Author's Note:

Hey guys! I'm back, and look what I brought for you--a SECOND story! Wow. Way to go above and beyond, I know. I'm a real achiever.

Seriously though, it's been a while. Too long. But instead of boring you with a long list of (completely valid, mind you) excuses, I'll just scoot right along to this new thing. What is it, you ask? It's smut. Yeah, that's not a joke; it's a shameless smut story and there's no two ways around it, no way to defend it, it is what it is and it's smut so there you go. It's also not going to be any longer than two chapters--it was originally just one piece until I ran smack into a nasty bout of writer's block at the end and got fidgety and just decided to break it in two. Oh, and I'm working on A Haunting, I promise.

As always I appreciate reviews--I love feedback and like to know what the people have to say. And while I don't feel like I should really have to address this, here: If you feel the need to flame me then whatever, go ahead, although I have to say, if this kind of stuff really offends you I don't know what you're doing hunting around the freakin MATURE section, cuz you know as well as I do that smut is 95% of what's in here and if you're here it's pretty obvious you're just lookin to be an ass.

Oh yeah, and I don't own Danny Phantom. Really, if I did, it would just be obscene. Out of control. A hot mess, as the saying goes.

I: Liaison

"Bye, guys!" Danny waved a final time at a grinning Sam and Tucker before phasing the upper half of his body through the building wall and into his room. Sighing and chuckling to himself, he touched down on the floor, re-solidified and stretched. It really had been a great birthday—a whole day to hang out with his two best friends, finally, one day where they'd all managed to get time off from their respective summer jobs. And that was just what Danny had wanted; no parties, nothing flashy, just one day to laugh and have fun before the summer drew to a close and forced them on to college and on their separate ways….

Danny frowned into the darkness of his room. College. It wasn't really something he wanted to think about. Even now he found it difficult to understand why Sam needed to go to her fancy liberal arts university, or why Tucker had insisted on "just seeing" if he could get accepted into MIT… only to find he couldn't resist not saying yes when, to everyone's great surprise, an acceptance letter arrived for him weeks later in the mail. No, Danny had always supposed that college would be something like a continuance of high school, and that at the very least, wherever the three of them decided to go, they'd all go together. But it now seemed that that wouldn't be the case.

Sighing again, the boy glanced at the clock as he pulled off his shoes and socks. Three-thirteen. It was no wonder he was so exhausted—

A small noise broke out from the corner of the room.

Danny froze, listening intently, heart pounding in his chest. Slowly, he turned his head in the direction of the noise, eyes straining in the darkness. But as he was reaching for a nearby lamp the air around him grew deathly cold, and Danny knew immediately what it was he was dealing with—

"A ghost," he muttered, scowling to himself. Couldn't they leave him alone just for one day? Just for his birthday? The boy felt his hands clench into fists. "Just come on out—quit hiding," he hissed angrily. "It's pathetic when you guys try to hide."

Suddenly, the temperature of the air seemed to drop another twenty degrees, plunging Danny into bitter cold and causing him to gasp in surprise as goose bumps sprang up across his body. The boy set his jaw, ready to go ghost, but stopped short when he felt the dense pressure of a presence appear behind him, and his anger deteriorated into fear because he'd never felt such a powerful ghost sneak up on him so quickly—

Danny's breath hitched as cold, strong fingers wrapped around his arms, turning his skin to ice on contact. A face pressed close to his ear.

"Happy nineteenth, Daniel."

And Danny knew whom that voice belonged to immediately, because there was only one person in the whole world who called him that. But he didn't have time to react or even speak, for in a blur of movement something hard crashed the side of his skull, and the world went white and then went dark.


The first thing Danny felt was pain. Pain before he was aware of anything else—his head was throbbing and his body was twisted up into an uncomfortable position. Danny grimaced but didn't open his eyes, his tired and disoriented mind attempting to let his other senses to paint a rough picture of his surroundings before having to wake up completely. He seemed to be lying down on something plush… perhaps a bed? No, a couch? He wasn't sure. In the distance he could make out a faint crackling sound interspersed with random hisses and pops…. That had to be a fire, because the smell of burning wood was in his nose, mixing with the musty scent of old paper and ink and the shadowy, sultry air of expensive things—

With a small groan Danny forced his eyes open.

He was lying on a couch in an unfamiliar and dimly lit room. It looked like a den, or a study. The portions of the walls not blocked by large shelves heaped with nearly every kind of book imaginable were covered in dark wood paneling, the lacquer glistening in the yellow light jumping from the fireplace in the far wall. There was a sturdy desk across the room from the couch, complete with a very new-looking computer and several neat piles of papers, backlit by a set of high windows through which Danny could just glimpse the stars. And, sitting by the fire in a large chair, legs crossed and looking completely at ease, was the spindly, refined form of Vlad Masters.

Danny blinked. Vlad didn't appear to notice that he was awake; the man's nose was buried in a book so dog-eared and frayed the title had become completely inscrutable. It had obviously been read many times over a span of many years. The boy watched as Vlad shifted to push his glasses up the bridge of his nose and take a sip of wine from a glass he'd been expertly balancing on the armrest of his chair.

Danny swallowed—his brain was racing, its speed matched only by the furious pounding of his heart. What was he doing here? Where was he? Well okay, thought Danny, glancing around at the man and the room, Vlad's mansion, obviously, but why? Did Vlad really kidnap him and bring him here?

Biting his lip, Danny tried to quietly sit up with out attracting the man's attention, only to discover that something was holding his arms in place—his eyes widened in disbelief when he realized his hands were handcuffed behind his back. Seriously? No wonder he was so damned uncomfortable laying there. The boy felt hot anger gnawing at him, and a scowl spread slowly across his face. What the hell? What the fuck was wrong with that guy? Well, whatever Vlad was planning, Danny thought, he wasn't about to let it happen. The boy grit his teeth, concentrating, willing his body to slip into its ghost form, yet as soon as he did he sensed something was wrong—

Danny's sharp cry pierced the room as an intense shock shot through the boy's body, causing his muscles to spasm and his back to bow out against the cushions. A small arc of white-hot electricity jumped from his neck to his shoulder, singeing his skin and burning a small hole in the collar of his shirt. And through the disorienting haze that was recovering from mild electrocution, Danny realized that the shock had been caused by something clasped around his neck, something about the size and width of a dog collar but made of cold metal—

"Oh, you're not going to want to do that." Danny's head snapped up to see a clearly amused Vlad staring at him from his chair. His blue eyes twinkled deviously behind the rims of his glasses. "That collar shorts out ghost powers," he explained.

"Vlad," growled Danny, his head still spinning from the shock. "Wha-what's going on? What's the meaning of all this?" As the boy spoke he tried, without much success, to push himself into a sitting position—it was more difficult than he thought it'd be with his hands anchored behind him. Vlad smiled, marking his place in his book before setting it down and standing up.

"You know, it's almost a shame," Vlad sighed, completely ignoring Danny's heated questions. He set about meticulously smoothing the wrinkles out of his vest and straightening his tie. "That you woke up so soon, I mean." The man caught Danny's eye and grinned. "You talk in your sleep—did you know that? It's adorable." Danny might have blushed had he not been so furious.

"You kidnapped me?" Danny seethed.

"Well, obviously," drawled Vlad.

"And what the hell is this?" Danny spat, pulling uselessly at the restraints. "What do you want with me?" Vlad smiled, tipping his head to the side.

"It's your birthday today, Daniel," he answered, again sidestepping Danny's direct question, his voice coated in sugary faux innocence. Vlad took another sip of wine, obviously entertained by the boy's fury. "Or at least it was—" he pulled a pocket watch from this vest and glanced briefly at it "—four hours and twelve minutes ago. And we've known each other for such a long time, Daniel… I thought I'd do the nice thing and get you a gift." Vlad's grin stretched wider as if he was silently enjoying an inside joke. Danny's eyes narrowed.

"You got me a gift?" he asked, incredulous.

"I did."

"You knocked me out, kidnapped me, and tied me up, at four in the morning… so you could give me a gift?" Vlad only nodded, as if it was a perfectly logical chain of events. His condescending smirk infuriated Danny. "You're a fucking liar," the boy fumed. And in his rage he twisted against his restraints again, this time with more force, but the throbbing in his head doubled in intensity and he lost his balance, tripping over himself and landing hard on the carpeted floor with a soft thud. Vlad watched the struggle pitifully.

"But of course you can't argue the tying up wasn't necessary," the man said, looking down at Danny and shaking his head sadly. "Pointless—you never do listen to reason…." Vlad walked casually to his desk, leaning on it and turning to stare at his captive. "All the years I've known you, Daniel, and you've never demonstrated an ounce of common sense. I'm starting to believe you don't have any at all." He sighed. "An unfortunate trait you inherited from your father, I suppose."

"Don't talk about my parents like that!" shouted Danny, twisting his head from the floor to look at Vlad. "Don't—don't talk about them at all!" But the man only laughed.

"I'll say what I please, Daniel," he murmured, the danger in his tone striking despite his smile. "It is my house, after all. My rules." Danny scowled, muttering obscenities aimed at Vlad as he finally managed to sit up straight against the couch. He was breathing hard and running low on patience.

"What do you want with me, Vlad?" he asked again finally, staring darkly at the man. His voice was even but full of menace.

"But I've already told you, Daniel," said the man, feigning exasperation. "Have you really forgotten already?" He chuckled, enjoying the back and forth game. "I want to give you your birthday present. That's it."

"That's it?"

"Yes. Then I'll release you, and you'll be free to go." Danny scoffed.

"Dude, why should I believe you?" Vlad shrugged.

"Well, I suppose you can't, really…. But seeing as how you're the one powerless and restrained right now—" he flashed Danny a condescending smirk "—I guess you're just going to have to take my word for it."

"Son of a bitch," Danny spat, glaring daggers at Vlad. But what could he do? Perhaps it would just be better to get whatever convoluted plan Vlad had rigged up over and done with. "Fine," he said. "Go ahead."

"Ah, very good, Daniel," said Vlad. "They say obedience is a virtue." Danny scowled at the remark; Vlad laughed at Danny's scowl. "Now… just to say beforehand," the man explained. "This… gift… well, it wasn't really something I could wrap, so I hope you won't be too disappointed." The expression behind Vlad's grin was dark and unreadable. Danny looked around apprehensively, half expecting a ghost to fly up through the floor and blast him to pieces. But nothing happened. The boy eyed Vlad suspiciously.

"So… what is it?" Vlad grinned.

"It's a proposition, Daniel." Flames danced off the lenses of his glasses. Danny stared, dumbstruck and confused.

"A proposition? A proposition for what?"

"Oh Daniel really," Vlad said, pushing himself off the desk and moving towards the boy. "Sometimes I worry about that thick head of yours." He knelt down in front of Danny until their faces were mere inches apart. "But I see now that I've no choice but to make things blatantly obvious for you—"

And in a flash Vlad's hand shot out to grab the neck of Danny's shirt, and before the boy could protest they were engulfed in an explosion of blinding pinkish-white light. For a fraction of a second the ground seemed to fall out from beneath Danny's body; he felt a scream curdling in his throat, and yet, before he could make a sound, the light had dissipated and he was falling back against something solid and fluffy and warm.

Danny groaned, shutting his eyes hard against the sudden flare of pain radiating from the now swelling bruise on his head. He blinked and found for the second time that evening he had opened his eyes to find himself in an unfamiliar place. He was in another room, a room illuminated only by the pale moonlight filtering in from several large windows and a pair of French doors…. And—an unsettling thought edged its way into Danny's mind—where was Vlad?

Danny's heart leapt in his chest and he sat up quickly, only to discover his vision was still too unfocused by the flash of light to see anything clearly. Slowly though, objects hovered into view: a standing lamp, an armoire, a couple of chairs, a mirror…. Danny looked down to discover that the object he was sitting upon was a large four-poster bed—

Wait. He was on a bed?

"What the hell?" he whispered, and he nearly jumped out of his skin when his question was met with a dark chuckle from somewhere to his right. Danny spun around just in time to see Vlad's silhouette illuminated as the man clicked on a small bedside lamp, bathing the room in a soft golden glow. The man was smiling lazily at Danny. Smiling at Danny… as he sat on a bed… hands bound….

A proposition. Making things obvious.

And that's when Danny understood.

"No," the boy muttered hoarsely, shaking his head and staring at Vlad as the man's lazy smile curled into a smirk. "No, no, nononono…." Vlad took a step forward.

"Stay away from me, you sick freak!" Danny screeched, scrabbling away across the bed, doing his best to keep his balance despite his restraints. The fear in his voice was evident. "Oh my god, oh my god, I-I-I can't believe you, I—" His voice evaporated and he froze as he felt two hands grab a hold of his shoulders from behind.

"You really need to stop falling for that one, Daniel," a voice purred in his ear. "A clone is such a simple trick… gullibility doesn't make for a good opponent." Danny twitched, watching with a terrible sinking feeling as the Vlad that had turned on the light grinned wickedly at him before dissolving into thin air. Vlad's hands moved slowly down to Danny's elbows, and he could feel the man press close into his back. His voice dropped to a whisper. "Though I must admit it does make a cute one…." Danny shuddered.

"Vlad—stop it," he hissed, though his voice didn't possess any of the commanding forcefulness he'd been attempting to convey. He felt physically sick; his arms and legs quivered like jelly. It was all he could do to keep himself from shaking.

"No, I don't think I will stop, Daniel," answered Vlad, and Danny could hear the lust in his voice. "As I said before—" In one swift movement Vlad spun Danny about and shoved him onto his back, causing the boy to yelp in surprise. He swung a leg across the boy's hips, pinning him to the bed. "My house. My rules."

"I'm only here because you kidnapped me!" Danny growled angrily. He tried to twist away from Vlad but was unsuccessful.

"A technicality," Vlad shrugged, pressing down on Danny harder to keep him still. The boy cringed as the metal handcuffs dug uncomfortably into his back. "And proof that you should be more careful in the future. Oh, and here—" Vlad's hand swept down through Danny's stomach and he grabbed the boy's wrists, phasing his arms up through his torso so that they were in front of rather than behind him and causing Danny to wince at the bizarre sensation. "That should make things a bit easier later on." With a crooked grin Vlad pulled the tie loose from around his neck, slipping it out from under his vest and letting it fall to the bed beside them. Danny stared at it disbelievingly.

"You're… you're serious about this…." His voice cracked as he spoke.

"Oh yes, Daniel," Vlad answered matter-of-factly, carefully unbuttoning his cufflinks and vest. He leaned in close to the boy. "Very."

"I-I won't let you," sputtered Danny, but his voice was feeble. Vlad arched a brow.

"Really?" He hooked his finger around Danny's metal collar, tugging on it lightly. "Empty threats, boy…." Danny swallowed.

"I'll tell," he muttered, voice raspy. It sounded pathetic, sounded like he was giving up, submitting, but it was all he could think of. "I swear to god if you do anything I'll tell. I'll tell everyone." Vlad only sighed, pulling the tie out of his hair and slipping it around his wrist.

"You're not going to tell," the man said simply. The tone of his voice was definite, sure. Like he was explaining that the sky was blue, or that two and two was four. Danny bristled.

"Yes I will! I will; you'd have to kill me to keep me quiet about this—" A sudden dark fear bloomed in the boy's chest. "Are you… you're not going to—you wouldn't dare…." He licked his lips but couldn't get the words out.

"I'm not going to kill you, Daniel," said Vlad, rolling his eyes. "But trust me, you're not going to tell." He leaned down, sending a cascade of silvery hairs falling around Danny's face. "You'd do well to trust me," he murmured, and Danny stiffened as he felt Vlad's face brush against his own—

"God, get off!" Danny twisted furiously, swinging his hands around to push Vlad away and in the process catching the side of the man's jaw with a sharp metal cuff and nearly knocking the glasses off his face. Vlad fell back, hissing lightly in pain. But when he turned back to Danny his eyes were shining.

"Still got that fight in you, boy?" he jeered, face contorted into a vicious smile that chilled Danny to the core. His lip was cut. He grabbed hold of Danny's neck and lifted his upper body clear off the bed. "That's good. I wouldn't have you any other way. But mark my words, I will have you." Danny watched helplessly as the man licked away the beads of blood starting to trail from the edge of his lip.

"And this reminds me," said Vlad. "That collar's got another little feature that makes it perfect for what we're doing tonight. Care to see?" Danny heard a metallic click on the thing around his neck, and Vlad pulled a thick wire cord from the collar, deftly twisting the end of the cord around itself and phasing the loop through the slats that composed the headboard. In seconds, Danny found himself bound to the bed by three and a half feet of wire. The lump in his throat seemed to double in size.

"You won't get away with this," the boy spat, though both men heard his voice waver as he said it. Vlad's grin stretched wider.

"And why not, Daniel? After all, you may make a habit of leaping haphazardly into foolish situations…. But I don't. Did you really think I would start something like this without thinking it through? Without considering every possible eventuality? I've planned this, Daniel. And my plans don't fail."

"What are you talking about?" Danny hissed. "None of your plans ever work! I kick your ass all the time—"

"You know, you're lucky I'm a man who can appreciate sarcasm," Vlad interrupted, his eyes as obsidian as his tone. "Because it would be so unfortunate if instead of amusing I found it… oh, well, let's say… grating and obnoxious." He sighed deeply. "In any case, you're wrong, Daniel, wrong on both accounts. As is so often your problem, you've failed to grasp the bigger picture."

"What bigger picture?" shot Danny angrily. "There is no bigger picture, you prick!" The boy was resorting to argument and sarcasm—his very last defense, and he knew it. His hands were at the collar, shaking as they attempted to unclasp the cord. His breathing quickened. The world seemed be closing in on him—this couldn't really be happening—

"Wrong again, Daniel," Vlad continued quietly, voice even. "Honestly, do you think I'm really trying when I fight you? Do you think what you've seen of me is the best I can do? Because I'll tell you right here, it's not. It's not even close." Danny paused, a mixture of uncertainty and fear in his eyes.

"Liar," he finally snarled. But his voice was unsure.

"No," said Vlad softly, eyes flashing behind his glasses. "I'm afraid our little squabbles haven't left you with a very accurate picture of me, boy. I'm more dangerous than you'd like to think." The laughter in his voice was horrifying. "When I fight you, and 'fight' is a loose term here, you're not an opponent, Daniel. You're a game. You're a toy. An overly confident and hopelessly deluded toy who's completely, and, this is the amusing part, obliviously, over his pretty little head. Don't think I couldn't kill you if I wanted to, Daniel. I couldn't tell you how many times I've let you think you had the upper hand while in my head I was practically counting the ways I could kill you. Kill you simply. Kill you easily. And I'd get away with it, too." Danny blinked, his face stark white. There was something merciless in Vlad's voice that made what he was saying all too believable.

"You want the bigger picture, Daniel? The bigger picture is that you're not alive today because you've got the skills to properly defend yourself, or because of luck, or because you're the good guy and I'm the bad guy and the good guys always win." Vlad grinned darkly and moved closer to Danny, who wilted under the man's touch as he crawled on top of the boy, allowing his trembling frame to be pressed into the bed. "You're alive because I let you live, boy. Because I thought I'd keep you around, that you'd be good for a fuck." His hands roamed across Danny's torso. "Tonight we'll see if I was right…."

"You-you're not going to get anything out of me; I'm not into guys" sputtered Danny defiantly, trying to quell his shaking body. "You're not gonna get any kind of response—"

"Oh but Daniel we both know that's not true," Vlad said simply, his icy eyes boring into Danny's frantic ones. "After all, you're just a horny little teenager… something tells me I'm not going to have to try very hard to turn you on…." Slowly, his hand moved down between Danny's legs and he ran a nail along the inseam of his jeans, causing the boy to gasp and squirm—

"See?" Vlad's face broke out into a cruel smile. "Case and point. It's easy." Danny flushed, and was only shamed further when he heard a whimper escape his lips as Vlad repeated the motion, slower this time, and harder.

"S-stop it…." Vlad stared at Danny with narrowed eyes, fingers still splayed on the boy's crotch, as if trying to decide something. Finally he removed his hand and sat up straight.

"But I admit you're right in one respect," said the man, brushing a strand of hair from his face. "This won't be much fun if you just argue and bitch and cry the whole time; the sex is always better when the other party wants it too, don't you think?" He shot Danny a condescending smirk. "Or wouldn't you know?" Danny swallowed, but when he realized Vlad was making a dig at his sexual experience, his temper flared.

"Hey, I'm not a virgin!"

"Really? You say that, Daniel, and yet for some reason I'm not inclined to believe you," drawled Vlad. "After all, it's not sex if you do it by yourself in the shower…. Or if you've got to apologize to your girlfriend for not being able to keep it up long enough…." Danny blushed bright crimson and gaped at Vlad, unable to get his mouth to form words.

"Were you… were you spying on me?" he finally rasped. He almost didn't want to know the answer. But Vlad smirked, and his expression clearly said, Oh yes I was, boy, and I saw everything, and I heard everything, and I enjoyed myself completely.

"What the fuck is wrong with you?" Danny screeched, fury temporarily overriding his embarrassment. He lunged at Vlad, outstretched hands clawing for the man's neck, but the collar line snapped taught against the headboard and sent him reeling backwards onto the bed, coughing and gasping for air. He grit his teeth as he heard Vlad's laughter echo through the room. "You're disgusting," Danny wheezed. "That's none of your business…."

"Stupid boy," Vlad muttered. "Just be glad it's you and not your mother." The comment made Danny's blood boil. Never in his life had he wanted to kill someone so badly… but the damn collar…. His hands clenched into useless fists.

"But really now," Vlad continued. "We should be getting back to the topic at hand. And you should pay attention here," he warned, waiting for Danny to establish eye contact with him. "Because what I'm about to tell you is important." He took a deep breath. "As I was saying, I'm not about to do this with you fighting me every step of the way—"

"I will, you son of a bitch!" shouted Danny. "I swear, I am not going to let you so much as touch me without a fight! I'll fucking kill you!" Vlad paused at the interruption and sighed, his face looking as though he was having trouble deciding whether to chastise Danny or laugh at him. In the end he did both.

"You have a tendency to be such a temperamental child when you're upset, Daniel," said Vlad, chuckling and tipping his head to the side. "Has anyone ever told you that?"

"Shut up! I do not!"

"While I believe you've just proven my point," said Vlad, leering at the boy, "I do need you to pay attention. So perhaps if we did things a bit differently?" And Danny saw the outlines of Vlad's body blur for a fraction of a second, like he was an image gone slightly out of focus, and suddenly Danny became aware of a second presence behind him, of arms wrapping around his body, pinning his own arms to his chest—

"Hello again, Daniel." A face pressed itself into his shoulder, and Danny could feel a trickle of hot breath on his neck. His eyes darted to the real Vlad, whose smug expression gave nothing away. Danny squirmed under the hold of the clone, but the strong arms only squeezed him tighter, and, as if in punishment for struggling, he felt the tip of a wet tongue wind its way across the skin of his neck—

"Vlad," Danny gasped. His whole body seemed to convulse.

"Yes?" both Vlads answered in tandem.

"Vlad stop it, please."

"Then pay attention. I have something to show you."

"Okay, okay." Danny nodded vigorously. Anything to get that tongue off his skin. "I'm paying attention." The tongue retracted; Vlad looked pleased.

"Good boy. Now," he began, "you've made it clear you're not going to be a willing participant tonight, which is of course the reaction I was expecting. But don't think that means you're off the hook. Ultimately, these things are all just a matter of persuasion, and Daniel—" his hand slipped into his open vest "—I've been known to be quite persuasive."

Vlad pulled his hand back into view, holding between his fingers a thin clear vial filled with a colorless liquid. Danny's heart seemed to freeze in his chest. That vial couldn't be good. Nothing about that vial could possibly be good.

"What is that?" the boy croaked, voice about an octave too high.

"Just something I brought along to help you change your mind," said Vlad slyly as he began to edge towards Danny. "I've been perfecting it in my spare time."

"You-you-y-you…" sputtered Danny. He couldn't seem to get his head around the situation. His mind felt like it was shutting down. "You what?" he finally breathed.

"It wasn't very hard, I must admit," said Vlad, twirling the vial in his fingers. "Didn't your father ever tell you I got my master's in biochemistry? I was one of the first, you know; the field was still in its infancy back then." He grinned, tipping his head to the side. "But I should give credit where credit is due; really, you'd be amazed at the kinds of doors that will open when you can meet the asking price. And when you know who to ask...." His eyes flashed dangerously. "…And how to do the asking." Danny shuddered.

"Scared, boy?" taunted Vlad, his sinister voice teasing. "You should actually be honored; do you know how many people are desperate enough to kill for just a bit of what I've got in my hand? And the pharmaceutical companies—my god, they've spent decades and billions and haven't managed to scrape together anything half as good as this. They hardly know what they're doing; really, watching them scavenge for answers is like watching a carnival of fools. Can you fathom how much they'd offer for the patent? Does your brain even function at numbers that high? The figures would be obscene, and coming from me, that's really saying something." Danny swallowed and found his throat was dry. His entire body felt numb. What the hell was Vlad talking about?

"But I digress." Vlad's voice dropped to a deadly murmur and his hand moved to his vest pocket again. "We have a birthday to celebrate, after all." And from his pocket he withdrew a long wrapped needle.