Disclaimer: I don't own Danny Phantom or anything associated with it; Butch Hartman does. I only own the idea for this story.

Waking Nightmare or Waking Reality

A rush of images swept in front of my eyes, too fast to clearly make out. A blob of white against a strip of black rushed past me. As my eyes focused, the white started to sharpen into a shape I recognized. That's my emblem, I realized. Sure enough, the black "P" within a white "D" materialized. Flames then burned the insignia, though the flames were different. The fire was small, but they were a silverish-white color. As they slowly rose, red eyes pierced the darkness, the pupils appearing to stare at me. I cringed, waiting to be attacked, but the white flames and red eyes melted into the darkness surrounding us.

Just as quickly as 'it' disappeared, an explosion bust in front of me.

"Aaaah!" I yelled, my arms shielding in front of my face. I felt the heat nip at my arms, burning them, and I was thrown back by the force of the explosion. My body slammed into something hard, but when I turned around, nothing was there. As my eyes fell to the ground, I saw something move. It rolled towards me, landing at my feet. I bent down to pick it up, and I recognized it immediately.

"Sam." Her bracelet. She rarely took them off. It then hit me that it had rolled from the direction of the explosion. My eyes widened in fear. "Sam!" I called for her, running towards the source of the explosion, only to have it disappear once more. "No!" I screamed, falling to the ground. I slammed my fists angrily upon the now concrete ground. A small source of light caught my eye, and I slowly turned my head toward it, a raven colored strand of hair falling in front of my eyes. A shadowy figure blocked the circle of light, floating, watching what I realized was a screen of some sort. I watched in shock as the moment that had just played before my eyes played on the screen. Sam's bracelet once again rolled across the ground, coming to a stop and falling down when it ran into my feet. I heard the figure sigh, and I noticed he was holding a staff in his right hand.

"I did all I could," it murmured, "but it wasn't enough." The ticking of clocks all around me suddenly beat itself into my skull. I clenched my eyes shut, my hands trying to desperately stop the sound from penetrating my ears.

"Stop!" I yelled, the sound still coming through, ringing in my ears. "Hey! Who are you?" The shadow had to have heard me, I was yelling as loud as I could. However, it continued to ignore me, all the while changing form into something slightly taller. "Make them stop!" It still didn't hear me. Unsteady on my feet from the loud sound, I ran, trying to get away. However, a wall blocked my way. When I opened my eyes, I saw no wall, though. The sound was getting louder each passing minute, and I could almost swear that my eardrums were going to burst. Trying to concentrate, I cried, "Going ghost!" I waited to feel the rings pass up and down my body but nothing happened.

"Going ghost!" Yet again, nothing happened. "What's going on?" I wondered, glancing over my body. The clocks' sound had faded to nothingness, but my ears were still ringing slightly. Then, I felt a presence behind me. I slowly turned around, almost afraid of what was there. A shadow stretched behind me, looming over me. I slowly fell to the ground, shaking, my arms falling from my head, clutching at my shoulders desperately. I felt too vulnerable without my ghost powers, too weak. A feeble cry escaped my lips, a weak one that would do me no good. "Going ghost."

The creature before me cackled, bending forward until I could see its face. My eyes were wide in fear to see a creature so monstrous. Its green skin gleamed from some unseen light, the fangs glinting as it hissed at me. A forked tongue snaked from its mouth, whipping angrily back and forth. Its eyes stared at me, cold and unfeeling, the only color being the red irises otherwise surrounded by black corneas and dotted with black pupils. As my eyes fell to escape the deathly glare, I saw my emblem once more and recognized the suit that the ghost was wearing as my own.

"That's…me," I feebly whispered before an explosion surrounded me, ripping the sight from my eyes.

DP

"Aaaahhh!!" I screamed, snapping straight up, my hands clutching my sheets as sweat dripped down my face. I sat there, breathing heavily, still scared by the creature that plagued my dreams every night. "That's me," I whispered again, just like I had in my dreams. The thought of that creature being me made me sick to my stomach. As I had done every night I had this dream, I ripped myself from the bed and ran to the bathroom, retching the contents of my dinner into the toilet.

"Ugh," I moaned, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand, leaning against the wall as I flushed the toilet. "When will the dreams stop? Every damn night…"

A knock on the door interrupted my thoughts. "Danny?" Jazz's voice passed through the door. "Are you all right?"

"Yeah." My voice cracked, weak from throwing up.

"May I come in?"

"Go ahead." The door opened, and Jazz stepped in, kneeling down beside me. She gently put a hand to my forehead, a gesture used every time after I threw up.

"Was it the dream again?" she murmured after lowering her hand. I nodded my head. After the first few nights of the repeated dream, I had talked to Jazz about it. She theorized that something I had done in the past was coming back to haunt me. I sweated nervously as I thought about the test answers I had come across, but instead asked, "Why now?" hoping that she would notice my anxiety. She responded that the subconscious works in weird ways, and I had reluctantly accepted that answer.

"I can understand the first few days, but to have it going on fore nearly two weeks is ridiculous." I nodded my head again, hearing her, but I was too tired to understand. "Maybe you need to see a shrink, Danny. To have the dreams going on this long must mean something's wrong with your subconscious, and…"

"Jazz," I interrupted. She looked at me, stopping mid-rant. "I'm really tired, and I'd like to get to bed now."

"Oh, okay," she answered. "Do you need help?" She quickly rose, offering a helping hand.

"Thanks," I muttered, gladly accepting her hand. She walked me to my room, watching me all the while, being the overprotective older sister that she was. She leaned against my doorway, watching me tuck into bed.

"Good night, Danny," she said softly, turning to walk back to her room. I hesitated before calling her name.

"Jazz!" She turned her head towards me. I felt compelled to say it, so I did. "Love you, big sister."

She smiled softly at me, and I think she was pretty shocked that I said it. "I love you, too, little brother." She then turned her head back and walked back to her room.

DP

The next day at lunch, I told Sam and Tucker about the recurring nightmare. "That's some dream," Tucker commented after I relayed it to them.

"It's the same dream," I stressed, "for nearly two weeks."

Both of their eyes widened. "That's an awful long time," said Sam. "Is it the exact same?"

"Yes. It always starts the same, and it always ends the same." My mind flashed to Sam's bracelet rolling towards me, but I simply shook it away. "Every night, after it ends, I run to the bathroom and throw up." I sighed, running my hand through my hair. "It just bothers me so much that the creature is me. I think the nightmare's gotten worse ever since I took the answers to the C.A.T.s."

Sam's eyes narrowed, and I recalled her lecture about cheating, though I chose not to take her advice. "Danny, it's just a dream. It's not real," she reassured me, placing a hand on my shoulder, her face relaxed again.

I shook my head. "I'm not so sure. It seemed too real to be just a dream." Another scene flashed in my mind, the explosion in front of me. What exploded? I wondered. I took a bite of the salad on my lunch tray, but it went down rough, scraping the back of my throat.

"Just because it seems real doesn't mean it is real."

"I know that, Tuck," I said angrily.

"What if it's just stress?" questioned Sam. "Maybe you're stressed about the C.A.T.s that they're causing you to have this nightmare?"

"I doubt it. Wouldn't it have some mention of the C.A.T.s somewhere in the dream?"

"Not necessarily," responded Sam. "You can still be stressed about a certain thing and not have it appear in the dream. Maybe that ghost represents you can be the C.A.T.s in a different form."

"But I was afraid of myself in the dreams. I'm not afraid of the C.A.T.s, I'm just nervous about them."

"Maybe you're afraid of them, and you don't realize it," Tucker said.

I sighed, dragging my hand down my face. "Why would I be afraid of a test? It's not like it's this huge, powerful ghost."

Tucker shrugged his shoulders and resumed eating his sloppy joe. Sam looked at Tucker and, seeing that he wasn't going to respond, then turned to me to answer, but not before sticking a tongue out at Tucker's choice of food. "Maybe you're afraid of failing the test and not necessarily the test itself. It doesn't have to be able to physically hurt you for you to be afraid of it."

I sighed, but I didn't say anything. As I sighed, my ghost sense, a blue wisp of air, went off. "Oh, great," I moaned.

"Ghost time?" Tucker said eagerly, looking up and dropping his sandwich. The meat splattered on Sam, who in turn kicked Tucker hard in the shin while trying to get the meat off of her. He yelped, clutching at his leg and banging his knee on the table in the process.

I snickered and answered, "Yeah…."

A cry then rang out of, "I AM THE BOX GHOST!"

"…but I think I can handle it." Before giving either of them a chance to answer, I quickly got up from the table and ran to the boys' bathroom. Making sure no one was in there, I cried, "Going ghost!" feeling the light blue rings circle my body and travel up and down. My black hair changed to a silvery-white, and my normally baby blue eyes sparked to lively neon green. The last thing to change were my typical clothes, blue jeans and a red and white shirt, transformed to a black and white jumpsuit. The main part was black with white gloves, boots, and belt. My emblem rested in the middle, a black "P" within a white "D", the "D" looking like it had gotten some chunks bitten out of it.

Turning intangible, I flew through several walls before finding the disturbance. What I thought was the Box Ghost was actually Skulker, using the Box Ghost as bait.

"BEWARE!" he cried out, waving his arms dramatically. "I WILL HAVE CONTROL OVER ALL THINGS CARDBOARD AND SQUARE!"

Skulker gave him an annoyed look. "Away with you," he said, throwing the Box Ghost though the open window. "Skulker will hunt you another day!" He then turned to me, guns rising from the shoulders of his battle suit. "Ah, the ghost boy has finally arrived."

"What do you want, Skulker? You're already got my attention." I crossed my arms, floating, as I stared at the hunter ghost, waiting for an attack.

"The usual: to have your pelt adorn the wall above my fireplace. But," his guns lowered back into his battle suit, "I am not here for that. At least, not until I give the message."

"Message?" I repeated, very confused.

"Yes, message. Rumors have been flowing through the Ghost Zone about your nightmares."

My eyes widened. "How do you know about them?"

He smirked, enjoying the surprised look on my face. "I have a very reliable source. Anyways, a friend of mine told me to warn you of the future. He said, 'The nightmares are more real than you think they are. Choose your choices wisely, or the monster in you will break free.'" He glanced at me, waiting for any kind of movement. I floated, trying to absorb everything he had just said. "Now the hunt can begin," he said. He then flew at me, guns blazing. Before I could even react, he had already hit me.

I slammed into the wall behind me, landing with a grunt. Weakly, I opened my eyes to see him coming at me, but I phased through the floor before I could give him the chance. I heard the 'clunk' of the metal as he slammed into the wall, and I smirked, ever so slightly. I phased through the floor again, ready to fight Skulker now, only to hear the squeal of "Ghost boy!"

"Oh, man," I groaned, smacking my hand to my face. Paulina started to run towards me, arms stretched out, a big smile on her face. "No, er….miss; it's too dangerous!" I tried to shoo her away.

"But I know you'll protect me," she said flirtatiously, batting her eyelashes.

"Er…" I didn't know what to say next to get rid of her. Just then, Skulker rose from the ground, slightly ticked now. He eyed Paulina curiously, who then ran out of the room screaming. "Thank God," I murmured, only to be knocked down by one of Skulker's blasts. Realizing that people could get hurt, I quickly phased through the ceiling, and, thankfully, he followed, except he just blasted through the roof. I sped away from the school, dodging Skulker's blasts the entire time.

Finally, when I was sure that we were far enough from the school, I stopped and turned around, lighting my hands with green ecto-energy. A quick glance downward told me we were hovering over the Nasty Burger. I threw an ecto-ball at Skulker, who had just stopped. Not having anytime to dodge it, he was struck in the chest. With a grunt, he was knocked back slightly but rose just as quickly.

"You have two girlfriends now, ghost child?" he taunted, smirking, while throwing ecto-gun blasts at me.

"What?!" I cried out while dodging his attacks. "I don't have any!" I returned his attacks just as strongly.

"What about that girl clinging to your arm, the one who ran when she saw me?" He dodged several of my attacks as well, and as we exchanged fire, we also exchanged questions and answers.

"Paulina? She only likes this half of me."

"And the Goth girl?" He cocked an eyebrow, waiting for me to answer.

I blushed lightly. "She's not my girlfriend either!"

"You like her, though, do you not, ghost child?"

My face grew darker, but instead of answering, I blasted him with an ecto-ray. Not giving him a chance to recoil, I flew at him and slammed into him before knocking him downward. He crashed right through the roof, not even going intangible. I winced and flew down, hoping no one had gotten hurt as a result of Skulker. A group of people ran through the front doors, while two employees run out the back door

I heard Irving "Third Degree" Burns shout to them, "You can kiss employee of the month goodbye!" He then looked around before running from the building himself. Mr. Lancer's words then rang through my head.

"Fail like Irving "Third Degree" Burns here, and you'll be doomed to a career at the Nasty Burger." I shook my head before continuing my descent to Skulker. A blast from below then knocked me back up. Skulker rose after the blast, looking very, very ticked, to say the least. He angrily blasted at me with his guns and threw nets at me as well. I weaved back and forth through the air, dodging his attacks while flying towards him. Unfortunately, I was so focused on getting to Skulker, to hitting him, that I didn't see one of his attacks that hit me in the gut.

I grunted and doubled over, only to be hit in the jaw, the metal cool against my skin but was hard as rock against the bone. I already knew that a bruise was going to form. My teeth ground together as I was launched upward.

After flying upwards a bit, I flipped upside down and dove down, my fist in front of me. A loud 'thunk' was heard as my gloved fist made contact with his metal chin. He fell from the sky, but I was ready this time. As I flew down towards him, I grabbed the Fenton thermos I had grabbed before I left, my hand on the lid, ready to remove it. I landed on the ground, the thermos held out, ready to capture him, my hand still on the lid, but he only smiled. I watched as he pressed a button on his battle suit, all the while smiling.

"Why are you smiling?" I demanded. "What did you just do?"

He laughed hollowly. "I have good reason to smile. That button just called my employer, who'll arrive when the time is right." He laughed again before looking me dead in the eye, green meeting green. "Go ahead and capture me, ghost child, but I still have the upper hand. The hunter always gets his prey, even if he has to sacrifice himself in order to do it."

"Who's your employer? Is it Vlad again?"

"You'll see in due time, ghost child," was his only response before I let the blue beam capture him, sucking him into the thermos before capping it. I was boiling inside, itching to know who his employer was, though my gut told me it was Vlad. I looked around, surveying the damage. The only damage seemed to be the Nasty Burger, its ceiling and part of the back caved in, and a small impact in the street where Skulker had landed. I sighed, knowing that the town would be eager to place the blame only on me, causing the townspeople to hate me even more. I quickly took to the sky, knowing I needed to get back before more suspicion was raised and in time for the C.A.T.s.

Once I arrived back at the school, I phased into the boys' bathroom, quickly changing back to Danny Fenton before sprinting down the hallway. I saw everyone in the hallway, slowly filing to classes, so I knew I wasn't too late. Just as I was nearly to Lancer's class, I crashed into someone.

"Hey! Watch it!" I said angrily, not bothering to look up to see who it was.

"What was that, Fentina?" Dash said.

Crap. "Er… I better watch where I'm going next time?" I said nervously, my answer turning into a question.

"That better have been what you said," he growled before storming to his next class. The bell then rang, and I groaned, knowing that I was going to get another detention. Sprinting the short distance, I skidded to a halt in front of the doorway, hoping that Mr. Lancer wasn't in there yet. It happened to be my luck that he was.

"Late again, Mr. Fenton?" he drawled. "That's another detention." Sam and Tucker both looked up at the mention of my name, their eyes meeting mine as I walked to my desk.

"Yeah, I know." I slid into my seat, Sam and Tucker sitting to my left. My fingers drummed anxiously inside my desk, the fingertips tapping the answer packet every so often.

"You're still going through with this, dude?" Tucker questioned.

"I have to. I would've liked to study, but you guys know that I was busy fighting ghosts."

"That doesn't mean you have to cheat," Sam hissed. "Just try your best without the answers and turn them in after the test is over."

I opened my mouth to respond, but Mr. Lancer cleared his throat, looking at me somewhat suspiciously. "Mr. Fenton, is there a problem?" I looked at Sam and Tucker, who only looked at me. I saw that Sam wanted me to say that I had the answers, but I couldn't. If I failed this, my parents would be extremely mad at me, and I'd be grounded again.

"No problem at all," I responded, looking at him the whole time. He glared at me before turning his attention to the class.

"You may begin," he announced, and immediately, there was the sound of pencils scratching on paper, the sounds echoing to the hollow of the desk. I stared at my paper intently, suddenly having second thoughts. A part of me itched to listen to Sam, to just attempt the test without looking at the answers. However, a voice in the back of my head kept nagging me.

"Just cheat," it whispered. "The old man will never know." That voice won me over, which wasn't much of a victory since I had been leaning in that direction again. I gently pulled out a corner of the answer packet, careful not to pull the whole thing out. As I slowly read down the list of answers, I filled in the ovals, careful of Mr. Lancer walking up and down the aisles. If I realized he was too close, I would shove the answer packet back in the desk and stare at my answer sheet as though I were thinking.

Within half an hour, I had finished the test, and I panicked. The test lasted nearly two hours, and I still had an hour and a half left. After about ten minutes, I nervously grabbed the C.A.T. and walked up to Mr. Lancer, sweat dripping down my forehead. I laid the test on his desk and headed for the door, hoping that he wouldn't question me.

"Finished so soon, Mr. Fenton?" he called out, making me nearly jump out of my skin. Just my luck, I thought angrily.

"Is that a problem?" I turned around, trying to hide my nervousness as I walked over to his desk.

"How should I know? I don't have all the answers. Do you?" He rose slightly out of his chair, staring me dead in the eye.

I gulped, my eyes wide, and in that instant, I knew that he knew. Instead of answering, I turned around and walked out the door, a fluttery feeling rising in my chest. Once outside, I leaned against the wall and slowly sank down, my head falling in my hands. If Lancer really did know, he'd tell my parents, and, not only would they be mad and ground me; they'd be disappointed in me, and that's the worst feeling of all.

DP

"Are you sure something isn't wrong, Danny?" Jazz asked that same question for what seemed like the millionth time.

"Yes, Jazz; I'm sure." I put strong emphasis on the last two words. I felt her hand on my shoulder, gripping it lightly.

"May I ask you something then? It might make you mad, though, so don't be offended."

I looked at her, an eyebrow raised, before I shrugged my shoulders and said, "Shoot."

She took a deep breath before asking, "Did you take the answers to the C.A.T.s?"

I stopped dead in my tracks, eyes wide again. "W-what?"

"Did you take the answers to the test, Danny?" There was a frantic note in her voice.

I lowered my head, my hair covering my eyes. "No," I responded before walking again.

"So, you're going to lie to me, too, Danny?" I turned around and saw both anger and hurt on her face. Her arms were crossed, and she stared at me waiting for an answer.

"I just told you I didn't!" I shouted angrily, throwing my arms in the air.

"I already know you did!" she screamed back. This was the first time I'd ever seen Jazz really lose her cool. "Mr. Lancer told me that he suspected you took them. I stood up for you," she hissed, jabbing a finger in my face. Her voice had dropped to a low whisper as she kept talking. "When you were out with Sam and Tucker the other day, I looked through your backpack, praying that Lancer was wrong. I found them, Danny, and do you know what I did?" I opened my mouth to answer, but she cut me off. "I cried. I cried because I found the answers and knew that you were a cheater.

"I held onto a slim hope that you had returned them, but from the way you've been acting today, I know that you didn't." Tears fell from her aqua eyes as she finished her rant.

"You don't know everything, Jazz. I had my reasons for cheating," I growled angrily.

"There is no reason for cheating, Danny, and I know more than you think I do." She sighed, twisting her hands anxiously. "Danny, I know all of it. About everything: that you're part-ghost, that you were always doing the right thing with your powers. Until now." At that, she looked at me, disappointment reflecting in her eyes.

My eyes widened, completely in shock. "You knew?" I breathed.

"I know, and I've been covering for you with Mom and Dad because I'm proud of you and the good that you do. But not anymore," she angrily said, glaring at me.

I stood there in shock, unsure of what to say. My mouth opened and closed several; times as I tried to form words. Finally, I said, "You always were smarter than I gave you credit for," before I turned on my heel and ran home. I soon arrived and opened the door to see my mom on the phone.

"Yes, Mr. Lancer, we'll be at the Nasty Burger at five o'clock. Thank you. Goodbye." My mom hung up the phone and turned to me as I tried to escape up the stairs. "Danny, you're home!" she cheerily said. "Where's Jazz?"

"She's still walking here."

"Oh. Danny, Mr. Lancer wants to meet us at the Nasty Burger at five o'clock. Do you have any idea why?"

"No," I answered, my stomach turning with nausea.

"Okay, then." Just as she said that, Jazz walked in the door, giving me one last look before storming up the stairs. I winced and followed shortly after, but not before hearing my mom say, "I wonder what's wrong with her."

DP

About forty minutes later, I left a note saying that I needed to go for some air and that I'd meet them at the Nasty Burger at five. Since they were down in the lab working on some other experiment that would probably scar me, I left it on the refrigerator where they would see it. Once outside the house, I went ghost and took to the sky. I was extremely nervous about meeting Lancer, and now that I knew Jazz knew, I was even more nervous than before. As I flew around, keeping track of the time, my ghost sense went off, sensing a ghost behind me. Before I could even turn all the way around, a black-gloved fist hit me in the face. I found myself falling from the sky, but a hand grabbed me roughly by the wrist. I weakly opened my eyes to see a blue-green skin-tinged ghost with black spiked hair and fangs smirking at me.

"Plasmius," I growled, gritting my teeth, my face still in pain.

"Daniel," he returned. "It appears that my employee was captured. I'd like to have him back now." He held out a black-gloved hand, waiting for me to give him the thermos holding Skulker.

"Fat chance. The only way you're getting him back is once I dump him in the Ghost Zone." He sent a wave of electricity surging through my body, causing me to scream in pain. I nearly passed out, but he shook me roughly to keep me awake.

"Ah, but I'd like to have him back now. You see, I still have some important use for him. Items to retrieve, things to capture," he growled, looking intently at me as he spoke that last part.

"Too bad. I don't have him." I spoke the truth. I had left my thermos at home, hoping that I wouldn't need it.

"Where is he?" Plasmius demanded angrily. I gathered some ecto-energy in my free hand and threw it at him. It hit him in the stomach, and he dropped me.

"Like I'd tell you." As soon as I was free, I tried to speed home, but a pink ray of ecto-energy slammed me to the ground. I saw another ecto-ray coming at me, but I rolled out of the way. My eyes soon fell on where we had landed: the Nasty Burger. "The place of all my problems," I muttered.

"And more problems are yet to come, Daniel," Vlad's voice came from behind. I whirled around to punch him, but he grabbed my fist and sent another wave of electricity through me. I yelled in pain, falling to my knees as I came dangerously close to passing out. "Here's a parting gift." He shocked me again, and I changed back this time, on the edge of unconsciousness. "The Plasmius Maximus. It'll short out your powers until," he looked at the town clock, which read ten minutes to five, "tomorrow at six in the morning. I upgraded it, so your powers short out longer."

I weakly stood up, my fist clenched, ready to swing at him. "Ah, ah, ah." He waved a finger at me. "I wouldn't if I were you. I still have my powers, while you don't."

"Because of you."

"A life for a life, Daniel. You refused to give back Skulker, so I shorted your powers. All's fair in battle."

Suddenly, a thought struck me. "You told Skulker to give me that message, didn't you?"

His eyebrows furrowed together in confusion. "Message? What message?" he asked.

I glared at him. "The one about how my dreams are more real than I think, and if I don't choose my choices wisely, the monster in me will break free. Skulker told me that message, and since he's your employee, you have to have given him that message."

"Daniel, I have no idea what message you're talking about." He turned around and disappeared in a puff of smoke.

"Liar!" I shouted, shaking my fist at the man who had disappeared. As I was ready to sit on the ground, I saw Tucker and Sam coming towards me.

"Danny!" they both shouted in unison.

"Are you all right?" Sam asked me.

"What happened between you and Vlad?" Tucker questioned. "We saw you fighting him, and we shouted your name, but you didn't seem to hear us."

"He shorted my powers because I wouldn't return Skulker to him," I explained, bending back and cracking my back as I spoke.

"For how long?" questioned Sam.

"'til tomorrow at six. He upgraded the Plasmius Maximus, unfortunately for me." I turned around to see Mr. Lancer standing in front of the doors, my test and his briefcase in each hand. My parents then pulled up I the Fenton RV, the headlights glaring at Mr. Lancer. "And speaking of unfortunate," I muttered.

"Dude, why are your parents and Mr. Lancer here?" asked Tucker.

"Mr. Lancer found out you cheated, didn't he?" Sam crossed her arms, looking at me angrily.

"Look, it's not like I had any choice. You guys know that!" I exclaimed, waving my hands in the air.

"Everyone has a choice, man…" Tucker's face fell sadly.

"…you just didn't choose right." I angrily walked over to where my parents were stepping out of the RV. Sam and Tucker followed behind me, solemn. Mom hopped out of the Fenton RV, hood down.

"Are you all right, sweetie? You look pale," she said as she put a black-gloved hand to my forehead.

"I'm fine," I lied, my stomach flipping and rolling again and again. Jazz stepped out from the Fenton RV, now cooled off, but she still had disappointment in her eyes.

Mom spoke up as we walked over to Mr. Lancer, a short distance. "Mr. Lancer sounded urgent on the phone. Danny, is something wrong?"

"Not yet," I mumbled. We all stood in front of Mr. Lancer, who nodded at each of us.

"Mr. and Mrs. Fenton, Miss Fenton, Daniel, Mr. Foley, and Miss Manson." Both of my parents turned around to see Sam and Tucker standing there. My mom opened her mouth to say something, but Mr. Lancer still wasn't done. "This is the Nasty Burger." He gestured his arms at said place. "When people fail, this is where they end up; whether they fail because they don't study or because they cheated." He held up my test, and Mom and Dad gasped.

"Danny, is this true?" Dad asked.

Mom questioned, "Did you cheat?" I bowed my head, ashamed of what I had done. "Danny," my mom breathed sadly, and I could sense the disappointment in her voice.

"Why did you do it, son?" Dad questioned.

"Yes, Daniel; I'd like to know that as well." I raised my eyes and saw everyone looking at me. Mr. Lancer's arms were crossed, his briefcase lying on the ground. Mom and Dad looked at me anxiously, tears shining in Mom's eyes. Jazz, Sam, and Tucker were also looking at me, wondering what I'd say.

"I….I had to," I murmured.

"Had to?! There is no reason that you had to!" Mom yelled, the tears spilling. "You should have studied!"

"I didn't have the time."

"And why not?" questioned Dad, his voice stern and cold.

"I can't tell you."

Mom and Dad were silent, until Mom said, "We'll talk later."

Mr. Lancer cleared his throat. "I believe you know the punishment for cheating, and if you don't, your sister can tell you." I never looked at the handbook, so I didn't know. My gaze rested on Jazz.

She responded sadly, "A zero for the test and a day of suspension." My eyes widened at hearing the suspension. I figured the zero, but not the suspension.

"Suspended?" I repeated.

"Yes, Daniel: suspension. Apparently, you didn't study the consequences of your actions, either." He turned to Mom and Dad. "Mr. and Mrs. Fenton, I'd like to sit down and talk." He opened the door. "If you will."

"Are you sure that's safe?" Jazz spoke up. "The ceiling's collapsed. What if more of it falls?"

"I assure you, Miss Fenton; we'll be okay."

"Jazz, you can come if you want," Mom spoke in an unfeeling tone. "Danny, please wait by the RV." They all stepped into the Nasty Burger, save Sam and Tucker. Jazz kept looking up as she walked in. We all stood there, silent, until Sam spoke.

"Danny…" Sam started, but I held up a hand.

"Don't." My voice was cold. "I don't want to hear it." Sam looked at me sadly, and silence captured up again.

Tucker cleared his throat, and I glanced at him. "We can go find out what they're saying if you want." He held up his PDA, ready to record.

I nodded my head, still burdened by what I'd done. "I'll stay here," Sam offered, but I shook my head.

"I'd like to be alone. Go ahead and talk to each other about me. 'We told him, we told him,'" I mocked, my voice highly pitched.

Sam glared at me and yelled, "We wouldn't do that, Danny!"

"Just go!" I barked at them, pointing my finger in the direction of the Nasty Burger. Sam turned on her heel angrily and stormed over to the doors of the Nasty Burger. Tucker gave me a sad look before joining Sam over by the double doors. I shoved my hands in my pockets and walked over to the RV, my shoulders slouched as I felt like all the sadness and disappointment in the world rested on my shoulders. I leaned against the side of the Fenton RV, waiting for Mom, Dad, and Jazz to come out. I watched as Sam and Tucker quietly crept into the Nasty Burger, the door shutting noiselessly behind them. What have I done? I've dragged everyone into something that shouldn't have happened. I held a hand to my forehead as I shook my head. It's all my fault.

Just then, slow clapping broke out from somewhere over my head. I looked up to see Plasmius materialize before me. "Well done, Daniel." The sarcasm dripped from his voice as he stopped clapping. He lowered himself to the ground, smirking at me. "You've even more than I ever have. Lowering yourself to cheating. Tsk, tsk, tsk." He shook his finger on each 'tsk'.

My head snapped angrily in his direction, my eyes blazing with fury. "I am not lower than you, nor will I ever be!" I growled. I itched to go ghost, to blast at him with all my fury, but because of him, I couldn't. Instead, I swung at him. However, he saw it coming and simply sidestepped, while I landed flat on my back, the wind knocked out of me.

"I'd be careful of what you say, Daniel. Never have I cheated in my lifetime, yet you already have at the age of fourteen. You shouldn't swing at me, either, for I still have the upper hand." To prove a point, he held up a fist, glowing with pink ecto-energy.

"You tried to get my mom by killing my dad!" I shot back. He smiled, and it definitely wasn't the reaction I had expected.

"Touché, Daniel, touché. I suppose it is somewhat cheating, but it was later in my life that I attempted this, not at your age." His face hardened. "You still have much to learn when you become my son."

I didn't want to think of myself at his level, or even worse than him, but my defense was wearing thin. "I will never join you, nor will I become your son!"

He laughed, and it seemed to echo up and down the street while ringing sharply in my ears. "And that is where you are wrong, my boy. One day, I will have you and Maddie by my side, while your father lays six feet under the cold, unfeeling ground," he snarled, his emphasis ringing sharp on the last few words.

My eyes flashed, and never in my life had I wanted to kill someone as much as I did right now, but a spark of light out of the corner of my eye caught my attention. I craned my head in the direction of the Nasty Burger, only to watch in horror as it exploded before my very eyes. The sheer force of the explosion knocked me off of my feet, sending me crashing into a nearby building and cracking my head against it. I grunted, and when I opened my eyes, parts of the Nasty Burger were in flames, debris scattered everywhere. "No!" I screamed, remembering that my family, friends, and teacher had been in there.

On the ground, something moved towards me, something dark and round. My eyes snapped open as I realized it was Sam's bracelet, a few spots of it burned. My breath hitched in my throat, and I couldn't breathe. "Sam," I whispered, the name lingering in the air. "Mom! Dad! Jazz! Please, somebody answer me!" I shouted, running towards the fallen building. I had to find them, I had to. "Sam! Tucker! Mr. Lancer!" My cries rang through the air, no response to them arising. My arms drew closer to my face as I neared the heat, the flames licking at my arms gently. As I drew closer to where the doors once stood, arms grabbed me sharply around the waist, preventing me from going any farther. "Let me go!" I screamed, unsure of who I was shouting at.

"Daniel, no!" A voice barked in my ear. It took me a few seconds to recognize it.

"Let me go, Vlad!" I struggled against his grip, but it didn't loosen. "They might still be alive!"

"You know as well as I that they aren't! Don't cling to a false hope!" My fight against him let up as he said that, and try as I might, I didn't want to believe him. Somehow, I knew he was right. He let me go, and I slowly walked forward in disbelief, falling to my knees. My head fell forward, tears streaming down my cheeks. Though my sight was blurry, a glint of metal caught my eye, and I crawled towards it. My hand shook as I picked it up, and I instantly recognized it: Tucker's PDA. Amazingly, it still worked, and I played back the last few minutes. There was a little rewinding sound before it started to play.

"…Mr. and Mrs. Fenton, I know that Daniel could have passed it if he tried. He had no need to resort to cheating." Mr. Lancer's voice rang clear. I heard someone sigh.

"We know, Mr. Lancer," my mom spoke, and my eyes watered again at hearing Mom's voice. "I just can't figure out why he would cheat of all things." It was silent for a moment until someone cleared their throat.

"I may be able explain." It was Jazz. "Mom, Dad…" she paused before continuing, "Danny is the ghost boy." My eyes widened, and I heard Sam's and Tucker's gasps through the recording. I heard Mom and Dad laugh.

"Sweetie, that's ridiculous. Ghosts and humans can't walk on the same plane of life. They're two separate beings."

"But Mom, it's true. Danny was the one who turned on the portal, and he half-died that day."

"How does she know?" Sam's hushed whisper came through.

"I don't know. Maybe she'll explain." It was silent again until Dad spoke.

"You look so serious, Jazzy-pants. Are…are you sure?"

"Yes. I accidentally saw him transform one day."

"But…why didn't he tell us?" My mom sounded hurt.

Another sigh, and I'm pretty sure it came from Jazz. "He was afraid that you guys would hurt him. That you'd rip him apart molecule-by-molecule as you guys have exclaimed so many times. He was afraid…" Her voice cracked from…what? Sadness? Stress? "…that you wouldn't love him anymore."

I heard my parents gasp. "We would never hate him! He's ours son!" Dad exclaimed.

"But he doesn't know that. You guys need to tell him that." It was silent again, and I wondered if that was it.

"This is…an interesting turn of events," said Mr. Lancer. Even though it was just a recording, I could sense the nervous tension. However, a boom soon cut through that, and then it crackled with static, the recording finished. I felt a hand grip my shoulder, and I realized that Plasmius had been listening the entire time.

"I'm…I'm so sorry, Daniel." His voice wavered with emotion. I gripped the PDA tightly, and anger suddenly replaced my grief.

"You got what you wanted, didn't you?! My dad's dead, and now I have nowhere to go except with you!"

"I'd never want it like this, Daniel; never in my life! Not even your father deserved this kind of death," he finished sadly.

"This is all your fault!" I snarled, snapping his hand off of my shoulder as I quickly rose.

"My fault?!" His expression was one of shock as his eyes widened. "I hardly see how this is my fault! Your cheating was what brought them here in the first place!"

"I could have saved them if you hadn't shorted out my powers!" Angry tears streamed down in my face, and I was starting to get dizzy. His expression changed to one of hurt, guilt. He turned from me and started to walk away, silent. "Coward!" I screamed at him, falling to my knees once more. He turned to face me, his face hardened, one of anger and disgust.

"The only coward is you, Daniel, for you were too afraid to face the consequences if you had not cheated." I saw tears fall as he turned away and vanished once more into a puff of smoke. I fell to the ground, curled into a fetal position, clutching Sam's bracelet and Tucker's PDA tightly to my chest. Through bleary eyes, I saw a piece of paper burning by my face, the letters on the side reading C.A.T. The flames burned hungrily through it, eating it, leaving only gray, smoldering behind it. The letters were the last thing I saw before darkness swallowed me whole.

DP

I woke up rapidly, drenched in sweat once more. My breathing was heavy, and tears were streaming down my cheeks. That dream had haunted me ever since they had all died. Slowly, I turned towards the nightstand, Sam's bracelet and Tucker's PDA resting on it. A picture sat behind them, a picture of happier times. Mom, Dad, Jazz, Sam, Tucker, and I, all grouped together in front of the Fenton Works building. They, along with Mr. Lancer, had passed nearly two weeks ago in a horrible explosion, Vlad and I the only witnesses. The newspaper with the story about them lay under my bed, barely touched. I had come to live with Vlad shortly after, having no place to go. The dream had reminded me again and again of the damage I'd caused.

Every night, I would play the recording, savoring the sound of all of their voices, the only thing left to remind me of what they had sounded like. As my gaze rose to the darkness, I could've sworn I saw red eyes staring at me, but they had white corneas, so they couldn't have been Vlad's. However, I blinked, and they disappeared. I rubbed my eyes and decided that I was now hallucinating from lack of sleep. It wouldn't surprise me. When I was alone, every once in a while, I'd hear my mom's or my sister's voice softly speaking to me. It soon disappeared, and I begged for it to come back, but it didn't.

As I laid my head on the pillow, hoping to fall asleep once more, a decision came to me. Tomorrow, I needed to ask Vlad a favor: a way to remove my emotions. The idea had toyed in my mind for a while, but this time, I was sure I wanted it. When tomorrow came, I'd be ready.

DP

A figure floated gently in front of a circular screen, watching Danny sleep It sighed and changed to an elderly version of itself, worry and sadness written across its features.

"I'm so sorry, Daniel," it spoke, holding the time staff in its right hand as clocks rang all around the figure. "I did all I could, but it wasn't enough." The shadow shook its head before shrinking to a child-like form. "I only wish I could prevent what is yet to come." The screen rippled, and a scene played out before the shadow. A dark figure with a head of white fire terrorized the people, killing everyone it could. A deep breath arose from it, and it released a wail, a ghostly one if you will. The green waves struck buildings and cars, causing them to crumble and be tossed through the air.

The wail stopped, and the figure smirked, white fangs glistening. A black "P" within a white "D" lay on its chest, an insignia, one that used to belong to a hero. Now it bore rise to a new monster. Its black and white cape flapped behind it as it floated there, proud of the destruction it had caused. The shadow watching all of this sighed as the screen flickered to black. "If only you had listened to the message I tried to give you." It shifted to a middle-aged from before floating to another part of the building, still having other matters to attend to, but still having a heavy burden on its shoulders and a heavy heart.

DP

Out of the darkness of some unknown location, two red eyes with pupils and white corneas glinted in the darkness, shining with hatred and a lust to kill. It grinned, and a set of white fangs gleamed in the darkness. A hand shot out from the figure, palm turned downward, as it gathered green ecto-energy in its hand. The figure didn't release the ecto-ball, just held it there, suspended in the air. It cackled an empty laugh as a person began to take shape in the ecto-ball.

Danny Phantom appeared, but he didn't look like himself. There was a spark of evil in his eye, much like the stranger's. Slowly, the teenage hero began to change shape, forming into a younger version of the mysterious shadow. It had white flame hair and pale green-blue skin, fangs curled over its lower lip. Its eyes were black corneas with red irises, a dot of black pupil in the middle. As it hissed, a forked tongue flew between its two fangs.

Another explosion occurred, and the creature flew away, looking pleased with its work. A low laugh rumbled from its throat. The shadow watching all this smiled, capturing the green ecto-ball in its hand, causing the ecto-energy to disappear. A laugh rumbled from, its throat, a pleased one at that. It spoke, though no one was there.

"It's only a matter of time before you turn into me." With a swish of its cape, it turned away, once again melting into the darkness that always surrounded this creature, a darkness that was both physical and emotional from events that had transpired ten years ago.

DP

I finally finished! Yay! Well, here's my new story. Hope you liked it! R&R please!

dreamwriter2010