So, it's been forever since I updated. I'm not happy with this chapter at all, but it's the third draft and if I didn't post it now, I never would post it.
Thanks to my awesome beta, Rosalind2013! Also, thanks to one of my great RL friends, Rajana Stacey. She's pretty awesome and super amazing. If you want to check out her stuff, she has a Danny Phantom fic and a Merlin fic. /plug
Previously: Jack died. Vlad comes. Danny tries to get Clockwork to send him back in time and fails. He resolves to get rid of his powers.
"I don't want to see a counselor." Danny's voice was resolved. He and Jazz sat at the kitchen table, pamphlets scattered across the tabletop. Jazz frowned at him.
"No," he cut her off. He knew she hated when he did that. Her frown turned into a scowl momentarily, then smoothed out into a resolved line. He sighed mentally. She hated when he did that. Her frown turned into a scowl momentarily, then smoothed out into a resolved line. He sighed mentally. She hadn't gotten distracted enough.
His sister started again. "Danny, just listen to me for a second."
"No, Jazz!" Danny ran his hand through his hair in exasperation. She never listened. She seemed to think she was always right and it drove him crazy. "I don't need a counselor, I don't want a counselor, I'm not seeing a counselor." He already knew his argument wouldn't work. Her face was steeled with determination, not wavering once.
"You need to talk to a counselor about what happened."
Feeling his eyes narrow, Danny replied, "There's nothing to talk about." He tried to inject as much determination into his voice as Jazz had used.
"Danny," a touch of sympathy tempered the hard edge in her voice, "you need to talk about…" she paused for a second. It looked like she was searching for the words. "About what you saw."
"Leave it, Jazz!" She couldn't even say the words, but she expected him to talk about it with some stranger? Danny didn't think so. As he glared at her, he realized that she'd flinched back slightly. With a start, he noticed he was standing, hand on the table. He'd yelled and hit the table without realizing it. Blushing slightly, he leaned over to pick up the chair he'd been sitting on and knocked over. Straightening, he met Jazz's eyes and could tell that she was going to push the issue. She opened her mouth, and his phone rang. Sighing in relief, he grabbed the receiver.
"Hello? Oh, hey guys. Sure, I'll see you in a second."
He hung up and left the kitchen without looking at his sister. "I'm heading over to Tuck's."
"Danny, we're talking about this later!" Jazz called after him as he shut the door. For a second, he sagged against it before jumping off the stoop. Vlad's car wasn't at the curb, so he and Mom must still be at the bank. Apparently, Dad'd had a secret lockbox at the bank he hadn't told Mom about. She'd gone to get the contents and Vlad had gone with her, for moral support or something. Danny really didn't know what to think about Vlad anymore. He'd been with Mom almost constantly this past two weeks since Dad… Dad died, but he hadn't hit on her or anything. He'd acted… well, like Sam or Tucker were acting. Like a friend.
Danny shoved his hands into his pockets and walked down the street towards Tuck's. He was almost there when he felt the familiar frozen rush race through him. He gasped, his breath convalescing in front of him. He walked through it, ignoring the faint mist. He didn't bother knocking at Tucker's, just walked in and headed upstairs.
"Hey." Sam and Tuck looked up as Danny walked into the techno-geek's bedroom. He perched on the edge of the computer desk, before meeting Sam and Tucker's eyes. Sam lay on the bed, sprawled on her stomach, and Tucker sat in the chair that went with the desk.
"How's your mom feeling? Is Mr. Masters still around?" Amethyst eyes, full of concern, searched his.
Danny hadn't told his friends about Vlad and what happened in Wisconsin. He'd meant to, but it just never came up. Eventually, enough time'd passed that it would've been weird for him to bring it up. Besides, he'd thought that he wouldn't ever see Vlad again. All Sam and Tucker knew about him was that he was Mom and Dad's friend from college. Danny figured Vlad wouldn't be staying for too long, so there wasn't any need to worry them.
"Yeah, he is. Mom's… well, she's doing better. She's getting out of bed and getting ready for the day. She cleans a lot. I've never seen the house so spotless. She hasn't set foot in the lab, though."
"What about you?" Tucker lowered his PDA slightly as he queried the halfa.
Danny shrugged. "I've been better." It was hard. He didn't know how to act anymore. "Jazz wants me to see a counselor." The last sentence was said with a tone of disgust.
Tucker and Sam exchanged glances. Danny hated when they did that.
"Danny," Sam began cautiously, "Maybe she has a point."
Danny huffed, speaking with finality. "C'mon, let's play Doom."
The mouth of the alley loomed bright, a direct contrast to the light shadows that consumed half of the alleyway. Cars zoomed past occasionally, though not too often because it was a residential street. A mother and young blonde boy strolled along the sidewalk across the street. Danny leaned against a wall on the shadowed side of the backstreet, breathing heavily. The first thing to do would to probably go ask Tucker for advice. If anyone could find somehow to fix him, the techno geek could. Danny pushed off of the wall and took a couple steps onward. It was time to get to work and not delay this anymore. Danny's next step brought his forward progress to a stop. The teen looked down to see shards of brown glass littering the ground beneath and around his feet. They looked sharp, the bits in the sun gleaming, but they still shouldn't have gone through his… his shoes. He wasn't wearing shoes. He hadn't changed into day clothes that morning when he'd met Youngblood. Bare feet jutted out from purple pajama pants and Danny took a step back into the alley, hissing as he stepped on his left foot.
Gingerly, he balanced on his right foot, leaning against the brick wall, and brought up his left foot. A small trickle of blood leaked down to the side of his foot and Danny looked at the piece of glass sticking slightly out of his sole. He shouldn't have taken that second step backward. The glass would be so much easier to pull out if he hadn't shoved it in farther. He could get the bit out really easily, if he grabbed it with his fingers and turned that foot intangible, but that would involve using intangibility. Instead, Danny firmly gripped the glass and pulled it out slowly, biting down hard on his lip. It squelched slightly as Danny pulled it and he paled. It felt weird, the sensation of something inside his foot being pulled through and out. The shard finally came out, about the size of the top segment of his index finger, the top three-quarters red. Danny dropped it immediately and turned his attention back to his foot. The blood flow had increased, but not by too much. He'd probably be able to hobble on it, as long as he went carefully and slowly. He gently lowered his foot and gradually shifted his weight onto it. Pain spiked through his foot and he swiftly pulled it back up, off of the ground. This time, he set his weight deliberately on the outside rim of his foot so his foot was nearly sideways and took a step. It wasn't the most efficient way, but it would work.
Danny headed deeper into the alley with a few more practicing steps. He was slow, but he could move. Soft footsteps came from the other, darker end of the alley and he looked up to see who else was in there with him. He couldn't see the girl's face too well, but from what he could tell, she was a little shorter than average with dark hair cut very short. Her skin looked to be a beige or almond. She looked pretty, from what he could see, and Danny felt his face heat up at the memory that he was currently in his pajamas.
"Uh, hi." Danny smiled slightly at her. "I'm Danny. I'm not usually dressed like this, really."
She laughed slightly, an almost sad sound that made Danny hesitate. "Cute."
Danny bristled slightly at the words, but, again, the tone made him pause. There was something off about this girl and the way she was acting. It wasn't just the fact that she was in an alley, talking to Danny, but something in her voice and the way she shifted her weight slightly towards him. She stood, feet planted shoulder width apart and knees bent. Danny felt foreboding flood through him. He should get out. He should go. He took a shaky step backwards.
"Don't go yet," Danny stopped, the slightest thought that maybe he should listen to her nudging at his thoughts. "We aren't finished yet."
Danny took a half-step away, pushing aside the thought that said he should stay. There was something going on and Danny didn't want to know what it was. But… maybe he should stay. It couldn't hurt, could it?
"Actually," The voice was familiarly smooth and cultured, coming from the deeper shadows beneath the fire escape on the right, "You are." Danny's head snapped to the side as Vlad Plasmius stepped into view, the shadows in the alley seeming to become darker as he appeared. His eyes were hard and his voice was stern. What was Plasmius doing here? He wasn't supposed to be in Amity yet! Danny thought that he was doing business in California today, though that apparently wasn't true. Danny readied himself to transform if he needed to, then glanced back at the girl. He couldn't give away his secret, not in front of a stranger. Plasmius had planned this well. Danny wouldn't be able to get out of the alley before one of them could stop him, and he couldn't change in front of this girl. He was trapped.
Danny turned his glare back to Plasmius. The man wasn't looking at him, though, instead still looking at the girl in front of Danny. The sound of a step brought Danny's attention to the girl as well. She had backed up, watching Plasmius warily. Plasmius lifted his chin slightly, almost challengingly, and the girl let out a barely audible breath. She looked over to Danny once more, but turned and walked quickly out of the alley as Plasmius took a deliberate step in her direction. The man's stood there until the girl had been out of sight for a few seconds. Danny stood stiff, waiting for Plasmius to turn on him. Uneasy disbelief filled him as dark rings appeared around the man's waist, changing him into Vlad.
He turned to look at Danny, a tired, exasperated smile on his face. "Hello, Daniel. Do I dare ask why you found it appropriate to be attired only in your pajamas?"
Danny didn't return the smile. Instead, he crossed his arms and scowled. "What do you want, Plasmius?" Surprise crossed the older man's face. Danny didn't buy it. Vlad being here wasn't a coincidence, Danny just knew it. He should never have trusted the man to be around Mom and Jazz, never trusted the man to have changed. "And what was that about?" Danny had more questions, but the teen held them back. One at a time would work better then all of them at once. That way, Vlad wouldn't be able to only answer the questions he felt like answering.
"Daniel, calm down." Vlad's tone was placating and disapproving, only making Danny bristle more. Yeah, Plasmius appears out of nowhere, chases away a strange girl, doesn't tell Danny anything important, and expects him to be calm? Yeah, right.
"Who was that, and what was that about?" Danny glared at the older man, daring him to evade the questions. Instead of fighting or getting angry, like Danny expected him to, the halfa shrugged, frowning thoughtfully.
"I don't know exactly who she was, Daniel. But, trust me," His tone darkened as he stared down the alleyway, "Her intentions towards you were not benign." In the shadows, Danny could see the man's eyes gleaming red. It chilled Danny, as the sight always did, but it was strange to see it directed at someone other than him. In fact, Vlad hadn't so much as glared at him in the past two weeks. It was so messed up. Then again, everything in his life was now.
"Should I trust you?" Vlad's wide eyes snapped over to meet Danny's.
"What? Daniel, do you even need to ask that?" The man seemed genuinely hurt. Danny wasn't buying it. Vlad was a good actor. The circumstances were just too much for him to let go of without a proper explanation.
"Let's see. You're here. You aren't telling me what's going on, and that whole… whatever it was was weird. So, I'll ask you again. What do you want, Plasmius?" Vlad sighed. It wasn't angry sounding, so Danny relaxed his guard a bit.
"Fine." That was… unexpected. Surprising. Not at all what Danny thought would happen. Vlad explaining something without gloating about having the upper hand was something that had never happened before. There had to be a catch. "There was a business dispute with someone I've been working with and he threatened you. I've dealt with the–"
"Wait," Danny interrupted, "He threatened me? Why would he threaten me?" Danny's pulse sped up, his palms becoming sweaty, and his stomach twisting. "Does he know? Did you tell him something!?"
Vlad was shaking his head. "He doesn't know anything about your secret. Anyway, I've dealt with the situation, so it won't happen again, and I flew back here to make sure that the person he had already sent did not succeed in taking you. I saw the glowing and headed over here."
Danny opened his mouth to ask again why they would want him when something else the man said caught his attention. "Glowing? What glowing? Nothing was glowing." He searched his mind. Nothing had been glowing. Not anything that he had noticed, anyway. Well, the alley had gotten darker when Vlad stepped out, but that was just… it wasn't… real. It had just been a trick of his mind, or a trick of the light. Or maybe the trick of the light had been light going away.
Vlad was looking down the alley in the direction the girl had left again. "Her eyes were glowing. Her fingers were too, as she was reaching for you."
What? "She wasn't reaching for me!" Vlad turned to look at him, a concerned frown on his face.
"Daniel, she was about to grab your arm before I interrupted her grasp. If I hadn't done that, she would've had you." Vlad's frown darkened as his eyes darted to the side. "I barely missed her."
Danny followed Vlad's stare to the bricks of the alley where a dark scorch mark that had definitely not been there a few minutes ago. Danny gaped at it. "What? You tried to shoot her?"
Vlad furrowed his brow as he met Danny's gaze. "You don't remember anything of this, do you?"
Danny didn't answer, looking back to the scorch mark with wide eyes. He didn't want to trust Vlad. He'd admit it. He'd promised himself that he'd give Vlad a chance, though it was the last thing he wanted to do. The scorch mark on the wall spoke for itself, though. He wanted to fight, to argue against the man, and drive him away from his family for good. He couldn't do that, though. That thought was enough to pull up his anger again, though he fought to push it down. Not answering would be the best idea at the moment, he decided. Instead, Danny turned to walk away. He didn't get more than a step before he stumbled, having forgotten about his cut foot. Gentle hands caught him, one reaching across his chest to his arm and the other catching his shoulder. Danny jerked backwards and away, stepping on the outside of his foot again.
"What did you do to your foot?" Vlad's voice was stern, not helping with Danny's temper at all. He clenched his fist, looking away.
"It's none of your business." Light footsteps approached him and he closed his fingers tighter. Why couldn't Vlad just leave? Why did he have to hang around? What he came for was done.
"You were bleeding."
Danny frowned, looking down to his foot. Wouldn't he still be bleeding? The sole of his foot was red and black, covered in blood and dirt from the sideway. He couldn't tell without looking closer, so, with a wary glance at Vlad, the teen hobbled to the wall of the alley and lifted his foot again. Vlad was right. Danny's eyes roamed over the skin, looking for the cut. He thought it had been just above his heel, but he couldn't find it. The skin, other than being dirty, looked perfect and unbroken. The boy prodded the area and then pulled back his hand, grunting in pain through gritted teeth. He couldn't find the wound, but it hurt as badly as if the glass was still in his foot.
"Impressive." Danny jolted in surprise. He hadn't heard Vlad's approach. The man was examining Danny's foot as well. "It looks as though you've developed your healing abilities. Your powers are growing at an extremely rapid rate."
At his words, Danny felt sick. "Wait. This is part of the ghost half?" Vlad glanced up at him, probably at the tone in his voice, before looking down to the area of where the injury had been.
"Yes. You've probably noticed that your injuries received in battle as a ghost heal extremely quickly, almost immediately, and never transfer when you transform? After a time, a version of this ability cultivates in your human form. Think of it as a layer of water, running around your body at all times. It heals anything superficial quickly and even prevents some things, like sunburns. Then, if you have a deeper cut, like this one, it will heal from the inside out. The downside to this, though, is that the site of the damage will be much more tender than it would be if it was healing normally as it heals and a while afterwards, like a lingering bruise." Vlad straightened. "It's quite a useful ability, though painful. Bruises fade overnight. Broken or more severe damage takes longer and sometimes needs medical intervention to heal properly, like a broken bone that needs to be set."
Danny closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. "Is there any way to turn it off?"
He could hear the surprise in the halfa's tone and guessed it was most likely written across the man's face. "Why would I try to do that?" Of course, Vlad Plasmius would never dream of letting go of his ghost powers. He loved every second of them. He had no idea of the problems they could cause because he just didn't care. Or maybe, the man was just lucky and had never had to worry about how his actions had hurt people he cared about. Danny doubted that Vlad had cared about too many people over the years other than Mom. Danny shook his head in answer to Vlad's question. He wasn't going to explain it to him. Just because it turned out that Vlad hadn't given Danny a reason to distrust him didn't mean that Danny liked the man. Carefully, Danny set his foot on the ground. He'd just have to be careful on his way home.
He took a few steps forward. He was slow, but he could do this. He headed towards the mouth of the alley. His house was only three blocks away. This wouldn't be too bad. One hand on the wall, Danny hobbled ahead, but closed his eyes in irritation at the voice still talking to him.
"What on earth do you think you're doing?" The words weren't demanding or angry, merely incredulous, but Danny's fist still clenched and his eyes narrowed. Was Vlad trying to tell him what to do again!? Danny was so sick of this. He was sick of Vlad hanging around and sick of people telling him what he could and couldn't do. He turned slightly to glare at Vlad from beneath his fringe.
"I'm walking. Is there a problem with that?" He spat, so tired. He just wanted to go back to sleep. He just wanted to fall back into that unconsciousness and let it take away all his anger and sadness. No matter how much he slept, though, he still felt exhausted. Nothing worked. If only he could just go to sleep and never wake up. It would be so much easier than what he had to deal with here. Sleep was mindless and easy. Nothing to worry about, no one to take care of. Danny couldn't do that, though. He couldn't do it to his family and friends, no matter how easy it would be. Danny had to keep going, keep getting out of bed for them.
He didn't want to listen to Vlad's answer. He wanted to just keep walking and pretend that nothing had ever happened. He wouldn't, though. He'd be civil, for Mom. "Daniel, you are in your pajamas and your foot is still sore. Why don't you fly home?"
Because he wasn't a soulless ghost who didn't care about anyone else. "I don't want to." After a moment of silence, Danny hobbled forwards again.
A flash of cold light washed over him and he began to turn in alarm but frigid hands seized his shoulders. The teen's eyes widened and he tried to twist out of the hold, but he felt the empty feeling of intangibility wash over him and his feet left the ground. Eyes wide as the ground grew smaller beneath him, Danny realized that this must be what his friends felt whenever he flew them – insecure and not in control. Danny didn't like the feeling. The ground literally blurred beneath them and they were in his room a second later. Danny stumbled as he regained his balance, disoriented, then turned to Vlad.
"What is your problem!?" Danny shouted as loud as he dared. He didn't want to bring Mom or Jazz up here. Vlad shimmered back into visibility, confusion crossing his face.
"What's wrong, Daniel?" The teens eyes flashed. How dare Vlad act like he hadn't done anything!?
"What do you think is wrong!? You grabbed me and took me somewhere! Since when has that not been considered bad!? Usually, it's called kidnapping, you insane frootloop!" The words burned as they left his mouth. Danny had never spoken the phrase with such malice before. It was something he said in exasperation or mild irritation, not with true malevolence. In response to the term, Vlad's eyes burned brighter, before he noticeably pushed down his reaction. The man opened his mouth, then closed it again. Finally, he shook his head.
"Don't, Daniel. Just don't." His voice was tight, almost dangerous. Danny just continued to glower at the halfa. The teen watched him swallow hard, before continuing. "Alright, then, Daniel. I apologize for trying to help." Without another word, he was gone.
Danny stood tense for another few seconds before his shoulders slumped. He thought that he was finally alone now. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of his bed. The mattress tempted him, but Danny turned his back on it. He was going to go to Tucker's. He needed to. His movements were automatic as he changed and pulled out his cell phone, dialing the techno-geek. He picked up after the second ring.
"Hey, Danny. What's up?" Tuckers voice sounded a little off and Danny realized with a bit of uncomfortableness that this was the first time he'd talked to Tucker since he snapped at Sam yesterday. Danny had almost forgotten completely about that. He cleared his throat slightly.
"Hey, Tuck. Are you busy right now?"
"Um, no. I'm not." The hesitation was clear, but Danny chose to ignore it.
"Great! I'll be over in a second." Inserting cheer into his voice, Danny turned to pull out a shirt and jeans from his dresser drawer, shifting the phone to his other hand.
"Dude, are you okay?" Danny stopped, sighing.
"I'm fine. I just need your help." His mom would be the best person to go to for information on ghosts, along with Vlad, but Danny had no plans to go to either. The next step would be the internet, and Tucker was an expert at technology.
If that didn't work… there were always the inventions in the basements, currently unused, that Danny could try. There was the Ghost Dreamcatcher, or Dad had made those gloves, those 'Ghost Gauntlets', Danny thought they were called, not too long ago. Those would probably work.
He'd try anything.
Please tell me what you think. I've been terrified to post this because it's so well liked and I want it to be the best. I've had an amazing reception and I thank you all for how awesome you've all been =D It makes me so happy whenever I see my favourites, follows, and reviews, not to mention views. Thank you so much! I love you guys =)
Let me know what you liked and didn't like and what you think I could do better and thanks for all the feedback so far! =D Have a great day!
Danny works on finding a way to get rid of his powers