Turned out it did snow, good news for the weatherman and his sensitive physic powers of magnificence, bad news to the poor unfortunate people who had to actually, you know, GO places. Danny tossed his scarf around his neck, judged the nasty looking grey skies; it would probably be thicker than horror movie fog up there, and hit the street, clipboard in his gloved hand.
At the corner, where he had the wonderful pleasure of living, a Rolls Royce swung around the curve, skidded on the turn due to the slick frosting on the road, and fishtailed the curb to roll neatly to a stop just a little to the right of Danny's home. The first thing in Danny's mind was 'who died?'
Then the door slipped open and out folded a tall burly blonde in a Letter Jacket.
And if the way the man was driving didn't immediately point to insanity, the bright grin sitting evilly on his face did, a grin that always promised pain. And the dope actually had the chops to glare directly at him and jut his thumb out in the direction of his car in the unmistakable motion known to all. Get in.
"Sha, right." Danny said aloud, easily turning and walking away without so much as a small twinge of guilt that the guy drove all the way down here on a deadly ice covered street to pick him up, for whatever reason. Simply because whatever awaited him in that car would no doubt be painful, humiliating, uncomfortable, or just plain irritating, or likely all of the above. Yeah, not today buster.
"Fenton, get you're scrawny ass in this car right now or I'm mowing you over."
There was that, and the fact that the third step he took away from the whole scene was more a slippery stumble that almost landed him on his ass in cold wet snow. The whole friggen walk to school was a potential deathtrap and if he wasn't mistaken his internal thermometer, because he had cryokinesis and as such should know these things, registered around the hideous 12 degrees.
With a shaky sigh, and a slight adjustment of his scarf, he allowed himself to be drawn into the potential warmth of Dash's fancy car.
In they both slid, doors shutting simultaneously, giving the whole thing an eerie out of place feeling.
Dash just smiled and Danny edged into the corner of his seat, shoulder against the door. A creepier scenario would have to be him and the box ghost at a picnic. "So uh…why?" He extended his hands in a manner as though to scoop the whole car up into it and present it to the jock, eye twitching in restrained terror when Dash took off with a lurch, rounding the curve once again, way too fast.
Dash shrugged. "It snowed. I wanted to make sure you remembered the party."
"You could have just idly mentioned it while crushing me up against my books in my locker." He muttered.
"Eh…yeah but there's no school today so…" Dash scratched the hair on his neck and Danny sat up straighter.
"Snow day?" he asked in a high voice, then his eyes narrowed. "It snowed yesterday too, why today."
" Yesterday was a sheet, today is a blanket." He took his eyes off the road for a moment to glare at his passenger. "And who the hell cares why? Schools out isn't it?" Danny tensed, not from Dash's cold eyes, but from the frozen road dangers he was no longer watching.
"Eyes on the road! Hey! Drive, oh god drive!" He griped his seatbelt until it was bunched and wrinkled in his hands.
Dash quickly looked back to the street and jerked the wheel, narrowly missing a bulky dumpster covered in frosting. "Why the hell do people put those things so far out?" Dash angrily yelled.
Danny chose not to point out that Dash had just turned down an alley and as such it was his fault he almost hit the trash, instead bunching half his face up behind his scarf.
"Nice ride." He mumbled through the thick fabric, eyes dancing across the caramel tone of the wood laid into the dashboard. Sam would kill Dash if she ever saw this car.
"Yeah my parents thought it appropriate since I was graduating here." At Danny's confused glance he pointed to the steering wheel. "It's a Phantom." Danny's mouth made a little O behind his scarf, but Dash didn't notice. "A Phantom Drophead Coupe, I couldn't believe it when they handed me the keys. I almost died and became a ghost myself." He grinned, his glance falling to the hood of the car where stainless steel glistened.
Danny glanced from the wood to the stereo. Did the control knobs really have to be chrome? Rich people seriously over did it sometimes. He felt a stirring of envy in his gut.
"It's quiet." Danny muttered. Though Dash weaved in and out of traffic with a suicidal glee that the most adventurous speed racer would cringe at Danny noticed the sound of the whooshing air and street were more a drumming then a roar. "I always figured soft tops would be noisier."
" Yeah, well not this one." If there was one thing Dash enjoyed, it was showing off. And this car was perfect fodder for that. He glanced out of the corner of his eye to watch Fenton's fingers grace across the wood veneer. "You know the tonneau is wood too."
Danny resisted the urge to glance behind him. "It's a convertible?" They swung around again and Danny rung the seat belt in his fists. "Oh god." He muttered, shutting his eyes. His father drove better than Dash.
They drove by a bus stop cluttered with kids, which was strange, junior and elementary kids didn't catch the bus for another hour, and if they were going to school, the high school should still be open as well.
It was only after they had whizzed by that Danny noticed he recognized some of those kids. This meant that school had to still be going on, which meant that Dash had lied to him, which meant that wherever they were going was not where he wanted to be.
"Stop the car." Danny snapped so suddenly and so loudly that Dash jerked the steering wheel, almost swerving into another lane and thus into an oncoming car.
"What the hell!" Dash shouted, quickly getting back a safe distance into his own side, ignoring the honks of those behind him as he swerved carelessly. "Jeeze Fenton, what's that deal?" He asked, eyes quickly turning to stare at the stiffened teen before snapping back to the road.
"You're the deal. Let me out." Danny gripped the door handle threateningly. "Stop this car and let me out."
"What is this all a sudden?" Dash demanded, but slowed his car from the sonic speeds it had been going to one actually within the legal limit.
"School is not canceled today you liar, and I am not going anywhere with you." Danny had to remind himself that just because everything wasn't going by in a blur anymore did not mean it was safe to bail out yet.
Dash looked stricken for a second then tried to cajole. "Fenton listen you-"
"No, stop this car right now and let me out. I don't give a damn if you decide to beat me to a pulp every day for the rest of the year; wherever you're going I am not going with." And he added. "I probably wouldn't survive the trip anyway with the way you drive."
Dash pulled the car into a lot simply so he could focus his attention on Danny instead of the road, but when Danny turned towards the exit he snapped his hand to the door locks.
Danny pulled on the handle, when nothing happened he pulled on it again, then a third time, then a fourth. His head swerved around to pin Dash with a killer glare faster than Dash could take a curve on the icy road.
"Now listen." Dash started but Danny's hand had found the lock button and Dash had to quickly relock it before Danny could get out. Danny glared at him again, and unlocked it again. Dash relocked it.
It went like that for a while. Dash and Danny locking and unlocking the doors, glaring at each other while the sounds of clicks went on around them as the locks were shifted back and forth.
"Damn it let me out." Danny said, jerking on the handle with unnecessary force. "I don't care what excuse you come up with I'm not going anywhere with you."
"I just wanted to take you to the freaking ice rink, what is the big deal?" Dash demanded, keeping his hand close to the lock control unless Danny tried to get out again.
"Yeah a place owned by one of your friends." Danny snapped. "During a school day when it will undoubtedly be deserted and you know Lancer has me on gift duty."
"Don't be so suspicious Fenton." Dash retorted. "I told you we're just going to a party."
"Since when do I ever go to a party with you?" Danny slumped up against the door, arms crossed. "Why the hell are you being so god awful nice to me if you aren't planning anything?" Not that threatening him with vehicular manslaughter, lying to him about school, and trapping him in a car, even an expensive car, could be adequately seen as god awful nice, but it was better than his usual treatment.
Dash was irritated that the first thing to Danny's mind was that he had something planned, never mind the fact that he was actually planning something. "Its freaking Christmas, don't you think maybe I might want to do something nice?"
"Since when do you ever do anything nice?" Danny tried for the lock again, this time beating Dash by half a second, managing to open the door just as the locks slid back into place. "Especially to me?" He attempted to slide out, but was held down by his unbuckled seat belt. "auhg!" he let out a frustrated moan.
"So just because I've never done it before I can't do it now?" Dash demanded, gripping the steering wheel and leaning over. "I can't ever do anything nice?"
"You did do something nice." Danny twisted, turned, and finally managed to hit the release button and untangle himself from the straps. "You walked me home yesterday. That's as nice as you can get with me." He practically dove out of the vehicle, clipboard in hand, backpack over his shoulder, marching towards the street.
"Fenton get back here!" Dash shouted from the driver's seat. Danny had left the door open and Dash hunched down to rage at him through the opening.
"No way!" Danny called back, and when Dash threatened him he flung up a finger above his shoulder.
Dash swore, leaning back completely in his seat and gripping the wheel to go after him, at a reasonable pace so as not to hit anything and tear his still open door off. He swung the car around a few others parked there, snarling at the gawking bystanders who overheard a few scraps of their argument.
Danny had upgraded to a jog by the time Dash finally maneuvered out of the labyrinth of parked cars with his own perfectly intact and was rounding a corner into a side alley leading to the back of the building. Gritting his teeth Dash chanced a faster pace, halting just at the entranceway and jumping out of the car to pear over the hood.
Into an empty alley.
"Fenton!" he roared, but there was no one. Nothing. Not even a dumpster or pile of garbage bags. It was just an empty side street. With an enraged growl Dash stormed all the way round the car to slam the passenger side door before heading off to the skate rink alone.
This was so not worth it.
Danny let out his breath with a deep whoosh when the car rolled away from the alley with its enraged driver. Taking his hand off the dumpster he had hid behind, letting it turn solid and visible once again, he leaned up against it and just breathed. He knew if the bulky item had been visible Dash would have searched behind and inside it and wouldn't have given up until he was sure Danny was no longer there, and he had wanted the blonde to move on as quickly as possible.
A firm grip on his clipboard he shot into the air with a flash of white rings, warmth spreading through him as ethereal power surged over his body, the slightly dormant ghostly energy coating his very essence bursting to life.
Clipboard and backpack, jacket, scarf, it all disappeared and he was free to fly about unhindered, zooming across buildings at a speed that whipped his hair about and made it difficult to breathe, but the exhilaration he had from the experience took his breath away anyhow, so it didn't matter. In no time he was closing in on his school and descending. Body disappearing, losing density, slowing down. He touched down on campus with barely enough weight to disturb the blades of grass beneath his invisible feet.
And then he was whole again, whole and normal and gripping his clipboard. He stepped away from the tree he appeared behind and walked purposefully towards the school. Hoping against all his common sense and experience that this very, very annoying start to his morning was not the lesson plan for the entire day.
But, alas, `twas not to be.
"Mr. Fenton, to the activities office please, Mr. Fenton to the activities office." The loudspeaker blared when the first bell of the day had finished wailing its agonized screech.
Danny halted in his procession to his homeroom class, a class he was not going to be on time to for the second day that week. Sam and Tucker looked at him and he gripped his velvety red gift bag in irritation. There were already five new things inside since he took it out of his locker, and several more names jotted down on the clipboard.
"I'm not even allowed in homeroom?" he practically whined.
"Dude, you'd think you'd be glad to get out of class." Tucker socked his arm, him and Sam starting to fold to the current, walking back into the river of students to their own classroom. Danny shot them both an irritated glance.
"Danny just do it will you, it'll be fine." Sam cajoled him. "We'll see you at lunch."
Then they were gone, into the pressing throng of bodies and Danny was seriously considering staying in the teachers' lounge all day and ignoring them. He mentally sneered, he did have work after all, surely they would understand.
"Mr. Fenton, I believe they're waiting for you." Danny turned to see a janitor leaning on the water fountain he was supposed to be fixing. Danny glared at him in hatred. If this were a cartoon the leaking fountain would dislodge itself from the wall, dumping the man on the ground and shooting water out to wet everybody within its jet stream.
Sadly this was no cartoon, and the man continued to stare at him through narrowed eyes of creepiness until Danny sluggishly flung the gift bag over his shoulder, spun on his heel, and marched off to the activities office for yet another day of torturous holiday cheer.
"Yo, Fenton." sang a deep voice from behind the desk.
"Hey Kwan, where is everybody?" he turned around in the empty office. The activities office should have been bigger, considering how many activities went on at this school, but sadly the room was the size of a large walk in closet, made even smaller by the desk, filing cabinets, and chairs shoved into it.
Kwan shrugged "It's always empty early morning, at least for the first fifteen minutes of it." He was sitting behind the desk, reclining really, and shuffling through a bunch of papers like he was looking for something. "Lancer said he wanted to talk to you, but he left real quick right after. He probably needed to run to his homeroom real quick."
Danny scowled. He was in Lancers homeroom, why did he have to be called to this cramped office just so the teacher could ditch him.
"He'll be back soon though, I'm sure." Kwan set the papers down and took his feet off the desk. "Hey, um…Dash told you about the party this morning right?"
Danny cocked his head. "Yeah?" Actually, Dash had told him about it yesterday afternoon, but he'd keep to whatever line the jock had fed Kwan.
Kwan seemed to ease back then. "Good, cuz I certainly didn't want to be the one inviting you." He grinned. Danny's scowl depended.
"What's the big deal?" He demanded. "Why are you all acting so weird?"
Kwan snorted. "Not me dude, Dash. He comes out of nowhere yesterday calling me asking if he could bring you." Intelligence seemed to clobber him then and he turned to smile at the smaller teen. "Not that I have a problem with you being there, you know cuz it is like, Christmas and the whole 'be nice to others thing' you know what I mean?"
Danny willed his brow to flatten and hoped he didn't look lethal or anything. "Yeah, I guess." He shrugged in a fake casual manner. Why the hell had Dash wanted to invite him? This was getting creepy. "Know exactly why he wanted to drag me to this thing?" He let a bit of his paranoia seep into his voice. Kwan wasn't the brightest of the flickering florescent bulbs that mad up the A-list, but he certainly wasn't stupid. Not like Dash anyway, who wouldn't pick up on subtleties if his life depended on it.
Kwan smirked at the suspicious tone. "Not a clue." He said through his teeth, and though Danny knew he should really doubt the Asian, he believed him.
"Who knows what goes through a jocks mind?" Danny said, ending their conversation as he turned on his heel to leave the office. "Tell Lancer I'm in the Teachers Lounge." He threw over his shoulder. "If he asks that is."
"Uh, Fenton?" Kwan had stood up a bit from his chair. Danny paused on his way out to turn back to him.
"Lancer didn't want to see me." He guessed, Kwan kind of nodded, looking a bit torn. "What did you need Kwan."
"You…you know who my se—erm who I'm Secret Santa to." He blushed a bit.
Danny thought back and nodded, Kwan and his Secret Santa had both turned their presents in and so Danny knew both. "Yes?"
"You won't…you won't tell her will you?" Kwan asked "If she asks you…you won't tell her?"
"I'm not allowed." Danny answered flatly, but at Kwan's desperately embarrassed look he decided to give him this one little promise. "Okay, I won't tell her, alright? She'll never know."
"Even if she asks? Even if she bribes you and stuff?" Kwan pleaded.
"Yes, even if she offers to pay me a billion dollars I won't ever tell her, sheesh." Danny swore. "Is that all?"
Kwan nodded, easing back into the deckchair. "I'll…I'll see you at the party I guess." Kwan said with an awkward smile.
"Yeah, I guess.." Danny said, turning to leave.
"Hey Fenton?" Danny suppressed a groan and turned sharply to snap.
Kwan dipped his chin in a bit at the sharp reply. "Uh…Dash isn't really planning nothing, if you want to know. He..well he always tells me if he is, and he hasn't so..well he's not."
Danny nodded tightly. "Thanks." He said, and strode out.
Like hell he was going to believe anything Dash's best friend said.
Dash sat on the steps of the Skate rink with some of the other ditchers, many of them seniors and Freshmen, and glowered at the parking lot. The rink was completely set up inside for the party, the big excuse they all had used to skip school, and so they basically had nothing to do the remainder of the day but wait for classes to end and the rest of the partygoers to arrive.
He kicked a clump of hard ice off the concrete beneath his shoes and tried to figure out how strongly he had to glare at a single patch of snow until it started to melt under the intensity.
Really Kwan's family loved to have any reason to throw a party, as it usually meant more money for the business, and had used the oh so fabulous excuse of snow to get as many teens in here as possible.
"Yo, Dash," he looked up at one of the seniors, "why didn't Kwan skip, man? It's his bash, he should have ditched like the rest of us."
Dash shrugged. "Said something about having a question to ask someone." He explained "Besides, what's there to do here? We can't dig into anything till the party starts anyway."
"I guess." The guy said, turning back to converse with his own friends.
Dash sighed. What was wrong with him? He should be dragging the guys out to the parking lot or something to play ball, not sitting here moping on the steps. He wasn't that upset about Fenton's bailout, it wasn't like he had expected the teen to just suddenly trust him and go wherever right? Besides, he was sure it wasn't Fenton's rejection that was jabbing at him.
But he couldn't place what else could be troubling him.
He stood up. "I'mma go back to class." He announced, by habit really. He didn't care if they knew where he was at or not.
"What? Why?" A freshman balked, the idea of leaving all these upperclassmen for school not really making sense in his mind.
"Cuz you all are dull that's why." Dash snapped. "I'm out, later."
He trudged back to his car, mulling over just what could have put him in this foul-assed mood.
"How's it going in here?" Danny looked up to see Lancer with a cup of coffee and a rather large sandwich.
"Okay I guess." He replied, glancing back to the clipboard where he was recording the last few names of the gifts he had put in the safe, and making a mental note of those who had yet to turn one in. Despite how many he had been laden down with since this morning, there were still over a hundred gifts yet to be recorded. "It's only the second day, so I think it's all going pretty nice."
Lancer pulled a chair over to the circular table and set his lunch down. "You can expect at least twenty students to not bring anything in, as there are always those who outright refuse to give anything to others, and I'd expect a few holiday cards, and even some gift certificates instead of a present." Lancer told him casually. Danny nodded, he'd already collected dozens of cards. "Now then," Lancer used a finger to pull the board to the center between them, "time to eat."
"Uhn." Danny said, looking a bit nervous. "I guess I go to the cafeteria then." Lancer sat him back down in the chair with a heavy gaze.
"Mr. Fenton, I know my bulbous gut may be misleading, but I can't eat this all myself." He indicated to the sandwich. Danny stared at him incredulously. "It's not poisonous, teacher's honor."
Danny raised an eyebrow. "Is it toasted?" he asked suspiciously." Lancer blinked, but said it wasn't. "Good." He sighed, then smiled and declared softly, "I hate toast."
"I'd never guess."
There was, surprisingly, no ghost attack during school. This simply meant that whoever chose to attack that day was a more familiar enemy who gave him some space for class work. Possibly Skulker, though Johnny and Kitty were a more likely guess since there was a party going on tonight, and they loved to crash parties.
Then again, Walker was usually so subtle that he could have used his time at school to simply set up for a big attack.
And Ember too, she planned things out beforehand.
He'd have his hands full tonight.
"I am the BoxGhost!" Came a shout from behind him, jolting him out of his thoughts.
He spun around and huffed, glaring at the ectoplasmic manifestation in blue overalls. "Stay away from the gifts." He growled, trying not to let it show how much the sudden appearance actually did startle him.
The BoxGhost looked a bit put off, but then coughed and said, "I am not here for your puny wrapped packages. For they are now beneath me," Danny cocked a brow, "I am here for, um..." He looked around frantically. "THIS!" he snagged a Chinese take-out box from the trash bin and, clutching it to his chest yelled "Beware!" and was gone.
Danny shook his head. Talk about speaking too soon.
With a light snigger he closed and locked the safe, tucking the key back under his shirt, and grabbed his bag and clipboard. Time to leave, just a quick stop by the lockers and then he could head home to get ready for this party-thing Kwan's family was throwing.
The bell rang and teens of all variety began filling the hall, watching it was kind of hypnotic in a way. The quiet, cool hallways with its florescent lighting collecting dust and dead bugs behind the plastic covers, and tiled floor marred by skid marks and chemical spills and unlimited mysterious stains that no amount of mopping would ever rid of, so suddenly split open, like a thunderclap. From the end of the hall, gazing towards the oncoming crowd, a mind could become poetic, philosophical even.
If of course, the person wasn't currently arguing with the hall monitor about exactly what time the doors to the school were unlocked for release.
Danny's watch said it was time to go, the hall clock said it was time to go, even the janitor said it was time to go, but someone messed with the bell system and so it had to be rung manually, which meant a two minute delay, and the holder of the keys refused to unlock the doors until the bell sounded.
So when it finally did ring, and Danny looked at the woman in uniform expectantly, she made a really show of taking her sweet time opening the large front double doors, even going so far as to pretend she couldn't find the right key.
It was all very frustrating, so of course he wasn't in the mood for philosophical poetry about the tides of human youth rising and falling within the educational system, or the fact that it was backlogging behind him and the monitor in a nice little crowd, and that if the door wasn't opened soon the flow would pressurize and someone was going to get hurt.
Finally the door was opened and Danny darted out and skipped the steps to avoid the surge of anxious bodies behind him. Shrugging off the fact that he would have been out of there two minutes earlier if he had kept his big mouth shut and let the stiff twist the rules to fit her bad mood he decided to cut across the parking lot while it was still free of flying cars and get home in time to change.
"Yo Fenton!" a hand covered his mouth from behind and tugged him backwards, he recognized the voice and figured he'd either fall into a hard chest or the hard ground. Instead he found himself in the back seat of Dash's car.
"I think some people in the GSA have a short story about something like this." Danny said as he struggled to pull his feet in before Kwan slammed the door, Dash was behind him, or rather under him since his head was in the jock's lap.
"Wouldn't surprise me, there are some seriously messed up pervs in that club." Dash said, shoving the teen off him and exiting the vehicle to be seated in the driver's seat.
"You wouldn't happen to know where a guy could get a copy of that now would you?' Kwan joked from the passenger seat, at Dash's disgusted glare he said, "What? I wanna know who tops."
"I figured it'd be obvious." Dash growled.
"I figured I'd have time to change before I was hijacked, again, by someone who publicly humiliates me on a daily basis." Danny quipped from the backseat, rising from his position on his back.
"You hijacked him before?" Kwan smirked, "dude no wonder people write stories about you."
"I think there's also a fan club, but that's just internet hearsay." Danny got his seat belt buckled just in time, because Dash lurched out of the parking spot, almost hitting a group of skaters, "With like, fanart and stuff."
"Realistic or cartoon?" Kwan asked and Dash hit him. "Ow, okay changing the subject!" He turned in his seat and looked at Danny, a smile still ghosting his lips. "Still," he said mischievously, "You're awfully calm for someone who just got pulled into the back seat of the car of someone who people write stories about raping you."
Dash swerved suddenly and Kwan got thrown back against the side of the car, he didn't have his seat belt on.
Danny bit his lip to keep from laughing. "Well as much as I'd enjoy fueling the fire with stories about how this is hardly the first time I've been in the back seat of a car with Dash Baxter, I just expected something like this since he was practically ready to explode when I bailed out on him this morning. But, you know, I kind of expected it to come with a black eye."
"That could still be included in the package." The driver growled from between his hunched shoulders.
"Change of subject?" Danny offered the Asian with an amused smile.
"Change of subject." Was the answer. Kwan wasted a moment of thought wondering where the awkwardness of this morning's conversation went, but decided that being with Dash made him more comfortable and brought out a bit more aggression in Danny's speech. "So…" he began and Danny looked expectantly at him to continue the thought, clearly enjoying his struggle now that the joking had ceased.
"So, do you know how to skate Fenton?" Dash jumped in.
Danny smiled tensely, "I can learn."
Cut it off here because I'm focusing all my writing skills and spare time on finishing this next update for Photo Opportunities. It will be up either by or before Christmas. Even if I have to cut it short again.