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Accepting Was Harder Then Admitting

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"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."

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.

Chapter Text

The Far Frozen was just as the name suggested, it was freezing and far out of the way but beautiful none the less. Vlad could see why Danny loved it so much. The natural green lighting that shone throughout the Ghost Zone was absent here. Here it was bluer and felt less like the ghost zone and more like some frozen tundra on earth if you didn't look up at the swirling vortex that surrounded everywhere in the Ghost Zone.

Frostbite stood on a small platform built for the occasion looking solemn with his head down and his clasped in front of him. Next to him stood a 7-foot statue of the Ghost boy, the Hero of the Ghost Zone, the great one, or as Vlad loved to call him, little badger. It was rather lifelike. It captured him in his familiar pose after the two white rings passed over him as he shouted his catchphrase. Around the middle of the Phantom statue was two rings that opened about a foot and showed Danny's human clothes underneath. Jazz wondered how they could catch his likeness and his determined look in ice so well, but she chalked it up to ghost powers.

The entirety of Frostbite's race and a majority of the ghosts Danny knew, whether they were friend or foe, had shown up for the… occasion. Vlad, Sam, Tucker, and Jazz all stood in the front, trying to avoid looking at each other and everyone surrounding them. Even Valerie was there unbeknownst to them; she came to see if he really was dead though when she found out, she didn't feel that overwhelming satisfaction she hoped to feel, but instead, she felt like there was a hole in her chest, one that hurt to even think about.

Tucker had his arm around Sam as she tried her hardest not to cry. She refused to be the wailing girl at a funeral, but it was virtually impossible to stop them when she thought of her best friend. Jazz stood between them and Vlad; she knew that even if Danny was okay with him that his friends weren't that comfortable with him being there. He was the cause of half of Danny's problems for the first two years he had his powers. They didn't know the circumstances between Vlad's changed behavior or Danny suddenly trusting him, but they accepted it somewhat. They had trusted Danny to make the right decision. Who were they to get in between the only Halfas in the world?

Vlad stood next to them but looked like he was a thousand miles away. His hands were clasped in front of him, much like Frostbite, but they sagged and shook slightly as he tried to convince himself it wasn't his fault. That he wasn't the true reason everyone was gathered in this frozen wasteland.

Frostbite finally brought his head up and looked over the sea of faces, each one grimmer than the last. His eyes flickered briefly over the four humans, including Valarie in the back then back to the older Halfa. Frostbite knew that Vlad was there when it happened, but he and Jasmine weren't forthcoming with the information, each getting paler at the mere mention of that night or how the great one died. They merely said they all made a mistake and left it at that, going to each other for comfort.

The leader of the Far Frozen took a deep breath, preparing mentally for what he had to do. He was hoping he would never have to do this, hoping that even if he did, Phantom would have been old and ready.

"Friends, this is a rare event having a funeral for a Ghost, but the great one wasn't an ordinary Ghost." The ice armed ghost began, a morose chuckle wavering through the crowd. " He was a bridge between our worlds — someone who made a difference, even if he won't be able to see it. And look what a difference the Great One has made. Human's and Ghosts alike mourn his passing. Because we all knew he was something special, even if we hated him for it..." He paused, taking a deep shuddering breath, "or loved him for it."

"The Hero of the ghost zone wasn't someone who gave up easily and wouldn't try to hurt anyone if he could take all of the pain for himself. He was more than any of us deserved."

Vlad stiffened, gripping Jasmine tighter as the words pierced his already shattered heart. He took a gasping breath, struggling to keep his tears in. Frostbite was right; none of them deserved Daniel. Least of all him.
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Vlad growled when he heard a knock on his mansion door. For crumpet's sake, it was 4 in the morning, and he wasn't in a good mood as it was. His latest plan to kill Jack failed because the bumbling idiot used the trap for a part to build a new weapon. He knew of course who had neutralized it in the first place, so it didn't hurt him. Why did Daniel have to be so irritatingly good all the time? He messed up all the time, but he always tried to protect people, and it got more annoying every time he did it.

With a pissed look, Vlad yanked the door open more than ever pissed he let his butler go home for the night. If he were still here, he wouldn't have to deal with what was on his doorstep.

And what a problem he had to deal with.

"Daniel, what a wonderful surprise." He quipped sarcastically at the frail teenager. The younger Halfa had his head down and his arms wrapped around himself as if the shield himself from what Vlad was saying. He shivered at the biting cold of the night, being he was only in his short sleeved t-shirt and his raggedy jeans he always seemed to be wearing.

They stood that way for a couple of moments, Daniel shivering and Vlad getting more irritated as the moments passed.

"Good talk, see you tomorrow," Vlad called as he rolled his eyes at the unresponsive Hero and began to close the door on him, honestly not wanting to deal with whatever this was.

Suddenly a hand shot out to stop the door from shutting on the teen. The billionaire looked down at Danny with a raised eyebrow at the sudden movement as he lifted his head and finally looked at the elder Halfa.

His eyes were pleading and were wet with unshed tears." Vlad, I need help." His voice was weak and pitiful and sounded broken as he practically begged for Vlad to do something even if he didn't understand what it was.

Vlad had never felt worried like he did at that moment.

He rushed Danny in, finally taking in the feeling of giving up Daniel gave off which only served to worry him more. The boy stood awkwardly in his main hall as if second-guessing his decision of coming here. Vlad was afraid he would fly off at any second with the way he was twitching and looking at the door.

As a safety measure, he flicked the switch for his ghost shield to ensure he learned the full truth of whatever was plaguing Daniel so much that he chose to go to arch nemesis, aka Vlad.

Vlad put a gentle hand on Daniel's back and lead him to his living room, which was just off of the main hall. When he got Daniel set down on one of his couches, he sat down in the one across from him and just stared at him.

He hadn't the foggiest why the boy would show up at his door with such a pleading look, so he would wait the child out and hope for some explanation.

"Vlad" He began with a deep breath, albeit a little shaky, "I can't do this anymore. I can't watch my parents build weapons to destroy me then destroy the weapons. I can't deal with them trying to kill me then yelling at me when I come home late because of them. I can't deal with the bad grades or the constant bullying that no one believes because the bruises heal too fast. I...I can't deal with the fact that my teachers have just given up on me to the point where they expect me not to be in class, and if I am, it's a pleasant surprise. I can't deal with fighting you and knowing you could potentially kill me at any time." He looked up from his hands to Vlad, before quickly looking back down at Vlad's shocked expression at his admission.

"I can't deal with this anymore, Vlad." He choked out, a sob trying to escape the confines of his throat, " I don't want to deal with this anymore."

Daniel looked at Vlad again before reluctantly shoving his arms out in front of himself. He stayed silent, tears gently streaming down the teen's face. The elder sent him a curious look before grabbing Daniel's wrist and pulling it closer to get a good look at whatever the child wanted him to see.

If Vlad looked hard enough, he could see faint lines of healed over scars that they could get if they attacked a specific area over and over, which Vlad only knew through meticulous testing. Something told him that wasn't the case here.

The lines were too faint to notice unless you knew what you were looking for and it finally clicked in Vlad's head what Daniel was talking about, why he was going on about not being able to take it anymore.

At Vlad's look of realization, Danny pulled his arms back and hugged them tightly around himself again, trying hard to protect himself from the outside world. "V-Vlad, I just want it to end so badly."

Before Vlad knew what he was doing, he was kneeling in front of the young Halfa with his arms wrapped tightly around him, tight enough that bruises might form in the morning regardless of their super healing. Daniel just gave another heart-wrenching sob. "Little Badger, I am so sorry. " He whispered in his ear, silently vowing to himself to never hurt the boy again, no matter the circumstance.

He would protect this child, even if it was from himself.

__________________________

Vlad finally gave out a choked sob; similar to the one that Danny had given that same night they made an unspoken truce. The funeral had only just begun, and Vlad could already feel his shattered heart splintering further.

Frostbite, with some difficulty, since he knew how close the vampiric Ghost had gotten to the Great One, continued as if he hadn't heard the sob ring out over the hushed crowd, " Phantom was my student for a little while. I loved the Ghost child before he ever stepped foot in my domain; I revered him as the Savior we needed. After, I loved him more but knew he was just that, a child. A child I would die a second death for. A child who was more worried about the safety of everyone over himself. A child who should not have had to face half the things he had to, to protect all of us."

Frostbite looked over the crowd again, knowing if even half the ghosts here hunted him down and hated him, they respected the Halfa.

"There is much to say about Danny Phantom and Danny Fenton, but let someone else who cared for both sides come and speak."

The Ice Ghost waved towards Vlad Masters, stepping back as he let the Halfa extract himself from the Hero's sister and try his hardest to make himself presentable.

Slowly, Vlad walked to the center stage, gazing at the large crowd gathered in the Far Frozen. He eyes briefly landed on a half-hidden Valerie amongst the Ghosts, her hand covering her mouth with tears streaming down her face from her shocked eyes.

Right, she never knew, he mutedly though to himself. His gaze wandered to the ice sculpture, his protege standing in all his glory, forever silent.

He cleared his throat and straightened his bolo tie, now for the hardest part of being here.

"Daniel was more than just a vigilante for the Human world. He was... he was like a son to me. " He smiled gently at Jasmine who now leans against the Tucker boy. " He was a marvel wrapped in a tiny package. He surprised me every day with the lengths he would go to protect the people he loved. And I was truly honored to be a part of that group over the last two years."

"Many wondered why we had a truce in the first place after such animosity. I mean, the boy revealed me naked on tv before!" There was a spattering of somber chuckles through the crowd, a few remembering Vlad's rampage after that stunt.

" In all honesty, we had a truce because he was a good person. He may have kicked a few of our rumps from time to time, but he did it all in the name of his beloved home town. He did because no one else would."

"And he was loved for it."

Sam could feel the tears now streaming down her face with no sign of stopping. Tucker squeezed her shoulders, trying to comfort her, but she could barely feel it over the torrent of emotions swirling through her body.

She felt so angry, why was Vlad there but not her? Why did Danny trust that god damn fruitloop but not her? Why did he even think it was a good idea to tell his parents? Why did... Why did he have to die?

The rage left her so quickly, filed by regret and pain, causing her to give out a heart-wrenching cry that rang through the hushed crowd.

She should have been there and maybe, just maybe... they could have gone on that date.

_________________________________

"Danny," Sam shouted, trying to get his attention as she saw him fly down the street. She thought it was strange he wasn't actually flying when he seemed in such a hurry, but she didn't ask. "Danny!" She shouted louder, which finally got his attention. He turned towards her, looking shocked someone was calling him before he gave the biggest smile he'd given in the longest time and trotted back over to her.

"What up, Sam?" He asked with the same giddy smile on his face, sunshine shining through his entire body.

She almost laughed at his upbeat attitude, but held her tongue being this was the first time in the longest time she had seen him this happy. "What's up with me? What up with you? You're practically shining rainbows out your ass!" She decided to question instead, really curious know what could make her friend act like a hyperactive puppy.

"I'm going to finally tell them!" he exclaimed, his smile becoming infectious and making Sam crack a small one in return. "I can finally stop worrying about being hunted by own parents and keeping secrets from them. Vlad helped me realize I have nothing to fear; the worse they would do is yell at me for not telling them sooner. They're my parents, and they love me, right?" His voice wavered slightly at the end as if his previous doubts were getting to him again, but he seemed to dismiss them just as quickly, and he went back to upbeat personality.

Sam was genuinely happy; he finally was going to tell his parents. He was right, wasn't he? They loved him too much to do anything terrible. "Just make sure they don't start putting a limit on your powers now too." She joked as Danny's smile just got wider.

"As if they could stop!"

"They have anti-ghost shields, Danny. Flip that on; you're grounded, literally." She easily countered, grinning as he paused to think that one over.

"Damn, you're right. Guess I'll have to keep my nose clean."

"And get better grades."

Danny actually whined at that, " Saaaammmm! You're ruining my big day!"

"Hey! Someone in our group has to be the practical one!"

"Hey, uhm, Sam?" Danny suddenly shifted awkwardly, now seeming nervous about something. His former bounce becoming dampened slightly and his shoes becoming incredibly interesting.

Sam watched him curiously, wondering what could have brought on this sudden change in demeanor, "Yea?" She answered, albeit a little cautiously.

"Do you have anything planned tonight? After I tell them we could uh go to the movies or something. It'll probably be over quick. I mean I'm going to see them now, so by tonight we should be good and everything" He glanced up at her before looking anywhere but here, as if the nearby houses would provide his answer.

"Yea, we can grab Tuck right after too, finally hang out again, it's been what, a week?" She chuckled to herself nervously, not knowing why the movies were such a big deal.

Danny went back to looking at his shoes, "I meant just the two of us. By ourselves. WIthout anyone else. Maybe dinner afterward, too..." He trailed off, waiting for her to get it.

Oh. He wanted to-Oh. Sam blankly looked at him as if her brain stopped functioning for a second before it rebooted. "Oh." , was all she said, her mind not as reset as she would have liked.

Danny grimaced, rubbing his neck in a moved she knew he used to soothe himself, " Yea, I mean, it's alright if you have something planned already, it's incredibly last minute, or you don't have something planned, and you just don't want to go. Which I completely understand! You're this incredible badass who fights ghosts all the time armed with only a thermos! I fight them cause it's literally my fault! You don't have to, but you do! Because you're incredible! And I'm like half-dead which if we dated would make you like half a necrophiliac, which trust me, I understand if that's not your thing. It shouldn't be anyone's thing! But it is, and probably isn't yours and-

She quickly put her hands around his neck and pulled him down into a kiss if only to shut up his rambling. When they finally broke free, she let him go and smirked. "That a good enough answer?" God, she's been waiting to do that for a year. She would have done it sooner, but she didn't want to break his fragile man ego by asking him out first.

Now it was Danny's turn to look like his brain had shut down. Eventually, it started up again, and he looked at Sam as if he was looking at her for the first time. "Y-yea. That was a pretty good answer."

Danny rubbed the back of his neck again, smiling at her with a stupid and dazed grin before he realized he was going somewhere rather important and he couldn't be late. Especially know that he needed it wrapped up as quickly as possible so he could get ready for his date.

" Shit! I got to go! Pick you up at 7!" He shouted over his shoulder as he turned around, changed to his alter-ego in a bright flash, and took to the skies.

That was the last time she saw him alive.

Sam had waited all night in her living room, hoping he had just forgotten, or his parents' had perma-grounded him.

It wasn't until a red-eyed Jazz knocked on her door instead did she realize the worst possible outcome had come true.

________________________________________

Sam began to cry harder as she turned toward Tucker and buried herself into his shirt front. He just calmly wrapped his arm around her in a comforting fashion and held her close. He wanted to cry, but how can you when your eyes just refuse to cooperate. Plus if Danny were there, he would have made fun of him for crying, probably saying something like he'd ruin his electronics if he kept that up.</p>

But Danny wasn't there, and that was the problem.

Vlad gazed sadly at the mourning teen, knowing what Daniel had asked her before he showed up. The child had been gushing about it from the second he entered Vlad's home.

"I was a mentor to Daniel, or at least I tried to be after such a rocky start to our relationship. And it was less ghost fighting and more us wrestling in midair as I tried to force a clown costume on him, succesfully, I might add." He paused for the laughs that rang out, smiling again at Jasmine who gave her own wet laugh, having seen the pictures on the news about Phantom and Plasmius fighting over clowns.

While she was still crying, at least she was remembering the good times, instead of just that accursed night. Daniel was so much more than blood-soaked clothing and fear and deserved to be recognized as such. Maybe Jasmine will even finally talk after this ceremony was over.

" And when we weren't, ahem, clowning around," He heard Tucker snort, "I was helping with his school work. When the boy applied himself in school and not with ruining all my plans, he was a virtual genius. I could never understand why his teachers gave up on such a bright boy. He could have made it to the stars themselves if he wanted to. "

Vlad held a hand over where his Ghostly core resided, watching as the other ghosts in the crowd followed suit.

"Daniel deserved the stars. I only wish I could have given them to him."

With that final statement, he stepped down, moving back to his place next to Jasmine and his old friend Skulker. He opened his arms to gently take the young woman into his embrace, resting his head on hers.

Frostbite took center stage once again, his eyes misting over with unshed tears he refused to let fall. If he did then none one would be able to honor Danny, and he refused to let that happen. He gazed over the crowd again. The Ghosts had their head down in respect; a few even had their hands over their cores like Vlad had done moments earlier, a symbol at funerals for them to go safely to the world beyond theirs. It was the sign of ultimate respect and honor to the twice deceased.

Now he couldn't stop his own tears from finally making their descent into the fur that lined his face. Phantom was truly being honored in a way he should have been in life.

Jazz looked around mutedly and was surprised at the number of ghosts there. She could have sworn half the Ghosts there hated her brother and wanted to kill him, like Skulker who was standing a few feet from his friend Vlad and right next to his girlfriend Ember with his head down and hand over his core. Even Walker was there, though his head wasn't down and he started at the statue with what looked like anger as if staring at the icon would bring Danny back so he could finally make him serve his sentence in full. Eventually, he gave up on staring at the statue and put his head down, lightly mumbling about rule breakers.

It was all too much for the young adult, to see all of his enemies and friends, paying respects to him. It marked that her brother was genuinely dead and she just couldn't handle it. She leaned further into Vlad, who had become her support system and was relieved when he squeezed her tighter and held her like a father would, knowing that was what she needed. She let her tears fall silently as she squeezed her eyes shut, ignoring the way Vlad's tears were wetting her hair like she was wetting his suit, and whispered mostly to herself, " How will I live without him?"

Vlad tried to act like he didn't hear the first words she spoke since that night three days ago because it hurt too much. Everything hurt. He was the one who was supposed to die. Danny was supposed to grow old with Samantha, and they would have had children because Daniel never shut up about having kids of his own one day when they got onto that topic. Danny was supposed to save people and be the Hero and fly free for the rest of his long, happy life. It wasn't supposed to go anything like this at all.

The first Ghost funeral should have been his own, and a lot less populated.

"Let Danny Phantom and Danny Fenton live forever in our cores as he passes to the realm beyond this one" Frostbite called out, signaling the end. He raised a single palm upwards, igniting it with ecto-energy and watching as all those with their own copied his movements. "To The Savior of The Ghost Zone!" With that, he unleashed his blast into the sky. Dozens upon dozens followed suit, the energy all exploding in the icy blue sky in a dazzling display of multicolor lights

There were yells through the crowd at the lights, many just yelling Danny over and over as the energy dissipated, bringing an end to the funeral of Danny Phantom.

Many of the Ghosts began flying away, making their way back to their own domains with heavy hearts, leaving the frozen wasteland to hopefully never return.

Except two, who stood over a cliff edge far above the proceedings, watching like silent sentinels.

One wore a cloak, which hid their face but didn't dispel the sound of ticking from their chest, nor it's seemingly random shape changing. Even as he kept changing sizes, his hood always stayed on his head, shielding his face from the ghosts below. Next to him, crying was a pale boy with snowy white hair and glowing green eyes. He had a white bandage wrapped around his middle, covering the gaping hole his own parents made in a moment of snap judgment.

" Phantom, you can go down there and tell them you're a ghost. They would accept you with open arms." The now child formed Ghost of time told the weeping boy next to him.

Phantom shook his head, the tears falling around him. " I'm forgetting who I am and what I used to even do. I.. I have no idea who half those people are except... I know I should be protecting those humans from some of those Ghosts. Clockwork, why can't I remember why?." Danny wiped his face of tears, wondering why he was even crying in the first place. They felt out of place like they weren't even his emotions in the first place.

Clockwork looked at his charge sadly, knowing the transformation had already begun. He had hoped that the Halfa would have been as unique in death as he was in life. But he supposed this wasn't the timeline for that. It was probably the best, anyway.

If he remembered, well, it was never good when a Ghost remembered their untimely death, especially one so young and tragic.

The ghost boy looked down at his hands and then his abdomen as he let two white rings separate from his middle and head in opposite directions as if repelled by each other. In Phantom's place stood the corpse of Danny Fenton. The ghost boy looked up at Clockwork for answers, but he just smiled morosely at him before leading him away from the funeral where he remembered no one, even those that would always remember him.

"Phantom, you are a very special ghost, but for you to stay in my tower, I need you to change back to your true form. We can't have you walking around as a dead human in the Ghost Zone."

The newly formed Ghost nodded his head and quickly changed back before being led away by his mentor. He trusted Clockwork completely. How could he not? He was the only Ghost he knew.