A few months had passed since the weekend that changed his life. Vlad sat in his favorite chair, as always, with a glass of brandy and the book he was currently trying to read. His mind kept wandering and he gave up on the book after reading the same sentence five times. He was tired, but restless.
True to his word, Vlad left Danny alone in human and ghost form. He was, however, far from idle. His business was taking up much of his time lately. Going legitimate wasn't easy. Since his weekend with Danny, Vlad had come to see possibilities never open to him before. He decided it was pointless to continue his relentless quest for wealth and power. He already had both. It wasn't why the boy had wanted to stay with him. It never managed to win anyone over for very long. Even his house staff had a high turn-over.
Yes, he kept his promise. Sometimes he felt like a martyr for it. He did miss the fights he had with Phantom. The distraction of plans and plots were just the means to get to the fights, he now knew. It was the only real interaction he had with anyone, even if it did involve ghostly violence. The time they had to work together against the ghost king actually meant something to him, though he didn't realize it at the time. Jack Fenton, curse or bless his heart, always welcomed him into his home. Vlad couldn't understand why the man hadn't turned on him by now. For those few days, despite the tension between the two hybrids, he was part of something. Family?
He was lonely though. It hurt worse than ever, because he now knew what it felt like to have someone care for him and want him and now that someone was miles away, doing heaven knows what.
Being left alone with his thoughts, Vlad decided, was not a good thing.
It took hours for Danny to explain things to his friends when he returned from his getaway at Vlad's. He knew they really didn't believe him, but somehow, it didn't matter. He knew the truth. He fared better with his sister than he could have hoped. He only had to explain it once to her. She could see that he looked and felt better and decided not to push him.
In the months that followed, the ghost sightings and attacks on Amity Park had decreased dramatically. Danny found himself with free time on his hands. He was suspicious in the beginning, but as time went on and nothing cataclysmic happened, he relaxed some and decided to take Vlad's advice and figure out who he was.
He did confront his friends about what went on between them, but in the end, didn't hate them for what happened. "Life can change in a heartbeat. I oughta know" he thought. In no time, their friendship was the same as it had always been, except that Danny and Sam didn't have those blushy moments anymore. In reality, it was only Danny that didn't have them. Sam felt the same about him as she always did. In Sam's mind, Danny was just being clueless.
Jack and Maddie had a difficult time adjusting to the lack of ghost sightings at first, though Jack felt it more than his wife. He never stopped tinkering in his basement, while after a few months, Maddie actually stopped wearing her jumpsuit (to the immediate approval of her children). Even Jack was reminded, not that he ever really forgot, what a beautiful wife he had. She still helped Jack with his creations, but spent more time gardening, reading...doing non-ghost things. She even convinced Jack that the family needed a regular car, because the Fenton Family Assault Vehicle was such a gas guzzler. Jazz couldn't have been more pleased.
She guessed somehow, that Phantom and Plasmius had come to some sort of truce. She still didn't trust Vlad. After all, the man was obsessed with her mother and had tried repeatedly to kill her brother with ecto-blasts. For the time being, she decided not to ask questions and enjoy the pseudo-normalcy the lack of ghost hunting brought to her family's life.
Danny was excited. Today he was 17. He knew his mother would be making a special dinner for him tonight. His friends would be there. Even having school today wasn't going to ruin his mood. His mother was going to let him take the car to school.
He went downstairs and was greeted by his family, all wishing him happy birthday. They had breakfast together while his father blathered on about his latest invention. When he finally stopped to take a breath, Maddie handed a card to him. Danny recognized the handwriting from the study he'd been in six months ago and smiled.
"That card was slipped through the mail slot, sweetie. Who is it from?"
"Uh… I don't know. I'll open it later. I'm gonna get ready so I can pick up Sam and Tucker." And he ran upstairs.
Safely in his room, Danny read his card and found himself wishing he were in Wisconsin.
"I can just "stop in", wish Daniel a happy birthday...schmooze Jack and Maddie. The girl...Jasmine...she will be difficult. Perhaps she'll behave if she sees Daniel isn't upset by my presence..." Vlad thought aloud as he paced about his study. He took a trip to Amity Park earlier that morning to deliver a card and couldn't resist looking in on Danny as he slept. Since his return, he'd been trying to plan and justify a trip back there.