Disclaimer: I do not own Danny Phantom
Danny sat hidden on the rooftops above, hunched into a foetal position as he drew his legs closer to his chest, unable to tear his gaze away from the the interior of Sam's room as he observed her through the open window. The object of his affections had thrown herself on the bed, as though willing the sheets to swallow her. Danny had already tried pretending that he wasn't the source of her current anguish as she lay tangled in her lavender sheets, her head buried beneath a pillow.
At least her sobbing seemed to have subdued. Danny wasn't sure how much more of Sam's crying he could bear. Yet, he felt strangely obliged to remain here, and suffer the guilt of the tears that he had caused.
The ghost hunter's fingers furled into twin fists, as he found himself overwhelmed with the sudden desire to punch something. This was not the way he had wanted to end things. He should have left the moment he disappeared from her sight; that had been his initial plan. However, a strange sense of honour had insisted that he ensured that Sam was alright before he left for his reconnaissance mission. It was the wisest course of action; Danny was certain he would have been haunted with thoughts of his crush all night otherwise.
There was nothing more he could do for her. He had already caused her enough distress as it was. Danny knew that he could not be arrogant enough to exact that he had ruined her life, but he supposed that he could easily claimed to have ruined Sam's year. She'd be better off without him. The less his crush was involved with Phantom, the less chance there was of her getting hurt.
Danny had done what he had came to do, and there was no point in lingering like some lovesick little girl. Duty called. The ghost hunter rose to his feet, leaping into the night air.
Teleporting to the exterior of Fenton works, Danny allowed himself a deep breath, preparing himself. He had to stop thinking about Sam, she wasn't important; not when compared to this. This assignment was what his entire mission came down to, and he was determined to make his mentor proud.
The agent released a hesitant spark of ecto energy at the building below, wary of the presence of a ghost shield. His luck seemed to be changing for the better. To his mild surprise, the Guys in White had yet to reinstall the ghost shield from his previously self administered reconnaissance mission. Or were the fools so arrogant that they had decided to forgo the use of a ghost shield on their headquarters? Knowing the incompetence of the Guys in White, anything was conceivable. Danny snorted, as he regarded their security cameras with derision.
It was best to get this over and done with as soon as possible. The ghost hunter no longer saw any reason to linger in the town. Danny found himself overcome by an urge to leave the sheltered bubble of Amity Park, to escape the pathetic microcosm that had become his home for the past few months. He was quickly growing soft, and he knew it. If Phantom didn't return to Dalv Enterprises now, Danny wasn't sure if he would ever be able to bring himself to.
The agent shook his head to clear it, frustrated with himself. This was hardly the appropriate moment for idle musings. All he had to do was complete this assignment, and he would finally be allowed to return home.
Maintaining his invisibility and intangibility, Danny phased through the once familiar architecture, allowing himself to sink through the floor. Vlad's protégé tapped the surveillance device located on his collarbone for reassurance. So far, so good. He had yet to run into any unpleasant situations.
Abruptly, he staggered, as the halfa found himself gripped by blind panic as he raised a white gloved hand to his forehead. Why was he suddenly so weak? Danny hissed in alarm, his stealth abilities failing as he felt himself flicker into visibility. They could see him, the ghost hunter realised, as body ignored all cries of protests to become invisible against his better judgement.
His vision grew blurry as large, bulky figures clad in white suits surrounded him, closing in for the kill, as Danny struggled to fight down intermittent waves of mounting despair. Amidst an impossibly mind numbing brightness, the Guys in White seemed to grow, spinning, into four walls of solid white out of which Danny could not escape, no matter in which direction he stumbled, in pathetic attempts to fly.
Danny froze, a chill freezing the very blood in his veins as he felt his consciousness slowly ebbing away, despite his efforts to stay awake. Somehow, the Guys in White had known that he was coming. And worse, they had been ready; waiting for him as he blithely played right into their hands.
Sam scowled, as she violently scrubbed a forearm against her eyes in an attempt to quell the flow of tears. Hadn't she told herself that Phantom and Danny were not worth it? If they had chosen to leave, then let them leave. It was their loss, Sam told herself fiercely. She was better off without either of them. Phantom had knowingly led her on, only to let her down when he abruptly realised the consequences of pursuing her. As an inhabitant of Amity Park, She would be the victim of ghost attacks, whether she was in a relationship with Phantom or not. The Goth subjected her tear stained pillow to a violent jab. No matter how she attempted to warp her logic, Sam could not figure out how Phantom had thought that refusing to be involved with her was going to keep her out of danger. It was the most sorry excuse Sam had ever heard. She should have trusted her initial instincts; Phantom was a jerk.
And Danny Fenton hadn't even had the guts to make a move. At least Phantom had made his intentions known, even if they had been for all the wrong reasons. Danny must've been aware that she liked him, no one was that clueless. And there was no way that Valerie wouldn't have passed the message on, the pair seemed to tell each other everything. Phantom had admitted that the main reason that Danny had agreed to leave Amity Park was due to fear of how she and Tucker would perceive him after the accident. Sam couldn't help but wonder; if she had told Danny, would he have left this evening?
Although she and Valerie had never been particularly close, Sam could not quell the sudden urge to visit her, and have a heart to heart discussion with Danny's best friend. Sam was desperate to find out what Danny had chosen to share with her. At the very least, Valerie would be able to provide her with a means of contacting Danny at Wisconsin.
If Valerie could be pressed to provide answers, even better. Danny and Phantom's goodbyes had been unsatisfactory to say the least. At least Phantom had had the guts to tell her she was leaving. Sam flushed scarlet, mortified as she recalled the outcome of her previous attempt to raid Danny's hotel room for clues regarding his secrets. The tiny apartment that Valerie Gray shared with her father would be a lot easier to search, especially when compared with Danny's massive suite.
Sam paused, reluctant to impose her presence on Danny's best friend. She knew Valerie was forced to work two jobs to help keep her family afloat, and the last thing she probably wanted was Sam barging in right now, demanding answers after a long day at work. But Danny owed her an explanation, as did Phantom. And right now, Sam didn't care if Valerie would have to suffer her company because of it. It was nearly impossible to get answers out of either her or Danny normally, but perhaps fatigue would have loosened Valerie Gray's tongue.
Determination renewed, Sam reached for the phone on her bedside table and dialed for the Gray household.
"Hey Sam," Valerie greeted, surprise evident as she picked up the receiver. "How you holding up?"
"I'm fine," The Goth replied, willing herself not to sniff as she endeavored not to reveal the remaining traces of her blocked nose. She didn't feel comfortable allowing Valerie to know that she had been crying. "Is he okay?" There was no need to elaborate on who 'he' was.
"Circumstances considered, he's not doing too badly," the ghost hunter shrugged. "But he's got a lot on his mind right now. I think you should wait for him to call you."
"Can I come over?" Sam shifted in her seat. "I think we need to discuss Danny." Would Danny's best friend suspect her motives?
"I'm not sure now is the best time," Valerie yelped, stubbing her toe on her jet sled. "I've had a really busy day at work. Plus, we've got that essay from Lancer-"
"I know," Sam interrupted, fervently hoping that Valerie wouldn't see through her bluff. "About you, about Phantom, about everything."
"But how-?" Valerie started, her query followed by an audible groan. "Danny cracked and told you everything, didn't he? That idiot."
"Yeah," Sam chuckled, although it sounded far more like nervous laughter to her ears.
"Could he be any more unprofessional?" Valerie sighed. "No offense Sam, but civilians weren't meant to know why Danny was really at Amity."
"But you know, don't you?" Sam pressed.
"Not specifically," Valerie admitted. "His assignment has nothing to do with me."
Sam's mind reeled. So her hunch had been correct. Danny really was a professional ghost hunter. But why would Vlad Masters assign his heir a mission, only to withdraw him halfway through? It didn't seem to make any sense. From the way Danny had handled the ghost assault on their school, he was definitely an experienced fighter. If Danny was being withdrawn from his mission, Sam shuddered to imagine the severity of the task.
But where did all this leave Valerie Gray?
"Vlad Masters sent him, didn't he?" the Goth queried.
"Before I answer any more of your questions, how do I know that I can trust you? You could be bluffing," Danny's best friend challenged. "You and Tucker have always been too inquisitive for your own good."
"I'm not doing this for my sake," Sam scowled. "I'm doing this for Danny's. Tucker and I deserve some ans-"
"How much do you actually know?" Valerie interrupted coldly. "This isn't a game, Sam."
"Danny and Phantom are the same person," Sam took a stab in the dark, wincing as the words left her mouth. The statement had been purely instinctual, she didn't know why she had said that. Yet, Sam's intuition was rewarded when she heard a sharp intake of breath at the other end of the phone line as both parties said nothing, stunned into silence by the revelation.
Sam's world suddenly started to make sense, as her mind reeled with the implications of her newly acquired knowledge. All this time, she and Tucker had been struggling to put together the ill fitting pieces of two different puzzles, when both objects of their inquiry were the same person. This was the reason Danny was never around during a ghost attack, always returning with all manner of strange injuries. Now that she thought about it, everything seemed so obvious. Perhaps deep down, she had always known.
Sam shuddered, as she remembered the unbridled rage with which Danny had attacked Dash earlier that day. If Danny and Phantom truly were the same person, then Danny had not been overshadowed. The chilling, murderous intent present in the ethereal green of Danny's eyes as he had assaulted Dash had not been that of a maleficent ghost's. It had been Danny's.
This certainly explained why the Phantom always seemed to remind her of Danny, especially how she had managed to mistake, or with hindsight, correctly identify, Phantom's voice for Danny's earlier that evening. Danny lacked the ghost hunter's cocky demeanor, but Sam had always noticed the subtle similarities in the pair's behavior.
The Goth remembered previously thinking that the pair could have been twins, but the fact that Phantom's eyes and hair were a different colour from Danny's had always stopped her from making the appropriate connection between them. Sam shook her head, unable to believe her own stupidity. If the organisation that Danny worked for was capable of making him levitate, or shoot spectral energy from his fingertips, creating a hologram to disguise his eyes and hair would be a farce.
She frowned, considering both Danny and Phantom, they couldn't possibly be the same person; the pair were polar opposites. Was Phantom's arrogance a side effect of his battle suit, or was Danny willingly allowing his alias to display a different side to his personality? Which lead Sam to the fundamental question. Who was Danny Fenton? At the moment, it seemed to Sam that he was in the middle of an identity crisis.
Sam understood that her crush had not been permitted to reveal the identity his alter ego to her. From the sounds of it, the organisation holding Danny and the Red Hunter in their employ did not tolerate failure. Danny confiding in her would not have gone down well with them. But why Danny refused to approach her as himself, she would never know. Sam faltered; Danny liked her, didn't he?
Phantom's intentions regarding her had always been clear. Danny's, however, had never been. At least with Phantom she had always known that he was interested. Danny never failed to leave her hopelessly confused. She had been forced to deal with his sporadic bouts of cluelessness every time they were in close contact, or when Tucker made a particularly lewd comment. Sam groaned, burying her face in her pillow in embarrassment, as she recalled the incident when she had him pinned to the floor of his hotel room. Their mutual attraction had been more than obvious, but Danny had never made a move.
Sam glowered, already thinking of choice words to force down Danny's throat on their next meeting. The pair were the cause of her heart doing back flips for the past few months, only for her to realise that they were one and the same, that the cause of all Sam's previous anguish at her inability to choose between the two had been nothing but a waste of time.
She had previously decided that Phantom simply was not healthy for her sanity, a sentiment that she now extended to include Danny. If she ever saw that boy again, god help her, she would kill him.
Sam's thoughts snapped back to Valerie, and the constant banter that Danny seemed to share with her. Perhaps her jealousy had truly been unfounded. All this time, Danny's secrecy with Valerie was for the preservation of the identity of his alter ego. But why had Danny told his best friend, but not her?
Then, it came to her. Danny or Phantom both always seemed to be coupled with a female, who always seemed to be the object of her affection's closest confidant. Danny had Valerie Gray, and Phantom had the Red Hunter. Or as he so affectionately termed her, Red. Given that Valerie was fully aware of his secret...
There could only be one explanation for all of this. If Danny and Phantom had been revealed to be the same person, it could only mean-
"And you're the Red Hunter," Sam breathed, taking her realisation a step further.
The revelation was followed by a second period of augmented silence. Sam chewed her lower lip, doubt beginning to cloud her mind. She shouldn't have been so specific; Valerie probably thought she was an idiot with an over active imagination. Yet, it all seemed to fit. It definitely explained why Valerie never seemed to be around during a ghost attack. The fact that she was a ninth degree black belt seemed to agree with Sam's hunch. It was no wonder that Danny chose to confide in Valerie; his best friend was probably the only one who truly understood him, and the difficulties of leading a double life under the employ of the government.
"This phone line isn't secure," Valerie finally managed out. "Maybe it's best you come over after all."
Sam raised an eyebrow. This certainly explained why Danny, Phantom, Valerie and the Red Hunter all seemed to be familiar with each other. They weren't four different people; just two. Sam shook her head, mentally exhausted. At this point, she wouldn't be surprised if she found out that Danny and Valerie were both the same person. If Valerie was concerned about their conversation being bugged, just how deep in were the ghost hunters?
"I'll be right there," Sam affirmed, hanging up.
'The light,' Danny growled as he returned to consciousness, exhaling sharply as he averted his vision from the blinding source of his discomfort. 'Make it stop.' The agent's eyelids seemed to be made of tissue, incapable of blocking out any of the room's excessive brightness no matter how tightly he clenched them shut. The ghost hunter had to admit that if his captors' intent had been to disorientate him, they had definitely succeeded; he couldn't see anything beyond the light. His ghost sense might still be functioning, but it was useless when his adversaries were human.
The agent cursed, as he noticed that he had been stripped of his equipment, his stealth suit instead being replaced by simple, baggy white cotton. The morons probably hadn't been able to figure out where his surveillance devices were located on his suit. Chances were, Vlad most likely wasn't aware of his plight. Nor did Danny have any methods of corresponding with his mentor, having been rid of his communicator. Even if he did manage to escape, he had already failed his mission.
Yet, he had other abilities at his disposal. They had clearly underestimated him if they did not expect him to simply wrench his way out of his bindings. There was no way mere metal could hold him down, no matter how it had been alloyed. Phantom smirked, as he waited for the familiar energy to begin forming at his fingertips.
Danny would have doubled over in pain if not for his bindings, his bellow of anguish sounded foreign even to his own ears as the very spectral energy in his being seemed to backfire on him, destroying himself from the inside out. God, it hurt. Never before had he been on the receiving end of one of his own attacks, nor had he ever intended to be.
It was not until that single, heart stopping moment that beyond the cloud of his own confusion as his still hazy thoughts caught up with the severity of his situation, Danny realised that none of his powers seemed to be functioning. He could feel them, rippling below the surface of his skin, waiting to be called upon, but they seemed to be blocked; no matter how hard he tried to access his abilities, he couldn't seem to reach them. Any attempt only seemed to result in more pain.
The halfa snarled, trashing violently as he attempted to muscle his way out of his shackles by sheer brute force, his stomach growing heavy with dread. What had the Guys in White done to him?
"Agent Phantom," a voice drawled, its speaker stepping out of the shadows. "We were expecting you."
The ghost hunter's head snapped upwards at the sound of the unexpected company, his vision swimming.
"What do you want with me?" Danny managed out through clenched teeth, his sight slowly adapting to the brightness as he struggled to focus on the countenance of his captor. His bonds were nothing more than mere metal. With sufficient exertion, he would be free.
"Don't flatter yourself, boy," the Guy in White stated dryly. "What we really want is Vlad Masters."
Danny started, hearing a pair of heavy footsteps approach, followed closely by the sound of wheels skidding on the cold, metal floor.
"Is this the boy, Agent O?" one of the newcomers questioned, remaining in the shadows. His tone was arrogant, imperious. But unlike Vlad's, the stranger's voice held no charisma. The sound made Danny's hackles rise. Was this the ringleader who masterminded his capture? There was no way the Guys in White could have come up with the plans themselves. The man in the wheelchair remained silent, but Danny shifted uncomfortably under his gaze, all too aware that he was being studied as though he was nothing more than a piece of meat.
"I assure you sir, Phantom is well contained. He has no conceivable means of escape," the Guy in White saluted, his back stiffening.
"Show yourself, coward," Danny growled, his eyes burnished green. "What are you afraid of?"
"Afraid, boy?" Caleb Jones repeated smugly, stepping into the light. "All your freakish powers have been rendered useless."
"You traitor," Danny snarled, his voice laced with venom as he lunged forward, in an attempt to attack the spymaster. He felt the groan of the multitude of shackles binding him as they distorted, but refused to break, ignoring the searing pain from his left shoulder blade. Could he even dislocate bones whilst in ghost form? Danny's stomach acid seemed to be curdling, and he was almost certain that he was going to be sick. 'No,' he gasped. 'I'm not giving him the satisfaction of seeing me weak.'
This mission, everything he had been forced to go through in the past few months had been nothing more than a set up. He had been sent to Amity Park for no reason other than to die. Vlad. Danny shook his head, clearing it as he attempted to claw his way out of this mounting pit of despair. He had to warn Vlad. The ghost hunter would never forgive himself if he was the death of his mentor.
"We injected you with with heavy shots of ectoranium during your last little recon mission," Caleb Jones taunted. "Did you and Vlad Masters really presume that you had gotten away scott free?"
"You're lying," Danny ground out. "There's no way it would've worked. Ectoranium would've affected me the moment it was injected into my bloodstream."
"Here's a hint," the Guy in White smirked, lowering his shades. "What do you think these are for?"
The ghost hunter froze, the simple answer occurring to him. UV radiation. It would be difficult, but not impossible with a suitable catalyst, to persuade ectoranium to react with other elements, presumably fluorine or another of the halogens, stabilised with titanium. His abilities would not be affected until the UV light catalysed the breakdown of the ectoranium compound in his blood, leaving him practically helpless at the moment of his captors' choice. The Guys in White must have stationed sources all over their headquarters.
Phantom remained silent, despite the fact that the revelation had dawned on him. As his mentor had always told him, information was power.
"Must we spell it out for you?" Caleb Jones mocked. "Vlad Masters always claimed you were intelligent."
Danny ignored him, his mind spinning as it worked on overdrive. Naturally, such a compound would have to form a significantly large lattice in order to be stable, rendering it impossible to be filtered out of his bloodstream until triggered with intense radiation of the appropriate wavelength; the metal's ectoplasmic properties would allow it to remain within him even when he went ghost. Danny cursed himself under his breath. Despite Vlad's warnings of caution, he had still ended up walking into an elaborate trap.
It was best not to let on that he had figured it out. At the moment, Danny's best chance of escape was the hope that they would underestimate him, the same manner in which he had underestimated them. Why hadn't he heeded his mentor's advice? The ghost hunter fiercely berated himself. From this moment, he would do things Vlad's way. Cold, calculating, collected.
"What have you done to me?" Phantom snarled, face twisted into a mask of fury. He refused to die. Not here. Not by the hand of this traitorous bastard.
"We've already told you. Figure it out," Caleb Jones sneered. "On second thought, don't bother. Because you'll be dead within the hour."
"What makes you so sure?" Danny roared, or at least attempted to, as the ghostly wail died at the back of his throat. The ghost hunter glared, as the pathetic mewl escaped his lips. He refused to be reduced to this. All manner of calm could be damned. Let him rage at the spymaster first.
"Stop your struggling," Caleb Jones commented dryly, as though Danny's predicament amused him. "Your bonds are made from an alloy of steel and ectoranium. There is no conceivable way that you could break free, even if you didn't have ectoranium flowing through your veins."
"You're quite a fan of ectoranium, aren't you?" Danny spat. "Did your creativity die and go to hell?"
"Naturally," the traitor replied. "It provides us with a means of restraining monsters like you. Government funding does miraculous things."
"I'm human," the halfa insisted, subjecting Caleb Jones to a glare of glacial standards. "Which is a lot more than I can say for you."
"Is this the caliber of agents from Dalv Enterprises?" the Guy in White scorned. "I expected more."
"Stop underestimating me, you fucking hypocrites!" Danny yelled. "You claim to protect the town and its citizens, when it's your ghost portal that's the source of all Amity's spectral activity in the first place. Your ignorance will be the destruction of Amity Park."
"Have you any idea what he's talking about?" Caleb Jones questioned the Guy in White, his interest piqued.
"The boy is raving," Agent O replied, disgust evident on his features. "Why would we allow monsters to rampage the town?"
"I do not believe the accusation is groundless, Mister Jones," the middle aged man in the wheelchair spoke for the first time, his voice quiet. "After all, this building used to be his home."
Danny blinked, favouring Caleb Jone's subordinate with his full attention. "You believe me?"
"Perhaps," the CIA's deputy conceded, advancing towards Danny. "Where is this portal supposedly located?"
"In the disused basement," Danny informed, his mood rapidly lifting. He could extradite the Guys in White yet. "A wall has been built in front of it since these morons," he paused, favouring Agent O with a dirty look. "Obviously had no idea how to use it."
"Do not succumb to his lies, Mister Freeman," the spymaster admonished. "The boy will do anything to weasel out of his fate."
"Phantom is half ghost," the Guy in White added fiercely. "He can never be trusted."
"And you're nothing more than an ignorant prick," the ghost hunter snarled, before turning his attention back to the man in the wheelchair. "You have to believe me."
"We no longer have any reason to be here," Caleb Jones cut in coldly, turning to leave. "The brat isn't worth our time."
Danny bit his lower lip as he considered his situation, desperation driving him on. It was imperative that Vlad Masters was warned, his life was of a higher value than Phantom's own. What if he could negotiate the terms of his release? No, the halfa's eyes narrowed. He had nothing to offer the Guys in White, even if he were to willingly allow them to experiment on him. Seeing as he was being held captive, the organisation was already capable of doing whatever they pleased with him, research included.
In order to make negotiating his release a serious option, Danny knew he would have to threaten the captors with something of value to them. The underlying problem was, he had nothing, not even information. Vlad, ignorant of their betrayal, freely shared whatever knowledge he accumulated with the rest of the CIA. Kept within the bounds of his confinement, Danny knew his options were severely limited.
A sudden, morbid thought occurred to Danny, as he recalled his recent discussion with his mentor. But what if he could threaten the safety of one of their number?
Of the trio, Freeman was easily the most vulnerable. He was also the closest to Danny, having wheeled himself forward to strike up conversation with the ghost hunter over the existence of the Fenton ghost portal. Danny could be upon him before the others had any time to react.
Danny grimaced, balking at the thought of hurting another human being. But as Vlad had said, there was a fundamental deviation between attacking in anger and the cold indifference of calculated murder, a difference he had yet to learn. But the ghost hunter knew that if he didn't start learning fast, he wasn't going to survive this encounter.
Desperate circumstances called for desperate measures. After all, the spymaster's deputy was of no further use to Danny. Caleb Jones clearly wasn't about to allow Freeman to launch an inquiry into the matter. He had to escape. There was no one else to warn Vlad.
The thought of his benefactor filled Danny with icy resolve. Was he capable of murder? There was no time like the present to find out.
Gathering the remaining vestiges of his strength, the ghost hunter lunged forward, snatching Caleb Jone's subordinate out of his wheelchair as though he was nothing more than a rag doll that Danny had chosen to grip by the throat.
"Release me, or I'll kill him," Phantom threatened, his forearm locked under the handicapped man's jaw. "I don't need my powers to be able to do this."
"Harm my deputy, and I will give the word for Valerie Gray to be subdued," Caleb Jones stated calmly, unaffected.
"I'm relatively unknown. No one will notice if I go missing," Danny snarled. "But the Red Hunter is a different matter. Dispose of her, and the public will know that you had a hand in it."
"We could easily forge footage concerning her retirement."
"Vlad will protect her," Phantom insisted fiercely. "You'll never get past him. Now release me."
"If your faith in Vlad Masters is absolute, then do it," Caleb Jones smirked, as though issuing a challenge for Phantom to end his deputy's life. "Let us see how well Vlad Masters has trained you."
Danny growled, tightening his grip around the CIA's deputy head's neck. It would be so easy just to put an end to his existence. He was so vulnerable, so weak. No matter how fast he tried to crawl away, Phantom would always manage to outrun him, with or without his powers of flight. The rogue agent pursed his lips, dark rage still evident in his gaze. Never before had Danny had such control over another individual's life.
He faltered, glancing momentarily at the face of his victim. All the man had tried to do was help; he did not deserve death. If this is what it all came down to, Danny knew he would rather he was killed than be forced to take another's life. Except his failure to warn Vlad would ultimately lead to his mentor's destruction.
Ethan Freeman did not appear to be displaying any fear, despite the circumstances. In fact, all he could do was consider the irony of the situation; that he was about to be murdered by the protégé of the man who had saved his life in the field, decades ago.
'I can't kill him,' Danny started as he was hit with the bitter realisation that sent him reeling. 'I can't kill anyone. Vlad was right.'
The rogue agent gently released his victim, supporting his efforts to stand. Danny favoured him with an apologetic look, regret evident through his own grievances.
"I thought so," Caleb Jones scorned in disgust, turning on his heels. "You're weak. Just like your benefactor."
The spymaster's exit was followed by the Guy in White, his briskness reminiscent to Danny of a dog heeling its master. Which left Danny painfully alone with the man he had just attempted to murder.
"I'm sorry," Danny offered, as the man helped himself back into his wheelchair.
"Do not apologise," He replied stiffly. "You are not the only one who holds some loyalty towards Vlad Masters."
"Then why are you doing this?" the rogue agent whispered. "He's going to kill Vlad."
"For the same reason that you obey Vlad Master's orders to the letter," Ethan Freeman replied. "Except that I have no choice in the matter. When I made my decision to serve god and country all those years ago, I never thought it would come to this. If you manage to escape from this place, I hope that you do not make the same mistakes I did."
"Help me escape," Danny implored. "I'm the only one who can stop this from happening."
"I am afraid you are asking the impossible. Neither can I warn Vlad Masters, should you request it," Caleb Jone's deputy sighed. "I am bound by duty."
"As am I," Danny's green eyes flared. "You are either with me or against me."
"I cannot answer that question," Ethan Freeman wheeled himself a hundred and eighty degrees, turning to leave. "But I will suggest you ponder this: the decomposition of the drug can be quickened. You just need to figure out how."
With those few words of advice, Ethan freeman departed from the ghost hunter's confinement, leaving Danny wondering how he had ever regarded the deputy spymaster with pity.
How had he managed to get himself into this mess? Earlier that day, he had been resolute concerning his commitment to the higher authorities, even breaking Sam's heart in an attempt to do what he thought was their bidding. Doing so had only resulted in their betrayal. But now, none of this mattered. From this moment on, he would fight for no purpose other than those he stood for.
He would escape. He had to. There was no other alternative as to how he would warn Vlad and protect Valerie. The only question was how.
"How was the mission, Daniel?" Vlad queried, neglecting to raise his eyes to the communicator screen as he sorted his affairs, choosing instead to direct his attention towards his well deserved cup of tea, which steamed invitingly. His apprentice had certainly taken his time.
"I don't believe Daniel Fenton is in a position to answer you right now," an unexpected voice replied dryly, sadism evident.
Vlad could not subdue the icy feeling of unsurmountable dread, as he raised his head for the first time to regard the traitor. The veteran spy had never liked the spymaster, but he would have thought him above the filthy act of betrayal. This was far beyond the violent disagreements of inter-departmental politics.
"What have you done to my apprentice?" the veteran spy demanded, his eyes flaring a deathly crimson that would have gravely intimidated most men. It was unfortunate that his protégé's captor was not of their number.
If the coward had a problem with him, the conflict should have been settled between them, rather than dragging Daniel into the matter. If his apprentice failed to emerge from this encounter unscathed, Vlad knew he would never forgive himself.
The screen flickered; Caleb Jone's smug countenance was abruptly replaced by muted footage of Daniel, green eyes blazing in fury as he thrashed against his bindings.
"Danny!" Vlad roared as he transformed, fear for his protégé evident.
"As you can clearly see, Masters, we have your apprentice," the spymaster's smile was cold, and Vlad could not suppress a stab of revulsion as his thin lips twitched upwards. "One false move on your part, and Phantom will be dead. If you hope to ever see him again, you will do exactly as I say."
Author's Notes: Dun dun dun! Please don't kill me! -hides- I'm sorry this update took as long as it did, but hopefully you enjoyed it nonetheless. I'm not surprised that interest in this story seems to be fizzling. I take so long to update, people have probably completely forgotten about Metanoia. But I'm going to strive to finish this by its one year anniversary.
Many thanks to: Koccinelle, dannyfan101, crazyEgyptianSphnx, vladimir's disease, Raidon Phantom, cariadiorarua, uula, EmeraldCalling, Twilight-Phantom66, Alchemistress, Ally666, snekochan, windtear, Secret Spy Guy, CharmedNightSkye, b4k4 ch4n, Sasia93 and The Big Red Fish for their awesome reviews. I wouldn't have updated if they hadn't managed to convince me that people are still actually interested in this fic:D
dannyfan101: No, I don't have deviant art, unfortunately:( What are these errors you've spotted?
Anathema's Abode readers, I have a pleasant surprise for you. I'm actually writing chapter 5! Which is a first, for me, since no one's yet had to nag me with PMs.
As always, please review. I'd love to hear the good, the bad and the ugly from my wonderful readers!
Hugs and kisses