So, as you can tell, it has been a long while since I've updated. I will be honest with you, I am losing hope for this story, because I continue to struggle in writing it and it isn't as enjoyable as it used to be. This will most likely be one of the last chapters. I apologize sincerely.


"Johanna, huh?" Jack replied after a moment of regarding her with eyes that gleamed threateningly in the darkness of the lab, like the eyes of the wolves that had mauled his tired son as he lay helplessly in the woods, and in a moment of horrifying clarity Dani could see the unshaven man for the monster he truly was instead of the loving man he was supposed to be; his face seemed to morph into that of a werewolf, black fur sprouting at an incredible rate on the landscape of his face, his yellow teeth, dirtied from years of gorging endlessly on sweets, suddenly sharpened and bared hatefully. This image, presented to her as if on a silver screen, and all the thoughts it evoked in the depths of her mind caused her to recoil and press herself against the counter that sat behind her, sure the man would pounce on her and consume the skin of her face. Dani was the type of person who cannot stand to sit through a movie in which things are flying at you, who will flinch when someone throws pretend punches in your direction in hopes of receiving this satisfying reaction, and she became particularly uneasy as someone with a face as frightening as Jack Fenton's stared into her eyes, convinced their intent was ill and she would end up lying lifeless in a gutter somewhere in the next town over…and looking at Jack now, she saw that he would have cared for nothing greater—his eyes were hungry, and she thought she would wet her pants.

"I've never seen you around," he continued, his face like that of the Bad Cop, the eyes cold and questioning and without desire to see their man as anything other than a disgusting pig for what he was done, intent on throwing him in a cell to end their prolonged game of finding the culprit no matter his innocence.

"How do you know Jasmine?" Maddie Fenton spoke suddenly, and similarly, the expression she'd dawned resembled her husband's; her eyes were calculating and stared icily down at the pre-adolescent girl on whose throat she pressed her Fenton machete—in reality, that gaze could have turned Dani to stone, and she didn't think she'd ever been so terrified in her life, so much so that she longed to be captured by Vlad, for at least he would finish her quickly and humanely if that was his purpose, but if she was really lucky he would stabilize her remains which had, as if by some miracle, managed to stay whole throughout the entirety of her encounter with the Fenton's. The blade was pushed further into the skin of her neck, but not forcefully so as to draw blood, although Dani could not help but feel that this would not, sadly, remain constant—that was, if she would leave at all, she would leave with a slice in her throat deep enough to draw blood and endless fear but too shallow to mince in the meat-grinder and bake into a pie.

There was a moment in which Dani's racing mind paused in a feeble attempt to comprehend this; although she had anticipated questions upon being asked what her name was, she had prepared no answers, and her mind was left shrugging dumbly and apologetically, knowing it had done her wrong but too engulfed in the newly-instilled fear that had overtaken it to make it its problem. Of course, she could recognize that it would not be wise to say something like, "Well, I'm Danny's half-ghost cousin. I was made in a lab and he saved me so now we're besties" but she was relatively clueless as to what could be said to save herself, because she was also able to recognize that her position was less than ideal; in reality, why should she have expected the Fenton's to be anything other than skeptical as a strange girl, one they had never seen prior, appears at their doorstep in the time of their son's coming out of the closet, of sorts? If she had been in their position, would she not have been unconvinced as well? This answer will never remain constant, because the mind will lie to itself when desperation or self-satisfaction is domineering, but Dani Phantom was certain that she would, too, view the intruder with the eyes of a bitter, retired prison guard who has had an encounter that led him to the loss of a limb, or several.

Once, in the first week of her unintentional life, she had gotten Vlad Masters to give her a kitten after he'd refused her the right to touch his Maddie, a white Tabby cat with stunning green eyes. While she had whipped out her newly perfected, you-can't-resist-this-face expression, what she believed had truly done it was her ceaseless nagging until the man, who had been preoccupied in the lab with the good clone—but she hadn't known that then, of course—could not focus on his work and had been forced to give her the time of day. He found her a scruffy white Persian roaming the streets within five minutes of searching, brought it back to his home, cleaned it up, plunked it down in front of her, and resumed his work. (Later, this cat would become the new Maddie after the Tabby was hit by some drunken kids from the farm down the road of his castle in their pick-up truck [who had not escaped unscathed, it should be noted, because that night Vlad appeared on their front porch with a double-barrel shotgun in hand]). And while her success in this had instilled her with the idea that she could achieve anything she wanted by whining, as most children whose parents give in quickly are, she could recognize now that she could not bleat her way out of this terrible situation she'd unwillingly gotten herself into—rather, she would need to use what her cousin had used time and time again on these people who had birthed him but were never his parents: tact.

How would she do this? Dani Phantom did not know, because it was not in her nature to approach any situation with qualities that were careful and chosen well. Rather, she cared to wing things and see how they turned out, and little did she connect any in depth thoughts to her actions. But now she could see that there was no room for error in a situation like this—hell, there was a knife pressed to her throat, and one wrong move would land her in the belly of some unsuspecting customer who craved Mrs. Fenton's pies. However, responding with tact would mean responding in time, and the Fenton's were impatient; she could not formulate the words that were meant to save her because she could not see them in her brain, now dead as if it had been penetrated by a bullet.

Maddie had begun to say something again—"Answer me, Johanna"—and as Dani had expected, began to press the knife further into her neck, and she became aware quickly that doing so was similar to applying pressure to a water-balloon—soon it would pop and release its fluids. Vaguely, she thought, her mind racing and tugging her attention in all directions, I'm going to die. I'm going to die tonight.

Jazz suddenly said, clearly sensing Dani's distress, drawing herself back into the horrid scene with unwise nobility, "She's one of the kids from the school, mom." Her voice was unsteady and it was clearly apparent that she was struggling to contain tears.

Maddie turned from the quivering girl then, and the knife was miraculously lifted from her throat; air flooded her, and she unconsciously drew her arm up to rub her scathed throat, which was whole, and incredibly so. Her celebration was short-lived, however, because now the machete was pointed at Jazz, and Maddie's boots clicked as she took a small step towards her trembling daughter.

"Did I ask for your input, Jasmine?" she said, and in her eyes Dani saw a fire, one fueled solely by undiluted throngs of hatred, burning in her lilac eyes. Her teeth were drawn up in a hateful snarl, and in the dim light of the lab her ungodly white teeth glinted. "Did I ask?"

Jazz had begun to say something, something of a placating nature, but Maddie Fenton would not hear it. Simply, she took the girl up by a handful of carrot hair and made a small cut in the back of her exposed neck. As the young woman shrieked in uncompromised pain and untold troves of fear, Dani Phantom suddenly became instilled with the knowledge that had been suppressed by her own terror but had, by no means, left—she had ghost powers.