"No, god no. This can't be happening. It wasn't supposed to go like this, Daniel." He whispered to the crumpled body that was he was clutching protectively as the emerald liquid stained his suit pants. He just wanted to help. He was asked to help! It wasn't supposed to fall apart like this.
He saw movement from the corner of his eye and all but growled at the person. They weren't allowed anywhere near him anymore. Not after what they did to the poor boy. No, no one was allowed near him.
Jazz walked forward slightly more, hands out in a peaceful gesture, hoping that Vlad saw it as such and would let her closer, while her parents stood very far behind her not willing to get anywhere near the grief-ridden billionaire. Not after the fact he almost killed them both seconds ago when they shot Phantom. They were very thankful that Jazz somehow stopped him but confused all the same.
Vlad buried his face in the crook of Danny's neck, his white hair tickling the side of his face, wishing to anything, anything at all, that there was actually a pulse going in that neck. Or that he was making some sarcastic comment. Please, anything but the silence.
Vlad Masters lifted his head, his blue eyes shining from his held back tears, to Jasmine's voice. She had tried to help. She wanted to save him. She can get near Daniel, she's good.
"Vlad, I need my brother" He vaguely took note of the way, Jack and Maddie flinched when she called the ghost in his hand her brother. He nearly growled again, but they weren't worth it. His grip on his Daniel tightened reflexively when he realized she asked for him. She can get near him, but taking him wouldn't do. They'd just hurt him again.
"Vlad, please. Danny needs help, and you just holding him won't get it to him. He has to be still alive. He's still Phantom." Vlad was barely aware of what she said, though the words he needs help and he might still be alive got through to him. He placed Daniel on the ground of his living room in front of him, allowing Jasmine to get closer to him to see his wounds.
She looked up briefly to Vlad when she first put her hand on Danny then when he didn't attack her, she proceeded to check him over and sucked in a breath when she saw the extent. She glanced behind her at her parents, giving them a look Vlad assumed was a glare.
Maddie and Jack still hadn't talked since the first fired on their son, thinking even after he showed them that he was just the ghost boy. They shot him, and now he was hurt. Now he wasn't moving. After they practically disowned their own child, Vlad nearly killed them, not giving a damn that one of them was the love of life. Daniel trusted them, and they blew it.
He brought them all here so it'd be easier on Daniel. He asked for Vlad to be there when he told them because it was partly his secret as well. Daniel just wanted a better life with no secrets. He was so sure they would accept him. He even managed to convince Vlad that their love for him would outshine any malice they held for Phantom. But it didn't. They thought he was a monster and Vlad was about to show them who the real monster was when he distantly heard Jasmine start to speak again.
"Vlad, I… I can't help him. His wounds are too much an-and he's not healing, and we can't take him to the hospital because… because…" She looked up to Vlad again, this time her own eyes spilling with tears as she realized there was no way for her to help her brother. "Vlad, what do we do?" She whispered, as her own shirt began to stain green from her trying to help her little brother, the hero, the braver one, the one who could make a truce with the man who had been trying to kill his father and get his mother for years, the one who could invite said man to help him tell his parents about his secret. She didn't know what she'd do without Danny, and she really didn't want to find out.
Vlad just stared at Daniel, unsure what to do himself. He could try calling in his team of medical experts, the ones who have been helping him with a few ghostly illnesses that have plagued him over the years but there was no way they could get to Daniel in time even if he flew them himself. He needed them here 10 minutes ago. Damn it he should have had them on standby when he learned what Daniel was doing, but he was so sure of himself, that they'd accept him. He couldn't save Daniel; there was nothing he could do. He can only teleport himself, and flying too fast might injure him more. He reached for Daniel, holding his arm as Jasmine cradled him. His finger found his wrist, gently applying pressure and hoping beyond hope something would show.
A minute passed, and not a single beat reached his fingertips.
He looked up at the love of his life... no. Not anymore not after what she did. He stood up silently and started to make his way to the murders when he remembered who else was in the room.
"Jasmine, stay by your brother."
Jazz was startled by Vlad's voice. It was the first time she heard him talk since her parents... She looked up at him and saw him staring away from her towards her parents, and she finally understood why he wanted her to stay by Danny. " Vlad, please, leave them we have to help Danny" She grabbed onto his sleeve hoping he'd listen to her, she didn't want to lose more of her family.
He briefly looked down at her and saw the desperation in her eyes. He shook off her arm from him and went back to looking at her mother and Jack before kneeling next to Jasmine. He pulled her into a hug, the green stains on her shirt getting all over his what used to be a white dress shirt. " I'm sorry Jasmine" He whispered in her ear as he hugged her tighter, wishing he didn't have to do what he was going to, but someone had to avenge Daniel. " Your brother is dead. I...I.. there was no way and... He'll stay as Phantom till his body thinks the threat is gone, maybe not even then. I'm so sorry, Jasmine. I should have never let him do this." He closed his eyes as he buried his face in Jasmine's fiery hair wishing he couldn't hear her sobs. Too many wishes tonight, it was time he actually did something. He let go of Jazz, his ice-cold gaze turning back to her parents. They were horrified and shocked that their daughter was crying over a ghost, to the point of gasping for breath between sobs.
"He can come back as a ghost, r-right? Then everything will be okay, and we'll be happy again, please Vlad! Tell me he can come back!" Jasmine's voice cracked in between her sobs, breaking Vlad's heart further. Vlad refused to look at her now. If he looked back, he'd be just as lost.
"Jasmine, I don't know what happens when we die. It a mystery I was supposed to find out first." He sighed, trying to keep his voice clinical and cold but ultimately failing. He shouldn't be alive while Daniel was dead. That wasn't how this was supposed to go. " If he comes back, Jasmine, I need you to understand, he won't be the same person he once was. He will simply be an echo, an imprint of himself."
This time Jazz didn't respond, opting instead to cry against her brother. Her little twerp of a brother who made her smile every chance he got. Her little brother who tried to keep her safe even when the trouble was her fault. Her little brother who was now... oh god. She wrapped her hands around his still body, wishing to anything at all that he was still there.
When Jasmine stopped responding, Vlad began walking forward to her parents again. They will pay for the mistake they made. This was worse than anything they did to him. He was going to hurt them in ways they couldn't even imagine. Ways that he promised Daniel he would never do again to a single human being. Well, He was still making good on that promise, these weren't people, they were monsters.
Jack looked nervously from the stalking Vlad Masters to his daughter, who seemed inconsolable over a ghost they finally got the jump on. He couldn't seem to understand this sudden twist in loyalties from his best friend and child. None of this seemed to make sense.
A quick glance to his left showed his wife in a similar state of confusion. Good, at least he wasn't the only one who lost his sensibilities.
"V-Man, come on," He shifted from one foot to the other, glancing back at his wife for help, "it was just a ghost. I know as host you should have first rights at shooting the creatures, and I didn't mean to stain your carpets, honestly, I didn't know they bled that much..." He trailed off when Vlad raised a single hand, commanding him to stop without a single word.
"Just a ghost." The billionaire repeated emotionlessly.
"By just a ghost," Maddie interrupted, placing a gentle hand on her nervous husband, " He meant Phantom. We know you made a whole campaign against ridding Amityville of Ghosts. As the number one ghost enemy, you should have been able to get to him first." She tried, attempting to appease the furious Mayor.
"Just a ghost," Vlad repeated, the anger he was feeling biting into his words. "Just a ghost!"
"Was he just a ghost when he saved this godforsaken town over and over! Was he just a ghost when he made me promise not to hurt your pathetic oaf of a husband anymore!"Vlad knew he was losing control of his emotions. He knew his hands were sparking with electricity, even in his human form. He knew they were stepping away in fear as his anger made his eyes flash red. He knew all this he just... didn't care anymore. "Was he just a ghost...when he believed you two loved him more then you hated him?"
And just like that, his anger was gone, the bone-aching sorrow quickly filling the gap and leaving him cold. The electricity fizzled out on his hands, and his eyes return to their standard shade of blue, only holding pure scorn for the two people in front of him.
"He trusted you." He whispered, not entirely sure if he was whispering it them or himself.
"Why would he trust us?" Jack couldn't help but ask. All they've ever done was shoot at the specter and yell they were going to tear him apart molecule by molecule. That didn't exactly inspire a whole load of trust.
"Because he was your son!" Vlad roared, tears finally breaking through and streaming down his face. " Because he loved you! Because despite all evidence to the contrary, he believed in a better world! Where you two would finally accept him for who he was!
"That's not our son."
His eyes whirled on Maddie, the tear-filled rage now hitting her full force. She took an involuntary step back, unused to such emotions from the normally stoic man.
"That's... That's not our son." She repeated when he didn't say anything but look at her like she was dirt beneath his feet. "Danny is at home. We left him there!"
She had left Danny at home, so how could he have been there? She knew how much he hated Vlad, so when he invited them to his house, she expected his being "sick" though his snide comments about Vlad had stopped within the last year. Danny had no way of getting here faster than them anyway. No, Phantom was just trying to play on their nurturing personalities for their children. No way in hell was she going to let some specter do that to her family, though it seemed he already got to Jazz. Maddie thought her daughter would have been smarter than to talk to ghosts, let alone befriend them. She'll see when they get home though that her brother was fine and alive. It wasn't possible anyway for a human to be a ghost. You were one or the other. There was no such thing as someone stuck in-between.
Vlad just laughed at her, it was a bitter laugh as if he had nothing else to lose. "You stupid woman. Even when the evidence is right in front of you, you won't believe what your mistakes have done for a second time. Didn't you ever wonder why Daniel had started to get such bad grades? Or why he wasn't getting enough sleep even though he was going to bed earlier and earlier each day?! Or why he was coming home with bruises?!" Vlad took a step forward, eyes accusing them of all the terrible things they never noticed, or cared to, before
"Didn't you?!" He screamed when they didn't respond, " He was trying so hard, but instead of understanding or trying to help him, you yelled at him for slacking off as you hunted him every night!"
He understood what Daniel was going through all too well because he had come to him for help when they still considered each other enemies. He came to someone he viewed as a villain to his comic book hero personality for help. He was so tired of being hurt by his own family he was tempted to kill himself to just end it all. He came to his door sobbing and with fresh cuts that healed to fast for him to do anything.
That was the last time Vlad ever hurt Daniel, and he only hurt him that night when he hugged him so tight he left bruises on his arms. He then started fearing for the son he never had's life.
"You monsters hurt him because you were too stupid to see what was in front of you the whole time! How could you not see what your idiotic portal has done to the people around you?!""
"Vlad-" Jack started only to be stopped when his wife put a hand in front of them, her eyes narrowing at Vlad.
"What do you mean a second time?" She questioned, recalling something he said moments before. Jack looked between his best friend and his wife, confused about where this was going? Who cared what he said a couple of minutes ago? His friend was hurting!
"Finally showing some intelligence," Vlad sneered as he took a step back, not caring his most precious secret was about to be revealed. It was going to be anyway if this night had gone the way they planned. They both were going to come clean." Haven't you ever wondered why me and Daniel had such strife between us? Something that was so eerily similar to Plasmius's and Phantom's? You couldn't have honestly thought we were so petty that we fought because I was in love with you? That they fought so much because Plasmius though he was "evil" and Phantom was "good." We were never so childish."
He heard Madeline whisper no as those black lights appeared around his middle. Vlad felt the familiar sense of energy going through his body, each traveling in the opposite direction. It gave him a burst of energy through his body, electricity crackling, making sure he was well aware there was no way this was a nightmare.
And in place of Vlad Masters, stood the menacing form of Vlad Plasmius.
"Your son wasn't the only half ghost you two created."
The two ghost hunters eyes grew wide, taking in the vampiric form of Plasmius that was once their friend, who looked at them now as if he could and would kill them if he had his way.
"I... I don't understand." Madeline whispered.
"No, why would you?" Plasmius mocked, " After I was hospitalized, you two only cared about your upcoming nuptials. When Daniel was shocked to death in the accursed portal, all you two cared about was that it was on. You were so blind to what was going on around you, you never noticed your child was hurting. That your "best friend" wanted nothing more than your husband's utter destruction."
"And now, now you killed the only thing that was stopping me from hurting you."
Maddie dropped to her knees as she realized what this meant while Jack took an involuntary step back. He said that… that… oh god her son. Her baby was d-dead. Oh, god, please no. Jasmine looked back at her as she put a hand to her mouth to try to stifle a sob. Her eyes only held contempt for her, and it broke her heart more than it already was. It was the final straw in her sanity as she started crying for her son. Her son, who thought they hated him as he died in Vlad's arms.
Plasmius gave a bitter bark of laughter, pain and sorrow mingling into a burst of insanity that sent shivers down the ghost hunters' spines. "That was the reaction I was waiting for! The utter disgust in yourself! The self-loathing that you're the cause of all this! The realization that you killed your own son!" He screamed, hands lighting up with his signature pink ectoplasm. He wanted so badly to just shoot it off at one of them. He just needed one of them to give him a reason, give him a chance to show them the real monster in the room.
Jack was less silent in his shock, "but… no... y-you're my friend! Danny would have told us when it first happened!" His eyes turned to his daughter, pleading her to understand even with so much evidence in front of them, that it was all a lie, it had to be.
Vlad let loose his blast, inches from the ridiculous oaf's feet. The man yelped, jumping back and looking at Vlad with absolute shock coloring his face.
"Don't you even look at her," He growled, electricity crackling off his body as he refused to reign in his emotions.
"She's my daughter! And-And he's my son! They would have told me if something like this happened!"
This time Jasmine spoke up in her brother's defense, "He didn't say anything because all you guys ever talk about was tearing him apart molecule by molecule! Well, you finally got what you wanted!" She cried, gripping the still form of Danny tighter and burying her face in his neck to hide her sobs.
Vlad sent Jack a cold glare, making him take another step back. "I've tried to kill you, Jack. And you just killed the only person that convinced me to give up on trying to after twenty years of dealing with you living with the love of my life. I'm not going to kill you two, no that wouldn't be kind to Jasmine, and unlike you two, I care about her, and I cared about her brother. No, I will leave you to think about the fact that you killed your own child because you were so blind and couldn't see what was right in front of you the whole time." With that final statement, he headed back toward Jasmine.
He helped her up from the floor, then picked up the body of Danny, carrying him bridal style, shifting him slightly, so his head rested on his shoulder. If he didn't know better, he would have thought he was just sleeping. Some time while he was dealing with his parents, Daniel's body had changed back to its natural human state, sensing that there was no longer a threat." Let's go, Jasmine." He said, looking over to the somber 18-year-old.
She didn't look at him, opting to just stare at her shoes "Where are we going?"
Vlad's heart would have broken if it hadn't done so already. Her voice was weak and held too much sadness for someone of her age. She was supposed to be getting ready for college in the fall, not mourning her brother's death, not hating her own parents.
" I'm not sure, Jasmine." He replied slowly, thinking about what he was going to do. "You don't have to come with me, but I'm taking Daniel to the Far Frozen in the Ghost Zone. He spoke so fondly of that place, and they'd give him a proper burial. We will find his friends, Samantha and Tucker, and bring them with us. They'd want to be there, and he'd want them to be there." It hurt to speak so matter of factly about what had happened, but Jasmine needed someone to be level headed so she could break down. She needed a rock and Vlad was more than willing to provide.
Jasmine looked up again at her parents, mulling over what Vlad had said. Her mother was still on the floor, her hand still over her mouth as her tears rolled down her face. The shock was too much for her to handle. Her father was standing but just barely. His usual bounce in anything he did was gone, and his eyes were pleading for Jasmine to stay and not go with Vlad. He didn't want to lose another child.
She turned her face to Vlad, who smiled weakly down at her, trying to be stable for her after his emotional outburst. He held out a hand for her to take, offering her a safe place and time to truly mourn. Offering her everything she could no longer get from the people who promised to protect her.
To think, her and Danny once viewed this man as a crazed fruitloop.
She looked back at her parents for the last time and turned back to Vlad. With a quick nod, she moved closer to him and her brother, taking Vlad's outstretched hand. He gingerly wrapped his arm around her, safely cradling her brother in his other. She couldn't help the crazed giggle at the sight. Her brother looked like a baby who passed out, and his parents had to carry back to the car.
Plasmius thankfully didn't call attention to her moment of insanity and just pulled her closer before taking to the skies, leaving Jack and Maddie alone in his living room.
" My baby" Was all Maddie could utter as she broke down again, sobbing into her hands. Jack quickly fell beside her, realizing in one night they lost both their children forever.
And there was nothing they could do to fix it.