Who Needs Enemies?
Why is this chapter late? Long original note short: FWD killed my creativity, a new character had to be thought out before posting, serious n00b invasion that swallowed an entire weekend since I'm a mod at DPO, and schoolwork. Now, though, my juices are back and it's ready! Thanks again to my beta, Mabaroshiwoou, for correcting grammar and thinking up the name for my new Original!
Okay, so, my beta got an FFN account: Hitamukiissekiwa. When her whole 3-day waiting period is over, go check out what she posts! Her stuff's great.
Phantom of the Cinema
Even with Danny's head buried into his pillow, he could still hear the dreaded knocking at his door.
"Danny?" called Jazz from within the hallway. "Mom says it's time for dinner. You have to come down. You can't hide from them forever, you know."
"Yes I can!" he rebelled, throwing the pillow aside now that it proved ineffective. "I could if I wanted to, and you know it." Intangibility's always an option.
There was a short pause from his sister's end, and he hoped in vain that she'd given up. "You really should've been prepared for this," she finally said, shooting him down from the sky. "It is your first real, non-school-related date."
"Well, they don't have to be so parental about it," he argued. He glanced at the open textbook lying next to him on his bed. It hadn't been touched since he'd taken it out of his backpack due to a phone call with Sam and mental preparation. Oh, well, it was Friday. He had plenty of time to do some algebra now that the week was over, and Tetslaff's project wouldn't be another until Monday.
One would assume that after the fake-out make-out (or two, if one counted the one he didn't remember), as well as the dates with Kitty-Paullina, and he fact that he'd been a friend with Valerie for going on three weeks now, he wouldn't be this jittery. He still wasn't sure if it was because he happened to like her more, or because she was more likely than not carrying one of the weapons her father had let her keep (he happened to know her arsenal has been lessened by a good amount since he'd revealed her to her father). He was going to go with the first option.
All he had to do was make sure that she would never suspect he was Danny Phantom… and if it got to a certain point, and he had to tell her, hope to God that she would be ready for it.
Talk about complications.
"If you don't go downstairs, they'll just come up here and you'll be trapped," his sister pointed out.
"All right!" he snapped, pushing himself up. He began walking toward the door. "I'm coming, I'm coming."
"Good," she said, "because the sooner you go downstairs, the sooner Dad can give you another one of those talks I'm glad I'll never have to endure again, and the sooner…." She paused and glared. "Do you really have to do that while I'm talking to you?"
Danny pulled the rest of his leg out of the wall, looking up innocently. "What? Oh, that. Sorry," he said, smiling. "It's habit now."
"Right," she replied dryly. "Think that you can make it down the stairs completely solid?"
"I might," he joked, running down the hall to the staircase, leaping down three steps at a time. "Why, though?" When he landed on the bottom floor, ready to run toward the kitchen, his feet caught on something and he fell roughly to the ground. He twisted around and found his ankles tied together with a thick green rope.
A blinding light flashed into his eyes. "Danny, get up and fix your hair or something," said Maddie, leaning down at eye level with her son. "It's your first date, you look a mess. It's with that cute Valerie girl, right?"
Jazz walked down the stairs behind Danny, shaking her head disapprovingly. "How come my first date involved a cavity search, but the worst Danny gets is embarrassing pictures?"
Jack walked up behind Maddie, placing his hands on her shoulders. "Because Danny is the boy, and he's my son, and I know I've raised him right. Haven't I, Danny?" he questioned, eyebrow raised.
Danny sighed and answered automatically. "Yes, sir. Now, can somebody please untie me?" he yelled.
After a few minutes of Jack trying to undo the complex knot that was starting to cut off Danny's circulation, he was able to stand. He reached up and tried to comb out his hair with his fingers. "Mom, my hair is always messy, and I don't have much time to eat. I've got maybe a half hour to pick her up and I might grab something at the concession stand."
"Make sure you buy snacks for her!" Jack said. Danny nodded as he walked to the coat rack to put on his red jacket. "And the ticket! Don't forget the ticket, Danny." Danny nodded again as he opened the door. "And give her your letterman jacket if she gets cold."
Danny stopped and rolled his eyes. "I don't have a letterman jacket, Dad."
"Oh. Right." Jack seemed to be thinking hard. "Want to borrow mine?" Jazz elbowed her father in the arm and frowned.
"I'll be back by ten," Danny said as he closed the door. "I promise this time!"
"What do you mean, 'this time'?"
Danny ran down the stairs and raced away from the house before he had to
answer his mother's question.
In a few short minutes he was flying above the cities, on his way to Valerie's apartment complex. No detours, please, no unnecessary inconveniences, not on the first --
He gasped and exhaled, seeing his breath. Despite the cold, he knew it what it was. Danny scanned the area for whatever it was that triggered his ghost sense. There was nothing to his right, left, behind, or below.
He looked up.
A few feet above him, a girl who looked no older than twelve was loating
upside down, staring at him with a small smile. She had green hair with
boyish haircut, save for the two locks hanging next to her face. She seemed to be wearing normal clothes: a purple skirt, a green vest with purple ollars, and tennis shoes. Realizing she'd been spotted, she cocked her head to the side, squinting her light red eyes. "Hi," she said, continuing to stare.
Danny raised his eyes, battling with whether or not this was worth his time. She didn't seem to be threatening, but then again, that's what he thought about Youngblood. He was, what, maybe six? Something in her demeanor, though, made her seem nothing more than a hyper little kid.
"Hey," he replied slowly. "Um, you're not planning on scaring people or causing any sort of havoc, are you?"
The girl put a finger on her chin and seemed to be thinking intently. "Well, no, actually," she said, as though she were surprised at herself by the fact. The ghost looked so wide-eyed and innocent, unlike any ghost Danny could recall laying eyes on. It was almost disturbing.
"Why are you watching me?" he questioned.
"I recognize you from somewhere," she stated nonchalantly.
Danny suddenly became interested. "Really?" he asked. "Are you sure you haven't just heard about me? I'm… well, I'm kind of well known in the Ghost Zone."
The strange girl shook her head vigorously. "No, I've seen you. It was on TV not too long ago. Danny Phantom, right?" She straightened herself and began to fly slowly around Danny. He followed her with his eyes, feeling awfully uncomfortable with it.
"Besides, I haven't been in the Ghost Zone all that long. It's a lot more fun to be out here in this world as a ghost than in there, isn't it?"
Danny was busy mentally filing her into the 'Non-threatening, but Psycho' folder in his Ghost Files. Also, it seemed she was a relatively new arrival; he filed that away for later, as well ."Right, if you say so," he said, not really caring. "So, who are you again?"
The girl turned upside down again, obviously enjoying her power over gravity. "Oh, my old name was bad. I never did like it, so now I've got a
The two ghosts looked at each other silently.
"Well? What is it?" Danny asked agitated.
"Zenpyou," she replied shortly, the sound of the name itself lending to a hiss. "That's Z-E-N-P-Y-O-U; no accents on anything. For future reference." She changed positions again, floating horizontally with her chin in her hands, staring wide-eyed. "I always wanted to meet you," she said conversationally. "My friends thought it was weird that I wanted to be like you. They were dumb, though, because now I am like you!"
"Uh-huh. Okay. Hey, I've got to go now," he said quickly, pointing behind him. "So, like I said, avoid havoc and I don't have to do anything to you."
"What about her?" she asked, pointing over his shoulder. "Looks like she's about to cause some havoc."
Danny furrowed his eyebrow and glanced behind him. He took a double take and groaned. How convenient.
Valerie slowed to a stop a few yards from the pair of ghosts, pulling out a small gun. Apparently, her father must have thought that only the big weapons were trouble for people. How mistaken was he.
"I'm going to make this quick," Valerie spat, aiming toward Danny Phantom. "So that you and your girlfriend don't bother me tonight."
Danny hung his head in exasperation. He extending his arm and fired toward Valerie's hand, only to knock the gun from her grasp. Just because he was about to see her for a date didn't mean he could go any easier on her. He didn't exactly want to let himself die, now, did he?
"She isn't my girlfriend," Danny pointed out, aiming the next energy blast at the hover board, "and nobody was bothering you." Zenpyou giggled quietly behind Danny as Valerie's board spun away. Something about the ghost's laugh annoyed him even further, but he buried it beneath his mind.
Valerie shook her head vigorously, gaining her balance on the board back. "I have absolutely no time for you tonight, ghost," she cried. With that kind sentiment, she propelled forward, arm pulled back. "However, I can't just pass up an opportunity to kick your butt out of the sky."
"Great to know you care," he muttered darkly. Danny instinctively crossed his arms over his head, blocking the punch enhanced by both her suit and martial arts training. The power of it sent him flying backwards, though, plowing into Zenpyou.
"Whoa!" she exclaimed in girlish delight. She pushed Danny away and leaned forward, staring at Valerie excitedly. "Who is she? She totally blew you out of the water!"
"Case in point," he muttered, rubbing his arms, "she'll try to do the same thing to you." Zenpyou stopped smiling.
Just as the words escaped his mouth, Valerie soared by again, aiming a gun at the young ghost. She yelped in fright and closed her eyes tightly, becoming intangible just as the huntress pulled the trigger. The shot proceeded to go through her and fly towards Danny, who narrowly dodged it by stretching his body out at the waist. His eyes met Zenpyou's as she solidified herself. "You're not kidding," she agreed, her entire mood seeming to change. She grinned to herself. "She means her business. Well, so do I."
Danny blinked and clenched his fists. That wasn't good.
Zenpyou flew higher above Valerie and began to spin. Faster and faster she turned, slowly raising her hands over her head as a faint red glow formed around her thin fingers. Below, Danny's own hands began to glow green, preparing for whatever Zenpyou was about to do to Valerie. Stopping abruptly, she threw her fists towards the human girl, two small balls of energy soaring toward her. One missed due to terrible aim, but the other made contact with her. Valerie yelped, grasping her shoulder.
"Awesome!" she laughed loudly. She held her hands out and looked at them in admiration. "Did I mention how much I love being a ghost?" She spun around again, cackling madly. The sound of it flooded Danny's mind, and he felt his annoyance give way to anger.
"Watch what you're doing!" he snapped, flying up to her and grabbing her roughly by the wrists. "You can't just hurt her like that!" Zenpyou gasped and looked into Danny's eyes with innocent fear. Her insane laughter ceasing, Danny seemed to calm down considerably. He shut his eyes tightly, trying to think straight, and flung Zenpyou away. "Just get out of here," he ordered.
Zenpyou crossed her arms and blew a tuft of green hair from her face. "Whatever. I was just helping you out. So much for hanging out with you." With a wink, she flew up higher, becoming invisible and disappearing into the clouds.
That was just weird, thought Danny, staring up. Oh, wait a minute.
"You and you're little ghost pal are so going to pay for that one," said Valerie's voice from behind him. He sucked in a breath and ducked lower just as a glowing net flew over his head, shortly followed by Valerie's board. No WAY was he going to be caught in one of those twice in the same hour.
"I don't know her," he retorted, turning around and flying away. She followed close behind, blasting more rounds at him as he dodged them. "Also, like you, I have better things to be doing right now. Mind if we schedule a rain check or something?"
Valerie turned her board to the side and halted to a stop. She lowered her
weapon, contracting it back to its original small size and placing it in her backpack. "You'd better feel lucky that I have a date already," she growled, turning and flying back in the direction of her house, leaving Danny alone in the sky.
"Don't worry," he said sarcastically, hovering in place. "I do."
Danny sighed, watching as each floor disappeared into the next while he floated through them until he reached Valerie's floor, the whole time annoyed that his hair was now ten times worse than it had been before. He hoped that he didn't look like he'd just been shot at several times. Finally he landed on Valerie's floor. He solidified himself and quickly changed back into Danny Fenton. He had to remember to add his gratitude that he looked much tamer in human form to his prayers that night. Furiously, he patted his hair down and straightened his red jacket before knocking on the Greys' door.
He heard a screech from beyond the door, and then a scuffling, before the door opened and revealed not her father. "Hello, Danny," he greeted with a tense smile. "Are you here for Valerie?"
"Um," Danny stuttered, leaning over to look past Mr. Grey into the house. "Yeah. Was that her screaming?"
Mr. Grey laughed and stepped back, allowing Danny entrance. "Yes. Don't worry, she's okay." He turned around and called loudly, "Valerie! Danny is here!"
"I'll be there in a – Ouch!" she yelled from somewhere down the hall. "Just… just give me a minute to freshen up!"
Mr. Grey sighed and pushed the rims of his glasses up to rub his eyes. Danny looked up at him intently. He must have known about Valerie. Well, duh, of course he does. Did he know that his daughter had just returned from battling a couple of ghosts? Most likely. "If you manage to be able to put a little sense into her head," he whispered, "I'll have no problems with you."
"Really?" Danny asked, smiling.
"Well, that, and various other things that you should not do," he replied, glaring. "How are your parents?"
"Oh, they're fine… sir," he said, clearing his throat. "They asked me to say
hello to you."
A loud clang came from Valerie's room. It must have been something heavy, because it sent vibrations all the way to the room Danny and Mr. Grey were standing in.
"About putting sense in her head…"
Valerie's door flew open and she emerged, pushing her foot into a shoe and clasping on an earring. She was wearing a crimson long-sleeved shirt that glittered a purplish color and a black skirt. Even as incredibly winded as she looked, Danny's eyes didn't seem to want to leave her. Compared to her, he felt underdressed. "I am so sorry, Danny," she begged, walking up to the two males. "How long have you been waiting? I lost track of time."
"Not so long," answered Mr. Grey before Danny had a chance to. "No need for formalities, I know Danny – and trust him," he added pointedly with a meaningful look. "You two are going to be late."
Danny checked his wristwatch for clarification. He nearly yelped in surprise of how much time had seemed to pass since he'd left his house. "We'll be back by nine-thirty, sir!" he said quickly, reaching out to grasp Valerie's hand.
She didn't notice. Valerie had turned back to her father and wrapped her arms around his neck. "Thanks, Dad," she said softly with a kiss. He closed his eyes and nodded firmly, patting her on the back before allowing them to leave.
It was surprising that Mr. Grey had actually permitted his daughter to continue with the ghost hunting. Danny had thought that he would stop her from doing it, but it looked like he hadn't. The man was definitely hesitant about it; he could tell his nerves were wracked, but he allowed it. What a weird thing for him to do, and not the best thing for her safety – or Danny's.
When they stepped out of the building, the touch of cool air pulled him from his thoughts. He glanced down at his hand and traced up the arm connected to it to Valerie's face. It was amazing how she got completely ready in such a short amount of given time. "Day dreaming, Fenton?" she asked with a playful smile.
"Sort of," he admitted. "You... you look great."
She rolled her eyes, but couldn't stop herself from smiling wider. "You're not half bad yourself. But I feel overdressed now."
"Uh-huh," Danny laughed sarcastically.
Suddenly, the grip on his hand tightened and he was being yanked down the sidewalk. "Come on!" she cried, jogging. "We have to hurry if we want to make it now."
Danny pulled his hand away and picked up speed to catch up with her. Instead, she started running even faster. Danny glanced down at her severely impractical footwear, amazed yet again. The girl worked hard to kick his butt, didn't she? Danny sped up once more, and she turned to him with a competitive look in her eye. So that's how it's going to be?
Fine. At least I wore tennis shoes.
Weak from five solid minutes of sprinting, Valerie reached Danny, who was best over and panting heavily. They had finally reached the front of the Multiplex. His hair was now even more wind-blown than it had been – a surprising task. She herself felt her heart fighting to run away from her chest. "Okay," she breathed, "You win. But that wasn't fair. I had on heels!"
"You – started it," he accused, wheezing. "That was one hell of a time saver."
"I feel like I need a life saver."
He checked his watch again. "It started five minutes ago, and the line's gone by now. Once you factor in the previews, we're early."
"Always the silver lining," she commented with a smile. "Crazy what a little foot pain can do for you, isn't it?"
"It's just a movie, Valerie," Danny stated, fishing in his pockets for the extra money his dad had given him. "You look really nice, but you didn't have to dress up that much." If it had been any other girl, the date probably would've been over at
this point. Danny realized this soon after it escaped his lips.
"This is not dressing up," she argued from behind him. "This is just different."
"I guess the heels could've gone, though."
Absolutely relieved, Danny placed a twenty-dollar bill on the ticket counter. "Two for Last Holiday, please," he requested.
Valerie stared at Danny, slightly offended. "I can afford my own ticket, though," she added defiantly.
"Come on, don't be like that," he joked, handing her the ticket, and hoping to God she most certainly wouldn't be like that because of him. "It's my duty as the gentleman, right? Besides, if I didn't pay for you, my dad would go bonkers on me."
Valerie laughed out loud, walking into the theater with Danny in tow. "Here I was, thinking it was out of the kindness of your heart. I'm buying my own popcorn, 'kay?"
If either of the two had ever planned on paying much attention the movie, they'd have been severely disappointed. Fortunately, neither had done so. And no, not because of that!
"A net?" Valerie asked in shock. "They caught you in a net?"
"Actually, it was more of a rope. I was hogtied." Danny swallowed one of the nachos he had bought at the concession stand. "If you knew my parents well, you wouldn't be so surprised. It's a daily kind of thing."
"That seems a little wasteful. My dad talks about their work a lot with me. He's not really interested in it, but he was impressed all the same," she said. "He thinks that if Axion doesn't realize his worth soon, he might consider working with them more. Do you think that would be okay?"
Danny felt his shoulders stiffen as the logical part of his brain cried out in distaste. He could handle the relationship if there was a certain level of distance for both of their safeties, but the Grays were progressively getting closer to him.
Well, maybe I'd like that, he thought.
"Can you believe the homework we got this weekend?" she asked, changing the subject. Luckily the theater wasn't extremely full and they'd found a relatively deserted spot, because it was hard to stay at a whispering level. "All that algebra, plus Tetslaff's project. How are you and Tucker doing on it, anyway?"
Danny laughed. "We scraped by pretty well," he replied. The inside of his cup seemed to capture his deepest interest. In reality, they'd barely survived the first month without being evicted. "Just remind me to never be roomies with Tucker again. Or to ever move out of my parent's house." He swished around the ice inside the paper cup, toying with the words in his mind before stating them. "How are you and Sam doing?"
Strumming her fingers and growing slightly uncomfortable, Valerie turned her head to the side. "Decently," she admitted. "I just can't believe her house. It's crazier in there than Paullina's is." In fact, Valerie was shocked that Sam had never used it as a Get Out Of Loserdom Free card. "Don't even get me started on her parents. It's freaky how different we are." Slowly, she turned back to him. "Are you sure you haven't dated her before?"
The most unusual thing was how casual it sounded coming from her. Hadn't he already answered this question? Did she doubt his honesty? "I don't know why you think that," he whispered. "I haven't. You can take that one to the grave."
Her shoulders relaxed some, but she looked at him with suspicion. "All right," she said, dropping it. Danny had a feeling that wasn't the end, for some strange reason. "I'm having a great time, Danny. Thanks for asking me here."
"Yeah, a nice healthy sprint, me spilling popcorn on the floor," he listed, referring to a small bout of a ghost induced nervous reaction, "meeting some psychotic green haired chick --"
"Nothing!" he corrected himself quickly. "I mean, some random girl... on the sidewalk. She was weird." Valerie brushed it off and turned back to the movie, while Danny almost fell out of his chair with a sigh of relief.
About an hour later, during which time the two had been chastised for talking in the theater, tried to catch up with the story, and then walked out, they found themselves standing in front of Valerie's house once again. Danny's hands were buried in his pockets, the cold nipping at his nose.
He was the first to break their silence. "You might want to head inside; it's almost nine thirty."
Nodding in agreement, Valerie turned toward him. "I suppose. I had a
good time tonight Danny," she said softly, tilting her head forward ever so slightly. "It got off to a rocky start, but all in all --"
She was cut off by the sensation of Danny's lips brushing against her cheek, which surprised both of them. He stood up and smirked coyly. How long had he been psyching himself up for that?
Valerie smiled crookedly and began walking up the stairs backwards, waving good-bye. It seemed as though she would rather not leave. Finally, though, she went out of sight, closing the door, leaving Danny on the sidewalk.
After a moment, Danny smiled broadly and pumped his arm in success. Once he'd calmed down, he looked behind him and said, "How did you guys like the movie?"
Clangs and various other sounds of a trash can being kicked echoed from between the buildings behind him, shortly followed by a yelp of pain. Tucker's figure stumbled from the shadows, followed by a guilty smiling Sam. "You should've paid more attention to the movie," she said sheepishly. "You would've liked it."
"I'll rent it," he replied, the smile fading away. "So, now you're resorting to spying on me?"
"How were we supposed to know you two were in the same movie as us?" Tucker asked.
"You called me earlier and asked me!"
After a brief spat between them, Danny resolved to not bother them after they promised to never spy again. He believed Sam, and knew Tucker wouldn't do it without Sam with him, so he was safe. One thing was left to be discussed, however.
"She stille thinks you and I have dated," he added, feeling terribly clueless. "Why do you think she won't believe me?"
Sam broke into laughter at this, drawing the two's attention to the misplaced reaction. "You mean, you don't know?"
"No," he said flatly. "And you do?"
"Think, Danny," she said. "What has she seen us do that's usually something only couples do?"
Tucker snapped his fingers and laughed. "Fake out make out numero uno!" he cried.
Danny's eyes widened in realization and he hung his head. Valerie had seen Sam tackle Danny and kiss him... which he had tried with all his might to forget, by the way. "Crud. That's almost solid proof to her; no wonder she thinks I'm lying!" With the strike of an idea, he popped his head back up. "Sam, when's the next time Val's going to your house?"
"Monday. why?" Danny was giving her an intense, pleading look. "Oh, no – whatever it is, no!"
As long as this is, and since I know no other chapter will be quite as long, an entire scene was basically deleted. Not a huge one, and you'll know what happened by the time WNE: Five (currently untitled) is finished. Next up is Never Good Enough: Analysis, and then a long period of one-shots for me, since I've got three either finished or nearly finished on paper.
See you in the afterlife,