Disclaimer: I do not own Danny Phantom or any of the related characters.
Summary: Vlad has died and left everything to Danny, but he has conditions, lots and lots of conditions
5-4-08: Two years later and I have FINALLY finished editing this story. Nice To be done with it.
It was four in the afternoon, twenty-one year old Danny had just hung up the phone. He sat with a thud, wearing a profoundly shocked expression on his face. He'd just received a call from Vlad's attorney, Mr. Porter. At first, Danny assumed Vlad was suing him, and it had taken a bit of patience and careful repeating on the attorney's part to make Danny, who was in complete disbelief of the situation, understand.
"Mr. Master's is not suing you Mr. Fenton," the attorney explained patiently, his voice full of sadness. "He has passed on."
"Passed on?" Danny asked in confusion as he shoved his hand into his hair. He understood what the attorney was saying, he just couldn't believe it as he cradled the phone to his ear and rubbed the back of his neck.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Fenton," Mr. Porter began in a very gentle, consoling tone. "I assumed you knew."
"Knew what?" Danny questioned, his voice raising slightly in pitch. His mind was racing so fast he couldn't think straight enough to accept what the attorney was trying to convey. The attorney was extremely patient in departing the news to someone who just wasn't able to comprehend what he was being told.
"Mr. Master's passed away last weekend," Mr. Porter answered gently. "I am sorry to be the person to impart the news that you have lost a loved one. I myself have been appointed to carry out his final wishes."
Danny was silent for a moment as he pinched the bridge of his nose. "Final wishes?"
"Yes," Mr. Porter answered with a slight edge of annoyance blooming in his voice. "His last will and testament."
"Are you telling me," Danny began then closed his eyes for a moment. "Are you saying that Vlad Masters is dead?"
Mr. Porter sighed very heavily. "I was trying to put it a little more gently, but yes, Mr. Masters is dead. It was very sudden."
"A-an accident?" Danny asked as his mind was racing with a million questions and he was not at all focused on anything the attorney was telling him.
"Massive coronary," Mr. Porter answered tiredly then finished the call as quickly as possible, promising to fill Danny in on all the details when they met to discuss the terms of Vlad's will. The call ended with Danny still stunned.
He sat on the couch at Fenton Works and just stared up at the ceiling in disbelief. He had been living at home since dropping out of college. His parents Jack and Maddie had fallen into some rough financial waters, and were struggling desperately to make ends meet and to hold on to everything they'd work so hard on for so many years. They were unable to afford a college bill for one child, let alone two.
Danny, in his own self sacrificing heroic way, had taken up the mantle of responsibility for his family. He dropped out of college in his freshman year and worked overtime to help pay Jazz's way through school. He barely had time or energy to fight ghosts, but some how he managed.
"Danny? What's wrong?" Jazz, now twenty-three, asked fearfully as she walked into the living room and found her brother sitting on the couch, bent forward with his head in his hands.
Danny looked up blearily at his sister as she sat beside him. She scanned his face worriedly as she brushed the hair from his face. He looked at her with wide shocked eyes.
"What's wrong?" she queried gently, her eyes full of concern and pain. She was incredibly grateful for everything Danny had done for her. She did her best to wrest as many burdens from his shoulders as possible. She worried about him and felt small, mean and selfish for taking advantage of his generosity.
"I just got a phone call from Vlad's attorney," Danny answered, taking a deep calming breath. "You're not going to believe this…."
Tears filled Jazz's eyes. She took a deep shaky breath and put her hand over her mouth for a moment. "Don't say it, Danny. Please." She closed her eyes and began to visibly shake.
"Don't say what?" Danny asked as he watched his sister, who had grown slightly less self assured in the last few years, begin to panic. He would never have imagined that Jazz would be upset if Vlad died.
"H-he's suing us for something isn't he?" Jazz asked almost hysterically. She stood and walked around the living room, wringing her hands frantically. "We don't have anything to take anymore, Danny!" she practically shrieked. "He's taken almost everything from us! Why won't he leave us alone?"
Danny stood and took his sister by the shoulders. "Jazz," he said calmly as he looked into her fearful gaze. "Vlad isn't suing us."
Jazz sniffled as she wiped the tears from her eyes. "He's not?" she asked softly.
Danny shook his head, then sighed. "No, because he can't. He's dead."
"No!" Jazz gasped as she put her hands back up to her mouth, her eyes going wide with shock.
"Last week," Danny told her, gently. "He has left me something in his will I think,"
"Something in his will?" Jazz asked skeptically. Danny nodded his head. The brother and sister looked at each other for a minute.
"Vlad Masters," Jazz said very slowly. "Is dead?" Danny smiled slightly and nodded his head.
"That psychotic, crazed up fruit loop who has made our lives a living hell, is dead?" Jazz asked again, as the corners of her previously sad mouth, turned up into a shaky smile.
"Yes," Danny answered as a tiny bubble of joy rose up in his chest.
"Hallelujah!" Jazz screamed as she threw her arms around her brother. The two siblings danced around the room giddily, celebrating with great joy the passing of Vlad Masters.
"Where is he buried?" Jazz asked eagerly her eyes bright with something akin to madness, which frightened Danny slightly.
Danny shook his head warily. "I don't know," he answered. "Why?"
"Because I want to dance on his grave!" Jazz cried and Danny laughed and the siblings embraced again.
"Why are you so happy tonight?" Valerie asked pleasantly as she smiled and sat beside Danny on the couch in her apartment. Danny looked at her warily, she'd been trying to talk him into moving in with her for months, but he refused to leave home. His family needed him, and the truth of the matter was, he knew he wouldn't be able to hide his ghostly identity if they lived together. He couldn't reveal his secret to her just yet. Valerie had given up ghost hunting, but she was still ambivalent toward ghosts and Danny Phantom.
Valerie had been very patient with Danny, but she was growing tired of the wait. She was ready to start a life together with him.
They'd been dating for three years, it would have been longer, but Valerie had respectfully, and very carefully, waited for Danny to get over Sam. Even though he denied that he'd ever had a relationship with Sam Manson, Valerie suspected otherwise.
What had caused the break up between the two friends, was something of a mystery to everyone but Danny, Tucker and Sam. For Valerie, it was enough to know that Danny was free and Sam who said she would never return to Amity Park. Valerie was so pleased with the disappearance of her rival, that she never gave her a second thought.
"I have some really good news and something to ask you," Danny told her happily as he took her hand. He looked at Valerie's palm and sighed, for a long time after Sam left, he couldn't even hold Valerie's hand without a twinge of guilt, but now he was over it. He'd moved on. It was time to take the next step.
"Really?" Valerie asked, her lips curling in amusement as she looked into Danny's sparkling blue eyes.
"First things first," Danny said as he moved off the couch and knelt down on one knee.
Valerie's grin widened. "What are you doing?" she asked excitedly.
"Something I wish I could have done a long time ago," Danny answered somberly. He closed his eyes and sighed for a moment, doing everything to let go of the one ghost which haunted him, who he couldn't fight, couldn't be rid of, Sam.
"What?" Valerie questioned shakily then held her breath.
Danny took her hand and asked, "Valerie, will you please do me the honor of becoming my wife?"
"Yes!" Valerie answered without a second thought as she threw her arms around Danny. "Yes! Yes! I thought you'd never ask." Neither did Danny who hugged her back and laughed as he tried to rid himself of the sick feeling which had settled firmly in his stomach.
Tucker looked at the caller I.D. and grimaced, he felt horrible for not wanting to talk to Danny, but nine times out of ten, Danny would bum ten or twenty bucks off of him before the call was over, and it made Tucker feel uncomfortable and somewhat used.
It wasn't as though Tucker begrudged lending, well, no giving Danny money. It was just that, the more Tucker gave him, the less he saw of Danny. Money was driving a wedge into their friendship and Tucker didn't know how to change things. He hated losing the only best friend he had left.
He knew that Danny only asked when he was desperate, when there was no food in the house, or when he didn't have enough money to pay for something Jazz needed for college, which was seldom these days at least. Even so it was hard on them, hard on their friendship. Danny was too overcome with guilt and shame to face Tucker on a level playing field.
Tucker didn't try to keep tabs on how much money he'd given Danny over the past few years, but he kept detailed notes about all his spending, and his records showed that over the last three years Danny had borrowed over five or six thousand dollars. It almost shocked Tucker when he was confronted with the figure. He didn't mind, he would do anything to help, but Danny must have kept a tally and had grown cold toward him. The equality in their friendship had faded and now Tucker was the person who Danny was forced to crawl to when he was in trouble or need.
"Hey," Tucker said as he answered the phone, trying not to sound anything less than pleased to hear from Danny. He felt like a stern stuffy banker though, wretched and uncared for. He missed his friend.
"You're not going to believe this Tuck," Danny said quickly. "I would have called and told you sooner, but I had to tell Val first."
"What? Tucker asked curiously. It was unlike Danny to sound this happy, or this excited. Had he got a raise? Had the creditors erased Jack and Maddie's debts? Tucker's mind raced. He was almost afraid to hear what Danny was going to say. So much bad luck had befallen his best friend in the last few years, that Tucker didn't think he could bare to watch Danny struggle anymore.
"Vlad is dead!" Danny blurted out. "Vlad is dead and I asked Valerie to marry me and she said yes."
"What?" Tucker asked in complete shock. "That's too much to process all at once! I'm not sure if I should say congratulations or offer my condolences. I don't know which emotion would fit with which announcement." Actually, he did know how to place the emotions, but he wasn't about to tell that to Danny.
"You heard me," Danny said happily, obviously about to explode with joy.
"When did he die?" Tucker asked, wanting to steer clear of the subject of Valerie.
"Sometime last week," Danny answered happily. "I'm meeting with is attorney tomorrow to discuss the terms of Vlad's will."
Tucker opened and closed his mouth a few times. "Why would anyone need to discuss Vlad's will with you?"
"I don't know!" Danny answered in exasperation. "All I know is that I have a meeting with Mr. Porter in the morning."
"I advise you not to get your hopes up," Tucker said warningly as his stomach clenched. "Because you know Vlad, he probably has one large evil parting shot to throw at you."
Danny took a deep breath. "Well, I'm trying to be optimistic about all this."
"Just not too optimistic ok?" Tucker warned. He heard Danny sigh on the other end of the line. The lack of balance in their relationship was showing again.
"I'll try, but Tuck this could solve all my problems. I could pay of Mom and Dad's debts and…and maybe go back to school myself.
Tucker closed his eyes at the mention of college. Danny had dropped everything to take care of Jazz's dreams. He had been working so hard that he missed out on his own plans for his future. Danny was stubborn, and it was that trait which lost the other half of their trio, Sam. Tucker had been hurt when she left, but Danny took it the hardest as he fell into a very long, very dark depression that just never managed to lift.
He hoped for Danny's sake, for Jazz's sake and for all the Fentons, that all of this wasn't some cruel trick on Vlad's part. He however, knew better and had very little faith.
Danny sat in Mr. Porter's office, wearing his one and only suit, staring at the nearly bald headed attorney in shock.
"The terms of Mr. Master's will are very specific," Mr. Porter said calmly and slowly. "He wanted the entire bulk of his estate to go to you. All business holdings, all personal effects, everything. There is not one penny or one thread of his estate he hasn't willed to you."
"What is the catch?" Danny asked trying to keep from shaking. The solution to all his problems was right within his grasp, and he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Vlad was trying to screw him over, if only for one last time, from beyond the grave. He and Tucker had talked over the possibilities and Danny had steeled himself for the worse.
"Yes, yes," Mr. Porter said as he shuffled through papers. "There are a few conditions."
Danny closed his eyes. "What are they?" He had been ready for it, but it was hard.
"We'll it's simple really," Mr. Porter answered absently. "You need to get married…."
"Married?" Danny asked in surprise. That wouldn't be too hard he'd already had a fiancée.
Mr. Porter shuffled through papers. "I know it was here," he said to himself as he adjusted his bi-focals. "Yes, yes. You are to marry a girl by the name of Samantha Manson." Mr. Porter looked up at Danny over the glasses perched on his nose.
"Sam?" Danny whispered in disbelief. "He wants me to marry Sam?"
"No," Mr. Porter said as he shook his head. "Samantha. Samantha Manson. The conditions are quite specific. You must marry her within the next two months. Your marriage must be a true marriage in every sense of the word. A counsel will stop by for surprise visits to verify the veracity of your marriage.
You must live together in the mansion in Wisconsin. You will receive 150,000 when proof of your nuptials can be obtained. When you've been married a year, you will receive 500,000 each year for five years. If children have resulted from the union within that time, all assets will become yours fully, otherwise you will inherit them in ten years after the date of your marriage to Miss Manson. Should you divorce at anytime during this period, then all money will cede back to the estate and which you will be required at an interest rate of twenty five percent accrued annually"
"I haven't seen Sam..er..Samantha in over four years," Danny told the attorney calmly. His mind was racing. He didn't know how to find her and heartily suspected that when faced with the question of marrying him, she'd tell him and everyone to go straight to hell.
"Well, perhaps she's married then," Mr. Porter said with a warm smile. "If she's currently married then you are free and clear, you inherit all of Vlad's estate with no conditions."
Danny took a deep breath. "And what if I refuse to follow the conditions?"
Mr. Porter frowned. "Then all of Vlad's estate will revert to the A.G.W." He paused. "Do you know what that stands for?"
"Yeah," Danny said flatly as his stomach sank. "The Association of the Guys in White." It was an organization which was formed by former Men in White. They were dedicated to hunting down and destroying all ghosts, fortunately however; they didn't have the funding to be much of a bother. The problem was, with Vlad's money, the ghost hunters would make his life hell, they'd eventually capture him and his fate would be sealed
The attorney told Danny that Ms. Manson had already been contacted and was on her way back to Amercia. Danny snapped out of his thoughts and looked at Mr. Porter dumbly, forcing the man to sigh heavily and repeat his statement.
"Back to America?" Danny asked in bewilderment. He hadn't seen Sam since their last fight, when she packed up and disappeared without so much as a good bye. He hadn't tried to find her at first, thinking he'd give her some space, but then she was gone without a trace and not even Tucker had heard from her over the years.
"She's been living in France, Paris to be precise, but that's all I know." Mr. Porter told him kindly. Danny nodded his head like he understood.
"Her flight arrives at four twenty tomorrow evening," Mr. Porter said as he handed Danny a pamphlet with flight information as well as legal documents in the event he'd like to have his own attorney to look them over. "You need to pick her up. She's expecting me, but I have some familial business I must attend to."
"This is crazy!" Danny half shrieked as he looked at the paper with Sam's flight information. His heart was thumping painfully in his chest at the mere thought of seeing her again. What would he say to her? What would she say to him? Did she still hate him? He felt tears prickling in his eyes and he blinked them back.
"You can try to contest the will," Mr. Porter suggested. "But Mr. Master's made sure it was iron clad and watertight."
Danny ran his hand through his hair, and wondered how he was going to break the news to Valerie. There was no way he could turn down the money. Jazz needed to get her doctorate. His parents needed to catch up with their bills. 50,000 would go a long way to alleviate their aches and pains, and of course he couldn't let the money go to the former Men in White.
Danny hadn't thought about Sam in a long time. He purposefully tried to not think about her. She'd left him without so much as a good bye. She had given him no reason. One day she was there, the next she was gone, and not even Tucker had known where she went.
"Thank you," Danny said as he shook the attorney's hand, his mind already flying on a plan with Sam.
"I'll be in contact with you on Monday," Mr. Porter said kindly as he watched Danny worriedly. "Bring Ms. Manson with you and we'll begin outlining all the particulars of Vlad's will."
"Thank you," Danny repeated then left the attorney's office and walked to Valerie's car. She sat waiting with a serene smile on her face, and he sighed.
"What did he say?" Valerie asked softly as Danny sat in the passenger seat, then leaned over and kissed his fiancee's cheek.
"Vlad's willed everything to me," Danny told her flatly.
"That's fantastic!" Valerie squealed happily. "You're parents are saved! You can finish college!"
Danny took a deep shaky breath. "But there are conditions," Danny told her. Valerie gave him a worried look.
"What kind of conditions?" She asked softly. Danny shook his head, he figured it would be easier to tell her that he was part ghost than it would to tell her Sam was about to walk back into their lives. He needed to absorb the information first. He needed to decide what he should do. He needed to talk with Jazz and Tucker about revealing his secret to Valerie. He looked at her sadly and she looked back her eyes filled with worry.
"I can't tell you yet," Danny told her gently as he squeezed her hand.
Valerie sighed in exasperation then started the car. "Why not?" she asked angrily as she squealed the tires as they headed out of the parking lot. "You need to talk to Jazz and Tucker first! Right? Why do I get shut out? Why?"
Danny shook his head as he watched Valerie zip through traffic. "I can't explain Val." This was a fight they had often in their relationship, his dependence and trust in Jazz and Tucker.
"You know what Danny," she said as she pulled away from the attorney's office. "We're getting married. All the secrecy has got to end! Are you ever going to trust me with anything?"
"I will," Danny told her as his stomach double knotted. "I promise. This is the last time. After this I'll never keep another secret from you." Valerie shook her head in disbelief as she concentrated on driving. Danny watched her sadly. The news about Sam was enough to send Valerie into a fit of rage. If Danny told her that the will demanded he marry Sam well, a massive explosion would result. He hoped that he'd never have to tell Valerie, that another solution could be found. Danny's stomach triple knotted. Maybe Sam was married now and all of this upset would be for nothing.