Prelude to Chapter 3:
Cursing to himself, Danny Fenton limped up the steps to Casper high, trying to keep his leg as immobile as possible. It was already 10:25 in the morning, and he figured he may as well cut the rest of the day and take the heat for it later. It was a good plan up until he remembered that he was supposed to be in a practical Chemistry exam. It wasn't so much the exam, but who his partner was – and Sam, his new fiancée, would kill him if he skipped.
He let out a small cry of pain as he applied a little too much pressure to his right leg. It was obviously broken - like a twig – and it was killing him. He considered going to the school nurse and asking for some sort of painkiller, but turning up at the first lunch break was suspicious enough. And so, he continued to limp down the hall towards his locker as people gave him strange stares. It was worth it, however, when he turned the corner and saw that Sam and Tucker were waiting by his locker.
Thankful for the small mercies in life, he waved and called out to them. Sam immediately recognized his call, and marched up to him. Tucker trailed close behind, pulling out his PDA and muttering something under his breath. He grinned sheepishly as Sam glared at him. "Hey…Sam. Look, I-"
"You better have a good excuse for cutting, Daniel Fenton," she hissed, poking his chest.
Tucker sniggered, but stopped when both Danny and Sam glared at him.
"I'll explain later. Could you help me over to my locker though? I think my leg's broken," he said, pointing down to his right leg which he was keeping suspended in the air. Sam blinked a few times, and then all traces of anger faded from her face and she went into 'Danny's Hurt' mode. It was a mode worthy of capital letters because whenever Danny had an injury he couldn't fix himself, Sam would become something equivalent to an emotionless nurse.
"Tuck, you take his left arm," Sam instructed, slinging his arm around her shoulders, "We'll get him to his locker first, and then we'll go out the back and set his bones."
Danny winced, remembering what it was like with just his wrist; "Are you sure? I mean, you could just let me lean on you…"
"Would you rather have a walking stick for the rest of your life?" Sam shot back.
Oh yeah, 'Danny's Hurt' mode is in full swing now, Danny thought as Tucker ducked under his left arm. Both took slow steps towards his locker, making sure Danny only stood on his right leg. Once again, Danny saw people staring and whispering, but Sam's sharp reminder on his arm drew his attention back to the metaphorical light at the end of the tunnel – or the painkillers in his locker. Of course, Danny's luck was wearing thin lately, and Mr. Lancer rounded the corner a few steps before they made it to his locker. Frozen life a deer in the headlights, Danny gaped at the bald teacher who'd just taught the two lessons he skipped.
"Alice in Wonderland Fenton! What are you doing?"
"We were just helping him to his locker, Mr. Lancer," Sam spoke up almost instantly.
"Yeah, he just needs to get a few things before he goes home again. Homework and such," Tucker added on.
"I'm sure that Mr. Fenton can answer for himself, Mr. Foley," The older man quipped back, "So, Mr. Fenton, I was not aware that you'd be dropping by. Your parents haven't called to notify me of any illness of sorts."
"Uh…that's because it happened on the way to school," He replied nervously, "I got up late-" (He heard Mr. Lancer mumble; "How unusual.") "- and ran to school. But I decided to take a shortcut through the park and tripped…on my laces…and sort of, jarred or sprained my ankle really badly. It took a while to get to school 'cause I limped here," Danny stated. Not all of it was true, but not all of it was a lie, either. Danny had gotten up late, he had taken a shortcut through the park, and he had limped to school.
He just didn't mention that he was attacked by a Ghost.
Mr. Lancer sighed and shook his head; "Why didn't you contact your parents? Or at least, one of your two friends?"
"Well, they were in class and…" He let go of Sam's shoulders and dug into his pocket, pulling out what could've been a mobile phone, "It sought of got ground up when I tripped."
"Fenton, you're a walking disaster," the teacher said, shaking his head once more. He then pointed to Sam and Tucker, "Can I rely on you two to get him to the nurse's office while I contact his parents?"
"You can count on us, Sir," Sam said with a smile, "We'll get him there."
"Good. Mr. Fenton, you're excused this time, and you can pick up your homework tomorrow."
All three waited until Mr. Lancer had begun walking back to his office before they gave a collective sigh. "Nice save," Danny said, patting both Sam and Tucker on the back. Both smiled while readjusting their friend's weight so they could restart their small journey. While limping/walking there, Danny gave a brief explanation of what had happened; he was cutting through the park when his Ghost sense went off, and lo and behold, Skulker appeared. However, he spared no mercy as he opened fire immediately. Dodging the best he could, Danny ducked behind a rock. Said rock was blown to kingdom come, and a large chunk of the offend stone crushed his leg.
He'd screamed, transformed, and sucked Skulker into the Fenton thermos in 30 seconds. Tucker added with glee that it was a new record for Danny, and Sam added bitterly that if all they cared about was records, than she be more than happy to break Danny's bones if that what it took to get a new record. Both looked at her in shock and then remained silent until she added with a sigh; "It was just a joke."
Danny's stay in the hospital went about as well as anything went for him. Upon declaring that it was his ankle that was sprained, the nurse asked him to roll up his pant leg so she could strap it. Tucker and Sam both looked at each other nervously while their best friend stuttered and mumbled, trying to think of a reason not to. Once again, Danny's luck shone through and the no-nonsense nurse took a pair of scissors and cut directly up the seam line.
Cringing as the nurse gasped and dropped her scissors, he looked at his friends pleadingly – but they were too horrified by the sight of his leg to notice his silent plea. A large purple and yellow lump had sprung up from near the center of his leg, and if the green tint surrounding the area was any indication of the break, it would be more than a fracture. The nurse snapped out of her stupor and ran towards the phone that was only connected to other phones in the school.
"Mr. Lancer? Yes, it's Nurse Katie, I – Yes; it had to do with Mr. Fenton." The three friends shared a panicked look as the blonde nurse frowned, "I'm sorry to say, but he doesn't have a sprained ankle-" There was a small pause before she looked shocked "- He's not faking, either. He's broken his leg clean in two."
"Danny! What do we do?" Tucker hissed frantically at his friend.
"I don't know!"
"Can't you just go Ghost or something?
"Guys, calm down. We can-"
"I have to see this for myself." Mr. Lancer announced, slamming the door to the nurses' bay opened. His eyes fell inevitably on Danny, and then widened in surprise when he saw his student's leg. "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone!"
"Oh no, two book titles in one day," Sam murmured to herself.
"Fenton! I thought you said your ankle was sprained?" Mr. Lancer questioned, moving in for closer inspection. Danny started to edge nervously off the bed as he came closer. He laughed nervously and flinched when his hand met nothing but air, "Why didn't you go straight to the hospital?"
Tucker nearly jumped out of his skin as Jack and Maddie barged into the room. Nearly crushed against the wall, Sam suddenly felt overly claustrophobic as Jack Fenton's massive form rushed over to his son's side. "D-Dad?" Danny stuttered in surprise, "What are you doing here?"
"My Fudge! Look at his leg! Was it a Ghost, Danny? Because I'll hunt that slimy ectoplasmic trash down and give 'em a piece of the Fenton Bazooka!" He cried dramatically, taking his son by the shoulders and enveloping him in a tight hug. Slightly more rational, Maddie placed a hand on Jack's arm and he let go of his son, seeing that the youngest Fenton in the room had turned blue from lack of oxygen.
"Honey, what happened?" Maddie asked once Danny had gotten enough air into him to speak again.
"You should get him to a hospital," Nurse Katie interrupted, "It's a clean break."
"Or not," Tucker suggested.
"And pray tell, Mr. Foley, why not?" Mr. Lancer asked.
Amidst the chaos, Sam had somehow started arguing with some nosey freshman who'd peaked in the door and wouldn't leave while Jack had gone onto explain why it could've been a Ghost that had a part in breaking Danny's leg. Mr. Lancer was interrogating Tucker on what was truly going on, and with all the background noise, Danny couldn't concentrate hard enough to hear his mother's concerned voice.
Suddenly, Jack pulled out an Ecto-gun and aimed it at everyone in the room, demonstrating the proper technique. However, when he aimed it at Danny who'd been listening to his English teacher interrogate his best friend, he noticed the weapon and let out a small yelp, and out of habit went to dodge. Not even Maddie's hold on her son stopped him from falling off the edge of the bed – which he'd been precariously close too – and onto the linoleum floors. Maddie tried grabbing her son's shirt but all it truly did was shift him so he spun awkwardly around and bashed his leg onto the table next to the bed that held jars of cotton balls and Band-Aid boxes.
Maddie screamed after her son and instantly everyone was surrounding Danny who was unmoving on the floor. She kneeled down next to him as Sam slammed the door on the freshman who were now more interested than before. "Honey," Maddie said softly, brushing the hair out of his face, "Danny, can you hear me?" she paused and waited for him to move, and when he didn't; she frantically reached for her phone and dialed '911'.
The next morning was greeted with a very groggy and sore Danny Fenton. He tried rolling onto his side and pulling his covers up over his head to block out the sun, but when his body refused, he became aware of his surroundings. Fingering the white sheets that had been dragged up over his head, Danny realized that they were typical Amity View Hospital sheets. He didn't move, however, as the sun that was shining into the room also cast a calming glow through the sheets that made him feel warm and safe.
He blinked a few times and tried to move his leg again only to find it wrapped in a plaster cast. He arched an eyebrow as he caught sight of the baby blue gauze that wrapped around it and eventually, as the haze of sleep and drugs was slowly lifted, he felt brave enough to venture out from underneath the covers. Next to him a silent heart monitor stood and it made him nervous; the position of it made it look like it was watching him.
Sitting up, he surveyed his room – no one was in it, which was a good thing, he decided – and saw three chairs, two small tables, and an abundance of flowers, balloons and stuffed animals. There was so much so that it had piled up along the far wall of the room and along the wall where the window was. There was a recliner that looked like someone had slept on last night, and a wooden door was just off to his right.
Using his hand to block the sun from his eyes, he guessed it was morning - eleven o'clock at the latest – when he caught sight of something shiny on one of the tables next to him. His eyes widened as he saw Sam's MP3 player on the woodened surface, just out of his reach. Scowling, he reached out for it the first time in vainly. Not in the least bit disheartened, he reached out again; except this time he lifted his body off his bed slightly. He was a few micro-hairs away from it when the door opened and he crashed to the ground in a tangle of sheets, wires and limbs.
Danny sat up, nursing his head with his hand as the monitor next to him gave three warning beeps before letting out a loud wail. He immediately forgot about his new injury and clamped his hands over his ears as the new person in the room turned it off. Warm hands pried his hands away from his ears and tilted his chin up gingerly. Sam's eyes searched him for any other injury and came to a rest, staring into his eyes.
"Sorry," She said, reaching out and pulling the curtain that surrounded the bed away from him, "Are you alright?"
"I'm…" he trailed off, catching sight of his cast, "Fine."
As soon as the word left his mouth he found himself wrapped in a tight embrace. Danny let himself relax into her embrace and rested his head on her shoulder. He let himself revel in the feeling of her breath and warmth surrounding him before asking, "How long was I out?"
Sam laughed, "Too long. Nearly three days."
"Calm down," She said forcefully, pulling back and brushing stray black hairs out of his face, "It's not good if you panic. You went into shock."
"Shock? What the? How did that happen?" He asked curiously. It wasn't the first time he'd gone into shock; Ghost fights tended to more or less end in a less than favorable way. However, if Sam or Tucker acted quickly enough, he'd be home and awake within the hour.
"You freaked out when Jack pointed the Ecto-gun at you. Apparently Maddie still had a hold of you and you sort of did a flip," she said, making the action with her hands, "And hit your leg on the table next to the bed. You went into shock and when you wouldn't wake up, the doctors tried to run all types of tests."
"They didn't, did they?" Danny asked, suddenly feeling the need to flee the country.
Sam shook her head, "We convinced them not to. Besides, family has the last say in treatment. That and money helps too."
"You…bribed the doctors?"
She smirked at him, "It was more a donation to their personal recreational accounts."
"Let's get you back up onto the bed, shall we?"
Embracing the Future
"No problem," Danny said, taking the marker from one of his classmates.
"Do you have any idea who that was?" Sam whispered to him once the overly-tones teen was gone. Danny shook his head and laughed while Sam sighed, sitting down in the seat next to him at the lunch table. Of course, Danny was taking up already three quarters of the bench and that left little room for Sam. So, moving down the seat a little he leaned back on Sam who shrugged and offered her shoulder. He tilted his head back and smiled at her, "This is fun."
"You know you like it," Danny retorted playfully.
"What? Having strange girls coming up to you and signing your cast while accidentally letting their hands grope your leg?" She snorted.
"Someone's jealous," Tucker said from the other side of the table.
Danny shrugged, "And she's got every right to be." Tucker and Sam both looked at him oddly, and Danny sat up straight, "What?"
"I think that's the smartest thing you've ever said."
"Oh shut it."
Danny had left the hospital the night after waking up. Of course, as per hospital policy, he had to leave to a wheel chair. Danny sulked while both Sam and his mother told him it wasn't as bad as he thought it would be. Tucker had come along to join the little precession out of the hospital, and volunteered to wheel him out. Sam had her concerns, but Jack had said it was alright, and Maddie trusted Tucker. Of course, two boys plus a chair on wheels isn't exactly a good combination.
While signing Danny out, Tucker and Danny had decided it would be fun to see how fast they could go.
Danny busted open his elbow, which required four stitches, and Tucker sprained his wrist, prolonging the Halfa's stay.
However, a week later Danny had returned to school and people had swamped him before he even managed to make it to the doors. His cast was covered in drawings, scribbles, notes, signatures and everything else – which included a mark from a kiss that one of Paulina's satellites had left – and only small patches of the blue were visible. Even then, the color was harder to come by because Tucker would fill the spaces in with his own drawings.
Paradise was short lived though as Ghosts began to appear frequently. Skulker and (surprisingly) the Box Ghosts had made roughly several appearances all up, and it was driving Danny up the wall. When he battled them, it took longer and took more energy to defeat them. And on more than one occasion his mother had to help, because he could only use long-range attacks. Sam had consoled him, told him that once his leg had healed he could go back to hand to hand combat, but that was his favourite type of fighting.
Danny also had his hands full trying to hide his secret from Maddie.
His Ghost side was freely doing what Danny wanted to do – removing the cast at random intervals. Twice in one day was the record, and he hated the fact that Tucker would pin him down while Sam re-aligned his leg before forcing the cast back on. It wasn't the most pleasant experience.
Night patrols continued regardless of his leg, and Phantom would often be seen with his two 'Side Kicks', trawling the city for Ghosts. On particularly clammy nights stranger Ghosts would appear. Sam had explained that they'd never noticed it before because of the 'Snap, Whack and Zap!' method they always used, and because of Danny's injury (and the precautions they'd taken to lessen the damage), they'd finally picked up on it. Danny, who did most of the fighting, agreed and vowed to pay closer attention to the Ghosts from then on.
However, that didn't stop the strange Ghosts from appearing.
Three friends stood (or hovered) in the middle of a darkened street with equal looks of curiosity and disgust one particularly cold night. In front of them, a rabid Ghost-Cooler box was growling ferociously. Green foam lined its mouth, and jagged razor teeth protruded from the lid. Tucker was the first who spoke up. "What the hell is that?"
"Kind of reminds me of one of Dad's experiments."
"No way. It's too freaky to be one of his. Even your parents have limits, Danny." Sam flinched as the Ghost-Cooler with teeth 'barked' at them, exposing its insides – rotten Salami.
"Rabies," Tucker and Danny said in unison.
Danny sighed and grounded himself – careful of his leg – and reached a hand out to Sam. "Thermos."
She cocked an eyebrow. "I thought Tucker had it?"
"Nuh-uh. You said you'd bring it this time," Tucker replied, crossing his arms over his chest. "Besides, don't you have one Danny?"
The half-breed sighed and ran a hand down his face, suddenly feeling exhausted. "I get the feeling that this is going to be a long night…"
"Well, hop to it. No pun intended, really!" Tucker said, smacking his friend on the back encouragingly. Sam, for her part, kissed Danny on the cheek chastely and gently nudged him in the direction of the rabid Cooler with teeth. He limped forward and came to a stop a few feet away from the green container. It didn't seem to notice him, so he took the opportunity to get the first hit in. It felt strange kicking a cooler for no reason, but as it hit the wall and smashed into pieces, Danny couldn't help but feel slightly amused.
"Done," He said nonchalantly, turning to face his friends.
"Good. I'm starving! I think the Nasty Burger is still open!" Tucker cried happily.
Sam's nose wrinkled in disgust. "There's no way I'm eating that junk!"
"Then we'll stop by that place you love so much on the way there," Danny said, slinging an arm around her shoulders. "You can pick up a salad. Heck, after seeing what was inside that thing, I think I'm up for a salad myself."
Sam's eyes brightened at the prospect of Danny eating something other than Sloppy Joes. He laughed at her hopeful look, and as the three continued to talk, they failed to notice two things that happened simultaneously; The Fenton R.V pulled up, and the drink cooler with teeth pulled itself together, only ten times its' original size. Danny, who was still in his Ghost form (and hanging off Sam, as Maddie pointed out as she jumped out of the Assault vehicle.) was too distracted by his parents to notice the Ghost-Cooler attack from behind.
It shoved him off balance, which also threw Tucker and Sam into the gutters. He rolled out of the way as it tried to tip over onto him, and watched in disgust as its insides poured out onto the street. He heard Sam cry 'I'm going to be sick!' when it simply scooped the rotten meat back up into its' jaws. Frowned, he pushed himself back up and threw a well aimed ectoplasmic blast as it. However, all it seemed to do was make in angrier.
Maddie, who'd raced over to Sam's side while Jack aided Tucker, watched in horror as it tried to devour Phantom. Judging from the look on Sam's face, she could tell her soon to be daughter-in-law was just as disgusted as she was.
"Danny! Look out!" Tucker cried out.
Danny, so distracted by the cry, dodged two seconds two late and it managed to sink its teeth into one of his legs. And, of course, Fenton luck kicked in. He screamed in agony as he felt the slowly setting bone in his right leg snap under the pressure of the cooler's bite. Purple spots danced in his vision as he felt himself being hoisted up from the ground. Distantly, he heard Sam screaming and his father yelling something.
"Fudge!" Jack cried out, hearing a sharp crack.
Maddie couldn't tear her eyes away from what was happening. Sam was shaking in her grasp, and she barely registered when she tried pull away. However, the Ghost hunter held her tight. "You can't. It's too dangerous. Jack! Get Tucker to the R.V!" She yelled, still keeping an eye of Phantom.
Before Maddie could tell Sam to stop struggling, she watched as Phantom grabbed his leg and started screaming. She was about to race forward when His screams turned into his patented Ghostly Wail, making windows along the street shatter, as well as the Ghost cooler's teeth shatter. Maddie felt a wave of relief sweep through her as Phantom fell to the ground, half-conscious, but otherwise out of the thing's jaws.
Dashing forward, she scooped up Phantom before the Ghost cooler could try and take another snap at him. She rolled off to the side, and quickly dodged again as it lunged for them. Sam, seeing this as an opportune moment to act, fired a small ray from her wrist gun. It didn't do much, but it distracted the Ghost long enough for Maddie to get in the clear. Said Ghost hunter was trying to survey the damage done to Danny while keeping an eye on the monster.
"…can keep it…Thermos…" He started laughing weakly and Maddie sighed.
"Mads! Over here!" Jack yelled, waving one arm high in the air. In his other hand he was holding a strange looking gun. Maddie nodded in affirmation and looked over to where Sam was mocking the Ghost, only partially gaining its attention.
"Sam!" She called out, "Get out of the way! Quickly!" Already ahead of her, Sam started to retreat towards the Fenton R.V. When she was a good distance away from the Ghost and safely near the R.V, Maddie Turned to Jack, "Now!"
A jet of green light shot out from the Fenton Compact Bazooka. Maddie, Sam and Jack watched as it burned a hole straight though the Ghost cooler. Said cooler seemed to freeze in place for several moments before giving a high pitched scream and as if melting, it collapsed into a green puddle in the street. Everyone stayed silent for a few moments until Jack spoke. "Well, it works!" he cried happily. Sam agreed, nodding her head numbly.
Maddie, relieved that the threat was now reduced to a puddle in the street, looked down next to her where Phantom was - or, at least, had been. Her stomach sank for a moment, seeing he was no longer there. Instantly she remembered how he often fled after fights and sighed, thinking that this time was no different.
She looked up and was surprised to see that Phantom had not, in fact, fled, but was stumbling like a drunk towards the puddle of green ectoplasm. "Stupid cooler thingy!" he slurred out loudly, "I should kick y'ur butt…But no-o! you jus' had ta bec'm a puddle, didn't ya? Ya good fa' nothin' Goat…"
"I think he means 'Ghost'," Sam replied, trying not to laugh.
"Oh, cool! Role'coaster!" He cried out suddenly. Maddie watched with muted awe as two rings formed at his waist, but disappeared just as quickly as they appeared. "The world's…spinnin', I think," he slurred again, stumbling back. The same rings appeared around his waist, except this time they didn't disappear. Sam gave a small cry in shock while Maddie and Jack watched on as the two lights traveled up and down his body.
In his place, Danny Fenton swayed on his feet before falling face first onto the gravel and ectoplasm.
No one said anything.