Disclaimer: I do not own Danny Phantom. Butch Hartman does. I would never dream of making money off his work, this is but one fanatic's homage. So please don't sic the rabid lawyer hordes upon me, there's not much for them to sue out of me.
Author's Note: Wow. This is it. Just like Jeremiad, long-winded pretentious author's notes at the end. Reviews are always appreciated!
Finale - Defeat
We all climbed out of the RV, and I resisted the urge to praise being safe on solid ground again. Yes, my father's driving is that frightening. The displeased look on the bald teacher's face intensified as the three of us walked over. Everyone else would be showing up any minute, and soon it would all be over and I could go back to the future.
"Mister and Mrs Fenton, Daniel, this is the Nasty Burger." The teacher stated as we walked over. "When people fail, this is where they end up."
I tuned his droning out, studying the half-demolished fast food place. The evening was cool, but not cold, and the weather was just as I had remembered it being ten years ago. There were thin clouds overhead, the air smelled faintly of a storm waiting to break. How perfectly dramatic, really. There had been a scattering of showers that night ten years ago I had spent wandering lost in my old house.
"Whether they fail because they don't study-" Mr. Lancer flashed my test at my parents, tone heavy with the accusation. "-or because they cheated."
Just as I remember it happening. Except Jazz had yet to appear. In my recollection of events, she had come along to the meeting for some reason. I suppose because she had known all along that I'd filched the test answers. I was certain she would appear soon however, in a last-ditch attempt at stopping me. My parents both gasped in mixed surprise and horror at the revelation. Their sweet, shy Danny, cheating on an exam! Unheard of!
"Danny!" My father looked down at me, his expression stern. Funny, that expression was usually reserved for his paranoid delusions about ghosts. "Is this true?"
Maddie's expression was far more gentle, a sort of extreme disappointment. "Did you cheat?"
My friends would be there any moment to protest the accusation. There should be some scattered arguing for a few minutes. And then... boom.
"You have to get out of here!"
Wait, what? Everyone, myself included, spun at the sound of Sam's near-panicked cry. Was she going to oppose her fate like Jazz had? Sam was joined by Tucker, my two friends pelting toward the gathering as fast as their teenage legs could carry them.
"The Nasty Burger is gonna blow!" Tucker waved his arms for emphasis, his panic very nearly tangible as he delivered his dire news. "And we're THREE FEET FROM IT!"
"South Beach Diet, people!" Lancer barked out, clearly displeased by the interruption. Hah, I bet he thought it was a ploy by my two friends to distract him from my cheating. What was the deal with the book titles, anyway? I always thought it was ridiculous. "What's going on here?"
"I'll tell you what's going on!" Well, my entire plan seemed to be thrown for a loop now. I spun, a surprised look on my face at my sister's declaration. She was suited up in the Fenton Peeler already. Stupid! I should have smashed that dumb gadget earlier. "Or better yet, show you!"
She cut an imposing silhouette in the armor, I'll admit. Jazz fired at me before I could evade, so I braced for the impact, not knowing exactly what might happen. I remember what the Fenton Peeler did to Spectra, but really, seeing it and feeling it are two entirely different things. The best I could describe it as would be comparable to someone taking a red-hot razor and slicing a million microscopic gashes from head to toe all at once. And then rubbing salt and lemon juice in each and every one. Repeatedly. In short, it was not pleasant. I very nearly cried out from the sensation as I felt my disguise breaking apart and being ripped from me.
I fell over backwards from the force of it, momentarily stunned. Did I mention that thing hurt? I got myself turned over, down on all fours amid the burned out remnants of my disguise, eyes clamped shut in a grimace. That stupid thing had hurt more than any of Valerie's weapons. And worse, my cover was now thoroughly blown. It couldn't possibly be a simple case of re-enacting events from ten years ago. I would have to take more drastic steps to ensure everyone who was supposed to die met their right and proper fate. I suppose it fits, I still consider those deaths my fault, this would leave little doubt to the truth of that.
"That's not Danny!" Jazz declared.
I heard footsteps immediately followed by the high pitched whine of compact ecto-guns charging up on either side of me. Oh, how quaint was this?
"Where is he?" My father demanded over the sound of his gun. Wow, he sounded angry. More than I could ever recall him being. Perhaps the idiot had some parental instincts after all? "Where's our son?"
If it was possible, Maddie sounded even more upset, her voice pitched higher in anger. "What have you done to our boy?"
I had often wondered how my parents would react to my identity. Sometimes in my weakness I would lie awake at night, imagining how I would reveal myself to them. I must have run through countless scenarios, ranging from simply transforming right in front of them to accidentally changing back to human form in the middle of a fight. Their responses ranged equally as wildly, from outright acceptance to abject horror to open hostility. Funny, none of those old fictional scenarios ever came close to the real one that was about to play out.
I laughed where I still stood hunched on the ground, gathering my thoughts before I flashed my dear mother a wide, fanged grin. How I had longed in my weakness to do away with such agonizing secrets! "I am your boy!"
Her expression was positively priceless, horror and utter disbelief in equal measure, purple eyes very nearly the size of dinner plates. She recoiled almost as if I'd slapped her, the maternal anger in her stance instantly replaced with revulsion and confusion. "What?"
"What kind of parents are you, anyway?" I growled, springing off the ground and into the air. Even I was mildly surprised by my own level of hostility toward the both of them. Honestly, how many times had they pointed guns at me in my weakness? "The world's leading ghost experts and you can't figure out that your own son was half-ghost!"
"For the record-" My dad exchanged brief, worried glances with Maddie as they stood there, weapons aimed at me. "-I blame you."
"Hello! Danny Fenton. Danny Phantom. Ever notice the similarity?" I sneered, glancing back at Jazz, bristling with rage where she stood. I think she might have been more angry about things than my parents. Then again, she had already known my secrets for some time now, and wasn't dealing with that same shock. "Jazz did."
"Liar!" My dad snarled, aiming his gun at my face. "Don't move!"
"Actually..." My grin turned to a scowl as I prepared my attack. "Nobody's going anywhere. Not until it's time for you to be blown everywhere."
It was simple enough, really. An arcing blast of energy, another variation on the binding field I'd used on Sam and Tucker. My parents had no chance to get any shots off with their useless toy guns before the wide beam caught the entire group and pinned them against the sauce tanks. Not precisely the subtle approach, but then the time for subtlety had long since passed. They had to die in the explosion, through any means necessary. A series of small beams later, their screaming was silenced, terrified eyes on me as I drifted toward the ground. There would be no help coming from any unexpected quarter.
I heard metallic footfalls behind me, the slight clinking noise of armor and the hiss of displaced air. How quaint, Jazz was trying to get me from behind, was she? I didn't dodge, at least not in the traditional sense. I glanced down, smirking as I saw the armored fist appear through my chest, the blow completely unimpeded as I simply opened a gap in the middle of my torso.
"Nice try, Jazz." I complimented her, not even looking back at her as she gasped in horror and withdrew her arm. I reformed the gap, I imagine she had a wide-eyed look of horror not entirely unlike the one Maddie had given me just moments prior. "But me? My future?"
It hurt slightly to do it, but I twisted my head completely around to face Jazz, verifying the slack-jawed look of fear on my sister's face. Who would have thought the long-dead clone girl would have proven so useful in the long run? Jazz's eyes widened as I turned the rest of myself around to face her properly. "I'm inevitable."
Jazz was still trying to gird her courage to continue to fight, but I wouldn't permit her the chance. She'd interfered more than enough with my plan. I quickly spawned a duplicate on either side of her, within a moment the three of me had her surrounded. Jazz had no hoping of taking on one of me with only the Fenton Peeler, let alone three.
I chuckled as I yanked the helmet off her head, letting her long red locks spill down, the ends flapping like a torn flag in the wind. How appropriate really, that the late summer storm was going to break shortly after the explosion. My sister screamed long and loud, a desperate ploy to call attention to the otherwise deserted area. Well, couldn't let that keep up, so I also gagged her the way I had everyone else.
It was purely showing off, I freely admit. All three of me jumped into the air and reunited into a single self, and I quickly roped Jazz, pinning her arms against her sides. No more use of the Peeler's weapon, that much was certain. I probably gave her a good case of whiplash as I slammed her up against the sauce tank next to Maddie, her back hitting the metal surface with a loud clank.
That was it then. I would float there and watch the explosion go off, just like ten years ago, though the specifics had changed. No thanks to Clockwork's meddling, at least. I considered hanging around in the past just long enough to ensure that my weakness, when he was returned to the proper time period, would go to Wisconsin and go through with the operation that had given rise to my existence. I would take the gauntlets and rip my weakness and the cheesehead in half myself if I had to.
"Hey old man!"
Wait, that voice-! I spun, an angry scowl immediately on my face, my previous laughter halted. What was he doing back? How had he escaped the Ghost Zone, and how had he gotten rid of that medallion? He came diving out of the low cloud deck, all his momentum in his fists as he came tearing toward me at full speed.
"Ready for a blast from your past?"
I didn't get a chance to get out of the way, my past self slammed into me with enough force to send me flying several hundred feet through the air with a displeased grunt. I recovered control of my trajectory nearly two miles away, thoroughly displeased. How was he back? What good did he think he could do? I'd readily beaten him once before, twice counting when I first shed my weakness ten years ago. Was that foolish child going to try to stop me now and erase my future? I snarled a curse and took off for the Nasty Burger. The tanks were going to explode in a matter of minutes, I could not permit my weakness a chance to save them.
When I got back within sight of the place, he was floating too close to them. I hissed a wordless curse and shot off one of those binding energy beams even as I flew toward the scene, snaring my weakness around the torso and hauling him safely away from our friends and family. He yelped in surprise as I tugged him near and grabbed him roughly by the front of his jumpsuit.
"What are you gonna do? Waste me?" He snarled, matching my glare with a nearly identical one of his own, fearless in the face of my wrath. "What happens to you then?"
"You don't get it, do you?" I glowered, slowly smiling. He thought I was going to take him out? Tempting as it was, I knew as well as he did that would not be an option. Clearly he hadn't considered the other option, the one I was basing my entire plan on. "I'm still here. I still exist."
If what I was saying had any effect on my weakness, he didn't show it. If anything, his glare intensified as I continued. Really, what could he do? All I had to do was keep him occupied for a few more minutes, and then it would all end in that fateful explosion. The only difference now was that he would get to witness it first-hand, and revel in his additional uselessness, because there was simply no way he could stop me.
"That means you still turn into me." I very nearly purred that fact to him before I hauled back with my free hand and punched him hard in the stomach.
Were he not in ghost form at the time, I'm certain the blow would have shattered ribs and punctured vital organs. Instead, it merely sent him flying down the street. He hit a light pole roughly a block down with enough force to very nearly bend the thing, his backpack falling off from the impact. ... Backpack? He didn't have one when I saw him in my present day. What was he doing with one now? No matter, it was mere trivia in the long run.
"I don't have to waste you." I taunted from the air as my weakness struggled to shake off his daze below. "I just have to run out the clock until your entire life falls apart."
A quick glance in the direction of the Nasty Burger indicated it was close to time. From above I could see faint blasts of steam and smoke. The sauce tanks were getting hot enough, the pressure was building to the point they were beginning to fail. Soon, so soon, and it would be over, the memories relegated to oblivion where they desperately belonged!
I shouted and dove, ready to pound on that useless child. Just enough to keep him busy until the explosion. That was all I needed to do. To my annoyance however, he phased intangible into the ground, my blow sheered the light post off instead as I aborted my dive and arced back into the air, glancing around. Where was he? If he was underground, he could be almost anywhere, about to attack from any angle. He couldn't do much, but I had no wish to leave anything to even slight chance.
"Maybe if you'd remembered more about your family-" His voice taunted me from somewhere nearby, though over the increasing wind and ominous creaking from the Nasty Burger I couldn't pin down the precise location. "-you'd have remembered the Specter Deflector!"
How in the world did he get that? He must have ambushed me from almost directly below, because the brat got beneath and behind me, clacking the device into place around my waist. As soon as he mentioned that accursed gadget, I should have moved. I knew from memory what the blasted thing felt like!
I would be hard pressed to say which hurt worse: having my earlier disguise ripped apart by the Fenton Peeler, or the intense, nearly paralyzing shock coursing through me from the Specter Deflector. I yelled out in pain, nearly biting my tongue in the process. That thing hurt, perhaps even worse than what I remember it doing to the cheesehead in the past.
"Or the Ghost Gauntlets!" I barely heard him over the agony and electrical cracking. How had he gotten those? Were I not otherwise occupied, I would have scowled at the obvious answer. The cheesehead must have helped him, or perhaps Valerie. Even through time, they continued to plague me. Instead, I received a metallic punch to the gut, clearly payback for earlier that sent me reeling.
I slammed into something hollow and metallic with a brief cry, the impact lessening the Deflector's shocks. I felt something wet and greasy against the back of my neck, and took note of the broken but round metal shell I had punched through. What had I... wait, that smelled like oil, a heavy reek. And my hair was in close contact with the flammable substance.
The explosion didn't actually hurt, per se. The flames barely scorched my jumpsuit, but it was uncomfortable. It was to my advantage however, my weakness chose rather badly when he sent me careening into the oil tanker. The heat and several shards of shrapnel struck the anti-ghost belt, further weakening the device. I couldn't hear anything over the roaring flames around me, but I got to my feet and staggered out of the inferno.
There he was, walking away as though it was over! I ripped the now largely useless Deflector off, the clasp breaking easily. My past self didn't notice, dropping those stupid gauntlets as he prepared to take off. Hah, Danny Phantom to the rescue. There would be no thwarting fate! I ignored the still-burning bits of oil clinging to my suit as I darted forward and caught him with one hand around his scrawny arm.
He gasped, caught clearly off-guard by the attack from behind. Stupid, pathetic fool, letting his guard down so easily against his superior! I flung him backwards hard enough to shatter a human arm in at least three places, but he only cried out from surprise, a pained grunt upon impact with the ground.
"Your time is up Danny." I loomed above him, scowling. It was the first time I had actually addressed my weakness by name since... well, since I came into my present existence, really. He gawked as I duplicated myself, I was through playing around with the brat. "It's been up for ten years."
He tried desperately to roll out of the way, but he was too slow, and ate all four punches, yelping from the impacts and the asphalt digging into his back. Too easy! One of me caught hold of his ankle and lobbed him into the air, where I proceeded to spike him like a volleyball into the side of a nearby building. He yelped again as his impact sent a spiderweb of cracks running through the wall he'd hit.
"I won't let you hurt them!" He yelled as he took to the air, firing ectoblasts wildly at all four of me.
"I'm not going to hurt them." I retorted, one of me knocking him off balance with a blast of my own, opening a break in his volley.
"I'm going to ensure they die because of your incompetence!" I came up from beneath him, a punch to the face causing him to cry out as I also came at him from above, kicking him hard in the jaw.
"No you won't!" He wailed, voice cracking on the declaration. Ah, he had to know that time was rapidly running out. He must have been trying hard not to panic, not to break like the little boy he was. Not even our battle with Pariah to save the city all those years ago had come with such a dire consequence for failure.
"You can't stop me." I growled. He managed to dodge my punch, but I had to laugh as he dodged right into the blast one of my other selves had fired at him, anticipating the maneuver. "You couldn't ten years ago, and you won't now."
"I will! I have to!" He cried, a blast sending one of me crashing into another. It didn't do much in the way of damage, but it was grating how much of a fight he was putting up.
"What do you think you can do?" I sneered, two of me grabbing him by the arms while one punched him in the back and the other blasted him in the front. "It's almost time, any moment that sauce is going to detonate, and they'll all be dead."
"NO!" Amazingly enough, he broke my hold and sent all four of me flying with his outburst. I could see it was short-lived though. He was very nearly through, my future all but guaranteed.
"This is over." I declared in four-way stereo, moving into position to end his feeble resistance.
He was badly winded now, and all out of tricks and gadgets to try and use on me. Grinning, I surrounded him, four ecto beams whirling about him and striking from all angles. He screamed as my blasts ripped into him, and when I was done, he fell nigh-senseless to the ground, scorched and battered. It had been difficult to stop short of knocking him out or killing him. He represented everything I despised. My weakness, my uselessness ten years ago. I hated him. But no, he was still my past, so for now he had to live.
All four of me landed nearby, taking a few steps to close the remaining distance to my fallen opponent. I fused the four of me back together, scowling down at him. "What makes you think you can change my past?"
After all, I still existed, it was clear I would have to succeed, that he had lost. He had two minutes left at most before the explosion. Time was up, there was no way he could stop me and save them all, beaten as he was. Sam, Maddie, and the rest of them were about to die before his eyes. It would be the second time I bore witness to the tragedy, and while I could have prevented it, I was not willing to take such a gamble with my existence. Better their lives than mine.
"Because..." He growled, struggling up onto his hands and knees, defiance clear in his eyes when he forced them open again to glare daggers at me. "I promised my family."
I howled with laughter at the intense sincerity in his statement. Promises? Hah, Valerie had shown me well enough ten years ago how much promises were worth. Hardly worth the breath required to utter them, the useless things. What good was his useless little promise going to do him against me?
"Oh, you are such a child!" I sneered, putting as much mocking sarcasm into my words as possible as he struggled to get upright. "You promised?"
"Yes." He scowled, his sheer bullheadedness driving him to his feet to face me again. "I PROMISED!"
I think my eyes were nearly the size of dinner plates the instant I recognized his stance, legs braced, fists clenched, chest forward from a deep intake of breath. I knew it was coming before the first shockwave even hit me, my mind reeling. I didn't get a chance to even raise a shield against the attack, the short sonic burst powerful enough to blow me clean off my feet and hurl me several dozen yards. I yelped when I hit the ground, my momentum making me dig a fifty foot trench in the asphalt with my back.
"That power-!" I gasped around my shock. There was no way this could be happening! I groaned as I tried to coax my limbs into action again. "It's not possible, I don't get that power until ten years from now!"
"I guess..." I watched, still too stunned to move as he flew over and landed nearby, cringing and clutching at his injured midsection. There was pure disgust in his tone and expression when he continued."The future isn't as set in stone as you think it is."
How could this be? It took me ten years to acquire that power, how was it possible for him to obtain it in such a short time? Surely if he had the Ghostly Wail when we first fought, he would have used it then. No, he had to have developed it sometime between my throwing him into the Ghost Zone and his stubborn return to the past. But how? How? And how was he strong enough to use it twice in a row? Even I had to wait some little while in between using it! Where was he drawing all that extra strength from?
Those questions were quickly forgotten as I was caught in his second Ghostly Wail, this one a sustained blast and far more powerful than the first. I at least had enough time to try to brace for the assault, but I shouldn't have even bothered. The sound of shattering, exploding glass was a faint accompaniment to the hideous wailing, the sound and sheer power of the attack several orders of magnitude above and beyond what the clone girl had hit me with. To my disgust, I was flung through the air like a rag doll, helpless in the wake of the awful noise. It was an assault on all my senses, the shockwave causing havoc with my equilibrium, the noise deafening, the power absolutely devastating though restricted in radius.
The attack eventually tapered off, slamming me with wall-shattering force into a building a few hundred feet away. I lay stunned in a pile of debris, dazed for only a moment before a large car... was that a Ginormo 6000? I hadn't seen one of those in years. Anyway, seconds after my impact, the car slammed into the building, punching a much larger hole in the walls and slamming into me before I could gather the wit to turn intangible. I may not have seen one in years, but I got an unpleasantly up close and personal introduction to one. Adding further insult to injury, the structural damage from my impact and the vehicle brought the entire thing crashing down on my head.
I growled as I struggled to dig myself out of the mess, still addle-witted enough to prevent me from taking the simple approach of phasing through the debris. If I didn't know he was out of time, I would have been less stunned and more enraged by the surprise turn of events. It was over, and I had won! I finally marshaled the coordination to punch up through the concrete and brick debris, clutching at my ribs in a cruel mockery of my weakness. My suit was in tatters, and I was more soundly thrashed than I had been in several years. By my weakness!
"Well, that's it, isn't it?" I growled when I spotted him, fallen to his hands and knees, reverted back to human form. That was it, he had to have run himself completely out of power on that final attack. There was no way he could save anybody, and certainly no way I could have if I'd had such a traitorous thought. It was thoroughly displeasing to think that I was in very nearly the same physical condition as my weakness.
He caught sight of me, an enraged look on his exhausted face as he reached for a silver something latched to his belt. I belatedly realized what it was, a Fenton Thermos, the business end of it pointed right at me. "Time's up!"
I had no strength to dodge, the brilliant blue beam catching me full on and immediately starting to pull me in. "Too weak to escape-!" I gasped, putting everything I had left in trying to break free of the beam, to no avail. Fine, he had won the battle, but the war was mine! "And you're too late to save them!"
Despite my best efforts, I was pulled shouting into the thermos, stuffed inside with no physical form, the only light coming in through the aperture of the thermos quickly cut off when my past self slammed the lid on. I was trapped, blind and senseless, struggling with no power.
Well, I certainly hadn't planned on this. I thought I distantly heard the explosion and the agonized cry of my weakness through the thermos, though it could have been my imagination. That had to be the outcome, there was simply no possible way he could have saved them in time. I growled soundlessly as I struggled against the thermos and its grip on me, but it would be some time before I recovered my strength after that battle.
Ten years of power, ten years of absolute freedom, is it all to come to this? Clockwork said that I had failed, that my weakness would go on to a different future. No, I don't believe it. He cannot succeed; I couldn't, why should he? Revenge, yes, there was still that. I would get out of here and take my revenge. Then I'll return to my future and finish my remaining business there. Valerie still draws breath, an ongoing problem I still need to rectify.
"You manipulated the boy! You influenced his choice!" I listen intently to the new voice, it sounds pretentious. Some ghost who I would need to rip apart when I get out of here, I suppose.
"That's a direct violation of the Protocol of Temporal Displacement!" A second voice, deeper than the first, but carrying that same attitude. How quaint, it seems Clockwork has guests, and my weakness is the subject of their indignant babbling.
"In other words, you cheated!" They both declare in unison as I listen in. Ugh, if I wasn't trapped right now, I would gladly rip them apart along with Clockwork. The time master was quite good at his cheating, I learned this the hard way. How much had I been unwittingly used in his plans? I suspect now I had been manipulated quite a bit for the past decade. Surely I had been used as a tool to take Pariah out, and to scare my weakness to adhere to his misguided path of righteousness and his foolish heroics.
"True, I cheated." And of course, there's Clockwork. I can hear him more clearly, I think he's holding this stupid thermos. "But I assure you, his choice was his own."
"You realize the boy is your responsibility now." The more annoying of the two declares.
"As is his evil self, now that he exists outside of time." The deeper-voiced one adds. Hah, they want evil, do they? I'll be happy to show them their perception of evil when I escape here! They don't know my reasons, my cause. I completely destroyed the ghost king, supposedly the most powerful of all the ghosts. These whiners would be nothing in comparison! When I get loose, I'll make them pay; I'll make him pay for everything, for leaving me trapped in this maddening black void, he will suffer.
"I know." I hear Clockwork declare in that infuriating tone of his. "But then, I know everything."
I almost yelp in my prison when a clang resounds loudly through this black void, my prison must have been set down. I renew my struggles, already feeling some miniscule progress being made, dents slowly forming, future points of fracture. Valerie must have given my weakness the stupid thermos. How ironic, really. Ten years of fighting me, all her weapons absolutely useless, and the witch still wins in the end.
I will get out of here, mark my words. I can already feel my prison slowly breaking apart from my efforts. I laugh with the thought. Yes, I will get out of here, and I will not hold back. If my existence no longer depends on my weakness, well, then I guess I'm free to rip him apart like I did to my human self all those years ago in the cheesehead's lab. Yes, I will enjoy that. Hah, I'll get out of here soon enough.
It's only a matter of time.
(Long-winded and pretentious) Closing Notes: Wow. It's finally over. First, some story stats for your amusement. Anathema took about 5 months to complete (161 days, compared to Jeremiad's 54 days), and comes in at a whopping 111 pages. (Compared to Jeremiad's 97 pages.) The average time between updates was 10.73 days (3.6 for Jeremiad), with an average chapter length of 7.4 pages (6.4 for Jeremiad).
Before I get to the really pretentious part, I want to thank you all profusely for your time and patience reading this, and your feedback. I write primarily for my own amusement, but it's a great feeling to know I'm not the only one enjoying my work. Thanks to those of you who have been reading since Jeremiad, and those of you who have taken the time to review each chapter as it's been posted. It was your encouragement that helped keep me remotely to a regular update schedule despite summer school, Anime Expo, and being on staff for MikomiCon. So again, thank you all so much!
Now to the pretentious part. It has been a hell of an experience to try and write from Dan's perspective. When I was writing Valerie's perspective in Jeremiad, it wasn't that hard to empathize with her character, to get inside her head and figure out what's driving her actions. With Dan though... how do you empathize with a sociopathic monster? It took a lot of work to try and skew my perceptions enough to get into just the mindset to write him. Jokingly I began to refer to needing to "recharge my hate batteries" routinely to have enough anger and hate in general stockpiled to write. I had to try and piece together his psychology just to try and find the motivation for his rampages. Sure, it could simply be he's a soulless insane psycho, but really, that wouldn't be nearly as interesting to read about. It was tough to cut through the attitude, awesome snappy dialogue, and violence to figure out why he wants to destroy everything. I'd like to think I've managed to add considerable depth to a character that was otherwise portrayed as a very superficial, flat villain in the show. Some of his actions surprised me, including his almost considering saving everyone instead of killing them all. Oh, and let's not forget that I somehow went from hating his guts to being a fangirl. I still despise him.. but damn, he's hot.
I was also surprised at how much warped humor ended up in this. The bad puns, the fake-out make-out, the entire "EW!" thing... Though I suppose since Anathema doesn't have nearly the same level of angst as its partner fic Jeremiad, something had to fill the emotional void.
It's a little tough to explain, but the best I can come up with is that most stories are written from a core of pure inspiration. Lament was, Jeremiad was... Anathema wasn't. Sure, inspiration certainly played a very large part in wanting to write the story, but the tale itself, told by Dan had to simply be written from a core of absolute, pure hatred. Doing things that irritate me and get me into a foul, hating-the-world kind of mood by and large made this story possible. (Working in an accounting firm with a bunch of absolute morons does wonders for getting into that sort of "I want to destroy everything and everyone!" frame of mind.)
Anyway, I can't say I'm in a daze this time. If anything, I'm all wound up from that admittedly evil little cliffhanger ending. But never fear, loyal readers! You know I'm good for a continuation, right? Yes, this isn't the end of Dan's tale. I've already started my next big project, sequel to both this and Jeremiad, titled Benediction. So yes, those of you who just can't get enough of Dan, I hope to see you there!
Catch ya on the flip side!