Passero

Oneshot. Take your miracles where you can get them. Holiday fiction tribute to Nimrod the Writer's Domination.

~(*0*)~

To Nimrod the Writer with much admiration and wishes for a happy holiday. By the way, passero means "sparrow."
Roses are red, violets are blue. I don't own, so please don't sue.


It was such a small, insignificant scrap of a thing. Danny had to wonder if Vlad had finally succeeded in driving him mad, and whether or not everything he now saw and felt was some sort of particularly graphic, ghastly nightmare that kept replaying before his eyes while he babbled senselessly in some padded room someplace.

More likely than not, it was dead by now. If not by inhaling the dark fumes that kept wafting out of the labor factories that had sprung up over Amity Park in the past several months, a ghost solider had probably barbequed the poor little thing by now whilst torching several innocent people.

Vlad's smirk had told him that it was pathetic; futile, even. In the end, the scoreboard was still littered with thousands of scratches for Vlad, and their "deal" for tonight had done nothing but dwindle Danny's already miniscule amount of victories.

He knew now that it was stupid to keep score, particularly when it didn't matter anymore. He refused to give in and let his stubborn front crumble, but despair had been slowly eating away at his heart for twenty-four weeks. 262,974,383 minutes. God knows how many seconds. Half a year.

Half a year since the world had almost literally fallen into the depths of hell, and he'd become Vlad's puppet. It was maddening, being dragged around by that stupid little collar Vlad had yet to pull off his neck and dressed up (And later, consequently stripped) by Vlad like some animal. A weak, helpless animal Vlad would scream at, and only taunt Danny for his stupidity when again the teen would lose control, and lash out.

It was sickening, and occasionally, when he was more defiant, Danny's rare pleasant dreams featured him strangling the evil man while Elysium cheerfully helped him beat Vlad to death from behind.

Elysium.

She was the only reason Danny was still sane, possibly still alive. While Danny had never imagined himself to be that emo kid who tragically offed himself, as the weeks went by and hope of rescue fluctuated into uncertainty, the idea of dying now and ending this misery seemed...scarily enough, appealing sometimes. Vlad had to turn his back eventually. It was only the matter of finding something poisonous or a knife or a rope...

But Danny, sad and scared and in so much pain as he was, wanted to live. And now, he had a reason to live again, though he always had his family and friends in Amity Park, who, somehow, someway, MUST still be alive.

He'd had a reason to do what he did tonight, senseless and hopeless and stupid though it was. He wondered what Elysium would think of his decision-of whether or not she'd approve. More likely than not she would have, although her eyes more likely than not would have welled up with tears of pity if Danny had told her the repercussions of his act. It was a sight that worried him, haunted him, and strangely enough, couldn't quite seem to drink enough of it in the rare occasions he and the young girl could look at each other.

Big eyes, warm and friendly eyes, full of pity and love. It was a sight he never thought he'd found here in the devil's home. He rolled his eyes at the title Elysium had given it, but he had to admit, it WAS pretty fitting.

He wondered if Elysium would ever meet his sister, and whether or not the two would become friends. He wondered about the girl's younger brother-the one that Elysium had told him that he so reminded her of. He hoped that he would somehow meet him too, one day.

Occasionally, the two would go days without seeing each other, but Elysium had taken to bringing the tea tray whenever Vlad rang for it, much to Vlad's stupid butler's disregard. The other servants were terrified to go anywhere near Masters, so while they worried for her safety, they were usually more than happy to let her serve the tea in their place. They probably had families somewhere out in this insane world-families that would worry about them, families that Vlad could easily hurt. Danny could easily empathize.
For being a self-proclaimed coward, Danny really had to admire this girl's nerve.

Her hair practically stood on end when she silently approached a cool and indifferent Vlad to deliver a tea tray, but still she approached, and when Vlad's back was turned, she often gave Danny the slightest shadow of a wink.

Once, when Vlad had been arguing on the telephone with one of his lackeys, and had his back to both youngsters in the study while Elysium politely made her way in, and set the platter on the coffee table next to Danny's favorite sofa. Then, as Danny reluctantly picked up his own porcelain teacup, Elysium had eyed Vlad's, and spat in it.

Danny had choked, but luckily, managed to pass it off as a cough when Vlad's cold blue eyes flickered to him, and disinterestedly wandered away. Elysium had pressed something into his hand, silently kissed him on the head, her large eyes fixed on Vlad's back the entire time. Then, she'd hurried out.

In his hand, Danny had found a small gold handkerchief, and while Vlad was busy shouting to Walker or some other greedy, power-hungry sap, carefully pulled out a small object with a card attached to it. It had taken him a moment to figure out what the strange object was.

It was a puff pastry, shaped to look like a cat. There was a tiny scrap of paper alongside it that had read:

Vlad needs one of these.

It had been all Danny could do to stuff both pastry (And unfortunately, message) into his mouth before Vlad spun around in his stupid winged chair, and take a few hurried gulps of his tea to mask the fact that he was choking both down. It had been even harder to stop his eyes from watering and the corners of his mouth lifting when Vlad carelessly drifted over after a moment, still on the phone, and proceeded to drink the contents of his teacup.

~(*0*)~

The right time had not yet come for the two to actually concoct and act on a feasible escape plan. Avoiding Vlad's suspicion was hard enough as is-there had been many close calls where Vlad had found the two together, and Danny had to pretend to be ignorant and Elysium emotionless. While the man normally shook the girl off as "inferior" (A fact that left the teen bristling with rage), he had taken to giving Elysium a very ugly look out of the corner of his eye when he spotted the two together. It was a terrifying experience for them both, which usually ended in Elysium bustling from the room in a cold sweat before Vlad torched her into ashes, and Danny, well, he normally wound up on a bed/floor/random hardwood surface.

He ought to be used to it by now. In a way, he was, and that made this time of year all the more depressing. After tonight, he suspected not even Elysium's homemade gingersnaps would be able to cheer him up.

~(*0*)~

He hadn't been sure whether to sink to the floor with joy or sheer dread when Vlad had announced that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Danny did not have to train or study. The idea was insane; almost infeasible.

Two entire days. Actually. Not. Working.

The idea of a "weekend" seemed a quaint notion to him now; every day with Vlad was much the same. Wake up at some ungodly hour, be humiliated while Vlad picked out monkey suits for him to wear, ate the same boring breakfast every day while Vlad either blah-blahed to people on the phone, or kept kept trying to entice him into a conversation, then, studying with an insane teacher who seemed to think that he was paid to hit Danny with his stupid ruler as much as possible, and then taunt Danny about his supposed "sex life" with Vlad before burying him in homework.

Then, it was time for a physical workout at the gym (And more often than not, Vlad's "happy-happy-fun" time with him), than ghost training with Vlad (Which normally comprised of the elder half-ghost yelling at him) and an evening of poring over books before he finally fell asleep on the sofa. He'd learned by now that that was best; while he hated the idea of Vlad carrying him anywhere, the man would normally let him sleep for the night instead of happily molesting him, as he so enjoyed to.

Much as this daily routine got repetive and wearying, Danny was surprisingly loathe to break it the day before Christmas Eve when Vlad generously announced the two day holiday at the table during lunch. Danny had rolled around a small potato on his plate and said nothing, biting his lip as he did so.

He didn't know whether to give a snide remark or a cold silence or even a (God forbid) word of thanks. More likely than not, Vlad was going to pulverize him the day after Christmas to make up for the missing two days, and, worst of all, was going to want to do what he did in the very rare evenings that both Danny and Vlad had off:

Talk and snuggle. Retch.

It was maddening, lying on a sofa next to an evil maniac who for all intents and purposes, assumed that Danny WANTED to be trapped under his arm, and forced to listen to the man rant about things he could hardly care less about, or worse, wanted to do nothing but read a book and stroke the crown of Danny's head and back.

At least the brief, brutal physical assualt left him angry and aching-this was even more demeaning, in a weird, insane way.

Much as Elysium might deny it, he had to wonder if he HAD gone insane. Why else would he have done what he did tonight?

~(*0*)~

The snow was dirty even when Danny had watched it tumble from the night sky through the window. The labor factories Vlad had established in the ruins of their city consistently belched black smoke from the bellows now, morning, noon, and night. From the chimneys came deathly white ash, which fell with the pure, sweet snowflakes that had been drifting. The ground was a murky mess outside-nothing like the white blanket Amity Park normally received this time of year.

Again had come that horrible pang of guilt in his stomach. Of course Vlad wasn't going to allow his prisoners to actually take the holiday off-as self-proclaimed ruler of the Ghost and Human worlds, he'd abolished the annual Christmas Truce as ridiculous and unnecessary. If the workers were lucky, they'd get maybe another scrap of bread or slightly more viscous soup while he, Danny, would have to eat roast turkey with truffles. And fancy pudding crap.

~(*0*)~

The sky was so dark and convoluted, Danny hadn't been able to spot any stars whilst glancing outside the window earlier at the evening while Vlad rambled on at the dinner table about his woes. Danny had been about to tell the man where he could take his fork and shove it when it had struck the window, and had fallen onto the ledge where it had laid unmoving. It must have gotten lost.

Vlad had been more than willing to brush the miserable little sparrow off for his servants to clean up later, but Danny had pleaded for its case, much to Vlad's disgust. The man had jeered at him, told him the little rat was probably already dead-that the stupid thing had probably fractured its skull whilst mindlessly slamming itself into windows.

Unfortunately, Danny had to conceed just a little. What sort of bird is dumb enough to fly in freezing blasts of wind the two hybrids could hear moaning outside the windowpanes?

Of course, Vlad's attitude had significantly altered once Danny given into his insanity, and offered to do It. Why, he couldn't understand, but it had certainly worked. Promptly arriving after being summoned, a surprised and curious Elysium had fetched the little thing, cradling its motionless body in her warm hands. Danny's heart had sunk with dread as he stared at the little creature. He hadn't promised Vlad he wouldn't do It if the poor thing was actually, y'know...dead...

But after a few tense seconds, the thing had stirred, and chirped feebily; it kept trying to right itself, but its wings were crumpled on one side, and so the thing had kept flopping miserably back to Elysium's hands, chirping in distress.

Elysium looked as dumbstruck as though Vlad had donned a Santa Claus suit when he'd carelessly ordered her to put the stupid thing in a box or cage somewhere until it had fully healed. And to give it food. The maid had hurriedly nodded her assent before awkwardly curtseying, flashing a quick, secret look of bemusement at Danny, and strode back to the kitchens, little bird still in hand.

Vlad hadn't even wanted to finish his meal; Danny was in his arms within moments, and the boy had little more than a quick glance at the creature he'd saved before Vlad impatiently pushed him into a neglected parlor, and promptly stripped him of his clothes.

~(*0*)~

It had hurt. More than he thought it would. As if his ego didn't take enough of a bruising as it was day by day. The tips of his ears burned with shame, and he felt positively filthy while sitting in a smirking Vlad's lap while the two soaked in the bath. Vlad's fingertips kept rubbing languidly at his shoulders, trying to loosen his posture, which was as rigid as a frozen statue's.

But Danny only stiffened more, and thankfully, Vlad gave up after awhile. Despite the fact that he had rinsed his mouth off over and over again with plenty of mouthwash just moments ago, there was still a bad taste in his mouth, and a tight knot of dread in his stomach that he tried to ignore. If he prodded it, he knew that it would promptly blossom into horror.

~(*0*)~

What was he turning into?

As he lay shivering in Vlad's arms that night, Danny wondered. The bird would more likely than not wind up dumped into the night, despite his and Elysium's wishes. If it couldn't fly, it couldn't find any warm shelter, and then, it would freeze to death.

Danny prayed that the stupid little thing was alive and well in the house, and something told him that it was; he could depend on the maid to keep the bird safe. She was probably feeding it scraps of food while it nestled and healed in a warm nest of cloth next to a heater, or something. He fervently hoped so.

Was such a small thing worth that much pride lost? Doubt quilted Danny's thoughts as the wind continued to whistle a lonely lullaby into the night.
Just thinking about his family, the inhabitants of Amity Park, or his allies made his heart ache fiercely. He'd been all but dumped here, with nowhere to go even if he WERE free.

And no one to go TO but Elysium and her hopefully alive family. Danny's eyes burned, and he ducked his face into his pillow so that Vlad wouldn't see his lip tremble.

Why?

He could feel the satisfaction emanating from Vlad like a glow, and he wished, as he did so often, that Vlad was dead, even while he clung to him.

A sparrow was not a person. If it died, no one would know. Or care. The creature would not die, but for all he knew, it would die as soon as it was set free, devoured by some other predator or accidentally fly into yet another window.

So why was it of substantial importance that the thing lived?

As Vlad climbs over him, Danny squeezes his eyes shut, and dreams of a Spring day where the bird flutters outside this enormous fortress, joyful and free.

If he can only have a small respite in the holidays, he supposes that this is not at all a bad one.