A/N: A new story! Yay! I,m terribly sleepy right now but I couldn't let the day go by without uploading this. I hope you enjoy it. I can't promise to update regularly - school has me superbusy and finding time to write is getting harder - but I have the first few chapters of this fic ready and hopefully that will keep you satisfied until my writer's block, er, unblocks :-) Do remember to leave a review if you liked it.
The Incurable Condition
Tucker Foley squared his jaw and narrowed his eyes behind their rectangular lenses. He made a quick calculation in his head, carefully lining up his shot. There was a lot at stake here – honour for instance. Manhood. The timing, the release, the acceleration , had to be just right.
The ball rolled into the gutter.
Behind him, two girls burst into gales of laughter. Tucker's nostrils flared as he mournfully watched the ball disappear, the ten untouched pins gleaming under the fluorescent pink lighting.
"Dude!" his partner wailed.
Tucker finally turned around, swallowing hard. The girls were still in fits. There was no way he and Danny were going to catch up to them now.
"Sorry, man," he shrugged, taking his seat and crossing his arms. Danny dropped his face into his palms, grabbed fistfuls of his already messy hair and shook his head. This was humiliating. They were getting creamed – by Valerie, Queen of Girliness and Sam "Puts the Fun in Funerals" Manson no less.
Valerie focused her camcorder on herself. "Oh," she said, her voice full of insincere woe, "Tucker found the gutter again." Her expression brightened. "My turn," she chirped, handing the camera to her partner.
Sam took it and trained it on the boys. Tucker looked like he was trying to fold himself in half. Danny was watching Valerie through his fingers, as if he was in a horror movie. The Goth girl chuckled. For sixteen year old boys, those two could be such drama queens. She dropped a nacho into her mouth and crunched contentedly.
Valerie picked up her ball, did a little booty shake and stepped up to the line. Danny found a smile growing at his girlfriend's antics. His eyes lingered on her behind a little longer than they were supposed to. He knew from Sam's cough and none-too-subtle eye roll that she'd caught him staring. His face began to warm up.
Just as Valerie let go of the ball, Tucker yelled, " Ooga booga booga!"
But Valerie held her nerve and calmly released the ball. It sailed straight and true, knocking down all ten pins. She twisted around on her heel, a smug smile already filling her face.
"And that, gentlemen," she began, dusting her hands triumphantly, "is that."
She took a bow. Danny stood. "Hey, I'm man enough to admit defeat." He leaned on the table and rested an arm on Val's shoulder. She looked up at him, her smirk softening into something more tender. She reached behind him and pulled him closer, resting her cheek on his shoulder. Sam felt her smile give way a little.
"Aww," Val gushed sweetly, "you don't have to be cause WE GOT IT ON TAPE!" She jumped away from his hold and began doing another dance. "Uh huh, uh huh, it's my birthday, uh huh!"
Tucker folded his arms and huffed. "Yeah, well, if it had been Virtual Bowl 4, that would have been another story."
Sam stood and patted his head. "Whatever gives you hope, buddy." She added a soft, good natured punch to his cheek so that he knew she was joking. He grinned up at her.
Suddenly, the lights began to flicker. The pop music that had been streaming through the speakers (much to Sam's disgust) was replaced with static. The foursome looked around in confusion.
"What's going on?" Tucker wondered aloud. His eyes bulged as the bowling balls in the rack were surrounded by an eerie green light and began to levitate. Screams broke out as the balls began to fly through the air. Danny felt the telltale tingle of his ghost breath and tensed immediately.
"Everybody down!" he yelled and his friends were quick to oblige. "Get behind the counter!" Sam crawled away quickly, Tucker at her heels. Valerie was behind them but by the time they reached the counter where the attendant had kept their shoes, she was nowhere to be found. They knew better than to worry about her though. She was probably changing into her Red Huntress gear. The one Sam was worried about was Danny, who had taken advantage of the melee to transform into the white-haired, green-eyed ghost known as Danny Phantom. Peeking carefully above the counter, she and Tucker could see their friend engaged in battle with a pale figure sporting a yellow-and-black bowling shirt with a cape who had prodigiously proclaimed himself The Bowling King.
The King was launching fiery balls and pins at Danny, but the phantom was too quick. He dodged and countered, aiming his own ectoplasmic blasts at the missiles, causing them to explode. Sam felt herself be pulled down roughly. One of the pieces from a blown up ball had narrowly missed the top of her head. Tucker stared at her fiercely and she nodded, message received: Be careful.
Valerie, dressed as Red Huntress swooped in on her rocket-powered board. She hesitated when she caught sight of Phantom and her heart constricted with anger like it always did when she was around him. She hovered, her fingers tightening around her weapon.
"Get out of here!" he yelled over his shoulder at her. "I'll handle this guy." He swooped and aimed a blast at the bearded ghost. It missed narrowly.
"Not a chance, freak!" she shouted back. "I'm taking you both out!"
Phantom's eyes blazed in that frustrated, familiar way that she was sure was just for her. "Valerie, please! For once just listen! Don't be stupid!"
"Don't call me stupid!" she screamed.
Bowling King floated quietly, all but forgotten. His eyes darted between the teenage ghost and the hunter-girl like he was watching a tennis match. The tension between them crackled like electricity. He shrugged. As amusing as they were, it was time to take care of them.
"A seven-ten split," he gleefully mused, calling two of the largest bowling balls to himself. "Let's see if I can pick up a couple of spares!"
The ghost boy and the human girl were so focused on their altercation that they hardly saw the flaming balls hurtling towards them. They were thrown into opposite walls, with Valerie slamming into the large neon Ace Bowling sign that covered one wall. The sign flickered off with a loud buzzing sound and streams of sparks. The circuitry of her suit was exposed, but it looked like it had managed to absorb most of the missile's impact. Nonetheless, she lay slumped against the wall, unmoving and apparently, unconscious.
Danny, on the other hand had landed quite close to Sam and Tucker's hiding place. Sam, too concerned for her friend to care about the danger to herself frantically crawled over to him.
"Danny!" she screamed. The fall had taken a lot out of him. Temporarily stunned, he had reverted back to his human form. He groaned pathetically. Sam cradled his head in her hands, furiously repeating "Danny, get up" over and over. Her body was trembling and she sent up a silent, desperate invocation that her best friend would be all right and just get up.
When Danny's blue eyes fluttered open, Sam felt such relief it threatened to choke her. "Sam?" he mumbled. She could tell when it all came back to him, because he quickly morphed back into Phantom. "Get back behind the counter!" he ordered her, launching himself up.
A pained grunt called Danny's attention to the Red Huntress, who was slowly stirring, and by the looks of it, in a fair amount of agony. His stomach dropped as he watched Valerie's head loll back and he turned back to The Bowling King, brimming with fury. He had given this bottom tier fool a lot more time than he deserved. It was time to end this.
"That was your last strike," he yelled. He caught one of the flaming balls and smirked, "Prepare to get crowned." He let the energy in his hands build up and then let fly two fistfuls of ectoplasmic power at the other ghost.
The King fell to the ground and skidded to a stop. Tucker fished a Fenton thermos out of his backpack and sucked the ghost in before he could recover. With a deft twist of the lid, he threw the thermos back into his bag.
As soon as the ghost was gone, the lights returned to normal and the music resumed as if nothing had happened. That, coupled with sheer relief, brought hysterical giggles bubbling out of the bespectacled boy.
"Nice work Fenton," he congratulated him. "You really bowled him over!"
Sam rolled her eyes but didn't comment. "How are you feeling?" she asked Danny. Before he could reply, they heard the crunch of glass as Valerie shifted against the broken neon bulbs. She was awake! Acting quickly, Danny rose and phased through the ceiling. Sam grabbed the Tucker by the scruff of his neck and dragged him outside. By the time Red Huntress opened her eyes, she was the only one in the shell-shocked building.