Disclaimer: Nope, don't own.
A/N- There are no words for how sorry I am that it took this long to post this chapter- and it's the final chapter too! But I just haven't had inspiration and just started school again for the first time in four years. But I'm here now! I'm a little sad to see WIP end, but I do have plans for a sequel, you'll just have to be patient with me. A HUGE thank you goes out to everyone that took the time to review or send me a message, even if I didn't get a chance to reply I just wanted to let you know how amazing it was every time I received one. It encouraged me to keep writing and just brightened my day in general. I began writing this in high school, so this has been my baby for over six years. Looks like I'll have to update some of the other stories I never got around to!
Thank you again to everyone who read WIP and supported me throughout it- I love you more than you can imagine.
Enough of me blabbering though, on to the chapter!
The night air was muggy, the sun barely a hint on the horizon as the sky began to lighten. Stars still shone overhead, few and far between hidden by the city smog. It had turned out to be a pleasant night after all as the clouds dissipated. The smell of rain still lingered in the air.
The normally silent docks were a buzz with activity even at the early hour. Squad cars and SWAT swarmed the area, their lights flashing, highlighting every harsh contour, every shadow.
Moe's face was bathed in blues and reds as he was led out of the warehouse in cuffs. His usual bravado was gone, flinching at shadows and eyes wide as he searched the line of buildings. He saw a flash of green, felt a wave of nausea and a sharp, metallic taste in his mouth.
"Watch your head." The officer gave him a shove and he tumbled into the back seat of the cruiser thankful for its (false) protection. He clenched his hands together and cold sweat ran down his back.
He could still feel that phantom hand in his chest.
High above the scene Danny watched as the cruiser pulled away. He wanted to go after it. There was a pull, something calling out to him to finish the job he'd started. It was Moe after all- what was his life compared to everyone that would be better off without him? What was his life compared to Dash's?
"Danny? You up here?"
His feet set back down on the gravel of the rooftop silently. He shook himself, startled when he realized he'd actually almost gone after the gang leader.
"Over here." His voice was rough, and he cleared his throat, rubbed a hand over his face and turned to meet his friends.
Sam and Tucker paused by the door to the rooftop, hesitant.
Danny smiled, forced any residual feelings aside and walked to meet them, changing back into his jeans and t-shirt as he did.
"We all clear?"
"Yeah." Tucker seemed to get over his hesitance first and for that Danny was grateful. Tucker always had his back.
"Cleared out the special effects equipment as the cops pulled up," Tucker grinned and hefted his backpack higher up on his shoulder. "They'll never know we were here."
"And I can get this all back to my aunt before anyone notices it missing." Sam added in, apparently content with whatever she saw on Danny's face for the moment.
"Great." He cast one last glance at the steadily lightening horizon and ruthlessly pushed away the urges hovering at the edge of his mind. "Let's get out of here."
"I don't understand," Jazz rested her elbows on the table top, propping her head up as she studied the three teenagers before her. "How did you manage to pull it off?"
It probably shouldn't have come as a surprise that Jazz had been up and waiting for them when they had finally managed to drag themselves to Danny's house, exhausted but successful nearly an hour later. With his parents sleeping soundly upstairs, probably for another good long while, she had taken one look at them and ushered them into the kitchen, forcing them to sit. Under her knowing look it hadn't taken them long to spill the story. It could have been exhaustion, or Jazz's own version of super powers that had made the truth tumble from their lips but Danny privately believed that they had just wanted badly to share their success with someone else, someone who could look at them and tell them they had done some good.
"Scare tactics." Sam replied with a grin.
"They claimed they weren't afraid of Danny Phantom," Tucker supplied. "But they never went after him directly. They targeted the people around him."
"So we put the fear of Phantom in them." Danny grinned sharp and dangerous.
"But you didn't actually hurt them?"
But how he had wanted to. Part of him, dark and buried deep down, still did- even with the gang members locked up, some for good- sometimes it still didn't feel like enough.
"We kept them off balance until the cops could get there and then left the rest up to the authorities." Sam explained. The way she laid it out sounded so simple, like they hadn't been taking so many chances and to her perhaps it was. If there was one thing he was certain of, he never wanted Sam as an enemy. He'd never stand a chance, ghost powers or not.
"The gangs own arrogance did all the hard work for us. They had crates of guns and some drugs lying around, not to mention that some of them had outstanding warrants for their arrests."
"My parents are friends with some influential people." Sam glanced at Danny and he grinned, feeling strangely weightless in the light of all that had happened. "It was pretty easy to tip off the right people."
"And you guys thought it up all on your own." Jazz mused and Danny could have sworn she looked proud.
"Team effort." He nodded, slinging his arms over his friend's shoulders and pulling them close.
Danny startled as a newspaper landed on the table before him. The days date and headline stared up at him reporting a huge bust made over the weekend by police, an impressive achievement for the city and their fight against drugs.
He glanced up to find Dash standing next to the table, steady gaze watching him. Honestly, he wasn't sure how to react. The library was empty save for the librarian at the front desk eyeing them, and two students clustered around one of the computers in the far corner. He'd known Dash was going to find out, had planned on telling him, himself- once he'd gathered up the nerve.
"So," Dash drummed his fingers on the table. "Know anything about this?"
"Weren't these the guys that vandalized the school awhile back?" He asked innocently.
Dash rolled his eyes and dropped into the seat next to him, sliding closer and throwing an arm over the back of Danny's chair.
This close he could feel the heat coming off the other teenager, could feel where the sleeve of his jacket brushed the nape of Danny's neck, his breath against his cheek. He leaned into the solid presence.
"I want details." Dash told him, voice quiet and intimate. "Please tell me this wasn't for me."
Dash narrowed his gaze.
"Truthfully?" He asked and Dash nodded.
"It was for you," Dash opened his mouth to protest but Danny ignored him, continuing. "Because they hurt you and I couldn't stop them and they needed to pay." Dash's eyes darkened and it wasn't from anger. "But it was also because they weren't going to stop, they were going to take this town apart and claim it as their own and I was the only one that could actually stop them."
"It says here the cops stopped them." Dash pointed out dryly, but his other hand had gravitated from the table to rest heavy and warm on Danny's thigh.
"They were bullies." Danny shrugged, careful not to dislodge Dash's arm. "And we all know how well I do with those."
"My hero." Dash teased lightly. Danny ducked his head, smile pleased and decided he liked the sound of that.
The lunch bell rang; startling Danny out of the half daze he'd managed to fall into. In the seat next to him Tucker rolled his eyes, books already packed up and bag slung over his shoulder.
"Day dreaming about Dash?" He quirked an eyebrow at him, but amusement laced his words.
"Uh, yeah." Danny pushed himself to his feet, rubbing the grit from his eyes. He'd had another restless night, dreams of Moe, of the gang and what would have happened if he hadn't stopped them, dreams of Moe getting out on bail and coming after Dash. More frequently his dreams had been about his fist in Moe's chest, grasping his heart in his hand, squeezing, squeezing until…
It was not necessarily the graphics that had been waking him in a cold sweat; it was the sick, pleased, hungry feeling he got from them.
"Earth to Fenton."
He blinked. Tucker was waiting somewhat patiently at the door for him; the rest of the class had already filed out. The problem was, was that he hadn't told Sam and Tucker exactly what had happened in the warehouse that night. They had helped, had been close by but hadn't been witness to the actual proceedings. He'd made sure before hand that there hadn't been any chance of them getting hurt. Now though, they didn't know what he had done, what he was capable of and he didn't think he had it in him to tell them.
Tucker was starting to look concerned so Danny hurried to join his friend.
"I've been meaning to ask you," Danny took control of the conversation before Tucker could question him about his spacing. "Have you asked Paulina to prom yet?"
Tucker spluttered next to him, face darkening and mouth hanging open in a comical expression. Danny couldn't help it- he grinned, a laugh escaping him at his friends' antics.
"You should probably ask her sooner rather than later, since it's around the corner." He continued.
"Even if I could ask her," Tucker recovered enough to reply, but his face remained a darker shade. "I'd just get shot down."
Danny seriously disagreed with that, he was fairly certain that Paulina not only wouldn't laugh in Tucker's face, but also had been waiting for him to ask her for a while. Considering she was the most popular girl (and person at this point if he was being honest) in their school and she still didn't have a date, she had to be waiting for someone. He had a feeling Tucker was that person.
"Besides, I'm not going to prom."
Danny nearly knocked into a girl coming out of her classroom. She glared at him even as he hastily apologized, huffing off after her friends. Danny ignored them, staring at Tucker.
"What did you say?" He demanded.
"Dash isn't going to prom, which means you won't be going to prom," Danny opened his mouth to protest but Tucker just rolled his eyes. "And if my best friend won't be there, I know I won't have any fun. Who would I make fun of all the over dressed graduates with? Well, aside from Sam I mean." He amended.
"But it's prom." Danny protested, stopping at the doors to the cafeteria, blocking Tucker from going any further. "We've been talking about it for years."
"It's just a dance Danny. And I know Sam isn't going either." Tucker clapped him on the shoulder and then used the momentum to push him out of the way, leading the way into the cafeteria.
Sam wasn't going? Well, Kwan was going to be heartbroken…nothing could really take away from the fact that he had the best friends ever though.
The cafeteria was a buzz with activity. Danny spotted Sam and Kwan seated across the large room, trays in front of them, heads bent together as they fought to hear each other over the noise of two hundred teenagers on lunch. Nearby Victor was holding court at three tables pushes together. He was seated on the table, smug look on his face as he waved around a phone, holding it close enough for everyone to see but not touch. Paulina was seated on the bench next to him, and, from the way it looked, doing a close inspection of her nails. She looked bored and Danny couldn't help but wonder why she was over there when she had made it fairly clear that she didn't like Victor.
"Maybe they'll go to prom together." Tucker muttered lowly.
Danny, feeling brave, waved and called across the room.
She spotted them through the crowd, a sweet smile spreading across her face and without a word to the people around her, stood and came to join them. The crowd actually parted for her, heads turning to watch her and for a moment Danny remembered being one of those kids, love sick with someone they could never have. It was strange, he could remember the feelings he associated with her, but they weren't there any longer. He was actually kind of proud of himself for it.
"Danny, Tucker." Her smile was mostly directed at his friend; Danny glanced between her and Tucker's love sick smile and rolled his eyes.
"Do you want to sit with us?" He offered when it became clear that Tucker wasn't about to.
"Anything to get away from Victor." She linked arms with Tucker and led the way towards where Sam and Kwan were seated.
"You looked kind of bored." Tucker had apparently found his voice again as he hastened to add, "Not that you didn't look gorgeous as well. I mean. While you looked bored."
"Thank you." She winked at him and Tucker nearly stumbled over his own feet.
"What's Victor going on about now?"
"He has a new phone." She waved a dismissive hand. "And a new watch, and last week it was a television."
Her tone of voice was enough to show what she thought of that so Danny chose to drop the subject for the moment.
Danny glanced over as Victor separated from his group, as though just noticing her disappearance. His expression darkened as he spotted her with them and Danny tensed.
"Ignore him." Paulina didn't glance back.
Sam rose as they approached, surprise shooting across her face. Danny arched an eyebrow about to ask a question, what he wasn't certain, when he was whirled around. Tucker let out a surprised yelp and then the plate hit him in the face.
He choked, startled and jerked back, wiping uselessly at his face as whatever mystery meat and gravy that had been served for lunch dripped down his face and into his nose, his eyes, his mouth. His nose stung and he coughed, spitting the slop that slipped into his mouth on the floor. Next to him he could hear Tucker coughing and gagging as well and with it loud laughter. It started with Victor and carried until the entire room was hooting and hollering. Frustrated Danny wiped the best of it off with the edge of his shirt as he could.
Victors grin was darkly entertained and smug, arms crossed and soaking up the laughter like it was praise.
"What the hell is your problem?" Sam demanded, voice rising above the dim. She came around the table, Kwan at her heels. Paulina had taken a startled step back, but the shock was slowly giving way to anger. Somehow none of the mystery meat had managed to hit her but both he and Tucker were covered.
"That wasn't cool." Kwan took a step forwards, but it was Tucker that swung first. He had scooped up a handful of the meet from his shirt and swung with all his might, hitting Victor square in his smug face.
For a second no one moved.
All hell broke loose around them. Paulina shrieked and ducked for cover, while Sam armed with her and Kwan's lunches launched herself onto one of the tables aiming for anyone even remotely associated with Victor. Danny managed to grab onto Tucker and drag him out of reach as Victor swung at him, this time with his fist. The cafeteria was complete anarchy, food flying and screams littering the air. Danny had a firm grip on Tucker's wrist and was attempting to pull him through the masses even as Victor chased after them, the two hurling insults at one another. He was on board with Tucker standing up for himself but he wasn't that impressed with the timing.
Just as they made it to the doors to the cafeteria a heavy hand clamped down on his shoulder and he came to a stumbling halt.
"Fenton." Lancer glared down at him. "Why am I not surprised?"
He glanced over at Tucker and Victor and then at the room. Several of the students seemed to have noticed the teacher presence and were wisely making their way towards the nearest exit. Most, however had not noticed and a ball of potato nearly hit the teacher.
"You three," he jerked Danny through the doors, who trailed a helpless Tucker behind him. "Are coming with me."
Lancer left Danny and Tucker outside his office, dragging Victor inside for five minutes before letting him go again. Then Danny and Tucker were seated in his office.
Lunch had long since ended by the time they made it out again, frustrated but thankfully not expelled for a food fight they hadn't started.
Dash was slouched against the far wall waiting for them. He looked Danny up and down, taking in the grease and food stained clothes and the frustration pouring off of them.
"Come on," Dash pushed off the wall and held out his gym bag. "I grabbed you some gym clothes."
He had the best boy friend in the world.
"No thanks," Tucker shook his head. "I'm grabbing my books and headed home. My mom is on her way to pick me up." He grimaced.
"Are you sure?"
Tucker nodded looking suddenly tired.
"Yeah, I have to explain to her how I suddenly have detention for a week."
Dash looked outraged on their behalf but didn't say anything until Tucker had disappeared, headed towards the front of the school and then silently led Danny through the halls towards the locker room.
The locker room was empty once they arrived, no gym classes for the afternoon or after school sports scheduled for the rest of the day. With half the fluorescent lights out with blown bulbs and a few others threatening to go out it gave the room an eerie air to it.
Dash seated him on one of the metal benches with a soft push, set his gym bag down and then crouched in front of him, attacking the tangle of laces Danny's shoes had become.
"So," Dash asked his feet. "Kwan says that Victor went after you guys again."
Danny swallowed, torn between frustration towards Victor and arousal at the sight of Dash on his knees before him.
"He successfully proved that he's secretly four if that's what you mean."
Dash shot him a look from under his lashes like he knew exactly what Danny wasn't saying. He managed to remove the first shoe, tugging his sock off, and started in on the second.
"I should deal with him." Dash muttered, expression darkening and Danny had to reach out, run his hands through the thick blond hair and tugging to get him to look up.
"That's the old Dash Baxter talking," he pointed out, hands sliding down to cup his cheeks, feel strong cheekbones and hints of stubble.
Dash stared at him for a moment, long enough to make him want to fidget under the gaze, and then ducked up, pressing in for a (too) brief kiss. Danny was still trying to chase the kiss as Dash gave up on the laces and just tugged his second shoe and sock off and then pull him to his feet.
"Are you going to tell me what you're up to?" Danny asked, bemused as Dash quickly toed off his own shoes.
"I know for a fact that no one is going to come in here for the next hour at least." Dash stripped off his t-shirt and Danny openly stared at the muscles rippling under smooth skin.
"Really." Dash gave him a wicked smirk and then slid his jeans off leaving him in only his boxers. Danny suddenly felt over dressed.
"So," Dash stepped closer, thumbs hooking into the elastic of his blue boxer briefs. "You're greasy, you need a shower and I figured I could scrub those hard to reach places for you."
"Do those lines ever work on anyone?" His chest was tight, heat pooling in his stomach.
"Dunno." Dash grinned, stepping back and sliding his boxers down and off in a move that shouldn't have been so smooth.
"Guess we'll have to find out." He called over his shoulder as he disappeared around the wall into the showers.
Danny didn't waste a moment, stumbling in his haste to get his probably ruined shirt and jeans off, then his star wars boxers and then hurrying after his boy friend. He heard the water start up in one of the far stalls and padded down the tiled room towards the sound.
Dash stood in the last stall head tilted forwards and water pouring over his back, down strong, corded muscles and miles of tanned skin. Danny took a shaky step forwards, nearly slipped on the wet tiles and was caught by strong arms. Dash let out a soft laugh and pulled him closer, kissing him wet and dirty, with teeth and tongues and Danny had to grab and hold on, desperately as he was swept up in it all.
They'd made out before, done the whole groping thing but he'd never actually been naked with Dash before. There had always been clothes involved in some way. Now he was naked and felt exposed in more ways than he could count but he could feel Dash's heart where they were pressed together beating wildly against his chest, as fast as Danny's.
Dash was hard pressed against his hip. He shifted, pushing Danny further back until he jumped, back pressed against the cool wall and accidentally broke the kiss. He was heaving, not enough air, too hot. Dash's lips were dark and swollen and he stared down at Danny with a look he couldn't recognize. Danny reached out, uncertain, but Dash shook his head with a nervous smile and slid to his knees. Danny's breathing was unnaturally loud in the small space.
Dash slid his hands up Danny's thighs and he jerked at the sensation, at the heat that coiled tighter in his stomach.
"You don't have to." He started to say but one of Dash's hands came up and wrapped around his cock, grip a shade too tight and pumped. His breath caught in his throat, eyes rolled back and he had to fight to keep his balance.
"Let me." Dash's voice was husky and Danny stared, taking in the sight of Dash Baxter asking to give him a blowjob. He couldn't find the words to agree, somehow nodded and Dash didn't wait for him to change his mind (how could he ever change his mind?), ducking his head. The first cautious lick had him letting out a strangled noise he'd be embarrassed about at any other time. Dash's lips closed around the head of his cock and he nearly lost it, hands flying up to grip the blond hair. His hips jerked again and Dash pinned him to the wall, mouth moving, sucking, licking and hand moving. It was uncoordinated and messy, spit slid down Dash's chin, Danny managed to unclench one of his hands long enough to slide down, feel his hollowed cheek and swollen lips, touch where his cock was stretching Dash's mouth.
He moaned, tried to silence it, conscious that they were at school and regardless of what Dash said, someone could come in.
It didn't matter though, couldn't matter, because a moment later he was coming, surprised and without warning. He curled in on himself; hips jerking, eyes clenched shut, muscles clenching and gasping as he came down from the intense high.
Dash pulled back, coughing, eyes watering and Danny slid down the wall feeling boneless and amazing and a little guilty for not warning Dash.
"Sorry." He rasped when he could breathe again and Dash had stopped coughing but the quarterback just grinned and crawled forwards, into his lap and kissed him. Danny decided not to think about where his mouth had just been and kissed him back, uncoordinated as he tried to regain control of his body again.
Dash started a slow grind against his stomach, straddling his legs, cock rubbing on the slick skin of Danny's stomach and Danny broke the kiss to watch. Dash made a small sound and buried his face in the crook of Danny's neck and went to work sucking a hickey into the skin there.
"Yeah," he found himself saying. He rested his hands on Dash's hips, pulled him closer. "Yeah." He said again. Danny gripped the hard cock, feeling Dash shudder with the touch. He stroked, tried slow at first, then faster when Dash let out a helpless sound, hands coming up to grip Danny's shoulders tight. The blond leaned back, far enough to watch Danny's long, slender fingers wrap around him. He was leaking at the tip, turned on to the point of where it wouldn't take much more to make him fall apart.
And it didn't take more than a handful of strokes before Dash was coming over his hand, spilling in hot, stringy ropes. He shuddered and gasped, twin points of blush bright on his cheeks and a dazed look spreading across his face.
Dash slumped against him, apparently settling in for the long run with a pleased huff. Danny figured he could freak out a bit; they were still at school- if his parents ever found out he'd probably die of embarrassment before they could kill him. But Dash was a furnace against his front and the water hadn't turned cold yet, even if the tiles were chilly and it wasn't like they had any where to be- he'd long since given up on going to class.
So he shifted a bit, careful not to dislodge the blonde and settled in.
Danny and Tucker were the only ones in detention the next day after school. They'd been put in the cafeteria with strict instructions to have it spotless in the next three hours. At first it had been under the careful observation of the physics teacher, Mrs. Lane, but half an hour in she'd apparently gotten bored, told them to keep working and had left them. Twenty minutes later and she still hadn't returned so Danny had taken matters into his own hands and decided to see how well ghost powers could be applied to cleaning.
The cafeteria had been spotless when they'd finished at quarter to five and he'd stood back, taking it all in and feeling rather smug.
"Score another one for Phantom." Tucker clapped him on his shoulder and he'd tensed ghosting and slipping out of the hold before he could help himself.
"Woah!" Tucker held up his hands in surrender, eyes wide. "What the hell man? I'm not the enemy."
Danny shook himself, his head was suddenly pounding, a sharp pain radiating behind his eyes. He eHe realized his hands were raised, clenched into fists that were glowing a little too much to be safe. He blinked and quickly shoved aside the panic and jerked his hands down to his sides, stuffing them into his jeans like that would hide everything. Tucker watched him with open curiosity as he fumbled for an explanation.
"Sorry- I just," he paused, trying to come up with a reasonable excuse. "I've been stressed and you startled me."
"I startled you." Tucker repeated, hands lowered now and expression quickly becoming sceptical.
"Yeah, my bad man." He grinned, wide and contrite and false, heart pounding in his chest. Judging by the look on Tucker's face he didn't believe him, not entirely, but Danny was saved from having to explain further by the ringing of his phone.
Tucker gave him a look, clearly stating that their conversation was not over and dug into his bag for his phone before it could go to voice mail. He led the way from the cafeteria, half listening as Tucker told his mother that yes he was just leaving detention, and that yes he'd be home for dinner. This late in the evening even most of the teachers had left for the day. They passed a janitor on their way out who gave them a dirty look like they hadn't just cleaned the cafeteria for him. Throughout it all though Danny couldn't quite get past the idea that he'd nearly attacked his best friend. He hadn't, had he? He'd just been startled. That had to be it.
"You do look tired." Tucker noted, tucking his phone away again. Danny shrugged, pushing through the front doors. This late in the school year it was still bright outside and would be for hours to come. He squinted, momentarily blinded by the light and missed the fist headed for him as a result.
His first clue was Tucker's shout of surprise, followed by the blinding pain that bloomed across his cheekbone. He stumbled, lost his balance and fell. Concrete bit into his palms as he braced himself.
Tucker shouted again, somewhere nearby, this time in pain and something in Danny snapped. He'd lost his backpack in the fall but it gave him more freedom to move and he did so, missing the kick aimed at him by seconds. He scrambled to his feet, so much rage flowing through him that he didn't think he could control it. Distantly he knew his eyes were glowing but all he could focus on was the laughter he could hear from Victor and the sounds of pain he could hear coming from Tucker.
"Hey! Get the fuck out of here!" He recognized Dash's voice.
"I'm calling the police!" He couldn't place the second voice but it didn't matter a moment later when warm hands were on his face, blue eyes breaking through the fog of rage that had blinded him before.
"Shit," Dash hissed. "Danny, take a breath. Your eyes."
"Tucker," He protested.
"He's fine. Close your eyes and breathe."
Danny did as instructed, closed his eyes and breathed in and out, tried to focus on anything other than the anger he'd felt coursing through him, anything other than that rush of power and the knowledge that he could have made Victor pay.
"Come on Fenton," Dash murmured, thumbs stroking under where there must have been a pretty spectacular bruise forming. "Just breathe."
He finally managed to breathe properly, only just realizing how tight his chest had been. He dragged the air in, greedy for it and opened his eyes slowly, wary of what colour they were.
"You're good." The blonde told him quietly and then leaned in and pressed a quick kiss to his forehead. "Perfect."
Danny flushed but pushed it aside, intent on his friend. He found Tucker seated on the front steps as Paulina fussed over him and Valerie stood nearby on her phone- whether to the police or not Danny wasn't sure. It looked more like she was gossiping with whoever was on the other end, rather than holding a serious conversation with the local police.
"Tucker!" He hurried to his friend's side, conscious of Dash staying close by. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah." He dropped his head in his hands but from what Danny could see, he had a split lip. "Just my pride."
Paulina reached out and resettled his hat that had been knocked off in the scuffle, and Tucker watched her in surprise. She gave it a final pat and then pulled her hand back, expression concerned.
"The school nurse may still be here, Valerie could go find her."
Behind her Valerie glared at them, clearly not on board with the plan but unwilling to say anything.
"We're fine." Tucker hastened to reassure her. "Thanks to you."
"Yeah," Danny glanced at Dash hovering at his shoulder whose expression was slowly slipping towards murderous. He looked like he wanted to go track Victor down. "What are you guys still doing here anyways?"
"We're on the prom committee." Paulina gestured at the girl now clearly ignoring them in favour of her phone. "And Dash offered to give us a ride."
"It gave me an excuse to hang around until you were done." Dash bumped his shoulder lightly with Danny's, most of the murderous expression gone but he still looked concerned.
"Are you sure you're okay?"
"I just don't get why he keeps targeting us." Tucker exploded suddenly, hands clenched in his pant legs and a look that Danny didn't like spreading across his face. Paulina appeared startled by the outburst, Valerie out right staring. He felt Dash tense next to him.
Tucker cleared his throat, sheepish once again as it sunk in that everyone was now watching him warily. He scrubbed his hands over his face, wincing as he forgot about his swollen, split lip.
"It's not your fault." He wasn't sure who looked more surprised that it was Dash speaking up- Tucker or Dash himself. "It's not."
Tucker just shrugged. An awkward silence fell over them, no one quite sure how to break it, even Valeria had given up on her phone for the moment, watching them all with a troubled look on her face.
It was Dash that broke the silence, slipping his hand into Danny's and tugging lightly to get him moving again.
"Come on, I'll drive everyone home."
Tucker didn't protest as Paulina led him to the parking lot but Danny couldn't help but notice that he wasn't nearly as awestruck as he normally would have been to have her lead him around by the hand.
"So here's the plan."
Sam met him at one of the secondary entrances to the school, pausing as she took in the dark bruise forming on his cheekbone and redirected her focus.
"What happened to you?" She grabbed his chin, tilting his face to get a better look at the bruise and he pulled back, the bad mood he'd woken up with that morning, worsening.
"We got jumped after detention yesterday."
"Seriously?" No one could do righteous fury quite like Sam. "Was it Victor?"
He didn't say anything, but then again, he never needed to with her.
"That son of a bitch." She cursed, gaining a few wary looks from the people around them. Danny prodded her to get them moving again and together they climbed the steps. He was tired; he hadn't slept well the night before. Every time he'd closed his eyes he'd been back in the warehouse, fist in Moe's chest, only Moe would become Victor and the satisfaction he'd woken up with, watching Victor gasp and crumble and lay still on the cement floor, had been sour in his mouth.
"You were saying something about a plan?"
"Yeah, although now I'm thinking I need to come up with a plan to deal with that ass hole."
"Sam," he protested.
"Danny." She parroted back.
"Schools almost out and then we won't have to deal with him anymore."
She waved a dismissive hand at that, pausing in front of her locker and fiddling with the lock. The hall was surprisingly empty so he just reached inside and grabbed the text he knew she had for first period, handing it to her.
"Thanks. Anyways, the plan, prom night we're going to get dressed up in our ridiculous prom clothes and watch horror films about people getting murdered at prom and we're going to laugh." She bumped their shoulders together, grin a little manic. "It'll be awesome."
"You're not missing out on prom for me."
"Please," Sam rolled her eyes and steered them down the hallway towards their morning class. "You think I actually care about that? The only reason I ever agreed to go is because you and Tucker spent years going on about it. Not only do I not have to parade around in a room full of people pretending to like me, but not going has the added bonus of frustrating my parents."
Her grin was full of mischief.
"So it'll be the three of us?"
"And Dash, and Kwan." Sam added, carefully not meeting his gaze. Danny paused and studied his friend, surprised to see pink crawling up her neck.
"Kwan's coming?" A grin crept across his face. Sam glared at him, the pink darkening.
"We are not talking about that." She stated and Danny laughed, he couldn't help it. He bumped their shoulders together to show he didn't really mean it.
"Whatever Fenton, be at my house, in full tux or I'm making you wear one of my fathers from the eighties."
He shuddered at the thought.
There was a commotion coming from the main entrance way, the noise growing louder as they approached. It looked like half the school was gathered around the entrance to the principal's office, everyone talking at once.
"What's going on?" Sam went up on tip toes trying to see above the crowd.
Danny shrugged, unable to see much. He spotted a familiar blonde head towards the center of it all, towering above a gaggle of freshmen. Danny latched onto Sam's wrist and led the way through the crowd, it was slow going, slipping through spaces as they opened up but they eventually made it to Dash's side.
"Hey," Dash looked surprised by their appearance but pulled Danny against his side, arm draped over his shoulders.
"What's going on?"
"Dunno," Dash shrugged, careful not to jostle Danny. "A cop went in there about five minutes ago but there was already a crowd gathered before that. I think there's a student in there."
Danny felt a sinking feeling in his stomach.
"Has anyone seen Tucker?" He asked quietly and Sam shook her head. It wasn't often that Tucker arrived after either of them and right now he didn't trust their luck.
The doors to the principal's office opened suddenly and the cop lead the way out followed closely by their principal, Lancer, and Victor.
"What the hell?" Sam asked as the four made their way by them for the front doors. Lancer was beet red. Victor however looked faintly green.
The crowd went silent as they walked by, and actually moved to follow as the four disappeared out the front doors. Outside, though Danny made no move to follow, he could see a news crew set up, camera rolling and reporter hovering by the front steps.
They watched it all in surprised silence, as the front hall quickly emptied after that leaving only the three of them, a few stragglers and a fast approaching Tucker.
"Did you see that?" He demanded once he was close enough. There was manic glee spreading across his face. "Victor was just arrested."
"He's a minor." Sam pointed out, but she sounded slightly in awe of what had just happened.
What had just happened?
"What are they charging him with? Aside from being a jackass and terrorizing the school." Dash wondered aloud.
"Apparently the police found out about Victors little side project." Paulina appeared next to them with an air of having always been there. She flipped her long hair over her shoulder.
"Victor has been five finger shopping with a few friends of his," She wiggled her fingers at them. "Which is where his new watch and cellphone and television all came from. Apparently a concerned citizen gave the police and local news channel an anonymous tip early this morning."
"And," she continued checking her phone. "It looks like the youtube video of Victor being dragged into the principal's office by his ear is going viral already. It's amazing what technology can do." Paulina smiled, sweet and entirely too innocent and Danny knew he never ever wanted to make her mad.
"You got Victor arrested?" Tucker's voice was high pitched and the look on his face was a mixture of incredulity and love.
"A concerned citizen got him arrested." She corrected. "Or at least grounded for a while. I heard that his parents got the same phone call the police did and are cutting their trip to Toronto short. It will be nice not having one more mindless boy wandering the hallways though."
"And you just did this out of the goodness of your heart?" Sam questioned, openly suspicious. Paulina just smiled, sweet and perfect and linked arms with Tucker with a wink. Sam looked like she couldn't decide between impressed and slightly sickened, although he had a feeling that she was coming around.
"Why would I ever get Victor into trouble?" Paulina batted her eyes at them. "He never bothered me."
The possessive way she held onto Tucker said otherwise, however.
The rest of the week was surprisingly quiet. So much so that Danny just kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. The gang in jail (and unlikely to get out on bail if the news reports were to be trusted) and Victor, while not joining them as he was still a minor, was, according to Paulina, grounded for the next year and being transferred to a military school. Apparently various videos of Victor abusing the other students at the school had surfaced. Whoever it was had a talent for technology and had blurred out the other student's faces while Victor's remained, and for that Danny was grateful. He had no doubt that at least one of those videos would hold either his or Tucker's faces and that was just one more thing he didn't want to deal with. It was over.
"That's it?" He asked aloud, the words slipping out before he could stop them.
Sam glanced up from her text book she was going over before their next exam and frowned.
"Going to need you to be more specific; do you mean homework wise, school wise, in terms of our purposes here on earth…?" She trailed off, the frown sliding into a cheeky grin. "Last time I had that talk with my parents they ended up bribing me to never bring it up again, so."
"Not what I meant," he rolled his eyes and flipped his own text book closed. There was no way he would be able to focus on it now. "I meant with Victor."
Sam's face lit up at the mention of the jock, something he wasn't quite used to, though she seemed to take great joy in the public humiliation the town appeared to be putting him through.
"Have you been on the school website yet? Someone put the video of him being put in the cruiser up on repeat and I don't think anyone knows how to get it off."
He'd have to look it up later.
"It just feels too easy." He admitted.
"Why, because you weren't the one to take down the bad guy this time?" She asked, somehow getting right to the truth of it. "You aren't always going to be the knight in shining armor. Most of the time you probably will be, but you have to remember that there's actually quite a few of us who have your back."
Sam gestured across the room to where Tucker and Paulina had their heads bent together. Tucker was pointing something out in the notes spread out before them, Paulina listening intently with a soft smile on her face. Danny was almost certain they were holding hands under the table. It looked like a great weight had been lifted off his friend's shoulders; one he hadn't even really noticed was there.
"Moe is in jail because of you," she continued, flipping the page of her book, clearly ready to get back to jamming for the test. "Dash is safe, Victor is gone and it looks like Tucker is pretty happy. I'd call that a win."
He had to agree with her.
"So this thing at Sam's," Dash asked quietly as they waited for the movie to start. It was still endlessly circling the same old commercials to the extent where he could probably quote them from memory. Danny shifted, felt the warm weight of Dash's arm over his shoulder. His own hand rest on Dash's denim covered thigh, kneading restlessly.
"Listen, I know it might not be your thing," he blurted out, quickly to give Dash an out if he wanted one. The blonde arched an eyebrow at him and rolled his eyes.
"A night in Sam's giant movie theater with you, my best friend and your friends isn't my thing? Jeeze Fenton, I guess I'd rather stay home and torture puppies or something."
Well, when he put it that way.
"Shut up." He mumbled and slid his hand up suddenly, a quick grope and then back down to its original resting place. Dash made an interesting noise, like a mixture of a hiccup and a gulp, hips shifting and glared at him. Danny grinned cheekily back.
"There are way too many people in here to start something you can't finish." Dash whispered, head ducked and mouth brushing Danny's ear. He flushed, breath hitching and though he wanted to, wanted to crawl into Dash's lap and go from there, there were at least twenty other people in the theatre with them. He didn't really want to get arrested for public indecency.
"Anyways," Dash pulled back a little, clearing his throat. "I was just going to say if you're sure you don't want to go to prom,"
"I'm sure." And if people didn't stop asking him he'd probably lose it.
"Then I was going to ask if you were getting dressed up." Dash finished.
"In a tux? Seriously?"
"Yeah in a tux, keep up." Danny elbowed him for the comment but the blonde just laughed. "I was thinking, the others are getting dressed up, Kwan is determined to impress Sam, and I'm pretty sure you'd look really hot in a tux."
"Only pretty sure?" Danny teased voice dry.
"Maybe 90%," Dash shrugged, a smile lurking in the corners of his mouth. "So instead of showing up in jeans, which I know you were thinking of despite any of Sam's threats, how about we go all out. You get dressed up, I get dressed up and then we eat way too much popcorn and laugh at cheesy horror movies?"
"Sam got to you, didn't she?"
"Maybe I just wanted to see you looking like James Bond."
"Nice try." It figured that Sam went through Dash to get him into the tux. He couldn't find it in himself to really care.
"Alright, you've got yourself a deal."
Danny kind of hated suits. It wasn't often that he had to put one on and when he did it was usually for a funeral so he could say that the hatred was justified. Of course, he may have just been wearing the wrong kind of suits his entire life.
The one that Sam had forced on him wasn't too long in the arms and didn't smell of moth balls or have any suspicious stains. It wasn't too tight in the pants, he could actually move in it. He'd tried not to think about exactly how much had been spent on it. The number just made him wince.
He'd contemplated trying to tame his hair and then had realized that it was a nearly impossible task and had promptly given up.
But he had a feeling he looked good.
If the look on Dash's face was anything to go on, when he'd met him at the door, then he looked really good.
Dash's cheeks were pink and eyes dark, his black tux highlighted his broad shoulders and trim waist and Danny had to forcibly remind himself that his parents were in the room in order to stop himself from jumping his boyfriend.
"Pictures." Maddie had ordered, as Jack held up a camera, eyes suspiciously bright.
"Actually I have something for Danny." Dash produced a green corsage from seemingly nowhere with a wide grin.
"How sweet." Jack all but cooed. He flushed and cleared his throat when all eyes had turned on him in disbelief.
"Hold that thought." Danny ordered, hurrying from the room and back again, returning with another corsage, blue this time.
"Smartass." Dash mumbled as they were directed where to stand for what would soon be the first of millions of photos by his father (who he was starting to suspect was tearing up a little). Danny just grinned completely unabashed.
"Great minds think alike." He murmured as they were finally released from his parents hold. They hugged them both and Danny managed to drag Dash out of the house just as his mother started to give Dash the talk.
Dash looked a little shell shocked about the entire thing.
"Where did you park?" He asked, scanning the street for the familiar bright red, eyes coming to rest on,
Dash grinned, recovering from the traumatizing talk quickly and hurried down the front steps, holding out his hand for Danny to take.
"Don't look at me like that, it showed up at my house with Paulina and Tucker inside already." He led Danny over to the vehicle and held the door open for him. "We picked Kwan up on the way over. After you."
Danny crawled inside, taking in the dim interior and the laughter coming from his friends. They were all dressed up, looking amazing- even Tucker had joined in, in a well fitted tux that Sam clearly had had some hand in. Paulina looked stunning next to him, her long hair pulled up and dressed in a royal purple gown; she waved at Danny but her attention was clearly on Tucker and it looked like he wasn't sure what to do with being the center of her focus. It looked like he loved it though.
The drive to Sam's was a quick one, with Danny sliding on the leather seats as they took corners and Kwan taking control of music early on, blasting country for the first few minutes with the sole purpose of annoying Paulina until she threatened to toss him out of the vehicle and he switched to top forty to appease her.
Danny slid sideways into Dash on one particular turn and the blonde reached out, wrapped his arm around his shoulders and held on, a comfortable heat against his side, pinning Danny in place.
He was cheerful and not really missing prom at all when they pulled up in front of Sam's. Confusion quickly took over as they stepped out of the limo to the sound of heavy bass reverberating around them. The driveway was littered with at least twenty different cars, none of which belonged to Sam's parents. Danny stared. Through the large picture windows he could see strobe lights and people dancing and laughing.
He turned an accusing glare on Dash.
"It wasn't me!" The blonde took a step back, hands held up in surrender.
"Yeah, he had nothing to do with it." Kwan gave them a blinding grin and stepped past them to the front door. Sam appeared in her red dress as though she had been just waiting for them to arrive, darting forwards to hug Kwan and then pull her befuddled friends into hugs before they could question what was happening.
"What the hell is going on?" Danny asked as Sam pulled back from the hug.
"Dash couldn't go to the prom," she was grinning but there was a hint of nerves to it. "So we brought the prom to you."
"You planned a party?" Paulina asked disbelief and respect warring across her features. That answered whether Paulina had known beforehand. For a moment he'd worried that the entire reason she'd come had been with the promise of a party and not for Tucker.
"We planned a party." Sam corrected, reaching out to take Kwan's hand. They were both flushing red but seemingly pleased nonetheless.
"Most of our graduating class agreed that a party at Sam's sounded better than a chaperoned party in the school gym." Kwan added in. "It wasn't hard to convince them. Especially when they heard that Paulina and Dash were going."
"And I can have them gone in ten minutes if you hate it." Sam said quickly.
"I told you I was fine with watching movies." He pointed out, even if a little part of him had still wanted to go to prom, had wanted something memorable.
"Oh we're still doing that," Sam grinned, the nerves melting from her smile and turned to head into the house. "I just thought we should live it up a little beforehand. Plus, my parents agreed to fund it and disappear for the night. Apparently I'm finally behaving like a normal teenager."
Almost against his will a smile was creeping across his face. Dash tangled their hands together, quirking an eyebrow at him as though to say, well?
Tucker and Paulina led the way inside, followed closely by Kwan, and Sam leaned in to whisper, barely heard over the music,
"Does it feel more like a win against Victor now?"
And Danny had to admit, it kind of did.
Three in the morning saw the last of the guests out and the six of them collapsed in Sam's movie theatre in various states of undress. Paulina had ditched her heels and pulled her hair down and was reclining against Tucker who was missing his suit jacket. Kwan was fiddling with the popcorn maker in the corner, probably making more than they'd ever be able to eat and Sam was laying out movie upon movie where prom queens were murdered and dances were destroyed.
Danny and Dash had taken over the back row, Dash with his shirt sleeves rolled up and displaying impressive forearms and Danny curled up in his undershirt and Dash's oversized jacket. They were curled together, Danny running his hands through Dash's hair absently and Dash with his head resting in Danny's lap, eyes half lidded and pleased expression on his face.
He looked like he was about five minutes from falling asleep, as did Tucker and Paulina, though the latter looked determined to stay away through the first movie at least.
The silence was more noticeable now that the loud thumping bass was gone, interspersed with the sounds of Dash's soft breathing and the quiet noises from Kwan and Sam.
Danny felt his own eyes begin to slip closed, warm and aching from hours of dancing with all of his friends. Dash let out a happy hum and his eyes slipped the rest of the way shut, his breath evening out in sleep. Danny kept his eyes open enough to take in the sleeping blonde's features, commit them to memory and know that this was his to have.
Tucker murmured quietly to Paulina and she replied though Danny couldn't make out what they were saying. Sam finally set up the movie, volume lowered for now, though he knew Dash would wake up at the first brutal murder and probably stay awake after that. She curled up in the front row with Kwan, a bucket of popcorn to share between then, heads bent close together.
There was a warm, bubbling feeling in his chest; contentment. For once in their lives, staying awake to watch as the prom queen ran from the killer on the big screen was the most pressing event. No more gang, no more Victor. They could relax.
It was a strange feeling after all those months.
But it was one he could get used to.