"It's only pain

It only hurts

I am only down on the floor

Where I have been before

And I'll be here again

Though it hurts to lose you

It's only pain"

-Spiders Web

Written and sung by Katie Melua
Published by Melua Music Ltd / Sony / ATV Music Publishing UK) Ltd
From the album 'Piece By Piece'

"Dear little ghost, what's wrong , hmn?"

Danny turned from the large window to glare at the man. It used to be that he had to work for a good cold glare, but now they just came instantly. Three months ago he would have punched a fist in the air and shot those expert glowers at himself in the mirror until his eyes grew sore. Now he didn't even feel up to glancing at his reflection in the tinted glass, and the glares were always for one person.

Not even Vlad could make such hatred boil inside him, boil and freeze and clench up in his gut until his fists ached from being fisted so hard and his jaw throbbed from constantly clenched teeth. His body was constantly tired and sore, though it had been ages since he had been in a decent fight. The soreness came from the weight of what he was doing, the guilt and the anger and the helplessness.

"Don't worry about the party, I have all the preparations covered." Those wicked perfect teeth. Shiny and white to the point of glowing. He set an armful of rolled up blueprints onto his cluttered desk, knocking over manila folders and spilling out countless sheafs of paper. Danny felt the need to snort, perhaps even roll his eyes and walk over towards the desk, but he didn't. Because if he did that would mean that he was accepting this, that he was willing to go through with it. When he wasn't.

So he staid by the window, arms crossed over his stomach, trying to ignore the chunk of ice that had settled within him.

"Fenton, you made it!" Kwan greeted him through the doorway with a gleefully surprised look on his face. Danny nodded sheepishly up at him, not at all certain how to act around the large Asian boy. "That's great, me and Dash we though," his voice lowered a bit, his smile wavering, "we thought you'd be busy."

Danny bit back the instinctive response of 'I am,' and moved past him into the building. "I somehow managed to elude responsibilities tonight." He said with such an easily forced cheeriness he almost stumbled on how believable he sounded.

"Well Dash is up with his parents right now, he'll be down in a few." He looked around the room, obviously torn between his usual schmoozing and keeping the new kid company. "He'll be happy to see you here." The comment was supposed to be an accustomed compliment, 'the host is pleased to receive your company' kind of ritual, but the corners of Kwan's mouth twitched up when he said it. His pupil teased the edges of his eye to glance down at the small brunette, but Danny simply nodded as though the implication had flown right by him. Too busy in his own survey of the room.

It was a very uncomfortable silence that followed.

"Kwan! Oh god Kwan!" Blood on his hands, on his shirt. A head wound, they bled badly, he couldn't tell if it was serious. He was unconscious, that had to be a bad sign. "Kwan, wake up, please."

"Fenton?" groggy, slurred, eyes barely able to squint open.

"Oh thank god." So happy, so happy that he was alive he didn't care that he wasn't supposed to be 'Fenton.' That he wasn't supposed to be recognized.

The room was large, it was a hotel ballroom, made larger by the complete emptiness of it all. The party was small so far, a mere spattering of business men and women with a few children sitting boredly in chairs or eyeing the buffet table. Everyone was dressed up in ways Danny thought only existed in fictional movies, dresses and suits and heavy sparkling jewelry.

Danny noted the small doorway that would lead him to one of the many hallways full of rooms and suites. The plans he had been forced to memorize drifted to his brain against his will and he stamped them down brutally. He had to see Dash first. Had to get Dash out of the picture before anything else.

"The hotel the party is being hosted at is quite expensive, mainly because of the high-tech ghost equipment installed in the entire building. Your parents designed and installed in personally I believe." He smirked, flashing those disgusting flat teeth, canine filed down to near invisibility. An unthreatening show of fangs. "Intangible, invisible, all that fun ghostly stuff will immediately set off the alarms, so I would suggest disabling those before you try making a move."

Danny nodded as he studied the floor plans. It wouldn't be difficult, he was there when his parents installed the equipment, he knew how to shut it all down. The question was, "How am I supposed to get there with Dash hanging off me like a chimp?"

Those teeth again, damn him. "I know you can think of something." His eyes flashed dangerously and Danny knew what he was implying.

"No." he refused. "Dash would never go for that."

"Oh, please, don't act so naive. He's an idiot jock, you're a slender wimpy nerd, he's bullied you for years without faltering. You dangle it in front of him, he'll lunge for it."

Again. "No."

A hard grip on his arm and he was immediately spun towards the window, pressed against it to the point that he feared it would break. "You see this ghost?" He bit his tongue to force down a cry of pain. "This is the world, and it isn't as pretty and glowing as the light-pollution makes it seem." A harsh whisper in his ear. "You force me, and I'll make sure every single person down there knows exactly what you are. You'll see how nice one little tumble with a quarterback looks when the whole world is screwing you." The grip on his arm loosened and he could breathe without his ribcage straining against glass.

Danny just took in a shaken breath and rested his head against the window. He knew what that world looked like, those few days of summer, the terror of their families in danger, the feeling of everybody reaching for the phone to turn him in. Everyone against him, hating him, fearing him.

"Okay," he breathed, "okay."

"Danny, you made it." Danny looked away from the door to see Dash striding over to him, Kwan waved and motioned his hands a bit to question if he could leave. Dash nodded and Kwan slipped away from the ghost boy before Dash was a meter away.

"Like I'd miss a day off," Danny retorted and Dash stopped right in front of him, placing a large heavy hand on his shoulder. Heat sparked up immediately beneath his touch and Danny repressed the entire conversation with his boss. Dash didn't think of him like that, no matter what the jackass claimed.

"I'm glad." He sighed. "It's been getting worse at school, people are noticing Danny." He removed his hand and stepped up beside him, looking out at the growing crowd. "If you don't stop this soon you won't need to worry about him exposing you. You'll do it yourself."

"I can handle it." Danny muttered.

"Like you could handle that ghost yesterday?" Danny cringed. "You were lucky me and Kwan were there on the field to distract everyone when your hair went black. Those who noticed are convinced it was a trick of the light."

"It won't happen again." Danny growled, gritting his teeth, "Look Dash, I came here to avoid pressure." He gazed up at the jock. "Are you going to be griping at me all night or do I get to have some fun?"

"You should be sleeping." Dash retorted, but smiled. "We can grab some food then head up to one of the rooms for a movie." He grabbed Danny's hand and led him towards the table. "I've got some schmoozing to do with my parents, the usual 'Oh this is my son his best qualities are ' kind of stuff, so you can grab some shut eye until I get there with the flick."

Danny nodded as he was pulled along, mind not really there.

"The control is on the fourth floor beside the sleeping solutions office." Danny muttered, glancing over the unrolled papers. "I can probably get Dash to take me up to a room," he swallowed, "and head to it from there. If anybody asks what I'm doing on the floor I'll use insomnia as an excuse."

"Good, good." His hair was pat down like a loyal dog, which he realized; he had begun to act like. "There are only five floors in the hotel and Dash's family is sure to have booked several for guests coming from out of town, or those unfit to get home." He rubbed his chin, "get him in a room and knock him out and you can run free."

Danny just nodded, obeying like the good little dog he was.

"Oh how cute, is this your little friend?" Danny found himself forcing a smile at an adorable blond woman in a flatteringly conservative black dress.

"Mom, Dad this is Daniel Fenton. His parents made the security system here." The Baxters nodded at Dash's introduction; everyone knew who the Fenton's were, it was impossible to live in or near Amity Park without knowing them.

"Nice to meet you." Danny smiled nervously up at them. He hadn't expected to be ambushed by Dash's parents at the buffet table, loading up on whatever junk Dash forced onto his plate. "Thanks for letting me come."

Judge Baxter was a trim woman possibly in her mid to early forties with short thick blonde hair and an overweight balding brunette as an arm accessory. Mr. Baxter certainly couldn't be accused of being a trophy husband. From his receding hairline to the stretched seams of his suit Dash's father was the poster boy for exactly what people didn't want to see on the swimsuit calendar, but his cheeky face was gentle and welcoming, it was no wonder Dash loved teddy bears so much. His dad was one.

"He's so sweet, Dashiel you should have invited him years ago." Mrs. Baxter hugged Danny in a totally un-judgelike way. "He's so much cuter than your other friends, and much more polite."

Dash and his father rolled their eyes in sync as the thought that the only deep dark secret this woman could have is playing tea time with her dolls during lunch break crossed Danny's mind.

"Mom, me and Danny wanted to watch a movie so I was wondering if I could have a key?" Dash asked.

His parents exchanged a look and Danny's mind dipped back into exactly what he was supposed to be doing up in that room. A bit of red tinted his complexion.

"Don't mess up the room Dash, you know they're for guests." He father said sternly, fishing into his pocket and pulling out a small stack of keycards. "Room 802."

"And don't get too comfy just yet, you still have an hour's worth of socializing before you can skip out. Feathers need smoothing, pictures need taking, flirting needs to be done." His mother smiled and shooed them off. "Fifteen minutes please, you back here by then or we're up there with paparazzi."

And then Dash was steering him off towards that small side door and into the hallway.

"I'm sure it's not so bad." He said. Danny just kept looking at the vial. "If it was, would there be so many people doing it?"

Danny just glared up at him through his eyelashes.

"Poor little ghosty, don't worry about it, if you get his blood pumping enough he may even be out of it before you even get to the bed." He smirked, touching a hand to the base of the teen's neck. "And you never know, you may even enjoy it."

Danny shook him away and stood, shoving the vial into his pocket. "You can't keep this up forever." Danny said over his shoulder.

"We won't need to." He placed his hands on Danny's shoulders and whispered into his ear "One day it'll just come naturally to you." He smiled as he spoke. "One day you won't even think about arguing or resisting, and all those little heroic thoughts will be a bad, embarrassing memory of your faded, young and stupid years."

Danny jerked away from him, chest constricting, brain fuzzy and swollen, thoughts racing at paces he couldn't even keep up with. He grasped at one in desperation, but it fell through his probing fingers like dry beach sand, fragments clinging to his consciousness, blundering up the next thought that whipped through. Dazed he swung around with a icy fist and rammed it into his solar plexus, the ice shattered like a sugar sculpture and knocked them both back several feet away from each other.

Danny stumbled, keeping his feet under him while the other thudded to the floor, motionless.

Frightened Danny whirled around and fought with the doorknob, flinging the door open and dashing out into the hallway.

Run! Something within screamed.

Fly! Another voice roared.

"Stop!" A third cried, but that one was real, and he chose to ignore it.

" We're here." Dash smiled triumphantly as he stepped out of the elevator. "Fourth floor, our floor."

"Fourth floor." Danny muttered, how convenient.

"And our room." He pulled out a key and slipped it into the lock of the third door on the right side, pulling it out just as quickly and pushing down on the handle. Danny's heart skipped a beat and his breath hitched at the motion. Their room, oh god they were in the room. His face was flushing and he was breathing way to hard way to fast.

"Danny? Hey Fenton, Fenton you okay? Here, sit down, lay down, oh for the love of- Here!" Dash guided Danny into the room and onto the bed. "Didn't I tell you, you were pushing too hard? You're about to collapse, just lay there and rest."

Danny looked up at him, laid back on the bed crossways, knees bent and feet touching the floor. Dash still had an arm around him and his face was so very close. It was a perfect moment. He touched a finger to the bulge in his pocket where the vial rested. It would be child's play to force it down Dash's throat through a kiss, then a little roll between the sheets and he'd be out like a light and Danny would be free to roam about spying.

"Just get some sleep, I have to go down and play the 70s jock for my parents then I'll be back up here to check on you."

Danny's hand twitched. Of course, they were expecting Dash. If he wasn't there they'd come looking and find him unconscious…possibly naked…with a missing Danny Fenton.

He forced a smile. "I'm fine," he said, forcing a yawn, "you go play good boy." Then come up here and play bad boy, his mind filled in. He turned his head away and sighed, a bead of sweat rolling of his forehead to disappear into the coverlet. Dash brushed his bangs away from his eyes before retreating.

"Be back soon." He whispered for no apparent reason but to reassure himself, Danny simply nodded, closing his eyes until the door had shut and he was certain Dash had plenty of time to get to the elevator.

Crawling from the bed, and waving off a sudden dizzy spell, he slipped out into the hallway, placing the little metal latch in front of the door to keep it from closing fully, and followed his mental map towards the sleep center, and the ghost security system.

His cell phone was ringing, ringing, ringing. The incessant musical tone of oncoming death droned from his nightstand with a vibrational buzz that moved the device across the cluttered surface until his shaky hand fell upon it.

The vibrations made his simple unsteadiness jerky and unstable and his groggy sleepy brain but the cell phone to his ear upside-down and it took him several moments before he realized that wasn't cotton in his ears keeping him from hearing the muted sounds properly.

"Hello?" he asked for possibly the fifth time, uncertain in the state he was in.

"That was a very bad thing you did ghosty." His hand gripped the phone until a small crck made itself known in the hard plastic.

"I thought I might have killed you." He whispered in relief and fright.

"Awe, the little ghost was worried about his master." The voice chuckled and Danny closed his eyes to push away the image of smiling teeth. It was like constantly being chased by the Cheshire cat.

Oh Alice, I know how you feel.

If only everyone knew how truly frightening it was. "I was scared of the consequences." He asserted.

"Most likely, wouldn't want our little hero to be a killer, that's farther than even I'll go."

"Extortionist is such a higher level than murder." Danny scowled. "Nice to know you're still among us boss, now if you will..."

"You have a job down at the docks ghosty, wouldn't want to keep our shipment waiting." Oh yeah, the smuggling, his face screwed up into a pained expression, but he didn't object.

"Be there." He answered. "Take me two minutes." And he hung up.

"Oh Dad." He shook his head. It may be inconspicuous to anybody else, but everybody in Amity Park knew of his dad's egotism and a huge picture of HIMELF as the cover to the control panel was so stupidly obvious he was surprised the owner hadn't replaced it.

Slipping his fingers beneath the frame he pressed a switch and swung the picture out, glancing briefly over the control panel, kind of like a circuit breaker, noting what switches he should flip and what he shouldn't. They were actually labeled, oh god. Anybody could get into this. He shook his head at the stupidity. Still, something in his brain was tapping on his shoulder. There was something just…not right about the switches…but what?

"What are you doing?" he spun around at the stern, nasally voice.

"Dash?!" he eeped, "what are you doing here?"

"Ditto." Dash placed his large meaty palm against the picture and closed it while sweeping Danny out of its way with the other arm. Danny stumbled against the sudden force pushing him backwards but kept his mouth shut. "I told my parents you weren't feeling well." He sent a condemning glare out of the corner of his eye that almost made the brunette fidget.

"You're not really off tonight." It wasn't a question. Danny grimaced, but again said nothing. "God I can't believe I was so stupid, I actually fell for that stupid pleading of yours." He griped Danny by the arm and drug him forward, moving them back down the hallway towards the room.

"Dash." Danny resisted some, but his mind just kept tugging back to the vial in his pocket and how he could always just knock him out and finish this. He reeled back from the idea, but it just kept coming. No, he wanted this, he wanted to be stopped. But his secret! Oh god his secret! "Dash stop, please." He begged.

"Not working this time." It had never been an act Dash! He wanted to scream at the boy dragging him but Dash kept on going, pushing open the door with a snort at Danny's attempt to keep it unlocked. "So who were you after? Huh? Which one of the high-end socialites was your next target?" He shoved Danny into the room and shut the door all the way behind them, throwing the latch into its proper place and locking the door securely.

Danny pressed his lips firmly together, biting down on them from the inside to keep from talking.

Dash scowled down at him for a few more seconds before something crossed over his face, a fleeting realization that brightened his eyes in astonishment before darkening his entire countenance in rage. He looked absolutely furious, just like Danny knew he would look when he found out. He just didn't expect the moron to put two and two together so quickly, and wind up at the right conclusion. Not until he woke up with a pounding headache and an empty bed.

He tried to go for humor, as was his custom in these situations. He rolled onto the balls of his feet and back again, flashing a strained grin. "Well hey; at least she won't like me over your other friends." He flexed his knees and shrugged.

"No." he snarled. "She won't."

Danny felt the already forced smile on his face fall away. Dash was stalking towards him, fist clenched at his side, and he barely had a moment to think that he really should have risked slipping him the drug earlier. Then Dash rammed a solid fist into his gut.

He had anticipated a face punch, as was Dash's habit, probably followed by a hard grip on the front of his shirt. Dash rarely surprised him. He doubled over from the pain of it, his balance kept only by the fistful of his shaggy hair Dash managed to get before he fell. He groaned quietly, unable to contain it, and Dash felt a curve touch his lips.

"You lied to me." Dash accused.

"Had to." Danny mumbled.

"I know." He yanked Danny's head back and looked into his tired blue eyes, "Doesn't make me any less pissed." He knew he would see the guilt there in those eyes; it was obvious Danny didn't enjoy this crap he was forced to do, but there was still that ever present challenge, the determination to succeed, to get what he wanted against all odds. Disgusted he threw Danny away from him. "You're so shallow."

Danny landed on the bed with a bounce, shocked. "What?" He snapped, propping himself up on his elbows to see Dash and get some kind of grip. "I save the goddamned town, the WORLD! How can you say I'm shallow? You're the idiot jock who cares for nothing but his reputation remember?"

"I want to help Fenton, really I do, but if nobody else can know then I'll be risking a lot being nice to you in public."

"What did I tell you Danny?"

"Sam stop."

"They're just a bunch of selfish assholes. He'd only help you if it was convenient for him."

"Stop it Sam, just shut up!"

"No." Dash interrupted. "She's right."

"I care about you!" he hissed. "I may not be perfect, but I'm not like you." He put a knee on the bed and Danny scooted back. "You save the town but you would just as easily destroy it to protect your secret." He grabbed Danny's ankle and squeezed, hard. "You're the worst. A hero who thinks he's above everyone else. You're supposed to sacrifice remember? Heroes give things up to protect."

"Why do you keep doing this if you just get hurt?" Dash asked, watching as Danny bandaged Kwan's head, it had stopped bleeding not too long ago. "I mean, we'd all treat you a lot different if we knew."

"I know." Danny replied. "Sometimes you have to give things up to be a hero."

"Why?" Kwan asked, "I mean, why not just transform and get it out in the open."

"I have my reasons." He replied, and they couldn't get any more answers out of him.

Danny lashed out, kicking Dash right in the chin. He stumbled back, swearing, as Danny managed to put some more distance between them, holding onto his sore stomach.

"You." He gasped. "You have no idea how much I've sacrificed so far, so don't you dare start lecturing me."

"Son of a bitch!" Dash ground, crawling back towards him.

"Not in the least." Danny clenched his fist and landed a straight-arm jab right into his face. Dash griped his forearm even as his head jerked back, eyes rolling. Danny, caught in his grasp, fell with him. Together they tumbled down and hit the floor, Danny on top, breathless.

"You can't stop me." He puffed.

"Don't I know it." Dash wheezed through his bloody nose.

"Then why try?"

"Because I can't let you do this to yourself." He scissored his legs and trapped Danny's own, flipping their positions and pinning the smaller boy beneath him. "I won't let you destroy yourself."

"Destroy?" he struggled against Dash's arms. "I'm trying to save myself."

"You're trying to save your reputation!"

"What's the difference?!"

Dash's shoulder slumped slightly and a curiously defeated look came into his eyes. "You…you really don't know do you?" His elbows bent and he brought his face close. "You're the hero, you always look out for others, no matter what. What happened to that?" he released Danny's arms and pulled back. "No matter what."

"That's a bullshit stereotype." Danny said dryly. "How can I save people if I'm in pieces on some laboratory table, huh? What about the Guys in White? Valerie? My Parents? What about my life?!" he wriggled under Dash's weight.

"Why do you need a life?" Dash spat back, straddling Danny.

"Because I want one!" Danny screamed. His face was flushed from the fight, energy he didn't have to spare wasted on a useless battle against both Dash and his conscience. Why did Dash have to give weight back to those arguments he had finally managed to quiet in his own mind? He slumped back against the floor, head thumbing against the concrete just beneath the carpet. "I want one." He whispered hoarsely. "I want one."

Dash stared down at him, surely Danny Phantom deserved a bit of selfishness in his hectic angst ridden life, but Dash had his own selfishness to deal with, and he would not have his mother hurt.

"I could just sit on you." Dash sighed. "All night, just keep you here until the party's over and let you go back to your master empty handed."

"He'd just send me out again." Danny answered. "I found your secrets Mr. Teddy bear, I can find hers. And you can't sit on me forever."

"No." Dash recurled his fingers around Danny's boney shoulders. "No I can't." And with one final bruising squeeze he rose up off of him and stood back, not bothering to reach a hand down to help him up.

Danny struggled to his feet, tugging on the bedcovers as he tried to stand. Huffing and gasping and trying to get his racing heart under control.

"Why?" he breathed.

"I'm not letting you go." Dash told him. "But I'm not gonna pin you to the floor either. We're gonna just stay in here and behave like good young adults and pretend I don't want to strangle you right now." He sat on the bed and stared up at Danny, standing beside him on wobbly legs, back turned.

Danny didn't understand Dash's reasoning behind letting him up, but he knew an opportunity when it smacked him in the skull. He had only a little time to spy on the woman and find, by some miracle, a dirty little secret that could save his rear end. He touched a finger to the vial in his pocket. It would be so easy.

"He knows, he knows everything and he's threatening me with it." Danny gasped, fists clenched, legs aching from the sprint he had just done.


I don't know. I don't know! But he'll take everything to Harriet Chin, she'll do the story, I know she will. Oh god what am I going to do?"

"Calm down Fenton." Kwan put a hand on Danny's shoulder.

"Yeah man, I mean there has to be something we can do." Tucker volunteered.

"It doesn't matter," Danny sat down on the couch. "It doesn't matter, he'll use it. I have to do something." He put his face in his hands "I have to do something."

"Hey." He looked up, Dash was there, standing beside him. "It's not just the three of you anymore ya know, you do have backup." He punched his fist in his hand. "Just tell me when and where."

Danny tried to smile. "It's not that easy." He said, turning his eyes to his hands, fingers curling over his palms. "It's never that easy."

With a deep breath he reached out and curled his fingers into the collar of Dash's dress shirt, looking straight at the questioning face beneath him and ignoring the nervous sweat that beaded on his brow.

Danny kissed him, hard, fists gripping the fabric of Dash's shirt so tightly he could feel his nails biting through. Dash was too astonished to respond, either violently or appreciatively, on his own but his body flared up with a fierce sensation that shot straight from his lips down to his groin. Against his will, he found his hands wrapping around Danny's slim waist, pulling him closer, leaning back onto the bed as he pressed the lithe body against him, relieving the strain on their necks.

They broke not too long after they started, still out of breath from the fight they had been in only a few moments ago.

"What was that?" Dash gasped while Danny gulped down breaths at an unhealthy speed.

Breathing ragged Danny lay his head down on Dash's shoulder and touched his tongue to the underside of his jaw. "I think you know." Dash grabbed the back of his neck and pulled him back in for another kiss. They were teenagers, closed mouth kisses should have passed by now, but at the moment that was as far as two very straight guys were willing to do. Dash closed his eyes for a heartbeat, two, feeling the anger drain from him along with some huge, strangling weight.

"Attempt to get away no doubt." Dash broke the kiss.

"No. Doubt." Danny tried to respond.

"You're not getting away." He whispered against Danny's lips, hands spanning out and spreading the brunette's legs on his hips. "You're staying here."

"Watch and see." Danny countered, touching his tongue to the tip of Dash's swollen nose before slipping it into his mouth for a long, heated kiss, pressing Dash's head into the mattress with the force of it. Dash's hands traveled from his thighs to grip his rear, igniting a blossom of heat at the base of his spine that sped up towards his brain, igniting some spark inside his head that made his thoughts swirl around like the colors of a cream saver.

Dash pulled away again and tried to catch his breath, leaving Danny to run fevered kisses along his face and neck. "Feh-Fenton, what the hell are we doing?" he shuddered as a little ripple of desire wove its way from his pulse down to fist his gut and curl his toes.

"Very" gasp "very interesting things." He bit Dash's pulse again.

"I see that." He felt Danny's hands loosening his belt and tugging on his shirt. "Don't rip the buttons." He said out of nowhere and Danny pulled back to look down at him, flushed, breathless, and confused."

"Romance movie cliché." Dash breathed. "Buttons flying everywhere." He drummed his fingers on Danny's back pockets.

"Thought that was superheroes."

"Yeah, them too." And then Danny's hands were under his shirt, touching his bare skin, and he couldn't find enough air to speak again. His hands trembled as he fumbled around Danny's waist for the buttons of his pants. He touched a little tent in the denim that felt nothing like what he was searching for. His stomach filled with butterflies as thoughts of what it might be skidded around in his mind. He groped with one hand to drag Danny back up to his mouth while slipping his other gently into the loose pants to retrieve the mystery item.

Danny moaned softly, shifting against the stiffening lump beneath him, drawing out a low rumbling grown from Dash.

"What's this?" he broke away and looked at the little cylinder. "A beaker?"

"Hmm," Danny buried his face into the crook of Dash's neck and let out a tiny mewl. "Something." He said and started licking again.

'What kind of something?" Dash bit back another gasp. "A ghostly something?"

"Donno," Danny mumbled, unfastening the very top button of Dash's shirt. "A sleepy something."

"Sleepy" deep breath "something?" he pushed Danny away and scooted out from under him a bit. "What do you mean?"

Danny's passion glazed eyes cleared a moment and his tinged cheeks reddened more. "A tranquillizer, I guess." He undid another two of Dash's buttons before Dash swatted his hand away.

"For me?" Danny nodded and Dash let his head fall back against the bed. "Uhn, why and I so stupid?"

Danny undid another button. "To attract brilliant brunettes?" he offered. Three more buttons, the shirt was wide open.

Dash sat up and dumped Danny onto the floor.

"You planned this from the beginning." He accused and Danny cocked his head in irate confusion.


"You planned to seduce me and nock me out."

"Yes." A flat answer. Was something wrong with his head? Was he sick? What the hell was Danny thinking?!

"You're still planning to?" Dash stood from the bed and held the vial out with two fingers. "You were just gonna slip this to me and leave?"

"Gonna screw you first." Danny added. "Consolation prize."

"Cut the jokes Fenton." Dash snapped, throwing the bottle at him. In surprise Danny went intangible and the vial whizzed right past him, smashing against the wall and spraying the back of a now solid Danny with glass and liquid. "What did you do?"

"Me? You threw the vial at me!" Danny jumped up and patted himself down, feeling a few scratches from the fragments.

"You used your powers you idiot! The alarm!" Dash grabbed Danny by the shoulders and shook him.

"Uh..alarm," Fright spread across Danny's face for a full minute before the two realized there was no blaring noises deafening the hotel occupants.

"Where's the alarm?" He turned accusing eyes towards Danny. "You turned them off."

"No." Danny denied. "Well I was going to, but you stopped me." He added quickly.

"Yeah, like I'm gonna believe that!" He shook Danny a few more times. "You lying little blackmailer whore."

"If I could use my ghost powers you think you'd have been able to sit on me?" Danny retorted. "And I'm a virgin, thankyou."

"True.."Dash stopped shaking him, then a small twitch jerked at his lips. "Virgin?"

"Ego!" Danny socked Dash in his swollen nose, the blond giving a shout of pain, letting go of the ghost boy to clutch at his abused snoz.

"Jerk." Dash muttered.

"Ass." Danny countered.







"You seduced me." Dash snapped.

"You were the one grabbing my ass."

"That's because you're too girly for my unevolved body to tell the difference."

"Your brain needs the evolution Dash, not your body." Danny reached out and tweaked an exposed nipple, "It's just fine."

"You still trying for that?" Dash growled. "I smashed the tranquilizer."

"And I can just fly away." To emphasize the point he touched Dash with a finger and suddenly Dash's pants had fallen to the floor.

"HEY!" Dash bent to snatch up his pants but his hands went right through them. He smacked Danny's hand away and became solid again. "Ass."

"Ghost." Danny corrected.

Dash stared at him, trying to get his pants back up past his knees, realized they were still buttoned and zipped, and then just kicked them off. "Ass." He repeated.

"Yes well, now that I can go anywhere…" He sat on the bed.

"You can't go anywhere Fenton, I'm still here. I can warn them you know, have them switch everything back on." Dash started to button his shirt back up.

"No." Danny's smile was a little sad, Dash paused in his buttoning. "You can't."

"What." And then it hit Dash. Like an incredibly well timed theater scene, his vision swam. "What did you.."

"The vial." Danny tapped his lips. "Was only half full."

"But I didn't…" Dash plopped down on the floor, confused and groggy. "I didn't…don't remember.. uhn"

"No, but I did." His smile was pained as he reached across and tapped a finger to Dash's stomach, an exact copy of the move he had just done to drop Dash's pants. "And I gave it to you."

"You…you said you didn't…" Dash shook his head; oh, he wanted to just lie down. His eyes were watering from the strain of keeping them open. "Powers…didn't…you said."

"I didn't know." Danny turned his head away a moment, took a breath, then moved from the bed to the floor with Dash. "I didn't."

"For." Dash blinked at Danny. "For you?" Danny nodded. "Why?"

"You won't be aware long enough for the full explanation." Danny pushed him down onto the floor completely. "So let's just stop talking."

Dash shook his head. "Still awake." He reached shaky hands up to grip Danny's shoulders.

"That's because it just entered your system." Danny straddled the larger teen, hands undoing the few buttons that Dash had redone. "needs time."

"You.." Dash tried.

"Ghost," was all Danny said as explanation. He slid the prong from his own belt and unfastened his pants. "Just be quiet. It'll all fade away soon."

Dash tried to push him off, but his muscles had dissolved from his bones, leaving him quivering. Danny pushed past the weak grip on his shoulders and pressed their lips together.

"You're already undressed." He breathed, "Might as well," brushing a tear on Dash's cheek with his nose. "You won't be the 'taker' though, promise."

'Sorry mom.' Was all Dash could think beyond forcing the blackout back away from him as long as he could.

"We have to keep up appearances Sam, all of us do." Danny explained to her. "If they suddenly start acting chummy it could cause a lot of unneeded drama."

"That doesn't excuse their behavior."

"No, but we have to let it go." Danny nursed his bruised cheek in his right hand. "It'll be worse if we didn't."

"But Danny, with this guy out there doing all this, they have to start easing up on you." She placed a cool cloth to his face. "You can't handle it all."

"I can." He asserted. "I can and I will. It's nothing too bad."

"But what if something happens?" She gripped his shoulders "What if he makes you do something you don't want to?"

Danny smirked up at her. "Who could ever make me do something I really don't want to?"

Danny's strength gave out on him and he collapsed next to Dash. He really, really shouldn't have done that, should have just left Dash to pass out on his own. Now he didn't want to do anything but just stay down on the floor and rest his head against Dash's chest. They were both breathing heavily, it seemed they hadn't caught their breath since the first fight. It was difficult for Danny to make sense of everything.

Lifting his head he looked at his bemused lover, eyes heavily lidded staring up at the ceiling emptily, his lips were parted partially to gasp in air and a small line of drool trickled down from the corner of his mouth. Danny dipped his head down and lapped it up.

The act would have disgusted him, but he figured since his own tongue had shared that mouth not too long ago, it shouldn't. With a defeated sigh he kissed Dash's unresponsive lips gently on last time.

"I have to go now." He rasped, though he knew Dash was in no way 'awake,' though his body was still active. His mind was far, far away from this world.

Danny stood and dressed. He was tired to the point of collapse, but once he had finished this task tonight, he was sure he could sleep. He had to; if he didn't rest soon he wouldn't be any use to anyone, especially himself.

Dash was right, he was selfish, but damn it if he hadn't earned a bit of selfishness after all this time.

He stripped the top covers off the bed and laid them over Dash's bare body in one fluid motion before disappearing in a flash of white rings.

Dash pushed Danny's face into the trampled grass. "What was that Fentina?" He laughed. Yes, laughed would be a good name, some kind of hollow chuckle without trace of humor or enjoyment. He twisted Danny's arm further up his back, causing the teen to cry out and get some dirt in his mouth.

"I'm sorry!" he shouted and wriggled under the weight of the body on top of him. Dash's knee dug painfully into his back and his arm was beginning to go numb.

"And you aint gonna get in the way again right?" Dash ground out.

"Yes yes! Now please!" Dash stood up releasing the small brunette.

"Good." He grimaced when Danny rolled over and brushed dirt and grass blades from his face. "Now go get the Frisbee you lost looser, Pooky needs his exercise." Ignoring the fact that Danny didn't lose the Frisbee, and that Pooky looked like if he ran another two feet he would keel over.

Danny got up and limped over to the bushes, searching for the red toy Dash had flung at his head for absolutely no reason. "I can't believe I ripped my pants." He groaned as he reached into the thicket and picked up the object. "I'm running out of cloths with all this stuff."

"Hello ghosty." A voice came from behind him.

"Boss!" Danny eeped for the second time that night. "What are you doing here?"

"Checking in." he smiled, looking Danny Phantom over. "All went well?"

Danny flushed. "The security was already turned off," he explained. "I figured I just hover around and eavesdrop."

"No need." He smiled wider holding up a hand. In an instant a green unfamiliar ghost fazed through the wall behind him and placed a radioactive looking camera in his hands. The device immediately came to life and started hissing at Danny through green fangs.

"What's all this?" Danny transformed and settled down onto the carpet floor. "What do you mean 'no need'? I've been hanging around here all night and I'm exhausted."

"I'm sure you are." He interrupted.

"Tell me I didn't just do all this for nothing." Danny demanded.

"Oh no." he said with a chuckle. "No, no, not at all. You were the key factor in everything we did tonight."

Danny's eyes strayed to the ghostly camera again. "What did you do?"

"Just took some rather incriminating pictures." He answered.

"I thought Dash's parents had to stay in the ballroom until the party was over."

"They did." He fidgeted with the device, pressing buttons while avoiding being bitten. "Someone else didn't."

"No." Danny breathed.

"You were brilliant little ghost, I'm sure if he'd been any more lucid than a drunken cockatiel he'd have thoroughly enjoyed it." He cocked an eyebrow as he scrolled by an image, "Though he seemed to have enjoyed it plenty enough."

"You bastard!" Danny lunged at him but in his weary state he was easily sidestepped, ending up sprawled on the hallway floor. The man nudged him onto his back with a foot to look down at him.

"You look like shit ghosty, go home and sleep. You earned it." He smirked as he held up the camera in front of him. "Really earned it."

Danny let his head thump back onto the floor, breathing heavily. He was such an idiot.


Have you ever made out with someone and suddenly found something weird in his or her pocket? Yeah…me neither.

And if anybody has ever seen a drunken cockatiel, you were probably giggling at that little line there. They are hilariously silly, even the mean ones. My cockatiel got a hold of some jungle juice fruit (from my drunken parents no doubt) and was swinging upside down whistling Saturday morning cartoon theme songs for a whole hour.

Probably could have done a lot more with Kwan's character here than I did, but ah well.

I know it ended on an unsatisfying note, but you people are the ones who voted for him to go with the blackmail, you want something different, take the challenge yourself. I look forward to seeing a different take on the plot.

Mystery Villain: God, all that waiting for the fight to be done with. Now I know why your job's so hard.

Yes, yes, those boys rarely stop snarling at each other long enough for a good steamy scene, but I endure.

Mystery Villain: smirk but I got pictures.

Evil, evil man…






























Danny walked into the office, looking not at all rested and wearing the same rumpled cloths he had at the party. Arms crossed over his stomach he plopped down into a chair beside his boss's desk and stared out the huge window, ignoring the three guests in the seats across from him.

"Good morning Daniel." Judge Baxter said coldly. Dash just glowered at him while his father flexed his hands.

"Now that we're all here, we can get down to business." Danny's boss smiled sweetly at them all. "I know you have received the pictures by now, otherwise well, you wouldn't look ready to slaughter the two of us like you do." He laughed as if it was all some funny prank.

In Danny's experience pranks were rarely ever funny.

"What do you want?" Mr. Baxter snarled.

"I understand you have a little pile of papers on me."

"We were building a case, yes." Danny's head shot up and he looked at them in surprise. Dash's lip curled in rage. "Is that all this is about? Consider it gone then, you can come by and destroy the copies yourself if you want." Judge Baxter hadn't lost her cool at all, and Danny wondered where that bubbly woman he met last night went.

"Yes, well sorry to say that's not all."

"What the hell more could you possibly want?!" Mr. Baxter snapped. "We don't have anything else on you, it was all between Dash and my wife, and you've effectively tied them both."

"Dash?" Danny practically whined the question.

"I wanted to help you Fenton." Dash grit. "But it's too late for that now."

Danny let his head fall towards his chest. He really was so stupid. There had to have been a real threat if he had wanted a judge in his back pocket. And Dash's mom? He should have connected the dots long before the stupid party.

"I guess." He said softly.

"Now now, there can't be any bad feelings between us here," he placed a hand on Danny's shoulder and squeezed. "After all we're going to be working together."


"Honey." The judge held up her hand. "Very well. It will be difficult should something actually end up in my courtroom, but I'll help you out with whatever I can on the legal end of things." She nodded. "You keep the evidence down and nobody should make any of the connections we had. It was… a very interesting case to say the least. Pity the system will never see it."

"A sensible woman." He smiled pleasantly and rose from his desk to shake her hand. "I understand the boys and you have some things to discuss, and if Danny were anybody else I would worry about leaving him in here alone with you." He turned that smile to a shocked Danny. "But after last night I think we all know he can handle himself." And he was out the door, whistling merrily. "Lock up when you leave ghosty!" He called.

Danny just sat there while the others glared at him.

"So what exactly does he have on you Daniel?" Mr. Baxter asked harshly.

Danny looked up at them through red rimmed eyes, the dark blotches beneath them a testament to the nights of sleeplessness he had since the day his secret had been exposed. "Something very, very bad."

Dash snorted. "To you maybe."

"And you think what he has on you lot is worse Dash?" Danny snapped. "What, you're afraid everybody will think you're gay? Big deal."

"Now listen you." Dash's father began but Danny interrupted.

"No you listen, all of you listen." He growled. "If my secret is exposed I'm dead. Not harassed, not discredited, dead. Dee Ee Aye Dee, DEAD. Do you know what it's like to fear for your life?" He stared wide-eyed at them through his bangs. "No matter what I've done, or who would defend me, I'm dead. The Government could say they protect me and there would still be some nut job scientist out to kidnap me and cut me apart." He raked his hands through his disheveled hair. "I'm dead, sooner or later I'm going to mess up and he'll expose me and I'll be dead." He shook his head, fisting his hair and trembling, just repeating the word over and over. 'dead.'

"So you say." Judge Baxter spoke. "But would this terrible secret be believed?"

Danny looked up at her confused. Dash turned to her, cocking his head. "Mom, you don't even know what it is."

"But you do, don't you Dash?" his mother nailed him with an icy look. "You seem to know everything, quite a change from your regular casting in things." Dash opened his mouth but nothing came out.

"Dear?" Mr. Baxter probed.

"I'm thinking you're problem isn't as big as you think it is." She held up a hand when Danny protested and charged ahead, knowing a single hand wouldn't prevent a distraught teen from interrupting. "I'm sure since you know that it's true it seems huge." She paused, considering her words. "But you see, not everybody knows it's the truth."

"But it is true." Dash said. And his mother nodded.

"Well then, can you maybe tell me this big secret?" she asked

"You wouldn't be—" Danny halted and stared at the judge. "You wouldn't believe us…"

"I thought as much." She smiled.

Danny looked ready to hyperventilate and Dash, forgetting his injustice, hurried to his side. "No one would believe him." He said. "Why didn't I see it, oh god it's so obvious."

"Because you know it's true." Mrs. Baxter said, standing. "And when you know it's the truth, you start to think everybody knows the truth. It's a paranoia many guilty criminals suffer from."

"But I..He! Oh god Dash I'm so sorry I..it wasn't supposed to..oh man." Danny couldn't get the words out, he just couldn't say it.

"It's okay." Dash sighed, even though it wasn't. "You had to get back at me for all these years somehow."

"Dash.." Danny put his arms around the bulky teen. "I'm sorry."

"Yes, yes, well let's get going then. I really don't like this office and the sooner we're gone the sooner I can see the city from the ground floor." Mrs. Baxter smiled.

"But mom, you said you…mom you work for him now. The pictures." Dash stood with Danny, arm around the boy's shoulders to steady him.

"Yes yes, the pictures." She pulled an envelope out of her jacket pocket. "Nice quality, really." She smirked, dumping the little rectangles into her hand. "You want to see them Danny? Nice ones of you." She chuckled at the redness of both boys faces. "So my son's gay, so what, worst thing for me in this town is to have a bunch of homo-hate crimes end up in my courtroom. And hey, who doesn't like business?" She laughed at her own bad joke.

"But honey?!" Mr. Baxter protested.

"Oh sweetie, he would have had to come out sooner or later, I mean we've know about it for forever."

"What?!" Dash tensed. "What do you mean? I'm not gay; this was all a big mistake, that's all."

"Right, Dashiel. Romance channel? Teddy bears?" His father put his hands on his hip. "You have a Chihuahua. Named Pooky."

Danny let out a whoop that turned into a cough when Dash hit him. "Shut up Fenton, this is all your fault."

"It is." Danny said with a strained smile.

"Well, I guess this is all the evidence he has to hold the two of you." She handed the copies to Danny, who blushed when he saw the top one was of a very arousing kiss, and Dash was grabbing his ass, whoa boy so it wasn't just when he had Dash doped up. "It's really up to you two boys what to do, is this secret as important as the other one?"

Danny looked up at Dash, who was also red, and looking pained. Dash had to think about his reputation, of course and since Danny got him into this he would go with his decision.

Dash smiled tightly and shook his head. "It's not." He answered.

"Nowhere near." Danny agreed.

"Well then, he can publish these all he wants," Mr. Baxter declared. "And considering you both are under 18 and in private, he'll simply wind up looking like a pervert."

"Child porn charges?" Mrs. Fenton suggested.

"We aren't that young." Dash protested and his mom shrugged. Dash took the pictures from Danny and leafed through them. "These are good." He laughed at Danny's elbow jab, removing a single picture. Moving his arm from around Danny's shoulders to around his waist he threw the pictures up in the air and steered him out the door with his parents, tucking it into his back pocket before Danny could see which one he chose. "I'll keep this one."

Danny shrugged, stepping on one of the pictures as they left. He would see them all soon enough, and hopefully his boss never again.


Yay happy note! How many people left when they saw the first A/N I wonder? grins