((A/N: I does not own the Danny Phantom, for the ever-lucky Butch Hartman currently owns him. I simply exploit opportunities in the story for my own personal joy, and not for profit. WARNING: Ending has potential for slash, depending on how you interpret it, and it contains minor spoilers from The Ultimate Enemy and Urban Jungle))

One halfa advanced upon the other menacingly, the defending one standing their ground. Once again, Danny Phantom and Vlad Plasmius were engaged in battle, and the younger one had successfully cornered the other half-ghost into a neat trap, exhibiting a fighting skill previously unknown to Vlad, his new ice powers.

They stood face to face, a mere four feet apart, both in offensive stances, though not attacking. The grey, metal walls around them held unfinished experiments of Vlad's, and the billionaire's ghost portal rested placidly on the far side of the largely empty laboratory.

Danny's tense hands glowed the brightest of greens, while the magenta tones of Vlad's clenched fists flared defensively against the approaching teen. It bothered Vlad that he was being cornered so easily by the boy in a move Plasmius normally used on Phantom. And his appearance was so random; Vlad had done nothing to invoke any suspicion, and it hadn't been all that long ago since the boy had thwarted another "get- Maddie– kill- Jack" plan, so the possibility that inactivity had created some form of suspicion was out. Why had he come here today?

But he had no time to dwell on the question as the younger hybrid moved forward in a stealthy, dangerous fashion, closing the distance to a single foot in an instant, a smirk of triumph plastered on his face. Suddenly slamming his hands forward into Vlad's chest, the boy hit him and the man was thrown backwards by the force into a corner violently, the boy's surprise ecto-blast to the center of his torso knocking him into the wall, then forward and down to the floor in a limp heap.

Throughout the intense fight, Plasmius had noticed Danny slowly gaining the upper hand, but he chose to ignore it. He had also chosen to ignore his own growing weakness, which was now revealed against his will as the beaten halfa involuntarily changed back into the human counterpart of the hybrids being, Vlad Masters.

His red eyes blinked tiredly as the transformation took place, eyes flickering open weakly after a short flash of eerie black light that represented the change from ghost to human, to reveal two deeply sunken, black-rimmed, naturally an unnatural shade of dark blue eyes, barely managing to stay open. The sight of his enemy's weaker human half barely conscious only made Phantom's current grin, so unlike his normal heroic expression, grow into an almost maniacal smile, tainted with an unusual hint of malice, and a dark sense of foreboding overtook his nemesis, while said nemesis registered an unreadable emotion also floating within the many other expression fragments dancing across and through Danny's face.

He looked pleased at his victory, but not all surprised. Normally the child grew excited when he managed to outdo Vlad in battle, as the majority of his victories were in tactical advantage, not actual ability. Vlad only had a moment to ask himself an obvious question -Why is Danny even here? - Before his thoughts were abruptly interrupted by an unexpectedly firm grip on his arm.

Stopping only briefly to grab and drag along the greatly weakened man, Danny walked up to the corner Vlad lay in front of, dragging him upwards by way of firm grip on the billionaire's right forearm, and proceeded to expertly pin the man roughly against the cool, smooth metal. The elder halfa possessed neither the current strength nor the courage to try and escape, and so he was quickly stuck to the wall, ectoplasm binding his hands above him. He hung dejectedly, feet just barely grazing the ground below, eyes glued to the confident Danny Phantom before him.

Tilting his head in mock curiosity at Vlad, Danny raised a hand and took a light hold of the older mans' chin, tilting the time-worn face upward so he could view the fatigue plaguing the enemy's countenance. He leaned forward, glowing green eyes blinking quickly, before the teenager returned to his raven-haired human form in a brief flash of light as blindingly pure white as the sheen of black pseudo-light that changed Vlad. It was unnervingly strange every time to see this young boy possess a pure beacon-like transformation, while the man's personal transformation indicated a more devilish, evil creature.

The messy white hair of Amity Park's ghost public enemy and clandestine hero changed to the tousled black locks of Danny Fenton, youngest child of the greatly mocked and world-renowned ghost hunters Jack and Maddie Fenton. Some mocking was deserved, as they never seemed to realize who it was they chased after, who this self-proclaimed "Danny Phantom" ghost boy truly was, and always failed to capture him for study, despite their greatest efforts. Green eyes reverted back to baby blue, and the black and white HAZMAT suit the ghost constantly donned was transformed into his human form's usual tee shirt and baggy jeans. He stayed stock still throughout the change, not uttering a word, simply making sure his hand stayed steady in its hold.

The elder couldn't help but shiver at the sensation that passed through him as the cool, white-gloved hand changed into a softer, warm, human hand, even while the boy's grip stayed firm. Otherwise though, Vlad didn't react at all to Danny's change, merely leaning forward slightly to accept what little warmth there was in the enemy's hand, much as it irritated him he was weak enough to need it. Vlad was supposed to be more powerful, not Danny, Vlad.

The boy -the one who Vlad always sneered down at from his pedestal of greater experience in being half a ghost, half a man- sighed in an aggravated way at the lack of movement away from his hand and himself, and that was what finally earned a response on Vlad's face, shock and a concerned surprise darting across his features. Why was the apparent victor acting as if he were a child being denied his toy? Obviously he had wanted a stronger, or at least different, reaction on the elder's part, and was not happy to not see this reaction, or lack thereof, whatever it was, on Vlad's face.

Instead of smirking, Danny now bordered on glaring at Vlad, disgusted by his minimal range of present emotions, like something weren't going quite according to plan. It shocked Vlad, how his pale blue human gaze was now almost as formidable as his ghost half, Phantom's, green one, the same determined air and strength now visible through both sets of irises. The two sets of blue human eyes locked for a moment, revealing an almost confused aspect to the teens glower, Vlad's eyes expressing nothing more than tiredness, confusion, and some discomfort at having their faces this close when it was under Danny's terms and not his own. But as their eyes broke apart, it seemed as if the youngest Fenton had regained his good humor, and almost immediately his crazy grin was back.

His hands went up and gripped possessively around Vlad's firmly bound wrists, the ecto-energy still glowing a fierce green, and Danny leaned his head in even closer to Vlad's, seemingly unfazed by the fact the enemy didn't move away, despite their unusually close proximity.

The middle-aged man barely had the energy to keep his face upturned, but persevered, curious why the youngest Fenton wasn't taking advantage of his victory, and if he was, what he going to do. It only made him wriggle uncomfortably at the awkward thoughts that came in response to such a question; none of the answers were logical or possible, for he was sure he knew Danny far too well to be so cruel. These things were things only Vlad would imagine or care to do. But then again, the very same cruel part of his mind spoke up; He's the more powerful one right now, why shouldn't he be the mean one too?

Despite his weakness, if not a little bit because of it, Vlad couldn't tell if it was mere seconds, slow minutes, or even hours that the boys intense gaze was locked searchingly on his face. Without warning, the young man suddenly drew away, a deep, thoughtful frown replacing his bizarrely happy expression. The teenager crossed to the other end of the room, pausing briefly in front of the portal, only sparing one forlorn look over his shoulder before looking back and slowly walking closer toward the swirling green-and-black portal into the Ghost Zone.

Panic gripped Vlad, and his breath involuntarily hitched in his throat while the boy stood contemplatively right in front of the exit. If he were left here, bound by surprisingly powerful ectoplasmic binds, and with no way to regain his energy with food or sleep, the older man saw a remote possibility he could die. Sure, this was a mildly far-fetched possibility, but never before had Vlad been put to grips with his mortality, the cushion of being half-ghost making him think he wouldn't care when he finally kicked the bucket. But now, he forced his throat and tongue to work together to form coherent words, despite his panic, asking for help from the one who did this to him. The result was a strangled sounding, "Come back!" True, it came out as a warbling noise, but it was comprehendible enough for the words to be understood.

Though it wasn't visible to Vlad, the boy was smirking in triumph, the two shining white rings that had been about to change him back to Phantom as a further threat of his possible departure fizzling out once the man finally acted. Resetting his face to the grim serious look he was trying very hard to keep straight while he played with Vlad's head, Danny turned away from the portal, feigning it as a forced effort to head towards the enemy instead of simply escaping. He headed back with another thoughtful expression, grabbing a metal stool indifferently on the way before dropping it unceremoniously in front of Vlad, and sitting down, eyes once again trained intently on the elder man.

Bothered by the level of attentive interest visible in his enemy's stare, Vlad tried to gather an answer himself so as not to appear ignorant about what was happening. But he found himself unable to fathom a reason for the unexpected arrival, wordless attack by Danny, subsequent loss on Vlad's own part, and all the other things leading up to now, and he felt it completely necessary for him to ask, "What's going on? Why'd you come back so easily?" He attempted to look intimidating while he asked it, but given his position, and that Danny was in complete control, that fell flat.

Danny couldn't contain his smile anymore, now that Vlad was playing out so easily according to what he had seen. In a frighteningly similar look to that of the one Vlad often gave Danny, the boy said, "I'm making a plan…" And he added, just for the effect he knew it would have on the man internally, in perfect mimicry of Vlad, "Little Badger."

Vlad opened his mouth to speak. He was ignoring the no doubt, under more normal circumstances, inflammatory nickname – it was his name for Daniel after all- to attempt to ask the stupid question of "For what?" Though his throat and mouth would not comply, being bone dry, and he did frown unhappily at the name while he swallowed a few times to gather enough moisture in his uncharacteristically saliva-less mouth. And after two failed tries that ended in him breaking down into a weak coughing fit, he tried a third time to ask his question.

A devious look consumed Danny's face as he interrupted, cutting off any possible questions on Vlad's part, "I'm planning on what to do with you." The look Danny now offered to Vlad frightened him even more, as it almost looked kind in some aspects, and a wince flicked across his face when he imagined that this tenderness may be in pity for whatever it was to come. He steeled himself, squeezing his eyes shut; clenching his hands into fists above himself and toes in his shoes in fearful expectation.

Danny merely laughed at this, long and loud, and edged with a hint of true humor, at the expression on his enemy's face. Sure, he should be a little frightened about what Danny was going to do, but that. brand of fear was unnecessary. Danny wasn't going to hurt him, just break though a few personal boundaries he knew the man had, and maybe shock and scare him a little. Vlad was being annoyingly impassive, as he should've known, or remembered, would happen, but that didn't stop him laughing, though it did help him stop and level his mood away from cruelty, knowing there were more serious matters ahead.

Opening his eyes curiously at the sound of nearly crazy laughter, Vlad considered the possibility his nemesis may have gone insane. At that exact instant, Danny stopped laughing and looked grimly at Vlad, startling him by the suddenness of it, and how well it coincided with his thoughts. Only worrying Vlad more, the teen said indignantly, "I haven't lost my mind."

The billionaire's jaw went slack, falling unceremoniously open in shock. A second later he snapped his mouth shut. Not because he felt foolish with it hanging agape like some dead fish- he was too confused for that to even register. He closed his mouth, because he would have sworn that Danny had smirked a little bit, knowingly, as if he had expected that to happen. What in the name of butter biscuits was going on?

The young boy looked pleased with himself when the elder's lips pinched shut, and only brightened further while he waited for Vlad to speak, clearly enjoying every second of watching Vlad swallow and start nervously, but fail halfway through the first word of his query. It took five tries before he finally succeeded in saying it.

"Y-you know what I'm thinking?" the man asked, a stutter entering his voice, only making the younger one smile broader. Vlad had a fairly open mind, since belief in, and being a ghost, if only halfway, made it ridiculous to deny the possibility of other supernatural things. Clairvoyance had little true evidence, from what Vlad had researched, to have any good back-up, but nonetheless, it was possible until proven otherwise.

Danny shook his head in the negative and leaned forward in his seat, adding to the gesture of denial with an explanatory, almost condescending tone, "I've actually been to see Clockwork, just today wouldn't you know it, and we happened to have a discussion about a few topics of interest while your day's future was playing out."

The boy paused, looking at Vlad's reaction, which he was assured to see was not questioning enough to ask about the topics of interest. Manipulative and excited as he was, he wouldn't want to discuss Dan Phantom, Dark Dan, Phantasmus -whatever it was the man called himself in the alternate future- in front of Vlad. It was bothering enough for Danny to see how similarly he was acting to his future Plasmius-Phantom hybrid all-ghost self already without the sneer he knew would grow across his face, should he ever see Vlad Masters eyes widen in dull shock at the woeful and terrifying story of a corrupted time line that ended not with a happy ending, but just the promise of ever greater chaos, death, and destruction.

He wasn't going to let himself become the evil being that killed everybody and destroyed everything that had ever had a positive impact on the human half of Danny, since he had promised his family in the alternate time that he never would let himself. Maybe one day he would tell everybody what had happened before and after the making of that promise in that short window of reality only Danny Fenton, Dark Dan, and Clockwork, the ghost of Time, had ever witnessed, but right now he had a different purpose.

"I was curious when I saw myself at your mansion. But Clockwork knows everything that ever was, will be, and could come to be, and explained that I was going to come here as a result of my visit to him, something which was set in stone to happen in itself, so surprise was unnecessary. I still thought it was unusual, as I wasn't truly intending on checking up on you until tomorrow, but nonetheless, I saw myself here, and trusted what Clockwork told me.

"I don't suppose I need to explain to you my following actions, as you were present for them, and should soon have the bruises to prove it." The only expression Danny offered now, instead of an explanatory face, was simply a confident grin, and Vlad hung his head in slight shame at having lost the fight, even though he figured it was destined to end with him as the loser in the reality Clockwork was bound as the Master of Time to enforce and protect.

"Anyway," he continued, "I was curious about my predicted presence, and the iron-clad need for it, but Clockwork was vague as usual when I asked, and all I was able to glean was that something pivotal was to happen today, and I held most of the sway in its direction of either a good or evil overall outcome." An unreadable shadow went over Danny's face, and Vlad resisted the urge to shudder at the sight of such a deep, angry sense of hate that that expression seemed to emanate. He shook it off and continued, letting Vlad relax, somewhat anyway, again.

"Then I watched the rest of your day, paying close attention to most everything I could, especially things you said, did, and asked me, since I figured it would all help me get through it when they actually happened." Suddenly Vlad understood why he hadn't been able to land a blow, and how Danny had successfully avoided all his shots with well-done counter-attacks. "I just decided to jump the gun on that one question, as a full minute of you stuttering and trying to question my sanity aloud would have been sheer torture for me."

A wicked expression grew from that statement, and he leaned even further forward, simply looking at Vlad again, leaving the elder worried, even if he wanted to protest Danny hadn't won the fight fairly, having the advantage of knowing everything ahead of time, but Vlad himself cheated in fights often enough, and he was worried, so that was moot.

Again when Vlad Masters opened his mouth for something, it went unheard, since Danny interrupted with, "No, I will not tell you what the pivotal event is and was; simply that it is entirely that I direct it towards a good end. I also do not happen to like philosophy, so no tricky topic redirection."

He smirked again to see that Vlad was once more at a loss for words. Vlad had wanted to ask about the future, and had only briefly considered asking Danny about some philosophers he'd read the works of, though it had most definitely been intended as a possible subject redirection, and a way to trick Danny into releasing him from his bonds at least.

This was certainly going easier than he had expected, Danny thought absently, despite knowing what to expect anyway. Just to tease Vlad and appease his immature side, and because he knew he was bound to say it, the teen asked teasingly, "Guess what else I saw in the glass in Clockwork's lair?"

Now, despite his great power, Vlad didn't associate much in the Ghost Zone, and had never personally met anyone who had met Clockwork, aside from Daniel, let alone been able to himself, so the mere mention of such an event said so casually put Vlad slightly at a disadvantage. All he had been able to find out was that Clockwork worked closely with the Observants, the Guardians of Time, but was significantly more powerful. He not only watched over the events in reality, and all the alternate realities that sprung from it, he was able to stop and control time, import people from one reality into another, and make the very fabric of the universe and the Ghost Zone bend to his will, whenever he took the fancy to, but didn't. However this was rudimentary knowledge to anybody within the Ghost Zone, so that was useless to regard as anything helpful to understanding what Clockwork was, other than a highly respected ghost, with no physical appearance ever determined, despite Vlad's often threatening insistence to his sources for more information. The stupid vultures who insisted on being called "Ecto-Americans", knew as much, or as little, as Vlad did, and had never met the great ghost, and the reports from others varied too much to be paid much attention. They claimed all simultaneously that he was a mere a child, an old man, and a youth in the prime of his life, and that was simply impossible.

As a feeling of disappointment at his lack of true and unique knowledge permeated his already dampened mood, he found he wasn't sure he wanted to know what it was Danny had seen, knowing already it was probably going to be something embarrassing. And it was probably something to do with Maddie, if Danny really wanted to mock Vlad.

As if on cue, Danny smiled bigger, hopping completely off the stool now, pacing calmly in front of the bound billionaire. Said billionaire shifted uncomfortably in his ectoplasmic shackles; disappointed as ever that they didn't give an inch, even when the boy was outside his ghost form.

"Well, since I know you don't know, I will tell you, and in great detail." He rocked forward on his heels with 'great' and raised his eyebrows in a way that made Vlad immediately apprehensive. This couldn't be good.

Speaking a little quickly, Danny explained, "I got to see some of your past on request, since Clockwork was in a good mood. And you can only imagine what I found when I randomly told the glass a date a few weeks before your little college accident!" The man's eyes widened, as he suddenly remembered what the majority of his time before the accident had been focused on. The same thing it was focused on afterwards: Maddie. Just like now, all his attempts to woo her had been fruitless, and the Proto-Portal exploding in his face, giving him all-white hair at age twenty-two, a case of ecto-acne that lasted for years, leaving him bed-ridden for months, and made him halfway-ghost, halfway-dead, had done nothing to aid him in his quest for the lovely woman's heart.

Surprisingly though, he saw no anger on the boys part about Vlad's almost obsessive admiration of Maddie, even when his suspicions were confirmed as Danny continued, "You were trying to ask my mother out for the first time." Vlad understood why it was humor and not anger that choked the boy's voice when he said a moment later, "I found it so hilarious when Jack just walked in, and waltzed right back out, Maddie on his arm for a date that night." Wearing a cruel smirk, the eighteen-year-old hero spoke softer, "You looked so sad, as if your very heart had broken just because she left the room."

And the mock surprise and true humor, threatening to bubble up in the form of laughter thickened while he spoke even softer still, "What you were nearly caught by Jack doing later that night was rather interesting, if not somewhat disheartening. I thought you were a man of composure, Mr. Masters." Vlad remembered what it was he had been doing, and reflexively blushed at it, guilty he had ever resorted to something so undignified. Danny suddenly snorted, finally frowning, though Vlad discovered it was at the words that followed that Danny seemed upset, and not on the previous topic.

"Clockwork said I shouldn't look at your past anymore though, as I was expected here soon. He sent me off, and here I am." Arms held out, he gestured with a flourish, as if he himself were a consolation prize, for some unknown lost game, a weak, grim frown giving him a saddened, almost degraded air. With a flash, he was Phantom again, and his expression was now controlled and even, and he flew backwards a bit, rising a few feet off the floor. He readied himself, backed away further, which confused the older halfa. Vlad's drawn brow only shot up in surprise when he observed emptily that Danny was crouched like some feline thing, waiting to pounce, gracefully tensing down into a mid-air crouch.

Understanding dawned too late, and Vlad failed at making himself intangible to avoid it when Danny shot off, flying at Vlad like a slingshot projectile finally released, though intangibility, he remembered later, wouldn't have worked while he was held in place by the ectoplasm.

In a mere second, he had rammed into Vlad, letting enough of the impact hit him to destroy any strength the elder may have gathered since changing back to his human form, but then released the binds, letting them flicker into non-being in an instant, and pushing Vlad through the wall, intangibility allowing Danny to fly through the underground laboratory wall, and not be affected by the dirt outside of them when he popped through lab walls without so much as a whisper of wind rushing past.

Vlad was slung unceremoniously over Danny's shoulder while he flew up through the ground and into the lobby of the main floor of the Wisconsin model of Vlad's many mansions. He didn't resist being held even in such an undignified way, as all the wind had been knocked out of him, and being intangible while he was human left him a bit breathless anyway. Daniel no doubt knew that, and that was why he chose to go through the ground instead of taking the well-hidden stairway that led in and out of the cavernous laboratory.

While Vlad worked on refilling his lungs, Danny was looking tersely around himself, deciding which way he was supposed to go. This part of the day had been hazy and hard to see in Clockwork's lair, so it was hard to decide. A moment's thought made him turn right, and fly confidently into a long complicated labyrinth-like hallway, which he maneuvered through flawlessly.

At the end, he paused, faced by a dead end and a keypad, and hesitated briefly before putting in what he already knew would be the wrong code. He set Vlad down gently, frowning at the message that popped up, voiced by a drone that sounded exactly like his mother. He held one hand out, palm facing the little soft-touch keypad, and his tensed fingers contained a glowing green orb, before it grew to the size of a baseball, shot forward, and blasted the poor little machine to bits.

Face drawn and heavily lined, despite his youth, Danny Phantom walked over to Vlad, and grabbed him almost gently about the wrist, and carefully helped him up, wary of any possible surprise attacks. He had been assured by the Clockwork that Vlad wouldn't retaliate after his loss, but then again, Danny had probably altered the path of time by telling Vlad what he had seen so soon, and interrupting him when he should've waited.

But that proved inconsequential, as the abnormally silent Vlad Masters looked contemplatively at Danny, the boy he hadn't ever realized was this much more powerful than him, if not by his potential for new ability, but by his advantage of more allies and friends in his world and the Ghost Zone, and his potential to get better over time, not weighed down by a dark past, or at least one filled with disappointments. The man simply stared and accepted the help, forced into submission that he was a horrible person.

He shouldn't be surprised, with all the things he'd done, and with all the people he'd manipulated by overshadowing them, but it was. He had always been blinded to the lack of morals guiding his life by the single-minded determination he pursued Maddie with. But this showed him that Danny not only could beat him, but could pity him, and want to help him at once; something Vlad could never imagine being able to do himself should the roles ever be reversed.

Though it had not been explained to Danny what he was supposed to tell Vlad, he remembered seeing it, albeit on mute, but seeing the way Vlad's face fell when Danny solemnly gave him whatever news it was indicated bad news, and Danny recalled results of some alternate reality experiments Clockwork had permitted him to try awhile ago. Thoughts returning to the more recent vision he'd received by watching one of the many looking glasses in Clockwork's personal residence, the one that just this afternoon had predicted the news, whatever it were, had made Vlad had collapse against a wall, almost crying, but he had remembered his composure and it looked like he had said something apologetic to Daniel.

Danny decided that it couldn't be news concerning Dark Dan, but was actually probably about his mother, the love of Vlad's life, the other focusing point in Danny's experiments for the potential futures. He decided to tell Vlad the results quickly, and do his best to make him realize what a fruitless effort it had been to chase so long after a woman so uninterested. Even when she had been aware of his affections, she had become angry with him, and he should've taken that as a hint, but obviously not.

"Vlad," he began, "I realize we've never seen eye to eye about this," he swallowed, and locked eyes with him, "But you need to understand: No matter who you become, how your life goes, or what you ever try, Maddie ends up with my father, Jack. I am not always born, and I don't always get my powers, but every time around, you are there, in the background or the foreground, always with a broken heart, and a grudge against somebody, whoever it is that you think stole away your chance with her.

"Clockwork let me use the glass in his lair to see more than just your past. He froze time everywhere so I would have the chance to see if there was ever any chance for you to be together, to prove that maybe your hope isn't for nothing, and that I may have been wrong in always fighting so hard to stop you from finding happiness with her.

"There wasn't."

Danny visibly balked, unable to continue. He took a moment to look away, at the ceiling, everywhere except the worryingly unmoving Vlad, and swallowed dryly; reminding himself he had to continue.

"I want you to let her go, accept the possibility for love in a future without Madeline Fenton, and let me be an ally, not an adversary, because of it. I can tell you there is a chance for happiness for you, even without her by your side. A chance for all your life to be redeemed, just in seeing a person other than her smile because of something you did for them."

For a moment, it seemed as if Vlad wasn't breathing, and the man would've sworn himself that his heart had for a moment stopped beating. But with a moment or two on top of that, he remembered to breathe in, and was able to hear a loud beat pulsing in his ears. His eyes stung, and he staggered on his feet, leaning all his weight suddenly against a wall. Danny watched the day come true, just as Clockwork had shown him, and awaited Vlad's words, whatever they were to be. But nothing came.

Danny frowned, hearing and seeing no sign that Vlad was going to speak. The man just leaned there, breathing heavily, eyes widened while he tried to process this news.

Paralyzed by the realization that what Danny had told him was undeniably true- not only was Danny just as bad a liar as he had been since age fourteen, but it rang of sincerity, and from someone he fought with in battle unimaginable to the average person on a regular basis- Vlad found difficulty in breathing regular, even breaths. Maddie was not an option, and he had wasted over twenty years chasing after her.

Minutes passed, and still the man couldn't wrap his mind around it, and Danny was close to jumping forward from his spot right beside him and shaking Vlad for a response. Suddenly, something that controlled his patience snapped, and Danny simply decided in an instant that he wasn't going to wait for a response anymore, and glared at the ceiling, crouching down and angling towards it, eyes narrowed against the glow he felt in them, the one true sign he was angry showing through in a bright, neon green glare.

Clearly Vlad couldn't let go of Maddie. And why should he? The angry part of his mind argued. She's beautiful by most people's standards; even you can recognize that much of your mother. She's brilliant, one of the main reasons your father hasn't accidentally blown your house up in all the time they've been together. And she's something he couldn't have. They were all perfect reasons why he shouldn't let her go, no matter what some little boy said to him.

The sight of Daniel leaving shocked Vlad though, straight through the numbing feeling acceptance had left him with, and in a flash, he had straightened up and latched onto Danny's ankles, one of the only things visible a moment after he had released and begun to fly up. He stopped on a dime at the feel of a faint hold on his legs, and floated back down through the ceiling, glowering down at Vlad, and spat out harshly, no longer caring whether or not the day ended positively or negatively, "What? Are you just going to try and beg me to tell you I wasn't telling the truth?"

The man winced, but shook his head 'no' without a word. He held out a hand, to Danny, gesturing for him to come down all the way. The boy obliged grudgingly, glaring the whole way, eyes practically consumed by the neon blaze within them. "Well?" he said a few seconds later, arms crossed, standing right in front of Vlad.

The billionaire met his eyes cautiously, and Danny saw something which disarmed him immediately, much as it worried him that it could. Deep within the recesses of the man's sunken blue eyes, Danny saw a flicker of regret, and he knew that he had let go of Maddie, he just was left hollowed out by it, and that was why he had been so quiet. And when Vlad held out his hand for a handshake, to seal that they were allies now, or at least no longer enemies, Danny felt relief wash over him, and startled the man by leaping forward and wrapping him in a hug.

It was weird, being hugged, Vlad decided, but definitely better than exchanging blows, like they normally did. He awkwardly returned he gesture, wrapping his arms around Danny uncomfortably, having little to no experience in hugs. Danny had his yes clenched shut, nearly knocked senseless by the fact he and Vlad didn't have to fight anymore. They weren't enemies, his mother wasn't going to be bothered, and he could finally have someone to talk to about his powers, somebody who could understand and help him.

Vlad was simply happy to be needed, and just like Danny had said, he felt all the wrongs of his past twenty-some years of bitterness and cruelty were erased, his slate wiped clean, simply by the smile on Danny's face when he had jumped forward into Vlad and given him a hug; a sincere, thankful, honest-to-god, hug. Who needed to chase after Maddie when they had something as open, honest and pure as this?


((A/N: How lame and anticlimactic was that? tell me truly in a review hint what you thought, and I will listen -err, read- all of it and do my best to improve. I do not take offense when you make a point, so please, review!! I wrote out twenty-three pages double-spaced, size-twelve-font story for you, the least you can do is give a desperate fan some feedback.))