See end of chapter for author's note.
Chapter 1: In Which Danny fails at being a Ninja Ghost and almost reads Pomus Pep.
Sam stooped down to pick up one of Danny's pencils for the second time in as many minutes. Not that Danny himself noticed. With sigh she put it back in his locker and grabbed his wrist, just as he was about to drop one of his heavier textbooks to the tiled floor as well. The boy's panicked eyes found her's a moment later, still shifting as if suspicious of every other student in hall. Which of course he was.
"I swear I had it!" He repeated, and by then he, Sam and Tucker had stopped counting how many times Danny had insisted that yes, he had indeed had the thermos this morning. And no, a ghost couldn't have taken it because he would have noticed with his ghost sense. Although perhaps there was chance he hadn't because after all his powers were notoriously unstable even at the best of times but even so his ghost sense had always maintained at least some consistency and-
"Danny." Sam gave her friend a sharp look, to which Danny's only reply was a helpless look thrown over his shoulder to their other friend.
"Sorry man, I'm not helping you clean up." Tucker replied absently, fingers dancing through practiced motions on his PDA. Sam reached over and grabbed the device, earning an indignant scoff. "What did I do?"
"You weren't paying attention, that's what."
With a heavy eye roll Tucker turned in earnest to Danny. "I'm sure it'll be fine. It's not like you haven't lost the thermos before. Besides-" he paused, reclaiming his pda "it's not like we don't find a way to get it back."
"Yeah but this time it has Spectra in it!" Danny complained "She's always so hard to catch!"
Sam cut in "Tucker's right Danny. I'm sure we'll find it, we just have to keep looking." Danny motioned wildly to his chaos of a locker, all his things jumbled together in his mad search for the thermos. "Yes well, I'm sure we can look without risking destructions of public property."
Danny threw his arms in the air and allowed his head to hit the locker to the left of his in defeat. Tucker cringed at the audible bang.
Sam put a sympathetic hand on Danny's shoulder "Come on. We should get to class." Danny turned to Sam, another complaint ready on his tongue, when he locked eyes with another high schooler waltzing down the hall like he owned the place.
And considering that high schooler was none other than Dash Baxter it was probably fair to say that, in leu of teachers, he did own it.
Dash's face broke out in what might have been a bright smile once upon a time and made a b-line towards the trio. "What's up Fentina! Boy am I glad to see you!" He called happily, the two other jocks behind him sniggering. Dash slammed a rough hand against the locker over Sam's and Danny's heads, looking down on the smaller boy with what could only be described as delight. "Tell you what, I'm in a good mood today, so you'll get to choose if you go in your locker, or in Techno Geek's." The jock to his right did nothing to stifle his laugh.
"Hey Dash." Danny lifted a timid hand in greeting.
"Well, what's it gonna' be Fentoad? My good mood," Dash grabbed Danny by the front of his shirt and slammed his back in to the lockers, the bang punctuating the next word "won't last long."
It was by luck, then, that Danny felt buffered by Dash's thick varsity jacket between them, an unmistakably cylindrical bulge. He blurted out without thinking "You have the thermos?" Dash dropped him, none too gently, back to the floor. Now returned to eye level with his friends he caught the glare Sam was sending to the jocks. Too soon though his field of vision was filled once again by Dash Baxter, pulling out the thermos from his jacket pocket with a flourish.
"Hah! It's the Ghost Boy's ghost capturing whatever." He said laughing, waving it in front of Danny's face. "Get a good look Fenturd, this is probably the closest a freak like you'll ever get to Danny Phantom."
"It belongs to Danny!" Sam shot between them "His parents made it, so give it back."
"Pfft, as if. I saw the Phantom use it myself. He probably forgot it and is on his way right now to get it." Dash shoved the thermos back in to his pocket, keeping his hand curled around it. "And I'm gonna' be the one to give it him. See ya' freaks." Dash made to walk away, but not without delivering a swift knee to Danny's gut, making the boy loose his breath and topple over. Dash left, him and his goons laughing all the way down the hall. They could still hear Dash's voice from around the corner, having moved on from the thermos to boasting his deep friendship with Phantom, due to an incident in which he had saved the Ghost Boy from ten robot ghosts. The outrageous story was something vaguely familiar to the time Danny and Dash had been fitness buddies.
Danny staggered upwards, helped by Sam. "Well." Tucker said, still looking in the direction of the jocks "at least we know where the thermos is."
"Not helping Tucker." Sam said pointedly.
"Hey, I'm just saying, we found it. Danny can just swoop in invisibly and get it later or something."
"Not while he's holding on to it like that."
"Guys come on." Danny said, a very slight wheeze in his voice "Tucker's right. I'm sure when he gets home and can't show off to anyone anymore he'll just put it down and forget about it. We can go to his place before patrol tonight."
Tucker cracked a wry smile "Danny the ninja ghost, stealing soup thermos' for the greater good." He announced cinematically, making the other two laugh.
Unfortunately, contrary to Danny's prediction, Dash did not put it down and forget about it. Danny followed him home, invisibly, marveling over how bizarrely protective Dash seemed over it. On his walk, and that also was strange, considering Dash had a too expensive looking red convertible, Dash held it towards the light to with a look of awe at his prize. He took a detour through the lesser used half of the park, throwing the thermos up in the air and catching it, never dropping, and still hiding it away in his pocket every time someone came in eye sight.
Once home, a large grand house only two blocks from Sam's, Dash meandered around for a frustratingly long time. He made food, chatted with Kwan on the phone and watched the news, a story on Phantom's latest exploit. And all the while keeping the thermos on his person. During the commercials he took it out and looked the thing over, his hands running over the smooth surface almost reverently, carefully and lightly fingering the buttons. Thank God he had better sense than to uncap it or press them. When Dash finally retired to his room, the sky was already darkening and Danny knew the time to meet Sam and Tucker for patrol was fast approaching.
Dash's room was, for the most part, as one might expect for a teenage boy with just a touch too much money than was good for him. It was large, two windows facing the back yard and had three doors, one leading to the hall, having been the one they entered. The walls were painted a creamy, eggshell white, and the furniture was sleek and modern. There was a desk on the wall opposite the windows with an impressive gaming computer. A TV of above average size an make, sitting on the adjacent wall to a queen sized bed. On the bed itself, the covers were mussed, obviously nothing had been done to them since Dash had slept in it last, and the rest of the room reflected an equal untidiness. However the one thing that disturbed Danny was the unusual collection of stuffed bears sitting in the one corner of the room. Danny very almost made a startled yelp at them, having been one of the last things he had expected to see in the room of Casper High's star quarterback.
Dash shrugged off his jacket and tossed it carelessly on his bed. He made his way to the desk, thermos in hand, and placed it on a shelf. He then powered up the computer to start playing music. Danny peered curiously over Dash's shoulder, watching him skip over MP3 files, first Dumpty Humpty, a couple old school bands, some rap thing he didn't recognize, and paused for a moment on a surprisingly lyrical opera song, before going back to Dumpty Humpty again.
With the music turned way up Dash disappeared through one of the other doors, a moment later Danny heard a shower.
Had Danny more common sense, he might have been glad for the obvious opportunity to grab the thermos and slip away in to the waning hours, to call Sam and Tucker and regale them with his tale of daring deception and escape. However Danny had proven time and time again that common sense wasn't, in all actuality, particularly common.
Instead he reached for the mouse.
It was purely for blackmail's sake after all. Think of the dirt Danny might be able to find on Dash's computer, he could use it as leverage the next time Dash wanted a go at his favorite punching bag.
To be fair the bears would work just as well, but that was besides the point.
Aside from the MP3 files, there was a document open, some English assignment that Danny had yet to even start. Although even so the jock hadn't come very far himself, it only contained two and a half poorly worded paragraphs. An F for sure, in Danny's humble opinion.
The internet tabs were of little more interest. There was a page on DOOMED, YouTube, a couple tabs on something football related that he didn't understand a word of, nothing particularly surprising. Though after the teddy bears Danny was sure nothing would be.
The last tab however made Danny's eyes bulge. Unfortunately it wasn't anything to use against Dash, but it was rather disturbing to find himself staring back through an unexpectedly well painted digital drawing of his ghost half. The picture featured him, an impish grin lifting one cheek and staring off to one side, hair windswept, even a slight green tint to what should have been traditionally a rosy freckled hue. Scrolling down, there were similar drawings, some text documents and a handful of little comic strips.
Of course in retrospect Danny realized it was perhaps a little naive of him to think, with the amount of teenage fans he had, that there wouldn't be a weird shrine like blog or something devoted to him. But even so, it was entirely unexpected, and more than a little intrusive.
Very quickly Danny found himself sucked in. Apparently, the page open was a series of favorites by user PhootballPhan123, which Danny admitted was a little clever, until he saw half the users sported some variation of "Phan" in their usernames. The site itself, was anything but. Danny wasn't sure whether he was happy that the site didn't actually have anything correct written, preserving his identity, or annoyed that among the misinformation was an apparently official post describing how he had died, sacrificing himself for his one true love, now doomed to spend his eternity protecting the town she lived in. Three hundred hundred years ago. And people believed it.
He scoffed and continued scrolling through page after page, unaware that the shower had turned off. Just as he was about to click on some document labeled Phantom X Wisconsin Ghost, he could only hope that they were slandering Vlad's reputation as well as his own, Dash swung the door opened and took all of three large strides in to his room before he noticed the other occupant. Danny, for his part, hadn't become so completely absorbed that the movement in his peripheral went unnoticed.
With a short yelp Danny jumped up out of the chair he hadn't noticed he'd sat down in and dropped the mouse, almost toppling the desk chair over in his haste. He threw both his hands over his eyes, yet he couldn't help that they had roamed for a split second over Dash, nude of all but a towel wrapped loosely around his hips. The wide expanse of skin tanned dark from years spent on a sun drenched football field, still glistening and flushed from the hot shower water.
Dash was the first to recover, his brow drew together as he spied the site's homepage. "You were on my computer?" He asked, sounding far more confused than anything else.
"This isn't what it looks like!" Danny yelped "Okay well it is a little what it looks like but I was here for something totally different!"
Dash shuffled on his feet, hesitant for a moment, before crossing the distance between them. Danny couldn't suppress the instinctual flinch from Dash's advance. However, the jock didn't even touch him, instead he reached up to retrieve the thermos. "This, right?" Dash asked, holding it up at eye level. His voice and movements were studiously casual.
"Um, yeah. That's it. So if you wouldn't mind," Danny reached up, intent on leaving this room and uncomfortable conversation as soon as he could. However Dash it seemed, had other plans.
He held the thermos higher, just a touch, and yet out of Danny's reach. "Why were you on my computer? I didn't think Danny Phantom snooped a lot." A small grin broke Dash's face when Danny gaped. Dash had no right to smile like that when not hours before he'd been staring down at Danny with a so much nastier expression.
"I wasn't snooping!"
Dash raised an unconvinced eyebrow "Then what were you doing?"
Danny narrowed his eyes, but that only seemed to make Dash happier "You were the one that left your computer unlocked."
Dash snorted "Yeah, my personal computer was left unlocked in my own bedroom." Danny was thrown by the jibe, for it was neither angry nor ill meant. And the open, easy smile gracing Dash's face, accompanied by the blush that Danny only now realized had yet to subside, made the entire exchange far too friendly than what he was used to when Dash was involved.
"Whatever, just give me the thermos already." Danny demanded, with a little more heat than he had intended. He held out his hand expectantly.
Contrary to passing it over, Dash paused, deliberating. "Um, well, since you're here, you could maybe stay for a bit?" Danny's surprise must have shown on his face, because Dash hastily continued with a nervous laugh "I mean, I'm sure being a hero is pretty exhausting. You could maybe relax for a little while?"
It took Danny a moment to process. Dash Baxter asking him to stay for a bit? To what, hang out? "I really should get going. I don't have time for just, relaxing." He said slowly, at a loss for anything else.
Danny couldn't quite bear the way the other teen's face fell, even if it was Dash Baxter. "Oh yeah, of course. Never mind." Dash replied, finally relinquishing the thermos.
"Thanks. I'll um," see you around? chat later? "bye." He finished lamely and hover a couple inches off the ground, preparing to take off. Dash shrugged and offered a small goodbye of his own, staring intently at his door. And seeing his lower lip jutting out the way it was, Danny couldn't help but compare him to to Dani, petulant and determined to play it cool.
With an inward groan Danny landed again. Even if it was Dash, personal bully and all around ass, he couldn't possibly leave things as they were. Perhaps it was his hero side talking, but Danny felt as though he had to at least try to make an effort to be cordial with his fans, on the few occasions any of them managed to corner him. There were after all so many people that already hated his guts, best not make the list one teenager longer.
That's what had happened with Valerie and look how well that turned out.
And really, it was probably just his bad luck that one of these occasions happened to be with Dash.
"I um, should probably thank you, for taking care of this. There was a ghost in this one so it was great that you didn't let her out." Danny began, and wow, Dash had no poker face to speak of. "I can't tonight, like I said, but I can probably make time tomorrow?" If he made it sound like he was super busy, Dash would probably let him off the hook after spending only a couple hours wth him, right? Right.
"Really? You mean it? I have school tomorrow but I'm totally free after!"
"Sure, I'll see you after school then." Danny said, and for the second time rose to the air, but paused again, now to quickly add "Nowhere public." before finally making his exit.
Hi everyone! Hope you enjoyed the first chapter. Feel free to leave a review please, anyone writing knows how we live for them!
I'd also like to apologize, for abandoning my other story. I started it like, four or five years ago and got only a few chapters in. I can't really bear to look at it, it's probably terrible, if I reread it I'm worried my face will break from cringing.
Anyway, I'll be putting my ANs at the end of every chapter, if I have anything to say that is, so those of you who don't like to read through them can skip right over.
Criticism is always appreciated!