Chapter 53

The pain was more than he expected when he forced his exhausted body to move. Screaming. Screaming was the usual response to the searing pain in his hip, to the sight of flesh ripped open. But his mind blanked, completely. He couldn't seem to do anything beyond staring, mouth gaping open at his wound. His hands shook madly, hovering over where the plasma ray from Skulker's gun struck him. Somewhere in his head, he wondered what possessed him to think of jumping in the way of that attack, why he would ever take this kind of damage simply to stop the alien from killing the incubus that violated him.

There were people around him, that much he was aware of, people that were talking, making a fuss. But he couldn't process what they were saying or even what was happening beyond the pain in his hip. It wasn't nearly as bad as when the incubus ripped him open to die with his guts spilling out of him. But having died once didn't numb him completely from all pain, and it certainly didn't make getting shot in the hip feel like anything more than excruciating.

Then the pain was fading, his eyelids growing far too heavy to remain open. With the harsh bright light overhead, closing his eyes seemed like a good idea to avoid the stabbing pain of that light piercing into his eyeballs. His consciousness was slipping, hearing only faint mumbles of the people around him. The last thing that he was fully aware of was the hand gripping his tightly, comfortingly, wanting to keep him safe from the enclosing darkness.

The mumbling voices were still there when he woke, hand squeezing around the one that he held. His brow creased as he struggled to open his eyes. The shades on the windows were drawn shut and the light in the room was dim, thankfully. He recognized the room as a hospital immediately, the pristine white walls and stiff bed on which he rested cluing him in to his location. The pain was dulled but still somewhat there, and he guessed a lot of pain meds contributed to him not being in the immense pain that he remembered before falling unconscious.

His vision was still a little blurry, and he couldn't fully make out the face before him beyond blue eyes and blond hair. He thought maybe the person smiled, but he couldn't quite tell. Squinting his eyes, trying to focus his sight, took some time before he could make out Dash's face. He blinked a few times, trying puzzle out what Dash was doing here, though waking up with Dash's face being the first thing he saw was a nice experience.

"Hey," Danny said, his voice sounding hoarse and weak and barely more than a whisper.

Dash sighed in immense relief, lifting the hand he held to his forehead as he bowed his head. "You had us all scared, Danny." A hint of anger slipped into his voice, but mostly he sounded overjoyed that Danny was awake and alive.

Danny blinked at him before slowly turning his head. His parents were there at the other side of the hospital bed, both happy to see that Danny would be okay. With his arms fold, Dan stood beside Dash. He was in his human disguise, and Danny guessed that was because they were in the hospital. Lancer was there as well, sitting in a chair at the foot of the bed.

"How did?" Danny reached up a hand to rub a hand over his face, his brain not fully awake enough to piece together anything at the moment.

"Lancer called us after he brought you here," Jack explained as he rest a large hand on Danny's shoulder, offering some comfort to his son.

Maddie sat on the edge of the bed, picking up the hand that Dash wasn't currently holding. "He and Dan told us about the encounter with the incubus." She squeezed his hand, worry in her violet eyes for what her son must have felt facing off against the incubus that raped him.

"What were you thinking?" Dash demanded, not in a harsh tone, though it was clear he was restraining himself, reigning in his rage. "You could have been killed jumping in like that!"

Danny blinked at the telepath a few times before his gaze drifted to Dan then finally to Lancer. "But," he started as he yanked his gaze back to Dash, "now Skulker won't be a threat to anyone." He tried a tentative smile, though he doubted it would help to calm any of Dash's anger at such a foolish action.

Dash's mouth hung open, and for a moment, Danny thought he would reach out and give him a hard shake. But the telepath hung his head with a tired sigh. "You should have been more careful," he mumbled, and when he met Danny's gaze, there was pain in his dark blue eyes. "That blast could have hit you in a fatal spot instead of the hip."

"It was a stupid, reckless move," Dan agreed, his mouth tight and teeth clenched. His fingers flexed, gripping his biceps tightly. Danny could tell that the shade was kicking himself for failing to protect his charge.

"What is this about a stalker and not being a threat?" Jack questioned, his brow furrowing with his confusion.

"Skulker," Lancer corrected, "is an alien. He took notice of your son's unique condition and wanted to make him part of his collection."

"What?" Jack and Maddie shouted, outraged by the very notion.

"It's okay," Danny assured them, smiling for what little it was worth. "He broke a major condition to his punishment when his attack hit me. That should keep him locked up for good now. Right?" He turned a questioning look to his teacher, hoping his action wasn't for nothing, despite that he hadn't fully realized the consequence of throwing himself between Skulker and the incubus when he did it.

Lancer nodded his head with a thoughtful look. "I do believe that will be sufficient for the council to take action." He stood up and walked around to stand on the other side of Dash. "But I believe we should try to avoid you drawing any more dangerous creatures to you."

"What do you mean?" Danny eyed his teacher warily.

"There's something natural about you that seems to lure in the supernatural," Lancer explained with a frown on his face as he smoothed a hand over his bearded chin. "It's why you caught the incubus' eye. It's why you've been attacked so often by the supernatural. You're like a magnet, though I can't explain why or how that happened. I can, perhaps, help to negate that effect. Cancel out that magnetism so that you can at least live a relatively normal life without fearing something coming after you again."

Danny considered that, and it didn't take much effort to come up with an answer. While Sam might enjoy hunting down some big bad evil every week, Danny was bone tired exhausted from dealing with the supernatural for the vast majority of his life. A break from being chased after at every turn sounded like a godsend to him. Danny nodded his head in response. "Can you make one for Jazz too?" he asked hopefully. "The incubus said she had a similar scent." He frowned, lowering his eyes. "I don't want something coming after her too." His sister clearly didn't have that same draw that Danny had, but even being slightly similar to him could put her in danger.

"Of course," Lancer agreed easily. "Now, I believe we should let him rest. The witches at this hospital are very good at healing, but with the extent of his injury, he still needs to take it easy for a few days."

Danny blinked dumbly at his teacher. "Witches?" he repeated like it was word he never heard.

"Well of course!" Lancer grinned at his student's confusion. "If they have a school set up for teaching the supernatural, why wouldn't the council have a medical facility set up specifically to deal with injuries and illnesses involving the supernatural?"

When he thought about that, Danny realized it made sense. There was such a large community of supernatural here. The council, of course, would want to be certain that they could be cared for should they be hurt or fall sick. Lancer ushered out the reluctant parents, telepath, and shade from the hospital room, leaving Danny alone in the dim light to fall back to sleep. Danny thought it would take longer after everything that happened, but he slipped back to sleep easily the moment he snuggled down into his pillow.

Vlad hated making visits to the council headquarters. When he finally had the chance to leave and take up the position of principal for Casper High in Amity Park, he hoped never to have to walk the halls of the headquarters again. If not for the current alien situation, he could be happily back there, peacefully overseeing the high school and making sure no harm befell his students. He clenched his hands into tight fists as he stared at the man across the table from him, dressed in a white suit and his head shaved of any hint hair other than his eyebrows. This dark skinned man was a member of the Guys in White, an organization of pure humans devoted to hunting down supernatural lawbreakers. They did their job well, Vlad wouldn't argue with that, but they were sticklers for cleanliness. The interrogation room they sat in now lacked even a speck of dirt from what he could tell. The stale gray walls and lack of windows reminded Vlad far too much of the cell he was holed up in for six months. The major difference being that this room was a lot more spacious. He vaguely wondered how that green skinned witch was enjoying her cramped little cage. She still refused to give them her name, though Vlad wouldn't put it pass the council to have some way of prying the information out of her.

"According to the conditions of his sentencing here on Earth," said the agent, L or K or F - Vlad wasn't really certain of his name. The agents all tended to blur together in his head with them all dressing and looking mostly identical. Vlad decided he would simply refer to this one as Agent Mole, because he had a little mole over the right side of his mouth. "Skulker would be sentenced to a cell within our prison should he cause harm to any of the students under the care of Principal Vlad Masters of Casper High School in Amity Park."

"We know the condition," Vlad interrupted impatiently as his mouth thinned. He wanted to return to the high school. It might run perfectly fine without him for a day, but he didn't want to stay away from it for more than that.

Agent Mole narrowed his brown eyes at the vampire before he continued. "However," he bit out before straightening up and staring perfectly ahead of him again, "from the reports, it sounds like Skulker's intention was to kill the incubus known by Frederich Showenhower, now permanently locked away for his past actions of raping and killing over the past six years. Your student was only injured due to his own folly of jumping in the way."

Vlad's jaw clenched tightly, restraining himself from doing something he might regret. "Daniel's actions are not what this meeting is about," he said evenly. "Daniel is a rare soul with a great amount of compassion and believes in giving people second chances. Despite that the incubus raped and killed him previously, he still acted to keep Skulker from taking that same incubus' life. He did not act to protect that incubus because he thought somehow the incubus would magically change his way and repent from the sins he performed in the past against Daniel, himself, and many others. Daniel acted because he doesn't believe that killing is a justifiable answer to the incubus' crimes. The incubus was already down and incapacitated. Killing him was unnecessary."

"While that may be true, that doesn't change the fact that Skulker did not intentionally attempt to harm your student," Agent Mole argued.

"The condition did not state in any way that intent was necessary." Vlad slammed his hand down hard on the table between them as his dark blue eyes narrowed dangerously. He would not allow Skulker to walk free after injuring Daniel like that. He would not allow the alien the chance to escape and steal away with both Daniel and Kwan. This was the moment. This was what he waited for in the last three years, and he wouldn't let Daniel's sacrifice, however reckless, be wasted. "Regardless of intent, Skulker could have killed Daniel with that attack. We wouldn't even be having this discussion if that were the case."

"When the condition was included, there might have been an implied understanding of intent behind Skulker's action should he harm one of the students at Casper High," Walker said, and Vlad felt a cold trickle of dread down his spine, wondering why the Necravion would speak to free Skulker. "However, there was no verbal communication that intent to harm was a necessary factor in imposing a stricter sentencing upon Skulker. The fact remains that Skulker attacked and his attack struck a student under Masters' watch. That act violated the oath, the condition. You can try to twist it around a technicality, but it doesn't change the fact that Skulker put a student in the hospital with a serious injury. Skulker knew of the consequences of harming one of the students at Casper High." Walker shook his head. "I'm baffled that you're even trying to make a case for his release. He's too dangerous an alien to be allowed to wander free. He poses a threat to at least two people of your planet. Yet you would wish him to be let go?"

Agent Mole bristled at that question. "It's not a matter of what I want," he argued, spitting as he spoke in frustration. "There are rules to follow. We have to make sure that everything is properly done to avoid embarrassment later should anyone argue our actions. You don't want the people of Cyonetic coming here and arguing that we wrongly punished one of their own, do you?"

"No," Walker agreed, "I wouldn't. But they have no room to argue when Skulker broke the oath and condition set to allow his sentencing on this planet. His guilt in unquestionable."

Agent Mole clenched his teeth, brown eyes narrowing, as his hands crumpled the papers before him. "I suppose I must agree. Skulker shall be sentenced according to what was laid out in agreement by all parties involved. You are both dismissed. A witch will be standing by to return you to Casper High." His eyes landed on Vlad, and he sneered at the vampire. Despite working alongside the supernatural to maintain peace and order, many of the Guys in White despised the supernatural.

Vlad returned the look with a glare as he followed Walker out of the interrogation room. He was sure that Walker was just as happy about being able to return to his home planet as Vlad was about returning to his school.

"I can't believe I ruined it!" Danny whined as Desiree fixed his hair. His face burned brightly at the memory of stumbling during the dancing scene of the play. When he tripped and fell, yanking Dash down on top of him, the audience broke into laugh, though a few of the students let out whistles and catcalls, which only made Danny blush all the more at the memory of the compromising position they landed in when they fell.

"It was great!" Paulina insisted with a wide grin on her face. "Don't worry about it too much. The audience loved it!"

Somehow, that didn't really make Danny feel any better about botching up the dance sequence. But at least the play was almost over with only one more quick scene. Then once the play was over, he could relax for the final three weeks of school before graduation. The past few months were quite peaceful after the threat of the incubus was eliminated and Skulker was locked up in the council prison. The time flew by before he knew it, being able to focus entirely on his studies and still have time to hang out with friends and to train with Dan. He might not have anyone to fight against now that the incubus and Skulker were gone, but it was still good to train to better control his powers. He smiled remembering when he and Dan showed off what they could do with manipulating fire and ice for his parents, and Jazz when she returned from college for the summer.

His family, Dan, his friends; they were all sitting in the audience watching him make a complete fool of himself in this play. He sighed as Desiree and Paulina pulled him to his feet. At least his hip had healed relatively quickly. Even the doctors at the council's hospital here were surprised by how quickly it healed, leaving only a faint scar behind to show that he even received the injury. Lancer thought perhaps it had something to do with the exchange that took place during the ritual. During the fight with Frederich, Dan injured his leg, and from what Danny was told later, it looked fairly deep at the beginning. Dan's leg healed up in a matter of days though, but no scar was left behind on him. Danny may have gained extra healing capability, but it didn't stop him from being left with scars.

"You're on," Paulina whispered urgently, nudging Danny onto the stage.

He stumbled forward, his hand unconsciously wrapping around the crystal pendant that he constantly wore ever since Lancer gave it to him. The pendant was meant to protect him from his natural magnetism drawing dangerous supernatural creatures to him. If he could find his sister somewhere in the audience, hidden in the darkness of the theater, he would see Jazz wearing the same type of crystal pendant. Jazz thought it was silly, didn't believe she needed the protection when the only supernatural being that approached her with malicious intent was that incubus, but at Danny's firm insistence, she relented and donned the pendant.

"My love," Dash said, drawing Danny from his thoughts as he caught the raven haired man's hand and pulled him closer.

Danny scrambled to remember his lines before he made another embarrassing slipup. "At last," he said, wincing when his voice cracked, "my parents no longer object to our union." He stared up lovingly at Dash, and it wasn't difficult to act like he was madly in love with the blond man.

Dash cupped a hand over Danny's cheek. "The witches have convinced my parents that the union between us will provide great prosperity to both our kingdoms. They've given their blessing for us to wed."

Danny flushed. Even without his slipups, this play was horribly embarrassing to act out in front the whole school and his family. He could imagine Dan fuming in his seat next to Jazz at having to watch all these lovey dovey scenes between Danny and Dash. Dan would be even more angry with this final scene. Dash's arm slipped around Danny's waist, drawing them flushed against each other as Dash leaned his head down to seal their lips together in a kiss. Danny tensed at the first touch of lips against his own. Even months later after facing off against the incubus, Danny still couldn't relax over something as simple as a kiss. But he was getting better. The first time Dash kissed him in rehearsal for the play, Danny accidentally froze the telepath's mouth. Luckily, most of the people in the theater at the time were supernatural so the incident didn't cause any big commotion.

Applause exploded from the audience as the curtain closed on the pair of Princes.

"You two were amazing!" Paulina squealed when the two men broke apart. She threw her arms around their necks, hugging them in her excitement at the close of a successful play.

The rest of the actors were already filing onto the stage, preparing for the final bow when the curtain rose again. They had little time to speak before Paulina pushed herself between them, grabbing hold of their hands and raising them into the air. Desiree made certain to be on Danny's other side, grabbing hold of his free hand to avoid anyone that wasn't already in the know from discovering the icy feel of Danny's skin. When the curtains went up, the audience was still applauding the performance while the cast all took their bows.

There was an after party for everyone that took part in the play backstage. Dora arranged for snacks and drinks so that they could all relax and celebrate after the play was finished. Danny only stayed for about twenty minutes before it all felt too much for him, too many people all cramped into the backstage area. After a quick change into normal clothing, Danny slipped out and found a nice quiet spot to relax in the dark hallways of the school. By then most of the people that came to see the play had already left with only a few lingering members wandering the hallways toward the parking lot.

"You okay?" Dash's voice jolted Danny out of his blank state.

"Yeah." Danny lifted his head to stare at Dash, following the telepath's movements as he took a seat beside the raven haired man. "I just needed some air."

Dash nodded in understanding. "Where's your shadow?"

Danny rolled his eyes at that question. "I saw Cogsworth dragging him off after the play ended." With a sigh, he let his body slide over to lean against Dash, resting his head on the blond man's shoulder. When his parents first told him about the move to Amity Park, he was upset with them. He didn't want to go through the stigma of being a new student again. Now, embarrassing performance in a play ignored, he was immensely happy that they made the move. He doubted that he would still be alive if they were still living in Wisconsin. If Frederich came after him there, Danny didn't think Sam's magic would work to revive him a second time, and that would be assuming that Dan didn't take control his body first.

"What's on your mind?"

Danny glanced up at the question, and a grin tugged at his mouth. "Can't read my thoughts?"

Dash flicked him on the forehead, but it wasn't hard enough to really hurt him. "You've gotten better at not broadcasting so loudly." He frowned with a hint of worry in his dark blue eyes. "But you looked like you were deep in thought."

Danny shook his head against Dash's shoulder. "I was just thinking how much better my life became since I moved here." He grinned up at the telepath, but there was hesitation in him. He chewed on his lower lip, his heart skipping a beat, but he couldn't tell if it was because of excitement or fear or a mix of both. His head tilted upward, halting every few seconds. Dash didn't say anything or laugh, merely waiting on Danny to get the courage to do whatever he was trying to do.

It was so much easier on stage when Dash was the one initiating the kiss. Here, alone in the hallway, with him being the one trying to kiss the other, Danny found it difficult to close those last few centimeters between their lips. The memory of the rape kept making him stop, fear seizing him at the thought of being intimately touched by another. But this was Dash. He was nice and caring and understanding and patient. He wouldn't force Danny into anything that he wasn't ready for. Maybe some part of him still believed it was too soon, but Danny wanted to be able to kiss Dash freely. Taking a deep breath, Danny closed his eyes as he pressed forward, crushing their lips together.

Dash smiled into the kiss, reaching up a hand to thread his fingers through raven locks. Danny relaxed somewhat, though his muscles still remained tense. It wasn't a perfect kiss, but it was getting better. Slowly, but still moving forward with each small step.

Author's Note: At 179,554 words, this will probably be forever the longest story that I've ever written! XD Omg, I can't believe it's over! Or at least, the main story, since I'll still do afterwards and what ifs for this story at some point. Many thanks to XD for some wonderful ideas to include in the story and akiwitch for, once again, listening to me whine and sob stupidly. And thanks to everyone else that mentioned anything that I ended up including! And thanks to everyone that read the story and stuck it out until the end! I know this was a monster of a fic. XD;; And I had no idea it would get this long when I first started writing it.

fullmoonwolf950: Yes! It should have! And why did Dan never come back into the show!? *sobs* Skulker did remember! Though he probably would have been better off not remembering. XD;;

XD: Ahahaha! Okay. Dash is never allowed to grow a mustache because Danny would never be able to look at him without falling over laughing. XD;;; Yup, last chapter. Danny has some minor healing now, but it's not as good as Dan's healing. I couldn't leave out the Dan scene. XD;; Needed to explain why he wasn't back there in a flash to kick the incubus' butt. XD;; I could have had him do that, but well, I didn't want Danny standing there like a weakling the whole time. D8 Haha, I had to make the reference! 8D It worked, somewhat. Darn Skulker's mental backup! Technus didn't plan on that. XD;; No, no. The GiW carried Freakshow off with them. I shall to think up something for Haunted Past!

BLU: 8D I'm glad you like my stories! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Unfortunately, this was the last chapter of this story. D8 But maybe I'll post up the first chapter of something else I've been working on? I have a few things started, just one chapter, so it might be a while before they get updated again.