Not Your Danny – Ch 1. Moving Day
Submitted by @ecto-american: After Danny’s untimely death, his family and friends turn to Dani for comfort. She was so much like him in every single way. And she never felt more like a clone. A replacement for the “real” thing.
Summary: Maddie and Jack learn a lot of things about their son after his death: his powers, his secret life as the local hero, the truth behind his accident three years ago. And his clone who is so much like their boy. When Dani gets the offer to join their home, she thinks it's too good to be true. And she just might be right.
Word count: 2761 | links to ffn and ao3 in my bio
Two weeks after Danny dies, Danielle moves into his bedroom. It's a lacklustre affair. Dani has no belongings to bring with her, except the few trinkets stuffed in the pockets of her shorts. She only owns one pair of clothes, two of you want to be technically and count her ghost form. But that's tenuous at best when you consider the circumstances of her creation, and that her clothes were created withher, not given to her. She doesn't like to think about that too much, though.
Neither of Danny's parents are home for the occasion. Dani doesn't blame them. Her face time with Maddie and Jack Fenton over the past three years equals an hour at most—hour and a half if she really pushes it. And most of that time was with an ectogun between them. If she counts the times where she hasn't been staring down a glowing green barrel, then it's probably only five minutes, maybe less. And that only happened a few days ago.
Suffice to say, Dani and the Fentons don't have a good relationship, or a relationship of any kind. So she doesn't blame them for being out of the house when their dead son's clone, who they only recently found out about, takes over his bedroom. Although take over might be too strong of a phrase.
Dani floats next to Jazz, hovering in front of Danny's open bedroom door.
"Is it... okay?" Jazz asks.
Dani drifts inside, turning her head from side to side as she looks around. She likes the blue walls, and the open brick on the outer wall is kind of cool. The bed, covered in a purple bead spread, topped with a fluffy pillow, looks softer than anything she's ever slept on. The room is nice, if a bit messy with Danny's stuff still inside. Posters decorate the wall, some about space, others from some band called Dumpty Humpy. The shelves are stuffed full of books and model spaceships. His dirty clothes lie next to an open hamper in the corner of the room.
The sight surprises Dani more than anything.
"What are you gonna do with his stuff?" she asks. "Do people usually just," she gestures toward the room, "leave it like this?"
"What? No." Jazz shakes her head and quickly wipe her hand across her eyes. "When someone dies, their family or friends eventually pack their stuff away. Not always right away, though."
"Two weeks isn't long enough?"
Jazz's breath hitches. "Don't– don't say that. It's inconsiderate."
Dani's cheeks go hot at Jazz's admonishing tone. "Oh. Sorry." She floats further into the room, if only to escape the awkward air settling between them.
If Dani didn't know any better, she would guess that Danny had just stepped outside for a second and would be back any moment. Lowering herself to the floor, Dani settles on the carpet and walks toward the desk. A controller of some kind sits on the desk chair, its cord tangled with a headset. Dani picks the controller up and turns it over in her hand. She only vaguely recognizes the X logo in the middle of it; her travels over the past couple of years haven't exactly involved a lot of gaming. Or any.
There was a small handheld system she picked up at a garage sale once. She carried it for a few months but lost it somewhere along the way.
Dani tosses the controller onto the chair and turns back to Jazz. "So, now what?"
"Well, if you're not comfortable with Danny's things still being in here, we can get some boxes and start packing. I think we have some in the basement. If you want." Jazz tacks on the last three words with a soft voice.
"No, it's fine."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, course." It's just stuff, after all. Dani doesn't quite get it, which also means she doesn't care. If the Fentons don't want to move Danny's stuff yet, then it can stay. He was their son before he was Dani's cousin/DNA source.
"Okay. I guess I'll just... let you get settled, then. I have to work on some plans for the memorial, but Mom and Dad should be home in a couple hours. They said they wouldn't be gone long," Jazz says.
Dani nods. A few seconds of silence pass, and once it's obvious that neither of them is going to say anything more, Jazz turns and walks down the hall. Finally alone, Dani lets her ghost form fall away. The transformation rings prickle as their bright light ghosts over her skin, and when it fades, she's left in her typical shorts and hoodie. Dani rubs her arms until the prickling fades, then flops onto the bed.
Damn. It really is the softest thing she's ever lain on. And the blankets are warm. They smell like Danny, too. That's something Dani never thought she would think. She didn't even realize Danny had a smell, but it's hard to ignore now. It's not the most tangible smell. The best word Dani can find to describe it is crisp, like a cold day. She would bet her beanie that it was because of his ice powers, an ability they had never shared.
Dani shakes her head. Everything is weird enough right now. The last thing she needs to be contemplating is how Danny used to smell. It's also, like, a super creepy line of thought, yeah? Yeah.
As she stares up at the ceiling, a blur of movement catches her eye. Her gaze jumps toward it, in the corner of the bedroom closest to the door. A small brown lump clings to the ceiling. A bug, no doubt. Dani can't tell what kind, and she doesn’t care enough to find out. It's not too surprising, considering how messy Danny's room is. There's probably some old pizza hiding under his bed or something.
Dani rolls onto her side and closes her eyes. A little bug doesn't bother her, not after the places she's slept. And if the Fentons won't be home for a while, and Jazz is busy, she might as well take advantage of her new bed and the next few hours to get some shuteye. God knows she needs it.
Maddie feels sorry for Vlad's receptionist. She bears a striking resemblance to Maddie herself, with short auburn hair just a touch redder than Maddie's own, a curvy frame, and a sharp, pointed chin. She's even wearing blue, bless her heart. The girl is pretty, and young, and kind. Can't be too far out of high school, and hoping a job at the mayor's office will look good on her resume. Maddie hopes it pays off. The girl deserves it for putting up with Vlad daily. Working for him seems to be taking a toll on her, judging by the distressed look in her eyes when she looks up from Vlad's appointment book.
"I'm sorry, there's no appointment for you. I don't know if I can let you in," she says.
Maddie sighs. "Mr. Masters left me a message"—or several—"asking me to come in."
"I'm really sorry, but he didn't mention expecting you... oh no." The receptionist's eyes widen and she starts digging through papers on her desk. "Did I forget to write it down again? He got so upset last time."
Maddie reaches out and touches her shoulder, stopping the frantic search. "It's all right, dear. It's not your fault."
She suspected, when Vlad left numerous messages on her cellphone rather than calling the house, that something more was up. How Vlad even got her cellphone number she doesn't want to know. She will also be changing it very soon thanks to this incident.
"He's particular about his meetings," the receptionist says. "I really can't let you in."
"Just let him know I'm here, and I'll take care of the rest."
The receptionist nods. While she goes for the phone, Maddie steps away from the desk and turns back to the waiting area. It's empty besides her and the receptionist—not surprising this early on a Monday, and all the better for Maddie. She pulls her cellphone from her purse and checks the time; It's just after eight. Dani is due at Fenton Works soon, but Maddie and Jack won't be back until noon, at least. The reminder makes her wince.
Missing half of Dani's first day at home isn't ideal, but Maddie wants to get this meeting over with as fast as possible. They had other plans in the city, anyway, made before they invited Dani into their home. Better to get everything done at once.
Maddie eyes plush waiting room armchairs, wondering if there's any point in sitting down, when the receptionist calls out, "Mrs. Fenton?"
Maddie opens her mouth to answer, but her phone—still in her hand—buzzes at that moment. Jack's name stretches across the screen. "Excuse me." She steps toward the elevators on the far side of the room and turns her back to the receptionist, the closest semblance of privacy she can get, before answering her phone. "Hey, Jack. Is your meeting done already?"
"Not even close! How goes the shopping?"
"Fine so far. I forgot we didn't ask...." She tenses, feeling the receptionist's stare at her back. "We didn't ask what she might need, so I'm just grabbing the basics. Do you want me to pick something up for you? Are you waiting on the park board?"
"About that... I'm with them now, and—what day did we settle on for the memorial, again?"
Maddie shakes her head, but not out of annoyance. Jack forgetting the day hardly surprises her. He tends to forget the little details. If anything, it makes her feel grounded. The past two weeks have been a lot, to put it lightly. A lot of changes. A lot of revelations. But she can always rely on Jack to be his usual self.
"A month from today," she says.
"Thanks, baby! You're the best! See you later." The phone beeps as Jack hangs up. Maddie sighs while the corner of her lip twitches upwards. It's the closest she's come to smiling since Danny died. She holds like that for a moment, caught between the ache choking her heart and the desire for things to get better. They won't, not for a long time. She won't fool herself into thinking otherwise. But it's nice, for a moment, to pretend things might be okay.
"Leaving Jack alone with the DPR? I feel sorry for them." Vlad's slimy voice ruins the moment after the first syllable.
Maddie tenses, clutching her phone tighter, and turns to face him. "Vlad. It's bad business to ask for a meeting, then make your guest wait."
When Vlad smiles, his whitened teeth cut a bright slash across his cheeks. It's too wide, too sharp. Never reaches his eyes. Maddie remembers, long ago, when Vlad had a soft smile. He used it sparingly, doling it out to only the most deserved. She can't imagine him smiling like that now.
"Well, I don't mean to be presumptive, but when I phone a friend hoping for a visit, I expect them to stop by my house, not my work."
"Your mistake, then."
The receptionist's typing falters. Her have yet to stray from her screen, but Maddie already knows she's listening in. Vlad probably does, too.
"Natalie!" he snaps.
The receptionist jerks upright. "Yes, sir?"
Vlad rests a hand on Maddie's back and pushes her forward. She moves, if only to step out of his reach, and heads toward his office. Vlad reaches into his suit jacket as he walks. He pulls out his wallet and pinches a few random bills, tugging them out without looking. "Take a break. I'm sure you could use a coffee to perk you up."
He leans in front of Maddie to drop the bills on Natalie's desk. The contact makes Maddie grimace, and she hurries ahead into his office. When she turns, Vlad is already closing the door. The last thing Maddie sees of the waiting room is Natalie's frown as she glances at a paper cup sitting in plain view on her desk.
"Now, Maddie." Vlad turns. Rather than heading to his desk, he steps toward Maddie and touches her arm. "How are you doing?"
"You left me seven messages just so you could ask that?" Maddie brushes Vlad's hand off. In three long strides, she cuts across his office and takes one of the visitor's chairs. While the waiting room had plush armchairs, these are made of dark wood, armless, with firm leather cushions and straight backs. A deliberate choice, no doubt.
Vlad comes up beside her, his hand on the second chair. Before he can sit, Maddie swings her purse off her shoulder and drops it on the empty cushion. Vlad pauses, glances between her and the bag, but relents and takes his seat at the desk instead.
His chair sits considerably higher than Maddie's.
"I can imagine the pain you're going through right now," he says.
Maddie's fists clench. "Can you really?"
"Believe it or not, yes, I can." He pauses, giving her a chance to respond. But whatever question he wants her to ask, whatever game he wants to play, Maddie refuses to give in. She might have put up with him once, but after what he's done, he will be lucky if she willingly suffers his presence ever again after today.
She waits for Vlad to elaborate.
"I'm sure you've wondered, all this time, where Danny went whenever he disappeared for hours. Being our city's young hero explains a lot of it, yes, but to be honest, that wasn't everything." Vlad stops to take a deep breath, closing his eyes for a brief moment. It's quite the performance. "To tell you the truth, he was often with me."
Bullshit! Maddie wants to shout, but she bites it back. Her jaw aches from how hard she clenches her teeth.
"I discovered his secret a long time ago and gave him a safe place away from home. You know, when conversation at the dinner table got to be too much." Vlad pauses again, letting his words sink in.
Maddie hates that she knows exactly what he means. All those times she and Jack discussed their inventions, their plans for when they finally captured the ghost boy. Most of what Vlad is saying might be a lie, but the truth within it cuts her deeply. "Really?"
Vlad might think himself a great actor, but he's apparently ignorant to Maddie's own deception. He nods at her questioning tone, eyes low and mouth pressed into a grim line. "I understand this is hard to hear. I did my best to make him feel safe, and we actually became close. Over the years, I came to think of him as something of a son. And his death has affected me deeply."
He stands, trailing his hand along his desk as he walks around toward Maddie. His shoulders droop, as if Danny's absence weighs on him. It really is a good performance. Peering closer, Maddie sees that he even looks pallid, and purple bags rest under his eyes. A look easily accomplished with some pale foundation and smudged eyeshadow.
"It's like a piece of me is missing without him. I'm sure you feel the same. We need each other, Maddie. To make us whole again."
Vlad reaches toward her, but she ducks away from him, slipping out of her chair. His hand falls through the empty air and he stumbles, nearly falling into the chair.
Now he's being ridiculous, Maddie thinks. She could have fallen for the makeup and the sob story if she didn't know better, but the off balance act? The distressed look in his eye when she pulls away? She's insulted that he thinks she would fall for it.
"You're right Vlad. I'm in pain. Danny is gone and it feels like he took a piece of me with him when he died. But I have my family to help me through it." She grabs her purse off the other chair and heads for the door. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have somewhere to be."
"Vladimir!" Her shout tears at her throat. She turns on him, blinking to fight back the burn in her eyes. He stands frozen where she left him, crumpled pathetically against her empty chair, one hand still outstretched. Maddie swallows the lump in her throat. "Enough."
She leaves without another word.
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Chapters 1-6 (originally published in 2012) (If this does well I will continue it)
this might be a little weird for some people. this is basically a post apocalypse/ societal collapse fic.
Vlad gets his wish to rule the world and runs it into the ground.
Takes place in the year 3010
( relies on the headcannon that halfas age VERY slow)
@scarf-it-box Jokingly also called this my Pokémon ghost fic and I cackled for 10 mins. cause yes sort of, but that's a less messed up way to describe what chipping is LMAO
Nyx helped his brother, Salem, over a large chunk of rubble.
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Salem hesitantly asked his older brother. Salem wasn't too happy about entering the ruins that used to be Amity Park. "Aren't you worried about the radiation?"
Nyx scoffed a bit before he pulled his oxygen mask over his head. He turned the lever on the side of the mask and it gave off a slight hiss as it sealed closed, clean filtered air flooded the mask and Nyx breathed it in greedily before he responded to his little brother.
"Na," Nyx said with a smile as he watched his brother activate his mask. "That nuclear bomb went off here back in 2013; I think the land's had more than enough time to air out."
"Well, what about the ghosts? They're supposed to be stronger than any of the oth-." Salem began but he was cut off by his brother.
"Those Ghosts are the whole reason I decided to hunt here!" Nyx proclaimed. "We need to chip a strong ghost if we're going to win any of the arena fights!"
Salem sighed; he knew his brother was right. The stronger the ghost they chipped, the more likely they would win in the arena fights. And the more fights they won, the more money they would earn. Salem smiled at the thought of having a shack, a warm bed, and water, fresh clean filtered water! He always wanted to know what clean water tasted like! He had heard that clean water used to be common before the global nuclear war, he wasn't sure if that was true though because no one really remembered the life before the disaster. To the people of his generation, small stories like that seemed like fairytales though.
Salem's thoughts were interrupted by a very loud and very ferial growl. He and his older brother whipped their heads around in the direction of the sound to find a huge green dog standing about twenty feet away from them. Salem and his brother stared at the red eyes and drool covered fangs of the large beast that was in front of them with their mouths hanging open, pure terror on their faces.
"!" The boys screeched at the same time and ran into each other in a panic, Salem fell on his butt, and on impulse, Nyx picked his brother up and swung him over his shoulder before he broke into a full out sprint in the other direction. Nyx hurtled over rubble and jagged pieces of metal panting severely. He stopped dead in his tracks when he came to a wall, in fact, he almost ran into it because it was so dark out and he couldn't see anything! 'We're trapped!' Nyx thought in panic. His thoughts were scattered once again when he heard the same spine-shivering growl from before.
"Nyx…" Salem whimpered from over his brother's shoulders. Nyx quickly placed his brother on the ground and stood in front of him protectively; his knees turned to jelly as the dog trotted forward and sniffed him. His hair blew back as the dog snorted warm wet air into his face, completely covering him in snot and spittle. The dog opened its mouth once again to growl, and the boys watched as the droll fell from its mouth and stretched across its teeth. Salem hugged his brother tightly around the waist, scared out of his mind; Nyx returned his brother's hug while he was cowering in fear. They both thought that they were going to die but just as the dog was about to launch at them it stopped suddenly at the sound of something squeaking. The dog turned around and cocked its head to the side before it bounded off into the bushes. Nyx slumped on to the ground exhausted and Salem breathed out a sigh of relief before he sat down next to his brother. It was at that time that a white-haired ghost boy popped up in front of them a few several yards away, the ghost laughed a bit.
"I can't believe Cujo still reacts that way to his squeaky toy!" The ghost laughed.
Nyx smiled and took out his chip launcher from his back pocket, aimed at the ghost's neck, and fired. The ghost crumpled to the ground, which was a sure sign that the mind control device was working. Nyx pulled out a controller from his coat pocket and turned it on, he then typed a demand into the controller and the ghost stood up.
"Care to check out our new ghost," Nyx said with a smile. Salem smiled and walked forward to study their new fighter. The ghost had green eyes and white hair; he was dressed in a black and white jumpsuit and had a white D with a P in it on his chest. Salem turned toward his brother with a smile.
"Do you think we'll actually win now?" he asked.
Nyx smiled at his brother and nodded his head. "Yeah bro, I think we will, I have a good feeling about this one!"
While Nyx was busy recalibrating the controller and testing their new ghost's reflexes, Salem decided that he wanted to take another look at the wall that had nearly gotten him and his brother killed. Call him crazy but he had a weird feeling about that wall, he quickly pulled out his emergency flashlight that had been carefully tucked away in his sock. The light cast across the large wall and illuminated a large symbol that was in the center of it. There was a large D with a p within it carved into the stone. Salem's flashlight froze on that spot as he glanced back at his brother. Nyx had his flashlight in-between his teeth as he was rewiring the controller, Salem's eyes flicked from his brother to the ghost that was standing next to him. His eyes froze on the symbol in the center of the ghost's chest; it was the same one that was on the wall.
"No way…" Salem whispered as he swept the light over the rest of the wall, he stopped when the light illuminated a giant hand.
"Holy!" Salem yelped and dropped his flashlight.
The extra noise caused Nyx to stop what he was doing and glance over at his little brother.
"Salem, what's the matter? You ok?" Nyx called after he pulled the flashlight out of his mouth and pointing it at his little brother.
"I, I,-There's a hand!" Salem cried as he shakily picked up his flashlight and pointed it at the giant stone hand. "An-and lo-look at this!" Salem stuttered as he pointed his flashlight at the symbol that was carved into the eroded stone.
Nyx farrowed his eyebrows in confusion as he stared at the symbol in the stone.
"Is that his?" Nyx said as he pointed at the ghost that he was standing next to.
"Yeah, I think it is…" Salem responded.
Nyx glanced over at the wall again and turned the power level on his flashlight too high. He swept the light up and down the large wall only to discover that the wall was actually a statue, and not just any statue, it was a statue that resembled the ghost they just caught. The statue was huge and it was on its side, completely covered in vines and the occasional flower, the hand that Salem had pointed out was broken off from the statue but everything else was still together. The statue looked like it was a memorial of some kind and Nyx knew that memorial's always had plaques of recognition on them somewhere.
"Quick, hold this," Nyx said as he passed the controller to Salem. "Don't move and don't touch anything!" Nyx said as he began making his way to what he assumed to be the base of the statue.
"What, why?" Salem asked. "Nyx, where are you going?"
"I'm just going to look at something, see if it's there or not," Nyx replied over his shoulder as he began to pull off the vines and small roots from what he thought was the pedestal of the statue. Finally, after removing a number of plants he stopped when he saw a gold plaque gleaming in the light of the flashlight. Nyx spotted some faded writing on the plaque; he quickly rubbed the dirt off the writing.
Nyx jumped before glancing in the direction of his brother's voice, "Don't do that, and didn't I tell you to stay put!"
"Sorry, I, it's just creepy to be by myself out here," Salem replied quietly.
Nyx's expression softened, "It's alright bro, I'm sorry I snapped at you."
"It's ok." Salem answered, "But you still didn't tell me what that is."
"It's a plaque, they sometimes have writing on them and I think this will tell us what this statue was built for. That and I think it will tell us something about the ghost we just chipped." Nyx replied as he finished rubbing off the dirt.
"This statue is placed in every capital of every nation around the world, and it will stand there for as long as we have our world because without Danny Phantom we wouldn't have one." Nyx read out loud.
Salem and Nyx shared a glance before they looked over at their ghost.
"Hand me the controller," Nyx said to his brother. Salem handed his brother the controller without taking his eyes off their ghost.
Nyx typed 'tell us what your name is' into the controller and hit enter.
The ghost's reply was shocking to both of them.
"My name is Danny phantom." The ghost replied in a monotone like voice.
Shortly after the discovery of the statue, Nyx had decided to take pictures of it with his camera, before making their way back home. Nyx and Salem climbed over the fallen rubble as they made their way out of Amity Park.
"Nyx I think I've heard that name before..." Salem said slowly as Nyx pulled him over another chunk of rubble. Their ghost was following behind them silently floating a few feet off the ground, occasionally phasing through rocks, broken pieces of buildings, or just random pieces of unrecognizable rubble.
"Really? Where?" Nyx asked after his brother had fully climbed over.
"I was at the chop shop and old man Archer was telling stories and—."
"I thought I told you to stay away from Archer!" Nyx scolded, "That man is off his rocker and he's been filling your head, and the head of every other person who's stupid enough to listen, with nonsense stories!"
"They're not nonsense!" Salem retorted.
"Right," Nyx said with sarcasm "Because stories about a half-human –half-ghost hybrid, which saved the planet on a bi-weekly basis totally isn't a load of crap!"
"Well, it isn't when the hybrid's name is Danny Phantom!" Salem snapped. Nyx became silent as he stared at his little brother, trying to decipher whether or not he was lying.
"You're sure he said the hybrids name was Danny phantom?" Nyx asked.
Salem nodded "Cross my heart and hope to die." He replied seriously while making an X over his heart.
Nyx glanced back at their ghost, making eye contact with the lifeless green eyes.
"You're quite the conundrum aren't you?" Nyx muttered underneath his breath.
Salem's eyebrows furrowed in confusion as he looked up at his brother "What's a conundrum?"
"Uh... nothing forget I said it," Nyx said dismissively.
"Do you think we should cover him up somehow before we get back to the village?" Salem asked, "I think he'll stick out like a sore thumb if we don't and the last thing we need are some control thieves finding us."
Nyx sighed and ran his hand down the side of his face, he didn't even think of control thieves! The last thing he needed right now was to have their ghost stolen from them.
"Come on, there's a small market place in between Amity and Endora. Maybe we can get a cloak for him there." Nyx replied as he typed the command 'Turn invisible and follow us' into the controller and hit enter. "I'll keep him invisible until we get it ok?"
Salem nodded, a little relieved that his brother had thought this out.
Finally, the two brothers and their ghost arrived at an old market place that marked the halfway point to their home village.
The market place resembled a small shantytown made from the rubble and jagged parts that were salvaged from the neighboring destroyed towns that had met a fate similar to Amity Park's. Bedsheets and blankets were nailed to the front of the different, crude, and misshapen buildings, and they fluttered in the desert wind revealing the entrances to the shops. A number of people busily walked in and out of the buildings carrying clothes, food, and the basic essentials. Meanwhile, beggars made their way through the crowds asking people if they could spare a few morsels of food, or maybe an article of clothing.
The sight of the busy market caused electric sparks of excitement to flow through Salem. He had never been to a place like this before. Nyx entwined his hand in his little brothers and pulled him closer to his side.
"Don't talk or look at anyone, the merchants here are bloodsuckers," Nyx whispered to his brother.
Salem's eyes widened. "They're vampires?" he asked with a frightened tone.
"What? No—I, it's an expression ya dimwit!" Nyx said with a laugh as he griped his brother in a headlock and gave him a noogie, completely messing up his brother's hair in the process.
"Nyx -stop it- already!" Salem said between his shrill laughter. Nyx smiled at his little brothers' reaction before releasing him from his playful grasp.
"Alright, alright," Nyx said in a teasing tone before pointing at one of the run-down shops. "Let's go pick a cloak for our friendly Phantom."
The two brothers headed off towards the shop. Salem was the first to get there and he eagerly pulled the fluttering bed sheet back so he, his brother, and an invisible Phantom could enter the hot and dank clothing/ grocery shop.
The shop keeper looked up at her now entering customers with a lopsided grin.
"Hey Nyx, catch a ghost yet?" she teased lightly.
Nyx glanced around the shop, just to make sure it was empty before he smiled back at the shopkeeper.
"If you close up the shop I'll show him to you," Nyx said in a sing-song voice.
The shop keeper squealed in delight before disappearing outside.
Salem glanced over towards his brother with a look of confusion, but then he saw Nyx's half ladled eyes and realized that a love-struck expression was set on his older brothers' face. Salem couldn't help but smile mischievously.
"So… what's her name?" Salem asked.
"Huh?" was Nyx's unintelligent response as he snapped out of his thoughts.
"I asked what her name was," Salem repeated as he bounced up and down on his tiptoes. "And why haven't you said anything about her? You obviously must come here a lot. Waite is this where you go for hours on end?" Salem didn't get to finish his questions because Nyx had slapped his hand over his mouth when he saw the shop keeper had come back inside.
"Hey Sasha, all closed up?" Nyx asked.
Salem noted that the shop owner's name was Sasha.
"Yep, all closed up. So… who's your young traveling companion?" she asked with a curious smile. "And why are you covering his mouth? I'm pretty sure he doesn't like that all too much."
"Mhm, mham, mahamma." was Salem's annoyed muffled reply. Tired of waiting for his brother to remove his hand he decided to lick it.
Nyx pulled his hand away from his brother's mouth in disgust.
"Dude, you just licked me!" Nyx cried as he wiped the saliva off on his pants. "That's so sick!"
Salem laughed at his brother's expense, before smiling at Sasha. "Hi, I'm Salem! I'm his little brother; I helped him catch our ghost earlier today."
"Well it's very nice to meet you Salem; you know what? you look hungry." Sasha said with a thoughtful smile "I just got in a new shipment of green apples this morning, would you like one?"
"YES!" Salem cried without a second thought, he loved apples and he hadn't had them in so long because they were so expensive.
"I thought so…" Sasha replied as she walked behind the wooden counter and retrieved a tray of apples from underneath it.
"Go ahead and pick one." She said as she set it down on the counter and Salem gladly helped himself.
Sasha smiled lightly before turning her attention back to Nyx, who was leaning up against the wall on the opposite side of the room.
"So are you going to show me the ghost or no?" she asked shrewdly.
Nyx responded with a teasing half-smile while he pulled the controller out of his back jean pocket. He then typed the command 'show yourself' and hit enter.
Phantom then became visible again to Sasha's delight.
"Oh gosh he's so color coordinated!" she cried "That's adorable!"
She quickly circled the ghost to get a better look at him.
"And those green eyes are almost hypnotizing." She said very giddily. "I've never seen anything like it! Where did you say you got him again?"
"Uh… Amity Park." Nyx replied as he ran his hand through his hair.
Sasha froze. "Y-you went into Amity Park! Are you crazy! You could have gotten you and your brother killed!"
"Well I didn't, now did I" Nyx replied smugly.
"Well we almost did die cause' there was this BIG green ghost dog that tried to eat us up!" Salem explained as he got into a cross-legged position in front of the wooden counter. "But this ghost saved us and then Nyx chipped him. So he's ours now!" Salem finished before taking a large bite out of his apple.
Sasha glared at Nyx and folded her arms over her chest. "You chipped the ghost that saved your life?"
"Well, I had to chip some ghost and he seemed like the easiest," Nyx replied with a nervous laugh.
"That's horrible you know!" she scowled, she opened her mouth to lecture Nyx, but was cut off when several screams and shouts filled the air followed by the roar of motorcycles.
All three of them paled.
"Control thieves…" Sasha gasped out in worry, "Quick hide the ghost!"
"I'm afraid it's too late for that." A man called out casually as he entered the shop, he pointed his gun at Salem. "Give me your controller or his brains are going to be splattered all over the front of that counter." The big biker said with a toothless grin.
"Okay, Okay." Nyx said as he took the controller back out of his pocket, planning to command Phantom to attack the guy.
"Eh, don't try to be a hero. I'm not stupid, put it on the ground now!" the bicker growled out.
Nyx paled and followed the biker's directions.
"Kay now kick it over!"
Nyx kicked it over to the biker, but that was a big mistake on the biker's part because the controller switched off when Nyx kicked it.
A now free Danny phantom shook his head as his vision came back to him.
'Where the heck am I?' phantom thought in confusion as he glanced around his surroundings. It was at that moment he noticed the man with the gun and his instincts kicked in. He sent a green ectoblast at the man's back. The impact of the ball of energy sent the biker spiraling through the air and he crashed into one of the metal walls of the shop. His limp, benumbed body slowly slid down the wall.
Salem, Nyx, and Sasha stared at Danny, their mouths agape.
Danny farrowed his eyebrows in confusion at the reaction.
"Are you folks ok?" he asked with concern.
Sasha was the first to snap out of it. "Uh… yeah, yeah—we're fine, thanks to you I mean." Sasha bit her lip. "Uh… Y-you're not going to hurt us are you?"
Danny tilted his head with a calculating look on his face. "Well are you going to try and hurt me?" he asked.
Sasha shook her head. "N-no we won't."
A kind smile erupted on Phantom's face. "Then I'm not going to hurt any of you then." He replied, but then his smile was replaced with a look of confusion once again. "Though do you guys know where I am, or how I got here?"
"Well, you're at the middle-way market, just outside of Amity Park," Sasha replied, before jabbing a thumb towards Nyx. "This Jerk here chipped you after you saved his life and you've been under his control till now."
Phantom's eyes flashed a bright green. "You put me under mind control!" He growled.
"W-we-well, I, I'm S-sorry it's just that I need to be A-able to T-Take care of my Li-little brother and fighting ghosts is the only way I know how." Nyx stuttered out.
Phantom's eyes soften slightly.
"You don't look much like a ghost hunter, usually they're carrying ecto guns and screaming 'the moment I get my hands on you I'll tear you apart molecule by molecule'!" Phantom explained as he acted out the 'molecule by molecule' bit.
Nyx blinked. "Well I usually catch a ghost in order to have it fight against another in the battle arena. I would be controlling the ghost threw out the fight and if I won then the ghost would remain under my control and I would get the ghost of the person who had lost and vice versa. No one actually destroys ghosts anymore, they've become too much of a large portion of cultural entertainment. Though if you don't mind me asking, what's and ecto gun?"
Danny's eyes practically bugged out of his skull. "You don't know what an ecto gun is!"
'How many years was I asleep….' Danny thought with dread.
Danny woke up with a killer headache and the heat of the morning air was not helping him.
'God all mighty, what the heck did I do last night' Danny groaned as he rubbed his eyes and sighed.
He shifted his body so he could sit up, but he smacked his head on a hard surface.
Danny jolted and quickly glanced up to see what was hindering him and found that he couldn't see.
'Ok Fenton breathe… don't panic. You're not buried alive! You're just… stuck in a confined space that's made out of wood and just so happens to resemble the shape of a coffin.'
Danny quickly shook the memory from his head before it could fully play out. He didn't want to relive what he had seen, or what he had felt when he realized what had happened to his family and friends along with the rest of Amity.
Danny closed his eyes a look of pain eminent on his face.
"Are you ok?" a young voice asked softly. Danny opened his eyes and glanced in the direction of the owner of the voice. He found a young boy staring at him from a cross-legged position on the floor.
"I think I'm doing just fine considering I woke up this morning to find that everyone and everything I ever loved or knew was destroyed," Phantom replied miserably.
Danny sat down on the floor and stared at the trio in the room. An awkward silence was currently filling the thick, dusty atmosphere.
"But if you don't mind me asking, do you know what today's date is? I want to know how long I've been asleep." He inquired softly.
"It's October 20, 3010," Sasha replied.
"I'm sorry, what?" Danny responded with a dumbstruck expression, "That's not… that can't be possible!"
Nyx looked at the ghost with confusion. "What do you mean that's not possible?"
"The year was 2013 when I fell asleep! There's just no way that it's 3010. I couldn't have been asleep that long! I shouldn't have been able to survive that long either!" Danny cried out in a panic, practically pulling his hair out.
"Whoa, wait a second. You're saying that you were alive the year that the global nuclear war started?" Nyx breathed in disbelief.
"Well, he is a ghost, you idiot!" Sasha snapped while whacking him on the back of the head. Nyx cringed in response to the unexpected blow before glaring daggers in her direction. Though all of that went unnoticed by Danny, due to the fact he was having an anxiety attack.
Danny's eyes widened in realization, "Oh, I didn't even think about that! I haven't turned human..." Danny paused to count on his fingers, his already heavy breathing speeding up some more, "In 1,097 years!"
Sasha blinked. "Turned human?" She was about to ask what the ghost meant but she was cut off when the room was suddenly filled by a blinding blue light.
Sasha, Nyx, and Salem simultaneously shielded their eyes behind their hands.
When the extraordinarily bright light finally stopped they glanced at where the ghost had been sitting, only to find a pale scrawny boy, with raven black hair and icy blue eyes. He was wearing a pair of torn blue jeans and a red and white tattered T-shirt that was falling off of him because he was so undernourished.
The boy keeled over and gasped for air while clawing at his throat.
"Do you—have any water?" Danny gasped out in a raspy voice.
"Y-yeah let me go get it," Sasha replied, a little shaken. Her brain was too shocked to do anything but do what the boy had asked of her. She wandered numbly out of the front of the shop and disappeared into the back room.
Nyx stared at the now human boy on the floor in front of him. "How… but… you—you were just a ghost!" he sputtered out, dumbstruck. "How… what are you?"
"Old man Archer was right!" Salem cried, "You really are a human-ghost hybrid! The stories about Danny Phantom/ Fenton are true!"
Nyx went wide-eyed, 'There's just… no way,' he thought silently, his mouth dropping open slightly.
Danny glanced up at the young boy. "Well of course I am, but everybody should know that already, so why are you all acting so surprised?"
"We're all surprised because the adventures of Danny Phantom/Fenton are considered to be a fairy tale, an old legend, a story told around a campfire to keep the morale of children up," Sasha said as she entered the room—she seemed to have gotten over most of her shock—and handed Danny a large glass of water. The young halfa brought it up to his parched lips and chugged it down without a second thought. Once he was finished he wiped his mouth on his arm and smiled up at Sasha.
"Thank you." He said as he handed the tattered metal cup back to her. Sasha carefully took the cup from his shaking hands.
"You're welcome... gosh you're shaky, and so thin too. Do you want something to eat?"
"I'd love that, thank you!" Danny replied with a smile.
Sasha nodded. "Sure thing,"
Danny turned his attention back to Nyx. "You said that 2013 was the year of a nuclear war?"
"Yeah… why?" Nyx replied tentatively, but then he suddenly came to a realization, "Wait, you don't know anything about the war do you?"
"Uh… no… I don't." Danny replied softly with a sad look. "How many other cities were destroyed?"
Nyx hesitated for a second before he quietly said, "All the major ones were wrecked."
Danny looked like he was going to cry. "If I had been awake I could have stopped all of it..."
Nyx watched as Danny pulled his knees to his chest and buried his head in his hands, black hair shaking slightly with silent sobs before a few audible cries finally tore their way out of his throat.
"I'm so sorry…" He apologized, not really knowing what else to say.
"What do you mean you could have stopped it? It was a war between nations, there's no way you could have done anything. You're only one person, after all..." Sasha said as she entered the room once again with a bowl of hot stew. She handed the bowl to Danny, who accepted it gratefully.
He took a sip from the bowl in an attempt to at least make one part of his body feel less crappy before he managed a reply to Sasha.
"I succeeded in uniting the world once. Who's to say I couldn't have been a mediator? I might have been able to talk them out of conflict." Danny argued with a depressed expression now on his face.
"But you were – and still are – just a kid, they might not have listened to you anyway. So if you think about it they still could have had the war regardless of whether or not you were awake, and 2/3 of the earth's population probably would have been wiped out anyway," Nyx chimed in, giving his best try to comfort Danny.
Though in reality he just made Danny sink deeper into his current depression. He watched as the seemingly young halfa buried his head deeper into his knees.
Since Danny's knees were still pressed against his chest and his arms were loosely crossed over each other and resting on top of his kneecaps, Nyx could only see the raven top of the boy's head due to the fact his face was hidden by his knees and arms. The bowl of stew Danny had been so gingerly sipping from was now resting on the floor beside him with steam slowly wafting up from it.
Sasha scowled in Nyx's direction and shook her head. She bent back down in front of Danny and tapped him gently on his head.
Danny glanced up at her with dull crystal blue eyes that looked like they were just about to spring a leak any second.
"Hey, listen," She said seriously, "What Nyx is trying to say is that as long as you did what you were capable of doing at the time and you put your best effort into it then you shouldn't blame yourself, because you did all you could. Okay?"
"But I didn't do all I could, instead I was 6 feet under in some weird coffin contraption-like thing," Danny replied softly, his eyes cast on the dirty wooden floor in front of him.
"But you couldn't help the fact that you were there, just like you couldn't help the fact that you were asleep while you were in it." Nyx supposed, he knitted his eyebrows together and then nodded sagely. "And technically you did do all you could before that happened... I mean you saved the entire world from the Disasteroid. How many people do you know that can claim they saved the entire planet?"
Danny laughed lightly at Nyx's enthusiasm. "Not many… but it still doesn't make up for the fact all of my loved ones are…" He paused before stuttering out, "D-Dead."
Danny's bottom lip started trembling when he said the word 'dead'.
"Hey," Sasha said as she ran her hand through his wild black hair. Danny leaned into the soft gesture, remembering how Jazz used to do the same thing whenever he was upset and venting to her about some ghost attack or an outrageous homework assignment. "They may be gone, but we're not."
"Yeah!" Salem cried as he got up and ran over and hugged Danny, smiling up at the ghost as he said, "You are officially my adopted big brother!"
Danny's lips curved up into a small smile as Salem buried his head into Danny's chest, and he hugged the little boy back.
He knew that Sasha was right in a sense. He knew he was never going to get to see his family again, but these three people in front of him were offering to help him and to treat him like their own family. They would never replace his family and friends of course; no one ever would, or could, for that matter. Though Danny wasn't entirely sure he could trust these people, after all, he had only met them a few minutes ago; he didn't really count being put under mind control by one of them as a first meeting.
Danny quickly transformed back into Phantom; he wasn't sure he really wanted to stay with them once he realized that Nyx had tried to take advantage of him.
"Wait, what did you do that for?" Sasha asked, startled by his sudden change in demeanor.
"Yeah; why?" Salem echoed questioningly, shivering from the sudden close-contact exposure to the cold, ghostly energy of Phantom.
Danny smiled at the two of them. "Thank you for your hospitality, but I think it would be safer for me to leave. I don't think I really belong here."
"Yes, you do!" Salem proclaimed as he met Danny's gaze. Salem's arms tightened their grip on the thin ghost boy as he said; "I don't want you to leave!"
Danny was silent; he was obviously stuck between a rock and a hard place.
All the occupants in the room jumped and looked in the direction of the door. There was a man standing in the doorway dressed in what Danny could only guess to be a futuristic cop costume.
"Is that ghost registered?" The cop barked coldly, narrowing his eyes.
Nyx and Sasha froze. Salem snuck behind Danny's shoulder.
"Well, don't just stand there like a bunch of morons! Is he registered or not?"
"Uh..." Nyx scrambled for an answer to the cop's question, "No, he's a newly captured ghost; I haven't had him registered yet…." He finished lamely.
The cop nodded in understanding, his glare melting away. "Let me see your hunting license."
Nyx quickly pulled the collar of his shirt aside so he could expose his shoulder. His shoulder was covered in a bunch of dots and squiggles – tattoos? – that looked like complete gibberish to Danny.
The cop pulled out what looked like a portable version of the scanner that was used to ring up groceries at a supermarket. He held the scanner over Nyx's shoulder; it hummed for a couple of seconds before making a short and high pitched 'beep'. Shortly afterward a holographic screen popped up right above the small device.
"So… your name is Nyx Smith?" The cop chuckled lightly, "With a fist name as unique as that I was not expecting your last name to be so… ordinary."
"Heh," Nyx laughed nervously, shifting his weight to his left foot awkwardly, "I get that a lot."
The cop flicked the screen to read further down. "Uh… let's see. You were born in the year 2992. Your parents are deceased. You are the legal guardian for Salem Smith. You're 18… Ah, here it is! You were licensed in 3008. Sorry about all the trouble, it's just with all of the control freaks coming through earlier I have to make sure everybody who owns a ghost is actually licensed."
"That's understandable… Oh and speaking of control freaks, my ghost took one out… because I totally commanded him to, it's not like his chip is off or anything; 'cause that would totally be against the law!" Nyx blurted out hurriedly, his eyes darting around the room.
Sasha stomped on Nyx's foot in order to get him to shut up before smiling sweetly at the cop. Danny couldn't help but think of Tucker and Sam as Sasha jerked her thumb in the direction of the wall. "The thief is over there."
The cop raised an eyebrow at the sight of the limp body right next to the wall. He walked over and scanned the thief's shoulder as well. "Well, well, it seems like you guys caught Peyton Baxter. U.S. enforcers have been looking for him for quite a while now." The cop paused, clearly thinking something over before cheerfully saying, "Tell you what, I'll register your ghost right now for free since you went ahead and stopped the wretched dirtbag. I'll even brand him for you that way he can only be controlled by you!"
Nyx's eyes widened as his eyes nervously flicked between the cop and Danny. "Uh... I really don't think that's necessary, besides you do so much for the community already."
The cop just dismissed Nyx's comment and went ahead and did it anyway. He registered Danny in his scanner and then branded him with an electric brander.
Danny had to bite his tongue in order to keep from screaming when the cop branded him.
"Well..." the cop said as he walked back over to the control freak and swung the guy easily over his shoulder, "That's that. Have a nice night folks!"
The four of them watched as the cop left and once Danny was sure the cop was finally out of earshot he immediately grabbed at his shoulder and cursed almost every ghost hunting weapon known to man. His father would have been both offended and very proud.
"That freaking hurt like hell!"
"I'm so sorry! I wasn't expecting the enforcer to do that, I swear!" Nyx exclaimed.
Danny glared daggers at the boy and in a dangerously quiet voice asked; "What did he just do?"
Nyx gulped. "He registered you and branded you so legally your mine."
"I'm not legally anybody's! I'm a person, I have rights!"
"Well, unfortunately now you are because we can't undo the branding or the registration," Nyx replied hesitantly, not at all liking the look that Danny was currently giving him.
In fact, the ghost boy looked like he was about to strangle the young hunter.
"Hey, look at the bright side; at least no one else can chip you anymore because you've been branded and I'm sure Nyx will keep your chip deactivated…" Sasha tried to reassure Danny, "Right, Nyx?" She asked, jabbing Nyx with her elbow.
Nyx nodded his head. "But the branding does have one bad side effect… Uh… It also works like an invisible leash. You can only be so far away from me, so…I guess you leaving is out of the question now, huh?" He finished with a nervous chuckle, warily meeting Phantom's electric green gaze.
Now Danny really looked like he wanted to wring Nyx's neck.
"Yeah! So that means you can be my new big brother!" Salem exclaimed as he happily hugged the hybrid once again.
"Yeah, you really are family now Phantom, and don't worry, you'll be treated just like a brother not a piece of property. I promise." Nyx swore.
Danny's anger depleted. "Cross your heart and hope to die?"
Nyx nodded and made an 'x' over his heart, never looking away from Phantom.
"Okay, then maybe this isn't as bad as it seems." Danny sighed, trying to be optimistic.
"Uh... Danny, do you mind finishing your stew? It's expensive to make and if I give it out for free then I want it all eaten." Sasha said.
Danny nodded in understanding before allowing the two bright blue rings of light to wash over him once again.
Once he was completely human again he sat back down in his previous spot and began to finish his stew.
Danny looked up at Nyx, lowering the spoonful of stew he was about to eat back into the bowl. "Yeah?"
"What happened to your body?"
Danny's human body had gained a little weight, he was a lot less pale and he looked a bit healthier.
Danny blinked after glancing himself over. "I-I don't know. I mean I always knew I could heal superfast, but… this is something else!"
Sasha and Salem laughed.
"Well while you're eating I'm going to go see what cloaks we have in stock."
Danny raised an eyebrow at that. "Cloaks?"
Danny stared at the selection of cloaks that Sasha had placed on the counter for him. They were all very long and had a hood attached, in fact, they kind of reminded him of something he thought Clockwork would wear.
Sasha picked up the first cloak and stretched it over Danny's chest to make sure that the cloaks she had pulled were the correct shoulder width.
"Okay, so it looks like all of these will fit just fine!" She said with a smile as she glanced up at the seemingly young halfa before she continued, "You might want to change back into Phantom though."
Danny raised a skeptical eyebrow. "Why?"
"Well… The cloak is supposed to be for your ghost half; it's to make you look more human when we enter my home town later." Nyx explained.
Danny glanced at Nyx with a hurt expression.
"More human…. Isn't my human half-human enough?" He asked softly, blue eyes dulling with a seemingly long-forgotten sadness.
Nyx blinked, picking up on the hurt tone in Danny's voice.
"Well yeah, your human half is plenty human but you don't have a social security symbol on your shoulder in your human form. This means if you were to ever get caught by the enforcers that would be a huge problem." Nyx explained as if it was obvious.
"Yeah, they'd arrest you!" Salem chimed in as he tugged on the bottom of Danny's shirt, a worried expression set on his face. After all, he didn't want his new big brother to be taken away.
Danny looked down at the young 10-year-old with a raised eyebrow.
"Even if they did arrest me they wouldn't be able to hold me for very long, all I would have to do is go ghost and phase-out of the restraints or whatever," Danny replied with a soft smile as he ruffled the boy's hair. "So don't worry about it."
"Well, regardless, your human half looks like a bum; your clothes are all torn and they do kinda look like they are from another time period. It's probably better to stay in your ghost form."
Danny bobbed his head in understanding.
"I see what you're saying, I really do, but you don't understand. I can't stay in my ghost form forever. It takes up too much energy, and when I use too much energy I pass out and revert back to my human form anyway. Not to mention I can only eat and sleep in my human form, and I need to do that in order to regenerate all of the energy I need in order to change into my ghost half in the first place." Danny explained, scrunching up his eyebrows as he thought about the complications of his weird existence.
Sasha and Nyx shared a look; this was going to be a lot harder than they thought.
"Well, why don't you just turn into your ghost half so we can pick a cloak, and then I'll work on finding clothes for your human half?" She asked with a slightly hesitant tone to her voice.
"Thank you… I really do appreciate what you're doing." Danny said with a small reassuring smile.
Sasha blushed and fiddled with a strand of her hair.
Meanwhile, Nyx shot silent icy daggers in Danny's direction. He didn't like the fact that Danny had gotten Sasha to blush so easily when he had been trying to get that reaction from her for years. Nyx loved her, he was sure of that and he wanted to make her happy. He wanted her to look at him with the same look she had just given Danny. He knew he was sounding really self-centered, but he really couldn't understand how she was falling for a guy who was at least a thousand years old.
"Nyx?" Danny asked pulling Nyx from his thoughts. "You okay?"
Nyx's eyes shot up at the halfa, some of the earlier ice still sparking within them.
"Of course — I'm fine — why wouldn't I be?!" He responded in a rushed, sardonic tone.
Danny raised an eyebrow but didn't say anything. Soon a bright blue ring erupted from Danny's waist and split up and down his body, changing him into his ghost half.
Once the bright light from the transformation faded the group heard a loud crash from the front of the store. The three kids and the halfa glanced at the front of the room to find an older blond-haired man with tan skin and a large backpack slung over his shoulder. Another bag of what looked like pans and pots was spilled out in front of him.
"Dad!" Sasha gasped out "What are you doing? I— you weren't supposed to be home for two more days!"
Sasha's dad paled as his eyes flicked toward the young hybrid.
"Y-you, y-you're D-D-Danny P-Phantom!" he stuttered out in astonishment, eyes growing to the size of dinner saucers.
Danny blinked dumbly in surprise.
"You know my name?"
"You're Sasha's dad!" Nyx blurted out. This was the first time he had met the man, not just heard other people talking about him.
Sasha's dad ignored Nyx's question and dropped his backpack on the floor next to him before, walking over to Danny, sticking his hand out in front of him.
Danny glanced at the hand before reaching out to shake it.
"How…" the man trailed off, not entirely sure how to ask the question that was rattling around in his brain.
"...Am I alive?" Danny guessed, finishing the man's sentence for him.
Sasha's Father just nodded his head; his look was a mix of astonishment and what seemed to be slight hero worship.
Danny shrugged his shoulders slightly "I'm actually not entirely sure, I just kinda woke up and your daughter and her boyfriend Nyx had been helping me out. I don't know where I'd be without them right now."
Sasha's father blinked.
"Her boyfriend?" He asked, now finally glancing toward Nyx for the first time.
"What? Nyx is not my boyfriend! We're just friends!" Sasha exclaimed shortly after Danny's remark. Danny couldn't help be reminded of how Sam and him used to act whenever Tucker said something like that.
Her father's face scrunched up in confusion and he quickly repositioned his glasses on his face. The action sort of reminded him of Tucker.
Danny frowned slightly as he felt a pang of sadness go through his heart. Man, he missed them...
"Okay," Sasha's dad said as he crossed his arms over his chest, "Anyone care to explain what's going on?"
Danny busily pulled the top cloak off of the pile. Trying to keep his mind off the fact that his new 'Family' had just stepped outside to have their own little meeting with Sasha's father. He felt like they didn't trust him to some level. It wasn't fair; they had no right to not trust him. They weren't the ones who were put under mind control! Anger, resentment, and frustration all began to swell within him. They had no right to treat him like this; they had no right to leave him in here alone and in the dark!
He didn't want to be in here alone… his mind wandered when he was alone. It wandered to places he didn't want it to like it was right now as he stared at his reflection in the mirror while he tried on a mustered yellow cloak.
That color reminded him of Tucker, his longtime best friend who was now...
Danny whimpered, not allowing himself to finish his thought as he ripped the cloak off his shoulders before violently tossing it across the room. It hit one of the shack's roughly made walls and slid to the floor in a crumpled heap. The impact caused small dust particles to fall from the makeshift ceiling.
Danny quickly turned his back to it. Turning his head to the pile of cloaks, hoping to distract his mind from its forming memories. But unfortunately, his mind was only launched into more painful memories as he stared at the vibrantly colored turquoise-colored cloak on top of the pile. Turquoise was Jazz's favorite...
Fresh tears sprung to his eyes as he desperately hurled it to where he had thrown the other cloak. The next one was blue, his mother...
Danny felt more hot tears roll down his cheeks as he disposed of it much as he did with the other two.
Orange... His father.
Danny's sob caught in his throat, he couldn't do this anymore… He couldn't ignore their memories or the fact that they were gone. He couldn't go on and pretend that all of this was just simply okay; he couldn't continue to fake his smile...
Danny broke down; uncontrollable sobs soon began to wrack through his body as he slid to the floor. His back was up against the mirror. The dusty silver surfaced showed his reflection as it mimicked his every move.
He couldn't do this…
"Wow," Sasha's father whistled and shook his head sadly, "He's been through a lot."
"Yeah, we know." Nyx said as he crossed his arms over his chest, "And he's also been borderline angsty since we met him. I think it has something to do with his family."
Sasha shot Nyx a condescending glare.
"Of course it has to do with his family!" She proclaimed before punching him in the arm, "How would you feel if you suddenly woke up and everyone you loved was dead?"
"I've already almost had that happen," Nyx mumbled as he sent a longing glance towards his younger brother. Salem was all he had left...
Sasha dropped her glare, it had been so long since Nyx had even brought up the death of his parents that she had almost forgotten that they were pushing up daisies and lying ten feet under in the first place.
"I'm sorry Nyx I didn't—"
Nyx put a hand over Sasha's mouth.
"It's alright; I really don't want to talk about that."
She nodded and gently pulled his hand off her face.
"Uh... okay." She replied awkwardly.
Sasha's father looked between the two with a worried expression. Wondering just what his daughter had gotten herself into.
Hale made his way through the vacant halls of Armistice Dalv's castle, dragging an unwilling but handcuffed, Peyton Baxter behind him.
"Will you stop your squirming!" Hale yelled over his shoulder as he yanked on the glowing blue cord that was attached to Peyton's handcuffs, causing the young Control Thief to stumble forward slightly.
"I'll stop squirming the moment that Dalv croaks!" Peyton spat.
The Enforcer frowned and pressed the red button at the top of the cord he was holding. The simple action caused the blue cord to spark and send about 30 volts of electricity through Peyton's body. Peyton's form became ridged as the electricity shot throughout his body before he crumpled to the ground with a muffled yelp the moment it stopped.
"I'd hold your tongue if I were you," Hale replied simply, not even looking at the boy.
Peyton glared at the enforcer with another hateful sneer while he panted, trying to catch his breath.
"Bite—" he wheezed, "—me."
Hale let out a growl and glared down at the rebel, his thumb hovering over the red button. Hale was going to press it too, but—fortunately for Peyton—Hale stopped when he heard someone shout his name.
Hale turned around to see who had just called him and let out a slight gasp when he saw who it was. An elderly man who was at least in his 80's was striding quickly down the hallway with his arms crossed behind his back. He was wearing a fine black silk suit top and a pair of ordinary ratty slacks. His completely gray hair was pulled back into a small pony tail.
"Uh... Armistice Dalv!" Hale called out hesitantly as he saluted the man.
"Good evening Hale," Dalv said with a short nod before turning his attention to the chained prisoner on the floor. "And who might this young man here be?"
"This is Peyton Baxter, sir," Hale explained. "He was a member of a band of Control Thieves that were raiding the middle way market. I was bringing him to you for questioning."
Dalv frowned and looked Peyton over.
"It's a shame," Dalv tisked softly before continuing, "With a few weeks of training you would have made an excellent Enforcer. After all, you have the build, and if you have been retaining important information for so long that you had to be brought here… then you must have a strong will. Both are good qualities I look for in someone that I employ."
Peyton blinked and stared at the man like he had grown a second head.
"So," Dalv began, "Which member of your team managed to catch our little thief, hmm?"
"Uh... No one, sir..." Hale answered quietly, "He was caught by a teenager named Nyx Smith and his newly caught ghost... I believe he named it Phantom?" The man paused for a moment before continuing, "But anyway I registered the new ghost for free for him since he did lend a major hand in catching this hooligan here." Hale motioned carelessly toward Peyton.
Dalv's eyes widened and he pressed his lips together in a thin straight line, a look of silent disbelief overcame his expression.
"You said the ghost was named Phantom?" Dalv asked.
Hale nodded, wondering why the other man was asking about that little fact. What could be so important about the ghost's name?
"I wonder…" Dalv mumbled under his breath before glancing back up at the enforcer again, "Tell me, Hale, did this ghost happen to have pure white hair?"
"Do you understand what I wish you to do?"
Hale studied the letter he was just handed before looking back up at Dalv.
"No, not entirely... The kid's 18 and... you want him to become an Enforcer?" Hale questioned with slight disbelief.
Dalv pinched the bridge of his nose in response to that. Hale was a good Enforcer but he swore that the man had been hit over the head one too many times.
"I am not hiring the child; I just simply wish to talk with him. I'm planning to invite him to participate in the annual 'Battle of the Spirits'. Something tells me that the competition will be interesting this year, assuming he does decide to attend." Dale replied as he folded his arms behind his back.
Hale simply cocked an eyebrow before asking, "Why... why is he so important?"
Dalv scowled and glared at the 25-year-old. "The child isn't all that important, no, what I'm interested in is his new ghost."
Hale stared at his employer's devious expression for a moment, slightly perplexed at his words. In truth the man had always made Hale nervous, he always seemed to carefully hide things from not only him but from the public as well. Hale had also seen how good the man was at manipulation and torment... two skills that Dalv was especially famous for using during his interrogations. It often left Hale wondering just how many times Dalv had manipulated him into doing something he didn't wish to do. He wondered if he had been doing it to his father, Dominick... heck, he might have been doing such things all the way back to his great grandmother Valerie.
His great grandmother had been the first Enforcer. It was said that she was fearless and was incapable of being led astray from making the right decisions. When he was younger Hale completely believed that. In fact, he even looked up to his great grandmother as a hero and always wanted to be just like her. Hale wanted to follow in his ancestor's footsteps and work for his family's seemingly immortal boss. Yes, you heard him right, immortal; Dalv had been around for centuries but the general public didn't know that. No, that little secret was well guarded and kept among select people and their families.
"Hale, my boy, are you alright?"
Dalv's voice pulled him from his thoughts.
"I'm fine, sorry… I'll take that letter now," Hale said, flashing his boss a fake smile.
Sasha and her father lifted the flap to the shop, entering the musty space once again with Nyx and Salem following close behind them.
"Hey Danny, we're back!" Nyx called out. He was expecting an immediate response from the halfa but when he didn't get one he immediately stiffened. He pulled Salem behind him out of habit. He was always overly protective of his little brother.
Calling out once more, though this time with a more worried tone, Nyx yelled, "Danny?"
All that he received in reply was silence, the likes of which only cause him to worry further.
Sasha watched, mortified, as her father pulled a gun out of his back pocket.
"Stay together, I'm going to go check things out… After that control thief scare earlier today... I just don't want you guys to get hurt. Stay behind me, alright?"
The trio of kids nodded and followed after Sasha's father. They checked the shop through and through, everything seemed normal and fine but... they couldn't seem to find Danny anywhere.
"Something's wrong..." Nyx breathed out, still on edge, "Where is he?"
Salem farrowed his eyebrows in confusion. He didn't get why the all the grownups were acting so strange and he also didn't get why they couldn't see Danny. Salem could see his outline in front of the mirror on the far side of the room. The young ten-year-old left the safety of his older brother and walked over to where Danny was. As he got closer he could hear the faint sound of sobbing.
"Salem?" Nyx called. He watched with curiosity as his little brother knelt in front of the mirror.
Salem reached out and lightly grabbed Danny's see-through shoulder. It was at that moment that Danny jumped in surprise and dropped his invisibility. He lifted his tear-stained face from where it had been previously resting on his knees. Haunted, dulled green eyes seemed to stare straight through Salem.
"Danny?" The group called out in astonishment.
Danny didn't respond, he just buried his head back into his knees. It was bad enough that Salem got a full view of him crying, the others didn't need to see him like this. He was such a mess... such a broken, weak, pathetic mess...
Salem looked down at Danny and squeezed lightly on his shoulder before asking kindly, "Are you okay?"
Danny didn't answer; instead, he just wrapped his white cloak tighter around himself. He had found the cloak at the very bottom of the pile. He liked the color white. It was bland, pure, and unfeeling, and to top it off, it didn't bring back any of the agonizing memories that he didn't want bubbling back to the surface of his mind. For now, it was his safeguard, his anchor.
"Danny?" Nyx inquired softly once again as he walked over and bent down in front of the halfa. He had a pretty good idea about what was bothering the white-haired teen.
"Please just leave for a little bit Nyx... I... I need some time by myself." Danny mumbled half-heartedly.
In truth Danny didn't really want to be alone again, he never ever wanted to be alone, but his pride wouldn't allow anyone to see him crying.
He then snorted internally; if Jazz were here she would probably be screaming at him... she would probably sprout some form of psychological mumbo-jumbo that proved that all healthy men cried. She would probably also threaten to sick their parents on him if he didn't tell her what was wrong. That had seemed to be her favorite new threat since that whole Disastroid incident, since he had told them and the rest of the world about his ghost half. It was also one of the most effective threats Jazz had ever used on him.
Danny laughed slightly, the noise creating a sad, echoing sound.
God... he missed Jazz... he missed everyone.
Danny scowled as new ghostly tears began to flow down the sides of his face. He was starting to get sick of all this touchy-feely crap that his mind was putting him through. Danny sniffled and buried his face further into his cloak, feeling miserable and slightly embarrassed.
Nyx frowned and glanced up at Sasha's father, asking, "Could you and Sasha take Salem outside for a few minutes?"
Sasha's father nodded in understanding and dragged the said two out the door with him. Once the familiar rustling of the tarp that acted as the front door stopped, Nyx sat down crossed-legged in front of Danny. His hand fiddled with the crucifix that was hanging around his neck. Anyone that would have known him would have taken the simple action as a sign that he was anxious or uneasy.
"So... you... want to talk about it?" The blessed gold jewelry flashed in the fading light that was leaking through one of the nearby dusty windows.
Danny froze. Did he just hear what he thought he just heard?
Seeing Danny's less than stellar reaction, Nyx continued hurriedly, "Listen, I know that you probably don't want to even talk to me about something like this-"
"You remind me of my sister," Danny interjected quietly, something unidentifiable lacing his voice.
Nyx paused and gave Danny a disbelieving look, not entirely sure how to respond to that, "Um... excuse me?"
Danny looked up at Nyx for the first time since he had come back in. Teary, red-rimmed, dim green eyes met with shocked sliver-blue ones.
Nyx stared at Danny's disheveled appearance for a moment, taken slightly aback by Danny's messy white hair and tear-stained face. Danny was supposed to be a hero, right...? He was supposed to be a strong and invincible hero, something of a legend. But from what he saw of the boy that was sitting in front of him... he didn't see anything that even remotely resembled a hero. What he saw was a frightened and desperate 14-year-old boy... Truthfully Danny reminded Nyx of himself shortly after realty had set back in on that awful day his parents had died.
Hal was never one for long country trips; especially after dark. It wasn't that he was afraid….well actually it kinda was…..but it wasn't a fear of the dark but rather a fear of what was hiding within the shadows. Call him paranoid if you wish, but it was that primal fear that's kept him alive for all these years. Everyone knew just how dangerous the world became after dark, especially if you were traveling at a fast rate on a hoverboard through the darkest parts of the Misty Forest. The forest was dense and always covered in a mixture of polluted air and fog that was so thick you almost couldn't see your hand in front of you. Not to mention it also doubled as a breeding ground for unchipped ghosts and a hideout for gangs of control thieves. So if you didn't harm yourself by accidentally crashing into a tree, thanks to the smog, then you had a pretty good chance of getting a few bruises while tangling with the forest's unfriendly inhabitants.
The only good news about the Misty Forest was that it was a direct route to the midway market. That's where Nyx was and by the looks of it Hal would have Dalv's letter in the kid's hands by morning. Well, assuming the tracer in Nyx's arm wasn't malfunctioning. They tended to get a bit glitchy whenever a new ghost is bound to the security mark; it makes their signal flit in and out and that sometimes makes it hard for his tracker to get a read on. Still, signal or no, Hal probably would have started at the market anyway since it was the last place that the kid and his brother were reported being seen. So at least he wasn't wasting time even if the kid wasn't there. He would just have to play detective till either the kid's signal became stronger or till he found him.
"You really should stop pouting like that whenever you're in thought. You're gonna get frown lines."
Hal frowned and turned his attention to his ghost. She had been in the family for generations; passed down from his grandmother all the way to him. Hal had a tendency to keep her controller off unless he was visiting Dalv's palace. It was against the law, but what people didn't know wouldn't hurt them. Besides she's never hurt him and he generally preferred having someone to talk to, even if that someone was technically dead.
"You don't need to be such a smartass, Dani." He grumbled.
The ghost girl chuckled as she tucked a few strands of her stark white hair behind her ear. She had been fiddling with her hair since they began the trip this morning. Her hand would often wander to the peace of white and red cloth that she often used to tie off her hair into a ponytail.
"I'm not being a smartass; I'm just trying to start a conversation with you. You're boring when you get all broody and pretentious." Danni said flippantly as she grabbed a hold of Hals board and turned both it and him intangible so they would avoid hitting the tree he obviously couldn't see. Hal jumped at the sudden change. He hated when Danni did that without warning. He hated the cold chill that came with the intangibility; it almost felt like someone randomly pushed you into a vat of Ice water. Though, he would rather be cold than run into a tree at 90 miles an hour so he really didn't have that much room to complain. "So why exactly did the old dictator send us on a field mission? Not that I'm complaining, I enjoy being as far away from that man as possible."
Hal raised an eyebrow at that. "Why do you hate him so much? If it weren't for Dalv the human race would have died out years ago. He saved us! I mean, I know he makes some questionable decisions sometimes but I'm sure he has everyone's best interests in mind."
Danni huffed at that. Best interests….The only interests that Vlad kept in mind were his own and if Danni hadn't already made a promise to Val all those years ago then she would've let Hal hear exactly what she thought of Vlad; In all his despicably shitty glory. Unfortunately, though that knowledge could possibly put Val's great, great, great, grandson at risk and she wasn't about to go back on the promise she made. Just because Val passed away didn't mean that Danni was going to stop protecting her family. They were all she had left in this world… Hal was all she had left in this world.
"Anyway," Hal said, deciding to move on since Danni didn't answer him. "He wants me to give a letter to some kid named Nyx."
Danni squinted at the paper that Hal held up for her to read.
"Is that a personal invite to the annual battle of the spirits?" The amount of astonishment that was in her voice was almost humorous. Vlad never personally invited anyone to anything what so ever. Something was up.
Hal had been right when he had estimated that they would get to the market by morning. The shop owners were all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, which was the exact opposite of how he was feeling. Man, he hoped that one of these shops sold something that was caffeinated. He clicked his boots together and his hoverboard folded up and disappeared into the bottom of his shoes. He landed steadily on the ground and walked over to the nearest shop, Danni was trailing just behind him.
The old woman looked up from the cloth she had been folding and smiled at the young man and his ghost.
"Can I help you?" she kindly rasped out in a rickety voice.
"Um, yes actually. I'm looking for someone." He paused to mess with the PDA that was ingrained in his suites arm and pulled up a holographic picture of the kid he was looking for. "Have you seen him around?"
The old woman studied the image for a few seconds before slowly nodding her head.
"I have seen him hanging around the grocery shop. It's just two shacks down from here."
Hal smiled and blurted out a quick thank you as he made his way to the shop in question. Once he got there he pulled on the entrance flap only to find that it was still tied shut to the side of the door. That was a little strange. He shot Danni a confused look as he turned off the safety on one of his smaller blasters and then lifted his hand to knock on one of the shack's meatal walls.
He heard the faint murmuring of voices for a few minutes before a young girl pulled back the entry flap.
"I'm sorry we're closed—Oh, wait, hello officer." The girl stumbled over the last part of the sentence when she realized that she was talking to an enforcer. "Is there anything I can do for you….?"
Hal put on his best professional smile.
"Well yes, I'm looking for a Nyx Smith," Hal said as he flashed her Dalv's letter. "I have a special delivery for him."
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