This first chapter is Cordria's oneshot "Wondering". I do not own this part of the story. The continuation starts from chapter 2 (also I switch it to first person, since it was easier that way.) Thanks to Cordria for letting admiring fans continue her amazing oneshots; if you haven't read any, go read them!
(Edit Jan 2012) This chapter is pretty tame, although the next 24 chapters of the story contain scenes of gore, rotting, death and graphic torture—both physical and mental. Upon request I'm warning you that, depending on how sensitive you are to written torture scenes, some of the story may strike you as very disturbing. Reader discretion is definitely advised!
If you're fine with all of that, please enjoy!
He slunk a little lower in his seat, waiting for the moment when this latest torture would be over. Ever since he parents had 'figured him out' a few weeks ago, it had been test after test, torture after torture, hours upon days of talking...
The only bright point in his day was when his parents got distracted by something ghostly and left him to his own devices for awhile. Then he was free to get out of this house and haunt the town with his friends. Even though his parents wanted him to bring his phone with him when he left so they could get in contact with him, he conveniently forgot it each time. That gave him maximum 'friend' time.
Unfortunately, it didn't happen very often.
"Danny, sit up please."
Danny shivered at the soft, motherly voice before sighing, but he straightened slightly in the uncomfortable chair. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched the secretary at the desk smile understandingly at him. Her name - which he thought was appropriate for her red hair and her green dress - was Subrosa, 'call me Rose', and she was the only person in the room that seemed to have any sympathies towards him what-so-ever. The stuff-shirt psychologist sure didn't have any.
"Mom," he whispered, risking the fact that he was about to sound like a whining five-year-old, "how much longer do we have to sit here?"
She smiled at him, the smile not quite reaching her eyes anymore. He knew, deep down in his stomach, that she hated these visits more than he did. An hour of someone questioning every single thing you had ever done was more than most people could take without breaking down into tears. But like clockwork on every Tuesday and Friday, she would dress herself up and drag him here. "Until he's ready for us."
"Mom..." He let out his breath, his protest dying on his lips at the dead look in her eyes. Complaining just made this visit worse for both of them. After a second, he just turned away and crossed his arms. Both of them were survivors, they would make it through this no matter what... but he didn't have it in him to make it harder on her.
"You can make these stop, you know," she said softly, her voice kind of brittle. "I know you hate coming here."
He didn't look at her, instead focusing his eyes on the floor as he tried to ignore the shudder that went through his body when she spoke. Not looking at her was the easiest thing to do. "We both hate coming here," he muttered darkly.
"It's for your own good. After everything that's happened..." She trailed off.
He struggled not to glance over at her to see if she was crying again. Coming to the psychologist never failed to get her in tears at least once. It made it all the worse to know that her heart was in the right place and that she was trying her hardest to do the right thing. She was trying to get him help.
He could only imagine how much she was breaking on the inside every time she looked at him, figuring that how he was acting and what he was doing was all her fault. Her's and his father's.
Their lives were shattering because they knew they had done something horribly wrong.
They just didn't know what. "Danny," she said after a long moment, her voice breaking on his name, "why can't you just talk to us? Tell us what's wrong?"
Danny shifted in his chair, his eyes burning as he struggled to suppress the thoughts that were boiling in his head and rolling around in his stomach. Even just a month ago, he never would have put them through this. He made a promise years ago that his secret was not worth anything near this. He'd tell them before anything really dangerous happened, he'd tell them before they get hurt, he'd tell them before he got hurt.
But then everything had changed.
He clamped his lips shut, refusing to look over at his mother, and just silently shook his head. He couldn't tell them, not anymore. The truth would hurt far more than these stabbing lies.
"Mrs. Fenton," a deep voice called, and Danny closed his eyes, a shudder going through his body. Another hour of torture was about to commence. "Can I talk to you alone for a few minutes?"
Danny felt his mother get off the chair next to him and heard the door click softly shut behind them. For a split second, his mind flew into panic mode as he wondered if the psychologist had somehow figured out his secret and was going to tell her. But then he calmed down. There was no way that he could know.
He did, though, wonder what Mr. Auricular was telling her behind that door. The latest plan to get him to 'talk'? To get him to tell them... anything?
Why, oh why, did they have to figure out that something was wrong with him? Why did they have to suddenly start wondering where he was running off to and who he was hanging out with? Why did they have to start caring?
He supposed it was partly his fault. It had been how he had been acting for the past month, after... it had happened. Exactly thirty-four days and six hours previously, the worst had finally gotten him.
His parents had captured him.
He really had been going to tell them who he was as soon as it became obvious that they were going to seriously hurt him. He tried... oh, how he had tried. But as he had attempted to speak, tried to get out the words, they had blasted him with something that had scrambled his thoughts. His words had come out as gibberish, his desperate attempts to turn human slipping through his fingers.
When the pain started as they began to dissect him, his thoughts hadn't even been coherent enough to allow him to scream. Hours after it had started, his parents had gotten a call and had vanished. The fear and the inarticulate rage in Tucker's eyes as he had set his friend free a few minutes later had almost been worse than his parents torturing him. The terror that had been in Sam's eyes when he had shown up at her house had definitely been worse.
Over a month later, his ghost form was still riddled with scars, oozing wounds, and holes from his parent's experiments. He could only count his blessings that they hadn't transferred to his human form as well. But even though his physical scars hadn't come through... the mental ones had.
Despite their oblivious fixation on the supernatural, his parents had noticed that he didn't talk to them any more. They had picked up on the fact that their son's smiles were forced and fake. They noticed that he refused to be anywhere near them.
They definitely noticed that he absolutely refused to go into the lab anymore. Every time they mentioned it - after he instinctively winced away from the sound of their voices - pure fear and panic had welled up inside of him. He was positive that they had figured out that the reason he turned pure white and practically ran away from them had something to do with the lab.
They just didn't know what.
The tests had, at first, been simple. A trip to the doctor's to see if he was alright physically. A few tests from a counselor to make sure he was fine mentally. A long chat with Mr. Lancer.
Then, as more people had gotten worried, the tests had grown. A few trips to a specialist in a nearby city. A five-day stay at a hospital two states away. Long and complicated tests.
Twice-a-week visits to a psychologist that specialized in teens that suffer from 'post traumatic stress disorder'.
His parents, he knew deep down, were doing the 'right' thing. They knew something was wrong with their child and they wanted to help.
He could just tell them what the problem was. He could just stop this torture that they were all going through. But he easily remembered the look on Sam's and Tucker's faces when they found out. He remembered Jazz's panic-filled reaction. He remembered the disgust and horror in Vlad's eyes when he had learned of what happened, along with his sincere attempts since then to be nicer to him. He even remembered the reactions of the ghosts when they found out. Their varied offers to 'destroy' his parents for him had been touching... in a strange way.
No. There was no way they could ever know.
Even this torture was better than what would happen if they found out.
"Daniel," the booming voice of the psychologist rang through the office.
He looked up, watching in surprise as his mother practically raced towards the door with tears streaming down her cheeks. "Mom?" he asked, jumping to his feet and glancing back at the psychologist in confusion.
The tall man walked over and placed his hand on Danny's shoulder. "She's not ever going to hurt you again. I'll make sure of that."
Danny's eyes widened. "What?" Had he really figured it out?
"Come with me." Mr. Auricular placed a hand on Danny's shoulder and steered him towards his office. "We've figured out that it's your parents that have done something to you. But now you need to tell me exactly what."
Danny dropped into the soft chair in the psychologist's office and stared glaze-eyed at the door. "What?"
(Edit A/N: Each chapter has been formatted to end in either PS or PR for past and present respectively. The story toggles between the events happening directly after Danny's capture and dissection ["the past", which was about a month prior to the time setting of this chapter] and the events happening "in the present" that start here in Mr. Auricular's office.)