AN:/ At one point, I think it was around the chapters in the thirties, I realized that I was often deleting large chunks of chapters when I wanted to refine my ideas or change the plot. These chunks were honestly thousands of words long. Eventually, I gained enough followers and enough people showed interest that I figured I could save those chunks, and put them at the end of the story, like out takes, and people would appreciate that. So that's what these are. These are the deleted scenes of RTTEA. Once again, completely uneditied. Not even run through spell check. You all can guess where these scenes were originally in the story. some of them aren't even in the continuity of the story anymore, because I changed the plot so much that they just didn't fit anymore. But some of them are fun. and I like them. So here they are. enjoy over 30,000 words of deleted scenes.


"Daniel, however, is special in regards to how much of my…assisants… he is allowed. For reasons that will be explained to you by Daniel later, Daniel is my responsibility." Instantly a swell of protectiveness, jealously, and sadness swamped my chest. What? How? Why? Daniel is my responsibility. I was supposed to take care of him. Not this Clockwork! He was mine! My son! I jumped when I felt a heavy hand settle onto my shoulder. Somehow I did not feel the need to shrug it off or become defensive. It was like the touch was infused with calm and I could do nothing but succumb to its gestures of docility, like a drug had been infused into my system. I looked into the Time Ghost's eyes and the feeling only increased. "I am responsible for Daniel's destiny. Because I inerfered not long ago, to save him and the universe from a terrible fate, I have been tasked with ensuring he follows the correct paths in his life. I do not play or fufill the role in his life you think I do. I am merely responsible for ensuring his life remains balanced. It is because of this that I am allowed to give Daniel more advice than would otherwise be allowed. It is because of this that I am more direct with Daniel than I have been with anyone in several mellenia. If you must put me in a familial role of some sort, I am nothing more than the grandfather he comes to when he wants to get away from his troubles, and be spoiled like a child. Daniel uses me as a haven from his problems when they start to overwhelm him. I do not solve them, or make them go away. I merely give him perspective and time to collect himself. You should know this from what you have read in Daniel's journal. Do I care for Daniel? Yes. Am I a father figure to the boy? No." The hand was removed from my shoulder and I felt some of my indignace come back before I grudging understanding took over. Very well. I knew, I suppose, that Daniel didn't see this Clockwork as anything more than what was already described. I had already summarized from Daniel's Journal that if anything, Clockwork was viewed in a somewhat 'godly' capacity and whose council was a 'last resort'. I would simply give Daniel no reason to have to come to the ghost with his problems. Clockwork smirked before he turned his attention back over to the telivison like devices that lined the wall. He didn't spare me a glance as he continued to talk. He spun his scythe, which he had been carrying idly for the past minutes, and suddenly it turned into some sort of scepter with a clock at the top.

"Now I believe I promised you my help in finding a certain ghost powered young man?" Instantly I completely focused on the ghost once more.

"Yes. Where is he?" Clockwork smirked before he clicked the button on the top of his scepter. I jumped back as Daniel abrubtly became visible beside the Time Ghost. Not really regiastaring anything else I lunged for the image and captured him in my arms, squeezing as hard as I could. When my arms didn't phase though the image and I could really grasp onto him I nearly sobbed with relief. Daniel, this was really Daniel. He was safe. He wasn't being systematically deconstructed molecule by molecule, or held for randsom or being tortured. I let up slightly when he started to struggle, coming to the conclusion that I was gripping to hard, but I was further confused when he pryed himself away completely. He flung himself away from me and sprung into the air. His fists were alight and he was glaring at me like he would before he had come to live with me. The look hurt something deep in my chest and my eyes became saddened and confused. I opened my mouth to ask what was wrong when Daniel spat the answer at me.

"You read my j~ournal!" I was torn several different directions. Relief was still gripping my chest while guilt and confusin were becoming more and more prominate. Had his voice just cracked? Was something wrong with his throat? Were those…fangs? I was sorry for causing him distress by breaching his privacy, but I had just had to know. With that journal I had been able to be so much better for the boy, couldn't he realize that? All I wanted then and now was to make sure Daniel was safe. I didn't want Daniel to be up in the air and looking at me like that. I wanted him in my arms where I could protect him and take him home. The hurt and betrayed look in Daniel's eyes ripped through my soul as he seemingly waited for my confirmation. I couldn't bring myself to lie.

"Yes." He growled and his eyes flared. Before I could get a word in edgewise he was screaming at me firring ecto-blasts sloppily towards me. I easily erected a shield to stop them.

"You conni~ving little bastard! How lo~ng? When did you read it? How long have you h~ad it?" He broke in his baragge allowing me time to answer. I was silent, not wanting to admit the truth as I knew it would only destroy his trust in me further. I wanted things to go back to the way they were before and my admitting anything was not going to move me towards that goal. That had been proven very clearly already. When it seemed I had taken too long he sent an enourmous ecto-blast at me pushing me back several feet.

"HOW LONG YOU S~ICK BASTARD!" the room was silent besides Daniel's heavy breathing. I could see the hurt in Daniel's face, the tears starting to form in his eyes, the scene tinted red through my shield. Daniel's obvious pain tore at something deep in my chest that I previously didn't know was there.

"Since the third day you had come to stay with me." The barrage on my shield started again. Ice and ecto energy hit it in equal measure. Daniel's voice rang through the tall tower like structure. His voice was hoarse and obviously under a great deal of strain. It cracked like fine china on a stone floor every few moments, though he didn't allow that to deter him in the least.

"WHAT! The whole fu~cking time! AUGHH! I trusted you! After everything that happened to me I th~ought you would understand. I thought you would care for me. I thought you act~ually cared! How stupid was I huh Vladie? My family and friends had ju~st betrayed me the worst way they could so I'd figure I'd give my arch en~emy a shot, you know just for kicks and giggles! I can't b~elieve I was so niave! You are just as much of a manipula~tive little fruitloop as you were two years ago!" Finally my shield broke, Daniel, however did not stop. I couldn't bring myself to fight back as he hit me with blast after blast. I let him hit me, perhaps if he hurt me he could escape some of the pain he was feeling. At least I could provide him that. I had long ago been shoved up against the wall. He hated me again. Daniel hated me. There was something in me that died with that thought. His aim was mediocre at best as he blindly fired at me, the cause of all of his strife. Daniel continued to rant and hit me with all he had.

"Do you know w~hat was in there Vlad? Do you? Those were my dee~pest fears! My greatest hopes! And you read all of i~t so that you could play me like a piano! Oh I b~et it was easy enough to get on my good side once you had your hands on that information wasn't it Frui~tloop? And after I was already so bro~ken and depressed! How much of it was an a~ct V-man? How many times did you manipulate me so that I would tr~ust you? How many of my weaknesses did you use to your advan~tage? How much of this was a lie? After I came to you, af~ter I trusted you. I tr~usted you, you sick asshole!" Daniel's blasts got weaker and weaker until finally he was breathing heavily and he collapsed into a heap on the floor. The sob was evident in his voice and he sniffed loudly. He was on his side on the floor. Holding his head.

"I trusted you. I thought you actually cared. I thought you really understood. But it was all just an act. Just a ploy to get me to be at your side. You don't really care… Nobody really cares about a twisted little freak like me." I was breathing heavily as well. I had several cuts and burns from various attacks. My chest was bound to be bruised all colors of the rainbow come tomorrow morning. My lip was bleeding and I could feel the beginings of a tender black eye. Though I couldn't' bring myself to care abut my own physical state. Those things Daniel had said, they weren't true, they just weren't. I had read his journal yes, but not to manipulate him. True, that might have been the case at one point, but that was not my intention when I had stolen the object now. I wasn't acting in my feelings for the boy. None of the things I did were a trick. I only wanted to understand. I only wanted to help. And surely he didn't still think so lowly of himself? I laid there against the wall in a broken heap and watched as Daniel silently cried. I watched as his shoulders shook and his head bobbed. His hand was disappear every once in a while as he went to scrub at his face. I could take it no longer. Someone had to be there for the boy, I had to make him understand.

My back cracked and popped as I went to stand up, only to fall once I was completely upward. My ankle had been twisted and I had not anticipated the pain. The thud of my fall caught Daniel's attention and his head snapped to meet my gaze. He watched me like a hawk, perhaps expecting me to finally retaliate, as I stood back up and slowly limped towards him. He did nothing about my approach, he simply stared. Finally I was beside him. I kicked my leg out in front of me and slowly lowed myself to the ground by his head. When it was clear in this action that I was not going to hurt him Danile went to burry his head in his chest and arms once more. I panted slightly as I rested from my trek. I had trained him well, he could certainly pack a punch. My hand hovered over his ebony tresses as I debated resting my hand on his head. I finally lowered my hand back to my own side. No, Daniel would not accept such a display from me now. Finally I caught my breath enough to be able to hold decent converstation.

"Daniel, none of our relationship was an act." He snorted and curled in further on himself. My eyebrows creased in sadness. I was going to convince this boy that I cared for him if it was the last thing I did. I couldn't live without Daniel. Not now after I had had him.

"It's true you know. I was never faking anything. The only thing I gleaned from your journal that I used to my advantage was the fact that you missed eating meals with your family. It was why I was always so insistant that you eat breakfast and Dinner with me, and lunch on weekends. I thought maybe you'd appreciate the company. To tell the truth I probably appreciated the company more than you did, especially in the mornings." I smirked down at the boy but he did not look up at me, my smirk turned to a frown.

"Daniel I am sorry that I breeched your privacy, but I do not regret what I did. I read that journal because I thought it was the only way I would be able to properly take care of you. I wanted to help you. I wanted to know what you liked and what you didn't like. I wanted to know what you thought of me. I wanted to know you. You and I both know that when you first came to live with me you would not have opened up so easily. How else was I supposed to have gotten the information I needed to take care of you?" the boy growled and his head snapped up to meet my gaze. His eyes blared.

"You could have gotten to know me, like a regular person. You could have asked me. But you didn't, you went behind my back and decided that you'd dig up all my secrets without my permsion. How could what you read not have influenced how you dealt with me; how you acted around me? You used the information to make sure that I would 'like' you, so that I would never leave. I was just another puppet to manipulate wasn't I?" I felt a lump form in my throat. How could the boy say that? I had read his journal, yes, but plenty of parents had done so over the years. Surely this wasn't grounds to dismiss all trust the boy had in me. I opened my mouth to plead my case once more only to be beaten to the punch. There was a note of hysteria in his voice.

"Nope, it was the same as always with you. The difference was that this time I fell for it. I fell for your stupid games and traps. I was just a toy for you to play with. You had me in your clutches Vlad, you really did. But I'm disposable, I'm replaceable, I'm just an attainable thing. But you didn't actually care about me did you? You didn't care- umph!" I reached over faster than the boy could retailaate and clutched him painfully to my still throbbing chest. His head was buried against my chest and shoulders, preventing him from speaking further. He wiggled awkwardly to escape or at least make himself comfortable in my iorn grip but I would not let up. I would not let the boy say these things! They were not true. How could he think that? Hadn't I shown him how much I cared for him? Where was he getting these ideas?

"You insipid, puerile, thick-headed, idiot. Don't you dare say I don't care about you. When am I going to get it through your thick-skull that you are the only thing I care about anymore? Damit all Daniel, I love you! You are the son I never had, you are the family I always wanted, you are the center of my world. You give me a reason to continue my pitiful existence Daniel. Nothing matters more to me than you. Absolutely nothing." I held him like that against my chest until the pain of squezzing Daniel against my recently bruised ribs became too much. I had to loosen my grip with a painful gasp of air to keep from becoming light headed and passing out. Daniel awkwardly pushed on my chest and scooted away, causing me to wince and hiss one more. I was reduced to propping myself up with my arms as Daniel sat on his knees before me. He looked lost and confused and I wished I had the strength or the words to make that look go away. How could he still look at me like that? Didn't he understand? I had spelled it out for the boy. What else did I need to say? He opened and closed his mouth a few times, glancing away.

"V-Vlad, you can' journal…" I groaned and glared at the stuborn teen. The pain I was in doing nothing for my patients.

"Daniel is that truly such horrible offense as to condem me to absolute vilany? You are not the first teenager to have their diary stolen Daniel. Not by a long shot. And just like all of the other parents who have ever read their children's diaries, I too did it because I wanted to get to know you better; to know if there was anything you weren't telling me that I should know about. Honestly the damn thing was more trouble than it was worth. I learned more from spying on your every move than I did from that little black book." There was a tickle at the back of my throat and I coughed lightly to satisfy it. I tasted a touch of copper in my mouth but I swallowed it so that Daniel would not see it and worry. Daniel continued to stare at me with those giant goldfish eyes. His voice was tiny and awkward when he finally did speak.

"Vlad, you… you are~n't my father Vlad." The words hit me like a physical blow. My lungs seemed to twist into knots making it impossible to breathe. A giant lump in my throat made it extremely difficult to swallow. My stomach dropped straight through the floor. My eyes bugged out before I shut them tightly. I was suddenly convulsing with the need to cough but unable to take in air enough to do so. My shaking hands came up to clutch my throat. Subequently the support my arms were giving me were taken away and my back conncected with the floor. The sudden impact allowed me to draw in a short breath but that was quickly exhaled in a violent cough that had blood slpattered all over my gloves and chest. Something was pounding on my back urging me to breathe.

"Vlad! Vlad breathe damit!" there was a strike on between my shoulder blades and suddenly I was sucking in air, exhaling in loud coughs. Pressure formed behind my eyes with the intensity of my heaves. As I was able to focus again beyond the fact that I was suffocating I realized that something was very obviously crying and trying not to show it while doing its best to wrap its arms around me from my position on the floor. I saw a white glove and belatedly realized that it was Daniel.

"I'm sorry Vlad! I'm so sorry but I can't! I just can't. Not now. I can't do it now. You and Jazz are all I have left and I am so thankful that you took me in but I just… You aren't. I know you care, and that you, you…You've done everything for me that one should but I just… I don't know! You are everything else for me but not… I can't… I just…I don't…I'm sorry!" I felt the boy collapse slightly against me and his loud attempts at not crying picked up. I moved the arm that was resting aginst the floor and blindly grabbed for Daniel's hand. I found the white glove and gave it a viscious squeeze. The pain of Daniel's declaration was pushed to the back of my mind as I focused on making Daniel cease his distress. He was never supposed to feel such emotions.

"That's never really stopped me from thinking of you as a son (cough) before now has it?" Daniel squeezed my hand back before he mumbled against my back.

"Vlad I'm-"

"going to cease your mindless blather and let me talk? Why how convieniet!" Daniel was shifting again. I felt his weight move from beside me and he suddenly came into view before me. He awkwardly sat back down on the floor as I propped myself up on my hands once more. I would not hold a conversation while I was completely horizontal. I had some dignity. Daniel opened his mouth again.


"Let me put it in simple terms for you. Shut. Up." He cast his gaze to the floor in shame. I saw a blush rise to his cheeks. I exhaled heavily, I would not let the pain of the boy's statement color my response. I would not push him away. Not now.

"Daniel regardless of how you feel about our relationship, it will not stop me from seeing you as a son. As my son. It never has, and it never will. I apparently made a mistake in thinking that you had come to view me in that regard so I did not censor myself as I usualy do. I thought we had come to an understanding of sorts, the easy report we had with one another especially was giving me those signals. I was wrong. It does not matter though, because I will continue to view you as a son. Nothing you will do will ever change that, especially after I have gotten to know you these last weeks, after you put some of your trust in me. In my eyes, you are my son, and the fact that you do not view me as a father in return greatly saddens me, but it does not change my views. I already went over this Daniel. You are my world. I will always do everything in my power to protect you and help you. I can only hope that one day you will come to see things my way. I can only hope that one day you will let me be the father figure for you. Regardless I will always be there for you, whether you like it or not." I wanted to grab the boy in my arms again as he stared at me with those sad puppy dog eyes. I wanted to let him know it was okay. Of course I was devastated that Daniel still did not think of me in that light but I had been dealing with that fact for years now. Surely I could wait a little longer before I swayed him to my side of things. He had said that I was everything else for him, it was a small matter of taking that last step towards being declared a father to the boy. I had put words in the boy's mouth and now I was paying for it. I would have my day though. Evenutally, eventually the boy would come to see things my way. Daniel just continued to stare at me with those thrice be damned eyes before his attention was diverted to something above me. Whatever it was caused his cheeks to blush a very deep shade of red. I was given the merc of not having to twost around as the voice behind me identified what had caught Daniel's attention.

"I'm afraid we have one more thing to disscuss. Though we shall move to the sitting area to do so. I imagine the floor is not as desirable a seating option for you both at this point?" Daniel looked pleadingly above my head at the Time Ghost.

"Clockwork please. Can't we do this another day? We've already kind of been through an ordeal here." Daniel seemed to shrink on himself slightly as Clockwork responded and I wished dearly that I had the energy to turn around and glare at Clockwork for making Daniel so uncomfortable. Clockwork replied with a scolding tone in his voice.

"No, this must be done now. I have held this off for as long as I could Danny. It will not be as horrible as you imagine. Come." Daniel quickly stood up without question to follow Clockwork. I attempted to bring myself to my feet. I got half way there before I was about to collapse again in exhaustion. Daniel was quickly there at my side to help, always the hero. I smiled greatfully at the teen before we limped over to the couches. Thankfully they weren't too far, and they were absolute bliss on my back as I sank into them. After reveling in the comfort of the cushions for a moment I opened my eyes to see Clockwork floating behind Daniel who was seated on the couch oppiste of mine. I looked from the Time Ghost to Daniel.

"Very well, what is it that needs discussing?" Daniel squirmed in his seat and looked pleadingly, almost terrified up at the specter behind him. Clockwork merely shook his head. Daniel's own head dropped and his gaze sunk to the floor, still hesitant. Several times he opened his mouth as if he were about to say something before he would choke up in nerves and go back to staring at his shoes. I became worried at what on earth was making the boy so anxious when an idea struck me.

"This wouldn't have anything to do with a certain 'Him' would it?" Daniel's eyes shot up to meet mine. He stuttered.

"Y-You know?" I raised my eyebrows and began to sigh only to stop at the pain it caused my ribs.

"If we are in fact referring to the always non-discript pronoun you used in your journal then yes, I do know a bit." Daniel became both relived and nervous in the same breath.

"Yeah, how much do you know?" I looked curiously between Daniel and Clockwork. One was smirking while the other was waiting with baited breath.

"From what I could summarize 'He'did something extremely terrible and it was Daniel's task to stop him. Clockwork somehow saved Daniel while he was stopping 'Him' therefore the beginning of Daniel's relationship with Clockwork. However, 'He' is not gone, merely stoped or captured, so 'He' is still a constant threat. Am I missing anything?" I looked between Daniel and Clockwork again as Daniel once more looked to Clockwork with a pleading gaze. Clockwork merely gave Daniel a hard glare. He then turned and sighed before looking back to me. He hesitatntly started to explain.

"You got the most of it. It all started when I cheated on my C.A.T's and a freak accident caused by overheated Nasty Sauce caused my family, my teacher, and my friends to die in an explosion. With no one left, I was sent to you so you could take care of me. I steadily became more and more depressed until I couldn't take it anymore and I asked you to rip out my ghost half." I sat there open mouthed. What in heavens name? I was about to speak up and ask Daniel to explain a few things when I was glared at by Clockwork. That very quickly convinced me to shut my mouth. Daniel was mostly lost in his thoughts so he didn't notice anything. "So you ripped out my ghost half successfully, the problem was that my ghost half was not very happy. It decided to then rip out your ghost half. Our halves merged together and created the most powerful evil ghost to ever walk the earth or the Ghost Zone. 'He' was created and he destroyed everything in both demensions.

So to prevent this Clockwork was tasked with executing me so that that evil alternate future would never happen. He sent ghosts from the future to try and stop me. After I had defeated them all I was brought back to Clockworks lair when I was tangled in a ghost's wreckage that was due to be sent back to it's time. There I met Clockwork and he tried to kill me with his scythe. The only way out was to go to the future, with my evil alternate future self. We fought and he won. I had to be kept alive though because for him to exist I had to exist. So he fused a time medallion to my ghost core so that I would stay in the past while he went back to the future and made sure that our family and friends died.

He tied me up and threw me into the Ghost Zone where I met up with several of the ghosts he had beaten and disfigured. They were going to beat me up and kill me so in shear desperation I discovered and used my Ghostly Wail for the first time. I was then promptly hit in the head with a the Booo-merang and it had a note attached to it from Jazz who had discovered about my evil future self and sent a not to me from the past. It said to go to the future you who was hiding in a secret bunker somewhere. So I went and met the future you who was old, hadn't shaved or bathed in years and had the full weight of all of his previous actions on his shoulders. There he used the same procedure that had creaed the evil alternate version of myself and took out the time medallion so that I could return to my own time.

Back in my own time I discovered Dan had straped everyone to an already overheating vat of Nasty Sauce and was waiting for them to die. I fought my evil future self, again, and won but only barely. I had been changed to my human half and by the time I captured 'Him' the vat of sauce was set to blow anyway. I ran towards them as fast as I could bu there was no way I was going to get to them in time. That's when Clockwork showed up and freed everyone and let me go back in time to stop from cheating on the C.A.T's so that none of that would ever happen." I simply sat there my eyes wide open as my brain tried desperately to come to terms with all of this new information. I ripped out his ghost half? A vat of Nasty Sauce? Daniel had dealt with all of this? All of this alternate time-line business. But he'd met me, in the future, and I hadn't bathed in years? It was difficult to wrap my head around. But none of it had happened anyway had it? And this Clockwork had saved Daniel, even though he was supposed to execute him?

"Vlad are you-" I held up my hand impatiently like a parent on the phone telling their child to be quite. How was I not informed of this? I was half of this creature, if I was correct. But then what was Daniel so afraid of if he never really existed in the first place? It was unthinkable that I would ever do anything so vulgar as to rip out Daniel's ghost half. That was compeltey obsurd! It woud create an two emotionally unstable beings not cure depression! What on earth was I thinking? How idiotic! I looked back between Daniel and Clockwork.

"So if I understand correctly, then because Daniel cheated on a test, everyone dies, he becomes depressed, eventually I rip out his ghost half, who rips out my ghost half, and they combine to create 'Him' who destroy's the world as we know it. Is that what Daniel always talks about preventing in his journal?" I look to Clockwork who smirks widly and gives me a single nod. I then look to Daniel and he blushes but manages to mumble out a "Yes."

I let out a deep sigh, despite the pain it caused my ribs. I was very much ready to be done for the day.

"Fine, may we please be heading back home?" Daniel's mouth droped while Clockwork nodded and moved towards his wall of television like devices.

"But-But you can't… That's it?" my gaze wandered tiredly back to Daniel.

"Yes Daniel that's it. You are not going to become evil and destroy the world. I'm not worried about it in the slightest and I have no idea why you are. You do not have a malicious bone in your body. Quite frankly ripping out your ghost half has to be one of the most idiotic things I've ever heard, and now that I know the potential consequences there is next to no chance that that will ever happen. You're not going to become evil, I'm not going to rip out your ghost half, and Clockwork is more than capable of stoping either of us if it becomes necessary. Now please, can we let this drop so that I may go to my room and obtain some asprin." I heaved myself off of the sofa and had to pause before I started make my way towards Clockwork. I stumbled and there was a distressed half ghost teen at my side in a flash. I shot the boy a greatful look. I would be taking some medicine before the night was out so my healing would accelerate and I would be well by the moring.

"Vlad, I don't think you understand-"

"I am not an idiot Daniel. I understand perfectly. But I am not going to waste my time and energy fretting over something that must have had a one and a million chance of coming to fruition in the first place. It's simply not worth my time, or yours for that matter. I understand why this would distress you and you may address your concerns with me, after I have had time to rest and heal myself. Now kindly shut up." We shuffled over to Clockwork's side, Daniel a violent shade of red and myself exasperated and exhausted. Clockwork Gestured to the largest of the televisions.

"These are my viewing portals. I can bring up images of anything, anywhere, anywhen, and view them at my leisure. They also serve as access points into whenever or where ever I am observing. To go home you must simply go through this portal. If you ever find yourself in need of me again, find a completely isolated section of the Ghost Zone and ask, politely, for entrance to the tower. I will hear you and create a portal directly here for you to enter. If I am unavalible or unable to see you at the moment, no portal will appear, otherwise there should be no problems."Clockwork looked from me to Daniel before a wide smirk played over his face. "It was… a pleasure. I will see you again in time." I nodded with a quick "goodbye" and stepped through the 'viewing portal'. I came out the other side and into my room beside my bed. I did not hesitate to transform and collapse onto the matress. I hissed unwittingly as the pressure from the fall caused my ribs undue pain. There was a voice behind me.

"Vlad, I'm sorry. It's my fault your hurt in the first place… is there anything I can do?" I turned my head to the side so I could speak.



"Just let me sleep."


"Oh come now Jasmine, you must admit this is a rather formidable automobile." I sighed and nodded my head. All this talk about cars was making me think about my poor little car and it was a rather depressing thought. I didn't know what I was going to about transportation without it.

"Yeah, It's nice." That was an understatement. The car was amazing. I could barely tell we were moving the suspension was so good, and it was a very comfortable ride. It looked like Vlad was having an effortless time handling it. It was an amazing car. I really wish I had a car like this, even just a car that I knew was going to work when I turned the key would be great really. I was too busy carefully examining every feature of the car from the radio to the cupholders, consumed in envy, to see the plots unfolding behind Vlad's eyes.

"Nice? I dare say you've lost perspective on what a proper vehical should do, driving that lawn ornament around, if you merely think it's 'nice', or can you think of no better adjective?" I glared a little bit. There was the Vlad I knew, rubbing in the fact that I probably didn't have a car anymore and then insulting my intelligence. The car might have been a piece of crap, but it was my piece of crap. And without my piece of crap I was in a serious delemia. Then Vlad had to go and throw that adjective barb in there. I wasn't going to rise to the bait though. That was Danny's style, not mine. I merely shrugged instead not saying anything. Vlad frowned at my reaction and I smirked inwardly at foiling his plans. That's right Vlad I'm not Danny, am I? Vlad opened his mouth again and I mentaly braced myself. I wasn't going to cave.

"You can't seriously have grown attached to the monstrosity? It was on its last leg well before you could have made use of it. It was a mercy to all of us that it finally gave out. Who knows what kind of danger hazard it was on the road? It was more hassle than it was worth to you. You'll do much better without it I'm sure. Who would want to drive that death trap around in the first place? You'd almost have to be scuicidal. Did the car have a color? I couldn't tell with all of the rust. It looked like it had some sort of disease. No this is a good thing. Was the car even legally road worthy? When was the last time you had it checked out? It can't have been recently because no sane mechanic would have-"

"Okay! I get it! My car sucked!" My face was flushed as I finally lost it. "But you know what, it did what a car is supposed to do! It got me from point A to point B. And with out the stupid piece of ancient machinery I don't have a way to get around, at all. I don't have the money to repair it, or buy a new one so I'm pretty screwed at this point and I would appreciate it if you would quit insinuating that everything is under control because it's not!" While I sulked and pointedly turned away from Vlad he continued as if I had not just had a temper tantrum like a five year old. Fake sympathy ozzed out of his voice.

"Oh Jasmine, I wasn't aware you did not posses the funds to repair your car. All you had to do was say something. Simply give me the name of the mechanic and I will take care of it." My face turned serious as I turned back to Vlad.

"Don't joke with me about this Vlad, please." Vlad just continued to smirk.

"Why on earth would you think I was jesting? Are you under the impression that I would hand out money to complete stangers but not my favorite niece? Why Jasmine, I'm appalled. Now tell Uncle Vlad the name of the mechanic and he'll take care of everything." I turned and angled myself against the window again. Stupid fruitloop, why was I here again? I couldn't help it if I was poor and my car was trash. Besides I didn't even remember what mechanic the car was going to.

My eyes got wide. Oh crap.

"Vlad we have to turn around." Vlad's smirk if at all possible, got wider.

"You don't remember the name of the mechanic do you?" I just continued to glare, which seemed enough for Vlad who continued in a very fake scolding tone. "Jasmine I'm disappointed in you. Did you not even think about writing it down? This is a very disasterous oversight. We certainly aren't turning around. I'm not wasting even more of my precious time." Vlad let out an extremely overdramatic sigh, "I'm afraid I'll just have to buy you an entirely new car then." At this my eyebrows shot up. Why would he say something like that? He couldn't be serious.

"Vlad what the heck are you talking about?" Vlad adapted a confused expression.

"Why, I'm talking about purchasing you a new car Jasmine, do you need hearing aids as well?" I ignored the hearing aid comment.

"Vlad, are you being serious right now."


"That's really cool Danny, I never would have thought mix your ice and ecto energy like that. I thought they were mostly incompatible. They look kind of pretty mxed like that, actually. Can you hold one, like you're regular ecto blasts, so I can see it better?" I had carried Jazz up into the training room and she was staning next to Vlad while I demonstrated some of my other stuff. I looked to Vlad and he only raised an eyebrow at me so I shrugged and glided towards Jazz while concentrating on a blast in my hand. The sphere of green and blue came pretty easily to my hand now, though it definitely required way more concentration than just a regular blast of either ice or ectoplasam. I held my hand out and knowing Jazz would know better than to touch it. Suddenly she snorted and let out a small laugh. Me and Vlad both raised an eyebrow at the same time which caused Jazz to laugh again. Vlad opened his mouth before I could say anything.

"And what pray tell, is so amusing about Daniel holding a blast in his hand that could quite possibley decapitate you?" Jazz raised her eyebrow at Vlad in a way that said 'was that supposed to be scarry?' before she responded.

"You really want to know my thought process with this one?" I snorted and the ice-ecto-blast in my hand brightened in response.

"Jazz I don't think Vlad ever would want to know your weird and unrelated thought processes. I think their funny though, so you can tell us anyway." I smirked and switched the blast from one had to the other, a little frost crinckled off of my glove and fell to the floor but I didn't' really notice. Jazz just smiled and shrugged.

"Did either of you realize that Danny's blast looks a lot like a little world?" Me and vlad's eyebrows shot up and we both looked to the blast in my hand and watched as the energy swirled around the globe in my hand. I guess it did kind of look like a little earth. That one blob of green kind of did look like Australia. Jazz continued without waiting to get me or Vlad's attention again. "Right so I was like, wow, it's like he's got a whole world in his hand. You know, just like a certain space programmer turned astronaut we know?" I was lost for a minute until Jazz started singing under her breath.

"He's got the whooole, world. In his hand.

He's got the whoooole, world. In his hand.

He's got the whoooole, world. In his hand.

He's go the whole world in his hand."

At that point I got it and let out a snort and let the blast I had been holding dissolve. Before I could comment on the fact that we hadn't seen that movie in years Vlad beat me to the punch.

"What in the blue blazes does a children's gospel hymn have to do Daniel's combine ecto blast, or any person on a any sort of extra terrestrial expedition?" The smiles abrubtly droped off of mine and Jazz's faces as we looked at Vlad in confussion. I opened my mouth.

"What the heck are you talking about Vlad?" Vlad rolled his eyes and crossed his arms.

"Well that is what Jasmine was singing. I myself was made to sing the blasted thing for years as a child until I was old enough to go to adult services at the church we attended." Vlad looked at us, daring us to commet about the fact that he had been forced to sing these kinds of songs as a child. I smirked at the image of Vlad singing children's songs as a little kid. While I was focused on containg my laughter at the laughable idea, Jazz's face had dropped, completely taken off guard by the fact that Vlad had been a kid who sung at church once. I was still confused about what Vlad was talking about with the song. I'd never heard of it beign a kids song, other than in RocketMan, a movie me and Jazz were obsessed with when we were younger. Jazz opened he mouth before I could.

"Vlad, we were making a reference to RocketMan. It's a Disney movie we watched a lot when we were kids. There is this one part in the movie where the main character breaks out into song after placing his hands up in front of him so that it looks like he's holding the earth, and on live international television he starts to sing "He's got the whole world in his hands" in like, ten different languages. It was one of our favorite parts of the movie. That's why I laughed, because it looks like Danny is holding a world, like in the movie." Vlad looked to me for conformation of what Jazz had said. His shoulders had sagged a bit, but his arms were still crossed. I smirked at Vlad and the fact that he was out of the loop for once.

"Yup Vlad, we were just talking about a kids movie from the ninties. The image of you in a little choir dress singing the song from RocketMan is appreciated through!" I couldn't hold back a chuckle at the growl that came from Vlad.


Green fire was everywhere. Licking at my heels no matter how fast or far away I ran. I had been running from it for a long time now. I can't remember how long, but I was far past the point of exhaustion. I didn't pass out though. I had tried to before, hoping to cling to the blissful ignorance that unconsciousness would grant me. In an attempt to finally rest I had let the flames overtake me, desperate for a chance to rest, to be free of the pain and exhaustion. The flames did nothing but hurt me however; even once I was far past the point where I should have passed out form the agony. I did not. A privilege such as unconsciousness could not be granted to me. I was always running from the flames; always keeping them just far enough away. It was my destiny, to forever run from these flames. I was all alone, forever. Forever I was going to run from my impending anguish, and in the process, complete and utter exhaustion would only be inflicting on me what the flames would have anyway.

"Help me!"

I screeched to a halt and looked wildly around for the voice that had pleaded for a savior. The flames now kept their distance from me. Not continuing on their way to consume me like they had before. The fact completely blew over my head though. I was only aware of the voice. I knew that voice and I would do anything to protect its owner. She was the owner of one of five voices I would never hesitate to answer. I had dedicated my life to protecting this voice as well as the others.

"Stop, please!"

Without an ounce of hesitation I now charged straight at the flames I had been running from for so long. I had to save her. I had to, there was no other option. It was my destiny.

Overwhelming pain engulfed me as I charged straight into the towering green flames. I could feel the water in my eyes evaporating from the heat. My hazmat was gone in seconds, lost to the toxic flame. The tall tendrils of fire whipped across my flesh, leaving gashes along with burns. My skin was slowly smoldering to a crisp I could feel the flames take root on my exposed flesh; like leeches they rooted themselves to my skin so that I could not escape their agony. I was terrified. but I push onward so that I could save the voice; the most beautiful voice.

"Help me!"

I tried to call out, to tell her that I would be there, that help was coming, but as soon as I opened my mouth to breathe in fire erupted in my lungs. I started burning from the inside out. I could feel my blood literally boil. I could see the bubbles form and erupt in the veins underneath my skin. It was like a million little explosions all over my body at once, like being shot with a million different bullets at the same time. However, I kept running in excruciating pain. I had to save the voice. I had to. If I didn't then no one would. If I didn't I would lose the voice forever.

I ran for an eternity, through wave after wave of flame all the while getting slowly closer. The liquid that dripped off of me seared in a loud snapping hiss as it hit the ground. I was like a piece of steak and the fat that was left on me was being burned off and falling into the charcoal bellow. My skin and muscle were eventually chard so that it was unrecognizable. Still I continued to burn, like the fire pit of ash from the previous night that had been set to be relit without any new fuel. I felt a little of my chard flesh fall off a little bit with every step I took. I left a bread crumb trail of scorched meat behind me as I continued forward. My skull was on fire; the flames seeming to have taken the place of my ivory locks. I could feel my brain slowly shriveling up like a raisin. I could feel air on my now exposed and bloody bone, acting like a sandblaster to my exposed skeleton. Finally the flames seemed to shrink away and I was able to see the voice. Her shinny black hair. Her perfect amethyst eyes.

"Tucker stop it! I can't take it anymore!"

Instantly the flames went away. And everything was dark. All that I could see now was the voice and her captor. All I could see was what I had been suffering for all of this time.

"hahaha! Please- Tucker!"

Sam and Tucker rolled around on the ground. Tucker was tickling her whenever she would let her guard down. They seemed to be in their own little world of perfect bliss. Anyone who looked could see that the two were perfectly fine; more than that, they were in love. I opened my ashen mouth and croaked.

"Sam, Tucker." Instantly the world around us became darker. They both stopped and became angry, appearing the size of buildings beside me. Sam, now beside me got in my face her eyes blazing.

"We don't want you!"

I whipped around to face Tucker as he shouted next.

"You were never there for her! All the while you were off playing your little superhero games leaving her for herself. You were never meant for her. You were never good enough. I'm her man now. I'm better than you'll ever be. Who would want a half dead freak in the first place?"

There words stung more than the flames I had run through. I could feel myself falling apart. I could no longer locate my hands, my arms, my chest, my feet.

"Get away from them you Ghost!"

I looked to see a large man in bright orange and a woman in ocean blue. My eyes pleaded with them to understand as they got closer. Fear welled up inside me. I tried to run away and was surprised when I could. I stoped to look at my hands and feet. My mouth fell open in silent horror as I recognized I was in my ghost form. I tried desperately to free myself from the body I had been trapped in, the body that everyone around me dispised. This form this body was going to be the end of me. I tried to escape, but I couldn't. I turned to plead with my parents who were now holding guns to my chest.

"Please it's me!" I immediately stopped my voice when I recognized the echo that my ghost form usually produced. I was trapped in this body that they hated so much. Why couldn't they see that I was still me inside? The man and woman glared and their stares sent pain through my body.

"You could never be my son! I would never love a thing as disgusting as you!"

"I'm no father of a creature so vile! How dare you even suggest such a thing!"

I screamed out in pain as a white flash erupt from the barrel of the man's gun and impacted with my chest. Again the man fired and I could feel my flesh burning away all over again. Blood poured from my open wounds, but still I stayed painfully aware of my surroundings. Sam and Tucker were suddenly beside the man and woman shooting at me with equal ferocity. The pain flashed violently around me and I could do nothing to protect myself against it.

I had been, literally, through hell to save these people. I had died without dying. Then I had arrived and they had not even needed saving. It had all been completely worthless. I had been through hell for nothing. They had not needed me. They had been disgusted with the sacrifice I had made for them; for giving them my life, and now I was being punished for my stupididty by having my life taken from me one more time. I was helpless as I was blown to pieces a small bit at a time with every gunshot. There went an ear, a finger, a kneecap.


I felt a soft touch on my shoulder and I whipped around to look at the person who had called my name. I found myself recognizing the face but not being able to give it a name. I could tell they were older and wiser than me. The main thing about the person was that they radiated power. As soon as I had been touched by this man, no one else could get to me. Somehow every shot that was fired at me by my friends and family hit some invisible shield and ricocheted away. As soon as I had been merely touched… no one could defeat this person, they were invincible and here in this desolate place, they were the only one who could save me. I clung to his wrist.

"Please you have to help me." The man shook with mirth.

"Dear Daniel, surely you can save yourself. You are a very strong young man." The powerful entity before me tried to pull away I desperately clung to his wrist. I did not want to suffer. Didn't this man see that without him I was going to die without dying; that I was going to suffer for a merciless eternity?

"You don't understand. You can't leave me. I can't take it anymore. I can't do it by myself. I need help. I need saving! I can't do the saving anymore! You have to do it! You have to save me!" tears sprung to my eyes. Couldn't this man see? He must not have understood what his presence meant to me. Without him I would suffer an incredible agony.

"Really Daniel, I am not your guardian. I'm not meant to protect you. If there was anyone who wasn't supposed to protect you, it would be me. It's a fact Daniel, that you don't need my help; you can do this on your own. If the time does come that you need protecting I believe that man over there already does a perfectly fine job of it. He is your father after all."

I turned around to watch as the man in the orange jumpsuit fired a blast at me. This one was large and headed slowly towards me, I was safe though, as long as I had this man here to protect me. The blast continued to move forward at a pace that made it look like an approaching sun. it floated slowly with a purpose towards us. I would be safe though, as long as I had this man here to protect me. The blast had almost passed when something went terribly wrong.

I gasped so hard my lungs hurt when I felt him turn intangible. The blast was in such close range that it burned my hazmat almost completely off for the instant I was vulnerable. I was only just able to turn intangible fast enough to keep the man from slipping away, and as soon as I had retightened my hold I had regained my safe haven.

"Don't leave me please! Can't you see? I NEED YOU!" tears sprang to my eyes again in my emotion. The man only calmly chuckled as he allowed me to hold his hand once more.

"Can't you see Daniel? He's your father he's not going to hurt you. Don't you love him?" I turned again to look at the man in the orange jumpsuit; but not without making sure that I had a firm hold on the man in front of me. When I looked at my father, I saw the fire in his eyes; though I don't know how I was able to see his eyes, because I shouldn't have been able to see anything through the hail that he was laying down on the weird shield that this man had. I found no love in my Dad's eyes, only anger and disgust as he tried desperately to break through to destroy me.

I searched my heart for the emotion of love that this powerful man before me had said I should have for my supposed father. In my heart I found absolutely nothing; nothing but sadness, nothing but fear and hurt. I found every horrible emotion I could think of without a hint of love anywhere in the mix.

"He's your father Daniel. He's going to protect you. It's what a father does." I found myself shaking my head. No, the man in the orange jumpsuit was not going to protect me he was going to do the opposite. He was going to destroy me and make me feel pain like I had never felt before.

"He doesn't love me. He won't protect me. He only wants to hurt me. He only wants to make me suffer." The man I was clinging to, replied slowly with a certain tone in his voice, that made me think carefully about what he was saying.

"Well, I suppose if he's not going to protect you, even from himself, then he can't be your father."

"But he conceived me. His blood runs through my veins. He has to be my Dad." The man I was still stubbornly clinging to shook his head with a small chuckle.

"Daniel, you of all people, should know that what runs through your veins does not determine who or what you are. What makes a person a father is not a document or a chromosome. What makes a man your father is the love they have for you. A father is only determined by his love of his son." Suddenly the man I had been gripping onto this entire time bent down closer to my face. Finaly I recognized the person providing me with my protection. My voice was barely above a whisper as my face dropped.

"Vlad?" Vlad's face fell at seeing my reaction. Quickly he tried to pull away. Still very well aware of the fact that I would be decimated if I let go; I clung to him like the plague. He was back to that distance away from me that he had been previously. He had been closer when he bent down, when I recognized him, and now he was further away again. I couldn't say I was glad for the fact. I could tell that when I was closer to him I was safer. When he leaned in, the noise went away, the lights went away, the pain, the turmoil, the confusion; it all went away.

"Vlad please stay." I didn't need to look away or look back to admit to Vlad and myself what I said next. "I need you Vlad. I want, need, your help. You are all I have left. I can't do this by myself anymore." Vlad seemed to slump for a minute before he slowly, gently came back closer to me. It was like he knew that when he did that I lost some of my panic. It was like he only stepped closer because he wanted to help me.

"Very well Daniel, I shall protect you. Though you must know that once you have my protection, you can never be rid of it. Whether you like it or not, once I am protecting you, I will never stop." The dire tone that Vlad had said that in made me wonder what he was getting at, but my thoughts were interrupted by the biggest explosion yet. The ground beneath me shook and trembled. I turned to see that the man in the orange jumpsuit had resorted to coming to shoot at point blank range at the shield that was keeping him back. The fire and anger in his eyes was the worst I had ever seen. He was wishing death on me with every heartbeat. Racks slowly started to appear in the air as the invisible dome that was keeping me safe started to crumble.

"Vlad please!" That was all the agreement Vlad needed. He moved me gently out of the way and stood between me and the raging orange bull. Vlad held one hand up in the air above his head. Slowly a red ecto blast started to form in his hand. It got bigger, and bigger, until it was the size of three car tires.

Finally he let it go. Red exploded everywhere. There was no pain though, there was no hurt or agony, only warmth. When I could see again the black we had been standing in was all turned into a deep warm red. All of my worry was gone, all of my hurt just disappeared. Vlad stood next to me smiling.

"There, absolutely nothing will hurt you now. Not even yourself. I must say son, you have a rather strong grip." I blushed, not at the jab but at what he had called me. I wasn't really his son. I stopped for a moment and thought over that statement.

What Vlad had said was right. I didn't want to decide who my Dad was based on who's DNA I shared. A real dad would love you no matter what. A real Dad would protect me when I needed it most. The man in the orange jumpsuit had been none of those things. He was not my father.

But if he wasn't my father then who was?


"Yes little badger?" I opened my mouth before I closed it; uncertain of how I should ask this next question without sounding stupid or weird. Vlad seemed to know what I was trying to say without me saying anything though. He just gave me an answer without waiting for the question.

"You are the only person I have ever protected Daniel. You are the only person to whom I have ever pledged my everlasting loyalty. I assure you my loyalty does not come cheap. I don't do things for you simply because I can; I do them because I want you to be happy. I would go to the ends of the universe to help you Daniel. You are all I have, and all I care about." I paused for a minute to think. Was that love? Was that the sort of love a Dad was supposed to have for his son? I didn't know. It sounded like the kind of love a Dad was supposed to have. If I didn't have a Dad anyway then Vlad was definitely to closest thing I had to one. Somehow I could just tell that he was supposed to be my Dad. He was half ghost like me, right? He had saved me from the people trying to hurt me.

Then it was simple. Everything was clear. There wasn't a mystery. I was safe and loved like a son should be because of one very powerful man. I let go of his wrist for only a brief moment before I latched my arms around him. Son's were supposed to hug their Dad's right?

It was only a few seconds before Vlad returned the hug. Inside his arms I knew he was my Dad. I had never felt so safe in my life. In Vlad's arms I knew someone was going to take care of me no matter what.

Line Break.

My eyes opened and it only took a few seconds for me to figure out what I was doing. Surprisingly, I didn't recoil violently and start shouting in disgust. Though I was incredibly surprised and disgusted. I had to keep still though if I didn't; want Vlad to wake up and I definitely did not want him to wake up.

It took me a minute to figure out if my dream had even been real or not. I mean how often do you wake up hugging Vlad Masters? How should I know? Maybe I was still dreaming. I tried to remember when I had fallen asleep and distinctly remembered doing my ghost sense exercises before I called it quits for the night. It had been a dream. So then how did Vlad get here? And why the Hell was I hugging him!

I sighed as I remembered the first half of my dream. I had probably screamed. Like a lot. That had been a pretty bad one. I glanced to the wrist that was laying on Vlad's side as air rushed with a soft rush in and out of his lungs. Around his wrist was a bruise, like a bracelet. I cringed.

Vlad had probably come to try to wake me up and then, just like in my dream, I hadn't let go. I was used to my dreams correlating with what I did while I was asleep. I can't tell you how many times I have woken up with some sort of thing on my head as a "helmet" because in my dream I had gone into some kind of arena to battle a ghost I couldn't possibly beat in a million years.

Gezze that bruise looked like it had to hurt. How long had he been standing there with me just grabbing onto him? It must have been a pretty long time if he decided that he was tired enough to climb into the bed. He was only at the very edge. Clearly he had been uncomfortable with the idea of getting in in the first place. I was honestly surprised he hadn't fallen off. I think it was because my arms were still around him that was even still on the bed.

Being held captive all night had happened to Jazz a lot too. She was often the one to catch me in a bad nightmare before it got Mom and Dad's attention. I'd woken up plenty of times with her in my bed to hear about how I had tried to defend her from some sort of monster I was dreaming about.

I internally swore as I realized the hug was probably my fault too. Freaking stupid dreams! What if he woke up and saw that I had hugged him! That would just be too weird! It was already weird and the only reason I hadn't moved by now was because I still didn't know if Vlad was a light sleeper or not and I didn't want him to fall off and wake up. I really just had to ask him one of these times if he was a light sleeper or not. The uncertainty was causing me a lot of problems.

I really really really didn't want to just sit there and hug Vlad Masters, however. I was grateful for "Dream Vlad" and all, but this was real Vlad, and I did not feel like hugging the real Vlad. He had done a lot for me, yes. Enough to warrant spooning, NO! No no no no ABSOLUTELY NOT! Really I wanted to gag at the situation I had landed myself in.

Okay well I could do this I would just have to be super careful. Without Moving my arms I scooted myself more towards the middle of the bed. Slowly. Very very slowly, I pulled Vlad back away from the edge. I repeated the process until I was satisfied. Then I made my arms intangible and let them fall through the bed so that I didn't have to move him anymore by trying to just pull them out.

Finally free I moved myself stealthily all five feet to the other side of the bed. Yes it was a freaking huge bed, and I intended to use all of it to separate me and Vlad. I shivered as I recalled what had just happened to me. That had not been cool. I was pretty sure I never wanted to wake up like that again. There were just so many things wrong with this it was…I don't know what it was but it was wrong.

I sighed and tired to relax into the bed, which really wasn't hard considering the bed. I could just forget about this. Vlad wouldn't know that I had woken up. After what I'm sure he experienced before he decided to climb in, he wouldn't put it past me to have moved to the opposite side of the bed by morning. I would just have to forget this whole thing ever happened. I could pretend I hadn't woken up and been totally freaked with what I had discovered. Right now in my life I didn't need any more awkward weirdness. Though that doesn't seem to stop the universe from throwing it in my face anyway. I just had to forget. I just…had…to…Zzz Zzz


Unexpectedly a glob of orange mush was suddenly being chucked at my feet as we walked by a person still in the process of cleaning out their pumpkin. Having had plenty of things chucked at me over the past two years, I easily sidestepped and avoided the mess. However when I had moved out of the way the orange goo didn't hit the floor, but a pair of shinny back shoes that had been walking beside me. There was a tiny squelch that could be heard as the guts spladdered over the black surface. Instatnly the shoes halted and stood perfectly still. I knew who those shoes belonged to and quite frankly I was scared as to how he was going to react. I followed the form of Vlad from his shoes up to his face. His lips were pressed into a hard line and his eyes were pure fire as he glared at who had thrown the pile of orange goop onto his perfectly kept shoes. I followed Vlad's gaze to find the person who had unthinkingly thrown the guts. Her long thin brown hair was tied up into a messy bun and all of the color had drained from her face. Her eyes were so wide you could see all of her iris. She stared, not daring to breathe, at the spot she had thrown the offending pumpkin guts.

In that moment the generator that had been making a good deal of noise shut off. The people working on the windows, oblivious to the drama that was taking place across the huge room, were taking their lunch break. I could visibly see the new silence press on the woman. She gulped before she slowly took the ear plugs out of her ears and brought her gaze up to meet Vlad's. There was a long moment where Vlad and this woman just stared at each other. The woman remained as still as a statue. I think her heart might have even stopped beating for a few seconds. Vlad's gaze was cold and calculating.

I had not seen anything like this happen today so I had no clue how Vlad was going to react. I didn't like the look he was giving the woman. It was one I had seen on Plasmius' a few times. It made me nervous because it gave me the idea that he was thinking about doing something drastic, and I might have to play hero to stop him. The look on his face was one I had seen when he was about to do something evil, or get really pissed off. I felt like I should be doing something to stop Vlad right now, like I was supposed to prevent this whole thing from happening before it got out of hand.

I was hesitant to do anything though because I didn't know if I should. Was it my place? Was Vlad really going to do something extreme and unnecessary or was his glare just putting everyone on edge? I didn't want to look stupid and paranoid by acting like the "hero" when nobody really even needed to be saved. The situation still pulled at my reflex to help regardless. That instinct I had to jump into hero mode was hesitant to come to the surface after not having been needed for so long, but it was definitely there. I internally struggled with the decision to intervene or not as the moment continued to press heavier on everyone.

I glanced one more time at the absolutely terrified woman, and the vacation that my hero complex had been able to take the past three weeks, was over. The shear terror playing out on that woamns face was all that was needed to send me straight into "hero mode". I knew that look. That was the look a person gets when they know that they are completely helpless. That look was what accompanied a scream for help or a cry of fear. I knew how to react to that look. There was a very clear procedure to take when there is a person with this look in the vicinity. I suddenly knew what to do.

I stepped so that I was in between the enemy and the person in need; acting as a shield, a physical barrier the innocent person would be able to see was there to protect them. I put on my fearless 'hero face' to be able to look the enemy directly in the eye. I made sure my stance was tall and strong before I looked directly into the eyes of my opponent.

Then I saw my opponent was Vlad. My false confidence started to falter. As quickly as I had slipped into my 'hero routine' I was slipping out of it. I continued to stare at Vlad's face in confusion trying to desperately decide what to do. By stepping in front of the woman I had snapped Vlad out of his rage as well. I watched as his face quickly lost its look of anger for something closer to his usual stone mask of indifference. I couldn't really tell what Vlad was thinking or what he was going to do.

None of my attention was on the other people in the area but if it had been I would have seen everyone on stage looking at me and Vlad like they were waiting for us to burst into flame. The woman behind me had started to lose it now that she had been removed from Vlad's glare, and tears had started to slip down her face. The air seemed to quiver with the silence that now occupied the space me and vlad were standing in. I don't think either me or Vlad noticed though. As soon as we had locked gazes we had completely fallen away from whatever had been going on around us. My mind raced as I tried to figure out what I was supposed to do now. I had just stepped in front of Vlad making it very clear I was going to defend this woman and fight him if necessary. I didn't exactly realize what i was doing when I stepped in front of him though and now we were both at dead stand still not sure what was supposed to come next. It was obvious by the way that we were standing here completely clueless that we wouldn't be playing the hero and villain roles we usually did in something like this. So what the heck were Vlad and I in this situation? What were we supposed to do?

I tried forcing him into that position in my head for the sake of knowing what to do next, but I was quickly finding myself unable to label Vlad as the opposition or bring myself to see him as not on my side. I couldn't do it. In my head it was impossible for me to put Vlad, the person who housed fed and clothed me, under that label anymore. I couldn't fight him.

I had to do something though. I might not be able to fight Vlad like a villain anymore, but I still had to make sure he didn't do anything. I had to make sure that Vlad kept his cool and didn't do something that would come back to haunt him. I quickly decided that instead of outright stopping Vlad with force I was going to have to get him to see reason. I was going to have to see if I could get him to calm down by playing bomb squad.

I studied Vlad's face to try and see what I was working with underneath his mask of cold indifference. From what I could tell he was pretty much just as flustered as I was. His shoulders had rolled forwards just the smallest bit and his chin was lowered an even smaller amount. It looked like he had been snapped just as violently out of his funk as I had been out of mine. I was kind of relieved that I hadn't had to do anything besides step in front of Vlad to get him to cool it. I didn't really know what to do other than that to get him to calm down.

Now that it was clear me and Vlad were both not going to explode on each other I decided it was time that we high tailed it out of there. It was pretty obvious to me that we needed an excuse to get out of the room and the awkward situation I had landed us in. Vlad still looked tense and I didn't want to push it. The best thing would be to get out of here. Lucky for us, I had gotten very good at impromptu excuses. I coughed just a little bit before I started talking so my voice wouldn't come out in a squeak.

"Vlad why don't we go get you a new pair of shoes?" Vlad's staring at me relaxed just a tiny bit in recognition of my plan before his mask was snapping back up and he spoke in a voice just as cold and indifferent.

"Martin we are done here." Vlad didn't wait for a response and didn't give anyone a chance to make one. Vlad swiftly swept his foot back and tapped the toe of his shoe against the floor behind him, forcing a majority of the pumpkin guts that had been on the shoe to fall to the floor. Vlad then turned to face the direction of the stairs that lead up to the stage and started walking. I didn't need any other indicator to know that I was supposed to follow. I quickly jumped slash jogged around the pile of goo that kept me from being directly behind Vlad and followed him down the stairs. Vlad only glanced to me once on our way out the door and he didn't look at me long enough for me to know what he was looking at me for. For all of the dramatic tension me and Vlad had just built up we were diffusing it by simply walking away. I could feel the eyes of everyone behind us as we just up and left. Like a firework that had been set to go off but never left the ground.

Vlad kept up his cold indifferent act as we walked, very quickly in my opinion, out of the Ball room. I was still kind of nervous about what was going to happen next. I was still really hoping that I had done the right thing and that Vlad wasn't mad. He was still impossible to read. We walked down the hallway we had come down to get there and passed what looked like people carrying suits of armor and vampire coffins on our way to the main hall. Despite seeing things like coffins go by, Vlad kept up his act of cold indifference. It was seriously starting to make me nervous.

Had I done something wrong? We were out of the Ballroom now and Vlad was still being all cold. I thought if I got him away from what was making him angry and upset he wouldn't be like this anymore, so why was he still wound up? What if the Ball room wasn't what was making him upset? What if I was really what Vlad was upset with now? What if by jumping into the situation back there I had gotten Vlad to let go of his anger for the pumpkin lady and focus it on me? I had pretty much blatantly defied Vlad's authority over his employee's back there. There was no way he was happy with me after I had done that. Vlad didn't stand for things like rebellion, I of all people would know. I had seen him punish people for even the slightest disobedience all day.

I was pretty sure by now that I had done something horribly wrong and I was going to have to answer for it. All I could do now was follow Vlad and wait for him to start yelling at me for being stupid and getting in his way. I had to use all of my will power not to slowly fall away from my position behind Vlad as I followed him down the hallway. How did I always manage to do the stupid thing? Now Vlad was mad at me and I would be paying for it dearly; I was sure.

I looked up to Vlad again to see he still had his face completely controlled and blank. What was he going to do to me? I was freaking out on the inside trying to come up with a good excuse for what I had done. However that was really hard considering I wasn't even sure what I had done that had made him upset. I knew it was pointless to try and explain myself. There was no explaining yourself to Vlad. That still didn't stop me from trying though. I frantically started going through the scene that had just happened in my head, trying to find an excuse for everything I had just done.

I glanced to Vlad again as we turned to go up the main stair case to the second floor. Vlad still wouldn't look at me and he kept his gaze pointed directly ahead of us. We continued to walk deeper and deeper into the maze of hallways and further and further away from all of the commotion that was being made for the Ball tonight. The silence was slowly pressing down on my eardrums and I started to crumble under the pressure. Why hadn't Vlad said anything yet? What was he going to do? What was he planning on punishing me with?

Vlad wasn't looking at me, or talking or glaring or anything. He just walked along like I wasn't even there. The fact was slowly pressing on the insides of my head. Finally I couldn't take the suspense anymore. I had to get him to say something, anything!

"Vlad I'm sorry!" Vlad stopped in his tracks and stood frozen like a statue, still facing forward. I couldn't see his face because I had stopped too, still behind him. I kept talking, worried because he still wasn't saying anything. "I overreacted, and I shouldn't have done anything. I-I know you couldn't have really hurt her because there were other people there and you can't reveal your ghost powers or anything, but you saw her face Vlad! I just didn't know okay? I didn't know what you were going to do and I was scared. I assumed that you were going to do something that I was going to have to stop. I know I shouldn't assume things but I just reacted okay? I just reacted like I was used to reacting and I didn't think. I'm sorry, I didn't think. Just, please I know you won't go easy on me for what I did but I just want you to know I'm sorry. Just please don't be mad." Vlad's shoulders sagged and he let out a heavy breath. He let his head fall to his chest and his arms dangled at his sides. I watched, not daring to move and risk doing something else wrong. He stood there like that for a moment. All that I could hear was my heart beat thumping in my ears before he spoke. His voice sounded nothing like I had expected. It was low and defeated.

"Am I really so terrifying?" my face dropped at what he had asked. Was I hearing him right? My breath got caught in my throat in my surprise and I was unable to even ask why he had just said such a weird thing. When I didn't answer Vlad turned around to face me. His eyes looked tired like he had aged ten years in the last ten seconds.

"Do I really scare you so much?" I blinked ten times in about five seconds and shook my head slightly back and forth trying to shake off my shock. What was the fruitloop talking about? I grunted out a few noises before I was finally able to say a whole word.

"Uh…ah….bu…What?" Vlad's face just saddened more and his gaze fell to the ground. I waited for him to explain. To say something that would make sense, but he just stood there, staring at the floor.

"Vlad aren't you mad at me? What the heck are you talking about?" That got Vlad to bring his gaze up from the floor. Though his face was still mostly sad it was obvious he was confused with what I had just said.

"Why would I be mad at you Daniel? I was the one who caused you to jump to conclusions. You are not at fault here. I've nothing to blame you for." A grin split like a banana arcoss my face and my shoulders relaxed. Thank god, I was going to live! My relief at finding out I wasn't in trouble only lasted so long though as my gaze wandered back to Vlad. He looked at me slightly amused, though pain and sadness were still projecting form his face like a neon sign.

"No Daniel, you're not in trouble. If there is anyone who is at fault here that would be me. Now why don't you go to your room and maybe play some of those videogames you are so fond of before I call you down to lunch? We'll be having it in a short while." What was left of the smile that had just appeared on my face quickly fell off as Vlad turned around and dismissed me. His hands fell into their familiar position clasped behind his back as he started to walk down the hallway away from me. I might be clueless, but something was definitely up with Vlad. What the heck was wrong with him? Why did he ask me if I thought he was scary? How was that relevant to anything that had just happened? I mean yeah when me and Vlad had been staring at each other back there in the ball room a lot of emotions had made their way through my head. Mostly confusion but there was some fear and nervousness their too. Who wouldn't be nervous, that had been one of the most awkward and tense situations of my life! Did he think that I was afraid of him?

My eyes widened a little bit at the possibility. I wasn't afraid of Vlad. I mean he could be pretty scary when he wanted, yeah, but I wasn't afraid of him or anything. I finally came back to myself to try and reassure Vlad that I was not in fact afraid of him, only to realize that Vlad was disappearing around the corner at the end of the hallway.

"Hey Vlad wait!" I huffed when vlad didn't stop and started sprinting down the hall to catch up. It didn't take long, I'd gotten pretty fast and Vlad hadn't gotten that far away. I ran in front of Vlad, stopping him from moving forward by putting my hands up in front of him. I looked up to his face, and tried to get him to talk.

"Vlad what made you think I was afraid of you back there?" Vlad smiled at me like I was a little kid and I was asking about something I could never understand, like why Santa Clause didn't exist. The look annoyed me but I kept my annoyance to myself, settling on a frown instead.

"Daniel, it's nothing important. I shouldn't have said anything to worry you. Now please let me by so I can go change my shoes, or at least find a trash can and phase the filth off of the ones I'm currently wearing." Vlad took a step to the side to try and walk around me but I quickly shuffled over to stay in front of him, like a moving road block. This of course earned me a look of annoyance, but I couldn't really bring myself to care about that right now. Vlad now looked sternly at me.

"Daniel, step aside. I'm not going to play your childish games." The bravado that usually backed up Vlad's demands wasn't there and that made me seriously worry. What the heck was wrong with him? He tried to step around me again. I snapped myself out of my own thoughts enough to make sure he didn't get anywhere. I tried to let go of some of my annoyance and be firm instead.

"Vlad common I'm not that stupid. I've been forced to listen to my sister's insane syco-bable for long enough to know that there is something wrong when it's shoved in my face. Why do you think that I'm scared of you?" Vlad sighed heavily again and rolled his eyes; now clearly annoyed with me. I couldn't help but get a little ticked that he was brushing me off so carelessly. Now he didn't say anything instead he just glared at me and tried to get around me again. I shuffled backwards and to the side, still blocking his path. I glared right back and as I glared I started reciting what my sister would always start reciting to me whenever I wouldn't tell her something. I pretty much knew the thing by heart now because there were a lot of times when there was information that she knew I was keeping from her. So I got to hear this little speech a lot.

"There are three main reasons why one person might refuse to reveal a piece of information to another person." Vlad glared at me again as if to say "really" before he stepped to the side again. I had settled into a battle stance and could now easily shuffle back and forth as Vlad tried to get around me. I held my hands up, like a basketball player trying to block an opponent with the ball.

"One reason is that a person might be scared of the consequences their secret might bring to whoever they tell. They might be afraid of the danger that the information will put the other person or perhaps themselves in." Vlad growled shortly at me before he faked a left and tried to sneak around my right, however I was too fast for him. He was too proud to get into a battle stance himself so I was able to shift my weight much faster than he was. I couldn't help but start to smirk a little bit as he grew more and more frustrated.

"Another reason a person might withhold information is because they might have been asked to keep that information a secret for another person. They might not share information because they believe it is not their place and they do not want to betray another's trust." Vlad stopped for a second and stared at me before he abruptly vanished. Already having put myself in a sort of halfway battle mode my reaction time was good and I was able to become intangible and invisible fast enough that he couldn't get by me. He growled again and we both faded back to visibility and tangibility as I continued my speech.

"The third and most common reason is that a person is afraid of what another person might think of them after learning the information. A person will most likely withhold information from another because they are ashamed and do not want their image or relationship with the other to be changed or damaged." A smirk curled fully onto my face when Vlad finally stopped and sighed in the middle of the hallway. We had shuffled a good ten feet down the hallway and it looked like Vlad was finally giving in. Though I still stayed ready.

"Fine Daniel, yes. I am not telling you what I meant by those questions because I do not want our relationship to be changed or damaged. I was obviously wrong in my previous assumtions anyhow so what I thought is irrelevant either way. Now let me get through!" Vlad tried to pull a surprise dodge on me but I had played this game enough with Jazz to know to never let your guard down. I was able to just stay in front of him and send him my own comeback.

"So you want to keep your spot as my arch enemy then?"That caused Vlad's shoulders to slouch and his head to drop.

"No, Daniel, I do not-"

"Well then you're going to have to tell me what's wrong because that's how this whole 'not being enemy's' thing works. You can't keep secrets like that Vlad. And you really can't go around blurting out crap like 'Are you afraid of me?' and expect me not to get that something's up. I'm not letting you get by until you tell me exactly what made you think that I was afraid of you." A half convincing smirk slid onto Vlad's face and he stood up a little straighter. I braced myself for a potentially degrading comment and stayed in my battle ready stance. He wasn't getting past me until he told me what was wrong. I could literally stand like this for hours.

"Well it's not exactly as if you are known for your perceptive abilities. The rest of us were under the impression that you had inherited your father's cluelessness." I choked for a moment on my breath as Vlad brought my dad to the front of my head. I felt a tiny bit of shame and denial that Vlad would compare me to my dad in the first place. I couldn't be like him. I would never…I had to quickly push down those memories and shuffle back in front of Vlad as he tried to use my brief lapse in concentration to his advantage. My eyes hardened into ice and my sentences turned short. Vlad definelty wasn't getting away with this now. Not after pulling a trick like that.

"Don't change the subject and answer my question Vlad. This isn't hard. I'm not going to give this up because this is important. You told me before when we were in the Ghost Zone that you weren't going to keep secrets anymore. You said you would explain yourself to me if I asked. Well now I'm asking. Why did you think I was afraid of you?"


Line Break. Vlad's POV.

I mindlessly flipped the page in the newspaper I was hiding behind. Taking the opportunity that the regular lowering of the paper in front of me provided, I inconspicuously checked up on Daniel. He was still toiling away hunched over one of the many counters of my lab; determined to build that blasted thermos. A part of me was of course hoping he would not discover that he had simply connected two wires incorrectly. I certainly didn't believe that he would need or should even want such a device for protection. If he was successful in building that idiotic contraption he would inevitably bring it with him to the Ball; and by allowing him to take that irritating 'security blanket' of sorts I was not helping him overcome his paranoia. I wanted him to have an opportunity to realize the invalidity of his anxiety. That was part of why I was so insistent that he attend the Ball. He needed this experience, of simply coexisting with ghosts in the vicinity, to help him overcome his apprehension. He needed more experiences with ghosts that were not intent on his or others destruction.

I watched from the corner of my eye, slightly amused, as Daniel disassembled the device for a fourth time to try to find the problem. Once more he passed over the two wires he had incorrectly connected. Disregarding his minor but significant oversight, I had been impressed with Daniel's skills in engineering thus far.

When Daniel had asked if I had been in possession of a Fenton Thermos I told him that I had not, which was in fact the truth. I suppose I should not have taken advantage of the boy's poorly phrased question, but as I had said before I did not desire the young man's mental ease to rely so heavily on the device. I did in fact have the blueprints required to build one of those contraptions. I had even gone as far as to improve upon the design and eliminate some of the devices rather blaring flaws. A year or so ago I had required myself to build the containment devices for Ms. Grey. However Daniel had not asked for blueprints, or for any other device that might be used to capture a ghost. He had only gone as far as to ask specifically for a ridiculous thermos. Logically, I did not see the need to enlighten him to his significant oversight in asking me for something so specific.

I suppose if I was honest with myself I was also repaying the boy, in some way, for his rather exuberant choice of attire of me tomorrow evening. A strange feeling of pride mixed with distaste rose within me when I thought of the boy's rather tactful negotiation merely three nights ago. I should not have put Dracula past the boy. It was rather ironic in the same way that the costume I had chosen for Daniel, was for him. I refused to wear those hideous and demeaning plastic fangs, however. I had my own fangs that would do nicely. Yes Daniel was turning out more like me than I believe he would care to admit. I could not turn down a smirk as a wave of warmth washed through me at the thought. I allowed myself a glance at the young man sitting not five feet from me once again.

He had neglected to change out of his slacks and dress shoes today for whatever reason. I wasn't complaining. The boys current attire made him appear so much more like the dignified character that he was. The sleeves of the oxford he had worn under his suit jacket today were rolled up his arms. I could tell the growth hormones I had been administering to the boy every morning were doing their job. The pants that had been the perfect height when he had arrived at my mansion now appeared slightly too short. His suit jackets also appeared to be fitting slightly tighter as he had gained a considerable amount of muscle over his stay. I suppose for a normal human such a gain in muscle mass over this short period of time would be considered unhealthy, but for a half ghost it was perfectly normal; especially a half ghost on growth hormones. Such a growth spurt might have thrown an average human off of their equilibrium as well. Daniel however was handling his body's changes with surprising grace. I supposed his daily training and the keen sense of balance that came from the ability to fly could be responsible for the lack of missteps.

My thoughts meandered back to the boy's attire. Obtaining properly fitting clothes for the now growing Daniel would be easy enough. When the boy was at school one of these days I would have a team of tailors come in and adjust the hems as necessary. Perhaps his shoes would need to be slightly larger as well. That would be as simple as sending someone out to gather the shoes that needed replacing in the appropriate size.

In addition his hair, which had hung just above his eyebrows before, seemed to almost always need pushing out of his eyes. I would have to ask the boy about a hair cut in the near future. I did not mind the boy's longer hair. It would be hypocritical of me to demand the boy keep his hair at a 'respectable' length when my own had remained past my shoulders for far longer than I could remember. If I wasn't correct the boy would need to start shaving in the near future as well, the way things were progressing. An interesting day that would be indeed.

I was distracted from my thoughts as Daniel let out a heavy sigh. He pushed all that he had been working on to the side so he could rest his head with a small thump on the counter. Once more I could not withhold a small grin at the boys defeated posture. He had been at this for three days now and he had yet to figure out what he had done wrong. As usual the boy's stubborn nature had prevented him from relenting in his attempts or asking for help. Now that the Ball was just a night away I could see that the boy was losing morale. He had tried many more times than most people would have cared to, to build his beloved thermos. It was really a feat in itself that he had persevered through so many failures already.

I peered over the edge of my newspaper at Daniel. He spun slightly in the chair he occupied to look at me. Clearly, his face stated that he saw me looking at him and was waiting for me to gloat that I had been right about his inability to construct a functioning ghost containment device. I only met his gaze with a raised eyebrow before I slightly flicked the paper I had been holding; completely obscuring me from view once more.

I resisted a chuckle when the response to my silent reply was more loud sighs of despair. I listened intently to the sounds coming from just beyond the walls of newspaper I had erected around myself. A fair amount of metallic clinking alerted me to the fact that Daniel had resumed his tinkering. He continued to unintelligibly mutter to himself as he went through the motions of reassembling his precious container. Suddenly a loud clang caused me to flinch as something, evidently made of metal, fell to the ground. I now obviously lowered my paper to see what the matter was. Not a moment after the loud noise Daniel's upper body flopped onto the counter as he cursed his clumsiness in a depressed tone.

"God damit." Without picking himself up off the counter Daniel let his arm fall to his side before he aimed it towards the fallen object. I watched slightly amused as Daniel encased the item in his own green energy to lift it to the counter once more. Once the piece had been restored to its proper place on the counter Daniel hoisted himself up with is arms as if it were taking him a great bit of effort. He then rested his head on one of his hands as he halfheartedly picked up the disassembled pieces of the thermos he had been so diligently working on. I was about to return to my façade of inattention once more but was stopped.

"Vlad?" I had to refrain from smirking at the boy. He had not turned to look at me when he called; and he had uttered the question in such a defeated whine. It seems that my little badger had finally had enough.

"Yes Daniel?" I thought I had kept the smug tone out of my voice but apparently I had not for Daniel slowly spun in his chair to meet me with a glare. I waited for one of his classic retorts but one never came. Instead Daniel opened his mouth as if he were about to say something in his annoyance before he let out another heavy sigh, causing his shoulders to slump slightly and his head to fall. There was a moment where I watched Daniel sit in such a posture. He then brought his head back up to meet my gaze. This time it seemed as if he were pleading with his eyes that I not make him the butt of any further teasing.

"Vlad can you help me with this?" My eyebrows shot up at the question. I merely looked at the boy for a moment in his distress. With what I wanted to accomplish for the boy my answer was obvious, but I hesitated for just the slightest moment in my response. I had very clearly felt the urge to give the boy what he wanted despite what I knew was best. How could I refuse the boy when he spoke to me in such a way?

"No." I forced myself to very quickly harden in my resolve. I had to do what was best for the boy, and if he did not have that blasted thermos with him tomorrow evening it would make the experience he would have that much more valuable. He should not have to rely on the stupid contraption, no matter how much he wanted it.

"But Vlad!" I didn't lower my paper as I responded.

"Daniel we've already had this discussion. You are already aware that I don't believe you are helping yourself with that blasted device. It would be illogical and counterproductive for me to help you." There was a short frustrated growl.

"Could you at least look at me when you're telling me I'm insane?" I sighed slightly. That was not what I had said.

"Daniel you know that's not what I believe. I'm just trying to do what is best for you-"

Ding dong, dong ding, Dong ding ding dong.

I was cut off by the ethereal door bell to my ghost portal. Daniel tensed slightly before he forced himself to relax and look to me for an explanation to the strange noise he had just heard. It would sound strange to anyone who hadn't heard it before, resembling something along the lines of Orchestral chimes being played under water. The sound of this particular chime was unique in that it could not be heard by the human ear. The tones only resonated sufficiently in ectoplasm; meaning that the sound waves amplified themselves to an audible level only when passing through the correct substances. This way, I, because of the ectoplasm present in my DNA, could be alerted to any specter that arrived before they waltzed into my mansion, and my human staff would not be bothered when I went to greet someone at my portal doors.

I however did not bother myself with this information now. What I was concerned about was how I was going to explain away the obviously ghost related noise to Daniel. I had schooled my features into a casual expression despite the fact that I was furiously cursing on the inside. I had already supposed which ghost would chose this particular time to disturb me and it was not one that would make this situation any less stressful. Of all the times a ghost had to go and ring the door bell.

I had to find a way to get Daniel to leave so I could shoo the specter away for another time. I did not want Daniel to have to deal with surprise visits from any specter; especially ones he was not on good terms with. The last thing Daniel needed was for his state of alertness to be heightened. As I had explained to the boy several nights before now, I needed him to practice keeping his "switch off". Unanounced visits from adversaries were not going to accomplish that for the boy.

I folded up my paper as I turned back to Daniel. He was looking at me with a curious expression on his face. There was one thing I needed at this moment and that was for Daniel to leave without becoming suspicious. Perhaps I could fool Daniel for just a small amount of time. Surely without knowing any better I would be able to pass off the otherworldly chime as the doorbell at the main entrence. He had never heard that before either, as it were.

"I suppose someone is at the front door. Daniel why don't you go start your training session for today? I don't believe you've had a good go in a few days now. I'll be there shortly after I take care of this matter." Daniel merely scoffed and stood up, matching me as I got out of my own chair.

"Vlad that has got to be the worst excuse you've come up with to get me out of a room ever. I have no clue what the noise was or what it meant, but you have got to give me some credit. There is no way that that was just a regular doorbell." I was about to reassure the boy that it was merely a very expensive and exotic doorbell. However I was interrupted by a rather loud clanging from the closed portal. Mentally cursing I watched apprehensively as Daniel's head locked instantly to the portal doors. As soon as the fact that there was a specter knocking on the other side of the metal barrier clicked in his head he unconsciously shifted to his ghostly form and slipped ever so slightly into a battle stance. I had to restrain myself form outright growling at the uninvited specter's poor timing. Now there was absolutely no chance of me getting Daniel away from this situation without a straight forward explanation. Daniel turned cautiously back to me; now very careful to never turn his back on me or the supposed 'threat'.

"It was a doorbell on your portal wasn't it?" The playful teasing smirk that might have accompanied that statement from Daniel in any other situation was absent. Instead his face was carefully controlled as he asked the question, making it clear that he already knew the answer. I sighed. God damn the boy's deductive reasoning. The boy's vigilance around anything ghostly realted would not allow him to rest until I gave him anything less than a straight answer. This situation was not going to head anywhere pleasant soon.

"Yes Daniel, it was a doorbell for the entrance to my portal. I have an appointment with this specter and I believe it would be better if the two of you refrained from interacting. I would now appreciate it if you would go up to the training room as I suggested earlier." Now Daniel let some of the disbelief and anger he obviously was feeling show on his face and in his voice.

"Uh, no. I'm not going to just run up to the training room while you plot for some evil scheme. Who's on the other side of the doors?" I pinched the bridge of my nose so that my hand would hide part of my face and subsequently my reaction to his accusations. That comment had stung. It was obvious that the boy still did not trust me in these matters. I suppose I could not blame him. What else was he supposed to think when there was a ghost at my portal that I had not alerted him to? I had been open with the boy for the entire time he had been with me willingly. I could explain to him all that I was doing with this particular visitor once he had come and gone; in the mean time however, I still did not think it wise to have Daniel in the vicinity as I did my business. The fact that he seemed ready to go into an all out brawl because of the mere notion that there was a ghost nearby was only enforcing my stance on the matter.

"Daniel please, I am not plotting for any evil scheme. You are already aware that I have several ghosts in my employ for the Ball. This is merely one of them. I would prefer that you not be present because I do not want you overreacting when the two of you are already not on the best of terms. I will explain everything once I have dealt with this. Please cooperate with me just this once" I brought my hand down to watch Daniel shift suspiciously. The gears in his head were furiously working to keep up with the situation. Flickers of unidentifiable emotions flew over his face as he seemingly came to several conclusions. Most of the hostility that Daniel had previously exhibited was dropped and he adopted a somewhat apologetic look. What on earth went through the boy's head? Why had he been so quick to drop his accusations of me? Did he truly trust my word so blindly? When he opened his mouth to speak he had my complete attention.

Daniel was about to speak before the idiot on the other side of the portal decided that that moment would be the appropriate time to remind me that he was still at my door. A loud clanging resonated once again from the portal as he called to check if I was on the other side.

"My Liege are you there?" Apprehensively I watched as Daniel tensed like an animal readying itself for attack. At seeing the boy tense once more I lost some of my temper and lashed out at the Fright Knight waiting on the other side of the portal. How dare that tin-can make Daniel react in such a way.

"You can wait one bloody minute until I am ready!" I shouted at the thick metal doors in anger. When my outburst was met with silence I turned back to Daniel. His eyes shifted between me and the portal where the Fright Knight was waiting. I sighed and unclenched my hands, pleading with Daniel to oblige with my requests.

"Daniel, please." I watched as Daniel forced himself to relax slightly out of his battle ready posture. I was not fond of the uncertain, rueful look that slid onto his face as he spoke next. I knew how to manipulate Daniel when he was merely suspicious of the morality I was exhibiting. I was not however, certain how to proceed when it was clear that this was not his usual suspicious demeanor.

"It's the Fright Knight isn't it?" He jabbed his thumb in the direction of the portal and looked to me for a response. I gave no indication as to if he was right or wrong; not wanting to encourage him further. He however continued as if I had just confirmed everything he had suspected. He took a deep breath before he forced his own hands to relax. "So you need help with your haunted house too huh?" His smirk was nervous instead of confidant as it usually was. Daniel was trying to be funny. I was torn between relief in the fact that he was attempting to make sarcastic remarks, and anger in the fact that he wasn't showing any signs of leaving as I had instructed. Really this was becoming slightly ridiculous.

"Daniel this is not a joking matter. For your own safety-"

"So you don't want me here with another ghost now, but tomorrow you'll be perfectly fine sticking me in a room full of them?" I couldn't bring myself to be angry with the teen's interruption. The logic sounded twisted even in my own head. I was aware of this before the boy brought it up, but he just wasn't ready. I couldn't let him remain here. He hadn't been mentally prepared for this encounter. I did not want to risk taking any steps backwards with the boy unless I was certain of the ramifications. It was too dangerous.

"Yes. But tomorrow-"

"Vlad tomorrow I'll be just as protected as I am today. You said that you ordered everyone not to touch me right? So by your own means I should be fine. I'm staying Vlad, I can handle this. Think of it as practice." I pinched the bridge of my nose once again. What was so frustrating was the fact that there was no reason I could make Daniel go to the training room short of 'because I said so'. I was not so juvenile that I would stoop so low as using that as a reason for anything. And the way the teen had presented it, it would be foolish not to let him have this opportunity. I would be there the entire time to make sure that nothing happened. That still did not mean that I wanted him there. I sighed and let my arm fall back to my side as I decided the next strategy I would be using to win this argument. Either Daniel was going to tell me what his intents and purposes were for staying or he was going to leave. He needed to decide which of the two would be his course of action quickly.

"Daniel why is it that you would even desire to be present for this endeavor? Nothing exciting or worth witnessing is going to take place. This is purely a mundane annual visit that will take less than five minutes. Really I believe it would cause us all less trouble if you would occupy yourself elsewhere." I watched Daniel with slight curiosity. He shifted and brought one of his hands up to rub the back of his neck in his iconic 'I'm nervous and uncomfortable' gesture. We would have to work on fixing that. Such a blatant signal could be used against him if he continued to display his emotions so openly. Now however, was not the time. Instead I payed attention to what he muttered under his breath.

" I dunno I guess I just wanted to be there. See what you were gonna do to the Ball room and stuff." My eyebrows lowered skeptically at the boy's provided reason. So he was still under the impression that I was scheming? I suppose I should not have expected the boy's suspicion of my actions to vanish simply because of my word, but he needed to know and understand that I was not lying about what I had said.

"Daniel I can assure you that I have no plans to harm or take advantage of anyone short of giving them a hardy scare." When Daniel would still not meet my gaze I halted in vindicating my own purposes and waited for what he would have to say. Based on Daniel's body language I was still missing something. It was no use trying to solve a puzzle you didn't have all the pieces to. Without meeting my gaze Daniel muttered once again.

"I know. That wasn't why I wanted to stay." Now, supremely confused, I just stared at the boy, waiting for him to explain himself. I could not for the remaining life of me, figure why the boy would want to watch what I was doing if it was not for his usual heroic reasons. Daniel finally grew uncomfortable with my stare and broke down.

"Okay gezze stop looking at me like that alright? It's not that I think you're going to do something evil or illegal or anything, even though you're giving me enough reason to think so. I guess I just feel like you went into the Ghost Zone with me and were okay with all of my friends, and this is my chance to return some of the favor. I want to show you that I can keep up my end of the deal too," The boy nervously shifted again before he added more to his reply, "And I kind of want to make sure that you don't do anything to the Ball room that might backfire on me tomorrow." I sighed and pinched the bridge of my nose. The boy did not need to prove to me he would be loyal to his end of the bargin. He was far too noble to go back on his word. Frankly it wasn't even Daniel acting up I was most worried about, now that he had revealed his intention to me. The only reason Daniel would become violent was if he were provoked in some way. The only reason I might be concerned was that things may escalate to the point of violence because the Fright Knight held very little respect for Daniel or anyone he saw as below himself.

Though I was not necessarily concerned with Daniel being able to manage himself if things got out of hand either. What I was worried about was reinforcing his perception that he and ghosts could not exist in the same space peacefully. If a fight did break out, for whatever reason, then that would be one more example that Daniel could use to justify his insane notions.

I sighed once again and let my hand drop. I caught Daniel shifting uncertainly around out of the corner of my eye. I suppose I would be present the entire time to monitor the situation, just as I had been with the boy in the Ghost Zone. The difference here was that I would have the advantage of being in my own mansion, and I knew exactly the type of character that Daniel and I would be dealing with. In retrospect I suppose if Daniel stayed here with me it would not be more dangerous than our previous trip to visit the boy's allies. My attention was brought to Daniel again when a ring of light appeared around his waist as he spoke.

"Here look, I'll even-"

"Stay in your ghost form." The rings of light instantly halted before they moved back together and disappeared. Daniel stared at me curiously, obviously wondering why I had instructed him not to transform. It would be idiotic to have the boy in his weaker form if something did transpire. As much as I wished it weren't so, Daniel could use this situation to better himself; and I wasn't going to be the one to stop him from doing so. The brutal truth was that Daniel needed as many benign interactions with ghosts as he could get. This was not any more dangerous than anything I hadn't already previously agreed to. I sighed and started moving towards the portal to open it.

"I want myself between you and the Fright Knight at all times." I watched out of the corner of my eye as Daniel's mouth hung slightly open. The smirk of triumph I had suspected would appear, him having gotten his way once again, was absent. He instead took the gravity of the situation seriously and zipped silently and quickly to occupy the space behind my right shoulder. I was privately grateful that the teen saw fit to conduct himself without his usual pretentious demeanor. The Fright Knight did not take kindly to those sorts of behaviors and I wanted as little conflict as possible. As I punched in various codes to the lock I had installed on the portal Daniel muttered something I had not expected.

"Thanks. I need this kind of stuff to get better you know. I promise you won't regret this." I halted in my typing for just a fraction of a second before I resumed.

"You wouldn't be here if I thought I would dear boy." Before Daniel could reply the doors in front of us slowly opened with a small hiss. I backed up a number of steps to allow space for the Fright Knight to appear. Daniel took my lead and stepped back also. Shortly after a rather imposing figure dressed in black plated armor stepped through, spouting apologies.

"My Liege I am sorry if…" The Fright Knight trailed off and placed his hand on the hilt of his sword, as if preparing to unsheathe it, when he spotted who stood behind me. I did not have to look to know that the small action had also put Daniel on his guard. Immediately I drew both of their attention away from each other and onto me. If this was going to be a good opportunity for Daniel, I would not have it ruined by the Fright Knight's impulses. I kept my voice cold and sharp instead of soothing and manipulative as I usually did. I needed to let the Fright Knight know that this was not a matter to be taken lightly.

"Fright Knight, surely you are aware that I have taken the boy in. His presence should be no surprise. He is here to observe our doings to be better prepared for tomorrow evening. You so much as speak to him the wrong way and I will take appropriate action. You will treat him as you would me do you understand?" The Fright Knight blinked quickly before he gave a hasty nod of his head.

"Of course my liege. You have no need to question my loyalty. " I did not make any indication that I had heard him or that I received his reassurance. As far as I was concerned there was nothing that he had reassured me about. I kept my cold business persona about me as spoke. I was not oblivious to the hateful looks the Fright Knight was attempting to send over my shoulder at the young man behind me.

"Let us proceed then." I turned briskly on my heel away from the Fright Knight to face Daniel. He gave me curious looks between glancing to the Fright Knight in his anxiety. I softened my face slightly as I explained to Daniel where and what we would be doing. As we started moving towards the stair case I placed my hand on the boy's shoulder, shepherding him to walk along my right side while I also maneuvered to keep the Fright Knight behind me on my left.

"Now Daniel you are already aware of the purpose of my Halloween Ball. I believe you are also aware of the particular affect that the Fight Knight's sword has on objects within a haunted house?" The boy glanced to me before looking back to the Fright Knight to see his reaction to my comment. Once again, I did not have to turn around to know that the Fright Knight had been displeased with the mention of this particular adventure with Daniel. I could not repress a smirk when Daniel looked back to me, a slight rose tinge now on his cheeks. He responded timidly to my inquiry.

"Yeah, I have a general idea." I continued my explanation as we emerged into my study and the fireplace moved to accommodate our passing.

"Then the reason I obtain the Fright Knight's services this time of year should not come as a surprise to you." I was about to launch into an explanation myself of the extent of the Fright Knights powers. However I stopped myself when I glimpsed the Fright Knight sending more hateful glares to Daniel over my shoulder. Daniel was not oblivious to this fact and it showed. He walked as if at any minute he would need to doge or dive into a corner. His eyes continuously darted from me to the Fright Knight behind us. It was evident that Daniel was using all of his will power not to get into a more obvious stance and prepare to fight the specter. And while it was evident that Daniel was making an effort to be cordial, the Fright Knight was making no such attempts. I resisted growling out right at the ghost to show due respect. Instead, I opted for a more subtle way to convey to the Fright Knight that he was not to act as an enemy to Daniel in my household. The Fright Knight could tell Daniel himself about his abilities.

"You know, really I am in no position to inform the boy of your abilities. Fright Knight, I believe it would only be right for you to tell Daniel the specifics of your talents. You are the person who knows yourself best, hm?" I only stopped and turned when the Knight halted in his procession. He glared at Daniel yet again and addressed me as if the boy were below his attention. Obviously my jibe to get him to behave himself had sailed completely over his head. I raised my eyebrows at his aghast tone.

"Plasmius surely he has no need for such knowledge of my abilities. You cannot seriously suggest that I would willingly reveal anything strategically relevant to an adversary. He most certainly doesn't need to be present for what task you would have me perform either. I will respect your alliance with the whelp but that does not make him anything less than an enemy in my eyes." Completely aware that the Fright Knight's resentment had caused Daniel to shift to a more battle ready position beside me once again; I responded with my own icy glare. I had expected resistance from the Knight, yes. However I had not suspected that he would outright refuse to do as I asked; especially not so transparently. Neither had it escaped my attention that he had seen fit to refer to me by my ghost alias; as if to remind me that he only served under me by choice.

"it may be worthy to note that Daniel and I have come under an agreement to cease confrontations with adversaries that are also the others allies. Further I am dismayed that you would be so openly hostile to a young man I have under my ward and care; especially after I specifically ordered you to treat him with the same respect you would show myself. Such blatant antagonism when he has done nothing to anger you presently could be interpreted as an insult to me. You have done a very thorough job of offending Daniel and myself Fright Knight. Would you wish to reconsider your actions before I have you removed from my manor?" The Fright Knight merely gazed with reserved judgment from behind his helmet. I could hear Daniel shift idly behind be as the Fright Knight refused to relent.

"I do not intend any insult to you Plasmius, however you might consider your disrespect of my standing. Clearly you are under the impression that I am serving you blindly, this is not the case. I do have conditions, and one of those is that I will not be forced to reveal my strengths and weaknesses to a known enemy." I growled slightly as the Fright Knight still showed no signs of yielding to my original request. As far as I was concerned this had gone on far enough. It was clear that the Fright Knight should not be allowed to remain in my castle. This was not going to turn into a productive scenario any time soon and I intended to diffuse it before it could turn into an explosive one. I knew I shouldn't have allowed the boy to tag along. Absolutely nothing good or helpful was coming of this.

I was about to take a step forward to 'dismiss' the arrogant Knight when Daniel stepped directly between The Fright Knight and I. Any thoughts of anger I had held vanished as I watched the Fright Knight tense with the boy's advance; anger being replaced with pangs of fear. Daniel set himself in a battle ready stance before me as the Fright Knight did the same placing his hand on his sword. I did not know why in the blazes Daniel saw the need to place himself directly in the middle of this tense situation, but I certainly wasn't going to let him remain there.


"I'm sorry I stole your sword that one time." I had stepped so that I could maneuver Daniel out of the way quickly and efficiently; however I hesitated when I heard what had come out of the teen's mouth. I looked to the Fright Knight to find him in a great deal of shock at what Daniel had just said; frozen in his suit of armor. I halted my efforts to move Daniel form his position when he glanced to me, pleading uncertainly with his eyes. It was then, when I saw Daniel silently ask me to stand down, that I realized in my haste to attain respect for the boy I had escalated the situation. I resisted a heavy sigh at my own insolence; with it I had managed to create a situation I had hoped to avoid. When I made no moves to stop him, Daniel looked uncertainly back to the Fright Knight to continue. "I-I know that I was wrong and I'm sorry. That was probably one of the few times that I actually provoked a ghost attack. As you probably already know, I can't scare anyone for the life, or after-life, of me. The reason I stole your sword in the first place was because I had to make a haunted house room and if my room wasn't scarier than this other guys I was going to have detention for a week and have to eat his underwear." Daniel shuddered at something before he continued. "So yeah, and I had to put you back in your pumpkin because I couldn't exactly just let you create a 'reign of terror' or whatever. If someone threatens to take over the world, I have to stop them, that's just how the process works. If you wouldn't have tried to take over the world or hurt anyone, I probably wouldn't have put you back in the pumpkin. I was honestly going to return the sword as soon as I was done using it. I had no intention of keeping it." During Daniel's unexpected apology the Fright Knight remained unresponsive. He had let his hand fall from the hilt of his sword and relaxed slightly out of his battle ready posture.

Daniel, still as tense as when this had started, glanced back to me for a moment seemingly looking for the encouragement to continue. Torn between wanting the teen to move out of the danger he was putting himself in, and wanting him to continue to gain experience in successfully diffusing a situation without violent repercussions; I could only bring myself to nod ever so slightly. Daniel sighed heavily in response to my uncertain signal before turning once again to face the Fright Knight.

"I've had enough enemies to know that it's possible to fight with someone and still show an amount of respect for them. I'm not asking to be friends or even allies, but I don't want you to fight with Plasmius because of me. He's my ally now too. A lot has happened since I got to Vlad's and if you aren't threatening to take over the world or cause humans physical harm, I'm not going to do anything to you. And as long as that stays true I would be willing to come to a truce. If only so we can get whatever we're going to do, done." Now Daniel slowly extended his right hand out for a handshake keeping his other in plain sight as well; decreasing the threat that he presented.

Daniel had certainly pulled an unexpected move. Though I had been uncertain of the level of foresight that Daniel's actions had possessed; I would be a liar if I said I was not impressed, if not slightly proud of the boy's strategic decision to step in. It was apparent that not attacking was taking Daniel a great deal of conscious effort. For the boy to have resisted those impulses and then try to make amends with an uncooperative enemy was a testament to his self control. Yes I would be a liar if I said I wasn't at least pleased with the effort the teen was obviously making to fight his anxiety.

Though my own features, as usual, remained stoic and impassive despite my inner musings the same could not be said for the Fright Knight. His eyebrows had risen to a point where they were no longer visible beneath his helmet and his eyes held an air complete of surprise. The Fright Knight glanced back to me, clearly not believing what he was hearing. He merely stood there for a long moment staring at Daniel's outstretched hand. I was on the verge of interrupting the Knight's irritating silence when Daniel beat me too it. Daniel sighed heavily as he let his hand drop to his side.

"Look it took like thirty seconds of me being here to make you guys want to fight each other. I don't want to make people fight each other. Really I'm not going to do anything, or use anything against you unless I need to protect someone else. When have you ever heard of me operating like Vlad? Just because I live here now doesn't mean I'm going to turn into a mini version of him and stab my enemies in the back at every available opportunity. If you're waiting for me to apologize for the whole Pariah incident; I'm not going to. You tried to take over my town. There is nothing I have to apologize for. And for what it's worth, under the rule of her majesty Queen Dorthia I am officially a Duke. I can't think of anything else to say that would make you get over this and just let bygones be bygones so if you still want to be my enemy after this I am going to go to the training room. Truce?" I watched as Daniel now tentively offered his hand once more. I could not stop my own eyebrows from skyrocketing to my hair line when an impressed smirk slid onto the Fright Knight's own face. Daniel instinctually flinched, but only slightly, as the Fright Knight moved his hand forward to shake Daniel's.

"Truce. I also accept your apology." Their hands moved up and down once in finality before they broke apart. Daniel stared at the Fright Knight for a small moment in disbelief before he broke out into a wide grin. His jumpy behavior had not lessened in the slightest with this new development; however the anticipation that had hung in the air before, all but vanished. I watched with interest as Daniel exhaled loudly and looked between me and the Fright Knight.

"Awesome. That wasn't so bad. Okay, so let's go then." Daniel fell in on my right side once more and looked to me to lead the way. Forcing myself not to linger on my astonishment; I passively continued our trek to the Ball room. The Fright Knight once again occupied the space to my left as we moved down the hallway. I could not help a proud smirk as I processed what had just happened. The sense of delight that filled my chest seemed to want to burst through my lungs. I would never cease to be amazed by the young man next to me.

There was an awkward lull in conversation as we walked down the halls. I however, could not bring myself to fill it as I usually would. Selfishly, I wanted to continue to watch how Daniel would handle himself in this situation. I could not shake the notion that if I spoke now it would deter Daniel from speaking up on his own further, and I did not want him taking a back seat in this scenario. Not after that recent little display and certainly not after he had effectively eliminated the conflict that was making me hesitate to let him have free reign in the first place. For once I did not wish to actively be in command of this situation. Ultimately I was still in control of everything, as I was pulling all of the strings. However I would not be the figurehead of this encounter. I was going to be a spectator watching the game, and Daniel was going to be the main player this time. Finally the Fright Knight had had enough of the silence that occupied the hallway.

"Phantom, you truly are a Duke of the Dragon Queen's realm?" Myself and The Fright Knight both looked to Daniel for his response. I slowed my pace to allow the Fright Knight and Daniel easier conversation. Daniel shrugged indifferently before he replied.

"It's not a secret or anything. I just don't like to advertise the fact. About a year and a half ago I helped Dora overthrow her brother, who really sucked as a King. For that she made me a knight. Since then whenever the Kingdom has had a crisis or whatever I've helped in a big enough way that Dora thought it was a good idea to promote me up a rank or whatever. Really I don't understand why she even bothers. She knows I get uncomfortable when I get so much formal recognition." Daniel rolled his eyes to himself in annoyance. The Fright Knight looked to me at the end of Daniel's explanation as if for confirmation that Daniel was telling the truth. I just feigned ignorance causing the Fright Knight to shift his attention back to Daniel.

"You truly are a strange character Phantom." Daniel slumped his head sheepishly and blushed.

"Yeah, well it's not like I asked for any of this attention. I don't want attention. I just would like to be left alone most of the time." I shepherded the two towards the right when the hallway we had been walking down ended at an intersection with another. The Fright Knight scoffed lightly at Daniel's statement.

"Well you certainly do a rather extraordinary job of making sure that you remain the focus of every ghost who crosses your path. You cannot expect me to believe that while you deliberately draw copious amounts of attention to yourself that you do not want it. If you truly wanted to be left alone you would leave others alone." I was put on my toes as Daniel's eyebrows drew together in anger at the Fright Knights accusations. I could see Daniel once again fight furiously with the instinct to get into a battle stance. Hesitantly I allowed the conversation to continue a bit longer.

"It's not like I can just sit and watch while ghosts overrun my home. Would you just sit and watch if some stupid ghost decided that they were going to take over your domain? I only fight ghosts when they decide that they want to hurt people or cause destruction. I'll have you know that I let plenty of ghosts who aren't going to cause trouble in and out of the Ghost Zone without a fuss. Johnny 13 and Kitty will vouch for that, and so will Amorpho." I could not help a smirk at the Fright Knights confused state. Daniel's choice of words had undoubtedly raised a few questions in the warriors head. Daniel had made sure that it was almost imposible for a ghost to tell whether he had claimed Amity for himself or not. It was the main reason that the area atracked so many ghosts. The Fright Knight had been of the opinion that Daniel had not claimed Amity. So when Daniel made the comparison of Amity to the knights own lair and refered to the town as his home; the knight had connected the dots. He would undoubtedly ask questions. Of course I was not disappointed.

"So you have declared ownership over Amity then?" At the question Daniel's eyebrows relaxed and he took a moment to regain his bearings.

"No I don't own anything. It's not like I can say I own a whole city when it doesn't belong to me. It belongs to lots of people. I just don't want anybody to get hurt." The Fright Knight looked to me with complete and utter confusion. The Fright Knight was something of an expert on claiming territory for himself or for others and he could not seem to follow the boys logic. I only sported an amused smirk at the Knight's expense when he looked directly to me. He shook his head at my silent response to his inquiry. From there he seemed to drop the matter as the boy's thought process pertaining to territory and how one exerted authority over it was not his business to decipher or understand.

It was then that we finally came upon the entrance to the Ball room. The Ball room itself was only a short ways from the main door. You understand I did not want people roaming my mansion on their way to their destination. There was a short distance of open hallway that connected the stone arch, which was the official entrance to the ball room, to the hallway we were currently in. The space acted as a sort of brezze way, and helped in easing any number of guests into the grandeur of the actual ballroom.

A small grin tugged at my lips as I observed Daniel taking in the scene. He had been to my ball room before, at the college reunion. However when I had my mansion rebuilt I had made a few changes. You could say that the decore was much darker. Not in the sense that there was any less light, but that there was a sense of foreboding that occupied the room.

The walls were made of stone much like that of an actual castle. The wrought iron window frames I had custom welded twisted and bended at any number of sharp angles. As we proceeded through the short length of hallway our footsteps echoed off of the large grey stone slabs that made up the floor. Once more reminiscent of an actual medevail castle. There was no grout between any of the large stones that made up the walls and floor. I had had stone masons come in and manually carve each brick and tile to fit perfectly together. I had forgone electricity for this particular occasion and in place of the usually much less intimidating electric sconces that lined that walls were innumerable torches. I could not have feasibly lit a room of this size with regular fire so I had lit the torches myself with ectoenergy. It burned much brighter and had an eerier glow than any regular flame.

Though we only spent a brief moment in the small passageway to the ballroom. It wasn't long before we had passed through the stone arch that was the door way to the ball room and into the room itself.

In lue of Daniel being here I had opted out of hiring ghosts to put up decorations this year and used humans instead. They were much slower, however they had been much more meticulous about their work. I had to say I was exceptionally pleased with the results.

The ball room's cathedral ceiling was in all, 40 feet above the floor. The intricate crystal chandelier that hung from the middle of the ceiling was quite beautiful on a regular basis, however for tomorrow it had been meticulously coated in grey dust before I had ordered that actual spiders be brought in to string webs over it. Once again in place of usual electric light I had candles resting in place of light bulbs. I had lit these too with my own energy, and with a bit of concentration I had been able to change the flames color to a deep red; making the crystals shine as if they were blood rubies. Though the chaniler was not the only element of the room I had tailored for tomorrow night.

The tall windows that stretched the height of the room had been fitted with custom wrought iorn bars. They twisted and crept their way towards the ceiling in less than safe ways. I had the windows behind them also coated in a layer of fine dust before I had specified that real spiders be used again to place webs near the tops of the windows. The stage along the back wall which usually sported a set of heavy velvet royal blue curtains had been outfitted with a set of classic antique red ones. The walls themselves were also constructed of large grey stones that fit perfectly together, like in the entryway. To add a certain effect I had had people with butane torches come in and burn intricate smoke patterns on the walls. It looked as if there had been a large fire in the room and no one had bothered to scrub off the walls afterward. The tables on the far right of the room had been modified as well for the occasion. Meticulaouly constructed black lace had been drapped over the usually spotless white table clothes. Intricately crafted candelabrales occupied ever table, these would be lit with regular flame when the party started. Four sturdy dark wood chairs surrounded each table, accented with the odd iron rivet holding it together, as if the chairs had also come straight from the middle ages. Then there were the extra accents I had placed around the room. Two larger than life suits of armour, at least twelve feet tall, stood guarding the exit to the ball room on either side of the stone arch. They stood in a resting position with their swords planted between their feet and their hands resting on the hilts. As we spoke artisens were carving ten pumpkins to be ready for tomarow. I had them grown specifically for this event to meet my specifications. They would be the height of small children and weigh at least five hundred pounds. The craftsmen would carve horrifying faces into them and the lit pumpkins would be placed around the perimeter of the room and at the corners of the stage. Cofins flanked either end of the table that would hold punch and ordurves. They were also painstakingly constructed and were just a small amount taller than would seem necessary for the average person. Due to the chandelier the entire room and its contense was bathed in a dangerous, flickering, blood red glow that cast ominous shadows. Yes even with out the Fright Knight I had done quite the number on the room. Years of trial and error made the room more and more efficient at what it did every year.

I was not at all surprised by the Fright Knights reaction to all of this. As usual he came into the room and admired it with a sort of respect. I was torn between a smirk and a frown at Daniel's reaction however. He had noticeably shivered upon entrance to the room and his eyes never rested for more than two seconds on any object or area as if scaning it for threats. I had after all, had the room decorated to trigger fear and apprehension. The Fright Knight looked confidantly to me as he spoke.

"As usual my liege you have demonstrated that you hardly need my help in this arena." I was much too concerned with Daniel's behavior to respond an appropriately smug tone at the complement.

"Yes, I've had more than enough practice as you are well aware." I finally caught Daniel's attention when I spoke. I tried to communicate through my gaze that he had no need to be so testy. It was simply decoration after all. Under my concerned gaze Daniel seemed to nod ever so slightly and take slow breaths to calm himself down. He nervously smiled at me almost in an apology before he turned back to the Fright Knight to see what he was doing.

Only to lose his composure completely.

"What the hell do you think you're doing with that!" Daniel abrubtly dropped any and all atemtps he had been making at holding himself back and he sunk completely into a battle stance. His hands exploded with green energy and much to my surprise he did not hesitate to leap in front of me in a protective gesture.

While I had been reassuring the boy The Fright Knight had taken it upon himself to move to the center of the room and get to business. He had unsheathed his sword and was holding it above his head as if he were about to plunge into an attack when Daniel had looked back at him. The Fright Knight froze at Daniel's sudden explosion and looked at the boy curiously; clearly not understanding that Daniel had misinterpreted his benign actions. Before Daniel could jump to any more conclusions I took control of the situation.

"Daniel relax." I made sure to speak quietly and calmly before I placed a gentle hand on the boys shoulder to move him from his position in front of me. He refused to budge however. His years of fighting ghosts had taught him how to stand with his weight centered and low, making him a near impossible object to sway without a great amount of force. Instead he scoffed and settled further into his stance.

"Are you seeing this Vlad! He was about to literally stab you in the back and you want me to relax. I knew he wouldn't really agree to a truce with me. None of my enemies would. He was just waiting until my guard was down so he could finish me off for good. " Daniel did not take his eyes off of the Fright Knight while he spoke to me. In fact his body was so geared towards the Knight that it was as if he was talking to the ghost instead of me. I was now starting to become worried. The boy had inevitably "recognized" the signs of an impeding attack and had snapped back to his old process. I squezzed the boy's shoulder lightly and tried to maneuver myself between the Fright Knight and Daniel; to better talk with the boy and calm him down. Much to my surprise I was unsuccessful. Without even a hint that Daniel was paying attention or aware of my movements behind him he managed to fluidly maneuver himself to stay in front of me as soon as I started to move. I now became serious as it became aprent that Daniel would need more than a gentle chiding to stand down. I doubted Daniel would lower his defenses unless I used anything short of physical force, and I refused to use force with the boy. I would have to use another avenue to diffuse the situation.

"Fright Knight sheath your sword." The Fright Knight had by this time let his sword fall from the raised position over his head and was holding it by his side. He had become wary of Daniel's obvious fighting stance and in response now held his sword in a way that it might be easily called into action. My demand to sheath his sword completely, leaving him defenseless, did nothing to ease the Knights frame of mind.

"Plasmius, your ward is about to go off on me for no reason and you would like me to lower my defeses?"

"He is only on his guard because you presented him with a threat. Now for the sake of sustaining civility put your sword away." I growled slightly at the Knights indignace. For Daniel's sake, he needed to comply with my demands now. This was not the time to be arguing against my superiority. The Fright Knight however, seemed to think that this absoultuely was the time.

"I did no such-"

"Well to someone who doesn't know exactly what you were about to do it bloody well looked like you were about to attack. How would you expect someone to react when they turn around and find a ghost knight with a glowing sword above their heads as if they had the intention of plunging into someones skull? You will not be placing blame of this on Daniel he has done nothing wrong. You on the other hand, have decided that you know this mansion and it's inhabitants better than I do. Apprently you decided that it would be perfectly fine to act without my disgression if I was otherwise occupied. It is because of this situation that it is not okay. In your haste to exert your 'independent' status you conviently forgot to explain to Daniel what would be going on and thus created this gross misunderstanding in the first place. Now you will sheath your sword or so help me I will do it for you." I could not help but keep the biting tone out of my voice, though I had managed to keep it at a conversational volume as not to further highten Daniel's defenses. I allowed my red eyes to flare through to my human form and I fixed my most pirceing gaze on the Fright Knight; waiting for him to do what I asked. I would not toeralte anything less than complete obidence at this point without repercussions and anyone in the Ghost Zone with the smallest bit of sentience new better than to test me. As expected it was only a moment before the Fright Knight slowly put his sword back in the sheath that sat on his left hip.

When it became clear that the Fright Knight was indeed doing as I instructed Daniel started to shift his weight uncertainly; clearly confused about the Knights actions. Though everything else about the boy remained the same. His hands were still lit with balls of ecto energy ready to fire and his stance, though now slightly uncertain, was still a fighting one. Like a schoolyard squabble the Fright Knight found it prudent that Daniel's lack of reaction to his action be pointed out to me.

"He is not backing down Plasmius! If I am injured because of your insane demands then I swear-"

"Would you let me handle this!" At my outburst Daniel flinched away from my position behind him ever so slightly. The boy's action caused me to break from my annoyance with the Fright Knight. I felt my eyelids become heavy and tension that had been building in my chest unwind as I was forced to realize the situation I was creating for Daniel once again. I resisted a heavy sigh at my own actions. I prided myself in my calm and patience, and yet I could not seem to hold my temper in this particular situation. If I myself wasn't calm how could I ask Daniel to achieve anything along those lines? I let my shoulders roll forward ever so slightly out of their authoritative posture as I tried once again to make Daniel put down his guard.

"Daniel, the Fright Knight has put his sword away. You now need to call of the blasts in your hands. You just created a truce with the Fright Knight. Do you truly wish it to be for nothing?" Daniel shifted uncertainly once again. Now however he allowed himself to turn his head to look at me.

"But he-"

"Daniel he was not going to stab you. That was not why he had taken his sword out. It so happens that his sword is the key to getting this room properly haunted. Do you see how the Fright Knight has positioned himself in the exact center of the room?" I gestured patiently for Daniel to observe where The Fright Knight was stading. He glanced back and forth between me and the Fright Knight quickly. Having distracted him enough, the blasts that had accumulated around Daniel's clenched fists had unwillingly dissipated and he had now stood up more fully. Without waiting fro Daniel to confirm what he saw I continued. "The way the sword works it needs to be plunged into the center of the space it is going to affect. The sword once it is erected in the center of the room draws an amount of energy from the Ghost Zone that can regulated by the Fright Knight. That energy will dissipate through out the room and imbed itself in its surroundings giving it a ghostly element that, if a human does not recognize, will be certainly unnerving but completely harmless. The only reason the Fright Knight had held his sowrd in such a manner is because the crease between the two stones that mark the center of the room is rather tight and it takes a great deal of force to get the sword wedged properly. Do you understand now how you over reacted?" I watched as Daniel looked to the Fright Knight who was standing rather annoyed in the center of the room. He scanned the area that the Fright Knight occupied and found the two slightly lose stones that marked the center of the room I had been talking about. Daniel now seemed to force himself to stand up fully. He flexed and unflexed his fingers, which until now had been coiled into tight fists. Sheepishly he avoided looking at me or the Fright Knight and preferred his gaze be kept to the ground.

"I'm sorry." I raised my eyebrows skeptically at Daniel as he muttered to the ground in shame.

"I don't think it is me who would require an apology. I believe it was the Fright Knight whom you had forged an alliance with and then proceeded to undermine." The teen visibly flinched at my accusation. I myself felt a pang of guilt at seeing I had caused the boy distress with my accusations. I suppose I had been a tad harsh with my wording. Without picking his head back up Daniel reached up to rub the back of his neck and tilted his head slightly to face the Fright Knight as if he were attempting to hide himself. A little louder now so that the Fright Knight could hear he repeated his apology.

"I'm sorry." The Fright Knight by this point was utterly confused by what was happening before him. As I effectively got Daniel to put his guard down, more and more astonishment had appeared on his face before his look became blank all together. In all of the Fright Knight's experience and knowledge of mine and Daniel's relationship, this was surely something he never expected to see. It was one thing to hear that I had taken Daniel under my wing and it was another to witness it. The Fright Knight managed to nod his head shortly at Daniel's apology before he was back to studying me and Daniel as if we were from a different planet. I chose to ignore him in favor of the awkward teen who was now looking to me to take the lead. I sent Daniel a warm reassuring smile as I subtly maneuvered in front of him once more; allowing him to slink into the shadows and virtually disappear as he wished to.

"Fright Knight, I believe now you will be able to proceed without mishaps?" As I addressed the Fright Knight he jumped back to reality. He seemed to take a moment to remember what it was he was here for in the first place. Finally he looked uncertainly to the teen who had hid himself behind me before cautiously unsheathing his sword once more. The Fright Knight looked to me when he had his sword completely unsheathed. I merely nodded for him to continue. Now with less hesitation the Fright Knight lifted his sword above his head and thrust it down into the crevase that marked the center of the room. I did not miss the sharp intake of breath that the Fright Knights actions elicited from Daniel. My lips pursed together into a firm line as I ever so subtly shifted my weight to be more directly between the Fright Knight and Daniel, just in case. I never should have allowed Daniel to override my initial descision regarding him coming along.

Regardless I could not change the fact that Daniel was here now and I was going to make the best of it. I tilted my head slightly to see Daniel who was slouching behind me, obviously trying very hard not to do something rash. I calmly talked to the edgy teen behind me as the sword suddenly started to pulse with light ominously before us.

"Pay close attention Daniel. The energy that the Fright Knight is letting through to this room is only a small amount. You might only notice the difference if you are carefully looking for it. What changes do you see?" My ploy to distract the teen from his more impulsive thoughts worked and Daniel crept out from behind my shadow to get a better look at the room, though he still remained close to me. I watched the teen study the room for a moment before he reported to me the subtle changes he had noticed.

"You can't see the ceiling anymore." He glaced fleetingly to the cathedral ceilings above us. Indeed he was correct even with the chandelier in such close proximity to the arched stone structure, light did not seem to reach it; giving the appearance that the ceiling did not exist and in it's place was a black abys that extended infinitely upward. I nodded slightly to the teen as I encouraged him to continue.

"I suppose not, what else do you see?" Daniel only briefly looked this time before he looked back to me to report what he had found. As I had suspected, giving the teens mind something else to focus on was helping a great deal in keeping him subdued.

"The scortch marks on the walls are moving?" Daniel leaned just a small bit towards the wall he had indicated, still unsure if what he was seeing was really there. For only moments at a time, the patterns I had had scortched onto the walls seemed to twist and flick as if a fire were burning that would make them do so. Of course there was no such thing. I nodded again to confirm his suspicions.

"Well spoted Daniel. It is one of the more minuet effects." I did not need to prompt the teen this time as he continued to point things out to me.

"The cobwebs, on the chandelier and on the windows are moving like there's wind in the room, but there isn't any. And theres just a tiny bit of fog that is coming from behind the curtains on the stage for no apparent reason. Plus I think that suit of armor just moved." I nodded as the boy listed things that he saw were different from before. In the corner of my vision I was aware of the Fright Knight removing his sword from the floor and had replaced it back into it's sheath. I resisted a sigh of relif as it was clear that this entire ordeal was about to be over. My full attention was brought back to Daniel when he stopped recounting details of the room to me. I decided now was as good a time as any to dismiss the Ghostly Knight.

"Fright Knight thank you for your services. I believe that is all we will be requiring from you this evening. If you would please take your leave." The Fright Knight snaped his gaze to me. He was obviously still in a great deal of shock and was having trouble coming to grips with what he'd just witnessed. Blinking numerous times he finally nodded and started to walk towards the stone arch. I resisted an eyeroll at the fact that the ghost had seemingly forgotten he could phase through the floor to the lab. I looked after the dazed ghost for a moment and a thought occurred that needed to be addressed before the Fright Knight was out of ear shot.
"Fright Knight." The ghostly warrior stopped and jerkingly turned to face me, now with a look of confusion. I did not hesitate to continue when I had his attention. "You are not to speak of what happened here to anyone am I clear?" The Knights look of confusion didn't lessen with my request. It seemed now he was even more perplexed with what was going on. He switched his gaze from myself to Daniel multiple times before he slowly nodded.

"Of course my liege. Not a word." I gave the Knight a curt nod of my own in dismissel once again. It was only a few moments before the light tinks of the Fright Knight's armour disappeared, and it was clear he had remembered he could indeed phase through the floor.

I finally allowed myself a heavy sigh. My hand instantly went to pinch the bridge of my nose in frustration. Without waiting for Daniel I started to make my way out of the Ball room. What had I been thinking, that it would have been a good experience for the boy? I should have known better. How could I think that in a mere twenty four days he would be fit to coexist with ghosts as I did? The boy was nowhere near mentally stable enough to be dealing with ghosts in a social setting. I was going to have to call off the Ghosts I was inviting to the mansion tomorrow. I had not been too happy with the way Daniel had reacted to the Ball room in the first place either. I did not want the teen making himself unnecessarily anxious. It was clear now that he would be staying in his room for the duration of the Ball. Preferable I would call off the entire ordeal but I couldn't do that because it would look suspicious to all of my pathetic human business ascoiatets if it was called off now.

What sort of guardian was I, forcing these sorts of situations on the boy? I had to have been a complete dolt to have missed the fact that the teen wouldn't have been able to handle this. The teen hadn't seen a ghost outside of the Ghost Zone in weeks and I expected him to be able to conduct himself properly withithout a hitch. Daniel was not somecar or machine that could be easily repaired. He was a mere child that had severe mental instabilities, and I had been about to throw him into a situation that would have undoubtedly had disasterous results!

"Vlad I-I'm sorry about what happened. I know that I shouldn't have-." I halted suddenly in my steps to look at the boy who had been walking rather hurriedly behind me to keep up with my languid strides. My sudden lack of forward movement caused Daniel to stumble as he walked past me a few steps. He gathered himself enough to stand nervously before me. He had also morphed back to his human half since the Fright Knights departure a few moments ago.

"Daniel none of that was your fault."


I suppose I had been too focused on achieving my other fantasies back then. Really I hadn't been focused on money at all. No, I had been focused on Maddie. An emotion of loss and resentment swelled within me as my train of thought switched tracks.

What had I been chasing for twenty years? I thought I had been chasing an intelligent beautiful woman. A woman who would understand what I was and had been going through. A woman who, once she understood exactly what she meant to me and the lengths I would go for her, would give me her unwavering loyalty.

Well I had been wrong.

I had been terribly and inexplicably wrong. Maddiline would not understand. She was intelligent, but not in the way I had fooled myself into believing. No, underneath the perfect math and flawless theories, she was just as thick if not more so than the fat oaf she had ended up marrying. She is blind to what is actually around her. She lives in that perfect world, where good is very clearly separated from evil. Where ghosts can be nothing but mistakes; unfortunate phenomenon that plague the living. In her world, families always love each other, and no matter what happens to them they will always have one another. In her world, nothing can ever go too terribly wrong.

Maddaline could never let anything get in the way of her delusion of the perfect family, or skew the line between what was right and wrong. If something existed that could, she would simply shove it aside and ignore it. Something like that could never exist in her world for if it did, that would mean that her entire way of living was completely artificial. Something like a half ghost, let alone a half ghost son, could never be good or acceptable because it went against everything she believed to be true.

What I had seen the Tuesday night I went back to Fenton Works was all I needed to witness to know that I had been wrong about Maddiline. She never could or would, love and accept a half ghost. Not even if that half ghost was a fault of their own; not even if that half ghost was their own flesh and blood. Not even if that half ghost was Daniel.

I let my head fall to my hands as I thought of the younger halfa and what those two imbeciles had done to him. Not only had they rejected him when he needed them, they had created for him an image of himself that was false. Daniel's journal had revealed to me that more than just physical wounds had slipped by their notice. They had impressed upon him that he was, and could be nothing but, evil. They had made him feel utterly worthless, when nothing could be further from the truth. They had made sure that he would always fear their rejection. They had made the boy feel alone in a room full of family.

My eyes flared as I thought of the extent of what was ultimately done to the boy because of them. All of the injuries that went improperly treated because either one of them had failed to notice that Daniel was bleeding when he walked in the door. All of the food that went uneaten because Daniel was too 'busy' to take the time to consume it. All of the sleepless nights that Daniel had spent catching ghosts when it had been their responsibility to catch them in the first place. All of the paranoia that had been instilled in the boy because those two idiots were so inept at their chosen profession.

Daniel wouldn't have had the opportunity to place unnecessary responsibility on himself if either of them had been a millionth of what they claimed to be! Why is it that Daniel was able to single handedly protect that undeserving blip on a map while learning how to use his powers, maintain secrecy, and continue an education; and those two didn't seem to be able to handle the task when that was all they had to worry about? I would be thrilled if someone could explain to me, how exactly, after two years of watching their son come through the door exhausted, beaten, and bloody, they failed to take any action or do anything to stop it? Were they really so self absorbed that they would swallow whatever Daniel told them to maintain their picture perfect world?

There is no excuse! There is no explanation for what happened that would make their behavior over the last two years even the slightest bit forgivable. The countless scars on Daniels body, the endless thoughts of self doubt; all of them were Jack and Maddie's fault. Yet they were still allowed to walk free. Not a thing was being done to them for what they had committed against this innocent boy. Who was going to give them what they deserved? Nobody would know what they had done to Daniel, so they would get away with everything. They didn't deserve to walk, let alone breathe; not after what they had done to my Daniel.

I stood up and my fingers coiled into fists. I glared angrily out the window to the north where those two idiots were undoubtedly going about their pitiable lives. I had to stop myself, once again, from going back to Fenton Works and slowly twisting their limbs and heads off for what they had done. Daniel would never forgive me if I disposed of them. I could not do anything to them so long as I wanted Daniel to have trust and faith in me. It was only because of that one fact, that they were still alive. As much as I knew those two twits deserved to die, I could not be the one to administer death. The most I could do was make sure that they never saw Daniel again.

I sat back down in my black leather office chair and rubbed my eyes. It was my job to protect Daniel now; to make sure he was healthy as well as happy. I was so relieved Daniel had come to me. I don't think he even realized just how smart a decision it was to choose my mansion as a refuge. I could make so many things right for him. I had been administering him small doses of growth hormones every morning since the day after I gave him his 'check up'. I had managed to obtain a cream like remedy for all those horrendous scars with instructions to apply it every night before he went to bed. I made sure he cleared his plate at every meal. I was teaching him to form stronger shields and execute smarter defense strategies. Slowly I was teaching him about his ghost half and how it worked alongside his human one. I was working to prepare him a possible career path to follow and a secure future to invest in. I tried to use my ghost powers in front of him as much as I possibly could, even for the most ridiculous of things, to remind him that he is not alone in the world.

It seemed I was always checking to make sure the teen was alright, both physically and mentally. I was very well aware he used the gym and the training room before I got home. The difference between me and Daniel was that Daniel deemed he was out of energy when he was literally out of energy, so much so that he would revert to his human half. I had told him that exhausting himself so thoroughly was unhealthy. I had compared it to someone exercising so much that they passed out. He simply would not listen to what I said. He only replied that it felt wrong to have so much energy stored up. He had been exhausting himself in such a way for so long that he was uncomfortable when he wasn't exhausted. The boy really was very powerful, not quite as powerful as me yet, but he was getting there. I had determined as much definitively from the tests I had run on his blood samples. Regardless, Daniel always registered on any energy level scanner as two or three levels below where he was supposed to be, because he kept himself continually exhausted.

On the brighter side of things I do think I am getting somewhere, however slowly, with his parinoia about being attacked at random. I've told him over and over that he has nothing to fear here at my mansion. I am the only ghost that I know of that can completely suppress their ghost signature; that he would be warned of any other ghost before it could get to him because of his ghost sense. I've promised to train him in expanding his ghost sense's range and sensitivity. I've offered to install a ghost shield around his room, but he declined. He now barely reacts to me using my ghost powers in small ways, if he reacts at all. He still has trouble when I try to demonstrate things for him in the training room, but he has largely overcome his fears of ghost powers being used around the house.

Then there is the progress I was making in getting him to believe he is just as good as everyone else. Daniel had only just been hinting at progress when that moron Jason Luire decided to give Daniel a scare. Now whatever momentum I might have had is completely gone. He's back to firmly believing he's nothing but a menace to those around him. I honestly wanted to scream at the teen sometimes; especially when he explained to me exactly why he was a freak. There was seemingly nothing that I could tell him that would change his mind, even the tiniest bit. I was beginning to believe that this was a problem that I was not going to be able to fix. I was almost certain that it had something to do with this Clockwork and "him". Untill I found either of these characters I was going to be wandering around in the dark.