A/N I AM SO SORRY THAT IT'S BEEN SO LONG SINCE I UPDATED LAST! There really is no excuse, but honestly, my life has been rather hectic. Even the summer's been fille with stuff I have to take care of. But good news! I'm in college! Hurray! Which means that I won't have my parents telling me what I have to do every second that I'm home from school, which means I have more time to work on this. Also, I had lost the plot planning I'd done for the story for MONTHS and only just found it maybe a week ago saved to a very strange place on my computer. But anyway. I digress.

I am SO HAPPY that I finally pumped out another chapter for this. This really is my favorite thing to work on, though I warn you - my style isn't quite as lighthearted as it feels like it used to be. This is a somewhat angsty chapter, but the next chapter, I promise, will be much more fun. This one mostly looks at the fun backstories that no one seems to provide. I've tried to keep them in line with either the character from DP or just manipulate it to work with the story. I hope you like it, I had a lot of fun writing it. Any questions about what exactly was going on, feel free to email me. (I changed my email, so messages aren't going through. You can email me directly at if you'd like. Or comment. Either way.)

Whew! I'd like to thank all of the lovely people whoreviewed my last chapted oh so long ago, including YouHitMyHeart101, pearl84, AmethystOcean, bloodmoon13, Nylah, reader, Writer's-BlockDP, dragon of spirits, swiftwind, Dragonrule, Rocketeer, Nysk, Lunan, and Marcus S. Lazarus. It's probably too much to expect you all to still be reading or even still be on FFnet, but I would still like to thank you all. I really do appreciate every review I get, especially the nore detailed ones. So thank you. This chapter is dedicated to all of you.

Disclaimer: I own the clothes on my back. The rest is someone else's.

Chapter Seven
Dhakara

In less than a day, Danny found himself with the potential to become the most powerful ghost in the world and with the ability to shift between the realm of the living and the dead. So, naturally, his power was sapped before he got halfway across the desert. He realized how weak he was at the moment and redirected his route for a small oasis, collapsing out of exhaustion as soon as he set himself down.

Tuck watched all of this as he trailed behind his new master, still connected to the lamp by the wisps of smoke where legs should have been. Maybe this wasn't the best idea I've ever had, he thought to himself as he watched Danny slip into unconsciousness. After all, it was bound to take its toll on the young ghost...boy...whatever this kid was now. Maybe this was all pushing him past his physical limits too soon.

Why should he care? Well, Danny was already one of the more humane masters he'd been forced to serve. He was the first to refuse the official title of "master," the first to talk to him like he was an actual person. Which he was. Just not in the conventional way, not anymore. But genies, magical powers aside, were still sentient beings that could feel and think and be aware of what was going on around them. Most of his other masters had treated him little better than a dog, a pet that could perform for their amusement. I hate not being human, Tuck thought bitterly.

Then, as he always did when his train of thought got to this, he tried to look on the bright side of life. Right here, right now, was not hell. And for that, Tuck was happy.

Sighing, he took another quick look in his PDA. Rules, rules, rules...why does a genie need so many rules? Why can't we just be all-powerful and be happy with it? At least he had a PDA and not ne of those stupid giant rulebooks. With a PDA there were games that he could play, so long as he kept the battery charged with his powers. And he could keep a sort of log of what he'd been up to in the past: the masters, the wishes, what did and didn't work. Oh, and he could also check the "additional" rules much more easily when he needed to have access to them.

The "additional" rules were those that a genie did not have to tell the master about immediately. Only once the subject came up, such as Danny's idea to wish for more wishes, did a genie have to explain. The Free Will article was what Tucker was currently looking at. There were certain things that genies could not do unless their masters wished it so; otherwise, the genie would implode or something equally harmful. For example, a genie could not transform the master into a non-sentient being. Non-sentient beings, as stated in subsection 4, paragraph 4, line 16, could not become a genie's master as they could not make wishes. This is different from the idea of a master wishing to be an animal because that entitles them to keep their own self-awareness. I hate not being human, Tuck thought with more conviction.

Anyway, he was trying to see what he could do if his master passed out on him like this. It was obviously not a conscious decision, nor a welcome one, so it was a toss. Looking caarefully, Tuck saw some adendum that led to an asterisk at the bottom. Rolling his eyes at the sheer complexity of the stupid genie rules, he scrolled down to the bottom of the page.

A genie may, as stated in Subsection 12, Paragraph 2, lines 3-6, revive a master's unconscious state if there is evidence of the unconsciousness being involuntary, i.e. drug-induced.

"What?" Tuck asked aloud, his eyebrows knitted in confusion. That doesn't even make any sense. What if the master was smoking pot and passed out? Is that 'involuntary'? I swear, someone really needs to rewrite these...They're like fifteen thousand years old. Shrugging, he figured that loopholes just make his job easier. He held up his left hand and pushed his thumb and his middle finger together.

SNAP!

Danny's eyes flew open, glancing around his rapidly as he began to get to his feet. What happened? he asked himself, rubbing the back of his very sore head. It felt like his entire body had just been doused in oil and set on fire. Not that he'd have died from it, but it still would have been very unpleasant.

He heard a sound very much like the clearing of a throat coming from behind him. Twisting around, he saw a guy about his age standing under the nearest tree. Who's...oh, wait, I remember. That's Tuck. The genie. His brain took a moment to process his thought. THE GENIE!

"You okay?" Tuck asked, reaching a hand up to grab at a coconut on the branches above him. He was about ten yards beneath it, yet he simply allowed his arm to stretch until it reached its destination. Danny blinked in surprise as he watched Tuck's arm skrink back to its original size. "You took a really bad fall back there, dude."

Nodding absently, Danny took a moment to clear his thoughts. He was still in pain, but it was subsiding quickly. He'd made it out of the cave...well, not alive, but more alive than when he'd gone in. He took a moment and concentrated hard before his body shifted from ghostly to human. He did this a few more times, each going more quickly than the last, before he was out of breath from the sheer physical exhaustion that the use of his powers brought on.

Tuck watched on as Danny over exerted himself. "You know," he commented, "that shift will likely get easier every time you do it. Expending less energy, giving you a faster change time, all that jazz. Practice makes perfect, but this may not be the best time...you look like you're gonna pass out again." Leaning up against the body of a palm tree, he closed his eyes and thought about time. How much of it had slipped by for him. Things he had lost to the ravages of time. It was quite depressing, but he couldn't get his mind off of it. That's how it always went, like it or not.

Danny simply lay there on the ground, the sun hot against his face, as he contemplated what would be the best thing to do next. I know I don't have the energy to fly out of the desert yet...maybe I should just take an hour or so and just rest. "Hey Tuck," he yawned, stretching his arms over his head. Tuck merely acknowledged this by opening one eye to look at the ghost-human hybrid. "Wake me up in an hour, will you?"

Grinning hollowly, Tuck asked, "Is that your second wish?"

"My second...no, no, I just want to sleep. Could you do me that as a favor?"

A favor. Tuck started, snapping to attention. This was the first time in a long time that he'd been asked to do something. It was usually a demand, a wish, something he didn't have the option to say no to. This...this was a choice. The implications it held...with a shaky voice, Tuck replied, "S-sure. One hour." He didn't even need to say it, though. Danny had alwready closed his eyes and was sleeping soundly.

A favor...

Tuck's mind went to the past. Things that had happened. People he had met. Circumstances he wished could have been different.

The chains he wore. The tasks he'd perform. The whippings and beatings he'd receive. Being a prisoner of war was rough, though he had it better than his elders. Most of them, including his father, were put to death. Sometimes he wished he could join them, though he wasn't sure if it was because he wanted to see them again or because he wanted out of the hellhole that his life had become.

And one day, all of that changed.

It was an innocent-looking lamp, one that his overlords had received as the spoils of one of the many wars their people launched. It was a dimaond in the rough, certainly, as it was a dingy lamp among the thousands of priceless gems and jewels that constituted the rest of the spoils of war. It was his task to polish everything until it shined like the morning sun.

He was trying his best to complete the task slowly so he wouldn't have to move on to more horrible things, but quickly enough that he wouldn't be beaten for it. He went through the stacks of rubies and emeralds and gold and silver before he finally got to the dingy lamp. He could almost see his reflection in it underneath all of the grime. A face he had grown to hate. He was weak. Unable to fight back, to stand up for his people and himself. He was a coward.

He didn't realize that, as he rubbed the lamp, furiously trying to scrub away the image of his face between the filth, another figure had entered the room. A girlish voice spoke, sounding annoyed, but, to him, they were the sounds of an angel.

"What do you wish, master?"

Shaking his head to clear away such memories, Tuck pounded an ethereal fist into the sand. He knew that things couldn't have been different...but he wished that they were.

- - - - - - -

In exactly one hour, Tuck, as promised, woke Danny up. Danny was feeling refreshed and recharged and, as such, grabbed hold of the lamp and flew through the desert. He knew, of course, that he couldn't go home, nor could he go to Masters' place. Not with the lamp and Tuck. So instead, he flew to the palace. The topmost spire was tall enough to see past the gbounds of the city and far into the desert on one side and the plains on the other. It was truly a beautiful view.

Nearly passing out as he reached the top again, Danny sat for a moment to catch his breath. It was more difficult to use his powers when he wasn't fully a ghost, which could present a problem. He would need to spend more time training if he wanted to overcome that obstacle, but it truly wasn't anything he didn't feel like he could do. He was scrawny; he could use some building up.

As soon as his breathing was normal again, he rubbed the lamp to summon Tuck. The two sat in silence for a few minutes, just looking at the view surrounding them. And then Tuck spoke.

"So what are you going to do with your next two wishes, Danny?"

"My next two wishes?" Danny had almost forgotten that he had two wishes left. After all, having his wishes granted was not something he was exactly used to. As such, he had no idea what to wish for. I just know that I can't waste them. "I have no idea. Do I have to make them soon? Is...is there a time limit or something that I should know about?"

Tuck shook his head, a rather amused look on his face. "Dude, you can take as long as you want. It's just that most people will make their wishes in three seconds. Money! Power! Women!" He accentuated each of those with a small "poof" of smoke from his hands. "Most people won't hang onto a genie for long."

"Hmm." Danny pondered for a minute. "Any suggestions?"

Tuck froze again. He wants my opinion? This wasn't the kind of question most people would ask a genie. Ever. "I'd say you oughta wish to look as handsome as yours truly, but even magic can't make you look this good." Chuckling at his own humor for a minute, he thought about the wishes he'd made in the past. And the consequences that came with them.

Freedom. That was his first wish. Freedom for him and for his people, the freedom to live in their own land and be able to fight back if the "overlords" decided to try and conquer them again. It was a good wish, he thought. Selfless. Far-reaching. Even if it didn't bring his father and the rest of the elders back from the dead, he knew that he and his people would carry on the traditions of their elders and fight back against anyone who tried to threaten their way of life.

Soon enough, they had rebuilt, replenished, restored their land and their people to what it once had been. The harvest was bountiful, the flooding was just enough to keep the plants watered, the people were at peace with themselves and other nations. Life was nearly perfect.

And she...she was the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes on. And almost completely untouchable. He kept himself from wishing too soon to keep her with him as long as he could. He'd rub her lamp once, twice, five times a day just to see her, to talk to her. Hours upon hours, he would talk to her, even if she didn't talk back. She was surly and resentful every time, but he didn't care. He was falling in love with her.

In time, he cracked through a tiny part of her surly exterior. He saw the sadness behind her eyes. And he was desperate to fix it, to make her happy. So he talked, he joked, and he loved her, but nothing seemed to truly get through to her.

And that's when he realized. She was, herself, a slave. No power to say no, no power to do anything but listen to him when he talked, no power to put her own morality toward the wishes she granted. She had all of the pwoer in the world...and was completely powerless.

"Seriously, Tuck, I can use all of the suggestions I can get."

Danny's comment shook Tuck out of his reverie. No need to dwell on the past...Grinning, Tuck turned to Danny. "Honestly, I have no idea. It all depends on your life, who you are, and what you want. Money, power, and women are all usually good places to start."

Women...Danny's thoughts turned to a girl who was likely far beneath him in the castle, maybe sleeping, maybe just waking up, maybe just getting dressed for the day...Urk. No need to be thinking of that right now. "Um. I think I'm just going to hold onto my other wishes for now. At least until I can come up with something I know I want." They sat in silence a few minutes more, basking in each other's company while lost in thought. "Hey," Danny said suddenly, "how exactly did you become a genie? Were you born into geniehood or something?"

Tuck brought his legs to his chest and wrapped his arms around them, resting his chin on his knees. "It's...a little more complicated than that."

"Well I'm interested, if you want to tell the story."

"Basically," Tuck sighed, "I was a prisoner of war. My masters found this lamp and I was assigned to clean it. So I did and out popped a genie." Stopping to laugh for a second, he commented, "We seem to do that a lot, heh." A small grin appeared on his face as he continued. "So I wished for my people's and my freedom. I held off on the second wish because..." He paused. Did he really want to share this with Danny? "...well, I couldn't decide what to wish for, I guess. So I just kind of lived it up with my people and I'd just kind of chat with her a few times a day, and she -"

"Wait," Danny interrupted. "Who is 'her'?"

Tuck blinked. "The genie."

"The genie was a girl?"

"Yes, genies aren't just one sex or the other, man. There are girl genies too."

"Huh. I just woulda thought they'd be called something different or something."

"Anyway," Tuck chuckled; Danny's train of thought was an interesting one to follow. "Getting back on topic. She wasn't happy; every time we talked, she would be all defensive." The grin disappeared as Tuck stared off into the sky. "I saw that she wasn't really free, what with the whole 'I must grant every wish that comes my way' thing that goes along with being a genie. So I...wished her free." He was leaving out the part where he'd confessed his love to her and kissed her, but that was his own business anyway. And it was the part that made him the most upset when remembering and thinking about the What Ifs, so he simply chose to skip that part.

Danny was slightly confused. "You wished her free and became a genie? How does that work?"

Sighing again, Tuck whipped out his PDA. "There are a lot of rules that genies have to follow. One is that the number of genies can never change. So when the lamp released her...it sucked me in."

"Oh." Danny thought about how that must have been like. Suddenly having so much power, but being sucked into confinement until someone else chose to let you out. Damn...that's...that's awful. "And what about her? What happened to her?"

"I...don't know." The wind started picking up a bit, rushing through Danny's and Tuck's clothes and nearly blowing Tuck's hat off of his head. "One of the rules is that any person who's had three wishes can only have three wishes. Right before I wished for her freedom, she said she'd used her three wishes already. One to live with eternal youth, one...well, I forget the second one, but the last one...was for incredible power. Her genie was spiteful and took the last one to mean that she wished to be a genie." She always regretted her wishes...Tuck looked to Danny, his eyes quite sad. "The next time I opened my eyes, there was the first of many masters demanding that I do as they say. I haven't seen her since."

"That's...Tuck, I'm sorry." Danny wasn't sure what he could do to comfort the genie, but he truly was sorry. He couldn't imagine going through all of that with someone just to lose them forever.

Tuck smiled an empty smile. "It's alright. She's still alive thanks to that first wish of hers. And I'd recognize her even after a thousand years." Shaking his head slightly, the smile became more real. "Any girls in your...afterlife?"

"One."

"...oh come on! I just tell you the tragic story of my life and you're not gonna share any details about yours?"

Chuckling, Danny decided to share. After all, Tuck was likely going to be his only companion for quite awhile. "There's this one girl, yeah. Her name is Sam and we spent some time together before I died. She...was the strangest girl I ever met, but she was incredible. Smart, interesting, funny..."

"Beautiful?"

"Gorgeous. Inside and out." Danny sighed. "She's...part of the reason I died. She's actually the princess, surprise surprise!, and she was running away. The guards thought I kidnapped her and...took my head." Danny rubbed the back of his neck, shuddering from the memories of seeing his head severed from his body. "So I couldn't really do anything about that while I was dead. And I was a thief! She's the princess! She's supposed to get with..."

Tuck looked to Danny as he trailed off. Sounds like this guy's actually had it about as rough as I did in the love department. He's a ghost and I'm a genie for the women we love. Go figure. "She's supposed to get with what?"

Furrowing his brows, Danny held up a finger, signalling to Tuck that he need a moment to think. She's supposed to get with a..."Tuck..." he said, some incredulousness in the inflection of his voice. "I think I know my second wish."

- - - - - - -

Sam was curled up in bed, her eyes open and staring absently at the ceiling, or what little she could see of it thrugh the gauzy violet netting above her bed. The last few days had been truluy been a nightmare. Three suitors had come and gone. Prince Dhanajit of Casper, a six foot eight monstrosity who spent the entire time talking about his piles and piles of money, the size of his castle, and the richness of the fabric he used to wipe his ass. Or so Sam heard. She drove him away with a well-placed "you must be overcompensating for something" line, which had him and his entourage leave in a huff.

The next suitor was Prince Melanchthon of Raven, who was unkind, rude, and altogether a pig. He tried to slip his hand up her thigh under the table as she and her parents dined with him, and he left the room with a rather nice bright right handprint on his face. Even her parents weren't too sad to see him go.

Prince Asita of Lancer was the last of the three. She'd actually not hated him entirely as he seemed to have a certain charm to him that did not escape her. Then she saw his attitude toward his servants after one of them, a young girl, spilled a drink in his lap accidentally. Before he could bring his fist down on the girl, Sam had already punched him hard in the gut and kicked him out.

I miss Phantom, she thought to herself for the umpteenth time. He was all she could think about when seeing these other men. All of them were judged based on him and how good she knew people could be and, really, should be. All of them fell far short of her respect for him. He, among his other qualities, was humble, respectful, kind, and sincere. None of the men she had seen as suitors could hold a candle to the thief she, and the world, had lost.

"Stop moping."

Sam turned to the doorway, where she saw Val leaning up against her doorframe looking rather nonchallant. Narrowing her eyes into a glare, she spat, "Why should I? I have plenty of reason to be unhappy, thank you very much."

Rolling her eyes, Val walked into the room and sat down on the floor in front of the bed. "Moping around here isn't going to do anything, princess. Harping on the death of your little thief isn't going to change the fact that he's dead."

Sam stared up at the ceiling again, tears pricking at the corners of her eyes. Does she have to say it like that? "And what do you know abouut losing someone close to you? About grieving?"

Val went quiet for a few minutes, her face etched with pain. Sam rolled her head to the side and was about to say something snarky when she saw Val's expression. Taking a deep breath, Val began, "My mother was killed when I was very little. A thief," she spat the word like it was red hot coal between her lips, "killed her for the necklace my mother wore around her neck, one my father had given to her. That's when I saw that thieves and murderers and other criminals needed to be put to justice." Her voice was flat, but held barely concealed anger and passion. "And I may not be the law, but I can enforce it and the rules it represents."

"Rules..." Sam whispered, not sure how to respond. She'd never guessed that Val had a heart under that hard, cold exterior. "Sometimes, the rules need to be changed."

Val waited a moment, then shook her head. "I lost someone very close to me because of the rules I put around my life. They may not be perfect, but we are all beholden to them. And that's all there is to it." She glanced at the young girl laying on the bed with tired eyes that had seen more than they needed to in life. "Stop driving these suitors away," she said in a far harsher tone than before, picking herself up off the floor. "You need to marry one of them. It's not an issue of if or why or anything like that. The rules say you do, so you do." Withthat, Val swept out of the room as suddenly as she'd swept in.

Sam thought for a moment about what Val had said. I can see why she would want to support all of these laws like that...and why she has such a vendetta against thieves. But, she thought with conviction, sitting up with her hands bracing behind her, not everyone conforms to those rules, those stereotypes. And...I do have to wed one of these suitors...I know that...otherwise, Vlad will rule. And I can't let that happen. I have a responsibility to my people. I can fight it, but it will come...to nothing.

Maybe these rules are unchangeable, she thought with some dread. Maybe I just need to stop fighting and try to figure out how best to use them.

Her eyes widened. I know how I can do that! She immediately took off, headed for the library for some much desired research.

- - - - - - -

Translations:

Dhakara - Arabic for "to remember"

Dhanajit - Sanskrit for "wealth"

Melanchthon - Greek for "black earth"

Asita - Sanskrit for "tranquil, dark, blue, warm, hot"