A/N: Yeah, check it out! How quick was this update? A lot of you seemed a bit surprised that this length is what I consider short. I used to think 1,000 words was long, but that's nothing to me now. Due to unanimous vote, I will keep the chapters 'short' so I can hopefully update quicker. It's working so far. XD (I guess it helped that I had a bet with Iymea to see who could update first... Go read her story Diversity now!)
Disclaimer: I own nothing trademarked by Nickelodeon or, more importantly, Butch Hartman.
Chapter Two: Come Into My Parlour, Said the Spider to the Fly
When the Mansons had stood in front of his cage and he saw their shoes, Danny guessed they were rich. When he saw their car it only confirmed it. If the car hadn't been enough then the house would have given it away for sure.
Danny didn't think he could really call it a house; it was more of a mansion, though not the largest one he'd ever seen. It looked nice, as most mansions do, and well kept. He vaguely wondered how many it took to upkeep as the car pulled up at the front door.
The chauffeur opened the door to the limousine and the Mansons exited the vehicle. Jeremy tugged lightly on the leash that still bound Danny and the boy followed without a sound. The chauffeur closed the door behind him.
"Take a good look, Daniel. You will be guarding all of this and I expect you to do an exemplary job," Jeremy stated with one stern glance at the slave.
'Danny,' the half-ghost automatically corrected in his mind, though he would never dare utter such a thing aloud. Doing as he was bid, he let his eyes roam over the large building and what gardens he could see, taking note of possible hiding places and points of entry that a thief might use. It was the basic training drilled into every guard slave's head. Bushes and windows were useless if the thief was a ghost, but the likelihood of that was marginal at best.
He could see security cameras hidden here and there but he knew guarding this place would be tricky anyway. It was huge with many holes in its defence. He definitely had his work cut out for him and the house was only one of the things he was supposed to guard. Danny hoped the Mansons' daughter was a cooperative, well-behaved girl. It would make his job easier if nothing else.
"Shoes off," Pamela ordered the moment they stepped inside.
In typical teenage style Danny used the toes of one foot against the heel of the other and levered both shoes off. Without prompting he put them on the bottom of the shoe rack he spied next to the door, well away from the several pairs on the top and middle.
Jeremy raised one brow but just shrugged, deactivating the leash device. Pamela eyed his still-tied shoelaces with distaste. She would have to correct the boy about that later. She called out for someone, though Danny noticed she didn't call loud enough to be considered rude. "Sammykins!" she called again, a little less patiently.
Danny, arms now hanging by his sides, took the opportunity to examine the interior as he did with the exterior. Expensive looking things littered the place as far as he could see and every non-carpeted surface was shiny with that newly polished and cleaned look. There was a staircase off to one side of the foyer with a shiny, carved wooden handrail and plush red carpet on the stairs.
A few moments later a girl appeared at the top of the staircase and Danny's eyes immediately dropped to the floor. "Now what?" the girl asked in an irritated tone.
Despite the anger that sprinkled it the voice sounded nice enough. Danny figured the daughter wasn't a young child then. She sounded like a teenager though he was finding it hard to guess her age from just those two words alone.
"And how many times have I told you not to call me by that ridiculous and degrading name?" the girl continued.
'Definitely a teenager.'
Pamela worked very hard to keep a frown off her face. "Now Sammy, dear, please don't be like that, especially today. We bought you a gift, sweetie," she said in a sweet, sugary voice. She stepped to one side and waved her hands with a little flourish towards Danny.
There was utter silence for a long, tense moment. Danny, from his pitifully small amount of knowledge of the girl, was expecting an angry shout. He was surprised when all he heard was a low hiss of, "Excuse me?" His eyes caught the tiny movement of both Mansons shifting somewhat nervously.
"He's going to guard the house," Jeremy said, "but only when you're here as he's your personal bodyguard and assistant." He made a helpless gesture with his hands, uncaring that Danny's leash device was still being held in one.
The girl noticed and her amethyst coloured eyes instantly narrowed into slits as she glared fiercely at her parents. "You got me a slave!" she ground out with pure venom coating every syllable.
Pamela put her hands on her hips and frowned at her daughter. "This is for your own good. We worry about you. You're always out and about-"
"Who knows where with your...friend...inviting all sorts of trouble," Jeremy cut in. "We just want you to be safe."
Sam continued to glower, turning her attention to the teenage boy. He looked about her age, a little on the short side, with clothes that would benefit from a ride in a washing machine. He stood straight, though she couldn't see his face as his long fringe of messy black locks hid it from view.
Jeremy ignored his daughter's dark look and turned to the boy. "Now I want you to start guarding my daughter. You are to follow her everywhere except the bathroom. If she does go into a bathroom, then I want you to guard the doors and windows. Not only for her safety, but she will try to sneak out if possible and it's your job to prevent that. Do you understand?"
"Yes, sir," Danny said in a monotone.
"Good, then go," he ordered.
Danny stepped forward and started up the stairs, keeping his eyes down in front of his feet. He could feel the heat of the girl's glare on his form as he approached her. Danny was suddenly glad that he was not allowed to look her in the eyes.
"I can't believe this..." Sam muttered before angrily stomping off, headed for her room. Danny dutifully followed her. Upon reaching her room she debated about slamming the door in his face but decided against it with a sigh. It wasn't his fault and she had no right to take out her anger on him. She shut the door behind him with a little more force than was strictly necessary before walking over to her bed and sitting on the edge, putting her face in her hands.
Danny stood a foot away from her door and off to one side so he wasn't obstructing it. He studied his shoes, idly wondering if he would be able to wash them here, along with the rest of his outfit.
Sam slapped her hands on her knees before crossing her arms. "So, what's your name?"
"Daniel, ma'am," he answered in that same monotone voice she heard him use earlier.
"Daniel? Really? No last name?" she asked, intrigued.
She sighed again. "You don't have to call me that, you know. I hate the slave practice and I hate my parents for getting me, and you, involved. Just call me Sam," she said with a smile, letting the anger fade from her expression. She was still seething inside.
"I'm afraid I can't do that, ma'am."
Sam tilted her head and frowned lightly. "What? Why not? And can you stop looking at the floor? I want to talk to you as a person, not as a slave."
Danny's eyes widened the tiniest bit at this turn of events and he swallowed hard, afraid of the retribution disobedience would bring and afraid of the retribution if he obeyed. He'd heard of people like this from other slaves. They seemed nice, caring and sympathetic at first, though they either gradually soured over time or suddenly turned nasty. The last person to own Danny had gradually soured towards the boy until he had been sold back and Danny had no wish to repeat the experience. He hesitantly raised his head until he was looking at her bed.
Sam rolled her eyes. "I meant look at me."
Danny shut his eyes for a second before complying. Light blue crystal met amethyst and both teens blinked at the sight. The slave took the opportunity to swiftly look the girl over so he would have a better impression of her to work off.
Sam seemed to be around his age. She had short black hair that hung down either side of her face with a small ponytail at the back that stuck upright and was tied in place with a green band. The only makeup he could see on her face was a light coat of purple lipstick a shade or two darker than her eyes. She wore a black sleeveless top with a purple oval in the centre of the chest, much like his own shirt, that showed off her midriff. She also wore a black skirt with checkerboard lines of bright green over a pair of purple stockings that ended in heavy looking combat boots. The footwear impressed the half-ghost. Around her slim wrists were black bracelets that reminded Danny of his cuffs.
All in all, she seemed like the personification of 'rebellious teenager', especially when he put her image next to her parents in his mind. This girl was sure to make his job difficult one way or another.
"You know," she said suddenly, breaking into his thoughts, "Daniel is a really stiff name. Do you have a nickname or something? And you never answered my question."
The urge to say 'Danny' flashed into his mind and was discarded just as quickly. "No, ma'am, I have no nickname. It is against the rules for a slave to address a master in such a manner," he replied, sounding like he was reciting a textbook.
Sam raised an eyebrow. "What if I ordered you to?" she asked in honest curiosity. She would never force him to do something like that, she simply wanted to know.
"I cannot address you as such. You have full right to punish me as you see fit for my disobedience."
It did not take much effort for Danny to keep his face blank as he said this. That rule was burned into the brain of every slave. Unless a slave was purchased for the specific reason of being a personal slave, they were not allowed to use any other form of address besides master, sir, ma'am or madam. The line he had just delivered was what all slaves were trained to say in the event that their master ordered them to use an informal form of address.
"Punish you?" Sam choked out in shock. "What for? You haven't done anything wrong!"
Danny stood silent, resisting the urge to look at his feet again. After a couple of seconds he said, "I have disobeyed an order. You said 'just call me Sam' and I have not done so." The urge to lower his gaze was becoming overwhelming but he fought it. She had told him to look at her and had yet to rescind that order.
Sam sat there stunned. 'What have they done to this poor kid?' She marshalled her thoughts quickly and tapped a finger against her chin thoughtfully. "Okay, don't worry about my name for the time being. Let's worry about yours."
The half-ghost was confused by this, but the only indication of it was a very slight tilt of his head.
"As I said, Daniel sounds so stiff and formal. You need something a little looser," she said with a small smile. "How about Dan?" The girl stood up and eyed the slave from head to toe. "Nah, Dan just doesn't suit you for some reason," she said with a shake of her head. "Okay, how about-"
A knock on the door interrupted her and her scowl instantly returned. She was about to yell 'go away' when the door opened, revealing her father. "What do you want?" she ground out instead.
Jeremy cleared his throat. "There was something else about the boy, but you stormed off before we could tell you." She raised an eyebrow and he took it as an invitation to continue. "You may have noticed that he's wearing one blue cuff and one green. This is because he's half-ghost, which is why we got him for you. You won't be embarrassed by walking around in public with a human and, if you're threatened in any way, he can instantly transform into a ghost to protect you. Now that that's settled, here's a copy of the instructions for his leash and the leash itself." He walked in, handed the silent girl a piece of paper along with the metal device the slave warden gave him and walked back out, shutting the door behind him with a gentle click.
Sam was trembling with barely suppressed rage and she scanned the page before walking to her bin and ripping it up into as many piece as she could, letting the tiny fragments float into the trash. A loud thunk indicated that the leash had joined its instructions. She muttered wrathfully, too low for Danny to hear, as she snatched up a purple backpack in the shape of a cute, fuzzy spider.
"I need out of this house and, since my parents have ordered it, you'd better come too. Unless you're going to try and stop me...?" she asked, halting and giving him a curious look.
Danny swiftly went over the orders Jeremy had issued. 'He only said to stop her if she tries to sneak out of a bathroom. Well, that's what it sounded like to me at any rate.' He shook his head. "No, ma'am, I'm not."
"Okay," she said slowly. "Come on then." Without further ado she opened her large window, hopped out with the skill of long practice, and started climbing carefully down the trellis that was just below.
'I was right, this girl is a rebel,' Danny thought with a sigh as he followed her out, gently closing the window after he passed through. He skilfully shimmied down the trellis, landing cat-footed beside her. Her expression told him that she was impressed. She suddenly began to sprint. The girl was certainly fast, but he had endured guard training for years. He sprinted after her, catching up after she slowed a little a few blocks away.
Sam wasn't even the least bit winded. The moment Danny pulled level with her she started walking at a brisk pace. "You alright?" she asked over her shoulder.
"I'm fine, ma'am," he answered honestly. He wasn't winded either, as he had trained in his human form as well as his ghost form. He still preferred 'going ghost' when it came to physical exercise though.
She gave him a genuine smile, gesturing for him to fall into step alongside her. He did. "We're going to see my friend Tucker. I need some sort of sanity in this crazy world and, although I wouldn't exactly call him a normal person, he's a nice guy. He's a certified techno geek, so never try to separate him from his gadgets or he'll be totally useless until he can get his hands on another one."
Danny just nodded, feeling awkward and unsure. He sincerely hoped Mr. Manson wouldn't be mad at him for allowing Sam to leave the house like that. He was left alone with his thoughts as Sam let the conversation die.
Sam fished a cell phone out of her backpack and flicked it open; hitting one of the few numbers she had on speed dial while still walking. Her face lit up a few seconds later, so someone must have answered. "Hey Tuck," she said. "Can you meet me outside? I need my daily dose of sanity. Yeah, they are. I got some stuff to talk about, but I'll wait until I see you face-to-face. Nah, I'm about a block or so away. Yep, see you in a minute, bye." She snapped the phone shut and put it away.
True to her words, a minute later a boy came into view exiting a modest but nice house. He had dark skin, a dull yellow sweater, army green cargo pants, brown shoes and a red beret. Teal eyes behind black-rimmed glasses completed the nerdy look. The African-American boy gave Danny a curious look and a very brief greeting before turning to Sam. "Is this what you wanted to talk about?"
"Yeah. Tucker, this is Daniel. Daniel, this is my best friend, Tucker," Sam said, pointing to the appropriate person as the introduction progressed.
"Daniel, huh? You got a nickname or something?" Tucker asked, holding out a hand for Danny to shake.
"No, sir, I have no nickname," Danny said, transferring his gaze to the grey sidewalk in front of his feet. He felt rude for ignoring Tucker's proffered hand, but it was against the rules for a slave to be so informal in their greeting.
"Say what, dude?" Tucker blinked in confusion. He was now looking at Danny a little warily.
"Yep, that's my problem. Daniel here is a slave and my parents bought him to be my bodyguard," Sam said with a sigh and a roll of her eyes. She turned to the half-ghost. "Since Tuck's not your master or whatever, can you call him by his name?"
"If that is what you want, I will do so."
"Whoa, you sound like a politician!" Tucker said with a laugh. "Well, a lying politician," he added dryly. "Do you always talk like that?"
"It would be rude to speak in a less formal manner."
Sam crossed her arms and tapped her foot, waiting until she had the attention of both boys. "Okay, Daniel, I want you to call Tucker by his name. We'll work on getting you to use mine. Feel up to a bite at the Nasty Burger, Tuck?"
Tucker instantly perked up at this. "Are you buying?"
"Don't push your luck," she answered with a smirk.
Tucker simply shrugged. "It was worth a try." He easily fell into line beside the gothic girl as they walked off.
Sam turned her head and flashed Danny a smile, giving him a short wave. "Come on!" She nodded when he fell into step on her other side. "Have you ever been to Nasty Burger, Danny?" she asked. The nickname had been the one she was about to try out earlier when her father had interrupted. She thought it suited him rather well.
Danny faltered, missing a step. He caught himself, but the action had not gone unnoticed – the other two were looking at him strangely. The slave didn't care. His new master 'Sam,' he thought happily, had just used his preferred name. Whether she had stumbled across it by accident or not, Danny knew he was just happy to hear someone use it. He allowed a tiny smile to cross his face as he walked.
A/N: I know - not much excitement. YET. Wait for it. Anyway, let me know what you think! I hope you enjoyed it. Constructive criticism is always appreciated!