Disclaimer: I do not own Danny Phantom
A/N: I wrote this story almost two years ago and I have to say that I'm not at all proud of this… My grammar was shitty at best and my writing style so freaking generic. I tried fixing it, but it came out different and forced.
Original artwork is by melancholychamomile from deviantart. Coloured image is by wooptyfriggindoo from deviantart.
CHAPTER 1: THE DEATH
Start: 16 August 2012
Done: 13 September 2012
Edited: 27 January 2014
Vlad panted really hard as he propped both of his tired hands on his knees. He and Danny were currently fighting The Ghost King as the result of his rash, poorly deliberated action. Danny was still fighting inside the Ecto-Skeleton which already took most of his powers. Vlad was just the same with him. He could feel his strength lessening by the seconds. He brought his hands up and started firing at the skeleton armies that were surrounding both hybrids. Impossible. There were too many of them. Every time he managed to defeat some, the armies would attach themselves again and continued fighting as if his attacks didn't even scratch at all.
He landed a few kicks and some more ectoblasts while dodging the swords the skeletons swung at him. Danny was still preoccupied with the king, Vlad trying his best to rid the skeletons so that the boy can seal Pariah away in his sarcophagus again. He heard a yelp of surprise from the younger hybrid to his far left. Danny must have gotten hit by the king yet again.
The man felt a rush of need in his adrenaline to aid the boy, but he knew that if he tried to aid him it would only make matters worse because then nobody would be taking care of the skeletons. So, he focused back on beating as many skeletons as he could instead, away from Danny and The King. Vlad made numerous clones of himself; each of them occupying themselves in beating the mass of skeletons farther and farther away from the grand fight currently taking place to his far left. Danny himself had made 4 clones, all of them wearing the Ecto-Skeleton as well.
Impressive. Four clones already? He thought amusedly.
Danny swung kicks and threw punches at the king along with one of his clones, the other three fighting the skeletons.
After some more kicking, punching, and several ectoblasts, Danny and his clones managed to push the king away into his sarcophagus, panting and pushing hard at the screaming king. He didn't look very well. In fact, the boy seemed like as if he was about to faint from all the pressures he had on him at the time. Vlad quickly flew to the boy, forgetting about his own fight with the skeletons. The clones can manage them for now. He brought up the key from his pocket, quickly locking the sarcophagus. Danny let out a shuddering breath as he changed form. The now human Daniel was panting really hard inside the Ecto-Skeleton. Seeing the boy changed form made Vlad revert back to his human half as well, as if remembering his sudden feel of fatigue from fighting earlier. They panted for some while, regaining their breaths. The skeleton armies were starting to disintegrate by now, albeit very slowly since they were in the ghost zone and the environment helped in maintaining their form for much longer than in the human world.
"Well Daniel, great job at saving the day, again," drawled Vlad, smirking smugly at the boy. He found it very amusing every time Danny reacted to his teasing, and this time was no different. He just couldn't help himself from driving the boy mad despite the aftermath of their dire situation.
Danny only glared weakly at him from inside his Ecto-Skeleton. The boy said nothing; he just kept on panting, trying to collect his breathing. He then got out from the suit with staggering feet, trying to regain his composure on the tiled floor of the king's castle. Once he managed to stand up straight, he gave the man a very scathing glare, eyes cold and devoid from any kind of emotion but pure anger and, dare Vlad say, hatred.
"I am so fed up with you Plasmius! How can you be so stupid at letting the king out in the first place? If it wasn't for your greed, I wouldn't have to waste my time and energy returning him back to his sleep!"
Vlad was a little taken aback by the boy's unusual show of anger. Usually, he would only shoot back some playful jibes or sarcastic remarks, but this time the boy was livid. Still, he replied him with a calm response.
"Calm down Daniel, I think you don't need to wear yourself out from all the shouting that I know you want to give me. We did manage to defeat the king after all, so just let it be bygones, and leave it at that."
"Bygones? BYGONES? How can you so easily say that Vlad? Why is it always me who ends up cleaning your mess?"
"Watch your tongue boy," growled Vlad menacingly. He actually knew that he was to blame for the entire fiasco, but it made it hard for himself to hear the boy saying it all to his face. The skeletons around them were still disintegrating, but they would occasionally throw attacks at both hybrids before dissipating away. Shrilling sounds could be heard from the skeletons, desperately trying to hold their forms together. They were writhing in agony, some trying to approach the hybrids but failing after several steps.
Danny narrowed his eyes at Vlad's tone and dodged an attack from one of the skeletons that was aimed at him. "What? You don't like the truth? Then let me say this so it could go through your thick head! IT IS ALL. YOUR. FAULT! Nothing good ever comes to me from helping you old man, why the heck are you so hell bent on making my life miserable?"
Vlad's eyes flashed a dangerous blood red at the boy's shouting. He didn't have time for this! He was weak from all the fighting before and all he wanted to do was to go home and have some rest. But the boy just had to rile him up. "Don't be so ungrateful you little rat! If it wasn't for me locking the king away for you, you would be dead by now!"
Danny dodged another ectoblast and two swords. He turned his face around to face Vlad again and yelled at the man, his voice hoarse from all the shouting before, "IF YOU HADN'T RELEASED THE KING THEN ALL OF THIS WOULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED!"
Vlad let out a frustrated sound from the back of his throat. He dodged an ectoblast by ducking and stood up straight to face the boy again, "Why Daniel, you always wondered why I like to make your life miserable; perhaps you should consider this first before shouting all hell at me. Why on earth's name do you always foil my plans!"
"Oh, I don't know, maybe because your plans just so happen to have my dad dead on the list, you marrying mom, world domination, and making me your perfect half-ghost son!" replied Danny sarcastically, glaring weakly at Vlad. He was already tired as well. He couldn't even transform to his ghost half because his energy was drained. If he could, he would have transformed by now and make Vlad see things his way by knocking it on his overly stubborn head, literally.
Unknown to the little hybrid, Vlad was currently having the same train of thought as the boy. He would have shot ectoblasts to shut that whiny little mouth up, but he didn't want to waste anymore energy. Instead, he only strode over to him and towered over the younger halfa menacingly. He then hissed vehemently at Danny,
"Get this through your dimwitted brain Daniel, I've seen your grades at school and they are certainly not outstanding, but surely, even you know that I became like this because of your oaf of a father!"
Danny looked slightly hurt at the jab about his intelligence, but he quickly changed the look into pure anger, "Well, sorry for staying up late fighting all your minions away, if it wasn't for you sending them to my hometown, I would have time to study! And don't call my dad an idiot!" he pointed his forefinger at the older man, "You have to stop blaming other people for everything that happened to you! If only you move on, you could be happy by now! Not pining after mom, or scheming another evil plan to ruin my day! Maybe you should really get a cat to keep yourself from being lonely!"
Several blasts and swords were thrown at them again. Both quickly ducked away, putting up a weak shield to avoid getting hit by the swords. They were both panting really hard; their shields too weak to completely cover them from getting hit by the sharp weapons. Several swords penetrated the shields halfway, though luckily, none have the chance to even graze the hybrids. Vlad was still towering over the boy. He raised his shield higher above his and Danny's head when another blast was directed at them. After the attacks were gone, Danny quickly shoved the man away and shouted frustratingly at the older hybrid,
"AGH! This isn't fair! What did I do to deserve this crap?"
"Life is never fair, Daniel. You should have learned that by now though I am not at all surprised that you haven't! After all, what kind of thing that your father could have taught you? I am now perfectly sure that you take after his simple brain, what with your entire nauseating hero notion to protect the ungrateful citizens of your town!
"Sometimes I wonder why you did this all, Daniel. Perhaps you want to be the hero because of all the disappointments directed at you; you want to drown it all away by being the so called savior. You're a sorry excuse of a living for doing this to yourself!" The man folded his arms on top of his chest, disgust coloring his voice. He didn't care anymore whether or not his words had hurt Danny; the phantom's own words had hurt him a little. If he was hurt by it then good, he wanted it to hurt, to show him that he could also retaliated Danny's jabs and angry words with as much fervor.
Danny's face fell at hearing Vlad's blunt words. That one actually stung his heart. He quickly shouted back to mask his hurt with layers of resentment.
"I know that life isn't fair Plasmius! If life were fair, I wouldn't have to fight the ghost king! If life were fair, I would be at school right now with no ghost powers, living a normal teenage life! If life were fair, I would have time to sleep and study so that mom, dad, and Mr. Lancer wouldn't be disappointed at me all the time! Heck, if life were fair, you wouldn't be here right now and make my life a living hell!"
Vlad's eyes were now completely red although he was still in his human form. He raised one of his hands-
and struck the boy hard across his left cheek.
To say that Danny was surprised was an understatement. He was thrown back several steps, left cheek burning from the hit. He cupped his reddened side with his hands and stared, shocked, blue eyes wide.
"If life were fair Daniel, you wouldn't be born."
He could feel tears of frustration, and pain, and hurt collecting in his eyes. Why? He felt like curling, like crying, like hiding under his blanket every night like he used to when he was still a kid, afraid and sad and lonely and miserable while Mom and Dad and Jazz were all downstairs, eating dinner, laughing at Dad's jokes and thinking that he was already stood there, hand still half-raised, face full of such hate, such loathing. Was all really for nothing? He didn't want to look weak, he quickly suppressed them back. With a shuddering breath, he lowered his eyes, his hands that were clutching his cheek trembling slightly. If all the words from before had only stung him, that one last sentence from Vlad had struck him, as hard as when Vlad had backhanded him.
This isn't fair...
Why was it always him? Why was it always him who must suffer through all the disappointments, anger, and most of all, hate? Everybody hates him. Damn it, even his own parents hate him in his ghost form and were always disappointed in his human half, for all the bad grades, for the tired gazes he gave them in the morning, the yawns and unfinished breakfasts, all resulted from staying up late fighting and getting bruised and for what? Sam would say something snarky about him being late to accompany them, and Tucker would just shook his head in again, disappointment, whenever he was late for their movie nights or hang outs.
He was bullied at school, shunned from his peers, disliked by his teachers, invisible to most eyes.
It was all part of his payment for saving the town regularly.
Maybe Vlad was right. Maybe he was a big disappointment to everyone. The world seemed to hate him so much.
He was nothing.
He meant nothing to most people in his life.
He was just an annoying pebble in everybody's shoes.
Danny's breath hitched from all these thoughts. He kept on cradling his left cheek because it was still pulsing painfully, because it hurts so much, because it was burning and he deserved it. His head was lowered, weary eyes staring at his worn out shoes. He needed new shows. He needed attention. He wanted Mom to ask, "Danny, I think we need to buy you new shoes." because that means caring. Because that means Mom still looks out for him. Because that means someone was always concerned about him. But it wasn't like that, it wasn't true, it never happened anymore.
His mind was shrouded with anger and hatefulness for himself. He too, felt disappointed at himself that he couldn't do anything right for just once in his life. Everything he did was always wrong.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
And everyone didn't seem to care that he sacrificed everything for them. Not that anyone knew anyway. That he had given up his own dream to go and see the vast beauty of space so that he could protect them. Not with all the grades. He was just a failure.
Vlad was right.
For once, he had to admit that the older halfa was correct.
The older man couldn't see the boy's expression because his head was still lowered to the ground; half of his face covered with trembling hands. Vlad felt a little uneasy at the boy's silent form. Danny didn't even say anything awful to him after what he did, nor did he try to hit the man back.
To be honest, Danny didn't have the energy to be angry anymore. Besides, what the man had said to him was true, so he couldn't say anything much about it either. The shrilling screams from the skeletons were the only thing that could be heard to both hybrids, aside from their breathing. He snapped his head up, ready to scream insults back at the man, if only to cover his hurting pride.
Just when he was about to open his mouth, he saw something, long and sharp and gleaming green flying towards Vlad.
And the man wasn't looking; his eyes were solely focused on the boy.
It was one of the skeletons' swords. Vlad didn't hear nor see the sword coming at him. But Danny did. He quickly ran over to the older hybrid while shouting rather panicky to warn the man,
Vlad was startled when Danny shouted at him. He saw the boy running rather frantically to him. Still angry, he intended to push him away. But before he could do anything to keep the brat far from him, the young phantom had successfully pushed him sideways. The man was caught unprepared and he yelped in complete surprise. He stumbled, feet swaying and because he was still weak, the man fell to the cold floor of Pariah Dark's castle. His side collided painfully with the hard tile.
How dare him! The boy had just pushed him without an ounce of concern, care, or anything for that matter! He had had enough of Danny's snappy, cocky attitude.
Vlad pushed his body up using his elbows, glaring at the fallen form of the boy. He must have stumbled after pushing Vlad. How clumsy of him. Then again, the boy was always so careless and rash, not to mention, extremely clumsy. He quickly stood up and strode over to the young boy. Danny was laying sideways, his back facing Vlad. He was curling himself up into a ball.
"Why you little rat!"
Vlad grabbed the boy's shoulder a bit too harshly and forced the little hybrid to turn around and face him.
What Vlad saw made his words died in his throat, eyes widening at the sight before him, mouth gaping.
Danny was clutching his chest, eyes squinted shut in pain. Occasional whimpers forced their way out from the boy's gritted teeth.
A glowing sword was embedded deeply into his chest, near his heart.
Everything came crashing down on Vlad. The boy didn't push him because he wanted to spite the man. He was trying to save him. His attempt was successful; Vlad didn't get hurt by the sword.
But the boy did.
Sickening silence fell around them; the skeletons were finally gone after one last ear-splitting scream, as if knowing they had succeeded in hurting one of the hybrids.
"Daniel? Daniel! Daniel, can you hear me?"
Dan... iel… hear… me… me…
His voice echoed in the vast, empty room. He frantically shook the boy's shoulders, shouting rather desperately at him. Danny's breathing was ragged, wheezing painfully. He wearily opened his eyes, both looking glassy and slightly dazed. His blood dripped out from the hole the sword had made in his chest, soaking into the boy's pristine white shirt. He looked over to Vlad, eyes lidded and seemed to be staring ahead— not really looking at the man at all. He choked on his breath, coughing and hacking, trying to fill his lungs with oxygen greedily. The boy's cough drew up blood to his pale face, his hands too shaky to wipe them off. The imprint of Vlad's hand from the hit earlier could be seen clearly on his left cheek, making the man felt guilt-stricken at the sight of it. Here the boy that had saved him and how did he repay him? By calling Danny a meaningless rat and giving a cold mark on his face.
The piercing smell of blood permeated the air, suffocating them with its metallic scent. The smell of Danny's blood.
"Vlad..." His voice was raspy, gasping for air. He kept his stare straight at Vlad as hot barrages of tears fell from his numb stare. His eyes looked hurt, not just because of the pain that was caused by the sword, but Vlad knew; was caused by his own words as well. The man felt the guilt in his chest throbbing again. Tugging, ripping, and shredding at his heart.
For the very first time in his whole life, Vlad truly understood the meaning of utter fear.
"Daniel, stay— oh god— stay awake! Keep still, I'm going to remove it."
He reached out to grab the sword; intent on to turn the offending object intangible and removing it from the shaking boy.
But Danny stopped him.
He grabbed Vlad's hand that was reaching out for the sword, curling his small fingers around the man's forearm.
"I'm sorry… I'm sorry… I'm s-so sorry," Daniel was now crying openly, his body wracking with sobs after sobs from the pain in his chest, the sight of it made tears prickling at the edge of the man's eyes as well.
"I'm sorry for e-everything… I'm sorry... sorry…"
"No Daniel it's alright, there's nothing for you to be-"
"Vlad," Danny cut Vlad's words with his raspy voice, so small that it heard more like a whisper, "I don't hate you… I never... ha-hate you…"
A pregnant pause. Everything seemed to still after those words were heard.
Vlad could only stare unbelievingly after hearing the unexpected sentence making their way out of his adversary's lips, a hand still supporting the boy's shoulders. Danny kept his stare all the while at the man, eyes still leaking with tears and breath hitching every now and then, waiting for the man's response as he tightened his fingers around Vlad's forearm. He felt a bit stupid after saying that to Vlad. Of course he wouldn't say anything back to him. Even in his weaken state, the man still hated him. Danny felt very sadden by this. His breath hitched again as he waited for Vlad to say anything, anything at all to him. But he just kept staring, body rigid and eyes flashing with unreadable emotions, face completely blank— devoid from anything.
He was a little disappointed that Vlad held onto the silence, silence that seemed to suffocate them both with its ominous quietness. He so badly wanted the man to say something back, to say that he didn't hate him too.
Perhaps he had hoped for too much.
Maybe Vlad really hated him that much. After all, what reason did the man have not to hate him? He was only a nuisance in the older hybrid's life. Nothing more. After more silence, Danny just couldn't keep up with it anymore. He sadly averted his eyes to stare at anything but the man in front of him, breath slowing, feeling very stupid and ashamed.
Why did Vlad have to hate him that much?
Even until now?
The pain flared angrily in his chest. He whimpered painfully, eyes squeezing shut, back slightly arching from the unbearable feeling. A cry tore from his lips, this time the pain was much more intense; his body shaking violently from all the sobs, though he kept his voice down; afraid that he would disgust the older hybrid.
God, he felt like such a baby.
At least the man could have his wish now; Danny would no longer be in his life. He could feel his body giving up from the searing pain and his heart beating even slower.
Still sobbing, Danny quietly whispered to the man again, sniffling as he slowly uncurled his fingers from Vlad's forearm- after all, he was sure that the man didn't want to be touched by him if he could help it, so Danny was doing him a favor by releasing his hold.
"I just wish… wish that you don't hate me too."
The pain had reached its point by now. Danny couldn't keep his eyes open anymore; he felt his mind and body giving up to the pain. Exhausted, his tired body became lax, slumping in Vlad's hold; eyes rolling closed as sweet darkness coiled him in its dark confines. The pain was forgotten entirely; all Danny could feel was only the comforting numbness.
And he welcomed it. The darkness.
He didn't even stir. Vlad hastily grabbed the sword and turned it intangible. The sound of metal dropping to the floor could be heard as the loud clank reverberated on the huge walls of the castle. He quickly bandaged the boy's chest with ectoplasm, trying to stop the blood from flowing. Danny's breathing was slower than before and became even less apparent now.
With his eyes still closed, he suddenly gave a last shuddering outtake and his body stilled.
Danny was now completely limp in the man's hold, unresponsive and…
Vlad had just gotten one of his many demented wishes granted.
The phrase saying about being careful for what you wish for was true.
He panicked even more, shaking the boy's shoulders desperately. Danny's head lolled back and forth from all the shaking, but he still didn't open his eyes.
"Oh god, oh god, I'm… I'm sorry! I'm sorry as well!"
There were so many things that the man regretted by now. He wished he had said it all to Danny when the boy was still conscious.
Now the small hybrid would never know that he was sorry too.
Or that the man didn't hate him.
He just realized this when the fear in his heart emphasized everything he felt for the boy— the young hybrid was important to him. He had unknowingly loved the boy more than life itself.
"I don't hate you Daniel! I don't! I never did Daniel— oh Jesus— DANIEL! STAY AWAKE!"
Vlad's voice became hoarse with each passing second as he waited for Danny to give any reaction. He touched the boy's wrist nervously, checking for a pulse indicating that Danny was still alive, just wasn't breathing at the moment.
But he could feel nothing.
With a dawning realization that the boy was truly dead, Vlad tightened his grip on the boy's shoulder as he looked down to Danny's pale, tear-stained, lifeless face. His heart broke then and there as he stared at the young hybrid's ashen feature. Even in his death, the boy's face stayed looking very innocent and angelic. What would he give to have the boy there again with him, happy, healthy, smiling and alive. Nothing in this world could ever replace the boy. How could he be so blind? How could he have ever thought Danny as a nuisance in his life?
He cradled the small form of the boy close to his body, one of his hands supporting the little badger's head while the other placed on the small of his back. He hugged Danny close to him as sobs escaped his own lips. He kept sobbing as he rocked the boy's body back and forth along with him, head buried in Danny's bony shoulder.
The man truly regretted everything that he ever did to the small hybrid. Even with all the cruel things he threw at him, Danny still didn't him, heart still as pure as gold, as forgiving as ever while Vlad was the complete opposite, treating him like an easily discarded pawn.
Now he died thinking that Vlad hated him; that he meant nothing in the man's life. Vlad shamefully had to admit that that was his thought when the boy was still there. Now that Danny was gone, he finally realized that he needed the boy.
You never know what something truly meant to you before you lose it.
All these times, he had so unfeelingly hated the boy. He had wanted him to have never been born, had sneered at Danny's idea of peace and justice, and even had the gall to announce it to the boy as naïve and nauseating, completely ridiculous, thus hurting his feelings. Now he finally realized that Danny was the best gift this cruel world had ever given to him. He wasn't even sure that he would be happy now with Danny gone from his life, even if now he finally have the chance to have Maddie without the young hybrid there to prevent it from happening.
"Daniel, I'm sorry… I'm sorry… just please stay little badger..."
The words sounded hollow to his ears. He knew, even with all the pleading, those crystal blue eyes would never look at him anymore. But he couldn't stop the pleading; he wanted to cling onto something, to at least have a sliver of hope that Danny would open his eyes once again.
And be there with him.
But it was too late.