Author's Notes: Been a long time. Been very busy. Cancer in the family, shooting a documentary, getting my business off the ground, making friends, learning magic... As I'm typing this, I have no internet in my room but hope to get that fixed by the time I finish writing this. On with the show.

A Musical Interlude

Chapter 7 - Through the Fire and Flames

Everyone gathered at the Fentons'. Ember was back and up to something again. It seemed like her standard routine of trying to get a mass audience to bolster her power at one time. Though, being a rocker her self, subtlety was not one of her strong suits. Paul hung back a bit. He preferred to leave the bulk of the planning to the others and just offer support as needed. You could always count on ol' Paul to back you up in an emergency.

"She'll obviously have tight security," Bram pointed out.

"Yeah, but it's predictable. Easy to get through once you figure out what routine she's using," Danny responded.

"Ah, yes," Sam mused. "The strange tendency people have to continue doing things that don't work."

Jack flipped his long hair back as he sighed and lowered the poster Tucker had brought, which included a photo of Ember emblazoned on it. "Why is it all the really hot ones want to kill us?"

Everyone stopped and turned to look at the elder Panek brother. He just looked back and forth among their faces with his brows furrowed. "What? What! Don't look at me like that. For a ghost, she's extremely fuckable."

"S'truth," Paul muttered in a light British accent.

"Moving on..." Bram deadpanned. "We really need a way to turn the audience on her. Something to keep them from chanting her name."

"We could always just stop people from showing up at the concert," Jack Fenton piped up, suddenly very enthusiastic for his (predictably) faulty logic. "We can send a message through the PTA and the parents can keep all their kids from going. Then when Ember is isolated we can strike her and tear her to-"

Tucker cut him off with a scoff. "Oh, yeah. That'll fly... Like the Hindenberg."

A devilish grin spread across Danny's face and a very impish laugh rolled out of his throat. Paul knew that expression. Danny didn't get it often, but it meant that he had an idea bouncing around in his skull, one that he was deeply, deeply amused with. "Care to enlighten us, oh spectral one?"

Danny's eyes flashed green a moment before he arched a brow. "You guys still got your Halloween costumes from last year?"

-x-

Sam was very curious to see how this would go. The guys had asked her to infiltrate the crowd and pay attention to what was going on. Her job was to make sure she kept as many members of the crowd from chanting Ember's name as possible. They needed to buy some time. Similarly, Jazz was covering another quadrant of the stadium along with the Fenton parents in the other two. As for what it was Danny planned to do... well he was kind of secretive about that. Said it was a surprise.

Despite the fact that Sam wanted to help Danny any way she could, she wasn't particularly fond of this job. All of these people around her... personal space being violated... and holy Jesus crackers, had any of these people ever listened to a band that didn't crack the Billboard Top 40! Their mainstream hive mind was giving off dangerously radioactive levels of lame. As soon as she got back home, she was putting on her 69 Eyes albums and jamming. Perhaps she could also get Danny to do a little striptease for her to the tune of Gothic Girl. Or vice versa. Either one worked.

Argh, focus!

Sam didn't have a lot of time to contemplate those naughty thoughts anyway as the lights dimmed down, and a loud female voice blasted over the speakers. "Hello, babies! Are you ready to rock!"

The crowd erupted in cheers as the woman Sam had seen earlier in the picture appeared in a blast of smoke with a full band. Damn it! Where were the guys?

"Then say my na-" Ember was cut off very abruptly as in a flash, her band disappeared as soon as they had come. Sam couldn't see too well from her distance, but she was close enough to tell Ember was obviously not expecting that. A deep, droning guitar sounded through the speakers, but Ember wasn't playing. She recognized the riff as The Abominable Dr. Phibes by The Misfits. The crowd however, didn't. They got antsy.

As Ember scanned the area looking for the source of this intrusion, Danny and the Phantasmic Four appeared on stage, the Four appearing in face paint and masks. Jack seemed to be going for a werewolf theme and had spirit gummed crepe hair to his arms and face, though given his previous hairiness it wasn't much of a stretch. Bram was shirtless with a mesh mask over a black hood that concealed his face and made him look very menacing. Tucker had done himself up like a cyborg. Paul looked like a ninja and pulled his blonde mullet into a topknot. Danny was in his usual stage clothes. They all had their instruments, and the Panek brothers and Paul were continuing to play the riffs.

A quick blast from Danny's hand and Ember went flying off the stage with a scream.

"Sorry, folks!" Danny called out as he snatched the microphone. "Slight change of plans. We are Danny Phantom and the Phantasmic Four!" The Misfits riff faded away as Danny talked and he turned to his band members and smiled. "Let's rock and friggin' roll, guys!"

Paul tapped out the beat on his drumsticks and immediately, Jack and Bram started up on an energetic riff. Tucker and Paul came in at the repeat. Tucker was playing his synths in a Charlston rhythm.

Whoa!

Danny's lengthy howl lasted until the end of the riff. The verse riff was a funky single-note melody with a simple beat underneath, a harmonized bass line, and the Charlston rhythm synths. And that's when the singing came in. Danny put his foot up on the monitor as he sang to the audience, holding the microphone close.

For ages I've been locked away
Sitting cold in anguished solitude
Never giving up my hope as I stare out
My cell at the Milky Way

The tone and melody of the lyrics were a little different from the funky riffs, but combined created an interesting atmosphere. Sam looked around to see that some of the crowd was still skeptical, though they seemed to be getting into it. She looked over to where she saw Ember land to find she was being mobbed by a swarm of fans. The other Fentons would have to move quickly before she got her second wind. Sam was equipped with a couple of weapons, but she didn't really fancy her chances on a one-on-one, especially in an area with such high potential for collateral damage.

I know my chance is swinging back
They can't hold me with these prison bars
Round the moon and back again my shooting star
Is streaking, riding to attack

Most of the audience was on Danny's side now, but Ember was breaking loose of the fans, and she looked really pissed. Thinking quickly, Sam grabbed up a dropped water bottle from the floor, and let it fly. She had always been a particularly good aim, and trusted on her skill to land the hit she needed.

WHAM!

Right between the eyes. Turns out Danny was right. Ghosts spent most of their time in a solid state. Too bad for Ember. She staggered right back into the hands of her fans in time for the song's pre-chorus to kick in.

Seize the day
Fly away

Some creative drumming from Paul boosted the energy right before the whole band paused for a beat and went into the chorus they had obviously written for audiences to sing along to.

I'm riding on a shooting star, yeah
I'm riding on a shooting star
To freedom on a shooting star, whoa

The chorus ended with Jack taking a rather funky solo just as Ember broke free of the crowd. Oh hell!

The band continued playing, Tucker hitting a digital recorder to play the rhythm guitar track, while Danny took to the air. Ember flew in, riding her guitar like a surfboard straight for Danny. She was clearly too angry to think straight. Part of Sam wanted to make a really bad pun about Ember's hair and being a "hot head" but... she would have had to kick her own ass at that point. Besides, now was not a good time.

However, much to Sam's (and Ember's) surprise, Danny conjured up a length of ectoplasm like a staff, then smirked, floated aside and held it out. With a wince, Sam watched the rocker ghost get clotheslined right off her guitar and plummet into the mosh pit. She'd be feeling that tomorrow!

Danny landed on stage just in time to take the second verse.

I'm breaking out, taking off
Nobody can keep my from my destiny
I'll fly away, lead the charge
Cruising through the galaxy

Same riff, but the vocal melody was much different this time. Much jazzier to reflect the happier mood of the lyrics.

Takin' a ride through space
Swingin' around Saturn's rings
Chasin' comets and suns
Glidin' on celestial wings

Danny grabbed his shirt and pretended to rip it off as he sang, holding his arms out like wings, but the fabric dissolved like smoke, meaning he had just morphed the outfit again. This was of course met with a lot of cheers from the girl in the audience (much to Sam's irritation), and Sam herself feeling very turned on.

"Get your hands in the air everybody!" Danny shouted just before the pre-chorus began. "Come on!"

Seize the day
Fly away

I'm riding on a shooting star, yeah
I'm riding on a shooting star
To freedom on a shooting star, whoa

The music went into a very minimalist bridge and Danny began a spoken word section, looking out over the stage as if into the sky.

I've danced with Andromeda and played chicken with Taurus. I've seen supernovas and worlds unknown. I am the greatest adventurer in the galaxy! I'm riding on! On to freedom! On my shooting star! Yeah!

He finished at the same time that Ember finally erupted from the mosh pit, looking very haggard and beaten, while Jack launched into a second solo that was more energetic than the first.

Danny took to the air as well, ready to fight. Sam wasn't entirely sure the audience understood what was going on. They all seemed to think it was a special effects display. Were the people in Amity Park dense or just stupid?

Ember conjured a fireball of purple ecto fire between her hands and launched it at Danny, whatever threat was meant to accompany it drowned out by the music. Danny just held his hands out and caught it, immediately wrapping it in his own green ectoplasm. He tossed it over his head and released the field, causing Ember's attack to fizzle out harmlessly.

He countered quickly with a blast of his own, which she tried in vain to shield herself from. Sam noted that the plume of flame she had for hair was smaller now than when she first appeared.

Ember was knocked for a loop, but still airborne. She made another charge at Danny who simply dodged. She summoned her guitar to her hands, and Danny responded by conjuring up a blade of ectoplasm. They began zooming in at each other, taking one shot and flying away again to repeat the process a second later.

Down below, the band was trying to keep the song going while at the same time pay attention to the battle. Then, the damndest thing happened. Paul pulled out on his extra drumsticks and chucked at Ember as she prepared to attack again. It hit her right where Sam's water bottle had before and put her off her guard. Good ol' Paul!

Danny used the opportunity immediately. He swung his blade out in a wide slash. Ember, still surprised, reacted the instinctive way: she put her guitar between herself and Danny. The guitar wasn't destroyed, but all the strings were cut. It seemed that Danny had planned to do that all along, it was convenient. Ember gasped and recoiled as if the strings had been her own flesh, and using that moment, Danny pulled out his Fenton thermos and sucked her in.

He twirled the thermos around his finger like a gunslinger before setting it against his hip and descending to the stage just as the final pre-chorus began. "Come on, sing it with us!" he shouted to the crowd. Sam was only too happy to oblige.

Seize the day
Fly away

I'm riding on a shooting star, yeah
I'm riding on a shooting star
To freedom on a shooting star, whoa

The band went into the chorus one more time, his time with Paul playing an open hi-hat to create a bigger sound, and Danny singing higher.

I'm riding on a shooting star, yeah
I'm riding on a shooting star
To freedom on a shooting STAR!

He hit the final word in a wailing falsetto and held it out to almost the end of the riff. Jack hit one more power chord as he stood back to back with Bram whose fingers danced over the fretboard of his bass as Tucker played a speedy descending melody on his keyboard before the whole band went out on one last note, finishing with a quick tap of Paul's floor toms.

The crowd was raving.

Sam felt so proud of Danny right now. It was the first time she had seen what he was really capable of. She had no idea he was such an adept fighter. True, she had witnessed a few seconds of him thrashing that ghost in the school computer library, but that didn't count. All the girls around screaming and jumping and trying to get his attention certainly got a smirk going across Sam's face. At this moment, her boyfriend was perhaps the most desirable man in Amity Park. And he had chosen her. Come what may, this promised to be an extremely exciting relationship.

"Thank you everybody! Good night!" And with that, the band vanished from the stage.

-x-

They arrived back home later that night inconspicuously. Danny didn't want to take a chance on anyone following them. He had morphed his clothes back to normal, but the rest of the group were still in their costumes. "That was epic!" Jack shouted. Whenever he raised his voice, it turned into a bark. It wasn't any conscious thing on his part, it was just the way his voice was, and it really complimented the werewolf costume. "Fuck, I'm still juiced!"

"Man, I gotta go work out," Bram crowed as he pulled off his hood. "The only way I'm gonna get this energy outta me."

"Dude, that was funny as hell how you bonked Ember in the face with your drumstick," Tucker cackled as he slapped Paul on the back.

"Yeah," Paul returned. "The innuendo alone is priceless."

"Typical guy," Sam said jokingly as she walked into the kitchen where the guys had gathered.

"What can we tell ya," Danny answered. "We are men after all."

"Comes with the territory of having a penis," Jack said as if stating the sky were blue.

Everyone laughed at that until Bram glanced at his watch and shook his head. "Damn. We need to go. Don't forget guys, we got a Parkour jam tomorrow at 9 AM sharp. And you know I don't accept excuses." Danny knew that all too well. Bram loved to go on jams. When he had introduced Danny to the idea of Parkour, he thought it was kind of silly. It was a sport with no real competitive aspect, no scoring, and was made entirely of jumping and leaping over and around obstacles. But then he saw Bram, a guy who was 6'7" and all muscle, doing vaults and leaps and flips and rolls and soon changed his mind about it. It wasn't long before the whole band was going on weekly jams through the city for over an hour at a time. And Bram didn't accept any excuse to back out short of the flu, bleeding, or vomiting.

"Mind if I tag along?" Sam asked almost like a challenge.

"Why not?" Bram answered with a shrug. He didn't know what Danny did about Sam's athletic ability. He himself had been surprised to learn just fit her petite figure really was. "See you guys later."

After the rest of the band left, Danny and Sam spent the fifteen blissful minutes making out all the way up to Sam's room. They even slept in her bed, though they didn't have sex. It wasn't exactly the best possible night, though soon...

Danny woke up late in the night to see the blue mist seeping from his nose and mouth. His instincts told him not to panic, though. He slowly slipped out of the bed, glancing back at Sam. She looked so peaceful. Her hair was down and she had a small smile on her lips as she moved over in the bed, seeking out Danny's warmth. He couldn't help but smile himself. He was wearing only a pair of jeans, but didn't care. He looked out the window onto the rooftop across the street. There was the figure he knew would be out there, the one he'd been expecting for months now.

"Wulf."

He phased through the wall and flew out to meet his friend. It had been too long. Something was very wrong, and hopefully Wulf would have some answers for him. When he finally reached the rooftop, his eyes widened. One of his ears was missing and his clothes were tattered. His fur was matted and several patches seemed to have been ripped, maybe even burned off. One of his teeth was missing. The way he favored his left arm indicated it was probably broken. "Wulf... good god, what happened to you?"

"Long story," he muttered, his voice weak. "Need to rest. I'll explain later, just please... hide me."

-x-

Author's Notes: And Wulf brings in another cliffhanger. Anyway, pretty boy Danny and muscle man Bram both shirtless and rocking out. You guessed it! This one's for the ladies. ;)

I've been thinking and I have a request to my readers. Those of you who frequent YouTube probably know of some of the slick music videos people have been making. I'd like to see a couple videos set to some of the music featured here. I'd love to see a Strange Wings video. Who here would love to see a video set to Through the Fire and Flames by DragonForce? How about a really awesome Ultimate Enemy video set to the music of Devils by The 69 Eyes. Come on people! Let's bring some awesome new music to the YouTube DP crowd!

In the meantime, keep a lookout this week for an update on Ronin as well.