So a lot of you wanted to know Vlad's reaction to the picture...
Good god, what a night.
I clutched my aching skull, yawning tiredly. Harsh white sunlight was seeping in through the cracks of my long curtains, intensified by the no doubt blanket of snow covering the frigid landscape. I laid in my massive bed for a long moment, curiously wondering what happened at the Christmas party last night. Did I have fun? Yes, I think I had a lot of fun. But how did I even get home? ...Was Daniel there?
However, my throbbing head quickly stopped anymore thought past that point, much too sluggish to go beyond my current desire for Advil. Blasted hangovers. I suppose it doesn't really matter what happened at the ghost zone's Christmas party. It's not like anything dramatic that could affect my life occurred.
Groaning reluctantly, I pulled myself from the warm covers of my bed, fumbling with my robe and tying it haphazardly around my waist. What day was it? I yawned again, turning my bleary eyes to the expensive alarm clock resting on the bedside table. Christmas day. Joy.
I slowly made my way into the bathroom, the expensive décor escaping me in my deadened state. My reflection in the mirror was ghastly. How late was I out last night? Mumbling incoherent things, I grabbed a few Advil from the cabinet and swallowed them dry, feeling them slide down my swollen throat. Coughing a bit, I swallowed a glass of water, the cool liquid providing relief.
It was slow moving, but eventually my brain managed to make a decent enough recovery. A cold shower helped clear my head, leaving me refreshed and awake enough to fully dislike this waste of a day. All my employees were off for the holiday, leaving me with absolutely nothing to do. Such a waste of time.
I emerged from my bathroom clean and groomed, buttoning up the last few buttons of my casual wine red shirt. The day didn't look too promising. Nothing but a few memos to sort through or company Christmas presents to throw out. Why wear a suit when there's nothing to wear it for?
The door clicked softly behind me, the sound disappearing in the open space of my mansion. It was lonely, but I was plenty used to it, so I paid it no mind. Perhaps I could finish that book today? Or spend some time in the lab. I'm sure Skulker will be expecting that upgrade soon.
The mahogany banister slid smoothly under my hand as I descended the grand staircase, my footsteps muffled in the carpet. I hope it snowed a lot last night. The deeper the snow the less likely I'll have annoying charities knocking down my door. I peaked out an open window and groaned. There was a blanket, yes, but no where near enough to deter those obsessed care-givers. How irritating.
After stopping by the kitchen to pick up a cup of coffee, I headed for one of my dens at a leisurely pace. The quiet atmosphere was kind of nice, now that I think about it. That blasted party last night was loud enough to bust my eardrums. How Daniel can enjoy going to them year after year I'll never understand. That's the last time I'll ever attend one.
I leaned back into a Victorian style couch with a relaxed sigh, listening to the silence. The French roast coffee steamed in the delicate china, carrying it's warm scent up to my nose. I gazed into the softly crackling fire, a content smile on my face. I didn't even glance at the Christmas tree.
A soft meow added to the gentle silence and I turned to see Maddie jump up to the couch next to me, her paws making only the slightest indents in the cushion. I smiled at her, scratching her favorite spot behind the ears.
"Good morning, Maddie." I said quietly, her tinkling meow answering in response.
She purred fondly, jumping into my lap and rubbing against my chest. I pet her soft, white fur absentmindedly, thinking about nothing in particular but enjoying the silence.
At least until that wretched door bell started ringing.
The loud chimes echoed off the glassy floor of the grand entrance, rebounding into every room and grating on my ears. Grumbling angrily, I set Maddie to the side and stalked off to answer the door, knowing my servants wouldn't be taking care of it seeing as they were off for the damn holidays.
As expected, when I answered the door I was instantly met with a ridiculously loud chorus of badly tuned Christmas carols. After waiting for a tortuously long time, I managed to politely demand they vacate the premises before I call security. Lucky for me, my security didn't get Christmas off, not that I even need them of course, but they did come in handy for times like these.
Anyway, the charity in question left looking slightly disgruntled, despite my attempts to assure them I'd already given a generous donation through the mail. (Had to keep appearances up.) Needless to say, I wasted a lot of time and a lot of sanity, forcing myself to smile politely as they rambled on and on about homeless children and dead puppies and what not.
Finally, I managed to shut the door and get a moment to breathe, hearing them complain outside the door about the long drive being a waste. Idiots. If they'd simply read their records they would have seen that I'd already donated and wouldn't have wasted both their time and mine.
Maddie was waiting patiently in the den, flicking her tail in a teasing manner. I sipped my coffee, giving her a half glare.
"Oh yes, you sit there and gloat while I deal with the imbeciles. See if that gets you any treats." I warned.
Maddie just continued to flick her tail, tilting her head slightly, obviously not understanding a word I said. I sighed, sitting back in the couch. Maddie was a nice bit of company in this lonely house, but she was nothing compared to human companionship. If only-
The doorbell clanged through the house once more.
Mumbling murderously, I once again picked myself up and forced myself to smile as I kindly told them to leave me alone and get the hell off my property.
After over twenty grueling minutes, I returned to the quiet den, feeling more than slightly irritated. I knew very well that this was only the beginning. Perhaps they'd go away if I simply didn't answer the door? Then again, I tried that tactic last year, but instead of leaving they all just piled up on my doorstep, banging on the door and demanding my compassion. Oh, how I hated charities.
And, of course, just as I finished that thought, another knock came at my door, the blasted doorbell ringing all through the house. So much for a quiet holiday. My headache started returning as I made my way to the door for the third time this morning, making careful note to blow up the door bell as soon as I could chase this next charity away.
This one spent several minutes trying to persuade me to give them money for breast cancer, shoving rather detailed pictures in my face as though trying to garner some male instinct to donate for the sake of breasts. I shut the door in their face and made sure to disintegrate the door bell the moment they were out of ear shot.
It was much easier to ignore them when all they could do was knock repeatedly at the door, especially when the den doors were closed. Their pitiful knocking didn't have anywhere near the same effect as the loud echoing doorbell. Unfortunately, every other hour or so I had to answer to a large crowd of money-hungry ingrates, and these crowds took much longer to dissuade. One particular group refused to leave, and I had a very good time returning to the door as Plasmius and scaring them off to the next country.
Needless to say, it was a very tiring process and I wished for nothing more than to have an opportunity to escape the house and do away with all these greedy charities. Unfortunately, I intimidate most people, and thus do not get invited to many gatherings unless it personally helps who ever is sending the invites. I'm not complaining, mind you. I'm perfectly content with them staying far away from me, but during times like this, it can be a slight disadvantage.
Then the phone rang suddenly, breaking my thoughts and causing a confused expression to emerge. It was actually my private phone that was ringing, and I very rarely gave that number out. So who...
Damn, not Maddie.
"Jack. How nice." I said flatly.
"How's your Christmas been? Ours was great! Danny looked a little queasy this morning, but other than that it was perfect!"
"That's wonderful Jack."
"We're having a Christmas Dinner tonight! You wanna come over and stay? I know it's a long flight, but I'm sure you've got some fancy jet that can get you here real fast, right?" he sounded ridiculously excited, "You can even stay the night! Danny would love it!"
I was about to answer with a very quick no, but my ear managed to pick up more of the incessant knocking at my front door, and I was suddenly faced with two options. Stay here and beat off the needy, or spend the night annoying the heck out of Daniel? My very quick no turned into a quicker yes.
"Why I'd love to, old friend." I grinned into the cell phone, petting Maddie's soft white fur.
"Great! Danny'll be thrilled! You can sleep in his room!"
"Wonderful, I'll be on the next flight out. Ta!" I cut the conversation off quickly, not wanting to talk with Jack any longer than I had to.
I left the den with more of a spring in my step, actually looking forward to the unplanned Christmas dinner. Bugging Daniel has always been a great source of entertainment for me, especially since it's becoming increasingly clear that he has no intention of re-evaluating my apprenticeship offer. If only I could find something to hang over his head, something he couldn't fight against...
Maddie meowed indignantly when I stood, ruffling her fur and licking a paw to give me the cold shoulder. I paid her no mind, pushing distracting thoughts away and happily going to tell the collection of charities at my door that I'd be gone till tomorrow evening. Their disheartened faced made me smile.
Packing was a simple matter of placing a few extra shirts and pants in a small suitcase. I made sure to grab my wallet as well, just in case I'd need it. Soon enough, I was calling my pilot and arranging a private line to Amity Park, paying double since it was Christmas. I could have flown there myself, but why waste the energy?
After leaving a few messages for my secretary I made my way out to the jet, pulling the long coat tight over my chest against the cold wind. The interior of the jet was blissfully warm, soft leather couches and hot drinks waiting. The single flight attendant looked genuinely happy, which was slightly annoying. The only reason she was so cheery was because of the massive amount of money she was being paid to be here.
Jet engines roared, melting the snow around them. The door behind me closed tight, eliminating the outside noise. The attendant took my coat and suitcase, dutifully leaving me alone after providing a hot beverage. These attendants know that I like my space.
"Where to Sir?" The pilot asked, his voice coming out from the little speaker to my right.
"Amity Park." I replied, sitting back in the couch and staring out the window as we took off, my mansion slowly disappearing in the blowing snow.
The trip itself was rather dull, not much to do except watch the news or read a book. I passed the time watching Amity's local channel, curiously wondering who the new mayor was. I'd recently given up my position to attend to my companies, as they were starting to become quite a handful. Apparently, going global with twelve different companies is a big deal.
The clouds were gray white, flying past the small windows so quickly it looked more like a solid color. Amity's news was predictable, more ghosts attacks, more pitiful attempts to regulate them, and more sightings of the ever infamous and famous, Danny Phantom. I shut the television off with a bored sigh, momentarily wondering how Daniel manages to balance school, homicidal parents, and the media all in the midst of constant ghost fighting. I had to admit, it was impressing feat.
I dozed off a few times, the morning coffee wearing off. I had plenty of time to think, and I had to wonder if maybe spending so much time with Jack Fenton would be good for my health. Shrugging, I pulled out a book, spending the remainder of the flight reading about different cultures and various historical accounts.
With my book, the hours passed quickly, and soon enough the pilot's voice was coming out through the small speaker again.
"We'll be arriving in about 20 minutes Sir."
I looked out the windows to see the same solid color of gray-white, but took the pilots word for it. After yawning and stretching, I made to place my bookmark in the page, but I couldn't find it. I looked around for a few seconds before deciding it wasn't worth the effort and simply reached in my wallet to use a spare bit of paper.
But when I opened the used leather, I suddenly noticed an envelop sticking out of it. I know I hadn't put it there myself, and felt a little silly that I hadn't noticed it before. After all, half the envelop was sticking out of the wallet. I pulled it out and opened it, a curious expression on my face, wondering what could be inside...
And the entire, I mean the entire Christmas party suddenly barreled through me at full force. The blood drained from my face and I felt my stomach drop. The hand clutching the photograph was shaking slightly, my brain unable to process what I was looking at.
There I was, Daniel's arms wrapped around my neck, dominating his lithe form provocatively. His chest was pressed against mine, my hand was entwined in his snow white hair, my tongue invading his mouth so possessively...
I threw the picture to the ground face down, heart racing. I couldn't sit still, jumping up and pacing frantic circles. Who took that picture? Did everyone in the ghost zone see that? How many copies are there? And Jack expects me to sleep in the same room as him? No no no no, this couldn't be happening.
"I'm going to kill Skulker!" I yelled furiously, practically pulling my hair out. As far as I'm concerned, this is all his fault!
I had to get a hold of myself. I couldn't let anyone think anything was wrong. Perhaps Daniel doesn't know. He never need find out, assuming he doesn't have a picture of his own and can't remember anything from last night. He did drink a lot, didn't he?
I took a deep breath, finally bringing my pacing to a halt. The windows looked less gray and more white, we were almost there. I stared at them, a million things running through my head and yet my mind was empty. Who took that picture? And why?
I glanced at the small white rectangle, staring at it as though it were a crime. Then my horrible brain pointed out that technically it was, because he's sixteen and-Oh my god I can't believe this is happening!
I took another deep breath, steadying my frantic heart beat.
However, I couldn't stop myself from glancing at it again. I paced a few more feet, stopped, and looked again. Almost nervously, I approached it, indecisive for a moment. But this was ridiculous. Why was I so nervous around a picture? The crimes already been committed so there's no point in treating the evidence as though it were about to attack.
Almost angrily, I sat back on the couch, grabbing the picture from the floor and turning it over, feeling that nervousness start back up again despite my hardened resolved. Quite pathetically, I felt like a teenager looking at porn for the first time.
Once I got over the sheer shock of the photograph itself, I found myself, guiltily, unable to look away. Has Daniel always looked like that? He appears as though he's throughly enjoying himself. He must be completely drunk. Why couldn't he be so submissive during our battles? I wonder...
And suddenly, the missing key was found. A very very evil little thought came to me, a whole new world of battle tactics suddenly opening up. Perhaps...I could use this to my advantage.
"We've arrived Sir." the pilots voice was right next to my ear, and I jumped, quickly hiding the photograph, thinking someone was next to me.
I let out a deep breath, gaining control of my erratic heart beat. Shaking my head at my own jumpiness, I slipped the picture into my book, closing it tightly and stuffing it under some clothes in my suitcase. The evil little thought was left to fester in my head as the plane engines died down, glinting with a tantalizing lure all the while.
The ride to the Fenton's was shorter than usual, but perhaps that was because I was too busy thinking. Before I was ready, their front door was looming out my window, snow shoveled away from the welcome mat and the light in the kitchen window calling me in.
"Here we are, Sir." the driver held the door open for me, and I stepped into the chilly wind.
The house loomed over me, bright neon Fenton Works sign lighting up the quiet neighborhood. I shifted my coat a bit and forced my legs forward, briefly wondering what would happen during my stay here. I'd barely knocked twice before the door was thrown wide open and Jack's beaming face was before me.
"V-man!" he bellowed. Something shattered in the kitchen.
"Danny! Be careful!" Jazz yelled from within.
Jack dragged me inside, slamming the door shut and giving me barely ten seconds to hang up my coat and put my suit case by the door.
"Got here just in time! Dinner's nearly done!" He grinned, throwing an arm around my twitching shoulder and pulling me along.
He pushed me into the kitchen and I instantly met eyes with Daniel. He turned a fiery red, unguarded eyes wide. I rose an eye brow, unable to stop the small smirk that slipped onto my face despite the tense situation between us. Danny looked petrified, vulnerable. That evil little thought glinted a little brighter. He gave a start and fled from the room, mumbling something about the bathroom.
"The food should be done in a couple minutes." Maddie turned from the stove, looking up with a smile.
I turned toward Maddie, laughing inwardly at Daniel and the half formulated plans I already had for him. Perhaps this picture-problem could result in a better outcome than I previously imagined, seeing as he obviously remembers last night.
Feeling the familiar glow of accomplishment, I gave Maddie my full attention, intending to flirt shamelessly. But when she looked at me I got a funny feeling in my stomach and all evil plotting came to an abrupt halt, leaving me feeling as though I had just walked into a wall. The picture of me and Daniel was superimposed on her face, strangling my throat. I could only manage to grimace slightly and nod, quickly looking away.
"Wonderful." I smiled too wide, "What are we having?"
Luckily, that launched Jack into a ridiculously long speech about all the effort he put in to get the perfect fudge for dessert, because really, desert was all that mattered. I quickly tuned him out, not caring in the slightest about how he though desert was the most important part of a meal, instead focusing on a new predicament that I hadn't seen coming.
I couldn't look at Maddie without thinking of what I'd done with Daniel.
"Danny, take-where's Danny?" Maddie looked around curiously, untying her apron.
"I think he went to the bathroom." Jazz replied as she set out the plates.
"Oh, well then Jack dear, will you take Vlad's suitcase up to Danny's room?" she looked to her husband.
"Please, my dear, it's no trouble." I didn't want Jack within ten feet of anything I owned. "I can take care of it. Second door on the right, yes?"
She nodded to me and I forced myself to smile back, violently beating away the mental image of that wretched picture. I left the kitchen quickly, Jack already babbling about ghosts. The noises died down as I slowly climbed the stairs, leaving my brain buzzing. Why couldn't I focus on Maddie? Surely this wasn't guilt? Perhaps it's simply because Daniel is her son. Yes, yes, that sounds about right.
"No, he's already here." I heard a glum voice come from the room I was to be sleeping in.
"I don't know, I mean, I think so but... He gave me that I-have-plans-for-you-Danny-and-you-aren't-going-to-like-them look. Heck if I know, the guy's a fruitloop. God, this is so awkward. He's sleeping in my room, too. My sentiments exactly. No, I'll be fine. I'll try. Okay, bye guys."
I knocked on the door and heard him drop the phone.
"Who is it?" he asked warily.
"Who do you think?" I opened the door, seeing him freeze where he stood, a blush already rising on his face.
"Uh...hi." he squeaked, failing miserably at his attempt to sound light and relaxed.
"Please Daniel," I rolled my eyes, "Don't play dumb. Now where's that picture?"
"Picture?" his blush darkened.
"Daniel." I said warningly. I wanted all copies of incriminating evidence and I wanted them now.
His shoulders sagged in defeat, glaring mutinously at the floor as he trudged over to his bed. I watched with slight amusement as he stuck his hand under the bed and fished around for something, a scowl still on his face. Finally, he extracted a beat up looking cardboard box, pulling out a slightly crumbled envelope that matched the one I found in my wallet. I rose an eyebrow, making a mental bother him about even keeping the picture. I was sure he would have burned it by now. He refused to look at me as he flung the envelope out, still blushing furiously. I smirked in satisfaction, taking the envelope from his outstretched hand and pocketing it.
"Why do you even want that thing?"
"To make absolutely sure that I have all copies when I destroy them." I replied, turning to the air mattress already laid out and dropping my suitcase on it.
His flat reply left a flatter silence in the room, him awkwardly shuffling his feet and I calmly placing the picture in my book.
"You showed your friends?" I asked, suddenly recalling his phone call.
"Of course not. They showed me."
I turned to him, my incredulous expression demanding an explanation.
"Sam and Tucker barged into my house this morning freaking out about the picture. They're the ones who had it first and then showed me."
"They both had one?"
"No, just Sam. She told Tucker. Why do you care?"
I didn't reply at first, my curiosity about the origin of the picture coming back. Why would the perpetrator gave Danny's friends the picture first? Perhaps I received mine directly because I have no friends who know of my ghost half? But does that mean someone else I know has a picture? Someone who maybe knows of my ghost half but not my human half? That could be anybody though.
"Why does it matter if Sam got the picture and not me?"
"Because that means whoever took the photograph doesn't intend to keep it between you and me."
"But who else is there to tell. I mean," Danny's voice turned slightly hysterical, "Seeing as every single enemy I know attended that stupid party, there really isn't any one else to tell."
"Perhaps the photographer intends to tell those who know of our ghost halves, but not our human halves."
"That could be hundreds of people though."
"Indeed. So you see the problem? Where does the photographer intend to stop, and how many copies does he or she already have? Personally, I'd rather erase any and all evidence from existence." I said dryly.
"Well duh. I'd rather not have half the town thinking Danny Phantom consorts with a forty year old ghost." he crossed his arms angrily.
"Even though you do." I smirked.
"Well, yeah, but that's beside the-Hey!"
I laughed at his mortified expression, watching it quickly melt into fury.
"You're unbelievable." he muttered, stomping out the door.
I followed him back into the kitchen, a grin still on my face. Maddie and Jasmine were bustling around the table, setting out the last few steaming dishes and batting Jack's drooling mass away. Finally, we all sat down to eat. Somehow, me and Daniel ended up sitting next to each other, despite the teens ardent attempts to prevent it. He wasn't very talkative during the meal, and any conversation I tried to prod from him was very short. It was quite funny, actually.
"So, did you have a good Christmas Daniel?"
"Yeah." he focused on cutting his ham.
"Get any surprises this year?"
"Sure did." he stabbed a potato.
"How's your winter break been?"
"These rolls are very good."
I grinned. It was like poking a cornered mouse.
The only downside to the evening was what should have been the upside. Every time Maddie tried to talk to me all I could think was "I shoved my tongue down your son's throat last night." It was rather awkward, so I spent most of my time bugging Daniel.
Jasmine was home for the holidays, but she didn't seem to know anything about mine and Daniel's shenanigans from last night. She praddled on and on about how wonderful Harvard is and all about the exciting experiences of college life.
"You'll be a senior next year, won't you Daniel."
"Have any plans for college."
"You could always attend the University of Wisconsin like your parents."
Good heavens, I was having way too much fun with this.
Dinner lasted for a good two hours, and I found myself actually having a good time. The conversation was engaging and even entertaining at times. It was a much better alternative to spending the night chasing charities away. Sometime around desert, I got wrapped up in a conversation about ghost technology, which lasted for a while. Jazz would occasionally throw in her piece, but otherwise carried on a conversation with Daniel, which I decided to eavesdrop on.
"You seem really tense, little brother." She whispered.
"Do I? Can't imagine why."
"I don't understand. I thought you said Vlad wasn't so bad anymore."
"Yeah? Well he's still a fruitloop. That's recently been reaffirmed for me."
"What are you talking about?"
"Why are you blushing?"
"I'm not blushing!"
"Yes you are."
"Shut up Jazz."
Unfortunately, the evening didn't last much longer after that. Soon enough Maddie was standing up and declaring it late enough. We all helped pick up the kitchen, which was relatively easy since Jack had polished off all the food. Me and Daniel were delegated dishes, much to his dismay. He tried his best to stand as far away from me as possible, so I went out of my way to lean over him. He kept shooting me dirty glares, to which I responded with a teasing smirk.
With everyones help, the kitchen was soon clean. We all retreated to the living room to relax. Daniel refused to sit next to me and settled in close to Jasmine, who looked surprised that her little brother would be so willing to get within five feet of her.
"That was a wonderful dinner, Maddie." I complimented, struggling to ignore the damn picture blazing across my minds eye.
"Thank you Vlad." She said politely, if not a little stiffly. "Jazz was a wonderful helper."
She was also a wonderful subject change.
"Ah yes, so what are you majoring in, Jasmine? You never did mention it." I turned to her. Daniel suddenly looked stricken, subtly shaking his head in my direction despite the fact that he's made a point to ignore me all evening.
"Psychology." her reply was instant.
I quickly regretted asking that question and understood Daniel's dread of the subject, because Jasmine wouldn't stop talking about psychology. It was like a repeat of the dinner table, except now I couldn't distract myself with someone else's conversation. She rambled on and on about different classes and all the course work and the many teachers she was just so lucky to have and on and on and on. It didn't take long before I was tuning her out.
Jack seemed to be having trouble paying attention as well, and as his smooth subject change, he decided to jump up in the middle of her sentence and declare it time for eggnog. However simple minded it was, it worked. Every one was happy to accept a glass of the thick creamy drink, although I noticed Daniel was less enthused than the rest of his family. He looked as though all he wanted to do was sleep.
"So Vladdie! What're you up to these days?" Jack grinned, a long stretch of eggnog coating his upper lip.
"Business and charities." I answered, staring at the mess on his face.
"That does not sound like fun." came his blunt and simple reply.
"No, it's not. Thus, I very much welcomed your generous invite." I nodded to Maddie, avoiding her eyes.
"Did Santa bring you anything?" Jack asked enthusiastically.
"Aww, that's to bad. You must have been on his naughty list." Jack shook his head woefully.
Danny snorted in laughter.
"What about you Daniel? You said you got a surprise this year, didn't you?" I asked him, not appreciating being laughed at.
"Uh...no." his laughter instantly died down when I addressed him.
"Oh come now, you haven't been to any wild Christmas parties this year? I hear tons of kids your age attend them."
"Nope, not me." he pulled nervously at his collar.
"Well that's certainly a good thing." I shot him a dark look only he could interpret. "Because you wouldn't want to do something you'd regret. It might open up a whole new set of troubles, for you."
He glared, not quite hiding his nervous swallow. Jazz looked between me and Daniel, her eyes calculating. Maddie was smiling politely at me and Jack still had that moronic grin on his face.
"I remember going to wild Christmas parties during my college days." Jack announced, a reminiscent grin on his face.
"Well all I remember from college is the hours we spent studying. I thought it'd never end." Maddie chuckled.
"We studied?" Jack blinked.
I had to keep my comments to myself, knowing Maddie wouldn't like whatever it was I wanted to say regarding Jack and his study habits.
"This has been such a wonderful Christmas." Maddie smiled at Jack, leaning against his shoulder.
"Yeah, but I didn't get to see Santa Claus." he sounded throughly disappointed.
Maddie looked as though she dearly wanted to say something rather rude about the Mr. Claus, but kept her mouth shut, glancing at Danny. She did a double take when she noticed his distinct lack of Christmas spirit.
"What's wrong Danny? You're looking a little blue for Christmas." She asked sympathetically.
"Uh...nothing." he glanced at me. "I'm just a little tired."
"Well you can go to bed it you'd like. It's nearly midnight anyways, we should all probably think about hitting the hay soon, right Jack?"
"No way! I'm staying up all night with Vladdie."
Not on my watch.
"Actually, I should be leaving early tomorrow. Perhaps a little shut eye would be a good idea." I winced, looking at the space above Maddie's head instead of her eyes.
"Aww..." Jack looked like an emotionally crushed toddler.
"I guess it's for the best." Maddie put on a consoling expression, patting Jack's arm comfortingly. How she could stand to put up with him I'll never know.
Daniel quickly stood, mumbling a good night to his parents and giving Jasmine a final stay-out-of-my-business glance. It was obvious he didn't want her to come across a single hint of what happened at the Christmas party. She looked bewildered, glancing at me as though expecting an answer for Daniel's unusually bad mood. I paid her no mind and followed the retreating Fenton's up the stairs. Maddie was talking to Jack about something with laundry, and Daniel was already up the stairs, probably padlocking his room. I wasn't about to be caught alone with the ever nosy Jasmine.
"Night Vladdie! Don't let the bed bugs bite!" Jack waved a large hulking arm at me from down the hall, almost hitting a light fixture.
"Good night Vlad." Maddie said in a calm voice like a normal human being. "There's extra blankets in the closet if you need them. Danny will get them for you."
The door to their room clicked shut, but before I could knock on Daniel's closed door, I heard light footsteps coming up the stairs. Jasmine's suspicious face peaked around the corner and glared at me, already jumping to conclusions.
"I don't know what you did-"
"Please, Jasmine. It's 11:45 at night and I'm tired. If you want to blame me for your brother's bizarre behavior, kindly do it in the morning." I said in a stony voice, not in the mood to put up with her accusations even though they were probably true.
She looked a little dumbfounded for a moment, the injustice of what was no doubt a well rehearsed speech interrupted rendering her momentarily speechless. I glared at her for a little while longer, my expression clearly telling her to go away, but she was as stubborn as the rest of her family.
"Just stay away from my brother, Vlad." she growled.
"You should be telling that to him." I muttered, a smirk on my face.
She looked confused for a moment before shaking her head and stalking off, muttering what suspiciously sounded like 'fruitloop' before closing her door. I glared in her direction for a moment longer before finally knocking on Daniel's door, hearing a quick "Go away." before ignoring him and coming in anyways.
He was already in his bed, the lights shut off. His back was turned to me, the covers almost covering his head. I felt a devious grin spread across my face, already anticipating the fun sure to come. He didn't say a word as I closed the door behind me, probably trying to ignore my existence. I wonder how long he'll be unable to look me in the face? Our battles are sure to be interesting in the future.
"You're more talkative than usual." I commented, opening my suitcase and rummaging through for pajamas.
He didn't say a word in response, which prompted me to try and provoke him a little bit more. He couldn't ignore me forever, after all.
"You didn't talk much at last night's Christmas party either."
The blanket's tightened over his shoulders. He was clenching his fists.
"You know, that was the first one I'd ever gone to. It was certainly memorable, to say the least."
"Ah, so you can talk."
"Why are you even bringing that horrible night up?"
"Because I know it's driving you insane."
"You're a complete fruitloop, you know that?" Danny suddenly sat up, twisting around to glare into my calmly smiling face. "How can you not be completely embarrassed? I would have thought you'd at least have the decency to avoid me, not remind me of it every chance you get."
"Hm, Well I'm not so juvenile that I can't face and accept what happened last night." I gave him a patronizing smile to which he scowled at, "And your just too easy to provoke Daniel, I'll take my kicks where I can get them."
"I'm also 42."
"What the hell, Vlad!" Danny moaned, burying his head in his hands.
"You're such a sadistic bastard!"
"Language Daniel." I returned to my bag, pulling out a pair of pajama's and throwing them over my arm, making sure to grab my tooth brush.
"Jeez, are you ever going to let this go?" he shook, gripping his hair.
"Probably not." I smirked, heading off for the bathroom and leaving him to drown in his awkward irritation.
By the time I returned, Daniel had resumed his asleep position, but I could feel the waves of frustration rolling off him.
"So Daniel, why did you keep the picture?" I asked calmly as I closed the door, waiting for him to start stuttering.
"The picture. You could have easily shredded the evidence after you saw it, but instead you chose to keep it in a treasure box under your bed." I smirked, a condescending tone in my voice.
"That was not a treasure box." Danny sat back up and glared at me, a flush on his cheeks.
"Of course it wasn't. Now why did you keep the picture? Hmm?"
He opened and closed his mouth in a gape, completely at a loss for words. I couldn't hold back another grin as his face turned deeper shades of red, completely flustered.
"Perhaps you forgot to throw it away?" I clicked my suitcase shut, moving it to the floor and smoothing out any wrinkles in the sheets on the air mattress.
Danny's voice was still stuck in his throat, unable to speak as he watched me move around the room.
"Or perhaps you were too flustered this morning to do anything but put it far away and out of sight?" I pondered, raising an eye brow and giving away the impish gleam in my eye. Danny caught it, and suddenly looked as wary as speechless.
"But if that were the case, why not simply burn the picture to begin with, hm? So maybe," I stepped closer to his bed, staring down at his frozen self. "Maybe there's another reason you kept the photograph."
I lowered my voice, listening to his shallow breathing. Slowly, I leaned in closer, hearing his heart beat madly against his chest. I was too close, my lips a whisper away from his.
"Maybe you kept it safe under your bed because you don't want to forget the rush you got last night? Maybe you enjoyed it?" Danny's breath was hardly detectable, his guilty eyes wide.
"You did, didn't you?" I let a smile creep over my face, my lips still so close they were practically touching. "You like loosing control, giving into your desires."
I tsked softly.
"How very unheroic, Daniel."
"Shut-up Plasmius." He hissed, furious blush tinging his cheeks and a fire starting in his eyes that I felt the need to extinguish.
"Daniel, Daniel, Daniel. What's the point of denial," His eyes flickered away for a moment before meeting mine again, "When both know," I shifted my voice even lower, eye lidding with malignant amusement. "That given the same chance, you'd do it all over again."
I could hear Danny's heart pounding, and it all but exploded when I pressed my lips against his. He gasped, body going rigidly tense. I cupped his neck with my hand before he could react, the other caressing his jaw. I could feel him trembling, honestly torn with the desire to push me away and the desire to pull me closer. It was almost funny.
Finally, the reality of his actions caught up with him, and Danny jumped away, easily breaking free of the gentle hold I had on him. He was shaking like a leaf, staring at me with wide, disbelieving eyes. I hadn't expected him to stay here and sleep in his bed after that, and was unsurprised when he suddenly transformed into Danny Phantom and fled, leaving me alone in his room. I doubt he would return until I was completely out of the house.
It's strange how quickly things can change with just one night of no inhibitions. It had never occurred to me to use such sensual tactics against Daniel, though it's easily understandable why. He is Maddie's son, after all. I had almost given up on him, thinking he'd always be out of my reach. But this...this brought him close, allowed me to finally get him within my grasp. I should have known the key would be his hormones. He is a teenager, after all. I should probably be disturbed by Daniel's confliction, but honestly, I think it's just hilarious. I certainly have no feelings for the boy, so this holds no problem for me.
Perhaps I'll visit Daniel again.
Come on, this is Vlad we're talking about. Of course he's gonna take advantage of the situation.