Author: Another Danny Phantom fic for you guys...while my brain takes a break from the drama of the other one I'm writing concurrent with this...
AU-ish. Set in Season 3 for Danny Fenton. For Daniel...set in an alternate future in which the events of TUE took a different turn...
Disclaimer: NOT MINE. k thx.
Daniel sat before the computer, his chin cupped in one hand as he idly checked his mail—all three accounts. He leaned back into the chair and sighed, fingers crossing as he rested his hands in his lap.
The failing economy was wrecking absolute havoc on his investments. Oh, he had chosen good, stable stock as well as risking on new companies, or ones in an unstable supply/demand market. It was a fairly good policy. He looked at the photo beside his computer and smiled wryly and wondered idly what they would think of him now as he reached out and gently brushed his fingers against the glass.
He turned his attention back to the screen and closed down his 'public' e-mail account and turned to his "business" one. His eyes scanned the subject titles and the smallest of wry, almost malignant, smirks found its way onto his face. Everything was going as he had hoped in that sector. Oh, it was little things right now, a small business here, a local resturant there, a privately-run goods site online. He wanted to make sure he got it down before he started manipulation on a wider scale. Daniel was patient—he could afford to be. Vlad didn't look like he was going to die any time soon, and with the absence of their enmity there was no human trying to kill him—just unhappy ghosts and they were nothing to be concerned about.
As if the thought summoned the man, Vlad walked into the library and Danny gave him a small smile. "How was the meeting?" Daniel asked, closing down the business account and opening his 'private' one.
"Uneventful, but productive," came the reply, causing Daniel to smirk.
"Who was it with again?" he asked, going through the few e-mails that had accumulated on his private account.
"It was a meeting concerning a merger of another company with my own."
"Mm...I see," Daniel murmured, smug amusement in his voice and eyes. "Uneventful in that they didn't put up a fight to your suggestions and productive in that you got everything you wanted out of them without having to promise anything in return."
"You're getting smart, little badger."
Daniel rolled his eyes at the nickname, causing Vlad to chuckle softly.
"How are your investments going?" Vlad asked.
Daniel closed internet window with a small sigh. "This stagnation/recession that the economy is in is doing nothing good for me. Even with all the incentives that the government is giving in an attempt to jump-start things, unless we find more efficient, cleaner, and less-expensive methods of production, I think this is going to last for an unfortunately long time."
"Don't take that tone with me, fruitloop," he told his foster-father dryly. "You let others handle your investments while I take care of my own."
"But you have time to do that, as you don't head international corporations."
"I know," he said, rolling his eyes. "Which is why we work well together. You take care of the long-term while I deal with the short-term. It works out."
Vlad shook his head, but Daniel could tell he was both exasperated and amused—it was an emotional combination that they tended to inspire in each other. Vlad ruffled Daniel's hair to the younger half-ghost's protests before walking away, leaving Daniel smiling faintly.
It wasn't so bad, living with Vlad.
Ever since the...accident...three years ago, he had been living with his former arch-enemy. He had been despondent for quite some time, but Vlad eventually got fed up with him and kicked him out the front door, transferring him to a nearby school, forcing him to attend.
"Maddie wouldn't have wanted to see you this way," he told Daniel when he had been sulking over homework that Vlad made sure he did. Using his family was emotional blackmail, but as he was slowly drawn out of his misery by his annoyance with Vlad, the pain dropped to tolerable levels. Oh, he would always miss his family, would always feel that hole in his heart where they had once been. But, for once, Vlad was right. His parents wouldn't have wanted to see him curled in on himself and Sam would have smacked him around until he got over it.
He had gradually accepted Vlad as a foster-parent, and found that he was becoming fascinated slowly with the economic strangle-hold Vlad had over a number of investments. Daniel had never been one for numbers, but it wasn't so much that aspect that attracted him, but rather how people interacted and influenced what was basically a false construct that had ramifications in reality. He also found himself grudgingly learning more about his own ghost powers and the Ghost Zone from the billionaire, and was equally distracted by that. His mind would only occasionally drift back to the debilitating pain of the loss of his former life, but he knew that self-pity and angst would get him nowhere. He saw every day the effect of such deep heart-sickness in how twisted Vlad was, using his powers in a highly unethical way. Daniel never overshadowed anyone to get them to do what he wanted—everything he did was perfectly legal.
Save for those times when he had to wave large sums of money that he had access to in front of someone's face to get them to behave. Funny thing was most of those times he was covering Vlad's rather illegal activities than any mistakes he made on his own.
Even though he was already very well-versed in business, he felt he ought to have an official education in doing so, so he would be attending college until he could walk away with an MBA, starting in the fall.
There were times he found the difference in himself three years ago and his current state almost laughable. He had changed so much—he went from being Amity Park's ghostly protector to a business-tycoon in training (although the presence of ghost abilities had not vanished, and had in fact grown stronger).
He pulled over his homework and sighed as he flipped through his folders.
It's almost over, Daniel. Just another month of high school and then it's summer vacation, he thought to himself, nudging aside his laptop and spreading the remnants of non-AP homework before him (as the AP tests were over, his workload had drastically decreased). He looked at the mess and smiled faintly. If Jazz could see him now...
He shrugged off the nostalgia and settled back to working, pulling out the reading material for his English class (Dante's Inferno).
Just as he was getting around to reading about the 9th circle his ghost sense went off.
He ignored it. There were tons of ghosts that came in and out of his home—it was most likely nothing.
The voice caused him to jump and he unconsciously changed into his ghost form, phasing through the chair to find who had called his name.
His eyes widened when he saw the trio standing before him.
"But...this...how..." he blinked and shook his head, eyes screwed tightly shut. He took a moment to recover from self-inflicted whip-lash before opening them again and his face paled. This has to be a dream...
Following on the heels of that thought, green ectoplasmic energy began to gather around his hands, he becoming very quickly wary. This could be a trap. No, it most likely was a trap. He would not fall for it. He was smarter than that.
"Who are you?" he asked coldly.
The three before him stared. "What do you mean, 'who are you'?" one almost exclaimed in puzzlement.
"Exactly what that sounds like," he answered calmly, the energy focusing into small, bright green balls resting lightly in his palms. "Identify yourselves."
The three stared at him in disbelief, but Daniel wouldn't let his caution waver. It didn't matter how they acted; he knew a number of ghosts who were very good deceivers (or are we hallucinating visually, Daniel?). Vlad himself was a master liar, Daniel still only partly able to tell when the man was lying outright, when he was twisting the truth to suit him, and when he was actually being honest. It was surprisingly difficult. Daniel supposed it was an auxiliary skill he had acquired with his ghost powers.
"It's us, Danny! Sam, Tucker, and Jazz!" one of the three apparent-humans exclaimed.
"Sam, Tucker and Jazz are dead," he said bluntly. "I saw them die. Now, if you don't leave on your own soon I will make you leave," Daniel nearly snarled at them, anger hiding the deep anguish he now was capable of controlling.
The three looked at each other nervously. They obviously hadn't been expecting this reaction.
"Danny, we need your help."
"Really now?" he asked dryly. "I've heard that one before. I did help when I was still Danny Phantom, and for my efforts I got smacked around a lot. Ghosts or people, either just want to use you and then leave you on the side of the road in a ditch."
He couldn't help the small smirk that formed on his face at the stunned looks on those before him. "Why should I believe you? What will prove to me that you aren't just here to use me and my abilities?" he demanded.
The three looked at each nervously, then fleetingly at watches on their wrists. "Danny, please. We need you!"
"For what?" Daniel countered.
They hesitated and Daniel's eyes narrowed. "Why the hesitation if you aren't planning on abandoning me after making me do what you want me to?"
"We can't...no, we aren't allowed to...give you any details. Just, please. Believe us when we tell you that we're your friends and would never do anything to hurt you."
Daniel brushed them off. "You're dead," he said flatly and turned back into his human form. His heart was breaking as he interacted with them, and couldn't take the past staring back at him from desperate eyes.
The voice was different and Daniel turned slowly, feeling a weight on his neck. He looked down at a medallion that rested lightly on his chest before his gaze was brought up to the ghost floating before him.
His eyebrows snapped up in disbelief. "I didn't think you existed," he told the Master of Time.
Clockwork merely gave him a small, enigmatic smile. "I do. However," the ghost paused and looked over at the three teens standing frozen not too far away, "if you do not help them, nothing will exist."
Daniel looked skeptical and confused. "What do you mean?"
"Should you refuse to help them, the fabric of this world will unravel, bringing about the destruction of both the humans and ghosts."
"Which means that I would die."
Daniel paused and fiddled with the medal around his neck, thinking. A small, wry smile formed on his face. "I have been bored without being able to fight against ghosts since I came here. I suppose that this would be a good distraction."
The ghost smiled faintly and Daniel had the feeling the ghost knew he was going to agree all along if he just used the correct phrasing.
The Master of Time pressed a button on top of his staff and murmured "Time in," before vanishing, the medal around Daniel's neck going with him.
Daniel looked at his three former friends, catching each of their eyes before sighing, having sent off two copies of himself: one to inform Vlad that he'd be away for an indeterminate amount of time and the other to make sure all his business portfolios would be in order. "Fine. I'll come with you."
The three looked surprised and wary, but were willing to take the answer at face value.
"C'mon, we don't have much time left."
"Wait a moment," he told them and it was once his clones vanished that he walked towards his former friends, slinging a bag that a clone had brought to him filled some supplies over his shoulder. One could never bee too carefully, he had found. "Now what?" he asked as he stopped before them.
The three took his hands in their own and there was the strangest pulling sensation on him as the world faded around him, the only solidity being his own body and those of the three touching him, their watches glowing steadily, eerily. Suddenly, something slammed into their group from the outside, causing the three holding onto him to flinch, their grips lightening, and his spasming in surprise. He felt the battering continue against the three holding his hands, even though it passed him by. He wanted to call on his ghost powers and beat back whatever was trying to get to them, but something warned him against doing so. Gradually the world began to reform around him and the three holding onto him began to relax.
Only to be hit by one last savage blow that forced them to let go and Danny yelped as he fell away from them...
Only to hit pavement in a rather painful fashion.
"Ow," he groaned, and looked around, before frowning. This place looked like...no, it was...
He was back at Amity Park.
It was exactly like he remembered it.
He raised an eyebrow and stood, looking around. "Now what?" he murmured to himself.
His ghost sense went off and he simultaneously formed a ghost half-dome ghost shield around him easily deflecting a stray ecto-beam. He turned to face where the beam had come from and blinked, almost as surprised as the one who floated just a little bit away.
"Who're you?" he heard his younger self ask, hovering a few feet away from him, puzzled.
Daniel was about to respond truthfully, but his voice caught in his throat and he coughed spasmodically, clutching his chest.
What the fuck?! He growled inwardly, and caught his breath. He took a deep breath and let it out in a sigh. "Not an enemy," is how he finally replied.
"Danny! There you are!"
Daniel jumped slightly, even though his younger self didn't notice and instead turned to the sound of the voice.
He saw younger versions of the Jazz, Tucker, and Sam that he had recently come into contact with come around the corner. He habitually straightened his jacket, a gesture of nervousness and uncertainty, even though no-one else knew that in this...time?
They were as wary as his younger self had been when they came into contact with him. He wasn't all that surprised, really. He didn't look all that different from his younger self. True, there were some things that spoke of the age and experience differences (both in terms of ghost power and life). Daniel was curious to know just how close the two of them looked, so he approached his younger self casually, as if intrigued by the person floating before him.
"What are you?" he murmured, even though he already knew the answer (what are you?).
His younger self blinked, confused at how Daniel would ask what rather than who.
His younger self was about to answer when Sam stepped in between them, shielding his younger self protectively. "He's Danny Phantom."
Daniel looked at his former crush and couldn't help but be amused that he ever had fallen for her. The pull she used to have on his heart was...gone. "I see."
He decided to back down for the moment. He assumed he would have plenty of opportunities to interact with his younger self as he strove to figure out how to get back to his present, or even when he was meant to be when the older versions of the teens that stood before him had come to spirit him away.
"Who are you?" Jazz asked, and Daniel was amused to see her hand drift to the Fenton Peeler.
He tried to say "Daniel Fenton," but it wouldn't come out. Before he could answer with a false name, a beam of violet energy came their way and his younger self dodged, Daniel doing so as well, a growl escaping his throat.
God damnit he forgot how annoying Valerie could be.
He watched his younger self fly off, taking the battle away from the "civilians," making him snicker softly.
He turned his mind to where he could possibly live for the time being when he heard Jazz speaking again.
"What?"he asked, slightly off-hand, making Sam twitch at how he treated Jazz.
"You never gave us a name."
"You never gave me yours," he countered, the smallest of smiles on his face.
That caused Sam to scowl.
His smile turned into a smirk before he shrugged. "I'm just passing through. Probably ('hopefully') we'll never meet again."
He paused for a moment and looked around to see if his bag had survived the transit.
Ah, there it is.
He picked it up and opened it, checking its contents.
Yup, everything was still there.
He closed the bag and slung it over his shoulder before raising an eyebrow at the looks that the teens were giving him.
"Is there something wrong?" he asked smoothly, almost entirely certain what the answer would be.
"You look...familiar is all," Jazz answered, hiding her puzzlement admirably.
"I see..." Daniel paused, a thought having occurred to him. He reached inside his bag for his wallet, and pulled it out, opening it and flipping to his driver's license.
Well. That might be why he couldn't say "Daniel Fenton." In this reality, he wasn't that boy.
He was Daniel Masters.
He hid his amusement and stuck the license back in his wallet before replacing it in his bag after making sure the money he had stashed away was all there. He idly wondered if the transit and name-change had altered his ghost form, since he knew he still had his ghost powers from when he protected himself from a stray ectoplasmic blast from his younger self.
He gave the assembled teens a small smile before walking past them, his mind already on the problem of a place to stay. If he landed in Amity Park, that meant he was supposed to be here, not in the Wisconsin mansion where he usually made his home.
A slightly malignant smirk found its way onto his face as he pondered calling his "father." That conversation would be interesting.
Something told him he shouldn't, though. That it would alter this reality too much. So he accepted what the little voice inside him told him and decided that the first thing to do would be get a small apartment for himself. It wasn't as if he needed much.
He nimbly dodged a stray shot from Valerie's ectogun and snarled softly.
Why did I ever like her? He thought darkly, glaring up at the red-suited girl weaving through the sky.
He watched the familiar battle taking place above the rooftops and frowned when his ghost-sense went off. Something big was coming and if his younger self was distracted...
Daniel slipped behind a building and provoked his transformation and waited, watching carefully, invisible. His eyes widened when he recognized the energy signature and shot up into the sky, and blasted both ghost hunters away from each other, stunning them both with the fact that the energy seemed to come out of nowhere and that it had hit both of them.
He remained invisible and silent, which allowed the two to realize what was wrong: a very large, very unhappy, very powerful ghost had made its way into their town and they hadn't noticed until now.
Daniel had dealt with the ghost before and had hated every minute of it. It had only been through sheer luck and a new power he had discovered through desperation that allowed him to survive. If the two decided to work together they would have better chances than he had. At least they wouldn't be left on the brink of death.
Of course, if things came to being that bad, he'd step in, but he'd rather not. It was another one of those things that the little voice in his head told him he should avoid unless necessary.
He sat back and watched, landing on the roof of a building, amused. He really had come far from where he had been even just 3 years ago. He watched as an attack he would have easily avoided hit his younger self square in the chest, slamming him into the pavement, and smirked. This self still had a long way to go.
He was becoming concerned, though. His younger self was holding something back. It was if he was almost...afraid...to use a power. He frowned. That wouldn't do. Power is meant to be used. He walked towards the edge of the roof, about to drop his invisibility, but at that point the younger halfa decided to use the power that he had been holding back, even though Daniel could almost feel the disgust at using it radiating off his former self.
He wondered why he had put it off for so long. The attack was ridiculously strong, leaving him gaping in awe and desire. He needed to learn that move stat. If this was another him, surely he had the potential to use it, too.
Ghostly Wail, murmured a soft voice in his mind, and Daniel accepted that would be what he called it.
The ghost-boy faltered in the air, apparently exhausted and Val seemed to be out of ammunition, even though the enemy they were facing was still pretty resiliant.
Looks like he still has a way to go in perfecting that attack, Daniel thought as he rolled his eyes and jumped off of the roof, still invisible, sliding noiselessly, effortlessly through the air. He approached the still-strong ghost and landed on it, his feet floating just a little above the armor, not wanting to alert it to his presence until he was sure he had his shot set up.
He ignored the banter that his former self and the ghost were having ('god was I really that annoying?'), and landed on the one break in the armor. Before the ghost could react to the sudden weight on its back, Daniel plunged his hand down through the chink between back plate and helmet, into the ghost's "flesh", causing it to howl in pain. He secured his feet to the ghost with ice before channeling said ice energy into the ghost, freezing him from the inside. He had to drop his invisibility, but it was a small price to pay. This ghost had been a pain in the ass to send back to the Ghost Zone time and again, so taking advantage of it like this, when it seemed...weaker...was sweet, sweet revenge.
The ghost writhed in pain and while he was having a hard time hanging on, he couldn't afford to let go—this ghost was enough of a loose canon that he didn't want to have to deal with it again any time soon. Well, at least, not until this time-line's Danny Phantom was ready to face it. Daniel snarled at the ghost and drove his other hand into it, causing it to howl and redouble its efforts even as Daniel sent a surge of icy energy infused with ectoplasmic energy that sent it into spasms of agony. It thrashed, but its attempts grew more feeble until it finally collapsed on the ground, Daniel keeping the energy flowing, just to be sure that it wasn't an act (he didn't think it was, but one can never be too sure).
Once he knew the ghost was down for the count he yanked his hands free, ectoplasmic blood dripping off of his gloved hands. Quickly, he released his feet from the ice he had made to keep him stable and vanished, feeling that his younger self ought to not meet him in his manifestation of Danny Phantom quite yet. He flew away just in time for the ghost to get sucked into the Thermos without him following.
He shook his head, still invisible and darted back to where he had stashed his stuff, becoming human again. Daniel slung the bag over his shoulder and walked away, leaving the stunned ghost hunters behind (Valerie and the younger Danny united briefly in astonishment), all looking at the Thermos in pure confusion.
The last thing Daniel heard before he was out of hearing range was, "What just happened?"