A/N: Okay, so for a long time I never had the intention of finishing this. I'm not really that interested in Danny Phantom anymore... but I did have the whole story planned out and every time I got a review I felt pretty awful for not finishing it. So, I had some free time today and... here we are! One new chapter. I can't promise more, but I certainly hope I'll find time to finish it.
For what felt like hours Danny stayed cramped inside the Fenton Thermos. It gave him awhile to think about things, like Dash and what Vlad was planning. Hopefully he had messed up Vlad's plan a little, but now that Danny thought about it, Vlad hadn't sounded upset during their short conversation. Maybe it was because Vlad had discovered about Dash. Or maybe Vlad had set up the whole problem with Dash in the first place. In the end Danny was only confusing himself more.
There was a stomping of feet down the stairs that broke into Danny's thoughts and he heard he mother's far off voice muttering about the mess in the lab.
"Maddie!" he called frantically, his mind whirring through the possibilities of how to get her to let him out. "MADDIE!"
The muttering stopped and Danny called out again. He felt the thermos being picked up and then heard a distance voice saying "Is there a ghost in here?"
"I'm Danny Phantom," Danny called. He could hear the gasp clear as day. "Listen, you need to let me out. It's important."
"Danny Phantom? Why should I let you out, you ectoplasmic fiend?"
Danny racked his brain for an excuse, coming up dry until…
A lightbulb went on in his head.
"Your son is in danger!" Danny yelled. A click sounded and a dizzying whirl of blue spat Danny out face to face with a glowing ectoplasmic ray.
"What do you know about my son," Maddie snarled dangerously.
"Don't shoot!" Danny yelped, throwing his hands up. "I just came to warn you!"
"Warn me about what?" Maddie asked, not lowering her gun a hair's breadth.
"About the new teacher at his school," Danny explained. "He's a dangerous ghost called Vlad Plasmius and he goes by the name of Vlad Masters when he's human."
Maddie lowered her gun slightly and frowned at Danny. "Don't be absurd," she chided. "Humans can't be ghosts."
"I didn't say you had to believe me," Danny answered. "I just came to warn you." Before his mother could reply he dove into the floor and looped back up to his room. He settled onto his bed just in time for his mother to slam the door open.
"Danny!" Maddie yelled, and Danny did his best to look confused and not out of breath. "Are you alright?"
Danny quickly set down the magazine he had been "reading" when he realized that it was upside down. "Uh, yeah, why?"
His mother walked awkwardly into the room and rubbed her arm. "Oh, I don't know. I just… Has Vlad been acting oddly at school? Doing anything… out of the ordinary or underhanded."
Danny bit his lip. This would be the perfect time to explain everything, but what if everyone at school reacted the same way as Dash? "Mom, I—"
"Danny! Are you okay?!" Sam and Tucker flew through the doorway, nearly crashing into Danny's mother. "We thought—" Both of them noticed Maddie at the same time, and quickly shut their mouths.
Maddie's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Why wouldn't he be okay?" she asked.
All three friends exchanged a look. The boys came up dry for ideas, but Sam blurted out, "He was turned down! Uh, for a date!"
Maddie looked confused for a moment, and then her mouth dropped open in a little 'o' shape. "Oh, I'm sorry sweetheart!"
"Y-Yeah," Danny answered, trying to look properly morose.
"What silly girl wouldn't want to go out with my little baby boy?" his mother continued to gush, wrapping him in a giant, crushing hug. Danny patted her awkwardly on the back, mouthing to Sam and Tucker over her shoulder, "HELP!"
They leapt into action. "Mrs. Fenton!" Sam exclaimed, pulling her away from Danny. "We know you care, but this is definitely friend territory, not parent territory."
"Yeah, let us deal with Danny," Tucker added in his best know-it-all voice, joining Sam in pushing Maddie out of the room. "You go back to protecting us from ghosts!"
Maddie seemed to remember why she had rushed upstairs the first place, but before she could say anything they had slammed the door in her face. "That was close," Tucker breathed once she was gone.
"I'll say," answered Danny. "But… no, nevermind."
"What?" Sam prodded.
"It was a stupid idea. I almost just told my mom everything."
Danny's friends exchanged a shocked look and then pounced. "Danny, why would you want to do that!?" Tucker exclaimed. "She'd never leave you alone. No one would leave you alone."
"Just think of how Dash is reacting," Sam added, and then tacked on as an afterthought, "Of course, if you want to tell everyone we'll be 100 behind you on it."
"I can tell," Danny answered sardonically.
"So, what happened with Vlad?" Tucker asked, flopping down on Danny's bed.
"You saw it. He sucked me in the thermos and brought me here. I only got out because I told my mother I had to warn her… about… me." Danny blinked and thought back over his day. "Does this sort of thing happen to anyone else?"
Tucker and Sam rolled their eyes. "No."
The next day at school was an awkward experience. Dash actually squeaked every time that he saw Danny, and eventually went home claiming to be ill. Vlad had another one of his ghost seminars scheduled and Danny was planning to stew darkly on the edge of the room during the presentation. Then something amazing happened: the Fentons burst into the gym.
"V-MAN!" Jack shouted, his voice deafening as it reverberated throughout the room. Vlad looked marginally dismayed to see him, and Danny knew he was only showing a fraction of what he felt on his face.
"Hello, Vlad," Maddie said coolly as she trailed her husband. "Just thought we'd pop in and see how your seminars are going. You \wouldn't mind a little constructive criticism, would you?"
"Ah, Maddie!" Vlad called, descending from the podium. "I would be honored to have someone of your expertise help me with the class."
"No, not helping," Maddie answered as she whipped out a Spectral Detector and began wandering the room. "We're merely here to observe." The detector beeped frantically as she approached Vlad, and Maddie's brow furrowed. "Odd…"
"Oh, not so much, considering I have a ghost on my person," Vlad answered, producing a new thermos from underneath his coat. "For demonstration purposes," he confided.
"Don't you think that's a little dangerous?" Maddie said in surprise.
"Not at all, Maddie! I have everything under control."
When Maddie nodded, she still looked a bit doubtful. "Well… we'll just be over here." She took Jack by the arm and they found seats in the front row of the bleachers. Immediately, Maddie turned in her seat and scanned the crowd for Danny. He tried to slouch, but her hawk-like eyes spotted him in a second. "Hi Danny!" she called cheerfully. "Isn't this exciting!"
Next to Danny, Sam snickered under her breath. He merely tensed, getting ready for whatever Vlad decided to throw at them today.
But nothing happened.
Vlad was the picture of integrity throughout his entire speech. When he released the ghost for observation, he incited Jack to come up and help him with the containment process, a task Jack was all too willing to accept. While Danny's dad bumbled around on stage, Vlad kept things under control. As much as Danny wanted to be mad at Vlad for humiliating his dad, Danny had to admit that Jack was doing a fair job of it by himself. Still, Danny could pick a bone with Vlad over his being a manipulative jerk.
"That was fun, wasn't it, Danny?" Maddie chirped when she caught Danny at the door. "I had my doubts at first, but it seems like Vlad is doing a knock-up job teaching you kids about ghosts." Vlad sauntered by, flashing Maddie a winning smile, and she added, "Though it pains me to admit it…"
"Hey son, want a ride home?" Jack appeared from the gym, staggering under all the literature and pamphlets he had procured from Vlad.
"No thanks," Danny said, cocking one eyebrow as a good half of the papers slid off the pile and on to the ground. "I'm gonna go hang out with my friends."
"Fair enough! Uh… Maddie! I seem to have dropped my papers…"
Danny hurried away with Tucker and Sam. He spotted Vlad on the way down the school steps, and he was wearing that infuriating smirk. Danny stopped and his resolve hardened. This was it; he was going to take down Vlad even if it meant ruining his life in the process.
"Hey, Vlad!" he called, running to catch up with the older man. Tucker and Sam dashed after him in confusion.
"Yes, Daniel?" Vlad answered guardedly as he turned around.
"My mom wanted to invite you over for pizza tonight."
"Your mother?" Vlad looked skeptical.
"Okay, my dad. But my mom was more impressed by your presentation than she let on. Maybe you can make amends for the whole wilderness thing?" Danny paused, knowing that what he was saying sounded completely unbelievable. He changed tactics. "It would sure make my life a lot easier. She never stops harping about how annoying you are."
Vlad's eyes widened. "She doesn't?"
"Oh, it's beyond annoying. Even if you're my arch nemesis, can you at least patch things up with her so we can have some domestic peace?"
Vlad studied Danny carefully while Same and Tucker tried to look in-the-know. "Fine. I will see you at dinner tonight, Daniel."
"Thank you!" Danny breathed. "See you tonight."
No turning back now.