Author: So, here it is. Another update of a story that I began a long time ago. As in 2009. And it is now 2013. Good going Ryuuko. /sigh
Disclaimer: Not mine
271 Fly (Sunday 11/29/09)
The flight back to the University was fairly short, especially if one took a short-cut through the Ghost Zone. Danny dodged a randomly appearing door and sighed quietly.
There were so many doors that hung suspended in nothing. They cast no shadow, had no markings, had no 'glow' of their own—they were patches of dark solidity in an otherwise floorless, floating world. Part of Danny wanted to open some of them, see what was hidden behind the impenetrable, opaque 'wood', but another part balked, not wanting to release anything into the Ghost Zone that she wasn't ready to deal with.
Danny looked briefly around her, and felt the oddest sense of vertigo. Usually there were random spots of 'rock' interspersed amongst the neon, but she had been seeing less and less during her forays into the paranormal realm. Her stomach briefly dropped out from under her and she had to stop to reorient herself, although it was hard when there was no 'ground'. Danny couldn't be sure what was up or down, since her own sense of balance and kinesthesia was off by being able to float and/or fly in any orientation she pleased.
It wasn't often she got the feeling that she was teetering on the edge of the abyss, but every now and then the sheer intangibility of the Ghost Zone reminded her of the line between ghost and human that she tread so clumsily.
Danny took and deep breath, shook her head, and looked forward, using a tiny piece of land on the horizon as a point of orientation. It took her a moment, but once she was sure that she was heading forward, she pushed herself faster towards her 'home' at the university. Thankfully, regardless of how it felt like the Ghost Zone was expanding every day, human-made portals were stationary—she always would knew where Vlad's, her family's, and the accidentally-made portal at the university were. That was at least a relief in a realm that was slowly making less and less sense. Before, the Ghost Zone used to have its own set of physical rules, bizarre though they might have been. Now, it seemed as if it was flying apart at the seams, and Danny didn't want to ponder what that meant.
She was relieved when she found the University portal and turned invisible and intangible—just in case—as she exited.
95 Touch (Monday 11/30/09)
Danny had been lightly dozing in class when suddenly the world warped and twisted, leaving her feeling out of touch with reality.
Danny scrambled at the table and found herself sitting at a desk, breathing familiar air in surroundings that were familiar, albeit a bit out-of-date.
But it was all so wrong.
"Daydreaming again, Mr. Fenton?"
Danny frowned and looked away from the desk and up to the speaker, only to nearly fall out of the chair. She looked around quickly and covertly, fighting down panic.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Is he talking to me? Danny wandered and swallowed, her fingers curling into loose fists.
She'd figure out what was wrong and then she'd thrash whatever ghost was doing this to her.
"Yes?" she asked carefully and nearly jumped out of her skin at her own voice. It took all of her effort to keep her hand from going to her throat in an instinctive gesture of disbelief and desire to touch whatever was wrong to figure it out.
"Please try to pay attention," the teacher drawled, and Danny barely kept herself from squinting, trying to divine who the teacher was, but no-one was coming to mind.
"Danny," Danny heard hissed behind her and she turned slightly to look over her shoulder and barely kept herself from staring.
The facial structure and build were all so very, very wrong, but she would recognize Tucker no matter her form.
"Later," Danny said, distracted by the sound of her own voice.
Where am I? What is this? She wondered, her thoughts racing. What ghost would this be? A new one? Or could it be…
Danny's skin prickled. Or could it be an effect of the thing inside me?
Danny forced her foreign body to relax and unclenched her hands. She looked quickly up at the clock and her shoulders slumped slightly in relief.
Thank god. About to end.
The bell rang and Danny left quickly, not caring what class she had next, since she had no idea what her grade was in the illusion she was living.
She teleported out of the school as she turned a corner and ended up in the bedroom at her home.
Everything seems the same, she thought as she trotted down the stairs before going invisible to avoid any other occupants. She sunk into the basement and looked at the inactive Ghost Portal, tapping her foot on the steel floor, her hands going to her hips.
Danny took a deep breath and found the bits of pieces of knowledge that she had from Phantom and extended a hand, finding the barrier between the Ghost Zone and Human World.
She attempted to open a portal between the two, but the world twisted in the same pattern as the Portal and Danny found herself standing in an infinite darkness, speckled only lightly with pinpoints of light.
"Beautiful, isn't it?"
Danny started to turn to face the voice, but ended up returning to herself with almost jarring force, her notes slipping off the desk and onto the floor, which was thankfully covered by sound of people leaving.
Danny felt her face burn with embarrassment as she knelt down and picked everything up quickly. Finn helped her, and handed some of the scattered papers to her.
"You okay?" he asked, blatant concern in his voice.
"I'll be fine," Danny said, her voice steadier than she felt as she shoved everything in her backpack.
208 Spell (Tuesday 12/1/09)
"I can't decide which is worse—English spelling or Japanese kanji," Sean muttered, and Danny couldn't help but sympathize. Danny tapped her pencil against the paper before her, what seemed like nothing more than scribbles scrawled across the surface.
"I'm never gonna get this," Danny sighed. Sure, she knew she was studying a foreign language, but she hadn't expected it to be quite so…well, foreign.
Should've continued taking Spanish, she thought mournfully. Or even French or Italian or something as long as it involved the English alphabet. But, nooo, I had to try for something completely different, just to expand my mental horizons or something.
"Aw, don't say that. You'll be fine," Finn said cheerfully, which made the rest of the class give him covert dirty looks.
"Just because it comes easy to you doesn't mean it's easy for the rest of us," Shawn drawled, carefully controlled annoyance in his voice.
Finn had the good grace to look sheepish. "Well, I mean, I did have a head-start, taking it in high school and everything."
"Then why take it now, too? Shouldn't you have tried something different?"
"Hey, I came here because it had both Japanese and Astronomy. You'd be surprised at how hard it is to find such a combination."
"I dunno, can't be that hard in the larger schools," Shawn muttered and rubbed out a sentence viciously.
"Yeah, well, larger, affordable, and ones I could get into…" Finn trailed off, his shoulders slumping slightly. He obviously forced himself to perk up and said, "But, hey! We have time! I can help y'all study! It'll be awesome, yes?"
"Sometimes I wonder where you get your energy," Shawn muttered.
Danny smiled cautiously. "You'd really help?"
"Um, duh. Come here, what do you want help with?"
59 Coat (Wednesday 12/2/09)
Danny pulled her coat closer around her, fighting against the bitter wind that swept across campus. Even with her natural resistance to cold, it still bit down to her bones, leaving her cross and shivering.
What I wouldn't give for a natural heating system right now, she thought, and her mind abruptly and—surprisingly—presented her with the idea that Vlad would probably know a number of ways to 'keep her warm.'
Danny felt her face flush and scowled at the ground, pulling the coat ever tighter. Stupid hormones. Stupid Vlad. Stupid weather.
Danny knew she could probably go ghost and fly to her next class, but she had already committed to walking and it would give her more time to think—well, to worry. Even with extra help, even with office hours, even with her putting every last ounce of effort into her studies, she still felt like studying for finals was a Sisyphean task.
Danny squared her shoulders and blew out a long, slow breath that misted into the cold air.
I don't care how hard it is. I'm gonna succeed and become an astronaut and make everyone proud of me. Make me proud of me.
She pulled the coat closer around her, mentally noting that she'd need to get a new one soon—again—if her body kept filling out the way it was.
190 Drowning (Thursday 12/3/09)
Danny dreamed of drowning.
She was suffocating in an expansive nothingness, flailing for a handhold, for any kind of surface, and finding nothing but potential that she squeezed between her fingers. She found the expansive lack as disorienting as the Ghost Zone, with its up, down, and sideways dimensions. She couldn't think, the only thought that permeated her abject panic being 'Have to get out.' It repeated in an endless loop of terror in her head, and the futility of her motions made her struggle all the harder with even less success.
In her dreams there was also a voice, something that whispered secrets to her that made her ears bleed and forced her to stifle screams of agony and rage. It was trying to tell her something, teach her something, mold her into something, but she wanted nothing of it, wanted to be deaf and dumb and blind to its influence. She was horrified at what she was hearing and wanted to run from the pain and darkness, but also rebelled against it, hated how whatever was happening to her was outside her control.
The agony didn't end after she woke, however, for the whispers and the fear still resonated in her soul long after the dreams had ended.
248 Doors (Friday 12/4/09)
Finn had the ill grace to laugh as Danny rubbed her nose, scowling at the door before her.
"It's clear," she said in her defence, and Finn simply slapped her shoulder.
"Oh, it's totally okay, really," he said with a grin. "No worse than pulling when the sign says push."
"You don't have to laugh, though," Jewel said, elbowing Finn in the side.
"I was just distracted," Danny muttered and Jewel wrapped one arm around her shoulders.
"You're under stress, I know, I know. You need to get better sleep, I think. That way you would be aware enough to not walk into doors."
Danny grimaced. "I'd like to sleep but…"
"None of your business," Jewel replied primly and Finn held his hands up in surrender.
"Got it." He pulled open the door and gestured with a flourish for Jewel and Danny to enter. "After you, my ladies."
Jewel rolled her eyes as Danny snickered.
171 Piano (Saturday 12/5/09)
"I didn't know you played the piano," Danny said as she poked her head in on Vlad, on her way out from receiving her medication.
Vlad looked up from the sheet music and smiled faintly. "I'm sure there are still many things that you are ignorant of, my girl. I will enjoy watching you struggle to uncover them."
Danny rolled her eyes and walked into the room. She hadn't been in it before, and was surprised by how the shelves were filled with old vinyls, CDs, cassette tapes, even a gramophone sat dusty in one corner. A whole bookcase was full of nothing but folders and books of sheet music, from contemporary pop music to high classical.
Danny couldn't read any of it, but she could appreciate how difficult some of the pieces looked.
"Can you only play piano?"
"I have tried to learn cello," Vlad said, her hands coming to a rest on a chord. "But it is hard to keep a teacher when one has ghosts constantly coming and going."
Danny snickered. "Even money can't make them stick around?"
"As I have discovered over time, money doesn't buy everything. It does smooth a great many roads, though."
Danny looked thoughtfully at Vlad as she picked up where she left off. The last statement said a great deal. In the beginning, when she had first met Vlad, the woman had indicated that she knew, but didn't quite believe, that money couldn't buy everything—afterall, the only thing money hadn't really gotten her was Danny's father. But she seemed…sincere this time. As if she knew now that money wasn't the be-all end-all.
Danny wondered what had changed that.
"Could you teach me?" Danny heard herself say, and Vlad's fingers stumbled on a run.
"First ghost powers, now music? What will be next—you asking if you could become my apprentice in business?" Vlad asked, looking to her, face unreadable.
"Ha ha, very funny," Danny drawled. "I've always kinda thought I might wanna be able to play an instrument some day, but my life…well, my life is my life. There's really not much time for anything other than school and survival."
"I suppose I can try to give you lessons whenever we both have time."
Danny found herself smiling. "Sounds good to me."
"Now, off with you. I'm sure you still have undone homework."
Danny sighed, then grimaced as she transformed and took off towards her dorm.