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February 10, 2009
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Real Life
A Danny Phantom FanFiction by Cordria

Author’s Notes Version

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Chapter 10

In Which Good Luck Strikes Now and Then

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I wrote this whole chapter in a day and then wearily picked at it, editing for a week before giving up.  I hope my week of no sleep doesn’t affect it too much.  I am, however, incredibly frustrated and not feeling very well due to my lack of sleep.  Author’s comments are kind of few because of it.

Danny dropped onto the front steps of his house, staring vacantly towards the short driveway.  On the phone, his mother had sounded like she was ready to fillet him alive - not a sound that Danny was used to hearing from her.  He couldn't really blame her; he had gone into the lab, gotten grounded, and then left his parents in the woods without telling them where he'd gone.  

"You will be at home, waiting on the front steps, explanation in hand when we get home," his mother had demanded not fifteen minutes earlier, "or you will learn the true meaning of the word 'filicide'."

I had to look up the word.  Rofl

Sam, after he had hung up the phone, had helpfully supplied a definition for the word - the killing of a child by a parent.  Danny figured his mother's meaning had come through loud and clear without Sam's added input and he hadn't waited more than a moment or two before heading home, Sam and Tucker in tow.  The two had since left him and headed to their own homes, leaving Danny to face his parents' wrath on his own.

"I hate this," he muttered, propping up his chin on his hand, trying to figure out how to get out of this without being killed.  In all honesty, he'd run away from his parents and hadn't thought twice about it - being near them had been too much for him to handle at the time. Everything felt like it was too much to handle; the accident, the ghosts, these strange new abilities, Dash, school… it all sort of smeared together into a nauseating blend of life.

Pushing the thoughts ruthlessly from his mind and reaching over to pick up a stick, he tapped it against his leg as he tried to keep himself from thinking about everything.  He needed to create some sort of story to tell his parents when they showed up.  Although he'd never been good at lying, his oblivious parents knew him well enough to usually pick up on a lie.  The one thing he had going for him right now was the fact that his mother wanted a lie.  For some reason, she refused to listen to the truth.  

"You know," he said softly, peeling off layers of bark and addressing the stick like it could answer, "I haven't really tried talking to Dad yet.  Maybe he'd believe me."  

The stick was silent.  For a moment, Danny pictured it screaming in terror and pain as he slowly stripped it of bark, tearing little pieces off in a sort of stick-torture.  Perhaps the other sticks would come to its rescue.

Suddenly his hand drained of color and the stick dropped to the ground.  Danny scowled and shook his hand, displacing the odd tingle of intangibility.  "Don’t think you get out of this that easily," he murmured to the stick.  "And I'm officially going off the deep end."  

Reaching down to pick up the stick again, something odd drifted across the edge of his vision. Danny looked up.  When nothing was there, he hesitated, studying the empty bit of grass and dying plants, almost sure that he'd really seen something.  "Ghost?"  He licked his lips, looking around, trying to catch the odd glimmer in the corner of his eye.  Nothing.

This part with the ghost was added after I wrote the whole chapter.  I think it’s kind of cute.

But he was positive something was there.  His nose was tingling and his breath felt cold in his lungs, but he wasn't losing control, he wasn't slipping into his ghost side.  "Why is it only sometimes?" he whispered, frustrated as his eyes drifted slowly across the driveway, 'catching' on one spot.  There was nothing different about this one spot - it was just more cracked tar - but Danny found his eyes drawn to it over and over.  It finally clicked in his head: the ghost was there.  He knew it, even though he couldn't see anything.

He leaned forwards, picked up the stick like it could actually be some kind of weapon, and focused on the spot in the air.  Something shimmered faintly and Danny grinned, continuing to stare at the spot.  Slowly, ever so slowly, the ghost came into view, the human world fading away into blurs of grays, blacks, greens, and blues.  "There you are," he breathed, gazing at the ghost dog.

The puppy wagged its rotting tail, tongue lolling out of its mouth, and barked.  It wasn't really a bark - it sounded more like a growling, screaming sound a demonic dog would make - but it was a definite sharp dog-like sound.  Danny blinked at it for a moment, watching in trepidation as the puppy started towards him, tail wagging furiously, glowing eyes fixed on him.  When the dog reached the blurry steps, Danny pulled his legs up and stared at the dead dog.  "Go away."

lol… Danny’s afraid of the doggie.

It barked again, putting its head down on its front legs and sticking its wagging tail high in the air.  The tags on its spiky collar glittered in some sort of ghostly light as the whole puppy's body shook with its tail wagging efforts.

"Leave me alone," Danny ordered, raising the stick to poke at the ghost.  The dog's eyes traced the stick's movements perfectly, barking and prancing a little as its tail wagged furiously.  Danny stared at the dog, glanced towards his raised stick, and shook his head.  "Stupid ghost... dog..."

He raised his hand over his head and launched the stick into the street.  The ghost instantly tore after it, uncaring when a large red shape (probably a van, based on its size) ran right through it.  The puppy pawed at the blurred stick lying in the middle of the street as Danny watched, still shaking his head sourly.  

The dog will now be a returning character.  I’m rather not wanting to name him ‘Cujo’ – any other ideas?  And yes, this is the dead Axion dog from that one episode.  I’m going to drag in as much of the actual ‘show’ as I can.

Blinking a few times, the ghost world drained away, leaving Danny staring at an empty street with his stick lying in the middle.  He ran his hand through his hair and let it fall to the back of his neck, rubbing at the tensed muscles there.  "It should bother me that that really didn't bother me."  After everything else he'd been through lately, everything else on his mind, playing fetch with a dead puppy didn't add up to much.  

By the time his parents' van pulled into the driveway, Danny still hadn't come up with an acceptable story about how he'd gotten home and why he'd left.  He just wanted - for once - to tell them the truth and have them believe him.  As his parents climbed out of the van and walked up to him, their expressions dark, Danny braced himself for the worst.  If he got out of this with less than three months of the world's strictest grounding, he was never going to do anything wrong ever again.

“Daniel James Fenton…” his mother seethed.  “I don’t even know what to say.”  She was silent for a moment, her eyes closed, her whole body quivering in a way that slightly reminded Danny of the pent-up energy in the ghost puppy.  “How did you get home?”

“I flew,” he answered steadily.  There was no way in the world his mother would believe him, but he figured it was worth a try.  His father arched an eyebrow and actually seemed to be considering what Danny had said, but Maddie's eyes narrowed, her mouth tightening.  Danny flinched, quietly realizing that whatever punishment his mother had in mind had suddenly doubled.  Telling the truth to her was simply digging his whole deeper and deeper.

Note that Jack is actually considering it.  In my story he’s going to be oblivious and random and a bit obsessed about his ghosts… but he’s also deadly smart when he wants to be.

“Don’t lie to me Danny; how did you get home?”

He sighed and gave up, dropping his gaze to their shoes and offering up the first somewhat-plausible lie that came to his head.  He didn't want to be grounded until he left for college.  “I hitchhiked,” he muttered.  “One of my friends from school drove by and offered me a ride home.”

She put her hands on her hips.  “Do you have any idea how worried we…  Are you okay?”

Blinking, Danny glanced up at her sudden change in tone.  She'd gone from furious to concerned in a matter of a few words.  "I'm fine," he lied, looking away from her.

Kneeling down next to him, Maddie put a finger under his chin and forced him to look at her.  “Sweetie, you look like you’re two seconds away from bursting into tears.  What’s wrong?”

Aw… I couldn’t get Danny grounded for any longer.  Sam’s birthday is coming up.  He needs to be un-grounded by then.

“Nothing,” Danny whispered, knowing that he couldn't tell her the truth.  She wouldn't ever accept what he was telling her.  It struck him, in an odd moment of irony, that she probably wasn't listening to him because she loved him too much - she refused to think that anything bad could have happened to him.  But he needed to tell her something, so he fished through his mind.  “I just… wanted to come home.”  When his mother cocked an eyebrow, obviously wanting more, he offered her a weak grin and tried for something at least close to the truth.  “I saw something up in the woods and I just didn’t want to be there anymore.”

“Did you see the ghost?” Jack said excitedly, kneeling down next to his wife with a grin.  “We got all sorts of readings – they went off the chart! – but we didn’t get anything on the cameras…”

“Jack,” Maddie scolded, “not now.”  She glanced back at Danny with a worried look on her face.  “You know you can talk to me if you ever need to, right sweetheart?”

Danny arched an eyebrow, weighing what he was about to say for a moment.  One more try...  “I have ghost powers?”

With a soft laugh, his mother rolled her eyes and got to her feet.  “You should have told us you were going to leave, Danny.”

“I know,” Danny muttered, watching as his mom unlocked the front door.  “I’m sorry.  I didn’t really think about it.”  A little surprised that he hadn’t gotten in trouble for leaving his parents in the woods, Danny got to his feet and followed his mother into the house.  He thought about asking her why she wasn’t locking him in a closet or something, but figured that he was pressing his luck as it was.  For the first time all week, something was going his way.

“You’re still grounded.”  Maddie grabbed the box Jack had hauled to the house and handed it to him.  “Carry this downstairs for me before I change my mind about grounding you until you’re eighteen.”

Danny grabbed the box and lugged it downstairs, hoping desperately that this momentary spike of good luck would hold out long enough that he wouldn’t have to hear the long version of what his parents had found during their ghost hunting trip.

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The Sam part is supposed to add a bit of darkness and let Vlad do his thing.

“I’m not going,” Sam said darkly, crossing her arms and glaring at her mother.  This wasn’t where she wanted to be right now; her mind was so busy with other thoughts that she wanted to just go to bed.  “This is your stupid party and I don’t want to go.”

“It’s not a party,” Pamela answered, smoothing her hands over the purple dress she’d finally deemed was acceptable to wear to the party and studying her makeup in the mirror.  “It’s a convention, dear.  There are a lot of…”

“Watch me care,” Sam muttered.  Why her mother had suddenly gotten it into her mind that Sam should have to go to the boring convention was beyond her.   Last she’d heard, only her parents had been planning on attending.

Pamela arched an eyebrow and glanced over at her daughter.  “There’s a new dress lying on your bed.  Please go put it on.”

“Why?!”   

“Because I’m your mother and I’m asking you to.  You’ve been moping around for a whole week now and it’s time you snapped out of it.”  The elder Manson leaned close the mirror and touched her lips with her fingertips.  “I don’t know what’s gotten into you lately, Samantha.”

Sam bristled, trying to hide the pure shock at the fact that her mother had paid enough attention to her to realize that something was wrong.  For a second – just for a second – she contemplated telling her mother what was wrong.  If nothing else, the woman did seem to know how to fix any problem on Earth… or, if she didn’t, she’d know someone who did.  The feeling passed quickly, however.  “I’m fine.  I just don’t want to go to a party tonight.”

“I’m sure there will be boys your age there.  Maybe you can-“

“MOM!”

Pamela smiled to herself as her daughter stormed from the room.  “We’re leaving in a half-hour, dear,” she called.   

Clomping up the stairs to her room, Sam stared down at the dress lying on her bed.  “I don’t want to go to the stupid party,” she whispered, her arms crossed and her back tense, frustrated at how her mother couldn’t even listen to her for two seconds.  “Not today.  I can’t take any of my parents’ idiotic ‘social demands’.”

She dropped onto her bed and buried her head in her arms.  The convention was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back – or, in this case, Sam’s ability to think straight.  After everything she’d learned, everything she’d been through, there wasn’t a force in the universe powerful enough to make her get out of her bed.  All she planned on doing was curling up under the covers, burying her head, and forgetting everything for awhile.   

It wasn’t possible, however.  Her mind refused to shut up, replaying what she’d learned over and over.  The fact that Danny was feeding off of her aura wasn’t so bad; the idea that he was admitting that he liked how it felt was what shook her.  He’d said repeatedly that he couldn’t help it and that, if he had his way, he wouldn’t be able to feel her aura at all… but there was still the fact that he enjoyed it.  That he had all of these ghost instincts and desires and feelings and there wasn’t much he could do about them.  That he had almost no control over what was happening.  That, all around her, there were ghosts feeding off of her just as Danny did.

Her arms started to shake at the thought of how many ghosts there were around.  Danny had tried to explain, had mentioned the ‘annoying fox’ more than once, and he had painted an impossibly dismal picture.  There was a whole world out there that she didn’t know anything about.

Goth or no, lover of the paranormal or otherwise, the idea had completely freaked her out.

Directed to those who think that Sam being afraid of the idea that there were ghosts around is OOC: go read my warning on the first chapter again.  These are MY characters.  I don’t care.  (:

The worst part was the look in Danny’s eyes, the way he had seemed to know that she was panicking, the way he had kept asking if she was okay…  She’d always nodded and smiled, pushing the growing well of worry into the back of her mind and covering it up, but he’d seemed to know.  When they’d finally split, Danny to his house and Tucker to his, Danny had stood at the corner and watched her walk away like a lost puppy that would never see its owner again.

It was almost like he knew that he’d pushed too much.  She was still trying to deal with the fact that this was all her fault – the mere fact that Danny could do half of the things he’d explained about had already put a strain on her mind and had riddled her with guilt and nightmares.  With the rest of it, all poured on top…

She pressed her hands to her mouth and curled in a small ball, her forehead pressed against her knees, her breathing ragged.  What have I done to him?  She closed her eyes, picturing him standing at the corner as she walked away, looking like he’d never see her again.  Knowing that she was going to run and not look back.

To me, Sam is running around on an emotional high.  She’s struggling to keep from falling apart and showing it one of the only ways she knows how: through anger.  That’s why she snapped at her mother and then collapsed on her bed.

…can you tell I’ve forgone my New Year’s Resolution to reply to reviews right when I read them?  Some people commented on this.


Oh God, what have I done?

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Maddie sank into one of the seats at the kitchen table later that afternoon, watching her husband fiddle with the recordings they’d gathered at the Grisbee’s cabin.  The large man glanced up at her and wiped a bit of fudge off of his fingers before he unplugged his headphones and turned on the speakers.  “Listen to this, Mads,” he said.  …crrrrrpsssss… trrrrrssscccct… plassssiusss...  

“I don’t hear anything,” she said honestly.  Her husband was a little obsessed over the EVPs they gathered and he often heard things on the tapes that nobody else ever managed to hear.  In the past, he’d carted truckloads of ‘proof’ over to the local Ghost Hunting Society headquarters, only to be turned away because nobody else took his readings the same way he did.  Maddie wasn’t totally convinced that these electronic voice phenomena were real ghost ‘voices’ and not just people’s brains interpreting random sounds into familiar patterns.

Jack scowled slightly at her, but nodded and turned his attention back to his computer.  “You never hear anything,” he grumbled, fiddling with some of the settings on his laptop.  …issstake… payffffforrrr…  crrrrsssss…

They’re listening to bits of the Danny/Vlad conversation.

“I don’t want to talk about ghosts right now,” she said softly as her husband paused the recording to write something on his notebook.  “Have you seen how oddly Danny’s been acting this past week?”

“He’s a teenager going through one of his moods, he’ll be fine,” Jack muttered, replaying a segment he’d already played. …trrrrrssscccct… iaaaamplassssmiusss…  “Can you hear that?”

I haven’t decided yet if Jack is hearing the voices because he’s got good ears or because he’s got some special random talent at hearing ghosts in EVPs.  Not sure it’ll ever make any difference.

Maddie sighed and nodded.  “I’m still worried about him, Jack.  You saw him when we got home today – he looked like the world was ending.  And he’s been so stressed and jumpy.  What if he’s being bullied at school?  He came home a few days ago with that bloody nose…”

…crrrsssss… wwwwhhhrrrooo…  “He’s just clumsy,” Jack dismissed, never looking up from his computer.  “I was always falling down when I was a teenager too; I’m sure there’s nothing wrong.”  He leaned forwards, murmuring, “I’ve almost got this...” …iaaaamheeere… ssssssshrrrrracccct… hhhellllp…   

“This ‘I’m a ghost’ thing he’s gotten into is bizarre too,” she continued softly, slouching in her chair and staring at the ceiling.  “What if it’s some kind of cry for attention?  Maybe we should spend some more time with him.”

Jack grinned as he spliced together a few fragments of sound.  “I am Plasmius, I am here, help!” he read off of his notebook.  “There’s no way the GHS will be able to deny that.”

Jack,” Maddie admonished softly.  “We need to talk about Danny, not listen to that garble.”

“It’s not garble,” Jack pouted.  “Listen to this.”  He pressed the play button.  …iaaaamplassssmiusss… iaaaamheeere… hhhellllp…    When it ended, he looked over at her expectantly.  

rofl – Plasmius is calling for help.

She shook her head and closed her eyes.  “Jack…” she murmured.  “Our son is more important than some random noises.”

“Of course,” he agreed instantly, but his eyes drifted back to his computer, obviously more interested in his ghost hunting than talking about his son.  

Maddie glared at her oblivious husband for a moment, frustrated that he didn’t seem to notice or care about their son, but finally rolled her eyes and started talking to herself.  “Danny’s been acting so weird ever since…” she trailed off.  “I wonder if something happened in the lab that’s causing this behavior?  Maybe something happened that scared him…”

“This is front page of the GHS newsletter for sure,” Jack whispered, his eyes glittering.  …csssssrrrrt… oooowaaaanoooolp…

“Do you think I came down too hard on him?” she asked softly, watching Jack change a few more settings on his computer, knowing he wouldn’t answer.  “Do you think Danny’s acting like this because he was scared?  And I came down so hard on him when he tried to tell me about it…”  She sighed.  “That’s when this ‘ghost’ thing started.”

… ssssssccccccrrrrrsss… hhhellllpyooooubeeeeehuuumaaaan…  “Did that say ‘help you be human’?” Jack murmured, confused, and replayed the segment.   …hhhellllpyooooubeeeeehuuumaaaan…  His eyes widened in surprise.  “What the…?”

They’ve got two difference conversations going on.

Maddie leaned forwards are propped her chin on her crossed arms, watching her husband scribble on his notepad eagerly.  “Maybe he needs to talk about it – but I want him to understand that he can’t go down into the lab without us being there.  It’s dangerous.”

…ssssrrrrsssst... whaaassstheprrrrrrice…  “What’s the price,” Jack whispered, leaning closer to the speakers, his eyes wide.

“Maybe I should let him tell me his story; maybe that would help.  What do you think, Jack?”

…hhaaaveaaaaaffffamilllly… trsssssssscccccc… llllllovemmmmeeeee…

“Jack!
” Maddie said, sitting up.  She was about to ask her question again, wanting some sort of input from her husband, but Jack beat her to the punch

“The ghosts are plotting ways to turn human!” he exclaimed, looking at her with wide eyes.  

Maddie blinked at him for a long moment, then suddenly started to laugh at the odd statement.  “The ghosts are plotting ways to turn human?” she managed between giggles.  “Jack, listen to yourself.”

“It’s what they said,” he answered with a bit of a pout.

As her giggles died away, Maddie shook her head, her worries about her son momentarily pushed from her mind.  Jack was probably right; Danny was just being a teenager.  “I love you, Jack.”

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Sam scowled at anyone who dared come within a dozen feet of her, unhappily leaning in the corner of the large room she had claimed.  Well-dressed people mingled and talked throughout the room and Sam caught glimpses of her parents every now and then.  “I can’t believe I came,” she muttered darkly.  

She’d put up a good fight and had managed to withstand the brunt of her mother’s stubborn insistence and her father’s thinly-veiled threats, but when her grandmother had poked her head into the room and mentioned that Sam should go, the young Goth had caved.  If one stupid convention would make her parents get off her case and make her grandmother feel better, Sam would just have to stick it out.

No matter how much she wanted to go home.

Crossing her arms over the dress her mother had picked out, she tried to push thoughts of Danny and his ghostly revelations out of her mind.  It failed rather miserably.  Every time her eyes flickered across the room, she wondered how many ghosts she wasn’t seeing, how many creatures were following their humans around like dead drug addicts, how many of the things were sitting at her feet and feeding off her.  Her eyes skipped down to study the floor, seeing and feeling nothing, but knowing that made little difference.  The ghosts, so Danny had explained, seemed to be attracted to strong emotions… and her emotions were certainly going strong tonight.

She took a deep breath and ran her hands over her arms.  She couldn’t exactly understand why the concept of so many ghosts in Amity Park was freaking her out like this.  She liked ghosts; she was the resident ghost expert at the high school after all.  The knowledge that the world was literally crawling with the remnants of life should be a good thing.   

Yet it wasn’t.  The idea that there were ghosts ‘out there’ was a lot different from the idea that there were ghosts ‘right here’.  Ghosts, demons, poltergeists… they were all very interesting until they directly started to intrude on one’s life.  Then, rather suddenly, they became a lot less interesting and a lot more scary.

Ah, she’ll get over it.

And Danny was one of them.  And it’s all my fault.

Samantha Elizabeth Manson,
she chided, stop it.  You’re at a party.  Let yourself be distracted for awhile.  Her gaze swung over the party-goers and picked out a particularly pink and putrid dress.  See that?  You would normally be ridiculing the poor girl who chose to wear that.  Come on, Sam.  Forget about it for a few minutes.

Following the dress with her eyes, Sam tried to think of a comment to make.  It had every bell and whistle from ruffles and bows to tulle and intricate lace details.  It was a dress that, normally, would have kept her busy for nearly twenty minutes.

I picture my best friend’s bridesmaid’s dress…  *shudder*

Today, all she could do was wonder what kind of ghost trailed behind a dress that ugly.  It was pathetic, really.  Sam was an expert ridiculer, born from years and years of practice, and she was failing utterly.   

For a few more minutes she stood there, trying to push thoughts of ghosts out of her head, but she failed.  Slumping a little, she closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the wall.  “I shouldn’t have come to this,” she whispered.  “I should have locked my door and snuck out the window.”

It didn’t take too long before all of her thoughts cemented into one: I just want to go home.

“Good evening,” came a smooth voice.   

Sam opened her eyes to fix her darkest glare on the person that had chosen to invade her self-appointed bubble of misery and despondent panic, but faltered when she recognized the man from some of her parents’ parties.  “Mr. Masters.”

I needed one last interaction before I send the fruitloop home to his masochistic roommate.

The smile on the billionaire’s face was picture perfect.  “Samantha Manson, I believe.  And hiding in the corner so well.”

Sam felt a small flush jump to her cheeks at the soft critique, but pushed it down.  “There aren’t many other teenagers here, Mr. Masters.  I feel a little out of place,” she explained, a bit of a lie that she mentally excused herself for.

“Don’t we all,” the man murmured distractedly.   

Sam glanced around the room and quietly hoped that the man would leave her alone so she could go back to her own thoughts.  He had a vaguely creepy vibe to him, especially the way his eyes glinted in the lights.  “What are you doing in Amity Park?” she asked after a long moment of silence, resigned to at least try to be polite.

He blinked and focused on her, seeming to dissect her with his icy blue eyes.  “I was trying to acquire Axion Labs.  Many of my businesses use parts that are designed there and just out-right purchasing the place would have saved me quite a bit in the long run.”

“Didn’t get it?”

“Regrettably, no,” he said softly.  “My mind isn’t quite on acquisitions at the moment.  The timing of the meeting was unfortunate.  I will have to place another bid at some future point.”

Sam made a disappointed sound and looked away, trying to find an excuse to leave.  She’d fulfilled her social obligation towards small talk (at least, she hoped so), and now she just needed a reason to go somewhere else.   

“The reason I came over here,” Mr. Masters said suddenly, “is that I was wondering if I could ask you a question.”

Her eyes tracked back to him, suddenly wary.  The subtle aura around the multi-billionaire made all of her hair stand on end.  “I’m not sure I’d be able to answer very well,” she said slowly, suddenly feeling like the man’s presence was familiar and struggling to place it.  Where have I felt this before?

Oh, believe me, she figures it out.  Sam’s smart.  Wait for it.

“I’m sure you’ll do fine.  Have you heard of a local restaurant… I believe it used to be called the ‘Tasty Burger’?”

“The Nasty Burger?” Sam asked, her thoughts derailing for a moment in surprise.  Why is Mr. Masters asking about a fast food place?  “What about it?”

“I was just wondering if you’d ever been to the establishment.  Someone recommended the place to me and I was looking for a second opinion.”  

Although Sam was almost positive the man was lying to her, she decided to answer honestly in the hopes that the man would leave her alone.  She nodded as she edged a few feet farther from him.  “I eat there with my friends all the time.  The salads are really good.”

“Excellent.”  Mr. Master’s blue eyes burned into hers, an odd red light seeming to glitter in their depths.  The weird feeling in the air around the man became much more prominent, goosebumps racing over Sam’s arms.  “I must say, Samantha, that you’ve got very unique eyes.”

No, he’s not feeding off of her.  He’s obsessed with Danny – remember?  And he’s addicted to Maddie…  But she’s get VERY unique eyes.  Perhaps he’s seen them before with someone he doesn’t know the name of…

“Um…”  Sam took another small step backwards, sliding along the wall.   

The man blinked and his smile froze.  “I must be going,” he said abruptly, looking at his watch.  “I told my chauffer to pick me almost five minutes ago.  Thank you, dear.”    Turning on his heel, the man made a bee-line for the main doors.

Sam stared in the direction the man had disappeared, completely off balance from the man’s sudden departure.  “That was…”  She shook her head, unable to find the words to describe how she was feeling, and headed out onto the floor to find her parents.  For some odd reason, she felt like standing next to her mother for awhile.  

--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--~--

Sunday dawned bright and clear for the vast majority of Amity Park – but not for one Daniel Fenton.  He was staring bleary-eyed at his wall, desperately wishing for some sleep.  He’d fallen through his bed a grand total of eight times the night before – three times making a crash landing in the living room – and hadn’t gotten more than a few minutes of sleep.  The rising of the sun only signaled the start of the next piece of torture that was awaiting him.

The whole fiasco had culminated around midnight when he’d given up sleep as a lost cause and had ended up watching Animal Planet.  There had been some episode showing about how to train dogs and one line had stuck in his head. How do you train a dog to not bark?  By training him to bark on command.

It works with kids too, you know.  I run an afterschool program and I taught them to yell on command.  *lmao*  And they’ve stopped being quite as loud when we’re supposed to be doing homework.  Sad…

Danny’s sleep-addled brain had easily connected training dogs to bark with keeping his body from going intangible in the middle of the night.  If he wanted to learn how to stop falling through floors, he needed to learn how to do it on purpose.   

He reached out and grabbed the pencil that was lying on the ground in front of him, weighing it on his hand.  “Intangible,” he muttered, trying to remember how it had felt.  The strange not-quite-realness, unable to feel anything, the strange colorlessness…  He stared at the chewed-on pencil, focused on it as hard as he could.

Nothing.  This was going on the fifth hour of trying to turn his hand intangible and it hadn’t ever worked.  In a fit of frustration, he tossed the pencil across the room and watched it join the pile of other things he’d tried to phase through.   

“This is insane,” he said darkly.  “What can’t I do this?”

“Do what?” his sister’s voice said from the doorway.   

Danny twisted around to glare at her, uncaring that he was using his sister as a target for his frustration.  “Nothing.  Go away.”

“Stop throwing things at my wall,” Jazz said, crossing her arms and leaning against the doorframe.  “Did you get any sleep last night?”

“Yes.  Now go away.”  He got up and collected a few of the pencils and pens, carrying them back across the room and slumping back into his original spot.  “I’m busy.”

“Item forty-two on the list of freaky,” she muttered as she vanished down the hallway.

Danny rolled his eyes and ignored her.  “I need to get this,” he whispered.  “If I don’t get some kind of control over this I’m going to go mental.”   If I haven’t already, he added silently.  Rolling a pen back and forth on his hand, he focused on his hand.  “Intangible.”

When nothing happened, he closed his eyes and tried a different tactic.  My hand isn’t really there.  None of me is.  I’m just a mirage, just an image… the pen can’t touch me.  It’ll fall right through my hand because all I am is light and energy.  He concentrated on that thought for as long as he could, trying to ignore a strange tingling in his spine.  He didn’t want to stop and scratch an itch until he got this.  I’m nothing.  I’m not really here.

A small smile crept onto his lips as the simple thought germinated and grew.  Nothing’s here, actually.  I’ve got it backwards.  I’m here but everything else is gone.  There is no pen, there are no walls.  I could get up and walk straight through them because they’re not really there.   

He was so caught up in convincing himself that he was the only thing in the entire world that he almost missed the faint sound of the pen hitting the floor.  His eyes jerked open at the sound and he stared at the pen lying on the carpet.  “I did it,” he whispered, stunned.  Then his eyes tracked to his hand…

Uh-oh…

“Where’s my hand?”  He flipped his hand over, feeling the sensation but seeing nothing.  As he followed his invisible arm up towards his body, then down to where his body should have been sitting, Danny felt his stomach do an odd little lurch.  He was completely invisible.  “Uh…”

Reaching down with his hand, he picked up the pen and watched it float in mid-air for a moment, seemingly held up by nothing.  He dropped the pen again, watching it bounce once on the carpet, unable to decide how he felt about this invisible thing.  Shuffling it into his ‘think about it later’ part of his mind, he closed his eyes and tried to figure out how he was going to get back to his usual visible state.

I’m here – I’m not nothing, I’m not invisible.  I’m a human and I’ll be able to see my hand when I open my eyes.  He peeked… nothing.  Come on… not invisible anymore.

“Danny?”

*snicker*

He flinched, opening his eyes to stare out into the hallway.  His father was standing there, looking around his room at the messy bed and the pile of pens and pencils lying on the ground.  Danny froze, staying perfectly silent, his eyes wide.   

Jack backtracked into the hallway.  “Jazz!  I thought you said Danny was in his room,” he bellowed.

His sister, speaking at a more normal level from not far down the hallway, answered, “He was.”

“Where is he now?”

“I’m not his keeper,” Jazz muttered as she walked past the doorway.  “Check the bathroom maybe.”

Allusion to the show.

“Do you want to help me with-” their father started, but Jazz held up a hand.

“I’m going to the library today.”

When his father and sister had vacated his doorway, Danny slowly got up and silently closed the door to his bedroom, his invisible hand missing the doorknob on the first try.  “Not a fan of this,” he breathed.  He navigated his way back across his room, realizing it was a lot harder to walk when invisible, and stared at his missing reflection in the mirror.  “Visible,” he whispered.  “I want to be visible.”

He shimmered back into view, his eyes flickering with fading green lights.  Leaning forwards and running a hand through his hair, he could already tell it was going to be a very long day.  When he grabbed some clothes and headed to the bathroom, he never noticed his mother, leaning against a doorjamb at the end of the hallway, watching him closely.

What did she see?!?!  Did she notice that there was nobody in the room and then he walked out of it?  Did she see the door close on its own?  Will she admit that her son is a ghost?

Stay tuned…


In real life, good luck strikes now and then.

(end chapter 10)
DP (C) Butch Hartman.
Story (c) Cordria.
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:iconadne:
Adne Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
i once heard someone call their dog with the name; MISTER MITTENS! HERE OR NO ROASTBEEF FOR YOU TONIGHT! then a bulldog happely came running to him! XD
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:iconcordria:
cordria Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
Mister Mittens? *laughs* Fantastic.

-Cori
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:iconadne:
Adne Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
yeah, that's the only reason why i rememberd it XD
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:iconpeski:
Peski Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2009
I'm reading this, trying to absorb all the drama and angst, but I can't. Your commentary is just too amusing. :XD:

It's so entertaining watching (uh, reading?) how Danny's struggling with his powers and how everyone's coping. Which prompts me to ask; have you ever studied psychology? :evileye:

(I really gotta try that bark on command thing. You think it works with jumping on tables, too? :P)
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:iconcordria:
cordria Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
It should. I've done it with barking, throwing pencils, and (most lately) with running out the door. Once you give them a time TO do it (and then actually do it every now and then), they seem to not do it on their own. Go figure.

I've got my kids trained to scream every time I say the word 'blue'. *chuckles* I make sure to say it once or twice when nobody will be bothered by it. They listen really closely, waiting for me to say it... tempting me... it's like child torture.

I'm glad you like the commentary. :XD: I've never studied psychology, but I've been around it so long that it's kind of interesting by this point. *shrug* That, and I'm a bit off-base all on my own.

Thanks for the comment, Peski. :D

-Cori
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:iconpeski:
Peski Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2009
Haha, oh man! I can just imagine their eager faces. :XD: Now I need to think of a command... Not "evil", we say that way too much for a class full of children. ^^;

I can see that. (Uh, not the off-base thing, the interest in psychology thing.) All these characters have some interesting reasoning to their behavior.

You're very welcome, I look forward to more. =)
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:iconcordria:
cordria Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks, I'm glad you think they have interesting reasons. :D

Try to find a command you won't use in 'normal' speech, but is still a word you COULD use in normal speech. I picked 'blue' because I love to color and draw and the kids know that and they know I'll be tempted to use the word now and then. I ask them to go get... *hold up a blue crayon... wait for it... wait for it... they're at the edge of their seats, eyes wide, almost vibrating, knowing they're going to get to scream in a second* ...a sapphire crayon.

:rofl:

-Cori
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:iconpeski:
Peski Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2009
I'll be sure to keep that in mind!
lol You, Cori, are a woman after my own heart. :XD:
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:iconcordria:
cordria Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
Meaning slightly evil and sadistic?

-Cori
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:iconpeski:
Peski Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2009
Exactly. :evillaugh:
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