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I'll Take it Black

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Tiredness was present under Valerie's eyes as her hoverboard streaked across the night sky. Don't get her wrong, she loves being the Red Huntress more than anything else in the world, but sometimes it can be so exhausting to work this late into the night. It was three in the morning, Amity cast in a darkness as a half full moon and stars provided the only light to the pitch black sky. Needless to say, the red glow of her suit was quite visible in the late sky. Early sky? Who cares, she's too tired for this.

Not a wink of sleep in days when out chasing ghosts, and the flow of spooks didn't seem to be dulling any time soon. Another typical day in Amity Park at this point. Ghost attacks were so old hat, not very many people screamed in terror anymore. That didn't discount the danger ghosts possessed however, and Valerie had taken responsibility to make sure not a single one hurt the citizens of Amity. The price to pay was hours of sleep, poor grades and a lack of a personal life, but Valerie hardly cared anymore.

It had been two years since she started hunting ghosts, and one year since she found out the man who'd given her the opportunity was a lying piece of cheese. Half dead cheese. Would that make him blue cheese? Because he really old and he stinks. Valerie chuckles at the thought, that kind of pun was more the Phantom's game than hers, though she might tell Danny that one later. The boy did have as bad a sense of humor as the ghost did, if all his puns on social media were anything to go by. The one about the cold shoulder and needing to chill still had her reeling.

Speaking of Phantom, it was his signature she was picking up this late. There'd been other ghosts around all night, leaving the huntress in this tired state in the first place, but with one unattended signature to account for, she couldn't leave yet. Especially if it's the ever elusive Phantom. Valerie didn't hate the ghost as much as she used to, she'd grown out of blind rage by this point. Rivals was the more accurate term now, the two treating the late night ghost fighting as more of a competition than to tear each other apart limb from smoking limb.

And Phantom was good. A worthy opponent. The greatest challenge. She knows for certain that she's not the only hunter after the ghost boy. The Guys in White, wannabe hunters who want bragging rights, the Fentons were a part of that group up until recently. Valerie still found it rather impressive that Phantom had managed to get two of the most dedicated ghost scientists and hunters in Amity to his side. The Fentons had been in the ghost hunting business so much longer than her, she had to admit, and it must have taken a lot of negotiating on Phantom's part to hold a steady truce with ghost hunters of all people.

Valerie had always known Phantom to be cunning and convincing for as long as he's been around. He could turn to the most unlikely allies in a situation of dire consequences. When they were ghostnapped be Skulker, when Pariah Dark invaded, when his cousin was in danger of dying. His desperation was a real and tangible thing in those moments, able to express it in his eyes and through his echoing voice, even body language. Everything about Phantom was an impressive mystery that just got Valerie's head to hurt this late into the night.

She closed in on Phantom's signal near a residential area of Amity. So this is where he is? Valerie surveyed the nearby stores and cafés for the stand out ghostly glow of the elusive ghost. Recent upgrades allowed her to see invisible ghosts that were trying to hide in plain sight. She's read a recent paper that ghosts merely become invisible by taking themselves off the visible spectrum of light, sort of like lifting curtains away from a spotless window, without the glare. The adjustment to her helmet had been simple after that. And sure enough, hidden from the glare of light, Phantom was floating just above the late night patrons in a café, holding an invisible cup of some drink.

People would often stare at Valerie when she was dressed in her armored suit, she herself was a bit of a famous icon now, due to her being out chasing ghosts. Her rivalry with Phantom hadn't gone unnoticed by the media either, and she can't help but chuckle at all the votes and polls about who would win in a full on fight, or who was cooler, or who the better hero was. More fuel for their competition, if you ask her. Speaking of...

"Hey Phantom! Don't think I don't see you up there!" She yelled up at him, a grin on her face as she fully steps into the building. At the declaration, people snap their heads up to where the huntress is pointing her stare. There's an exasperated sigh before Phantom flickers into the realm of visibility, mug of whatever drink in hand. He'd taken more of a lounging position now, like he was hanging in a hammock rather than thin air. Again, people knew of the rivalry between these two, so there was a lot of shuffling feet as people stepped back to observe.

"Wow, you're getting better V-....huntress...!" Phantom quickly corrects himself, at least he has some respect for her secret identity in public now. She shivered when remembering how the ghost exposed her to her father, although even that turned out for the better in the end. There's just so many complications when it comes to Phantom. He ruins her life outright, only for it to skyrocket to a more healthy realization later down the line. It's thanks to Phantom she's the most powerful ghost hunter in Amity Park, and free to hunt this late into the night. It's also because of Phantom that she learned what real friendship is.

"I got a few upgrades," the huntress boasted. Her rivalry with Phantom was one of the highlights, that allowed her to cut through the tiredness of the night. It almost felt like destiny to twist in the air after Phantom, in the thrill of the chase after a ghost no one has seen up close before. Only she had seen him up close, and on multiple occasions too. Valerie had even captured him at one point and seen the ghost boy at close range for a long time waiting for him to wake. It was quite interesting to be one of few if not only to see him as more than a monochrome streak moving across the sky, or a blurry newsprinted photo.

"Interesting, huntress. Here to test them? I'd like to finish my drink first if you're here to play," Phantom teased, to the 'oooooh's of the observing crowd. Valerie can only roll her eyes under her helmet, before the fragrance of coffee from the shop began to waft through it. The tiredness returned, and Valerie found herself looking between Phantom smugly sipping his drink and the front counter of the shop, which still had the cashier watching in awe. Oh, what's the hurt in it? Phantom clearly wasn't going to do his flips in a public place until he finished his drink and Valerie could use the coffee to wake up and loose the disadvantage.

She pulls a few coins from her red suit and walks to the counter. "I'll take a large black, to go. Sir cat who ate the canary up there isn't moving anytime soon, after all," she tells the cashier, who nods and quickly gets the huntress her drink. Phantom continues to grin from his vantage point near the roof as Valerie receives her coffee. The huntress activates her hoverboard and ends up joining him up there, much to everyone's surprise, including her own.

"Here to enjoy the view?" Phantom remarked. Master of having a smart mouth that one. Now that she was up close to the elusive ghost once again, she could see the line of whipped cream lining the top of his lip. Obviously it was there from drinking whatever beverage he had in his hands. Hearing the cashier mutter something about giving that same mocha to a kid with black hair not long ago had the ghost chuckling in order to cover the remark up from Valerie's hearing. So the ghost had used a disguise to get the drink in his hands. Clever Phantom. Once again, very, very clever. Valerie sips her coffee.

The ghost and huntress sit in the air for a bit, enjoying the drinks in relative silence as the crowd watches from below. Phantom licks the whipped cream off his upper lip as he watches Valerie drink her drink. "Black coffee? Seems kind of boring if you ask me. It would be a bit too bitter for my taste. Lots of chocolate sauce and fifty shots of espresso sounds better, but that's just me," the ghost remarks, looking at Valerie with a bit of caution. Rivals they may be, but both were still wary of each other, to a slight degree. They are both armed to the teeth and able to tear apart a block in seconds after all.

"Got a sweet tooth then Phantom? Or a death wish with caffeine poisoning? ....Scratch that, don't answer the second question," Valerie quickly corrects herself. Phantom bursts into chuckles, using a white glove to cover his mouth as he snickers. Valerie swears, he and Danny have the exact same lame sense of humor. At least Danny makes it look cute, it's just plain annoying on Phantom, though not as bad as it used to be. She ends up knocking Phantom in the arm to get him to shut up, which he does before returning to his lounging position in the air.

"They're going to want a show when we're done hanging in the air around here. Ready to deliver?" the ghost asked, a fond smile of the crowd watching them reaching his lips. Valerie found herself nodding, seeing Phantom excited and proud to be hunted by her made her satisfied. This rivalry was one she couldn't help but hope was mutual. Even if only to entertain the crowd, and nothing was really lethal anymore, Valerie was comforted in the fact Phantom was a constant goal in her life, and that she was memorable to him and in the eyes of many.

"Just know I'm not going easy on you because there's a lot of people around, Phantom," using his name in an insulting tone had also faded in the time the two had known each other. Destiny may say that they're rivals to the bitter end and defeat, but there was just this something about Phantom. His stupidly witty banter and the way he was always ready to comply to a game of really extreme laser tag (because honestly that's what the 'fighting' is at this point) to show off to Amity. Phantom played to his crowd, not only as the guardian angel he wants to be seen as, but also relatable and trustworthy.

"I wouldn't have it any other way," his smirk widens, fanged and determined. He was as competitive as she was, she'd discovered, and there was no end to his persistence. If he wanted something done, he'd get it done. Much like herself in a way. There were just so many somethings about him, interacting with Phantom as a rival had grown on her, leaving her to look forward to seeing him again and competing with him again. At first she'd thought she'd grown soft, but talking to someone on and off for over two years can get them to grow on you.

With a sigh, Valerie realizes she's reached the bottom of her cup of coffee, the caffeine already kicking in to reawaken her tired nerves. Phantom was peering into the bottom of his cup as well, looking a little dissapointed he was out of drink as well. He looks to Valerie, before swooping down to put the mug back on the counter. The huntress tosses her paper one in the trash from the air, feeling satisfied when it lands directly in the can from her vantage point. Phantom flies up to meet her, competitive grin returning. Valerie can't help but mirror it as the two end up shaking hands.

"Ready to play?" Phantom quipped.

"Game on, ghost kid!"