WoM- Hello, there! I figured since Lost Love Lullaby is ending soon, 'd start another story! This one is different from my other ones. Also, I was kinda surprised no one had anything for this pairing, and decided to correct that. (Not that there will be that much romance in this story…)

Unmasked


Valerie: (After arriving in the Ghost Zone, handcuffed to Danny, and seeing Skulker) Ahhh! Huh? Help! Ahh! What is this place? Who's he? What's going on here?
Danny: Okay, in order: this is the Ghost Zone, that's Skulker: Ghost Zone's greatest hunter, and other than you dislocating my shoulder, we're about to be hunted like animals.


Chapter 1; Hunting for Friendship

Valerie sighed in frustration as she dried her hair with a white cotton towel. The long mass of dark, wet strands clung to her face, shoulders and back, dampening the pajamas she'd chosen for the night (red drawstring pants with little white kitten on them chasing pastel yellow balls of yarn and a white tank top.). The water also made her difficult-to-manage hair wilder then usual.

"Valerie, sweetie, are you okay?" Her father said in concern, looking up from the TV when his daughter entered the living room, "You were in there for nearly an hour. I was starting to worry that you'd drowned."

"No, dad," Valerie said, flopping onto the couch, her towel around her shoulders. "I had another fight with Phantom today. The jerk knocked me into a giant pile of buttered popcorn at the movie theater and I haven't been able to get the smell out of my hair."

Damon Grey hastily ducked his head in hopes of hiding his chuckles from his daughter. Unfortunately, she caught them quite easily. All the ghost hunting had really improved her senses, to say nothing of her reflexes, agility and strength.

"What's so funny?" She asked, eyes narrowed in a challenging way.

"You always seem to end up in these sort of situations whenever you go barreling after Phantom," He chuckled, "Really, Valerie, I don't know why you find him so threatening,"

"He lost you your job, Dad!" Valerie protested at once.

'Not to mention ruining your social life,' Valerie's inner voice, which sounded a lot like her benefactor, said smoothly.

"Actually, I hated that job," Damon confessed, "I may not make as much money now, but I am happier."

"Happier? How can you be happier!" Valerie asked, "You're not making half of what your old paycheck was!" Damon shrugged.

"Money isn't everything Valerie," He told her, "I have less hours now, so I have time to train myself for a career I'd be better suited in, and I can spend more time with you." Valerie huffed.

"Well, that still doesn't make Phantom any less my mortal enemy!" She told him. Damon's eyebrow kicked up in amusement.

"'Mortal Enemy?'" He repeated, "Valerie, don't you think you're being a little stubborn? The boy's already apologized up and down for losing my that job, and he definitely sounded sincere when he did so,"

Valerie scowled darkly when she remembered her father telling her about the ghost boy saying his life on his way to work, and even giving him the apology he'd just brought up right after doing so. At the time, she'd been very, very confused.

'It should have been you saving your father, not him,' the inner voice broke in, 'And anyways, he's only trying to throw you off, deceive you. There's no way he'd save your father on his own without very good incentive. You've tried to kill him a million times…'

"An apology doesn't make it any less his fault," Valerie said stubbornly. Damon shook his head and sighed in exasperation. This was quickly becoming an age-old argument in the Grey household, with Damon being willing to forgive and forget and Valerie clinging to the past.

"Well, you know more about the situation then I do, I suppose," Damon said diplomatically, raising and kissing his daughter on the forehead affectionately. "I'm going to bed. Don't stay up past eleven and no late night hunts. You have school in the morning," Valerie smiled.

"Don't worry, I won't be late tomorrow no matter what," Valerie promised, "We're starting swimming races tomorrow in gym," Damon shook his head at the evil grin that was plastered on his daughter's face.

"I'm guessing you're up against someone you don't like?" He smiled.

"Sam Manson," Valerie said, "She's determined to make my life miserable, so I don't mind returning the favor now and then," Valerie thought it was best not to tell her father why she and Sam were locking horns.

"Don't smoke her too badly," Damon said, "Or else others might get suspicious," Valerie rolled her eyes.

Her school was mostly filled with idiots. She could probably change right in front of 8 out of 10 of the students in the school, and they still wouldn't get that she was a ghost hunter. The other 2/10ths, however, were dangerous.

Especially the girls in that category, like Paulina (Who wouldn't hesitate to kill her if she knew Valerie was the ghost hunter trying to her precious 'Inviso-Bill,') and Sam. (who already didn't like her for a completely different reason then her ghost hunting,)

'None of them matter. Not one of them understands the pain of being alone, of being different. And the teachers are just plain cruel. Anyways, you already know you're not going into a career that will be available at any college, why not slack on the school work a bit and find what the other students know that you don't about ghosts and such…?'

Valerie shook that thought out of her head almost as soon as it'd entered. She wasn't sure where it'd even come from. Even with all the ghost hunting, she still wanted to get into a good college. If only because she knew it would make her dad proud.

'Would he really be that ashamed of having a professional ghost hunter as a daughter? Especially since Amity Parks in such desperate need of competent ones such as yourself…'

Valerie sighed. That was true enough. Jack seemed to be screwing up more then usual lately, much to Danny and Jazz's embarrassment. At the thought of her blue eyed classmate, Valerie blushed lightly.

Valerie and Danny had gotten pretty close. She still couldn't believe how much she had in common with him. Sometimes, Valerie almost wished she could tell him about the ghost hunting thing, but that would break her promise to Mr. Masters.

Mr. Masters believed in Valerie and helped her. She couldn't betray his trust, even to the son of his two closest friends. Besides, Valerie kinda got the feeling Danny and Mr. Masters didn't like each other that much.

…Well, Danny didn't like Mr. Masters. Mr. Master didn't seem to have a problem with Danny, though.

Valerie had to admit she was crushing on Danny pretty badly. She just couldn't help but to be drawn to him for some reason… it was almost like there was something about him that was familiar that she couldn't put a finger on.

And whatever it was, it was worth Sam Manson's wrath.


"Okay, Ladies!" Testlaf barked. "Today you're being timed in a swimming race. You are to line up with your opponent, and go when you hear the whistle. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes, Mrs. Testlaf," All the girls chimed.

"Can we get this over with?" Paulina asked in a bored tone.

"That's enough out of you, Sanchez!" Testlaf yelled at the Latino girl, getting right into her face. "And for that, you've gotta swim an extra lap after the races!" Paulina stiffened and glared at Testlaf, muttering under her breath in Spanish as the burly woman walked away.

"Harrison, Smith!" You two are first. Everyone else, get in line next to your partner." There was a general grumble among the girls as everyone shuffled reluctantly to their spot. Even Valerie noted with some irritation that she and Sam were the last race, number eleven.

Only Star actually seemed happy, since she was up against her new best friend Paulina. Valerie couldn't help but feel a little resentment towards the girl, who'd eagerly filled her spot as a popular. She seemed to have swooped in almost overnight, taking Valerie's old friends and boyfriend in an instant.

"Not feeling bitter, are we?" Sam said smugly, taking a swig from a water bottle she'd brought to class. Valerie gave her a look.

"I have no idea what you're talking about." She said as a loud whistle and splash announced Dawn Harrison and Riana Smith had started their race.

"Right," Sam scoffed, "If looks could kill, Star would be the newest ghost haunting Amity,"

'That's an interesting choice of words…' Valerie thought dryly. Out loud, she merely said, "If you think for one minute I wanna be friends with those backstabbers again, you need serious help."

"Don't trust shrinks," Sam said shortly, offering no more clarification, "And that's not what I was saying. Though I do applaud you for seeing the light. Better late then never, I suppose,"

"Is that what your gonna tell yourself when Danny starts dating another girl before you worked up the courage to confess?" Valerie grinned at Sam's scathing look, knowing she'd hit the mother load with that one.

"How many times do I have to tell you I don't like Danny that way?" Sam asked irritably. "He's my best friend, and he's been my best friend since the second grade."

"Times change," Valerie said smugly, "Though I suppose if you're really not interested, there's nothing to prevent other girls from making a move…" Sam's jaw clenched and jealousy flashed through her eyes for a moment.

"Other girls can go ahead, if they really want to," Sam snapped shortly, "Because I doubt she's gonna get anywhere."

"Maybe," Valerie shrugged the blow off, "It's a possibility. After all, Danny's still got the hots for Paulina," Sam glowered, crushing her water bottle in an iron grip at her fury of even having the girl mentioned in her presence. "And until he gets over that, other girls are just gonna hafta sit back and be content as a friend, since they don't have much other choice," Valerie finished, more then a little amused.

Her rivalry with Sam was fun, since she was actually an interesting opponent. Whenever Valerie competed for a guys attention in the past, it was against girls like Paulina and Star. Valerie had always hated that because Paulina was sneaky and deceitful and Star was such a whiney brat that it was always easy to win against her.

Now that she actually had a guy she really liked, she also got an opponent worth fighting. It was kinda funny, in the sad, twisted way that Valerie's life now existed on ever since the stupid ghost kid and his dumb dog ruined her life.

"Besides, what makes you think other girls won't have a shot once the Paulina threat factor is gone?" Valerie asked. Sam scowled at her.

"Urg!" She said in disgust. "You know what? Forget it…"

"Admitting defeat?"

"By your hands?" Sam smirked, "I don't think so,"

"Grey! Manson!" Both Valerie and Sam jumped when Testlaff yelled for them. Realizing it was there turn, they both stepped forward.

"Ready?"

"Do we have a choice?" Sam muttered, earning a dark look from Testlaff.

"Keep it up, Manson, you'll be joining Sanchez in her extra laps," the gym teacher warned. Sam made a face at the mention of Paulina, but went silent. "Ready? Set?"

'Fweet!'

Valerie dived, not checking if Sam was doing the same of just randomly deciding to sit it out as she normally did. Once again she found herself grateful for the ghost hunting thing, and her muscle's had been built to the point that swimming the necessary 50 meters and back was easy.

As she swam, Valerie took time to relish in the intense adrenaline that usually only came when there was a ghost around. The one that urged her to go faster, use more force, win, win, WIN!

"Winner, Grey!" Testlaff said as Valerie touched the side of the pool. Panting slightly, She turned and saw that Sam was still on the return trip, a lot further then Valerie had expected but still not as good as the ghost hunter.

A little smug, Valerie climbed out of the pool and grabbed a towel. She dried herself off a bit and sat just as Sam finished up. The Goth was panting as well, in a rare show of exertion towards one of 'the stupid pointless competitions we're forced to suffer through because the school board wants to give jocks an excuse to show off.'

Or at least, that was what Sam had called them when she refused to play tennis last semester. Personally, Valerie just thought she didn't know how.

"Congratulations, Grey," Testlaff said with an approving smile, "You've got the best time!"

Another smug smile on Valerie's part here, accompanied by a scowl from Sam.


"Danny!" Valerie called out as she waved to her blue-eyed classmate. He grinned, waving back. Tucker and Sam, on the other hand, didn't look so enthused.

Valerie supposed it should be expected. As far as Sam was concerned, Valerie was trying to steal Danny from her. And Tucker…

Valerie actually felt bad for the way they'd broken up. It was cold, impersonal. Mostly because one of the things Valerie decided upon when she became a ghost hunter was that nobody, absolutely nobody, could know. She'd been willing to date Tucker for a while, hoping that it would get her close enough to Danny to learn a few ghost hunting secrets, but decided to get away once it was obvious that Tucker didn't know anything else, and Danny wasn't gonna spill at all.

Now that she thought about it, she shouldn't be too surprised. His Mom and Dad made a living ghost hunting, and it wasn't a very respected profession (Or at least, it hadn't been.) so having someone come in who was any threat to their job probably wasn't very welcomed. After all, look what had happened to the Fenton Battlesuit.

…Though to be fair, it was a ghost that'd stolen that. Valerie brought her resentment of Phantom up another notch.

"Hey, Val," Danny said casually, as she approached, "Heard you set a new speed record in gym."

"Yeah." Valerie smirked. "Hey, where are you headed for Spring Break?"

"Jazz is taking me out to her friend's place in Florida," Danny answered, "She says I need a break from mom and dad as much as she does," Valerie smiled, once again admiring the fact that the Fenton siblings were so close. "You?"

"Ah, I'm just sticking around here," Valerie said casually, "Figured I might get some extra hours in at work," Valerie didn't mention that the job she was referring to was the one he didn't know about. (Or at least, she thought he didn't know,)

"That doesn't sound like a fun way to spend a break," Danny said, making a face. "Wanna come with me and Jazz? I could use the back up. Sam is going on a vacation with her parents in Europe and Tucker has this Tech thing." It was a tempting thought, but Valerie decided to pass.

"Thank, but I really need to get some more work in," She said regretfully. "Wanna save the offer for next vacation?"

"Sure," Danny laughed, "We'd better get to Lancer's."

"He would have to be the last hour of the day…" Tucker griped.

"Look at it this way," Sam said smiling, "At least I made an interesting collage for his project on the rewards of good friendships…" Valerie cringed, realizing she'd forgotten the project, too intent on capturing Phantom.

"Can't be as great as mine," Tucker boasted.

"Come on, guys," Danny chuckled, "I've got you both beat!" That made Valerie raise an eyebrow. When did this project turn into a competition?

"We'll see, Danny," Sam smirked, "We'll see…"


"I call it, 'Friends Through It All!'" Sam said as she sat in front of the classroom that was howling with laugher. Even Valerie couldn't contain her chuckles when she the fruits of Sam's labor. Tucker and Danny were both crouching so far into their seats, they were almost under the desk. However, one could still partially see the crimson glow of their faces.

Sam's collage, it turned out, was a collection of photographs the boys, with little slips taped to them giving a description of what the moment was about. Every single picture was humiliating in some way, shape or form.

"Here we have Tucker after his first bike ride. It was also the first time he lost more then three teeth at a time. And this is Danny when he lost a bet with Tucker before Halloween. That's not my dress, by the way. This is when Tucker and Danny decided it would be fun to see what would happen if they teased the lions at a local fair, and here is from when they fell asleep during a Zoo stake out. This picture will be included in the Yearbook, by the way."

"Very.. Interesting, Miss Manson," Mr. Lancer said, looking like he was having trouble keeping a straight face. "Mr. Foley, your next," Everyone giggled as a still embarrassed Tucker walked up to the front of the room, Giving Sam a feeble glare as she made her way back to her desk with a smug smile.

"Did you guys get into some kind of fight?" Valerie whispered to Danny before Sam sat down.

"Nah," Danny said casually, "It's a contest we made... We wanna see who can embarrass the other two the most."

"I see…" Valerie said, bemused. It sounded like it was one of the weird quirks of old friendships, something she wish she'd had. By chasing popularity, she missed out on a lot of the really fun things kids did when they were with good friends.

"For my project, I decided to do a little PowerPoint presentation, featuring my best friends, Sam Manson and Danny Fenton," Said best friends eyed Tucker warily. "So, without further adieu, Here's 'Tucker Foley's Top Five Things About Best Friends Featuring Photographic Proof.'"

"That rolls off the tongue," Sam muttered. Then her eyes widened when she saw the picture Tucker had posted on the Title page. "TUCKER!"

It showed Danny and Sam, around eleven years old underneath a spring of mistletoe and kissing on the lips. The rest of the class roared with laugher at that and Sam went the darkest shade of crimson imaginable while Danny just buried his head in his arms and refused to meet anyone's eyes.

Valerie didn't laugh.

"5; Best Friends know how to break the monotony of an otherwise boring day." Tucker said, clicking on the next slide, which showed both Danny and Sam as kids (Around six) in what looked like superhero costumes chasing each other around.

"4; Best Friends have a way of always making you look good," This one showed Thirteen year old Danny fast asleep and drooling with pictures drawn all over his face in black Sharpie.

"3; Best Friends teach you more then school could ever hope to." nine year old Sam being hauled away from the Zoo kicking and screaming. In the background, you saw frantic Zoo workers scrambling to catch escaped monkeys, zebras and a lion.

"2; Best Friends can be convinced to do more stupid things then anyone else in the world," A less then enthused looking Ten year old Danny and Sam dressed up to look like aliens, including green face paint and lots of chrome.

"And 1; Best Friends never change," The whole class howled as two pictures were shown, one of Danny in the outfit Spectra made him wear for Spirit Week, and one of an even more disgruntled Sam in a very, very pink dress, both around fourteen.

"And that, my friends, is my presentation." Tucker said, clicking off the computer and bowing. Danny and Sam's faces seemed to have stained permanently red.

"Well Mr. Foley, that was certainly… unusual," Mr. Lancer said, trying even harder not to laugh. "Mr. Fenton, let's see your rendition on your group's rather… amusing outlook on friendship."

"Beat that!" Tucker said smugly, sitting down.

"Don't worry," Danny said, collecting himself enough to smirk in a way that reminded Valerie of the Ghost boy for some reason. "I will." Sam and Tucker exchanged looks.

"You don't think…"

"He couldn't have had enough time to make anything too bad," Sam cut off Tucker, a shadow of doubt hinting at the corner of her voice.

"But Danny's really creative when it comes to the cruel and unusual," Tucker said, apparently catching it as well.

"Come on, Tucker," Sam sighed, "What's the worst he can do?"

"Uh, Mr. Lancer, I should probably tell you right now that I don't have any photos." Sam and Tucker relaxed, and Mr. Lancer frowned. A few of the other kids groaned in disappointment, apparently looking forward to seeing Danny's ammunition.

"You were told visual aides are required, Mr. Fenton," Mr. Lancer said disapprovingly.

"I know," Danny said, digging through his backpack. "That's why I brought this." He held op a video cassette for the class to see.

Sam and Tucker stiffened again.

Danny turned on the TV and popped the movie into the VCR, and after pressing play, he sat back to watch.

"Hi," Danny said on the video, "I'm Danny Fenton, here to tell you all about Best friends. I happen to know a lot on the subject, having two of the best myself, but sometime they can get a little on the weird side."

"We're weird?" Tucker muttered to Sam.

"Still, that provided me with the best ammunition for 'The Best and Worst of Best Friends.' Well, mostly worst to be honest." Pause, "Okay, it's all worst. Anyways, just watch this collection of home movies provided by Mom, Dad, Mr. and Mrs. Foley and Mr. And Mrs. Manson,"

"Danny you didn't!" Sam said, looking comically mortified.

"Dude, you cheated!" Tucker wailed, his eyes going wide. Danny just grinned in return.

"Let's start things off with Tucker's third birthday party, Where we first learn of his bond with technology…" Everyone watched three year old Tucker unwrap a present, other kids hovering nearby.

"What is it, Tucky?" Tucker's mother cooed. Everyone laughed loudly as Tucker buried his head in his arms. Valerie blinked when little Tucker began yelling and jumping around.

"Cawawaor!" He said excitedly.

"A calculator?" Mr. Foley repeated as the rest of the adults (And all of Mr. Lancer's class,) laughed loudly. "Wow! Now say thank you to Auntie Brittany."

"Tank you Auntie Bitney!" Tucker sang out, earning cooing from some of the girls in the class.

"Wasn't that adorable, Folks?" Danny's commentary mocked. "You think that's cute, though, wait'll you get a load of this…" The scene changed to show a shaky camera shot focusing on a little girl playing by a lake.

"Jazz!" Maddie Fenton called out, "Be careful not to get too close to the edge!"

"I won't!" Jazz yelled back. Beside her, Tucker waded in to throw crumbs at some ducklings.

"Easy, Tucker," Jack Fenton warned, "Those are wild animals,"

"They're just duckies," Tucker said, throwing more crumbs. "Hey! A seagull!" sure enough, a seagull swooped down on Tucker, making him yelp and run onto dry land.

It was too, late, though, soon a whole swarm of seagulls had dived down onto the little boy, who ran around screaming. Jack and Maddie (Still holding the camera,) both ran to help him as Danny and Jazz laughed. And the rest of the class cracked up hysterically.

"Oh, and don't worry, Sam," Danny's voice came back as the scene changed again, to show a seven year old girl in choir robes going up to a microphone, black pigtails flopping up and down as she walked, "I haven't forgotten about you,"

"Oh, no…" Sam said, sounding mortified.

"Silent night, holy night," Little Sam sang in a surprisingly angelic voice, "All is calm, all is bright. Round young virgin mother and child." Sam started to take nervous steps back here, "Holy infant so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly pea-AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Sam screamed, tripping over a cord someone held felt out carelessly and trying to grab onto the curtains to support herself.

All this did, though, was tear down the curtain, which landed over the rest of the children in the choir who panicked and began running every which way. In doing so, they knocked over the set they had been standing behind.

Soon, all that was onstage was a wide eyed Sam, her head partly covered by the thick red curtain.

"And you call me a klutz…" Danny chuckled.

"Hey, you can't hold that against me, Danny!" Sam said, blushing "I was seven!"

"And let's not forget the trip to Aunt Alicia's cabin…" Danny said, sadistic amusement clear in his face. Sam paled momentarily.

The shot went over to show Tucker battling it out with a fishing rod. Just when it looked like Tucker almost had it, the line snapped just above the bobber, oblivious to the boy's anguished cries and Danny's laugher.

To make it more amusing, though, the fish began swimming back and forward down the creek, the bobber bouncing tauntingly above the water.

"Check it out, Tuck!" Danny laughed. "It's teasing you!"

"Haha," Tucker said sourly, glaring at the bobber as it stopped in front of the cabin. Just then, Sam came out in a dark violet one piece and faded black shorts. Tucker grinned when he saw her. "Hey, Sam! Think you can do me a favor?" He asked, pointing to the bobber. "My line came undone, can you get it for me?" Sam rolled her eyes.

"You're gonna have to learn to swim one of these days, Tucker," Sam called back. Still, oblivious to what had just transpired, Sam waded into the water and carefully over to where the bobber floated innocently.

"Uh… It's not moving," Danny said, confused as Sam came within reach of the bobber. "Think the fish got off?"

"Maybe…" Tucker shrugged and Sam lifted the bobber. Then, without warning, loud, furious splashing began right in front of the girl.

"KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" She screamed, alarmed. Despite the fact that it'd taken her two minutes to wade over to the bobber, she was out of the water in three seconds.

"Nope," Danny said as Tucker began rolling on the floor with laugher. Sam, still a little shaken, heard this and turned to glare at Tucker.

"You jerk!" She yelled, going red in anger and embarrassment.

"S-Sorry!" Tucker gasped, "I didn't think… Oh, man!" Tucker dissolved into more peals of laugher, Mr. Lancer and his class not too far behind him. Sam scowled at him. "Seriously, though I didn't think that would happen,"

"Hmph," Sam snorted, turning to go back into the house for a towel.

"Hey, Sam?"

"What?" Sam snapped, turning to glare at Tucker.

"Think you can go back out? You didn't get my bobber…" Tucker yelped as the girl dived for him, running as fast as his legs could carry him.

"Well, there you have it," Danny said, grinning onto the camera as the last scene ended, "My two best friends in the world. Is it any wonder I'm the way I am?"

"Hey!" Tucker and Sam said as one. Danny grinned playfully at them.

"Very nice, Mr. Fenton," Mr. Lancer chuckled, wiping his eyes. "Very amusing." Then, before anything else could be said, the bell rang, and all the students made a mad dive for the door.

All except one, that is.

"Miss Grey, May I have a moment of your time?" Mr. Lancer called as the girl passed his desk. Valerie winced as she turned, knowing this wasn't going to end well…


WoM- There you have it! That last one with the fish is not (Unfortunately,) A creation of my imagination, but an actual and extremely embarrassing event that happened to me at the tender age of ten (I was the one playing Sam's part.) Is it any wonder I despise swimming? 'rolls eyes' Read and Review!


Next update; December 12th

See you then!