Heart Beat

In a Heart Beat

Teaser: A fairy tale comes to life when one of Jack's newest ghost hunting inventions intrudes between a fight with Vlad and Danny. An old spell is broken and not only does Vlad's powers decline severely, but so does his age.VmXDf

Warnings: VladXDanny. If you don't like it, sorry. Here is a complimentary tissue, unused. Keep in mind; this isn't going to be very obviousbetween the pairing until later in the story…

Disclaimer: I do not own, nor earn any profit with butchering/creating a different story based on Butch Hartman's Danny Phantom characters. There will be two (at least) original characters in this story of significance.

DP

Prologue

A bedtime story

"One heart beat is all it takes to live; however short that beat may be, it makes a sound that last's forever." – Red-Phantom

Stories, by definition, are false history lessons that teach children to listen to their parents. They are used to teach the proper morals in society through the use of a fabricated tale. 'A lie that is used to tell the truth' as some have said. Good triumphs over evil, right over wrong, and so forth… Most stories explain that the good characters are usually charming and modest, while the bad guys are ugly and deceitful. Stories are told that way to teach children how to act and look.

If an evil villain had rotting teeth, then that would be the result of not brushing them- in which case, the child hearing the story would get the impression that brushing your teeth was good, in contrast to not brushing them.

However, this story isn't the same as the others…

It is a story that tells a little bit of truth, like all fairy tales do. It once used to be a well known tale, but because of its conflict with morals, it was changed to something completely different. What was called the 'hero' in this story, was actually another villain to another story. So parents changed the names around- even the faces too…

By the time society had gotten through with the tale, the villain had become the righteous loving hero, the antagonist was a dark evil witch, and the love interest was an angelic maiden. Approximately one third of this is correct…

Here is how the story goes, the one that everyone has known it to be…

Before the story began, there was once an evil witch.

She was evil because she stole things from people. But not just ordinary things- like food, or naughty little children wandering in the night. She stole something that was very valuable and well hidden. They were invisible to the human eye, but this witch could see them…

She could see their beauty glow like pieces of the sun in her cursed eyes. No one else could see them- and no one rarely acknowledged their radiance until they realize their absence.

For you see, the witch stole hearts.

She didn't just steal them, she ate them too.

The brighter the heart was in her vile eyes, the more delectable it was. The more a person loved another, the brighter the heart became. The witch new this, so she hunted only after the hearts of those who were just falling in love.

Whenever she saw that there was a heart worth stealing, she would disguise herself and steal the heart for herself, leaving behind an empty shell that would soon die in its own despair. The witch earned the name as the Heart Thief over the years as she wreaked emotional havoc amongst young, blossoming couples.

She loved hearts.

She loved to watch them grow, and she loved to take them when they were at their brightest and reddest. Their warm vibrant throbs with life, and their symbolic growth of compassion drove the witch mad with gluttony when she had tasted her first heart.

Some say that she had become so greedy that she had even devoured her own ticking heart. And because she had taken her own heart, the witch began to survive off of using the hearts that she had stolen. They had become her sustenance for life and the stronger the hearts that she ate, the more powerful she became for a period of time…

Although this witch was evil, she was also very clever. The Heart Thief knew that she could be in danger of draining her livestock, so she hid away silently, waiting patiently for the hearts of humans to grow… She couldn't risk being found out, otherwise it would be all the more harder for her to snatch her desires. With hiding away, her legacy as the Heart Thief became only a rumor that faded over time.

Here is where our hero comes in.

Once there was a man. He was curious, strong, brave, and everything else that would be typical for a hero to be. He was a middle class man, a daring man researching into the unknown. Even though he was young, he was wise beyond his years, albeit a little bit obsessive, but no hero was ever without flaw.

He was a proud figure, and stood in society as a perfect citizen. His life was no different than to that of any other mans, but he was not content. On the contrary, our hero wasn't happy; he was very miserable.

For you see, this man was on the verge of loosing his will to live.

He had lost someone very dear to him. A woman that he had fawned over for years had slipped out of his grasp. He loved her so- yet the woman shared no feelings for him. What's more that tormented the man was that she was marrying someone else, someone less than him.

Crushed and morbid, the man wandered away from civilization. He was a man that never gave up- he always took life by the horns and throttled it to the ground… yet on that day he felt the impossible blow of unrequited love and was ready to give up hope in ever falling in love again.

The man wandered aimlessly to shed his woe wordlessly to the forests he had stumbled into. The man knew where he was. It was a place that no one ever traveled through, yet this man had unknowingly stepped into it. By the time he had discovered where his feet had taken him, he was lost.

It just so happened that the very place the man had gotten lost in was the domain of the Heart Thief. Now naturally, the witch slept to preserve her energy, but she was roused by the mournful sighs of a moping man. The witch went to investigate, and upon finding the saddened man, she was surprised.

Had it been any other human, the witch would have cackled and laughed at how feeble the heart had become with all of its hardships, yet as the evil witch gazed into this man's heart-

Her breath was stilled with the sight of a golden heart, beating lusciously in the man's chest. It was blackened and bruised with sores, and there were cracks splitting across its worn surface, yet the witch could see without a doubt that this heart was worth stealing.

At that instant, the witch wanted that heart.

However, she wanted it fully grown and ripe for the picking before she plucked it out of this man. Not this- miserable excuse of a breaking heart. The witch knew that if she didn't do anything, the man's heart would shatter in its woeful state, so she used an old powerful spell to enchant the man.

The spell was something similar to a love spell, but it didn't make the man fall in love with just anyone, oh no- the spell did nothing like that. This spell was a very deceitful incantation…It rekindled the man's determination- his will to love. It dulled the knife of unrequited love, and blinded him to believe he still had a chance to win the heart of an engaged woman.

Unbeknownst of the witch or her spell, the man no longer found himself lost or sad. He felt compelled to fight for what his heart desired, even if his love was in the arms of another.

Upon returning home, the man vowed he would never give up his attempt to win the love of his life…

Years dragged by, and the witch's spell continued to compel the heart-struck man to chase after his unrequited love no matter how many times he would try and fail. The man soon became obsessed with the need to adore what he could never have, and the witch watched patiently for her prey's heart to grow. It would take longer with the spell that she had used to enchant him, since it wasn't true love that no longer compelled him, but the Heart Thief was a very patient woman. She could wait for that heart to grow, and once it was large enough, she would devour it.

The man's heart grew, even though his affections for his assumed love were never returned. The witch watched, hidden within her domain, as she saw the man slowly grow almost deranged with self pity, but she didn't care, the heart still grew, and she took weary precautions to make sure the man's heat would not break under its constant gravity. It was a hard task to do, but the witch wanted that heart within her grasps, and she wanted it as large as she could get it.

But before the Heart Thief could proceed with her harvesting of the man's heart, a mysterious young maiden stepped into the picture; and she seemed to disrupt the enchanted man's passion.

The man's heart was beginning to waver dangerously…

DP

It was all so very interesting, these ghosts.

Keyword: was.

They were interesting; an enigma that cried for discovery. Ghosts were the very reason that Vlad had first dared to collaborate with Jack to still his curiosity about these spectral phenomenas. It also created the small bond of fleeting friendship between an impulsive oaf and a now pretentious billionaire.

The friendship didn't last obviously, but the interest remained.

What supplied their source of energy? How did they come into existence? Can they die? Could they produce offspring? Why are they so different from one another? These were only the first few choice questions that have never been answered or proven by humans. Questions that Vlad had once wanted to know for many years in his adolescence.

Ghosts were a mystery to him when he was younger, and if it weren't for his curiosity for these spectral anomalies, Vlad would have never met Maddie.

His curiosity also was the inevitable host to introducing Jack and his confounded ghost portal.

This could explain why Vlad venomously hated ghosts. They had tricked him- fooled him with human curiosity and lead him into a path of secrecy, secluding himself from society for years. It wasn't fun, but at least now… his curiosity was staved.

And now he knew the answer to various questions that would have fascinated him, had he not paid the ultimate cost for them. Through his hate, Vlad had reluctantly studied what he had half become.

He learned many things about ghosts; their types; their character traits; even how some came into existence. It was fascinating- all of it! To learn the properties of ectoplasm and how ghost use it was simply breath taking- in a literal sense.

The more Vlad knew, the more questions he unearthed to answer, and the harder it was to study them. They were, in their own way, a never ending cycle of knowledge. It was sometimes tedious, but Vlad never was the one to turn down new opportunities. He wouldn't be rich if he wasn't like that…

He also wouldn't be a half ghost for that matter either.

All in all, his category of knowledge to this present day was now cornered on the concept of ghostly life. In the past, he easily deducted that a ghost can, in fact die. Although, it was wasn't considered death- but more of a release of productive thought- like a ball of yarn becoming unraveled. He had watched some ghosts die simply out of boredom of being a ghost. Funny, really- and a little bit alarming.

But that wasn't what he was researching about now- whether there was other ways for a ghost to die or not, Vlad had other things on his mind that he wanted to know about.

Namely age.

It wasn't just because Vlad was also self conscious of his own age, but that of other ghosts. It was a troublesome strand of research, mostly because it was time consuming.

Over twenty years to be exact.

He hadn't really thought about it in his early stages as a young halfa- making his notch in the world as a rich and single bachelor of the real world. But it slowly began to dawn on him that age wasn't the same for humans and ghosts. And for that matter- all of the ghosts aged differently as well.

Take Skulker for example. He has no human form, so it was particularly hard to analyze him. But through a discussion, Vlad had learned that Skulker has lived for nearly sixty years. As dumb as he may sometimes seem- Vlad had only to assume that Skulker's intellect did not mature as quickly as a humans. And judging from Skulkers green appearance, he had only to presume that the ghost hunter did not change shape over the time period of his afterlife.

Now Technus was a more comparable study. Vlad rarely ever made it apparent that he was 'studying' ghosts- anything he picked up was always through experience. Vlad had only to see Technus a few times to realize that this ghost of electronics frequently changed his form depending on the update of modern technology around him.

As a guess, Vlad assumed that Technus must be as old as the first ever made computer. He has never bothered to ask, although there is a good chance that his assumption was correct. Judging from his out of date phrases and attire, it isn't a very farfetched theory.

It was strange, watching these examples- and more. Their methods of aging were either nonexistent or utterly different. There was no pattern amongst other ghosts.

Johnny 13, the ignorant ghost punk that Vlad has made clear to never associate with, aged almost like a human. As a matter of fact, he aged faster whenever he becomes weaker- a curious discovery that both irked and pleased Vlad.

Other ghosts similar to Johnny were the same- or vise versa.

And Clockwork, well, there was no possible way of saying that he is young, old or in his prime. He is usually all of the above at the same time to Vlad's irritation.

The Fright Knight was a prime example of being immortal. The billionaire halfa has only known the ghost for at least two years, and it didn't take a genius to guess that the Fright Knight has lived long enough to have fought against the knights of our history. Besides him, there was also the dragon sister and brother of one of the ghost domains. Not only do they appear to come from the same time era as the Fright Knight, but they haven't aged a day older than since they- possibly- died.

All these illustrations of aging troubled Vlad because he couldn't predict anything with using his gathered data. The very reason for looking more into this research was to answer one of his questions that have become direr to him with each passing year.

Did he stop aging when he became a half ghost?

Surely not. Someone would have noticed in the passing of twenty years. Yet- as Vlad neared his mid forties, he was becoming worried that someone might begin to notice that his appearance hasn't much altered since he was in his mid twenties.

As frustrating as it be, Vlad was incapable of using an analogous study. His hair had turned stark white and grey since the accident- so he couldn't rely on any lurid signs of grey hairs as he already had enough of them. A Physical study into his human body found that, in definition, Vlad was as fit as a fiddle- maybe even more so. But that could be easily explained by his insistent need to take care of himself.

With his visual assets failing in his study, Vlad resorted to the more invisible ways of measuring age; blood testing.

Sure enough, his blood told another story of his life time. Had any one ever looked at his blood, they would think that they were staring at the blood of a twenty-four year old male with ghostly imbued D.N.A. That was only a couple years difference since his accident.

Of course, Vlad's appearance changed characteristically- he stopped dressing like an adolescent, and more like a business man, and he wore his hair in the fashion that most others thought as proper and 'elderly'. He had even dawned dark circles under his eyes- courtesy of some make up and endless nights of research- to make him look sharp and older. It wasn't too hard for him to look forty, even if it was unintentional.

As soon as he learned of this, Vlad became pleased and worried at the same time.

He was pleased, because he knew he would be able to predict his life span- even Daniel's if he wanted to punch in the numbers. But he also became worried because in his breakthrough, a new inquiry rose from the ashes of his discovery.

What will become of his dearest Maddie when he has aged well past a hundred years?

He won't be able to keep his secret for much longer if people see a billionaire in his early nineties looking like he'd just reach thirty years.

Maybe it was easy to hide under the mask of a forty-year old billionaire, but sixty or even fifty?

Vlad had to start doing something before things got out of hand… But he still had a few years before he needed to worry about it too much… Cancel a few doctor appointments, avoid questions relating to his complexion. Easy.

For now, Maddie and Daniel was his prime concern. His heart still ached so much with Maddie out of his reach, and Daniel was that violent rose within a garden that needed to be properly trimmed to perfection before it outgrew its soft vines. They were more of a concern to Vlad than his awareness of his longevity.

In fact, with the realization of longer life, Vlad suddenly found it more urgent to have Maddie in his arms…

Which brings us to why he resided once more within Amity Park, partaking in yet another one sided spat against a young oblivious halfa known as Danny Phantom…

DP

The story unfolds…

DP

Thanks to: Red-Phantom for being my reliable beta, helpful advisor, and tolerable twin.