Author's Note:

Feedback is lovingly appreciated. (Puppy dog eyes...)

And Danny Phantom is owned by Butch Hartman, of course.

I hope you enjoy!


An often small event that triggers a massive change.

March 18, Spring Break. Three months after.

Sam glanced out of the tiny airplane window, then forced herself to look away. Even after weeks of planning, she still found herself hoping somewhere deep down that someone would figure it out, would realize what she was doing and stop the flight, or maybe even catch up to it in the air...

Her mouth tightened briefly, and she breathed in sharply, forcing the wistful thoughts from her mind.

I will not to be responsible for tearing him apart...

She could and would handle this.

Sam drooped a little, feeling fatigued. Yeah, she could get through this, but that didn't make things easy. She allowed her head to fall back on the airplane seat, and closed her aching eyes. The flight was scheduled to leave at five a.m., which meant she had gotten up ridiculously early this morning. Not that she'd been getting much sleep lately anyway.

Speaking of sleep, in a few hours Sam knew she'd need to be extremely alert, especially since letting certain things slip could land her in serious danger. She crushed the nervous flutter in her stomach, and managed, after a few minutes, to nod off.

Sam couldn't help but be slightly awed as she got out of the cab parked in front of Vlad Masters' Wisconsin mansion. Here was a man who was rich and not afraid to show it. Her family had money too, but they didn't flaunt it like this, and somehow she'd forgotten just how financially powerful Vlad truly was.

Sam held her purse closer to her, her stomach clenching in apprehension. She glanced back at the cab as she started forward, and calmed slightly. She'd paid them to wait for her while she went inside.

Vlad was already at the door as Sam walked up. Strangely, just the sight of him standing there was enough to focus her thoughts. She couldn't afford to screw this up.

"Miss Manson, isn't it?" His face was cool, the expression closed, but Sam thought she saw a glimmer of curiosity staring down at her.

"Yes." She glanced back at the cabby again, who had gotten out in order to stretch his legs. "Can we go inside? Where it's a little more private?" She gave Vlad a pointed look. We've both got secrets, Plasmius.

He raised an eyebrow at her, then moved to the side and swept one hand out in a vague gesture towards the entrance. "Of course. Please, I want you to feel at home." The sarcasm was fairly subtle, but the Goth in her picked it up loud and clear.

They made their way through the front hall, past all the football paraphernalia, past the stairs, and into what was a fairly cozy sitting room, considering the size of the mansion. Vlad ushered her into a chair, and then took a seat himself about half a dozen feet away.

He leaned back and crossed his legs. "Now. What brings you all the way out here? Shouldn't you be in school or something?"

Sam stared at him for a moment, keeping her face neutral, which was something she'd gotten good at over the last few months. "Today is a Saturday, so no, I'm not skipping school." Yet. She paused, and then decided that being blunt was best. "Look, I know you're Vlad Plasmius…"

"I know you know."

She frowned slightly, annoyed at the interruption. "Well, I know you knew that I know." Of course. "I'm just stating it to make a point. This means I also know you've got ghost hunting weapons." Sam paused, and sighed. "Look, Danny told me about a handheld device you have that shorts out a ghost's powers. I...want to buy it from you." She watched him closely, the nervous flutter in her stomach coming back again.

He spoke slowly and incredulously. "You want to buy it from me." He paused, as if letting this idea digest, and then smirked. "Having problems with your boyfriend?"

"What?" She went on, playing dumb. "First, I don't have a boyfriend, and if I did what would it have to do with ghost hunting equipment?" Please drop this...

Vlad gave her a mock polite look of disbelief, and forged directly into dangerous waters. "Come now. I'm clearly referring to Daniel. Jack and Maddie would be overjoyed to provide you with whatever equipment you asked for, so why come to me unless you didn't want to go to them? And if that's the case, it suggests you don't want them to know, or more specifically Daniel to know, which makes me think something's going on between you two."

Sam bristled, as he probably knew she would, and was secretly aggravated with herself for getting angry so easily. "Danny is not my boyfriend. He's my best friend. And we aren't fighting." She paused and looked away. "It's complicated, but basically I just want to be capable of fighting ghosts without his help." She looked back to Vlad and pursed her lips. "But all you need to know is that I've got a lot of money to work with. If you're interested in cutting a deal, great. Otherwise, I'll be leaving." She held her purse tightly, ready to stand up. This was where she hoped his insane obsession with Danny and his mom would pay off. She knew money wasn't an issue with Vlad, but any interaction with people who were close to the Fentons automatically caught his attention.

Her hunch proved correct, as he immediately held up his hands in a placating gesture that had just a hint of intimidation. "Now, now." Sam settled back down, and he went on. "That gadget could easily be misused, Miss Manson." He tilted his head thoughtfully. "May I call you Samantha?" She shook her head no, even as her mind overturned the ludicrousness of his previous statement. Of course he knew all about how his "gadgets" could be misused!

Vlad continued. "Ah. Well, as I was saying, I can't sell it to just anyone. How do I know you won't try to use it on me someday, for instance? And of course, I feel obliged to look out for Daniel's best interests as well, no offense meant, of course." He gave her a tiny smile that looked more like a smirk.

Sam stared for a moment. She couldn't believe him! Looking out for Danny's best interests? Yet she couldn't be too surprised by his answer. He was simply digging for information. She reigned in her emotions again, thinking how best to answer his ridiculous question.

"I can promise you I have no intention of using it at all, except in self defense." It was her turn to smirk. "So unless you attack me, I won't use it on you."

"And Daniel?" His eyes bore into hers. She looked away.

"Danny would never attack me." He was silent for a moment.

She looked up to see his narrowed, suspicious eyes, and he finally spoke. "Then why do I have the strangest feeling you're running away from him?"

Sam didn't flinch, and didn't look away. This was one point she wanted him to be absolutely clear on. She'd practiced for this. She spoke calmly and clearly. "I am not running away from him. I'm not running away at all. I just want to be more self reliant." She had no intention of telling him anything about her plans; this was the first day of Spring Break and if everything went well no one would realize she was gone for over a week.

"That's…understandable." Vlad still looked completely suspicious, but apparently wasn't going to push the issue, which was good enough for her. "You know, I think I will give you the Plasmius Maximus after all…"

"Sell. I've got the money." They locked gazes for a moment. Vlad looked slightly taken aback at being interrupted.

"Actually, I'm feeling very giving right now. I insist you take it for free." He smiled at her in what was meant to be a charming way.

Sam shifted in her seat, more than a little unsettled by his offer. "I'd rather pay for it. No offense, but being in your debt doesn't exactly appeal to me." If he needed her to be blunt about it, she would be.

He pushed on, still smiling. "A gift is a gift. No strings attached. You're best friends with Daniel, after all. And Jack and I are the best of friends as well; I know for a fact he thinks very highly of you. And naturally, a friend of the Fentons is a friend of mine. I couldn't possibly charge you."

Sam stared at him for a few moments. He knew she knew that he hated Jacks guts, and so was obviously feeding her a line of bull, but…she could really, really use the extra money. She didn't like his sudden eagerness, though. He wasn't the sort of person to just give things away, no strings attached. But what could she do? Make him take her money?

"If…if you insist. But money really isn't an issue. And, to be honest, you don't strike me as the type to give something away without expecting something in return." She watched him guardedly.

He laughed. "My dear Samantha…I'm sorry, you really must let me call you Samantha, it's a lovely name. I can't imagine why you choose to shorten it, just like Daniel…" He cupped his chin in one hand, smiling thoughtfully at her, then continued. "My dear Samantha, I see you've heard horrible things about me from Daniel. Whatever you've heard, let me assure you that I've never had anything but the best intentions at heart. Sometimes I just have a rather round about way of showing it." He raised his hands to forestall her arguing with him. "In any case, I really would like to give this to you, and perhaps a few other tools if you would like, free of charge. As a gift. No strings attached."

She might have believed him if it wasn't for the Cheshire cat grin spreading across his face. Well, no, she still wouldn't have believed him, but that grin didn't help any.

Sam ended up leaving Vlad's less than an hour later, with one ghost catching cube and another rather nifty device Vlad had dubbed the Plasmius Maximus (like she would call it that) which was basically a taiser for ghosts. They were both fairly small devices, which meant it would be easy to carry them with her. In fact, they were already tucked into her purse for safe keeping. She had also nabbed her Fenton thermos (she'd had her own for over a year now) before leaving home, but it wasn't something she wanted to broadcast having, since her parents might have included it in her description, especially if Danny had anything to do with it. Being as rich as they were, she knew she would need to be very careful about where she went, what she said, and how she looked in order to avoid being recognized.

Her next destination was a bus stop. Sam needed to throw off any investigation that could take place a week from now, and was sure they'd be able to trace her trip to Wisconsin. She needed to travel to another state via several bus rides, which were much cheaper and way less conspicuous than airplane. Then she could alter her appearance and name. Sam hated to admit it, but she had a few online Goth friends (well, maybe acquaintances was a better word) that knew some very useful tricks about forging identification, many of which she would be using.

Danny walked along inside the mall, thinking about how annoying Sam's parents could be. Okay, maybe he was being childish, but Sam had told him she really didn't want to go on vacation with them. She'd wanted to spend her break with him and Tucker, and she'd seemed really sad about not being able to. Not that hanging with just Tucker was bad or anything, but Danny had had…plans for the break. He'd finally acknowledged his feelings for Sam, and had been working up the nerve to tell her for months. Heh, it was about time really, since they were already in their junior years!

But she wasn't here; she was with her parents, who had apparently decided to whisk her away with them to the Bahamas at the very last second. Darn it! He knew it could wait, but it still didn't mean he wasn't disappointed.

He and Tucker were currently heading towards the arcade, a regular haunt of theirs. Danny had a feeling he'd be spending a lot of time there over the next week.

The Mansons were quite happy with a week to themselves, since Samantha was taking off on a road trip with her two best friends, and Grandma would be spending time at a resort and spa in Switzerland. It had been a while since the two had had a romantic get away, and complete isolation suited them just fine.

Author's Note: First chapter of a multi chapter fic. Will feature the main peeps. Reviews make me oh so happy, so...please take the time! &&

Also...although I changed the story summary, still thanks to Cassie for the previous description!