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Chapter 1

Despite all evidence lying in front of her, Valerie still could not bring herself to believe it.

She should have stayed at home, finish her homework or just catch up on sleep instead of rushing after that stupid ghost. Maybe then, she wouldn’t be in this situation- this nightmare.

It was late, and she had been chasing after the ghost for about ten minutes by the time Phantom showed up. Normally, she would be cursing and fuming at the very sight of the white haired ghost, but she could only feel gratitude welling in her at the thought that she might be able to get this done a lot quicker with his help.

Although she still harboured lingering resentment for him, Valerie had become slightly more tolerable of Phantom, enough so that she didn’t blast him every time she saw him. Unlike some people…

The ghost- one she didn’t recognise- was more quick than powerful, drawing out the fight into a chase. One that both Valerie and Phantom wanted to just end. It was fifteen minutes of nearly crashing into walls, actually crashing into each other and the insanity of trying to actually keep up with the little bastard that the Fentons decided to show up!

The older hunters were… not people that Valerie could say she respected. They were loud, brash and often ended up doing more harm than good. While Valerie had decided to see sense and actually try and work with Phantom, the Fenton’s had instead decided to make him their number one target, no matter if another ghost was being way more of a problem.

And this is, of course, exactly what they did here as well.

The Red Huntress had mostly decided to ignore the Fentons, instead focusing more on just avoiding their wayward blasts and getting in a few good hits as Phantom tried to keep the ghost in one area. She did not pay attention to the whirl of a gun, nor the sound of it blasting too close to her, nowhere near where the ghost was.

What she did pay attention to, however, was the cry that Phantom gave out when it hit him in the back. She could not see his face properly, but that cry sounded genuine, and she could not help but wonder how much that had truly hurt him.

Valerie did not have to wonder long, though, as the ghost took advantage of Phantom’s distraction to land a heavy hit on the green eyed boy, sending him tumbling down.

Right into Valerie.

Now, Phantom was actually rather light, but the force with which he had been hit and the speed in which he fell caused the pair to be sent towards the ground at an alarming speed. After fumbling around for a few precious seconds, Valerie was able to gain control of her suit, getting it to protect and slow her fall as she hit the ground.

“Oww…” She groaned, turning over onto her back. She ached all over and did not doubt that she was likely to be covered in bruises after this. She lay there awhile, staring up at the cloudy night sky, just trying to stop her head from pounding for a while.

By now, the ghost would have most certainly gotten away, laughing gleefully all the while. She huffed out a long suffering sigh, slowly pushing her back off of the ground. She observed her surroundings, realising that she had landed in a back alley that she didn’t recognise. With it being so late, she reckoned that no one would be wondering about around here, especially since a ghost had just come through.

Careful not to move her head too much due to her developing headache, the red clad girl retracted her helmet, letting her tangled hair come tumbling free. She took a deep breath, reveling in the feeling of not wearing a stuffy helmet after so long. But the revelry did not last long.

As she looked at her hands, she realised that they were covered in a green liquid. Ectoplasm….

But that didn’t make any sense! She had barely been able to touch the ghost, only getting in a few lucky shots with her guns. But then she remembered how Phantom had been injured by the Fentons’ blast and then hit by the ghost, sent plummeting to the ground, taking Valerie along with him.

So then, this ectoplasm belongs to…

With a gasp, she shot up from the ground, sharply turning around. On the ground behind her, ectoplasm was splattered all over the place, some of it even covering the walls. It glowed a bright, neon green, lighting up the small dark area. In the middle of it all, a figure lay on the ground, completely still.

A strangled sort of noise coming from her throat, Valerie rushed to Phantom’s side, gathering his limp body into her arms as she knelt on the ground.

Now, Valerie would never admit to liking Phantom. No way. But she had certainly started to tolerate his presence, and even come to feel slightly better whenever he helped get rid of a ghost. She had seen him get beaten down, hell, she’d beaten him down herself! But seeing him like this…

She didn’t like to think about how his mannerisms were so close to that of a normal teenager, how he looked so young and carefree all the time. She hated his stupid jokes and puns, how some of them would even be enough to make her quirk a little smile under her mask, not that anyone would ever see it.

She frowned, her mouth set in a deep line as she took in his injuries. He seemed to be unconscious, completely out of it as she lay his head in her lap. She could see a few little wounds and scratches littered along his body, already healing and closing up. The one in the centre of his chest, where the ghost had hit him, was still leaking ectoplasm quite a bit, the long gash going from his left shoulder down to his right hip. It didn’t seem to be healing like the other wounds, however, simply staying the same size as it continued to flow with that green liquid. She could also see and feel as that same liquid was flowing from his back, where the wound from the Fentons’ blaster had hit him.

“Shit…” she mumbled. “Shit!”

Later, she would say that she kept all composure, not panaking a single bit as Phantom continued to bleed ectoplasm all over her. But really, who could blame her if she did?

Valerie, despite claiming to be a great ghost hunter, actually didn’t know very much about them. She didn’t know how to do ghost first aid or how much ectoplasm was too much to lose! She only knew how to inflict damage upon them. And if that didn’t make her contemplate her own morality, she didn’t know what would.

“Come on, you ass!” She harshly whispered to him as she tapped him on the cheek. “I need you to wake up and say something stupid before you fly off, all merry and happy, nothing wrong with you whatsoever! Leaking your spooky ectoplasm all over me isn’t helping this situation one bit!”

Her voice started to crack at the end, tears gathering in her eyes. She didn’t know what to do! She knew that he was already dead, no chest rising and falling, no heartbeat to listen to and no pulse to search for, but that only seemed to make it that much worse.

Suddenly, before she could start ranting at him again, a bright light appeared, blinding her for a few moments. When she opened her eyes, she beheld the most shocking sight in her life.

Instead of bright white hair and glowing skin, she saw jet black and a worryingly pale complexion. Although she didn’t want to think about it, she knew that should he open his eyes, she would be met with an icy blue instead of neon green.

Danny Fenton.

No, no no no no no no no! She was dreaming, she- she hit her head just a bit too hard and now she’s hallucinating! This couldn’t be real, this isn’t real!

But it was. It became too real when the plain white shirt he was now wearing started to spread into a bright red, mixing with the green that was still plastered all over her hands.

Valerie started to breathe too quickly, choking out sobs and gasps as she held Danny’s body closer to hers. She had no idea what to do! She just found out that her friend was in fact someone she used to try and shoot on a daily basis, harming and berating him as she whent around.

She needed to get help. Someone who would listen and she could trust.

The police were an absolute no-go, she would never be able to trust them with any of this information lest it leak out to the public. She thought of her Dad, but quickly banished the thought. He would likely call the police and say they get them to a hospital, asking too many questions. Danny’s parents were also off the table, for… obvious reasons. She doubted they knew about any of this, and she didn’t want to try and risk how their reactions would go if they did.

That left Jasmine, Sam and Tucker.

Valerie had no idea if any of them knew Danny’s secret, believing that they must have some suspicions at least. If anything, they were all the s
most likely to hear her out and listen to her story. They all also cared fiercely about Danny. None of them would do anything to harm him. That, she knew without a doubt.

With shaky hands, she pulled out her phone from an inner pocket in her suit, sending a quick message to all three of them with her location.

She slumped with relief when the message was sent, looking back towards Danny, his face seeming to be more pale than before. She let out a few tears of desperation, still wondering how the hell this had all happened. Her mind was a whirl now, but she knew she would have to wait a while to get all of the answers to her questions.

She could only hope that her friends would arrive in time…

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

Jazz wasn’t quite sure what to think when she received a message at eleven O’clock in the evening from Valerie.

Danny’s friends all had her number, just in case of emergencies or any sort of help, but Valerie very rarely texted her, usually just preferring to speak in person. Ever since Sam, Tucker and Danny had told her that Valerie was the Red Huntress, she had made sure to keep an extra look out, if not only to make sure she didn’t hurt Danny but to also ensure that Valerie took care of herself.

Her parents had left a while ago, and she’d seen Danny fly off before them, so it was highly likely this had to do with a ghost.

EMRGNCY. PLS GET OVR HER.

The message was short and rushed, a location attached to it. Dread starting to settle deep within her. Rushing to grab her keys and coat, Jazz leapt down the stairs, out the door and into the car.

She knew she shouldn’t be driving so fast, but honestly? It was the middle of the night and she couldn’t give two flying fucks about what anyone else thought at the moment. Her mind was spinning with all the possibilities of what might have happened, if Valerie was ok or hurt or… or someone else was.

When she reached the destination, she slowed to a stop parking the car by the pavement and quickly got out. The area was dark, with few houses around, and no lights. She turned on the torch on her phone, letting it give her a bit of sight.

“Valerie?” She called out. “Val, are you there?”

For a few moments, she was met with silence, and she was prepared to call again before a voice reached her.

“Jazz?” Valerie’s voice sounded over. She sounded like she had been crying. “I- we’re over here.”

We? She jogged over to where she heard Valerie’s voice coming from, a small alleyway, ignoring how her heart pounded in her chest. The gladness she felt upon at least hearing Valerie’s voice vanished as soon as she turned the corner.

At the end of the alley sat Valerie, still dressed in her red suit, covered in a mixture of blood and ectoplasm. In her arms was an unconscious figure that Jazz recognised immediately.

Danny, her little brother.

A choked cry ripped from her chest as she ran towards them, kneeling on the ground as she placed a hand on her brother’s bloodless face. The fact that she could even tell that he was looking pale was never a good sign. Ever since the Accident, Danny had been getting paler and paler as the months had gone by, no matter how much he stood in the sun.

His shirt was completely drenched in red, with splotches of ectoplasm also covering parts of his body. It was a gruesome sight, and it made her want to look away, but she couldn’t- not now.

Next to her, she could hear Valerie breathing heavily, her whole body shaking. The poor girl was going into shock, and Jazz couldn’t blame her. It wasn’t everyday one of your half-dead friends decides to go and bleed out all over you. She would have pressed for an explanation to what the fuck was going on, but Jazz doubted that Valerie would be able to get out more than a few words before completely breaking down.

She heard footsteps behind her as she was searching for Danny’s weak pulse, but she relaxed once she heard Sam’s voice.

“Holy shit.” the dark haired girl breathed. She approached closer, and Jazz could see Tucker coming up from the other side, reaching out to put a steady hand on Valerie’s shoulder. Thank god for these two.

Jazz continued to feel for Danny’s pulse, and she soon found it, though it was faint and barely there. It was better than not having one at all, she supposed.

“How is he?” Sam asked, worry etching her features.

“It- well, it isn’t looking too good.” If that wasn’t an understatement.

“I saw your parents driving around earlier.” Tucker spoke. “They weren’t too far from here.”

That wasn’t good. If her parents arrived now, she didn’t exactly have a convincing story to what was going on aside from the truth, and like hell she was gonna explain this without Danny’s permission.

“We need to get him inside, somewhere that would have supplies.” She suggested. “We- we can’t go to mine, obviously, do you guy’s know anywhere that’s safe where no one will find us.”

“My parents aren’t home for a few day’s.” Sam said. “We’ll be fine there.”

And that was that.

Jazz and Sam took Danny into their arms, heading to the car as Tucker helped Valerie off of the ground. She held a tight grip onto the boy, swaying on her feet a bit, before promptly fainting back onto the ground, taking a shocked Tucker with him.

“Ow!” He yelped. “Little help over here, guys?”

{~}

The side to Sam’s house was silent.

Tucker and Sam sat in the back, Danny laid across them so they could make sure the ride did not jostle his wounds too much. They had put Valerie in the front next to Jazz who was driving, and she had yet to wake up.

The air was tense the entire way there, and still no one spoke until Jazz had finally stopped the car at the big house.

Sam and Tucker brought Danny inside, moving to get any supplies that they might need. Although Jazz wanted to stay with her brother, she wasn’t sure how long she would be able to keep her composure before it snapped.

So, instead she lifted (quite a light) Valerie into her arms, taking her up to one of the many spare rooms that Sam had guided her to in the large house. She lay the unconscious girl on the large, comfy bed, making sure that she wouldn’t be in an uncomfortable position. She would have taken her boots off, but Jazz had no idea how the armour worked and she didn’t want to accidentally break something.

Quietly, she slipped out, making sure to turn the light off before she left, and then made her way to where Sam and Tucker had taken Danny.

She knocked quietly on the door, only entering once Tucker looked up at her and smiled slightly.

“How is he?” She made her way over to the bedside.

“Much better than before, I can tell you that.” Sam answered quietly, rolling up a bundle of bandages.

And it was true. His whole torso had been bandaged up, with a few flecks of blood still staining it, but it didn’t appear to be bleeding any further. His face was still extremely pale, but then again, it always was nowadays. The thing that comforted Jazz the most, though, was that she could actually see Danny’s chest rising and falling, if ever so slightly.

She let out a breath she hadn’t known she’d been holding. “That’s good. And, thank you, both for helping him. Not just this time, but all the other times. I really am grateful.”

Tucker huffed a laugh. “Of course! Danny’s our bro, y’know? It’s the kind of things friends should do, right? Patching up your best friend after he bleeds out all over the place…”

“He’d be completely dead without us.” Sam simply stated.

Jazz just nodded her head silently. “You guy’s should get some sleep, I can stay with him a while.”

The two looked like they wanted to argue, but she gave them her stern ‘you’d better do as you're told or I will be very disappointed in you’ look. Quietly, they shuffled out of the room, closing the door behind them as Jazz made her way over to the bed.

Oh, Danny, will you ever get just a moment’s rest?

She took his cold, pale hand in hers and simply focused on his breathing, content that he did not seem to be in any pain by the look of his peaceful face.

She stayed there all night, until, eventually, she too drifted off into a dreamless sleep.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

Danny woke up feeling strangely… hollow.

It was like a large hole had been punched through him and everything and just spilled out. Horrible imagery, really, but that was the only way he could really describe it.

His mind went back to the events he last remembered, and continued to draw up a blank as soon as he recalled something hitting him in the back.

Whatever it was must have caused me to lose consciousness.

He suddenly felt something shift next to him, and he slowly cracked open his eyes to see what it was. Everything was blurry and bright, at first, but the room around him soon began to shift into focus.

The room he was in was unfamiliar, but reminded him a lot of some of the furniture in Sam’s house. Weird…

“Danny?” A voice he recognised came from his side, and he had to cringe at how loud it was. A moment later, his elder sister came into view. Her red hair was a mess, and she had a few red marks on her face from where it looked like she’d been sleeping.

“What happened?” He croaked out, although it sounded more like ‘wh hp’d’. Truly, he had such an eloquent way with words.

Jazz seemed to understand what he was saying, though. “Something stupid, probably.”

His sister had such a nice way of putting things. “Probably?”

“Valerie was with you when we found you, but she passed out and hasn’t woken up yet.”

That was right, Val was fighting alongside him against that ghost… Mr. whatshisface. Oh well, he’ll remember later.

And then another thought occurred to him, and he shot straight up. “Val- she didn’t see me switch back did she?”

He felt Jazz’s hands on his shoulder, trying to push him back down, but he softly brushed her hands away. He knew he had been wounded but, truth was, he felt absolutely fine. There was no lingering pain, no dull ache that usually came after every fight. He felt as good as new, which was impossible, considering all the bandages wrapped around him made it look like they were ready to bury him in a tomb.

Instead, he looked at his sister, staring her in the eyes. “Jazz.”

“As I said, we didn’t find you guys until after, but,” She bit her lip nervously. “It’s quite likely.”

Great. There’s another person who knows his secret, and they were someone who potentially still wanted to kill part of him. He shuddered to think about what Val would think about all of this, fearing that their relationship would never recover from such a shocking truth.

Wait, who’s 'we'-

The sound of footsteps echoing outside the door caught his attention, and it was only a few moments before Tucker burst in.

“Hey, Jazz we-” He paused, seeing Danny sitting up. “Oh, hey! Look who’s finally awake!”

When Jazz had first spoken, he had thought that she just sounded really loud because he’d just woken up. Now, it seems that that was not the case. He had to stop himself from visibly flinching when Tucker’s voice seemed to clang in his head. Ever since the Accident, he had noticed that his senses were slowly beginning to get better than before, but this was probably the most evident of them all.

“Hey.” His voice did not sound good, but he was glad to see his friend. “How long have I been out?”

He looked at his watch. “About… eight hours now. It was pretty late when we found you, and it’s late morning now. Speaking of sleeping, are you sure you’re the half-dead one? Because Val hasn’t moved an inch in her sleep. I swear, that girl sleeps like the dead.”

He laughed a bit, although it sounded more like he was choking.

A voice suddenly rose up from outside, and Danny was shocked by how easily he could make it out. “Tucker! What’s taking you so long? It’s all gonna get cold if you don’t get your ass down here.”

“Sorry Sam!” The boy called back. “We’ll be down in a mo’.”

“You’d better!”

Tucker grinned sheepishly, and turned back to the two other occupants in the room. “You gonna be alright to move? We ordered pizza and I could bring some up for you.”

The halfa smiled gratefully but shook his head. “Nah, I’ll be alright.”

He swung his legs off the bed, standing up and stretching a bit as he did so.

“Dude…” Tucker breathed. “How do you do that? You looked like you’d been hit with several trucks at once last night.”

Danny just shrugged and gave an uncertain smile, unsure of it all himself. His friend just chuckled and made his way out. Danny looked towards his sister who had been strangely quiet through the whole exchange, an indecipherable look on her face.

“Are you alright?” He tentatively asked. Unlike his friends, who had come to take his weirdness in stride, he could often see that Jazz would often still be startled or hesitate.

She frowned a bit more, but shook her head. “No, it's nothing. Let’s go get something to eat shall we? I’m starving!”

She left him no room to reply, quickly making her way out of the room, avoiding his eyes.

Odd, she usually speaks her mind when prompted to. I’ll have to ask again later.

He looked to the side where he could see his shirt, now more red and green than white, sat. It looked like someone had tried to clean it, but ultimately had given up. The fabric was dry when he touched it and, realising that he didn’t really have anything else, put it on, following the others down the stairs.

As he made his way around the house, he realised that yes, this is indeed Sam’s. He supposed that with Sam’s parents out for the while, this was the best place for them to go without anyone asking questions.

He entered the dining room, where a bunch of pizza’s had been laid out, Sam, Tucker and Jazz already tucking in. None of them seemed to notice him until he started speaking.

“Pizza in the morning? Really?” They seemed to startle a bit, Sam softening a bit when she saw him.

“Well, we were hungry and couldn’t be bothered to cook.” She said. “Also, it’s good to see you awake.”

He smiled, making his way around the table. They had ordered him Pepperoni, Hawaiian for Jazz, Meat Feast for Tucker, some Veggie… thing for Sam and a BBQ Chicken for Val.

They ate in comfortable silence, no one wanting to say something and ruin the moment. Instead, something else seemed to do that for them. A loud thump came from upstairs, and Danny was certain that he heard Valerie swearing a few times.

He looked towards the others and realised that none of them had heard it, all of them too absorbed in inhaling their food. He frowned, glancing back up to where he could hear Valerie's footsteps making their way out of her room, not noticing the concerned glance that Jazz gave him.

Instead of mentioning that Valerie, who was trying to make herself sound as quiet as possible, was awake to the others, he pretended that everything was fine and that he had heard nothing.

He reasoned that should Val realise that he had noticed her coming downstairs, that might just give her further reason to shoot him. She liked alive Danny, not spooky dead Danny.

The footsteps came louder, and Danny had to brace himself for when they stopped, eyeing her as she stood still in the doorway. Her suit was gone, and she was now left wearing the odd assemble of yellow pajama bottoms and a red T-shirt. Not exactly a good mix, but he supposed that ghosts don’t really wait for you to get fully dressed before attacking.

Val hadn’t moved from her spot, eyes glued to Danny, who still had a pizza slice in his mouth.

She looked like she was about to either fall over or say something, but was distracted from doing either of those things when Tucker held up a box of pizza towards her like it was some sort of peace offering (Which, it kinda was).

“Pizza?”

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

The silence was deafening as all five of them sat around the table.

Val seemed to be having some sort of one-sided staring contest with Danny as she shoveled pizza in her mouth while he avoided her glare. Sam thought that if any of them even breathed wrong, the girl was going to bring out her guns and shoot the person closest to her. Which was, unfortunately, Tucker.

They were still quiet even as Val gulped down her last piece of pizza and- holy shit, where did that all go?- she turned to look at all of them. There were a few moments where they were all awkwardly looking around at each other, catching each other's gazes before turning away.

Jazz decided to take one for the team and start talking first. “So, Valerie, how are you-”

“WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED LAST NIGHT?”

Well, that is certainly one way to react.

Across the table, Sam could see Danny wince, and she wasn’t sure if it was because of the volume or the statement itself. Probably both.

Valerie had slammed her hands on the table, now stood up and had her eyes trained on the halfa, who was shifting very uncomfortably in his seat. Sam wondered for a moment if they would be able to pass it all off as just a really weird dream that Valerie had had, or a just a vivid hallucination after taking drugs or something. But then, she wasn’t how they would explain why Danny was covered in bandages, his shirt looking like a poor attempt at Christmas tie-dye.

Oh well, looks like they would be doing this the hard way, then.

“I don’t know, Val.” Tucker started. “What did happen last night?”

Oh, they were playing this game…

Valerie looked just about ready to explode. “You mean that he hasn’t told you yet?”

She pointed at Danny, who was trying to look as innocent as possible and like he wanted to just disappear. Which, yes, he could do, but that was unlikely to help their current situation.

“I have no idea what happened.” Danny said, still not looking her in the eye. “Pretty sure I was unconscious the entire time…”

Though he spoke rather nonchalantly, Sam could see that there was a heaviness in his eyes, guilt and worry starting to eat him away. Damn, this isn’t the ideal situation for such a secret to come out…

There was conflict in Valerie’s eyes, and they could all see that it was taking all her self control to stop herself from lashing out. No, instead she took in a deep breath and sat back down, placing her head in her hands.

“I-I don’t understand.” She confessed. “You’re my friend, and yet, you are also someone I absolutely hated up until recently. And even then, my feelings on the matter are still so complicated!

She groaned, taking her hands away from her face, revealing watery eyes. “Just- how? How is this possible? How can you be…?”

“Dead?” Sam couldn’t help but wince at the bluntness of Danny’s reply, but Val only mutely nodded her head.

Danny sighed, slumping down in his chair. Despite being able to move around so easily, he looked extremely tired. “I suppose it would be easiest if we started from the beginning.”

He looked to the rest of them when he said so, a silent question in his eyes.

They all agreed, and began to tell their story.

{~}

“Do you think she’s alright?” Tucker asked quietly, looking towards Valerie.

The girl sat slumped in her chair, having not said a word since they had told her everything that had happened and she had recounted the events of the night before. She was still dressed in her odd get up, staring at her hands which rested on the table. Jazz had gone to clear away the pizza boxes, leaving Sam, Tucker and Danny alone in the room with Val, the awkwardness increasing as every moment passed.

“Tuck, she just found out that one of closest friends has been dead this entire time. I doubt she’s feeling anywhere near ‘alright’.” Sam murmured back.

Danny huffed in agreement beside her, picking at the bandages that weren’t covered by his ruined shirt. He had also been rather quiet, continuing to stare off into the distance like he was deep in thought.

Tucker gave her a look, but didn’t say anything more when Jazz came bustling back into the room, placing glasses in front of everyone and filling them from a jug of water. She then placed herself back down with a sigh, looking more tired than Sam felt.

“None of you have anything to do today, do you?” The red-head enquired.

The three shook their heads, but Val lifted hers, speaking for the first time in ages. “My dad-he’s probably wondering where I am.”

“Oh! Don’t worry.” Jazz assured her. “We already messaged him.”

Val looked confused, raising an eyebrow. “I… didn’t know any of you had his number…”

“We don’t.”

“Then how did you…?” Realisation hit her, and she turned her gaze to Tucker, who was trying and failing to look as innocent as possible.

He squirmed under her stare, looking extremely guilty and as if he wanted to run out of there as quickly as possible. Thankfully, Danny came to his rescue before Val could reach over the table and throttle the little hacker to death.

“Hey, uh, talking about parents.” He looked towards Jazz. “What are we gonna tell ours about not being home right now.”

His sister waved her hand. “No need to worry, I went home before you woke up just to get some stuff. Mum and dad were passed out on the couch. I just wrote them a quick note saying I had taken you to school and that I was going out for the day.”

This made him pause. “But… it’s the beginning of the holiday.”

She gave a ‘tch’ sound. “Like they’re ever gonna think too hard on that kinda thing, especially after what happened after last night.”

Sam wondered what was worse, parents that paid too much to anything you were doing, or ones that couldn’t care less. Hers and Danny’s parents were very different, and yet also quite similar in a way. None of them understand their own children, never asking about how they were or what happened during the day, only giving attention to what was important to them. Which, unfortunately, wasn’t the actual wellbeing of their children.

It was even worse when Danny didn’t show a hint of surprise at Jazz’s words. She envied Tucker and Val, for their worrying and kind parents. Though she didn’t know much about Val’s dad, Sam knew that he did everything he could for his daughter, placing her before anything. Tucker’s parents were wonderful, always kind to Sam and willing to let her stay however long she wants.

Danny brushed a hand through his thick, black hair, which Sam had noticed was getting longer. He usually kept it at the same length and style, but recently, it had just seemed to be doing whatever the hell it wanted. It was hanging low now, almost reaching his jaw and easily covering his eyes. Sam wondered how long it would be until she had to start offering him hairbands to keep it out of his face.

“I suppose you aren’t wrong about that.” He spoke so quietly that it was barely audible. Then, suddenly, he stood up, stretching his arms above his head. “Well! I don’t know about you guys, but I am bored and need something to do before I start bouncing off the walls.”

Quite literally, Sam thought. “I still have the old Wii that you and Tucker bought me for my last birthday.”

Probably one of the best presents she had been given. Her parents had never allowed her to have any sort of thing like that, and when her friends found out, they started acting like it was the end of the world. So, they bought her a Wii, barely being able to afford the thing, but she cherished it nonetheless. She kept it hidden in her room so that her mother would never find it whenever she went snooping around Sam’s room.

“Yes!” Tucker cried. “I cannot wait to beat you suckers in Mario Kart.”

“You keep telling yourself that.” Danny grinned as he followed after Tucker who was sprinting towards the door.

Sam smiled at the both of them, amused by their enthusiasm. She looked back towards Jazz and Val. “You two gonna join?”

Jazz shook her head. “I will leave it up to you guys for now, I should probably catch up on some studying.”

Jasmine Fenton, the most studious person Sam thinks she had ever met.

Valerie looked uncomfortable as she shifted in her chair. “There’s still a lot we need to talk about.”

Damn right they do. “And you can do that while screaming in satisfaction as we beat both Tucker and Danny at Mario Kart. besides, it’ll help you loosen up a little, and Danny talks more when he’s not completely focused on you.”

I was true. The best way to needle information out of the guy was to interrogate him while he was fixated on something else. Sam had learned some pretty interesting stuff with that tactic.

Val gave a hint of a smile, nodded, and followed Sam out of the door.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5

Valerie let out a long sigh as she leaned on the balcony, watching as the setting sun turned the sky a beautiful orange.

They had been playing games all afternoon, trying to relax. And it had worked for a while. Valerie realised that taking out your anger on someone through throwing red shells at them was very therapeutic.

However, after one too many rage quits, they had decided that it might be a good idea to play some other games. After a few hours, they had decided to take a break, leading to Valerie taking a moment by herself.

Despite spending a whole afternoon with each other, none of them had mentioned any of the recent events, which was… rather nice actually. There were a few moments when someone would do or say something and everything would turn all awkward, but they made sure to distract each other from that as much as possible. It felt normal, like nothing had happened, like they were just four idiots playing games with each other.

Of course, that wasn’t reality the truth though, wasn’t it?

It was one thing to learn that your friends knew that you had been hunting ghosts this entire time, it was another to learn that one of those friends was one of the very things you’re trying to get rid of.

It felt like a betrayal, but it also...wasn’t. The entire afternoon, Sam and Tucker had made sure to not leave Valerie and Danny alone for a single moment. She understood that, really she did! But the fact that they couldn’t trust her alone with Danny still stung.

She knew it was her they were afraid of because they knew Valerie. She was always the one to shoot first at Phantom. She was the one who shouted and berated him. She never once considered why he never tried to fight back.

And now it makes sense, because it was Danny. It was always Danny, and she never noticed. Danny with the bright blue eyes and the wide smile, who was always kind to her and stood by her side.

And it was also Phantom. With the cold green eyes and smirk on his face, who taunted and laughed but never once harmed.

It was the harsh reality, the bitter truth. And it was one she was going to have to accept, no matter what. And she thinks that, because it’s Danny, she might be alright in accepting it.

The thought brought a small smile to her face, but it quickly evaporated when a deep chill settled around her. She whirled around quickly, only to come face to face with Danny, who looked as startled by her sudden reaction as she felt.

That’s strange, she thought. She had never felt that before when he was a human.

“S-sorry.” The dark haired boy stammered. “I didn’t mean to-”

“Have you always been that cold?” She interrupted him. She suddenly realised that he might not have understood that in the way that she meant it, and silently cursed herself as his eyes widened even further. She decided to clarify. “I mean, you bring a slight chill with you. I thought that you could only do that as Phantom.”

“Oh!” He looked less surprised and more… concerned? “I- no that- this has never happened before.”

His brow furrowed slightly, like he was concentrating, and the air seemed to lift into its usual evening warmth. This would all take some time to get used to…

He rubbed the back of his neck. “Sorry, I didn’t mean for that to happen.”

She shook her head. “It’s fine.”

They lapsed into a strange silence, Danny refusing to meet her eye as he looked like he wanted to say something to her. She didn’t want to interrupt this time, and let him take his time, instead choosing to study the boy before her.

The changes had been gradual, but now that Valerie really looked at him, she could see the differences in Danny as compared to before. He was pale, much paler than any person really should be, but he didn’t necessarily look unhealthy. For a long time, he used to have heavy bags under his eyes, waving them off due to just a lack of sleep. But now, they were gone, and he seemed more to be brimming with energy than anything. Although his eyes were avoiding her, she had noticed earlier that they held a sort of glow to them, with flecks of green hidden within them. The only thing that hadn’t seemed like an unusual change was the length of his hair and his height. His black locks had become longer and thicker, like he was growing it out or couldn’t be bothered to cut it (probably the latter). He had also grown slightly taller, but not as much as she had expected him to.

It worried her that, should these changes keep developing, more people might notice and start asking questions. And that was the last thing her friend needed. Despite what Danny, Sam, Tuck and Jasmine might think about Valerie knowing Danny’s secret, she was glad she knew. It meant that she now had the chance to help him in battle without feeling any resentment towards him, and she could also cover his back both in and outside of school as well.

Though there were some things she still wasn’t quite comfortable with, and she was a bit miffed about the lies and secrets, she understood it. She could live with it. The afternoon she had spent with them all, how relaxed she felt with them all, the rare kindness that Sam had shown her when she had invited her, she just… couldn’t let go of it all. She didn’t want to lose those times.

Eventually, Danny took in a deep breath and met her gaze. “I need to apologise to you, for everything. I know that it doesn’t make up for- for the lies, the excuses, the times I couldn’t trust you. But I… I didn’t know how you would react, and I am ashamed to admit it, but I was afraid that you would not… take things very well.”

She felt her eyebrows shoot up. So many thoughts and questions were circling in her mind, but she knew it was best to keep them to herself for the while. “Did you want to tell me?”

He nodded. “I did. But I knew that I couldn’t put you in that position. So many things were happening, every time you saw me it seemed that you seemed to hate me more and more. I didn’t know what to do. I value our friendship so much, Val. I know that Sam and Tuck love you too, but I just didn’t want to hurt you anymore than I had.” A pained expression came across his face. “I’m sorry, Valerie. I’m so sorry for everything.”

Damn this idiot for making me tear up, Valerie thought as her lip began to tremble. Without much thought, she stepped closer and threw her arms around her friend. She was glad that Jasmine had gone back to their house to get a fresh change of clothes, otherwise Valerie wasn’t sure how well she would handle the smell of blood.

“I forgive you.” She whispered as tears began to stream down her face. “And I’m sorry too, for all of it.”

 

He began to wrap his arms around her slowly. “Aren't I freezing you to death right now?”

“Yes. You are fucking freezing, but I don’t care right now.” It was true, it was like holding a giant ice cube. No wonder he always wore long sleeved shirts and avoided contact with people. Sam and Tucker must have become immune to it by now with how close they’d always stand to Danny.

The halfa stiffened and tried to pull away, but Valerie held on tight. “Val…”

She could hear the worry in his voice over her shivers, and decided to let go. She wondered how hard it must be to go around knowing that you could easily hurt people just by being touched. “We’re idiots, aren’t we?”

“Yeah.” He let out a breathy laugh. “It’s a good thing we aren’t alone then, isn’t it?”

She hummed in agreement. Yes, that was a good thing.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6

They had all agreed that Sam’s house would be their ‘home base’ for the summer. Her parents were away for the entire holiday and had arranged for people to come look after the house for her, but she had enlisted Tucker and Jazz’s help in drafting some realistic looking emails to tell them that their services were not needed.

Tucker felt a bit bad about kicking some people out of a summer job, but they couldn’t exactly have a bunch of people moving around the house right now. Sam had offered that they all stay for the holiday, and Tucker had to wonder if it was because of worry for Danny and Val, or because she didn’t want to be all alone. He suspected that it was both.

Tucker’s parents were fine with it, glad that he was getting out of the house and being active, alwhile making him promise to frequently call and visit every now and then. Val’s dad had needed a bit more convincing, but in the end agreed, making his daughter make the same promise to him as Tucker had to his parents. Danny and Jazz had just packed their bags and left, leaving behind a small note about how they were going on a holiday but not where. Really, they got away with this.

When he heard this, Tucker wasn’t sure whether to laugh or wince, and he simply settled on patting his friends shoulder, which probably wasn’t a good idea. Ever since the Accident, Danny had slowly begun to get colder and colder, but recently, his temperature had taken a drastic drop, and they had all agreed to bring winter clothing with them just in case.

Tucker wondered if he should ask Danny to make it snow indoors one time, but then realised that he didn’t want to be on the receiving end of Jazz’s glare.

The first week together had been fine, with Valerie seeming to get more comfortable around things and acting like normal around Danny. There had only been one attack, which was rather strange, but they did sometimes have that odd week where only a few showed up. It had been Skulker, and happened during the middle of the day. Unfortunately for the ghost, he hadn’t counted on the Red Huntress and Phantom working together, and he didn’t last very long. They played games, helped each other with homework and generally just messed about.

It was during the second week that things began to go wrong.

There had already been three attacks by Tuesday, and Val was starting to look ready to pass out at any moment. When another showed up on Wednesday morning, all of them had forced Val to sit that one out, stressing that she was only going to hurt herself more. Tucker didn’t like the idea of Danny going off to fight ghosts on his own, but he also couldn’t stand the sight of Valerie staggering in pain around the house. They had reasoned that it should be fine for Danny to take this fight by himself, and he had whizzed off out the window.

It turned out that the Fentons were as bad at ghost hunting as they were at parenting, as the unnamed ghost that Danny Valerie had been chasing all those nights before was still running around. The little bugger had been lying low, waiting for the opportunity to attack.

For hours the four had been waiting and worrying, wondering how their friend was faring. Just as Jazz was storming out the door to find her wayward brother, Danny came stumbling into the room aout of nowhere. He looked more tired than anything, having chased the stupid ghost around for ages before finally being able to trap him in the thermos. Not before receiving a large gash on the head, though. The halfa, after cleaning up the cut, had gone to go catch up on sleep while Tucker, Sam and Jazz watched a movie.

Valerie had come downstairs a while later and had insisted upon cooking lunch. Jazz was busy studying (obviously) and Sam had gone to check on the garden, leaving Tucker to go and check on their resident ghost.

“Hello?” Tucker called as he knocked on the door to Danny’s room. “Anyone alive in there? Or are we sticking with the dead today?”

He waited a bit and heard a soft sigh on the other end of the door. “I’m alive, I think.”

That made Tucker pause. “What do you mean you think?”

He heard the handle on the door turn, but it didn’t open. “Just… have a look.”

The door opened wide, and Tucker was stunned speechless as he looked at his best friend who was looking extremely uncomfortable.

There were a few beats of silence before Danny finally snapped. “It looks bad, doesn’t it?”

“Wha-no!” Tucker shook himself out of his staring. “It’s just… your hair.”

Instead of the usual black that Tucker had become so accostomed to seeing, Danny’s hair was streaked through with bright white. Although it wasn’t much, it was certainly noticeable, and enough to make anyone pause to look again.

Danny groaned. “I’ve tried everything! It won’t go back no matter what I do!”

“Hey, uh, it’s fine!” Danny gave him a look. “It is, really! We can just dye it back to normal. No one will notice.”

“I doubt hair dye is going to keep this hidden for long.” Danny scoffed and shook his head. “I don’t know what to do, Tuck. Everything’s changing and I can’t stop it. I feel like I’m running out of time.”

Time. Now there’s a thought. “Don’t you have someone who can help you with that?”

His best friend leaned against the doorway. “I doubt Clockwork will be amused if I go to him about a bad hair day.”

Tucker sighed. “But it’s not just a bad hair day, is it?” Danny looked at him. “You said it yourself, things are changing. You are changing. It might be good to get some answers, don’t you agree?”

Danny looked at him for a long time before releasing a breath. “Alright, I’ll go visit him later.”

Tucker beamed. “Good! Now, let's go get some lunch and see about sorting out your hair. If anything, it’ll make Sam laugh at your misfortune.”

Danny snorted at that, but didn’t move from the doorway, making Tucker pause in his step. “I- thanks, Tuck.”

Tucker placed a hand on his friend's shoulder, not caring about the cold. “Anytime dude.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 7

Vlad was not a person who liked to admit to his regrets.

It was always humiliating to confess that you were wrong or had made a bad decision in the past, and Vlad had had enough of those kinds of feelings for the rest of his half-life.

Becoming friends with Jack, falling in love with Maddie, the… accident. He couldn’t say he regretted those, really, and not just because he disliked being wrong. Without those (stupid) decisions, those (mistakes) choices, he wouldn’t be where he was today. What he was. He would always think back to those days, when he was younger and more alive, and he would think about how different his life would be without those choices.

‘Different’... not ‘better.’

And that was it, wasn’t it? Everything could be much worse than it was, or it could be infinitely better. He just didn’t know… and he didn’t want to. These were thoughts that had not just suddenly come out of nowhere, no. he wasn’t entirely sure when they had started to come about, but he knew for certain that they centred around one family.

Jack Fenton had always seemed to have some sort of screw loose, even when Vlad first met him. He was big and loud, filling up space wherever he went, spouting nonsense about this and that. None of that had exactly changed over the years, however, Vlad had come to notice that Jack’s loose screw had entirely come out! Nowadays, it was too hard to not notice the crazed look in his eyes or the too wide smile he had plastered over his face. It was unnerving and creepy, and Vlad hated it. Hated him.

From the moment he met her, Maddie had always seemed to be so much more beautiful than any other person. Her smile was bright and teasing, her eyes would light up when interested in something, her laugh was kind and sweet. She was just… everything to Vlad. At least, she was. After the accident, they drifted away, she going on to marry Jack, and him to… mope about his existence. He always made sure to keep an eye on (her) the both of them, of course, watching on as they made a life for themselves. They had children, although he never especially cared at the time (later, he would regret that), and Maddie began to… change. Vlad had only recently come to realise what a different woman she was now, and it unnerved him how much he had missed. She still smiled, but there was something twisted about it. Her eyes were still bright with interest, but it wasn’t something that made Vlad feel comfortable. Her laugh was bitter and cold, a hidden mania barely making it to the surface. Oh, and let’s not forget that she would shoot both Vlad and her son should she find out what they were.

It hurt him so much to see how the woman he had once loved had turned into something unrecognisable to him. Time changes people, and sometimes, it isn’t for the better. He knew that from personal experience.

Jasmine and Daniel, though? They were nothing like their parents.

While he may not have taken much notice of them in the beginning, he knows now that the both of them are completely different from Jack and Maddie.

Jasmine looks like her mother of the past, the same hair and smile, the intelligent gleam in her eyes. But, unlike Maddie, she seemed to hold so much more love in her for so many things. While Maddie could only truly fixate on a few things at once, Jasmine seemed to have her mind on anything. Especially her brother.

Her brother. Unlike his sister, Danny was more of a mix between his parents. He had his father’s hair and his mother’s eyes. He was likely to grow as tall as Jack but have the same skin tone as Maddie. At least, he used to. Being a halfa would come with many advantages and troubles, something Vlad had learned very early on. To be honest, he’s rather surprised that no one has picked up yet on the fact that Danny looks like a corpse on the best of days.

He supposed that he was partially to blame for that.

He might even say he has come to… regret it all. Alright, fine! He really does regret it. And that’s the stupidity of it all, isn’t it? Vlad had spent so long hating Jack and loving Maddie that he didn’t even realise that he could have made so many different decisions. So many better ones.

Like, seriously, what had the teenager really done to incur Vlad’s wrath? Literally nothing. Does Vlad feel somewhat bad about trying to get rid of him and his father for so long? Only partially. As far as Vlad is concerned, Jack can still go and rot in hell.

But Danny… he wasn’t like his parents. If anything, he was much more like Vlad and… wow, that’s a terrifying thought. But no, really, they were quite similar.

They were both half dead for one, although, one of them is way more on the dead side than the living. They both became that way because of Maddie and Jack. they both, uh…huh.

Well, those are the only similarities he can think of from the top of his head! But that doesn’t defeat the point.

…What was the point again?

Oh, yes. Regrets.

The bottomless void where his heart is supposed to be seemed to be growing larger with every mistake he made, every regret he felt. Vlad is a guilty man, he knows that for certain, and he doubts he will ever truly be able to salvage what’s left of his dwindling humanity before it’s all lost to the insanity of death.

It’s rather ironic, he supposed, that out of the two halfa’s, the one who is the most alive is the one who acts the most dead. Well, really, it’s just sad.

Whatever. The past is the past, as they say. And if that really is true, then the only thing he can do now is look forward.

Vlad is a man who is full of many regrets, and he doesn’t want any more.

Chapter Text

Chapter 8

“So, it turns out that shopping for hair dye late at night is really not a good idea.”

“Gee, Sam, you think?”

“... It’s not that bad.”

“My hair is blue, Sam. Blue!”

“Well, blue suits you.”

“Shut up, Tucker.”

Valerie quickly opened the door when she heard voices coming from the large bathroom, curious as to where everyone had vanished. It was only two hours after midnight when she woke up to hear stifled laughs and barely hushed whispers. Intrigued, she stepped outside to see a light coming out from beneath the bathroom door.

When she entered the large space, she had to blink wildly at the bright lights, but eventually saw an… interesting sight.

Sam was sitting on a stool wearing a placating expression on her face as she leaned back further and further. Tucker was kneeling on the ground with a badly hidden grin and snapping photos at every angle. And Danny… Danny looked livid. All around them was an assortment of towels and bottles of dye. Blue dye.

Valerie had to bite down on her hand to prevent herself from exploding into laughter, but she could not stop the silent giggles. Danny’s hair, usually a pitch black colour, was now a deep cobalt blue. The young halfa was currently standing up, hands on his hips as he glared at the two other occupants of the room. The story was easily piecing itself together in Valerie’s mind.

“Can one of you please tell me how I’m going to explain how this happened to anyone outside. To my sister?” Danny stressed.

“I’m more curious about why it happened.” Valerie interrupted, causing all eyes to focus on her.

Sam gave her a look of confusion for a moment, but soon morphed into one of realisation. “Right, you’ve been asleep all day. Well, this morning, or yesterday now, Danny came downstairs with a little… problem.”

That caught her attention. Tucker was the one who continued to explain. “His hair was pure white. Or, atleast, a few streaks of it. It wasn’t too bad at that time, and we thought that we could just pick up some black dye the next day to hide it. Unfortunately…”

“It got worse.” Valerie finished for him, now looking at Danny who’s eyes were trailed on the ground.

“Yeah.” Tucker nodded. “By the evening, Danny’s hair had turned completely white, and I’ll admit that we all started to panic just a little.”

Sam snorted. “‘A little’?”

He ignored her. “Sam thought that it would be fine if we just went out to get some dye and do it when she came back. But then, well, you can probably guess what happened from there…”

Valerie sighed and shook her head, a wry smile tugging at her lips. It was both hilarious and concerning. Hilarious, because Danny could now probably pull off an anime cosplay without much effort. Concerning, because no one’s hair just turns white that quickly without reason. If Danny’s ghostly side was becoming more prominent within his human side, then didn’t that mean that he was becoming more dead? Valerie shivered at the thought, not liking the implications of such a thing at all.

She had already made her peace with Danny being Phantom, and she was fully accepting of him as her friend. But there was still some sort of divide between them, like he was still there, but part of him was also somewhere else. Valerie didn’t think she or anyone could handle it if Danny fully went somewhere that they should not follow.

This situation seems to only be getting worse and worse, she thought as she watched Sam and Tucker tease the halfa about his bright hair. Danny, I can only hope that you’re alright by the end of it.

{~}

Jazz was not looking good.

It was eight in the morning, and after such a late night, Sam could say that she was officially feeling like shit. Not that it wasn’t worth it, of course! The pictures on her phone that she sneakily took while Danny wasn’t looking were priceless. Despite the little mishap, it was good to see Danny smiling again after a whole day of moping and frowning at his hair. Everything that was going on with him recently was concerning, and Sam feared that things would only continue to change.

Jazz had been sitting at the kitchen table, nursing a mug of coffee in her trembling hands as she held a blank expression on her face. Seems like I’m not the only person who feels awful this morning…

“You both look like shit.” Val greeted as she entered the room, heading straight for the fridge to grab a carton of orange juice. She opened the carton and immediately took a large swig from it, not even bothering to grab a glass.

Tucker came in next, playing some sort of game on his phone as he walked past Val. he didn’t even look up from the screen when he took the juice from her hands and started drinking it all. She might have protested had Danny not come in at that moment, causing Tucker to finally look up, cry out with horror and exclaim: “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!”

Were she any less tired, Sam might have exclaimed the same thing, but for the moment she could only just stop and stare with incredulous eyes. Just a few hours ago, Danny’s hair had been dyed a deep, cobalt blue. Now, his hair was more of a light sky blue, with heavy streaks of white through it. His eyebrows had also gone completely white, as opposed to the slightly darker shade they were earlier.

“Danny…” Jazz started hesitantly. “Why is your hair…?”

“It’s a long story.” Her brother replied shortly.

Sam leaned in closer, brushing his hair out of his still blue eyes, suddenly noticing something else as well. “Your eyelashes. They’ve turned white as well.”

It was so startling to see, as if all the colour was slowly being leached from his body. His skin was even colder to the touch, and Sam wondered how long it would be until he started to freeze everything he held. Seeing his closed off look, Sam despaired at how she didn’t know what to do. She wanted to do everything she could to help him, but how could she, when she didn’t even know what was causing this?

As if sensing her thoughts, Danny slipped away from her and turned instead to look at his slightly more awake sister. “You have that look on your face. What did they do?”

If one knew anything about the Fentons, then it would not be hard to gather that ‘they’ meant Maddie and Jack. Yesterday evening, Jazz had gone back home to go and check on the two insane adults just to make sure that they hadn’t gone and unceremoniously blown themselves up. The older girl had come home late without a word, the only sign of her getting back was the closing of doors and her calling a goodnight from her room.

Jazz grimaced slightly, holding the cup of coffee closer to her. “...You aren’t going to like it.”

“When do I ever?” Danny raised an eyebrow.

She huffed. “They were in the lab when I got home, and never noticed my arrival. They looked fine, and I was about to leave when I heard them talking about an experiment with the portal.”

The only noise to be heard in the large room was a sharp breath being taken in by Danny, who’s eyes had opened wide with an unreadable expression. “And?”

“And…” Jazz finally met his gaze. “They’re going to do something really stupid. I think they’re planning on entering the Ghost Zone.”