WoM- 'sniffing' I can't believe this story's at an end… WHAAA! I want to thank everyone who stuck with me through my insanity and reviewed this crazy lil story of mine. 'huggles reviewers,' THANK YOU!
Danny: I think we got this teamwork thing down! (Skulker lifts Danny and Valerie toward him by the handcuffs)
Valerie: Just in time to get our butts fried!
Hunting for Closure
"Well, this is an unexpected visit…"
Valerie didn't doubt that for a second, though she was too busy gasping at her mentor to say as much. Vlad Masters had changed more in this time then she had, and he looked far more downtrodden and miserable then her older self…
'Well, not that she was all that bright and chipper either,' Valerie thought dryly, 'but she was better at not showing it…' Once again, Valerie wondered what had happened in this world to make things sink to this level…
"We need a favor, Vlad," Phantom sighed, "There was a bit of an accident in our time, and to make a long story short we ended up here and we need to get back there."
"I see…" Vlad said, glanced over at Valerie before sighing heavily. "Well, I Suppose I owe you that much at least… come in, come in. watch your step, please…"
"What attacked you?" Valerie asked, glancing around the ruined castle with wide eyes.
"…A ghost," Vlad answered after a long pause in which he exchanged looks with Phantom, "I acted out foolishly before thinking things through, and this was the end result of such."
"What could you have done that ended up in a mess like this?" Valerie asked, raising an eyebrow.
"I forgot how important humanity is…" Vlad sighed, "Though now that I've been given ten years to consider that, I doubt I'll ever forget it's worth,"
"Humanity?" Heather repeated, "I thought you said a ghost did this!"
"Look, that's not why we're here," Phantom said grimly before sighing, "Look, can we just get out of here before something else happens?" Vlad nodded thoughtfully, hobbling over to an old dresser and rummaging through it.
"You'll need this," Vlad said, pulling a strange medallion from a drawer and handing it to the young ghost, who looked surprised to see it.
"A Time Medallion?" Phantom asked. He glanced up curiously at Vlad, "How did you-?"
"I tore it from your body during your first visit, remember?" Vlad asked. "Speaking of which, I assume everything went well?"
"Yeah." Danny sighed, "And yes. He won't be bothering you anymore. Clockwork and I took care of that…"
"Good," Vlad sighed in relief. "Well then, on with out current business… the Plasmius Portal is just this way…" Valerie and Heather followed the two, confused by the conversation that had just taken place.
"What's a time medallion?" Heather asked Valerie quietly.
"No clue," Valerie confessed. "Who's Plasmius?"
"You think I know?" Heather asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Miss Grey," Valerie and Heather both jumped as Vlad turned back to them to address the ghost hunter. "May I have a word in private with you, please?"
"Sure thing, Mr. Masters," Valerie answered, slowing her pace. Phantom hesitated for a moment before sighing and continuing along with Heather and Baby. Vlad chuckled in a soft, sad way when he noticed this.
"He still doesn't fully trust me," He confided to Valerie. "Then again, I suppose it's to be expected, after all I put him through in his youth… trust is a very difficult thing to earn, especially for one who builds relationships on lies to get what they want."
"You've never lied to me, Mr. Masters!" Valerie protested instantly. Vlad gave a wry smile at that.
"You'd be surprised, my dear," He sighed. "Then again, some lies are necessary in the long run, especially when people aren't ready to face the truth…" Vlad shook his head sadly here, "I suppose that was your only mistake here as far as this timeline went, you weren't ready to know about hybrids…"
"Hybrids?" Valerie repeated. "Hybrid what?"
"That doesn't matter," Vlad told her "It's not what I wanted to talk with you about… Valerie, do you know what IMRs are?"
"…Um…" Valerie looked at her benefactor blankly, unable to place the name anywhere.
"Infinitesimal Mind Regulators," Vlad clarified, sighing heavily, "it's a technology designed by Technus with my funding." Valerie blinked at him in shock.
"Technus?" she repeated, "as in the ghost? You paid a ghost to make mind control technology for you?" The ghost hunter didn't bother to hide her horror at the thought. Such a thing seems dirty to her, like cheating. What kind of ghost hunter would pay a ghost to make something like that?
"Not mind control, exactly," Vlad frowned, "I cannot actually force someone to do my bidding. Rather, it allows me to listen to their thoughts and implant thoughts in their mind so smoothly, the people under the IMRs believe that the thoughts are their own.
"That's still mind control!" Valerie snapped, "And it's completely unethical!"
"I've done a lot worse in my day," Vlad said, not denying the accusation. "None of which I am proud of now. But I hope to make that up here, and perhaps even give the me in you're a chance to redeem himself by robbing him of one of his most underhand tools…"
"What do you mean?" Valerie asked, giving the old man a questioning glance. "Are you saying that you put those IMR things in me?"
"As I said, I made many mistake in my day, and told many lies," Vlad sighed heavily. "I used you to attempt to capture Phantom, and I am not proud of that now. I even made this for the you in this world to attempt to apologize," Vlad told the girl, handing her what looked like a red gem, smaller then a postage stamp. "But you would not accept it. You were still resentful with me over what had happened to Daniel, and the major threat on this world has already disappeared by then. You had become accustomed to using your own technology, and did not want or need my help anymore."
"What is it?" Valerie asked, frowning at the jewel.
"This is a form of technology I've been working on for the last ten years. In this jewel is the plans and schematics for a superior ghost-fighting suit, which will increase the user's strength by tenfold and give them an array of weapons unlike anything seen in this time, let alone your own. And what's more, the suit actually becomes a part of you, and can warn you of impending dangers, whether or not you're even conscious when they are taking place."
"More mind control, then?" Valerie asked coolly.
"No," Vlad said, "Actually, this will negate the IMRs I implanted in you completely. You will always have complete control over the suit, Valerie. But you must understand that the reaction is automatic, and if you choose to accept this, you can never take it out of your body. The suit will become a part of you, my dear, and you will be a ghost hunter for life."
"Would it affect me in any other way?" Valerie asked, playing nervously with the jewel in her hands.
"I cannot say for certain," Vlad admitted reluctantly, "This technology is still very new as I said before, and if you should choose to accept this, the only one who would be able to help you should things go wrong is Clockwork."
"Phantom's friend?" Valerie clarified, surprise clear in her tone. She thought for a moment, then sighed heavily. "Can I take this home with me? So I can think about it there?"
"Very well," Vlad complied, "If you want to activate it, just prick one of your thumbs to draw blood and press it against the gem, that way it recognizes you and you alone."
"Right," Valerie said, tightening her grip on the jewel. "And if I don't want it?"
"Destroy it," Vlad said without hesitations, "So that no other can find it,"
"Got it," Valerie slipped the gem into her pocket, following Vlad as he walked away to where Danny and Heather were waiting. When the older man stopped and turned to face the ghost hunter again, Valerie also slowed her walk.
"And Valerie?" Vlad added as an afterthought, "Please keep in mind that Daniel has a firm belief in second chances. That is the reason he befriended you, and I'd hope you consider the same concept with those in your life. After all, you're quite fond of Danny now, aren't you?" Valerie blushed at that as she was reminded of how 'fond' she was of her blue eyed classmate, but before she could say anything, Vlad turned back and raised his voice to address Phantom. "Use your power to activate the medallion, it will take you straight to Clockwork's Tower. From there, he can set things right for you,"
"Right," Phantom nodded. After a second's hesitation, he smiled cautiously at the older man, "Ah, thanks Vlad. For helping us I mean," Vlad merely nodded in return as Valerie rejoined the ghost and her young charge. After Vlad left, Phantom turned to speak to the ghost hunter. "So, what did Vlad want, anyways?"
"Are you gonna ask me that every time I'm out of your earshot for a few minutes?" Valerie asked. She smiled slightly when the ghost blushed guiltily. "He just wanted to tell me something, okay? And your name hardly came up at all,"
"Ah," Phantom said, sounding relieved. "I see… Well, everyone gather close for take off." Valerie and Heather obeyed (Heather only too happy to throw her arms around the ghost's waist, Baby perched on her shoulder.) and Phantom closed his eyes, his brows furrowed in concentration.
There was a brilliant flash of light, and then it cleared, the three of them found themselves in a strange tower filled with ticking clocks and floating clock gears. Valerie frowned darkly when she glanced out the window and was a familiar, spooky landscape.
'And we're back to the Ghost Zone…' Valerie thought sullenly as she tensed to prepare for anything. The one thing she'd learned in her first, last, and very brief visit to this dimension was that anything could happen. 'And it usually does, too…'
"You know, I almost forgot how creepy this place is…" She grumbled to the ghost boy next to her.
"You get used to it," Phantom commented casually.
"Hopefully, I'll never have to," She responded making a face.
'Then again, if I follow through and become a full time hunter, I just might,' Valerie reminded herself with a frown. 'After all, this is where the ghosts live, and I might have to come here for some reason or another dealing with them…'
"So, you've finally returned."
Heather and Valerie both jumped about a foot at the unfamiliar voice, Valerie clutching to Phantom's arm (Thereby surprising the ghost boy himself) and Heather hugging Baby close.
Both girls gaped at the ghost that now approached them in the shape of an old man with a long beard. Valerie never saw a ghost like him before, which was made even more pointed when he chanced from an old man to a baby without even flinching.
"Yeah," Danny sighed, "We lost the Ambiguity, though…"
"That's because it's right here," Clockwork explained, sounding faintly amused as he held the familiar, damning black box out for them to see in his free hand, "I was able to collect it as soon as it left the human plane,"
"Well what about us?" Valerie asked accusingly, glaring at the ghost as he changed into a middle-aged man. "If you could get your stupid box back, couldn't you have given us a hand?"
"I'm afraid my hands were tied as far as your fates went," Clockwork responded, not offended by the girl's temper. Quite the contrary, he seemed almost amused… "It was entirely up to you and your own abilities to see if you got out or not."
"Yeah, but you still knew all of this would happen like this," Danny pointed out, smirking knowingly at Clockwork. "The thing with the Box Ghost, our fight, the trip into the future… you saw all of it and helped it along the best you could, didn't you?" Clockwork matched the boy's look with a secretive smile of his own.
"I may have had some hand in that…" He said vaguely as he turned to put the box with others just like it that were all taking up an entire wall of the Tower.
"Well thanks for the warning…" Valerie grumbled softly, though she found she couldn't truly be angry with the ghost. After all, if he really knew as much as Phantom hinted he did, then He knew this would all turn out for the best in the end.
'Wish I had that kind of knowledge ahead of time,' Valerie thought dryly as the strange ghost approached them yet again. It was then that her eye caught a battered looking thermos in a corner.
"Hey, is that a Fenton Thermos?" She asked, drawing closer for a better look.
"Don't touch that!" Phantom said sharply, grabbing Valerie's wrist to stop her from getting any closer to the device. Valerie glared at him.
"Well why not?" She demanded, "It belongs to the Fentons, after all. Why shouldn't I-?"
"Valerie," The ghost half sighed, half groaned, "Do we really had to go through all this again?" Heather giggled slightly at that and Valerie blushed, her temper ebbing as she crossed her arms to sulk pointedly.
'Well, he doesn't need to say it like that…' She said irritably to herself.
"Whatever," She said out loud, "Can we go home now? My dad's probably flipping out thinking I was killed by a ghost or something…"
"Of course." Clockwork said, sounding bemused as he adjusted a few things on his staff. "Oh, and one last thing, Valerie…" The ghost gave the girl a wide, knowing grin, "She eats insects and fruits," before Valerie could ask what he meant by that, there was a brilliant flash of light and the three found themselves back in the place they'd been before the Ambiguity had been opened, plus one very intrigued Yovven kitten.
"Home!" Valerie sang out, laughing as she twirled around, "Man, I never thought I'd be this happy to see graffiti walls!" the ghost hunter almost couldn't believe they'd only been gone a day, since it felt much, MUCH longer to her…
"I hear that!" Phantom laughed before it fell away into an awkward silence. After all, neither of them were exactly sure what came next… "Ah, anyways, I'd better go…"
'Just let him fly away, Valerie,' The ghost hunter told herself. 'If you let things go back to how they were, everything stays simple. Let him fly away… let him… aw, who am I kidding?'
"Phantom!" The ghost paused at his name, turning to glance at Valerie curiously from where he hovered just a few inches off the ground. Taking a deep breath, Valerie approached the ghost, speaking to him as she closed the distance between them, "I just wanted to thank you. For helping me out, I mean."
"Oh," Phantom looked faintly surprised for a second before it was replaced with a wide, genuine smile. "No problem! Besides, I should be thanking you for helping me, you had a lot more to lose when you came back for me like that…"
"Yeah, well…" Valerie sighed, a pained expression on her face, "Maybe- just maybe!- you aren't a complete and total jerk after all…" Phantom looked faintly amused at that.
"Maybe," He repeated, obviously restraining a laugh.
"But I'm reserving all judgment until later, okay? The ghost hunter continued sternly, "And so help me if you do anything wrong-!"
"Easy Val," Phantom said with a laugh, "I get the picture." Valerie blinked at the ghost in surprise. It was strange, but his tone and his expression had synched up with Danny's so much right then, it was almost scary…
"Anyways," Valerie sighed, "Thank you."
"Like I said, it was no-!" Anything else Phantom was gonna say was cut abruptly short when Valerie gave him a gentle, chaste kiss in the cheek before turning and walking away.
But not before seeing the ghost's stunned expression and the blush that was slowly rising to his face.
"Come on, Heather," Valerie said, "We've got a lot of walking to do…"
"Fun…" Heather grumbled, making a face before turning back to the ghost. "Bye, Phantom! And don't worry, your secret's safe with me!" Valerie rolled her eyes, deciding it would be better for her head if she just didn't ask.
"What a day…" Valerie sighed. "I can't wait to get home…"
"Yeah…" Heather said, sounding a little downcast, "But I still don't know what I'm gonna do with Baby!"
"I thought you were gonna ask Phantom to take care of her," Valerie said, her eyebrow raised.
"He can't," Heather said glumly, "His family would never allow it…" Valerie was a little surprised at that.
'The ghost kid has a family?' She thought to herself. Talk about learning something new every day…
"Guess that means we're both in a bind," Valerie sighed, "Dad's gonna kill me when I get home…" Heather looked thoughtful for a moment at that.
"Hey, Valerie?" She said, a slight smirk playing at her lips, "What if I told you that I could get you out of trouble with your dad, and even make it so that he'd be willing to watch me for your date with Danny?" Valerie stared at her.
"You can't do that," She said, frowning, "You don't even know my dad!"
"I don't have to," Heather said confidently, "I can make any adult love me in a heartbeat."
"Seriously?" Valerie said, brightening at the though of not only not being yelled at, but also getting to spend a little quality Tucker-and-Sam free time with Danny. Realizing that this offer was too good to be true coming from Heather, Valerie frowned at the little girl. "Now what's the catch?" Heather blinked at her innocently.
"What makes you think I want anything in return?" She asked in a feigned hurt tone.
"Heather…" Valerie growled in warning. The little girl sighed.
"Well, there is one little favor…"
"Thank you again for watching Heather, Valerie," Mr. Lancer said as he finished loading the last of Heather's things in his car, "I hope she wasn't too much trouble."
"No trouble at all, Mr. Lancer," Damon said warmly, patting Heather on the head. The little girl giggled.
"Thank you for having me here, Valerie," She sang out happily, hugging the older girl's waist. "I had a lot of fun with you!" Valerie forced a smile at that.
"Oh, that's so sweet…" She said through gritted teeth, bending to return the hug, under the hearing of the adults in the room, the ghost hunter hissed one last warning into the girl's ear, "I will get you for this…!" As they parted, Heather's grin grew, and her eyes flashed triumphantly before she left with her Uncle.
"Wow, Valerie," Damon said, sounding bemused, "You certainly have a way with children…"
"Oh shut up…" Valerie griped, flopping onto the couch, "I'm just glad everything's over and done with…" She scowled at Baby at the Yovven laced it's way between the table legs, "And I still can't believe she talked me into taking care of that thing!"
"If you hadn't-!"
"I know, I know!" Valerie moaned, cutting off the lecture before her father could start it again, "And I learned my lesson okay? Promise!" Damon chuckled softly to himself.
"Well, I'm going out to pick up some groceries," He said, putting his coat on. "What does Baby eat again?"
"Insects and fruits." Valerie sighed, making a face at the thought of the combination.
"Got it," Damon said, "sit tight until I come back okay?"
"Got it, Dad," Valerie sighed as her father left. As soon as the door shut behind him, Valerie left for her room, opening a drawer and pulling out future Vlad's gift to her.
She looked down at it thoughtfully letting it fall from one hand to another as she contemplated her choices now that she had a moment alone to think. After all, spending time with Heather and Damon around all the time was hectic, and even her outing with Danny left her with little time to think.
'Ghost hunter for life, huh?' Valerie thought, sighing. Was she really ready to make that kind of commitment? Especially on such an unstable chance. 'But even if Mr. Masters lied to me, he was right about one thing. Ghost hunting is what I'm good at, and I like doing it, too…"
Her resolve hardening, Valerie clenched the jewel in her hand, heading towards the kitchen. When she got there, she took out a knife and took a deep breath before cutting into her thumb, wincing slightly in pain. Then, as a bead of blood began to gather, Valerie pressed it against the jewel as Vlad had instructed only to be blinded by a flash of white light.
Unable to restrain a yell of surprise, the girl fell backwards, staring at her gloving hand with wide eyes as it transformed into a glove, which traveled rapidly up her arm. Closing her eyes, Valerie allowed the strange, tingling sensation to overcome every corner of her until it faded and she was left with the suit Vlad had promised her.
It was still red and black, like her last one, but the visor made it easier for Valerie to see, and she could pick up miniscule details from yards away just by concentrating on something long enough. Standing up and going through a few test moves, Valerie found the suit improved not only her strength, but her speed and dexterity as well. Amazed, Valerie clenched and unclenched her fist before grinning widely under the cover of her mask.
"Oh, yeah…" She laughed softly to herself, "I can get used to this…"
WoM- There you have it! I'll get the sequel out as soon as I can, but for now I'm reverting back to my six updates and one poem a week thing. Much less headache that way…
I still can't believe this is over! 'tears up,' And no, the suit I gave Valerie isn't hers from FwD. I'm still kind of resentful that that one looks so evil, so I made a few alterations… check me out on deviantart to see the picture!
Oh, and I have two ideas for the sequel that I'm tossing around, both of which are Danny-PoV-Centered rather then Valerie. Tell me which one you like more and the one that gets the most votes is the one I'll do! (That way I still get you guys to review for me. 'winks playfully')
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It's been two weeks since their adventures in the Ambiguity, and Sam and Tucker are shocked when Danny announces that he's planning on telling Valerie and his parents the truth. Confessions are put on hold, though, with the escape of Freakshow leaving everyone Danny loves in danger…Or
Now that Valerie and Danny are allies, the streets of Amity Park are safer to roam. At least until Slade comes to town after acquiring an interest in the paranormal, the Titans hot on his heels. Will these heroes ban together under a common enemy, or will differences drive a them apart?
Tell me with one you like more! The title fits both of them so either or….