New story! Dedicated and inspired by Galateagirl!This starts out with a lot of foundation-building, so be patient. Yes, I made an OC (or a OGC other ghost character) for this story. I hope you like him. And this really isn't your typical DxS story…no…Galateagirl knows what it is, though -wink-
Oh, yeah—Disclaimer: Danny Phantom is owned by Butch Hartman and all those other people. I don't own anything except my own ideas and maybe my little OGC.
Further disclaimer: This story begins at the end of "Micro Management", but then of course veers off into our fan-fic alternate universe.
Thank you to my beta-reader Nom de Plum, for editing this chapter.
Many ghosts in the Ghost Zone understood that the price for escaping into the world of the living through the Fenton Ghost Portal was a butt kicking and a ride in a thermos, which was a very cramped and uncomfortable one-way ticket back to the Ghost Zone. Most of the ghosts who took that risk were on special assignments from that oaf, Plasmius. A few just felt cocky enough to think they could escape the wrath of the ghost boy. Others were just plain clueless and stubborn. The Fenton Ghost Portal was the quickest and easiest way into the physical world; it was simply staying there which was hard. But there was one ghost who understood that escaping through the portal would take a great deal of planning.
Errol had started out as a lesser ghost. Small and very weak. He used to haunt a small cottage on the edge of a great forest, but when his house was razed to make way for a parking lot, he was left with only two choices: haunt the parking lot, or move into the Ghost Zone until he grew strong enough to escape and find a new haunt.
The Ghost Zone was not a friendly place, especially for a newly-arrived ghost who was used to the comfort of a steady haunting. In the beginning he ended up in one of Skulker's endless menageries, barely escaping becoming an afternoon snack. Skulker regularly siphoned the energies of the lesser ghosts to keep himself strong; Errol's escape was pure luck.
It wasn't a simple task to rise from being a lesser ghost to one who could manifest itself in the physical world. It took a lot of determination on his part and a lot of sneakiness, and a lot of avoiding the unscrupulous minor and major ghosts.
For several months, Errol observed the pattern of comings and goings in the Fenton household. So it was, when Danny was at school and his parents left to run a few errands, that he took the opportunity to escape. Each escape and return without getting caught elevated him from lesser ghost to minor ghost.
Life as a minor ghost was easier; he had less to fear and could actually absorb power from the lesser ghosts, though he chose not to. His biggest problem was that being a minor ghost made his exits through the Fenton Portal a little harder as he was much more easily detected. Once he even had to evade the ghost boy's bumbling father; he learned to be more careful after that.
His hard work paid off. He managed to continually flit under Danny's radar, feeding off the power the people of Amity Park gave him. He was smart enough to not make his presence known, or to become drunk with the promise of freedom. The thing which gave him the most power was love; he spent a lot of time around weddings absorbing love from happy brides and grooms as they started their new lives. He grew stronger and stronger, until at last he became a major ghost; which meant he needed to choose a form.
Errol adopted the form of Cupid. Not the sweet-faced, diapered little cherub of Valentine's Day cards, but a tall fellow in robes; his skin was tinged light blue, his hair blond, hanging in ringlets around his head. Errol's eyes were a nice, pleasant ecto-green; which pleased him, as he had an aversion to the creatures with red eyes. He carried a bow and arrow, formed himself wings and mentally called himself Errol, the Cupid ghost. Yeah, he thought it was stupid, too, but he didn't care; it was a guise he would abandon as soon as he was established in his new home.
His first foray out of the Ghost Zone as a major ghost was automatically detected by Danny Phantom. Errol was sucked into the cramped and vaguely smelly thermos and put right back where he came from. It took several days for him to power up enough to make another attempt. He was out less than an hour before he was caught again. He realized he would need to be smarter, and a little bit faster.
To this end, Errol interviewed several ghosts as they were shipped back to the Ghost Zone by Danny Phantom. Usually, they were too cranky and full of aggression to talk right away, but occasionally one would be vocal—of course, he didn't want to depend too much on the Box Ghost's perception of any situation, so most of that information was discarded.
His lucky break came when a particularly verbose ghost by the name of Technus arrived, a little worse for wear after a typical altercation with Danny Phantom. The frustrated ghost detailed everything for Errol. The ghost boy and his friends; a bond, love. Oh yes, love, he could use love against them.
Errol listened to Technus patiently, not denying that Technus was a master of technology. Agreeing that Technus had every right to try and gain control of all the world's technology. Commiserating with Technus' ultimate failure simply because Danny Phantom seemed to want the world to himself. Errol didn't really care what Danny Phantom wanted. Errol didn't care about ruling the world. All he wanted was to find a nice house and establish a haunting. He was a haunting ghost, not a wandering ghost. He did not wish to stay in the Ghost Zone.
He was not going to make mistakes or missteps. He had a plan and luckily was able to observe Danny in his human form, interacting with his friends.
On this day, Danny was busy trying to climb a rope in the gym at Casper High and Errol was able to stay intangible long enough to observe. He picked out Danny's friends easily. The technophile and the Goth. At first he considered using his powers to ignite a romantic conflagration between the two friends, but he could see that the love they shared was deeply rooted in platonic foundations. He would have to work hard to put them together; it would take more power and time then he wanted to use. And there was too much risk of detection.
Errol was able to observe the sparks of true romantic love that crackled between Danny and the Goth. It was tentative and sweet, this love; bashful and repressed. He smiled at the sweetness of undiscovered love on Danny's part, and the ache of unrequited love on the girl's part. It would be so easy to complete the circuit between the two, thus generating a powerful, forceful sort of love. He could see the potential; it would be a great gift to the ghost boy, to give him a chance at a type of near-perfect, storybook love which everyone, even ghosts, dreamed of. But Errol was not generous, nor inclined to like Danny. He'd commiserated too many times with the bruised and bumped ghosts Danny had defeated. He would not see the ghost boy prosper and benefit from his escape.
Errol smiled as he spotted the new boy in the picture. Tall, muscular, blond and blue-eyed, watching the Goth girl as she effortlessly climbed a rope, touched the white line at the top, then swung down and landed on her feet with a graceful flourish. There was admiration there; it was something to build on. Further investigation revealed a reluctant attraction between the two. Errol knew exactly what he was going to do. He flew swiftly back to the Ghost Zone before his limited power caused him to lose his intangibility. It was time to plan, carefully.
Both Dash and Sam were standing next to and Mrs. Tetslaff as they watched their friends complete their fitness tests.
Dash smiled as the Phys. Ed. teacher handed him his medal, then looked at Sam. "You do realize," Dash said sarcastically, "that this is the last thing we'll ever do together."
Sam didn't even look at Dash when she said, "Count on it." Then she lifted her medal toward the teacher and asked, "Does this thing come in black?"
Errol, who was floating nearby, smiled. Don't count on it, he thought to himself. He waited as patiently as he could for Dash to leave Danny's presence. As soon as he did, Errol made his move.
He was quick, and if Danny had been around, he would have been caught red-handed as he took possession of Dash. The fight for the jock's subconscious was short. Dash didn't know what hit him and wasn't even aware that there was a ghost sharing his body with him; but it's debatable whether that was because Errol did a good job, or only that Dash wasn't exactly the brightest crayon in the box.
Errol practically chuckled to himself as he surveyed Dash's thoughts. It was fortunate that the boy's thoughts were still on Sam. They were a mixture of disdain and admiration, with the tiniest wish that Sam Manson wasn't so weird and didn't hang out with such losers.
It would take patience, but was entirely possible. Errol began to build the thoughts in Dash's remarkably easy to bend mind. He whispered Sam's name until Dash became annoyed with himself and yelled out loud, "Stop thinking about that weirdo."
"Wha?" Kwan said as he looked up from tying his shoes and blinked at Dash. "I wasn't thinking of any weirdoes, Dash."
"Not you," Dash said. He felt like pounding in a locker, or, better yet, shoving a geek in a locker.
"Oh," Kwan said as he caught on. "Who were you thinking about?"
"That stupid dork chick Fenton hangs out with," Dash admitted to Kwan almost miserably. Kwan smirked and Dash looked at him threateningly.
"Why are you thinking about her," Kwan asked as they walked out of the gym together, "when you could be thinking of Paulina?" He gestured to the Latina bombshell as she stood by the door of the gym. She looked at Dash and waved. Dash sighed heavily and shook his head.
"I think I'm just tired or something," Dash said as he walked to his locker to get his books for Lancer's English class. He caught sight of Sam as she stood at her locker laughing and talking to Fenton. Dash had to suppress a growl of jealousy as he watched the two interact, and his first thought was to walk over and slam Fentino into the locker with a satisfying crunch.
"But that wouldn't impress Sam very much," said a little voice in his head. "In fact, beating up on Fenton is the best way to make Sam mad."
Why should I care about making Sam mad? Dash almost asked out loud as he watched her walk down the hall. He barely suppressed a sigh and covered his mouth in shock.
"Because you like her, don't you?" the voice asked. "It's not going to hurt to admit it. No one can read your thoughts. Your secret is safe here."
Yes, Dash replied as he turned and banged his head on the locker. Yes, I like her! Damn it, now leave me alone.
"Uh, Dash?" Kwan asked. "Are you all right?" Dash stood up straight and looked at his friend.
"Shut up!" he said grumpily and pushed Kwan as he grabbed his books and headed to class.
"Dude!" Kwan said. "Save the aggression for the nerds. I don't want to have to pound your face."
Dash smirked as he looked at his friend. "As if you could, Kwan."
Kwan merely shrugged. "Whatever, but you need to snap out of this mood."
"I will," Dash said as he purposefully cast all thoughts of Samantha Manson from his mind; or, at least, he would have, if he had been in complete control of it.
Dash sat in class wistfully watching Sam as she tucked her hair behind her ear and chewed on the end of her pen in thought. She looked up at Lancer, who was lecturing about some boring book by Ernest Hemingway, and Dash quickly looked down at his own nonexistent notes. He waited a moment, then looked out of the corner of his eye and watched as she quickly took notes.
Suddenly she looked up and soft lilac met deep blue. Dash blinked; he had to think fast. He sent her a dirty look and she rolled her eyes then went back to writing. Dash began watching again, his heart aching as it became obvious she was passing notes back and forth between Fenton and Foley. He looked up at Lancer with the intention of ratting them out when a voice stopped him.
"Getting her and her friends in trouble certainly won't endear you to her. You want her. You need to be nice to her friends."
But I don't want her, Dash growled to himself, then put his head on his hand. Why would I want her? Look at her. She's weird. Look at how she dresses. Look at the people she hangs with.
"But you think her sarcastic sense of humor is sexy, don't you?" the voice asked.
Yeah, but… Dash paused at the admission. He looked over at Sam. Okay, yeah, she was weird, she hung out with weird people—but there was just something about her that totally attracted him.
It's her athletic grace, he told the voice. He pondered who the voice was and decided it must be his subconscious. He'd been holding back his crush on Sam for a long time. Crushing on someone who wasn't on the A-list was strictly a no-no, but crushing on someone like Sam was unheard-of.
"It's her independence and her style," the voice pointed out. "You can't hide it anymore. You should ask her out. To the movies. Friday."
Dash shook his head. No way. No. Not gonna happen.
"What are you scared of? Other people's opinions? You rule this school; no one is going to question you," the voice said. Dash looked up at Lancer in desperation, and that is how he sat for the rest of the class, looking scared.
Sam looked down at the note Danny had just placed in front of her. She looked up at Lancer quickly as the note landed then turned and looked at Dash. She frowned then looked down at the note, carefully opening it and hoping Dash wouldn't tell Lancer.
"Why is Dash staring at Sam?" the first line said in Tucker's handwriting.
"Dash is staring at Sam?" Danny had written in his very sloppy, almost illegible script.
"Watch him. He's watching her," Tucker wrote.
"Why is Dash staring at Sam?" Danny wrote.
"Ask Sam," Tucker told Danny.
Danny had written the next line to Sam. "Sam, did you know Dash is staring at you?"
Sam snorted in half laughter then penned, "Yes I am aware of his current interest in me. I think I must have something on my face from lunch. Maybe I look particularly freakish today. Who knows why Dash does anything? Maybe he's thinking about a new way to shove you into my locker."
Sam folded the note then quickly passed it back to Danny. He read it then passed it to Tucker who had to stifle his laughter. The friends passed notes back and forth while Sam sat uncomfortably in Dash's scrutiny of her. She hoped he wasn't planning to do something dreadful to Tucker and Danny through her.
The bell rang and the three friends barreled out of class quickly; unfortunately, Sam was at the end of the queue and Dash stopped her by gently taking her elbow.
"Sam, can I talk to you?" he asked, looking a little scared and uncertain as she turned on him, her eyes full of wrath and ready to fight.
"What?" she asked as she surveyed him with disdain.
Dash was confident. He was scared of nothing. He approached everything with the attitude that he ruled and all should bow to him. "I was wondering," he started, then caught sight of Danny and Tucker waiting in the hall. "If you would go out to the movies with me on Friday."
Sam's jaw dropped open. "What?" she asked in utter shock.
"I'm asking you out," Dash said softly, almost meekly. "Like on a date."
Sam narrowed her eyes. "What is this?" she asked. "Some kind of prank? Are Paulina and Kwan going to jump out now and laugh at me for believing that you would possibly want to ask me out? Not that I think your opinion of me means anything, but, come on, you don't expect me to fall for that trick?"
"Really," Dash said quickly, doing his best to look humble and sincere. "It's not a joke. I haven't even discussed this with Kwan or anything."
Sam shook her head. "I really don't have time for your jokes, Dash. Go play them on someone else." She started to turn around and he stopped her.
"Please," he said. "It took a lot for me to even ask. Can't you like consider it? I mean, I know I'm a jerk sometimes, but since we spent time together working on that fitness thing, I kinda decided I'd like to get to know you better or something. 'Cause, you're not entirely uncool, like I thought. You know?"
She stood there with her arms across her chest and her eyebrows raised, wearing an expression which said that she was in total disbelief at every one of his words.
"I'm sorry, Dash," Sam said almost gently. "I really don't think you and I would get along. Thanks for the offer and everything."
"Can't you just think about it?" Dash asked almost desperately. "Please. Just consider it?"
Sam sighed deeply and shook her head. "It's not going to do any good," she said. "But I'll consider it and tell you no again tomorrow, okay?"
Dash smiled at her reply; see, that was why he liked her. "Yeah," he said almost happily. "I'll look forward to it."
"Yeah," Sam said. "You do that." He watched her walk away, then sat down in an empty desk in the empty class and looked around frantically.
"I can't believe it!" he said out loud. "I just asked creepy Goth girl out! I'm going crazy!" He stood and ran to look for Kwan. What he really needed to do was bash a couple of geeks.
"But not Fenton or Foley," the voice in his head warned, and Dash reluctantly agreed.
"Are you all right?" Danny asked quickly as Sam walked over to where he and Tucker were waiting worriedly.
"Yeah," Sam answered, trying to keep the smile from her face.
"What did he want?" Tucker asked.
"Did he threaten you?" Danny questioned.
Sam cleared her throat and continued to smile as she walked to her locker. Both boys were looking at her expectantly. She put the books she didn't need away then closed the locker.
"Well?" Danny and Tucker asked in frustration.
"He asked me out," Sam finally answered. "On a date. Friday."
"What?" Danny said, almost outraged. Tucker started laughing. "You didn't say yes, did you? You know he's just playing a joke on you, right?"
Sam gave Danny an irritated look. "Yeah, a guy would have to be playing some kind of joke to want to ask me out, because I am like this hideous monster and no one is attracted to me."
Danny shook his head. "I'm not saying that you're not attractive," he said, then blushed slightly. "I'm saying it's Dash. You know, the popular jock, Dash. Why would he ask you out without some ulterior motive?"
"I'm sure he has one," Sam answered. "Which is why I said no. Why would I go out with Dash? He's the antithesis of everything I am."
"You know what they say," Tucker began. "Antitheses attract."
"That's opposites, Foley," Sam corrected. "And I said no. I am not going to go on a date with Dash. Ever." Danny and Tucker looked at each other in relief.
"Good," Danny finally said. "He's definitely up to something. He'd never ask you out unless he was trying to hurt you."
"But what if he really likes me?" Sam asked slyly.
Tucker started laughing some more. "Oh, Sam, that's funny. Like Dash would ever be attracted to you!" He opened his eyes wide as he took in at the fuming mad look on Sam's face.
"I didn't mean that how it sounded," he said quickly.
"Exactly how did you mean it, Foley?" Sam asked in a deadly tone of voice.
Tucker stammered a moment, then looked at Danny for help. "You're on your own on this one, Tuck," he said. "I'm just glad I'm not the one in the path of Sam's wrath for once."
"Well?" Sam asked as she tapped her foot on the floor.
"I mean Dash would never find someone like you attractive," Tucker said then hit his forehead with his hand, aware he was digging himself a deeper hole. "I mean he's a jock and popular and you're Goth and you shun popularity and, like you said, you're opposites."
Sam looked at Tucker for a minute, then at Danny. "Do you see it his way?"
Danny shook his head quickly. "I just think he's up to something. I mean I don't think he'd ask you out on a date out of the blue for no reason…"
"Okay," Sam said angrily. "I'm going to tell him yes. I'll find out what he's up to and if it happens that maybe he really likes me, then it proves to me what huge jerks you both are." Sam stormed away angrily. She had no illusions that Dash could possibly like her; she agreed that he was probably up to no good. But Danny and Tucker's opinions of her hurt. No boy would like her? Yeah, of course. The truth was that Danny would never like her, not as a girl, anyway.
I'm not going to go through with it, she told herself. I mean, I'm not going to punish myself by spending time with that jerk just to spite Danny.
Errol, who had exited Dash after he'd asked Sam out, followed the Goth girl. He had to wait and be patient before he took over part of her mind. She was too close to the ghost boy and any odd behavior on her part would be risking detection. He would approach her tonight. In her dreams.
See, I told you this isn't your typical DxS story. : -) Now review like the wind!