Hi, everyone! This is my second Danny Phantom fanfiction, and it will be significantly shorter than the first one. I think. XD;; Hopefully, it will also be less confusing.
I wanted to play with the 'abuse' cliché, so here we go. Also, DxS! Parody! Hospital fear! Threat of discovery! And of course, Vlad Masters! What more could you ask for? XD
Part 1: Rising Tempers
Jack Fenton was not a cruel, unkind, or uncaring man. A little stupid, to be sure – but only as a practical matter. His IQ was above normal, and his B- average in school was likely due to his inability to provide a satisfactory essay on anything except his passion – ghosts.
So Danny was completely mystified by what had happened: mystified, and frightened.
He was only sticking it out because he had to figure out what was wrong.
Maddie had been invited on a ghost-hunting trip in Asia, and wouldn't be back for six months. (She'd given the second six months of the tour to Jack, much to the dismay of the other hunters. Danny personally didn't think they'd find much of anything, anyway, unless there was another Ghost Portal out in Asia somewhere.) She'd called two days earlier to tell Danny and Jack that she was about to descend into the wild jungles of Thailand and not to expect her calls for a month. As for Jazz … anyone would agree she was a genius, so no one had blamed her when she left for her senior year, invited to a gifted school in Pleasantville some 300 miles away in Washington State. Danny had been thrilled on her behalf, although sorry to lose a capable ghost-hunting partner. However, she was always a phone call away, and Danny had her on speed dial.
One day, his phone disappeared.
Danny was certain he'd left it on the dresser that night, so he got dressed and rushed downstairs. "Dad? I can't find my cell phone," he complained as he dove into the cereal boxes.
"That's because I took it, son," said Jack. "You're racking up too many minutes! You know money's tightened up since we're paying for your sister's room and board," he announced.
Danny blinked, pouring himself a box of Ghostly-O's. He hadn't known that. As far as Danny had ever been able to tell, money was nearly limitless. His parents worked largely off grants from the Guys in White, he guessed, since they were rarely gone except to speak at Ghost Conventions or visit family. "Uh … it is?"
Jack didn't look up from his paper. "Yep. There's gonna be a few changes around here from now on … are we clear?"
Danny nodded slowly, never taking his eyes off his father. As a result, he over-poured the orange juice, spilling it over the countertop. "Ack!"
The newspaper edge dropped, and Jack's eyes fell to the spilled OJ. That suddenly, he was on his feet. "Daniel Fenton, can't you do anything right?"
"Okay, geez, Dad, relax!" Danny shot back as he wiped up the OJ with paper towels, too discombobulated by the put-down to immediately realize that his dad never spoke that way, ever, to anyone – unless they were possibly men he didn't know talking to Maddie. "I'm cleaning it up!"
His dad grunted and turned his attention back to the newspaper.
Danny ate his cereal quickly and quietly, torn between stark horror at the thought that money was tight, shock that Jack had actually mentioned family finances in his presence, and confusion at the fact that Jack was suddenly not a morning person. He must just miss Mom, he reasoned to himself. Maybe this is what Dad was like as bachelor. Picturing his dad single was weird, though, and the thought of him actually courting Danny's mother made him gag, so he dropped that line of thought.
He dashed upstairs to get his backpack and was actually out the door early.
He never saw his dad move from the table.
But it wasn't just that morning that Jack was snappy and irritable. Danny returned from school around the same time as usual (late), and as it happened, he was sporting a Fenton Thermos (currently containing the Box Ghost). "Hello? Da—Dad?"
Jack jumped out from behind the sofa (it was anyone's guess as to how he'd even fit back there) and snatched the Thermos from his hands. "Don't touch those!"
Danny was nonplussed. "U-uh, why shouldn't I—Dad, don't press the release bu—" but it was too late; the Box Ghost burst free with a parting 'Beware!' and shot through the opposite wall.
What was really weird, though, was that Jack didn't go hurtling after the expired deliveryman, shouting 'ghost!' or some variant thereof; he ignored the Ghost entirely.
Something was very, very wrong. "Do you know how many of these things you've been through? We can't keep making you Thermoses! Now, use them responsibly and we'll see about letting you have one again."
Danny mumbled an excuse and sprinted up to his room before he remembered that he didn't have his cell phone any more and couldn't call Sam or Tucker. He stewed for a few minutes, trying to make sense of what had just happened, but he discovered he just couldn't. His father, Jack Fenton, had completely ignored a ghost in favor of berating his son for destroying too many Fenton Thermoses, which he'd always been proud to give in large quantities with hopes that Danny would bring back interesting specimens to tear apart molecule by molecule.
He wanted to call Jazz, but in a pinch Sam would do just fine – she was far smarter than Danny, after all. He debated for a minute, then went ghost and zipped over to her house.
She was, unsurprisingly, in her room, and he knocked on the window obligingly. "Sam?"
Sam looked up, blinked, then came over to the window and opened it for him. "Hey, Danny. Usually you call first," she said, making it almost a question.
Danny shook his head. "No cell phone, remember? Dad confiscated it this morning," he reminded her. "And speaking of Dad …" he explained the strangeness that had occurred that afternoon.
Sam looked thoughtful. "That's really out of character," she agreed. "Maybe he's being overshadowed?"
Danny smacked himself on the forehead for his own stupidity. "Oh, man, that's so obvious, and it didn't even cross my mind," he admitted. When ghosts were overshadowing humans, Danny couldn't always sense them, although he usually could. "Look, sorry to pop in and run, but I really can't be gone from my room too long in case Dad comes up. Thanks for the suggestion."
"Good thing you can just fly over, considering that you can't just call any more," Sam agreed. "The house phone's no good?"
"Not for talking about my dad like this, or ghost stuff, it isn't," Danny sighed. "I'm gonna run."
Sam smiled. "Okay. Don't forget that we have a History test tomorrow," she reminded him.
"Great. One more thing to worry about." Besides only having two more Thermoses before he evidently ran out. He'd have to be extra careful. "Bye, Sam – take it easy!"
"Later," Sam called after him as he zipped away.
But his father wasn't overshadowed.
Danny learned this the hard way.
He flew back to his room, about to change back into Danny Fenton, when he realized that if Jack was being overshadowed by some weird ghost, he really ought to deal with it right away. He floated downstairs in search of his father, and came upon him in the lab.
Before he could even fully get his bearings from phasing through the ceiling, he heard a gunshot and found himself instantly trapped in a net. With an indignant and undignified squawk, Danny slammed into the wall behind him and fell to the ground in a heap, tangled hopelessly in the ghost-proof net.
"Very good, Inviso-Bill," Jack said boomingly, lowering the Fenton Ghost Trapper. "But not good enough!" Danny cringed in anticipation, and got what he was expecting – a severe electrical shock that made him cry out and his back go ramrod straight in pain. He collapsed on his side, panting instinctively as his body twitched involuntarily.
"You're not my d-Jack Fenton," he panted.
"What are you talking about?" Jack looked confused for a moment. "Of course I'm Jack Fenton! And now that I've finally caught you, Inviso-Bill, I'm going to tear you apart, molecule by molecule!"
"Okay, that—" Danny grumbled to himself, "—was the most Dad-like thing you've said all day!" He let out a roar of effort, flinging his arms out as he released an almost unconscious, thin, and largely invisible wave of ectoplasmic energy from every part of his body at once. As with most 'ghost-proof' nets, the material simply couldn't stand up to the sudden assault; the net flew apart.
Danny flew out of the remains and immediately went intangible. Without giving Jack a chance to think or act, he flew at his middle, ensuring he was only solid enough to take any overshadowing ghost out of Jack's body.
But Danny tumbled out the other side of his father alone, somersaulting until he fetched up against the far wall upside-down. "What the ..?"
"I'll not let any ghost possess me!" Jack roared, and this time he was aiming an ectoplasmic gun at Danny's face.
Danny didn't want to stick around long enough to find out exactly what this particular ectoplasmic gun emitted – goo or energy – and he waved a cheeky goodbye, phasing right through the wall behind him.
He nursed his aching body for the next several hours, worked half-heartedly on his homework, and wondered if maybe his father simply had had a change of heart after all.
But the next morning brought on even more unpleasant revelations. He blinked awake to the beeping of his alarm before realizing that his bed was awash with green glow. He panicked momentarily, wondering where he was bleeding from (even though he was human – it had been a long time since he'd seen his own human blood, but not so long since he'd seen himself dripping ectoplasm), before realizing the green glow originated outside his window.
The Ghost Shield was up.
Danny came downstairs that morning determined to tread lightly, but he didn't bother to pour cereal – he just retrieved the orange juice. His appetite was utterly gone for the moment.
Jack was reading the paper again, just like the day before. Since when does Dad read the paper? Danny wondered idly. "Dad?"
"Mm." His father grunted.
"Why is the Ghost Shield up?" Danny asked this slowly, uncertain what to expect from this new, confusing Dad.
His father peered at him over the paper. "Because ghosts are dangerous, son, and we've had far too many in this household! Why, just last night Inviso-Bill was in the lab, trying to possess me! Don't worry, though, I've got everything under control."
I'm not worried about me—although sneaking in and out will be impossible now, thanks a lot – I'm worried about you!Danny wanted to shout at him. Instead, he said, "You're acting funny." Then he smacked himself on the forehead. Smooth, Fenton.
The look his father shot him was so withering and so aloof that Danny found himself utterly speechless. "I wouldn't be worrying about your old man. I'd be worried about myself, considering your grades," he said flatly before turning back to the paper.
Danny gaped openly at his father until he managed to get himself put together enough to even start for school.
"He actually said that?" Tucker gaped.
"For the third time, yeah," Danny groaned. "Shut your mouth, Tuck, I don't want to see your lunch."
"Yeah, ugh. All those misused animals," Sam groaned. She took another bite of salad and sighed. "You're sure he's not possessed?"
Danny picked at his mystery meat, obviously glum. "Not 100, but yeah, pretty sure. Usually barreling through someone's chest without getting any ghosts to come with me is a pretty clear sign," he added, sarcastic.
"No need to bite my head off," Sam reminded him, holding up her hands as if to say 'I'm not touching that one'. "I'm just saying that it's just … well, anyone can change a lot," she pointed out. "But to change that much in two days? It can't be natural."
"Although he does have a point about your grades," Tucker added helpfully.
"Thanks," Danny answered in a dead tone, not in the mood to joke around. Suddenly he grimaced, stiffening. "Oh no … and there's that History test today!"
"Don't tell me you didn't study," Sam said, exasperated.
"I didn't study," Danny monotoned, dropping his forehead on the lunch table.
"Oh, Danny …"
"Okay, I studied a little, but then the Box Ghost came back for seconds and I had to spend the rest of the night just trying to get a chance to sneak downstairs to send him back to the Ghost Zone."
"Well, you've got … twelve minutes and thirty-two seconds," Tucker proclaimed. "Better hit the books, hero!"
Danny groaned aloud again.
Danny was reluctant to have Sam or Tucker over while Jack was acting so weird, but he couldn't get out of the house until he finished his homework either (which was technically always the rule, but now his dad was accidentally enforcing it by having up the ghost shield). Unfortunately, this acted slightly as a Catch-22, since Danny did his homework much faster with Sam especially (but Tuck as well), but he wasn't allowed to see her until it was complete.
He labored aimlessly through his Algebra homework, certain he was getting at least half the questions wrong. His History test had been a disaster, and Danny was relatively sure he'd flunked it. Maybe Mrs. Worthington would let him retake it? He could only hope. It was his only hope.
Of course, the other exciting aspect of putting a Ghost Shield up around a building that contained a Ghost Portal (not the brightest idea, perhaps) was that although Danny could walk in and out in his human form, luckily, regular ghosts had no such option. Which meant they only had one house to haunt.
Skulker, perhaps, would have it no other way.
Danny hiccupped and his breath came out in a puff of mist. He groaned aloud, rubbing his eyes, and automatically looked for the Fenton Thermos. Oh right, he'd hidden it under his—
The blast of energy hit him in the side and took him right out of his chair and into the wall headfirst. "Ow!"
"Very cute, whelp," Skulker growled as he phased in through the floor. "You lock me in your home?"
Danny coughed, transforming into Phantom as he floated up off the floor. "That would be my dad," he shot back, slamming his hands together and sending a shockwave of ectoplasm at Skulker. "Now get away from my homework before you do some real damage--!"
Skulker dodged wildly, having almost no time to do so in Danny's relatively small room, and Danny dove under his bed, scrambling for the Thermos he'd hidden there. Thermos, Thermos--!
His fingers had just closed on it when the bed was overturned. Danny panicked; Skulker grabbed at him, and Danny phased through the floor. "I'll hang your pelt on my bed yet!" Skulker called after him, following.
The crash of the bed was surely audible from downstairs, which meant that Danny had only a few short minutes to defeat Skulker, trap him in a Thermos, and hightail it back to his room in case Jack decided to rush upstairs and find out what had happened. Or rather, so Danny thought; he tumbled into the living room, dodging missiles from Skulker, and barreled right into his father.
"The Ghost Boy!" Jack exclaimed, grabbing for Danny; Danny grabbed back, hurling his father to the floor and pinning him there long enough to put up a shield around them both, destroying the incoming weaponry.
Skulker growled; Danny flung an ectoblast at Skulker, and then yelped as he was flung off his father by a powerful blast from behind him, barely clinging to the Thermos in one hand. "How did you get in here?" Jack roared, pointing a very dangerous-looking green lipstick tube at 'Inviso-Bill'.
"F-from the Ghost Zone, obviously," Danny sputtered, narrowly avoiding a net thrown by Skulker. I can't face off with both of them! Generally, Jack was harmless, but with his new mood his aim had improved. He dropped through the floor again, into the lab, trying to formulate a plan as he uncapped the Thermos. Maybe the Fenton Peeler: yes, that was a good idea. He could strip Skulker of his armor and capture him after—
"Ghosts!" His father was pounding down the stairs even as Skulker dropped through the ceiling. Danny flung himself into a pile of inventions, hoping that his mother hadn't taken the Peeler with her.
"Nowhere to run, whelp!" Skulker called, a grin on his face. "I'd hoped you'd be more challeng-augh!"
"Hah! Take that, Ghost!" Jack cried. "Nobody messes with Jack Fenton!"
Danny emerged from the inventions with the Peeler only to find that Skulker had been plastered to the wall by ectoplasmic goo. Way to go, Dad! You did my job for me! "Great," he panted aloud, before dodging the next blast that came his way. "Gaah! Not me!" he cried.
"I won't stop until I tear you apart!" Jack warned, firing again.
Danny split himself in half and let the blast zip by. "Okay, okay!" he growled, exasperated, chucking the Thermos at his father as hard as he could. It walloped him in the head. "You trap him!"
Jack blinked, his eyes unfocused, and Danny took advantage of the moment to point the Peeler at Skulker, who was still struggling with the goo. A moment later the Peeler went to work, tearing the armor off of the little green creature inside.
Danny chucked the tiny ghost (still screeching about how he was the Ghost Zone's Greatest Hunter) into the Fenton Portal, and before his father had completely recovered, he picked up the Thermos and flew at top speed back to his room.
It took a little arranging (and turning his bed intangible long enough to flip it back over and place it again) before Danny sat back down at his desk, panting a little from the hurried, brief battle before Jack banged the door open. "Where's Inviso-Bill?"
Danny resisted the urge to bang his head on the desk in response to the terrible, terrible nickname for his alter ego. "I-I don't know what you're talking about," he answered instead. "I heard some fighting going on downstairs and thought I should just stay … stay out of the way," he finished lamely.
Jack narrowed his eyes. "He's hiding somewhere in this house … if you find him, tell me immediately!" He disappeared as quickly as he'd come.
Danny took a deep breath and let it out, relieved. This was the closest to normal his father had acted in the last two days, and he hoped it was a sign everything was going to be all right.
"Dude, you are so lucky your dad didn't figure it out," Sam said the next day. "I mean, he saw that Inviso-Bill didn't fly back into the Portal, basically, right? But he wasn't anywhere in the house …"
"I'm really just waiting for him to pull out the Ghost Finder again," Danny answered, sincerely worried. "With the way he's acting, he might just take a guess and hit the mark, and since he's being so … weird … I don't know." He pressed his head against his locker, appreciating how cool the metal was. "He was totally into hunting Skulker and me, though, and that's really normal for him. So maybe things are gonna be okay."
"You can always hope," Sam said, but she sounded doubtful.
Danny was right; he had flunked the History test. And worse yet, the teacher called him up to the desk.
"Danny, I really think you could have done better. You're very bright; you just don't put forth the effort," Mrs. Worthington said, sounding deeply sympathetic.
Danny cringed inwardly. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Worthington," he said, very sincere. "Is there any chance I could make it up?"
The teacher smiled sadly. "I'll allow you to do so, but I'm concerned by your wandering attention in class, and don't think I haven't caught you sleeping behind your book," she chided. Danny went crimson. "I know you probably don't want your parents involved, but I gave your father a call to ask for a parent-teacher conference, to see if there isn't anything we can do to get you motivated."
Danny's heart had lifted at the discovery he was going to be able to make up the grade, but it fell back into the bottom of his shoes when she uttered the words 'parent-teacher conference'. And wait … "Did you say you called my dad already?" he croaked.
"Yes, I called and left a message during lunch," Mrs. Worthington answered. "I know you probably didn't want me to, but …"
Danny wanted to shout at her, demand explanations, but there wasn't anything technically wrong with calling Jack Fenton and asking for a parent-teacher conference. Danny had always been a little afraid of being on the receiving end of Jack's wrath, but he knew his dad loved him before. Now …
The thought of going home left a dark pit at the bottom of his stomach.
Danny pushed open the door carefully, and winced when it creaked shut behind him. He knew he was only delaying the inevitable, but he started to sneak upstairs before he heard a hollered, "Daniel Fenton!"
Danny jumped, lost his balance, and fell down the few steps he'd climbed. "Ow! D-Dad?" He scrambled to his feet.
Jack came out of the kitchen, ominous in his bulk. "What's this I hear about an 'F' in History?"
Danny gulped. "I, u-uh … I flunked a test," he stammered. "I just didn't study hard enough, s-so-"
Jack's huge hands wrapped around Danny's upper arms. "Didn't study hard enough? That's no excuse!" he roared, shaking Danny. "What do you spend all your time doing?"
Danny was rattled by the physicality of being shaken, and he stammered, searching for an excuse. "I-I- we—I was with—"
"Get your priorities straight," Jack barked, shoving Danny backwards hard enough that he stumbled into the wall. "I won't have a failure for a son."
Danny didn't know what hurt worse – his aching arms, or his dad's parting words.