Welcome, everyone, to the next story in the Parenting Series: 2 Parents Minus A Child Equals A Journey. For those of you who are new, and just clicked on this story, I'd like to say hello, and tell you that before you begin to read this one, you need to go read the first one, 1 Human Plus 2 Halfas Equals A Family, because if you don't, you will get a bit lost on some of the points that have been mentioned in this one as this is the sequel. If you're not new and are here to continue the tale from the original, well then I won't hold you up any longer.
So thank you, and enjoy!
Chapter 1: Aftermath
March 4th. A day that would forever be burned into her memory like it had been cauterized there with a hot flaming needle. A day that haunted her still, and would continue too for the rest of her life and afterlife. A day that brought her nothing but sadness and guilt that constricted around her heart like a snake coiling around a mouse.
It was on that day that Danielle Lilith witnessed her father get shot while protecting her from Ray, leader of the Renegades, a gang she had stupidly decided to join. One could not blame her for doing it; after her true birth origin was discovered and used to destroy her life by a thirteen year old girl with a huge superiority complex, Danielle felt her whole world begin to crumble around her like an avalanche. People mocked her, taunted her and pulled horrible pranks on her. And she couldn't even defend herself, especially not after she had gone on a bit of a rampage and tried to maim the girl who had caused it all. She had been forbidden to use her powers at school other then in an emergency, and to ensure that it stayed that way she was required to wear a specially made Specter Deflector that she could wear without getting shocked so long as she didn't use any of her powers.
It only got worse as all her friends left her to fend for herself. It was almost too simple for the Renegades to pick up the broken pieces of her heart that had been left behind and stomped on. They helped her to get her confidence back, but then it didn't take long for her to become too full of herself as she tried to prove just how strong she was. Her bad attitude sent everything spiraling out of control which eventually lead to her almost losing her father.
Luck seemed to be on her side on that day though because just as Ray had prepared to finish her father off, Danielle had developed a new power. One that was extremely powerful, and yet could also leave her completely vulnerable if over used. It was a technique that she had seen her father use before, and knew that it was one not to be used as freely as the others. The amount of power that could be built up and expanded from her lungs and throat was truly a site to see.
Danielle had performed her very own Ghostly Wail. However, the wail was something that her father had developed and named. She could not and would not take his technique. Her version, though similar, was a much higher pitch and had caused Ray to bleed from his ears; something that she knew could only happen if the decibels were high enough. No, what she had done was not wailing, but screaming. The screaming of a child who had lost so much. A Spectral Scream, as she called it, held so much of her pain and emotion, it was no wonder she lost so much energy when she used it.
From there it was simple for her to decide on what to do; she'd leave her family behind and protect them from all the cruelty that life seemed to throw at her. She'd travel the world alone and stay away from them. At least, that had been the plan until a very unexpected companion had joined her.
The night she had planned to run away, Danielle had been followed by her pet dog, Cujo, who was beyond loyal to her. She had tried to send him back home, but she knew he was too stubborn and too loyal to let her go all by herself, and so, he joined her, staying by her side. To be honest, she was beyond grateful for the company and loved the little green dog dearly.
It had been a tough choice for her to leave it all behind, but she had done it for the people she cared about, and that's all she needed. Of course she did feel better when she had seen that Ray had been charged with many crimes, including attempted murder, as well as being rendered deaf from "unknown causes". But Danielle couldn't lie to herself and say she didn't miss her family. Especially today.
May 31st. Danielle knew that the day was important because it was her mother's 16th birthday. A day she had memorized alongside many others, but this one was to be a special one. There had been a big surprise and a party that her father had planned months ago, but that didn't matter now. Danielle could just imagine how it would all have gone. Her and her dad would take her mom out to all her favorite places while everyone else set up for the party. They'd surprise her, and have a huge celebration with all her favorite foods. And then they'd surprise her with gifts. But she was never going to see that. Not ever, and to even think about it was simply a cruel reminder of what she no longer had.
"Maybe I should give them a call," she said to Cujo as she stood next to a payphone. Though he was invisible, she knew he was there. She didn't know how, but she knew it had something to do with the bond that they had developed. "I mean, it's the least I could do, right? It is her birthday after all."
Danielle stared at the payphone anxiously. Upon her departure, Danielle had purposely left her phone on the bed because if there was one thing she knew, it was that that thing was nothing more than a tracking device that could make phone calls and send various types of messages, especially with a tech savvy person like Tucker at her parent's disposal. Not that it mattered; she remembered all their numbers by heart.
"If I do call them though, then we'd have to leave town immediately, Cujo. You know we can't risk them knowing where we are. What do you think?"
Her small companion faded into site, dropping his invisibility to look up at her and barked happily as he ran around the phone in a circle. Danielle sighed in exasperation. She should have known he'd pick that option.
"Yeah, yeah. Ok, I get it. I owe it to them to at least let them know I'm ok and to wish Mom a happy birthday. I mean, it's been almost two months since they've heard from me and it's just one call. One phone call. Then, we leave."
Danielle began digging in her jeans pocket, pulling out five quarters. She had just enough change for her to make a single phone call. Looking down to her dog, who sat expectedly at her feet, Danielle pushed the coins into the slot at the top of the machine, pausing to take a deep breath just before placing the receiver up to her ear and dialing the number.
The line began to ring, and Danielle could feel the urge to hang up growing stronger and stronger with every ring. Part of her was excited that she was going to hear her parents voice again while another, larger part of her was so nervous that she actually hoped that they wouldn't pick up the phone. At least then she could leave a message to let them know she was alright.
"Hello?" A voice said as they picked up the receiver. Danielle froze up instantly. Something wasn't right here. The voice belonged to someone she knew, at yet it sounded so unfamiliar at the same time. The voice that used to be strong yet sweet now sounded tired and beaten. Sad didn't even begin to describe how the person sounded right now, and Danielle didn't know how to react to it other than to speak up.
"Mo-mom? Mom, is that you?" Danielle's voice was quiet and shaky as she gripped the receiver in her hand tightly. A loud gasp came from the other end before the life seemed to come back to the voice.
"Danielle!? Is that you!? Where are you!?" Sam asked. There was quick click on the other end, and Danielle could suddenly hear what sounded like someone running and breathing, leading her to believe that she was now on speakerphone.
"Yeah, it's me, Mom," she said, swallowing and trying to hold herself together. "I-"
"Danielle!?" Another voice said.
"Hi, Dad," she said, a bit hesitantly. "How're you feeling?"
Ok, even she knew that was a stupid question, so the answer she got didn't surprise her in the least.
"How am I feeling!?" Danny nearly yelled into the phone. "We've been worried sick! Do you have any idea how worried we've been about you!? Where are you?"
"Sorry, Daddy," she said in a guilty voice. She knew that they'd be worried and probably really upset with her, but that didn't make it any easier to hear him say it. "But now you guys can stop worrying because now you know I'm ok. And I've got Cujo with me too." The small dog barked loudly, letting his presence be known by the two on the other line, but Danielle doubted that was going to reassure them very much.
"Ok? Danielle, you need to come home," Sam said. "We want you to come home. If this is about what happened, we already told you that nobody blames you for it-"
"You guys don't blame me for it. Everyone else does," Danielle said, her mood becoming slightly bitter. "I've seen the new reports, Mom. I've heard what people have said about me and about you. I know that everyone thinks I'm some kind of danger to the town and that it's my fault that the Renegades were getting more dangerous."
"Don't call me that!" she shouted, her eyes burning as she felt like crying. "I don't deserve your forgiveness, and I don't deserve to be treated like a member of a family that I almost tore apart because I was being a selfish, stupid brat!"
"Danielle Lilith Fenton, you listen and you listen very good," Sam said, but Danielle could hear the wavering of her voice which only meant that she was probably trying not to cry too. "We don't care what you did. We don't care about what everyone else says about us or you. What happened was an accident, an unintentional event, which means that you should not be held to blame like some type of criminal. We love you, and we miss you. Now tell us where you are so we can come get you and bring you home where you belong."
"No! Don't you get it!? I can't come back because I don't want to come back! I told you that everywhere I go bad things happen and I just end up getting someone hurt. But this was so much worse than anything else. I almost got Dad killed. The whole family would have fallen apart, and I just can't stand the fact that you can all just act like I didn't almost ruin all your lives! I'm trying to keep you safe from me, and I can't do that if I'm always around and worrying about what'll happen if I do something." Danielle paused to take a breath as a few tears ran down her face. This was a mistake, just like she thought, but it was too late to turn back now. "It's too late for me, ok? Just…forget that I ever existed. Go back to the way things were before Vlad made me. Live your lives. Start a real family and just pretend that I never was part of your lives. I've already caused enough damage and you'll happier for it." Danielle had to steel her nerves for what she was about to say next, knowing it was going to tear both her and her parents apart. "This is the last you're going to hear from me. I'm never coming back, so don't waste your time hoping for it or looking for me. And before I hang up…Happy birthday, Sam. And Danny? I'm sorry for everything. Have a nice life guys."
She quickly slammed the receiver onto the hook, not waiting for any type of response. She stood for only a few seconds before her knees buckled and she fell to the ground, crying into her hands. Cujo whimpered helplessly before forcing his way into her lap. Danielle held onto him tight as she cried her eyes out.
"I know this isn't what you hoped would happen, Cujo," Danielle said, petting him slowly as her tears began to slow down. "It's not your fault. I knew that they were gonna try to get me to come home, but you know that I can't. As hard as this is, this is for the best."
Cujo hated the sad look on his mistress's face. He always did what he could to try and make her comfortable and happy, even allowing himself to be her bed and pillow for the last almost two months. Leaning up, he gently licked the tears off of her face, bringing a small smile to her lips.
"Thanks, Cujo," she said as she got to her feet and held him in her arms. Looking around, she was thankful that no one was around, and transformed, allowing herself to become a ghost. Gently lifting off the ground, Danielle began to charge a Ghost Ray in her hand. Looking down at the payphone sitting harmlessly on the stand, Danielle fired, destroying it and reducing the device to a now harmless pile of ash. As the smoke cleared, Danielle flew higher into the air.
"No more tears. I can't lose focus now," she said, Cujo barking back in response. "Yep. We're leaving Shreveport. Every second counts, and we don't have time to waste. I mean, we've been gone less the two months and have already covered most of the mid-west. And before you say anything, yes, I know that's a lot, but you know I'm paranoid. Only question now is where to go from here?" Once again, her companion barked, answering her question. "Hmm…southeast, huh? I guess that wouldn't be too bad. We could make our way to Florida and then ride the east cost for a while. Maybe get across the ocean."
Danielle heard the all too familiar sounds of her stomach growling, causing her to blush in embarrassment while Cujo barked happily at her.
"Oh shut up! Ok, so us trying to make it across the ocean is a bit of an impossibility considering our limited food supply and the fact that there's pretty much nowhere to rest. We probably wouldn't even make it through the first half of day one. So what else can we do?"
Cujo began to bark excitedly while Danielle listened carefully to what he was getting at. It didn't sound like too bad of a plan so long as they stayed in hiding and didn't get themselves noticed. They could pull it off so long as they could avoid certain parts of the continent, and from there it would be pretty easy to slip under the radar.
"I think maybe that we could do that, but instead of flying along the cost and landing on an island that we probably shouldn't, what if we head north from Florida? We could avoid the mid-western area by going over it and heading west before heading south. If we can make it to Mexico, we can slip under the radar and never have to worry about getting found again because no one in the country would be looking for us! How does that sound?" The green puppy barked happily, making Danielle role her eyes at him. "Of course you don't care how we get there. You just wanna say it was you idea."
With a soft giggle, Danielle picked up the speed, heading for the edge of town and to her next destination.
Agent K paced around the office him and his partner, Agent O, shared, a look of disapproval and anger on his face. Things had not gone well for the two agents, and it was all thanks to that Phantom kid. First, he makes a fool of them at every turn, then he stops them from destroying the Ghost Zone, and then he saves the world using ghosts! They were nothing but scum, and somehow, he got them to work with him.
Of course that only led to more problems for the two. Constant failures were already bad enough, but then the Ghosts proved that they really weren't as dangerous or as bad as everyone thought they were which hit their department hard. They were no longer allowed to investigate anything as they pleased. Now, they had to have a probable cause that a ghost was causing a problem, and even then, they had to report to an expert in the field. And the only ones willing to work with them were…the Fenton's.
The two Agents couldn't stand the fact that they were now taking commands from a punk teenager just because he was supposedly more knowledgeable on the subject then they were, though the Fenton's weren't any happier about the arrangement. But they were getting special government funding that was originally going to the Guy in White, so they would deal with them if need be. And fortunately for them, they didn't have to deal with them often.
Agent K was beyond livid, however, because of one simple fact: They were humiliated and the laughing stocks of the world. Here they were, supposed to be the best at dealing with Ghosts, and they couldn't handle one kid at all. Then, to make matters worse, two more show up to "protect" the world.
"This is completely unacceptable," he said to his partner who was sitting behind his desk searching through files for anything that they could look into. "How could this have happened? How could we let a bunch of kids trump us like this?"
"Simple. They're noisy and stick their snotty little noses where they don't belong," O said with distain. "What bugs me is all this talk about Phantom being a parent. I mean, how do we know that the girl isn't just some little brat he picked up to try and keep from getting caught by us? For all we know, she's nothing but a danger to us all and he's just trying to cover up so he can look good."
Agent K stopped his pacing as his partner's words swirled around in his head. That made sense. They didn't know anything about this girl other than what Phantom had told everyone, and for all they knew, she was danger to everyone, even Phantom himself. But that wasn't going to be enough. They needed more.
"O, tell me, do we have a list of what this girl had been up to?"
"Right here," he said, pulling up her file. "We have property damage, reckless endangerment to humans, attempted assault on a human and, most recently, gang related activities as well as going AWOL. Based on what we've seen, she hasn't been seen in Amity Park for almost two months. But it doesn't matter. So long as she's wearing Phantom's logo, she's protected and under his jurisdiction."
"That may be true, but," K said with a twisted smile on his face. "Let's not forget that we have no other information on this girl other then what Phantom has told everyone. Based on her record of activities, I believe that we at least have probable cause to investigate this girl and find out if she's really on the up and up, or if she's a dangerous entity that needs to be taken care of."
Agent O smiled a similar smile as his partner. "Yes, she has indeed shown probable cause for investigation and, as will probably be necessary, detainment until forth notice and information has been collected."
"Suit up, O. We're going to catch ourselves a Phantom."
To Be Continued…