What Unusual Halflives we Lead
Chapter 20: Epilogue
Danny Phantom flew high above the clouds and the cool breeze - his only companion, gently stroked his skin and combed his hair as he soared over the Wisconsin forest below. It was now late afternoon and ed been flying for well over three hours already constantly at top speed to reach the castle in which Vlad lived. Of course, it didn't help that he wasn't exactly sure of its location and he didn't have a built in GPS in his ghost powers to help with state lines, but Danny was fairly sure that he was heading in the right direction.
It was now Wednesday, and he hadn't seen Vlad since they'd returned from their victory and all that he'd heard was that he'd had taken a week off and gone to his castle. Danny wouldn't normally take such a risk in flying all the way to Wisconsin, but with his father still in hospital and his mother practically living there with him, it was highly unlikely that they'd notice his absence from home. He'd already told Jazz that he was going out so that she wouldn't worry...he just hadn't mentioned that he was going out to visit Vlad. It was strange to think that he'd spent hours of effort in flying to see his old arch-enemy whom he hadn't even called to see if he was even there first, but the time alone to think wasn't unwelcome.
The afternoon had been a strange one for Danny, because he and Sam had played a basketball rematch against Dash and Kwan and there had been a rather large audience. In the end they'd decided to call it a draw and Danny had purposely put effort into making it so. He knew that whether he an or lost, he'd never hear the end of it, so it was better - meaning there would be less hassle, hopefully, if they never spoke of it again. He didn't want to make a habit of hanging out with Dash.
But that wasn't the only strangeness that had been going on in the last few days, oh no, Danny had also to explain to Sam and Tucker what had happened when he'd disappeared. That had not been fun. Like Jazz, they'd had a difficult time believing that he and Vlad were at some kind of truce...in fact they flat out refused to even contemplate the idea. But they hadn't been through what Danny had, so the young hybrid didn't blame them in the least; it wasn't as though he didn't have his share of disbelief about the truce as well. He was half expecting it to blow up in his face at the first opportunity, but Danny really did want it to work...he just didn't want to expect too much and be disappointed, after all this was Vlad...fruit loop extraordinaire, he was talking about here.
Danny continued his flight and fortunately, a giant castle with garishly topped golden turrets set against the darkening, natural landscape wasn't exactly a hard thing to miss even for a now, tired Danny, and he sighed in relief as he began to descend from the sky. He'd later blame it on his exhaustion, but instead of stopping at the door and knocking, he floated right through the walls and into the castle.
"Vlad?" Danny questioned aloud and floated above the ground. He was kept waiting mere seconds before he heard an amused voice speak from behind him.
"You know, Daniel, if I wasn't so used to your ecto-signature, I could've easily blasted your head off thinking you were an intruder," Vlad said very calmly.
Danny spun around and blinked in confusion when the Vlad he saw wasn't exactly what he'd expected; the man looked as tired as Danny felt and he wasn't wearing his seemingly ever present suit jacket or tie and his whole demeanour displayed a more relaxed attitude rather than his usual superciliousness.
"Nice to see you too," Danny muttered and crossed his arms.
"What are you doing here?" Vlad asked in a no-nonsense time.
"...Oh...y'know..." the young hybrid yawned, "I was just passing by the...erm...the state line..."
"Evidently," Vlad raised an eyebrow, "You look dead on your feet."
"Nice pun," Danny smiled.
"How long did it take for you to fly here?" the man asked, ignoring that Danny had interjected.
"I erm, I lost track after about an hour," Danny shrugged, "What time is it now?"
"Oh...then about three and a half hours...y'know that's not too bad, when you think about how long it takes to drive here...and at least I didn't have to sleep in the Fenton RV with my dad's snoring, and I..."
"What on earth were you thinking?" Vlad asked incredulously, again he seemed to take little interest in what Danny had said.
"...That I'd come by and say 'hey'..." Danny replied, but to him it sounded very much like an uncertain question. "What're you doing here anyway? Isn't the mayor supposed to stay in the city he's running?" he asked defensively.
"I'm still on my vacation," Vlad said, "And of course, I'm recovering from the devastating loss of my chalet," he added sarcastically.
"About that...didn't you tell people you were going there for your little trip thing when we did the whole 'tactical retreat' thing?"
"Yes, well remembered, Daniel, people were told that I was obviously not in the premises when it exploded," Vlad answered and Danny chose to overlook the jab at his memory.
"Just weasel out of another one..." Danny muttered, it really irritated him how the man just had an answer for everything, all the time, every time. "It really was too had about the chalet though," he mused.
"It can be replaced," Vlad shrugged carelessly.
"I bet you could buy like a hundred of 'em, couldn't ya?"
"And more besides," the man said simply. He'd been overly wealthy for too long and so he'd gotten used to the mindset that money could buy him (almost) anything, without even questioning it anymore.
"Rich jerk," Danny muttered.
"Well, this 'rich jerk' is still paying your parents hospital bills, so you'll want to stay on my good side."
"Oh...yeah, good point... " the younger hybrid frowned.
Danny hated to think about the bills piling up as well that he couldn't pay anything towards because he still couldn't hold down a job. His parents didn't exactly make much when they actually managed to sell some of their inventions and they were in financial trouble after all. Now that he had the time to think about all of it, it only depressed him..and then there were people like Vlad, who never had to worry about those things and who just loved to rub it in everyone's faces. "About that...I'm still waiting for the catch," Danny said.
"I've told you," Vlad sighed, "There is no catch," he rolled his eyes and sat down in one of the grand arm chairs by the fireplace, which he lit with bright, ghostly lightning from his hand and it ignited immediately.
Danny stared at the ghostly flames which devoured the logs in the grate, hungrily, "...Cool..." he said to himself. The flames were hypnotic in that they flickered from normal yellow to ghostly purple and beautiful hues of pale blue, and the fire even hissed in a way more strange than was usual. It surprisingly created a lot of light in the otherwise dark room and Danny looked around, but his eyes settled across at the wall which he'd been flung through in their fight, looking brand new. "Not gonna throw me through the wall again, are you?" he asked.
"We'll see," Vlad replied sarcastically.
"Great," Danny rolled his eyes, "Just so you know, I don't think my back could deal with that again."
"...You'd do it again just for laughs, wouldn't you?"
"Most likely," Vlad said dryly.
"Fantastic," Danny sighed and flopped down onto the carpet in front of the fire. Not only was he tired from flying for hours non-stop, he had already been tired out from the long basketball game so now all his muscles were aching; perhaps it hadn't been the best idea to fly all the way to Wisconsin but Danny had wanted to see how the truce was standing with Vlad. It seemed as though Vlad was trying to be nice, however frustrating and sarcastic he naturally was, and for that, Danny was glad. He'd also wanted a break from Sam and Tucker and Jazz constantly questioning his decision about said truce because it'd really started to drive him insane.
"If you wanted to irritate me, you could've done so easily over the phone," Vlad said.
"I'm not irritating you...am I?" the young hybrid asked looking up, but Vlad didn't answer. "Well I'm not trying to," Danny added after a minute, "I just needed...some space, okay?"
Vlad was tempted to ask from what Danny would want space, but he settled for simply raising an eyebrow. "My friends think I'm crazy for trusting you," Danny explained to him.
"It is a rather large risk," Vlad said.
"Maybe," Danny shrugged.
"This could merely be another plan of mine."
"Maybe," Danny repeated nonchalantly.
"You're too trusting for your own good; it's going to wind you in a lot of trouble one day," Vlad frowned.
"Meh," the young hybrid closed his eyes. He liked that he could discus this with Vlad and he wasn't surprised to hear that the man was second guessing their truce, but Danny was hopeful that it would work out. After all, he really didn't want to go back to fighting with Vlad again, so this had to work out.
It seemed to Danny that hours passed by in silence, but in reality it was only a few minutes later when Vlad spoke again. "It's late, Daniel, you should go home," he sighed, "Come back another time, if you must," he added much to Danny's amusement.
"...It'll take me another four hours to get back...you could show me how to teleport, right?" Danny suggested eagerly and Vlad chuckled.
"Nice try, but why would I do that when I have no assurance that this little truce of yours will last? It would be a terrible idea for me to give lessons to my arch-enemy, after all," the man said.
"Party pooper," the young boy muttered in disappointment.
"I'm not stopping you from learning it yourself."
"I don't know how to!" Danny huffed.
"Neither did I," Vlad shrugged. Granted it had taken him over ten years to first develop the power and another year after that to master it, but he'd done it by himself with absolutely no help whatsoever.
"Well, I guess I'll just fly back then...all the way back...by myself..." Danny said pointedly and Vlad rolled his eyes.
The older hybrid then morphed into his ghost half and teleported over to Danny, "Pay attention," he ordered the boy before he spun his cape and turned them both into glowing smoke.
Danny shivered as he felt them travel the considerable distance which had taken him almost four hours earlier that afternoon, now took less than four seconds by teleporting. As ever it felt like he was being pulled in every direction, like he had strings attached and someone was tugging on them relentlessly over and over again. And it seemed as though it took only the blink of an eye; it was very disorientating.
"Whoa!" Danny held his head and fell onto the floor and looked around, recognising his bedroom immediately. "Nice one," he muttered.
"Did you notice anything?" Vlad asked him.
"Yeah," Danny nodded once he could see straight again.
"I need a magic cape," the boy answered with seriousness and Vlad sighed.
"No," he said.
"No?" Danny repeated.
"The cape is a focus, not magic," Vlad scowled.
"Bummer," the young hybrid sighed, "So how'd you do it then? And what's with the smoke?"
"The smoke is me," Vlad told him.
"Huh? How can you be smoke?"
"You can change the proportions of your body can't you? It's the same basic principle."
"I've never been...smoke...before..." Danny said in confusion. He could remember when he'd made his arms stretch or his torso extra bendy to avoid attacks but he'd never turned his whole body into smoke, ever.
"Then figure out how to be...goodnight Daniel," Vlad said simply and teleported away again, leaving Danny alone.
"Hey! That's so not helpful!" Danny yelled a second later, "Fruit loop," he muttered and sighed as he flopped down onto his bed. Despite how tired he was, he didn't get a wink of sleep because he was kept up all night thinking about what Vlad had said. And in the morning, he still didn't understand anything...it would take him a while to figure it out.