AN: If it's any consolation to you fantastic wonderful readers and reviewers...
The previous chapter made my best friend physically ill when she read it.
But once more let me reiterate again how much I appreciate your reviews. Thank you to everyone who is so wonderfully thorough with they're reviews and thank you to those of you who are following this and review multiple times, it really does help. I had a wonderful bout of inspiration during my morning run and cranked this chapter out today and it's still not everything I wanted to write. I didn't have time to go back and edit so please bear with me and ignore the grammar errors and typos. Things are heating up and the next few chapters should be much easier for me to write.
The Blade That Put Those Holes There
Danny bolted straight upright in his bed the covers flying off of him. The blanket caught on the lamp and pulled it down with a crash. Danny leapt from the bed, his ankle rolled and the muscles of his calf knotted up, causing him to stumble and fall against the night stand. The corner of which gouged roughly into the wall, sending up a puff of dry wall dust.
His hands flew first to his neck; his fingers traced the fragile arch of his wind pipe. Then along the nuque, searching desperately for the break in the pristine line of bones. He found nothing, but panting heavily on the floor his hand searched his chest, tearing the collar of his shirt and baring his chest.
Unbroken, unbruised skin, deathly white, but whole. No gaping hole where his still beating heart dangled from a shattered rib cage, amongst the shredded remains of his lungs.
He trembled in the dark room, the only light from the neon street signs that bled through the blinds. Somewhere there was a thump and voices. In an instant of sheer terror, Danny clawed over the bed to the window and ripped down the blinds in a shrieking clatter of plastic and paint chips as he wrenched the holders from the walls.
The dim light from the street lamps of the early hours flooded the room in a diffused glow, gently shooing away the darkness. His eyes searched every corner, every visible crevice of that tiny, gloomy room.
No burned, desecrated, or mutilated bodies with screaming eyes.
He was alone. Completely, utterly, blissfully alone.
Danny fell against the wall and released the longest, clearest sigh he had every given. His heavy chest deflated and he slid down wall until he was huddled at the base board with one leg sprawled out in front of him. One arm was propped on the opposing knee, the hand holding his head while his final arm lay limp in his lap.
Sitting in this fashion, he took and a deep breath and slowly ran his hand through his mussed hair. After sometime he tilted his head back and stared up at the window frame. Little dust motes still danced about from the wounds in the drywall.
His arm slid from his knee and the tangled heap of blinds rustled under his palm. He sat unmoving, staring off at nothing, debating whether to stand. Then, before the argument in his mind had fully subsided, his body stood abruptly on its own, settling the dispute with a wave of dizziness.
One the floor, he was pathetic. On his feet he felt even more so. He was slovenly, scrawny, disheveled. His shirt was torn open, his pants were wrinkled, his hair was a matted mess, bed headed and then half torn out by his own discontent fingers.
The room was chilled.
Whether by him or the cool autumn air, it was chilled. It made no difference to him, he was always cold now. The floor was particularly cold, and the bathrooms all bore 'Out of Order' signs thanks to his own handy work.
He pointedly ignored those signs as he had walked to his room some hours before.
But the room was hopeless. The lamp was a shattered mess on the floor with slivers of ceramics jutting from the carpet or hidden in the darkness underfoot. The gash in the paint from the nightstand was rudely superimposed on the otherwise pristine surface, and the blinds were twisted beyond repair, and even then the anchors that held them in place were lost amongst the debris from both the lamp and the shutters themselves.
Danny tallied up the damages in his head. Suffering the cold air on his bare chest and dragging his mind away from the images skittering in the back of his mind. The Nightmare.
Most dreams began to fade after you awake, but some dreams, the wildest, the weirdest, the happiest, the saddest.
Some burn themselves in. They brand themselves in to your head on the back of your eyelids, so every time you close your eyes they're there. Sometimes as a sanctuary, and sometimes as a prison, and those dreams…
They're the ones that always come true.
Danny's hand clenched into a fist and shook with the intensity of his grip. His knuckles turned white, his palms began to bleed.
That familiar fear clutched at his heart, that fear of what lies just beneath the surface. The geyser waiting to erupt, the lightning in the clouds waiting to be unleashed, the hurricane looming over the seawalls; waiting for the moment when the levies break.
Waiting to come surging through.
Laughter rang out in the darkness. Powerful, insane, maniacal laughter. A pair of red eyes flashed over his subconscious. His jaw set and an icy wind hissed from his clenched teeth.
"I… refuse…" his voice passes like a weak breeze tumbling through clumsy tree limbs. It was eaten up of the vastness of the tiny, but empty room.
The way his voice died in the darkness angered him, that's all he was, a weak, tiny little voice swallowed by the still air. Swallowed by the darkness, beaten down and overpowered. He could hear the laughter again, the eyes were mocking him.
"Do… you hear me?" his voice began to rise and the laughter grew louder.
"Do you hear me?!"
It was trying to drown him out, to overpower him again, the eyes were glowing.
The laughter rose to an unbearable volume. Ringing off the walls, piercing through the night, rattling across reality as though it were pounding and wailing at the windowsill.
"I said… I REFUSE!"
"Wait, hold on a sec. You think a seventeen year old runaway with no parents who dropped out of high school, froze the entire city sewer system. A seventeen year old runaway from Minnesota froze the entire city sewer system."
Cyborg looked skeptical at best and sounded skeptical. Sure, it was possible, and it wasn't like they hadn't seen stranger. He himself as well as everyone else in the Teen Titans was testament to that. But the notion that some lost kid had caused this much damage on accident was not only impractical to him, but also horribly tragic and a downright uncomfortable situation.
If it was just another new villain then they could deal with the whole issue faster than well lubed, well tuned sports car could eat up pavement, but a kid… an orphan…
That was a whole 'nother story.
A villain can stand trial for their crimes, and justice prevails, clean, fair, and no messy split ends. But a kid has to be forgiven, and that's so much harder to do. To forgive anyone is hard, but the death toll already stood at thirty-seven and while no life holds more value than another, not all of those bodies were homeless vagrants and street urchins. There were workers and maintenance inspectors as well.
Pain and grief spreads quicker when the dead are defined by society, when a hole is left by them to be filled. Whether that hole be in a job or in a family.
That kid was going have to live with knowing that he was the blade that put those holes there.
But Robin was absolutely sure on this, and that was why they were all standing behind their unspoken leader, staring at a computer screen littered with images of the same pale skinned, hollow cheeked, messy haired, dead eyed teenager.
And for the umpteenth time Robin reaffirmed his opinion.
"Yes, that's exactly what I think happened and I'm sure it was him who did it."
He gestured at the images on the screen again, but before he could go on to reiterate again why everything pointed toward the events of the previous day being just a tragic accident, Raven interposed with her own question.
"By why specifically him? Why Daniel Fenton?"
Robin was quiet for a moment, but when he turned in the chair to face his team there was a heaviness to his face that stilled their skepticism.
"Because we keep running into him."
They all wore variations of the same looks of confusion, Robin spun back around.
"Just let me show you."
He pulled up several files, the first was a video.
"This is from when Control Freak attacked the video store back in June. It's distorted, but you can still see the register when Control Freak attacks. There's a customer being rung up, then…"
The figure in video turns abruptly, as though in response to a disturbance. Though older and taller it was plainly obvious who the figure was in comparison to the photos superimposed beside the video player on the screen.
"But it doesn't just stop there."
The video continues to play, Control Freak appears on the screen the paraphernalia and TV screens are coming to life at his whim. The cashier screams as she's ensnared by extension cables, and Fenton is caught in the middle of all of it, crouching by the register. Suddenly Fenton without warning leaps to his feet and lunges over the register reaching for something before he's violently thrown aside.
Robin glances back at the Titans expectantly, Starfire and Beast Boy are blatantly confused, but Cyborg and Raven are clearly unimpressed.
"So he triggers the silent alarm I still don't…" Robin interrupts Cyborg before he can finish.
"Just keep watching."
The camera angle changes with a few keystrokes, and they have a partially obscured view of the entrance with Fenton crumpled against several toppled shelves and glass from the shattered store front. A few moments later the Titans are witnessing their past selves rocketing through the broken windows and doors with guns blazing. After they past Fenton snatches something from the ground and slips out unnoticed with a heavy limp.
Robin stopped the video and launched into his explanation before Raven or Cyborg could counter again.
"Fenton had the presence of mind to go for the silent alarm, despite the risk to his life and when we showed up he seemed as though he expected us, but at the same time he leaves despite being injured and technically a hero in his own right for thinking to hit the alarm, and this isn't the first time."
The video disappears and he opens a new file with still more images and he begins to scroll through each picture.
"Our fight with Cinderblock. Look."
The image is a downward view of a street, a motion blurred Starfire illuminated with streaks of green is hurtling through the frame and plowing into the back of the unsuspecting concrete giant known as Cinderblock. In the background just barely visible beyond the washout from Starfire's starbolts and glowing eyes is a dark haired, pale faced figure standing in the alleyway.
"Common dude that could be…"
And Beast Boy's mouth shuts with a click as the image of a terrified crowd fleeing from Plasmus as he himself represented as a green Pterodactyl is struggling to free himself from the sludge like polymorph. And there amongst the crowd, completely unafraid, if Fenton, frozen mid step with one half in his pocket and his face half turned he looked as though he were caught pulling himself away from a trance. That moment just after you finally tear you eyes from a scene where your body moves away first before your mind fully lets go.
And one picture after another, fight after fight, video after video. If the Titans were in it, Fenton was there. The one calm face in the otherwise animated crowd. A void seems to open around the seventeen year old when the camera captures him. A darkness and a sadness, a regret that makes him so telling from all the rest.
"And that's not all of it." Robin was met with a series of startled looks, they believed him he knew, but there were still a few more things before his theory was undeniable.
"There was a blood sample found at the video store that didn't match anything in the police database, the sample was heavily irradiated and had a very low red blood cell count but a very high blood cell count. They labeled it contaminated, but I'm sure that blood belongs to Fenton and there's a reason why it's like that."
He pulled up the local files from the news broadcasters for Amity Park, Minnesota.
"Amity Park three years ago was famous for its ghost sightings and ghost attacks."
"Whoa Wait! Ghosts, ghosts don't…"
"They exist." Beast Boy again was interrupted, but this time by Raven. Her dark expression was eerie and distant. Beast Boy shivered.
"Nevermind…" he squeaked and Robin continued.
"Anyway ghost attacks. Amity also had its very own ghost vigilante that the local tabloids dubbed Inviso-Bill."
Cyborg suppressed a snicked and received a hard look
"I'm sorry, but Inviso-Bill?"
Had Robin's eyes not been covered by a mask he would have been rolling them.
"He apparently didn't like it either, and declared that his name was Danny Phantom. On top of that Daniel Fenton was the son of two local ghost hunters Jack and Maddie Fenton. But here's the thing, after the accident that killed Fenton's friends and family and after he ran away, Danny Phantom along with all the other ghosts in Amity Park, disappeared."
And there was silence. All four Titans were thinking hard on what Robin had said, what it all meant. After a few minutes it was plain what they all thought, what they all realized, but it was Starfire who gave it voice.
"So because Daniel Fenton and Danny Phantom vanished at the same time, it is likely they are the same person."
Robin nodded, but when he looked to the other Titans it was again Cyborg who looked skeptical.
"Hold on Danny Phantom was a… ghost… vigilante with ghost… um powers… We're talking about someone who froze half the city, not someone who… I don't know… haunted it."
"We don't anything about people with ghost powers." Robin countered "We don't know exactly what ghost powers even entails, flight, possession, walking through walls. Some kind of ice abilities could be a part of that, and I don't think these abilities were something Fenton had before coming to Jump."
Robin turned back to the console and began typing away at the keyboard.
"I think he got these powers recently, very recently. That's why this happened, why half the city froze, and three dozen people died. He's lost, possibly still grieving, emotionally unstable in all likelihood, and he's got these new powers with no idea how to control them."
He pulled up a map of the city once more, but this map was color-coded and keyed, with specific locations highlighted all across the cityscape, then looked back at his friends and team members with the utmost severity stealing his face.
"Which means we needed to find him yesterday."
All skepticism was gone, Cyborg nodded.
"All right man."