AN: I am so sorry. There are no words to describe how sorry I am for this late, late, late, etc. chapter. I am not happy with this chapter at all though, it took me a year to write it, and I'm still not happy with it, and you can tell I struggled with this one as you read it so bear with me. Now I'm sure that you want to read the story so usual disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot line. You may proceed, the rest of my excuses will be in the AN at the bottom.
Danny was running, desperately trying to go ghost, but he knew that it was no use. he tripped on a loose piece of concrete from one of the destroyed buildings, "No!" he cried as he looked up at the boiler that his friends and family were strapped to just to see his whole life fall apart as it exploded taking everything that mattered to him with it. Shakily he staggered to his feet and started running towards the spot where he last saw his family. Reaching the smoking rubble, he fell to his knees staring in horror at the spot where they had all been just a moment before. It felt as if that explosion had taken a piece of his heart from him, he didn't even notice the way the world around him started to turn to rubble as the sky turned dark gray.
"Strange how one giant fireball of highly combustible condiments can… ruin your whole future." Dan said as he appeared behind Danny with a sadistic smile on his face. Danny just continued to stare at the empty spot in front of him; he was too numb to care about what Dan was saying, but silent tears glistened as he cried in silence. "Really you should be thanking me. It's not like they would have understood you anyways."
"They would have accepted me." Danny said in defiance as he finally turned around to look at his fear.
"They never would have accepted you Danny. You're much too powerful and therefore much too dangerous. They would have strapped you down to a dissection table the first chance they had. I did you a favor, now there's nothing holding you back from your true potential of becoming me."
"I'll never become you, never! You're wrong, they would have accepted me; they have before! My parents cared about me and I promised them-"
"Oh, you are such a child," Dan laughed "they're dead, your promise means nothing now, and if they cared so much about you that you're sure they would have accepted you no matter what, then why didn't you tell them your secret?" Danny's only answer was silence as he tried to not break down all the while trying to come up with a good comeback. Dan laughed at the silence of his younger self watching as he struggled to ignore that small seed of doubt at the back of his mind. "You would have become me anyway, Danny; I'm inevitable after all; it's only a matter of time." And with that Danny's world exploded into darkness leaving him with the feeling of endless falling into the depths of despair as the sound of his loved ones words reached his ears.
"I'm not a monster." Danny whimpered as the words tore into his heart more painfully than any blade could.
Danny felt tears begin to fall down his face again as that one seemed to echo into his very core. "Please… I'm your son… you know me…"
"You're not our son."
"What are you?"
"Are you a ghost trying to fit in with humans?"
"Or are you some creepy little boy."
"With creepy little powers…"
"Who would care for a thing like you?"
With each word spoken by the voices of his friends and family, Danny felt complete anguish as each insult twisted slowly like a knife in his heart. "No. Please, no." But the voices continued relentlessly, and Danny continued to fall further in the pit of darkness where all his fears waited for him.
With a gasp Danny opened his eyes in a cold sweat as he realized that he had tossed the covers of his sleeping bag off of himself leaving the eerie chill of the Ghost Zone to seep through to his bones. As he sat up slowly, he looked around seeing the rest of the group sleeping peacefully. Their serene faces helping to shake the last of the nightmare away, and at the same time fill him with a small amount of envy as he realized that his classmates could not share anything in common with him, not truly at least. As he looked over at the clock on Tucker's PDA he noticed that he only woke up thirty minutes before the alarm was set to go off. Deciding that it was pointless to even attempt to go back to sleep by now, and he had a feeling that he wouldn't be able to even if he wanted to, he looked around to see if everyone was still asleep, but knowing first-hand how appearances could be deceiving, he focused on his hearing to check the steady heartbeats and breathing patterns of those around him and found that everyone was still sound asleep. Reassured that no one would see him, he intangibly slipped out of his sleeping bag, righted himself a centimeter off the ground and floated out of the while mimicking walking so that if anyone were to wake up and see him, they would only think that he was nothing more than light on his feet. He drifted out the cave and as he looked up into the endless swirls of energy that made up the Ghost Zone, he saw that the west side was starting to appear brighter as it starts its imitation of the sun rising on Earth. Watching the 'sunrise', Danny couldn't help but wonder just what was in store for them as the disaster of a field trip continued.
"Alright, time to wake up. Up. Everyone needs to get up." Danny said as the alarm on the PDA started blasting loud techno beats. An orchestra of groans and whines was the response that met Danny's ears.
"Fenton… it's too early to get up…" Dash groggily complained as his head once again hit the pillow of his sleeping bag, his task of saying that one sentence complete.
"Ugh. I feel like I slept on a rock…" Starr complained as she slowly sat up rubbing her lower back.
"That's because you did." Sam said as she shot a glare towards the cheerleader. Whether it be on Earth or in the Ghost Zone, to Sam the morning was always evil, and she just didn't have the patience to deal with people getting on her nerves in the mornings. Danny meanwhile was trying to hide his growing smirk at the early morning entertainment as he gathered some of their food and supplies so they could have a decent breakfast to start the new day with. He was already wide awake because, one; he had already been up for a while. Two, ghosts with still developing cores only need two to four hours of sleep per day while ghosts with mature cores only need one to two hours, and since Danny has been a halfa for a little over two years now, he only needs four to five hours of sleep. Finally third, two years of ghost fights that take place during the latest hours of the night, or the earliest hours of the morning, has forced him to adjust to being able to function on little amounts of sleep. The first few months of having his powers had been almost unbearable. His body had still been adjusting to the new needs and abilities he had gotten, and because of that, his powers would often act up at the worst of times, and using his powers requires energy that is usually recovered while he was sleeping, but it's hard to get sleep when you're trying to protect the town from the late night specters.
"Jack...Jack...Wake up." Maddie said as she gently shook her husband's shoulder in an attempt to rouse him. Despite everything, it seemed that Jack remembered to bring both his nightcap and his teddy bear as anyone who was looking could see him snuggling with it as he smiled in his sleep. Although, the teddy bear looked more like it was a victim to a professional choke hold.
As Danny set up a small fire so they could stay warm while they ate their preserved food, his mind wandered back to when Tucker's PDA showed the EMP device strapped to their ship. He knew that their trip had been planned as well as the crash, but he couldn't figure out why in the name of the infinite realms this person or, more likely, ghost would shut down the portal the way they had when it was one of the most constant doorways into both worlds. He knew that it was no accident or just coincidence that the portal shut down about the same time that they had crashed. His thoughts however, were cut short.
"Oh no...I know that look. What are you thinking about Danny?" Sam asked as she came over to help sort out a reasonable amount of food.
"Don't you give me that 'it's nothing'. Tell me." Sam glared at him while he promptly avoided eye contact. "you do realize that I will keep asking until you cave." She folded her arms across her chest as she raised an eyebrow. With a sigh, Danny relented knowing that it would be worse for him later on if he didn't find something to say to appease her.
"I'm just trying to figure out who would strand us out here and, more importantly, why." Sam looked down as she wondered what she could say to cheer up her boyfriend. Looking him in the eye she said,
"Whoever did this, Danny… we'll stop them and figure it out. We always do one way or another."
"Wow, Sam." Danny laughed, "For having such a strong Goth reputation you're surprisingly optimistic."
She scoffed as she smacked him on the arm, not caring about how hard she hit him. He was shot at with missiles and thrown into buildings and streets on a regular basis and came out mostly unscathed; he could handle a smack on the arm, but she couldn't keep the smile off her face at his teasing as she said, "Quiet you. I'll have you know that I'm wearing hard toed combat boots and I will not hesitate to use them." It was an empty threat, they both knew it, but it got them to stop laughing quietly so they wouldn't draw any unwanted attention to themselves.
"We should probably start passing all this out, don't you think?" Danny gestured to the pile of food that was to be the group's breakfast that morning.
As Sam looked up to see groggy people whining about the time she quickly agreed, hoping that the idea of food would wake some of them up. They had a long day ahead of them after all.
Breakfast had been uneventful. The most exciting thing was Jack's ability to disgust both Paulina and Starr by being a human vacuum cleaner when it came to food. Sam had barely set down his portion of dried food when he began shoveling it down his throat, practically inhaling it. So far it seemed that everybody was still staying in their respective cliques. Paulina, Starr, Dash, and Kwan ate their breakfast together close enough to the fire to stay warm, but far away enough from everyone else so that they didn't associate themselves with the 'commoners'. Mikey and Nathan ate together in silence as they stayed as far from the A-Lister's as possible while still being close enough to the fire to stay warm. The adults seemed to naturally stick together, but poor Mr. Lancer looked absolutely miserable. He was truly starting to regret coming on this trip. He should have just called in sick at the school. He rarely ever took a sick day so it should have been perfectly fine. Jack and Maddie were still making observations around them, allowing their minds to wander as they observed the realm that they had never been in before. The small plants that were growing in the cave next to them had yet to cease to amaze them. Who would have thought that even in death, there was life?
Danny and his friends, including Valerie, were quietly sitting together observing the behavior of the rest of the group. Sam's scrutinizing glare was inspecting everyone as she looked for anything out of place or strange, for the Ghost Zone at least. Tucker was much more subtle. He kept his gaze on the PDA in his hand for the most part but had his spectral scanner on as he glanced at his class every now and then. The spectral scanner was a program on his PDA he wrote to scan for any ghosts above a power level of three within a one mile radius. He was still working out the bugs but it worked well even though they were in the Ghost Zone. In the human realm there wasn't as much ambient ectoplasm just floating around like there was in the Ghost Zone, so on Earth the spectral scanner was actually able to tell what level ghost it was and it was slightly more precise in the fact that it was able to tell which ghost it was if the specific ecto-signature of that ghost was saved and recognized in their ghost files. In the Ghost Zone though, all of the ambient energy interfered with its calibrations so that the best it could do was tell if the ghost was above a level three, how close it was to them, and in what direction it was coming from. It didn't do them any good if they didn't know where the ghost was. Danny was just observing the group as he pushed his senses to their limits. So far, everything seemed fine. He hadn't yet sensed any ghosts or hear even a rustle from outside. It was surprisingly quiet. Valerie was just sitting there, trying to not feel too out of place Yes, she had apologized to Danny about hunting him down, and yes Danny had forgiven her, but she still felt guilty; and a little out of place.
Soon it was time to go and everyone gathered their things. Once everyone had left the cave, Danny quickly double checked that everyone was gone and put out the last of the flames from their fire with a quick blast of ghost ice. As he walked out of the cave, he saw that everyone was waiting for him to take the lead. The A-Lister's especially looked upset at the idea, arms folded and glares pointed down at the ground, with the exception of Paulina who openly glared at Danny, still peeved over the loss of her brand name shoes. But it seemed that everyone had accepted the fact that Danny was the one who had to lead them, even if four of the people weren't happy about it. Danny sighed as he walked over towards the front to join Sam and Tucker as he said, "We need to get moving. It's a long walk and there are only so many hours in a day."
Two breaks and one demonic ghost unicorn later, found the majority of the group dead tired. The demonic ghost unicorn had been a funny experience for Team Phantom, and it would always be a funny memory to them. To everyone else, the unicorn had been terrifying. They had been walking calmly when it emerged out of the trees grazing on some of the grass that grew in the area. At first it looked harmless. It had been a nice calm pearly white with green eyes along with the ghostly glow that was always around ghosts. Surprisingly, Dash had been the first to approach it, Paulina right behind him. Team Phantom had warned them to stay away from it and just leave it alone, unless they wanted it to attack them. The adults, Valerie, and the nerds were the only ones who heeded the warning. In other words, only the people with enough common sense to realize that the trio knew what they were talking about in these situations were the ones who listened. Naturally, Dash had been the one to glare at Danny and accuse him of not knowing what he was talking about. Once Dash was within three feet of it, he stopped and started to reach his arm out to pet it. That was when it decided to look up. I took one look at the arm and then the four people standing too close, and growled as its eyes turned a blood red. Instead of backing away like they should have, they huddled together in fear. As it took a step towards them, Dash slowly and firmly grabbed Paulina's shoulders. As she looked up at him, she saw him staring in determination at the slowly approaching unicorn that was beginning to turn a ghostly green. When it started to grow, Dash's grip tightened and at first Paulina's thoughts were, 'Dash… he looks so brave...' until it started to charge up a blast on its horn, that's when Dash let out a high pitched squeal that should have belonged to a little girl, he's still denying that the sound came from him, and he practically threw Paulina towards the creature with a cry of, "Take her, not me!" As the unicorn started to blast at the three still standing, Paulina looked at the sprinting figures that were her friends and with a glare thought, 'my heroes.' When she realized that the blasting had stopped, she looked up to see why and what she saw had her mocha complexion pale to a startling white.
It had stopped blasting people and was now staring her down as its nostrils flared. "I would move if I were you, Paulina." Danny yelled from a distance where the majority of the group was standing behind him. Paulina rolled onto her hands and feet to scramble into a run right as the creature blasted where she had been a second ago. She may not have been the smartest teen, but even she knew by now to head straight for Danny. Behind Danny, everyone screamed and started to quickly back away as the angry unicorn started to charge at them, and to the amazement of the class, Danny calmly took a step forward and simply side stepped the unicorn and started to scratch its neck while making soft calming whispers next to it. Continuing to astonish the class, they watched as after just a few seconds of calm petting and whispers, the unicorn shrunk back to its original size and calmly followed after Danny who was leading it away from the group with gentle whispers too quiet to make out. Not that they would have understood what he was saying. Only ghosts can truly understand and speak the language of the dead. After he led it away, he quickly moved back to the group and herded them out of the immediate area.
Now they were all enjoying their small snack before they continued to walk towards their far off destination as they tried to not think about their predicament, instead trying to enjoy the view and ironically it was the two football players who started a game of cloud watching, or swirl watching in this case. Kwan kept trying to show people how the swirls somehow all looked like footballs while Dash argued that they looked more like cute little animals. Everyone looked at him funny at that comment, and yet no one was truly surprised. Almost everyone who knew Dash knew that he had a soft spot for small animals in his heart. Most people could even see him ending up as a vet. He wasn't the type who would leave behind a small defenseless animal. At that moment, Tucker's PDA started to vibrate as the silent alarm on the Spectral Scanner went off.
"Where are they, Tuck?" Danny whispered as he began scanning the area around them.
"About half a mile to your right," looking at Danny, he hopefully said, "Maybe if we just keep moving they'll ignore us."
"Yeah… I doubt it. I can see that someone's feeling optimistic right now."
"Well maybe we'll be lucky today. A guy can hope can't he?"
"And how exactly would we be lucky in this situation, Tucker?"
"Maybe it's one of our friends…" Even to him the argument sounded weak and unlikely to happen, but he trailed off as the sound of barking became obvious. Everyone looking in the direction it was coming from.
"Danny, is that who I think it is?" Sam asked as she squinted into the distance, a green blur speeding across the ground like a missile.
"What is that?" Starr said as she noticed where the Trio was looking, causing everyone else to look in the same direction to see what the fuss was.
"Tuck, make sure that Valerie doesn't do anything." Danny said as the jingling of a collar could be made out. The blur was close enough that everyone could see that the speeding blur was a small green puppy. As it approached the group people began to try to get out of the way when Danny raised a hand and in a firm voice said, "Sit." Cujo immediately sat down but continued to slide forward towards Danny, amusing the class. As he sat there looking up at Danny, panting happily, Danny bent down and started scratching him behind the ears. "Good boy, Cujo."
"Danny, what is that?" Maddie asked with a frown on her face.
"A dog." Was the dry reply.
"Yes, I can see that. Why have you named it?" She was practically spitting the question out with an obvious frown on her face. Jack just looked at his wife in confusion at her behavior. He knew that she like him wanted to get to know their son better and yet even he could see that she was going to push Danny away with that kind of attitude. It was clear to him that their son cared for the dog if he named him and was this familiar with him.
"Cujo is not an it. He is a dog. My dog to be exact." Danny doing his best to resist openly glaring at his Mother, his tone practically daring her to contradict him.
"So he is your dog?" Valerie asked with a bit of resentment.
"Now, Val... When he originally 'ruined' your life, he was not mine. Here, come look at this." He picked up Cujo and carried him over to Valerie. She looked at the happy panting puppy for a few seconds then crossed her arms and looked at Danny.
"What am I looking for?" She asked, a tangible air of frustration around her. Danny smiled as he said, "Look at his collar." As she leaned in a little closer she saw the symbol for Aiom Labs that marked him as one of the guard dogs. "He used to be one of the guard dogs at Axiom before they hired your Dad to build that state of the art security system. He came back looking for his squeaky toy. I just got dragged along for the ride. It was one of those wrong place, wrong time things. It was all an accident." As if Cujo was apologizing, he looked at Valerie with wide puppy eyes, ear flat on his head, and gave a tiny little whimper. Almost every heart in the class melted at the display and Starr even said a quiet 'aww'. After a couple of seconds Valerie's look softened and her arms dropped to her sides as she sighed in defeat.
"Well. He is kind of cute," Cujo's ears perked back up and he started panting with an obvious smile on his face. "But I'm still watching you." He barked a few times in agreement and then jumped out of Danny's arms to lick Valerie's face. Danny smiled at the sight while everyone else was laughing and said,
"Alright, Cujo. That's enough, down boy." With a happy bark, Cujo jumped off Valerie and walked back over to Danny and sat down wagging his tail as he looked up happily at his master.
"You trained him rather well, Mr. Fenton," Mr. Lancer said as he looked at the cute puppy impressed with its training. Of course Cujo chose that moment to play with Danny by grabbing him by his pants and dragging him around. Seeing this, Mr. Lancer decided to amend his previous statement with a simple "Well, sort of." Danny was finally able to get Cujo to stop by asking him where his squeaky toy was and told him to go fetch it. The class tried to not laugh as they looked at his appearance. His clothes were messed up, there was dog saliva on his face and pants that glowed green a bit, his hair had a couple of twigs in it from being dragged through some bushes, and he was now nursing a slight bump on the back of his head from being bounced repeatedly off the ground.
"Is he going to be alright all alone?" Starr asked as she looked off into the direction the little green puppy had run.
"Yeah, he's always fine. If he ever needs anything he can always find me, and no matter where I am, he always comes running if I call him." Danny looked fondly in the direction that the little dog had scampered off in as he answered Starr's question. With that, like a flipped switch, Danny cheerfully turned around and with a small bounce said, "well, back to walking." All anyone could do was groan in mild complaint as they continued to follow the strange and mysterious teen.
8:45 A.M. Amity Park the previous day
"We need more water over here!" A firefighter yelled out to the rest of his team as the flames in front of him continued to burn down the brick building they were desperately trying to salvage.
"There's not enough time. We're going to have to evacuate the local area before the flames spread." was the shout the first fireman received in reply.
"Was there anyone in there?" Another fighter yelled out.
"Rescue crew didn't find anyone."
"Isn't Phantom usually here by now trying to help?" the first one asked as he searched the skies for the elusive ghost. By now the burning building was almost gone, the neighbors to the house flooding into the street as they watched in shock as a home crumbled before them in the early hours of the morning.
"Do you think a ghost might have started it, or maybe it's just a regular fire?" The firemans tone doubtful towards the latter possibility, after all, Amity Park was known for only having problems where ghosts were involved. Thinking it over, the small team looked at the collapsing building they hadn't been able to save.
"Either way the Fenton's are going to need a new home now…"
"Do we know what started the fire?" Investigator Deborah Smith asked as she walked down the halls of Amity Parks Investigation offices with her partner Andrew Miller by her side, both of them holding files of evidence and photographs of the wreckage.
"It looked like it started in that lab of theirs. It might have been from the giant contraption in the wall that they had. The thing was completely fried. All of that ectoplasm they keep in their home didn't help matters either. We've all seen how volatile that stuff can be in ghost fights. If anything it probably just helped spread the fire more quickly."
"Were any bodies found?"
"Thank heaven for that at least."
'In other news, a massive fire broke out in America's most haunted town, Amity Park. Early yesterday morning, neighbors of ghost hunters Jack and Madeline Fenton, reported that they were woken or disturbed by a loud sudden noise that came from their neighbors home. However, no one actually called the emergency line until they smelled heavy smoke and saw flames in the ground floor window. When asked why they didn't immediately call the local fire department, many said that they were used to hearing such noises from the hou-"
The news report was cut short as a shaky hand put down the remote. Sighing, Jasmine Fenton could only put her head in her hands, physically weighed down by worry for her family. Outside, dark clouds started rolling in as they blocked the sun, effectively making a sudden chill replace the warmth the sun had been providing. Despite the suffocating silence in the room, Jazz's shaky whisper of 'Danny' could barely be heard. Pushing her hair out of the way she took a deep breath and got up to start packing for the trip home. She didn't care if she had to drive the entire fifteen hours there nonstop, one way or another she would be home before the next day. As she packed her essentials into her small suitcase, she felt grateful that she was so far ahead in her classes. She wasn't sure how long she might be gone for after all, and Jazz was certain that they school would understand her taking an emergency leave for her family. With a quick call to the school Dean, some messages to her teachers, and a quick text to her roommate to inform everyone important that she would be leaving for a while she quickly began to walk to the school parking lot, her suitcase rolling noisily beside her. Scrolling through her phones list of contacts, she put her suitcase in the trunk and settled into the driver's seat as she considered calling Danielle. Danny had given the young ghost girl a phone the last time she had stopped by, and if Dani was there, things might be easier to handle. Two people could cover more ground more easily than just one. Pulling out of the parking lot, she headed in the direction of the highway in search of the nearest on-ramp as she listened to the phone she had pressed against her ear. Quickly checking her mirror to switch lanes, she listened to the dial tone of the phone that told her it was ringing. One ring… Two rings… Three rin-
"Dani, it's Jazz."
"Jazz?... Don't take this the wrong way but, why are you calling me?"
"It's an emergency. How fast can you get to Amity Park?"
AN: Thank you for reading, again, I am so sorry for not updating like should have been so I probably owe you all an explanation. First I had to take a small break for my final exams and presentations, then my family took me on a one to two month long vacation across South America where internet connection was surprisingly minimal. When I got back, I found that I had a bad case of writers block due to being away from my story for too long. When I finally started writing again, my grades started to drop during my senior year of high school of all years, so my parents took all of my electronics. Any writing that I got done was done during hours where I snuck onto my parents computer or when I wasn't reading more fanfiction without permission. I also got into Hetalia and still am so I'm still a little distracted by that. Finally, I had more finals that I just finished two days ago so I can finally post this chapter. (I graduated). So to summarize all of this…. Life happened and got in the way of me writing. I hope you all understand and I'm sorry to say that I won't be updating for a while because one of the benefits of being a military brat (note the sarcasm) is that I'm moving and all my stuff is gone, so I'm posting this from my school library. This story will not be abandoned, I promise you that, even if it does take me forever to finish it, I will eventually finish it so please be patient with me. Thank you to anyone who actually read this.