In a Heart Beat
In a Heart Beat
Warnings: VladXDanny. If you don't like it, sorry. Here is a complimentary tissue, unused. There might be some language to keep note of.
Disclaimer: I do not own, nor earn any profit with butchering/creating a different story based on Butch Hartman's Danny Phantom characters from Nickelodeon. There will be one (at least) original character in this story of significance.
'Love is as much of an object as it is an obsession. Everyone wants it, everybody seeks it, but few ever achieve it. Those who do will, cherish it, be lost in it, and never…never forget it.' – Curtis Judalet
It was time to catch his prey.
Vlad had been playing around far too much for the Heart Thief's tastes. He couldn't understand at first why the naïve man wouldn't just ghost into the lab and steal the item of his desire. The Heart Thief knew how easy it would have been just to grab the useless object and forsake this haunted town forever, but then it noticed something…
Vlad's heart was acting up.
Curious little thing.
The Thief always knew he had found himself something special when he first laid eyes on him, but to see such a blackened heart slowly revive was something he had never seen before. And the Heart Thief had seen many hearts to know how near impossible it was. Possible, but phenomenal.
Indeed inquisitive with the new discovery, the Heart Thief settled to putting his hunt on hold just to watch closely through Erik's extra eye. 'Vince', as the man cleverly went by, was having issues with his own heart. It was like watching a tug of war battle out within the man's ravaged chest. A portion of the heart was refusing to recover- afraid to brighten and show its true colors to the world. It was almost as motionless and relentlessly lifeless as a rock whereas the other half of his heart was reaching out, thriving and beating avidly with its flecks of gold and royal blue veins.
What an interesting situation that the Heart Thief had found him in… His first plans had been to apprehend the poor man and treat the heart with another incantation to soften the hardened shell, but it looked as though someone else had already been sanding off the rough edges of his damaged heart. And rather well, he dared to compliment.
Whoever was causing these subtle changes was certainly worth the observation. If this person could nurse Vince's heart without knowing it was, it would be a heart worth hunting for. And what better way to find out who the mystery girl is than to keep an eye on his targets heart?
There was one little problem… The Heart Thief was getting very annoyed with this boy, 'Danny', for taking up Vince's time. True, the heart was lively- strong and amiable- but it looked far too young and gentle to dare press against his target's rough and poisonous vital organ. There must be someone else. This 'Danny' character was getting in the way and the Heart Thief was growing impatient.
Perhaps it was time to meddle with the old fool's heart one more time. Maybe then he would find the answer to this new obscurity. And the Heart Thief knew just how he was going to go about this…
Heartless servants were always so good at spying. There wasn't one thing that he didn't know about the second life of Vlad Masters. Thanks to the his heartless slave, Erik, the Heart Thief knew more about Vlad Masters' double life as 'Vince' than anyone else. And it looked as though Vince was missing an important piece to his charade: Parents.
The Heart Thief decided he could solve a part of that problem.
That was the most different sleepover Danny had experienced in a while. Come to think of it, the phrase 'sleepover' felt far too childish for how last night's discussion ended. Better yet, he doubted it was very ordinary at all. Danny felt more comfortable thinking that Vince had just stayed for a 'visit'.
He really couldn't remember by morning how the topic had traveled from ghosts all the way to Vlad, but then again, Danny had only to guess that eventually anything about ghosts would lead to Plasmius at one point or another. Still though… It left Danny thinking over the conversation for more than an hour before he fell asleep.
Danny really did leak out a few things to Vince that he had never dared telling Sam or Tucker about. True, he had lied a lot that night, but there were so many truths in his falsehoods that neither Sam nor Tucker had ever heard of. It was only Vince though, so it was all right. Nothing could possibly bite him in the ass for telling Vince some ghost stories. That aside, he was sure his two closest friends would also think he was crazy because they actually knew who Plasmius was.
But Vince didn't… so that made things okay, Danny figured.
It was definitely vague enough that Vince wouldn't think anything of it by the morning. In fact the first thing that was brought up was what was available for breakfast in the afternoon. Danny suspected that Vince was just curious about his family's love for ghosts. Besides hunting for something to eat, Vince had a number of curious questions for his parents that even Danny hadn't thought of asking. He couldn't blame him for the morbid curiosity; Vince had his own share of ghost tales that bluntly told Danny that 'he was interested'.
The thought later became amusing to Danny as he considered Vince's passive interest towards Danny Phantom. Rather than trying to rip him apart molecule by molecule, Danny gathered the sort of idea that Vince was more content in just… talking with a ghost, maybe poking at him a little. Harmlessly. The idea later became cute and Danny deliberately started to ignore it for the preservation of his masculine perspective.
Besides Sam and Tucker, Danny knew most people would scream and run away, or idolize him. Not try to understand him. While popping a Pizza Pocket into the microwave the thought had left Danny grinning to himself absently while he watched Vince pick at his own brunch with a disgruntled look across his face.
"What? You don't like pizza pockets?" Danny asked idly.
"I have nothing against them. I'd just like to know what I'm putting in my mouth." He made a look as a bit of cheese and sauce oozed out from the side of the baked bread. Vince took the packaging box from the dinner table and began reading it, earning a laugh from Danny.
"Says you." Vince snorted without taking his eyes off from the box.
Danny was about to point out that the name of the product might be a big clue as to what he was eating when he heard the door bell ring.
He put a hold on the discussion and left the kitchen to answer the door. But before he could reach the door knob, his father jumped out from the living room and announced quickly, "I'll get it!" And easily got a hold of the door before Danny and yanked it open.
At the door there stood a man who was dressed in a clean dark suit. His hands were casually hidden inside of two comfortably large pockets at his hips. This seemed all reasonably normal to Danny, except for the fact that the man had an eye patch covering his left eye and looked like he had gone a day or two without shaving.
Oh, and his ghost senses immediately went off.
"Afternoon! You must be Danny's father, right?" Before even Jack could say anything, the man continued while looking into his house curiously. "Wonderful. I'm looking for Vincent. He wouldn't happen to be here still?"
Frowning Danny watched as Jack answered, "Yep," and, without an ounce of politeness, Danny cut in and asked: "Who are you?" Earning a glance in his general direction from the one-eyed man, Danny frowned.
"Oh, how foolish of me. My name is David Morgens. Vincent's father."
At this point, alarm bells began to ring in Danny's mind as he stared up into the man's single uncovered eye. "I'm just going to be picking him up now." Jack appeared to be perfectly all right with this, but while Danny's mind began to realize the potential threat that Vince was in, Jack spoke up.
"Well come on in, David! Danny here has been making great friends with Vince," he said cheerily.
"So I've heard. But I'm afraid I'm in a bit of a hurry.'
It was at that moment that there was a muffled popping noise and briefly Danny first assumed it was his mind. However, Vince and his impeccable timing had stepped out into the hall to correct his claim. "Your Pizza has exploded, Danny. You can have mine instead though." By this time Vince realized there was someone at the door still; he paused to stare up at him blankly without a single inkling of recognition.
"Ah Vince! There you are. Your mother and I didn't know how long you would be staying here, so I decided I ought to pick you up now." David smiled cheerily to Vince. Danny turned his attention to Vincent to rely on Vince's expression to prove his assumptions about this man. And like a book, Danny could read the clear and defined words in large font 'What the fudge?' written across his face. He watched the teen's mouth fall open in shock and gape in confusion. That was truth enough for Danny at this point. But what confused Danny more was that Vince quickly went to fix his expression when he caught Danny's look.
"Ah… ye…eah…" he said slowly as he turned to Danny and fleetingly to Jack. He didn't move to step forward. Jack, however, moved to step out of the way of the door and admit the man into his house, and David immediately moved past the two Fentons to take Vince by his arm and direct him out.
"I'm sorry I can't stay and chat. I hope Vince was good during his stay here," he said, smiling still even as it was obvious that Vince was being half dragged to the door.
"He was great! He's welcome to stay any time. Maybe next time Danny can show him around the lab-"
"Well that's wonderful; maybe he can do this again. It was nice meeting you, but we'll be going now." Danny was ashamed that his father couldn't tell there was something suspicious with the way he was in such a hurry to leave as they stepped out of the door. Unfortunately, Danny couldn't do anything without tipping off that he knew that this was impossible.
Vince didn't have parents. That was the whole reason of this 'visit' in the first place!
Vince and David were out the door already. The latter was forcing the former to walk with a white knuckled grip around his arm down the street. Jack stood at the door frame, making Danny crane his head up to look over his father's shoulder to watch in distress. Jack, on the other hand was simply curious.
"That reminds me, Danny. We ought to go out sometime together. Father-son time, right?" Jack turned to look at Danny and blinked to find his son already heading up stairs.
"Yeah, sure that's great. We can do that some other time, Dad," Danny said hurriedly as went to his room. He could let his dad wonder, but right now, Danny needed to make sure that Vince was all right. Behind the doors of his bedroom, Danny turned to his ghost form and darted out through the walls and just over his Dad's head, invisible.
He took to the route where he had watched David direct Vince to follow. He was startled, and a little panicked, when he couldn't see them. They couldn't have gone far. However, while zipping past a narrow alley, Danny jarred his movement when he heard a venomous growl and a small yelp.
"I've spent years waiting for that heart of yours, and this is what you've done to it?" Confused and more (than) alarmed, Danny peeked into the alley to find David pinning Vince up against the wall of the alley by the collar of his shirt. Vince was looking just as startled as Danny was at the sight and sound of David's fierce growl.
"What the hell are you talking about?!"
"This." The so-called parent shoved his free hand over Vince's chest. Immediately, the teen yelped and started to squirm and kick violently as if David had just plunged a cold knife into his chest.
"G-get away," Vince said hoarsely, unable to hide the fright still riddled over his face. David gave a sadistic smirk to the struggling teen.
"Oh do relax, you little freak. I'm just letting you know just how much your heart hates you." He chuckled and pushed his hand harder against the left side of his chest. Danny twitched involuntarily as he watched Vince stop moving all together.
"But right now, I want to find out what it loves…Wha-!?"
Danny didn't wait a second longer to aid his friend's request. As much as Danny wanted to know what was happening here, he didn't want to let Vince get hurt any more. It didn't really look like David was hurting Vince at all, but the teen certainly made it appear like he was. Convinced, Danny separated the two by means of firing a large ecto-blast in David's direction.
David glanced up in time to see the teenage hero throw an attack at his side and was immediately dislodged from Vince. He barreled to the ground a few feet away. Danny rose into the air a bit more and drew up, placing himself between Vince and David. The imposter of a parent hissed and scrambled to his feet. However, the moment the ghost looked at Danny, the rage diminished and a wicked smile stretched across his lips.
"So you're the one," he said while spreading his legs into a stance. Danny noticed this immediately and moved to strike first.
"Yeah sure. I'm the one who's going to kick your butt!" Cheesy, yes, but Danny didn't have a clue what this ghost was talking about. It didn't matter either. He shot two blasts at David, and to Danny's surprise, the man hardly managed to get out of range by jumping back.
What was wrong with this ghost? Didn't all ghosts fly? His next attack didn't fail to miss and suckered David right in his face and caused the man to fall harshly. Danny almost thought, for a worried moment, that David might actually be a human until he heard an unearthly scream.
"You little monster!"
David rose up onto his feet again eerily with one hand covering the side of his face. Danny's eyes grew wide as he saw what the ghost was trying to cover. His hand, including a good portion of his face, looked like cracked porcelain. And under the fragile face, where the human-looking skin cracked and fell off, Danny could see pitch black skin wrapped over the raised skeleton of a cheek bone and knobby fingers.
"Look what you've done!" it shrieked with a voice that no longer suited male or female. "My face!" it hissed. Danny was more astounded that it didn't look like it was in any pain over having a quarter of its face burned off. Then again… seeing a portion of teeth move without lips as it spoke was also disturbing him. Keeping a firm grip on his protective mood, Danny glared back.
"I'm going to do a lot more than that," whatever he did, "before I'm through with you," he threatened as he raised fists that radiated with his green signature green power. To Danny's surprise, the ghost appeared to be intimidated and started to step back. Danny watched in blank astonishment as the ghost's feet began to change and tear through the shoes that once sported David's feet. The ghost hissed again and bent down on his now-clawed ebony feet and jumped up and over and into the air, where he didn't land and started his escape, flying like a normal ghost should.
Danny was about to follow after him before he remembered about an important person that he had been protecting. Vince was still leaning back against the wall, staring in front of himself, shell shocked. Danny bit his lip and looked back to the fleeing form of Vince's assailant before returning back down to the ground near Vince. A hand was clutching over the left side of his chest while Danny approached.
"Hey, are you all right?" Danny said the moment his feet touched the ground. Vince seemed to snap out of his thoughts when he heard Danny Phantom speak and looked to his rescuer, still shocked. At least he lowered his hand from his chest.
"I… I have to go," Vince uttered quickly and turned on his heels to dart out of the alley. Confused by Vince's odd reaction, Danny nearly considered chasing after him in his ghost form, but thought otherwise when he recalled the wild and startled look across Vince's face before he fled.
Danny Phantom didn't comfort the people; Danny Fenton did.
Vlad hated his body. He hated how weak it had become, and just how compromising it was to be known as Vlad Masters while trapped in this flimsy body. That was why he hadn't revealed his secret to Skulker, and it was the same reason why he hadn't simply summoned his buzzards to retrieve Jack's blasted weapon. No one must know who he was. He would lose count on how many ghosts there were that would love to have a bone to pick with him while he could hardly defend himself as he used to.
And yet, at the doors of the Fenton's house, there was someone who knew. And he was playing with him. Like a cat batting at a tightly wound ball of yarn. He knew that he couldn't make a scene and give Jack or Danny a reason to investigate his background. He had none after all. This so called David Morgens was nonexistent! Just as Vincent-blasted-Morgens!
Vlad let himself get pulled out from Danny's house, confused, worried, and above all, angry. It wasn't too hard to tell that this man was a ghost, but like some ghost guises, he appeared perfectly human. It had taken a moment for his ghost senses to actually react to David's presence.
Despite this, Vlad let himself get carried off, hoping silently that Danny wasn't foolish enough to think that this ghost was really Vince's father. It was when they were out of earshot that Vlad took action and pulled his arm free from the man's grasp.
"All right, who are you?" Vlad growled, ending his charade for the obvious lie between the two. David made a crooked smile. Charming perhaps, but nothing that Vlad could care for.
"I'm insulted. You don't remember me when I helped you in your dire need for counsel?" He chuckled and took Vlad's arm again, this time pushing him to walk. "Although, I wouldn't blame you... I had blond hair, and one hell of a bust," the ghost known as David drawled indifferently.
Vlad seriously wished to question what David just said.
Instead, Vlad moved to pry himself away from the ghost again, growling. "I can't seem to remember when I've ever been in any 'dire need for counsel' either." He gritted his teeth when David's grip remained firm. Vince resorted to using a hand to get David's off from his arm.
"Let go of me," he demanded.
The order was ignored while David pushed him again, and this time into the alley that they had been approaching where he finally let go so that Vince could stumble forward and land roughly on his hands and knees.
"You can't even remember that?" The voice held less amusement while Vince started to gather himself to his feet. "Oh Vlad… heart has changed," he said icily, and before Vince had the time to make a run for it down the alley, let alone question David, he felt a hand snag his collar and shove him effortlessly up against the wall. Vlad wished that he had been more composed now that he thought about it, but he yelped anyway when he found himself pinned.
Daniel was watching by now. Vlad could sense it, and bitterly choose not to phase out from under David's grasp and spoil his secret for Daniel. The ghost snarled, grabbing his attention again.
"I've spent years waiting for that heart of yours, and this is what you've done to it?" David hissed, and Vlad frowned, growing impatient with the confusion that this ghost seemed to be constantly radiating.
"What the hell are you talking about?!"
Vlad regretted that he had ever asked. The moment he felt a hand over his chest, Vlad became aware of a sharp pain inside of his body. It felt as if his vital organ under David's hand was replaced with a coil of thorns, shredding and grinding against the inside of his chest with each heart beat. Vlad began to writhe and twist wildly, ignorant of anything around him for the first few seconds as he squirmed, trying to alleviate the pain. When he realized it was hurting most under David's grasp, he wildly took a hold of the man's arm in a panicked attempt to pull the hand away from him. Neither David nor the silent pain would leave him alone.
"G-get away from me."
David didn't, and the pain grew until he said something else that Vlad couldn't bother himself to listen when he noticed the object of his pain adjusted its position and applied more pressure. Expecting pain, Vlad winced and strengthened his struggle. However, the breath escaped his lips when the unnatural agony ended, leaving nothing but confusion and the feeling like he was dreaming.
All the things that were happening around him were a little unclear, as most dreams would be. A part of Vlad knew what was going on and that this was no dream, but the rest of him couldn't care less when something else became the object of attention. The worst of this sensation that Vlad could recall was the sense of awareness and panic that was being discarded like the packaging inside a box in place of feeling the curious warmth swell inside his chest. The immediate sensation made him want to squirm away, not out of discomfort, but out of fear that something very important of his was about to be revealed to this monster clutching at his chest. Since he couldn't get away, he felt dread begin to ebb just as his panic had been, only to be replaced with an even deeper emotion. Desire.
Vlad had very little examples to describe the sensation, but it came close to the feelings he once found familiar when he would see Maddie. So close and yet she might as well be thousands of miles away guarded behind ghost proof walls. Maddie, however, was not the object of his thoughts.
It was someone else.
Before Vlad could make out these feelings and figure out just who he was thinking of, his answer, unbeknownst to him, came swooping in to dislodge David's offending hand from his chest. It was at that point that Vlad realized he had been holding his breath.
What just happened here? As if an alarm had just woken him up, Vlad felt and looked disoriented from the mixed feelings that lingered inside his chest. Aching and pain were now evident, but they were dulled significantly with the help of the stuffy, cottony feeling that reminded him that he was supposed to know something that he couldn't quite recall any more.
His surroundings came to his attention when he partially heard the brawl of his offender when Danny threw a few attacks at him. Vlad quietly took note that it hadn't taken much for the ghost to back off and scowled inwardly at the fact that was aware of just how afraid he was for that ghost or whatever it was to ever come near him again.
Vlad had never felt so doubtful of himself in his life in this one very rare instance. It had him off his guard and he could barely react proportionately to Daniel's concern. Was he supposed to feel all right? Daniel just 'saved' him correct?
Then why did he feel like he still needed to run?
To be continued…