Danny Phantom is a former fandom of mine. And yet that hasn't stopped me from writing something new. It helps that I only saw Phantom Planet for the first time a few weeks ago and I had to know what happened to Vlad. This takes place during and after the closing scenes of "Phantom Planet" and in the same AU as A Necessary Evil. If you haven't read it know only that Vlad is Danny's godfather.
This story jumps between 2nd person (Vlad) and 3rd person (various characters). I like using the second person, it provides a unique perspective.
This story is rated T because I am a scientist. Hard T. And because space is a very horrifying place to be stranded, ghost or no.
This is a work of fanfiction. I make no money off of this. I don't own Danny Phantom and I certainly don't own the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.
Space is silence.
They say that in space no one can hear you scream. They're right. Without air, without any medium but vacuum, nothing will carry your sound. You've taken to talking to yourself just to hear the echo of your own thoughts. You don't hear that damned disasteroid as it slings you into a whole new orbit. You don't hear the shatter of space rocks grinding to dust as they slowly, inevitably collide. You haven't heard the electronic voice of your Maddie-hologram since your helmet shattered. You'll never hear her again.
The life of a solitary "space nomad" is a lonely one. Lonely and oh so silent. You miss her beautiful voice. You miss young Daniel's witty banter. You even miss Jack's ear-grating blather. You'll never hear them again, not even in dreams. Dreaming would mean sleep and you know full well what would happen to you if you slept. You take human form when you sleep.
So you resolve to stay awake. Forever if you have to. Or maybe just long enough that you can't stand your own thoughts anymore. Because there will be nothing else to distract you. Ever.
Space is silence.
In the end, the world was saved by more than just ghosts. As plans were laid out on the floor of the UN a race began at Vostok Station to build the necessary complex. Technicians from Axion Labs were brought in to aid in the construction as the Russians worked through the midnight sun. A select few citizens from Amity Park were brought in as "ghost experts" while Phantom buzzed off through the Ghost Zone to gather an army.
As the disasteroid drifted off through the planet back into space the world cheered. The ghosts left and in the end the majority of the praise fell to the ghost boy.
Danny Phantom stood on the Antarctic plain surrounded by scientists, friends, family. Bottles of celebratory vodka were brought out. The biting cold was forgotten among the burn of icy vodka and the elation of a world saved. Secrets were broken as Danny shed his ghost form among understanding parents, shocked scientists, adoring civilians, and one strangely unsurprised teacher.
Cups were passed around and Danny bravely took a swallow. And found himself gasping and coughing as the cold liquid tasted like fire. Laughter sounded above him as hands pounded him on the back.
"Danny!" scolded Maddie. "Should you really be drinking that?"
"There is no law against," said the man patting Danny. "It will keep him warm. Your son is no longer just a boy, eh?" He raised his cup to her.
"Look..." Maddie had her finger raised for pointing and scolding but trailed off. She didn't know this man's name.
"Valery," he supplied.
"Look, Valery, he's only 16!"
"So? I was drinking vodka to keep warm when I was much younger," the Russian scientist defended.
Maddie swelled up like a mad hen. She was about to launch into some tirade about her son drinking when Jack defused the situation by barging headlong into it. "Oh let him have a little fun," Jack said, wrapping his arms around his wife. "He just saved the world!"
"We all did," Valery corrected.
Valery was ignored as Jack began to blather excitedly about how all the ghosts flew in from the Ghost Zone and how Danny single-handedly saved the world and how in heck did he get these ghost powers anyway?
Danny shrugged and followed Valery back to the Russian team to meet everyone. Dad's wrong, Danny thought as glasses were raised in a toast. I didn't do all of this. Everyone did all of this.
Someone was missing.
Space is cold.
There's nothing around you to absorb heat, to radiate it back at you when the sun is shadowed. And the sun is shadowed often as you drift outward. As gravity drops her hold over you and you fly out, away to further spheres. As distance stands between you and the only source of heat or light in the vast blackness of unforgiving space.
The water in your skin freezes solid in the darkness. It's a blessing in that now you no longer have to feel the slow seep as your life drains away out here. Even through your ghost form the vacuum of space tugs at your insides, draws the water from your capillaries, sucks away your will to live.
But live you must. Lest you realize just how total their betrayal was. Jack finishing what he started. Maddie cementing her refusal. But worst of all, Daniel failing to realize just how much he needs you. You promised yourself you would be the villain to his hero. Your evil would be spent ensuring his goodness shone past his own failings. And because you cared, because you wanted what was best for Daniel, Jack left you here to die.
Space is cold.
Jack Fenton sat on the couch and sniffed into a handkerchief. He dabbed his eyes and was just about to blow his nose when he chanced a glance at it. The corner was embroidered with a red rose. He froze for a second before tossing the hanky aside and trying not to sob. Maddie came out of the kitchen with a fresh batch of fudge. She put the fudge in front of her husband but the white fabric caught her eye. Bleh, a wet hanky. Still, the embroidery work was very skillful, the rose surrounded by tiny gold and black feathers. "I don't ever remember seeing this before," she admitted. "It's beautiful."
"Vladdy made it for me," Jack said glumly.
"I didn't know Vlad could embroider," Maddie said.
Jack nodded before going back to staring at a spot on the floor. He grabbed for another hanky, this one a plain blue one. He dabbed his eyes and blew his nose. He didn't notice as Maddie patted him on the shoulder and walked off, leaving the handkerchief next to him. Nor did he notice as Danny walked in and sat next to him. He did notice when one of Danny's hands crossed his field of vision to grab a piece of fudge. Jack pushed the tray of fudge closer to Danny.
Danny opened his mouth but couldn't actually eat. He sighed and stared at the piece of fudge in his hand.
"I can't believe he's gone," Jack said.
Danny squeezed the fudge in his hand until it oozed. "You're the one who left him out there," he accused.
"I had no choice. Don't you see, Danny? I had no choice!"
"And why not?" Danny demanded.
"He held the world for ransom, Danny! He's tried to kill us both! And I trusted the bastard! I trusted him... He was my best friend. And the whole time..."
"So you left him in space. To die. And you claimed to be his friend."
Jack ignored his son. He didn't want to hear this rant again. It was the same rant running in circles around his own head.
"You made him like this, Dad! You and Mom! You know how? Of course you don't, you have no idea! You couldn't even recognize your own son was half-ghost. The difference between Vlad and me is when I woke up after the accident Sam and Tucker were there and all they wanted was to make sure I was okay. Vlad didn't have that, Dad! No, you and Mom were too wrapped up in yourselves to realize your best friend was suffering and possibly dying because of a mistake you made!"
Jack stood up, throwing the tray of fudge across the room with one swipe of his arm. "Don't you think I know that?" he demanded.
"No, Dad," Danny said, standing his ground. His eyes glowed green with his own anger. "I don't think you do." He stormed off, slamming the front door as he left. He needed to fly around for a while, blow off some steam. Figure out what to do next.
Jack collapsed back onto the couch. A pretty red rose next to him taunted him for his mistakes. Jack grabbed the handkerchief and ripped it in half. He threw the ruined rose as far as he could and cried.
Space is agony.
Nothing to hide behind as cosmic rays tunnel their way through your form. Not even phasing protects you as impossibly high energy particles slam through you at every moment. You can feel them slowly tearing you apart, ripping your molecules out one by one.
Space junk, micrometeorites, you can phase through those. But not the solar storms. Not the cosmic rays. Not the gamma ray bursts. Not the fragments of that damned disasteroid. Nothing between you and physics as high energy collisions slowly, painfully reduce you to nothing.
It's what you deserve for trusting the boy. For trusting he was Maddie's son. For trusting him to be smart enough to know why you antagonized him, why you held the world for ransom, why you set yourself up over and over again as a monster just so he'd look downright innocent in comparison. You trusted him to keep you as his villain. You trusted him to realize he needed you more, much more, than you needed him.
Space is agony.
The Specter Speeder Mark 4 sped through the Ghost Zone aided by the Infi-Map. Tucker's top hat sat at a jaunty angle on his head as he drove. Sam sat back in the navigator's chair, arms crossed in protest. Danny paced restlessly in the back. The ride was cloaked in an uneasy silence.
"Dude, why didn't you want to come to the ceremony?" Tucker asked, trying to make conversation. "It was my first act as mayor!"
"You made it sound like I did all the work," Danny snapped. "I didn't."
"Of course you did, Danny," Tucker said. "You came up with the idea, you collected all the ghosts, you powered the device!"
"Other people built all the parts and things, Tucker," Sam said, trying to juggle defending her boyfriend and agreeing with her friend.
"I had to beg the ghosts to help. I didn't even think of the idea, Vlad gave it to me! All I did was touch a power converter and now I'm this big hero."
"Vlad gave you the idea?" Sam asked, face screwed up in disgust.
Danny glared at her. "Of course he did," he said. "If turning the disasteroid intangible wouldn't work then what's the other option?"
Sam kept him fixed with a strange look as Danny directed the Speeder to a mysterious, familiar tower.
"Dude, why are we out here anyway?" Tucker asked. "Just because I'm mayor doesn't mean Lancer's letting up on the homework. I swear, it's like nothing impresses the guy. He even gave you detention, Danny! Just because the box ghost made you late for class."
"Lancer's been so unimpressed. You don't think he knew about your ghost powers, do you?" Sam asked.
He didn't answer, he wasn't paying attention. Instead Danny flew out through the side of the Speeder to the entrance of that tower. As he approached he felt himself unconsciously matching the rhythm within, his body swaying back and forth to the ever-present sound. Tick... Tock... Tick...
"You're right on time, Daniel." Clockwork loomed in the middle of his lair. Screens around him showed scenes from the past few weeks: the satellite explosion, Vlad's abandonment, Master's Blasters being run out of town, the disasteroid passing harmlessly through the Earth. "I know why you're here. Alas, I cannot help you."
Can't or won't? Danny wisely didn't voice this.
"I will not directly interfere with the choices made," Clockwork continued. "But I can give you an idea. Seek the sunrise, Daniel. But not the one you've seen. A solitary sunrise never before seen by living eyes. Which will strike first, I wonder? The acid, the air, or the heat?"
A riddle? Why a riddle? There was so little time. Okay, okay, talk it out. "Vlad's in space," he began. "If he wants to see the sunrise he has to be near a planet. Another solar system is way too far so he's still local, has to be. Something with an atmosphere and it's hot but that could be... Wait, acid?" Danny's eyes went wide as he figured it out.
"Dawn upon the morning star," Clockwork agreed. "Follow the serpent of quiddity."
Danny flew off without so much as a 'thank you'. Clockwork just smiled and shook his head. Pleasantries could wait. Danny was going to be late...
Space is hot.
Searing heat strong enough to combust. No atmosphere between you and the sun's punishing rays. No shadows to hide behind, no earth to absorb the heat for you. With no planet between you and the star, all you feel is heat. The ice sublimates and you can move again, curling into a ball and wrapping your cape around yourself to try and shield you.
You should just stay like this, another sphere rolling pitifully through the void. Instead you fly inward, passing the inner planets one by one to graze that massive furnace just because you can.
You contemplate just diving in. Surely destruction in the solar forge would be preferable to the slow insanity brought about by the silence. To being systematically deconstructed by well-placed relativistic particles. To drifting forever as yet another solid mass of ice spinning in the Kuiper Belt. To decompression as you eventually, inevitably fall asleep. You can almost hear their voices... No. You're stronger than that. There's still so much to do, so much to see, to become. Even if no one else will ever benefit. You fly out to the morning edge of Venus to try and pull yourself together before you have a chance to incinerate.
Space is hot.
The Specter Speeder Mark 4 sped away from Clockwork's tower. Danny kept scanning the Infi-Map for some sort of sign or clue but he couldn't find anything on naturally occurring portals around Venus. He had Clockwork's riddle and that told him where Vlad was but they had no way to get there.
"Dude, why are we even going after this fruitloop?" Tucker asked.
"He doesn't deserve to get spaced," Danny muttered, trying to will the Infi-Map to give him answers. At this rate they were going to have to go the long way through the Voids within the Ghost Zone. They didn't have time...
"He held the world for ransom, Danny," Sam said.
"And his plan almost worked," Danny defended. "I should have been the one to think of it."
"Instead you came up with a much better one," Tucker said. "Seriously, Danny, why are we going after the fruitloop?"
"I have to," Danny said absently.
"Says who?" Sam demanded.
"Says me, that's who! Vlad doesn't deserve to die in space. No one does."
"Uh, Danny?" Tucker asked. The Speeder slowed down as he eased his foot off the pedal. There was something outside he'd never seen up close before.
Danny looked up to see a giant ghost-snake outside, swimming through the Ghost Zone. He checked the Infi-Map again. What was it Clockwork had said, something about... quiddity? A serpent... "What is 'quiddity' anyway?" he wondered aloud.
"Philosophical term," Sam said absently. "It's the... 'what-ness' of things."
The map changed in his hands. Danny looked back and forth between the snake and the map as Clockwork's words suddenly held meaning. He shoved Tucker out of the driver's seat and swerved the Speeder to mimic the snake.
"Hey! What gives, man?" Tucker asked, picking himself off the floor.
"Something Clockwork said," Danny mused. "Something about... there!" He pointed straight ahead. The serpent was slithering through a crack between worlds, a portal forced open by the snake as it traveled. He pushed the Speeder faster, they had to get there before...
Ha! The portal closed just behind them as the serpent flew out into open space. A planet shrouded in yellow clouds loomed ahead. The sun shone bright behind it, rising over the toxic atmosphere. And there, contemplating diving in, was a lone figure in white.
"There he is," Sam said, pointing. "Is he still alive?"
"He's still in his ghost form, he has to be alive," Danny said.
Blank red eyes looked up at them. And closed. A black ring appeared around his waist and began to move.
For a moment everything stopped. The teenagers realized they were going to be forced to watch a man die. Danny moved first, flying out of the Speeder at breakneck speed.
"NOOOO-" His shout was swallowed by hard vacuum as he raced those black rings. The winner would determine Vlad's life.
Danny's fingertips touched fabric and flesh just as the rings exposed Vlad's face. Blue eyes flew open in shock as intangibility separated him from space. Danny wrapped his arms around the man. His chest heaved with exertion, a habit born of living in an atmosphere. Vlad lay in Danny's arms. He moved, seemed to curl in close.
Where there was movement there was hope. Danny clung to that hope as he flew back to the Specter Speeder. Hope that they weren't too late.
To see the sun rise... Just once more...
Wonder what would kill me first, you think. The acid? The heat? Maybe the pressure... You've never doused your ghost form in acid before. And while you've withstood worse heat than this it was never in such a pressurized atmosphere. The human mind begins to go mad in only 12 bars of pressure. You have no idea what 90 would do.
You are so incredibly tired.
And then... you're not. There's a ship. And a strange serpent undulating through the vacuum.
You're hallucinating. That has to be it. That or you've fallen asleep and this is the last gasp of a dream before you die.
Your eyes drift shut. When you take human form you don't even try to resist it. Not even as you feel hands and blessed intangibility. Strong arms wrap around you in an attempt at rescue. You curl into them, wishing this were real.
What a beautiful dream.