As Danny Fenton, I was, or so I thought, about as normal a teenage boy as I could be. I spent too much time playing computer games and watching TV, got relatively low grades, and watched the hot girls at our school—mostly Paulina—with glazed over eyes and mouth open, drooling slightly. Yes, as Danny Fenton, I'm a bit of a playboy. In fact, I keep my Playboys hidden conveniently in my math book and ogle at them while Mr. Lancer prattles on about finding the value of x, as if I cared. I had dreams of making love to Paulina, of caressing her soft breasts and exploring the inside of her mouth with my tongue. It was my ultimate sexual fantasy as Danny Fenton.

However, as Danny Phantom, it was not. As my alter-ego Danny Phantom, my preference as to what was best to masturbate to changed. Drastically. As Danny Phantom, I saw Paulina but there was no stiffening of my cock beneath my jeans. Sam could stay by my side and aide me while I fought my ghost enemies, but my heart no longer fluttered in my chest, a flutter that soon dropped to a deep thudding as I stared at her, wishing she'd take off those tights and show off her long legs.

As Phantom, I felt none of these sensations; instead, it was like this:

I had first noticed the drastic shift a few weeks ago when I'd been roaming the town's empty streets late one Thursday night, looking for ghost activity to stomp out like an ill-advised cop. It was extremely quiet, probably the most quiet it had been in months.

Feeling my patrolling was useless—and knowing I had two tests and a presentation to give the next day—I decided to turn in. it must have been midnight when I started the trek back to my house, which was maybe four or five blocks away.

I had not gotten far when I saw him. Vlad Masters, our town's mayor, also in his ghost form, sitting on a bench in the park, smoking a cigarette and expelling the smoke in long, deep puffs of breath.

I was confused to say the least; I didn't know he smoked.

He looked very relaxed, but he was somehow very alert. His eyes were bleary and the lids were half closed, but his gaze found me immediately, standing maybe a football field's length away from him. He regarded me for a long moment, his drunken expression unchanging, then closed his eyes and took another deep drag on his cigarette.

He took his hand away, leaving the cigarette burning in his mouth, then crossed his muscular arms over his chest. His legs were also crossed casually, and he was slumping. He kept his eyes closed as he took now small, quick puffs on the cigarette—I guessed it was easiest to smoke it that way if he wasn't holding it, but then, I had never smoked, so I didn't know—, completely ignoring me.

It didn't necessarily make me hostile—I was glad he wasn't attacking and I wasn't suspicious. Our relationship had come to something of commensalism—a term I'd learned in Biology class when I wasn't finding my issue of Playboy to be particularly interesting, which supposedly meant one organism benefits while the other is neither harmed nor helped. I thought that term best described Vlad and I now, because while he lived in and benefited because of my town, I was more or less forced to accept his presence—but he was not hurting me.

Often, I saw him on my way home from school or our paths crossed at the mall or the gas station. Of course, I was not pleased at seeing him, but I would not go out of my way to snarl if he was not bothering me. I would leave my face expressionless, even though he always smiled at me. When we did see each other, he always made an effort to nod in greeting and he would often pat my back or squeeze my shoulder as he passed by me. In turn, I usually said nothing. I figured that as long as he was not hitting me, it didn't bother me very much. However, one time it did.

I remember I'd been leaning against the counter in Amity's one and only gas station, flipping through a new issue of Playboy, when he walked in. I didn't realize it was him, because I did not look up from the woman in the issue I was ogling at until I felt four fingers brush my erect cock very lightly. I yelped slightly and looked up to see Vlad walking away from me toward the refrigerator cases. He didn't turn and look back at me, and he didn't look suspicious—in fact, he looked very relaxed—but we were the only two in the store besides the cashier who was in the bathroom, so I called out, "What the fuck's your problem, asshole?"

Vlad paused and turned around. He was smiling a little. "Hmm?"

"You touched my cock!"

"Oh, did I?"

"Yes!"

He smiled at me. "I'm sorry, Daniel. I didn't mean to."

I sneered in disgust. "You'd better not have. I realize you're still a virgin, but you're not getting anything from me."

He laughed, his face lighting up, and turned away, waving a hand in dismissal. He picked out a bottle of iced tea from the case. "Oh, aren't you a funny boy. And horny. Are you enjoying your Playboy, little badger?"

For some reason, this made me harder. I blushed. "I…uh…"

He closed the case, turned, and walked over to me with a broad smirk on his face. When he was so close I could feel his warm breath stirring the spikes of hair on my head, he leaned down and regarded my front for what seemed like a humiliating eternity. I was about to shove him away when he looked back up at my face, smiled, and ruffled my hair. He then took his tea to the counter, set it down, and stood there, waiting for the cashier to return.

"I assume you've lost your virginity then, Danny?"

"Well…no…"

He paused for a moment, then turned to look at me. He was smirking and his eyes were wide and glowing with something. Then I could not decipher this something, but I knew it was deep and passionate and longingly but somehow indecent. I should have known the word; it should have rolled off my tongue, because I had plenty of it for the hot bodies in my magazines. I know now what I should have known then—it was lust.

This was really the only time he'd genuinely bothered me, but I convinced myself he had not purposefully touched me in such a way, had not looked lecherously at me at learning of my virginity. It had been a month or so ago, and after awhile, I'd mostly forgotten about the incident, because our later run-ins had been completely PG.

I guess I'd been comfortable enough with him then, and that night I walked over to him instead of going home, as I should have—and I regret not doing so. I guess I'd been curious as to why he was out smoking in the park at midnight on a Thursday like one of Amity's hoods, so I thought there was no harm in stopping to ask.

But there was. It was the mistake that condemned my life thenceforth.


I stood in front of him until he acknowledged me.

He slowly opened his eyes and stared at me, his face unchanging for a long time, his body unmoving. Then, he smiled slightly, unfolded his arms, and removed the cigarette from his mouth.

"There you are," he said softly. "I've been waiting."

"Waiting?"

"For you to come over."

"Oh."

"Why don't you sit down?"

"I just came to ask why you were out so late," I said slowly, regarding him with uncertain—and probably scared-looking—eyes.

"Sit down and I'll tell you."

"I really have to get home."

"Come now, a few minutes won't make a difference. Now be a good boy and sit down."

Slowly, I did, despite the fact that I was extremely uncomfortable. Something about how he was talking to me, how soft his voice was or maybe how it sounded like he was purring, or how he was choosing his words, but it made me uncomfortable. I'm not sure how I made myself sit down, or why, but this, I think, was the ax that beheaded me.

He smiled and patted my knee after I was situated next to him. Then he leaned back again and his focus seemed to drift away from me again. He stared off into the distant woods blankly, taking long, deep drags on his cigarette. I watched him from the corner of my eye, avoiding direct contact for fear he'd see me and come back into reality, and wondered how I would get home when he seemed so intent on keeping me here; when I tried to move slightly away from him, the hand that did not hold the cigarette fell on my knee and stayed there. I did not think it directly, but I knew in the back of my mind that I was trapped.

"Vlad, I really need to get home," I said nervously after ten minutes of sitting there stiff as a statue.

He finally looked at me, his hard, calculating expression softening. He shook his head. "You don't."

"I do. I have to get up for school in five hours."

"I can get you out of school, Danny."

"It's cold."

"How about a drag? It will warm you up."

My eyes widened unconsciously. I shook my head. "I don't smoke."

"It will help you relax. You need to relax. I can sense your uneasiness." His fingers began to stroke the inside of my lower thigh, where his hand was resting, gently.

I shot up. "I have to…"

He pulled me back down, onto his lap, and wrapped his arms around me. "Stay here. Relax. There's no need to be worried, my little badger."

I felt his warm breath on the back of my neck, and when I felt him nip my ear, I remembered the gas station, and I knew the word.

Lust.