I am so sorry I left you all hanging for so long! I knew it would be a while before I updated, but I wasn't expecting it to be months! I haven't felt like doing anything computer-based in a while, including typing. But here it is: The next chapter in "Monster". However, I've been doing a lot of writing. I'll try to be more frequent from now on, seeing as I've done so much writing that I've completed chapter 22 and am working on chapter 23! I'm also trying to get it arranged to publish a new chapter in "Blackened Rebirth", and I've got another story in the works... one you guys may be very interested in.

Also, I've been trying to improve my art skills. I've got a style that I really like now, and I'm saving to buy a camera so I can actually post something on DeviantART. And be proud of. My past styles were all horrible, end of story. Maybe I'll even draw a cover for this story...

Anyways, *ahem* Read the chapter already. You don't want to waste any more time!

Monster by TAA

Chapter Nine: The Missing Ones

No one can hear me scream!

Danny was seething. "I swear, I'm gonna find whoever did this and-"

"Danny, I'm sure it'll be fine," Sam cut him off. Her tone was brisk, though unsure. "It's probably just a ghost trying to get your attention."

"Well, he's got it," the halfa growled, his voice dangerously low. "But he won't enjoy it. Not one bit. I'll be right over." Danny hung up the phone on his friend in a storm, then ran up the stairs, leaving his dinner unattended. He wasn't hungry anymore, anyway. He was too full of rage to even consider eating.

He phased through his bedroom wall and, still running, transformed into his ghostly alter ego. The furious Danny rocketted out of his bedroom window in a straight path for Tucker's house.

"Don't worry, Tuck. we'll find you...or at least I will."

DP...TT

"So, you still think Slade's up to something?" asked Robin to Raven, who was standing before him. "Why am I not surprised?" He smiled out of relief. He wasn't alone after all.

"I don't think we should have given up on finding Slade," Raven stated, narrowing her indigo eyes. "It might have been part of his plan."

Robin frowned. "I'd never thought of that, honestly," he admitted. The boy hero looked downward and cupped his chin with his hand in thought. There was a five second pause before he spoke again. "Let's give this case another week. If there's no activity by the end of the week, we'll let this go for good."

Raven still wasn't entirely sure it was such a good idea to let their suspicions go, but she nodded in silent agreement with her leader. She would keep looking into it as much as possible over the week. If there was nothing, she would simply stop looking. Maybe it was a trick by Slade. Raven just had to trust that Robin knew what he was doing, as difficult as it was.

TT...DP

Danny flew into Tucker's room through the wide-open bedroom window. Sam, who had been patiently waiting for her friend's arrival, was already in the room.

From the looks of things, Tucker had most likely been lying down on his bed; he had probably been playing with one or two PDAs, Danny noted, as the devices were lying near the bloodstain. It was a large splotch of red about the size of a small child's fist, surrounded by a few smaller droplets. Judging from the color of the blood, the stain was fairly fresh.

"Danny, thank goodness!" Sam exclaimed, running to hug her best friend. Danny's rage dissipated in her embrace, and the boy hugged her back. They had both lost their closest friend. They didn't know whether he was dead or alive, and had no way of immediately finding out. Both teens were in tears as they broke away from eachother's arms.

"Tucker...I...I hope he's...he's not dead," Danny stammered, looking down at his feet.

"Me, too," Sam replied, her voice quivering. "But I guess there's only one way to find out."

Danny blinked, a tense feeling building up in his stomach. A shadow darkened his eyes. "You're thinking about searching for him, aren't you?" the halfa asked, his voice startlingly cold.

"Of course," Sam said. She had spoken with confidence, but upon seeing the darkness contained within her friend's green eyes, her heart sank a little. "Do you...have a problem?" she asked.

"Sort of," Danny muttered. He crossed his arms and turned his head to the side.

"What is it?"

Danny shrugged. "I kind of wanted to search for him myself," he said, his eyes sparkling with frustration.

Sam smiled for a few seconds. "OK, then, we'll go together."

"NO!" Danny snapped, temporarily losing his temper. "I want to search for him! By myself!"

"Danny, you're being selfish!" Sam exclaimed, her patience wearing thin. "He's your friend and mine! I have as much right to search for him as you do!"

"I know that!" Danny yelled. He breathed heavily, trying to calm down from his outburst. "I know that. I just...want to do this on my own. I don't want you hurt."

"And I really don't want you to get hurt, either. We can protect eachother."

Danny bit his lip, trying to force the stubbornness out of himself for the time being. Finally coming to a decision, he opened his mouth and let out a sigh. "Well, OK. We'll do it together then. But if I hurt you..." his voice grew quieter, "I'll never be able to forgive myself." Danny bowed his head and set his eyes on his feet with these words.

Sam's heart beat faster. "Why would you hurt me?" she asked. Was this why Danny had hesitated to let her go out there with him at first?

"I...I don't know," Danny replied. "I've just been a little crazy lately, I guess."

"Danny, you're not crazy," Sam said.

Danny laughed without humor. "Who are you to say I'm not crazy?" he asked, voice strained.

"Your best friend who cares about you more than anything else," Sam replied, looking her best friend in the eye.

After the words slipped out, something changed in Danny's expression. His eyes softened up. "Really? You do?" he asked, all traces of malice gone from his voice. A smile tugged at his lips.

"Yeah," Sam replied, also smiling. "Come on. Let's go look for Tucker."

Danny nodded, his eyes filled with his old determination. He grinned. "Let's fly."

...?

He didn't know where he was. It was a dark, gloomy place which smelled of dust and mold. The room was dark, with only a tiny, dim light coming through the ceiling. Or...at least what he thought was a ceiling. Perhaps even the light was his imagination. Even the smells seemed artificial. In fact, there was only one thing he knew to be real...

...an unnatural hissing noise coming from the other end of the room...

...DP

What little cheerfulness the duo had begun their search with had long since vanished. Danny was angry and Sam was getting bored.

"Where the heck could he be?!" Danny shouted, pounding the side of a building with his fist. "It's been an entire hour!"

"Patience, Danny, patience," Sam cautioned, placing her hand on the halfa's shoulder.

Danny jerked away, growling in frustration. "Patience," he muttered, a weird glint in his green eyes. "How can I have patience with so much going wrong? And on a half empty stomach?" What little dinner he had eaten had worn off, and he was now quite hungry.

Sam shrugged. "You can try," she said, seemingly unfazed by Danny's bad reaction.

The boy sniffed and turned to the side, arms crossed. Suddenly, his bad mood cleared up. "You know, you've been leading this search-and-rescue mission. Can't I take the lead for a while?" Danny asked.

"Sure, why not?" Sam responded.

Danny grinned and stepped out in front of her. "We may be able to get a better clue of where he is by searching from the ground," he told the Goth, turning to look at her. "Ya know, by searching for bloodstains or something."

Sam nodded and followed her ghostly friend. The two walked along, carefully watching the ground for any trace of Tucker. After about ten minutes, Danny was beginning to feel hopeless. There were no footprints, no drops of blood, nothing. Danny sighed and stopped in front of an alleyway. "Where could he be?" he whined, beginning to tear up.

Sam could tell her friend was about to have an emotional breakdown, so she decided to boost his spirits. "Maybe we're looking in the wrong spots. Tucker could be in another area of town," she suggested.

Just as Danny was opening his mouth to agree, he heard an unearthly noise...it sounded like a snake's hissing. The halfa's head immediately shot up. The hissing was coming from right at the end of the alley!

"Wait here," he commanded Sam, his eyes narrowed down to green chips.

Sam took a step back. "OK...if...you say so," she replied. The tone in which Danny had commanded her was almost hostile, and that scared Sam. That was saying something big, as Sam was not the type of girl to be afraid of her own friend. She didn't even try to insist on following. Something was definitely wrong...

...

Danny cautiously approached the corner of the alley, his back pressed against the wall. With uncanny speed, Danny leaped out from behind the wall to see what was there. The half ghost boy gasped when he saw...nothing. The hissing had stopped as well. He grunted in frustration. "Well, Sam, I thought there was something here," he called back. "I guess I was wrong."

He didn't get a reply. "Sam?" Danny stepped out from behind the corner, expecting to see the raven-haired girl he called his best friend. She wasn't there. "OK, Sam, this isn't funny," Danny called, his heart beginning to beat faster. "This is no time for a joke!" The boy had been half-expecting to see Sam come out from some hiding place, but she never did. Not even a trace of her voice was heard.

He heard a shuffling noise coming from the other side of the building, near where he'd told Sam to wait. Danny ran to the sound, hoping he'd found his friend. "Sam? Are you there?" he shouted. The teen stopped in front of a second alley, expecting to see his friend's face. Sam wasn't there. The shuffling noise was nothing more than a stray cat burying its waste in some dirt. It ran, meowing, at Danny's abrupt arrival.

"Sam?" Danny frantically looked around, beginning to panic. "Sam? SAM?" His calls were answered by nothing. As his last resort, the halfa shot up into the air to see if he could catch a glimpse of his friend. The girl was nowhere to be seen. "Sam!" Danny wailed.

All of a sudden, his surpressed anger bubbled up like chemicals, then exploded. He roared, tears streaming down his face. "What else could go wrong?" he growled. Danny's better nature then cut into his thought life.

You know, it would be best to stay calm in this kind of situation. Just stay calm. Danny breathed hard, fighting the feral part of him which had a great deal of control over him these days. "Stay calm. Just stay calm," he told himself.

His head began to throb. Danny grimaced and held onto his head, attempting to make the pain go away. As soon as the pain ebbed away, his stomach growled. The halfa floated down to the ground, clutching his stomach with his arms. It couldn't be possible to be so hungry after only an hour since eating. He was really starting to feel like a starving, fierce, wild animal in captivity. His captors were his family and friends. They were truly the only things keeping him tethered to his humanity; the only things keeping him from becoming an animal.

"Or a monster," the voice said.

Danny growled at it. "I feel like a monster," he said aloud, "but that doesn't mean I am one." He flew off in the direction of FentonWorks, slowly nearing the end of his rope. That rope was the thin line between his sanity and insanity, human and animal. If that last line snapped, it would be the end.

DP...TT

"I feel he's very close," Serpent, in man form, told Slade. "One more step, and the child crosses the border."

"Excellent, Serpent. You've done your job well." Slade smirked beneath his mask. "Just hope he doesn't put up too much of a fight. You saw what he did to Vlad."

Serpent clenched his fist. "I've got Daniel in my grasp," he chuckled, eyes shining crimson. "He won't be able to lay more than a scratch on me, if anything."

"You may just eat those words, Serpent," Slade warned. "Pride is any man's downfall."

The man in black armor smirked, his eyes twinkling with malice. "Ah, but I'm not all man, am I?' Serpent purred, morphing himself back into a snake. The man and reptile laughed in unison.

...

"Gee, it sure is boring around here," Beast Boy muttered, lying spread-eagle on the floor of the Titan's Tower den. He had been there pretty much all day, bored out of his skull. "Isn't there anything interesting to do? Ya know, something other than what we've been doing these past few days?"

"Hmm... nope," Raven replied dryly.

"By the way, Raven, what have we been doing these past few days?" Beast Boy pressed.

Raven sighed heavily, thouroughly exasperated with the green-skinned boy. "I've been reading, Robin's been in his room, Cyborg's been channel surfing, Starfire's been Starfire, and you've been collecting dust."

Beast Boy groaned, not reacting as he usually did to Raven's droll sense of humor. Instead, he morphed into a cat and curled up on the floor. "So bored," he meowed.

Raven looked back inside her book. The shapeshifter obviously didn't have Slade on his mind. Same old Beast Boy, she thought.

TT...DP

Danny arrived at his house and transformed back into his human form. Before he even entered the house, something felt wrong. The place felt... deserted. Oh no, Danny thought, a sick feeling rising in his throat like bile. Mingling that with his hunger, it made the teen want to puke. He opened the door, stomach lurching in fear. "Mom? Dad? Jazz?" Danny called, frightened. He knew they weren't there after he got no response.

Danny's knees began to shake. He fell down onto his knees, feeling the feral urge to destroy rising up from within him. A growl rise in his throat. His eyes flared toxic green. Wait... maybe they're just somewhere else right now, he mentally reasoned with himself, causing his eyes to fade black to blue.

"They didn't have anywhere to go, remember?" the voice hissed.

Danny gritted his teeth. They didn't have anywhere to go that night. He was so angry! He had never felt so much rage before. It was uncanny! And so much undirected hate... a hate for everything! He didn't care what he had to do to get this anger out, he just had to!

There was a fierce snarling in his head, obviously not of human origin. It wasn't English, yet Danny understood it perfectly. "LET ME OUT!"

The halfa fought the urge and tried to ignore the snarl, but his efforts only gave him a violent headache. It almost felt like a wild animal was trying to claw its way out of his head! He cried and gasped in pain, now writhing around on the floor holding his head. Tears of agony fell from his eyes.

"LET ME OUT, YOU MAKE PAIN STOP," the wild, sepulchral growl continued.

"Never," Danny whimpered, opening one clenched-shut eye. But Danny just wanted the pain to stop, and he was too weak... too tired... to fight it. He took a deep breath and slowly exhaled, allowing his instincts to take over.

...

Another cliffhanger, this time with so many more questions than before! If you think you knew who the voice (not the growl) was, you were probably right. xD

This is where things start to get on the crazy and weird side, so beware.

P.S.: All you Dash haters, I think you'll enjoy the next chapter a lot...