(Disclaimer: I own neither Danny Phantom nor Ghost Whisperer)
Chapter 1 - First Impressions
"So, what you're saying is that, you don't want anything to do with this guy... because he said you had nice hair?" Melinda asked, placing the antique clock she had been cleaning onto the counter.
"Well, yeah! I want someone smart and funny. Dominic was neither of those things. The guy wasn't even good looking! I have no idea why you set me up with him." Delia slumped down onto one of the chairs that had been placed around the counter. "I put a lot of work in today and all he could come up with was I like your hair?" The woman shook her head, trying to dispel any lingering thoughts of her date. Melinda smiled.
As she leant back on the counter, her hand landed on a slightly crumpled slip of paper. Without giving it much thought, she picked it up and glanced over the words.
Thursday – Isabelle Ashton
Her smile dropped slightly, remembering the donations she had coming next week. Isabelle's partner had recently died, and she was handing a lot of his stuff over to the store. Listening to the woman on the phone had been heart-breaking, painfully reminding her of the short period of her life in which she had lost Jim. She'd have to check that Isabelle was okay when she came in.
As she was considering what she'd say, something in the sky caught her eye. That couldn't be right...
It looked like some kind of shooting star. Without much thought, Melinda walked over to the shop window to get a better look. Despite the clear sky and the fact that it was only two in the afternoon, a white flaming streak was slicing through the blue like a rocket.
Melinda turned to see Delia giving her an odd look.
"Did you see-" She twisted back to point out the streak, but it wasn't there. "Sorry, I thought I saw.. must have been a plane..."
"Okay… Well, I'm hosting a dinner, two weeks tomorrow, I was going to ask if you, Jim and Aiden would like to tag along."
"Ooh, hang on." Melinda made her way back to the counter and reached underneath, pulling out a black bound diary. She leafed through the pages. "That's the Wednesday?"
Melinda hesitated a second, examining the page she had stopped at. She then pulled out a pen and scribbled something down. "I'll check with Jim but that sounds great."
"Great! It's Ned's birthday and, as much as I know he will be dying to get out there and party with his friends, I really think he needs a sensible, calm, mature meal with sensible, calm, mature people."
"Sounds mature." Melinda grinned, putting down her diary. She checked her watch. The store was closing early today, due to Aiden's parents evening. She'd better get some work done. Melinda reached down, yet again, and pulled out a large wooden box filled to the brim with antiques that should really have been shelved already.
"Do you want some help?" Delia asked, watching as Melinda pulled out an old china doll and placed it on the shelf behind her.
"Oh, would you? That'd be great – there's a box downstairs, the one with the fragile stamp on it... would you mind bringing it up for me?"
"No problem." Melinda's eyes followed Delia until she was out of sight in the back room. She couldn't ask for a better best friend really. Delia was always willing to help out with anything and although she sometimes got a little pushy and overprotective, she always had everyone's best wishes at heart. It was nice.
Taking a breath, Melinda turned to the back shelf and began repositioning everything.
After a while, the sound of the front door opening, caught her attention. Turning back around, her eyes met those of a young boy. Melinda stifled a gasp.
The boy looked as though he could barely stand. The exhaustion in his face formed bags under his eyes and his black hair looked as though it hadn't been brushed in years.
Every piece of clothing hanging from the boy's body was shredded in various places. The grey and red t-shirt that he was wearing looked as though it could once have been white, and his faded blue trousers had more holes in it than Melinda thought possible. He was bruised and, in several places, bleeding. He looked as though he'd been in a fight to the death and had come so very close to losing.
It took all of Melinda's strength to cry out and rush to his aid.
"Hello, can I help you with anything?" the woman asked, her warm smile struggling to disguise her concern. It took the boy a while to answer.
"Hey... I was just wondering… It's gonna sound weird but... Could you tell me, please... Where I am?"
"You mean where are you, this building... or where are you, this town?"
"Uh… the town would be good." The boy reached up and scratched the back of his head awkwardly. Examining him closely, Melinda moved forward and placed her hands on the counter in front of her. She knew what she was looking for. The look that would tell her whether or not she was talking to a ghost. Of course, since the Shadows had gone, she hadn't been mixing them up, but this time, she wasn't so sure. It wasn't customary for a ghost to use the front door, but it wasn't impossible either.
"Grandview, New York."
The kid frowned, his dark hair falling into his eyes. "New York?"
"Yup." Melinda's concern grew. This teenager was unnaturally hard to read, but it was clear his location confused him. Even for a ghost, that wasn't a good sign. The boy paused, turning momentarily to glance back at the window. He then turned back to Melinda and gave her another unreadable look.
"You don't happen to know of any hotels around here?" he asked, shuffling his feet slightly.
"Sure, there's one just down the road. 'Grandview Hotel', kinda hard to miss." She nodded her head in the direction of the cheap hotel, not bothering telling him about the five star one across town. He didn't look as though he could afford a hot meal, let along a night in a luxury hotel.
A hot meal. Food. A plan formed in Melinda's head. She reached down beneath the counter and pulled out her lunch box.
"Uh… thanks," the teen murmured, eyes distractedly fixed on the box in her hands. Pretending not to notice, Melinda removed the lid and started leafing through the contents. She paused before looking up at the kid.
"Anything else?" The shop owner raised an eyebrow.
"What? Oh… no." Looking a little puzzled, the kid looked Melinda over once more, then moved over to the exit.
"Hey, kid," she called. Before the boy could fully turn, she threw the box. "Think fast."
With almost unnaturally quick reflexes, he caught it. Recovering from his shock, the kid stared down at the contained sandwiches in his hands. Definitely alive. Melinda didn't know whether this made things better, or worse.
"What's this for?" The boy continued to gaze at the food in confusion.
"I don't want to sound presumptuous or anything but, you look like you could use a bite to eat." Careful so as not to startle him, she moved around the desk so that there was nothing but space between them. She noted how his eyes fixed on her and then flitted around the room, as though looking for something else. Someone else? The distrust on his face pained her.
"I'm okay. Really. I don't wanna take your food," he muttered after finishing his inspection.
"You're not taking it, I'm giving it to you. I had a late breakfast."
He paused as though searching for words. He looked back down at the box. "Thank you."
"Don't worry about it." Melinda resisted the urge to get closer. He looked ready to flee at the slightest sign of movement. "Are you all right?" she asked, concern coating her words. Another flicker of confusion passed the boy's face before he shook it off and nodded.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Thanks for your help." He made to leave again.
He tensed. Melinda drove a hand into her pocket and pulled out a business card. She slowly advanced. "Here, take this. If you need anything, anything at all, just call. Okay?"
His crystal blue eyes locked on to the card. The slight crease in his forehead indicated his bewilderment. His gaze moved to Melinda's face. They stayed like that for a long while, they youngster trying to decipher the situation and Melinda trying to show him that she genuinely cared. Eventually, he took the card. With a small nod of gratitude, he left the store.
Melinda's eyes followed as he walked away, keeping his head low so that he didn't catch anyone else's attention. There was still something a little unnatural about him that Melinda couldn't quite put her finger on.
"Hey, whatcha looking at?"
Melinda jumped as Delia came up behind her. She accidentally lost her lock on the kid and as she tried to find him again, she realised he was nowhere to be seen. Sighing, she turned to look at her friend.
"I'm not quite sure."
AN(07/05/2016): Hey guys! If this is your first time reading this fiction, welcome! If you're revisting - welcome back! So this is Diversity.
I've done some minor editing to this chapter, and am planning on doing this for all chapters until I get myself caught up. That way I can completely dive into this story again before I write the next chapter. So yes. I hope you enjoy!