Summary: After a long day at school, Danny has a run-in with Skulker. This time, though, The Ghost Zone's Greatest Hunter is out to kill. Just as he gains the upper hand, however, an un-expected visitor shows up. Danny/Dani cousin-bonding.

AN: I have no idea what made me think of this, but it's been bugging me to write it down. Obviously, I answered the Plot Bunnies' calls and did. It's kind of sad, but a little uplifting in some kind of twisted, sick way. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I don't own anything… *sob*

"Bye, Sam; bye, Tucker!" Danny called as he and his two best friends parted ways, each to their own house. Now walking alone, Danny Fenton allowed himself a sigh. Even after the Disasteroid, his hero duties had only decreased slightly. He had been pulled out of not only a math exam, but also a history exam earlier that day to deal with a "little problem" made by Technus and the Lunch Lady. Even with Mr. Lancer tutoring him, his grades were still barely above passing. Just as he let out a second frustrated sigh, he suddenly felt a chill come from deep within his core. This caused his breath to come out in a cold fog. Danny groaned, knowing immediately what this meant.

Turning to make sure no one was looking, he ducked into an ally and transformed. Anyone watching would have been utterly astounded to see two blue rings form around the fourteen year-old's waist and travel in opposite directions, changing the jeans, t-shirt, and sneakers to a black and white HAZMAT suit, and obsidian hair and ocean blue eyes into a startling white and electric green. Taking flight, the newly-present Danny Phantom, protector of Amity Park, set off to find the cause of the third disturbance of the day.

He didn't have to look long, however. As soon as he was above the buildings that he had transformed between, he was hit with a blue net. Danny was thrown into the room of one of the buildings and immediately electrocuted. He tried desperately to phase out of the some-what sticky bindings of the capture device, but each time was shocked more. Next, he tried to shoot an ecto-blast at it, also to no avail. He was far from giving up, however. Just as he was about to make another attempt at escaping, a figure stepped from the shadows on the room. "Skulker," Danny said, simply stating a fact. Despite all his ego from being the self-proclaimed 'Ghost Zone's Greatest Hunter', he was actually a really bad catch. Danny felt himself begin to feel almost relieved that it was just him, and had to work to suppress a smirk.

The robotic-suit-clad ghost stalked up to the captured boy with an almost menacing air about him, causing the cocky boy to fidget uncomfortably. "Ah, whelp, so nice to see you again," Skulker taunted, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

"The feeling's mutual," Danny replied. There was a pause as the hunter stood above his prey, both slightly unsure of what to do next. "What, no 'I'll have your pelt above my mantle'?" Danny asked.

"This time, ghost-boy, there will be no mercy. The world will be better when rid of you," Skulker replied, his mind seemingly back on track. He raised his mechanical arm as a laser formed in place of his hand, ready to deliver a blow. Danny felt himself beginning to panic, but he knew that he would not have enough time to try any other method of escape before… He stopped himself from thinking that. Skulker couldn't really be serious… could he? Another glance at the hunter's cold, unfeeling eyes said it all. Yes, this was the end. Danny made one last attempt to phase through the net as the weapon charged, the somewhat annoying whine signaling the not-as-dramatic-as-he-would-have-liked end of the great savior of the world.

Suddenly, there was a blur of white that only Danny could see, as it was behind Skulker. "Daddy, NO!" a shrill cry rang out, causing the hunter to lower his weapon just as something hit him from behind. He staggered forward slightly, before regaining his balance. Two small arm wrapped around his neck, as if someone was trying to climb his back, and a small head of white hair appeared over his shoulder.

"Dani?" Danny asked, utterly shocked to see the girl here. He hadn't heard from her in months, and was beginning to wonder if she was okay. A wave of relief washed through him, knowing that he was not going to die, now that Danielle, his younger, female clone, was here to help. They would kick Skulker's butt as a team, just as they had done with Vlad; just like old times.

It was Skulker who spoke first, though. "What are you doing here, child?" he asked, obviously not threatened in the least by Danielle's presence. This caused Danny to do a double take. Dani looked extremely similar to Danny, and as far as he knew, she and Skulker had never met before. He should be trembling under her grip, for crying aloud! She was on his back! He glanced at Danielle's face, which caused him to do a second double take. There wasn't any anger in her expression; or even any hint of malice. She simply looked concerned and a little sad as she gazed into the robotic man's eyes.

At Skulker's question, Dani only rolled her eyes. "I was being sarcastic. Gosh, even Uncle Robert understands the concept of sarcasm!" she giggled. He raised an eyebrow at the girl still clinging to his back. "Okay, maybe he doesn't. The point is, though, that I was." Danny shot a confused glance at both of them, but took Skulker's moment of distraction as a chance to make his escape. He froze the net holding him captive and then shattered it, standing in a fight-ready position. Neither of the ghosts paid him any mind, though.

"Are you sure, child?" Skulker asked in a somewhat surprised tone.

"Yes, I'm sure! What's done is done, and it's not as if I would actually want him dead. He's like family," she huffed. Skulker's weapon, not at his side, shifted back into his hand as he shook his head.

It took Danny a moment to process what was going on, seeing as he was obviously not part of the conversation. "Wait—Dani told you to kill me?!" he asked, his voice going up an octave just to prove how utterly shocked he was.

"It was an accident. I didn't mean to," Dani shrugged, "It just kind of came out."

"Why would you even say something like that, even if it was sarcastic? Why did he even hear you?" he gestured towards Skulker, "Better yet, why are you not attacking him?!"

"Gosh, Danny, were you not listening at all? It was my fault! An accident, a misunderstanding. Why would I attack someone for something they didn't do?" she asked. "He was only doing his job, anyway," she mumbled the last part, but Danny still caught it.

"Dani…" he warned, sending a small glare at her, "I want answers. Now." Skulker opened his mouth to say something, but Danielle cut him off.

"I do owe him an explanation, seeing as you just tried to kill him," she said, dropping off the hunter's back and taking a step towards her cousin. When he made no move to leave, she shot him a glare. "Can I talk to him? Alone?" She crossed her arms. Skulker didn't make any move to leave. "He's not going to hurt me!" With a reluctant sigh, Skulker took off. "Gosh, he's worse than Aunt May," she muttered before turning around to meet Danny's questioning stare.

"Aunt May? Uncle Robert? Dani, did you just call Skulker Daddy?" he asked, spitting the last word out as if appalled. "What's going on? Why haven't I seen you lately? Since when does Skulker do anything anyone says, much less take orders from you… no offense." Dani only looked at him sadly as he rattled off more questions. "What aren't you telling me, Dani? I thought we were family, like you said."

"We were family, Danny, but things change. I have a new one now; one that takes care of me every day and loves me," she replied.

"If it was a family you wanted, you could have come home to me any time. My mom and dad would be happy to adopt you, and Jazz would love a sister," he said, his eyes confused and pleading.

"It's not like that, Danny. I could never be a part of your family; not anymore…" she trailed off, small, glowing tears welling up in her eyes. "I have a new home now."

"You're not listening, Dani! I could bring you home with me right now and make you a part of our home! You don't have to be with Skulker and these 'Aunt May' and 'Uncle Robert' people! We are way better than they could ever be!" he lowered his voice now that he noticed that her tears were beginning to be shed, though he was still angry and sad. He loved Danielle, but why didn't she trust him enough to come to him when she needed something like this? "Are you living in the Ghost Zone now, too? That's no place for a human to live, even if you're only a half of one."

"You may have been better than them at one point, Danny, but not anymore; not for me! There are reasons that it's better for met o be in the Ghost Zone and not in your world, the same ones that make it better for me to have a ghost family instead of a human one!" She buried her face in her hands and began to back away. It took a moment for Danny to process the new information he was given, as well as the sobbing girl in front of him. He loved Danielle. What wasn't she telling him? Then it hit him, and he felt tears begin to choke his own throat. He took a step forwards and wrapped his arms around her, allowing her feel to confirm his fear. She was cold; colder than the 43.2 ⁰F of a halfa.

"Dani… you're not…" he couldn't bring himself to say it.

"Alive anymore?" she finished for him, her tears of ectoplasm renewing in vigor. "No; I can't come home with you because I'm dead. I belong in the Ghost Zone with the other ghosts."

They sat in silence for what seemed like hours atop the room of the building, long after both were finished crying. Eventually, the sun began to set. Only then did Danny dare to speak. "How… how did it happen? You dying, I mean."

Dani sighed and took a moment before answering. "I didn't really even feel anything. I mean, one minute I'm trying to swipe some food from a gas station, wishing I wasn't so hungry, the next, I'm waking up in the Ghost Zone. Daddy told me later that it was a gas leak, and the whole place exploded," she sighed, but didn't continue.

"How did you meet up with Skulker? When did the whole 'family' thing start?" he asked, trying hard not to sound offensive. He was just curious; a little sad that she would rather have lived on the streets than come to him for help, but mainly curious.

"Again, I'm not really sure. Right before the explosion, I was sitting in the parking lot, watching these two parents and their little daughter laugh and joke in a car as its tank was being filled. I wished that I could have a family; a real family, with parents who cared and aunts and uncles and cousins; friends, too. After I watched them drive away, I went into the station." Danny knew what had happened; it didn't take a genius to know. Desiree had heard her wish and granted it, though in an unexpected way. This made him smile. Maybe she could do some good with that power of hers. "When I woke up, I was on Daddy's island, and he was standing over me. He started to yell at me to leave, but then Mom said something about a Christmas Truce.

"After that, they took me to a big clearing where all the other ghosts were having a party. They were all so nice to me, even though I was scared. They told me not to worry, that it would be all right; that I was safe now." She paused. "Even after the truce was over, they all acted like they wanted me around. Daddy became Daddy and Mom became Mom, and the rest became Aunt May and Uncle Robert and Uncle Nicholai…" Dani stared up at the moon, lost in thought. Danny had long since decided that nothing dangerous was going to happen tonight, and also decided that it was going to be a night to brave his mother's wrath for breaking curfew. This was more important.

"I'm sorry, Dani." He said, looking at her.

"For what?" she asked, surprised.

"For not being there when you needed me. I shouldn't have let you leave after you were stabilized. I should have made you stay with me. Then you would still be…"

"Oh, Danny," she sighed, hugging him. "Don't you get it? I like it better this way." Danny sat in stunned silence.

"But then why would you tell Skulker to kill me if you weren't mad at me?" he as, incredulous.

Dani snorted. "I was being sarcastic. I was only saying to Cujo that I hoped that no more clones of you would be made. That way, no one else would have to go through what I did. I said something about it being better if you were either all ghost or all human, and that it would be more fun if you were all ghost and dead, like me. I don't even know how Daddy heard me. I would never want you dead, Danny. What would the world be without you?" There was another silence as they held each other, Danny touched by his 'cousin's words.

"Aunt May? Uncle Robert? Uncle Nicholai? Mom? Care to elaborate for me?" he smiled, causing her to, also; his somber mood disappeared for the time being.

"The Lunch Lady, the Box Ghost, Technus, and—"

"Dani?" a voice called. She smiled at her cousin, the answer to his last question not far from where the two sat.

"Yeah, Mom?" she called back, standing.

"It's getting late, and Skulker left hours ago. Besides," the figure stepped out of the shadows and into the moonlight as Danny gasped, "that dipstick's going to have to get home soon."

"Alright, Mom," Dani sighed before turning back to Danny, who was still staring at the ghost in front of them.

"Ember is your mom?" he managed to stutter out. "But…"

"I have to go, Danny," Danielle said, waving a hand in front of his face. "I'll see you around, okay?" Danny snapped out of it before leaning down and giving her a hug.

"Yeah, hopefully," he sighed. Dani walked over to her 'mom' as Ember began to hover above the rooftop. "Oh, do you think you could get Skulker to stop hunting me?" he called, a half smile on his face.

"No promises," Dani called back, winking at him before taking off into the night.

Danny stayed on the rooftop for another hour trying to process everything he had been told. One thing stuck out in his mind above all else, though: Dani was dead. He could not believe it. After he had promised to protect her, she was dead. He knew that she was happier now, but that didn't change the fact. Eventually, he came back to reality just enough to fly to his house and phase into his room. He collapsed on his bed, reverting back to his human form but not bothering to change into pajamas. He lay there, face down in his pillows, and sobbed until morning.

Dani was dead, and it was his fault.


AN: If you didn't get that, the reason that Danny is so shocked that Ember is Dani's 'Mom' is that she hates adults so much, and having a 'daughter' is like an adult thing, with way more responsibility than he ever took her to be one to take on. He is less shocked about Skulker because he is a sort of leader among the ghosts, and it would only be fit that he gets the responsibility of Dani. THE BOX GHOST DOESN'T UNDERSTAND SARCASM! HAH! It had to be done…

Oh, and pleaese review! This is my third story and I have absolutely none!