The Nightwhat Sandapile

Danny Phantom © Butch Hartman/Nickelodeon

No one had seen this coming, and as Danny looked through the glass, he felt oddly out of place. It was as if he were having some wild out-of-body experience, because his mind had long since floated out of reach. He had to keep reminding himself that his family was standing right behind him, and that his friends were a quick phone call away, because this was completely impossible.

To be frank, Danny Fenton was in a state of shock.

Seriously, of all people, it was completely out of place for something like this to have happened to him – to Vlad. Danny had always thought of Vlad as invincible. The older halfa had unbridled power, money, and influences. He was intelligent, clever, and always in control. But to see him this way – to see him broken – tugged at Danny's heart. As his parents and older sister were pulled to the side to hear what the doctors had to say, the dark-haired teenager stared listlessly into the room that his archnemesis now occupied. He pressed a palm to the cool glass as his brow furrowed and his mouth fell open in a small gape.

The fact of the matter was that the situation was trying desperately to sink in to the teenager's haggled brain, but Danny was having none of it. How could something as normal as a car crash have taken this powerful man down? This was Vlad. Vlad. The all powerful half ghost who practically owned the ghost zone and half of the living world. Danny hated the man, sure, but he looked up to him, too. As the only other half ghost besides Danny himself, and a disturbingly powerful one at that, it was simply ridiculous to believe that this was really happening.

Worst of all was the way Danny felt about it. He had never really dug into to his emotions concerning the older hybrid, having abandoned them after that first unfortunate turn of events at the college reunion. However, when he had gotten the news, something completely unexpected had taken place. Utter devastation. His heart had stopped when his parents pulled him out of school to tell him about the accident, before they all hopped in the Fenton RV and raced off to the emergency room. The car ride felt like an eternity, and the entire time, Danny could hear his heart thundering in his ears, his thoughts running amock so frantically that his mind eventually went blank and pure emotion took over.

Raw panic set in, and Danny found himself bawling in the back seat, his sister's arms embracing him consolingly as her face bore an expression of absolute surprise and not an inkling of worry or fear for the billionaire – understandably. For Danny this wash of emotion was completely unsound.

Why should he care for a man who had beaten and tried to kill him on multiple occasions? Who sought frantically to ruin the relationship between his parents, kill his father, take his mother away, and make him an evil apprentice and son? Why should he care for this man who wanted nothing more than to dismantle the boy's happy existence in pursuit of his own selfish goals? Why was he crying for Vlad? Why were his thoughts all tumbling together, and his mind forming images of what might be? Bloody, gorey displays of how Vlad might look when they walked into that hospital?

Why did he care?

Danny tore through the hospital, angrily dodging security guards and alarmed medical staff as he followed his ghostly instincts to the right room, the right place. He was more than a little fortunate that no one had seen him phase through the wall and into the critical care room. As group of busy doctors surrounded Danny's goal, and hoards of machinery beeped and blipped around them, making a chaotic mess of sound that caused more panic in the boy's already unstable state, the teenager froze for a moment in shock, before rushing forward and wiggling his way through the fray.

"What's he doing in here!" someone screamed.

"How'd he get in? Get him out!"

Danny found himself being tugged on and pulled away, but he wouldn't have it. With more strength than a normal human could muster, he jerked free of at least six hands and finally found what he'd been looking for. All the blood left his face, when he saw Vlad. The older halfa was covered in blood. His face was horribly bruised and scratched. His clothes were in tatters, and his face was scrunched into a contortion of absolute agony – eyes closed.

Danny felt his throat go dry. "V…Vlad?"

A gasp of surprise could be heard from the doctors as Vlad's eyelids snapped open and blue irises glowed with recognition.

"Daniel?" he croaked, coughed, and started spitting up blood. Some of the machines surrounding them went haywire and the doctors went into a panic. Danny could do nothing to stop them as he was literally drug from the room by six furious doctors.

They left him outside with a nurse who tried to gently to calm him down, but Danny fell to his knees and sobbed violently, leaning against the door. Ten minutes later, his family finally found him practically dry heaving in the hallway. At about the same time, Vlad was rushed off to another room, the doctors around him practically snapping commands at each other in their frenzy to save the billionaie's life. The moment they emerged, Danny was on his feet and following. He was held fast by his Dad, later, kicking and screaming, as Vlad was taken out of sight and out of reach.

Eventually, he fell hopelessly into his mother's arms and cried for hours, gripping her shoulders tightly and trembling. Now he was here, staring through a glass barrier and wishing that none of it was real, on the verge of crying again, because the thoughts alone were ripping him up inside. It had been eight long hours, before they finally got the diagnosis: three broken ribs, a shattered should blade, and three breaks in his spine. An emergency surgery had taken place earlier, to stop some internal bleeding from Vlad's organs. The man was swollen, bruised, and broken. Fortunately, the doctors blamed some of Vlad's already odd statistics on his state of health: for example, his high body temperature, actually a side effect of his ghost half's hot core. But Danny wasn't altogether too concerned with that. What pissed him off was the doctor's insistence that the man not have any visitors for another six hours, long enough for him to rest up a bit.

Danny rolled his eyes at their well-placed, but annoying concerns. The ghost boy would be in that room the first moment that someone looked the other away, and he knew a way to talk to Vlad that wouldn't involve any physical movement whatsoever. In any case, Danny had to talk to him soon, mostly just to reassure himself that the older halfa wasn't permanently damaged or worse.

It was a good three hours before Danny Phantom found his way into Vlad's room. He shut the curtain, even though he had decided to remain invisible, regardless, and finally took possession of Vlad himself. It took a bit of prodding, but Danny finally got's Vlad's exhausted conscience to respond to his insistent prodding.

It's just me, Vlad. It's Danny.

A mental sigh. Little badger, what are you doing in my head? Cheese logs, I'm tired.

Danny's relief was palpable. Are you okay?

I'm fine, Daniel, just a little broken. A pause. You were worried?

Danny momentarily forgot who's mind he was in, before he was assailed with his own memories of panic, fear, and devastation. When satisfaction washed over him, it took the teenager a moment to recognize that that feeling wasn't his, but Vlad's.

That's very sweet of you, Daniel. I appreciate your concern. Really, I do.

A little too embarrassed and worried to provoke the older halfa at the moment, Danny responded: You nearly died, fruitloop, and you're still not in the best of shape right now. Do me a favor? Don't push it. I'm freaking out enough as it is. You scared the hell out of me!

Surprising, to say the least.

Danny sighed. You have no idea.

I think I do, Vlad replied, tracing over some of the boy's recent memories with surprise. I…I didn't realize that you cared that much about me.

Trust me, neither did I, but when I got the news I realized that if you died, some integral part of me would die as well. It scared me.

I'm sorry.

Danny sighed. Alright. Well, I'm going to go back now, before anyone notices anything.

Okay, but Daniel?

yeah, Vlad?

I'm going to need someone to take care of me once I get out of the hospital. I'm sure it will be a few weeks, and there will probably be a surgery involved, however, my healing could go much faster if I took action for my ghost half as well. As you know, only you can understand such a thing.

Right. Sure, I'll do it.

really?

Vlad, Danny said, amused, I'm happy you're not dead. At least, not more dead.

Run along, little badger…and thank you.

Later, Vlad.