Okay, here is the one shot Ghostlover requested from me! It is a one shot with Danny and Maddie bonding, very cute, in my opinion
Disclaimer: I do not own Danny Phantom
AH! Danny yelled as he was blasted in the chest; painfully, he collided with a parked car.
"It's not that difficult, Daniel. All you must do is renounce your father for me and all your suffering and troubles will end. I can give you, what he will never be able to give you, son."
Danny pushed himself off the car and glared. "Really? And what's that? A concussion?"
Vlad sighed dramatically. "You bring this on yourself, my boy. A few words from you, and I would never harm you again. What I can give you that he can not, is understanding, Daniel."
Danny flew up to the man, his eyes glowing with anger. "Say what you want, Vlad, but I know my parents will accept me!" Danny hurled a dark ball of green energy at his enemy, but the man, suddenly vanished.
"What?" Danny asked, looking around for Vlad with fearful and confused eyes. Danny gasped when his hands were seized behind his back. "Let go!" he yelled, struggling against his captor.
Vlad chuckled at Danny's futile attempts. "In a moment, my boy" He grabbed a fistful of Danny's white hair, forcing his head back, so he could meet the teen's eyes. Danny hissed at the pull, the position he was in preventing him from struggling any longer. Despite this, he stared into the man's eyes definitely. "Let me go, old man." Danny hissed, only to yelp when Vlad tugged harder on his hair.
"I want you to pay close attention, Daniel. I want you to remember what I'm about to tell you." Danny felt a sense of dread at how serious the man looked, but he forced himself not to show it. "Acceptance and understanding is not the same thing." Vlad whispered with assurance. "I do not doubt your mother- maybe father- will accept what you are. Maddie's love for you is one of a kind, my boy. But not even with all that love could she be able to understand you. Look at me, Daniel; it would be wise of you to learn from someone who has gone through what you are, for over twenty years now. I'm not telling you this to hurt you, dear boy; no, I'm telling you this, so that when you realize the truth, it won't hurt as much. After my accident, I could have told your parents the truth; there was no doubt in my mind that they would accept me. Believe it or not Daniel, we were all close friends at one point. I'm sure you can guess why I didn't tell Jack; but Maddie, If I didn't tell her, Daniel, it was because she could never understand what I was; what my life would be like from then on; what I would have to endure." He paused, before addressing the teen again. "In all honesty, Daniel, tell me, why do you burden yourself for this town? They accept you, only to reject you just as quickly. Your life has only begun, my boy, why throw it away for those who do not deserve it?"
"It doesn't matter if they deserve it or not; it's the right thing." He replied, his voice sounding strained, from still having his head held back at a ninety degree angle. "I'm not like you, Plasmius; I can not sit by and watch people get hurt, knowing that I have the ability to stop it. It's my responsibility and nothing you could ever say will make me forget that. Maybe my parents won't understand, I don't know, but my sister, my friends, do. They're there for me and will always be." Danny assured.
Vlad shook his head before turning his eyes back to the teen. "Oh, my poor, naïve boy; you have so much to learn. Once more you confuse one thing with another. They give you support, Daniel. I know you have questions, doubts, fears and I know you do not share those with them. You want to know, how I know all this?" Danny glared at the man's sure smile. "I know, Daniel, because I too had them. Don't you see? I can help you if you would accept it. You've only had your powers for a year! You think they burden you now? It gets worse. I hate to tell you this, but you still have a long way to go. Your powers will never stop growing; my own still haven't, Daniel. You have yet to experience, the pains they will cause you." Vlad chuckled at the teen's alarmed look. "Yes, dear boy, some powers will hurt when they awaken; others will cause you to, lose control, feel ill, and so forth. I am offering you something that no one could offer me; understanding. Only I can give you that; you will not have to endure what you are alone. You have questions? I can answer them. Your doubts and fears; I can make them vanish, dear boy. You say, you are nothing like me, but you are and that too, you will realize one day. If you deny what I offer you, then you will be exactly like me. I want you to learn from my mistakes, be better. Why is that so hard for you to accept?" Vlad ended, his expression saddening, although he still did not release the teen.
Danny's eyes moved away from the man's. "I would be lying if I said I don't want what you offer, but your price is too high, Vlad. My father will always be my father. I can not abandon him, or anyone else. This is my life; I can't let it go. I'm sorry for what you went through; as much as I hate to admit it, I understand why you chose this path." He said softly. "It's so much easier to give up, blame everything on others, become…evil. I understand too, Vlad, but that doesn't make it right. What you went through does not justify what you let yourself become." Danny assured.
"Foolish boy, I didn't let myself become anything, your father made me who I am!" Vlad said angrily. "And you, Daniel, do not know what you are condemning yourself and them to! You are a ticking bomb, Daniel; we both are! I, however, have enough self control; you, on the other hand, do not. Rest assured, you will harm those around you; what you have spent so much effort in protecting will fall by your hand if you continue your mediocre ways. You are nothing more then a child with a dangerous weapon; let me make you something more!"
Danny glared. "Forget it, Plasmius; I said it before and I'll say it as many times as I have to, to get it through your thick, blue skull. I'll never join you; it will never happen! You can say what you want, but I will never hurt the people I care about! If you were able to go through all this alone then so can I! I don't need you!" he yelled, struggling against the man's hold despite the pain at doing so.
"Then, so help me, Daniel, I will get through to you and if by pain, the only choice you leave me then so be it!" Vlad sent pulsing red energy through the teen's arm, earning him a loud, agonized scream from him. "You will learn and I will be the one to teach you; it is up to you what approach I take." Vlad said darkly, ending his assault. Danny limped in the man's hold, a soft, but pained moan escaping him.
"The only…thing….I could learn…from you…is to be…a crazed…up…fruit loop." He retorted, through his heavy breathing.
Vlad sent another electric pulse through the teen, before flinging him through the air. Danny grunted as he smashed into the top of a large park fountain, prior to falling into the water within it. The teen forced himself to his knees at seeing Vlad approached him. He groaned before white rings passed through him, turning him human. Danny raised his blue eyes towards Plasmius who stood in front of him. He shivered as the chilly night wind sipped into his soaked clothes and hair. Despite his spinning vision he looked fearlessly into the man's blood red eyes.
Vlad kneeled next to the teen. "One day, you will accept my words as true. You will see everything I have said occur and it is then when you will come to me. You need me, Daniel. You need the understanding that no one but me can give you. Not, your family, not, your friends, and surely not, the people of this town. No one will ever understand you; you are alone. I can see past that defiant look, Daniel, you know this as true. In time, little badger, you will admit I'm right and finally allow me to lead you, but until then, I shall be your shadow; always there without your knowledge. Your moves, your choices, you will believe they are your own, but in truth they are the ones I want you to make….they always have been." he assured with a smirk. "Ta, for now, my son." Vlad added before laughing wickedly and vanishing with a twirl of his cape.
Danny fell back on his bottom; he rested his aching head on the fountain, and closed his eyes. He sighed softly.
"Jack, this can't go on anymore! He is late almost every day!" Maddie exclaimed, pacing in front of her husband.
"We'll have another talk with him, Maddie and if he doesn't leave us any other choice, then, we will strictly punish him; no fudge for a week!" Jack proclaimed with a raised finger.
"Jack, that would be punishment for yourself, not Danny." She explained, calmly, before glancing at the clock and sighing. "It's 10:47; he should have been home 47 minutes ago! He can't stay out this late; it's dangerous."
"I'm sure he's fine, Maddie, he probably lost track of time; not that the excuse is going to get him out of-"
"Danny!" Maddie exclaimed, seeing him walk through the door.
Jack stood up and Danny shrunk under his angry gaze. "Hi mom, d-dad"
"Why are you…wet?" Jack asked, puzzled at how soaked his son was.
"Danny, what happened?" Maddie asked, in disbelief.
Danny rubbed his neck. "It was…raining"
"Really? I didn't hear anything" Jack replied with a thoughtful frown, before shaking it off and looking sternly at his son. "You're late, mister! Mind explaining why you keep ignoring your curfew?"
"It wasn't my fault! It was Plas….ma"
"Plasma?" his parents asked simultaneously
"Yeah….I got distracted by a plasma TV I saw at the mall." He finished lamely, his hands slipping into his pocket.
Jack and Maddie shared a bewildered look, before turning back to their son. "That does not justify you coming home late! When we say 10 pm, we mean 10 pm, not 10:01, and definitely not 10:48!" Jack scolded, while Maddie grabbed a towel from a near by closet.
"Danny… what's going on?" his mother asked worriedly, extending the towel to him.
Danny looked at it, before lowering his eyes to the ground. "Nothing" he said calmly, not accepting the towel.
"Don't give me that, young man" Maddie said sternly. "You have been acting strange for a while now! We have tried to give you your space; let you work it out on your own, but I can not ignore this any longer. You are constantly late, getting to school and here! Your grades are nothing to be proud of! You are always tired and always getting in trouble. Do not tell me that nothing is going on, because that's a lie!"
Danny stared at his angry parents with fearful and sad eyes. "I…nothing's going on." He insisted.
Maddie's eyes sadden, before she stepped closer to him and began to dry his wet hair. "Oh Danny…what am I going to do with you?" she asked softly.
Danny's eyes widen at her words. They hurt more then any beating he had ever received from his enemies. Danny's eyebrows creased, before he jerked away from her. "Gee, I'm sorry I'm such a burden; maybe you shouldn't have had me!" he yelled angrily.
Maddie's eyes widen at the hurt look on her son's face and quickly realized how wrong her previous words had sounded. "Young man, do not talk to your mother that way!" Jack said sternly.
"Why? It's the truth!" Danny shouted, his hands fisting. Jack stared at his son in shock; he rarely talked back to them and definitely not like this. "Do you guys think I do this on purpose? I'm sick of getting in trouble all the time! Everywhere I go, I get beat up some form or another and I'm so tired of it!"
"Danny" Maddie said softly, trying to approach him, but he backed away. " We just want the best for you. All we are asking is that you follow a few rules and raise your grades."
"Mom, I'm trying, but sometimes, there're things that make it really hard." Danny replied sadly
"Son, don't try to justify your irresponsibility by blaming it on things." Jack said seriously.
"Irresponsibility?!" Danny asked outraged. "How can you say that? All my problems are because I am responsible! You guys have no idea what I'm going through!"
Jack was very displeased at having his son yelling at them, but before he could reprimand his son, his wife cut in. "Then tell us! That's what we are asking you to do!" Maddie replied, desperately. "We can help you, if you let us!"
Danny crossed his arms. "Why does everyone say that? I don't need help!"
"Danny, I want the truth." Maddie ordered, her expression showing gravity.
"The truth?" Danny shook his head, before returning his angry eyes to his mom. "There is no truth and if there was, you guys wouldn't-" He stopped, realizing what he was about to say.
"No one will ever understand you."
"We wouldn't what, sweetie?" Maddie asked sadly
Danny's anger melted, leaving only sorrow. He raised his eyes back to his parents. "Understand. You guys, don't understand." He whispered. The teen quickly turned away from them and raced up the stairs. His retreat was cut off by his sister standing at the top of the stairs, gazing sadly at him.
Danny looked at her momentarily with the same expression, before pushing past her and heading to his room.
Danny slammed his door, before throwing himself on his bed. He buried his face in his pillow; both, his aching body and exhaustion, ignored. He swallowed hard, forcing the painful lump in his throat down. "It's all that jerks' fault" he whispered into his pillow. "Why won't he leave me alone?"
Danny couldn't believe how obsessed Vlad was. He traveled all the way from Wisconsin just to make him miserable. It was always the same thing with him; he would beat him up, mess with his head and then have the nerve to offer him a "better life"
What mostly angered Danny, however, was how Vlad constantly managed to confuse him. He would make him doubt, in himself and everything he did. And the fact, that some of the things he would say turned out true, made things worse. …It felt like a painful slap in the face.
Now…his parents were angry at him and he just repeated what the man had said to him minutes ago…and he meant it!
Your moves, your choices, you will believe they are your own, but in truth they are the ones I want you to make….they always have been.
Danny grasped the edges of the pillow and squeezed out of anger. He wanted to forget Vlad's words, but they kept coming.
Rest assured, you will harm those around you; what you have spent so much effort in protecting will fall by your hand if you continue your mediocre ways.
"…What am I going to do with you?"
"I am hurting them" the teen whispered. "As much as I try, I always end up disappointing someone." Danny felt his eyes glaze with tears, but he squeezed them shut; preventing anymore from spilling. He would not cry over this.
He turned over and stared up at his ceiling, expressionless. The anger within him actually blamed his parents for current problems. If it wasn't for their work, for those portals, he would not have Plasmius to worry about; he wouldn't have all these extra responsibilities and burdens; he would just be Danny Fenton.
He shook his head, banishing the thoughts. He couldn't blame others, especially not his parents for his choices. …That's what Vlad would do.
He chose to help others with his abilities. He accepted the responsibilities and he didn't regret it… he couldn't, but then…. times like these came along and they made it hard to remember why he chose this double life.
A shiver and he remembered his soaked clothes. "Great, now I have change, my clothes and my bed sheets." He grumbled, pushing himself off the bed.
I know you have questions, doubts, fears and I know you do not share those with them.
Danny glared at his soaked shirt in his hand before throwing it in the hamper. "I don't tell my friends and Jazz because they would worry more then they already do. I can't ask them to carry more then they already do for me." Danny sighed as he removed his wet bed sheets. "And I can't blame my parents for not understanding; I haven't even told them the truth." He said to himself, plopping back on the bed, not even bothering to add new bed sheets. With a tired sigh, he decided to give in to his exhausted body, but the doubt his arch enemy placed within him and the guilt he felt at the way he treated his parents caused him to fall into a fitful sleep.
Maddie sat down on the large living room sofa; in her hands she held a hot drink and a plate of cookies. Under her arm she held a medium sized book.
She placed the plate of cookies on the coffee table, took a sip of her hot drink, before placing it down as well.
She glanced at the clock; it read 1:32 am. Her attention went to the book, now resting on her lap and smiled fondly at it. She huddled the rob she wore closer to her frame, before gently opening the book that was titled: Danny's Baby Pictures.
Maddie smiled warmly as she took in the various pictures of her only son. Each brought its own emotion and memory.
"Maddie, they all have to grow up sometimes"
She sighed, remembering her husband's words. "But did it have to be so fast?" She whispered sadly.
"I don't need help!"
"I suppose he's right; I need to accept that Danny's not a baby anymore." She thought.
Maddie's eyes quickly moved towards the stairs at hearing footsteps. "Danny?" she called with a curious frown.
Danny's tired eyes quickly raised towards his mother, surprise clearly in his expression. "Mom? What-" his tone became uneasy. "Why are you up?" he asked, staring down at his bare feet.
"I'm not very tired; so, I decided to come downstairs for a bit." She explained. Danny nodded in response. "Why are you up, sweetie?"
Danny looked back at her. "I was just getting a drink." He replied, pointing his thumb towards the kitchen.
Maddie's eyebrows creased in concern; she knew her son all too well and he would only come down for a drink when- "You had a nightmare?" she asked, motherly concern still on her face.
Danny blushed, his gaze moving to his feet once more. "I-I uh…" He nodded timidly, rubbing the back of his head.
His mother gave him a sad smile, but he did not see it.
The room became momentarily quiet, before Maddie broke it. "Danny" she called. He looked up at her. She gave him a small smile and patted the sofa with her hand.
Danny hesitated for a moment, before slowly walking over and sitting beside her.
Maddie sighed at her son's quiet demeanor. "Danny, about what I said; sweetie, I'm very sorry, I never meant-"
"No, mom" Danny caught her off, looking up at her. "Don't apologize, I know you didn't mean anything bad by it; I'm the one that should be sorry and I am; I shouldn't have said all that. It's just that…I had a rough night but I was jerk to take it out on you and dad. I don't mean to make you and dad mad; I don't mean to disappoint you." He ended softly, turning his gaze away from her once more.
"Oh my baby, you don't disappoint me and I could never stay mad at you" she assured, placing her hand above his. "You have nothing to apologize for; you had a bad day, it happens to all of us."
Danny smiled at her words; they had just lifted such a heavy weight from his shoulders. The weight of guilt.
"Thanks, mom. I promise, I'll try harder to get home on time and do everything you want me to." He said with a sure smile.
"I know you will and I know you don't disobey us on purpose." she replied with a sad smile. "I just get so worried about you… I wish you would open up to us, Danny."
Danny sighed; despite that he had not moved away from her, Maddie could feel him putting up a barrier between them. A barrier, that seemed to get thicker and thicker with each passing day. "Mom, I know that you and dad worry and I know I haven't been completely honest with you guys, but, please mom, trust me, I swear, I'm not doing anything bad. …Jazz says you guys would be proud of me."
"I'm already proud of you sweetie and I do trust you; I know you would never do anything bad." She assured him with a smile.
Danny smiled at her. "That means a lot to me, mom; I promise, I'll tell you everything someday," he said sincerely.
Maddie sighed, but nodded "Okay, Danny; I'll wait until your ready, but I want you to remember something and always keep it close." She said, sitting up straight and grabbing his hands in hers. "You will always have my support and my love, Danny. If you ever need help, know mine is there without reserve." Danny looked at her with relieved eyes, but there was doubt in them; not at her words, but at something else… "My baby boy" she said, her voice full of love; she lifted his chin. "Don't be afraid of being different."
Danny's eyes widen in disbelief; did she know?
Maddie smiled comfortingly at her nervous son. "I don't know exactly what you are going through and maybe I won't always understand, but I will always try. You're not alone and don't let anyone or anything make you think otherwise."
"Maddie's love for you is one of a kind."
"That's one thing he got right" he thought, before throwing himself on her in a hug. Maddie smiled at his actions and returned the hug; she felt so relieve to see the doubt and fear in his eyes vanish with her words. "I love you, mom."
"Oh, sweetie" Maddie hugged him tighter. "I love you too."
Danny pulled away, his eyes moving towards the plate of cookies and drink. He returned his eyes back to his mom and gave her an innocent look. "What are you drinking?" he asked, with playful eyes.
Maddie laughed softly, before lifting the cup and giving it to him. "Here, it's hot chocolate." Danny gave her a bright smile and happily accepted it.
Maddie smiled amused, watching him sip on the drink. "You want to talk about it?" she asked, grabbing a cookie and offering it to him.
"About what?" he asked, taking the cookie and giving it a bite.
"You're nightmare, sweetie."
"Oh, that." He mumbled, prior to sipping on the cocoa. Danny smiled and shook his head. "It was just a stupid dream; I know it isn't true- I mean real."
"Alright, if you're sure." She said, giving him a question look.
"I'm sure, mom." He replied without hesitation. The teen took another drink of his hot chocolate, set it down and picked up another cookie. He moved out of his sitting position, rested his head on his mom's lap and spread out his legs on the couch "You know, if people knew how good your cookies are, they would get why dad's obsessed with them. Anyone that eats them as much as he does would be as addicted as he is." He joked with a quiet laugh
"I'm glad you think they're that good." She replied, laughing quietly herself while stroking his shaggy black hair. She grabbed the book at her other side, opened it once more and rested it on the edge of her lap.
"What are you looking at?" Danny asked, moving the book's resting position to this chest so that they could both see it.
"Pictures" she simply replied, although she smiled widely at him.
"Hey, is that Jazz?" he asked, pointing at a picture that had his mom holding baby in her arms; the room was definitely a location within a hospital.
Maddie chuckled. "No, that's you, silly. You were just born there…
"Congratulations Mrs. Fenton, you have a 5.8 ounce, healthy, baby boy" The doctor said, handing the crying baby to the tired mother.
"Ha! He's definitely a Fenton!" Jack beamed, looking down at the baby in Maddie's arms.
Maddie held tears of happiness in her eyes, and nodded at her husband. "Shh, it okay, my beautiful baby boy, mommy has you." She cooed at her crying son.
Her baby slowly stopped crying at her soft words and warm embraced. His eyes slowly opened and he stared up at his mother. Maddie gasped. "Jack, look at his eyes! Aren't they amazing?!" she asked.
Jack grinned from ear to ear, "He's going to be a lady killer, like his old man!" he announced proudly.
"What should we name him, Jack? We said we would decide until now."
"Jack! His name will be Jack!" her husband said loudly.
"How about we leave that as his middle name? I like Daniel. Do you like that baby? You can be my Danny." she cooed, kissing his raised hand.
"Danny? That's a dumb name!" Jack whined.
"Please, Jack, you named Jazz, let me pick his name." Maddie asked, her attention never leaving her son.
Jack smiled. "Alright" He agreed. "Sorry son, your mom wants a dumb name for you, but at least you'll make it sound good!"
"Don't listen to him, Danny. It's a beautiful name, for a beautiful boy." Danny made baby noises at her attention.
"Maddie, let's take him a picture." Jack said, pulling out a camera that had "Fenton" written on its side, in big, bold letters.
"Here, I'll take it for you." One of the nurses offered.
Jack stood next to his wife, holding a proud smile. Maddie leaned her head down and gave her son a kiss on his forehead, just as the picture was taken.
Danny blushed, but a smile was on his face. "It's so weird to think that was actually me" he voiced, looking at his mom.
Maddie continued playing with his hair. "I still remember that day perfectly." She replied.
"Where was Jazz?" Danny asked curiously.
Maddie looked back at the album and pointed at a picture. "She was in the waiting room with your aunt."
"Oh, your sister."
"Yes. Jazz couldn't come into the delivery room, so she waited there with her. This was the first picture we took of you with her."
"Mommy! Daddy!" Jazz said as she entered the hospital room. Maddie smiled at her daughter. "Jazz, come say hi to Danny, he's your baby brother."
Jazz looked up at her mom, before cautiously getting closer to her. She studied the wiggling baby in her mom's arms with a frown. Finally, her lips slowly curved upwards. "Hi Danny, I'm your big sis" she told him proudly, holding one of his hands. Danny looked up at her with large sleepy eyes and she giggled.
"He's weird looking" she told her parents and they laughed.
"Well, he's only a few hours old, sweetie." Maddie explained with a warm smile.
"You know, princess, having a little brother is a big responsibility." Jack informed. "You have to keep him safe; you never know when a ghost might try to get their dirty hands on him."
"Jack, don't tell her that" Maddie scolded.
Jazz laughed, climbed up on her mom's bed, and sat next to her. "Don't worry, mommy! I'll keep Danny safe! Hear that little brother? I'm not gonna let no mean ghost get you, cause that's my job!" She announced, sounding very much like her father.
"Get close, Jazzy-pants, I'm gonna take you a picture with your mom and Danny." Jack said, waving the camera in the air.
Jazz grinned and nodded, brightly. She cuddled up next to Maddie, holding her brother's hand, his eyes, still, towards her.
"Say, ghost, Princess!" Jack beamed.
"Wow, dad has always been obsessed with ghost." Danny said laughing.
"It's his passion, dear, as is mine, but it will never come before you and Jazz." His mom assured.
Danny nodded. "I know." He said, before yawning. Maddie smirked cleverly to herself, but said nothing. They flipped through the picture book some more.
"Hey, why is Jazz mad there?" he asked pointing at one of the pictures. "That's the first time you walked. Jazz…
"Jazz, let Danny hold bear-Bert" Maddie said from the kitchen
"No! He's mine!" She protested, keeping the stuffed animal away from him.
The less then a year old baby crawled after his sister, who kept taking large steps away from him. "Stop it, Danny! He's mine!" she yelled.
Danny in returned babbled at her and continued to follow her around the room. A minute later, he stopped trying and his bottom lipped quivered. "You're such a baby!" she yelled, crossing her arms and looking away from him.
Danny stared at her; momentarily, his babbles silenced. He crawled closer to the coffee table before grabbing it and slowly lifting himself to his two feet.
Jazz looked at him curiously, but then her eyes widen at seeing him let go of the table and stand on his own. "Mom" Jazz called warily.
Danny smiled at his sister and slowly walked towards her. Jazz was so shocked she didn't move from where she was.
"Oh my goodness!" Maddie exclaimed, upon entering the living room and seeing her son slowly walking towards his sister.
"Jack, get the camera, Danny's walking!" She yelled excitedly.
"HE IS?!" Jack yelled from the lab.
"Yes! Hurry!" Maddie shouted back.
Danny fell back on his knees, but slowly lifted himself once more; this time without the help of a table. Danny had a determined look on his face as he walked closer and closer to Jazz.
"Great globs of ghost goo! He's walking!"
Jazz smiled too at seeing how happy her parents were. "Come on, Danny!" she encouraged.
Jack hurriedly readied the camera just as Danny reached Jazz. "Yay! Dan- hey!" Jazz protested as her brother, unexpectedly, took away bear-Bert from her. Jack began taking pictures while Jazz pouted and Danny giggled.
"Bah!" he said, before sitting back down on the floor. To Jazz's displeasure, Danny began to slam bear-Bert repeatedly on the floor. "Bah, Bah!" he said loudly, while giggling some more.
Maddie scooped him up; she hugged and kiss him repeatedly, causing Danny to squeal happily. "Look at that, my baby boy can walk now, yes he can!"
Danny laughed softly. "Has Jazz had Bear Bert that long?"
"Yes, that bear is the first stuffed animal we got her." Maddie said fondly.
"I guess messing with Jazz is something I've always liked to do." He said with a wicked smile at his mom.
Maddie nodded. "You sure have." She agreed, pointing at a picture where Jazz and him were both in the bath tube. The wailing Jazz was getting her blue and green hair washed. Danny, on the other hand, smiled brightly, not caring that his hair was bright pink.
"Danny, make sure you don't put that paint in your mouth, okay sweetie?"
"Kay, mommy" he replied, dipping his fingers in blue paint before smearing it on a large piece of paper.
"Jazz, can you keep an eye on Danny? Make sure he doesn't eat the paint or leave the plastic rug he's sitting on."
"Okay, mommy." Jazz replied absently, making a painting herself.
Maddie watched a while longer as her kids painted. Jazz had a face of pure concentration, while Danny, giggled excitedly, taking more joy in adding paint on his hands then adding it on paper.
The young mother headed to the kitchen to make her children their lunch. Less then ten minutes later, she fixed up peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for them and poured them a glass of milk.
Maddie dropped the glass of milk in her hand at hearing her daughter's high pitched scream. "Jazz!" she yelled, running back into the room she had left them.
"Mommy!" she cried. "Danny dumped his paint on me!"
Maddie felt relieved at discovering it wasn't anything serious, although, Jazz was now covered in blue and green paint. "Danny, why did you throw paint on your sister?" she asked calmly.
Danny turned his innocent eyes to his mom and smiled. "She draw on me, see?" he said, showing Maddie a now blurry picture of a butterfly.
"That was just on your hand!" she said, sniffing.
"I want to draw on her too!" he beamed, grabbing another dish of paint and heading over to his sister.
"Mommy!" Jazz called.
"No, sweetie" she corrected, gently. "You paint on paper, not on Jazz."
"Huh?" he said, tilting his head confused. "Not, Jazz?"
"No, baby." She replied, smiling at him.
"Okay! Me then!"
Before Maddie could react, Danny placed the bowl of paint above his head and left it there like a hat. He giggled, while paint dripped down his face and body.
"Danny!" Maddie said exasperated. "Not on you either!" Danny just laughed.
"My hair is ruined!" Jazz exclaimed holding her green and blue colored hair.
"Maddie?" She looked at her husband, who gave her a quizzical look. "Don't you think the kids are too young for hair dye?"
Maddie shook her head and rolled her eyes at him. "Can you clean up this mess, while I take the kids a bath?"
Jack pouted but nodded anyways. "Princess, don't be upset, at least your mom didn't paint your hair pink like Danny's" Jack said, smiling at his weeping daughter.
Jazz cried harder. "I like pink!" Maddie shot him an annoyed look, before walking upstairs with her kids in hand.
"Luckily, it was washable paint and it came right off. Your father decided to take a picture of my first attempt at dyeing both your hairs" she said, shaking her head helplessly.
"Dad, he sure is something." Danny said sleepily
Maddie flipped some more. "That one" Danny mumbled.
"Oh, that was when you first met Tucker. It was at the park.
"Yeah, I remember. I think we were six or something."
"Five, actually." Maddie corrected.
"I scared you, I remember. Dad thought it was hilarious."
"Danny, go play." Maddie said with a smile.
"No!" Danny whined. "Jazz isn't here."
"Sweetie, she's at a friend's house. You'll see her later."
Her son pouted. "She doesn't love me anymore."
"Danny, you know that's not true. It's good that you like spending time with Jazz, but you have to spend time with other kids too." Maddie advised.
Danny smiled and jumped on her lap. "I like spending time with you too!" he beamed, giving her a hug.
"I do too, my baby boy" she replied, tickling his side. Danny squirmed and laughed in her embrace.
"Stop, mommy, no more!" he said, laughing.
"I won't stop, unless you go play." She retorted, continuing her actions.
"Okay!" he squealed.
Maddie stopped; she gave him a kiss on his cheek, before he jumped off and ran to the sand box.
Danny slowed down as his attention went to an African American boy around his age, playing with an electronic race car. Danny smiled. Interested in the toy, he headed towards the boy.
"That's neat!" Danny exclaimed, getting the boy's attention.
He smiled. "You like it? My daddy got it for me; my birthday was yesterday! I'm five now!" he announced proudly
"Really? I'm five too!" Danny replied just as proud.
"Wanna play with it?" Danny nodded excitedly and accepted the remote. The two little boys played and laughed.
"What's your name?" the boy asked.
"Tucker Foley!" he informed with a bright smile.
"Tucker, that's a weird name." Danny teased.
Tucker pouted. "No, it's not! It's a nice name!"
Danny laughed. "Can I call you Tuck? That sounds good."
The young boy considered it, before nodding happily. Danny's attention went to a moving bush. "Hey, what's that?" he asked curiously.
Tucker frowned. "I don't know."
Danny smiled mischievously "Let's go see"
"Naw-uh; what if it's a monster and it eats us!" Tucker said fearfully.
"My daddy catches ghost; he says not to be scared of nothin." Danny said bravely.
"Okay…" the other boy replied unsure.
Danny grabbed Tucker's arm and pulled him forward. The bush continued to shake and Danny slowly began to feel nervous. "I'm a brave boy" he thought inwardly. He gulped when they got there. He looked back at Tucker who looked more nervous then he did.
"If it's something bad, we run, okay?" Danny said.
Tucker nodded. Danny took a deep breath and quickly pushed aside the bush's branches.
"Ah!" they both yelled, seeing two eyeballs staring back at them, before the eyes vanished.
"Come on! Let's get outta here!" Tucker shouted, grabbing Danny's arm and pulling it.
"Wait, Tuck." Danny said, moving the branches aside again. The blue eyed boy smiled and pulled out what had just scared, him and his friend, a moment ago. "It's a turtle!"
Tucker stared at the creature, which had its body hidden in the shell. "Wow!" Tucker beamed, approaching the turtle and touching it.
"Come on, I want to show it to my mommy!" Danny announced.
"Okay! And then we show it to my mommy!" Tucker replied, running after his new friend.
"Mommy!" Danny called.
"Hey, my mommy is talking to your mommy" Tucker stated excitedly.
"That's great, now we can show the turtle to both of them!" Danny exclaimed.
"Hey, sweetie, made a new- AH!" Maddie screamed, seeing the large turtle her son was holding.
"Oh, my goodness!" Tucker's mom exclaimed.
"Isn't it nice?" Tucker beamed. "Can we keep it?" he asked his mother.
"Danny, put that down!" Maddie said dreadfully.
"Maddie!" Jack called approaching them.
"Jack, look what Danny has!" Maddie shouted.
Jack blinked at his son, who held up the turtle at him. "It's just a turtle" he replied calmly.
"Jack, it could bite him!"
Danny laughed. "But, mommy, it has no head!" he stated, raising it to his face and looking inside the dark hole where the turtles head was hidden.
"No!" Maddie exclaimed, grabbing the turtle away from him. Right then the turtle's head came out and she screamed as it tried to bite her.
Tucker and Danny laughed. "It likes you, mommy!" Danny exclaimed
Jack laughed as well but quickly pushed away his amusement when his wife gave him an annoyed look. "Here, let's take you a picture with the turtle and then we'll put it back where you found it, okay son?" Jack suggested.
"We can't keep it?" Tucker asked sadly.
"No, Tucker. This turtle belongs outside." Tucker's mom replied.
"Aw" Tucker pouted.
Tucker and Danny sat next to the turtle and Jack took the picture.
"If Jazz would have been there, I would have chased her around with it." Danny said playfully.
"There's a picture in here from the day you met, Sam; I think." She said, flipping through the pictures. Danny closed his eyes; a small smile played on his lips as his mom's other hand continued to stroke his hair. He had forgotten how good it felt when she did that.
"Here, it is."
Danny chuckled. "If Sam saw this picture, she would do everything in her power to get it away from me."
Maddie laughed, "I thought she looked adorable with those pink dresses her mom made her wear."
"Yeah, she looked really pretty" Danny agreed, before his eyes widen at realizing what he said. "I-I mean, cause she was little and it looked, she looked…"
Maddie laughed "Relax, Danny, I know what you meant." She assured, although, she gave him a smirk.
Danny blushed, before quickly turning his eyes back to the picture. "I met Sam in second grade. She had my homeroom class. I remember I introduced her to Tucker that day and we all came here after school."
"Yeah, and I remember your dad called her your girlfriend the whole time she was here."
Danny rolled his eyes. "I remember that too." he said with a yawn.
"Hey, Tucker and…. who's this, Danny?" Jack asked with a smile as Danny entered the house with Tucker and Sam.
"This is Sam, my new friend!" he announced proudly.
"A girlfriend, eh?" Jack said with a smirk.
"Ew!" All three kids exclaimed.
"Girls have cooties!" Tucker said.
Sam kicked Tucker in the shin, causing him to cry in pain. "Do not!"
"Cooties? Is that some form of ghostly contamination?" Jack asked suspiciously.
"Huh?" Sam said, tilting her head at Danny's dad in confusion
"No, Dad" Danny jumped in, but it was too late; Jack was already running down the lab stairs.
"Hey, Danny; who's your girlfriend?" Jazz asked with a teasing smile.
Danny glared. "Be quiet, Jazz or I'll pull out bear Berts' eyes!" he threatened.
"You better not!" Jazz exclaimed angrily.
"Kids, stop fighting!" Maddie said from the living room.
"He/She started it!" Both siblings yelled, before glaring at each other.
"Come on, guys, let's go to my room." Danny said, heading towards the stairs.
"Who's your friend, Danny?" Maddie asked approaching all four kids.
"Sam" Danny said, smiling at his mom.
"Oh, is that short for Samantha, dear?"
Sam nodded. "Yeah, but I like Sam" she informed.
Maddie chuckled. "Okay, Sam."
"Sam!" Jack called. "Come on, if you're going to be part of this family, you can't have cooties."
"I don't have cooties!" Sam protested.
"Well, then I have to teach you to protect yourself against ghost." Jack replied, putting a hand on her shoulder and walking her towards the lab.
Danny and Tucker gave each other knowing looks before racing after their new friend. "Dad, wait!" Danny shouted.
"I was sure Sam was going to flee run when dad began to talk to her about ghosts…she actually looked interested." Danny added amused, looking at the pictures with half lidded eyes.
"Remember these?" Maddie asked, yawning herself.
"I remember you got me ice cream." He said softly with a smile.
"You fell during recess at kindergarten; I picked you up early because you wouldn't stop crying for me."
"You always make me feel better, mom" he said sincerely. Maddie kissed his forehead, before she resumed caressing his hair.
"We went to the carnival, instead of heading home. That's where I got you ice cream." She said, pinching his nose, earning herself a chuckle from her son.
"You feel better, sweetie?"
Danny nodded happily. "Thanks for the ice cream, mommy!"
"You're welcome, Danny"
"What do you want to do?" she asked, while they walked hand in hand
"Can we play that game?" he asked, pointing his ice cream cone at a "shot the ducks" game.
Danny pulled at her hand, coaxing her to walk faster. "One game, please." Maddie asked, pulling out money.
"Hold my ice cream, mommy" Danny requested. Maddie smiled and did just that, while her son grabbed the toy gun and aimed it at the moving ducks.
Maddie watched as Danny held the gun steady, his eyebrows creased in concentration. Out of six rounds he managed to hit one. "Yay! What do I win?" he asked the man excitedly.
"Nothin, kid. You have to hit at least two." The man replied uncaringly.
Danny's shoulders slumped and Maddie glared daggers at the man, causing him to cower. "But, you're so darn cute; I'll let you pick a small prize!"
"Really?" He voiced excitedly, unaware of the man's nervous demeanor. "I want that one!" he said, pointing at a large spaceship.
The man gave Maddie a fleeting look before smiling back at Danny. "Of course, here you go."
Danny jumped up and down as the man handed him the rocket ship. "Give me another game" Maddie asked, paying the man.
"Here, sweetie, mommy's going to play, okay? Hold on to these tightly." She asked her son, giving him the ice cream cones.
Danny nodded animatedly and grabbed them. He watched his mom with a proud grin as she shot down every last duck. "Pick another prize, Danny." She told him once she was done, while the man stared at her with a gaped mouth.
Danny pointed at a large pink pony. "I want that one for Jazz." He said.
Maddie cleared her throat at the still shocked man. "Oh, of course, right away, little one!" he said, quickly.
"Thanks, mister!" Danny waved off as they moved away from the game stand.
"I like him, mommy; he's nice." Danny said, licking his ice cream.
"Yes, he was nice." Maddie said calmly, smiling down at him.
Maddie's eyes fell on a picture booth. "Danny, you want to take some pictures with me?" she asked.
"Funny pictures?" he asked.
"If you want." She replied.
Maddie held the ice creams and they entered the booth. "First picture, ready?"
"Say cheese, Danny"
"Cheese!" he said smiling widely as the camera flashed.
"Okay, here comes another." Maddie notified.
"Like this, mommy!" he said, sticking his tongue out.
Maddie laughed and mimicked him.
Danny waved the rocket with one hand and hugged the unicorn with the other, while sitting on Maddie's lap
They put bunny ears on each other
Maddie tickled him and he accidentally knocked the cones from his mom's hand.
"Don't worry, Danny, I'll get you another one." She said, ruffling his hair
Danny hugged her and kissed her repeatedly, while Maddie laughed
"One, more, ready?" Danny jumped on his mom's lap. He looked up at her with a bright smile and Maddie kissed the tip of his nose.
"I was your world back then." Maddie said absently, her mind still on that memory.
"You still are, mom" Danny whispered, his eyes closed. "I just have more in it."
Maddie smiled. "You needed me then."
"Still do. Always …will." He said softly, cuddling closer to her.
"You want to know what my best memories of you are?" she whispered lovingly.
"It was when you had nightmares and we'd cuddle up on this very couch; the only way I could get you to fall asleep was to tell you stories while playing with your hair." She told her now sleeping son. "I now know you're still my baby boy, Danny and you don't how happy that makes me." She whispered in his ear, before placing a kiss on the tip of his nose.
She placed the album on the table and carefully positioned herself into a more comfortable position. Maddie glanced down at her son, sleeping in her embrace before falling asleep herself; she held a smile on her face.
Jazz yawned as she made her way to the bathroom. She stopped at seeing a dim light coming from downstairs. "Who left the light-"
Jazz smiled warmly at her mom and brother, sleeping together on the large living room couch. She quietly approached them to turn off the lamp beside them. Her eyes fell on the photo book and she picked it up. She flipped through it, smiling at the thoughts it brought her. Her eyes finally fell on the last picture in the album. She stared at it before raising amused eyes towards Danny and Maddie on the couch. The picture was the carbon copy of the scene before her, with the exception that Danny was around eight years old in the picture. "I took this picture" she recalled with a smile.
Jazz woke up at hearing her brother scream. She raced out of her room, finding her mom already there. "What's wrong?" Jazz asked, her father arriving shortly after.
"Nothing, sweetie, Danny just had a nightmare." She replied, holding her crying son.
"It was a big ugly monster, mommy. It had scary red eyes and said it wanted to take me away from you and daddy!" he wailed
"Shush, you're okay now, sweetheart." Maddie assured.
"Aw, did a ghost scare you, son? Fear not, I will protect you from any filthy ghost!"
Danny stopped crying at his words and nodded. "You know, Danny, monsters aren't real and neither are ghosts" Jazz informed with a yawn.
"Yeah they are!" he defended from his mom's embrace.
"It's alright, Jack; I'll take care of Danny; you and Jazz can go back to sleep." Maddie said with a smile.
"You sure, Maddie?" Jack asked.
"Yes, he'll be fine." She replied, kissing her son's forehead.
"I'm thirsty, mommy" Danny said
"Alright baby; let's get you something." She said, picking him up and heading out of the room.
"I want a drink too!" Jazz said, walking after them.
"So do I!" Jack jumped in with a bright smile.
Maddie smiled amused at her husband, before descending the stairs.
She sat her son on top of the counter and gave him a cookie. "Cookie!" he mumbled, nibbling vigorously on the treat. Maddie shot him a warm smile before turning her attention back to the hot drinks she was making.
Jack hurriedly grabbed some cookies for himself, before sitting down at the kitchen table with his daughter.
"Alright, off to bed." Maddie told them, once they all had their drinks.
"I don't wanna sleep!" Danny whined, his eyes glazing with tears.
"Okay, Danny, you don't have to sleep." Maddie said with a comforting smile.
"Night, Maddie, Danny, Jazz." Jack said groggily as he climbed the stairs.
"Jazz, you should go to bed too." Her mom advised. Jazz nodded with a yawn.
She watched as her mom sat down with Danny on the couch. "What's that?" her brother asked, pointing at their mom's hot drink. Jazz rolled her eyes; her brother always said that when he wanted what his mom had.
"Milk; just like the one in your cup." Maddie said with a chuckle, also catching on.
"Oh" he voiced calmly.
Maddie smiled and gave him her cup. He readily accepted it with a bright smile.
"Night, mom, Danny." Jazz said heading up the stairs
"Night" they replied.
Jazz looked back at them. "Tell me a story!" she heard her brother say, while Maddie played with his hair.
"Alright" she said calmly.
"Big baby" she thought, shaking her head and heading to her room.
Later that night, Jazz woke up to go to the rest room. She frowned at seeing the light still on. Deciding to investigate, she went down the stairs. Jazz giggled quietly at finding her brother and mother, sleeping on the couch. She quickly headed up to her room once more and grabbed her camera.
"Say cheese, Danny." She whispered and took the picture. With a last smile, she turned off the lamp and headed back upstairs.
Jazz chuckled as she arrived to her room and pulled out her camera. She turned it on, making sure that the flash was off, so she wouldn't wake them.
She carefully entered the living room once more and aimed the camera at Danny and her mom. "It's nice to know some things never change." She whispered.