Author: A brief break. These will be a series of one-shots that I don't see continuing. Everything is already written, so it's just a matter of tweaking things. I hope you enjoy my little (unfortunate) angst-fest. AU. I love 'what-if?' situations far too much. Each chapter will be from a different character's point of view. This was lots of fun to write.

Disclaimer: I've published enough fanfiction for anyone to notice that Danny Phantom and all associated things don't belong to me.

4 years

4 years.

That's how long it has been since Sam and Tucker didn't catch the train.

That's how long I was under his control.

I'm now back at Amity Park, a lesser man for it. I haven't been in human form for that entire time, so I don't know if when I turn back I will appear the same as the 14-year-old Danny Fenton or if I will have aged into an 18-year-old. Either way, it doesn't matter to me.

I stand—well, hover—in front of the door to my old home, invisible. My parents discovered who I am a few days after I was taken. They had been my most persistent hunters—until they discovered that my actions weren't entirely volitional, upon which they tried any number of ways to break the spell.

Needless to say, none of them worked. Not until my power grew greater than that contained within that infernal crystal ball.

A bitter smile finds it way to my face as the memory of Freakshow's face after I smashed the ball into a trillion tiny pieces floats in my mind.

"How?" he had asked, utterly astonished.

"I'm stronger than you give me credit for," I told him before possessing him and bringing him over to the authorities, having him spill everything during the confession—the years of ghost abuse, of manipulation and thievery.

As far as I know he's going to be away for quite some time.

That doesn't change my part in everything.

I regret not having had those 4 years of my life. I can't rewind everything, couldn't have made Sam and Tuck gain superhuman speed and catch the train. I can't reclaim all the opportunities that I've lost, all the relationships I could have formed, everything I could have learned.

I must make do with what I've left.

You want to know what it was that helped me clear away the last bond that I had to that stupid ringmaster?


Not Sam, Tucker, or my parents—it was Jasmine. My sister. My dear, know-it-all, self-sacrificing, stupid sister.

It took her throwing herself in front of the train to truly knock me out of it. I saved her, then set us all free and vanished. I couldn't face her with the knowledge of what I'd gradually willingly done.

I'm as guilty as Freakshow is.

Even with the control imposed by the ball, I was above rules, and that kind of freedom is intoxicating. I hate myself for having enjoyed it so much, but there's nothing I can do to change the past. I can only live with it, own up to it.

And I will begin with my parents.

I transform back into my human form for the first time in years.