WoM- You know, I really shouldn't start a new story right now, but my self-restraint is as non existent as Pandora's. once again, Me no own anything, and, once again, this is a blanket disclaimer.
"Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance?"
Pristine white clouds floated lazily in a beautiful blue sky, on a day that wasn't too warm, or too windy. In the harbor, the water sparkled and winked playfully at any who might chance upon it, and, for a rare moment, nearly everyone in Amity Park was in a general good mood…
…Everyone who wasn't trapped in a limo with an irritated, spoiled teenaged girl, at any rate.
"We've made it clear that I hate you, right?" Handsome TV star Derris Brown rolled the gorgeous dark brown eyes that made so many girls swoon. Across from him, his pretty co-star, Electra Estella Lunette, scowled, slumped down low in her seat.
"Come on, Eel." Derris said, "Didn't you say you wanted a break from Spirits?"
"This isn't that I had in mind!" Electra snapped, irritated enough even to over look the nickname she despised. "A vacation on Hawaii, a trip to Tokyo, that's what I wanted to do, but some stupid documentary?"
"It's good publicity," Derris shrugged. "And you can't tell me you aren't curious. Real live ghost hunters? Actual ghosts? How cool would that be?"
"A lot cooler if it wasn't for the fact that I could be using this time to work on my tan," Electra responded, glaring out the window as the passed the sign that read AMITY PARK; A NICE PLACE TO LIVE.
"And what about this Phantom guy?"
"Oh, grow up!" Electra snapped, "Ghosts down exists, Derris, it's probably a publicity scam or something!"
"They do too!" the ten-year-old actress Mandy Francis protested, her wide hazel eyes on Electra, "They just don't like other people too much…"
"No, they don't," Electra said coldly, "They're just a publicity gimmick for the gullible."
"Electra!" Derris' eye narrowed. Electra ignored him, though, turning back to the window. Derris sighed.
Electra was always like this. He never understood how the girl could be the main heroine of a TV show based on hunting ghosts and so firmly disbelieve their existence. Not that Derris had too much confidence in them being real, but Electra took it a step further.
Mandy, though, operated on the other extreme. She loved the idea of ghosts, and even claimed to have met one. That sort of concerned Derris, but he was too busy to really check further into his TV sister's mental state, and just wrote it off as an overactive imagination.
"El Casa de Muertos, Mr. Brown, Miss Lunette, Miss Francis," Their chuffer said pleasantly, "Shall I call the bellboy to take your things as you retire to your rooms?"
"Yes, Garfield," Electra answered absently, getting out of the car. "Call me when filming starts, I'll be in the bath."
"I'll pass on the retiring thing, Uncle Gar," Mandy said as she hopped out, "I wanna go around for a bit on my own," Garfield smiled.
"Don't forget your disguise this time, Miss Francis," Garfield advised his youngest charge. Grinning at him, Mandy took off to change into her 'disguise.'
"I'm telling you, Danny, this plan is foolproof!" Tucker declared as he jogged to keep up with his best friends quick strides. "We just go invisible, sneak into Lancers house, use your new telekinesis and bang! Instant free day when Lancer wakes up in Acapulco."
"Tucker, didn't we all make a pact to stop using my powers for senseless, immature reasons?" Teen hero Danny Fenton asked his friend, exasperation coloring his tone. He didn't want to admit how tempting the idea was, since they had a test tomorrow he was nowhere near prepared for.
"Didn't stop you from giving Dash a close encounter with Tuesday's Meatloaf Surprise," Tucker pointed out. Danny blushed and Sam gave the boy a pointed look and a smirk.
"It was an accident!" he protested. "I didn't mean to make the garbage bin dump over!"
"Riiiight…" Tucker drawled, "And that's Sam's natural hair color," Sam glared.
Minutes later, Tucker found himself bound, gagged and tied to the top of the Nasty Burger flagpole.
"Speaking of Dash," Sam said, "Did you notice how excited he and the other populars were today?"
"Not really" Danny said, "Between trying to cram for Testlaf's class and fighting off Fright Knight, I haven't had time to notice anything." As if to remind Sam of his ghost hunting, Danny shifted slightly so the large bruise on the side of his neck where he'd taken a hard hit was more noticeable to the Goth. Sam cringed.
"Jazz'll hit the ceiling when she sees that, you know," Sam said, her eyes fixed on the bruise.
"Jazz!" Danny cringed, his hand immediately going to hide his most obvious injury. The red head's eyes narrowed.
"Let me see," She ordered sitting down. Sighing, Danny took his hand away, averting his eyes when Jazz paled and gasped.
"Who did that?" Jazz asked tightly.
"Fight Knight," Danny answered, still not meeting Jazz's eyes. "It's not as bad as it looks, honest! It'll be healed completely in a few hours." Jazz frowned.
"You should've told me about it right away," She said sullenly. "You promised, Danny,"
"You were busy with that thing for student council." Danny protested at his sister's hurt tone. "I was gonna take care of it at home, I didn't want to distract you or anything. And don't say I wouldn't have, Jazz. Remember that time I dislocated my shoulder fighting Skulker and you had to help me pop it back in place?" Jazz cringed at the memory.
"Alright, alright!" She grumbled. "So I don't like seeing you in pain, sue me why don't you?"
"You've got a life too, Jazz," Danny continued, "You shouldn't worry so much about me, let your own problems come first once in a while,"
"My problems don't include psychopathic ghosts and gun toting paranormal hunters." Jazz pointed out.
"Yeah, Jazz, I really like that movie too!" Sam said loudly all of a sudden, startling both Fenton siblings.
"What are you-?"
"Danny!" Jazz stopped abruptly as Valerie approached their table, tensing. Though she and the girl had gotten along well before, after Jazz found out Valerie was out to kill her brother, a lot of things changed.
"Hey, Val," Danny said casually, grinning at the girl's approach. Valerie cringed slightly when she saw his bruise.
"Yikes," She muttered, "Get in a fight with Dash again?"
"Uh, yeah," Danny said, covering the bruise. "You getting ready for work?" Jazz looked alarmed at that, not understanding that Danny wasn't referring to the girl's 'side job.'
"Unfortunately," Valerie grumbled. "Wanna hang out at the Bowl-O-Rama when I get off?"
"Sure," Danny answered. "8:30, right?"
"Yeah," Valerie responded. "See ya then!" and, before leaving, Valerie added in a casually amused voice, "Oh, you might wanna get Foley down from the flagpole. He's scaring away the customers," Once Valerie was a safe distance away, both Jazz and Sam rounded on Danny.
"Danny, you shouldn't let her so close!" Sam started.
"Yeah, Danny!" Jazz frowned, "She's not like mom and dad, what if she notices something?"
"Come on, guys," Danny sighed, "Valerie isn't a bad guy, she's just misinformed. I'm not gonna keep her at a distance without an explanation. Haven't you ever heard of a second chance?" both girls cringed, knowing Danny was thinking about his time travels with Clockwork.
"It's great that you're willing to give her a second chance, Danny," Jazz said softly, "But do you think she'll extend you the same courtesy?"
"The only way to have someone treat you with respect is to give it to them," Danny quoted in a high-pitched voice with a pointed look at his sister.
"I really hate you sometimes…" Jazz grumbled, slumping back in her chair. The only thing that irritated her more then being wrong was having her own advice turned against her, and Danny well knew it. She didn't doubt that the only reason he really listened to her sometimes was just because he was looking for ammunition for later.
"Sibling perk," Danny quipped, tossing his empty wrappings. "I'm gonna fly around a bit. Goin' ghost helps me heal faster."
"Make sure no one sees you," Jazz responded automatically, "Check for birds, planes and buildings, and remember to--"
"--Keep my eyes open for Valerie, Mom and Dad in that order, make sure I don't leave Amity Park, don't use any of my other powers in public places, check an area completely before landing, call you the second I sense a ghost and be home before curfew," Danny finished for her, reciting from memory, "Anything else?" Jazz scowled slightly.
"Make sure you get Tucker down from the flagpole," She responded haughtily. Rolling his eyes, Danny left.
"Why does he always defend her like that?" Sam asked irritably.
"Danny's a nice guy," Jazz responded, shrugging. (Though she might not have said so if she'd looked out the window on her right and Saw Danny turn the flagpole intangible, therefore causing Tucker to face plant on the ground) "Don't worry, Sam, he doesn't have a crush on her,"
"Why would I care if he did?" Sam asked, shooting Jazz a challenging look, "I don't like him like that,"
"Then you wouldn't mind Valerie so much would you?" Jazz asked slyly.
"Valerie's a ghost hunter!" Sam said, "I'm just worried is all,"
"And Paulina?" Sam glared irritably at Jazz, who just laughed.
"Don't you have a meeting to get to?" She asked, teeth grinding together and the barest hint of a blush on her cheeks.
"I'm going, I'm going," Jazz said, getting the hint. "Oh and Sam?" The Goth looked warily at Jazz, "He likes you, too. Even if he won't say so," And with that, Jazz left.
But not before seeing the absolutely brilliant blush on Sam's face.
Danny closed his eyes to enjoy the wind across his face (Blatantly breaking all of his sister's diligence rules,) as he floated a little lower, going both intangible and invisible. If there was one thing he loved about his ghost powers, it was flying. It took away his stress in a far less violent way then his fights did.
He hadn't been lying when he told his sister he healed faster in ghost form, in fact his bruise was already gone, and the shooting pain in his right wrist had dulled to a sight throb. But that wasn't the whole reason Danny had wanted to fly around.
Lately, Danny had felt… restless. He knew something was gonna happen, but he didn't know what or when, and it was driving him insane. As much as he wanted to believe he was just imagining things, fighting ghosts had sharpened his instincts to the point where he relied on them more then any powers the accident had given him.
Though his powers had gotten really cool…
"KKKKKYYYYYAAAAAHHHHH!" Stopping abruptly, Danny craned his neck in the direction of the scream. He'd heard enough people scream to know it was a little girl, fourth, maybe fifth grade. And the echoing laugh that followed her scream was definitely a ghost.
Angered that a ghost was low enough to resort to attacking kids, Danny took off at top speed. (173mph, last time Tucker clocked him,)
Cornered in a dead-end alley was a little girl around ten, wearing a baseball hat, big sunglasses and blue jean overalls with an orange t-shirt underneath. She whimpered as a ghost that looked suspiciously like one of Walker's goons closed in on her, grinning and brandishing a glowing green ax.
"Back off, Spooky!" Danny yelled, nailing the goon good. "Picking on kids? That's low even for Walker!"
"W-Wha-?" The girl behind Danny stammered. Danny gave her a reassuring smile.
"Don't worry," He said, "I won't let him hurt you." Danny wasn't sure if his promise had sunk in or not, and added, "But you might wanna make a break for it first opportunity."
The ghost had collected himself and charged at Danny, who dodged and blasted him with an ecto-beam. Then, when the guard was pinned, stunned, against a nearby wall, Danny took out his Fenton Thermos and sucked him in, making a mental note to question him before he was released back into the Ghost Zone.
His attention was brought back to the present by the familiar whirl of a charging ecto-cannon, and Danny managed to avoid losing his head on instinctive maneuvering alone.
"Leave this defenseless child alone, you ecto-freak!" Jack Fenton barked, taking aim again.
"You gotta be kidding me…" Danny groaned, trying to tally how many of Jazz's rules he'd broken so far.
"Wait!" The little girl shouted, "He wasn't- I mean he-!"
"There, there dear," Maddie cut the girl off in a soothing, motherly tone, "We're professional ghost hunters! We'll get rid of this mean ol' ghost for you!"
'There's something truly disheartening in hearing your own parents insult you and meaning it,' Danny thought dryly. He groaned as a familiar chill went through him and his ghost sense escaped his mouth in a blue mist.
"Love to stay and chat," Danny said before charging up his aura, "But I've got places to be, and people to question," And with that, Danny pulled one of his newer tricks, turning himself into an intangible, invisible mist that could be detected with ghost radars.
It was much like Jazz's state when she'd been bitten by Spectra's bugs, and actually turned out to be a pretty useful power. Floating over to the next alley, he waited until his parents were gone with the child before turning back to normal.
"Impressive." Danny's lips curled into a scowl as he turned and glared at Walker.
"What are you doing here!" He demanded.
"I told you, ghost kid, you won't be rid of me yet," Walker grinned evilly. "nicely handled back there, by the way. You've gotten faster, punk."
"Among other things," Danny said, the threat clear in his voice as he took up a stance that left him less open. "Why did you attack that little girl!"
"Because she's dangerous," Walker said simply. "And not just to me, kid. You didn't do yourself any favors saving her. Now she and her friends will be even harder to scare off."
"What?" Danny said, confused, "What are you-?"
"You're not the only one who's busy, kid," Walker interrupted abruptly, "See ya round. And next time won't be so pleasant for ya. I'll capture you yet, punk!" Before Danny could protest, Walker teleported away. Danny was left scowling darkly at the spot that Walker had been in moments earlier.
Grumbling slightly, Danny turned around…
…Almost careening right into a microphone.
"Mr. Phantom, who was that ghost you were talking to!"
"Mr. Phantom, what was your real name when you where alive!"
"How 'bout a smile, Danny!"
"Exactly how did you die, Mr. Phantom!"
"Mr. Phantom, over here!"
Danny was torn between yelling in frustration and laughing hysterically at the many, many yelling news crews in front of him.
"Sorry," Danny said as a bright flash when off right in his face momentarily blinding him. "I really don't have time for questions right now…" And, before they could ask any more questions, Danny flew off, invisible.
Still, he could help but smile as he muttered one thing to himself during the flight back home…
"At least now they got the name right…"
"Danny, where have you been!"
"You're half an hour late, young man!" Danny cringed guiltily as his parents yelled at him, catching Jazz's eye long enough to send her a silent plea for help.
Like any good older sister, Jazz was unsympathetic towards his current plight, and after shooting him an I-Told-You-So look, she went back to reading. (AN; I've got two younger brothers and one older one, can you tell?)
"You missed Dinner, but there's leftover Meatballs and Gravy in the fridge next to the samples we got of the Ecto-goo monster." Maddie finished. Both she and Jack left, presumably for the lab, and Danny cocked an eyebrow at his sister.
"How does she expect me to tell them apart?" He asked her. Jazz could help but smile at the crack about their mother's admittedly bad cooking. Maddie herself even laugh and joke that, other then her wonderful baking, the kitchen wasn't her domain. Danny was the best cook in the family, something their parents took advantage of as much as possible.
"How many other rules did you break, Danny?" Jazz asked, not really as mad as she was trying to sound. Danny knew it, too, as he paused in an exaggerated thoughtfulness.
"I never left Amity Park," He said at least, "At least, I don't think I did…" Jazz rolled her eyes as Danny flopped onto the couch and turned the TV on, ignoring his sister dark look.
"-Other news, Amity Park infamous Danny Phantom made yet another appearance today, to the child who was none other then Spirits starlet Mandy Francis from the hit series Spirits. Diana?" Danny gave Jazz a confused look as she gasped.
"You saw Lita!" Danny's eyebrow went up at the name.
"Lita! Lita Banshee, Younger sister of Carl Banshee and ghost hunter in training!" Danny gave Jazz an even more confused look. "You don't watch Spirits?"
"I don't have time to watch anything!" Danny reminded Jazz, "Between catching ghosts, doing my homework and fighting for my life, I'm lucky to find time to sleep. What's Spirits?"
"A TV Show about ghost hunters who chase down evil ghost and exterminate them," Jazz responded.
"Fun," Danny made a face. He didn't like the thought of anyone exterminating him. Especially ghost hunters. Ever since he got his powers, one thing Danny learned well was the pain if a ghost hunter's weapons.
"It's just a TV show," Jazz said.
"You watch it?" Danny said, confused. Jazz usually hated TV, and down right despised anything to do with hunting ghosts. The red head blushed slightly.
"Uh… y-yeah…" She said feebly, "I've seen an episode or two, no big… just a comparative experiment…"
"-Derris, are you worried for your and the crew's safety now that you're up against real ghosts?"
"OhmiGod!" Jazz screeched, turning up the volume, "Derris Brown!" Danny shot Jazz a dry look that she either didn't notice or ignored.
"No way, Diana," Derris responded, smiling at the camera, "It'll take a lot more then secondhand spooks to scare us off, right Electra?"
"Of course!" The pretty girl on Derris' left chirped, "The fact that Mandy here stood up to the ghost that tried to hurt her today is proof of that,"
"Were you scared when Danny Phantom attacked you, Many?" Diana asked the little girl Danny now recognized as the girl from the alley.
"He didn't attack me," Mandy corrected, frowning, "He stopped another ghost from hurting me. Then two ghost hunters came and he left before I could say thanks,"
"…Two ghost hunters?" Jazz repeated. Danny flinched.
"So, you believe Phantom is a good ghost?" Diana pressed.
"Good and evil is a difficult concept to question, Diana," Derris cut in, much to Danny's disappointment (He'd wanted to hear the girl's answer.) "It's unfair to ask a ten year old to give that label to someone on the basis of one meeting. If you want to know if Phantom's really good or evil check out the project my co-stars and I came to Amity to work on,"
"Project?" Jazz and Danny repeated as one.
"Project?" Diana said, blinking, "What project?" It was Electra who answered, with an absolutely brilliant smile.
"Derris, Mandy and I all came to Amity Park to make a documentary on real ghosts, most especially the famous Danny Phantom!" Then, with a little laugh, she added, "It's gonna be really fun, and we can't wait to start!"
In the Fenton living room, Jazz and Danny sat dead still. It was Danny who broke the silence with a scream that had even those beyond the Fenton Portal trembling in fear.
WoM- That's all for today, folks! How bout some feedback? I can't answer reviews here, but if you have any questions or complaints, leave me your e-mail and I'll contact you.