My submission for DP Angst Day. It is unbelievably fun to torture Danny. :D
Disclaimer: Don't own the Phantom.
Amid the frantic banging on the door of the mansion, Danny briefly wondered why he didn't just phase in. His mind was at once sluggish and racing, not responding and replaying itself on loop. In fact, he also wondered what he was doing in Wisconsin. After... that, he had just blindly flown, and had found himself on Vlad's doorstep.
An annoyed billionare wrenched the door open. "What in the name of- Daniel! Why, what a pleasant-"
He was cut off as Phantom threw himself against him, grabbing his suit and sobbing. "Dead- all dead- explosion, Nasty Burger, all dead- they didn't run, I didn't do anything, gone, gone, dead-"
"Daniel, hold on. Who's dead?"
"Everyone!" The halfa wailed. "Sam and Tuck, Mom, Dad and Jazz! And I didn't do anything!"
For once, the perpetually scheming mind of the older halfa ground to a halt.
The door opened, closed. The black-haired boy remained turned away, lying on his side on the silky white sheets. Vlad had replaced them from the original red, to see better if they were stained with blood. He was dwarfed in the massive bed, frail, insignificant.
"Daniel." The man waited for a response which would never come. "Daniel, you need to eat."
He remained motionless.
Vlad went to his side, twisting his bandaged wrists upwards to check. "Daniel, you need to get up and eat. Think- what would Maddie say?"
Silence filled the room, and the billionare could almost hear the unsaid reply- 'She won't be saying anything now, will she?'
Staring, blankly, at the white of the paper. Pencil, held limply over the surface.
Stupid diary. Stupid psychologist. Stupid Vlad.
Eyes roved over to the wrinkled photo, tears springing anew at the sight of his ex-loved ones.
The pencil moved, laboriously scratching out the words-
Once upon a time, there was a boy. A freak. He had powers. Just once, he used them for his own gain. When his parents and friends confronted him, they died. The boy just watched as the explosion blew them to bits. Watched and did nothing. Not to help, not to run, not to turn them intangible, not to fly them away, not to shield them, not to-
Bile rose in his throat. Jerking, a shaking hand tore the page out and crumpled it. The ball of paper dropped to the ground, pencil following. A chair dragging on the floor, pounding footsteps, a door being thrown open, and retching sounds floating back out into the room.
Vlad Masters sighed, bending down to pick the paper up, and smoothing it out to read the pain and self-reproach contained in the thin pencil markings.
In front of the extravagant mirror, Danny willed the change over himself. He had discarded the cry of 'Going ghost' ever since... that.
Dulled green eyes stared, unblinking, back at him. Where once was a sparkle of life in the halfa's eyes, now the deaths of his loved ones played out, making him truly look like a ghost.
His white hair. Tucker told me he was scared when I first came out of the Portal with white hair. He said it brought to mind old people in hospitals, dying. White hair, white sheets, white walls, white doctors.
His emblem. Sam gave that to me. I asked her how long she took to design it, and she let slip that it took two entire months to finalise it. When I freaked at her for wasting her time on me, she just laughed and said that her time would never be wasted on me.
His hands twitched, moving as if to tear the stylised D off his chest. He hesitated, then gave a muffled scream and sank to the ground, gloved fists clenching tightly. Unable to bear the sight of his ghost form any longer, he raised a fist, fingers curled perfectly level- it caused more damage in fights, he had found- and rammed it hard into his reflection's face.
His strength caused the glass to shatter, and as the shards cascaded down onto him, he withdrew his hand and stared at the ripped bandages on his wrist, and red blood mixed with green-
With the mere flicker of a thought, a ball of ectoplasm formed in his hand. From experience, he knew that an ectoblast of this strength could disintegrate bits of walls. He poured in more power, the ball growing brighter, and when he ran out of energy, he pointed the hand towards his chest.
His eyes closed, almost relieved, and he let go-
"Daniel!" The roar failed to affect him, but a solid body rammed into his, another gloved arm brushing his own to one side, and the ectoblast soared over his shoulder, grazing it.
"What were you thinking?" Danny opened his eyes, staring dully at Vlad Plasmius shaking him by his shoulders and yelling into his face. "You can't just up and end your life because you lose your loved ones! I'm grieving too, but I don't commit suicide just because Mad- because she's gone!"
The boy remained unresponsive, limply hanging in Plasmius' grip. Vlad sighed frustratedly and allowed his shoulders to slump, gathering him in his arms and carrying him to the first-aid kit. "What am I going to do with you, little badger? Why won't you let me help?" He received no response.
Vlad found himself awake once more, holding down a thrashing and screaming Danny.
"No...No! Mom, Dad, Jazz, run! Sam, Tuck, get out of here! Please! Don't! ...My fault, my fault all my fault should have turned them all intangible why why why-!" His voice was hoarse, breaking.
The older halfa could feel the waves of agony, sorrow and guilt flooding off the younger boy, putting his own loss at Maddie's death to shame. Sighing, he rubbed at the dark circles under his eyes, silently thanking the heavens that Danny had started to calm down, only muttering the occasional 'My fault-'.
He trailed a hand over the child's heavily bandaged wrists, letting it travel up to the scorch mark on the scrawny upper shoulder- the first when the boy had tried to kill himself through the normal means, forcing Vlad to fly in a doctor to the mansion, the second when the first had failed, driving him to use his ghost powers to end his life. Vlad had barely caught him, managing to knock his aim askew.
Why? Why was it that misfortune insisted on raining onto both halfas' heads?
Vlad had no answer to that, even as Danny shuddered awake and stared ahead with haunted eyes.
"Please, Vlad." The billionare looked down at the child. Danny was thoroughly dishevelled, hair a tangled mess, too apathetic to change out of his day-clothes, eyes- whether blue or green- perpetually tortured and haunted.
He had given up on living, Vlad realised, horrified.
"P-please. Just kill me already." His former enemy begged him, the helpless voice breaking something inside of him. "Just end the pain, end the feelings."
And Vlad had to agree, or watch the son of his beloved waste away to a phantom of his former self.