Thanks to Nikky Phantom of the Opera, Snickerer, YumeTakato, and Melissa45! Last chapter, folks!

Chapter 7: Confessions

I don't own Danny Phantom or the rights to any book that comes up in this chapter.

"Tucker! What did you think you were doing, sending Valerie after us? Didn't you realize what could happen? ... She knows, Tucker. Danny had to explain everything once we got back to the jet. She was there when Vlad reverted too. ... You idiot! You knew saying that would ... Well, yeah, she was maybe a bit of help, but ... She could have killed him, Tucker!"

It was four in the morning. Sam was pacing back and forth near the back of the jet, fuming at her technogeek friend over the phone. Jazz was holding an impromptu therapy session with Valerie nearby, trying to get her over the shock and denial. Maddie Fenton was fussing over the two halfas' injuries and Jack was sitting alone, trying to come to terms with his discoveries about Vlad. It was going to take him a while to digest it all.

Once Maddie had finished doctoring the two males's wounds, she moved off to treat her own. Lancer turned to his student.

"Danny, would you mind filling me in on what exactly is going on? You finally told them, I take it."

"Yeah. I was heading to Wisconsin to look for you and couldn't get away from them. Telling them was easier than trying to come up with a lot of lies." Lancer laughed softly at that.

"I told you it would be. What else did you tell them?"

"They know my story. They don't know anything about you, though, except that you're my friend." Danny's tone was serious. "It's up to you whether you tell them or not. I didn't mention Vlad either. What was he trying for, anyway?"

"The usual," Lancer told him. "Trying to get you to come after me so he could get you angry enough to go bad. I don't think he counted on all the backup, though."

Danny nodded. "Figured."

"He was also trying to get me to flip," continued Lancer, with an edge to his voice. "It didn't work."

Maddie came back to join them, bringing the rest of the plane's occupants with her.

"Well, it seems like we're all going to be working together from now on," she said, matter-of-factly, "so we might as well all be on the same page. Why don't you tell us everything that happened, Spirit. From the beginning."

"Well, first of all, can I say that Danny and Vlad aren't the only halfas? Danny didn't mention me because it's my secret. But, since we are all in this together now..." Lancer trailed off and nervously summoned the rings of light that started his transformation back to human.

"Mr. Lancer?" Valerie was stunned. Man, can this day get any weirder? First Vlad, then Danny, then my teacher? I'd never have suspected him. Geez, are there halfas everywhere or somethin'?

Lancer nodded. Maddie raised her eyebrows. He shrugged.

"So, the kidnapping...," Lancer began, his voice quiet and breaking, "well, Vlad crept up behind me when I was out on patrol last night and knocked me out. The next thing I remember was waking up in some sort of lab, in a box that shorted out my powers. Vlad came in and taunted me for a while, then left me alone in the dark. I think he was letting me brood. I don't know how long I sat there for. When Vlad came back, I managed to get him to tell me what he was doing. Like Danny suspected, he was using me as a lure to get Danny to join him. Then I told Vlad I'd never join him either..."

Flashback

"I'm never joining you either, you know."

"Oh, I don't know. I think you might, given the right motivation." Vlad grinned, and fired up an ectoblast. In the meager light it provided, Lancer noticed that the lumpy shadows he's been able to pick out were, in fact, stacks of books. He watched as Vlad picked a slim volume off a nearby one.

"Oh, this should be good. The Catcher in the Rye." Vlad tossed the book up in the air and hit it with the ectoblast. He had another book in his hand by the time Lancer realized what had happened.

"Anna Karenina. Had to read it in college. Hated it." The ectoblast hissed through the air and hit the book straight on.

"Mayor of Casterbridge!" roared Lancer, shaking the box that contained him. Vlad was torturing him by incinerating works of literature. Had the man no respect for the written word?

"Oh, good idea!" grinned Vlad. He picked another book off a pile.

Whoosh.

Hiss.

Crackle.

Vlad certainly knew how to get to people. This was hell. Lancer had seen it coming too, which made everything worse.

The book burning continued for a few more minutes until Vlad realized that Lancer had completely shut himself down and was refusing to display any sort of emotion. The only thing that betrayed his agitation was a slight eye twitch.

End Flashback

"After that, he left again. We had another session a few hours later and I did the same thing. When he came back after that one, he pulled me out of the box and chained me to the wall. I fought back, of course, but Vlad had made the cuffs out of the same material as the box, so they cancelled my powers too."

Flashback

Vlad stood just out of Lancer's reach, book in one hand, ectoblast ready in the other. Every so often he would light the book of the moment on fire and watch as a look of pain flickered over the other halfa's face. To be so close to saving the books but be powerless to do so was torture. Vlad was grinning madly.

End Flashback

"He kept that up periodically for about six hours. The man probably spent a fortune getting those books, too. There were a lot of old ones."

Jazz shuddered along with Lancer at that point. The teacher continued.

"Vlad left me alone for about three hours, and when he came back he piled the rest of the books in the middle of the floor. You can probably guess what he did to them. When I refuse to crack, he began to verbally bait me."

Flashback

"I'm surprised at you, William. I keep putting you in situations that should break you, and you keep confounding me. Like that thing with the Ghost Writer, for instance."

"So that was you."

"Who else?" Vlad shrugged casually. "I knew that you and Danny would fight to save those students and would tire yourselves out by doing so. Either you'd change back or you wouldn't have the energy to leave, and would be at my mercy." And I got the allies and weapons I needed too, he added silently, so it wasn't a complete failure.

"But you didn't plan on the class helping out, did you?" Lancer asked. "Tell me, why an auction? You could have just had Skulker kidnap us and put us in a massive crowd of ghosts. Or you could have exposed us in the school."

"Tsk tsk, William. Now you're just giving me ideas. No, I still got some good out of that, even if I was cuffed to Klemper for three days." Vlad shuddered at the memory. "But enough about me. I notice thatDaniel hasn't even made a rescue attempt yet. I don't think he's going to come. I think he's too afraid of what I plan to do."

No, Plasmius, school won't even be out yet, and then you've got to figure in travel time, Lancer thought coolly. Danny's coming, just not yet. I can outlast you.

"He's not afraid of you," he told Vlad, "and neither am I. You should know that by now."

"I admire your bravado, William, but let's face it, I am more powerful than you." Vlad smirked.

"Only because you have more experience. I bet it took you years to figure out duplication." You've got to admire the man. He got rid of that look of uncertainty almost instantly. "You're a weak coward. You only started attacking people when you knew you could win. That's what makes Danny different than you."

"And you're just an old out-of-shape English teacher playing the hero," Vlad jeered. "Do you really think you're that different from me?"

"I care about people. I don't like watching them die. That's never going to change." Although his face was a mask, Lancer was amused. He'd just learned something very useful. He isn't used to taunting adults, is he? Doesn't know what makes us tick.

End Flashback

"You get the idea. That went on for about an hour and then he left again. A while later I heard him several floors above yelling. I couldn't catch the words, but it sounded like he'd just gotten some bad news."

"Probably about me being in Wisconsin," said Danny. "Go on."

"When Vlad was done there, he came down to where he was holding me, and let off some steam. Fortunately, he got called away by the vultures before he could do any major damage. I was already healing by the time Jazz rescued me. That was the last time I saw him, or anyone, until the rescue. Which I really appreciate, by the way."

"No problem!" said Jack, clapping Lancer on the shoulder. "Anything to help out a hero." Lancer smiled, wincing.

"Thanks. It could have been a lot worse, actually. I'm glad it wasn't." Lancer sighed. "So, if you don't mind my asking, what happens now?"

"What do you mean?" asked Valerie.

"Well, everyone here now knows about our secret. Two of you are dedicated ghost hunters with connections and the ability to do experiments. You could easily reveal us to Amity Park, or the world for that matter. That goes for Valerie as well."

"Telling everyone would make it easier for both of you to live double lives, but I doubt either you or Danny want the publicity, since you didn't tell anyone, even us, before now," Maddie said thoughtfully. "So I suppose we'll just keep the secret among ourselves, and leave the rest up to your own discretion. Everyone in agreement?"

They were.

"And as for the experiments, well, we could learn a lot from you two, especially because you're hybrids." Danny and Lancer began to look panicked. Maddie smiled pleasantly. "But don't worry. We're not going to pressure you into anything, or do anything that might hurt you without your consent. All right?"

The two halfas breathed sighs of relief, making everyone laugh. The good mood lasted until the plane landed in Amity Park. Once everyone had gotten out, Danny checked his watch.

"Oh man, it's seven! We've got school in an hour!"

"I'd better head home," said Lancer. "I need to change and get my marking. You've got my number if you need me, Maddie. Ghost World." He flew off.

"Valerie, Sam, come back to Fenton Works with us. You can eat there and go off to school with Danny together," suggested Maddie. She knew there wasn't enough time for Val or Sam to get home before they had to leave again, and her house was reasonably close, especially with Jack's driving. She also doubted that Valerie would want to face her father so soon after running off to New Mexico in the middle of the night. The two girls climbed into the Ghost Assault Vehicle and they careened off.

---

Tucker met Danny, Sam, and Valerie at the door of the school fifty minutes later. He put his PDA away as they came up the front steps.

"So, what now?" he asked. "You going to tell everyone?"

"Nope!" Danny was grinning broadly. "And my parents aren't going to experiment unless we say they can."

"Ni-ice." Tucker grinned back. "How's Lancer?" The group of teens began to head into the school.

"Pretty good, actually." Danny shoved his hands into his pockets. "Vlad didn't actually try to traumatize him very much. Lancer spent most of the time on his own, without powers."

They passed the office, where Lancer was trying to plead his case with the principal. Valerie split off from the group to head to her locker, with a "See you at lunch!".

"I'm still a little worried about Vlad, though," Danny continued. "I don't think he's going to try anything major for a while, and I doubt he's stupid enough to try a full-on attack again, but that doesn't mean much. He was a crazed-up fruit loop even before my parents found out. And now he's lost Valerie too." The warning bell rang as his two friends were nodding in worried agreement.

"I want the full story at lunch." Tucker grabbed his books out of his locker.

"You got it." Danny, Tucker, and Sam shut their lockers and headed to math.

---

William Lancer grabbed his briefcase at the sound of the bell and left the principal's office. He had first period history, and hadn't prepared. Again.

Luckily I can teach this in my sleep. "Good morning, class. Can anyone tell me what you covered yesterday?"

Things were back to normal in Amity Park, and no one was the wiser.

The End

All right, so I've pretty much got Much Ado About Nothing, the next story in the Spirit Quintology, rewritten as well. I'll be starting to put that up in a week or two. Right now, this is my last day before a week long vacation, so any reviews, PMs, etc. that get sent my way after about midnight probably won't be answered until I get back to normal internet access next Wednesday. Jus want to warn everyone, since I'm usually incredibly prompt with replies and stuff. (Addiction? What addiction?)

Happy holidays, everyone, and a joyous winter celebration of your choice!