Alright everyone, here's chapter three. The last one tortured Danny a bit, so now I'll be torturing Vlad. Ended up editing and revising this one a few times and I'm still not entirely satisfied with it. I'll let you be the judge.
Italics in bulk represent flashback. Dialog in italics represent inner thoughts.
Warning: Mentions of Vlad/Danny, sex dreams, violence, and Vlad just being Vlad.
Disclaimer: I do not own Danny Phantom or any characters mentioned; I make no profit.
The last of the grocery bags was placed on the table as Maddie began sorting them. Vlad assisted her after retrieving his suitcase from the front porch. It wasn't often that the man had to deal with groceries, he had numerous people to do that for him, but that didn't mean he was incapable of handling things like a person who wasn't insanely rich and powerful. Currently Vlad wasn't paying attention to the groceries, or anything else that wasn't Maddie. She continued to put the groceries away, barely aware of his existence.
Why hadn't he done this before? It was the perfect excuse to get closer to Maddie, and Daniel. Even though he currently had a deal with the younger hybrid. What the teen didn't know wouldn't hurt him. Vlad just had to keep Danny from finding him 'ogling' Maddie.
"So how long are you staying, Vlad?" Maddie asked politely.
"The weekend," Vlad replied with a warm smile.
"I trust it won't end like your last visit," she pointedly glared at him.
The smile on Vlad's face faltered at her hostility. He hadn't had any contact with the Fentons, aside from Danny, for over a year. The last visit didn't exactly go so well. It seemed Maddie was still angry with him. That certainly hindered his plans. Now Vlad remembered why he hadn't stayed at the Fentons' house for so long.
Vlad was now regretting his plan to come here. He knew he was taking a risk in showing up, though it was more Danny thinking Vlad was trying to get with his mom again, but Maddie had never been one to hold a grudge. It was his own fault for being so careless in his last attempt to win her over.
The Fenton Lab was a mess thanks to the ghostly intruder. Ectoplasm coated the walls as Jack attempted to fight the monstrosity. The large red claw struck the ghost hunter and flung him against the opposite wall. Maddie stood in front of her husband as the Behemoth wiggled through the Ghost Portal.
"It's no use," Vlad declared beside the woman in the blue jumpsuit before grabbing her hand. "We must get out of here!"
"I'm not leaving without Jack," Maddie quickly released herself from Vlad's grip and went back to fighting off the beast.
Jack was beginning to regain consciousness. The Behemoth's claw reached for the two arguing humans. The ghost hunter quickly sprang to action, grabbing his wife and friend and rushing for the stairs. The ghost had managed to get itself out of the portal and swung its tail at one of the tables. The table flew over the fleeing humans and blocked their exit.
The orange clad man picked up an Ecto-gun off the floor and fired at the beast, missing when it ducked out of the way. Maddie was beside Jack as they shot at the Behemoth. Vlad stepped back from the scene as he tried to move the table trapping them in the lab.
"Cover me, Jack," Maddie bolted for the Ghost Portal.
"Maddie wait," Vlad tried in vain to stop her. "It's too dangerous!"
"Stay close, V-man," Jack grabbed onto his friend to protect him from the Behemoth.
The billionaire didn't need protecting, and he knew Maddie didn't need it either. His college crush was resourceful, smart, and fit (unlike who she married) and that's what worried him. She would discover what had happened, and quite possibly figure out who was responsible.
Earlier Vlad had been alone in the lab waiting for Jack to return from grabbing a snack. The hybrid had decided it would be a great way to get his revenge and take Maddie. He inspected the Ghost Portal before opening it and sending a duplicate in to find a random, hopefully vicious ghost. Sensing Jack's return, Vlad had quickly broken the controls for the portal doors.
The Behemoth trapped Jack in its claws as Maddie was distracted with the broken portal. Its tail snapped around and struck the woman in the back. Vlad instantly rushed to her side. His anger rose as he looked at the torn fabric and bloody wound.
"Hey, ugly," Daniel's voice rang out. "It's not right to hurt a woman!"
The ghost boy shot an Ectoblast at the Behemoth before making two duplicates. The copies circled the beast as the original phased through its claw to rescue Jack. Once his father was safe, Daniel joined his duplicates in attacking the ghost. Claws managed to rip through his suit, shredding the insignia.
Vlad felt his anger rise again as the beast destroyed the two clones before turning its full attention on Daniel. Maddie had rushed to Jack's side by that time and was helping him to the stairs. They were busy trying to move the table as Vlad made a duplicate of his human half and turned invisible. The copy went to help Maddie and Jack escape.
The Behemoth managed to wrap its tail around Daniel and was proceeding to squeeze the ghost boy like a boa with a rodent. Once Jack and Maddie had left the lab Vlad made his move against the beast. Plasmius punched it in the face, causing it to release Daniel before colliding with the wall. Phantom attempted to catch his breath as the older hybrid continued to fight.
A swipe of the beast's claw missed as Plasmius turned intangible. He shot an Ectoblast at the creature's tail as it tried to constrict him. None of the Behemoth's attacks made contact while each of Vlad's left it nearly crippled. Eventually it turned to simply defending itself as the powerful hybrid made multiple copies, unleashing all of them against his opponent.
The creature attempted to escape to the Ghost Zone. Vlad grabbed its tail and pulled it back from to portal. The Behemoth made contact with the wall and began cowering in Plasmius' presence. It had been a long time since a ghost looked at him with such fear, since Vlad felt this powerful against an opponent, since he had been so close to losing all control in battle.
"Vlad?" Daniel's voice was hesitant, barely above a whisper.
The older hybrid realized he had been trying to get his attention for a while. Crimson red made contact with neon green, the sound of the Behemoth retreating to the Ghost Zone barely background noise. Plasmius focused on those eyes for some time. They were full of confusion and shock, and something the older hybrid couldn't quite place. He turned invisible before teleporting out of the room, leaving Daniel silently questioning what had happened.
As Vlad had feared, Maddie deduced that he had destroyed the control panel to the Fenton Ghost Portal. The billionaire left with a pleasant façade, while his mind was an uncontrollable storm. Vlad knew why he didn't jump into action when Maddie was attacked; he couldn't risk her finding out his secret. Why, then, did he help Daniel even when her and Jack were still in the room?
Sure they had been distracted with getting out, and he had made a duplicate to help them, well her mostly. Still, thinking back, they could have easily looked over and seen him transform, or disappear. Did he think having Daniel as a son or apprentice was more important than making Maddie his wife? Eventually he settled that was the case, but the thought continued to plague him for weeks.
After about a month Vlad decided he had just gone insane. The billionaire couldn't get the ghost boy out of his thoughts, or his dreams which had begun to disturb him. It had been a gradual change from his usual dreams. Dream Daniel was an excellent apprentice and obedient son for about a week, and then he started being more like the real Daniel.
This Dream Daniel had a habit of sitting on Vlad's lap, especially if his dreams involved him at the office or trying to do something where he had to sit down. The imaginary boy would curl up against him like a child, sometimes drifting off to his own sleep, sometimes making idle conversation. Dream Daniel was also quite affectionate during these times of relaxation. He should have taken the hint, should have looked deeper into the meaning.
"Vlad," Dream Daniel gave him a soft peck on the cheek. "Do you love me?"
"Of course, little badger," Vlad answered without hesitation. Dream Daniel wrapped his arms around Vlad's neck and rested his head on his shoulder.
Vlad thought nothing more of it until the next night. His imaginary "son" was back to acting like the real Daniel, or so he thought. He complained about Vlad paying too much attention to Maddie. Dream Daniel eventually began yelling at him to stop wasting his time on an impossible dream, saying that Vlad could find someone else who actually reciprocated his feelings. He said Vlad should get a cat, resulting in the billionaire's usual response.
"Not even this sweet little kitten?" Dream Daniel asked with a suggestive tone.
The tone of voice threw Vlad off. The billionaire turned to see the imaginary boy wearing cat ears on his head and a bell collar around his neck. He leaned over the desk Vlad had been using to go over figures, with an enticing smile. Vlad's eyes widened in shock as Dream Daniel gently took hold of his tie. He began twisting it in his fingers while looking up at the older hybrid through half lidded eyes.
The man wanted to inquire of the boy's actions, though he already had a good idea. He wanted to stop the boy, or so he told himself. Vlad just sat there with a shocked expression as Daniel continued playing with his tie. He wasn't even sure if this was still a dream anymore.
Vlad sat up in his bed abruptly. It was late at night; he didn't go back to sleep, too concerned with what his dream meant. The thoughts had plagued him for the rest of that day. He hated being distracted like that; Cat Daniel, as he came to call him, wouldn't leave him alone.
The hardest part was acknowledging what the dreams did to him. No matter how soon Vlad managed to wake up he was always distracted. At the time that was how he explained it. Vlad eventually gave up trying to make excuses for it; he was aroused by the dreams. Had his thoughts on Daniel changed that drastically? What about Maddie? What if Maddie found out?
"Vlad," Maddie stared at him, impatiently waiting for a response.
"I assure you, dear Madeline," Vlad replied calmly. "You have nothing to worry about. You'll barely know I'm here."
His response seemed to be enough for the moment as Maddie went back to putting the groceries away. Vlad mentally sighed in disappointment; if Maddie was still mad at him he couldn't woo her. He would have to regain her trust first, but that would take some time. Time he didn't have if Daniel was around and the teen would most likely show up at an inopportune moment.
It wasn't that he worried about losing the boy's affection, though part of him was growing accustomed to their new relationship. Vlad wouldn't stop any of his schemes just because there was a great risk, normally. He realized there was a chance of failure, especially with his track record concerning relationships. If Daniel found out, and Maddie spurned his affection yet again, then Vlad would surely be alone, again.
"Why not just leave her be?" The voice of his ghost half questioned. "The boy is much more fun anyway."
Something else that had been going on for several months. Not long after starting his new relationship with Daniel, for one reason or another, Vlad had caught himself delving into conversations with, well, himself. On a few occasions he began to ponder if perhaps he belonged in a mental institution. Especially when, in most arguments involving the teenage hybrid, he lost to his ghost half's logic.
Just then Jack came lumbering into the kitchen. The large man looked at what all victuals were left on the table before walking over to his wife. The two engaged in a loving kiss, much to Vlad's disgust. The billionaire fiddled with a green pepper to try and ignore the scene.
"You really still want her?" Vlad wanted to duplicate himself right now, just so he could punch the copy. "She seems pretty happy with the life-raft there."
Movement in front of the refrigerator caught Vlad's attention. Jack had opened the door and was now pulling something out, ham. The meat plate was set on the table as the ghost hunter picked out various items left in the brown bags.
"I hope you're hungry, V-man," Jack boomed happily. "I'm gonna make one of my specialties, glazed ham pie!"