AN: This is my first DP fanfic on FFN. It is currently in the process of being written, right now I have four chapters completed, and the fifth one is almost finished. I will probably be updating about once a week, maybe once every two weeks. We'll see how my schedule pans out; I'm a rather busy individual with school work, Marching Band, and a personal life. Surely you all understand.

WARNINGS: DEPICTIONS OF BLOOD AND VIOLENCE, angst, some mild-to-foul language (as the characters get older), SPOILERS FOR "THE ULTIMATE ENEMY." I repeat: SPOILERS FOR "THE ULTIMATE ENEMY." I am not just writing the story that happened in those ten years, though at first, it will seem very similar.

Disclaimer: I do not own Danny, any of his family, his friends, nor do I own Vlad Plasmius. I just like playing with them.

A Different Direction
Chapter One:

Danny watched in horror as the Nasty Burger Secret Sauce exploded. Some of it landed on him, burning his skin, but he didn't feel anything. His friends--his family--gone. He was never going to see any of them ever again. Slowly, he pulled himself off the ground, walking towards the mess left behind by the explosion. He prayed that he had imagined it all--that maybe his family had somehow managed to survive.

What he saw, though, told him otherwise. Sam, Tucker, Jack, Maddie, Jazz, and Mr. Lancer were strewn about, blood everywhere amongst the sauce, some parts missing from their bodies; burns everywhere on exposed skin. Danny collapsed, tears rolling down his face, silent as he stared at the wreckage of the Nasty Burger. He couldn't make it on time. He couldn't stop the vats of sauce from exploding.

Everyone he ever cared about, gone. A spike of hope pushed up through his sadness, forcing Danny to stand. He moved towards the closest body, soon recognizing it to be his sister's. He bent down, holding her wrist, checking her pulse. A voice in the back of his mind told him that this was pointless--none of them could have possibly survived. But still he checked, his face becoming more and more grave as he moved towards the other bodies.

The one body with a slight pulse was Sam's. By this time, Danny's tears had stopped, his mouth set in a line. Everyone before Sam was already dead. But, just as Danny put her wrist down, her slight breathing had stopped. None of them survived. Slowly, Danny stood up again, pulling out his cellphone. He dialed 911 and waited, standing amongst the bodies, trying to numb himself of the pain caused by the sudden loss.

He had to identify the bodies for the police, holding off tears as he did so. When they asked about Sam and Tucker's parents and families, Danny couldn't take it anymore. He couldn't keep the tears from falling; there was no way for him to stop them. They only died because they were stalling his parents and Lancer--because of him cheating on the CAT's, his family died. All of this because of a stupid test...a stupid achievement test that meant nothing now that they were gone.

The police moved Danny away from the scene, leading him away from his loved ones' charred bodies. Danny came to the numb realization that he was now entirely alone. He had no one left. No one. There would be no one to help him through school, or through his fights against future ghosts. No one to come home to. Would he even be able to stay at home? Where would he go? Who would support him?

The policeman on his right placed a hand on Danny's shoulder. Softly, he whispered, "We'll take care of it, don't you worry. Everything will be okay."

Danny only looked up at him, tears building up in his eyes. The energy to scream nothing would be alright left him. He only managed to whisper, "Yeah...sure," to the man, blinking away his tears.

"Do you have any relatives that are in the immediate area, son?" the other cop asked, turning to Danny.

Danny choked upon hearing the word "son." Jack was never going to be around anymore to call him that as he blathered on about ghosts. The cop, realizing that he said something wrong, turned back around and waited for Danny to be ready to answer. "S-Sorry," Danny whispered, looking up at the cop. "That's what my dad calls--called me."

The cop nodded, and the other one's grip on Danny's shoulder tightened, calming Danny down some. He forced himself to think of any family he had, mentally going through them all. "No," he finally whispered, "I don't have anyone..."

The cops both shook their heads, both of them leaving Danny to his own thoughts. Danny stepped into the police car, sitting down and leaning his head against the back of the seat. He was so tired...if only he could fall asleep.

"Where do you live, kid?" said the cop who had had his hand on Danny's shoulder.

Danny told him in a quiet voice, dreading walking into the empty house. Once he was dropped off at home, Danny thanked the cops before walking heavily up the stairs. He was surprised that the lights were on. His parents must have been in a hurry that afternoon to meet Lancer. Jazz's book bag was even placed on the couch; it still hadn't made it to her room. Lancer wanting to talk to his parents much have really concerned her.

Danny, feeling it would bring him a sense of normalcy, picked up Jazz's book bag and headed up the stairs, intending to go into her room and place her book bag there. That's what Jazz would have done and probably would have ordered Danny to do, if she was home, still alive. Biting his lip, Danny approached Jazz's door, his hand inches above the doorknob. He couldn't open the door. It was Jazz's room--she wouldn't want him to go in there if she wasn't there. Now the room seemed even more sacred; more untouchable. Unsure as to what he should do, Danny put Jazz's book bag down in front of the door, leaving it there.

Slowly Danny walked to his room, his feet dragging along the carpet. The house was so silent now, without the sounds of his parents working diligently in the basement on some new, weird invention. He never got to tell any of them that he was half ghost. Sighing, Danny collapsed onto his bed, tears starting to fill his eyes once more. Blinking them away, Danny attempted to fall asleep, managing to only after he exhausted himself thoroughly.

When Danny woke up again, it was because of his ghost sense. He groaned, rolling over on his bed, looking up at the dark ceiling. He didn't even bother to say his "battle cry" as he changed into his ghost form. He was so used to the cold feeling in his stomach that it didn't even phase him as he started flying towards where the other ghost may be. He almost went to call Sam and Tucker, but them remembered that they were probably now at the morgue, waiting to be identified by their parents, even though Danny had already done so for the police. His heart sank and he landed on the ground, sitting down at the edge of the sidewalk. They wouldn't ever be able to help him, ever again. What if this ghost was too strong for him to handle? Who would he go to for help? There was no one else who knew of his secret; no one else who was even remotely interested in him.

Shoulders slumped, Danny looked up to find the ghost standing right there in front of him. Danny glared at him half-heartedly before looking down at the gutter. "Go away," he hissed, glaring at the ground.

"Why, Daniel, is that how you greet an old friend?" Plasmius asked, smirking to himself.

"You're not my friend," Danny responded softly, still staring at the ground before getting up, floating in the air. He avoided Plasmius's eyes, turning away from him. "Leave me alone."

As Danny started to fly off, he could feel Plasmius's presence behind him, causing Danny to growl in frustration. "Go away Plasmius! I don't have the energy to deal with you!" he shouted back at him, sending an ectoplasmic beam at him. Unfortunately, that only made Plasmius only more determined to follow him.

"What's wrong, Daniel? Realized you're too weak to defeat me?" Plasmius quipped, flying ahead of Danny, blocking his path with multiple Plasmiuses. "After all this time, are you really just going to run away and let me do what I want?"

Danny growled low in his throat. He stopped in mid air, glaring at his arch nemesis so darkly Plasmius stopped smirking and simply stared at Danny. "Stay the hell away from me!" Danny shouted, shocked to find Plasmius being pushed backward at a rapid pace. Danny felt his power drain considerably, and he panted, out of breath.

"What an interesting new power..." Plasmius muttered as he flew back over to where Danny was, phased by the unintentional attack. "Tell me, Daniel, how did you learn to do that?"

Danny remained silent, shocked himself at the new power, but also more exhausted than he was before. "I--don't know," he whispered, shaking his head, still slightly out of breath. "It doesn't matter, Plasmius! What do you want from me?"

"I just wanted to talk, Daniel. About your becoming my apprentice. You're a fast learner, you know. You could be very useful to me," Plasmius stated, smiling serenely at Danny. "Of course, you already knew that."

"And you know that I don't want to! Leave me alone! I'm never going to become your apprentice, Plasmius--so go away and never come back!" With that, Danny flew away rapidly, trying to put as much distance between himself and Plasmius.

Plasmius blinked at Danny's second outburst before following the boy at a distance. His eyebrows were furrowed as he studied Danny's flight pattern; Danny seemed to be flying a bit erratically. "Something must be bothering the boy..." he whispered to himself, continuing to study his soon-to-be-apprentice. Danny led him back to the Fenton home, and Danny slipped into his room before changing back into his human form. Plasmius, not wanting to be sensed, changed back into his human for as well, and remained on the sidewalk.

As he was about to walk up to the door and knock on it, Plasmius, now Vlad, noticed the figure of a girl walking down the street.

"Mr. Masters? Is that you?"

Vlad blinked, smiling at the girl once he realized who she was. "Ah! Miss Grey. What brings you here at this late hour?" he asked, trying to sound cheery.

Valerie looked up at Vlad, sadness written all over her face. "I came here to talk to Danny. He's going through a really hard time right now," she whispered, looking up at the Fenton home.

Vlad blinked again before forcing himself to look fully concerned. "Oh, really? I didn't know that..."

"You live out in Wisconsin, right?" Valerie asked.

Nodding, Vlad responded, "I've been traveling to visit the Fentons. I haven't heard of anything unusual."

"His family died," Valerie whispered, tearing up herself. "I--when I found out I didn't want to leave him alone."

Vlad's eyes widened at the news. "His parents...? And his sister?" he asked. Vlad nodded himself, muttering, "I see... That explains his behavior..." He spoke up, "The poor boy. He must be very upset."

"And that's not all," Valerie muttered, sighing. "His two best friends died in the accident, too."

Vlad shook his head. "How did it happen? They all seemed perfectly healthy--how could they all die like that?"

"The Nasty Burger exploded while all of them were standing in front of the building," Valerie explained, frowning. "The manager of the Nasty Burger wasn't lying when he said the sauce would explode if it overheated."

"So he's completely alone," Vlad muttered, sighing. "I guess I will go back to my hotel, then. Don't tell Danny that I've been here, okay?"

Valerie nodded, walking up the stairs to the Fenton house. Vlad walked away until he was out of sight, and changed back into his ghost form. "So none of his loved ones are alive anymore... This might be good for my plans."

Danny sighed, laying back down on his bed. He'd be concerned about Vlad being there in Amity Park, but he was too tired. Seeing Vlad only reminded Danny of Vlad's twisted love for Maddie, which only served to remind Danny that his family was dead. He felt the tears come again, but Danny shunned the away. He had school tomorrow. There was at least some hope of normalcy in that fact.

The doorbell rang. Groaning, Danny pulled himself out of bed, hoping that it wasn't anyone he didn't want to talk to. Slowly he made his way down the steps, glad that the person was at least being a little patient with him. When he finally opened the door, he stared at Valerie before shaking his head. "What are you doing here?" he asked softly, opening the door all the way. His shoulders tensed up, and he felt his breath get cold.

"I wanted to...well, I wanted to be here for you. Like a friend would," Valerie said softly, looking up from the ground, playing with her fingers. "Can I come in?"

Danny looked stunned before nodding, moving out of the way to let Valerie walk into his home. "I take it you've heard...?"

Valerie nodded, holding her hands clasped in front of her. "I...don't really know what to say. I can't even believe that you're at this house."

"I have no where else to go," Danny responded, shrugging. "It's not like I can go to Sam's or Tucker's house. I don't think their parents would appreciate my being there. It's my fault that they're all--that they're all gone," he said softly, sitting down on the couch, looking at his hands. "It's all my fault, Valerie... They would all still be here if it wasn't for me!"

"Danny, how could it possibly be your fault?" Valerie whispered, looking at him sadly. "It's not your fault, okay?"

"You don't understand, Valerie! It is my fault! If I hadn't cheated on the stupid CAT's, they'd all still be here!" he shouted, getting off the couch and pacing the length of the room. "If I had just listened to Sam and Tucker, none of them would be dead right now!"

Valerie just watched Danny in silence, noticing the tears rolling down his cheeks, how his voice cracked under the guilt. Slowly she got up from the couch and walked over to him, hugging him. Danny tensed up, but soon collapsed onto her shoulder, crying. Valerie, not entirely sure as to what to do, patted his back uncertainly. "Danny, it's okay. YOu didn't know that the Nasty Burger was going to explode."

"But they wouldn't have been there if I didn't cheat," Danny sniffed, still leaning on Valerie's shoulder. "Lancer called them over there to tell them that I cheated."

"Danny, it was no one's fault," Valerie whispered, hugging him again. "They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The only thing I don't get is why Sam and Tucker were there, but you weren't..."

Danny stopped crying, pulled himself off of Valerie's shoulder, and walked away from her. "They were...covering for me. Stalling my parents because I was--busy with something else."

Valerie blinked at that, studying Danny intently. "What were you doing?" she asked, placing her hands on her hips.

"It's not important," Danny whispered. "I won't ever be doing that again. If I had been there, I'd at least be with them, right now."

The color drained from Valerie's face, and she walked over to Danny, placing a hand on his shoulder; she felt his shoulder tense under her touch. "Danny, don't tell me that you're thinking you'd rather be dead."

Danny turned around to face her, his eyes filled with guilt. "If I had been there, I could have saved them--and I would have been the one to die because I cheated. And I would have deserved it," hi hissed, pulling himself out of Valerie's touch. "Yes, they would have lost me, but they would find a way to get over it. They at least would have been able to live."

Remaining silent, Valerie sat back down on Danny's couch, watching him. Suddenly, her ghost-alarm went off, causing her to jump. "I'm sorry, Danny, but I really gotta go," she said hurriedly, straightening quickly and grabbing her book bag. "I have to run to my other job..."

Danny stopped her. "It's just another ghost escaping through our ghost portal," he muttered. "Don't worry about it. I'll take care of it after you leave."

Valerie narrowed her eyes at him, furrowing her eyebrows. "How do you know about that?" she asked, her hands on her hips again.

"Remember when you were out hunting the ghost kid and you found me and Sam? We both figured it was you by your voice," Danny explained quickly. Suddenly he looked very tired, his eyes dark and hallow. His voice was empty of emotion.

"You--really liked her, huh?" Valerie asked, putting down her book bag and sitting back down on the couch.

"She was my best friend since were were like, three years old. Same with me and Tucker. The only two people who ever gave a damn about me besides my family are gone! I'll never be able to tell them how important they are to me...and Sam will never know how I felt..." Danny sighed, closing his eyes.

"What does that make me, then?" Valerie asked, her voice rising. "I care about you, too, Danny! I wouldn't be here, losing sleep, if I didn't."

"I-I didn't mean it like that, Valerie!" Danny cried, covering his face with his hand. "I just--for a while we really hated each other and it's a little hard to forget that you've changed."

Valerie nodded, the anger ebbing away from her face. "What are you going to do now that they're all gone? You can't live here by yourself; you're only fourteen."

"I don't know, and right now, I don't really want to think about it," he whispered. "There's just so much that needs to be dealt with, and I don't know how and I don't have anyone to guide me."

Valerie nodded. "If only you had a place to go..."

"It's not like I can stay at your place. You wouldn't want the boy whose family cost your dad his job to live with you, anyway."

"What do you mean?" Valerie asked, blinking.

"That ghost dog that you thought belonged to the ghost boy? It escaped through the Fenton Portal. If my parents hadn't invented it, that whole incident wouldn't have happened and you wouldn't hate ghosts so much."

Something bothered Valerie about how Danny said all of that. He sounded guilty, like it had been his fault that the ghost dog and the ghost boy destroyed her father's life. And how did he know all of that? Shaking her head to rid herself of those thoughts, she asked, "So...are you going to be alright by yourself? My dad won't be home until after school starts tomorrow morning. I could stay here and give you company..."

Danny smiled softly at her before heading towards the kitchen. "I guess you can, if you want. It's not like I can go to my parents and have them kick you out."

"Do you think you'll be okay with it?" Valerie asked. "I can sleep right here on the couch, if you want."

"I'll be fine knowing that I have a ghost hunter in the house. You may not be my parents, but at least you're a ghost hunter," Danny responded, sitting down on the couch. He reached over and hugged Valerie briefly, whispering, "Things won't be so bad as long as I have someone to talk to. Thanks, Valerie."

"You're welcome, Danny," Valerie whispered, awkwardly hugging him back, blushing slightly.

And that's it! Chapter one, completed. Well? What did you think? Am I horrible, good, okay? Let me know, so I can know what to approve upon next time. It is my first Danny Phantom fanfic and my first series-fic in a long, long time. I'm a little rusty. ;