Disclaimer: I do not own, nor am I associated with, Danny Phantom.
AN: Remember, this is an AU. I've been wanting to write it for a while and figured the end of October was a good time.
How to Feel
The train screamed over the tracks as rockets pummeled the ground to either side of it. The few animals populating the dank desert ran for cover.
"Faster!" Freakshow cried, clutching his staff close to his chest.
The ghosts rushed around him, feeding coal into the engines. One of the rockets hit the tracks ahead of them. Seeing this, Lydia grabbed Freakshow and she and the others bailed out, leaving the train to crash in a wash of flames. Two pristine white jets hovered on either side of the ghosts and Freakshow grudgingly ordered his minions down. The jets followed and two GIW agents in perfectly pressed white suits stepped out.
"Frederic Isak Showenhower!" the first agent cried, leveling a gun larger than his arm at the ghosts.
"Don't you boys have more important things to worry about?" Freakshow asked blandly as the five ghosts took up defensive positions around him.
"That's why we're here," the second agent said, stepping slowly forward. "That thing in the Midwest is emitting ecto-energy."
"We figured it would be best to fight fire with fire," the first agent finished.
"You want to use my ghosts?" Freakshow asked innocently.
"What makes you think I would let you send my dear friends into harm's way?"
"The entire world is in danger, including you," the second agent said.
"And we won't throw you in a cell for the rest of you days if you help us," the first added.
"Sounds good to me!" Freakshow said cheerily. "Come along, minions!" Lydia lifted him up again.
"Wait! How do you know where to go?"
"Please," Freakshow laughed as he was carried away, "these days, everything's happening in Amity."
The ghost started at the word. It made him -- feel. For as long as he could remember he had only ever felt anything when he terrorized the circus patrons or citizens who got in the way of his burglary. But that feeling was always smooth and cold and sat like a stone at the bottom of his intangible stomach. What he felt when his master said that word, said, "Amity," was warm and filled his middle the way he thought a good meal might.
The staff burned in his mind, forcing him to forget the feeling and come close to his master.
"Master," he said.
"Hush!" the master hissed and twisted in Lydia's arms. "I don't want the GIW hearing us."
The ghost looked over his shoulder at the trailing jets and a ball of ectoplasm formed in his hand.
"No!" the master snapped, slapping the ghost's arm. "We need them. But I want you to stay close to me during this. You and Lydia will keep me safe, let the others fight once we reach Amity."
"Yes, master," the ghost said, reveling in the new feeling once again.
Life filled her. She could feel the pulse of thousands of her children, covering the skyscrapers, the bridges, the houses, the cars. They were conquering the world and humanity was falling in their wake. Her father was pleased. And in return she was filled with life -- life to fill the vacant places within her, life to make her forget the pain she felt when she still lived herself.
But that life wasn't enough.
He stepped forward over the charred remains of so many of her children, his shadow falling over her as she fisted her hands in the dirt.
"How the proud have fallen," he drawled.
She looked up to meet the red eyes and let out a harsh laugh. "You think you have defeated me by sending me to the ground, Plasmius? The earth is my strength."
Newborn vines burst forth beneath his feet and she laughed wickedly as they dug into his body. She stood slowly and flexed her hands, watching flesh repair itself where the vines had broken away.
"You know," she said, stepping over to Vlad as his ghost form faded away in a burst of light, "I wish he was here to see you like this."
She could feel the vines twisting in his gut, around his organs, and was impressed that he was still conscious, let alone able to speak.
"And I --" he ground out, "am glad -- that he is not here -- to see you -- like this."
With a thought from her, the vines shot up into his brain and his body slumped, now only supported by her children.
Like a bolt she heard the distant cry from the others. She'd been so focused on the battle that she'd forgotten to keep a watch and now there were new enemies to fight. Humans and ghosts, joined together. She looked around blindly. She was surrounded by acres of ash, all that remained after her battle with Plasmius. She supposed this was his revenge since she had killed his beloved Maddy. And it would be a full revenge, since all the support she had here were the few vines she had just birthed. They quickly threw off Vlad's body and she took a seat on them, attempting to regain some sense of power and poise. She could already see the intruders coming on the horizon. She needed several hours to replenish her strength and repopulate these fields. She would have only a few scant minutes.
"Remember what I said," his master told him as they landed, "but keep those GIW fools thinking you're with them."
He nodded and his hood bobbed slightly around him. He could feel his master's eyes on him as he examined the landscape. In the distance was a skyline that tugged at him and reinforced that feeling from earlier. He wanted to go to there, see the vine-covered buildings up close, but the red glow of his master's staff bid him stay and there was no force stronger than that.
"Over there," one of the humans said.
He looked away from the skyline and saw a cluster of vines, twisting and pulling at one another.
"There's something inside," the other human said.
"Send one of the ghosts."
Master glared at the man but sent the smallest ghost to inspect the vines. He floated slowly up to them and gave them a poke. He immediately screamed and his body dissolved into energy which the plants greedily ate up the way they would sunlight.
"Spread out!" one of the humans ordered.
Master nodded and the ghosts followed until they formed a loose half circle before the vines. For several tense moments nothing happened. The ghost began to spin his scythe idly to release the building energy. He wanted a fight.
Suddenly the master cried out and his staff went sliding across the dusty earth. He yelled for the ghost to retrieve it as Lydia fought off the vine that had sprung up to attack him from behind. At the same moment the humans shot at the vines, which expanded to both shield what was within and to drive them off. The ghost rushed forward, intent on doing his master's bidding despite the fire of ectoweapons. As he knelt for the staff he looked up and saw what the vines were protecting. His hood fell back just enough to reveal his pale white hair and glowing red eyes that now met green ones. The bloodied figure within the vines said one word and suddenly the warm feeling returned, this time expanding to fill him up. He let go of the staff and left it lying on the ground as he turned, energy burning in his hands. This, he turned on his fellow ghosts. When they were no more the scythe cut down the humans, including his once-master.
When it was over and bodies littered the ground he turned back to the vines and held out a hand. Hers slipped into his and she stepped nimbly down to stand within his arms. She tore her gaze from him for a moment to look at the carnage then looked back towards her vines. He followed her gaze and saw the man he had once feared and fought. When he looked at her again her eyes seemed to ask if they were even. He smiled and leaned forward, eager to feel the warmth of her lips on his. They separated a moment later and she pushed close to him, forcing him to hold her tight. But that did not matter, she could ask for nothing too great from him so long as she made him feel and filled him up, so long as she kept saying that word.
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