WoM- I've gotten a ton of people excited about this one, so I figured I should post ASAP. I made some slight changes from my original plan, since I didn't have the heart to go through with one aspect of it, but other then that it's just what I've been telling you it is. As usual, I have absolutely no claim to the totally awesome show Danny Phantom, or any of its marvelous characters.
BIG thanks to Nom de Plume for beta-ing this for me! (hugs) She's been doing an awesome job at fixing my horrible grammar/spelling!
"Most of us become parents long before we have stopped being children."
- Mignon McLaughlin
"Coochy coo!" Jack cooed as he tickled the infant's stomach, making the baby giggle as he kicked his feet. Maddie shook her head in amusement as she watched from the door, a box propped against her waist.
"Now, Jack," she scolded lightly. "Leave the baby alone for a minute and help me unpack! You know I can't carry the heavy things in alone."
"Got it, Baby!" Jack grinned widely at his wife. "Just a second…" Maddie watched curiously as her husband lumbered to the other side of the room to pick up a remote-like device, pressing a button on it to activate a steady green glow around the infant's crib. Maddie frowned at the display.
"Jack Fenton, what on Earth is that?" she demanded pointedly, giving the husky man a stern look.
"That?" Jack repeated proudly. "Why, it's the Fenton Crib Guard! Guaranteed to keep a baby from falling out of its crib and keep any ghosts at bay!" Maddie sighed, running a hand through her hair.
"Danny isn't a year old yet, Jack," Maddie reminded her husband in a tired voice. "He's too little to climb out of his crib even if he wanted to. And I doubt any ghosts would want anything to do with a baby, sweetie."
"Well, better safe than sorry!" Jack stated cheerfully, walking past his wife and down the stairs. Maddie followed after one last hesitant glance at their new son.
"I don't know, Jack," she said reluctantly. "I'm not sure I like having any experiments around the baby…"
"Now, Maddie," Jack soothed his wife, "You know I wouldn't have put any of that up if I wasn't sure it was safe!" Maddie smiled slightly, hugging her husband.
"Yes," she said, resting her head on his shoulder, "I suppose you wouldn't." Maddie supposed she should consider herself lucky Jack had stopped with a shield. When Jazz had been born, Jack turned the entire house into a clean room, baby-proofing everything he could get his hands on long before it needed to be.
'Speaking of whom…'
"Where's Jazz?" Maddie asked, glancing around for a flash of red hair to alert her to her daughter's presence.
"Hm?" Jack asked absently before the question registered. "Oh! I think she's still sulking up in her new room. Still upset she had to leave all her little friends behind…" Maddie sighed.
"I'll go talk to her," she volunteered, kissing her husband on the nose before turning back to the house.
Passing the baby's room, she stopped in front of the door almost directly across from it, which was wide open— so she could see her red- headed three -year- old sitting on her suitcase, staring out her window at something. Biting her lip in worry, Maddie knocked softly on the doorframe to catch the girl's attention.
"Jazz, honey?" she said softly with a warm, motherly smile. "Can I come in?" Jazz frowned, but didn't respond as she turned back to her window. Hurt, Maddie came in anyways and crouched down next to her daughter, patting the girl on the back. "Sweetie, I know you miss all your friends, but you have to understand—"
"No, I don't!" Jazz snapped, glaring at her mother. "I don't understand, Mommy! Why couldn't we have stayed where we were?"
"Well, you father and I have a very different job, honey," Maddie explained with a sigh, almost wishing that her daughter wasn't so smart for her age. "And the people who lived around us… well, they didn't like it." Seeing the look on her daughter's face, the woman quickly added, "Besides, this place is bigger than our old home, so we have more room for you and baby Danny, and I'm sure you'll make lots of new friends, Jazz."
"I don't WANT to make new friends!" Jazz yelled, jumping to her feet. "I like my old friends, Mommy! I hate this stupid house, and I hate your stupid job and I hate that stupid baby! I wish they'd all just disappear!"
"Jasmine Marie Fenton!" Maddie gasped. But before she could say anything else, Jazz darted out the door and past her father, disappearing out onto the street before either of her parents could stop her. "JAZZ!"
Running after her daughter, Maddie paused at the door of her new home to look around desperately for any sign of the girl, to no avail. Biting her lip, Maddie gripped the doorframe, jumping slightly when her husband rested a comforting hand on her shoulder.
"Don't worry, Maddie," Jack said soothingly, uncharacteristically serious in his wife's worry, "She'll be fine. She just needs a little while to cool off."
"I suppose…" Maddie admitted reluctantly with a sigh. "Still, she's only three."
"Maybe, but she's got your smarts, Maddie," Jack chuckled. "The Only three years old and already doing long division!"
"Jack!" Maddie scolded with a light laugh, hugging her husband. With one last worried glance around, she started into the house, "I'm going to check on the baby one last time, Honey. You get things set up in the basement so we can start rebuilding our lab. Don't unpack anything until I get down there, though, some of those chemicals are highly sensitive. One false move and we'd all end up a crater in the ground."
"No worries, Baby!" Jack crooned, grinning at his wife as he lumbered into the basement, tripping over some stairs and landing with a loud crashing noise. Maddie laughed slightly after she heard him confirm that he was fine.
"That man…" she said affectionately before starting up the stairs. Then again, that was part of why she'd fallen for Jack Fenton in the first place…
'Damn him…' Vlad picked up speed, his glowing red eyes fixed on the path in front of him without really seeing it. Rage had blinded him to anything, sheer and pure fury was the driving force behind his actions as he neared the cheerful- looking house in the cheerful -looking suburbs of a cheerful- looking town. 'Damn him to Hell!'
Growling in frustration, Vlad stopped midair right above the house, the wind from his momentum whipping his hair and cape as it continued in the direction he'd spent a good twenty minutes flying at top speed.
That's right, flying.
Vlad wasn't, as one might expect, your average person. He wasn't even your average head of a multi-billion- dollar company. (The fact that that wasn't a career most people would ever consider average aside.) He was Vlad Masters— old college buddy of Jack and Maddie Fenton, — and Vlad Plasmius— the ghost who was rapidly becoming the strongest in all of the Ghost Zone.
He was a half-ghost. A freak who defied the laws of nature and science.
'AND IT'S ALL JACK FENTON'S FAULT!'
Vlad had held little (if any) affection for the bumbling, burly man since the accident in college, and less after he married the woman Vlad always vowed would be his. But this… This was the last straw.
Very little could compare to Vlad's fury when he had found out about Daniel Fenton, born to Jack and Maddie Fenton on October 12 of 1992 at 4:15 AM, weighing a meager two pounds and three ounces when the couple brought him home.
The son that should've been his…
Growling out his anguish one last time, Vlad phased through the walls of the Fentons' new home, heading straight for the basement where he found his hated old friend setting everything up, humming cheerfully as if he hadn't a care in the world.
'Of course he doesn't,' Vlad thought sourly, still trapped in his own realm of rage and self-pity. 'He's living the life that should've been mine, after all…'
Floating there above Jack Fenton, hidden from sight by nothing but his powers, a part of Vlad wondered what he was doing, what he expected to accomplish by attacking Jack as things were currently. He'd always been a strategist, and there was no gain to be had from moving in on the offensive so early in the game. He should step back, analyze the situation and make his move then, for maximum results.
But then a bigger part of Vlad told that side to stuff it.
"How quaint," the half -ghost sneered as he turned visible again, pleased when Jack jumped about three feet in the air. He didn't know why sneaking up on the man had brought him such pleasure, but it had and he certainly wasn't going to let the world that had been so unfair to him rob him of that much.
"What the heck…?" Jack said, turning. He froze when he caught sight of Vlad, still floating a good three feet off the ground. To his credit, though, he recovered quickly, diving for an ecto-gun even as he bellowed for his wife. "GHOOOOOST! MADDIE, THERE'S A GHOST DOWN IN THE LAB! GET THE FENTON THERMOS, STAT!"
Vlad raised an eyebrow at that, unsure if the cramped basement (filled with enough unpacked cardboard boxes to give the Box Ghost his idea of heaven) really could be seen to constitute as a 'lab', but before he could point anything of the sort out to the buffoon he so despised, he found himself staring down the barrel of an ecto-gun.
"Eat hot ectoplasm, spook!" Jack exclaimed, firing the gun. Acting on instinct alone, Vlad dodged the blast, sneering when the next three his jumpsuit clad foe shot at him missed by miles.
"Not a very good shot, are you, Jack?" he taunted, going invisible and circling around the ghost hunter. Jack faltered slightly when he heard this, surprise written all over his face as he dropped his guard and lowered his weapon, looking around uncertainly for the enemy he could no longer see.
"You know me?" he asked, sounding confused.
"Of COURSE I know you!" Plasmius snapped, disgusted with the stupidity of the question. "It's a little hard to forget the man who RUINED YOUR LIFE!"
"Huh?" Jack said, his confusion growling. Before he could say anything else, though, Vlad struck at him with an ecto-blast to the back, grinning in sadistic delight when the man hit the opposite wall with a pained yell.
Gone were his careful plots. Gone were his pawns, his traps, his manipulations… Right now all he wanted was revenge, the quick, simple delight that would come with the death of the man who stolen everything he'd ever wanted.
"And so, Jack Fenton," Vlad sneered again as he emphasized the ghost hunter's full name, "it's only fair that I even the scales a bit, yes?" He raised a fist, glowing with pink ecto-energy and grinned when he saw the terror on Jack's face. "A life for a life, after all…"
Vlad cried out in a mixture of pain and surprise when he was hit from the side by an ectoblast, crashing into a wall which he then slid down to come to a rest on the floor. Glancing up, he was surprised to see Maddie, looking as beautiful as the day he'd first laid eyes on her, standing at the base of the stairs, a smoking ecto-gun in her hands.
"You keep away from him, ghost!" she snapped protectively, edging closer to her husband, much to Vlad's irritation. Especially when she took her eyes off of him to give Jack a worried look. "Sweetie? Are you okay?" Vlad scowled darkly.
'Of course…' he thought sourly. 'As if knowing that the woman I love is happily married to the man I hate with every fiber of my being isn't enough, now I have to see it as well…'
"I'm fine, Maddie," Jack gasped, struggling to his feet to glare at Vlad. "What did you mean? Who are you?" Vlad sneered at him, his hatred of the man growing when Maddie rested a hand against his shoulder in worry, glancing between the two men in a way that told she was concerned for her husband's safety.
'Why did she have to choose him?' Vlad wondered mournfully. 'Why couldn't she see that she'd be happier with me? I would've given her the world…'
"Haven't you figured it out yet, fool?" the half- ghost snapped cruelly, his red eyes narrowing in irritation at Jack when he turned back to him. "Is it really that difficult of a concept for your simple mind to grasp?"
"Don't listen to him, Jack!" Maddie called firmly, glaring at Vlad distrustfully. "He's just lying to break your concentration!"
"My dear Maddie," Vlad responded, frowning in a strangely patient way at the woman, "you have no idea how much I wish that were truly the case. However, the fact remains that this simpleton—" here Vlad shot Jack another bitter glare, "—has robbed me of the life I deserved! Because of him, my existence for the last six years has been sheer agony!"
"What the heck are you TALKING about?" Jack demanded, absolutely bewildered. "I've never killed anybody!"
"YOU were responsible for the accident that ruined my life!" Plasmius exploded, scowling at the burly man. "You destroyed every dream I've ever had! You CURSED me to this damnable half-existence while you lived in comfort with a loving wife and son! YOU'VE STOLEN THE LIFE I'VE EARNED! THE LIFE I DESERVE!"
As Plasmius continued his tirade, his anger increased and all the boxes around them started to quake and tremble as a result. Maddie and Jack watched on with wide eyes as beakers and test tubes shattered and chemicals bubbled, the burning smell of acid rapidly filling the room. Plasmius never noticed any of this, though, his eyes fixed solely on Jack Fenton.
"Jack!" Maddie gasped under the ghost's hearing. "We need to get rid of him now! If he keeps this up, he might trigger a chemical explosion and blow the whole house sky high, and us with it!"
"Right!" Jack said his face hardening into a determined look. "Don't worry, Maddie, I'll take care of everything!"
Then, before Maddie could protest, her husband bound forward, ecto-cannon charged. He fired at Plasmius twice, and the half ghost snorted at the blatant, tactless attack, lazily flicking a wrist to bring up a shield around him which the blasts ricocheted off to hit the walls, scorch marks smoldering in the wake of the energy.
"Idiot!" Vlad sneered with a feral grin. "I won't be that easy to get rid of!"
As Vlad attacked Jack and sent him flying across the room, his back was turned to Maddie, who hesitated for a moment at the opportunity as she glanced anxiously at the exit.
'What should I do?' she wondered fearfully. She wanted to stay and fight with her husband… but her baby was upstairs in his crib, and in danger as long as this ghost was here. Sure, the shield was designed to protect him from most ghost attacks— but this one seemed particularly powerful, so he might find a way around such a simple obstacle.
Not to mention the fact that if he had an ounce of common sense, he's just push the 'off' button on the remote…
The dilemma was settled as she watched the ghost advance on her husband, his fists crackling with neon pink ecto-energy. Pursing her lips in determination, Maddie reached slowly for an ecto-gun just she kept at her side, careful not to make a noise to alert the ghost of her actions.
'If I get rid of him, then Danny and Jack will both be safe,' the young mother assured herself mentally. 'All I need is this one shot and everything will be okay…'
"Really, Jack…" the ghost addressed her husband mockingly, chuckling bitterly as his energy spiked before settling back to its normal pattern. "Did you really think it would be that easy to get rid of me?"
That was when Maddie's hand closed on the ecto-gun and she withdrew it, bringing it up to aim for the ghost…
Only to cry out in pain when large gloved hands shot out from behind her to grab her wrists, forcing her to drop her weapon as she was restrained with her hands behind her head. Struggling, Maddie felt a cold chill run down her spine as Plasmius laughed softly behind her, whispering for her ear alone.
"Really, my dear," he said, amusement clear in his tone. "Did you honestly think I would make that mistake twice?"
"Let me go!" Maddie hissed, struggling to free herself. The ghost only laughed again, louder this time.
"Let you go?" He repeated, laugher still coloring his tone, "My dear Maddie, why would I do that when all I've ever wanted was to have you?" Maddie stopped struggling then, shock written all over her face.
"No distractions this time, Jack," the other Plasmius told the ghost hunter, apparently ignoring his duplicate and Maddie. "This ends now. Goodbye, Jack Fenton…"
To Maddie, the next chain of events took place in slow motion, though it really only took a few moments. The ghost charging up for a final blast… Jack taking aim one last time and firing, the blast nicking Plasmius without doing any damage…
…Heading for the pile of boxes that was plastered with hazardous chemical warnings.
"NO!" Maddie screamed, her eyes wide. But there was nothing she or either of the men could do to stop it at that point. The blast struck the boxes, and there was a bright white light followed by a thunderous explosion before the whole world went dark…
Upstairs, infant Danny cooed and stretched, unaware of the battle being waged underneath him. He pressed a hand curiously against the glowing green dome of energy surrounding him, giggling at the strange sensation it awoke.
The green dome was forgotten, though, when the house began to quake. Only slightly at first, but soon it was violent enough that the baby began to wail loudly, anxious for the comfort of his mother.
Maddie never answered the boy's cries, though. Instead, a brilliant white light cloaked the room, sparking furiously when it hit the shield and making angry noises that had Danny crying even harder, no longer finding the strange green light fun.
The baby didn't understand what the strange jolts of energy that started dancing along the outer surface of the shield were about. Nor did he understand when the surges grew, consuming the shield entirely until it faltered and the energy washed over the infant. All he knew what that it hurt, and that the hurt didn't stop until he fell asleep…
Vlad groaned as he opened his eyes, confused for a second at the sight of debris all around him until he finally remembered what had occurred. The fight, the blast, the explosion…
Jolting up, Vlad twisted around desperately, looking for the brunette he was so desperately in love with. He had shielded her from the blast, along with himself, but had she made it…?
Relief overwhelmed him when he saw her lying on the ground about ten feet away, unconscious but breathing normally when he checked, and with no signs of physical trauma from the explosion.
Glancing around, Vlad couldn't help but groan again as he took in the disarray around him, though for a different reason this time.
'What was I thinking?' he wondered, sitting down on a chunk of rubble and putting his face in his hands. He had never done anything so reckless before. EVER. It was Jack who always took action before thinking things through, not him. Why had he allowed his anger to take him to a point where it could've killed not only him, but Maddie as well…?
Vlad looked up again when the wail of approaching sirens reached him, his blood running cold in his veins. There was no way he could explain his presence there to police, or to Maddie when she awoke.
'I have to get out of here', Vlad decided, changing back into a ghost and taking to the air. He paused a few feet off the ground when he caught another sound, even more shocking to him than the coming ambulance.
A baby's crying.
Turning, Vlad couldn't help but follow the noise until he at last found the source, lying half- hidden by the rubble around him. The half- ghost stared down at the baby in a numb sort of shock, amazed that someone so young could survive a blast of that magnitude.
Even the remains of some strange proto- shield that laid shattered around the infant didn't decrease his surprise. After all, the child wasn't even a year old yet. That he was alive and apparently unharmed clearly meant that he'd inherited his mother's strength of spirit.
Sighing, Vlad eyed the baby curiously for a moment as his cries subdued and he blinked back at Vlad with clear blue eyes reddened from his tears.
"So, you're Daniel, are you…?" Vlad muttered, hesitantly reaching out to dry some of the baby's tears. Danny cooed softly at the touch and wrapped one of his tiny hands around the billionaire's larger finger, surprising Vlad a little.
'He's either very brave or far too trusting, this one…' Vlad mused wryly, wiggling his finger a little and earning a giggle from the baby. Shaking his head, Vlad phased out of Danny's grasp to stand, his cape billowing around him.
"I'd better go," he said, not really sure why he was telling the baby this. "An ambulance is coming, they should find you when you start bawling your lungs out again. You're mother should be fine, so all you have to worry about is—"
Vlad stopped dead in the middle of his sentence when the baby disappeared for a moment, only to reappear a second later.
'He…he just…' Gaping down at the infant, Vlad's eyes widened when he realized that Danny's eyes— which he knew for a fact had been blue not a minute earlier— were now an iridescent green color, common only in the Ghost Zone.
Vlad didn't know how it was possible. He had absolutely no idea how an infant could survive that kind of charge of ectoplasm, or even where it'd come from for that matter, but he could tell one thing for sure.
'He's a half- ghost…' The billionaire sat down as his thought ran through his head, the shock almost too much to handle. 'He's a half- ghost… just like me.'
This thought had the wheels in Vlad's head turning as he kept a careful ear open for the ambulance, knowing that he wouldn't have all that much time left. He'd always been alone before as far as the status of ghostly halflings went, but now here was a child, an infant at that, who showed signs of the exact same powers that plagued him.
Vlad glanced over at Maddie hesitantly as she groaned and shifted on the ground, but didn't open her eyes. He bit his lip uncertainty with his fangs. This was a tempting opportunity… very tempting… but there was no way he could bring both Danny and Maddie with him without arousing her suspicions, with as clever as she was.
Yet leaving Danny in her care was no longer an option, either, for the very reason Vlad had fearfully broken off contact with her all those years ago: the boy was a half -ghost and she was a ghost hunter. Who was to say she wouldn't despise the child for what he'd become, for what he could be with just a little guidance…?
Vlad glanced down at Danny again, and found that the decision wasn't as hard as he would've thought. Crouching down, he picked the baby up from the rubble and cradled him in his arms, making sure he had a firm hold on the child before taking to the air and heading back to his home in Wisconsin, completely unaware that Maddie's eyes opened just before he disappeared from sight…
WoM- Originally, I was going to have Jack and Maddie both die, but there were two reasons this didn't happen here;
1.) I was kicked by another evil little plot bunny that refused to be ignored
2.) I just didn't have it in me, in the end. ('sulks')
At any rate, we won't see any of the Fentons again for a while, since this story evolves around Vlad and Danny's relationship as father and son. Don't worry, though, all the characters that everybody loves and hates should work their way into this fic at some point or another.
Oh, and as far as my other stories go, don't worry. Other then FCA, I will continue to update all of them regularly. I'm still having difficulties as far as plagiarism goes with that one, which so far has had two authors other then myself claiming to write them. (Please tell me if you find anyone else doing this, by the way.) I'm not sure what new story I'll post next, though. Probably whatever one gets the most comments on Taste of Insanity… I think so far that's Ghost Town… 'too lazy to actually check'
Anywho, I'll see all of you guys next chapter!
Next Chapter; Adjusting
Vlad's staff- human and ghost alike- are in for a shock when their boss arrives at his castle in Wisconsin with his new son. They'll have to get over it quickly, though, with the way baby Danny's gonna keep them on their feet…
See you then!