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Dead not Gone

Chapter Text

Pain cut through the fog that had been wrapped around Danny’s mind. He blinked a couple of times, the green haired ghost in front of him coming in to focused. There was a scream that filled Danny’s ears and it took him a moment to realize that he was the one screaming. Closing his mouth, Danny could still hear the echoes of The Ripper ghost’s scream as he retreated out of Danny’s conscious and back in to the dark corner where he belonged.

All the strength left Danny’s limbs and he found himself stooping forward hitting something furry before going head first in to the mud on the ground. The sloppy doggy kisses cleaned the mud from Danny’s face, as the all too familiar darkness wrapped his in unconsciousness.


If the impending unconsciousness was familiar, the climb against the tide to consciousness was equally familiar by now. A sharp whistling followed by a sudden jerk to the shaking bed Danny had been sleeping on pulled him all the way to wakefulness.

Blinking in to the dim and dusty cargo cart, which had been his home for the last month, Danny felt the train slow down, the breaks whistling loudly in protest causing him to push his heavy head deeper in to the thick pillow.  His body hurt like hell and his right leg was numb from the hip down.

Trying to return to sleep Danny found that his aching body was hurting to much for him to relax. “Oh how I wish I could still freeze my nerves.” He groaned trying to push himself off the matrass, pain shooting through his body. A yelp escaped Danny who tried to relax at the same time as he curled into a ball without much success.

A whine came from somewhere beside Danny and he felt something lift from his right leg. Huge paws tramped over Danny’s back making it creek and crunch before the dog reached the other side of the bed sniffing Danny’s face. “Hi Cujo.” Wheezed Danny lifting his aching arm to pat the dog on the big head.

Cujo had turned his fur brown to blend in with the human world, but he couldn’t keep a constant size to his body and was today large enough that his shoulders could reach Danny’s knees when they were both standing. The dog licked Danny’s face and sniffed his hair finding his ears and started to lick them to. That got Danny to yelp again and push himself up and turn around to sit, his right leg hurting as blood returned to it.

The cart jerked to a halt. Sighing Danny reached for the bag under his bunk whining as his muscles protested. Opening the outside pocket, he took out an almost empty bottle of aspirins, shaking out two pills in to his hands and swallowed them dry.

The dog pushed his head under Danny’s arm and rested it on the left leg. Squinting at himself Danny frowned at his dirty clothes. His jeans had been torn open over his right thigh and slashed in to ribbons at the hem. Under the grimy clothes Danny could see dirty bandages that were stained dark red with blood. Sighing he pulled up the pants leg to see how bad things were. Blinking down at the sloppily wrapped bandages Danny rolled his eyes. “Trust ghosts to not know how to bandage wounds. Even Skulker can do better than this.”

Taking out his first aid kit from the backpack Danny shook his head at the contents. He had to refill on thread, disinfectant and bandages. The three things he used the most and let’s not forget the aspirin was almost out as well. Rubbing at his eyes Danny leaned against the wall of the cart. He could waist his resources on re-bandaging the wounds now or find a shower and then do the work that needed to be done.

“Where’s my clean clothes?” Asked Danny, scratching his dog on the head. The big fur-ball sneezed, his body gaining a ghostly glow that spread some light in the cramped compartment for Danny. “Thanks buddy.” Smiled Danny.

Pushing himself of the bed Danny limped over to a crate. Lifting the lid Danny found a set of clown costumes. “Not wearing that.” He huffed jumping over the next crate finding lengths of fabric inside. The third crate was packed with a lot of junk and on top of it all was his junk in a large duffle bag.

Taking out a pair of jeans and a hoodie Danny returned to his bed. As he changed in to clean clothes he could hear people talking and moving around outside. They had stopped for the day, maybe even until they’d done a few shows. At least they couldn’t still be at the last town, he’d seen to it that they’d have to leave in the dark of the night.

No one came in to his cart to bring out any crates, they had to put up the tents first and knowing the crew they would take all of the next day deciding where to put the tents and carousels. Freakshow often had something to say about the way things should be laid out, as well as where the spooky effects should be placed.

Having dressed Danny picked up his backpack returning the first aid kit to it and checking that he still had his wallet and Fenton gear in it. Snapping the Spector Shield on around his wrist Danny pushed himself up and leaned against the crates as he walked over to the door. Cujo followed him, the ghostly glow fading as they jumped out of the cart supporting Danny on the way down.

Outside the workers were busy setting up camp, putting up tents and building their outdoors mess beside the kitchen cart. Turning his back to the humans Danny walked up the lines of carts to the one behind the locomotive. He shivered when he put his hand on the cart door and saw his breath on the air in front of him.

“Guess the gang’s assembled.” Sighed Danny, opening the door. Inside things were a lot brighter. Freakshow’s cart was decorated like a Gypsies wagon, with a combination between a goth’s room and a circus tent. It smelled of burnt coffee and stale popcorn and considering the sort of slob Freakshow was his cart was neat and clean.

“Well well well. Look who’s dragged himself out of the confine.” Jeered the ringmaster sitting by the tiny table, cleaning the buttons and pins on his uniform.

Giving the man a cold look Danny leaned against a cabinet glancing at the ghost’s seated around the room, hovering where there was no surface to sit on. Jonny was sitting on a bench Kitty in his lap filing her nails. The faceless Amorphos was eyeing himself in a mirror shifting his features ever so slightly. Youngblood sat on the floor driving a radio steered motorcycle around the legs of everyone, his skeleton pet in the shape of a mouse was pretending to drive. Hovering over the seat beside Freakshow was Lydia covered in her red cloak her eye’s on Danny.

If one knew what to look for they could see the bruises and healing cuts on the ghost’s. Knowing from his own weariness Danny had only been out for a day but judging from the bruises on the others he could have been out for a week. Knowing ghost’s Danny knew they had been feeding on human emotions, the question was how much damage they had inflicted. “You had a good time while I was out?” commented Danny walking over to the coffee machine.

“Sure did. I found this new toy at a supermarket, isn’t it great.” Smiled Youngblood, making the toy drive up on the walls and over the cabinets.

“Yeah we had a good time.” Smiled Jonny, sporting a new pair of boots. They had clearly all gone to the supermarket together raising hell.

Huffing Freakshow breathed on a button before polishing it intensely. “We had to leave in a hurry because of their fun. The police were breathing down our neck. Staying in the same state wasn’t even an option anymore.”

Grabbing a mug from Freakshow’s cabinets Danny filled it with the bitter coffee. “Would you rather be dead?” Asked Danny giving the man the cold eye.

“You’d hate yourself to much to kill me.” Sniffed Freakshow, his eyes flickering to the floating Lydia.

“I would. The Ripper wouldn’t.” Said Danny, tapping his head. “You want to change the deal again. I’m sure everyone else is happy about the arrangement. You are the only one who finds something to complain about.” Sipping at the coffee Danny felt the last of the mist clear from his mind.

All the ghost’s eye’s fell on Freakshow. The man acted like he couldn’t feel the unsettling glares. “No The deal is alright. Try not to make so much fuss the next time, the center pole of the main tent needs repairing as well as the canvas and that is coming out of your pay.” He turned to Lydia and snarled. “Sit down like a human.”

They all rolled their eyes at the Ringmaster. Danny was the only one of them who was payed, the rest were there because of the deal they’d made with him. After Freakshow had paid the human workers the minimum wage and ordered more supplies for the circus he kept what was left. Being the cheap think he was Freakshow was earning a lot more than the rest could in four years.

“Sure, Whatever, I still got money from the last eight shows.” Putting down the mug Danny glanced over his shoulder at Amorpho who was trying on Danny’s face, bruises and all, he even had the odd color eyes and white streak in the hair. “Can’t you do someone else, I’m tired of seeing my twin walk around here. Besides she looks more like me than you.”

Rolling his eyes Amorpho changed his features to that of a random man. “Everyone’s a critic. Just don’t try and copy my game again Fenton.”

Danny waved off the ghost’s comment. “Sure.” He said putting down the mug. “I’ll see you around. There should be a shower somewhere in this town we stopped in.”

“Can I come along?” Asked Youngblood, jumping up in to the air, grabbing his new toy.

“Not tonight, buddy. If you’ve got one more of those toy’s I can play with you when I come back.” Answered Danny, seeing his expression shift between disappointment and excitement.

“Right, I’ll get one more.” Said Youngblood, glancing up at Kitty.

The girl rolled her eyes floating of Jonny’s lap. “I’ll be back in an hour sugar cube.” She said kissing Jonny on the lips. Youngblood made a disgusted noise that had all the other ghost’s laughing. Jonny returned the kiss drawing it out as long as he could before letting Kitty go.

“See you later babe.” Grinned Jonny, watching Kitty take Youngblood’s hand and walk though a wall, looking like a big sister and her little brother. “Well I have some polish for my bike, can’t have the jewel of the show covered in dust.” Jonny to phased through the wall leaving the cart.

“I to have some things to do.” Smiled Amorpho, changing his appearance in to the one of Mr Lancer. “See you around.” He said, disappearing.

Danny glanced at Freakshow who was glaring daggers at him. “Are you going to use the door like a normal human or show of your powers and phase through my walls like these Ghosts.”

Giving the man a dry look Danny shrugged. “Naa, I’ll see you around.” He said, opening the door and jumped out. The door closed behind him before Cujo jumped though it drawing a laugh from Danny that hurt his chest. “Oh the bruises I have.” He moaned, accepting Cujo’s support as he walked away from the train.

Chapter Text

The train had stopped on an unused mine track by a large open field, it took Danny half an hour to walk in to the small town. Walking through the shabby suburbs Danny passed people who avoided looking at him and beggars sitting by the sidewalk a paper cup place in front of them. A lot of the beggars drew away from Cujo, the rest didn’t care, some of the pedestrians did and one even stopped Danny telling him to put the dog on a leach.

“I would love to sir, but he would bite my hand if I tried.” Responded Danny, patting the dog on the head. Cujo gave the man a silly doggy grin and they continued on ignoring the man.

Finding a SevenEleven Danny told Cujo to stay outside before limping inside. Browsing the shelves Danny grabbed a few things for a light snack, the cashiers eye’s on him all the time. When he finally walked up to the register to pay the man eyed him as he scanned the things.

“11,26.” Said the cashier, his eyes following Danny’s every move as he dug out the wallet from his backpack, payed the man and placed his snack in to the backpack. “Anything else?” asked the man when Danny stopped.

“You know where a guy can go to get a shower? Me and my friends are camping outside town and I think they lost their sense of smell.” Said Danny, stringing together the lies without thinking.

The man wrinkled his nose. “There’s a gym up the street if they’ll let you in. Otherwise you can just jump in the lake.” Grunted the man pointing with a thumb in the direction he was supposed to go.

“Have a nice evening.” Said Danny, limping back out to Cujo who sniffed him. “Yeah I got you a snack as well. Why you like peanuts I don’t know.” Smiled Danny scratching the dog behind the ear.

They continued, Danny slipping the dog peanuts between bites of a snickers bar. Walking down the street Danny closed his eyes listening to the familiar sounds of a small town. This place was almost as big as Amity Park only missing the noise of a ghost or his parents RV driving down the street’s at max speed. He could even hear the sounds of a fight going on not far from him.

Actually the sound of the fight was coming from an ally up ahead. Judging by the noise and grunts Danny guessed that it was four against one. “You think you are smart! You think you are cool! You think we don’t know what you are!” The sound of someone hitting another person could be heard punctuating every sentence.

“I’m not the one thinking that You are!” Said the person who was getting the beating and Danny stopped. He’d heard that voice before, months earlier in a tiny room with concrete walls.

“Wimp!” Said someone else his words followed by a grunt.

“Come one Stef, use something stronger. Like Fagot! And Pussy!” the third guy hit harder and there was a sound of shuffling feet.

Danny walked up to the entrance of the alley peering in to the gloom seeing much more than a normal human could. At the other end of the ally, by a plank, stood five persons, teenagers judging by the way they talked. One was holding the victim with an arm and neck lock while the other’s took it in turn to beat him.

“Is that supposed to be an insult?” Snarled the guy who was being pounded. “I’ve heard worse.”

“I bet you have.” Sneered the guy who had spoken first punching the guy in the stomach making him gasp and his knees buckle.

Walking forward Cujo’s claws scraped against the concrete. The sound was ominous, thou the guy’s at the other end of the ally didn’t seem to hear it. “What’s wrong, cat got your tough?” leered the guy grabbing his victim by the hair lifting his head.

Danny’s stomach made a backflip as he recognized the guy, he had high cheekbones and tanned skin that had gotten darker since Danny last saw him. “Hey! What do you think you’re doing!” Shouted Danny getting the rest to turn towards him.

“Get lost old man!” Jeered the one called Stef.

Walking closer Danny laughed. “You hear that Cujo, He thinks I’m old.” Said Danny to the dog who answered with a soft bark. The sound made the four attackers look down to the large dog beside Danny.

“Here’s how this is going to work.” Said Danny lowering his voice to a threatening tone. “You’ll let go of Erik and bug off by the time I count to ten, after that Cujo here will find out what cowards tastes like.”

“You think you can scare us with a little dog!” Laughed the first speaker turning towards Danny, popping his knuckles.

Tilting his head Danny eyed the skinny muscled teen. “One, and Cujo isn’t little take a closer look. Two.” The dog read the rising tension in the air and growled his body growing under Danny’s hand. “Three.”

“You don’t scare us.” Huffed the guy holding Erik. Cujo snarled louder. “Much.”

“Four.” Smiled Danny getting an even more viscous snarl from Cujo. “Five”

“Hey, Mark, it’s not worth it. We can get the stinker later.” Said Stef backing up a bit. Danny leveled his eyes on the guy patting Cujo’s shoulders that now reached his hip. “It really isn’t worth it.”

Stef was the first one to run. “Coward come back here!” Shouted the leader, his eyes on the dog as Danny advanced.

“Six and Seven.” The guy holding Erik let go and scrambled away. Erik sank down to sit on the ground hugging his belly. “Nine” Cujo started barking and the rest skedaddled leaving Danny and Erik alone in the ally. “Ten.” Sighed Danny scratching Cujo behind the ear. “Okay buddy you can relax now.”

Walking up to his friend from jail Cujo shrank down back to his knee height. Danny stopped in front of Erik smiling. “And here I thought I was the one who kept getting in to trouble.” He said offering him a hand.

“You aren’t that little guy I meet in jail are you.” Said Erik taking the offered hand.

“Naa! I’m the guy who got out.” Danny tugged at Erik to help him up and suddenly found his weak leg buckling under their weight dropping him on his ass, pain shooting up through his leg.

“Hey I’m not that heavy.” Complained Erik, pushing himself up, giving Danny a hand up. “And you are still light as a feather.”

Putting his weight on the good leg Danny found himself in a sudden embrace that hurt his already sensitive ribs. “Aww. Erik, mind letting go of me, it sort of hurts to breath when you hug me like that.”

“Oh sorry.” Erik let go of Danny quickly holding up his hand’s as if he was afraid that touching him would hurt him more.

“It’s okay, you couldn’t know.” Smiled Danny wincing as the pain in his leg as he tried to put some weight on it. Cujo was by his side supporting him.

“Are you hurt? You are, there’s no use asking you, you’ll only deny it.” He moved in close to Danny putting his arm over his shoulders.

“And you weren’t the one who just got a beating. I’m fine, just got a hurt leg.” Said Danny, accepting Erik’s support. It was easier to let the guy help than tell him no.

“How hurt? You are limping. Wheee! And you smell. When was the last time you had a shower.” Erik tugged at Danny guiding him down a side street.

“I was hunting for a shower when I heard your fight. Those guys friends of yours?” Said Danny wondering where Erik was taking him. Some part of him was warning him about following strangers.

“Why, are you a runaway?” Teased Erik, giving Danny a crooked smile. “Or maybe you broke out of jail and is on the run.”

Danny laughed holding on to Erik. He couldn’t tell the guy that he’d faked his own death and was living with a gang of ghost that had his permission to beat him within an inch of his life whenever he lost control of the Ripper Ghost. Nor did he want to tell him anything about how he got out of jail.

Taking the silence as a response Erik was tactful enough to change the subject. “You’ve got a dog?” he noted looking down at the grinning Cujo. “He’s cute.” Knowing that he was being talked about the dog barked and smiled his tough lolling.

“His name’s Cujo. He’s just a stray dog that follows me around.” Danny patted the dog on the head getting a lick on the hand. “He also protects me from strangers who tries to drag me through the dark to do horrible things to me.” He smiled at Erik.

The older teen blinked at him before he laughed lightly. “I forgot your sense of humor.” He smiled turning them out on a larger street with lamps. “You’ve trained him to heel and protect you, can he do anything else?”

Shrugging Danny looked around at the taller buildings. “Oh he moonlights as the Baskervill Hound. Where are we going, I was heading in the other direction before I bumped in to you?”

“Oh to my place. The shower’s free there and Angelica’s a trained nurse. She can take a look at your leg.” Smiled Erik. “What’s a Baskervill Hound?”

“It’s from Shrelock Holmes.” Said Danny, wishing he could sit down and rest his throbbing leg for a moment. “Your Place?” He asked, trying to keep the conversation going and  his mind from thinking of the pain.

“It’s a long story.” Said Erik sounding like it wasn’t a very hard story to tell. “My relative who lived around here said he’d take me in when I got out. The day after I arrived here he decided to drink and drive and went away for three years. Angelica’s is a group home for troubled teenagers. But we aren’t the ones causing the trouble everyone else is.”

They turned down a street with trees separating the sidewalk from the road. “Is it a good home?” asked Danny his fingers digging in to Erik’s shoulder.

“Yeah. We share rooms which is nothing new, only no one will share a room with me anymore.” Said Erik.

“You still crawl in to the other guy’s bed?” Smiled Danny, remembering how comforting it had been to know that someone was beside him. Now a days Cujo was the only one sharing his bed and he tended to cause the limb he was sleeping on to go numb.

“It’s not like I can help it. I sleepwalk you know.” Said Erik a bit defensive. “Here we are.” He nodded to a brick house with a large front door and bikes parked outside. It was three stories high with light’s on in every window. Above the front door someone had painted, Welcome in a beautiful hand, underneath the text was words painted sloppily saying Enter at your own risk.

“Why not write, Speak friend and enter?” Commented Danny as the two stumbled up the two steps to the front door. He could hear people talking inside the house and music playing from a room high up.

“Because it’s a running joke, people would bring a melon to say friend and just walk in.” Smiled Erik opening the door and shouting in to the house. “I’M HOME!”

Chapter Text

The entrance hall was small with a stair to the right leading up and two doors to the left and one at the other end of the hall. A freckled faced girl with ginger hair pulled in to two pigtails poked her head out of a room to the left. “You are late.” She said with a smug note in her voice.

The girls eyes fell on Danny and her nose wrinkled. “You aren’t allowed to bring home friends during a school night. Angelica is going to be so mad at you.”

Rolling his eyes Erik closed the door behind them. “So what. Where’s Angelica?”

Danny glanced at Erik not used to hearing him sound so cold. “Out with Angus. She’ll be back soon.” Sneered the girl dodging back in to the room.

“Charming.” Commented Danny getting an agreeing noise from Cujo.

“Oh she can be charming, when she wants to. Come on shower’s this way. You need clean clothes as well?” Asked Erik showing Danny through the door at the back in to a large kitchen/dinning room. Turning right in to a shower and washing room.

“I got clean clothes, it’s not like I’m living on the street.” Said Danny putting down his backpack.

“Where are you living by the way?” asked Erik handing Danny a towel.

Smiling Danny sat down on the toilet lid and started untying his shoes. “I ran away with the circus, we just pulled in to town.” He said tugging the shoes off.

“No way!” Exclaimed Erik, staring at Danny as if he was some sort of circus animal.

“Yeah. Now would you let me shower alone or do I have to show you how the idiots in jail broke their noses.” Smiled Danny drawing a laugh from Erik.

“I’ll be outside, shout if you need anything.” Said Erik leaving the room so that Danny could get undressed and step in to the shower.

Turning on the hot water Danny sighed. The beam from the showerhead was hard and strong massaging Danny’s bruised and stiff body. The water pooling around his feet’s were murky and showed just how dirty he was. The gray streak in his hair turned bright white as the dirt washed out.

Scrubbing the dirt off and rinsing off under the hot water Danny swayed almost falling asleep on his feet. Bumping his head against the wall Danny jerked awake and turned off the water rubbing his face. Drying himself with the thick towel Danny sat back down on the toilet lid pulling his backpack closer.

Taking out the first aid kit, he found his pair of safety scissors. Cutting off the soaking and dirty bandages Danny cleaned off the sight of the cut on his thigh. The wound was a few centimeters to the side of the scar from when he’d stabbed himself in Chicago, missing blood vessels and bones this time, thou it had sliced through muscles and fat. One thing could be said for the ghost who had bandaged the wound, he had wound it tight enough to stop the bleeding.

Poking the wound it started to bleed again. Sighing Danny took out his treed and needle stitching up the entry wound, thou was unable to get to the exit wound. “I guess there will have to be a bigger scar there.” He sighed raising his head to see if Cujo understood him.

The dog wasn’t in the bathroom and listening Danny couldn’t hear him anywhere. Closing his eyes Danny searched for the feeling of the ghost. The dog was on the other side of the door in the kitchen with Erik who was talking to him.

Smiling at the sound of the two Danny cut off the bandage around his calf. The wounds there were of a huge dog bite, each tooth leaving its own mark, some large enough to need stitches, thou Danny didn’t feel like stitching up tiny cuts and only covered the wounds with bandages to keep them from getting dirty.

The rest of his body was more purple and green than a human skin color. There was a boot print on the side of his chest from a kick landed by Jonny which was where he was getting a light stab every time he breathed in deeply. Glaring at the cuts and scars running up his left arm Danny got dressed.

Returning his things to his backpack Danny excited the shower limping harder on his right leg than before. The old bandage had been tight enough to hold him up, now he had to lean against the wall.

In the kitchen Erik was sitting by the long dining table a plate of scraps beside him, which he feed Cujo. A plump dark skinned woman with hair collected in to tiny braids and turned in to a knot at the back of her head sat opposite him.  She wore a yellow dress that matched her ember eyes, eyes that were taking in Danny’s appearance as he walked towards them.

“He’ll do tricks for a treat.” Said Danny, digging in his pocket for one of the peanuts he had left. “Cujo. Roll and sit.” Danny made hand gestures and the dog followed them even doing the reverse as Danny made the gestures a second time. “Good boy.” He tossed the treat to the dog who caught it.

“You’ve trained him?” Smiled Erik doing the same gestures getting the same reaction from Cujo.

“No he was already trained when I meet him. Thanks for the shower by the way.” He sat down beside the dog taking the plate of scraps from Erik biting in to the piece of dried bacon.

“You hungry?” asked the woman her eyes still on Danny.

“He’s always hungry.” Said Erik handing the rest to Cujo before Danny could eat it. “There’s better food in the fridge if you want. I can make some good pancakes.”

Nodding Danny patted Cujo’s head glancing at the woman. She gave Danny a light smile. “Erik told me you’re a friend of his. You know each other from school?”

Cujo raised his head resting it in Danny’s lap where he could scratch him better. By the counter Erik started mixing the eggs and flour. Wondereing what he had told the woman about him Danny decided to be cautious. “I used to help Erik with his homework.” He responded watching the woman from under his wet fringe.

The woman smiled her demeanor changing in front of his eyes. “What’s your name hon?” She asked warmly. Only Danny knew that tactic. Make him relax and feel comfortable then ask the real questions when he had his guard down.

“Danny. Thou my given name’s Daniel but only my teachers use it.” Said Danny hearing at least five people move around on the floor above them, turning on a TV.

“Danny. Where are you from?” She asked. Erik placed a pan on the stove and started frying the pancakes, keeping his back to them thou Danny could see him glance over his shoulder ever so often.

“That’s not how this game is played.” Said Danny tugging at Cujo’s ears. “I’ve given you my name, now you tell me your name then I might tell you where I’m from.”

Erik snickered from his place by the stove and the woman glanced over her shoulder at him. Returning her eyes to Danny she smiled. “Angelica Price, I’m the housemother here.” She said offering her hand to shake.

Danny didn’t take the hand but continued scratching the dog behind the ears. The sound of the pancakes frying filled the silence. Angelica sighed taking back her hand. “Alright, you from around here?”

“Depends on what you mean with around here?” Answered Danny falling back on his old game of avoiding straight answers.

Giving Danny another of her soft and patient smiles Angelica leaned forward. “You don’t like answering questions do you?” Her eyes holding Danny’s.

Returning the woman’s smile with a dry one of his own Danny lifted his head meeting her gaze. “What gave it away?” He asked.

Leaning back in her chair Angelica shrugged. “The fact that you only told me your name and nothing more. Makes one wonder what you are hiding?” Her eyes flickered down to his leg.

Lowering his head to stare in to Cujo’s bright red eyes he sighed. “What do you think I’m hiding?” He asked nudging the dogs nose with his own, earning him a sloppy kiss.

“A lot. But I’m not going to ask you about all of it. Just what happened to make you limp that badly?” She asked tilting her head in the direction of his leg.

Shrugging Danny patted Cujo on the head. “Fell on something sharp the other day.” He said falling back on old habits.

“Would you let me take a look at it, I’m a nurse?” Asked Angelica yet she didn’t move from her seat, making Danny feel like it was his choice. Something refreshing for him who hadn’t felt like he’d had a choice in weeks.

“She’s not going to hurt you Dan. She’s really good.” Said Erik, making Danny jump and stare at the older guy. Blinking at him in surprise Erik flipped a pancake. “Did I say something?”

“Don’t call me that.” Said Danny a cold shiver running down his back.

“Um sure. Sorry.” Said Erik sounding a bit taken a back, as thou he didn’t really understand why.

Shaking his head Danny forced the memories of the ghost in to a corner of his mind where The Ripper was slumbering. “Not your fault, I just don’t like that name anymore.” Running his hand through his wet hair Danny rubbed his neck glancing at Angelica. “Can you do stitches?”

“I can but if you need stitches you should go to a clinic.” Said the woman standing up. She walked around the table to Danny who sent Cujo over to beg scraps off Erik.

“It’s not that bad.” Said Danny getting up. “I just can’t see it to stich it up myself.” He explained.

“You stich up your own wounds?” Asked Angelica surprised. “Take off your pants and let me see how bad it is?” She told him.

Balancing on one leg Danny got the jeans of his right leg showing the white bandages that were staining red over the unclosed wounds. “One’s got to have a hobby.” Said Danny.

“A hobby. You sure got a comeback for everything. Take a seat on the table. Erik, get the aid kit from the washroom.” Ordered the woman finding the end of the bandage she gently unwound Danny’s leg.

Having three frying pans on at the same time Erik made sure nothing would burn as he ran across the kitchen and in to the washroom, returning a moment later with a heavy duty first aid kit that could challenge the ones Danny’s mom had kept in the lab. Setting the box down on the table beside Danny Erik sent him a smile before returning to his cooking.

There were butterflies in Danny’s stomach as Angelica removed the dressing over the cut in his thigh. She inspected the stitches without a word and made a face at the still open gash on the other side. Her eyes landed on the fading scars beside the new wounds and Danny could see her noting the similarity in sizes. “Does it hurt much?” she asked frowning down on the bite-marks.

“It’s nothing I can’t…” Began Danny and stopped himself. He was already drawing suspicions from the woman because of the injuries and his evasiveness, it would be foolish to give her another reason to investigate him. “It’s hurt worse.” He corrected himself, tapping his right hand fingers against his thumb.

“I can imagen. It wasn’t your dog that bit you was it? The mark is too big to be him.” They both glanced at Cujo who seemed to have shrunk as he sat beside Erik waging his tail.

“Clearly.” Said Danny tilting his head as heavy feet’s ran across the floor above them before coming down the stairs. They stopped for a moment and then came towards the kitchen. Danny hunched his shoulders and felt himself instinctively calling for his powers that were just out of reach.

The door flung open and an up nosed teen with bright green eyes hidden behind thick glasses entered the kitchen sniffing the air. “Pancakes.” He smiled, then turned around and repeated “PANCAKES!” in a high pitch shout that hurt Danny’s ears.

“Not yet Nigel!” Said Angela getting up from where she’d been kneeling.

“Oh yes, need to make the table first.” Said the guy, turning to the cupboards.

“Hey! Nigel.” Said Erik getting in the way of the taller teenager. “Not yet.” He said slowly and clearly.

The kid Nigel looked puzzled. “But you are cooking and I’m hungry. Aren’t we eating?” The guy sounded a bit slow.

“In half an hour. Go and tell that to everyone.” Said Angelica tapping Nigel on the shoulder. The kid made an extremely thoughtful face as he walked back the way he’d come stopping the others who were making their way down. “Where were we.” Sighed Angelica turning back to Danny.

The door to the kitchen flung open again and the freckle faced girl stomped in. “Nigel said there was pancakes. It’s Wednesday, we eat toast on Wednesdays.” Said the girl, then her eyes fell on Danny. “You still here? What are you, another stray animal Erik brought home. Angelica, he’s not supposed to be here. It’s a school night, no friends that’s the rule.” She told the woman who smiled at the girl.

“There are acceptations to the rules Liza-“ began Angelica but got cut off by the girl.

“No. The rules are there to be fair for everyone. Erik is already an acceptation by not having to share a room.” Said the girl stumping her foot down.

“Hey I’d love to share a room.” Protested Erik.

“No you wouldn’t. No one likes to share rooms. Angelica he’s got to go, I don’t want him here.” Said Liza pointing at Danny who was tugging on his pants.

“Let it go Liza.” Said Angelica before turning to Danny. “Stay, I’ll just have to talk to the gang. Come on hon let’s talk.” Said the woman taking the girl with her out in to the hall where the other three teenagers were waiting.

Danny could hear the girl start to argue again before Angelica even had a chance to say anything. Limping over to the counter beside Erik, Danny grabbed a pancake and rolled it up to eat like a burrito.

“Sorry about them.” Said Erik adding more pancakes to the plate. “Those two are the extreme cases here.” He explained adding batter to the pans. “You have to be really clear with Nigel, he sort of doesn’t understand social ques.”

“And Liza is a stickler for rules, I gather.” Said Danny, licking his fingers.

“I think it’s her safety net. When things goes by the rules she’s actually not that bad. They sort of reminds me of my friends in jail. You learn what triggers them and avoids it to keep the peace.” He flipped a pancake falling quiet.

Taking another pancake Danny nodded. “Gab didn’t like being touched.” He said remembering the guy clearly. He’d been nice, a bit drawn back and possessed by a crazed ghost but other than that a good person. Thou when something triggered him he didn’t just throw a fit he’d kill. It had been Danny who stopped him, by destroying the ghost possessing him.

“No he didn’t.” Agreed Erik. They stayed quiet for a while listening to the murmured discussion outside. “Did you ever think of us after you went home?” he asked after having made another six pancakes. “That is if you went home.”

Biting his lip Danny thought of his answer. To be honest he’d almost forgotten about everyone except Gab. “Not really.” He confessed. “There were a lot of things that sort of took up all my thoughts.” He added tapping his right hand fingers. The time he’d spent in jail felt like it had happened years ago and not four months earlier.

“Thought so.” Said Erik scraping at a pan. “I didn’t forget about you. You are sort of unforgettable.” He added glancing at Danny. “Everyone else seemed to forget about you thou. The guards, inmates, everyone seemed to have forgotten you were ever there. Not even the guy’s you beat up remembered you. It was like you were just another ghost story in that place. Hell I didn’t even believe my eyes when I saw you in that ally. Just thought you were someone else.”

“Sure the dye job and dog makes me look forty years older.” Smiled Danny, getting an agreeing noise from Cujo. “Thanks pall.” Sighed Danny giving the dog what was left of his second pancake. He looked up at Erik who stared at him taking in every detail of his appearance. “Let’s talk about something else. Who taught you to make pancakes?”

Erik was telling Danny about his dad and how the man always made pancakes when it was only the two of them for dinner. “It was the only thing he knew how to make, he couldn’t even boil pasta.” Smiled Erik when Angelica returned to the kitchen.

“Alright Danny. Up on the table again and I’ll see what I can do about those cuts.” She said walking over to the table. She put on a pair of gloves as Danny limped over to her. “Take your pants of and lay down.”

“Not on a first date.” Smiled Danny, sitting down on the table taking off the jeans.

“You joke a lot.” Smiled Angelica as Danny lay down on his stomach glancing over his shoulder at the woman. “Did you know the dog that bit you?”

“I’d say that the dog didn’t know me.” Muttered Danny sending Cujo a look. The dogs tail was thumping the floor.

“Did you know if the dog had rabies?” Asked Angelica rubbing something cold around the wound on his thigh. Danny shrugged. “Did you clean out the bite properly, a dogs mouth’s got a lot of bacteria, you don’t want it to get infected.” Danny shrugged again not liking the way the conversation was going.

“I’m going to stich this up, tell me if it hurts too much.” Danny nodded feeling the needle puncture his skin. He didn’t move staying completely still. “You doing alright?” asked Angelica putting another stich in his leg.

“Aww.” Said Danny sarcastically.

She worked in silence for a minute, then cut her thread and patted Danny’s leg. “Sit up and we’ll put a clean bandage over this.” She said taking out a fresh roll from her box. Doing as he was told Danny let the woman wrap the bandage tight around his leg. “You’ll have to see a doctor about that dog bite, you might need antibiotics to prevent infections and depending on how up to date you are on your tetanus shot you might need a new one.”

Fastening the end of the bandage Danny tugged on his pants and slid off the table. He walked over to Erik and the pancakes, rolling a handful in to manageable rolls before devouring them easily. “I need to be going back.” He said dropping the last pancake in Cujo’s mouth. “Promised a friend I’d play with him.”

“You aren’t staying for supper?” Asked Erik sounding a bit hurt.

Danny sent a look at Angelica before returning his eyes to Erik. “I’ll be around for a couple of days. We might run in to each other again.” He patted Erik on the shoulder and suddenly found himself in another embrace that threaten to break his cracked ribs.

Letting out a wheezing breath Erik let go of Danny. “Shit, sorry! I forgot.”

Shaking his head Danny patted the guys back. “It’s alright, my dad could break my ribs with his hugs. I’ll see you.” Getting his backpack Danny left the house, Cujo back at his side.

Chapter Text

Sitting by the breakfast table Sam glared in to her bowl of chopped fruit. She wasn’t hungry, hadn’t been for weeks, the only reason she eat was because she knew she had to and the fact that her grandma made the effort to bring her the food to her room. Poking at the food Sam pushed the bowl away.

Getting up from her seat she walked over the counter filling a mug with black tea. Returning to the table Sam picked up her phone and opened the group chat. In the last four weeks she and Valeri had been the only ones writing in it. Tucker had been online but never answered.

There hadn’t been any new massages since the night before and Sam typed a message. “You coming to school toady?” She asked sipping her tea.

It didn’t take long before an answer came back. “I am unfortunately. Not sure Tucker is. You’ve seen him?” wrote Valeri.

Sighing Sam put down her phone and finished her tea. She could say that she wasn’t going to school today ether, it wasn’t like anything was going to be different today if it hadn’t been the other days. Why was she even going to school when there was only two weeks left.

Her phone buzzed and Sam looked at the screen. Valeri had texted again. Reading the message Sam sighed. “I’m outside, you coming?”

Rising Sam pocketed her phone and shouldered her bag. She was going to hate this day. Valeri had been back to school for a week and she’d told Sam how everyone had stared at her. She’d been questioned by their peers and had fans run after her in the school corridors. Their teachers had tried to act normal around her, they’d even been understanding and let Valeri leave class when Skulker attacked.

Walking out the door Sam found Valeri sitting on the bottom steep massaging her back. “You got hurt in a fight?” asked Sam stomping down the steps.

“Not this time. I think my back is breaking because of all the shoots I’m taking there.” Valeri winced standing up and stretching. Her back making a loud popping noise. “Aww, I’m to young to have back problems.” She whined.

Biting her lip Sam nodded and set of Valeri falling in to step beside her. They walked in silence traffic passing them on the road like any other day. And why shouldn’t they, to them it was any other day.

They were almost at the school when Sam started taking notice of her surroundings. There was an awful lot more graffiti on the surface off the buildings and billboards. Coming to a halt in front of a particular familiar logo. “What is it?” asked Valeri.

Sam took a closer look around her. Phantom For Ever; #GoingGhost, Dead but not Forgoten, I believe in Danny Phantom. The slogans stared Sam in the face reminding her of everything she’d lost. Valeri followed Sam’s gaze and made a face. “They’ve been popping up all around the place.” She said waving at the graffiti.

“What do they think this’ll get. He’s dead. Gone! Never coming back!” Closing her eyes hard against the tears Sam balled her hands in to fists. “Why do they have to do this, can’t they let him be gone! Half of the people around here thought of him as a menace!”

Valeri hesitated for a moment before swinging an arm around Sam’s shoulders, getting as close to a hug as she could without actually hugging her. “It’s just graffiti, in a month people will forget about all the good things he did and they’ll clean all this off.”

Shaking her head Sam opened her eyes, looked left and right before crossing the road. Valeri came up beside her giving Sam stormy eyes a quick glance before staying quiet. They reached the school in silence and separated.

As expected people stared at her as she walked through the corridors. Hearing them whisper Sam forced herself to ignore them, hearing nothing, not the things they were implying nor the things they thought. Being so detriment on not hearing or seeing any of her peers Sam didn’t notice the big guy calling her name until a large hand landed on her shoulder.

Almost jumping out of her combat boots, Sam spun around on a heel coming face to face with Dash. “What do you want?” Hissed Sam itching to smack the big jerk in the face. He’d made a lot of her life in school difficult, as had his friends and she sure would love to kick them around for it.

“Wow relax Sam.” Said Dash holding his hands up in surrender. “I was just trying to tell you that we got History in the Chemistry classroom.” He pointed with a thumb over his shoulder where the others who were having History as their first class of the morning were heading.

Scowling Sam elbowed past Dash entering the classroom heading for the back row. Sitting down in her dark corner, Sam didn’t listen to the teacher trying to teach her History that had no meaning on her life.

The longer Sam stayed in school the angrier she got. People had no respect for anything and she was not going to say sorry when she bumped in to someone. When the lunch bell rang Sam was packing her things ready to leave school for the day. She’d had enough.

Stomping through the school’s corridor Sam was nearly at the exit when she slowed down realizing that for the first time all day no one was pestering her. Looking around she could see student’s clumping together staring at each other’s phones and iPads. “It’s him!” Breathed one. “I can’t believe it, look he blasted that octopus in the face.” Said another. “Here it comes POW! Right in the face.”

Curious Sam walked up to Nathan who was staring at his phone alone. It took a moment for Sam to recognize the website he was on. The owner of the sight was sending a live feed of a ghost fight somewhere in down town Amity Park. It wasn’t the Red Huntress fighting ether it was someone else.

A ghost, Thought Sam seeing the two fighters float in midair. One was a green ectopus the other was humanoid with white hair and a black suit. Sam froze as the human ghost drew back charging a ecto-sphere between his hands. The glowing green eyes were narrowed in concentration, an expression Sam had seen so many times.

Turning on a heel Sam ran through the corridors skittling to a halt in front of her locker. Unlocking her locker she got the two parts of the Fenton Scooter, twisting them together. She had the scooter together in a second and speed out of the school earning herself shouts from the teachers.

The Fenton invention was practically lethal. There was no speed limit on the thing and she had fine control over the thing letting her take to the roads and speed past cars and busses heading for city central. She wasn’t scared of what would happen if she lost control of the scooter, the thought of the what she would find when she reached her destination was even scarier than breaking an arm or cracking her skull in a fall.

The sound of the ghost fight reached Sam’s ears and she could see the flashes of ecto-blasts up ahead. Avoiding cars and innocent bystanders Sam caught glimpses of the fight. Reaching the street below the fight Sam stared up at the ghosts.

There was something wrong with it. The ectopuse were a weak ghost and his opponent, the infamous and risen from the dead Danny Phantom would normally have dealt with it in a minute and been back at school in time to be able to use the excuse he’d been at the bathroom. But today he was missing shots and getting his as whooped.

The ectopuse got in close to Danny who tried to blast away at it, getting tangled up in the long tentacles. “What’s wrong with you, Don’t get in close with an ectopus!” Shouted Sam digging in her bag for a ghost gun, finding nothing. Her parents had confiscated the weapon weeks earlier.

The ghost boy twisted and a flash of a ghost-ray in the ectopuse eye. The ghost shirked throwing Danny to the ground. The ground broke before Phantom did creating another crater in the road. The ectopuse dove for the downed ghost and Sam swore.

Running up to the crater Sam jumped in grabbing the dazed Danny pulling him out of the way. The ectopuse slammed in to the ground coming up with a hissing shrike. “Shut your mouth.” Snarled Sam landing a heavy booted kick in the ghost’s other eye. It let out another shrike and Sam looked at it in surprise. She hadn’t thought her kick would have hurt it.

The ectopuse flew up in the air and ran off, afraid to take them both on. Sighing Sam sat down shaking. “You told him, nice kick.” Said Danny his voice the familiar echo of his ghost form.

Turning her eyes on the ghost boy Sam took it all in, the all to familiar round eyes, square jaw and lanky body. He wore a new suit, more like the battle suite he’d had in their last battle. It was all so familiar and yet the way Danny looked at her was as if he didn’t know her. “Nice KICK! I hardly did anything, you should have had him running in a minute, capture him in two. Why the hell didn’t you freeze him when he had his tentacles around you and vacuumed up the pieces!”

Danny looked surprised at her scolding. Clearing his throat he got up. “Anyways, Things seems to be alright right now. See you around.” He said as if she was just some other bystander.

“Hold on!” Growled Sam grabbing Danny’s arm before he could fly away. “You have a hell of a lot of explaining to do. Like why you made us all believe you were dead for a month!”

Jerking his arm out of Sam’s hold Danny flew higher up, out of her reach. “Listen miss. You most have me confused with someone else. Do yourself a favor and don’t run towards ghost fights, it’s dangerous.” And with that he was off leaving a confused Sam staring after him.

Chapter Text

When he was home in Amity Park all Danny could think of was getting enough sleep to keep him going through another day in school and another night of fighting. Now when he could sleep as much as he wanted, with the occasional nightmare, Danny was too restless to sleep more than seven hours, maybe snooze for an extra hour. But by the time he’d been rolling around on his hard bed those extra minutes he had to get up and do something. Were the Ripper awake in his head, Danny would have had to fight him off whenever he tried to does off.

Making breakfast with the circus cook a broad shouldered shabby looking man everyone called Kilroy, Danny was up by seven in the morning and bored out of his mind by ten. He stayed away from the humans except for mealtimes, he couldn’t have them know what sort of freak he was, he enjoyed talking to them to much in the evening to risk being alienated from them.

“You are brooding.” Smiled Kitty walking up to him. Her hair was damp and she wore a pair of tight shorts and tank top, showing of her curves. Like all the ghost in camp she’d changed the color of her skin and eyes to pass for human.

“Just planning my day. You know, should I laze about on the train or hanging myself from the trapezes.” Said Danny, sitting on a bench his back to the empty breakfast table, Cujo asleep on his foot.

“The main poste for the big tent is still out of commission, We won’t put up the tent until it’s fixed.” Said the woman stumping up to sit on the table beside Danny. “It should be about a week before we start the shows again.”

Nodding Danny tapped his right hand fingers to his thumb. That would mean he had a week without the Ripper in his active thoughts. And a week to do whatever he wanted. Maybe he could find Erik again and hang out with the guy, he missed hanging out with his friends but be couldn’t risk contacting them. If things were going to be alright again he had to stay away and make them think he was dead.

Cold fingers ran through Danny’s hair. Turning an eye on Kitty he received a smile. “Sit still.” She said her fingers tugging and combing his hair. The ghost hummed a melody that sounded like it came from the 80ies. “You know this hairstyle was popular when I was human.” Said Kitty her nails scratching Danny’s scalp.

“If I could I would dye my hair black again. It’s not enough I have one blue and one green eye I have skunk hair as well.” He reached up to push his hair back, a nervous gesture. Only his fingers caught on thick braids along his scalp.

“Don’t mess up my work.” Said Kitty, continuing on the third braid.

Rolling his eyes Danny found the ends of the finished braids and started untangling his hair. “Thanks but no thank you. I’d rather have a haircut than braids.” He said freeing his hair letting it fall in to a mess down to his shoulders.

“Sure, but you don’t want me cutting it, ask Jonny why he’s got long hair. It ain’t so that I can braid it.” Chirped Kitty her fingers still running through Danny’s hair.

Cujo lifted his head from Danny’s foot making a low barking noise. Kitty and Danny both looked up listening. Ghosts had better hearing than humans, Ghost dogs had better hearing than human ghosts making Cujo’s ears the best ones at the circus. Straining his hearing Danny could hear what had gotten Cujo’s attention.

There was a quarrel going on somewhere near the road to the circus ground. “Should we leave it be? Sounds like one of the humans are taking care of it.” Said Kitty braiding a lock of Danny’s hair.

Frowning Danny listened hearing his own name mentioned, and not just “Danny”  but “Danny Fenton”. Licking his lips Danny looked down on Cujo, wondering if he had to hide or if it was just a coincident.

“You are grinding your teeth.” Giggled Kitty patting Danny on the head. “See you later runt.” She said and jumped of the table heading for a clearing in the woods where they could all hear Jonny riding around on his bike.

Getting up as well Danny limped in the direction of the quarrel. He wasn’t sure what he would find but with Cujo at his side he was certain he could handle it. Unfortunately he was less sure his leg could handle a run or fight.

Rounding the tiny tent put up for the fortuneteller, Amorphous in an old woman’s appearance, Danny stopped. The ones quarreling was Kilroy, a rolled up canvas tent over a shoulder, and the plump woman Danny had meet the day before, this time wearing jeans and a flannel shirt.

Angelica was standing beside an old convertible Volvo with mismatching doors. Putting her hands on her hips Angelica glared up at Kilroy. “Listen I am not here to cause any troubles for you people. I don’t care what sort of Freak show this is. I just want to talk to Danny Fenton.” The woman had a stern voice and reminded Danny of his teachers at home.

“Listen lady, You might not care but we do. No outsiders are allowed on the grounds without a ticket. And as you can see we aren’t selling tickets yet.” Growled Kilroy, his voice deep and gravely. “Now I don’t want to call my friends over from putting up our little circus so turn your clown car around and piss off.” Something in the man’s stance told Danny that he was holding back his annoyance.

“Then just tell me if there’s anyone here named Danny and if there is go and tell him that Angelica want’s to talk to him. Just talk.” Said the woman, speaking very pedagogically and Danny remembered the teenagers he’d meet the day before and how she’d talked to them differently than to him and Erik.

Laughing Kilroy shook his head. “Lady no one here uses their real names, if you are looking for someone named Danny Fenton, chances are he calls himself Jonny 13 here.” He smiled down at Angelica. “Now get lost before I drop this tent and make you disappear.”

The soft growl coming from Cujo made Danny look down at the dog. He had his red eyes fixed on Kilroy, hackles turned up. “Hey Buddy?” asked Danny patting his friend on the shoulder. The dog snarled when Kilroy said something else that sounded more condescending. “Alright, I’ll stop it.” Said Danny walking forwards.

“Who’s in charge of personal here? I’d like to speak to them and hear from their own lips that you don’t have a guy named Danny here!” Huffed Angelica crossing her arms and glaring up at the big man.

Chuckling Kilroy dropped the canvas with a loud thump. “I warned you lady-.”

“It’s alright Kilroy.” Called Danny limping up to them. “Go on with your business.” He told the larger man who looked at Danny in surprise.

“You sure kid. The Bitch looks like she’s bringing trouble.” The man’s attitude had made a complete U-turn and he was back to the man Danny liked to talk to and cook food with.

“She wanted to speak to the guy in charge of personal and here I am. Get going.” Said Danny, coming to a halt in front of the two.

“Shout if you need me.” Said the man picking up the heavy canvas tent. Cujo made a ruffing noise drawing the adults eyes to him. “Right, you got the guard dog with you, what was I thinking.” Said Kilroy with an eye roll walking towards the other guys who were marking out where the tents were supposed to be.

“Kilroy?” asked Angelica her stance relaxed.

“He tends to show up standing over planks looking down on you when you are about to do something stupid or mischievous.” Explained Danny, having been the one to give the man his nickname after he made the meme looking down on him as he fought back the Ripper after a show. “What brings you here?”

“I was looking for you. You are in charge of personal here?” She asked, looking misbelieving at Danny.

“Me and Cujo makes sure that people keeps the peace.” Shrugged Danny. “Why were you looking for me? And how did you know to look for me here?” Asked Danny, crossing his arms. He was wearing a tank top because of the early summer heat and wished he had put on something with longer sleeves .

Angelica glanced down at the grinning dog sitting on Danny’ foot again. “You have a good friend in Erik.” She said. “He asked me to look in on you while he’s in school. Told me where he thought I could find you. I thought he was kidding when he said you were with the circus.”

“Why?” Asked Danny skipping the small talk.

Leveling her gaze on Danny Angelica spoke. “He heard what I was telling you about the dog bite, and said that you wouldn’t see a doctor even if you were freezing to death. Whatever he means by that.”

A smile tugged at Danny’s mouth. “He’s right there. I don’t go to doctors for scratches. If that was all you wanted then you should go back where you came from.” Danny turned to leave. Only the woman wasn’t finished with him and grabbed his arm.

He flinched at the sudden sting in his arm and jerked it out of Angelica’s grip. She held up her hands showing she wasn’t going to hurt him.  “Please just listen to me.” Danny glared at her but stayed put rubbing his arms. “I don’t need to know why you are hear or how you got hurt. All I want is to make sure you are alright. You don’t have to tell me anything.”

Glaring at her Danny shoved his hands in to his pockets. “You might not want to know anything about me but Doctors have an obligation to report things. I rather take my chances.”

“What if I took you to a Doctor I know who wouldn’t ask questions and lets you decide if he’s reporting a things or not.” Said Angelica.

Turning to face her, Danny tried to see if there was some ulterior motives with her offer. She didn’t sound like she was trying to manipulate him. Then again he’d been manipulated so many times before without even knowing it. Making a whining noise Cujo leaned against his leg. Danny could almost hear the British voice at the back of his mind telling him how she was going to screw him over.

Shaking his head Danny thought of the problem from another angle. He wasn’t immune to infections, a bit more resilient maybe, able to more or less control his body heat. There had been a lot of mud covering him and the dirty bandages when he woke up increasing the chances of germs getting in to the wounds. The cautious thing to do would be to go with Angelica and get checked out. After all he wasn’t intending to die after having gone through this hell to make sure that he could return one day.

Running his hand through his hair Danny shook his head again. “This is stupid, and I’m stupid for trusting people.” He said to himself looking down at Cujo. “You want to come along buddy?” The dog sneezed and got up walking back towards the circus. “Traitor.” Called Danny after the dog before turning to Angelica. “Where are we going?”

The two jumped in to the car, from old habit Danny put on his seatbelt and slushed down in his seat. Angelica turned the car around driving back to town. In daylight the streets and buildings looked even more run down and old. Not knowing which town he was in Danny guest that it had looked better some time ago. There were newer buildings at the outskirts of the town which they passed turning back in to the rundown areas. Danny wished he could still fly and see the place from the sky, better yet he could  have been flying all around the world making his summer great.

Rolling down the window Danny poked his head out and closed his eyes. Imagining that he was flying Danny relaxed for a moment forgetting where he was. It wasn’t before the wind stopped blowing that he opened his eyes again to find them starring in to a blank wall.

Rubbing his face Danny got out of the car and looked around. There was a gas station across the street, they had parked by a converted concrete store. Danny could see the store sign under the cheap “Free Clinic” sign. Through the front windows Danny saw a few people sitting in the waiting area minding their own business.

“You coming?” asked Angelica having walked halfway to the front door. Sighing Danny limped up to the woman following her in to the clinic.

“Hi Angelica! Another one of your kids run in to trouble?” Said the fat man behind the reception desk. He was chewing on a doughnut and tapping on a computer.

“Yes, you got a form for us. I called Freedman earlier, he should be expecting us.” Said Angelica drawing a glare from Danny who considered turning on the spot and walk back to the circus.

The big man stuck his doughnut in his mouth leafing through the papers on his desk. It was a wonder he could find anything among the papers, files, magazines, empty chocolate wrappers and cans of cola. “Here you go, just fill in whatever you know, a name preferably we hate calling people Jon Doe here.” He lowered his voice. “Makes filing their papers hell.” The man smiled finishing of his doughnut.

Taking the form Danny nodded. “Let’s sit down over here.” Prompted Angelica pointing to two empty chairs.

They sat down and Danny started filling out the paper. The only lie he wrote on the form was his age. Everything else he knew he filled out, that was the beauty of being officially dead, none would believe he was the teenager he said he was and unless he cut his hair and colored it black again he didn’t look much like the photos of him on the internet.

Finishing the form Danny handed it to Angelica who walked over to the secretary giving it to him. She stayed there for a moment talking to him and Danny considered listening in on the conversation. He could filter out the noise of the waiting room and maybe hear what they were saying but it hurt his ears with all the noise around.

Slouching down in his chair Danny flexed the fingers of his right hand, concentrating on the hand exercises that he no longer had to do but was something to keep his fingers busy. Waiting Danny watched the other people in the room as they got called over to speak with a doctor and left soon after. There were two more persons in the room when Angelica returned to sit beside him.

“Sorry it took a while. I don’t get to meet Tony that often anymore, he’s got a lot of gossip to get of his chest some times.” She smiled getting a nod from Danny.

He had taken up staring in to the middle distance, not looking at anyone or anything, yet staying alert for everything. Living with ghosts like Youngblood and Cujo had taught him to stay alert at all times. His ghost sense didn’t do much to warn him when he was already close to ghosts who were supposed to be there. Angelica waved a hand in front of his face and Danny blinked turning his eyes on her.

“What?” he asked testily. He was getting hungry and needed more than one cup of coffee a day to stay in a good mood. And maybe he was a bit anxious about meeting a doctor.

“Just wanted to know if you were still with me. You looked like you were in another world.” Said Angelica giving Danny one of her comforting smiles.

Rubbing his eyes Danny shrugged. He saw movements out of the corner of his eye and turned to see what it was. A very tall man with dark skin and a hard set to his jaw hand entered the waiting room from the door leading in to the building. He wore jeans and a comfortable looking band t-shirt under a white coat. Stopping by the desk he talked to the secretary Tony before turning around.

Angelica got up and Danny followed, not wanting to be taken sitting down if he had to run. The guy hardly looked like he could be a doctor, he had far too much muscle that made his shirt look tight over his broad shoulders. And Danny knew what sort of people moved in that confident way as he did and it wasn’t people working in medicine.

“Sorry it took so long, There was this mountain of paperwork I needed to get done.” He greeted Angelica, the two exchanging grips and Danny could see the unmistakable marks a pillow did on the cheeks of heavy sleepers.

“It’s alright.” Said Angelica turning to Danny. “Danny this is doctor Freedman. Luke, this is Danny that I told you about.”

Dr Freedman extended a hand to Danny. “Nice to meet you.”

Danny looked at the hand and then up at the man it belonged to shoving his own in to his pockets. He wasn’t going to fall for any kinds of tricks, however well-meaning they were.

“Okay.” Said Freedman taking back his hand. “If you’d follow me I think room 2 is free. Angelica will you wait out here?”

The woman nodded turning to Danny. “We can leave whenever you want to.” She said reassuringly.

Nodding Danny followed the huge man wondering how Angelica knew exactly what to say to make him feel less trapped. Maybe it was part of her education, or maybe she had just a lot of experience working with untrusting teenagers. Or maybe she was like Jazz and had an aptitude for manipulations.

Shaking his head Danny forced that thought in to the corner of his mind it belonged to. His sister, his Jazz was not manipulative, she wouldn’t make up planes that would separate him from the ones he loved, she’d make sure they were there for him. At least he hoped she would.

Showing Danny in to a tiny examination room with one desk and examination table, that had seen better days, Dr Freedman closed the door and sat down in one chair waving at Danny to sit down as well. Letting him chose between the chair beside the desk or the table. Danny sat down in the chair.

“Right, let’s start with me telling you that anything you tell me is between the two of us unless you give your permission for me to share what I deem necessary with others.” Said Freedman, drawing a frown from Danny who gave him a slow nod. “Good, now I don’t know anything about you except for what you wrote on the form earlier.” He showed Danny the paper and then put it aside. “Apart from that the only thing Angelica told me when she called this morning was that she might bring a kid around that had been bitten by a strange dog. Would you let me have a look?” he asked

Danny stayed still for a moment eyeing the man. He put on a pair of rubber gloves and waited. It was then it hit Danny that both Dr Freedman and Angelica wasn’t treating him like some suspicious teenager but like a ferial cat. Making sure he felt like it was his choice and not pressing him as if he was fragile somehow.

“It’s nothing that bad.” Said Danny rolling up the short leg of his jeans.

The doctor rolled forward as Danny lifted his leg up. Poking gently, gentler than Danny had expected from his large hand, Freedman examined the bite-marks. “Did you clean this out right after getting bitten?” he asked narrowing his eyes at the inflamed skin around some of the marks.

“Naa, was sort of asleep.” Responded Danny hissing as Freedman poked a particularly red spot.

“That hurts.” Noted the doctor. “I’m going to clean these out, you’ll have to keep the wound clean and dry after this and be back in three day’s so I can check how it’s healing.”

“Sure.” Grumbled Danny, he wasn’t too happy about coming back to the clinic. But then again this wasn’t a hospital and his skin wasn’t crawling with anxiety urging him to get out before he ended up in the morgue.

“Could you sit down on the table, I get some better light over there.” Asked the man rolling back and taking out a few things from cabinets putting them on a tray. Moving from the chair to the table Danny tapped his fingers on the hard surface. “Comfortable?” asked Freedman placing the tray on the table beside Danny’s outstretched leg.

“Would anyone be?” retorted Danny watching the doctors every move.

“No I don’t think so. This might sting a bit.” Using a cotton swab the doctor started cleaning out the wounds. Danny stayed still hardly feeling the sting from the liquid, it didn’t hurt like his parents’ homemade stuff.

Freedman worked in silence for a while before putting down the tools and leaning back. “Alright. I’m going to give you a rabies shot and tetanus booster, after you tell me what it is that’s making you limp.”

Looking up at the man Danny gave him the same innocent look he used to give his mom when she asked about his bruises. “You’re telling me Angelica didn’t mention it when she called?” asked Danny flexing his foot, the skin around the bite-marks were tight, already healing.

Smiling Dr Freedman’s hard face soften and Danny thought he saw something like humor flicker in his dark eyes. “Okay, I guess you know this game. She said something about stitching up a cut on your thigh. Mentioning that it looking like it went straight trough.”

 Nodding Danny slid of the table. “It’s just a flesh wound. Sort of like the bites but aches a lot more when I walk.”

“And you don’t want to show me.” Freedman said staying put in his chair. Even siting Danny could hardly see over his head.

“And I don’t like doctors poking me.” Clarified Danny. “You said you were going to give me two shots, Rabies and tetanus? What are they?”

The doctor raised an eyebrow. “You don’t know?”

“I doubt Rabies is just a mad dog foaming at the mouth.  And people say tetanus without explaining it. I’d like to know what you are putting in my blood or I’m leaving.” Shrugged Danny meeting the man’s eyes. He felt stupid asking, seeing as everyone knew what it was, but someone had just failed to explain it to him.

Giving Danny a soft smile that managed to be understanding at the same time as it was amused Freedman gestured for Danny to sit back down. He did drumming his fingers on the table. “Alright Rabies, it’s a virus which attacks the central nervous system. If not treated before symptoms appear it can be lethal. Mostly human gets it from deep bites or scratches from their own dog. Angelica said you didn’t know the dog that bit you so we can’t be sure it was vaccinated and waiting for symptoms is deadly as I said.”

“Huh. Okay, and Tetanus?” Asked Danny flexing his right hand, scratching the nails.

“Bacterial infection that causes painful muscle spasms and can also lead to death. The bacteria is commonly present in soil, manure and dust.” He nodded to the bite-marks. “Another reason to clean out those kinds of wounds as soon as possible. Thou most likely you’ll get it through deep puncture wounds made by nails or knives. The bacteria travels though the blood or nerves to the central nervous system. The tetanus vaccination is part of one most people gets as children and you also receive a booster every ten year or so. You got all your vaccinations up to date and I don’t have to give it to you.”

Licking his lips Danny thought about it then shrugged. “I might have missed school the day we were getting vaccinations.” He had defiantly missed school that day fighting Jonny and Skulker as they blew off steam. After the fight he’d been too exhausted to return to school and just returned home, sleeping the day away and then staying home the next day pretending he had a cold just to avoid bullies breaking his cracked ribs.

“That’s why you get both shots. If you wait here I’ll get them.” He stood placing the tray with the things he’d used to clean out the dog bite on the desk.

Giving the man a nod Danny watched him leave the room and jumped of the table sitting back down in the chair and putting his right leg up on the table. The throbbing in his thigh subsided and he relaxed a bit waiting.

He didn’t have to wait long for Dr Freedman to return. Unfortunately in the time it took him to come back Danny’s mind had time to wander. To think of what the man might be doing outside, it could just be taking him time to find what he needed. He could also be taking his time screwing up Danny’s life. Sure he’d said that he was 18 on paper but he still looked younger than he was. For all he knew the man could be calling Social Cervices right now and he’d be forced to do a disappearing act hiding out until they gave up or he did.

Danny’s over active imagination treated him to all sorts of situations that he could end up in, just because he put his trust in people he didn’t know. He shouldn’t even be here, he should be staying away from people, keeping them safe from him. It wasn’t so hard to imagen what would happen if he lost control. Worse if the contingency plan for when that happened didn’t kick in fast enough-

A shiver went through Danny at the clear images and the bottom of his stomach fell out. Grabbing his injured thigh Danny pressed hard on the injury. The pain cut through the images, the fear and anxiety resided leaving together with the ghostly presence he’d felt. The Ripper hissed in his corner of Danny’s subconscious before returning to his dormant state leaving him alone.

It was about then Dr Freedman returned to see Danny massaging his leg as if it was aching.

Chapter Text

Resting his head against the car door Danny closed his eyes enjoying the light play of the wind on his face. There was a dull pressure behind his eyes. The doc had offered him an aspirin and Danny hadn’t said no. When Angelica offered to give him a ride back he’d accepted it as well.

She talked as they drove and Danny made a sound now and then to let her know that he was listening. Her topic shifted from sports to food and stayed on food. Danny wasn’t really aware of answering any kind of questions. When the car pulled to a stop he opened his eyes to find that he was not back at the circus.

Sitting up a bit straighter Danny looked around. “This isn’t…” he rubbed his eyes trying to place his surroundings. It was familiar.

“We’re at the Halfway home. I said I’d give you lunch if you were hungry.” Answered Angelica. She gave him an odd look before smiling. “You were asleep.” she noted.

Scratching at the back of his head Danny yawned. “Guess the sleepless nights are catching up to me.” He mumbled, glancing over at Angelica he gave her a tired smile. “What’s for lunch?”

They walked inside and Angelica started picking through the fridge for things to make in to lunch. She had Danny wash his hands and help her chop up vegetables while she started working on the stove, putting the vegetables in to a pot. Once the vegetables were stewing in tomato sauce Danny was put to peeling potatoes while she prepared some meat.

“I hope you aren’t a vegetarian, this stew tastes a lot better with meat.” Commented Angelica spicing the meat.

“I can eat almost anything, no matter what it tastes like. Mom’s not the greatest cook, actually she’s pretty bad. Sam’s a lot better thou, but she only eats vegetarian.” Danny smiled thinking of how Sam forced him to eat whatever she put in front of him after he came back to jail. He’d hadn’t had much of an appetite coming back, because of many reasons and Sam had noticed it, telling him that she was going to make him food and he was going to eat it no buts.

“So there’s nothing you don’t eat?” Smiled Angelica putting a pan on the stove.

“I eat everything, doesn’t mean I like it all.” He flexed his right hand, the motion of peeling potatoes was causing his hand to cramp. “How many of these do you want?”

The woman glanced at the potatoes he’d peeled and nodded. “That’s enough. Pots are in the cupboard over there.” She watched him as he used his left hand to fetch a pot, fill it with water and plop the potatoes in. “Is something wrong with your hand?” she asked placing the pot on the stove.

Casting her a hard look Danny thought about it for a moment before shrugging. “I broke the wrist as well as some bones inside the hand a couple of… months back?” he flexed his fingers. “Still hurts when I’m doing things I’m not used to. Can’t even takes notes for a full hour in class before it starts hurting.” He leaned against the counter massaging his hand.

“Would you let me have a look at it?” Asked Angelica washing her hands. “I am a nurse.”

Chewing the question over Danny absently tapped the fingers to thumb. He nodded slowly letting Angelica take his hand in hers. She gently ran her fingers over the scars and the image of his hand laying cut open on a table with masked people standing over it cutting at him with shining surgical instruments flashed through his mind.

Flinching at Angelica’s soft touch Danny pulled his hand close to his chest. Taking slow deep breaths he pushed the memories back. He opened his eyes as he breathed out forcing himself to relax.

“You alright?” asked Angelica. She didn’t seem surprised at Danny’s reaction, there wasn’t even any worry in her face like he’d seen on his mom’s face when he was hurting.

“I’m fine.” Said Danny, relaxing his shoulders and holding out his hand again. “Phantom feelings I guess, I don’t know.”

Nodding Angelica took Danny’s hand in hers again. “How did you hurt it?” she asked following the white scars.

“Ice truck.” Sighed Danny laughing lightly. They’d joked about him looking like he’d been hit by a truck. His friends had never asked him how he got hurt, they’d been great that way, knowing that he didn’t want to talk about things and respecting it.

“Must have been a nasty accident.” She turned his hand over following the straight scar from the edge of his palm and down under the Spector shield. Angelica’s brows furrowed as she saw the horizontal scar which he hadn’t been able to hide under the wide bracelets he wore. “This looks fairly new.” She said.

“Cat scratch.” Mumbled Danny, the old scars had long ago faded the new ones were a side-effect of having the ripper ghost trying to usurp control.

Giving Danny a slight nod Angelica made a fist with her right hand. “Can you do this?” She asked unflexing her hand. Danny did the same flinching when his hand cramped. “Okay, and this.” She tapped her fingers to her thumb watching Danny mimic her. “Squeeze my hand as hard as you can.”

That made Danny hesitate. “I might break something.”

“Don’t worry, your hand looks like it’s healed up nicely, I just want to see how much muscle strength you got in it.” She smiled.

Danny returned the smile. “I mean, I might break your hand.” He said taking her hand as if shaking it and slowly added pressure.

“Okay.” Said Angelica after a while. “I don’t want my fingers broken.” He let go. “Looks like you only have to train up the dexterity, maybe do different exercises. I can get you some from the clinic tomorrow.”

Wriggling his fingers Danny nodded. “Sure, wouldn’t hurt.”

Angelica returned to cooking. “There are plates in that cupboard, make the table will you.”.

He did, sitting down by the table putting his leg up on the chair beside him. Angelica soon joined him, placing the food on the table. “Dig in.” she said and then stared as Danny filled his plate, devouring the food.

They were finishing their meals when Angelica’s phone rang. Digging it out of her pocket the woman took one look at the screen before standing. “I need to take this.” She said walking away from the table over to the back door.

Polishing of his plate Danny listened, straining his ears to hear what was being said. He couldn’t hear the person on the other end of the phone but Angelica’s voice was as clear as if she was standing right next to him. “Right… that’s good… how long.” There was a long pause, one that Danny didn’t like at all.

He hadn’t had a chance to get a look at who called. It could have been an innocent call or… Danny wasn’t going to stay long enough to find out. Getting up from the table he moved over to the kitchen door.

“Alright, give me five.” Said Angelica breaking the silence.

That was it for Danny. After years of sneaking in and out of his home Danny was dame good at going unseen. He was out of the house before Angelica started looking for him and hid behind a neighbors trashcans.

“Danny!” called Angelica from inside the house. He hear her a calling inside the house a couple of more times before coming out. “Danny!... Christ where the hell did that kid disappear of to.”

Danny saw her glance down on her watch and swore. She disappeared inside before coming out a moment later, locking the door and hurrying over to the car. He watched her drive away and then waited a minute before starting the long tiring walk back to the circus.

Avoiding the larger roads Danny walked through the alleys and soon found himself back on the road out of the town, along the train track. Cujo was the first to hear him coming. The little dog came bounding down the road and despite Danny telling him to stop he slammed in to his chest knocking them both down.

“Aww man.” Laughed Danny and was then assaulted by the dog’s tongue. “Hey hey!” he laughed pushing the dog of himself rubbing the doggy droll from his face.

Cujo ran circles around him as he got up before shooting of towards the circus, which had more tents up and walls separating the outside world from the show. There were a lot of activity going on around the camp, cables were being drawn from the generator in one of the train carts. They hadn’t put up the big tent yet but Danny could see where it was going to be.

He walked through the empty circus, with it’s all black and gothic inspired tents. He didn’t have to make much of an effort to avoid bumping in to the workers, as the drew the cables and connected them. There was a high shrill scream and the hair at the back of Danny’s head tried to crawl up his scalp.

Stepping to the side the child ghost swooshed past him giggling madly. “Hey Danny, You wanna  space pirates?” he grinned. The little ghost was wearing his pirate suit and a fishbowl on his head.

“Sure, I’ll be Han Solo.” Smiled Danny continuing his walk.

“You’ll be Who?” Asked Youngblood floating along.

“He’s from Star Wars. Haven’t you seen the movies?” Asked Danny stepping over a cluster of cables.

“Is it the ones where they have bright colored uniforms and the ones wearing red shirts always dies?” The little ghost took the fishbowl of his head with a little plop.

“That’s Star Trek. Star Wars is where these guys wearing white plastic armor shoots at everything and always miss.” Smiled Danny. “They’ve just made a couple of new movies.”

“It’s any good? I’ve seen the posters but I never had the time or interest to watch ‘em.” Said Youngblood a frown on his face.

“Aliens, laser guns, space ships. Big death star planet sized ship. The force. A green goblin who’s grammar is worse than mine. And light sabers.  Yeah it’s pretty good.” He remembered watching all the movies, first in the wrong order whit his dad and later in the correct timeline order with his friends, the funniest thing in them was the bad feeling everyone had.

“Light sabers?” Asked Youngblood hanging on to Danny’s every word.

“Imagen a long sword made of colored light that goes woooom wooom. When you swing it around.” Smiled Danny swinging his arms around as if he was holding one of those lightsabers.

Youngblood’s imagination was clearly running wild with him and he grabbed Danny’s arm pulling at him. “Come on! Let’s watch ‘em, let’s watch em” He shouted tugging at him to walk faster.

“Alright. Let’s find that computer.” Grinned Danny following Youngblood. He liked the little ghost, the brat could be annoying and play cruel pranks on him, and every other human in camp. But he was also a kid and as long as he was entertained things went smoothly. Danny almost felt like he had a younger brother in the ghost boy and liked spending some time with him.

They found the laptop Kitty and Jonny had stolen weeks earlier and using Freakshow’s Wi-Fi they got online. Danny had forced himself many times not to use the computer to check up on Amity Park and his friends, he’d even forced himself away from any kind of technological comforts to keep from contacting them.

Yet when Youngblood had fallen asleep watching the Star Wars movies he typed in the web address for one of the ghost spotting blogs that had it’s home base in Amity Park. He stared at the screen watching an image of Valeri fighting a black and white ghost. The photo was blurred but Danny could see the familiar skyline of his home.

Chapter Text

Rolling down the street Sam glared up at the sky. Her search would have gone much faster if she’d had some help, any help. But no she was alone. Not that it was her friends fault… Alright maybe it was Tucker’s fault a bit, he still wouldn’t answer her texts or calls. Valeri would have been with her if she hadn’t had to work two jobs in addition to fight ghosts whenever they showed up, the extra work was taking its toll on her and she’d decided to sleep instead of going out on patrol with Sam.

Being on patrol alone was frustrating. When Danny was around and she found herself alone on a patrol she still didn’t feel alone. They would text or keep in contact by phone, Danny would always come as soon as she found trouble. Now she couldn’t call anyone.

On top of that she only had the blood blossom gear she’d created herself to fight ghosts. All her Fenton gear that Danny had equipped her with had been confiscated by her parents and returned to the Fentons. Meaning that she didn’t have any way of detecting ghosts except for with her eyes and using the blogs of ghost spotter fanatics. Not to mention that her scooter had also been taken from her leaving her with her mom’s old bike to get around town with.

Stopping at a crossing Sam looked down at her phone. The most active ghost spotter blog was reporting a ghost battle down by the old train tracks. Turning her bike down the left hand road Sam peddled hard to get up some speed, slowing her hard work once she’d reached a good speed which she could maintain with little effort.

Many people thought Amity Park didn’t have any hills or slopes but it did and riding a bike through town wasn’t a walk in the park. She was short of breath when she saw the flashes of green lights down by the old train yard. Stuffing her phone in her pocket Sam peddled as fast as she could, she had to see who the ghost’s fighting were.

The train tracks came in to view, as did the ghosts. One of them was Skulker, fighting a with ecto-blasters and rockets. The other ghost was using ghost-rays and ecto-constructs to fight the other one back. They were both hard to see in the dim light from the town, their auras showing their contours otherwise they were dressed in black which melted in to the night sky.

A flash of green illuminated the two fighters and Sam narrowed her eyes at the ghost fighting Skulker. She’d recognized him anywhere, white hair and glowing green eyes, Danny Phantom. But he didn’t fight like Danny, she’d seen that the other day too.

Before when she used to watch Danny fight during their patrols she’d noticed that he tended to change his position to come at the ghost from above making sure that the ghost couldn’t accidentally hit some innocent bystander and at the same time giving himself an advantage. He would use ghost-rays and shields as well as physical attacks to win his fights. This Danny was relying on ecto constructs more than his other ghost abilities, forming shields which he deformed to create a lasso, whip, sword, chains.

Danny had always been creative in his fights, used his surroundings to his advantage but she’d never seen him use ecto-constructs. Hell she didn’t even know if he’d been able to do ecto-constructs before he…

She stopped her train of thoughts, pushing away the memories of that day. No Danny was alive, he was there fighting Skulker. Like he always did. “Like he’s always done.” She growled dumping the bike by the tracks.

Running along the tracks towards the battle Sam dug in her pockets after the miniature crossbow shed made, all it needed was the bolt. She’d created the hairpins for self-defense, in case she was ever attacked physically by a ghost. But she’d been forced to be creative in order for her to be able to fight.

Placing the bolt to the knot Sam drew it back and aimed it up at the ghosts. Blood blossom was a strong anti-ghost material, it could neutralize a ghosts powers and knock it out. If she hit Danny with it he would return to his human form and she could stop him and talk to him. Then again Danny would hate her for hurting him. But she had to speak him.

Skulker’s head turned and she saw the eye’s land on her. A smile spread across Skulker’s face and he fired a rocket at her. Dodging out of the way  Sam lifted her arms to protect her face from the shrapnel flying of the ground where the rocket hit.

Snarling a curse Sam lifted her crossbow pointing it towards Skulker. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Danny charge a sphere of ghost power between his hands, taking too long to aim. Skulker sneered at Phantom shooting another set of rockets at him forcing Danny to use the charge to avoid getting hit.

“Once again I wonder how stupid you are!” Shouted Sam, pushing herself back to her feet.

“Get out of here!” Retorted Danny, narrowly avoiding another hit by Skulker, creating a chain which he swong at the ghost.

“Not before we talk!” Yelled Sam, diving behind an old train cart as Skulker sent another set of rockets at her.

“I have nothing… to say- crap-… to you!” Answered Danny, lashing out with the chain, avoiding another assault from the ghost, swinging around Skulker to get at his back and the jet engines that held him up.

Shooting up out of Phantom’s reach Skulker bombarded them with rockets from above. “Fighting with your girlfriend, whelp. Try focusing on the fight or I’ll have your pelt on my wall!” Laughed Skulker raining down death on all of them.

Letting go of his ecto-construct Danny manifested a shield stopping the rocket coming for him. “He’s not even thinking of protecting me.” Muttered Sam, un able to step out from her shelter and fire at any of the ghosts.

“She’s not my girlfriend.” Snarled Danny, dodging out of the way of Skulker’s rockets. He turned his legs in to a ghost tail and flew in a wide circle around Skulker. “Why don’t you crawl back in to the laier you came from instead of bothering me!”

The two ghost exchanged blows as Sam climbed up on one of the train carts out of danger for the moment as Skulker and Danny exchanged blows in the air. She wished she had any of the Fenton gear at that moment, she could have used even something as useless as the Fenton anti creep stick. “I don’t care what Mom or Dad says, I am getting my hands on some gear again.” She grumbled, jumping over to another cart, slipping on the roof she had to let go of her crossbow to catch herself or else fall.

She was lucky she did or an errant shot would have knocked her down. Lifting her head to glare at the fighters Sam stopped. The tables had turned from Danny wining the battle to Skulker chasing him round in circles, preventing him from sending a single ghost-ray back. That wasn’t like Danny at all, he would never be unable to shoot back. Be it verbally or with his powers, he always had a comeback.

Her stomach twisted in to knots. This wasn’t her Danny. He was stronger than this. He could fight better, take Skulker out. This fight should have been child’s play for him, yet he seemed to struggle just to protect himself. “He must have a plan, or he’s still weakened by the fight against the future bastard. Hell how did he even get his powers back.” A tiny voice at the back of her mind told her why and as so many times before she pushed it back in to the dark corner it had come from.

No Danny hadn’t always been strong, he’d needed their help more times than he hadn’t. Lifting her crossbow to aim at the fighters Sam shifted her stance a bit. Loosening the bolt Sam watched it soar through the sky to embed itself in her desired target.

Skulker’s left engine exploded sending him spinning to the ground. Smiling Danny charged another ecto-blast flinging it at the ghost. The blast hit Skulker in the back breaking the rest of his jet pack and having the added effect of flinging him in Sam’s direction.

Turning to run over to the other cart Sam’s feet slipped on the roof. She hit the cart roof hard, pain flaring up in her elbow before she slide of the vaulted roof. Skulker slammed in to the cart and Sam felt something hard hit her back, it threw her of balance and she landed outwardly on her left foot. There was another loud noise and Sam’s world exploded in white hot pain.

A chocked of noise escaped her throat before she registered what had happened. Everything just hurt to much. She wanted to crawl in to a ball until the pain went away. Her stomach seemed to have disappeared leaving her with an empty vacuum where all her feelings should have been. Trying to pull her knees up pain shoot through her body and she let out a cry.

Forcing her body to be still Sam breathed through clenched teeth. It took her some time to realize that the fight between Skulker and Phantom was over, and she was alone. Taking her time to think about it Sam thought she wasn’t in as much pain as she’d first felt. Maybe it was the shock, she’d never been hurt badly before, not even when the mall exploded. How many times hadn’t she patched Danny up from injuries worse than hers.

Pushing herself up on her hands she flinched at the pain in her elbow. Looking down on where the worse pain was Sam blinked at her left leg. It was bent below the knee in a way that wasn’t meant to be. Gulping, Sam reached for her leg but stopped herself before she touched it suddenly afraid  that she was going to hurt herself even worse.

Biting her lip she turned towards the road and her fallen bike. She had to get home, or maybe to Valeri who lived closer to the train yard than she did. Her other leg still worked and she bent it to start crawling.

Sam didn’t even manage to push herself forward more than an inch before white hot pain exploded out from her leg drawing a cry from her. She would have curled in on herself if that didn’t make things worse. All she could do was wrap her arms around herself and breath through her teeth waiting for the pain to subside again.

Once she could think straight again she glared at the fallen bike. How did Danny manage to get home to me with broken limbs. She found herself wondering digging in her pockets. “He flew of course. The idiot didn’t have to obey the laws of physics. I hate you Newton and your stupid law!” She shouted the last in to the falling darkness.

Finding her phone Sam pulled it out and stared at the screen. It had gotten smashed at some point during the fight and sported two spider webs of cracks. As she ran her thumb over the screen a peace of it fell off. Something inside Sam wanted to scream at the broken screen, smash it in to the ground and throw it as far away as she could. While another part of her, the cold and logical one that she often listened to, noted that it was just a screen, easy to replace, hell it was about time she replaced the entire phone. But she didn’t want to.

Tears stung her eyes and Sam fought down the emotions. “It’s just a phone.” She croaked centering herself again before starting the screen. It glowed with a soft light that stung Sam’s eyes in the darkness. She squinted at it swiping to open without looking at the background image of her and Danny. Opening her contacts she stopped.

Her first instinct had been to press Danny’s number in the list, but he was gone and wouldn’t answer. She moved down to Tucker’s number but didn’t press it ether, he hadn’t answered her calls for a month, why should he start now. Moving down to Valeri’s number Sam stared at it her thumb hovering over the call button. Calling Valeri wasn’t a good idea, sure she was certain shed come to help her but Valeri needed her rest or she would be burned out before the summer.

A lump formed in Sam’s throat as she actually considered calling her parents. Her grandma would have been understanding but couldn’t help her, the others would help and make her regret calling them all the while.

Closing her contact list Sam dialed 911 and waited. It didn’t take long before a man answered. “911 What’s your emergency.”

Taking a deep shaking breath Sam told herself she was doing the right thing and then spoke. “I need an ambulance.” She said, not a hint of pain or uncertainty in her voice.

Chapter Text

Parking her car on the field beside the circus Angelica turned off the engine and sat back staring at the walls around the tents. They hadn’t been there when she came by the day before, seeing them now she wondered what sort of circus this was.

Getting out of the car Angelica settled her handbag on her shoulder and walked towards the train track. The walls didn’t reach up to the track and Angelica had no problems walking up to it and into what looked like a camp.

There were people walking around carrying things and two youngsters sitting on a motorcycle making out. Looking around Angelica saw the bulky dog that she thought of as Danny’s even if he’d said it wasn’t. It looked up at her and waged its tail but didn’t leave its position bedside a cart from which a lot of cables ran.

Making her way over to the dog Angelica greeted it by letting him sniff her hand before she patted it on the head and received a doggy kiss on her hand. “Hi there little boy, You’ve seen Danny around, Hon?”

“Who’s asking.” Grumbled a deep voiced man.

Lifting her head Angelica saw a pair of heavy work boots standing in the train cart. Looking up to who was standing in the boots she meet the dark eyes inside a sunburnt face framed by graying curly black hair. He was large, with a beer belly and rolled up shirt sleeves showing tattooed well-muscled arms. “Sorry, I didn’t catch your name.” she smiled.

“Mark, now what’s your name? Or do you want the putsch to escort you out?” Asked the man, the dog at Angelica’s feet waged his tail.

“Angelica Price, I run a care home in town. Is Danny around here, I have something I promised to give him?” She said wondering if she should get up in the train cart to be on the same eyelevel with the man.

Glowering down on her the big man kicked the large machine that took up most of the cart and had the large cables connected to it running out to a box in the wall from which the rest of cables ran. “Hey Kid, this someone you want to talk to?” Asked Mark not taking his eyes of her.

“No.” Said Danny his voice coming from somewhere behind the large machine.

“You heard him miss, walk back the way you came.” Ordered Mark waving his hand in the direction of Angelica’s entrance.

Shifting her weight Angelica turned her eyes on the machine trying to locate where behind it Danny was. “Okay, can I just ask why you left so suddenly yesterday?”

There was a loud bang and Danny swore. “Bloody piece of shit. Mark hand me a smaller wrench.” He said and she watched the man kick a wrench under the machine. Blinking Angelica stared at the odd colored eyes under the machine. He gave her a look taking the wrench before turning his gaze back to what he was doing.

“You better start walking.” Grumbled Mark, waving with his hand for Angelica to start go.

Biting her lip she gave it to a count of ten before turning around. “Why are you here?” asked Danny his cold blue eye glaring hard at her.  Angelica thought he almost looked hurt, as if she’d done something to hurt him.

“I said I was going to bring you those exercises for you hand.” Explained Angelica wondering what made him so suspicious. Well he had been suspicious of her the first time they meet, yet he trusted her the day before when they went to the clinic. Now he was back at being suspicious again.

“Then wait, I just have to take this thing out.” He said returning his eyes to whatever he was doing under the machine.

“Okay.” Agreed Angelica glancing up at Mark.

The man shrugged turning his gaze back to the machine. Angelica looked down at the dog that nudged her leg grinning up at her. “Give the dog a scratch behind the ear or you’ll never get him of your tail.” Grunted Mark.

There was an ironic laugh from under the machine and Angelica bent down to scratch the dog. An electric noise came from the cart followed by the thing making an even louder stuttering noise. Danny yelped and the machine grew quiet again. “Mother f-fucking. Did you turn the bloody backup battery off!”

The man leaned back and reached in to the machine. There was a loud thump. “Now it is.” He said nonchalantly.

Straightening Angelica stared at the teen. Danny was shaking his hand sucking on a finger before stretching his hand’s back in to the machine. “You alright Danny?” She asked not sure what just happened. It had sounded like the machine had started and Danny had been hurt but he didn’t act like he had.

Danny’s cold eye flicked in her direction and there was raw anger in his look, that didn’t disappear when he turned back to his work. Mark nudged Angelicas shoulder with the tip of his boot drawing her gaze. “Here’s a tip lady.” He said in a hushed voice. “Don’t say that to him.”

Looking back at Danny Angelica nodded. She honestly didn’t know much about Danny, had he been one of her kids she would know more about him. But now she didn’t and she had to go by trial and errors to understand him. Learning what triggered him and how to make him trust her would take time. She wasn’t sure she had that much time to work with him thou.

The dog nuzzled Angelica’s hand and she slowly scratched it behind the ear. It was stupid to try and help every kid who walked in through her door, weather they were placed there or not. Yet she couldn’t stop herself from making sure they were alright. Most friends her kids brought home had it alright or were doing alright. Others like Danny showed signs of being mistreated and or abused. Yet being at the circus she could see that he had good people around him, protecting him from those who’d wanted to hurt him.

Danny grunted and he huffed out a breath as something hit his stomach. “Got it.” He grumbled pushing the heavy object of himself and out from underneath the machine.

“Good work kid.” Said Mark picking up the heavy thing. “I’ll get on the phone and see if there isn’t a replacement somewhere around here. I can count on you to put it in later right?”

Pulling himself out from underneath the machine Danny wriggled around getting up to sit on the floor his back to the machine he’d just crawled out from under. “Sure but it’ll cost you extra.” He smile. Angelica couldn’t help but notice that the smile never reached his eyes.

Jumping down from the cart Mark clapped Danny’s foot. “I’ll order that pizza for you. With everything again?” Danny nodded watching the man walk away.

As soon as Mark was out of sight Danny’s eyes snapped back to Angelica. “He pays you in pizza?” she asked wondering what the food at this place tasted like or if he was just wanted a pizza. Probably the latter.

“Engineering gives me an appetite.” Retorted Danny shuffling over to the edge of the cart letting his legs hang out.

“You know what you are doing inside this.” She waved at the machine.

“Power generator. It’s an old model, the box on that wall over there converts the electricity so that we can use it for everything around here. If we can’t get this to work then we’ll just have to do something with the locomotive and get power from it without having the train leaving the station.” He twisted his back drawing a popping noise from it and a pained expression on his face.

“Are you…” Angelica stopped herself, changing her choice of words. “How are you doing?” she asked.

Sighing Danny put his elbows to his knees leaning forward, wincing a little. He meet Angelica’s gaze for a moment before turning those clear eyes away. “I’m… Doing fine.” He said sounding as if he had to think about his answer. “And if you ask me if I’m sure I’ll walk away right now.”

Angelica nodded. “You going to be an engineer in the future or something?” She asked trying for a casual conversation.

“Don’t know.” Answered Danny rubbing his hands.

“You looked like you knew what to do under that engine.” She smiled, looking closer at his right hand. Both were smudged with dirt and grease, the white scars on the back of his hand stood out on his tanned skin. When she looked at it the day before she’d thought it had been a nasty injury, maybe caused by something that crushed it. Danny had said that it was from an ice truck which she never believed. Yet now she thought he might have hurt it working with engines. Kids his age with a talent for mechanics might work on their own cars, trimming them.

Emotions played over Danny’s face for a moment before he sighed shaking his head. “You said something about exercises?” he asked changing the subject.

“Yes, here.” She dug around in her purse taking out three sheets of papers she’d printed out that morning, handing them over to him.

Accepting them Danny frowned at the images showing how he was supposed to move his hand. His eyes ran over the description while he moved the fingers. The following two pages drew a frown and Angelica smiled knowing what was wrong with them.

“I guess I can find a tennis ball…” He trailed of as Angelica held up a rubber ball which was as large as a tennis ball.

She tossed it to Danny watching him catch it with his right hand, fumbling it and dropping the papers to catch the ball in both hands. Angelica caught the papers placing them on the on the cart floor beside him. “Thanks.” Mumbled Danny squeezing the ball in his left hand before taking it in his right setting his jaw as he press down on it.

“Your grip is pretty hard so I figured you needed something harder than what they give to patients when they are just starting physical therapy.” She had spent an hour that morning looking for a rubber ball that was tough as a baseball but with more spring.

A smile tugged at the corners of Danny’s mouth. “Appreciate it.” He rolled the ball between his hands rolling it over and under his fingers.

“Here place the ball on a surface and press down and forward with your fingertips.” She said watching him do just like the pictures had shown. “The exercises are fairly simple, squeeze the ball a couple of sets a day. If it starts hurting afterwards you should put ice on it and call it for the day.” Danny nodded again squeezing the ball and then threw it up in the air catching it in his left. “And if you are bored you can just throw it at a wall.”

“Is there anything else you wanted?” he asked thou this time there was less venom in the words.

Meeting Danny’s eyes Angelica was very aware of her stance and arm positions, making sure nothing in her body language was threatening. “You disappeared yesterday.”

Biting his lower lip Danny nodded rolling the ball between his palms.

“Was it something I said?” She asked seeing his eyes flicker to the side and back. “You don’t trust me.” She noted.

Rolling his eyes Danny sat up straight. “Gee I wonder why.” He responded. “I hardly know you lady. I’ve known Erik for a week and doesn’t even trust him.”

“Who do you trust in your life?” Asked Angelica trying to see what he was thinking of.

It was something new to her watching those blue/ green eyes flick from one side to another. Going through memories and coming up with lies. Making a frustrated sound Danny ran his hand through his hair, scratching the back of his head. “You’re asking hard questions, sure you’re not a shrink?”

“Only someone who cares to much.” She bit her lip thinking. “You thought about the question for a very long time. I assume that there once were people you trusted.” He nodded a shadow playing over his face. “You’ve heard that one have to extend some trust in order to get it. I’m trusting you right now, to know what you are doing.”

Danny stared at her wide eyed, as if she’d just said something shocking. He made a face biting his lip. “Okay. Will you leave me alone now?”

Nodding Angelica pushed away from the train cart she’d been leaning on. “Yeah. Would you like me to pick you up on Saturday for the appointment with Freedman?”

“If I don’t see you sooner.” Agreed Danny.

Chapter Text

Throwing the rubber ball hard against the metal side of the train cart Danny listened to the ecoes from its impact. “Bored.” He said throwing the ball again. It bounced back and he caught it. “Bored.” He repeated throwing the ball.

He was bored out of his mind. That was the worst part of being unable to put up the main tent. There was nothing to do. Sure he could hang around the humans, they liked him, he could always help them, sometimes they needed his help like that morning.

He could also hang out with the ghosts. But Jonny and Kitty had been clinging to each other all day and he was not getting between them, that would be suicide. Youngblood was busy making himself a light saber, he’d been obsessed with Star Wars ever since they watched the movies. And to try and find Amorphos outside a show was like finding a needle in a haystack full of needles.

The ball bounced against the wall returning to Danny’s hand. There were other things he could do, someone should print out posters and put them up around town, thou maybe that could wait until they knew when the main tent was up. So what could he do but bounce the ball against the wall.

Throwing the ball hard at the wall it bounced back and the big furry head of Cujo appeared catching the it in his mouth. “Aww come on! Here give it back.” He made a grab for the ball and the dog jumped out of reach.

“Cujo.” Chided Danny, sitting up and making another grab for the ball.

The dog scrabbled over to the open cart door waging his tail. Grumbling Danny rolled out of his bed limping towards Cujo. Only the dog jumped out forcing Danny to follow him. It didn’t take Danny long to realize Cujo was leading him somewhere.

“Alright boy I get it.” He sighed when they reached the edge of the circus grounds. “Don’t break that ball, it’s not a toy.”

Sometimes Danny didn’t know if he understood him. The dog sat down and dropped the ball. When Danny picked the ball Cujo barked and ran circles around him, bouncing up and down on his big paws.

“It’s not a toy.” Sighed Danny weighing it in his hand as he walked forward. Cujo barked. “Okay, fetch.” He threw the ball as hard as he could.

The dog barked running after it, leaping in to the air. He pounced in midair showing to anyone looking that he wasn’t a normal dog. Fortunately only Danny saw him and refrained from throwing the ball high in the air after that. He enjoyed the break in the monotony.

It took him a bit longer to realize that Cujo was still leading him. “You know this is not how a walk is supposed to go. I’m the one who says where we go.” The dog barked scaring a pedestrian on the sidewalk.

“Keep that beast on a leach!” Hissed the scared man glaring daggers at Danny.

“Look’s who’s talking.” Huffed Danny rolling his eyes. Cujo wouldn’t hurt a fly, humans were more likely to hurt others than his dog was. The pedestrian sniffed holding his nose high ignoring him. “Thought so.” Grumbled Danny taking the ball out of Cujo’s mouth as he returned with it.

He wasn’t sure where they were going but Cujo seemed to know. It wasn’t before he heard the unmistakable sound of a school bell that he realized where he was. Cujo stopped and sat down across the street from the towns high school.

“Okay, what’s your plan?” Asked Danny, leaning against a lamppost. He watched as people walked out of the school. By the happy smiles and cheerful attitude of the students Danny realized that it was Friday. Hadn’t it been for the broken main tent he would be busy preparing for a show.

A familiar voice reached Danny’s ears and he looked up. Following the source of the voice with his eyes, Danny saw the face of Erik among the other students. He was talking to a taller fair skinned teenager who scowled back at him.

Before Danny could hear what they were saying Erik’s eyes fell on him. “Danny!” He exclaimed leaving his friend in the dust as he ran across the street flinging his arms around Danny who instinctively tried to pull away. “Oh Sorry, Sorry.” Erik let go, an anxious expression on his face.  “I didn’t mean to… sorry.”

Relaxing his shoulders Danny shook his head. “It’s not you.” He smiled gingerly. “This your school?” he asked nodding towards it.

Nodding Erik turned to Cujo offering his hand for the dog to smell. “Yeah… What are you doing here?”

Rolling his shoulders Danny scratched Cujo’s ear as the dog licked Erik’s fingers. “The pouch wanted a walk and brought me here. He probably figured I could use some company before I got bored out of my mind.” Erik giggled as the dog licked his ear.

“Aren’t you giving the dog to much credit, it’s only an animal.” Noted the guy who had talked to Erik.

Cujo stopped licking Erik’s ear and walked over to the guy sitting down and letting out a muffled sound and lifted his paw as a human might do offering a hand to shake. “You were saying.” Leered Danny.

Taking the dogs paw the fair skinned teenager shook it. “Nice to meet you… What’s his name?” he asked looking up at Danny.

“Read his tag, what’s yours anyways?” asked Danny not sure he liked the other teenager, he was giving Danny a uncomfortable feeling.

“Angus, and your name’s” he squinted at the tag hanging from the dogs collar. “Cujo right. What’s the A stand for?” asked Angus seemingly trying to give Danny a friendly smile that only added to the uncomfortable feeling he got from him.

“Axion, Cujo used to be one of their guard dogs before they got rid of him. Now he’s acting as my guard dog.” Explained Danny, Cujo barked in agreement.

“Guard you against what?” asked Erik his hand touching the back of Danny’s again.

“Isn’t that the question.” Smiled Danny, taking a slight pleasure in keeping things from the other teens. He didn’t have to give this guy any answers, he didn’t actually have to give anyone any answers at all.

Laughing Erik swung an arm around Danny’s shoulder. “Come on let’s go.” He said, turning them in the direction Danny had come from. “Are you still a wiz at homework help?”

Erik kept up a steady conversation in which Danny only had to make a few noises or short answers to keep up. Angus joined in and they were almost back at Angelica’s foster home when the other kids joined up with them. Including the girl Liza.

“You again.” She scowled. “You are not coming in, it’s a-“

“Against the rules.” Yawned Danny, earning himself a death glare from the girl.

“Relax Liza.” Smiled Erik patting the girls head.

She wrinkled her nose swatting his hand away. “Rules are rules. He isn’t part of the house, therefor he’s not going to step foot inside on a week day.” Danny was impressed by the sheer stubbornness he tasted from the girl, like lime and bitter cherries.

The eye roll Erik and Angus gave the girl said more than the glances they exchanged. “Right Liza, he’s not stepping inside on a week day. We are going to sit outside in the garden which by your interpretation of the rules would therefore be alright?”

The girl opened her mouth to argue back but stopped. Her lips moved but no sound came out as she thought. “That’s a stupid loop hole.” She sniffed and hurried to reach the house before the rest.

“She’s going to tell Angelica that you are coming.” Noted Nigel. Unlike their first meeting Danny had the impression that the younger teen was less impulsive than he’d been before. He yawned. “Is Angelica going to be okay with you bringing him to the back yard, it’s still part of the house?”

Sighing Erik patted Nigel’s shoulder. “Buddy, I only said that to get Liza to stop talking. We all know it’s up to Angelica. Besides she didn’t complain about the dog.”

They all glanced down at Cujo who, seeing that Danny wasn’t alone, was sniffing around, ignoring them all. “Eve is allergic to dogs.” Noted Nigel.

“Who’s Eve?” asked Danny. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know these people but thought it couldn’t hurt if he was going to run in to Erik more times. Or if Cujo decided to make them meet again.

“He means Steven, Steve for short.” Explained Angus. Danny wanted to tell him off for answering, he wasn’t the one he’d asked. But then again who had he asked? It had been an open question for any of them to answer.

“Well don’t worry about Cujo, he’s an allergy friendly dog.” He said, having meet people before who said they were allergic to furry animals but never had a reaction to the dog. It might have something to do with the fact that Cujo was a ghost. Even thou he looked like a solid peace of dog and felt like a real animal, he wasn’t. The dog was made of ectoplasm, held together by the ghosts core. The only reason no one thought to question the dog’s state of existence was because he’d changed his fur to a shade of dark brown which was found among normal dogs.

Reaching the house Erik grabbed Danny’s elbow and pulled him around to the back where a wooden fence blocked their way. Smiling at him Erik pushed at it and the hidden gate opened. “There’s a bench by the tree, should be some shadow there.”

The back yard of the house was larger and nicer than the one behind Fenton Works. It was covered in yellowing grass and one big oak tree was casting a huge shadow across half the yard. Under the tree there was a long park picnic table with benches. The back door to the house was open and Danny could hear Liza telling Angelica about him.

Erik waved at Danny to follow him and they both sat down on a bench. Cujo on the other hand didn’t want to sit down and started sniffing around the yard. Spreading his things out on the table Erik searched through the jumbled papers and books. “It’s here somewhere… I know I put it here?” muttered Erik, a puzzled look on his face.

Feeling the boredom return to him Danny picked up one of the books. “Algebra.” He blanched, dropping the book open. Just another sign of how bored he was. The book fell open to a page with a piece of notepaper stuck between its pages. “What’s this?” Danny picked up the piece of paper unfolding it.

“Hey! There it is.” Erik snatched the paper out of Danny’s hand and laid it flat on top of the other books and papers. “Okay I have to hand in, last week’s physics homework by Monday. This week’s Math and history homework by Wednesday. And next week I’ll get more homework that’s has to be handed in by Friday. Including the warning about a English test next week.” He said reading the scribbled notes on the paper.

“Sound’s fun.” Smiled Danny, glad that he didn’t have any homework to do.

“I envy you. If I don’t make it through these classes they’ll hold me back a year.” Erik made a face. “I don’t want to spend any more time in school than I have to.”

Frowning Danny pushed the Physics book towards Erik. “Why don’t you just drop out of school?” asked Danny, he himself hadn’t had much of a choice in leaving Casper High but he wasn’t regretting it.

Leafing through his book Erik didn’t say anything. Danny thought he’d decided not to answer and turned around on the bench to lay down on it elevating his throbbing leg. It was when Cujo returned with a stick for Danny to throw that Erik spoke. “If you could chose, what would you do in the future?”

Licking his lips Danny threw the stick, using the action give himself an excuse to think. “I would…” He looked up at the sky. “I would fly to the stars.” He said, the butterflies of old dreams returning to his stomach.

Lifting his eyes to the sky above Erik squinted at the clouds. He seemed to think for a while before speaking. “I would do something that could make a difference for people like us.”

Danny raised an eyebrow. “Like us?” he asked.

“Outcasts, misfits, the ones who society forgot.” He sighed lowering his eyes back to the work in front of him. “How do you think I could achieve such a difference in this world?”

Shrugging Danny accepted the stick Cujo returned to him. “Become president of the US of A?” He suggested throwing the stick for the dog to chase.

“Even the president couldn’t do anything to change things as drastically as I want it.” Erik scratched his head writing something in his note book. “No what really controls this country is money and companies. I want to control it all in order to give the people who needs it a brighter future. That’s why I have to study, in order to make something out of myself that can do that.” The pen scratched out what Erik had written and he tore off the paper, crumbling it in to a ball.

Now it was Danny’s turn to be quiet for a while as he thought off what Erik had told him and what he’d thought he knew about him. The guy was compassionate, anyone could see that, Erik seemed to need physical contact, he’d lived on the streets before being arrested and been thrown out of his home before living on the streets. More than that all Danny could say about him was that he was a friend and someone he liked to be around. He didn’t know why but Erik reminded Danny of his own friends.

Sitting up to put his back to Erik’s side Danny glanced at the notebook. “What are you trying to do here?” he asked pointing to the equations.

“Trying to figure out what they mean by saying that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, it doesn’t make any sense.” Muttered Erik scratching out what he’d just written.

“Give me that.” Said Danny accepting the notebook and pen from Erik, who turned to see what he wrote. Having learned a lot from his sister Jazz on how to help someone study, Danny had never been forced to dumb something down as much as he did for Erik. Going from trying to get him to come up with his own examples, to giving him vague hints, to giving examples and finally illustrating the problem. Danny got some understanding of what his sister had gone through when helping him with math.

The smells of cooking food reached Danny’s nose as he and Erik finally started to work through the late homework assignments. By then the sky had shifted color as the sun fell closer to the horizon. Erik had moved closer to Danny as the two squinted at the words on the pages they were reading.

An outdoor light in the yard flickered to life bathing them in light. Danny’s hand stopped in the middle of a sketch, goosebumps crawling down his skin. A shadow appeared in the doorway and Danny flinched.

“You two better clear of that table, we’re eating outside tonight!” Shouted Angelica.

“Sweet.” Smile Erik, collecting his things in to a pile. He stopped when Danny didn’t move frowning at him. “You alright?” he asked, placing a hand on his shoulder.

A shiver went through Danny who drew his arms around himself. “Yeah… m-fine.” He responded rubbing his arms. Closing his eye’s Danny tried to shake off the disturbing feeling. It wasn’t often he had the feeling of someone walking over his grave anymore, he’d learned to expect the feelings and wasn’t spacing out as often as he’d once had.

Liza walked out of the house carrying plates in her arms, followed by Nigel and Angus carrying glasses and utensils. Pressing his hands against his face Danny stood up and helped Erik put his things away in his backpack again.

The four of them helped Angelica set the table, bringing out everything needed for Tacos. Liza didn’t let Danny enter the house and instead gave him the bowls of minced vegetables in the door for him to carry out to the table. Yet the annoying little girl let Cujo walk in and out as he wished, she even gave him scraps of the table.

“Stop it. You aren’t as cute as you act.”  Hissed Danny at the dog, who only smiled and waved his tail.

When they sat down to eat Danny was introduced to Steven and the last member of Angelica’s house, Lilly. Steven turned out to be a stick thin teenager around Danny’s age if not younger, who was very picky in what he put in to his mouth. Lilly on the other hand reminded Danny a lot of Sam, both in her choice of clothe style and food. She however was not one for talking and didn’t say a word during the meal.

They were all talking as they eat, Angelica asking questions about her charges day, what they had planned for the weekend. She was very good at asking one question but seeking and getting the answer to another question. Danny was so engulfed in the conversations around the table talking to Erik about his sister and how she’d helped him with school before she left for collage.

“Your sister sounds like a wonderful person?” said Angelica.

“I wouldn’t call her wonderful. She’s a pain in my ass, annoying and sticks her nose in things he should leave alone.” Danny took a bite of his food, thinking of his sister. Or rather the sister who had come back from the future to screw up his life. He didn’t really hate her for what she’d done, he just hated having to do it, all in order for things to be better in the future. “She just never said when in the future.” He muttered falling silent.

By the time most of the people around the table had finished their meal Danny and Steven were still shoveling food in to their mouths. That’s when he saw Lilly say something thing all evening. “Can I leave?” she asked Angelica moving her hands.

Danny stopped eating long enough for him to see Angelica answer with a nod.  When Lilly left all except for Danny, Erik and Angelica did as well. It was dark by then and the air had become cool drawing a shiver from Danny.

“I should get back.” Yawned Danny, rising from his seat, stuffing the last piece of his food in his mouth. Cujo who’d slept under the table, in hopes of getting some scraps, stood up bumping the table.

“You could stay here.” Suggested Erik, his hand reached for Danny’s wrist but stopped.

Smiling at Erik Danny shook his head. “I think Liza wouldn’t like it if I did. Don’t worry I’ll see you around.”

“You want me to give you a ride?” asked Angelica, who’d started to clear the table.

Shaking his head Danny moved toward the gate in the fence. “Thanks but I want the walk.” He said, even thou his leg was going to ach a lot when he got back to the circus.

“You sure?” Asked Angelica a taste of concern touching his tongue, he hated that taste.

“I am.” He smiled bitterly, tangling his fingers in Cujo’s fur as the two left.

Chapter Text

There was a hard knock on Sam’s door and she groaned pulling her blanket over her head. The knock came again sounding more like a bang this time. “Go away!” Grumbled Sam pressing her face in to the pillow. It was too early to get up just yet, her brain wasn’t even working.

“…” Someone said something on the other side of the door and the knocking turned in to loud banging as if the person on the other side of it was trying to kick it down.

“For Crying out LOUD! SHUT IT!” roared Sam throwing the blanket of her head.

“See I told you she was awake.” Said the old voice of Sam’s grandma on the other side of the door. “Just go right in, I’ll be downstairs if you need me.” There was an amused tone in the old ladies voice.

Pushing herself to sit up Sam watched the door open slowly revealing the visitor. Valeri ducked her head a bit as she entered the room. “Hi.” She said trying for a smile but there was no heart in it.

“Um… Hi.” Answered Sam waving for Valeri to come in all the way. She was a bit confused to the contradiction of aggressive knocking compared to Valeri’s lowered head. “What’s up?” she asked leaning her back against the headboard.

Closing the door behind her Valeri walked up to Sam and sat down on the bed. She was licking her lips and avoided looking straight at Sam. “I just wanted to come by and see if you were alright.” She said, her fingers twisting one of the bands around her wrist.

“I’m fine, it’s just a broken leg. Doctors said I’ll get the cast of in six to eight weeks.” Smiled Sam leaning forward she tapped the white cast around her left leg and foot. Shed broken the tibia, which was the weight carrying bone in the lower leg, luckily it was a clean break the doctors only had to set the bone, take an x-ray and then plaster it. They had also called her mom which had meant that the woman was there through it all lecturing Sam on why it was bad to be out at night and the dangers of riding on an old bike. No one had told her about the wrecked train cart beside which the EMT’s had found her and no one would.

“I’m sorry.” Said Valeri, twisting the bad around her wrist.

Frowning at her Sam took a moment to take the in the other person. She looked tired, her curly hair was a tangled mess and she looked like she wanted to disappear. “Sorry for what?” asked Sam. “It wasn’t your fault I got hurt.”

Valeri stopped twisting the band and looked up at Sam, meeting her eyes. “I went to the train yard to pick up your bike. I saw the plasma burns. You were fighting a ghost. And it’s not your responsibility it’s mine. I’m Amity Parks Ghost protector. But I was home sleeping while you needed me.” She lowered her eyes. “I’m Sorry.”

Crossing her arms Sam let out a snort. “Who asked you to protect me? I’m more then capable to protect myself.” She glared at Valeri, Anger thawing out the ice that had engulfed her after Danny’s death. “ And another thing. Don’t you dare feel guilty for taking care of yourself. Danny would burn himself out doing as much as you do and now you are doing all of his work as well as your own. Hell that’s what I admire about you Val, you are strong and independent. And you can manage to be a pain in Danny’s ass even when working two jobs, keeping your grades among the smartest and hunting ghosts.”

The pink blush  gave Valeri’s dark skin a bit of warmth which Sam hadn’t noticed was missing. Running her fingers through her hair Valeri made a face as it caught in one of her tangles. “You make me sound like some hero. But anyone can do what I do if they had ghost hunting gears like mine.” She said modestly.

“Danny had power similar to yours but he couldn’t do it.” Said Sam leaning forward to put a hand on Valeri’s knee. “Don’t take the world on your shoulders like he did, let us help you.” It wasn’t before Sam said it that she realized that Valeri had been ghost hunting all on her own for the last month. Hell even before that when Danny had lost his powers had she been fighting without their help.

Drawing a shaking breath Valeri straightened. “I’d like that.” Her eyes flickered to Sam’s leg. “I guess we’ll have to wait till your cast comes off thou.”

Huffing  Sam scooted over to the edge of her bed where she had the crutches propped against the wall. “There is more help than running around Amity in the night that you need.” She said standing up with a steady grip on her crutches as she hobbled over to her closet.

Ten minutes later she’d dressed and climbed down the stairs, with Valeri’s help. “I’m going out!” shouted Sam in to the rest of the house before they walked out and Valeri once again helped her down the steps to the front door. “By the time I learn to move around on these things the cast will have been taken off.”

Snickering Valeri let go of Sam as she reached the level of the street. “Don’t bet on it. It took my arm eight weeks before they took the cast off and I’m still weaker in it.” She made a fist showing of the muscles in her arm.

“Because you didn’t let yourself rest. Hadn’t Danny taken your suit you would have been out fighting and never let your bones heal.” Retorted Sam, a part of her wished she could stop talking about Danny while another wanted to keep him alive even if it was only in memory.

“Who’s to say I wasn’t out hunting ghosts. I still have a lot of my old gear that Vlad gave me.” Smiled Valeri as the two walked down the street.

Sam’s heart made a double beat and she looked up at Valeri. “You have ghost hunting equipment that’s not part of your suit?” she asked not wanting to ask for it, but her own equipment was lacking in many ways.

“One or two guns, flash grenades and a rifle which I never use. It’s not as fancy as the Fenton gear you guys have, but it got that killer instinct.” Shrugged Valeri having to walk a bit away from Sam or get hit by one of the crutches.

Licking her lips Sam fought back her pride, this was not the time to be a Manson. “I was forced to give the Fenton gear back. Mom and Dad made a raid of my room and school locker. The only thing I got left is this.” She held up the bracelet Danny had given her for Christmas. “And It tends to burn when taking even a partial hit.”

Blinking at her Valeri stopped a dug in her pockets coming out with a handful of metallic beads. “Here.” She said holding them out for Sam to take.

Stopping and balancing the crutches and herself on one hand she held out her hand accepting the beads. They were surprisingly heavy and cold. “Flash grenades?” she asked unable to think of whatever else they could bee.

“Magnesium based with some ectoplasmic twist. I was going to ask Da…” she stopped herself looking at Sam as if she’d been about to say something bad.

“You’d been about to ask Danny if he could reproduce them.” Supplied Sam stuffing the beads in her pocket. “I don’t mind if you say his name. Danny was a big part of all our lives and I know you liked him to.” She turned and started walking again. The truth was that she knew she was said that Danny was gone but it had all turned in to ice after the funeral taking all her emotions with it. It wasn’t before she saw Phantom again that she’d started to feel something. Just what that something was, she didn’t know.

They walked on in silence for a while longer before Valeri asked the question that’d clearly been burning on the tough for some time. “Where are we going?” Grinning at the other girl Sam said nothing and just kept going. When they stopped to cross the street Valeri narrowed her eyes. “If you turn right down this street I am going to leave you and go back home.”

“I am turning right and you are coming with me.” Declared Sam crossing the street.

Following her Valeri scowled. “These streets are expensive, I’m not taking charity from you.” She hissed sounding more like her old self.

“Of ours you’re not. You are going to let these people take care of you like you used to do.” Answered Sam, her hands were getting sore.

“And who’s going to pay?” Grumbled Valeri.

The smile grew even wider on Sam’s lips. “An admirer of the Red Huntress.” She said walking through the door to a hair dressers shop, one which she knew Valeri used to go to before her father lost everything.

Valeri grabbed Sam’s arm to try and stop her, but before she could say anything one of the hairdressers had seen them and recognized Valeri. After that Sam just paid them fast and the hairdressers were all to happy to pull Valeri in to a chair and start pampering her.

 “I am going to get you for this” Threatened Valeri. Sam couldn’t take it seriously thou because the girl had a blissful look on her face and was getting her hair washed and shampooed.

“Have you looked at yourself in a mirror lately? You are welcome by the way.” Sam had gotten herself a smoothie from a vegan vendor next door and was watching her friend relax the haunted expression on her face melting away as the hairdresser ran her long fingers over her scalp. “I’m going to look for something in another store, I’ll be back when you are finished.” She said to Valeri who waved a lazy hand in goodbye.

It hadn’t hit Sam before that day that while she had her greenhouse to help her relax, Tucker his computer and Danny his telescope. Valeri was completely consumed by school work, the job at Nasty Burger and the Pizza run as well as her ghost hunting job. She never mentioned doing anything to relax. Maybe she hung out with them sometimes and Tucker who’d showed her how to play Doom. But they had all been so in to themselves lately that neither of them thought of doing something fun or relaxing, least of all Valeri.

That’s what she would have to do from now on. Make sure Valeri didn’t kill herself trying to save them all. She was after all still human. As if Danny hadn’t been human. Well some parts of him had been inhuman, like the fact that he could still function after a night without sleep, or heal a broken bone in a week. No Valeri needed to find a way to relax, having someone fix her hair was one way of doing it. And like Sam’s mother always said, a woman always liked to getting pampered and feeling pretty. Sam couldn’t really believe she was taking advice from her mom, but it had worked on Valeri, maybe other things would work as well.

Sighing Sam jump-swung along the street heading for a good bookstore she knew. She was so engulfed in her plans of helping Valeri cope and take care of herself that she didn’t notice the dark figure following her until she stopped by a red light and he walked up to stand beside her.

At first she thought nothing of him, he was just an old man part of the background. An old man wearing a Dumpty Humpty t-shirt, something no one older than 24 would wear. Sam frowned at that and looked over at him. They were the same height, she was even an inch taller, and his eyes were a piercing lime green. “Do you like burgers?” he asked, looking straight at her.

Taken aback by the familiar face and the everyday question Sam responded without thinking. “Yes if its Ultra recyclo vegetari-“ her words were cut short as Phantom snaked an arm around her waist and they were suddenly off the ground.

Yelping Sam dropped the crutches and grabbed a hold of the ghost. “Wow. You don’t want to drop these.” Said Danny catching the crutches in his free hand.

Sam stared at him. He really was Danny. Everything from the way he’d lifted her of the ground to the steady beat under her palm was him. She couldn’t explain how she knew it, she just did. Holding on to him Sam breathed in the fresh air above the city, watching the buildings pass by under her. She’d missed flying with Danny.

They landed inside the Nasty Burger without anyone seeing them and Sam realized that he’d made them both invisible. “Stay here for a moment.” Said Danny leaving her sitting at their table her crutches propped against her chair.

She did watching him as he walked over to the line of costumers looking like any normal teenager who’d decided to bleach their hair. Heck he didn’t stand out at all because teenagers had started bleaching their hair in memory of the ghost boy, in memory of him. Danny ordered food and shoved his hands in his pockets after he’d paid, waiting.

Once he returned Sam was over the shock of seeing him and was formulating a list of questions, starting with. “Who are you?” Danny blinked at her question placing the salad he’d ordered for her on the table.

Putting down the soy-milkshake in front of Sam he sat down with two burgers for himself, a huge milkshake and french-fries. “Who do you think I am?” he asked back, very much like Danny did to people who wasn’t his friends.

“You are not Danny Fenton.” She answered. “But you act like him. Talk like him. Even pretend to be him with all that ghost fighting.”

“Who’s to say it’s pretense?” Retorted Danny, taking a big bite out of his burger.

“Because Danny is DEAD!” hissed Sam leaning across the table. “And if he wasn’t he would have told his friends sooner.”

Chewing his food, Danny swallowed before answering. “What’s the other alternatives?”

His question made her even angrier. Was he messing with her. Did he want to act like one of their teachers and make her come up with another answer, one which he knew to be right. Sitting back down Sam crossed her arms and watched him eat, taking the lid of his milkshake to dip the fries in it.

“Why are you still in your ghost form?” she asked instead of answering him. Two could play that game.

“I’m not.” He replied and shot a quick glance around them. They were in a corner, which had been the reason why they always liked sitting at that table. Few people looked their way and there wasn’t many diners in the restaurant. A brilliant white light appeared around Danny’s midriff. It split to reveal a black and white jumpsuit with the DP logo.

Danny only let the lights show part of his ghost form before he reverted back to the human in front of her. It took Sam a moment to find her words again, in which Danny took another huge bite out of his burger. “Why’s not your hair black?” she asked. It was a stupid question and she could probably have come up with a better one if she’d thought a bit longer.

“I don’t know, should it?” Said Danny with a shrug of his shoulders and another bite of his burger.

Poking her own food with a fork Sam pondered her next question. “What’s the last thing you remember?” she said slowly trying the words out as she spoke them.

Swallowing his mouthful Danny slurped his milkshake, his eyebrows knitting together. “What do you mean by last thing I remember?” He asked.

It took Sam a moment to realize her mistake. She’d assumed this Danny was the same Danny she knew, but he wasn’t because he would have contacted her sooner and told them all he was alright. This was obviously Danny’s ghost, who knew what happened to half-ghost when they died. “Okay, let me rephrase that. What’s the first thing you remember?”

“Ah!” Said Danny clearly getting the question now. “That would be the graveyard, or maybe even earlier, this green swirl of light and being warm.” He shrugged watching her expression. “Why did you want to know?”

Taking a bite out of her food Sam leaned back in her chair. “Because you look like Danny Phantom. Do you know who he is… was?” Sam corrected herself, hating talking about Danny in past tense.

Unwrapping his second burger Danny shrugged. “I mean, that is my name but I guess you are talking about the one everyone thinks I am.” Sam nodded feeling like they’d come back to her first question. “He was a hero right?” Sam nodded again. “All the ghosts I meat thinks it’s some sort of honor to take me down, or like the guy Skulker, to skin me and put it up like a trope on his walls.” He shivered. “I don’t know what this Danny did to piss that guy off but it must have been something seriously stupid to make Skulker keep that kind of grudge going.”

Shrugging Sam tasted her soy-milkshake. “All he did was accidentally become a half ghost and try and protect humans from the ghosts that were coming through the ghost-portal.”

“I see.” Answered Danny, “What’s a half-ghost?”

Sam chuckled and started explaining what a half-ghost was, and then what the ghost-zone was like. It became clearer by every question Danny asked that he wasn’t her Danny but only because he didn’t remember anything before standing in front of his own grave. It was honestly nice to talk to him about the ghost-zone and all of that. She couldn’t talk about it with her parents and Valeri already knew what she wanted to of the ghost-zone. The only time she’d ever talked openly about that part of her life had been with Danny who always liked to tell her and Tucker about new places he found in the zone ore new abilities he learned.

“Do you want to help me fight these ghosts?” Asked Danny when they’d both finished their meal.

Giving him a dry look Sam crossed her arms. “I don’t think you’ve noticed it but my leg is broken. I can’t run around after you or fight when they come after me.”

Raising from his seat Danny picked up the tray with the trash. “You don’t have to fight, just help me fight.” He said walking over to the recycling station throwing away the burger wrappers, leaving the tray for some worker to take care of. Walking back to Sam he held out his hand. “I mean you can give me information about these ghosts that I don’t have. You know them better than me right?”

Giving the question a moment’s thought Sam took Danny’s hand. “Alright, but I need gear if I’m going to help you and by the way you fight so do you.”

Chapter Text

Shivering Danny tugged off his pants and sat back down on the examination table. Dr Freedman was putting on a pair of gloves having run things through with Danny before he started. Danny had agreed to let the man have a closer look at the cut to his thigh.

“I see you followed my advice keeping the wounds clean and dry.” Noted the man, running his fingers gently over and around the bite-marks. “These are healing nicely.” He added and Danny knew what was bothering him. The wounds were healing too fast even if it was slower compared to what it had been before.

“Like I said. Just a scratch.” Yawned Danny. He’d been asleep when Angelica and Erik came to get him. Cujo had literally pushed Danny out of his bed to wake him, after which he’d broken up an argument between Amorphous, in the appearance of a mean looking worker, and Angelica.

Having left the circus without a drop of coffee Danny was only staying awake because of his nerves. Yawning widely and rubbing his eyes Danny watched Freedman as he wrote something in a notebook. “Right let’s have a look under the bandages.” He said.

Danny didn’t make any moves to help him, staying completely still as the doctor unwound the bandages. Removing the bloody dressings over the wounds Freedman wrinkled his nose. The stiches were still keeping the wound close and the skin around it was red and inflamed. “How much does it hurt?” asked the man poking the sides of the wounds.

A sharp jolt of pain shoot through Danny’s body and he stiffened. His reaction drew Freedman’s attention and he stopped poking. “Danny?” he asked when Danny didn’t say anything.

Letting out the breath that he’d been holding Danny shook his head. His mind had gone completely blank but from the pain. When his thoughts returned it was with the knowledge that his constant companion had influenced his thinking in some way. “Danny?” Repeated Freedman, his eyes fixed on Danny’s.

“It hurts.” He responded slowly. “But I don’t mind it.” The pain from wounds inflicted by the Ripper’s own sword was what kept the ghost locked away in the back of his mind.

“Aha.” Said the man slowly. “I’m going to clean these as best I can and put a dressings on it. But you’ll have to keep it clean and dry. And preferably put it up and rest. Overusing an injured limb will only lead to lasting consequences.”

“I know.” Muttered Danny rubbing his aching head, another side effect of having the ghost stuck in his head and going without coffee.

“Can you tell me how you got this?” asked Freedman collecting the things he needed to clean and dress the wounds from his cupboards.

“Knife thrower at the circus missed his target.” Said Danny, noting to himself that the closes to a knife thrower they had was Amorphous who juggled with blades and things Youngblood threw to him.

“This happened more than once?” Freedman placed the tray on the table beside Danny. When he didn’t answer the man indicated the white scar beside the new wound, they were similar in shape and made by the same weapon only this time Danny had actually managed to miss the veins, nerves and bone.

“That was just a maniac taking a stab at me.” Said Danny, liking that metaphor because it was the truth yet no one believed it.

“Not the same maniac who’s throwing knifes I assume?” asked Freedman cleaning the skin around the entry and exit wound.

“Unfortunately it was.” Said Danny.

The doctor hesitated in his work for a moment before continuing. “Is this something I should be concerned about?” he asked picking up a pair of tweezers, which he used to pluck out pieces of fabric from the wound.

“No.” sighed Danny. A nerve was twitching uncomfortably in his leg. He rubbed his face wishing he was back in his dark train cart and the soft bed where he could sleep undisturbed for as long as he liked.

“Is something wrong with your eyes?” asked Freedman using something cold around the edges of the wound.

“No.” Yawned Danny. “Why do you ask?” He was just making small talk to keep himself awake by now.

“You are rubbing your eyes a lot and they look a bit swollen.” Said Freedman placing new dressings over the wounds.

“I haven’t had my coffee yet this morning.” He grumbled. “And I was sort of sleeping like the dead fifteen minutes ago.”

“Aaa.” The man smiled. “You were up late yesterday?” he asked nodding for Danny to put his pants on again.

“No just couldn’t sleep.” Answered Danny, sliding off the table. He wasn’t about to tell this man that he had woken up twice that night from nightmares of a burning building and his sister standing among the flames. No if he did that the man was defiantly going to make a big deal out of it and contact other people that he didn’t want to meet. “Was there anything else you wanted?” asked Danny zipping up his pants.

“If you could be back in a week, I’d like to have another look at your leg. It doesn’t look infected but it isn’t good ether.” Said Freedman.

Danny nodded stifling another yawn. “See you then.” He muttered leaving the small examination room. Coming back to the waiting room Danny found Erik waiting there but no Angelica. His mind started running down scenarios to why she wasn’t there as he walked up to Erik.

“Dud you look like hell.” Greeted Erik giving Danny one of his standard hugs.

“…ang…ka.” murmured Danny in to Erik’s chest.

Giggling Erik let go of Danny and ruffled his hair. “She’s outside talking to someone on the phone.” Danny stiffened again straining his ears to hear the woman outside. “Don’t worry thou, she’s probably talking to one of the others at the house.”

Hearing something that sounded like gibberish from the outside Danny gave up listening. His leg was doing better so he could run if he had to and he was still good at disappearing as soon as no one payed him any attention.

“You want to come with us back to the house?” asked Erik sounding like he knew Danny would say no and didn’t want him to.

Rubbing his face Danny shook his head. “Naa, I’d rather find some place around here that has good coffee and waffles.” He said trying to make it sound like an invitation. He wanted to spend as much of his free time with Erik seeing as he didn’t have any other friends around the place.

“There’s an Ihop not far from here.” Suggested Erik, pointing with his thumb in the direction. “You want me to show you the way?”

“Please do, my brain is working on backup power, I don’t think I could remember directions if you gave them to me.” Smiled Danny waving at Erik to lead the way.

When they walked out Angelica stopped her heated argument with the person on the other end of the line, covered the receiver and looked at them. “Did it go alright?” she asked Danny who only nodded in response.

“We are going to Ihop, I’ll be back later okay.” Said Erik his hand grabbing Danny’s.

Angelica seemed to think about it for a moment before she nodded. “Be back before eight, you have school tomorrow.” She turned to Danny. “You are welcomed back to the house as well, feel free to drop by at anytime.”

Giving no response Danny tugged at Erik’s hand signaling for him to start walking. They left Angelica to get back to her conversation and Danny could hear parts of the it that he didn’t like. Either they were talking about one of her charges or they were talking about him. Either way he didn’t like it.

But for the moment he was safe, there was no way Erik would betray him, he just wasn’t that sort of person. Said person tapped Danny’s shoulder drawing him out of his own thoughts. “Are you falling asleep on your feet again?” he asked grinning down at him.

Returning the smile Danny shook his head. “No, Sorry.” He scratched the back of his head. “I guess I’m not used to having someone to talk to.” Which was true, after all he spent a lot of his time keeping the Ripper ghost at bay and talking to him forgetting that there were other people around him with whom he could talk to.

“Thought so. So could you tell me what it’s like working on a circus. Is it as bad as everyone says it is?” Asked Erik ignoring Danny’s laps in concentration.

They were still talking by the time they reached the restaurant and only stopped long enough for them both to order something, Danny payed, having money to spend from working at the circus. He was explaining to Erik how they put up flyers around each town they went to and then did a flashmob at the local high school to draw people to the show. “We do it at a close by mall as well, that’s pretty fun. Except for this one time when a woman had a heart attack because Kitty fell from this high wire we’d strung up.” He forgot to add that he’d been the one to cut the wire.

“Cool.” Grinned Erik chewing on his paper cup. “You’ll do a flash mob at my school then? When?”

“Have to fix the tent first.” Said Danny through a mouth full of waffles. The coffee had done the trick and the food was adding to his energy reserves. “Probably Thursday if everything goes as planned. Then we’ll put up three maybe four shows. Friday one, Saturday two and Sunday one. Then we’ll leave.”

Erik stopped chewing his mug. “Wait! You’ll be gone in a week!” He exclaimed drawing stares from the rest of the diners.

“Basically.” Shrugged Danny, dipping his piece of waffle in whipped cream and jam.

“Why can’t you stay longer. This place attracts a lot of tourists when the summer vacation begins. We only have two more weeks of school, if you put up a show next weekend then you won’t get as many students as you would if you do it the week after.” Erik was crushing the mug in his hands and Danny wondered why it was so important for him.

Then again Danny didn’t want to leave either, the last month he’d spent not living at all just doing the show, eating, sleeping and fighting back the Ripper. If he could get Freakshow to postpone the shows one more week he might get to live something that resembled a life for two weeks. It wouldn’t be much and as soon as the shows started he would have to be really careful when hanging out with Erik, but it would be worth it.

“Is there a library here that’s open on Sundays?” asked Danny, If he was going to convince Freakshow of staying longer he would have to show that it was worth it.

Erik made a face. “No, people around here don’t read books.” He looked to the side and Danny tilted his head in question. “I have a computer back home, if it’s internet you need we can use that one.”

Weighing his options, the pro’s of staying against the con’s of going he could see that there wasn’t much of a choice, he wanted to have more time as himself. “Alright, but I’m going to have another order of waffles.” He said getting up from the table.

Chapter Text

Mornings were cruel. That was the god honest truth. Sam could wake up after 11am and feel like she could run all the way to school. She didn’t have a problem rising together with the sun, it was when the sun rose before her that she woke up on the wrong side of the bed. That and the fact that she’d spent all night trying to contact Tucker. She’d finally gotten a hold of him for the first time in a month.

That was why she and Valeri, both yawning, were standing outside the Foley house at the unholy hour of 7:10 am. Plenty of time to drag Tucker out of his cave and in to the light of day. Hopefully they could get him to join them in school for a couple of hours. If not they were going to come by every day until he did.

It had been Valeri’s idea to get Tucker out and in to the world of the living. Together they’d managed to invade his computer, phone and PDA with messages from them. Now all they waited for was Mrs Foley to open the door.

“Maybe knock again.” Suggested Sam. She’d dug out a pair of black leather gloves with their fingers cut off, just to stop her hands from developing blisters and making it impossible for her to move around on her own.

“I could just fly up to his window and knock there instead.” Said Valeri, running her fingers through her hair. When Sam had rejoined her the other day she hadn’t just gotten her hair trimmed and restyled. It had been cut off to end just below her chin. The new style suited Valeri and as she said was less work to keep clean and looking good.

They knocked on the door again and this time heard a response from the other side. A moment later Mrs Foley opened the door. “Oh, Hi there.” She greeted them, smiling warmly. “Tucker didn’t mention that you were coming by.”

“That figures.” Said Valeri lending Sam a shoulder for her to hold on to as they walked up the two steps to the door.

“What happened?” Asked Mrs Foley seeing the cast around Sam’s leg and the crutches she held.

“I fell of my bike. Fortunately I didn’t hit my head. Now I know why I should wear a helmet.” Responded Sam with a quick smile. “We are just going to talk to Tucker, he’s up in his room right?”

The woman’s eyes turned sad for a moment before they brightened again. “Yes. If you can get him to come down to breakfast I would be grateful.”

The two girls stopped at the stairs and looked at Mrs Foley. “Wait, what are you saying?” asked Valeri her hand on Sam’s waist tightened. “Is Tucker alright?”

Pausing for a moment Mrs Foley shook her head. “I don’t know. I’m glad that you two are here. He has been spending all his time on the internet and not even come down to eat.” She twisted her apron. “If you can get him out of his room and back to the real world I would be grateful, otherwise I don’t know what I’ll do.”

Sam’s own hand tightened on Valeri’s shoulder. A week ago she too had locked herself away from the world, thinking that it was worst for her who’d loved Danny but maybe she’d been wrong. Danny had been Tucker’s best pal, they were always working together. Where one went the other would follow. Maybe they shouldn’t have given Tucker as much space as they had. Her parents sure hadn’t given her as much space as she’d liked but it had been good for her to rejoin the world.

With Valeri’s help they made it up the stairs. Tucker’s room was at the end of the upstairs hall, a plate of food stood outside the door. They exchanged a look before knocking. Hearing no response Sam pressed her ear against the door while Valeri peeked through the keyhole.

“The computer is on.” Reported Valeri.

“How can you tell?” asked Sam not hearing anything from inside the room.

“Those stupid lights he’s got inside the computer, they always turn on when the computer’s on.” Explained Valeri straightening. She tried the door but it was locked. “You don’t happen to have the key do you?” she asked.

“No but I have this.”  Sam held out a screwdriver she’d kept in her bag.

“I don’t think that’ll work. It needs a key.” Said Valeri stepping to the side letting Sam get at the keyhole.

“I know that. That’s why I’m taking apart the lock.” She had the screws lose in a second, another and she had the door unlocked.

“Who taught you to do that?” Asked Valeri opening the door.

“Youtube.” Smiled Sam following Valeri in to the room. Inside the only light came from the computer and it’s screen. The windows were covered and after her eyes adjusted Sam could see the whole mess. It was normal for Tucker to have a messy room with clothes strewn around the floor, together with cables, computer parts, empty soda bottles, books and late homework. Now there was an added layer of empty cup ramen packages, chips bags, burger wrappers and pieces of every Fenton invention he had.

“Tucker?” Called Valeri, lifting her right hand where the Huntress suit covered it in a glove. A soft red light emanated from it clearing the shadows.  “Tucker?” repeated Valeri taking a step inside.

Sam had to push the rubble out of her way before putting down her crutches, wrinkling her nose at the smell. Tucker clearly hadn’t left his room much in day’s and the stench if anything confirmed it. Poking a mound of blankets on the floor Sam felt resistance that didn’t match the clothes she’d pushed out of the way. “Hey Tuck.” She said poking the mound harder.

Bending down to inspect the mound Valeri tugged at the top blanket. Something, or rather someone moved under the blanket. “Tucker, get up!” Ordered Valeri her words harder than Sam had ever heard before.

There was a muttered noise from under the blankets and it moved. Tucker’s head emerged squinting in the, for him, bright light. If Valeri had looked like a mess two days earlier it was nothing compared to what Tucker looked like. His hair had grown wild, there were large bags and shadows under his bloodshot eyes. In the red light from Valeri’s suit his skin looked pale and pasty.

“Wa…t…ku.” Croaked Tucker rubbing his eyes. He licked his lips and squinted around the room patting the floor beside him.

Spotting Tucker’s glasses on the floor a foot away from him Sam pointed them out to Valeri. “Got you.” She snatched the glasses up and placed them in Tucker’s hand. “Here you go.” She said her voice soft and gentle, the complete opposite to how it had been before.

“Thanks.” Whispered Tucker pushing the glasses on to his nose. He blinked up at them. “What are you doing here?” he asked, his voice raspy.

Crossing her arms Sam leaned against the door post. “We are here to bring you out of this dark cave you’ve crawled in to.”

“Ugh. What’s it to you. What is it to any of you.” He pushed himself up grabbing on to the computer chair as he stumbled. “Leave me alone.”

“Leaving you alone is what we’ve done. Has that helped? I don’t think so. Look at yourself Tucker. When was the last time you showered.” Valeri grabbed his arm forcing him to look at her. “I miss you.” She said in a small voice and Sam suddenly had the feeling that she shouldn’t be there, that this was a conversation between the two of them.

As quietly as she could Sam snuck out of the room giving them some privacy.

“What do you want from me. I can’t go to school. I don’t have the…” Tucker waved a hand at his head. “There’s no reason for it.”

Glaring at him Valeri lifted her chin. “And what’s the reason for you to shut us out. It’s not like we don’t grieve him as well.”

Tucker returned Valeri’s glare. “What do you know about it. My best friend is gone and it’s all my fault. So leave me be!” He shoved Valeri back causing her to stumble and trip over some gadget he’d been building.

Hissing as she hit the floor Valeri lost the concentration on her light. In the hard shadows from the hall lamp Tucker’s face was unrecognizable. “There’s nothing you two can do.” He walked over to his bed, laying down and pulling the blanket over himself again.

Letting out an exasperated noise Valeri scrambled to her feet stumping out to the hall. “Let’s go.” She snarled stopping at the top of the stairs for Sam.

Hesitating Sam looked from Valeri to Tucker’s room. She didn’t want to leave Tucker. Now that she finally was face to face with him she couldn’t just let him crawl back in to his hole. “You go ahead. I might be able to talk him out of his room.” She said hopping towards the door.

Sniffing Valeri walked down the stair leaving Sam to talk to Tucker. Walking in to Tucker’s room Sam took her time watching her placements of the crutches.  Reaching the bed Sam sat down beside Tucker, using a crutch to push away the curtains from the window. The sunlight which she hated flooded the room showing the mess in an all new light and not for the better.

The form under the blanket curled up in to a ball hissing at the light. Rolling her eyes Sam pushed herself back against the wall taking in the pieces of Fenton gear Tucker had been taking apart. It looked like he was building something, not just randomly breaking stuff as she’d first thought. “What are you building?” She asked.

There was a mumbled noise from under the blanket. “Sorry can’t hear you.” Chimed Sam poking Tucker. He made another noise. “Say that again?”

Throwing the blanket of his head Tucker glared at her. “Didn’t you hear me.” He snarled.

“I did and I don’t give a shit. You know why?” She leveled her eyes on Tucker. Lowering her voice to a whisper Sam smiled. “Because Danny isn’t gone.”

Blinking slowly at her Tucker seemed unable to understand her words. Scowling at her he reached for the curtains pulling them close. “He’s dead, we were at the funeral. If you can’t accept it then you can send me a picture of the pyramids.”

Scuffing Sam nudged him. “Says the Pharaoh. I’m not kidding Tucker. I’ve meet his ghost. Go on the computer and see for yourself others spotted him.”

“Yeah sure, Danny’s dead Sam, do you hear me. He is gone. Not coming back. Because if he was still ghosting around he would have contacted us, his best friends. Do you think he would let us be this miserable if he was alive?” Tucker rubbed at his eyes. “I’ve tried Sam.” He added staring in to the wall.

“He hasn’t contacted us because he doesn’t remember us. He can’t remember anything before waking up at the cemetery two weeks ago.” Explained Sam wanting Tucker to see what she saw. Their friend wasn’t dead, he just had amnesia.

Letting out a hiss Tucker glared at her. “Stop dreaming Sam. He had no powers and his body was burnt to a crisp. They had to use dental records and scrape out some DNA to identify him. I don’t think even a half ghost can come back from that.”

Sam felt a shiver go through her and she stared down at her friend. “How do you know that?” she asked rubbing her arms. She had a feeling she wasn’t going to like the answer.

“Hacked the medical examiner’s office, watched the…gulp…The autopsy.” He finished looking awfully green.

Balling her hands in to fists Sam’s imagination treated her to images of a man cutting up a burnt corps as he spoke in a detached voice. She’d seen movies like that and thought nothing of the dummy they’d used instead of a corps. But the thought of knowing who that corps had been in life while watching it all made her sick. It was no wonder Tucker had fallen silent after the funeral, he’d seen his best friends remains get… Sam forced herself not to think about it or she would throw up.

Instead she grabbed Tucker’s arm and tugged at him. “Come on, you are going down for breakfast.” She ordered.

“Don’t want to.” Grumbled Tucker pulling his arm out of her grip.

Sighing Sam fell back against the wall. “I get it Tuck. But it’s not for your sake I want you to go down to breakfast. It’s for Valeri’s sake.” She said trying to get Tucker to think about someone else than himself. It had worked for her, why shouldn’t it work for him.

“What’s wrong with Val?” asked Tucker sounding maybe a bit more interested than he had before.

“Didn’t you see her just now?” retorted Sam wondering if Tucker was paying attention to anything anymore. He shook his head. “She’s burning herself out. She’s fighting ghosts all the time and when she isn’t she’s in school or working one or two jobs. I’m amazed that she hasn’t hit a wall yet. Thou she was close to one the other day.”

Tucker gave her a confused look. “What?” he asked.

Letting out an annoyed noise Sam stood up arranging her hands and arms over the crutches. Tucker’s eyes landed on them and moved down to her leg. “What happened?” he asked sitting up. If she’d done anything she’d at least awakened his empathy center of the brain.

“I learned not to climb on top of train carts. Are you going to help me down the stairs or do I have to fall down them too?” She said.

Slowly Tucker got out of bed and walked with Sam to the stairs before offering his shoulder to her. They descended the stairs to the kitchen where Mrs Foley was talking to Valeri over a cup of coffee. When the woman saw her son a bright smile light up her face and Sam had to duck out of the way or get crushed by the hug that was aimed for Tucker.

No words were said but it was all too clear that this had been what Tucker needed. The tears rolling down his cheeks were enough to tell them that.

Chapter Text

“BBQ?” asked Danny scrubbing the large pot in which they’d served that day’s lunch, creamed cauliflower with a side order of crispy bacon.

“Yes.” Said Kilroy. The huge man was scrubbing the frying table, his shirt sleeves rolled up to show fading and new tattoos on his forearms. “Also bleach to clean this kitchen out.”  He ran a nail through one of the cracks between the table and wall. “It’s a wonder no one’s got a stomach bug from eating the food prepared in here.”

“Why do you always have to make me the errand-boy?” Grinning Danny started the tap, rinsing the pot before putting it out to dry.

Brushing down the dirty water in to a bucket Kilroy shrugged. “You reminds me of my son. Always lazing about and eating everything in the fridge before it gets to the table.”

“Okay anything else while I’m there?” he asked rolling down the sleeves of his own thin shirt, he’d removed the bracelets in order to help in the kitchen and was enjoying the full range of movements of his wrists again. The only problem with not wearing the tacky jewelry was that one could see the fresh scars and healing cuts on his wrists, which was why he wore the long sleeved shirt even on such a warm day.

“We’ve got the meat and corn, all I need is lighter fluid to get the dammed barbecue started. Thing takes half the night just to get hot otherwise.” The man straightened smiling at Danny. “I would have gotten some last time I went shopping but forgot.”

Rolling his eyes Danny crossed the room. “You always forget something, last time it was the oil for frying bacon in, the time before that s chilly for your spicy curry which was not spicy.” Hanging up his apron on a peg by the door Danny grinned at Kilroy. “And let’s not forget the bicarbonate, I never seen you use it.”

Shaking his head Kilroy grinned. “Kid this is a circus, we lose stuff all the time. Get going now, I’ll need those two things before people starts a riot over supper.”

Jumping down from the train cart Danny looked back at the cook. “If I don’t get back just ask Jonny for a light, he’s got no problem starting a barbecue.” He started toward the edge of the circus ground shaking his head at the elaborate Halloween decorations. “Freakshow sure is making this in to Tim Burton’s Halloween town.” He muttered.

Reaching the entrance to the circus Danny stopped, put two fingers in his mouth and blew a sharp whistle. Cujo responded almost immediately running through any obstacle in his way without breaking them, coming to a final halt in front of Danny. “Hey buddy, I’m leaving for town, you coming?” he asked scratching the dog behind the ear.

Barking Cujo pawed the ground before sitting down. “I take that as a no.” Sighed Danny, his shoulders sagging. He’d gotten used to having the dog around when he was out and somehow didn’t feel safe without him by his side. “See you around.” He said giving Cujo a last scratch behind the ears.

Stretching his arms above his head Danny rested them behind his neck. The sky was clear, the sun hot and the wind non excitant. Had he been home in Amity Park he, Sam and Tucker would have gone to the water park cooling off in the pools. No doubt a ghost would attack and chase people away, leaving them to swim in any pool they wanted, no standing in lines.

Dreaming about how he would have spent the day in Amity Danny walked in to town heading towards the store he’d spotted before. It was a Monday and people were at work or going about their business. It wasn’t like walking through town in the evenings when no one was around, but similar in a way. Fewer people crowded the streets and traffic was slow making the town feel calm and sleepy.

Reaching the store Danny wondered around the shelves. Finding the bleach and lighter fluids he stopped by the snack shelves by the cashiers. Taking a soda bottle from a shelf Danny payed for the stuff going out in to the warm air again. “How I wish I still had my ice powers.” He sighed whipping the sweat from his brow. Then again he never had the pleasure of feeling warm when his ghost powers worked, if he was warm then it was because he had a fever, caused by an infection no doubt. Being warm now was nice.

Turning down a smaller back way Danny opened the bottle and sipped at the soda. The sound behind the stores and restaurants were calmer, the buildings muffling the noise from the streets. The smells were however much more noticeable, the vents to the restaurants kitchen were letting out the most wonderful aromas of frying food spiced in many ways. Then again there was the acidic and sweet stench of rotting vegetables and whatever trash the restaurants were throwing out. It was a smell that was universal to all alleys no matter in what town one was in.

Letting his feet guide him through the backstreets Danny didn’t realize he was following a noise until he turned down a dead end. There were a couple of teenagers standing around something small that was making a loud whining noise. The teenagers laughed and Danny heard the distinct hiss of a spray can, he could even see a few in a box by a wall with unfinished graffiti.

Picking up his pace Danny was almost on top of the teenagers when they noticed him. “LOOK OUT!” Shouted the taller of the teenager flinching back as Danny swung the shopping bag at the nearest one. Hitting one of the teenagers he got him to back away, another backed off and the third got an elbow in the face from Danny.

Following his movement through Danny let go of the shopping bag he swung a fist at the guy who’d managed to back off. The guy flinched swinging his hands up spraying at him with the paint they’d used to torture the dog. The paint sprayed across Danny’s shirt and hit him in the face just as he smacked the guy in on the jaw.

Spitting and sneezing Danny whipped at his mouth ducking his head as one of them swung at him. He did not see the larger teen move up behind him kicking his right thigh. Letting out a scream Danny feel to his knees, managing to avoid crushing the dog which was still stuck to a crate by a rope around his neck.

Biting his lip Danny grabbed the dog protecting it from the kicks that rained down on him. Ignoring the hit’s as best he could Danny removed the rope around the neon-green painted dogs neck letting it run away. That done he got his left foot under himself and rolled out of the danger-zone coming up to a crouch. “You are just asking for a beating!” Snarled the larger teenager who was clearly the groups leader.

“That’s coming from bastards who are torturing a dog.” Snarled Danny showing his own fangs. He recognized the teenagers as the ones who’d been bullying Erik the night they meet.

The leader Stef seemed to recognize Danny as well and grind wider. “Well look at this, the Faggots boyfriend showed up. Where’s your dog? Did it run away?” The teen waved at the others to surround Danny, they’d done this sort of thing before.

“Oh he’s around.” Danny lunged forward out of the way from one of the teens. Grabbing one of the bottles that had fallen out of the bag he swung it at an attacking teen. The bottle missed as the teen dodge swinging a fist at him.

Trying to avoid the hit Danny put his weight on his right leg. Pain shot through his leg and he tried to return his balance to the left one. Fingers tangled in Danny’s hair pulling his head back hard, causing him to lose his balance. “Fuck, you are slippery, you bastard.” Hissed the teen holding him.

Growling Danny grabbed on to his hand and using a move he’d seen his mom teach Jazz, twisted the teen’s hand out of his hair and in to a painful angle. He was about to get up when Stef landed a kick on his chest drawing an explosion of breath from him. Danny let go of the teen’s hand curling up, his ribs feeling like they were on fire. “You’re right, a little worm this is.” Stef kicked him again.

Gritting his teeth Danny pushed himself up to his hands and feet. Another hand grabbed his hair pulling him up again. “Looks like we’ve found another beast to play with.” Grinned one of the other teenagers.

“What should we do, beat him in to a pulp?” huffed another one digging out a pack of cigarettes, sticking one in his mouth.

Getting his left leg under himself Danny grabbed the arm of the one holding him. “No you don’t.” Snarled Stef swinging a blow at his face. Danny had expected that and kicked of the ground getting more lift than he expected. He planted his foot at Stef’s chest pushing himself and the guy behind him back.

The guy holding his hair stumbled and tripped over the box they’d tied the dog to. Both feel back, Danny tried to hit the ground with his back and roll away, only his captor caused him to land on his shoulder instead. There was a crunch and an all too familiar plop. Pain flared up in Danny’s shoulder and he bit down on a cry.

Rolling out of the way of another hit Danny’s eyes landed on the bottle of lighter fluids. Holding his left arm close to his body, minimizing the pain Danny rose glaring at the four teenagers. “I have a piece of advice for you. Get lost.” The response was a round of laugher and the guy with the cigarette pulled out his lighter.

Knowing that he could move even through the pain dashed for the teen with the bad smoking habit tackling him to the ground. Swinging a fist at the guy’s face he fumbled for his true target with the other hand. The blow only glanced the guy’s cheek but it was enough to cause the head to snap to the side, not enough to do any permanent damage.

Lifting his fist to swing it again Danny was stopped by the other goons who helpfully dragged him of their friend. Letting them pull him closer to one of his targets Danny chose his moment to fall down just as Stef swung at him. Pulling the two others forward resulted in one of them getting hit on the collarbone and the other to let go of Danny.

Grabbing the dropped bottle Danny didn’t bother with the childproof cap, he didn’t have the needed movability of his left arm to hold it anyways, besides his hands were full. Instead he bit down on the cap and tore it off without any trouble. Spiting out the cap Danny splashed lighter fluid on the next person who came at him, aiming for the body avoiding their eyes. The guy swung a fist at him and Danny tock the punch rolling with it and emptying more of the bottle around him and on the others.

They all were thoroughly angered by then and came at Danny who felt the broad grin spread across his face as he held up the lighter. “You don’t want to do that.” He warned showing them the label of the nearly empty bottle.

That got them to halt and look down at their clothes. Stef even followed the trail on the ground back to where Danny was pouring out the rest of the fluid. “You are not going to do it.” He sneered.

“You care to try me. I have no problem with fire, do you?” Leered Danny shifting his weight. If they called his bluff he was going to have to get out of the way. Then again what use was it bluffing.

The guy who he’d stolen the lighter from dug in his pockets coming out with another. He flicked it and flame appeared. “He’s got the old one. It’s not working.” He smiled stepping towards Danny. The others followed him.

Taking a painful deep breath Danny ignored the sinking feeling in his stomach. He flicked the steel on the lighter and getting a metallic taste in his mouth he forced a green flame to appear. Meeting the eyes of the leader Danny dropped the lighter flame still burning.

“RUN!” shouted one of the goons.

They all spun around and ran away, their tails between their legs.

A light klick of the lighter hitting the ground reached Danny’s ears but it took him a while to register what it meant. Blinking down on the plastic thing he absently noted that the ghost-light had gone out. Just as he noticed the lighter he also became aware of the pains of his body.

Flopping down on the ground Danny bent forward breathing through his teeth. There was a chemical taste in his mouth and his skin felt sticky. Shaking from the pain and exhaustion of the fight Danny scolded himself for starting it.

What had he been thinking taking on four bullies alone and injured to boot. Sure hadn’t he’d been kicked at the beginning of the fight he might have thought the bastards a lesson. As it was he’d probably popped some of the stiches, re-cracked his ribs if not broken them and dislocated his shoulder. Giving said shoulder a light prodding with his fingers he confirmed his own suspicion.

“And all for a dog.” He muttered. Casting a look around the place Danny couldn’t see the animal. It was probably for the best or it would get captured and tortured again. “All for a dog.” Repeated Danny rubbing the back of his head.

His head was bussing with half formed thoughts. What should he do next? Finish Kilroy’s erend? Take a shower? Call for help? He sure as hell couldn’t walk back. Did he want to walk back? No. Something about going back to the circus as he was screamed danger to Danny. But he couldn’t stay where he was, he needed help. If not with getting back then at least with his shoulder. He’d never payed much attention to Sam when she fixed it being to fixated on the pain to do anything else.

Tears stung in his eyes at the thought of turning to his friends and family for help. He missed them now more than ever. “You can’t go back. Just forget about them.” He told himself, voice thick with emotions.

It took him a moment to push back the homesickness and get to his feet. He couldn’t go back to the circus just yet, there was someone he needed to help him. Fortunately it wasn’t far to walk and he could make it if he concentrated on blocking out the pain. Three years of getting hurt and hiding the pain from his parents was a lot of experience in managing the his pain and if he wasn’t a master at it without his powers at least he wasn’t half bad.

Chapter Text

Having known from a very young age that she wanted to help people Angelica had studied to become a nurse only to find that when she’d finished study and started working that she didn’t like working as a nurse. It wasn’t that she didn’t get to help people, it was that she never got to see things through to the end. She’d worked with sick people, old people and even the mentally ill. Nothing made her feel like she did a difference.

Nothing until she became the housemother for one of the stats foster homes. Oh the teenagers had tried her at first, playing cruel pranks on her and making it hard to find any joy in her work. But slowly she’d gained their trust and found that they had just been scared. And who could blame them, they were cast out from any kind of safety net that might have made it easier for them.

The only part of her work which she still didn’t like was the paper work. She’d never been good with numbers but had to balance the economy for the house every week, plan for birthdays and school holidays, as well as unforeseen expenses.

Then there was the paper work on the children themselves. She didn’t put anything on paper that could be damaging to their future or placed under secrets. It made for short notes but hours of work evaluating what she could write down.

The file she was working on however did not belong to any of her children and in all honesty couldn’t be counted as a file just yet. She’d gotten Dr Freedman’s notes on his last meeting with Danny the day before. They were interesting in that that the doctor had noted the same things as she had.

Suspicious, kind, shy, answers questions with questions, afraid, not 18. It all made Angelica wonder what he’d been through to make him that way. Erik didn’t want to tell her anything of how they meet, but he had confided in her that he was different from when they’d known each other. He was never clear in what way Danny was different thou and Angelica wanted to know. Ether to help him or protect her own charges.

The doorbell rang drawing Angelica from her thoughts. All of the kids were at school and not due back for another hour leaving her alone in the house. Pushing herself up from her comfortable work chair she headed towards the front of the house. The bell kept on ringing making her suspect that one of the neighbors young kids were pulling a prank on her. “If this is another ding dong dash I am going to snap your necks and put you in my stew!” She called as she walked up to the door.

Opening the door she was ready to run after whatever kid had been pranking her. Only her path was blocked by a short teenager that smelled of paint and petroleum. Danny lifted his chin, green and blue eyes meeting her calmly. “I … would you.” He made a frustrated noise closing his eyes. Something green was smeared across his face and neck. “Can I come in?” he asked saying each word slowly, as if they were hard to pronounce.

Angelica blinked at that “Um…Sure, come in.” She said, surprised that he’d asked. She stepped to the side holding open the door for him to enter. As soon as he moved she saw that something was wrong. He held himself stiffly limping heavily on his right leg. Blood stained his pants and she saw a clear shoe print on the back of his dark shirt.

“Dear God what happened?” she asked closing the door. She reached out to help him walk in to the living room but hesitated. Some of her charges didn’t like it when she touched them and she’d seen Danny draw away from physical contact before.

Again Danny closed his eyes pronouncing his words slowly. “Idiots who… got lucky.” He said shaking from the strain of keeping himself upright.

Throwing cautions to the wind Angelica grabbed Danny’s right hand and supported him as she led them in to the living room. He didn’t protest and sank slowly down on the couch, droplets of sweat rolling down his face and plastering the hair to his skin. “Thanks.” Said Danny pulling his hand out of her hold wrapping his arm protectively over the left one which he held close to his chest.

Sinking down on her heels, Angelica put herself on eyelevel with him. She fixed Danny’s eyes with her own before asking once more. “What happened?”

Biting his lower lip Danny dug his fingers in to the fabric of his shirt. “A dog.” He said.

“Your dog?” asked Angelica hoping that nothing had happened to Danny’s companion. He shook his head. “Someone else’s dog?” Danny shrugged with one shoulder. “What did it do?” she asked, knowing full well that a dog couldn’t have caused the injuries she was seeing on him.

“Paint, idiots was hurting it… should have though things through.” He shut his eyes breathing hard. It was clear that he needed help before she could ask him any more questions.

“Alright Danny look at me.” She ordered in her best housemother voice. He cracked open a blue eye to look at her. “Where does it hurt?”

Closing his eye again Danny lifted his right hand tapping his left shoulder lightly, then the thigh and then put it back around his arm holding it in place. “Okay. I’m going to take a look at your shoulder, tell me if it hurts and I’ll stop.” She said reaching for him.

Danny’s hand grabbed hers before she could lay a finger on him. He had both eyes fixed on her and the hand holding hers was shaking and cold. “It’s dis… isloc.” He closed his eyes again pronouncing the word he wanted. “Dislocated.” He said letting go of her.

Lowering her hands Angelica nodded. “Okay. Okay.” She took a deep breath. “You need a doctor.” She said. It had been years since she even assisted in relocating a dislocated shoulder. She didn’t even know if she remembered how to do it.

Pulling a face Danny scraped his nails against the shirt sleeve. “I’m calling Dr Freedman. Don’t worry.” She added hurriedly. If Luke decided that Danny needed a hospital or clinic then he could drive Danny there. She was not going to break what little trust the boy was giving her.

Getting up Angelica felt Danny’s eyes on her as she left the room retrieving her phone from the office. She dialed Freedman’s number as she walked through the kitchen grabbing the first aid kit from the bathroom. The phone was still ringing as she returned to the living room pushing the coffee table closer to the couch. “Put your leg up.” She told Danny who obeyed.

The ringing tone ended and Angelica heard a rustling noise followed by a mumbled “Hallo?” It was just typical of Luke to be sleeping in the middle of the day. She bet he hadn’t done much work at all that day.

“It’s Angelica.” She said, “I need you to make a house call.”

There was a grumbled noise from the other end of the line. “Is it Angus?” he asked.

“No.” sighed Angelica grateful that it wasn’t Angus for a change. “Danny is here with a possible dislocated shoulder and bleeding leg.” She gave him a look receiving an innocent shrug from Danny.

There was a pause from Luke in which she could hear a rustling sound. “I’ll be by your house in five minutes.” He yawned and then added. “Make that seven I need coffee.”

“Alright. See you.”  Said Angelica hanging up the phone. She sat down on the coffee table and looked at Danny. “He’ll be here shortly. Will you let me take a look at your leg, I’d hate it if you blead out on my couch.”

Huffing out a breath Danny winced. Lowering his leg from the table he pushed himself up. Angelica reached out helping him stand. “Thanks.” He said unbuttoning his jeans and slipped out of them before sitting back down putting up his leg on the table again.

The bandages holding the dressings in place were stained a deep red. Taking out the safety scissors Angelica cut the bandages off. Once removed she frowned at the popped stitches, one on the front and all on the back. “Can you lay down on your stomach, and I’ll fix the stitches.”

Licking his lips Danny shook his head. “Shoulder first.” He said slurring on the S. Angelica understood what he meant thou, a dislocated shoulder hurt a lot even when not moved. Still even if the bleeding wasn’t severe she didn’t want to leave it untreated.

“I’m going to put pressure on this then. It will hurt.” She warned grabbing a pressure bandage from her kit. Danny shrugged in response biting his lower lip as Angelica started wrapping the leg. Once she started tightening the dressing Danny jerked grabbing on to the seat. “It’ll be alright, just bear with it.” She said tying of the bandage.

“M’know.” Murmured Danny, he relaxed as he became use to the pain once more.

“I’ll be right back.” Said Angelica rising. She walked in to the kitchen, grabbing a towel which she held under the tap for a moment before returning to Danny. “Here, You’ve got paint on your face.” She said.

Accepting the towel Danny whipped his face, scrubbing away the green paint. Meanwhile Angelica watched him noticing something different in his manner. Either he was just tired and hurting or he’d changed his thoughts about them. “Whad’s you staring at?” Asked Danny leaning his head back against the wall.

Smiling Angelica patted his ankle. “I’m just wondering.” She said in an innocent tone.

“About what?” Asked Danny, wrapping his free arm around himself.

“Why you came here for help when you don’t trust me?” she asked glancing at her watch, Luke should be there soon.

Rolling his head Danny peered at her. “Because of what you said …the other day.” He answered. “Trusting me to know what I was doing.” He clarified when Angelica didn’t understand.

Giving him a smile she was about to ask him something else when she heard a car pull up outside, its engine rattling to a halt. “That’s Luke.” She said getting up. “I’m going to let him in, alright.” She wasn’t sure why she was asking Danny if it was alright, but she didn’t want him to get scared and run off again.

“M-kay.” Murmured Danny his eyes half closed.

Angelica reached the front door just at Freedman was about to knock on it. “You heard the car.” He said glancing back at an old pickup truck that needed a lot of care.

“Who else drives around in a wreck.” Answered Angelica holding open the door for him. “Living room.” She pointing to the door.

Nodding his head in acknowledgment Luke headed for the room, he’d abandoned his white coat at work apparently and could have been taken for a farmer in jeans and a flannel shirt with its sleeves rolled up, if it wasn’t for the large bag he carried by one shoulder strap. “It is not a wreck, it’s a loyal classic, that will work in any kind of weather, be it hot or cold, that engine won’t die.” Angelica rolled her eyes at him, she couldn’t understand why men got so protective over their cars.

“Sounds like you’ve got a hole in the exhaust pipe.” Said Danny to Freedman as the man walked in, and again there was that thick slurring of the S.

“Likely.” Agreed Luke dumping his bag on the coffee table. “Unfortunately I decided to become a human engineer and not a mechanical one. I don’t know much more about engines than the service thought me.” He met Danny’s eyes. “Let’s talk about you now. Angelica said you’d dislocated your shoulder.”

Danny nodded lifting his head from where it rested. “Missed a fall, landed on the shoulder. Hurts like hell.” Again he was speaking slowly.

Opening his bag Freedman extracted a pair of latex gloves which he put on. “You’ve ever hurt your shoulder before?” he asked reaching for Danny’s arm. The kid reluctantly let the doctor touch him and the shoulder.

“Ye’isss!” hissed Danny his voice rising in pitch as Luke gently prodded the joint. He flinched and pushed the man’s hands away shaking like a leaf.

“It hurt’s that bad?” asked Luke withdrawing his hands. Danny shook his head drawing small breaths through his teeth. “Okay, well we are going to have to take your shirt off, I can’t get a good look at what I’m doing while you have it on.”

Again Danny nodded. Angelica picked up the scissors handing them to Freedman. Only Danny glared at them and shook his head. “Don’t, I like this shirt.” He said.

“It’s going to be more painful to remove it the old fashioned way.” Warned Angelica having sat down on the table.

“I know.” Hissed Danny reaching for the hem of his shirt. Angelica moved to help him but one gesture from Luke stopped her.

They both watched Danny wriggle his right arm out of the shirt lifting it to pull out his head.  And got a good view of the bruises marking his thin frame, as well as a tattoo that circled twice around his chest. Once he had his head out of the shirt and started pushing the sleeve down the injured arm they could see that the tattoo was that of a snake, its head resting on the shoulder.

“Interesting tattoo.” Commented Luke, helping Danny pull his arm out.

Danny grunted, staying as still as possible letting the doctor poke the shoulder. Closing his eyes Danny bit his lip as Freedman moved his arm, positioning it to return the joint in to its socket.

“Your shoulder is swollen, it’s going to hurt a bit more before I get it back in place.” Warned Luke positioning his hands on the arm and shoulder.

“Wait a second.” Said Danny drawing a short breath, holding it before breathing out and then doing it again. The lines in his face smoothed out and he opened his eyes. “Okay.” He said grabbing hold of the couch seat.

“Alright, on three then. One.” Luke moved Danny’s upper arm out from his body. “Two.” He turned the elbow inwards. “Three.” Moving Danny’s arm with a slight jerk the shoulder returned to its socket making Danny turn white. “How’s that?” He asked.

Breathing out Danny moved his arm lightly. “Yeah that’s…better.” He said and was about to fold his arms across his chest when Luke stopped him.

“Hold still.” He ordered getting a scowl from Danny who pulled his arm out of Freedman’s hold to wrap them around himself. Sighing Luke crossed his own arms. “Why did you come here?” he asked.

Making a face Danny lowered his arms grumbling something under his breath. “Good. Tell if this hurts.” He said running his fingers over Danny’s ribs. Reaching the forming bruises Danny tried to crawl away from Luke’s hands. The man leveled his eyes on Danny who was again taking slow measured breaths, that Angelica realized was a lot shallower than normal breaths. “That hurt?” asked Luke.

“Hurt.” Repeated Danny. ”It… they…bloody hell…I know they’re broke.” He said his arms moving up to cover his chest.

Luke stopped Danny and went on poking his ribs. “Can I ask how you know?” asked the doctor moving from the ribs to the bruises on his stomach.

“Know what it feels like breaking bones.” He answered. “I’ve broken ribs a hundred of times, leg twice, arm five… wrist…fingers… collarbone… hurt like hell.”  He’d closed his eyes letting his head fall back. “Never broke the bone in the same place twice.”

“That’s a lot of breaks, were they all from falls?” asked Luke reaching for Danny’s head running his fingers over his scalp.

“Didn’t hit my head.” Muttered Danny. “Not all falls breaks bones.” He shook his head getting Luke to stop poking him.  “Would you stop asking questions now?” That made Angelica smile. She’d thought Danny was very talkative and open all of a sudden but clearly he was still suspicious of them, if maybe a bit more trusting.

Luke smiled back at Danny. “I would like to but I’m incapable of not asking questions. Kind of like your inability to give a straight answer.” He sat down on the table turning to the bandage around the leg.

“Joy another Andrews.” Danny wrapped his arms around himself once more. “Get this over with…m head’s foggy.”

The two adults exchanged a look. “Okay, Angelica would you get me a glass of water?” asked Luke loosening the bandages.

“Right, I’ll throw these in to the washer as well.” Agreed Angelica picking up Danny’s clothes from where they’d landed on the floor. She left the living room walking in to the kitchen and the bathroom in the back. She set the washer on a long program that hopefully would get the paint out of the clothes as well as the smell.

Getting the glass of water she glanced up at the kitchen clock. The other kids would be making their way home in half an hour, it was a Monday so Liza and Nigel would be there a little earlier. She would have to talk to Liza before things got out of control. Walking back in to the living room she was trying to come up what to say to get Danny to stay for a while, she had his clothes in the washer which should be good enough for the time being.

In the living room Danny was laying on his stomach, his arms crossed over the armrest. Luke was redoing the stiches in his thigh with skilled precision that only came from years of practice. “Here’s the water.” Said Angelica lifting the glass.

“Give it to Danny.” Said the man finishing his needle work. Angelica held out the glass to Danny, who had an absent look on his face. When she waved the glass in front of him he blinked a couple of time before taking it.

Digging in his bag Luke picked out a tiny paper bag holding it out to Danny. “Take them.” He ordered the boy.

Taking the bag Danny opened it and looked inside. He made a disgusted noise and held them out for Freedman to take back. “Don’t wa’t ‘em.” He grumbled.

“They are painkillers, you need them.” Insisted Luke, pushing the bag back at Danny.

Wrinkling his nose Danny dropped the bag all together. “Don’t need ‘em!” he hissed sitting up. “I can handle this sort of pain.”

Sighing Luke took of his gloves. “Listen Danny-“ the kid growled showing fangs. Luke wasn’t taken aback.  “It hurts to take deep breaths right?” Danny narrowed his eyes. “If you take the painkillers you’ll be able to take deeper breaths which will prevent you from developing pneumonia and-“ He didn’t get to finish his lecture, Danny snatched up the pills from the floor and gulped them down with the water.

Not looking a gift horse in the mouth Luke placed a dressing over the wounds. “Alright this should be enough. I suggest you rest for now, stay of your leg, don’t do any unnecessary movement with your left arm and take it easy with your rib.” He returned his things to his bag. “I’ll get you some more painkillers by tomorrow morning, I have to scrunch up samples from the clinic, the pharmacy doesn’t like giving out medicine to people who’s under 18 with no ID.”

Rubbing his eyes Danny squinted at Freedman. “Okay,” he said slowly. Scratching the back of his head his eyes growing distant once more.

“Danny.” Said Angelica getting his attention. “There’s a bed up in Erik’s room. You can rest there until your clothes are dry.”

Closing his eyes in concentration Danny’s scratching grew slower. He seemed to argue with himself before shaking his head. “I give up.” He grumbled, “Just let me sleep and I’ll be happy.”

“Come on.” Smiled Angelica tugging his right arm. He got up grabbing a hold of her arm to stay off his leg. They walked up the stairs to where the kids had their room. Erik’s was the closest one. The room was one of the smaller ones with loft beds to make space for desks and a closet. “I should have thought about the ladders.” She said about to turn and show Danny to another room with normal beds.

“Don’t bother.” Mumbled Danny climbing up on to the nearest bed using only one leg and an arm.

“I’ll tell Erik that you are here when he comes home.” Said Angelica closing the blackout curtains. She heard a deep sigh from Danny and when she looked up she found that he was fast asleep.

Closing the door carefully Angelica returned to Luke who was cleaning up after their work. “Did he really show up here like that?” He asked walking with her into the kitchen.

“He did.” Answered Angelica. “You sure he didn’t hurt his head?” she asked throwing the dirty towel in the washing room.

“His speech you mean?” noted Luke. “I couldn’t find any bumps or tender spots. You should keep an eye on him thou, see if it’s just tiredness.”

Nodding Angelica opened the fridge taking out two cans of cola. She handed one to Luke and they sat down by the kitchen table. “Did you find out anything about where he’s from?”

Opening his can Luke leaned back balancing on the back legs of the chair. “I made a search for a Danny Fenton age 15 to 18 from Amity Park.” He said sipping his cola. “Do you know what I found?”

Rolling her eyes at his act Angelica opened her own can and leaned back. Luke might act uninterested and bored, but he really wanted to tell her what he’d discovered. “You found out that he’s a normal teenager with a loving family, good grades and a Facebook account full of followers.” She said, wishing it was true.

“Danny Fenton was a normal teenager, had some weird parents that loved him very much. Passing grades in high school and very few friends on social media.” Said Luke, watching her reaction. She thought that Danny’s life didn’t sound as bad as she’d thought it would, considering his suspicious attitude towards them and his high tolerance for pain she’d thought he came from an abusive home. Although it didn’t sound like a super life, she thought that having loving parents and a few close friends was enough.

Then again Luke’s phrasing of the sentence had been in the past tense, and his smug expression told her that he’d found more than he was telling her. “Why did you say had?” she asked narrowing her eyes at him.

“Because Daniel (Danny) Fenton died six weeks ago. Our sleeping beauty upstairs can’t be him.” Whispered Luke as if he’d discovered a secret plot.

“You sure about that?” asked Angelica, finding it all a bit too much like the mystery novels she liked to read.

“I searched the whole state and came up with a few Daniel Fentons that was in the right age group but non-of their school pictures even came close to matching the Danny we have here. The closest I got was a Danielle Fenton who lived in the neighboring town to Amity Park, only when I looked closer it turned out to be a girl, thou to be honest it took me a long time to figure that out, she looked a lot like Danny.” Explained Luke.

“And why do you think our Danny is the one you found in Amity Park? It’s not like teenagers goes around faking their own deaths. That’s some secret agent stuff and I don’t think Danny is an agent. And clearly if he was in witness protection he wouldn’t be living on a circus.” She said trying to see how Luke’s Danny could be the same as their own.

“The one in Amity Park was the only one who wasn’t in a school picture. And I didn’t say I believed Danny was this guy. I said that it was the only Danny Fenton from Amity Park that I could find. He probably lied on the form he filled in at the clinic, for all we know he could be from New York or Miami or even Canada.” Grumbled Luke taking a long pull from his can.

“I don’t think he’s from around there.” Sighed Angelica wishing they had more to go on. And at the same time she was happy that they hadn’t found him. If they had and he’d ran away from home she would have been forced to report it. Same if he’d been from an abusive home, thou he could still be in an abusive home with all the bruises he had.

“Where do you think he’s from then?” Asked Luke, leaning forward putting down all the legs of the chair.

“The Midwest somewhere near the great lakes region.” She answered. “Might even be Chicago.”

“That is awfully specific.” Said Luke digging his phone out of his pocket.

“His accent is mid-western. And Erik is from Chicago. If they meet before he moved here then that should be the general area, ergo Great Lake region.” She explained.

“Amity Park is close to that part. He could have just taken that town as a convenient place near to where he’s from.” He typed something in on his phone and then looked up at the kitchen clock swearing. “I need to go. My break is nearly over.” He pocketed his phone and stood up.

“Which break I wonder.” Smiled Angelica rising as well.

“I’ll drop by tomorrow morning. Try and keep our mystery boy here as long as you can. I don’t like the thought of him going back to the circus.” Said Luke shouldering his bag again. “And feed him, he looks like skin and bones.”

Rolling her eyes at Luke Angelica walked him to the door. “I’ll do what I can but I’m not forcing him to stay if he doesn’t want to.” She said watching her friend get into his old car.

“I’ll call you later.” He shouted across the pavement starting the old engine. Angelica waved at him as he pulled out on to the road and disappeared. He would forget to call, just like always. Closing the door she turned back to her work.

Chapter Text

The wind rushed through Danny’s hair as he flew across the sky. He loved flying, soaring high above the town below him, no one to bother or hate him. Making a loop and spinning around without a care for gravity Danny smiled. He didn’t have to be anywhere and was completely at peace with the world.

Flying past a bird Danny grinned. He was faster than even a jet plane when he had to, could fly out in to space if he set his mind to it. Flying past birds was nothing and he passed a few more. They become more frequent and he had to actively avoid them.

“Most be a murder.” Said Danny laughing at his own pun on the name of a flock of crows. The birds however seemed offended at his words and began flying towards him. Throwing his arms up in defense Danny speed up trying to out run them.

The birds came after him pecking at his suit and skin, turning the clear blue sky in to dark night. The cries of the animals filling his ears like laughter. They pecked at his exposed skin and even conjuring up a shield didn’t stop them, they simply flew through it. Flinging a ghost ray at the nearest bird Danny was surprised to see it hit and the animal fall.

Shooting ghost-rays at the attacking birds Danny managed to get them off himself and made another run for it, only to find himself falling out of the sky. He tried to stop the fall, to take back the feeling of flight but couldn’t. The birds came after him like a black spear from the sky.

Throwing his ghost ray towards them he watched in horror as the power flickered out and died. The first bird buried it’s beak in his chest, the next one pushed it in deeper. Danny screamed as the crows tore through him. It truly was a murder.


“Yo Danny! Wake up man. It’s just a dream.” The burning hand on Danny’s back shook him hard jarring Danny out of his nightmare.

Opening his eyes to the dimness of a room Danny tried to curl up into a ball but too much of his body hurt for him to do much more than lower his head. “It’s okay, It was just a dream.” Said that soft voice again, the warm hand rubbed his back soothingly.

“I know.” Croaked Danny. His heart was beating hard against his chest and he couldn’t take the deep breath he needed to calm himself. He didn’t want to be in his body, it hurt, he just wanted to get away from it all and go back to sleep. Or even better return to that calm and cold place where nothing got to him.

The person who’d been sitting on the matrass beside him laid down and gently put his arms around Danny. “It’s alright man. You are safe.” Shushed Erik. His warm embrace a comfort to Danny who at that moment felt cold and like falling into pieces. He grabbed a hold of Erik resting his head against the others chest listening to the steady beat of his heart.

The murmured words of comfort went past Danny’s ears even if their meaning sunk in. He was safe, no one was hurt or hurting him, he should just relax, take a breath and relax. It was easier said than done to breath, every time he tried to draw in air he almost choked and had to start over. Eventually he managed to slow his own breathing to match Erik’s, he even drew a deep breath that hurt but did more good.

As he calmed Danny could hear noises outside the room he was in. People were talking, music was playing and a tv was on somewhere. The sweet smell of cooking food made him take another deep breath just to figure out what it was. Erik pushed Danny’s wet hair out of his face making Danny look up at him. “You feeling better?” he asked.

Lowering his eyes Danny let go of Erik. “I feel like crap.” He croaked. His throat was dry and he still had that chemical and metallic taste in his mouth. Even wearing only his boxers he was soaked in sweat and whatever else had stuck to him from the ally fight. “I need a shower.” He said pushing himself to sit up, his head scraping the ceiling.

Erik smiled at him and slipped down the ladder before Danny. “I figure you would. You can borrow some of my clothes if you want. Angelica said that yours are still drying.”

Getting down from the bed with some difficulties himself Danny balanced on his left leg. Gingerly he shifted his weight to the right one. The pain grew there the more weight he put on it but was still holding him up. “Appreciate it.” Murmured Danny crossing his arms over the tattoo running around his chest. It was one of the failsafe’s in case The Ripper ghost took over and he hated it. Sure it was safer for others if the snake was there but Lydia had a tendency to spy on him.

“Here.” Said Erik opening his closet, he pulled out a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and boxers. “They are all clean I promise.” He smiled, his hands reaching for Danny but stopped.

“Where’s the shower?” asked Danny hugging the clothes.

“Down the hall and to your right, the towels are in a cupboard under the sink. Don’t worry about running in to anyone they are all downstairs eating supper.” Said Erik pointing in the direction Danny should go.

“Thanks.” Murmured Danny ducking out of Erik’s room. Well in the shower Danny twisted the heat up to max not caring if his skin got burnt, it wasn’t like he didn’t already have burns on his back from the other ghosts. Standing under the steaming water Danny heard Erik move up to the door and stop outside. “I know you are there.” Called Danny.

“I… um…” answered Erik.

Sighing Danny leaned against the wall. “What is it?” He asked running his fingers through his hair frowning at the tender spots he meet.

“Are you okay? Angelica said that you showed up here hurt and I mean I saw you when you were sleeping. Did something happen.” Asked Erik leaning against the door to hear better.

Danny considered lying. Telling Erik that he’d just tripped and fallen down some stairs. But then again Erik knew the guys he’d fought. “You remember last week when I ran in to you.” Began Danny getting an confirming sound from the other side of the door. “Well the same guys that were torturing you had gotten their hands on a dog. I couldn’t let them get away with it.” But he should have.

“What happened?” asked Erik.

Cleaning out his hair Danny thought, there had been a lot of movement and he’d been hurting but most of the details were foggy. “You remember jail?” He asked.

“Who could forget. What about it?” Responded Erik.

“The showers.” Said Danny.

“Oh, wait were they after the same thing or did you just give them the same treatment?” Asked Erik hurriedly.

“Same treatment.” Smiled Danny. It had been three against one that time and they had all been completely naked. But apart from a black eye Danny had managed to get out unharmed and gotten the others thrown in solitary for a day.

Turning off the water Danny grabbed the towel he’d placed on the sink before. “Do you know how long I was asleep for?” he asked drying off. His head was a lot clearer than it had been earlier but he also had a headache that could rival the worst of them and wouldn’t go away without sleep.

“About four hours. I was about-“ Erik stopped himself at the sound of stomping feet on the stairs.

Danny pulled on the clothes hearing the feet stop at the top of the stairs followed by Angus voice.  “Hey Dinner’s getting cold.” He called coming closer.

“You could have started without me.” Said Erik rising with his back pushing against the door.

Angus laughed. “Dud Liza would be throwing a fit if we did. Remember when Steve… no wait you weren’t here then. Okay so when Steven first got here he refused to eat with everyone else, said he wasn’t hungry and would eat later. Well you know he has to eat regularly. So Angelica got really mad when he tried to weasel his way out and shouted across the table that, We all eat together or we don’t eat at all that’s a rule.”

“And that was Liza’s magic word.” Smiled Danny opening the bathroom door dressed in Erik’s clothes which were a number to large but very comfortable.

“Oh!” Said Angus surprised at seeing him. “I thought you were sleeping.”

Erik smiled and swung an arm across Danny’s shoulders. “Danny always wakes up in time for food.” He said shifting his weight as Danny used him for support when walking.

“Well you better come down and eat as well then. Let Liza have a fit over you instead.” Said Angus before adding. “By the way you look like you got hit by a car. Any chance you got the license plate.”

“I got all four of them.” Retorted Danny walking down the stairs with some effort. He couldn’t remember how he’d gotten up them in the first place. To be honest he couldn’t remember half the things he’d said after the fight. He knew he’d asked Angelica for help and Freedman had been there but the details were all foggy.

There was a heated discussion going on around the dinner table in the kitchen that stopped when the three entered. Danny didn’t need his ghost powers to taste the tension in the room, the two girls glaring at him was enough to tell him that he wasn’t welcome. Liza crossed her arms and scowled at Angelica who was sitting between her and Steve.

“Take a seat boy and let’s eat.” Said the woman nodding to the empty seats, she’d put out a plate for Danny as well. When they were all seated Angelica started passing the food around starting small conversations between her charges.

The growing noise in the room didn’t exactly help the throbbing in Danny’s head and he wished he could just leave to eat by himself. He stayed however reasoning that he could take the noise if it meant that he could fill his stomach. Reaching for the salt Danny jumped when a long-fingered hand grabbed his wrist.

Nigel turned Danny’s hand over before Danny could think to stop him. “There, I told you he was doing it. I saw them on both his arms.” The younger teen was pointing to the scars and nearly healed cuts running up Danny’s forearm.

The buzzing in Danny’s head grew louder and he saw red. Snatching his hand out of Nigel’s grip he snarled back at the teen in a voice that was not his own. “Don’t ye fucking touch you retard.”

Nigel stared at Danny the sweet taste of fear emanating from him as well as pain. The buzzing subsided and Liza’s high-pitched shout cut through his brain. “You don’t speak to Nigel that way!”

“Liza stop shouting.” Said Angelica trying to stop things from escalating.

“Don’t tell her to stop. She is right.” Defended Steve. “you don’t call someone a retard.” The thin guy turned his burning eyes on Danny. “Not for any reason!” Danny flinched pressing a hand to his temple. “Hey listen punk!”

“Yeah listen, you don’t just show up here insulting people and think you are something!” Liza’s voice rose over Steve’s.

“Would you two just chill, Nigel started it and I-“ Began Angus but was interrupted by Steve.

“Who’s side are you on! Nigel is one of us, this trash isn’t” The shouting got louder as more voices chimed in, protesting or defending. It became impossible for Danny to tell who was shouting or even what he was thinking. Yet there he was certain that something wasn’t right, that the people around the table wasn’t safe.

Pressing his hands over his ears Danny tried to shut out the shouts around him just to hear himself think. Instead he head a mirthful voice whisper just beside his ear. “Taste that anger lad, just what we need.”

Slamming his hands down on the table as he stood up causin glasses to fall over and plate to shake. “SHUT UP!” He shouted more to himself than the others around the table. For a split second everything was silent, then the sinister laughter began and Liza raised her voice.

Leaving the table Danny made for the front door, the pain in his leg momentarily forgotten as the need to get out screamed louder. He didn’t even know how hard he slammed the door before hearing the boom behind him and seeing the dust fall from the brickwork.

Sitting down on the bottom step Danny lowered his head pressing his hand to his ears once more. The laughing was still there, ringing out clearly in the evening. He could still hear the shouts inside the house but they were distant behind the doors.

Aww wasn’t that cutie. The little girl protected her pet.” Purred the Ripper his presence pushing against Danny’s thoughts.

“Go away.” Hissed Danny his stomach twisting in fear. If he lost control of the ghost right then and there the people in the house behind him wouldn’t survive.

The loud deep laugh sent chills down Danny’s arms. “You are right there, If I had control, I wouldn’t be sitting out here sulking because someone figured out you were slicing your wrists. I would show him how deep one has to cut to hit an artery.”

“Shut Up.” Commanded Danny taking a deep breath that hurt.

What’s wrong boy, can’t use your ice to ignore the pain like you use to.” Teased the ghost. “I’ll do it for you.”

A sharp cold that hurt more than the broken ribs themselves shot through Danny’s chest causing him to cry out. He slapped his hands over his mouth and breathed through his nose. “You shouldn’t be here.” Hissed Danny as he exhaled.

Shouldn’t I?” Asked The ghost innocently. “You used my powers before, you called for me, don’t you remember.” Flashes of the fight flickered in front of Danny’s eyes and he remembered the pain subsiding as he launched for the lighter.

“That wasn’t you.” Breathed Danny taking slow measured breaths.

Suddenly the aches and pains of his body disappeared causing Danny to draw a deeper breath than expected and he started coughing. “Can’t you tell Lad, The longer we are together, the stronger I get. One little stab from my sword a week ago won’t keep me silent for long. I promised you when that bitch died that I would have your body before the summers end, and I keep my promises. You will diiiiii!

Danny had slammed his fist down on his injured thigh shattering the ghost’s consciousness like a 3D puzzle. With it gone the pains of his body returned with a vengeance and Danny bit down on another cry. Breathing he slowly built up the defenses in his mind pushing the ghost back in to the dark corner where all his pain, fear and regrets lived.

When he opened his eyes again he was shaking. Not from the mild weather or pain, but from exhaustion. Fighting the ghost whenever he made a grab for control or just emerged to bully Danny when he least expected it always drained him. The pounding headache didn’t help things ether and he just sat there on the stairs staring at the building across the street.

It took him a while to register that the shouting had stopped replaced by the lighter noise of people eating. The thought of the food on his plate made Danny’s stomach grumble and add to his aches. He wanted to go back inside and eat, stop the one pain he knew how to handle. But going inside he would surly start another argument.

The taste of fear was still on his lips. Yet one more thing which had called the ghost forward, he loved strong negative emotions and the room had been full of them. It had been the Ripper who’s snarled at Nigel, not Danny. Yet he was the one who had to take responsibilities for their actions.

Pressing his hands to his temples Danny tried to see the events from a neutral perspective. Nigel was impulsive and didn’t always get what was appropriate or how his actions could be taken, he’d seen as much the first day they meet. Meaning that he hadn’t meant to hurt him, he’d wanted to show that he was right about the marks on Danny’s arms.

Taking a slow breath Danny let his hand’s fall and wrapped his arms around himself. “Go in and apologize Fenton, don’t be an ass.” He sighed wishing he could be like the bullies and feel no remorse over his own actions.

Pushing himself up Danny walked back into the house. He knew he could go back to the circus and forget about Angelica and her trouble children, but that would mean cutting himself off from Erik and other people his own age who wouldn’t get hurt when he eventually left. Mainly he didn’t want to leave Erik just yet.

He stopped in the open kitchen door. The people around the table looked up from their food, a spicy taste in the air, discord. Digging his nails in to his arms Danny walked over to Nigel. The big eyed guy flinched and drew back in fear. If anything could have made Danny hate himself anymore that evening Nigel’s instinct to prepare for another lashing was it. How many times hadn’t he himself been on that end of a bullies fist making himself small and ready for a beating.

No he did not want people to think of him that way. The Ripper’s fault or not it was Danny Nigel was afraid of. “I’m sorry.” Said Danny his words clear and soft, yet Nigel flinched back. Digging his fingers in deeper Danny took a deep breath. “I’m sorry for what I said. I didn’t mean to-“

“You did!” Shouted Liza across the table making Danny flinch.

“Zip it Liza.” Said Angelica turning to Danny and Nigel.

Lifting his right hand from his arm Danny held it out to Nigel showing the scars tracing up his arm. “I mean it Nigel. You hit a sensitive subject and I shouldn’t have lashed out at you. I’m Sorry.”

The teen lifted his head and looked up at Danny a puzzled look on his face. “Why are you apologizing?” he asked causing Danny to get an equally puzzled look on his face.

“Because… you… I mean I…” Danny made a frustrated noise rubbing his head. “Because I don’t want to hurt you… I didn’t mean to…I’m not a bully.” He walked around the table sitting down besides Erik pressing his hands to his forehead.

“But Angelica didn’t tell you to apologize?” Asked Nigel looking over at the woman who to Danny’s annoyance was barley keeping herself from laughing.

“I don’t need someone else to tell me I was wrong.” Groaned Danny feeling like the conversation was more complicated than he had the brain capacity to handle.

Nigel opened his mouth to say something else but Angelica stopped him. “That’s enough Nigel. Do you accept Danny’s apology?” The kid looked thoughtful for a moment before giving Danny a true smile that light up his whole face.

He gave one egger nod shoved the last of his food in to his mouth and stood up. “I’m taking the TV.” He pronounced hurrying to put his plate and glass in the sink before running of. The silent Lilly waved her hand in a quick word before following Nigel.

“I don’t forgive you.” Hissed Liza getting up from her seat. She ignored Angelica placing her dishes in the sink as well before leaving casting one nasty glance at Danny by the door.

“I’ve lost my appetite.” Said Steve getting up as well. His plate was completely empty compared to the others.

Angelica held out a hand to stop him. “Where’s the glucose meter?” she asked.

Rolling his eyes at her Steve turned to the sink. “I’ve checked my blood sugar. It’s fine, you don’t have to-“

“It’s not for you.” Interrupted Angelica still holding out her hand.

Frowning Steve looked at her then Danny who was still rubbing his head. “Oh.” He said as if something had just occurred to him. Digging in his hoody pocket Steve brought out a tiny bag handing it to Angelica. He was out of the kitchen in the blink of an eye after that.

Opening the bag Angelica brought out a small device which she fiddled with. “What are you thinking?” asked Angus who hadn’t stopped eating. Danny was still trying to get his stomach to calm down and let him eat, he never felt like swallowing food when his head was threatening to implode.

Gingerly Erik snuck his hand on to Danny’s shoulder moving it over to the base of his neck. The memory of sitting around a table with two other teenagers while Erik’s hand chased away a splitting headache made Danny lean in to the warm palm.

“Testing a theory.” Replied Angelica switching something inside the device. “When was the last time you eat Danny?”

Blinking down at his food Danny poked at it. “Lunch.” He said.

“Give me your hand” Said Angelica holding out her own. Danny did wrinkling his nose as she turned it palm up. “This will sting.” She warned pressing the device to his ring finger tip. There was a click from the thing and Danny felt a prick of his skin.

Removing the needle Angelica picked up the second thing that had been in the bag. With one hand she pressed out a bead of blood from Danny’s finger and held the second deceive to it. Something about that sent a spark of recognition to Danny’s brain. “Diabetes.” He said remember seeing a few people in school do the same thing before eating lunch, Mickey had been one of them and happy to tell him and Tucker about the dangers of sugar.

“You’ve used one of these before?” Asked Angelica letting go of his hand. Danny shook his head sticking the finger in his mouth to stop the bleeding. “Steven’s got diabetes, when his blood sugar get’s low he’ll be Irritable, Confused, Dizzy and Anxious.” Danny nodded having heard a similar thing from Mickey. “How are you feeling right now?” asked Angelica.

Narrowing his eyes on her Danny shrugged. “Headache, but it’ll pass. Hungry, which will be fixed soon enough. Other than that I’m just aching.” He poked his food taking a bite out of the potato.

“I can add a few more things.” She said crossing her arms. “You are feeling shaky, Irritable, Sweating and Anxious. Earlier today you were even confused, and I’d say that you look pale.” Danny shivered as he agreed with her description. “Now some of those symptoms can be contributed to the fight which you clearly was in. But not all.”

The device blipped and Angelica looked down on it. “After having fasted for eight hours or so a non-diabetic has blood glucose level of 70 milligrams per liter, some might even have 60 mg/dL but they are rare.” She turned the device over to Danny. “Yours a bit low don’t you think?”

67.3mg/dL wasn’t that low thought Danny digging in to his food. “What are you say?” He asked having used up his quota of brain cells for the day.

Pouring a glass of juice Angus put it in front of Danny. “That if your blood sugar doesn’t go up fifteen minutes after you’ve drink this, you have a problem.” He smiled.

“My only problem is people who cares to much.” Muttered Danny, drinking the juice.

Fifteen minutes after he’d finished his meal and was resting his head on his arms while Erik worked on his homework beside him, one hand massaging the base of Danny’s skull, Angelica asked for his hand again. She poked a new hole in his finger and touched the drop of blood to the glucose meter. Danny watched her as the device made it’s noise. Her shoulder relaxed a bit but a frown appeared on her face.

“What’s the verdict? Am I dying?” Asked Danny, the headache was still there but he’d stopped shaking.

“124.3 mg/dL, Well within normal range.” She answered cleaning out the thing before returning it to the bag.

Danny felt a smile tug at his lips. He’d had a feeling that she was wrong, the question was if she had spotted the signs of what was really going on with him, Jazz had known what they were and told him of them beforehand. “Overusing your powers will lead to brain aneurism, seizures, and permanent brain damage.” He shivered at the thought of what sort of damage one tiny ghost flame could have caused. That’s why he needed the Ripper ghost who was once more waking up.

Chapter Text

Waking up as the warm presence at his back moved Danny blinked. The morning light was falling in through the open window bringing the songs of a particularly monotone bird with it. Erik was sliding down the ladder to the bed Danny had slept in and climbed up to his own throwing the pillows to the side before finding his phone and turning off the sound of the bird.

Glancing at the screen Erik groaned and swung down from the bed, snatching up a pair of jeans from the floor. “School?” asked Danny making the other teen jump in surprise.

“Fuck me.” He swore. “I thought you were still asleep.” He tugged on the jeans and Danny pushed himself up.

“I’m a light sleeper.” He said rubbing the sand out of his eyes. He heard a loud thump from the room adjacent to theirs.

“Yeah, I remember. Thought you’d try and sleep in, seeing how hard it was for you to fall asleep.” Smiled Erik finding a clean t-shirt. Danny had been tossing and turning most of the night after he went to bed, unable to find a comfortable position to sleep in. Erik had as expected climbed out of his own bunk and in to Danny’s acting like a sleepwalker. Still he’d been very careful not to jar Danny’s shoulder or leg as he wrapped his arms around Danny pressing his chest against Danny’s back.

The absents of Erik’s warmth at his back was now making Danny feel cold. “I knew you weren’t sleepwalking.” Said Danny gliding down from the bed himself. His right leg protested when he put his weight on it but the pain from the day before was almost gone.

“Who said I didn’t fall asleep before walking over to you.” Smiled Erik pulling the shirt over his head. “You can go back to sleep, you don’t have school after all.” He picked up his backpack that had fallen from his desk at some point during the night.

Yawning Danny shook his head. “Can’t sleep much more anyways. Twelve hours are enough for me to be up for two days.” He said snatching up the jeans he’d borrowed from Erik. The sounds from the rest of the house inhabitance was getting louder, especially the one between the girls over the bathroom.

“I remember you sleeping a whole day in jail.” Snorted Erik, waiting for Danny to put the pants on before turning to go down stairs.

“Who said I was sleeping all that time?” Retorted Danny, accepting Erik’s help down the stairs.

“I do. I checked on you a couple of times and even tried to wake you for lunch. But you just rolled over telling me to Bugger off.” Liza ran past them down the stairs her red hair puffed out in curls. They stopped outside the kitchen hearing the girl complain to Angelica, who calmly gave her a solution to her problem which the girl didn’t like.

She stormed out of the kitchen a moment later stomping up the stairs. “Bad hair day.” Explained Erik tugging at Danny’s arm to get him to follow.

In the kitchen Angelica was busy setting out breakfast. Packs of cereals and yoghurt already stood on the table, together with sliced bread, fruits, milk and juice. The woman stood by the counter measuring coffee grounds in to the machine. “Morning.” Said Erik walking over to the sink.

Danny stayed back watching his friend pick up a pot and pour out the water in which the boiled eggs had been cooling. “Morning, slept well?” smiled Angelica filling the coffee machine with water.

Erik glanced at Danny who shrugged. “I did, Dan had trouble falling asleep.” Danny wrinkled his nose at the nickname. He wasn’t Dan, that had been the other guy.

Starting the machine Angelica turned giving Danny a smile. “Morning Danny. How are you feeling?” she asked picking up the small black bag from the counter.

“Fine.” Said Danny digging his hands in to his pockets. “Is that coffee for everyone?” he asked eyeing the things she was taking out of the bag.

“Everyone who likes it dark.” Smiled Angelica and waved her hand. “Come here.” She said.

Narrowing his eyes at the glucose meter Danny slowly moved up to the woman. “Give me your hand.” She ordered the needle in a ready grip.

“I thought we already determined yesterday that I was fine.” Complained Danny flexing his fingers without taking them out of his pockets.

“And I just want to make sure.” Said Angelica offering the needle to Danny.

He looked at it for a moment before taking it. “I am feeling better today. All I needed was food and sleep.” Grumbled Danny pricking his fingertip and holding it out to Angelica.

“Then this shouldn’t be any trouble.” She said pressing the drop of blood against the device. Licking the rest of the blood of his finger Danny shook his head joining Erik by the breakfast table. He grabbed a bowl and poured cereals in to it followed by milk. The glucose meter made a noise as Danny put the first spoon in to his mouth. “Normal.” Said Angelica cleaning it out and returning the things to their pockets.

“Does that mean you’ll stop asking for my blood, or should I start wondering if there’s a vampire problem here?” asked Danny through a mouthful of sweet cereals.

The door to the kitchen opened and Angus walked in. Angelica said good morning to him and got a grumbled noise in reply. “You should worry about the zombie problem instead. Angus has just risen from the dead.” Whispered Erik getting a glare from his friend.

Rolling his eyes Danny didn’t mention how he used to be after a night of ghost hunting and early morning classes. He ate his cereals watching the rest of the teenagers come down for breakfast. Nigel seemed a lot calmer and more collected as he sat down to eat, Steve snatched up the blood sugar test and poked a needle in to his finger before eating. Lilly had put on makeup and wore clothes that made her fit in to the crowd at Sam’s favorite joint back in Amity Park, The Skulk and Lurk.

Liza arrived when most of them were finished eating and Danny was drinking his second cup of coffee. She’d gotten her hair under control and pulled it up in to one ponytail that fell straight down. She glared at Lilly who moved her hands.

“Write. I don’t speak ASL.” Hissed Liza angrily grabbing a pack of cereal from the table.

“She said your hair looks good.” Muttered Danny. Everyone at the table stopped eating and stared at him. “What?” He asked. “It’s not like sign language is a secret.”

Lilly narrowed her eyes at him and moved her hands in a blur of motions in which Danny only understood a few words. “…Should have told...”

“I didn’t say I was fluent in it.” Said Danny. The rest of the table was looking at Lilly who continued making signs but again Danny could only understand a few of them. “I was only saying the complement you were giving her. You don’t have to bite my ears of.”

Lilly gave him an angry look. “Oh Yeah” she signed slowly before spelling out two words. Grabbing her toast she left the room, stomping her heavy booted feet.

“F. U. C. K. Y. O. U.” Sighed Danny rubbing his head. “What the hell did I do to her?” he mumbled avoiding the gaze of the others.

The conversations around the table picked up again and Erik nudged Danny. “Don’t take it personally.” He said looking up from the math homework he hadn’t been able to finish the day before.

“I…” Danny stopped as the cold coils of the tattoo moved. Lifting his hand to where the head lay on his shoulder Danny felt it press against his hand taking shape. Closing his eyes Danny searched his mind for the Rippers presence, but he was still trying to assemble himself behind his walls. Meaning Lydia was looking for him or spying, probably both.

“Yo Dan? -“ Began Erik reaching for Danny.

“Stop calling me that.” Growled Danny getting up from the table before Erik could put a hand on him and feel the snake moving. He left the breakfast table and walked through the hall, stepping out on the stairs. It was a cold morning promising warmth with its clear sky.

Sitting down on the front step Danny lifted his hand from the snakes head and stayed very still. It coiled around his neck looking around. Danny waited shivering as the tongue licked his ear. Closing his eyes he listened hearing a motorcycle in the distance. Jonny then. The snake tightened around Danny’s neck and he gulped.

Lydia wasn’t a ghost who talked, she could see everything her tattoos saw and hear everything they heard but she couldn’t convey words with them. That didn’t mean she couldn’t use them to communicate and her wishes now was very clear. “Don’t move.”

The door behind Danny opened. He didn’t move his head but opened his eyes listening for any tell tail sounds of who was behind him. The metallic clicking of the chain on her belt told Danny it was Lilly. Just great, like things couldn’t get any worse. He thought.

She stopped for a beat before stomping down the stairs past him. Then stopped and turned around her hands moving in a blur of words. “You are not welcome here. You are breaking up the peace and making things bad for Liza. Do you get it?”

Danny didn’t move, getting an angry snarl from the girl. “Don’t play deaf with me, you said you could understand so understand.” She moved slower. “You will leave this place now. Get it?” Again Danny didn’t move and Lilly stepped forward reaching out to smack Danny’s head.

The snake hissed and lifted its head. Lilly jumped back just as the motorcycle came roaring up the street. She spun around to see what was making the noise. As she did the snake uncoiled from Danny’s neck returning to its normal position around his chest, head resting heavy on his shoulder. “I understand you.” Said Danny.

Lilly snapped her eyes back at him and blinked. She reached for her neck and signed “Snake?”

Giving her a sad smile Danny shook his head. “I only know a little sign.” He said as if he hadn’t understood her words. “I don’t know what you said.” He added.

Anger flared up in her eyes and she gave him the finger before stomping off. It was better that way. He wasn’t going to be around for long anyways.

The motorcycle pulled up in front of Danny who rubbed his neck. “Dud where have you been?” asked Jonny crossing his arms over his handles. Two girls were sitting on the bike behind him, Kitty in a tight top and torn pants and Lydia who’d replaced her red cloak with a black one.

“I’ve been here.” Hissed Danny turning his eyes on Lydia. “Don’t move the fucking snake if you don’t have to. You could have had him go out and show you the way.” He growled hoping Lilly had only thought she’d imagined the snake.

“Come on, don’t get mad at her. Freakshow told her to do it. He wants to know where you are and if he should start writing new contracts for us.” Smiled Kitty. “Why you here?”

“Good question babe. Why you here punk?” Asked Jonny his shadow stretching out from under the bike.

Danny shrugged. “I can be wherever I want to. We don’t have a show today or this week for that matter.” He’d managed to convince Freakshow that it would be better to start the shows the next week when they had time to fix the tent and generator as well as draw a bigger crowd.

“There’s the show on Friday.” Said Kitty. “We’ll get the schools and then next week we take the rest of the town.” She licked her lips probably imagining the taste of all those exhilarated human emotions their shows drew.

“Well then, leave me the fuck alone until Friday.” Growled Danny, not happy to know that he’d have to start allowing the Ripper back in to his mind that weekend. He’d hoped for more time, a chance to separated who he was from the ghost. But life had never gone his way why should it start now.

“Hey chill. We were just looking for you. You know to keep up our end of the bargain.” Said Jonny his shadow reaching for Danny’s leg.

“A little late aren’t you then. None of you have been anywhere near me for the last 24 hours. Who knows what could have happened if this guy got out.” Snarled Danny tapping his temple. “Do you want me to remind you of our deal?”

Kitty leaned forward wrapping her arms around Jonny. “Come on Sweetie. We can’t keep our eyes on you all the time, you’d hate it too.” She pouted winking at him, her heavy mascara framing her wicked eyes.

“Besides we all know that it’s not until we do a show that things starts to get dangerous. You can just relax and keep going out with your new girlfriend.” Leered Jonny, drawing a deep blush from Danny’s cheeks.

“She’s not-“ He began cutting himself off when the door behind him opened. Turning around to see who it was Danny found the rest of the teens walking out.

“Hey Hey! What’s this, you got yourself some humans to play with.” Laughed Jonny stretching and taking a deep breath. His shadow crept in under Danny reaching for an unsteady foot to trip.

Danny’s heart which had already started beating faster at Jonny’s comment about Lilly raced off in panic. These people had nothing to do with him yet they had now become targets for the ghosts to attack if they wanted to get to him. He couldn’t let anything happen to them because of him. Standing up Danny narrowed his eyes on Jonny and the two other ghosts, his vision tinting green. “Get lost.” He growled, voice growing dark.

Jonny and Kitty laughed, only Lydia lowered her head, the hood on her cloak hiding her face in deep shadows. “Was that an Order Punk?” Asked Jonny his grin growing wider.

“I think it was, he looked so cute when he said it too.” Giggled Kitty lifting her eyes to gaze hungrily at the teenagers behind Danny. She could taste their uncertainty and mixed emotions of anger and solidarity, just like he himself could.

Stepping on Jonny’s shadow, Danny drew himself up tilting his head. The glow from his eyes disappeared and he asked in his normal tone of voice. “Do you want it to be?”

That got the two of them to reconsider, their laughter died down a bit and Jonny leaned back grabbing a hold of the motorbikes handles. “Dud, you are no fun at all.” He said revving the engine. It hurt Danny’s ears when he did but he kept himself from flinching. “I’ll get the fur-ball go sniff you out, he’s the only one who can stand being around you.” He revved the engine again getting the bike to stand up on its back wheel before he shot off.

“Killjoy!” Sneered Kitty at him as they drove past. She gave him the finger before flinging her arms around Jonny’s neck standing up on the seat.

“Who, were they?” Asked Liza, walking out on to the sidewalk to stare after the ghosts.

Sinking back down on the stair Danny breathed out slowly. “People.” He answered, Nigel had joined the girl on the sidewalk staring down the street, seeing the ghosts run a red light starting a cacophony of car horns.

“I get that, Who were they? How do they know you?” The last question sounded like an insult. “And why did they take orders from you?”

Rubbing his forehead Danny sighed. “They are people I work with. They listen to what I say because I’ve told them to do so.” He felt rather than saw Erik sit down beside him. “You shouldn’t admire them, they aren’t nice people.”

That brought a giggle from Nigel who turned around to look at Danny. “Unless you haven’t notice it, Liza isn’t a nice person either.”

“HEY!” Shouted Liza swinging a fist at Nigel who jumped out of her short reach. He giggled and started running down the street, the angry girl following him shouting curses and insults as she went.

Steven who’d watched silently from the doorway walked past them without a word heading for school as well. It was a moment before anyone spoke, this time it was Angus who had something to say. “Did they want something?”

Lowering his hands Danny shook his head. “They like to mess around. Especially with me.” Which was one of the reasons Danny had asked Jonny and Kitty to be part of his plan, Skulker would have taken every opportunity he could to hunt him, The Box-ghost would be missed and wasn’t much of a threat and the rest of the ghosts who could go head to toe with him in a fight were hell bent on world domination or impossible to find.

“Should we be concerned?” Asked Angus, putting a lot of weight on those few words. He had the right to ask that to. If Danny wasn’t sure about the ghost’s interests he would have said no and made sure never to return to the house again.

But he did know Jonny and Kitty, he knew Lydia wouldn’t do anything without being told to and he knew that the biggest threat to them was the ghost they hadn’t even seen. Shaking his head Danny glanced in the direction of the ghosts. “No, I’ll handle them.”

Nodding Angus shifted the weight of his bag. “Good. I’ll see you then.” He said and left as well.

“You haven’t said much.” Sighed Danny, nudging Erik’s leg.

The older teen glanced at him before returning his gaze to his shoes. “I suppose it’s because I’m not sure if you want to hear from me.” He said. He seemed a bit timid and Danny couldn’t understand why. Erik was an extrovert person, no one could keep him from seeing the silver lining or showing his feelings. Yet now he even avoided touching Danny.

“Why wouldn’t I want to hear what you think. You are my friend. I take your opinion over the others.” Said Danny leaning against Erik, inviting contact.

Biting his lip Erik turned his gaze upon Danny, eyes searching his face for something. “I’m sorry for what I said.” He muttered rubbing the back of his hand with a thumb.

Danny frowned at that. “Sorry for what?” he asked trying to remember when Erik had ever said something that hurt him.

The older teen’s brows knitted together and he openly searched Danny’s expression for something. “I called you…Dan.” He said hesitating a bit.

Blinking Danny thought back to the breakfast when the old nickname had slipped from Erik’s lips. It occurred to him that while he’d been more focused and angry at Lydia for animating the snake he hadn’t moderated his tone of voice when responding to Erik. “Oh fuck me.” Cursed Danny facepalming. “Sorry Erik, I didn’t mean to say it like that. My thoughts were on something else. Shit, you didn’t take it personally did you?”

Gingerly Erik ran his warm fingers over Danny’s forearm stopping at his palm. “Can I ask you something?” he said following the lines of Danny’s hand.

“Shoot, can’t promise I’ll answer.” Responded Danny, wondering what was going on in Erik’s mind.

“Why don’t you like being called Dan anymore? You had nothing against it when we first meet?” He followed one of the near invisible scars from when the doctors reset the bones and fixed the damaged nerves.

Watching Erik find more of the marks Danny pondered the question for a moment before answering. “Because I’m not him. I can’t become him, however much he wants me to, that’s something I won’t allow.” He said wishing he could tell someone about it, about the unexplainable feeling that crept in to his stomach every time someone called him Dan.

Lacing his fingers through Danny’s Erik was quiet for a moment before nodding. “Alright. I’ll try not to call you that again. And will apologize in advance for any future slipups.” He met Danny’s eyes and gave him a radiant smile.

Danny couldn’t stop himself from smiling back at him. The smile was just so contagious. “Thanks.” He breathed bumping Erik’s shoulder.

Chapter Text

Many people in Dr Luke Freedman’s profession had a saying. “I don’t do house-calls.” They wanted their patients to come to them, by car, taxi or ambulance, they didn’t want to move out of their comfortable office. Luke on the other hand preferred going to where his patients were, even if it was just a kid with the sniffles. He liked being among the people and able to see how they lived, what could help them and how he could make things easier for them.

Of course he still liked the patients to come in to the clinic because he had access to more equipment there. But some people felt uneasy in that environment, especially the ones who came to the clinic using false names and leaving as soon as they’d gotten help. That was why he didn’t ask questions, unless he suspected something really bad and even then he gave the person a chance to do the right thing, offering to help in any way he could. Often people didn’t listen, thanked him for his help and left never to be seen again, or to be seen again only things tended to have gotten worse by then.

When Angelica had called almost a week earlier about a teen one of her charges had brought home he’d thought that he might be dealing with a homeless kid or a runaway. Having met the tense and evasive Danny Luke didn’t know if his first thought had been wrong or right. Currently driving towards the house where he’d last seen the boy, he was wondering if he was still there.

Stopping at a red light he picked up his thermos and drank the coffee in it, to lost in thought to notice the motorcycle driving against the flow of traffic. He had met all of Angelica’s charges at one point or another. In the beginning they had all been suspicious of him, even hostile in some cases. Angelica had made sure to build up a trusting relationship with the kids often inviting him to join them on any trips they made, saying that she didn’t like to be alone with seven teens when they weren’t home. But he suspected it was to make the teens familiar with him. And it worked they began to relax around him and trust him.

The light turned green and Luke drove on. He wished he had the same understanding of teenagers as Angelica did. If he did he wouldn’t feel so awkward around them when they didn’t act like normal teenagers. Taking the last turned on to Angelicas street, he sighed and drew himself out of his thoughts. Danny was one of those teenagers who didn’t act like a teenager and it took all of his attention to keep on top of the conversation, especially when he answered a question with another question.

Stopping the car in front of the house Luke winced at the sound of his breaks screeching, he had to get that fixed. Turning off the engine also made a loud rattling noise, thou it gave the impression that the car sighed. “Why do you always have to complain when I stop?” Mumbled Luke giving the wheel an affectionate pat before grabbing his bag and sliding out of the drivers seat.

Rounding the car he crossed the sidewalk and took the steps to the front door in one lounge, knocking on the old wood. There was no response and Luke knocked a bit harder and waited wondering if he should call Angelica’s phone, she had known that he would be dropping by around that time. He lifted his hand to knock again when he heard footsteps coming from inside.

“Hold your horses, I’m coming, I’m coming!” Called Angelica and Luke relaxed stepping to the side so as not to get hit by the door when the woman opened it.

“Morning Sunshine.” Smiled Luke when the woman appeared in the door.

She returned his smile and stepped to the side. “You are awfully energetic this early in the morning. What did you do sleep last night or something?” She closed the door behind him and walked in the direction of the kitchen.

“I just got off a graveyard shift, the tiredness will catch up to me in an hour or two.” Responded Luke entering the kitchen behind Angelica. He’d expected to find Danny there but the room was empty. “Danny still asleep?” he asked.

Shaking her head Angelica walked over to the open door leading out in to the garden. “He’s out here.” She said before going out herself.  Luke could hear her talk to him outside. “Now where were we.” She asked.

Walking over to the door Luke heard Danny reply. “Short. Thou not as sort as Erik.” The teen sat down on a chair that had been placed in the sun, Angelica had a pair of scissors in one hand and a comb in the other.

“Right.” She responded combing through his long hair. “I’m just warning you, my skills with scissors are limited to paper and bandages. It might not be pretty.”

Danny let out a hollow laugh and lifted his left hand to run the fingers through his hair but stopped himself. “I’ve had worse haircuts.” He said lowering the hand to rub the palm of his right one. “I would have cut it weeks ago but there wasn’t anyone who could do it.”

Measuring out a length of Danny’s hair Angelica began cutting it. “No one at the circus who would do it for you?” she asked as Luke walked over to the table and sat down, Danny’s eyes following as he moved. He lifted a hand in greeting watching the boy mimic him.

“I wouldn’t trust any of them with sharp objects near my face.” Said Danny to Angelica’s question, yet another dark response followed by a smile that was anything but happy.

“Really? They all seemed protective of you?” Angelica’s hands moved confidently through Danny’s hair with practiced ease. She might not have said it to the teen but she had skills and often cut her charges hair when they thought it had gotten too long.

“They are protective of the group and their place of employment, not the individuals. Besides they are better at big tasks, if you ask anyone to do something detailed they’ll do it half-assed.” He lowered his gaze to his hands picking his nails.

“If it’s like that why are you staying with them. It doesn’t sound very safe?” Said Luke, getting a quick glance from Angelica.

“Depends on who’s supposed to be safe.” Sighed Danny. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Luke stared at him as he slowly breathed out and started tapping his fingers against the thumb again.

The silence that followed was only broken by the whisper of the scissors cutting though hair and the soft rustling of the leaves. Luke wanted to ask Danny more questions but something told him that he was stretching his luck already after the question about being safer away from the circus. And that was another thing about Danny, he didn’t seem like the sort of kid who would run away with the circus or even fit in with that sort of crowd. He wondered what sort of work Danny did at that place, he didn’t seem like one of the performers. Maybe he was behind the scene aiming lights and pulling ropes. He could be selling souvenirs and junk food, it sounded more like the sort of thing a young teenager would do.

“You wanted it shorter in the back?” asked Angelica pocketing the scissors.

“Mmm.” Hummed Danny nodding. It was almost like he was asleep. Only the methodical tapping of his fingers told Luke that he wasn’t.

“Did you get any sleep last night?” asked Luke while Angelica fiddled with the hair-trimmer. “I know Erik has a tendency to sleepwalk.

Danny huffed opening an eye to look at him. “He only say that, most of the time he’s a…” He trailed of as Angelica started the trimmer.

His eyes turning to see what she was doing as she placed a hand on top of his head. “Look straight ahead or this is going to be crocked.” She warned him.

Danny turned his head numbly forward eyes staring in to the distance. As Angelica started cutting the hair by his right ear Danny shivered and wrapped his arms around himself, as if cold, in the summer sun.

“What were you about to say?” asked Luke when Danny didn’t continue.

Watching the boy’s body language very closely Luke got the distinct impression that something wasn’t right. Danny didn’t answer him, didn’t even seem to be aware of the question having been asked. He was no longer taking those slow breaths of pleasure, they stopped sharply and almost seemed to be coming faster and shorter. Getting up from his seat Luke moved forward.

“Wow there.” Said Angelica as Danny flinched. “Sorry this thing is getting old did I pinch you?” she asked having not noticed the change in his behavior.

Danny didn’t move, his breathing growing more rapid and sweat rolled down the side of his face. “Danny?” asked Luke coming up to him. Angelica looked from one to the other. “Turn that thing off.” Said Luke reaching for Danny’s wrist. Again he flinched and a spark of static electricity snapped at Luke’s fingers.

Having turned off the trimmer Angelica walked around to come face to face with Danny. “What’s wrong hon?” she asked softly kneeling down like Luke to be on eyelevel with him.

Lowering his head Danny bent forward shaking visibly. “B..breath.” he gasped.

Luke found the boy’s cold wrist taking his pulse as Angelica slowly rubbed his back. Putting the symptoms together Luke bit his lip and sank down to his knees. “Look at me Danny.” He said firmly placing one finger under the boy’s chin getting him to lift his head until their eyes met. “Breath with me. In one two three four five, hold five six seven eight nine, out one two three four five six seven eight, hold one two three four.” He continued counting out loud as he breathed slowly.

Danny’s eyes never wavered from him, his lips moving as he to silently counted. After what seemed like an eternity he lowered his head once more, only this time he was breathing slowly. He relaxed his arms and shoulders letting his hands fall to his lap. “It’s alright.” Said Luke slowly patting the boys arm he’d felt the pulse slow. “You are alright. It was just a panic attack.”

Angelica’s eyes snapped to Luke and she mouthed the word, “Panic attack?” He couldn’t blame her for having missed it, even if she must have seen it happen to her other kids before.

Nodding slowly Danny drew a shaking breath. “S…Sorry.” He said still shivering.

“You don’t have to apologize. You couldn’t help it.” Said Luke, wanting to know what had triggered it. Had it been his question, a smell, a sound, memory. Why had Danny suddenly had a panic attack, sure it could have been just a random occurrence but he’d been calm and relaxed a moment before. “Has this happened to you before?” he asked falling back on his training.

Danny started breathing in short bursts once more and Luke thought he was starting to hyper ventilate again when he realized that Danny was laughing. What is wrong with this kid?

“I’ve lost count.” Said Danny straightening, he lifted his face to the sky and closed his eyes. “God, I thought they’d stopped.” He breathed, fingers pressing hard against the back of his right hand.

“Do you know why it happened?” asked Luke straightening.

That piercing blue eye of Danny’s opened and stared at him. “I don’t know, what do you think?” he countered running his hands through his hair, exploring the short part at his neck and behind the ears.

“You want me to finish?” asked Angelica combing his hair to the side with her fingers.

Danny nodded and the woman took out her scissors. Luke sighed and returned to his seat on the table trying to figure out how to get answers from Danny. He wanted to help the kid, he could see that things weren’t right with him, the question was just how he’d get Danny to let him help.

“Hospitals.” Said Danny getting Luke to look up at him.

“What?” he asked.

“I panic when I’m at hospitals or places like that. Sometimes it’s on the way there, sometimes it’s when I’m there.” He shrugged. “Mainly the reason I avoid doctors. I’d rather not have a panic attack on top of everything else.”

“I see.” Said Luke slowly and it took him a moment to realize that Danny had actually answered his question and opened up to him. “Do you trust me?” he asked wanting him to feel safe in his presence.

“I can ask you the same.” Retorted Danny. “Do you trust me?” He leveled his gaze on Luke.

“Yes.” Said the man automatically.

Rolling his eyes Danny gave him a look that had disbelief written all over it. “No you don’t. We just met less than a week ago. Trust takes time. For all you know I could be a runaway nutcase. Or worse a serial killer. There is not much to build trust on between us.”

“Again with the dark thoughts.” Sighed Angelica combing through Danny’s hair, making sure it was even. “For all we know you could be a superhero.” She pocketed the scissor and comb, ruffling Danny’s hair making it stand out at familiar odd angles. “You are right saying that we don’t know you.” She continued drawing Danny’s gaze on her. “But if everyone thought that the person they just met was bad no one would ever trust the other. That’s why we always begin by thinking the other is a nice person and trusting that they won’t stab us in the back.”

Danny blinked up at her a couple of times before lowering his eyes staring at his hands. Luke exchanged a look with Angelica who busied herself putting her things back in the box they came in. He wanted to say something to the boy but the pondering look on his face made Luke hesitate. Angelica’s words had made him stop and think, as if he’d actually thought that everyone was a bad persona, or maybe he thought everyone saw him as the bad guy. Or Luke could just be psychoanalyzing things he had no understanding off.

Getting up Luke dug out a plain paper bag from his sports bag, “I got the painkillers I said I was going to bring.” He told the boy who looked up, his gaze was miles away and it took him a moment to come back to the present.

The scowl Danny gave Luke could curdle milk. “I don’t need ‘em.” Hissed Danny, brushing of his shoulders and standing up. He was nowhere near Luke’s height and the man had to keep himself from bending down to his level.

“It’s nothing strong, simply better than aspirin, I heard you yesterday you know.” Retorted Luke, handing the bag to Danny. “Do you remember what I told you what could happen if you don’t take them?”

Licking his lips Danny frowned and looked down, his eyes moving as if he was searching for something in his memories. “Deep breathe?” he asked lifting his gaze.

Luke could almost see how young the boy was at that moment, his face was open in question as if he genuinely wanted to know the answer. “Yes, with broken ribs one tends to take shallow breaths to avoid the pain, which in the long run can…” Luke trailed of looking staring at Danny, something was not right with this picture, not wrong, but not as it should be either. “Take as deep a breath as you can for me?” he asked.

Rolling his right shoulder Danny drew in a deep breath wincing a little but didn’t stopping until he couldn’t draw in more air and then breathed out. “On a scale of one to ten where one is nothing and ten the worst you ever felt, how bad is the pain?” Asked Luke staring at the boy, he shouldn’t have been able to do what he just did, not after one day, had he been wrong in thinking his ribs were broken? No Danny himself had said they were. Then again what did a teenager know about broken bones. Luke shuddered at that thought. There were kids who, from personal experience, knew a lot more about broken bones than he did.

Lifting his right hand Danny pointed to it. “This was an eight.” He said and Luke could see faint straight scars merging with crocked ones. “That makes the ribs a three, four if something presses against them.” He shrugged. “I don’t need painkillers for my ribs and if I stay off my leg I can go without any at all.”  He lowered his hands. “Thanks for your concerned but as I’ve been telling Angelica. I am Fine.” He said limping over to the kitchen door.

Turning to Angelica Luke gave her a meaningful look. She shrugged glancing back at Danny before taking a step closer to him. “I know.” She said.