the line between,
Wrong and right,
Is the width of a thread,
From a spider's web.
The piano keys are black and white,
But they sound like a million colors in your mind."
and sung by Katie Melua
Published by Melua Music Ltd / Sony / ATV Music Publishing UK) Ltd
From the album 'Piece By Piece'
This was in response to theadoricangel's challenge.
"I wanted to know if someone could write a fic describing the effects of three new people learning Danny's secret, Kwan, Dash, and a mysterious stranger who would then use it to blackmail our hero into stealing and framing, and even getting more evidence to blackmail more people. It's a simple structure to work from, Dash's mom is a judge, Danny's new boss wants Danny to get her onto his side so he can avoid any jail time, and Dash is Danny's ticket to getting close to her. Whatever you decide to do after that, is up to you. It was just an idea I had."
What is the difference between wrong and right, truly?
Is it selfish, or simple self-preservation?
He was so ordinary, so very ordinary, nothing spectacular, nothing noticeable. He wasn't geeky, wasn't cool looking, he didn't look like a pot head or a skater or a bookworm. He was an "other." One of the many teens that had nothing attached to them that would immediately label them an anything.
The first day of school, when everybody tries their damndest to look the best, he showed up with messy uncombed hair, stooped low, like his little flat backpack weighed him down, and slim baggy jeans with a hole torn through one side of the knee, not in the center on the knee like what's fashionable today, but off to the side, with brownish stains, like dried blood, speckled around it. A white bandage was visible within the whole, stating that he didn't trip on his way to school, and didn't wash his pants before putting them back on.
Not like anybody paid attention to him really, still his disregard for his appearance at school these days worried those that did.
"Fenton's wearing the same cloths he did yesterday at the park." Kwan commented to Dash, knowing the blonde boy noticed as well.
Dash looked up, pretending not to have been watching the whole thing out of the corner of his eye. Danny's cloths were severely wrinkled, having no doubt spent the night on his bedroom floor. The white shirt had a few smudges of grass juice and dirt that was pretty much inevitable to those even walking by the park. Nothing too noticeable though, he would still pass below the radar in school today if Kwan and Dash didn't bring anything up, after all Paulina wouldn't care and his two nobody friends wouldn't dare put him on the spotlight.
"Wanna say something?" Kwan asked offhandedly, not really caring.
"Nah, I'm wiped." Dash replied with feigned exhaustion.
"The guys are looking over though."
Dash saw them out of the corner of his eye and a mental sigh made his shoulders slump a bit.
"Yeah, okay fine."
This was their ritual these days. Picking and choosing when to pick on Daniel Fenton based on his haggard appearance and stooped posture. Deciding in their conversation whether the boy could withstand a beating or not, if they should give him a break for a day or push him. It was what they did these days, because if they didn't pay closer attention, they weren't quite sure what would happen.
Because Danny was pushed enough in his life.
He stares down at the body beneath him, limp and pale. Why did this always have to happen, couldn't they do something? Anything?
Danny was struggling in class more these days, even Lancer noticed. His high C average was quickly dropping to the dangerously low Ds, his concentration was always elsewhere, when he wasn't sleeping that is.
Dash pressed him up against the locker and tried to ignore the trembling of fatigue. He had to keep up appearances; Danny knew that, because he was of no use if everyone knew their secret. Kwan snickered from behind him, the fake sound making everything seem so surreal. The three of them, they weren't here, this wasn't them. It was just an act, just something they had to do, but one day, one day they wouldn't have to hide, wouldn't have to pretend.
"Stay back Dash, don't come out, no matter what."
"I mean it Dash, stay back and keep Kwan safe and no matter what you see, don't do anything. I
I'll explain later, I promise."
What was there to explain? Dash and Kwan didn't need to know the how or why, they weren't such deep complex thinkers as that.
Danny Fenton was Danny Phantom, it was that simple. Why complicate it?
Danny's life should have gotten easier after that, but it all just got worse.
"I know what you are, and I think you want to listen to what I have to say, because if you don't I'm sure Mrs. Harriet Chin would love to." Such a soft voice, deep, perfectly villainously cliché in a way only Saturday cartoons could do.
"Don't you care about what you're doing? The consequences of all this?"
"Not really" A toothy grin, menacing, promising.
"Stop him Danny." Dash hissed in his ear as he crammed him in the locker. "You know you can."
"I can't risk it." Danny mumbled, his eyes betraying the fear, the irrational terror of one on the brink of a panic attack. You would think he was claustrophobic from that face, but the locker had nothing to do with this, no this phobia, this fright, was triggered by the thought of exposure, of years of hiding and careful concealment blown wide open and on the screen of every TV in America. With a scowl Dash closed the locker, shutting him in the dark space, alone, to think over his life and the turn it had taken. It had happened before, it could happen again.
And this time, Danny had no reality gauntlet to change everything back to normal.
"What do you want?"
That grin, that damn flash of white teeth. "Everything, until I'm famous, successful and respected, until I have a nice little island to retire on and a golden toilet to shit on," the vise grip on his arm tightened until Danny had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from crying out, "you will do as I say."
It wasn't just the stealing or the cheating, it wasn't really the framing or the betrayal, it was all about the city's protection and how, to protect his identity he had to leave his city, sometimes in the midst of a ghost attack, to cater to whatever fanciful whim the bastard had dredged up from his psychotic mind.
He didn't bother phasing out of the locker, relaxed, safe, comfortable in the small dark coffin Dash nailed shut around him nearly every day. Like a scream room, or maybe those thick covers a kid pulled up around his head, because everything was so much simpler, so much less scary, when it only spanned a few inches around him.
The bell rang and he heard shuffling feet move past, minutes, the crowd was gone in just minutes. Evacuation squads had nothing on a class tardy bell.
"I have a little favor to ask of you my little Danny."
"Don't call me that."
"Oh, what should I call you then? Phantom, Inviso-bill, please just call out, hot or cold? Common, you're a teenager, surly you enjoy games. Fenton, perhaps Daniel, tell me am I getting close?" Danny flinched at the last two. "No, those two are for your other enemies aren't they? Poor little ghost boy, well we'll have to come up with our own little nickname won't we?"
He patted Danny on the arm in a reassuring manner as he smiled his perfectly white smile that always managed to look crooked. "Now, about that favor. No more of these petty robberies, nothing so trivial for Amity Park's greatest hero." He laughed and swirled around in his office, his hands up in the air as he said the last part, the view of Amity Park in all its nighttime glory twinkling outside the large window behind him. "This is something big my little ghosty, something very big, and you'll pull it off without a hitch, won't you?"
"Yes." Without even asking what it was, without a moment's hesitation. The complete obedience, the firm tone, it all sounded so sweet to his tormentor, but to Danny all it did was shrivel up yet another small bit of his heart.
"Good, now come here and look at these floor plans."
"Mr. Fenton." The groan of the locker door and the hard flash of light in his face woke him from his drowsy state more than the hard, disapproving voice filling his ears. "If you're going to try to skip class to sleep, won't you try to find a more common and comfortable place to do it?"
It was Lancer, and boy did he look ticked, Dash was standing behind him with a sour, apologetic look on his face.
"Come here and look at these floor plans you'll need them to avoid the ecto-scanners in the wall,"
Danny shook everything out, away, pushed it all to the farthest recess of his mind.
"Yes, yes." He said with his usual smile at Danny's panicked expression. "You'll be attending this little chin dig as a human, and it's going to remain that way for as long as possible."
God damn it, even when he was gone he crept into his mind and ordered him around.
Lancer walked away, ordering a detention for two days after school. Danny grimaced, wondering how much groveling he would have to do to switch it to lunch. He couldn't afford after school detention, not with this new part time job he had.
"Sorry, I got worried and he wouldn't give me the bathroom pass." Dash mumbled as he reached in and helped Danny out. He practically had to scoop him up like a child, but Danny refused to be held bridal style, even for a second, and hopped down, a hand on Dash's shoulder to prevent him from toppling over when he landed, as it was he stumbled.
"Sokay." He said mumbling. "I can't afford to lose anymore class time anyway."
"Why not get your cute little bully to help you?" Danny yanked his hand back from Dash's shoulder quickly, shoving it in his pocket in an attempt to hide the trembling "I'm sure he'd be glad to get you an invitation from his daddy, that way you can enjoy stealing my treasures right out from under his nose."
They walked down the hall to Lancers class, listening to the hollow sound of their footsteps echo with Lancer's distant fading ones.
"Dash?" Danny asked timidly.
"Your dad," Danny was hesitant, but he knew he couldn't avoid it. "He's having a party this weekend right?"
"Yeah, how'd you figure that?"
"Can I come?" He asked, the words ended up heavy and sounded pleading in his ears and Dash stopped.
"Doesn't he have you-"
"No." Danny denied, though he knew he was lying. "He's content for a few days and I'd…I'd like to be somewhere he can't reach me. Please." Now it really was pleading.
"Yeah." Dash breathed, they didn't look at each other as they stood there, hadn't touched since Danny held his shoulder for support back at the locker. "Yes." He said more firm, "Yes, I'll get you an invitation tomorrow."
And they started walking again.
"Get me Judge Baxter's dirty secrets ghosty, every fractured bone of every dusty skeleton in every dead bolted broom closet. I want her in my back pocket, and I want her there by Monday."
Don't you just hate the oneshots that leave you confused and wanting more?
So do I, that's why I'm extending this beyond what was asked of me.
Danny doesn't know it but there is a case being built against his 'boss' and if he drags Mrs. Baxter into the loop the whole thing will fall apart. However if he figures it out and sides with the prosecutor he could pretend to have Baxter in his hand, get whatever evidence they need, and in three weeks be rid of all troubles.
But what damage can't his assailant do from behind bars that he could do out in the open. All he'd need to do is snap his fingers and Danny would have to break him out as Danny Phantom because unless he pleads insanity anybody would listen to him about the ghost boy.
Decisions, decisions. Help the prosecutor and put his tormentor behind bars, or blackmail Mrs. Baxter and possibly win a few points with his 'boss?' After all, once he has a judge, he can get street boys to pull off some of the smaller stuff giving Danny some down time.
I figure I'd let you guys vote. What to do, what to do.