn't so freaked out, she would have appreciated their sense of fashion. She knew who it was. Anyone would know who it was. It would take an idiot to not realize that standing in front of her was the flippin' Grim Reaper.
"…I'm dead," she whispered as the realization hit her.
Everything hit her at once- the car crash, the bodies of her parents, everything. She died. The car accident had killed her. Now, she was going to face judgment.
Finally, they looked up at her. She couldn't see his features- just his glowing green eyes that shined with so much compassion and sorrow.
"I'm sorry. You shouldn't have been in so much pain… You wouldn't have, but I was late to the job…"
His voice gave away that he was male. Despite the fact that he was the Grim Reaper and she was standing in what she figured to be some sort of Limbo, she almost laughed.
"You? Late to your job? You're the Grim Reaper."
"Actually, I'm a grim reaper. One of many," he explained, "We all kind of wear the same uniform and we never really show our faces, so I guess everyone just figures we're the same guy…"
His voice sounded almost sheepish. Great, Sam thought dryly, I'm stuck with the awkward Grim Reaper. He coughed slightly,
"I'm kind of new at this, actually, sorry… Anyway… Samantha Ann Manson, at sixteen, you died in a car accident which instantly killed your parents along with your driver, all of them are facing their own Grim Reaper at this moment in their own Limbo."
The speech he was giving sounded rehearsed as if it was taught to him. She vaguely wondered if her parents were hearing a similar speech from another Grim Reaper.
"I am Phantom. You may know me as a Grim Reaper. I am here to escort you down this road to the afterlife. Along this road, you may see some of your past memories and you may see some of what may have been in the future that is no longer possible for you. I will teach you everything about the mysteries of the world and answer any questions. By my code of honor, I am obligated to answer any and all questions honestly even if the answers may not be what you want to hear nor ones I want to give. The road is long and will take a month in your mortal time. At the end of your journey, you will choose."
"Choose," Sam asked confused, "Choose between what?"
"Not everyone is given this choice," he continued, ignoring her, "Nor is everyone explained the mysteries of the world this soon. But you are a special case… Your soul is strong, very much so and almost as strong as even mine. For this reason, at the end of your journey you will be given a choice. You can continue into the afterlife or you can become a Grim Reaper. Now, if you will please, follow me?"
Sam stared after him as he started to walk down the road. A grim reaper? Me?
The first ten minutes of the journey was nothing but questions- question after question after question. Phantom adored his job, even if he only has had it for a year (and only had three cases before her). She, however, was getting on his nerves with her questions- it wasn't that she was annoying. She was just throwing him off. Everyone else he had usually panicked or was quiet the entire time in fear. She seemed to embrace it, asking so many questions that he was on the verge of laughing. She was excited about it. It was so different he wasn't sure if he should laugh or be upset.
In ten minutes, she managed to figure out that his real name was Danny and he died when he was fourteen, but he was currently sixteen. She learned that he died from electrocution in a lab accident and that when he went on this journey, his Grim Reaper was someone named Clockwork, who informed him that he had the strongest soul that Clockwork (one of the oldest reapers there were) had seen.
"So what do you do if you don't have a case," Sam asked, "I mean, I get that a lot of people die a lot, but with so many of you guys, there has to be some free time eventually, right?"
"Yeah," Danny said slowly, "We actually have our own dimension called the Zone where all the reapers live. We all have our lairs. We have our own life, or afterlife I guess. I mean, we're a lot like humans aside from our powers and stuff. In a way, being a reaper is kind of like getting a second life that lasts for eternity. Some get married. A few of the older ones even have kids that get born into this business. We have our own government that Clockwork runs with these Reapers called the Observants- it's the Observants jobs to assign cases. When you become a reaper, you get your own lair and you get a codename- our real names are something we don't give unless a client such as you asks us bluntly or unless it's our mate- like a wife or husband. Sometimes the kids know their parents' real names, but it's not that common."
Sam digested the information given to her. There was a whole community- a supernatural community- that no one even knew about until they died. Even then, they wouldn't know unless they asked.
"Wait powers," Sam asked, "You guys get powers? Like superhero powers?"
Danny laughed. It echoed slightly, causing Sam to look at him a bit surprised.
"Yeah, I guess," Danny finally answered, "We… Mortals sometimes see us even if they aren't on the to-die list yet and they had a habit of calling us ghosts. Because our powers were like that of your ghosts. We can turn invisible, intangible, fly, etc. We are even made of ectoplasm like your ghosts that allows us to do things like this."
He raised his fist as it glowed green with ectoplasmic flames. Sam reached out to touch it, but just before her hand reached it, it went out and Danny pulled his hand away.
"Trust me, you don't want to touch that. Right now, you're a ghost until you become a reaper or move on into the proper afterlife so touching one of my attacks is fatal. If you die as a ghost, you are gone for good. There are no second chances."
Sam blinked slowly, nodding. So I'm not just dead. I'm a ghost too.
"…So ghosts are real then?"
"Oh yeah," Danny waved it off, "Totally. They live in your plain, but they're really weak so you don't get much. They sometimes come into the Zone, but even there they're weak and they don't really do much. They're kind of scared of us, which is reasonable… A lot of people are scared of us, even when we escort them to the afterlife."
He looked away a bit wistfully. He only had three cases- one of a little girl who didn't understand, one of an older woman and one of a male teenager. None of them liked him. The little girl was crying the entire way. The older woman hit him and cursed him out- she was scared that bad of him. The teenager was quiet and jumpy- he was terrified too.
"Well," Sam said, "I'm not."
Danny turned to her and even if she couldn't see it, he gave her a smile.
"Yeah, yeah I guess you're not."
Half way down the road, Sam was comfortable with Danny. She had been traveling with him for about two weeks now and in those two weeks, she learned much more than she ever though she would. The Bermuda Triangle was actually a weak spot between the world of the living and the Zone. The Egyptians did build the pyramids with help from aliens. The government even had contact with said aliens. The most interesting thing, however, was Phantom himself- or rather Danny.
She eventually asked him about his hood and got him to take it off, revealing that he was her age. The whole time, she imagined someone that was hideous. Imagining someone who was horribly disfigured helped her crush any growing feelings she was getting for the reaper. However, now she knew the truth. He was not only cute, but he was handsome and well built. His snow white hair only brought out his green eyes and he had a wonderful, perfect smile.
She shook her head. He was a reaper. She was going to choose the afterlife so she could see her parents again. She was not going to change her mind because her reaper was nice, cute, and becoming her first friend. Most of all, she was not already falling for her Grim Reaper.
"So how much longer," she finally asked, "On this road to the afterlife?"
"Two more weeks and actually," Danny said, "Reapers like me just use the slang term- we call it the reapin' road. You know, 'cause we guide our reaped souls here and all… Speaking of reaping, how is your head?"
He floated a few inches off the ground and about an inch away from her face as he reached up and touched the back of her head. The touch sent tingles down his hand and down her body. She bit her lip. It felt so weird as if his hand was going through her head. For all she knew, it might have been. Yet, when he took away his hand, there were small purple tendrils gathered on his hand, swaying in an unfelt breeze before they disappeared. Confused, she reached up and felt that section of her head. When she pulled her hand down, similar tendrils were on her hand. She looked to him for an explanation.
"It's because that's where I got you," Danny explained, "It's where my scythe touched you so I could release your soul. The purple tendrils are actually kind of… soul leftovers, I guess would be the simplest term. Kind of the stuff you don't need anymore so it's escaping. I meant to actually reap you sooner so you didn't feel the pain of your death, but I was running late. I was arguing with Clockwork over something- I can't remember what our fight was about now."
He rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly with a laugh while Sam continued to stare at her hand at the tendrils.
"So… It's soul shit?"
"….Yes, it's soul shit."
She reached over and rubbed her hand on his robe, causing him to jump back,
"Hey! I don't want your soul leftovers!"
At the end of a month, they finally reached the end of the road. There was a fork in it. One fork led to a bright white light that was so bright she couldn't see the trees around it- it seemed to call out toward her. The other fork was a bit darker, purple and black light illuminated the trees around it.
She stood at the fork, looking between each one before she looked back at Danny hesitantly. He was smiling sadly at her. He didn't want to see her go. He came attached to her and he wanted nothing more for her to become a reaper. If she was a reaper, they could become good friends, maybe something more. Yet, he didn't want her to be a reaper either. He wanted her to feel peace and be happy.
"Just go to whichever one you think will make you happy," he said encouragingly.
Sam nodded before she took a step forward onto what she believed was the right choice for her.
Tucker looked around, unsure of where he was. Standing in front of him was a figure in black and his eyes widened, the Grim Reaper. The figure was a bit smaller than Tucker imagined the Reaper would look like, but they still held the signature scythe.
"Tucker Lee Foley," the figure spook in a feminine voice, "At sixteen you died from a school shooter. Few others died at that same incident, but all of them are facing their own Grim Reaper at this moment in their own Limbo. You may call me Sam. I am here to escort you down this road to the afterlife or as I like to call it, the Reaping Road…"