My Fair Lady

Twoshot. Note: When your four year old finds the vengeful specter that you told him was probably lurking in his closet to be a better playmate than you, chances are things won't exactly work out in your favor. AU Danny/Vlad Fatherson


Hello, everyone! All Hallows' Eve is coming up soon, and I wanted to write a story (BTW, Guys, please check out the description's "oneshot" term before you ask me to continue a fiction) before I begin work on all of the assignments that need doing this weekend. (Now THAT'S scary! :c)

Anyhoodle, have considered this plot for awhile now, and am giving the Father/Son Vlad and Danny thing a try. Still experimenting with song lyrics-do not normally approve of using other people's work in a story, but London Bridge just kind of brought this one to life for me. This story was a little rushed in order to get it finished in time for Halloween, so please keep that in mind! Part II is already done, but I'll be submitting it in tomorrow, because it got way too long.

As always, I welcome critique, and hope you enjoy it. Happy Halloween.

London Bridge is falling down,

Falling down,

Falling down,

London Bridge is falling down,

My fair lady.

Sometimes, she can hear the schoolchildren singing it outside her family's little apartment-the one that the Fentons had to scrimp and save for to salvage what was left of their lives from the ruins, and it makes her want to smile and cry and laugh and break things all at once.

Her little daughter Jasmine now knows better than to do so much as hum the innocent little ditty around her mother, unless the troubled child is hurting so badly inside again that she wants her mother to hurt too, and she sobs the words into her pillow after she and Mummy have had another fight.

Jasmine is a smart girl; it works every time. It's happened more than once that an exhausted Jack Fenton has stumbled inside their meager home, smelling of garbage after a long day's work, to find his wife collapsed in the bathroom, sobbing while she clutches a ragged blue blanket to her chest, while his daughter sings with a breaking voice from her tiny bedroom.

And after that, there really isn't much left for Jack to do other than sigh, and feel his aching bones shudder, and his shoulders sag. But despite his own misery, he knows that it's time to hold his wife and daughter, and slam the lid on the old music box. But it's easier said than done.

Always easier said than done. There's only so much an evening of Chinese take-out and a family movie can do for a broken heart.

Build it up with wood and clay,
Wood and clay, wood and clay,
Build it up with wood and clay,
My fair lady.

Their lives had been left to the pyre, and while three out of four Fentons had stumbled out out of the ashes together, none of them felt particularly like the magnificent phoenix proudly emerging from hell to start a new life.

They'd watched Fenton Works explode into a fiery blaze of green flames-the same building Madeline and Jack had put their blood, sweat, and tears into for over eight years to convert it into both a home and a lab bent on breaking a dimensional wall to the world of the dead.

The couple had put all of their money into their most recent project, expecting a large payoff from their commissioners, the Guys in White. Certainly not into insurance.

And everything they owned was lost. Gone forever. It practically killed Jack that his wife now had to buy all of her clothes from the Salvation Army, and the one jumpsuit she'd managed to save for herself was tattered, and covered with patches, though she'd insisted that it had been no bother, really. Nonetheless, while other students at Jasmine's school were coming in wearing fancy backpacks and jeans that sparkled and had dolls to play with, Jasmine's clothes were for the most part woebegone, often too big or too small, and her better clothes were covered with patches from overuse. All of her school supplies were simply bought secondhand, and nowadays, the little girl often came home crying, because if she wasn't being picked upon for her "teacher's pet" status, it was the fact that all of her dolls were old, and covered with paint stains.

They certainly didn't have the space they used to be able to afford, either. It was a cramped, two bedroom apartment with no living room, playroom, or back yard for Jasmine, though in retrospect, Jack supposed that he preferred having to squeeze into such tiny quarters.

Open space would have reminded him of the emptiness beside Jasmine, inside of his aching heart, beside him at their small dinner table. The hollowness at the edge of his stomach refused to dissipate, regardless of how hard the man worked shoveling garbage bags into a stinking truck, desperate to squirrel some small portion of his salary away each month in the hopes of being able to pay Jasmine's college tuition someday. Some days, particularly when he had to debate on joining a union and possibly losing his job, were easier than others. He had to be much to think and contemplate and worry about to notice the dull throb underneath his ribs.

There were some days that it was harder to pretend, though. The loss of his home, possessions, and a great deal of his dignity when Madeline had had to collect food stamps in the first few months were mere pinpricks inside compared to his greatest loss.

It just hurt. And weary though he was from his six day a week workload, the empty, resounding pang would keep ringing inside while he was staring at the cracked ceiling of his and Madeline's tiny bedroom.

Wood and clay will wash away,
Wash away, wash away,
Wood and clay will wash away,
My fair lady.

Jack doesn't loathe the song the way his wife and daughter do, but it does little to alleviate his stress, particularly when insomnia comes to knock on their household at night, and the man has to ignore his flask of sleeping pills so as to not grow dependent on them. It's usually that damn song that keeps him up at night, however, replaying itself over and over again in his mind.

Danny had loved that song, even as an infant. When the little boy would wake up during the night, sobbing his little lungs out after he'd started teething, Maddie could normally make the child quiet again by squeezing a stuffed teddy bear a thoughtful neighbor had sent the Fentons as a shower gift. For whatever reason, the smiling toy would immediately begin to play 'London Bridge is Falling Down', and, for whatever reason, it was a surefire way to stifle the tiny bundle's whimpers. Jack still recalled when the teddy had been lost, and he and Madeline had spent a memorable afternoon tearing the house apart looking for the thing while 9 month old Danny wept until his face turned red.

Of course, once they'd found the darn thing hiding behind the couch, Danny had by that time at last fallen asleep. The memory makes the corners of his mouth twitch, and the sadness blossom once again.

To be painfully honest, Jack could not remember an occasion where he'd actually sang his little son to sleep with his favorite tune, (Though in his defense, Jack's warbling voice sounded remarkably like a trapped cat's) let alone an occasion where he'd tucked his son in at night.

He'd always thought Madeline had been the one to do it after they'd grown so engrossed in their three-year commission. He'd occasionally gave Jazz a peck goodnight, and sometimes a bedtime story, but that was because the little girl could stay up later-to the hour where a tired but pleased Mr. and Mrs. Fenton had trudged up the lab steps after a hard day's work.

Maddie had been so busy that she and Danny had stopped going to the park every Friday, as was their favorite tradition. She'd tried to bribe Jasmine into taking her little brother, but it was only later that Jack and Maddie learned that Jasmine had only been using the spare change to buy things like candy and plastic ponies.

Jack and Maddie had both forgotten one day was parent-teacher conference at Danny's preschool, and while they HAD remembered eventually (Six hours later after the conferences had adjourned), it had been sobering to see Danny still waiting alone on the school steps when they'd zoomed up the drive, the janitor by his side. Jack and Maddie had promised to take Danny out for ice cream to make up for it, but Maddie had had a brilliant brainstorm whilst they'd been sitting at a traffic light, and Jack practically ripped the steering wheel to have the RV race down the sidewalks in his eagerness to go home and test out his wife's hypothesis.

And there'd been that other time, when he'd been supposed to take Danny to the Father-Son bowling meet being held at their community center, but he thought Danny could live with it. He'd believed that Maddie had called and set up a playgroup for his son to meet up with that afternoon Jack and Maddie were moving unstable canisters of ectoplasm down in the basement.

It was only later that he learned that Maddie had thought Jack had done the same thing.

Jazzy didn't really like to play with Danny, and as far as he'd known, Danny hadn't really had too many friends at school for some reason, but there'd always been the TV, and the neighborhood was safe enough, so, well, he didn't know-he thought the child was spending most of his idle time outside, like any normal child living it up.

It was only later on that Jack learned that the little boy had been 'living it up' alone.

And then, to his horror and despair, most certainly not alone.

Six Months Earlier

London Bridge is falling down,

Falling down,

Falling down,

London Bridge is falling down,

My fair-fair-fair-f-f-f-f-f-f-f

His stuffed bear now sounded like a frog singing from underwater.

With a small frown, a little boy with a crop of raven-black spikes atop his head turned his small, worn little bear around, and cuddled it to his chest, dispiritedly pressing the light blue bear's paw once again. It started a sad attempt to sing, but now, it sounded more like the bear was impersonating a frog trying to sing with a mouth full of tinfoil underneath a pool of fizzy soda. Shuddering, Danny sullenly threw his bear as hard as he could across the room, and watched his bear hit the wall, and slide to the carpet below.

Stupid battery. He'd begged his parents for weeks and weeks to find a replacement, but his teddy needed some special type of battery replacement that Mummy said was probably more expensive than his teddy itself. She didn't understand. Grown-ups scarcely ever did. If Jazzy wanted Bearbert's eye sewn back on, then it gone, or else Jazz would blubber and sob and carry on. Whereas, if Danny did the same thing, then his parents would frown, and Mummy would put him in time-out, and Daddy would take his teddy away and put him on a high shelf.

Of course, they were always in the basement these days, so it never took much work to push a stool to the shelf so that he could cradle his bear again. But Jazzy was a tattle-tale, and ratted him out most of the time unless he did the things that she wanted, such as tidy her room or allow her dumb, mean little friends to practice putting this stupid, sparkly nail polish on his fingernails.

After a moment of scowling at his bear, the boy's pout slowly started to waver, and he scrambled out of his bed to hurriedly scoop up his toy, and he held it close as he hurried to his bed again, imagining invisible tentacles and little jaws full of sharp teeth nipping at his ankles as he hopped back into it after a few failed attempts to climb it. Shivering, Danny glanced longingly at the reassuring light bulb flickering dimly above him, wishing that he didn't have to turn it off. While he couldn't really sleep it with on, he already had an inkling that tonight was going to be one of THOSE nights, and since he wasn't going to sleep regardless, why bother turning out the lights, regardless of what Mummy or Daddy said or did when they came up, and saw that he was still awake? He'd rather be sleepy and cranky the next day rather than start dreaming again.

He'd wanted a nightlight for his birthday. His Father had made him a little ectoplasmic pistol instead, which he claimed did much better for one's fears than a 'dinky little toy.' Maddie had tried to disagree, and had insisted that Danny was much too young for these sorts of dangerous things, but Daddy had slipped it to him all the same, disguised as a harmless water gun that lay underneath his pillows. Danny's little hand brushed over the small weapon, wondering if all it when fired was send up smoke in his face, the way most of Daddy's inventions did.

That was a relief: All the ghastly and horrible things at night that were waiting for him to sleep so that they could start discussing which parts of him were ripe for eating-as Jasmine had said they did-could take one look at his efforts to defend himself, and die from laughing. How comforting.

Danny shimmied deeper underneath his blankets, peering fearfully at the darkness underneath his bed, which was probably full of horrible things just waiting for when the lights would go off so that they could have the world to themselves.

For him, night promised the scary 'Witching Hour' Jazz had taunted him about that could NOT….probably….most likely….be true. Every single, scary unknown creature that he'd seen in the awful stories that Jasmine would sometimes read aloud to him when he wanted a fairy tale with a happy ending…..peered at him in the dark while he tried desperately to sleep, eyes squeezed shut to a safe darkness while his heart trembled and fluttered with terror.

Other kids at school had parents that told them that there was no such thing as monsters. His parents regularly told him that while there probably weren't any "monsters," (His mother had scoffed at the term) there were most likely ghosts waiting to hurt you, possess you, and eat you if you weren't especially careful at all times.

More often than not, Danny wished his parents were not ghost hunters, or at the very least, that they came up to kiss HIM goodnight and tell HIM that there was nothing to be afraid of for a change. Sometimes, he heard them come up, tiptoe past his bedroom, and start murmuring loving goodnights to his sister in the room next to his, and the injustice made him so angry and hurt that Danny cried. On the telly, parents kissed their children goodnight and tucked them in, but TV was wrong.

Maybe getting attention was a sort of big-kid thing. He wished that he could grow faster, and measured himself daily using the little scale the Fentons had used for a couple of years, but he never seemed to grow any taller, though he stretched as far as he might using his tiptoes until Jazzy would trip him.

Danny pulled his bear underneath the blankets with him, his breathing very soft and slow in the muffled darkness underneath the quilts.

They told her bedtime stories. Of course they did-Jasmine was at the highest reading level in her class, and her grades came all covered with gold stars and smiley faces, covering up the finger paintings that Danny had on the fridge. He was used to being the one ignored-occasionally forgotten, even at school. His parents hadn't shown up at the play where he'd been an explorer in the woods looking for treasure, because there'd been Jasmine's first ever ballet recital.

At school? This big dumb mean kid that sat beside him named Dash poked him, stole his crayons and his snacks, and it just so happened that his Mummy Mrs. Baxter was THE TEACHER. Of course she never believed his complaints, and of course he wound up with time-outs more often than Dash or any other child in his class did.

But now, especially since the summer holiday from school had officially started, it seemed he was more visitor to this house than anything else. Jazzy was not at home very often, and even when she was, she was scarcely ever a good playmate. She made it a point to remind the child that the stork had accidentally brought her a baby brother instead of the sister that she was supposed to have, and that the GIRLS ONLY sign on her bedroom quite explanatorily meant, GIRLS ONLY.

Mummy and Daddy weren't really much better. For as long as Danny could remember, they'd been working on this dumb, mechanical portal thingy that was supposed to take them to the world where ghosts lived.

To be honest, it seemed to Danny a very stupid project, considering that ghosts were scary and that leaving the other well alone seemed like a very good survival tactic, but Mummy and Daddy had been offered a great deal of money by the government to do this project. Daddy sometimes talked of the lavish vacations they would have one day after they completed the project and got the money, but it seemed most unlikely that his parents would ever actually manage to get the thing to operate, which was only a small comfort.

Now, the government was getting impatient, and Mommy and Daddy were racing to get the portal done, spending more and more hours downstairs in the basement to beat their deadline. Danny typically wasn't allowed when the basement; there were machines humming and sharp scary things whirling and his parents were always working with this glowing green ooze stuff that looked like the toxic waste stuff on the telly. He'd tried to touch it once with his bare hands, but had only managed to get slapped, and ordered upstairs again.

The little boy had been abruptly jerked out of his reverie when his door slammed open, and an annoyed pair of teal eyes met his own after he poked his head out from underneath the blankets.

"Your dumb light is coming into MY room," the little girl fussed. "I can't sleep."

Danny opened his mouth to protest, but Jasmine abruptly switched his light off, closed the door, and now Danny was trapped, because the monsters under his bed and in the closet were free now, and he got the sense that if he ran out of bed to turn his light on NOW, he would be dragged under the bed or into the closet, and eaten alive.

Terrified, Danny burrowed into the supposed safety of his blankets, wondering why the room temperature dropped all of a sudden. Now, he had the shivers, and his heart was thudding painfully against his small chest.

And someone WAS eyeing at him from the darkness.

Go to sleep. Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep.

He tried counting sheep, but the sheep kept getting red eyes and teeth that were as sharp as broken glass. He tried thinking nice thoughts, but the idea of someone coming in to eat you has a way of gripping the mind, and Danny found himself burying his head under his pillows, praying for morning or his parents to come and rescue him as the wind moaned and whistled out, causing a tree bough to scrape against his dark, cold windowpane.

He could taste his own fear, though his mouth was dry. He had an inkling that something brushed against his foot, and, scared out of his wits, Danny ducked under the blankets again into a small ball, wondering if he ought to simply scream loud enough for Jasmine to come stomping into his room again, announcing that she was going to tell Mummy and Daddy.

Let her. Let him get in trouble. He'd gladly forgo dessert tomorrow if it meant that the hall light could pool into his room, and send the shadows dully flying into the corners of his room.

His breathing picked up, and he sounded close to hyperventilation. Something was watching him. Someone was waiting for him in the darkness. Danny didn't know if it was hungry or not, but his mind told him no.

But it was waiting for him, anyway. And that made it all the scarier.

Danny let out a little whimper, and, remembering what Mummy had said about singing making people cheerful again, pressed his little bear's paw, and listened to the slow, eerie sort-of-singing coming from his bear. He licked his very dry lips, and quietly started to sing along:

Build it up with bricks and mortar,
Bricks and mortar, bricks and mortar,
Build it up with bricks and mortar,
My fair lady.

Danny didn't know what 'mortar' was exactly, but it sounded strong and reassuring-like the smart little pig's home that was spared being blown down by the big bad wolf. He found himself feeling better, in spite of himself.

And then, from his closet, someone in dark, dulcet tones started to sing back:

Bricks and mortar will not stay,
Will not stay, will not stay,
Bricks and mortar will not stay,
My dear Daniel.

Danny hadn't been thinking when he did what he did next.

Heart stopping briefly in midbeat, he felt himself becoming lightheaded, and then, his feet slowly slid to the cool floor, his teddy and ecto-gun slipping from his limp fingertips back onto the bed. More aware than ever of the monsters, they too now seemed frightened; all scuttling or gliding or creeping back underneath his bed, whilst Danny could not see them.

Every hair on his head standing up, Danny cautiously approached his closet, hesitated, and looked longingly towards his bedroom door. But now, the closet was having some grim, magnetic attraction to him, and if he didn't approach it, he imagined some dark hands dragging him back towards it, despite his attempts to scurry for freedom. He would be in the very deepest depths of the darkness forever.

But curiosity had lit a flame inside of him, and slowly, he reached for the door, only to startle back with a gasp as something streaked out from underneath a crack in the door-a shade of darkness much more intense than the shadows around him.

And from the writhing mass of shadows which had no form, as if they themselves were alive, emerged a nightmare that was grinning at him, with a large, toothy smile, and blood-red eyes.

His glowing skin was as blue as if the entity had spent time six feet under in a tomb in winter, and he was tall, very tall-and he had a hairstyle that looked like long, devilish horns were sticking out of his head.

Danny cocked his head, mouth dropping, his legs going numb from beneath him. Uncertain of his footing, the child stumbled, landing on his knees as the thing slowly approached him, still smiling in that pleasant 'you're-about-to-be-dismembered' way.

Unable to make a sound, Danny looked at him.

The ghost looked at Danny. Remembering his manners at last, the boy cleared his throat somewhat awkwardly, and picked up a nearby toy boat that he'd left on the floor earlier that day.

"Hi. I'm Danny," said the little boy. "Wanna play with me?"

And so, it transpired, the ghost had.

What exactly the ghost had been doing in his closet to begin with, Danny did not know, but did not think to ask. Thankfully, his visitor assured him that he would not shrivel away like the other monsters did when the lights were turned back on, so the lights were flickered back on with little fuss, and the ghost politely introduced himself in turn. His name was Vlad Plasmius, which to Danny seemed a very funny name to have, but he came knowing how to play fifty-two pick up and gold fish, and, as it often is, made the oddity most acceptable.

Plasmius was a delightful playmate to have, surprisingly amicable whilst looking like a beast that had crawled out from underneath Danny's bed.

He was gentle, and asked questions-some of the nicer, more sincere ones, not like the ones some grownups asked when they wanted to look like they cared about Important Things. He asked him about his favorite stories, why he liked them, and what Danny liked to do, and why his parents had come in to wish him a good night.

Of course, Danny hadn't been quite so willing to answer the last one, and the ghost's brow had creased with what looked like disapproval while red eyes glittered with mischief, but Danny had just won his last pair for Go Fish, and was easily distracted.

Jasmine never let him win without throwing a temper tantrum. But the ghost, most thankfully, was a gracious loser, and soon suggested that they play a new game.

Plasmius asked more questions, and while he seemed reluctant to talk about himself, the child found it pleasant to talk about himself for a change. The ghost occasionally had to give him a gentle reminder that his sister AND parents were now sleeping, but no one came to Danny's room in the middle of the night to tell him off, or to try and rip his new found playmate's guts out or something, much to his relief.

He was gentle, and asked questions-some of the nicer, more sincere ones, not like the ones some grownups asked when they wanted to look like they cared about Important Things. He asked him about his favorite stories, why he liked them, and what Danny liked to do, and why his parents had come in to wish him a good night.

Of course, Danny hadn't been quite so willing to answer the last one, and the ghost's brow had creased with what looked like disapproval while red eyes glittered with mischief, but Danny had just won his last pair for Go Fish, and was easily distracted.

Jasmine never let him win without throwing a temper tantrum. But the ghost, most thankfully, was a gracious loser, and soon suggested that they play a new game.

Plasmius asked more questions, and while he seemed reluctant to talk about himself, the child found it pleasant to talk about himself for a change. The ghost occasionally had to give him a gentle reminder that his sister AND parents were now sleeping, but no one came to Danny's room in the middle of the night to tell him off, or to try and rip Plasmius' guts out or something, much to his relief.

And then, came the offer. A glorious, terrifying offer that Danny, while now scared out of his wits again, eagerly agreed to, the adrenaline and the excitement easily outweighing the fear:

Flying. Who didn't want to try it at least once in their lives?

Admittedly, it HAD been terrifying, at first. Thankfully, Vlad kept no higher than twenty feet from the ground when he'd first 'phased' Danny through the window (Such a weird, tingly sensation!) while the boy had cowered in his arms, and clutched onto him for dear life, but soon, seeing the many little twinkling lights scattered below became infectious, and Danny asked his new buddy to take him just a little higher, please.

Then more.

And more.

And more.

And then Plasmius curtly told him that if they went any higher, the atmosphere would make Danny pass out, much to his disappointment, but it was magical. Even with the chilly wind whipping at them at so high an altitude, Vlad was surprisingly warm for being a ghost, and the child was comfortable. The specter had clasped the boy's stomach reassuringly as they glided over the little village like birds, over hills that stretched on like oceans and little clumps of trees on a patchwork-quilt-like world. Danny had gleefully extended out his arms, imagining he was a superhero while they rocketed in the sky, both roaring with laughter as if the whole, magical world below them was just some colossal joke only the two could understand.

Too soon had dawn broken, and Plasmius had returned the reluctant boy back from the sky to his bed, and bid him a mild goodbye before sinking into the floorboards and disappearing, despite the child's protests or his dismayed pleas.

But just as he was starting to climb out of his bed again to run to the closet, a heavy wall of sleepiness suddenly broke over him, and the boy fell back against his pillows without another word.

While a positively evil smile and a greedy, scheming mind whirring in motion returned to the darkness.

His family dismissed his wild descriptions as vibrant dreams, and to be honest, Danny himself doubted whether the enchanted night had happened at all. Certainly when he'd woken up it had been a little later in the day (He'd been jolly well exhausted), but that could easily be attributed to the fact that it had been so hard to fall asleep the night before. He couldn't know for sure. Jasmine had taunted him and called him a baby, but he'd show her.

Or be very, very disappointed that his new friend simply did not exist!

But he'd been eager for night to come, and he hadn't been disappointed when the bugaboo had again emerged from the dark to play. He'd thought about running to Jasmine's room to prove her wrong, but Vlad was HIS secret, and Jazz WAS a tattletale, so it was better for everyone involved if everyone was kept in the dark.

That night, they drew pictures, and made up stories. Vlad usually told the better ones-ones about a very wicked man deciding to try and hurt his best friend by turning him into a beast so that his best friend couldn't marry the woman that the bad guy liked.

These stories were often miserable, and they made the child angry, much to Plasmius' amusement, but the boy had always been delighted that terrible things that befell the bad guy at the end, and that the nice man wound up with the pretty lady, because despite being a monster, he was smart and wealthy and had gone on many adventures and people liked him.

The four year old had admitted aloud that he wished the story had ended with the bad man apologizing to the good man so that they could become friends again, but his ghost-buddy had only shook his head, and soberly told him that that simply wasn't the way the story went.

And so that was that. Danny hadn't minded very much. Plasmius was fun, and he had brilliant ideas: He could quietly take off the sheets on Danny's bed, and turn them into sails, creating a little pirate ship out of Danny's bed. He'd graciously allowed Danny to be captain, (In their games, Jazz had always been captain, whilst he'd been galley slave) and accepted his role as first mate with all the dignity and seriousness of an actual grownup who wasn't laughing at you.

They made spyglasses, and hunted for treasure, and Vlad one evening a few nights later had briskly scooped up the "ship," and glided it around the room, much to Danny's excitement. The ghost had had to put a finger over the boy's mouth so that his squeaks of joy wouldn't stir anyone.

And they hadn't.

And although Maddie had noticed that her son was yawning a lot at breakfast, and generally looked bleary-eyed until noon or so, she had only ever extended his bedtime, something that Danny had been surprisingly quite pleased about.

Build it up with iron and steel,
Iron and steel, iron and steel,
Build it up with iron and steel,
My fair lady.

In their rush to meet the deadline, Maddie never had any time to paint with Danny, nor did she notice that the child was increasingly drawing pictures of his "imaginary friend," which, with its long teeth and red eyes, looked suspiciously like a vampire. Had Danny drawn such a picture at school, he would have been whisked off to the psychologist before you could say Jack-sprat, but again, no one knew.

At night, Plasmius continued to tell stories, or he would read aloud from Danny's picture books in such a way that had the boy's heart pounding with excitement, and dreams of the unexpected and fantastic.

Jack brushed Danny off when the boy wanted to play catch in the yard. While the man was seriously intent on finishing the program downstairs with Maddie, he'd nonetheless felt a mite guilty when he'd glanced back, and noticed how disappointed his son looked. He'd clapped the child on the head, and told him not to mind-there was always after suppertime, after all.

There was never an 'after supper-time.' Always, always, Jack had forgotten, and tried to justify it to himself by trying to make it up by 'tomorrow,' or when the blasted portal would be finished, and the Fentons would have a much larger income. Then, there could be family time and relaxation.

Jasmine was never around to play, but she was never a nice playmate to begin with, so while Danny had missed the human presence, it really hadn't been so much of a loss.

And so, after a while, the child had simply stopped asking.

Working in the basement with ectoplasmic power tools, Jack and Maddie were oblivious to the world above, and more likely than not, Jasmine was braiding doll heads or pony tails with her friends, so Danny began to spend most of his time alone. On mornings when his parents had felt particularly stressed by their upcoming deadline, they skipped breakfast, (More often than not, Jasmine was having a slumber party at one of her friends' homes) and Danny would have to push a stool over to the cabinet to clamor onto, and hop up and down on it until he could reach a box of cereal.

Thankfully, Plasmius had begun to spend the nights he visited, and some little parts of the mornings. He was a wonderful person to have around, particularly when you needed to reach things from tall places. Danny was in awe of this kind man who came to hold him when he had nightmares, and soon grew to adore him. Plasmius was his caretaker, his friend, and his defender. Strange things were now known to happen to people who upset Danny at school, and while it increased the berth of people around him, at the very least, there was someone beside him, even if he couldn't see him.

Plasmius took him flying. Plasmius played with him. Plasmius praised his drawings and told him not to mind the shadows underneath his bed and even brought him a new battery. He loved Plasmius.

Which was probably why he did what he did months after meeting his ghostly visitor.

Iron and steel will bend and bow,
Bend and bow, bend and bow,
Iron and steel will bend and bow,
My fair lady.

They'd finally finished it.

But it hadn't worked. Every detail had been pored over extensively, every little thing put on, taken on, and applied again-finally, a mere day before their deadline, the Fentons were going to do the impossible: Open a rift between the human world and the Ghost Zone.

It bewildered Jack and Maddie when the machine had only ever sparked pathetically when the power cords had been extended, and even after pouring over Madeline's calculations thrice, the rift would not work. It COULD not work.

Perhaps, because, every little thing had been thoroughly scrutinized and analyzed, except for the fact that the only way to turn the machine ON was to venture inside the vortex itself, and press the mechanism, a mistake that could only have been made by the very stupidest of men.

Why idiotic?

Say that the creators of this brilliant yet remarkably idiotic machine were to trudge upstairs with broken hearts and sagging shoulders. Say that they'd been so preoccupied in their work they hadn't noticed that there had been a small figure watching from the cover underneath basement stairs.

Say that these hypothetical scientists had had a child, dear reader-one that just so happened to HOPE that his parents would break through the human realm, and discover just where ghosts lived.

But when the project failed to ignite, say that when the ghost hunters had left their failure behind, a disappointed, unaccompanied child were to timidly approach the dark and scary looking machine, hoping to stumble into Plasmius' world.

And his hand automatically groped in the darkness for a light switch...

Build it up with silver and gold,
Silver and gold, silver and gold,
Build it up with silver and gold,
My fair lady.

It still makes goosebumps erupt at the base of his neck, and his heart start racing. Always with it comes the fear, then the fury, and then the bloodlust. Oh, how much he'd like to someday hunt down that ghost and WRING HIS NECK AND STAB THROUGH THE STOMACH AND RIP OUT HIS AWFUL, HORRIBLE RED EYES FOR TAKING HIS BABY-THE FENTONS' BABY-AWAY!

And after that comes more grief, and Jack goes stumbles outside their house to the crumbling steps outside of their building, where he can see no stars in the sky because of the vast amount of manufactured, florescent fireflies glaring around him in a twinkling firestorm.

It's there that Jack too breaks down and weeps where his remaining family can't see him, because it's there he wonders if anything at all would have changed by one simple action. Just one.

Calling off work for a day to take the kids to the library?

Help Danny and Jazz to do an art project?

Help them bake something?

A hug?

A kiss on the forehead?

A good scolding?

The many ideas of what could have been done and could have been said and could have been prevented torment him now. And there, under the streetlamps, he sits, face in hands, before Madeline's own sleeplessness compels her to slowly walk over to her husband, and hug him as hard as she could, under the quiet, unbearable ripple of night.

At the end, it still amounts to the same things. What could have been is now forever lost as what should have been.

Because regardless of the mourning, London Bridge still came tumbling down.

Silver and gold will be stolen away,
Stolen away, stolen away,
Silver and gold will be stolen away,
My fair lady.