Disclaimer: I do not own Danny Phantom or any other of Butch Hartman's creations nor am I recieving compensation for this. Any resemblance of this piece of fanfiction to any other piece of fiction or reality is wholly unintended.

AN: First one-shot, first fic for DP, so I apologize if it's crap. I appreciate almost any and all reviews, flames unwelcome (they aren't helpful at all) but honest criticism is.

I was inspired by "Playground Philosophy" by Epona Harper and the many stories out there of Danny confronting Valerie in the park.

The Lesson

Danny sighed as he looked at the clock on the wall. It was only midnight and Tucker had already fallen asleep, cradling his PDA. Glancing over at his other best friend, he could tell Sam wasn't too far off.

"Perhaps we should call it a night?" he asked quietly to the bleary-eyed goth who was starting to lean against him as her eyes closed.

"No," she replied stubbornly as she sat up again, trying to stay awake. "We still have two more movies left and we are going to watch them."

"Sam…" he trailed off, gesturing to Tucker, "it doesn't count as watching if you're asleep."

"It's only Tucker who's asl…" unfortunately for her, she had to interrupt herself as she yawned loudly, effectively killing her rebutal.

"Right, but you're not too far off yourself," he replied gently.

"Oh? And what about you?"

"I slept for a while when I got home," he said as he stood up from his position on the couch. He held his hand out to her. "Come on, I'll make sure you get to your room then I'll fly Tucker home."

"Fine," she smiled slightly as she grasped his hand and pulled herself up from the couch, "but tomorrow night, we are watching all of them, start to finish."

"But we already watched one through four," he explained to her as he guided her up the stairs of her house.

"Yeah, but the last two are the best."

"Then why see the others again?"

"To get the full experience," she replied in a matter of fact tone, which she was able to pull off despite her fatigue, "and to punish you for ending the movie night early."

"Whatever," he chuckled under his breath, stopping his walking as he reached her door. "Go to bed Sam."

"Ok," her groggy reply telling him she wasn't even going to try and pretend to be awake anymore. After she slipped into her room, he waited until her door was closed before phasing down to the Manson's personal movie theater where the two friends had left Tucker, still asleep.

Turning into his other persona, the ghost known as Phantom, he grabbed Tucker and flew off towards his house. It was actually a beautiful, if slightly chilly, autumn night. Glancing at his watch, he figured he had about a half an hour after he dropped Tucker off to go fly around for a bit.

He had told his parents he would be back by one and didn't feel like getting in trouble. Of course, that had been before he had shown up at Sam's, only to be informed that they were watching not one or two movies, but six. He had planned on calling them to let his parents know his change of plans, but seeing as how they had cut things off early, he saw no point in doing so now.

He flew into Tucker's room and set his friend down on his bed. Smirking, he grabbed the book they were reading in Lancer's class off of Tuck's desk and, with some quick intangibility tricks, had replaced the PDA the techno geek was cradling with the book. He stashed the electronic device under his friend's pillow and flew off, wishing he would be there to see Tucker wake up snuggling against a worn copy of Romeo and Juliet.

Cursing himself for not having his camera, he glided off into the night sky and out over one of the many public parks in Amity.

Danny was in a fairly good mood as he flew out to the edge of the city, all things considered. He had finally started to get a firm grasp of his ice abilities, which had proven to be quite an advantage in his most recent encounters with other hostile ghosts. His grades in school were, slowly, improving as his hunting skills improved, since he could capture ghosts faster now, giving him more time to study and sleep. He also suspected that they might actually have started to think twice about leaving the Ghost Zone, but he didn't want to get his hopes up.

There was, of course, his friends as well. He wasn't sure when it happened, but he felt as if he and Sam were slowly going over that line that separated friendship from something more and he could honestly say he was pleased.

Despite what most people said, he wasn't completely clueless when it came to his feelings for Sam.

He was just cautious. Very, very cautious.

When he went off to face Pariah Dark, he knew Sam might want to tell him about her feelings and he knew from their 'blushy' moments that there might be something there as well. He also knew what he doing when he created that little ice crystal for her as well. Still, he wasn't going to do anything until he was absolutely sure what was going on between them wasn't just a crush. Besides, he did have his whole town hero thing to distract him.

He was just preparing to execute an impressive dive, his thoughts diverting his attention away from the world around him, and thus did not hear the whistle of the incoming rockets until it was too late.

The blast from the ectoplasm based explosives threw Danny into a nearby tree. Shaking his head clear, he wasted no time turning intangible and letting himself fall into the ground, barely avoiding the three simultaneous blasts of energy that had been directed to where he had been in the tree.

Using the safety of the earth, he flew up, invisible, behind where he figured his attacker was. As he rose from the ground into the air, he was sadly unsurprised to find Valerie, in all of her hunting glory, scanning the area for him.

"That wasn't very nice of you," he spoke out, turning visible at the same time. True to his prediction, the young girl whirled around on her rocket sled and immediately opened fire on him.

Almost lazily, he created a sphere of green energy around him, shielding him from her attack.

"What's the matter Phantom?" she yelled at him, her voice condescending, "Not going to run off this time? Decided to let me destroy you after all?"

"Excuse me?" Danny spoke back, not yelling, but projecting enough for her to hear him.

"You heard me ghost!"

"Look Valerie, contrary to whatever it is you believe, I'm not out to hurt you!"

"Like I'm going to believe you!" she shot back before unleashing her weapons on him again. As before, Danny threw up another shield, though this one strained under the ferocity of her attack.

"I'm serious Val! I really don't want to hurt you!"

"And what makes you think you can?" she yelled back in that arrogant voice she used with people she didn't like.

Maybe it was the fatigue, or perhaps it was merely the tone of her voice that night, but at that moment, he was more than just frustrated with Valerie (which was the norm, usually), he was angry at her. Perhaps, he thought to himself, it was time for a change in tactics for dealing with his class mate and former crush.

Instead of running away, as he was known to do when confronted by the Red Hunter, he faced her head on, dropping the shield he had made around him. Though he couldn't see her face in the dark, he knew she was smirking as she charged him.

He breathed in quickly before unleashing a short ghostly wail. While not enough to hurt her, it had caught her by surprise and sent her tumbling backwards. He immediately followed up with a burst of green energy, which impacted on the exposed underbelly of her rocket sled, blasting it to pieces.

He watched the obsessive young hunter tumble to the ground below him. It had taken all of his willpower not to fly down and save her, the only reason he hadn't was because he knew her suit was designed to protect from such falls and had seen it do so in the past.

Instead, he chose to follow her, throwing spears of ice at her as soon as she hit the ground. The first few impacted on her torso, creating cracks in her body armor as the ice shards shattered against it.

She rolled way, dodging the rest of his attack, coming up onto her knee with an ectoblaster in hand. Danny didn't even bother with a shield as he let the beams pass through his now intangible form. Instead, he countered with a flurry of green ectoblasts from his palms.

She dodged and ducked the attacks as Danny decided to remain stationary in the air, throwing down blasts of energy as the young human below tried to dodge his attacks. So consumed with dodging his green energy blasts, she didn't notice the parallel races of icy-blue energy that had originated from his eyes until it was too late.

The twin beams hit her feet, literally freezing her into place. For Danny it had now become an easy game as he unleashed blasts of his ice powers from his hands, freezing the rest of her body below her neck in a large ice crystal.

Without saying a word, he landed in front of Valerie, ignoring her grunts and occasional muttered obscenities as she tried to free herself from her frozen prison. As he approached her, Danny finally noticed that a shard of her former rocket sled had lodged itself into the faceplate of her helmed.

He reached out and grabbed her helmet, much to Valerie's displeasure, and phased it off of her head. Ignoring her now un-muffled diatribe (really, some of those words were entirely inappropriate for such a young upstanding woman), he inspected the helmet, thankful that the metal shard hadn't gone more than a centimeter or two past the inside of the glass.

"This is what you wanted, right?" he asked sadly, tossing the helmet to the ground. "For me to fight you so you could have a chance at defeating me?"

"I imagined it ending differently, ghost," she spat, glaring at him.

"You just don't get it, do you?" he replied, beyond frustration and anger, his voice instead eerie and calm. "If I wanted you dead, there isn't much you could do to stop me. I know where you live, where you work, and where you go to school. You have to sleep sometime."

"If I wanted to lay waste to this city, not you, and certainly not the Fentons, would stand a chance at stopping me."

"You just got lucky today," she countered, her eyes filled with defiance, though he could tell by the quaver in her voice that she was quickly realizing just how vulnerable she had been and that it scared her.

"Valerie, stop it," he sighed, unconsciously rubbing the back of his head, "why can't you realize that we aren't all bad?"

"I've never met a decent ghost!" she yelled back, giving him a pointed look.

"Really?" he snapped back, still tired of putting up with her attitude, "cause I figured not beating the heck out of you for trying to destroy me for over a year was very considerate on my part. I know most humans wouldn't be so patient or understanding."

"You're not human."

"Oh come on! Just because you don't want to believe it doesn't mean we aren't thinking, sentient beings. Yeah, the ones humans meet tend to have world-domination schemes, but that's because only the bad ones try and get out. There's a whole world of ghosts in the ghost zone who don't want anything to do with the living world."

"But the experts…"

"If by 'experts,' you mean the Fentons?" he gave her a condescending look. "Valerie, they never even encountered a ghost before they built their portal, much less ever had a chance to talk to them. Heck, they haven't even gone into the Ghost Zone despite having the tools to do so! So if they are considered the world's foremost experts on ghost hunting, what does that make the rest of the crackpots out there who claim to be paranormal experts?"

Despite his words, he could tell Valerie was going to be stubborn; he had seen that look on her face too many times. Sighing, he rubbed the bridge of his nose.

"Fine, I know you don't want to believe me, so I'll tell you how it's going to be." He picked up her damaged helmet and placed it on the ice block next to her. "I am going to leave here tonight safe and intact while I get your father to come pick you up. What you do after that is your choice. You can, of course, stop this nonsense and go back to a normal life, or, and I figure this is more likely, you can go to Masters and get a new suit. If you do that, you have two choices: leave me alone or go after me. I tell you now, if you so much as try and shoot me, I will not hold back. Well," he paused as he reconsidered what he said, "I will a little. I mean, you saw what happened to your old suit when I let myself go and I have grown stronger since then. I really don't want to kill you."

Ignoring her glare, he flew off, heading in the direction of Damion Grey's apartment. He flew through the ceiling into the living room, where Valerie's father was currently sitting on the couch, watching the news. He floated up behind him, the man unaware of his ghostly presence, and whispered in his ear.


Danny chuckled as the balding man leapt from his seat and rounded to face him, his face paling as his eyes settled on who had intruded upon his home.


"Mr. Grey," he replied calmly, a smirk still tugging at his lips.

"What are you doing here? Where's Valerie?"

"She's fine. In the park actually, though she's probably a bit cold by now."

"What did you do to her?" he growled, his eyes searching for a weapon he could use against the specter in front of him, gathering from Danny's words that his daughter was in trouble due to the ghost in front of him.

"Much less than what she wants to do to me," he replied dryly. "I decided she needed to learn a lesson, and since she wouldn't be reasonable, I had to do it the hard way."

"What lesson?" Damien replied, his voice reeking with concern.

"That despite her amazing martial arts and her fancy weapons, if I was truly the evil ghost she always says I am, then I would have wasted her a long time ago. I told you," he added, seeing the man's face turn red, "she's ok. Probably a bit bruised, but currently stuck in a block of ice in the park. You should probably go pick her up."

Danny watched, slightly detached as the older man ignored Danny as he rushed about his living room, grabbing his coat and keys. Danny stopped him just as he was reaching for the door handle.

"Mr. Grey!" he called out, gaining the man's attention, "while I know you probably hate me right now for hurting your daughter, please remember that she has been actively trying to destroy me for the past year. All things considered, I think I went really easy on her."

Much top Danny's surprise, a look of understanding crossed his face before he dashed out of his apartment, slamming the door behind him. Shrugging, Danny went intangible and flew off through the building to his home.

On his way, he had made a quick stop back to the park to check on Valerie. Damien was already there, making Danny realize, rather sheepishly, that he had to get her out as Mr. Grey was hardly equipped to free his daughter from the huge chuck of ice she was encased in.

After turning Valerie intangible and pulling her out, he apologized to Damien for that small oversight, wished them both a good evening, and flew off.

He landed in the alley next to his house and turned back to into regular Danny Fenton. It wasn't until he opened the door and was confronted with two very upset parents that he realized he had stayed out an hour past his curfew.

"Just what have you been up to young man?" Maddie Fenton demanded of her son, her fists on her hips and, overall, looking very threatening.

"I took a walk through the park," he replied quickly, trying to look as admonished as possible. "I didn't realize it had gotten so late. I'm sorry."

"Son," Jack said seriously, "we've told you it's too dangerous out there after dark! A ghost could have grabbed you! And then I could have grabbed the ghost!"

Sighing at how distracted his dad could get, Danny turned back to his mother, who was looking at her husband with frustration. Seeing no help in that direction, she faced Danny herself.

"Your father is right, it's not safe out this late," she let out a sigh. "Danny, this is the tenth time this month you've missed your curfew. What are we going to do with you?"

"Mom, it's not a big deal. I just get distracted, that's all."

Danny was saved from further explanation when an explosion was heard from the lab. In the minute or two his mom had taken to speak to him, Jack, excited about the prospect of catching a ghost, had dashed back to the lab to work on some new invention.

"Jack!" Maddie yelled, more out of exasperation than concern, before dashing down to the lab as well.

Shrugging, Danny made his way up to his room, hoping that maybe his impromptu 'lesson' was effective.

AN: The ending is a bit weak, I can't deny that. This is my first foray into DP fan fiction, so I appreciate reviews on everything, from writing style, characterization, whatever.