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It isn't home if there's no heart in it.

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To say that Danny was late for school would be an understatement of the century. 

 

By the time he was done capturing the seemingly endless stream of spectres bent on wreaking havoc through Amity, even the last detentions had long let out. Thankfully Sam and Tucker knew to make excuses for him in school, so his parents wouldn’t be called. 

 

He flew over the town and phased down to Sam’s basement, where the two remaining members of team phantom were playing video games. Jazz had left for college that September.

 

Sam noticed the entry and turned to him.

 

“You were out for a long time. Who was it?”

 

“Who wasn’t it is a better question,” groaned Danny, who was now lying limply on the couch in his ghost form. His legs were fused together into a ghostly tail and he looked a bit like an enormous monochrome slug. He felt a bit like a slug too. One that has been stepped on.

 

“Practically every regular ghost showed up at least once, Skulker three times, and I swear that Box Ghost turned up at least a dozen times before I just left him in a thermos. Plus some random ghost animals were rampaging through the park and Cujo wanted to play. I’ve been fighting since we went on the patrol yesterday.”

 

“That many ghosts can’t be a coincidence. You know who I think is behind this?” 

 

“I don’t think this is the fruitloop’s fault. Most of those ghosts have never worked for him, and he’s been quiet lately. He’s probably busy with his companies and being a mayor and all.”

 

“No Danny, don’t you see? He was laying low so that he could come up with a new plan to make you his apprentice and to marry your mom. I think we should pay him a visit and do a little snooping. If we find clues about his evil scheme before he can carry it out, we might save ourselves a lot of trouble later.”

 

“Yeah, I agree with Sam,” chimed in Tucker. 

“The fruitloop is far too obsessed to just work on something normal. He must be planning something. If we can get inside, I can test my new baby against his computers. Lauren is packing more teraflops than the newest Gamestation. I bet she could get into his systems and fish out all the info,” Tucker gently petted his new PDA.

 

“Then it’s settled,” proclaimed Sam. “We’re sneaking into the fruitloop’s mansion.”

 

“Guys that’s seriously a bad idea. He upped the security since the last time. We won’t get in and out unnoticed.”

 

“Which is where you come in. You can distract Vlad while we look around. He’s so obsessed with you he won’t even look at us while he’s pursuing you,” said Sam, and the tone of her voice made it clear she wouldn’t accept any arguments.

 

“Besides, his schemes affect more people than just you now that he’s a mayor and can do whatever he wants in the town. We have to do it for the sake of Amity as well. We’re going, and if you don’t join us, you can live with the knowledge that whatever happened to us could have been prevented.”

 

The unsubtle appeal to his obsession was not lost on Danny. He hated it when his friends used his urge to keep everyone safe against him. He sighed morosely, but when his two friends walked out the door, he floated up and followed.

 

*****

 

The mayoral mansion loomed before them and it seemed especially dark and foreboding to Danny.

 

“Come on guys, we can still turn back before we commit illegal trespassing,” the halfa plead.

 

“Vlad wouldn’t care that he’s doing something illegal,” replied Sam grimly, and she strode resolutely towards the house.

 

‘That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care,’ thought Danny privately, but he didn’t voice any more protests. He knew the expression on Sam’s face and that it meant she won’t back down until she thinks she’s won. Anything he said now would just make her more stubborn, so Danny flew behind the two teens, resigned to his fate and determined to get them back out safely as soon as possible.

 

They somehow managed to sneak into Vlad’s office unnoticed and soon Tucker was typing away at the computer. He wasn’t finding anything nefarious, only business-related emails and data. That couldn’t be right. There had to be something. Vlad practically oozed evil and that he would not have any scheme going on was unthinkable to the two human teens. Sam pressed him to look deeper.

 

*****

 

Vladimir Masters was in a good mood. He signed a very lucrative contract with a Japanese computer company and received approval for a higher budget for town repairs form the federal government. He hummed a tune to himself as he walked towards his office, but then stopped. He could sense Daniel’s ghost signature within the building. He frowned. What has that infernal trio got into their heads this time? He did not doubt that the other two were with the little badger. He always acted more reckless when the two were involved. He pursed his lips and turned to walk towards the source of the sensation.

 

*****

 

Danny was nervously glancing all around. He wanted to tell his friends to just give up and leave already, but he knew they wouldn’t listen. Suddenly his ghost sense triggered, and he shuddered.

 

“Guys, we need to get out now! Vlad’s coming!”

 

“Distract him!” ordered Sam. “We aren’t done here yet.”

 

Danny had had enough. He was about to grab his friends and phase them all out of the mansion, tripping ghost alarms be damned, when the door flew open to reveal a fuming Vlad Masters.

 

Vlad’s sight landed on the two teens huddled near his computer. He walked up to them, picked them up by the scruffs of their shirts and growled at them.

 

“What do you children think you are doing! Just wait until your parents hear about this. You’ve crossed the line this time. I will be pressing charges against you!”

 

“Let them go!” came a shout from behind him, and Vlad felt a weak ectoblast hit him in the shoulder. The dropped the two living teens and turned to face the half-ghost. Daniel shot one more blast into his chest and then turned and fled. Vlad gave chase.

 

Danny was flying through the corridors, turning left and right and deeper into the mansion. He needed to give his friends a chance to escape! Vlad was catching up to him and the only reason he wasn’t caught yet was that he was more agile than the older half-ghost. He darted down the stairs to the basement but was greeted with a long straight hallway. Damn. Vlad was reaching towards him and almost grasping his tail. Danny made a quick decision and threw himself to the side, through a single open door. Vlad followed.

 

The room they entered turned out to be a lab, which worked to Danny’s advantage because Vlad didn’t want to shoot randomly and cause an explosion. A scuffle ensued and during which a stray ectoblast hit the door panel. The sudden clang of heavy metal doors falling shut made both halfas pause.

 

“Look what you did now, you lout!” shouted Plasmius angrily while pressing Phantom to the wall.

 

“So the door is closed, big deal, we can phase out.” shrugged the younger ghost.

 

“No, you idiot, we can’t. The lab is ghostproof. We are stuck here until I repair the panel and if I can’t manage that, we will need to wait for rescue.” Vlad dropped Danny and stalked off to find his tools.

 

Danny, realising the implications of the other’s words shouted in denial. “No way! I can’t be stuck in here with you. And my parents will ground me forever if I don’t turn up home.”

 

“You should have thought of that before you broke into my office!”

 

“I didn’t want to! Sam and Tucker thought you were scheming and they would have come here without me if I refused.”

 

Vlad raised an eyebrow at him derisively. “Really little badger, how long will you let those so-called friends of yours manipulate you? Never mind. Just sit down somewhere and be quiet so that I can focus on repairing the door. The sooner I get that done, the sooner we can get out.”

 

Vlad designed the technology in the lock himself, so he quickly identified the problem and started the repairs. He didn’t have enough materials to repair the door completely, but he could at least salvage enough of the vires to make it open. Half an hour later he was progressing well, but a constant sound of rustling was distracting him.

 

“Will you stop that,” he growled at the teen and was rewarded with 5 minutes of silence before the rustling started again. Sighing in annoyance, the man decided to take a short break from his work and turned to look at the teen. Daniel was still in his ghost form, not surprising since he wouldn’t want to be vulnerable while close to the older halfa, and shifting around constantly. He was crossing and uncrossing his legs almost as if he needed to…

 

“I thought you were a teen, not a toddler. Can’t you hold it for 30 minutes? Your potty dance is distracting me.”

 

Danny blushed bright green and muttered under his breath. Vlad used his enhanced hearing and caught “… and I’d like to see you if you haven’t gone in two days.”

 

“Two days?!” Exclaimed Vlad. “Are you insane Daniel? Whatever possessed you to make you not go to the bathroom for two whole days? Do you have any idea how unhealthy that is? Even if you can’t go in your ghost form it is still dangerous. You could damage your kidneys.”

 

“I know, alright! I just haven’t had the time. Between the ghost attacks and making sure to do enough of my chores and homework to make everyone stay off my back I barely have any time to eat or sleep! I’ve just been really busy this week.”

 

This week? That unsettled Vlad. He cared for the younger halfa, even if it wasn’t always obvious. That’s why he laid off his plans to kill Jack and marry Maddie. He saw how stressed Daniel was and knew his obsession would not let him stand by if anything were to happen to that dratted fool of a ghost hunter. If Daniel needed to go strongly enough that the desperation seeped into his ghost half, how badly was he neglecting himself in other areas?

 

He approached the teen slowly so that he wouldn’t feel threatened. Upon closer look, he noticed the dark circles under his eyes, the paleness of his skin and the gauntness of his cheeks. The hazmat suit, usually skin-tight, hung off of his frame slightly. Changing into his ghost half should erase slight tiredness or hunger. For these signs to be visible while the boy was in his ghost form, his condition had to be serious. Vlad sat down next to him and put a hand on his shoulder. The boy was trembling.

 

“Little badger. Danny. If you need to go that badly, there’s a drain in the middle of the lab. You can use it. I won’t be angry if you go on the floor.” Vlad’s voice was surprisingly gentle, and Danny looked at him startled. He shook his head with tears in his eyes.

“No? Why not? I won’t tell anyone if that’s what you’re worried about, and I really don’t mind. The floor is tile and can be cleaned easily.”

“It’s not that,” whispered Danny and Vlad had to strain his enhanced hearing again to make out the words. “I’ll wet myself as soon as I turn human.”

 

At that, Vlad simply picked him up bridal style and carried him into the middle of the room. He sat him down right on the top of the drain.

 

“All right child, now turn human, or I’ll make you. You can’t go on like this. One pair of wet pants is still better than a bladder infection. I’ll get you some clean clothes afterwards and you can use my shower.”

 

A tearstained face turned towards him. “Promise not to make fun of me?” asked a trembling voice.

 

“Promise.”

 

Twin white circles of light flashed. True to Danny’s words, as soon as the black plastic of the hazmat suit gave way to the blue fabric of jeans a wet stain bloomed at his crotch. The wetness spread rapidly and soon a puddle appeared on the tile between the boy’s legs. Vlad, thinking quickly, phased the jeans off the young boy and left him to finish in his underwear. He allowed selective intangibility to permeate through the pants and the urine fell right off. Then he walked back towards the table they had been sitting on. He intended to give the boy some privacy but was forced to rush back when the halfa swayed and started falling. He caught the boy before he could hit his head on the hard tile floor and looked at his face. The combination of exhaustion, stress, hunger and relief had made Daniel faint.

 

Vlad decided to wait until the boy was done before moving him off the floor. He removed his underwear the same way he did his pants. He wouldn’t be shy while unconscious. Daniel was still going strongly. His stream, now unobstructed, jetted against the floor and splashes of urine landed on the boy’s thighs. Vlad gently took hold of the spraying penis and aimed it directly at the gutter to minimise the mess. After a minute the stream started to slow down. Vlad created a duplicate to massage his little badger’s belly and press the bladder to help get all the liquid out. The stream turned to spurts and spurts to dribbles. Vlad shook the last drops of urine off the boy’s penis and instructed the duplicate to work on the door. He created another duplicate and ordered it to bring out the cot hidden in the large cupboard in the back of the lab and picked the boy off the cold floor. 

 

Placing him upon the cot, he noticed that a spot of wetness appeared near his elbow on the arm that was under the boy’s legs. Clearly, his overtaxed bladder had become irritable and expelled even the tiniest amount of urine as soon as it entered. Shedding his jacket, he phased the spot of urine out, rolled up the sleeves of his shirt and proceeded to give Daniel a full medical exam. He was no doctor but being one of a kind and unable to visit hospitals led him to acquire considerable medical knowledge.

 

He was very displeased with the results he found. The boy had been both dehydrated and malnourished. Vlad had to discard the t-shirt as well because, although it was free of wetness, it was extremely dirty, stained with sweat and few spots of blood, and almost threadbare. His temperature was also slightly above what would be normal for a human. To a ghost with an ice core, this would mean serious fever. Miraculously, none of his wounds seemed infected and all were healing nicely, likely thanks to the advanced ghostly regeneration. He palpated the boy’s torso to check for swellings or signs of internal injuries but could not find any that would need treatment. The most obvious thing that became apparent again and again was the young halfa’s exhaustion.

 

Satisfied that the cause of Daniel’s collapse wasn’t anything immediately life-threatening, but angry that the boy’s family and friends did not seem to notice his state, he covered the shivering boy with his jacket. Daniel was still occasionally leaking drops of urine, but Vlad didn’t care that his expensive suit jacket would get dirty. He was a billionaire and could just buy a new one. He dismissed the duplicates and returned to working on the door mechanism.

 

15 minutes later, the door opened, and Vlad was greeted by the sight of his ghostly butler, Gerard, pacing up and down the corridor. The servant reported evicting the two teens and activating the security systems once he found that his master was stuck in the lab. He was about to call Technus when the door opened. Vlad thanked him and instructed him to go prepare a guest room and to set up some medical equipment. He created two duplicates and sent them out to do his bidding. Then he returned to the lab to get Daniel.

 

*****

 

The first duplicate was sent to the Fentonworks. Vlad wanted some clean clothes for Daniel when he woke up and the best place to get some would be the boy’s own room. The duplicate phased in and was shocked at the state of the place. The mixed smell of blood, vomit, urine, and sweat assaulted his nostrils and he paused to look around. The first thing he noticed was a large yellow stain in the middle of the bed. The boy evidently wet himself in his sleep several times. A strip of fabric peeking from under the bed revealed a pile of soiled bloody bandages, obviously used many times and inexpertly washed. There were also a few badly washed stains on the carpet near the door. The boy was likely trying to get to the bathroom and lost the contents of his stomach or his bladder before he could even leave the room. The duplicate was shocked. How could Maddie, beautiful, perfect Maddie let her son live in such squalor? Perhaps she didn’t know. Yes, that must be it. But how could she not know? He searched for some clean clothes but found none. At that moment, the door flew open, the Fentons jumped in with a shout of “Ghost!” and destroyed the duplicate.

 

The second duplicate was sent on an errand to acquire an item of a somewhat embarrassing nature. He was sent to buy diapers. The young boy in Vlad’s care seemed unable to hold his urine and could not be allowed to rest in a wet bed. That would be unsanitary, not to mention uncomfortable. He phased into the store and found a pack that would fit Daniel. Then he picked up a few more necessary items and before leaving phased a 100$ bill into the cash register. Daniel was sometimes too stubborn for his own good and the older halfa knew he would refuse to use anything he viewed as stolen.

 

The original, meanwhile, carried the unconscious half-ghost to a large bathroom, intent on bathing the boy before putting him to bed. The teen was positively filthy, and Vlad guessed that along with eating, sleeping and going to the toilet, showering would also be something he didn’t have time to do. He drew a lukewarm bath, not wanting to further exacerbate his fever, and lowered the boy in. Daniel did not even twitch, betraying that he was deeply unconscious.

In the middle of washing Daniel’s hair, Vlad felt the rush of memories and impressions from the destroyed duplicate. He was appalled at the condition of the room. How did no one see that?! He contemplated calling child protection services, but they might insist on taking the boy to the hospital and then their secret would be in danger. Then he thought of Jack and Maddie. Should he let them know he has their son? He could get in trouble if they called the police, but then again, everyone could be bought for the right price and he was a billionaire. Then it occurred to him that it might cause trouble for Daniel as well if he was proclaimed missing. He rinsed the boy’s hair while contemplating the issue. He would leave them a message, he decided in the end. Daniel did not need any more stress right now, even if Vlad thought that the others had no right to bother him.

 

Vlad called Gerard and sent him to look for something the boy might use as pyjamas. Then he pulled out the plug from the bath and let the water drain. Once the bath was empty he picked up Daniel again, phased the remaining water off and headed towards the readied guest room. The second duplicate had returned and arranged all the brought materials to be ready for use. Vlad laid Danny on the changing mat, applied a copious amount of powder and put one of the newly bought diapers on him. The package indicated that the diapers were meant for children age 7 to 10, but Daniel was always rather small and in his current diminished state they fit perfectly. He tucked the boy into the bed and started an IV, one he made specifically for half-ghosts. Then he ordered all his paperwork to be brought there and settled to wait until the boy woke up.

 

*****

 

When Danny first woke up he didn’t even have the energy to open his eyes. He was warm, everything was soft, and he was still feeling dead tired. He was confused. Why was he awake? A throb from his lower abdomen answered that question. That was uncomfortable! Danny, in his sleep muddled state, tried to puzzle out the meaning of that feeling, but then it started to go away. Comfortable once more, he plunged back into sleep.

 

*****

 

Vlad Masters looked up from his paperwork. He had been keeping an ear strained in the boy’s direction, listening for the signs of waking or getting worse. All he had been hearing for the last five hours was the steady slow breathing of a deep sleep, but now there was a slight hitch in the pattern. Vlad stopped writing and listened. Yes! There it was again! He came closer to the bed and looked at Daniel’s face. His breathing had now quickened slightly. He saw the boy’s eyelids flutter, but his eyes didn’t open. Instead, his eyebrows were drawn together into a frown. Vlad was concerned. Was Daniel in pain? He decided to try to wake the boy properly and ask him, when he heard a sudden hiss start from under the blanket and saw the frown melt away. Understanding what was happening, Vlad calmed down. The one litre IV bag was now almost empty, and much of the contents had apparently travelled into the boy’s bladder. Daniel’s breathing lengthened back to the sleeping pattern before he was done. 

 

Vlad listened for the sound of liquid hitting the padding and once it stopped, he waited a minute more. Then he phased his hand through the blanket to check how wet the diaper was. He didn’t want to disturb the boy’s rest any more than necessary, so if he wasn’t too wet, he would not change him immediately. Sticking his fingers in through the leghole, he found the diaper completely soggy from front to back. How the short release would wet it that much Vlad couldn’t guess, but the answer was soon revealed, as a little rivulet of liquid glided over his fingers. The boy had apparently been dribbling all the while. Deciding that he couldn’t let his little badger stay in a diaper that wet, Vlad disconnected the IV, picked the younger halfa up and carried him to the table where the changing supplies were left. The boy shivered slightly at being exposed to the cooler air but did not stir.

 

The change went off without a hitch and in a few minutes, Daniel was back in a clean dry diaper and back in bed. Vlad wiped down the few stray drops of urine from the mat and resolved to check the boy’s diaper more often from now on. If it wasn’t for that one larger release, the diaper could have overflowed with him being none the wiser. That would make the bed wet and defeat the whole point of the thing. He went to the en suite bathroom to wash his hands. 

 

Another thing that concerned Vlad was that Daniel did not seem to wake up properly before wetting. He even fell asleep while peeing. Was it only because he was too tired to get up? Vlad pondered that thought as he walked back to the room. Then the memory of the yellow stains on the bedsheets sprang into his mind. No, this had to have been going on for some time now. He checked the boy to see if he was comfortable before putting up a new IV bag and starting it. Then he returned to his computer, but business emails were abandoned in favour of googling teen bedwetting. 

 

*****

 

When Danny finally opened his eyes, the sun of the early afternoon was shining cheerily through his window. Danny stared at the unfamiliar scenery outside for a while before realizing that this wasn’t his window at all. He glanced over the room and from the gaudy green and gold colour scheme, he quickly deduced that he was at Vlad’s place. That made him spring up into a sitting position and feel the bed under him. Danny couldn’t remember why he was sleeping in one of Vlad’s beds or how he got there, but he couldn’t imagine anything more mortifying then his arch-enemy walking in and finding soaked bedsheets. To his immense surprise, the bed was dry, but as soon as he moved to get off he discovered why. Something damp brushed over his privates and when he looked down and raised the hem of the long loose sleepshirt, he saw a diaper. One that has already been used a bit, apparently. He blushed fiercely. Did the fruitloop persuade him to wear one before bed? Or even worse, did the fruitloop put it on him himself? Now that Danny thought about it, he had no memory of putting on the sleepshirt either. But before he had the chance to panic from embarrassment, his thoughts were interrupted by a click of an opening door.

 

Vlad was coming to check on Daniel after being notified by the motion sensor he left in the room. After that first change, Daniel would occasionally twitch or change position slightly, signifying that he was now deeply asleep, rather than unconscious. He still wouldn’t wake when Vlad checked or changed his diaper though, and the changes hadn’t been few, with all the liquid being pushed to his body by the IV. By the second evening, Vlad had to send out a duplicate to buy another pack, because they had almost run out. On the morning of the third day, he noticed that the boy was sleeping much more lightly. Daniel even opened his eyes for a moment while he was changing him but did not show any reaction. When he was put back onto the bed, he muttered something unintelligible and fell asleep again. While this was not the sort of awakening Vlad was hoping for, it made him hopeful that Daniel would wake up properly soon, and so he had not given him a new IV yet.

 

It would seem that his hope was well-founded. As soon as he opened the door to the guest room he was greeted with a sight that sent the pangs of worry and amusement through his mind. Amusement, because Daniel was sitting at the edge of the bed, looking at his diaper and blushing like a tomato and worry, because seeing him on that bed, swathed in the loose shirt, made him look tiny. It reminded Vlad how badly off his little badger truly was and he sent an invisible duplicate to fetch the boy some breakfast.

 

“Good afternoon, little badger,” he said as he was approaching the boy. He decided not to mention the diaper for the moment and allow the younger halfa to calm down a bit. As he sat on the edge of the bed next to the boy, Daniel quickly dropped the shirt so that it would cover him and turned to look a Vlad.

 

“How long was I out?” asked Danny. He knew by the angle of the sunlight that it was earlier than when Sam, Tucker and he snuck in. This realization drove all the thoughts of the diaper out of his mind. Did his parents know where he was? And what had Vlad done to him? He still couldn’t remember how he ended up in the bed. 

 

“Almost full 72 hours.” Answered Vlad. “You collapsed in the lab, and considering your home situation, I thought it would be better to let you recover here. You were badly dehydrated, and without some medical equipment, which I know your parents don’t have, you would not get better. In fact, if you were taken home, they would have to bring you to a hospital and we both know why that would be bad.” 

 

Vlad hated having to make it sound so self-serving, but he knew that the child would not trust any altruistic reason coming from him. “So instead I told your parents that you had been feeling a bit under the weather and stopped by my place on the way home, and then you fell asleep while doing your homework. They were just about to leave for a convention and asked me to watch you while they were away.”

 

Danny blushed scarlet again when he finally remembered what happened in the lab. In the lab, where he and Vlad were locked up together because…

 

“What did you do with Sam and Tucker?!” exclaimed Danny, grasping Vlad’s sleeve.

 

“I didn’t do anything to the two nuisances. My butler evicted them from the premises before we got out. I did call their parents and informed them of their children’s unacceptable behaviour.”

 

“You aren’t really going to sue them, are you?” Danny remembered the threat Vlad shouted when he found them in the office.

 

“No. As much as I’d like to, you were in your ghost form the entire time, and all the evidence I have are camera recordings. They will merely undergo a psychological evaluation and depending on the results of that, they may even have to go to therapy.”

 

“But there’s nothing wrong with Sam and Tucker! You can’t do that!” 

 

“That will be up to the psychiatrists to determine, and you are right, I can’t order them to go. Their parents, however, do have that right, and after I described your friend’s actions to them, they agreed that such a course might be for the best.”

 

*****

 

Vlad was sitting in a chair and looking at the playbacks of the security camera footage from the point where the three approached his mansion until the moment he caught them. He could feel his anger rising as he saw Daniel trying to persuade the other two to turn back and leave, while they only ignored him and goaded him into following them. Unfortunately, the boy was following them as Phantom, meaning that none of these incriminating videos could be used in court. He could still sue them, but it would be his word against theirs. Gerard was a ghost and couldn’t testify and Daniel would not testify against his friends even if they tried to kill him (oh the irony).

 

He took a calming breath and thought about the possible outcomes. As a mayor, his word had much more weight than a word of two teenagers, but the Mansons were rich and could afford a lawyer that would make sure that their daughter would get off with a warning at worst. That was not acceptable. Those dratted parents would insist that their daughter was being influenced by Daniel and not the other way around. If only he could persuade them otherwise…

 

That gave him an idea. Fetching a phonebook from his office, he found the first of the two numbers he was looking for. After waiting for a minute, someone finally picked up. The voice on the other side was a bit breathless as if the person had to run to the phone.

 

“Foley residence, Angela Foley speaking.”

 

“Good evening Mrs Foley, is your son at home?”

 

“Ah, Mayor Masters! No, he isn’t. Do you want to leave a message for him?” 

 

“No, I actually wished to talk with you about your son’s behaviour without his presence, so that he would not interrupt or make excuses before I could explain the situation.”

 

“Has Tucker done something bad?” the voice was worried now.

 

“Unfortunately, yes. He, Samantha Manson and Daniel Fenton had broken into my office and attempted to hack my computer. Fortunately, they were found and evicted before they could cause any harm, but the matter still stands that they committed several illegal acts.”

 

“Please, Mr Masters, don’t press charges! I know that what my son had done was bad, but he shouldn’t have his record marred for life because of childish stupidity! We will punish him accordingly ourselves, or make him do community service or, or…”

 

“Please calm down Mrs Foley, I did not call you because I intend to bring him up on charges, although I will certainly demand that he be punished for his actions. Your son did not seem to be the instigator of the whole action, he was merely agreeing with Samantha, and while that does not excuse what he did, I would be a bit more lenient towards him, if it wasn’t for the way the two treated Daniel.”

 

“Danny? But he’s my son’s best friend! They wouldn’t do anything to hurt him!”

 

“But, I’m afraid that’s what they did. You see, while this is not exactly well known, the Fentons and I were lab partners back in college. We used to be very close friends and, while we became distant afterwards, we became close again after a college reunion an I see myself as something close to an uncle to their children. Tucker and Samantha were aware of this and blackmailed Daniel into coming with them, even though he wasn’t feeling well so that he would act as a decoy and let them escape if I caught them. When I found them in my office Daniel made me chase him, but as I said earlier, he was not feeling well, he had a bit of a fever, and the chase made him faint. My staff evicted the other two in the meantime.”

 

“Will Danny be Ok?”

 

“Yes, but you can understand why I would be so concerned with your son’s behaviour. I know they truly were best friends at some point and such exploitation should be very abnormal. I believe it would be good if you took your son to a professional for psychoanalysis to determine why he would act in such an uncharacteristic way. I can give you a number for a doctor who specialises in teenagers unless you know someone else already?”

 

Angela Foley thanked him with a tearful voice, accepted the number, promised to inform him on any developments in the situation and hung up after thanking him again.

Vlad shuffled the pages and steeled himself for the second call. He knew that the Mansons will be much more difficult. This time, the phone was picked up after a single ring.

 

“Jeremy Manson speaking.”

 

“Good evening, Mr Manson, this is mayor Masters. I need to discuss with you a matter concerning your daughter. Is she present? It would be better if I could explain the situation to you completely before she is confronted.”

 

“Had our Sammy done something?”

 

“Your daughter, as well as Tucker Foley and Daniel Fenton had broken into my office and attempted to hack into my personal computer. I have a reason to believe that your daughter instigated this whole action.”

 

“I will be contacting my lawyer.”

 

“Please wait! Let me finish. I will not be pressing charges against any of the three.”

 

“Very well, but what evidence do you have that our daughter was the instigator? How do you know it was not that no-good Fenton kid? He is a bad influence, he and his insane family.”

 

“I’m afraid that Samantha’s culpability is beyond doubt. The three of them had been caught on the security cameras. There are several instances of recorded conversations, where Daniel attempts to persuade the other two to leave, only for your daughter to goad or blackmail him into staying. The other boy would agree with her at times, but she was the one most vocal about going on. Would you like to hear one example?”

 

“Yes, let’s hear it. Then we can decide whether you interpreted it correctly.” the voice was angry. Apparently, he did not want to believe that his daughter would do such a thing of her own volition.

 

Vlad found the appropriate recording, placed the phone near the laptop and hit play.

“…Come on guys, nobody’s seen us yet. If we turn around now, we can still just go home like nothing happened. Why don’t we just watch a movie and go to sleep?” Danny’s voice pleaded

“You can go home and sleep if you want to. If you can sleep with the knowledge that you left us here. We are going on.” Came a retort unmistakably in Sam’s voice…

Vlad stopped the video.

 

“Is that sufficient? Or do I need to play another recording?”

 

There was a silence on the other end of the line for a moment, before Jeremy asked. “And you say you will not press any charges?”

 

“No, I will not. On one condition. I ask you to take your daughter to a psychologist for an evaluation. I know you did not approve of it, but she and Daniel had been genuine friends at some point and the fact that she would turn to manipulate him like this is concerning. I can give you a number for someone who specialises in teenagers if you wish?”

 

“No thank you, we have our own contacts.”

 

“Very well, please inform me who will you be visiting, so that I may verify their credentials myself.”

 

“We will. Goodbye.”

 

*****

 

The room was silent for a few minutes, as both half ghosts were lost in their own thoughts.

Danny was the first to speak up. “What did you mean by my home situation?”

 

Vlad sighed. This was a topic he had hoped to avoid for a little while. “Well, little badger, after you passed out I sent a duplicate to your room to fetch some clean clothes for you. I don’t think I need to describe what he saw there. Or smelled there for that matter.”

 

Danny blushed again. “I know it’s pretty messy…”

 

“This goes beyond messy, Daniel. Messy is clothes thrown on the ground and food wrappers all over the place. It is not bloody bandages under the bed and old stains from bodily fluids on the floor. How come your parents hadn’t noticed anything? They burst in there and destroyed the duplicate but did not seem surprised at the state of the place.”

 

“Well, that’s them. Always focused on ghosts.” laughed Danny weakly, not wanting to answer.

 

“Daniel, this is serious. You could get ill from living in such a filthy environment. Not even animals should live like that. And the bed... Please tell me that you change the sheets after you wet them and don’t just sleep on the wet mattress.

 

“Um…” Danny was scratching the back of his neck and looking everywhere except at Vlad. “If I manage to wake up, I usually move to a dryer portion of the bed or move to sleep on the carpet. I’m usually too tired to do anything else, and I don’t exactly have the time to clean.”

 

“How long have you been wetting the bed?”

 

“It started last Spring. Jazz found out and helped me with the laundry, but she left for university and, well, you know. I never told Sam or Tucker about it and whenever they come to our house lately, they just want to go to the lab and see if my parents invented something we could use.”

 

Danny shifted uncomfortably under Vlad’s scrutiny. He’s needed to go since he’d woken up, and the long talk wasn’t helping. There was no way he would go while Vlad was still in the room. He gave the adjacent bathroom a quick wistful glance.

 

“I see,” said Vlad with a glint in his eyes. “Tell me Daniel, has anything else changed about the way you and your friends, how did it go again? Hang out?”

 

“Uh, now that you mention it, Sam had been insisting on more training lately, instead of just hanging out and relaxing. She says that the other ghosts have been getting stronger and if I don’t keep up, I won’t be able to protect Amity anymore. Tucker usually agrees with her, but he doesn’t really try to participate. He says he’s the tech guy, so he doesn’t need the physical strength, just hacking skills. They also insist on spending a long time on patrols, even when I tell them that there are no ghosts at that moment and then they go home and leave me to fight alone. They say that their parents are onto them and they can’t stay out late anymore, but still want to help me fight ghosts, that’s why they insist on the longer patrols.”

 

“I see.” Vlad frowned and seemed to be pondering something for a while.

“Let me ask another question then: When was the last time your friends hung out with Danny Fenton instead of Danny Phantom?”

 

“I don’t understand what you...” before he could finish that question both half ghosts picked up a faint hissing noise. Danny was looking around the room in confusion, searching for the source. It wasn’t until he felt warmth bathing his privates that he realized that his bladder has released without him even noticing. He froze for a moment before chancing a glance at the older halfa.

 

Vlad had identified the source of the sound immediately. After all, he became rather familiar with it while caring for the unconscious half-ghost. He politely averted his eyes until he felt the other’s gaze on him. 

 

“I didn’t even feel it,” whispered Danny, horrified.

 

“Well, Daniel, I’m afraid that this is one of the consequences of you not taking proper care of yourself. But enough about that. The serious talk can wait until after you have bathed and eaten breakfast.” 

 

Vlad stood up and walked over to a door on the right side of the room. 

“The bathroom is in here. You seem well enough to take a shower unassisted, but I will be waiting for you here, so if you get dizzy or need any help just call. As for your current undergarment, you will find a trash bin under the sink. You can dispose of it there. Once you are done I will teach you how to put on a new one.”

 

The fact that Daniel did not even protest at the prospect of being put in a diaper by his archnemesis showed clearly how much the situation had shaken him. Or perhaps he was just too tired of everything to care anymore. Vlad watched with worry as the usually lively boy dragged himself into the ensuite. He went back to his paperwork but kept his hearing strained towards the boy just in case he needed assistance after all. 

 

*****

 

Danny had taken a long shower. It had been a while since he had the time to just stand under the warm spray and relax. Plus he didn’t have to worry about raising the water bill here. He took full advantage of the situation and scrubbed himself several times with Vlad’s expensive soaps. Once his fingers started turning into prunes, he turned off the water, phased himself dry, wrapped a fluffy towel around himself, and went to search for a spare toothbrush. 

 

Brushing his teeth, Danny noticed that his crotch began to feel damp. A cursory check revealed a wet spot on the towel where it touched his penis. Clenching his muscles had no effect, as he could feel a few drops escaping and running down his inner thigh until they were soaked up by a dryer part of the towel. Resigned to his fate, he finished brushing and walked to the guest room, only to hesitate at the door.

 

Vlad had heard Danny’s footsteps and turned around.

 

“What are you waiting for? You do not need to be shy. After all, you have nothing I haven’t seen before. Who do you think had been taking care of you while you were sleeping, huh, little badger?”

 

Danny blushed at the reminder.

 

“I just… don't want to get the carpet wet.”

 

“Oh, well, if that’s all, just hold the towel in front of yourself while walking. After all, you appear to have wet it a bit already and a bit more won’t make any difference. Now, come here, so that I can teach you how to properly put on a diaper and you can do it by yourself later.”

 

Danny simply nodded and walked over to where Vlad had already spread the changing mat. Vlad had explained each step to Danny but made him perform the actions by himself, to better solidify the skills in his memory. After checking the tabs and proclaiming them adequate, both halfas descended to the kitchen to eat breakfast. The younger did not eat much, both because he wasn’t used to larger quantities of food anymore and because of nerves. They were supposed to have the serious talk afterwards and he was anxious to find out what it was about. 

 

Vlad finished his breakfast soon enough and motioned Danny to follow him into a study. They both sat down in comfortable armchairs.

 

“Daniel, I know that what I’m about to say will most likely sound like another one of my schemes, but I would like you to know that I do genuinely care about you outside my obsession with your mother. Please hear me out fully before taking any actions.”

 

“Ok, but only because you haven’t been so much of a fruitloop lately,” the teenager agreed petulantly. The introduction had done nothing to lessen his worries.

 

“Good. I’ll be blunt with you, Daniel, I do not believe you should continue living with your parents,” Vlad could see Danny taking a breath to retort and raised a hand to interrupt.

 

“I’m not saying that you have to come live with me, although I certainly do insist that you stay until you are a bit more recovered. My doors are, of course, always open to you, but I have also contacted your sister, and after hearing what condition I had found you in, she fully agrees that your home situation is no longer tenable and is willing to move to a bigger apartment so that you can come live with her. She had even offered to move back to Amity and take online classes to make sure you are being cared for. It would, of course, be easiest if you decide to stay with me, but at this point, I would accept you moving in with your allies in the Zone over you staying at that house.”

 

They were both sat silently for a while, Danny deep in thought and Vlad waiting for an answer. He was pleasantly surprised that the teen had not immediately accused him of trying to brainwash him, or kidnap him, or something of that sort. He knew that such an accusation would not be completely unfounded, considering his past actions, and that the fault for the negative relationship between them lay fully on him, but he couldn’t help but hope that it could be salvaged yet. Finally, the young halfa spoke.

 

“Can I have some time to think about it?”

 

“Of course, little badger, it will be a few weeks before you are healthy enough to leave in any case.”

 

“Weeks? Shouldn’t I heal faster than that?”

 

“Considering your condition? You are lucky that as a half-ghost you will completely recover. A full human would likely suffer consequences for the rest of their lives.”

 

“Oh...Can I speak with Jazz?”

 

“Your sister is most likely currently in the middle of a class. I’ll send her a message that you wish to speak with her when she is free.”

 

“Thanks,” Danny mumbled as he snuggled into the armchair’s cushions. Now that he knew what was going on he was less tense and afraid and could feel his exhaustion creeping back. His eyes slid closed and he didn’t quite have the willpower to open them again. Damn, was Vlad’s furniture comfortable! It was putting him to sleep.

 

*****

Danny came back to awareness, only to realise that he was lying in the same bed as in the morning and not on the armchair. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes as he tried to figure out what had roused him. He certainly didn’t feel refreshed enough to have woken up by himself. A knock on the door answered that question.

 

“Come in!”

 

Vlad came in carrying a laptop.

 

“I apologise for disturbing you, but I thought you would want to talk with your sister as soon as possible.”

 

He placed the computer on the boy’s lap so that he could see the familiar redhead on the screen. 

 

“Danny! Thank god you are alright!”

 

“Hi, Jazz,” Danny turned to Vlad, “Could we talk alone?”

 

Instead of answering, Vlad got up and walked out of the room. As he closed the door behind himself, he could hear the older sibling scolding the younger for not taking care of himself. He truly wished to eavesdrop, but if he were to have any chance of earning the boy’s trust, he had to let him have his privacy. To avoid giving in to temptation and listening anyway, he teleported into his office and immersed himself in business and paperwork.

 

*****

 

After what felt like a small eternity to Vlad, he registered a ghostly presence moving towards him. Daniel phased into the room, laying the closed laptop onto his table before sagging into one of his chairs and detransforming. Even the short time in his ghost form had left him drained. Vlad waited patiently for him to catch his breath.

 

“So, Jazz and I talked and she helped me decide. I will be staying with you. But! She will call me every week and if she thinks that you are doing something fruitloopy, she will come to take me with her. Also, I want to be able to visit my friends.”

 

“You will be going nowhere near Manson and Foley until they are given an all-clear from the psychiatrists.”

 

“Yeah, I figured, but I was talking about my friends in the zone.”

 

“You will not be allowed in the zone until you can defend yourself again and you will tell me who you will be visiting and approximately how long.”

 

“Deal.”

 

Danny looked at the older halfa with a look so serious it made Vlad pause.

 

“I’m giving you a second chance. Don’t screw it up. You won’t get another one, uncle Vlad.”

 

Vlad could not stop the tears that filled his eyes. A feeling of warmth and lightness filled his chest. He could feel his urge to chase after Madeline recede into the background of his mind and the thought of Jack no longer produced murderous rage. All he ever truly wanted was love and family. How funny that he would have his obsession fulfilled by abandoning its primary target. He cleared his throat, hoping that his voice wouldn’t tremble.

 

“Thank you, Danny, I will do my best not to disappoint.”