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Real Life
A Danny Phantom FanFiction by Cordria

The Author's Notes Version
(No commentary on version found at www.fanfiction.net/~cordria)

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Chapter 17

In Which Suspicions Tend to Grow

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I'm running on hour twenty of editing this thirteen-page monster.  It changed a lot through editing – it needed to.  I don't know what I was high on when I was writing the first draft, but I had to have been high on something.

"This is just stupid."

The pure stupidity of what showed up on some websites never failed to disgust Jazz Fenton. "Who would believe any of this?"  She wrinkled her nose in disbelief when she noted the 'visitor counter' at the bottom displayed a number in the tens of thousands.  

An entire page is missing here – mostly pointless junk that needed deleting because it did nothing but make me sound stupid.

With a disappointed sigh, Jazz clicked out of the website and headed back to Google to start over.  She sat there for a long moment, her fingers tapping pointlessly against the edges of the keyboard, staring at the empty search box.  Finally she closed her eyes and rubbed her temples.  "What to search for?"

She was hitting nothing but dead ends in her attempt to figure out what was wrong with her younger brother.  The 'List of Freaky' had grown to an insane length, the notebook seeming to mock her every time it caught her eye.  

Jazz Fenton was smart.  Jazz Fenton figured things out faster than anyone else in her grade.  Jazz Fenton rarely failed to solve a problem in her life.  Her G.P.A. proved that.

…But Jazz Fenton was stumped.

"Glowing eyes," she muttered, grabbing her notebook and scanning the list once more.  "That could have just been a trick of the light.  But when his hand disappeared in the hallway at school?  The sudden way he reacts around…" she trailed off, thinking over lunch and his strange behavior an hour previously.  "Around cheese?"

She shook her head in frustration.  "If he's seeing mice, I'll eat Bearbert."  Shooting a glance towards the old teddy bear, she looked back down at the list.  "Magic tricks?" she wondered softly.  

Her eyes drifted back to the word she had circled at the library.  His friends' sudden interest in ghosts… could it possibly be connected?  "Ghosts…"

She sat there for the longest time, her eyes trained on that one word, the gears in her mind working their way around in circles.  Ghosts don't exist.  Her parents' decades of failed experiments had proved that fact to anyone with half a brain.  Up until rather recently, she'd been positive that Danny shared her opinion on the matter.  Zombies you could get him to believe in.  Blood-sucking Santa Clauses, no sweat.  Not ghosts, though.

Zombies!!  *pokes catalyst*

Setting down her notebook, she turned back to the computer.  "Sudden change in behavior," she read aloud as she typed.  Then, rather on a whim, she added the word 'ghosts' to the end and clicked search.

"Possession?"  She blinked at the screen, staring at the top few search results, confused.  "Danny's not possessed…"

She ran her tongue over her teeth and tapped her finger on her mouse.  "But what if his friends think so?"

I had so much trouble with this section, I can't jump into Jazz's head lately.  So a lot got cut out – a three-page section went to less than one.  I need to move her part of the story along.

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Tucker was sitting on the steps to the school when Sam finally stalked out, her eyes dull from an extra hour of boredom.  "I hate detention," she said darkly.

"Yes, you do," Tucker replied without looking up from his game.  "You should stop getting it."  Sam didn't stop to sit with him, so he shrugged and got up, turning off his game and stuffing it into his backpack.  "Where to?"

"I need a shake," she mumbled, heading towards the Nasty Burger with a zombie-like quality to her walk.  "Soy, low-fat, double strawberry, with one of those extra-wide straws that doubles as a spoon."

Zombies!!  *pokes catalyst*  Okay, I'll stop.

Falling into step with her, Tucker raised an eyebrow.  "Soy and low-fat takes all the fun out of it, you realize that, right?"

She sent him a half-hearted glare, but ended up just sighing and running a hand through her frizzy black hair.  "What'd you find out?"

"She denied everything," Tucker said readily.  "She can't see anything, she knows nothing, and she was one step away from tying me into a pretzel before she stormed off."

Sam snorted.  "So you were right about Valerie?"

Nodding, Tucker let a grin appear on his face.  "I'd be willing to bet a month's allowance on it.  She can see something, I know it."

"Do we tell Danny?"

Tucker's grin vanished and he let his gaze fall to the sidewalk.  That particular question had been running through his head for the past hour.  The stressed look on his best friend's face – the fact that he'd actually been sent home because of it – really seemed to say that the less Danny needed to worry about, the better.  "If Valerie really can see something, how can we not tell him?" he said slowly.  "He needs to talk to someone that'll understand."

Sam crossed her arms across her chest as she walked, letting a huge breath escape noisily out her nose.  "What about Vlad Masters?"

Lots of chatter junked here.  Unnecessary drivel, it was, and slightly repetitive.

"We don't have any proof, remember," Tucker replied, stuffing his hands into his pockets.  "Just what you think you remember feeling."

"I have just as much proof about Masters as you do about Valerie," she shot back.  "If we're going to tell him about one of them he really should know about both of them."

His eyes trained on the sidewalk passing under his feet, Tucker felt a frown drift onto his face.  Both of them were quiet for nearly a block when Tucker finally looked up.  "Do you honestly think telling Danny will help him?"

"I don't know," she said softly.  "But keeping secrets from him…?"

"You saw him.  He doesn't need anything more to think about right now."  Tucker took a deep breath and shook his head.  "I want to help Danny and I'm not sure if telling him about Masters and Valerie will help or hurt him."

Tucker watched Sam wrinkle her nose and scowl.  "Think about it, Sam," he said after a moment of silence, "Danny's got tons on his plate right now – he's barely making it through just surviving.  I don't want him to snap.  Especially if we're wrong; what would he do if he talked to Valerie and I wasn't right?"

Sam's jaw clenched.  "It's not our decision whether or not he should talk to them," she said, but there wasn't any conviction in her voice.

Nodding, Tucker walked along, chewing on his tongue and turning the ideas over in his head.  "We could talk to his parents."

Thank you to whomever pointed out that Sam and Tucker could back up Danny's story without any problem and fix it.  Plot hole being filled.  :)

Purple eyes looked into his, the girl's distrust of adults showing in her wary gaze.  "What good would that do?"

"Danny tried to tell them.  Maybe we could back up his story."

Sam looked away, her hands tight on the straps of her backpack, quiet for nearly a block.  "I don't think he really wants them to know, Tucker," she finally said just as they reached the doors to the Nasty Burger.  "I think he's just scared or stressed or something."  Her hiking boots crunched on the dirty sidewalk, her feet scuffing now and then.  "I think," she hesitated and took a deep breath.  "I know Danny.  I think that, given the choice, he wouldn't want them to know."

Tucker silently agreed with her, but his mouth opened and he said, "Is what he wants best for him?"   

She didn't answer.  Instead, she yanked open the doors and walked up to the counter, ordering her strawberry milkshake before Tucker had a chance to decide what he'd like.  He'd just settled on an order of chili fries when Sam suddenly said, "No."

Both the girl taking their orders and Tucker looked at her, Tucker arching his eyebrow questioningly.  "No, what?" he asked when she didn't elaborate.

It looked like the words were being wrenched from Sam's throat.  "No.  What he wants isn't what's best for him."

Tucker stared at her in surprise.  "Seriously?  This from the queen of 'personal decisions' and 'no secrets'?"  

Her hands clenched into fists.  "You're right this time.  He doesn't need to know until we know for sure.  We'll get proof, then we'll tell him."

"Five seventy-three, please," the girl behind the counter cut in and Tucker twisted around to pay her.  He stuffed his hands into his pockets, digging for the remainder of his allowance.  When he unfolded the mess of dollars, a note tucked into the bills fluttered to the floor.  Tucker knelt down to pick it up, then paid the girl while he contemplated the contents of the note.

<bI still don't like this transition, it seems catchy, but it's extremely better than it was and I needed to get this in here.

He shook his head when Sam reached into her backpack for a few dollars to pay for the milkshake, mumbling that it was his turn to pay, then looked up at her.  "Can we jump to a new topic?"

"Sure…" she said, settling her backpack back onto her shoulders.

"Danny and I are still waiting for an idea of what you want for your birthday."

The purple-eyed girl blinked.  "What?"

"Your birthday.  It's, like, three days away."

The birthday's important.  It moves the story along once it happens.  Sam gets a very special gift.

She tipped her head to the side before her eyes widened.  "Oh," she said in surprise.  "I forgot it was…" she trailed off and shrugged.  "With everything that's going on, it's not really worth making a big deal over."

"Nonsense," Tucker said as he grabbed both their orders and headed towards their normal table, confident that she'd catch up.  "We're going to throw you a party like we always do."  At least, Tucker thought they were going to.  Danny probably hadn't given a second thought to Sam's birthday all week.  "If you don't say anything," he said when she stayed silent, "we'll get you something weird like we did three years ago."

They got her a Venus Fly Trap.  It's still in her greenhouse, ie: episode where Danny gets his ghost powers.  Not that it matters.

"I don't want anything," she said, shaking her head.  When Tucker opened his mouth to complain, she rolled her eyes and continued, "No, seriously, Tucker.  All I want is a couple hours of normalcy after this seriously messed up week.  If I could have that, I'd be the happiest person in the world."

Tucker snorted a little, knowing how hard that present would be to give to her.  But he smiled and stuffed the note back into his pocket.  "So you have wish it," he slowly intoned, "so shall it be."

Foreshadowing, anyone?

Sam scowled at him.  "There's no such thing as wishes," she said and snatched her shake out of Tucker's hand.  She took a long drink, closing her eyes in delight.  "Now, how are we going to get this proof from Valerie?

The two of them settled at their table, plotting various ways of getting one of the most popular girls in school to admit to a group of 'losers' that she could see ghosts.  It didn't take long for Tucker to quietly figure he should have ordered a larger basket of chili fries.

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Fighting off a tired yawn, Danny slunk down to supper.  His body and mind were still exhausted, but his stomach was painfully informing him that he needed something to eat despite his lack of energy.  Other than the sandwich his sister had brought to him a few hours earlier, he'd had nothing to eat since the bowl of ice cream the day before.

He felt his family's presence before he stepped into the kitchen.  He stood in the doorway, his eyes downcast, leaning tiredly against the doorframe.  His mother was filling the room with the scent of apples as she bustled around, his father was messing with a small something at the kitchen table giving off the smell of circuits and ozone, and his sister was lost behind a book, tingeing the air with cinnamon.  The scents were more than just smells – they were feelings, emotions, entire stories – and over it all was the ever-present buzz of the ghost portal in the basement.

He wasn't a ghost; he wasn't even in 'dead' mode.  He was his 'normal' human self and he could still feel them.  With every day that passed, his ghost side was making itself more and more known.  His eyes slid closed and he sighed.

Too much 'telling', but I felt it was a necessary recap after six months of no updates.  Sorry.  :D

"Danny?"

Looking up at his mother's voice, Danny tried for a smile before slipping to the kitchen table.  She stopped next to him when he dropped heavily into his seat, studying him.  "You're not going to school tomorrow," she said firmly.

Danny thought about that for a moment, then decided another day of sleep was probably one of the best ideas his mother had come up with in years.  He nodded quietly and looked towards the table full of food, his stomach growling in appreciation.  A mound of barbequed chicken was steaming on the table next to a bowl of mashed potatoes.  

"I made you a doctor's appointment as well," she added as she sat down in her own seat.

Danny, who'd been reaching for the spoon sitting in the mashed potatoes, visibly froze.  His head jerked up to stare at his mother in disbelief.  "What?"

"You haven't been eating," she said patiently, taking a few wings of chicken and setting them onto her plate.  "You haven't been sleeping, you had that horrible nightmare, and you're starting to look really run down.  I just want to make sure you don't have some kind of virus."

"But…" he started, then trailed off.  The thought of going to the doctor had never crossed his mind.  Now that it had – and it was belatedly obvious that his parents would come up with it sooner or later – Danny's mind was racing.  He was turning into a ghost, for crying out loud.  What kind of strange things would a doctor turn up?  "But…"

Her eyes bored into his.  "It's just a checkup, Danny," she said simply.  

"I don't need to go to the doctor," he argued. Unfortunately, there was no doubt in his mind that it was a very weak argument.  He'd seen himself in the mirror plenty of times over the past couple days.  "I just need to get some sleep."

His mother just smiled.  Danny heaped a mountain of potatoes onto his plate with a scowl.  

"In other news," his father said, grabbing the spoon and bowl of potatoes from Danny's hand, "we finally got enough baseline data on the portal to start doing our experiments!"  The sharp scent of burning metal was tinged with crackles of lighting, which something inside of Danny realized was excitement.  

Yay, portal experiments.  My chance to bore you with needless scientific babbling.  And baseline data is a GREAT excuse, covering up the fact that I completely forgot about the fact that his parents weren't doing anything with their brand new toy.  *flushes*

"Yay."  Danny took a bite, chewing absently as he listened to his father ramble about what he was planning to do.  Most of it passed right over his head, but when Danny heard something that sounded suspiciously like 'making the energy output of the portal stronger', he sat up.  "You're going to make it louder?

Jack trailed off and both his parents blinked at his interruption.  "Louder?" his mother asked.

"More powerful," he corrected quickly.  

"Yep!" Jack said, pleased.  "One of the reasons we built the portal was to make it into a clean energy source.  If we can get the levels up enough, we could completely power this house with free energy."

With a sigh, Danny sank back into his chair and grabbed a leg of barbequed chicken, watching his parents chatter back and forth about the portal's potential.  The world felt a little like it was falling apart at that moment.  The buzzing of the portal was about to get more annoying, tomorrow he was going to be dragged to the doctor and…

And…

Danny's head tipped to the side a little and he focused down on his chicken.  Maybe that wouldn't be so bad, after all.  Maybe the doctor would be able to find a way to convince his parents that something was wrong…

The thought trailed off almost as soon as it started, Danny shaking his head.  No.  If the doctor found something weird, he had no idea what would happen.  It would be better not to chance it.  He'd have to convince his mother that it really wasn't worth it.  But how?

Proof, that's what he'd need to give them.  He licked his lips as the plan germinated in his head.  He'd stay up all night, practice and get a handle on one of these new abilities, and tomorrow he'd show them.

Quite a bit of pointlessness deleted from here.

He looked up at his parents, chewing slowly on his chicken.  It was hard to understand why they still didn't believe him – didn't even want to listen to him anymore.  He'd had these strange ghost powers for a week now, and he wasn't any closer to getting them to understand.

Almost distantly, he set down the barbequed chicken and wiped his fingers a napkin, feeling odd.  He was full.  His stomach was clearly telling him that he'd eaten enough food and that if he tried to stick more in, he'd be threatening the lengths his stomach could stretch.  And yet, he was still starving.  His mouth was watering and he wanted to eat… something.

Hm… wonder what it is?

Blue eyes drifted across the table, searching.  Why was he still feeling like he was starving?  What was it he wanted?

Without warning, the world tipped around him and everything went fuzzy.  Danny blinked, about to push against it and force the strange dead-mode away from his mind, when he suddenly froze.  His head jerked around to stare in pure amazement as somethingg brushed up against his senses.  It was nothing but those wisps of emotions, but for a reason Danny couldn't understand, they felt so much… more than usual.

Hot apples over a fire, the smell of electricity fizzing through a new circuit board, the gooey smell of cinnamon cookies on a cold day.

It took him less than a moment to realize what he had been hungry for.  Drool was filling his mouth and his legs twitched unconsciously as he fought to stay in his chair.  This was what he wanted.  This was what heneeded.  He was starving to feel these, to eat this, to…

To feed off his family.

Danny shuddered and forced himself away from that dead mode, swallowing heavily and staring down at his hands as everything around him came crashing back into focus.  His family's emotions, so crystal-sharp a moment earlier, faded to a bustling in the back of his mind.  He took a deep breath and clasped his hands together under the table.

"I have this plan," his father was saying.  "When we were out in the woods I picked up a unique frequency in the EVP recordings.  I was thinking I could set up one of the digital voice recorders to actually track it."

"As in, follow a ghost around?" his sister muttered dubiously.  

Do you know what's coming? xD

A wash of emotion floated out of her as she spoke, tinged with the feel of cats leaving hairs behind on clothes, and Danny bit his lip.  Now that he was aware of just what his body was searching for, Danny was supremely aware of the emotions flooding the area around him.  He wanted nothing more than to feel those emotions… but no.  He wasn't a ghost.  He wasn't going to feed off his own family.

"It could be the first official invention of Fentonworks," Jack said proudly, his emotions loud and clear even from across the table.  "The Fenton Ghost Finder."

Tah-dah!

"You're not hanging up that sign."  Jazz leaned forwards, her leg brushing against Danny's.  The contact made her emotions jump in volume inside of Danny's mind and he yanked his leg away, closing his eyes and shivering at the delicious sensation of his body absorbing the energy his sister was giving off.  God, that had felt good.

No.  He wasn't going to…

"But it's Fentonworks!" his father argued.  "We need a sign if we're going to have a business."

In my world, Fentonworks is still being created at the beginning of the show.  It really doesn't come into its own as a ghost-hunting agency until well after this story is over.  Maybe all the way to season two.  But, as you all know, the sign eventually makes it up.  xD  Sorry Jazz!

Jazz scowled, her emotions swirling loudly in Danny's mind.  "It's going to break about thirty city ordinances if you hang it up.  You'll have a dozen complaints in a week!"

He wasn't going to…

Danny wrapped his arms around his chest, his breath rasping in his throat.  They were arguing, ramping up their emotions, the twirling streams of their emotions tugging at Danny from every direction.  Every time he blinked, his mind was trying to push him into that world of the dead.  The world kept going fuzzy, only to be pushed back through brute will power.

But Danny knew that it was a losing battle.  Sitting right here, in the middle of it all, was like trying to prevent the tide from coming in.  

He wasn't…

"It's my house, I don't see how the city can have any say as to what I put on it."

"Mom," Jazz complained, "can't you talk some sense into him?  He can't hang up that disaster of a sign!"

"Danny?"  He jerked his head up, staring straight into his mother's concerned eyes.  He could feel his fingers digging into his arms and he knew that he was breathing far too fast.  There wasn't anything he could do about it, however.  It was taking everything he had to stay in his seat.  "Danny, what's wrong?"

"N-nothing," he stammered.  He pushed back from the table and got shakily to his feet.  "I-I just… I'm tired."

She followed, getting to her feet and walking around the table.  She touched his chin and ran a hand over his forehead.  The feel of her skin was accompanied by a surge of worried emotions and Danny flinched away from her.  "You're not tired, Sweetheart," she said, her eyes searching his.  "You're freezing."

He stared at her, feeling swamped by the concern that was flooding out of her.  The crisp apple-like tint of her emotions was sliced through with the antiseptic scent of a doctor's office.  

Warm apple pies backing in the autumn, heaps of whipped cream ready to be placed on top, the sharp smell of the autumn days, walking to school with thin layers of ice crunching under your feet, the happy days of being together as a family, coiled around visits to the hospital, staring at sick relatives, holding hands that were too cold to be healthy.

Danny blinked and jerked away.  His heart was racing, his ghost side screaming to be allowed to eat.  The thing inside of him curled and snarled, digging its claws into Danny's stomach with a pain that almost made him scream.  

"What just happened to your eyes?" his mother whispered.

Uh-oh.  I love it so.  :)

For a second, Danny stared at her, feeling his heart pounding loudly in his ears.   Do I tell her? he wondered.  Should I tell her?  Can I ever get her to believe me?  "I…"

I almost died in that portal accident.  I'm starving.  Can I feed off of you?

"I…"

I'm a ghost and I can't handle it anymore.  I just want to eat, I just want to forget, and I just want to sleep.  

"I'm tired," he whispered, fighting down his ghost side with the last of his strength, terrified of what would happen when he couldn't stop his ghost anymore.  He didn't want his family hurt.  "I'm gonna… get some sleep."  

Pushing away from his mother, he made it to the stairs before his ghost side completely took over.  Danny's human mind collapsed into oblivion as a phantom, finally freed from its human consciousness, raced out to feed on whatever it wanted.

I originally had a part here from the ghost-Danny's POV, but it's completely gone.  It didn't help the story one bit, just bogged it down and made it slower.  I need to get this moving.  We're only on day seven of thirty!

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Danny woke up sprawled on his bed, still fully clothed, his neck hurting from the way he'd been sleeping.  Pushing himself to his hands and knees, Danny looked out the window. The sun had long since set, which prompted a glance at his alarm clock.  Midnight.

He groaned and dropped back down, rolling onto his back and staring up at the darkened ceiling, futilely searching his mind for some clue of what had happened after his ghost side took over.  After a moment he gave up and rolled out of bed, pacing quietly down the hallway and quietly dreading what he might find.  A quick peek into his parents' room showed them both asleep in their bed and his sister snoozing in hers.  

A strange sense of relief filled him as he watched his parents' sleep.  That sliver of a memory from when he'd attacked Sam and knocked her out crept into his mind and he shivered.  Was it really possible that he could have killed her?  Could he kill his family and not even remember it?

I fudged a lot in this section.  Lots of combining and random editing.  Not nearly enough conversation.

He turned away and trudged downstairs to grab a glass of water, trying to force the idea out of his mind.  As he searched through the dark kitchen for a glass, Danny dully realized that he wasn't hungry anymore.  It made a cruel sort of sense, though.  He wasn't hungry because he'd…

With his glass of water in hand, Danny sank to the floor, his back against the refrigerator, and pulled his knees up to his chest.  He just sat there, in the darkness, and stared dully forwards.  The thought was stuck in his mind, coiling there, refusing to even complete itself.

He wasn't hungry anymore because he'd…

…He'd fed off of his family.  

Setting the glass of water on the floor, Danny buried his forehead in his knees and wrapped his arms around his legs, curling into a little ball.  His first thought was a sort of rejection – he'd never do something like that again.  Only monsters fed from humans!  But deep down, he knew what kind of pointless promise that was.  His ghost side was too strong to be denied something as basic as food.  Eventually, he'd have to give in again.

He tightened his arms around his legs, feeling it become harder to breathe.  Why did he have to feel so much better now than he had before?  The pervasive tiredness was gone, the ache in his muscles had faded, and his stomach had finally stopped angrily demanding to be fed.

A small shiver traced through him as a half-memory brushed his mind.  The intense feeling of pleasure, of being full and content, of not having any worries in the world beyond protecting his home.  

He closed his eyes and sighed, feeling tears prickling at his eyes.  "Why?" he whispered, almost pleading with the silent kitchen.  "Why?"  Why did it have to feel so good?  Why did he have to want it like he did?  Why did it almost feel like he hadn't done anything wrong?

It was wrong, wasn't it?  Feeding off human beings had to be something he shouldn't do; it was something he shouldn't even think of doing.

So why was his mind almost obsessively returning to the delightful feeling of those emotions touching against his nerves, the thrill of that energy coursing through his body and into his mind?  Why did he want it so badly?

His fingers came up to tangle in his hair and he let out a low groan.  "Stupid ghosts," he muttered.  His head finally came up, his chin propping up on his arms, and he stared out into the shadows of his parents' kitchen.

Alone, in the dark, Danny could do nothing but be plagued by his own thoughts.  The gentle feel of his family's auras had faded away; he could barely feel them now.  Even the perpetual buzz of the portal in the basement was little more than a mosquito whining away in a window.  There was nothing to distract him as his mind started to twirl in circles.

Danny stared distantly into the darkest shadow he could find, allowing his midnight-driven thoughts to wander around with monsters and demons and other things that deserved the deaths they were always given.  What was it his mother had said?  'A creature with no morals, completely driven by emotions, capable of actually hurting people?  We'd have to destroy it.'

Him.  That's who she was talking about.  He still had his morals, he still knew right from wrong, but if he told her, would she see him as a monster, or as a son?  Would she destroy him or let him live to eventually destroy her?  

Every day that passed, Danny's ghost side was getting stronger.  It was invading his human life at every turn, ruining everything from his family and friends to the simple joy of cheese fries from the Nasty Burger.  How much longer before his human side was the weaker one?  Before Danny succumbed to these wild instincts and was nothing more than a monster?

A picture flared in his head – one of a monstrous ghost with flaming hair, claws, and fangs.  It was himself, lost to his ghost side, desperate for the emotions that kept him alive, an addict searching for his next fix.  Only he had the ability to hurt… the ability to kill.  Danny had reached into Sam's very soul and touched her life.  He could have killed her.  In the midnight hour he sat on his kitchen floor, the idea that he could kill terrified him.

Tears were in his eyes as he sat there, staring into the darkness.  He could have killed his family last night, lost to his ghost side, and he would have been powerless to stop it.  

A flicker of movement out of the corner of his eye got Danny to flinch and he turned his head to look, but nothing was there.  Something swirled and Danny let himself fall into dead mode.  The world fuzzed, the ominous ticking of the kitchen clock fading away, and in its place where the sounds and sights of the ghost world.  The sleepless ghosts were up and about, their strange screams and cries echoing from all around.  The ghost in front of him wagged its rotting, puppy-like tail and let out a ghostly bark – more of a scream of pain than a real bark – and chased its tail for a moment.  

Danny rubbed at his eyes, brushing the tears away, and watched the thing play.  Then it pranced up to him, its feet leaving the ground at some point and walking on thin air, to stick its maggot-infested nose in Danny's face.  Danny twisted his face away from the smell and felt its cold nose press against his cheek.

That was when Danny realized he'd never really touched a ghost before.  The things were intangible and he hadn't really given any thought to what they felt like.  As the ghost puppy drifted downwards, Danny reached out.  His fingers passed through the dog's head on the first try, but he focused and they made contact on the second try.

Aw… cute.  A boy and his dog.

"Ew," he told the puppy, but the ghost seemed to be having a seizure in pure delight.  Its tail was wagging so furiously that its whole body was shaking, dislodging small maggots and bits of rotting fur.  

Danny traced his fingers down the puppy's bony spine, feeling the cold fur.  It was almost like petting a real dog, only one that whose body was freezing and whose skin wasn't as connected as it should be.  Huge clumps of fur stuck to his fingers when he pulled his hand away.

"You're so lucky," he muttered.  "I don't think you can hurt people.  You just… do whatever.  You're a ghost."  He sighed and reached out to ruffle the puppy's ears.  Its tongue lolled out of its mouth at that one, displaying its missing teeth.  "You probably don't even realize humans exist, according to my mother.  They're just food to you."

"I could really hurt them though."  He gazed down at the dog, running his fingers over and over the smooth patch of fur on the top of its head.  The puppy settled down next to him, its eyes closing, an odd noise that might have been a growl of contentment coming from its mouth.  "What am I going to do?"

The dog didn't answer.  

Hours later, when his mother came downstairs to make herself a morning cup of coffee, she found her son asleep on the kitchen floor.  And he still didn't know what he was going to do.

In real life, suspicions tend to grow.
Too many hours of editing this weekend...

:iconzombieplz:

Worked on it so hard to get it done for :iconshining-zephyr:'s birthday on Monday! :D Happy Birthday! :party:

Enjoy, comment plz, would love the feedback! I have more ready to go... just need the push to get the chapters edited.

-Cori

DP (c) Butch Hartman
Real Life (c) Me!
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:iconhands-and-teeth:
Hands-and-Teeth Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2010  Professional General Artist
Oh god yes. I've been waiting for this update.
:D
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:iconcordria:
cordria Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
:D

-Cori
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:icondarth-ziggy:
Darth-Ziggy Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2010
I love how worried Sam and Tucker are about Danny. Most fics tend to treat them as movable background.
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:iconcordria:
cordria Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
:hug:

-Cori
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:iconwarruuna:
Warruuna Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Cujo must be the luckiest dead dog in the world! XD I got a dog myself, and if ghosts like this truly existed, then I'd want my dog to have a friend in the afterlife.

The tension in the kitchen is what made me jump out of my seat and scream in delight. I miss this story so much, so the update is good news on top of good news.

It's amazing how much Danny Phantom stories have matured over the years. It seems lately that any fans left of the series are bent on finding the next new way to torture him. But, that's okay. 'cause Nickelodeon doesn't care anymore. =D
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:iconcordria:
cordria Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
I like Cujo. Turning into my favorite character. :)

I'll update more as soon as I get more edited. Not been working on it this week, but I will. :D

Thanks so much for the comment!

-Cori
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:iconkiomori:
Kiomori Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2010
Whoo! Real Life!!

I loved all of the forshadowing in this chapter! The Fenton Finder, the Portal...

I bet that is not going to be fun at all for Danny. It was bad enough now, but if the portal gets powered up, he might just go crazy. They need to do something soon!

The bit about him needing to feed off his family reminded me of the oneshot from a long time ago. I think it was in StarShots?

Anyway, with all of his friends and his family worried about him, something should happen soon, right? Or of course it doesn't help and Danny can be angsty some more.

I can't wait! :D
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:iconcordria:
cordria Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Nah, Danny's not going to have it easy. I gotta smash him into little bits before I can rebuild him. :)

Ideas and thoughts from StarShots are making their way in without any trouble. :D

Thanks! More is coming soon!

-Cori
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:iconbbfan77:
bbfan77 Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2010  Student Traditional Artist
I envy long comments right now.. -_-" I'M TOO SPEECHLESS TO SAY SOMETHING WORTH READING... ^^; eheh....

aaaanways... YAY! :w00t: A new chapter :love: I love it ^^ what will happen next... what will Maddy do... oh the suspense is killing me! :la:
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:iconcordria:
cordria Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Long comments are hard...

Thanks!

-Cori
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