See? I haven't forgotten this story. :) I just take forever. I'll even update Adversus Adverto! ...eeeeeventually.

HEY! GUESS WHAT! I made Danny and Vlad woohoo all night! :D yaaaaaaaaaaysimsex! Oh wait, I probably shouldn't talk about pompous pep in a not-pompous pep story...


"Why are you driving so fast?"

"I'm not driving fast, Daniel."

"I think I left something back in my room. We should turn around."

"We're not turning around."

"Are you sure Principle Ishiyama wanted to meet at nine? I could have sworn it was ten."

"I'm quite positive it was nine, dear boy."

I let out a nervous huff, falling back into the leather seats and resigning myself to my fate. Nothing I said was gonna get Vlad to stray from his course, a course bound for the dreaded building called Casper High. A lime green "8:45" glowed from the dashboard, some kind of weird, quiet classical music emitting from the speakers. I would have complained about this, but the current mass of butterflies swarming my stomach was making me sick anyways.

Vlad was the epitome of calm from his drivers seat. Thankfully, he submitted to my request and had chosen a simple-though no less luxurious-Volvo to drive me to school in. I was currently squirming in my seat next to him, shifting the backpack in my lap needlessly. All I could think about was the trouble all of this was going to cause me at school, counting down the neighborhoods as we got closer and closer.

"Everything is going to be fine, Daniel." Vlad said patiently, not blind to my anxiety.

"Yeah." I replied, throughly not convinced.

Vlad knew that, of course, but he also knew that there was no arguing with me so he didn't even bother trying. I chewed on my lower lip, gazing out the window as we got even closer. Two neighborhoods left.

"If you have any troubles today-"

"Yeah, yeah, I know. Call you. Seriously though, I'll be fine. I'm just a little nervous. Once I'm with Sam and Tucker it won't be so bad."

One neighborhood left.

"If you insist." He relented, focusing back on the road.

I shifted my backpack for the millionth time, feeling as though mere seconds had passed when suddenly the large, looming institution of Casper High towered in the distance. I swallowed thickly. Vlad pulled into the parking lot and turned the purring engine off, signaling that it was time to get out. The silent parking lot was kind of creepy, like a calm-before-the-storm kind of creepy. I didn't really know what to expect from my fellow classmates. Did they all still think I ran away? How long would it take for the truth to get out? Would anybody even care?

"Daniel? Are you coming?"

I jumped, suddenly realizing that Vlad was several steps ahead of me. I hoisted my backpack on my shoulder and ambled after him.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm coming..."

The inside of the school was just as silent as the outside, oddly enough. Vlad and I had no trouble making our way down the cold halls to the principal's room, passing lockers and water fountains, but no stray students. Not that I was complaining. The last thing I needed was somebody to catch me with Vlad Masters. So, naturally, after arriving at the office doors and stepping inside, a serious problem blew up in my face. Both the secretary and Kwan immediately halted their conversation and jumped at our sudden entrance, their eyes widening at the sight of who was in front of them. And no, I'm not talking about the sudden reappearance of a traumatized, abused, and previously missing student.

"Mr. Masters!"

Kwan was gaping at us like a fish out of water, eyes running back and forth between me and Vlad. Then the secretary noticed me.

"And Danny!"

"Hi Mrs. Hegar." I replied, voice deadpanned.

She fumbled with some paper work, looking frazzled and a little awkward. I noticed she seemed to have particular trouble looking at me. Kwan, thank god, was still silent.

"You both are here for the nine o'clock appointment, I presume?"

"Of course." Vlad replied, but I don't think she caught the underlying sarcasm.

"I'll alert Principal Ishiyama." Mrs. Hegar motioned to the door on her right, quickly typing something on the computer. I caught her eye when she glanced up at me, and it was chalk full of pity. Kwan was still giving me a bewildered look, eyes constantly drawing back to the billionaire beside me, specifically his hand placed so paternally on my back. This was gonna be a long day.

Vlad briskly helped himself into the Principal's office because he's a presumptuous jerk. I followed after him though, trying not to think of the rumors Kwan was going to spread and feeling significantly smaller once he shut the office door.

"Danny, Mr. Masters. Thank you for coming to see me today." Mrs. Ishiyama started off politely, voice thick with empathy and complete with a small, genuine smile. "Please, take a seat."

Vlad and I got comfortable, cause this was probably gonna take a while. Mrs. Ishiyama came around her desk, bringing her chair with her so we could talk more comfortably or something, I guess. Vlad scooted his chair back slightly to make room for her. I squirmed in my seat. This meeting already felt awkward, but maybe that was just me.

"So," Mrs. Ishiyama turned to me, "How are you doing, Danny?"

"Awesome."

She smiled patiently, kind of like Mrs. Parisi. It was clear my principal actually had a desire to work with difficult teenagers like me, which made me feel a little better, in all honestly. I tried not to slump so much in my seat.

"You're living with Mr. Master's now, correct?" She looked at him for confirmation, getting right to business.

"I am his legal guardian now, yes." He nodded, a glint in his eyes that I responded to with a dry stare, though Ishiyama didn't see it. He still loved saying that way too much, in my opinion.

She nodded, standing up and walking over to her desk.

"Jazz sent me the case file of your situation," she glanced up at me, "And I've already emailed all of your teachers to let them know what's going on. All of your absences have been excused and you have an extra two weeks to complete any homework assigned while you were absent."

Absent. Funny.

"Your teachers are also under a strict confidentiality code," she looked me in the eye this time, a type of reassurance in her voice that I understood when she finished her sentence, "By law, they are not allowed to discuss your situation with anyone unless you give them explicit, written permission. There's no reason why your classmates need to know about your personal life."

I smiled wanly, appreciating her attempt but knowing it'd get out anyways. Seriously, this was high school.

"Thanks." I said quietly, still grateful for her effort.

Ishiyama nodded with a small smile, turning to my new "guardian".

"Do you know how long you will have custody of Danny?"

"However long the courts decide. The hearing is scheduled to be held at the end of this month."

"So soon?" Her eyebrows raised in slight surprise, "How fortunate."

"Fortunate indeed."

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. Good fortune my ass. However, I most certainly wasn't complaining, so I kept my mouth shut.

"Well, as his temporary guardian, all of his emergency contact information has been transferred to you, seeing as his mother is out of the country. In addition, you will be the person teachers or I may contact if any troubles arise, but I don't think that will be a problem."

"Of course."

"I ask that you keep me up-to-date with any legal proceedings, or when things in this situation change." she looked between Vlad and I, holding both of our attention. Until she looked at me specifically, at least.

"I know this is a difficult time for you, Danny, and I'm sure some teachers will be a little lenient in light of your situation, but please keep in mind they are not required to be 'extra nice'. You still need to work hard and keep your grades up."

Ha. What grades?

"However, if you ever need to talk, you can always visit the school counselor. Jazz specifically asked that you consider this option."

"Thanks Principal Ishiyama." I forced a smile, internally vowing to never see the school counselor, "But I'll be fine."

She smiled in satisfaction, standing straight with the air of bringing this meeting to a close. My heart started to beat a little faster.

"Well, I think that's all we really need to cover today." she smiled. Vlad took the cue and stood up. I reluctantly followed. "I'll keep you posted if anything changes. Thank you so much for meeting with me today."

She shook Vlad's hand and he replied in thanks as well. I stood off to the side, my backpack feeling heavier and heavier with each passing second.

"It's still first period," Mrs. Ishiyama glanced at her watch, "Danny, do you need me to walk you to your-"

"I'll be fine, Principal Ishiyama." I tried not to sound too deadpanned. Seriously, how old did she think I was? I caught Vlad's miniscule smirk and restrained myself from punching him in the arm.

"Very well then," she nodded, returning to her desk, "You know where my office is if you have any trouble. Have a good day!"

At that peppy farewell, we both exited the office. Mrs. Hegar bid us goodbye as well, but I ignored her. Vlad gently closed the office door behind him, and once again we were alone in the silent hallways.

"That wasn't so bad, Daniel." He teased.

"I wasn't worried about that," I jerked a thumb to the office door, "I'm more concerned about going to class."

"Would you like me to walk you to your classroom then?" he jeered.

This time I did punch him in the arm.

"Bye Vlad." I said flatly, turning around and marching down the hall. I got about three steps before he called my name, no mockery in his tone.

"What?" I turned around, shoving my hands in my pockets and putting on the apathetic stare he could see right through.

He smiled gently this time.

"Everything will work out okay, little badger."

I didn't reply at first, raising an eyebrow cause I still wasn't sure how to respond to nice-Vlad. In the end I just shrugged, exhaling a predictable,

"Whatever you say, fruitloop."

Vlad rolled his eyes, though the smile didn't quite leave his face.

"I'll pick you up from school at three. Have fun and don't fall asleep in class."

"No promises!" I called back, already spinning around and ambling down the hall.

I listened hard to Vlad's retreating foot steps though, each layer of bravado flaking away with every quiet thump. Soon I was all alone, violently pushing away the squeaking wish that Vlad was still here. The walk to Lancer's class seemed ridiculously shorter than usual, and way before I was ready his door was in front of me, complete with Shakespeare cut outs taped to the glass.

I stood there for a moment and decided I needed to go to the bathroom. And that I needed a drink of water. And that it would probably be a good idea to make sure I had all my books. You know, cause I might have missed something the first hundred times that I checked. Finally, there was no putting it off any longer. I stood in front of his looming door and sighed, resigning myself to my fate and knocking quietly before opening it.

"...and this symbolizes Macbeth's need for-"

He fell silent when I peaked in, 22 pairs of eyes falling on me at once. My classmates who weren't paying a bit of attention to the lecture instantly paid attention to the newest distraction, meaning me. The majority of them had matching expressions of confusion and surprise. It was only Sam and Tucker's grinning faces from the back of the class that made a small smile slip onto my face.

"Mr. Fenton," Lancer suddenly spoke up, finally breaking the silence with an uncharacteristicly empathetic smile on his face. "Nice to see you back. Please take your seat. You're just in time for Act I of Macbeth."

"Yipee." I mumbled, slipping all the way in and closing the door behind me.

Students gazed at me with open curiosity, surprise still evident on some faces. As far as they knew, I was suppose to be some hooligan, homeless runaway. None of them were listening to Lancer as he began his lecture. I quickly shuffled to my usual seat behind Sam and Tucker, trying not to let the stupid stares get to me. Seriously, didn't they have anything better to pay attention to?

"Hey guys." I mumbled, putting my bag on the floor and glaring at the idiots still staring at me until they looked away. Unfortunately I couldn't put a stop to the whispers flying around the room. Kwan was in this class, so it wasn't hard to imagine the topic of their gossip.

"Hey Danny." Tucker grinned. Sam twisted around in her seat to smile at me. "Vlad been treating you okay?"

"As good as that fruitloop can." I smirked, ungodly thankful that I had my best friends in most of my classes.

Sam patted me on the arm furtively, glaring when Tucker smirked at us. Other students in the class continued to glance at me, but I did my best to ignore them and focus on the lesson. I could already tell this was going to be a long day.

-XxX

Shockingly enough, I wasn't wrong.

Lancer's class took forever. Between the not-so-furitve glances of other students and the boring lecture, I barely knew what to do with myself. Sam and Tucker helped the best they could, and really, they did a lot. They made class bearable, and I managed to make it through all fifty minutes without pulling my hair out.

But then it was time to change classes.

Lancer looked like he wanted to say something to me before I left, but I made sure to duck my head and scurry out as fast as I could. I didn't wanna hear him apologize or offer condolences or something stupid like that. Sam and Tucker did their best to keep an eye out for nosy students, shuffling me to my locker like I was some high profile criminal.

Maybe I should clarify why I'm going through all this hooplah, though. After all, in a school of over one thousand no one is going to care if some kid's dad is abusive. No, see the thing that everyone cares about is who I happen to be living with. After all, when you throw Vlad Masters into the equation, suddenly everyone and their mother cares about your personal life. It was clear that Kwan catching sight of me with Vlad this morning had already swept the school.

"What are you lookin at?" Sam barked to some freshman. The shorter boy squeaked and bowed his head, scurrying down the hall.

"Man, I didn't think people would care this much about your personal life, dude." Tucker breathed, shaking his head.

"It's all cause he's living with a 'celebrity' Tucker. People aren't that nice."

Sam looked at all the students with an expression of disgust, mirroring what I felt on the inside. Quickly, I grabbed the books I needed from my locker and shoved myself down the hall, Sam and Tucker keeping pace.

"Lets meet by the trees at lunch." I said, spinning around when we came to a fork in the hall to go our separate ways.

"Deal." they said at the same time, unhappy expressions on their faces.

"Good luck, dude." Tucker frowned.

"I'll be fine." I smiled weakly, "It's just a bunch of high schoolers. I've handled worse."

"I dunno about that." Sam muttered, turning down the hall.

I watched my friends leave, feeling alone again but forcing it away. My class was only a few doors away, so with relative easy I managed to squeeze my way down the hall and into the room. Social studies was the only class I didn't have my friends with, leaving me to face my fellow students without Sam's deflecting glares and Tucker's distracting humor. Awesome.

As quietly as I could, I picked my way to the most inconspicuous seat available and sat down. Some of the students were still staring, whispering to their friends and glancing at me. I really wanted to just disappear, but I tried not to focus too much on that. If I did I really would end up turning invisible. Instead I waited on pins and needles for class to start, hoping against hope that no one would-

"Hey Danny, is it true you're living with Vlad Masters?"

I glared at Star, who suddenly wasn't so pretty to me anymore. She was leaning out of her chair, Paulina watching me with a smirk on her face from the desk behind her satellite. I instantly bristled because I knew exactly what kind of smirk that was.

"Kwan saw me with him in the office this morning. How does that mean I'm living with him?"

"But you were with him?" She started getting excited, looking at Paulina who was now grinning like she'd just spotted a new, juicy steak. It was an incredibly unattractive smile.

"He's a billionaire, Danny." She stated the obvious in that sultry, accented voice she's got, "How did you know someone like him?"

"He's a friend of my parents." I replied shortly, wishing they'd take a hint and stop talking to me.

"Why were you with him though? I thought you ran aw-"

"I didn't run away!" I suddenly snapped, instantly wishing I hadn't said that.

Paulina and Star blinked, clearly surprised by my hostility. I looked away and glared at the front of the room, furious at my slip up. Way to feed the rumors, Fenton. Paulina and Star glanced at each other, shameless curiosity clear as day on their faces. The hispanic girl leaned over her desk with a hungry expression.

"What do you mean-"

"Quiet down class, quiet down!" Mr. Coleman suddenly came into the room, saving me from any further questioning. He set a packet of papers on his desk and stared at us until the room was quiet, his eyes surveying everyone in the class. Unsurprisingly, they paused when they reached me.

"Everyone turn to chapter thirteen in your textbooks," He called out, slowly taking his eyes off me and turning to the board, "Today we begin covering the Spanish Inquisition!"

Most of my classes went like that. I'd wander in, find a seat, try to deflect questions, get stared at by the teacher, and then zone out for the rest of the period. Granted, after social studies I at least had Sam and Tucker to help distract me, but other than that my classes mostly sucked. By the time lunch rolled around the rumors circulating about me, Vlad, and my mysterious not-a-runaway absence had mutated into something no one could recognize. In short, a bunch of ridiculous nonsense.

Sam, Tucker and I swiftly got our excuse for food from the lunch line and made our way outside. The warm weather was inviting enough to actually deflect some of the stares I was still getting, allowing me to push my problems away for the twenty minutes of freedom I had. Cracking jokes and laughing together, we all strolled to the tree we'd mentioned this morning and got comfortable, relaxing for the first time all day.

"Man, it's hard to believe we still have three more classes after this!" Tucker pointed out, stuffing his face.

"Ugh, thanks for reminding me."

"At least you've got science to look forward too," Sam shrugged, biting into a tofu sandwich.

"What do you guys wanna do after school? Wanna hit up the nasty burger?" Tucker asked, licking his fingers already.

"Uh...Vlad said he's picking me up at three." I winced, suddenly realizing how disastrous that could be. "On second thought, I'm gonna text him and tell him not to. I don't wanna feed the stupid rumor mill..."

Sam and Tucker rose an eyebrow when I pulled out my phone and started punching in the message. It took a second before I finally noticed their silence.

"...What?"

"You're texting Vlad?" Tucker snickered.

"Uh...well I do live with the guy."

"So? I live with my Grandma, but I don't text her at school." A smirk stared up on Sam's face.

"I'm just telling him not to pick me up. Knowing that fruitloop he'd show up in a limo just to piss me off, or worse, the lamborgini."

"He has a lamborgini?" Tucker gaped. Sam and I gave him a look.

"Duh. Of course he does," I scoffed.

"It's still weird that you're texting him." Sam replied lightly.

"Tell me about it." I snorted.

Vlad replied with a generic response, telling me to text him whenever I was done hanging with my friends so he could pick me up. I don't know why I couldn't just fly home, but he was particularly insistent on driving me. Probably more of his 'New Dad' crap, the fruitloop.

After lunch, absolutely nothing exciting happened. It was kinda what I didn't expect, cause this morning I was convinced me coming to school was somehow going to end in catastrophe. Other than the rumors though, it was pretty boring. I don't know if my paranoia is from my recently close proximity to Vlad or cause of my ghost fighting history, but either way I did not expect the day to be so...normal. Okay, I guess normal is a bit of a stretch, but I'm mainly talking about the lack of ghost activity, which I suspect that has something to do with Vlad.

After a lifetime of waiting for the final bell to ring, Sam, Tucker and I met up at my locker as usual and proceeded to walk to the Nasty Burger, as usual. It was kinda unnerving, but I guess there goes my paranoia again.

"You okay Danny? You're really tense." Sam asked from behind me, hooking her thumbs in her spider bag as we made our way down the sidewalk. I shrugged.

"Should I not be?" I mumbled, a little rudely. After all, I was living with my arch enemy and my abusive father was somewhere in Amity Park. I couldn't get the horrifying scenario out of my head of walking around a corner and seeing him stomp toward me. See? Paranoia.

Sam was quiet for a moment, but then came up and placed a hand on my back that I was very aware of.

"Sorry," She said sincerely, "Standard question."

Well crap, now I felt guilty.

"No, Sam, don't apologize." I sighed, running a hand through my hair. "It's not your fault. I'm just...overly paranoid."

Tucker snorted.

"Got that right."

I shoved him, a smile creeping on my face. Tucker smirked back, lightly pushing my arm. Sam intervened before our playful shoving turned into an all out bro-fight, smacking us in the back of the head with a sharp hand.

"Ow, Sam!" I laughed, grinning back at her before Tuck and I shared a glance. It was nice hanging out with my friends during hard times like these. I just needed to relax and remember to appreciate it, is all.

A short walk later had us crossing the threshold of the Nasty Burger and heading to our usual table. Thankfully, it wasn't too crowded yet, but all three of us knew that wouldn't last. Despite this looming fact, my friends and I enjoyed the A-lister free space while we had it, celebrating the only way we could.

"I'll take three quarter-pounder Nasty burgers, two sides of fries, a milkshake aaaaaaand go ahead and throw on an original Nasty burger with that."

"Jeez Tucker, are you trying to clog your arteries before you hit twenty? One tofu sandwich, please."

"Sam, you can't lecture me when you order things like tofu sandwhiches."

"One Nasty meal for me." I rolled my eyes as Sam and Tucker started their obligatory bickering, shrugging helplessly at the cashier when he raised a perplexed eyebrow.

Our food was served a short while later, but by now the place was starting to fill up so we had to pile our order on one tray. I carried the precariously perched meals back to our table, laughing with my friends like it was any other day. Tucker regaled us with exaggerated stories about all the girls he didn't actually make out with, Sam shot him disgusted stares as food tumbled from his mouth, and I mostly spent my time laughing at them. I couldn't help but glance at my phone on the table every once in a while, though, taking note of the time. Usually we just hang out in here until a ghost attacks, which never takes very long. However, the lack of ghosts was something new to all of us, which naturally put us on edge a little bit when a half hour passed and we were still enjoying our valuable time together.

"Dude, does Vlad have something to do with the no ghosts thing?" Tucker asked quietly.

"Probably." I muttered, sipping on my cola, "I wish he would have told me first if he does have a hand in this. I'm not sure if I should be on guard or if I can relax..."

"Me too man. I keep waiting for something green and glowing to swoop down, but nothings happened so far."

"Guys, I think this is a sign that there's something seriously wrong with us." Sam said in a deadpanned voice, making me laugh.

"Yeah, no kidding. What kind of teenagers can't enjoy a burger meal without getting paranoid about no ghosts attacking." I smirked.

"The kinds of teenagers who fight those ghosts on a regular basis." Tucker replied through thick bite of hamburger.

"Tucker, will you please chew your food before you talk?"

"What?" he asked, turning to Sam and dropping bits of meat into his lap. She looked slightly sick.

"Nevermind."

Tucker caught my eye and grinned.

Unfortunately, our valuable time did come to an end soon after that, but not because of a ghost. No, instead of a nice ghost to fight, we got an arrogant jock. Dash and his cronies marched through the glass doors like they owned the place, the blonde in particular looking like he was on a mission. I knew that mission could be nothing good when his eyes zoned in on me and a smirk curled his lips.

"Uh oh..." I mumbled.

Dash nodded to his gorilla friends to go get a table and order food or something. Only Kwan followed him as he marched toward our table. Sam and Tucker turned around to see what was coming and rolled their eyes. Well, Sam did. Tucker started looking nervous. Dash marched right up to our table not two seconds later and slammed his hands down.

"Well if it isn't Harry, Curly, and Moe." He grinned, like making T.V. references to shows our parents watched was cool. "Didn't see you around school today, Fentina."

"That's because I was successfully avoiding you."

Dash scowled at my sarcasm, standing straight and glaring at me.

"Don't get smart with me, Fen-tonail, unless you want me to glue your face to this table with my fist." His glare then dropped into a sneer, throwing his arm around Kwan's shoulder, "Now, my buddy Kwan here says he saw you buddying it up with Vlad Master's this morning. Like, the billionaire Vlad Masters. So what I wanna know is what business does a scrawny nobody like you have associating with a rich somebody like him?"

"He's just a friend of my parents." I said through gritted teeth. Sam and Tucker glanced between Dash and I, worry on their faces.

"Oh really? That's hard to believe." He snorted. "Don't you, like, live under a bridge or something?"

"Good comeback, Dash. I actually live in the house with the giant, screaming neon sign above it that says 'Fenton Works'." At least I used to.

Dash frowned for a second time, which was his cue to grab the neck of my shirt and yank me into his personal bubble.

"I thought I said don't get smart with me." He glared, his primitive brain beginning to tell him it was time for an obligatory wailing. It's always my mouth that gets me in situations like these, I swear...

Unfortunately for him, I really wasn't in the mood for him to pick apart my nonexistent home life and make jabs about my family, whoever they were. From the corner of my eye I saw Tucker and Sam exchange a nervous glance at the fact that I had yet to back down from the bully, but mostly I was glaring at the moron in front of me.

"You have no idea what you're talking about Dash, so I suggest you drop the subject and pick on somebody else because I am beyond not in the mood today."

Dash blinked, shocked into silence at my brash response. Kwan whistled lowly, shaking his head with a smirk like I was in some deep shit or something.

"What did you say, you little runt?" I saw a vein start to twitch in Dash's forehead, obviously not a fan of being talked back to in front of his friends.

"Did I stutter? I said leave. Me. Alone."

Dash didn't hesitate to pull back a fist and slam it into my face.

"Hey!" Tucker and Sam jumped up, attracting some attention in the dining room, like all of Dash's other friends.

I shook the hit off because seriously, I've had way worse, and spit the small dribble of blood out thanks to a cut inside my cheek. Dash's glare deepened when I stared apathetically back, my lack of sniveling and crying clearly pissing him off. I don't know why I was egging him on. Absolutely nothing good could come out of this, but...I wasn't about to sit here and be bullied by someone like Dash...not when my own father...

"Hey! You two!" A deep, irritated voice came from the register.

Dash, Kwan, Sam, Tucker and I all spun our heads to the voice, seeing an annoyed manager gesturing to the door.

"Take it outside, will ya?"

And that was the extent of the adult help at the Nasty Burger. Dash smirked vindictively, revenge flashing in his eyes as he glanced at me.

"Sure thing, Mister." he called, grabbing me by the scruff of my neck and forcing me out the door.

A little bubble of nervousness started to pick up when he nodded to his other jock friends and four more large guys in school jackets followed us out. On second thought, maybe it wasn't such a good idea to stand up for myself...

"Danny!"

I glanced back to see Sam and Tucker rushing after me with wide eyes before Dash shoved me out the door and proceeded to drag me to the dumpster.

"Oh come on, does it have to be the dumpster?" I whined.

"Don't think so, Fenturd. You're not getting off that easily."

The bad feeling in my stomach grew when he shoved me forward, nearly pushing me to the ground. We were behind the Nasty Burger, all seven of us. That's one defenseless loser and six jocks for anyone counting. The other cronies started making a ring around me, immediately putting me on edge. I spotted Sam and Tucker hovering fearfully at the corner of the building, clearly unsure with what to do.

"Look at that, he thinks he's gonna defend himself!" Dash laughed, harking loudly and pointing to the unconscious battle stance that I was in. This was bad. I couldn't actually fight these idiots. I could kill them.

"Hey, this that Fenton loser you were tellin us about, Dash?" some nameless jacket guffawed.

"Yeah, this is him. The little runt thinks he's all high and mighty because he knows a billionaire. Tch. He's probably just getting charity money from Masters or something."

I grit my teeth furiously because in a way, that wasn't far from the truth...

"Oooo I think you made him mad! Look at him!" Another one pointed and laughed.

The cornered feeling was starting to make me panic, fists clenching and unclenching. They were circling me like I was some animal, closing me in the small confined space with leering grins and an intention for pain. It's like I was back in the living room and Dad was bearing down on me with that furious glare again, and I still couldn't fight back because they were only human. Just stupid, breakable, humans.

"I think we should teach him a lesson about knowing his place." Baxter grinned, cracking his knuckles and approaching.

I tensed, automatically backing up right into another jock who quickly grabbed my arms and locked them behind me.

"H-hey! Let me go!" I yelled, the panic building. I glanced up at Sam to see her furiously dialing a number. Who was she-?

WHAM!

A fist dug itself into my face as jeering laughs echoed around me.

"Hey! I'm talkin to you, Fentina!"

I glared at him, not really meaning to, just as an automatic response. Dash made a face and pulled his fist back, slamming it into my nose and cause blood to erupt.

"Ooooo, you got him good!"

"Look at all that blood!"

"Ha ha, I think his nose is broken!"

God, this was so sick. I don't know what was more pathetic, the fact that they were beating up a defenseless classmate or the fact that I wasn't actually defenseless, I was just too afraid to fight back. Unlike them, I could actually seriously harm-

BAM!

Another fist smashed into my face, bruising my jaw. More jeering, more laugher.

"Not so tough now, are ya Fenton?" Dash laughed, grabbing my hair, forcing my head up, and plowing another fist in my face. I spat out blood, trying to ignore the ache and waiting for them to get tired of beating me up. That's all I ever did, wasn't it? Wait and hope it would stop...

"Hey, who wants to see Fenton try and defend himself? Go on, dude, let him go."

The one locking my arms behind me shoved me forward with a guffaw, predictably knocking me to the ground because he's super creative. Dash bent down and grabbed the neck of my shirt, rearing a fist back and punching me into the pavement. Okay, I would definitely like them to stop now. He did it again, only this time decorating the other side of my face. Dash grabbed my arm and forced me to my feet, dragging me close and getting right in my face again.

"Huh. You don't put up much of a fight, Fen-toenail! I thought you were gonna defend yourself?"

"Yeah, well, you're not worth it." I grinned, feeling blood bubble over my lips. See? It's my mouth that always gets me in trouble.

Dash glared, that vein twitching again. I regretted my comment when he buried his fist in my gut, making me double over. Ow... Yeah, I-I was definitely done. This was bad. The blonde forced me up again, twisting his fist in the neck of my shirt.

"You're gonna regret mouthing off to me, Fenton! No one makes a fool out of Dash Baxter!" He raised his fist again and I winced, closing my eyes and expecting the worst. I felt Dash move for the hit, but a muffled thumping sound came three inches from my face and the punch never landed. Several loud gasps filled the air, making me open my eyes curiously, and when I did I felt my stomach plummet.

Vlad had blocked the punch aimed for my bloodied face, and was now towering over Dash with a furious glare.