Disclaimer – "Yu-Gi-Oh!" and all related characters, events, and concepts belong to Takahashi Kazuki and any other related owners/distributors/producers. "Danny Phantom" belongs to Butch Hartman and Nickelodeon. I get no monetary benefit from this. My benefit is the enjoyment of dealing with beloved characters.
"Jumping at Shadows"
Chapter 8 – Cat and Mouse
Sam jogged up the short front stairs to the door of FentonWorks, glad to finally be back. Her parents had insisted that she join them for some stupid charity function at the country club that morning, and it had been well after noon before she had managed to escape. Beside her, Tucker panted a little as she rang the doorbell, and she shook her head at him. "Geez, Tucker, with all the running around we do ghost-hunting, I'd think you'd be in better shape." She shifted the strap of her laptop tote on her shoulder.
Tucker grimaced and patted the thigh-pockets of his cargo pants, which she knew to be full of all manner of electronic gadgetry. "Techno-geek, not marathon runner! It's farther from my house to Danny's than we usually have to go when we're chasing ghosts!" He leaned forward, partly crouched with his hands braced on his knees, head bent over as he caught his breath.
Sam wondered why his beret didn't fall off. "Well, the ghosts just all got about three times taller, which means we could be covering, like, six times the distance. I'm not saying 'marathon runner' here, but it wouldn't hurt to get into some kind of better shape."
Before Tucker could pull his head up for a proper retort, Danny answered the door. "Hey, guys. C'mon in." He stepped back as they entered.
Mr. Fenton's voice bellowed up from the basement just then. "Hey, Danny, Jazz! Come on down to the lab! Your mother and I want to show you something."
Danny winced, but Sam could only grin in amusement at the excited tone in Mr. Fenton's voice. He was like a big kid sometimes – okay, most times. Sam adored Danny's parents and wished yet again that her own could be more like them.
"Um . . . c-coming, Dad!" Danny yelled back, then waved for Jazz's attention. His sister was in the living room with headphones on going through some kind of mock-fight routine with one of the Fenton ghost-fighting weapons as a sort of cardio workout.
Tucker turned from grimacing at Jazz's self-imposed torture, as Sam remembered him calling it once, to glare at Sam for a moment. "Not. A. Word." Sam just rolled her eyes and threw her hands up in surrender, leaving Danny to glance in confusion between the two of them before shaking his head and leading the way as Jazz put down her equipment to follow.
The foursome trouped down the stairs into the basement laboratory to find the senior Fentons on either side of one of the workbenches. Amid the usual barely-identifiable scientific and engineering detritus were six large, wacky helmets that looked like they had been swiped from the set of some 1950's sci-fi movie set. But then, so did a lot of what they built. Four of the helmets were the same eye-searing orange as Mr. Fenton's hazmat suit, with the remaining two matching Mrs. Fenton's blue.
Danny visibly resisted the urge to shrink back from what was obviously his parents' latest invention. "Um, I'm . . . almost afraid to ask, but . . . what are those?"
Mr. Fenton beamed, completely oblivious to his son's discomfort. "These, son, are the Fenton Anti-Invisibility Ecto-Brain-Buckets. They pick up the ecto-vibrations of a ghost's energy, allowing the wearer to see the invisible and hear the inaudible!"
In contrast to her husband's enthusiasm, Mrs. Fenton frowned. "Those really tall, unusual ghosts have appeared and disappeared on us without a trace twice in a week, and those Tolkien-esque ogre-ghosts vanished just about as easily. But they may still be around and we just can't see them, so your father and I built these helmets." Mrs. Fenton handed a helmet each to Danny and Jazz as she spoke. Sam couldn't help noting that Jazz got one of the blue helmets, no doubt to match her mother's. "Sam, Tucker, I'm glad you're here. We made one for each of you, too – just in case." She handed out two more orange helmets.
Tucker frowned in confusion, absently accepting his helmet as he studied Danny's. "Huh? But Danny doesn't need- OW!" He curled away as Sam dug her elbow into him, hard. Jazz, too, glared at him in warning. "Um, I mean . . . doesn't need one in orange. I think you should paint his blue like Mrs. Fenton's. It'd go better with his complexion!"
Mrs. Fenton thought about that for a moment, then nodded. "You know, I think you're right. You really do have such beautiful blue eyes, sweetie. The orange wouldn't go well at all."
"B-but – " Mr. Fenton started to protest. One look from his wife, however, and he relented, if unhappily.
Danny whispered out of the corner of his mouth, "Nice save, Tuck."
"Thanks," Tucker murmured back. Sam, however, was not nearly so ready to forgive him the near-slip-up. She saw Tucker glance her way, spot the glare she was still giving him, clear his throat, and change the subject. "So, uh . . . 'brain bucket,' huh?"
Mr. Fenton puffed up with pride. "Yep! It's a cool gamers' term for 'helmet.' Maddie, remember when we used to play some of those role-playing games back in college? Like that space-based one. What was it called?"
Mrs. Fenton looked wistful. "Galaxy 7 RPG . . . boy, I miss those days sometimes."
"Ecto-Brain-Bucket, huh?" Sam turned to Jazz with a whisper, a fond smirk twisting her lips as she teased. "Don't you have to have a brain to put it in a bucket?"
Jazz frowned. "Hey, he may be a hopeless dork, and a complete spazz sometimes, but he's still my dad."
Hearing them, Danny sighed and whispered, "Never mind that." Louder, he told his parents, "These are really cool. We'll have to try them out later. Thanks! For now, though, we're gonna go upstairs, okay?" He gingerly replaced his helmet on the table.
"Okay. You kids have fun!" Mr. Fenton grinned and waved as the others returned their helmets to the table alongside Danny's and beat a hasty retreat.
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Danny flopped for a moment on his bed, then sat back up and scooted over for Sam to sit down. He watched Tucker take his desk chair while his sister half-sat, half-leaned on the windowsill. She was the first to break the silence.
"Do you think those things are still around?"
Danny shook his head. "I spent a good part of last night and again this morning sweeping the whole city and the Ghost Zone, and I didn't see anything, either in human form or in ghost form. I even kept changing back and forth just in case, even though normally I can see invisible ghosts even in human form. Heck, I even went to a couple of the ghosts – Skulker and Frostbite – to see what they could tell me."
He almost laughed at the look of surprise on Jazz's face, who was still learning the dynamics of her little brother's interactions with some of his adversaries and sometimes-as-needed tentative allies. "You went to Skulker! Doesn't he try to game-hunt you?"
Sam, too, looked less than amused as she crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow at him. "Lemme guess – you two played tag for about ten minutes until you could get him to listen to you, and then he still wasn't of any help."
"Well, you're one for two," Danny allowed with a grin, remembering the game he'd played with one of his oldest ghost-acquaintances. "I had fun letting him chase me around, then I let him catch me so I could get him to listen to-"
He flinched back a little, involuntarily, as Sam and Tucker both exploded at him. "YOU LET SKULKER CATCH YOU?"
Danny threw up both hands to silence them from further ranting. "Hey! It's fine, guys, okay? I'm here now, aren't I? Yes, I let Skulker catch me – so easily even he knew I'd let him do it. He wants a real challenge, remember? He was pretty disgusted when he caught me, so he paused long enough to actually talk to me before he let me go."
Jazz nodded slowly. "Which you knew he would . . . "
Sam was still glaring at him, but Tucker just shook his head and moved on. "So . . . Sam was right that you guys played Cat-and-Mouse, and wrong that he wasn't any help?"
Danny nodded. "He's been in the Ghost Zone so he didn't see any of the monster manifestations, but he said he did sense the same ancient-summoning-magic-whatever that the Box Ghost said he'd felt the other night, even from there in the Ghost Zone. I asked him about the Realm of Nightmares that the Box Ghost had mentioned too." Danny frowned thoughtfully. "Don't think I've ever seen Skulker quite like that before . . . I think even the faceplate of his suit went pale!"
Sam grimaced. "That can't be a good sign. What did he say?"
"Well, he didn't know much, just that it's some kind of other dimension of shadows and dark energies, and that the ghosts don't go there. There are beings that live there, and they and the ghosts pretty much don't mingle. Ever. It's forbidden by . . . whatever code the ghosts live by, and there's not a ghost alive – erm, or whatever you'd call them – that'll break that truce, not even Walker who likes to make up his own rules. Apparently, none of the not-ghosts turned up in the Ghost Zone – not the other day and not a week ago – and I asked Skulker about that. He suggested I talk to Frostbite, which had been my next stop anyway – Skulker's domain was just closer." Danny shrugged.
"So . . . what did Frostbite have to say?" Jazz wanted to know.
Danny pulled a breath as he thought about what the great yeti-like ghost had told him. "The . . . beings of the Realm of Nightmares call themselves tulpas. And he thinks that they went to Earth but not the Ghost Zone because they were specifically summoned there. Frostbite's people have been studying the Realm a little on and off for some time, except that about a year and a half ago, they had to quit altogether because the Realm suddenly seemed to . . . wake up, I guess. It had been basically dormant for, well, millennia as far as Frostbite's data could tell, but all of a sudden it went active and has been ever since."
"Huh, I wonder what happened," Tucker mused.
Danny shrugged. "You got me."
Sam hunched over her knees. "So . . . now what? Sounds like we're back to Square One."
Jazz gave her a grin. "I could always give you one or two of the books we brought back from Skulk and Lurk to go through. I'm still working my way through The Rites of Modern Occult Magic."
Sam rolled her eyes. "Gee, thanks. Just what I want for my summer reading."
"Gotta beat the stuff Mr. Lancer wants us to have read by the time school starts," Tucker pointed out.
"Ugh, true," Sam agreed, then looked at Jazz with a wry, weary grin. "All right, you got a deal. Gimme. Besides, this is more my thing than yours anyway."
Jazz shook her head with a small, fond smile of her own and slipped out to retrieve the books from her room.
Danny snickered, then stopped as a completely off-topic thought occurred to him. "Oh! Hey, Sam, did you ever read that email you got from your friend last night?"
Sam straightened. "Oh, that's right! I got an email from Anzu! No, I totally forgot about it." She pulled the laptop from her tote.
Danny shifted on the bed to peer over her shoulder as she signed into her online email. With her permission, he read the email with her, Tucker on her other side. If this Anzu really was Japanese, Danny thought she sure didn't "sound" like it, or at least she wrote in really good English.
"She's here," he heard Sam gasp softly. "She's . . . she's going to be in Gary. . . "
Tucker pointed at the date/time stamp in the header of the email. "No, she already is. Probably got in early this morning. Huh . . . she's traveling with some friends for business but has a few days off and wants to come see you? How cool is that!" He leaned around over Sam's shoulder, grinning. "So . . . is she hot?"
Danny was reading the names on the screen. Besides herself, this Anzu would be bringing three friends with her: Mutou Yugi, Jonouchi Katsuya, and Honda Hiroto. Geez, that's a mouthful of names, isn't it? W-wait a minute… He would have to double-check them – he had a hard enough time remembering "easy" English names sometimes – but he was pretty sure he'd seen two of those names last night when he was reading about those Duel Monsters players out of Japan. Or maybe it was just coincidence – maybe those were fairly common names, like Dan Smith or John Green for Americans.
Sam stared at the screen, chewing at her lip. "It's . . . it's cool, yeah – it's great! – but . . . " She sighed. "Bad timing . . . "
"You're not thinking of telling her 'no,' are you!"
"Telling who 'no'?" Jazz asked as she re-entered the room with two books in hand.
Danny had been listening but thinking more about the names. Tucker's exclamation and Jazz's question pulled him back into the conversation. "Sam's penpal in Japan – the email she got last night? – she's here in the States. In Gary! Come on, Sam, this is a great opportunity! How many people get to meet their penpal from another country that they've been talking to for, what, eight years? Listen, if it's the not-ghosts – the tulpas, I guess they're called – you're worried about, they haven't shown up again in almost two days. And besides, things have been worldwide – both times around – so it's not like Anzu wouldn't know about what's going on, or be any safer not coming here. You might as well." And, he thought to himself, if her friends are the same people as the ones I was reading about last night . . .
Jazz was grinning. "Danny's got a point, Sam. I think you should go for it."
Sam nodded with a grin of her own. "Yeah. Yeah, you're right. Might as well!" She activated another program and started typing.
Danny and Tucker both gaped at the bizarre series of characters that began appearing across her screen in the new window. It was Tucker who found his voice first. "Whoa! When did you learn to write in Japanese?"
Danny rolled his eyes. "Tuck, this is Sam we're talking about."
Sam just smirked at him. "I started teaching myself after Anzu and I got to be pretty good friends."
Jazz set the books on the desk and moved where she could see the screen as well. "That's really cool, Sam."
Sam finished her email, read it over once silently, translated it aloud in English to the others, then copied and pasted it into the email as a reply and sent it back to Anzu.
"How long do you think it will take her to respond?" Tucker wanted to know.
Sam shrugged. "It's been hours since she first sent this, so it's not like she's been sitting next to a computer waiting for a response. She's probably out sightseeing with her friends or something."
Danny stepped out of his bedroom to the bathroom for a few minutes to answer the call of nature and was surprised when he returned to hear that Anzu had just replied. "Already? Wow. Heh, guess she was waiting by the computer for you after all."
Sam rolled her eyes at him. "They haven't left the hotel room yet. They got in early this morning and pretty much crashed until just a little while ago. She's asking if I can get on IM."
"Go for it."
He settled on the bed half-beside, half-behind her again as she sent a reply email, then signed into her IM and typed in English.
PhntmGoth13: Hey! Here when you are.
It took several minutes before Anzu's screen name went active and a reply posted.
DreamzOfDncing: Hi! Wow, neither of us is up at some cruel hour to talk. Imagine that.
PhntmGoth13: Yeah, imagine. So . . . you guys are in the neighborhood, huh? What's going on? You said you're stateside for business or something?
DreamzOfDncing: Um . . . or something. It's kind of hard to explain. I've told you about our friend, Kaiba? We're here with him. He's got business here and in Chicago to maybe build a KaibaLand somewhere in the neighborhood. We're here because we were helping with some other stuff . . . but he's going to be in meetings now for the next several days, which leaves the rest of us free.
Sam startled at Anzu's reply. "Kaiba? She's here with Kaiba?"
Danny looked at her. "He's . . . not a friend of theirs?"
Sam rolled her eyes. "Not if he's who I think he is." She shifted to look up at Jazz. "He's the guy who put on that press conference last week after the first tulpa attack, when all those monsters showed up all over the world. Remember?" Jazz nodded thoughtfully, and Sam turned back to Danny. "From what Anzu's told me, Kaiba's cold and insulting and-" She huffed to stop herself. "Kaiba taking Anzu and her friends on a business trip would be like Dash suddenly getting all chummy with you and taking you under wing to teach you to play football."
Tucker grimaced. "With or without a hidden agenda to just grind Danny's face into the turf and laugh at him?"
Sam shook her head and turned back to her laptop.
PhntmGoth13: You're here with Kaiba? Since when did he start talking to you enough to let you travel with him?
There was a brief pause before Anzu answered.
DreamzOfDncing: Since Yugi started working for him. Recent development, long story... ["Yeah, I'll bet it's a long story," Sam murmured as they read.] Anyway, Kaiba needed Yugi along, and Yugi asked me and Honda and Jou to come too. Kaiba went ahead and let us.
PhntmGoth13: Oh . . . well, that's cool, though! So, when do you think you might be in Amity Park, then? I can suggest some really nice hotels depending on your price range.
DreamzOfDncing: Well, money's not really an issue – Yugi has a company credit card that the whole trip is going on, so . . . wherever you think would be best, I guess.
PhntmGoth13: In that case, there's the Garnier Hotel. It overlooks the shore of Lake Michigan – great view! I can look up the address and get you their phone number so you can Google directions and call for a reservation. When do you guys think you might be in the neighborhood?
There was another pause, much longer this time, before Anzu replied, and Danny guessed she was discussing it with her friends.
DreamzOfDncing: Sounds like we can be in there in time for dinner. Maybe we can meet you guys somewhere?
"The Nasty Burger?" Tucker suggested.
Danny stifled a laugh as Sam typed, thinking how the others would probably react to the name.
PhntmGoth13: Sure! There's a place just a few blocks from there, a restaurant called The Nasty Burger. Yeah, I know, weird name for a burger joint – I hear it used to be The Tasty Burger when it first opened, but someone changed a letter and the name just stuck. But it really is a great place. They serve all kinds of stuff – including really good vegan fare if any of your friends are vegetarians.
DreamzOfDncing: Sure, that sounds great. How about I call you when we get to our hotel, and we can arrange a time, then?
PhntmGoth13: Yeah, that'll work. I'll be bringing some friends, if that's okay? Danny, Tucker, and Danny's sister Jazz.
DreamzOfDncing: Heh, why not? I'm bringing four myself.
PhntmGoth13: Four? Yugi, Jonouchi, Honda…?
DreamzOfDncing: And Raphael. He's a friend of ours who we've just met since getting to America. He's been traveling with us, helping us out, and he's gonna play taxi driver, so…
PhntmGoth13: Gotcha. Don't want to leave anyone out, right? Anyway . . . well, cool! Sounds like we'll be seeing each other in just a few hours then! I can't wait!
DreamzOfDncing: Neither can I! My friends and I have really been needing a vacation, so we're all really excited. Well, I guess I should go so we can check out and get on our way. We have a few stops we need to make before we get on the road.
PhntmGoth13: No problem. My friends and I have some things we need to do too. I'll have my cell phone on me, and I already emailed you my number so . . . Talk to you later?
DreamzOfDncing: Yeah. In person, even! I can't wait! Later!
PhntmGoth13: Jaa mata, Anzu-chan!
DreamzOfDncing: Jaa ato de, Sam-chan!
DreamzOfDncing has signed out.
Author's Notes: Please be sure to check my bio page for any updates, etc. Thanks!
BACKSTAGE ACCESS: Inspired by Scribbler's "Side-Flings, Homages, and Downright Rip-Offs" that she includes at the end of many of her stories, and by my own love of knowing what goes on behind the scenes, how something was done, or what inspired something.
1. "These, son, are the Fenton Anti-Invisibility Ecto-Brain-Buckets."
I have to give a tip-of-the-hat to part of the name of the invention. XD "Brain bucket" is the nickname for combat helmets in the real-life RPG, "Galaxy 7" or "G7," that Jack and Maddie mentioned playing in college. The game isn't a published one (yet) but one that several friends of mine first created and started playing when they were all stationed in Japan some 20+ years ago with the Navy and Marines. It's a space-based game. Ever seen the movie "The Fifth Element"? That could have been a G7 run . . . complete with insanity and property destruction! LOL I've played with the gang . . . and things can get crazy! It's fun, though. So I had to throw in the game since I was using a reference from it . . . and I knew exactly what Jack would name his helmets as soon as I thought of them! XDDD
2. In that case, there's the Garnier Hotel.
Meant to mention in the last chapter… Ripped with permission from MyAibou. In her awesome DP fic, Ghosts in the Closet, she has this to say about the name of the hotel she had their senior prom held in – "The Garnier Hotel is named after Le Palais Garnier, also known as the Paris Opera House, which is, of course, the setting for Phantom of the Opera."