A/n: Wherein I recently retrieved some of my childhood and I wanted to see a DP/Teen Titans crossover where Danny doesn't actually experience a huge personality warp. Despite this first chapter, Danny won't be overly angsty or anything this fic (hopefully). Nothing against Badass!Danny's, but I like my awkward wise-cracking kid.
Danny stared blankly at the white hospital ceiling, the events of that day running through his head over and over again. He had been doing so ever since he had awoken, and to be quite honest, sometimes he wished he hadn't waked.
His tears had long since run dry, and he couldn't cry even if he wanted to.
This was worse than a nightmare, because there was no relief when his mother shook him awake, cooing at him that it was all going to be okay. There was no father promising to hunt down the monsters should they hurt Danny again. And there were no friends who would laugh at Danny and tell him that he was being silly.
No, the only people who could chase away the fear and hurt were gone, and it was all his fault.
He couldn't even blame the fruitloop for this one.
Danny felt a laugh bubble up in his throat, and he knew it would come out sounding insane. He didn't care though. Nothing mattered now. His friends and family were gone, and he was left all alone, dealing with this pain.
The black haired boy squeezed his eyes shut, fists clenching. He just wanted an end to all of this, an end to all of this hurt.
A few harsh gasps escaped him, slightly relieving the compression of his chest. Every minute since he had awakened he had felt as if his heart was squeezed as tightly as the ghosts he pushed into the thermos, and his heart wasn't dealing with it very well. He couldn't deal with this.
All around him he heard the clattering of heels and murmuring of voices that signaled the nurses running past. That told him that he was not alone, and that he was surrounded by people. But nevertheless, Danny felt lonely.
He was isolated and set apart, different because of what he was and what he had experienced. How could anyone else ever hope to understand? The nurses certainly couldn't.
Oh sure they'd try, and Danny couldn't fault them for that. It was their job, after all. But the thought still filled him with bitterness. What right did they have to pretend that they understood when they really, really didn't? Sure people lost family all the time, but did they ever lose all of the people who cared about them at the exact same time, and know that it was their fault?
No, nobody would ever understand, and that was why there would always be a chasm between Danny and the rest of the world.
The only person who could even hope to understand him was Vlad, the one who had lost the love of his life and his best friend in the very explosion which cost Danny everything. But even then, Vlad couldn't know the full extent of what Danny was going through.
Still, a small percentage of understanding was better than none.
And yet, Danny couldn't go to Vlad. Oh he desperately wanted to, but he couldn't. Not when he knew what the future would end up like if he went to his old nemesis's house.
To be completely honest, Danny couldn't care one whit about the future right now. Truthfully, he could not bring himself to fear the future, not when the present was blocking out all his thoughts with the agony it was bringing him.
He didn't care that a Dan Phantom would try to control the world, brining in untold havoc as he did so. He didn't care that such a hell would be created if he was weak right now and decided that he couldn't handle it all. He didn't care, because caring meant making the right choice, and Danny was much too weak right now to make the right choice.
It took nearly all of his will not to go running to Vlad's right now, pleading with the man to make the machine that would separate his ghost self with his human self. Despite knowing how that would end, Danny still wanted it. He wanted it badly.
He just wanted the pain to go away.
There was however, one thing that stopped him.
"I won't turn into that, ever! I promise."
The promise to his family. His final promise.
He couldn't betray that. Couldn't betray them like that.
They had died thinking that he would save the world, and he couldn't trounce on their expectations like that. Doing that would make their deaths seems useless, pointless. He couldn't deal with that. At the very least, at the very least… if they had to die, let it be for a higher cause.
No, he would not go to Vlad's, no matter how much his soul screamed at him to, because he had promised his family so.
Danny let out a breath, his eyes flickering open again. The ghost white ceiling stared back at him blankly.
He wouldn't go to Vlad's, and he wouldn't use his ghost powers again. The risk of his corruption was too great. Gifted? Who was he kidding? He had been lured by the promise of power, and he had almost fallen into the honey-filled trap. It had taken an interdimensional being and the loss of those most important to him to show him that.
Amity Park would be fine without him. He would destroy the ghost portal before he left, and then there was always Val. She could take care of any ghost stragglers.
And he would leave. Because it was too dangerous to stay. Because it was too painful to stay.
The question was, where could he go?
He glanced at the pile of magazines on his bedside, wondering if they had any travel plans panned out. And then, something caught his eye.
It was a coloured cover of five teenagers in fighting poses, with an ugly looking white monster reaching its claws out towards the reader. The caption read 'The Teen Titans do it again, chameleon fiend stands no chance!'
Danny sat up, his eyes picking up a little bit of their shine for the first time since that terrible day. He reached out and grabbed the magazine, clutching it like it was his lifeline. And in a way, it was.
It was offering him a way out.
He had heard of the Teen Titans of course. Who hadn't? They were a group of five superheroes who kept their city in order. When Danny had first gotten his ghost powers, he had hoped to be like them.
His lips curled into a bitter smile at that thought. Him, a Teen Titan. That was a dream that had cost him everything. His delusions of grandeur and heroism had created the disastrous situations in his hometown, and now had taken the life of his family and friends. He was no hero; he was nothing more than a phony. But the Teen Titans, they were the real thing.
The Teen Titans were real heroes, who had the power to do what was necessary and had the will not to be corrupted. The Teen Titans could stop him if he ever went insane.
Yes, Danny would go to Jump City, and try to have a normal life there.
And if he ever became that despicable future self of his, then the Teen Titans would be there to kill him.
Vladimir Masters was what most would call a successful man.
He was rich, he was respected, and he was not bad looking if he did say so himself. He was an intelligent scientist and a shrewd businessman, which along with his 'special status', was probably what earned him his billionaire position. He was still young enough to attract a fair amount of giggles, and the only reason he wasn't married was because he didn't want to be. To an outsider looking in, Vlad had everything.
But in reality, Vlad had nothing.
Nothing that he really wanted, anyway.
Everything that he had earned, all the wealth that he had accumulated, all of that had just for one purpose. To impress Maddie.
To show Maddie what a fool she had been for choosing that orange wearing idiot over him, and to show her how much of a fool Jack was for not being able to do the things Vlad was able to do. To convince Maddie that it was really him that she wanted, and not Jack.
Vlad clicked off the power with his remote, squeezing his eyes shut just as the TV blinked off. He had been watching the news report on the Nasty Burger Explosion for the eleventh time, and still it didn't make it any easier.
The imported foamy sofa he was sitting on, the big screen plasma TV that covered his entire wall, the diamond chandeliers which were the only source of light for the room… none of that mattered.
Maddie was gone.
Vlad slumped against his imported sofa, his arm resting listlessly at his side. He felt dead, lifeless, and it had nothing to do with his status as a half ghost.
He was beyond pain now. That had passed the second time he had heard the news, after he had demanded that the TV station replay it. They did of course, because he was Vlad Masters, and nobody disobeyed Vlad Masters.
The pain he had felt then was gut wrenching, hurting more than anything any ghost had ever done to him, even trumping the time that Jack Fenton had stolen the love of his life. The pain had made him want to scream, and then keep screaming until he went insane. He wouldn't have minded, if it would ease the pain a little.
And yet, he preferred that pain to the emptiness that he was feeling now.
Vlad closed his eyes. He could not even cry. The tears had all gone.
He had nothing left.
He had fame and fortune, but no one to share it with. And truthfully, what was the point of having gathered all that he had if he could not gift it to anybody? What could he do with the money? Buy the Packers?
The billionaire chuckled bitterly. But of course, he could not buy the Packers. They would not be bought.
A sudden feeling of anger ripping through him, Vlad hurled the remote to the far side of the room, just wanting to take out his frustration on something. He had nothing! Absolutely nothing! How was this in any way fair?!
There was a quiet 'click' as the remote hit the far side of the room, and slid down the wall. The television blinked on.
Vlad growled in frustration. Wonderful, now even the remote was working against him. All he wanted was some quiet and—
"—young Daniel Fenton seems to have disappeared after the tragic explosion which took his family and two of his schoolmates. After awakening from the hospital three days after the Nasty Burger Explosion, fourteen year old Daniel Fenton seemingly jumped out of a window and ran away. We do not think that young Daniel is hurt at the moment, but he has just gone through a very tragic event and needs both medical and emotional attention. Good citizens of Amity Park, if you see young Daniel Fenton, please contact us at the number…"
Vlad sat up, his anger dissipating as he watched the reporter on the screen with wide eyes. Disbelief clouded his face. What?! Daniel was missing?
Vlad straightened, his blue eyes sparkling. That's right, he hadn't lost everything. The Packers may never be his, and Maddie may be gone, but there was still young Daniel to be considered.
Young Daniel, who must be feeling lost and confused now that his whole foundation had been ripped out from under him. Young Daniel, who was a half ghost like Vlad and therefore, would never be able to fit in with the others. Young Daniel, who had possibly lost more than Vlad did in that explosion.
Young Daniel, who needed a family as much as Vlad did. Surely, Daniel couldn't refuse now? After all, Jack was gone. If there was one good thing about that explosion, that would be it.
Daniel Masters. Vlad liked the sound of that.
He had a new purpose in life, now. He felt his hard as iron determination come back to him, his steely confidence and equally strong mind reaffixing themselves once more. Vladmir Masters was back, and this time, he would not leave.
He would have young Daniel as a son. By any means necessary.