Minor Edit: I misspelled the name of Kim's mom a lot so I just changed those. I did not know it was spelled that way. Sorry bout that.
Seven months ago…
Josh Mankey was on top of the world. How could he not be? Everybody had raved about the mural he spent weeks painting in the park. There'd been a whole crowd taking photos of it and he was seeing some of it being shared online. Plus, he'd finally managed to convince his parents to get him the new electric guitar he'd been eyeing for a while. His bandmates were going to freak once he showed up to one of their rehearsals with that bad boy. Honestly, he couldn't wait.
"Yo Josh, wait up man!" Zack, the drummer of their little band caught up to him in the hallway. "You're never going to believe what I just overheard. I'm freakin jealous man!"
"Slow down, dude." Josh said with a smirk. "I know you're already jealous of my good looks but what else did you hear?"
"First of all, you're an ass." Zack elbowed him before throwing an arm over his shoulder. "But dude, I just heard the cheerleaders talking on their way out of practice. Kim freaking Possible is crushing on you hard. I don't know how you did it. You are one lucky son of a bitch you know that?"
Josh blinked in surprise when that little bombshell was dropped on him. If he thought his good mood earlier had peaked, he was dead wrong. Not to brag but he'd had his fair share of admirers in the past but this wasn't just some girl. It was Kim Possible! The girl was gorgeous, captain of the cheerleaders, and not only that, she basically saved the world on a weekly basis! She was so out of anyone's league it was a travesty but if his friend was to be believed, she had her eyes on him.
Oh yeah, it was good to be him right now.
Josh had been too busy grinning like a loon that he wasn't paying full attention to where he was going and bumped into someone.
"Sorry." They mumbled before walking away past him.
"Watch it Fenton!" Zack called back over his shoulder. "Man, what a freak. Can you believe I was actually jealous of the guy? Turns out he was a huge douchebag. Can't believe he'd say those things to his two best friends."
Josh glanced at the retreating back of the raven-haired teen before quickly losing sight of him. Of course, he'd heard all the same rumors anyone else did. The blonde hadn't been there during the big fight but from what he knew, it wasn't pretty. From then on he'd basically shut everyone out and preferred to keep to himself. The two of them shared a few classes and he was often either late or too exhausted to follow the lessons. Hard to believe he was the same guy who won the school's first ever soccer trophy during freshman year. Now he was just some loner everyone avoided.
"Anyway, dude what's your secret?" Zack nudged him. "How do you land a total babe like Possible?"
"Maybe it's because I actually nail my guitar solos when it counts."
Zack scoffed. "You accidentally throw the sticks into the crowd one time and assholes never let you forget it. We'll see who laughs last the next time you guys snap a guitar string or whatever. Come on. We're meeting up at Cooper's house and I cannot wait to see their faces when I tell them Josh Mankey, artist extraordinaire, has caught the attention of the hottest girl in school."
The two friends kept ribbing each other all the way to the home of their bassist to hang out with the rest of their band mates. They weren't the best by any means but they performed for local events a few times and people seemed to like them enough. They often joked that some day they were going to make it big with their songs.
Josh didn't know it then, but his life was about to take a drastic turn that night when a phone call from his sobbing mother delivered the news.
Ann wiped the sweat off her brow as she finally managed to stitch up the large wound. Her patient was still running a bit of a fever but it had gone down considerably compared to when she found him on the road. Thankfully, he only convulsed violently a few times where she had to keep his head steady to avoid any more serious trauma. She made sure to keep a few samples of blood to have it analyzed back at the hospital because his fever was anything but ordinary. If she had to guess, the sharp tool or weapon he was stabbed with had been laced with something that was causing such a visceral reaction. Danny had been sweating profusely and hopefully that managed to flush out most of whatever harmful substance that was circulating his body. With any luck, the worst had passed and he was in stable condition for now.
Unfortunately for her, now that her hands weren't busy going into her "doctor" mode, the enormous gravity of the situation fell on her like a ton of bricks.
Danny Fenton, the nice boy Kim was tutoring, had fallen out of the sky and landed on her car looking on the verge of death. If that wasn't confusing enough, he looked different earlier too with snow white hair and a haunting pair of glowing green eyes. The boy had been so delirious he'd mistaken her for Kim when she got out of the car to check on him. His eyes rolled back into his head before two halos of white light transformed him.
Ann Possible didn't think twice. She quickly gathered him up and buckled him in the back of the car before anyone else could see. Fortunately, the damage to her car was superficial to the point where she could still drive despite the cracked window and the dented hood. She may have gone past the speed limit a few times but time was off the essence and there was no local law enforcement patrolling at the time. The hospital was too far so she went straight home where she hastily set him on the dining table and fetched her med kit from her room and got to work.
Now here she was, slightly winded but more befuddled than anything else as she stared at the unconscious teen.
She knew of the rumors that had been circulating recently and she was very familiar with the incident at Kim's school where people claimed that the cafeteria meat had "come alive" to attack the students. Ann even caught a few snippets of that news program her boys loved to watch. However, she was a person who believed in science like her husband and they both scoffed at the idea of these ghosts. But given recent events, it looks like she might have to reevaluate her stance on the matter.
It was hard to dispute evidence when it was right in front of you.
What she really wanted to know is how Danny, the boy her daughter was beginning to see as more than a friend if her instincts as a mother were correct, fit into all this. He literally fell from the sky and transformed into his normal self. Did that mean he was a ghost as well? But he had a pulse. It was one of the first things she checked. Do ghosts even have a pulse? Weren't they dead? But if that was the case, what on earth was Danny? Did Kim know about this?
So many questions floated around unanswered. She had a feeling that if she wanted any, she would have to ask them from the source. For now, the teen's health was her top priority.
The sound of the telephone made her jump, almost forgetting where she was. Checking the caller ID, it was from the space center. Taking a calming breath, she answered on the third ring. "Hey hun. Still at work?"
"Yep. The top brass is making us burn the midnight oil on this one I'm afraid." James possible chuckled. "They apparently have some new project to announce and keeping it pretty hush. I'm just calling in to say I might be coming home late or tomorrow morning depending on the announcement."
"Alright, just make sure to get something to eat once in a while." Ann said, just a tad bit scolding. "I know how much of a one track mind you have when it comes to work. Don't make me come over there and force feed you in front of your colleagues."
"Ha, that'd be a sight to see." Her husband said. "Don't worry, I will. Well, if I don't get off the clock in the next hour, don't wait up for me. I'll see you all tomorrow. Good night honey. Love you!"
"Alright, love you too." She hung up the phone and sighed. She didn't know how to feel about what her husband just told her. On the one hand, she didn't want him to work too hard. They weren't strangers to long hours on the job because of how taxing their professions could be. However, on the flip side of things, Ann wasn't sure how she would be able to explain her current predicament to any of her family.
Kim wasn't due to return until tomorrow and from the looks of things, her husband might be in the same boat. That just left her twin boys who she was supposed to pick up in an hour. She'd originally planned to drop by the Fenton's house a little early to see how her sons were doing. Obviously, the situation had changed dramatically and there was another problem Anne just realized: Did the Fentons know about their son's…condition?
If she just drove up to them with an unconscious and battered Danny in tow, they would have questions and she wasn't sure how to answer any of them. The mother in her wanted to damn the consequences and return the teen to his parents straight away. Ann knew that if her Kimmy had gotten herself into trouble, she and her husband would want to know about it without delay. But this was beyond the norm and it wasn't like he'd just been caught staying late at a friend's house and drinking booze hidden in an adult's cupboards. Something told her that she needed to tread carefully here.
Coming to a decision, she picked up the phone once more and dialed a number. She only had to wait for a few seconds before Maddie Fenton answered. "Hello, Fenton residence."
"Hi, Maddie it's Ann." The redhead said. "I'm just checking in on the boys. How are they? I hope they're not being too much of a handful."
"Oh Jim and Tim have been a delight to have around." Maddie assured. "They can get a little rambunctious but Jack and I have it handled. We're not showing them anything too dangerous and they're so bright for their age. They learn so fast and I can hardly keep up with all their questions!"
Ann chuckled at her twin's antics. It was always nice hearing about her children's smarts. "That's great. Um, I know this is a bit sudden but can I ask you for a favor? See, I ran into your son Danny-,"
"Danny? I've been trying to get a hold of him all night." The worry in Maddie's voice was palpable. "Is he with you? How is he?"
"He's fine." Ann felt like such a cold-hearted monster for lying to a mother concerned about her son. "In fact, that's part of the favor I was going to ask you about. See, my car broke down on my way home and Danny just so happened to be in the area at the time." Technically the truth. "He helped me push my car all the way home. He's such a nice boy and I feel bad if I just send him on his way at this hour."
"Oh, that's sweet of him. Can you put him on the phone for me?"
"No!" Anne winced as she tried to get her panic to subside. "I mean, he's pretty tired. I cooked him a little dinner and set him up in the guest room before he just passed right out. He must have had a long day before we ran into each other."
"I see." Maddie sighed. "That boy...I worry about him sometimes."
That just made Ann feel even worse for hiding the truth but she had to push through. She tried convincing herself that there must be a reason Danny was keeping this a secret and until she found out the full extent of this situation she landed herself in, she would keep the status quo. For now, at least.
"So, I'm guessing you want us to take care of the boys for the night?" Maddie said.
"As long as it's not a bother."
The short pause had Anne feeling a little nervous.
"Hmm, alright." Maddie agreed. "To be quite honest, I personally miss having kids running around the house and it's no trouble at all. I'm sure they wouldn't mind. Enjoy them while their cheeks are still pinchable, Ann. They grow up so fast."
"I know the feeling and thank you Maddie." Ann sighed in relief. "And you can rest easy about Danny. I'll give him a little stern talk about not calling you when he wakes up. Oh and tell the boys good night for me."
"Will do." Maddie giggled. In the background, there was a bit of a commotion followed by familiar laughter of two boys. "And give mine a good morning when he wakes up. We moms have to stick together, don't we?"
Five months ago.
Josh stared at the tape once again, a habit he began to integrate into his morning routine. It was a security tape he'd manage to swipe and make a copy of from his parent's destroyed café. He'd lost count of how many times he watched the same footage over and over again these few weeks.
His parents were just closing up the business when it happened.
Those things appeared out of nowhere.
The green bulbous octopus phased through the wall followed by a small figure in black and white. They tore and thrashed through the place with little care for anything else besides themselves. His parents ducked for cover under one of the tables while the two freaks of nature battled. His dad tried ushering his mom to the exit but a stray beam of green energy from the more humanoid one caused a shelf to fall. Dad quickly pushed his mom out of the way but in doing so took the brunt of the collapsing furniture.
The blonde's fists clenched as the tape finished, unable to capture the rest of what happened but it didn't matter. He got the gist. He watched this thing so many times that he could recall the entire thing from memory alone. Shutting off the television and stowing away the tape, he quietly made his way down for breakfast but not before stopping just around the corner as he heard his parents speaking in hushed tones.
"…are we going to do about this electric bill?" His mom asked. "If we miss another payment, they'll cut us off with no warning."
"I know honey." His dad replied, frustration clear in his voice. "We'll think of something. I'll try asking my parents for another loan. It worked the last time." He gave out a morose little chuckle.
"I don't want to keep asking other people for handouts Anthony!" Mom hissed. "This isn't a joke. We're three months behind on our mortgage and we could lose the house on top of it. Plus, we have to pay your hospital bills and the treatment."
"Don't you think I'm aware of that!" His dad replied in an equally low angry tone. "Look, arguing about this isn't going to solve anything so can we please just do it for this month? It's pathetic I know and I'm sure it's starting to grate on their nerves but it's our best option for now, alright? It's hard enough to look for a job in my condition."
Mom huffed angrily and grumbled something Josh couldn't make out. It was then that he decided to go back a couple of steps before making his entrance blatantly obvious. "Morning guys."
"Good morning sweetie!" His mom greeted him with a smile. It was amazing how well they hid the traces of their earlier discussion. It was as if it never happened. "We made waffles!"
"Thanks." Josh accepted a plate. He tried to remain upbeat and the delicious breakfast helped just a bit.
"So, I'm sure someone's feeling pretty excited." His dad commented. "Big day today!"
His parents shared an incredulous look which left him even more confused.
"It's your birthday, silly!" His mom shook her head. "Did you honestly forget?"
"Nah, he's just messing with us." Dad laughed. "Nice try son."
Josh tried to match the man's laugh but it felt really hollow as he caught sight of the two crutches leaning on the table next to his father. The doctors said he'd need continuous checkups for his legs and they might never be the same again. Frankly, he did forget that little fact. It was easy considering he had other things occupying his mind lately. A month ago, he would've been stoked for today. He'd planned a big party and everything but it all seemed insignificant now.
Besides, not like he had anyone to celebrate it with anyway. It was amazing how quick his band mates replaced him once he didn't start showing up to practice a few times. They made excuses of course. Said they had a few events lined up and they needed someone to fill in while he needed time to spend with his family but none of them even bothered to check up on him despite their houses being so close to one another.
"Well maybe he needs a reminder." Mom winked at him as she pulled something from her side of the table and handed it to him. It was large and heavy. "Happy Birthday, Josh!"
"Don't just sit there, open it!" Dad urged.
Josh felt a lump in his throat as he carefully unwrapped his present. He knew what it was the moment he felt the weight of it in his hands. He should've been happy because he'd finally got what he asked for but all he felt was remorse. He should've hinted at something else or just flat out asked for a cheaper gift but he'd been too absorbed wallowing in his anger and hate. His parents had invested most of their savings into that little cafe in the hopes of starting their own little family business. It was doing pretty well too even though it had only been open for a few weeks but now it was nothing more than a wreck. This guitar could have easily covered a month or two of bills with some left over to spend on more important things and yet here it was. He didn't deserve this at all.
It was beautiful. The instrument fit perfectly in his hands just as it did when he tried it out while he was browsing the store. He couldn't help but gently trace the edges and admire the simple yet elegant design of the guitar he'd always wanted.
He wondered if he could somehow find the receipt and return it without his parents noticing.
"He's in shock." Dad chuckled. "Now, hopefully when you get back from school, you can give it a whirl."
"Oh, which reminds me." Mom glanced at her watch. "You'd better be going or you'll be late for school!"
His body moved without even thinking, wrapping his arms around both of them and squeezing tight. He didn't trust himself to speak without his voice cracking due to the swell of emotions churning inside of him. Josh was overwhelmed with gratefulness but another emotion burned just as strong. His parents were lucky that Josh was facing away from them or else they might've been concerned by the hateful glare the blonde was shooting into the distance aimed at the things responsible for all of this.
One of them in particular.
Danny found himself sitting awkwardly at the Possible's breakfast table the next morning. His shirt was freshly washed of all the blood stains and he now wore them over his clean bandages wrapped around his torso. The wound in his side still stung but the rest of his minor injuries had already faded quite a bit, much to Dr. Possible's shock when she inspected him earlier.
Kim's mom came back to the table and slid a plate of scrambled eggs and slices of toast in front of him. She also poured him a tall glass of milk. "Dig in. We can talk after."
The halfa winced when he heard that. It was what he'd been dreading the moment he woke up in an unfamiliar bedroom. Someone had found him and took the time to patch him up. He was still reeling from last night's encounter and now he had to deal with Dr. Possible learning his identity. It was only seven thirty in the morning for crying out loud! Can't the world wait a few hours before sucker punching him with more problems?
The woman waited patiently for him to finish, nursing her own cup of coffee. Once he did, she placed the dishes in the sink before sitting across from him and looking expectant.
"So, where should I start?"
"The beginning would be nice." Dr. Possible said. She didn't sound angry. In fact, she was pretty calm all things considered. "Or how about something simple? Like what happened last night and how did you fall from the sky?"
Jumping into the deep end, huh? Danny was ashamed to admit how quick he wanted to lie to her. It was better than the alternative. She obviously knew enough to piece a few things together. Honestly, he was just too exhausted to try at this point and so the truth spilled out like a tidal wave. Danny gave her the cliff notes version of his life up to that point. He didn't go too in depth with his ghost fighting and he had enough awareness to leave out a few details, namely Josh's new…persona being one of them. That felt too raw and he wanted to get a better idea of how it happened first.
Aside from asking for a few clarifications here and there, Ann Possible gave him her full attention and by the end of it, she looked as tired as he felt.
"Why haven't you told your parents about this?" Ann asked. "I'm sure they'd be able to reverse this somehow if you wanted."
"Believe me, I've thought about it before but I'm afraid of what comes after."
"I'm sure your parents would still accept you." Dr. Possible patted his arm comfortingly. "What's the harm in trying?"
"It's not that." Danny shook his head. "Deep down, I know they'd still love me but I don't want them to blame themselves because of this. It was an accident but there's no denying that it was their invention that did this to me. Imagine if Kim had a brain tumor and you made a mistake in trying to get it out? What if they decide to quit because they felt guilty? I don't want them to lose their passion over this. I've learned to accept these powers as part of myself long ago and I'm okay with that."
Ann bit her lip, very reminiscent of Kim's mannerisms. "But don't you think they deserve to know? Maybe you should give them more credit. When Kim first started going on her little missions, did you think it was easy for us? I hardly slept the first time she flew across the globe to stop an evil scientist from taking over the world and I still have trouble on some days. Granted it got a little bit easier and I won't deny the pride I feel whenever I turn on the news to see all the good my daughter brings to the world but we parents will never stop worrying."
Hearing an adult's perspective helped ease his doubts somewhat and he appreciated the insight but the fear remained. He also failed to mention that if he outed his secret to his parents, it wouldn't take them long to connect the dots back to Vlad. Danny could at least hold the man at bay with that agreement between them but once that was thrown out the window…
…well, best not think about that for now.
"I'll try." Danny said. "That's the best I can do."
"That's all a mother can ask for. The same goes for my daughter. I urge you to tell her the truth when you're ready but I don't want to meddle too much." Ann said. "Well, until you do, I'm going to be laying down some ground rules of my own."
"That's right." Ann smirked. She put her hands on her hips and gave him that look all parents seem to have when they were about to lay down the law. "I'll keep your secret under one condition. If you ever get injured to a point like last night, you come straight to me young man. No excuses. I have no idea where on earth you learned how to stitch your own wounds but that stops now."
Danny wisely kept his mouth shut. He wasn't going to tell her that he learned basic first aid from a tutorial video on Youtube. "Yes, Ma'am."
"Good." Ann smiled. "I'll be giving you pointers here and there whenever you and Kimmy have tutoring sessions at the house. I'm sure she'd also benefit from them."
The halfa could only just shake his head and chuckle. Joy, more homework. But at least this one would be undoubtedly useful. Glancing out the window of the house, Danny winced as he caught sight of his "landing pad" last night.
Danny scratched the back of his head sheepishly. "Also, I'm really sorry about the car."
Monday rolled around sooner than most teens would have liked, especially for members of the cheer squad. It was understandable given that they'd been stranded at an abandoned summer camp on top of getting attacked by some mutant swamp monster who had a grudge against Ron. The doctors and scientists assured them that they've been thoroughly decontaminated of any harmful substances from the lake before sending them all home.
"And here I thought my weekend was stressful." Monique said, shuddering once Kim finished her recount of events. "I don't even want to think of that nasty creep coming anywhere near me."
"Tell me about it." Kim sighed. "I'm just really pissed off that it was all an elaborate ploy to get Ron back to that stupid camp. Turns out there wasn't really a competition nearby. We practiced so hard on our new routine and now it's just a waste."
"Well, there's always football games coming up." Monique tried to cheer her up. "I mean it's not really a game without the half time show."
She appreciated the gesture but Kim was still pretty ticked off about it as were the rest of the girls when they found out. They spent hours perfecting the timing for the pyramid finale and she was sure they'd get full marks on it but now they would never know. But she'd get over it eventually.
"So, how's your mom by the way?" Monique asked, watching her grab some books for next period. "I heard she got into an accident?"
"She's fine." Kim said, "Dad was pretty worried when he saw the car but mom insisted that it was just a minor thing. Said that a motorcycle swerved and the rider unfortunately landed on the hood."
"Ouch, did the they both make it out okay?"
Kim nodded. "Mom said he was a little banged up but otherwise fine. They patched things up and my parents are bringing it to the shop to get the car fixed. No big."
The two girls walked to their next class in silence for a bit but there was one thing Kim had been dying to ask her friend all weekend. Monique hadn't been in the best of moods last time she caught them all spying on their date but it looks like she wasn't angry anymore. She could just be hiding it but her friend didn't seem like the type of person to hold a grudge.
"So, how'd the rest of your date with Danny go?" Kim asked, trying to act casual.
"Oh? Why so interested?" Monique smirked coyly. "Are you sure you want to know all the juicy details that happened?"
Kim's face grew slightly warmer as unbidden images flashed through her mind.
"Forget I said anything." Kim's pace increased and she could hear Monique giggling behind her as her friend caught up.
"Relax girlfriend!" Monique playfully bumped shoulders with her. "I was only teasing. Call it a little payback for the stunt you all pulled. Anyway, we didn't do much after we left the skating rink. We saw a movie and took a little stroll through the park. We talked for a bit and he took me home before curfew. Danny was the perfect gentleman all night. Gave him a little peck on the cheek at the end of it."
Kim actively fought to keep a smile on her face despite her heart plummeting in her chest. "Oh, that's wonderful! So are you guys a couple now?"
Monique's snort threw the redhead off a bit. "Hate to break it to you Kim but one date doesn't automatically lead to a relationship."
"But you seemed so into him and you guys looked pretty happy spending time together." Kim said, feeling confused now.
"Yeah I guess." Monique shrugged. "To tell you the truth Kim, I don't know what came over me that day. I'm surprised I had it in me to just put myself out there and flirt with a boy I barely knew. Don't get me wrong, he's cute, funny, and I had a great time with him but we just didn't click. It sucks but it happens all the time. Honestly, I wouldn't mind being friends with the guy as long as he doesn't have any lingering feelings of his own. Don't want things to be awkward."
Wow, Kim's emotions were being taken for a rollercoaster ride in the span of a few minutes. She wanted to feel bad for her friend and things not working out but she couldn't deny the elation she felt hearing Monique's admission.
There was still a chance.
"Don't worry girl, he's all yours." Monique gave conspiratorial wink and laughed as she saw Kim's deer in headlights look.
"I don't know what you're talking about." Kim shyly tucked a lock of hair behind her ear.
Monique raised an eyebrow. "Right, so all those do-me eyes whenever he's not looking mean nothing, huh?"
"I don't do that…do I?"
"Girl, you're lucky that boy's as dense as the earth's crust not noticing it." Monique draped an arm over Kim's shoulder. "But between you and me, I think you two would make a cute couple. I've never seen someone look so excited for a tutoring session before and the fact that he's not intimidated by all the missions is a bonus. Lots of guys have an ego the size of a peanut and don't like it when a girl can kick more ass than they can."
"Tell me about it." Kim could count on more than one occasion when guys would be too hesitant to approach her because they'd already put her on a pedestal when in actuality she was still a teenager like anyone else. She just so happened to know martial arts and save the world every now and then.
Josh had been great when they dated for a while but his heart wasn't into it and soon the spark had quickly fizzled out. It was clear the blonde had something heavy on his mind whenever they were together and as much as he tried to hide it, Kim could always tell when his mind was elsewhere. She often tried to get Josh to open up to her and maybe she could help with whatever was on his mind but the blonde was good a deflecting until she eventually decided to drop the subject. The two of them eventually broke it off and no feelings were hurt.
But Danny was different. He was well aware of her extracurricular activities with Ron whenever they went off on missions but he never let that affect their little dynamic with each other. Not only was he sweet but she enjoyed spending time with him too. His jokes were crass but never cruel and she'd seen him rise to the occasion more than once especially when he didn't have to. The guy went one on one with Shego for crying out loud and managed to win!
To this day she still wasn't sure what he was hiding from her but unlike Josh, he never let it consume him. She could see the guilt in his eyes whenever he had to suddenly take off or cancel for whatever reason. Kim had a feeling that once she earned his trust, he wouldn't hesitate to tell her the truth.
Maybe she should take a page out of Monique's book. After all, it seemed to have the intended effect. If she wanted to make Danny notice her as more than a friend, she was going to have to be more…direct.
"Bonnie, for the last time, the doctors at the lab gave us all a clean bill of health."
"I'm sorry Tara but did you not see Mr. Barkin grow actual fucking gills after a brief bit of exposure to that sludge?" Bonnie snapped at her blonde friend, checking and double checking her face and neck in her compact mirror for any sign of blemish or anything remotely similar to scales. "That fish face should count himself lucky that he wasn't a ghost or else I'd shove a Fenton Thermos so far up a place where the sun doesn't shine and use him as a sock puppet."
"Um, should I be concerned?"
The two girls spun around to see a grinning Danny behind them with his bag casually slung over his shoulder. He looked a bit more haggard than usual but Bonnie didn't hesitate to pull him in for a surprise hug. God, she missed him these past two days and feeling his own arms wrap around her for a bit was pure bliss. She already felt the stress from the last forty-eight hourse melting away. The two of them pulled away and Tara pulled him in for her own brief hug.
"Easy." Danny winced. "I'm still a little tender."
"Why? What happened? Are you okay?" Bonnie didn't mean to sound like an overbearing girlfriend but it just slipped out.
"It's…complicated." Bonnie didn't like the sound of that. "I'll tell you both later."
"You better." Tara frowned in worry, "It sounds serious."
"Let's just say my weekend was pretty eventful." Danny said. He looked pointedly at the two of them. "But from what I hear, you guys had an interesting time too. We should compare notes."
Bonnie huffed. "Don't get me started. As far as I'm concerned, this weekend was a crazy fever dream that never happened and I will forever repress the memories of the events that took place."
"Ditto." Tara said.
"I know this is a little late, but I'm really sorry about missing you guys heading off." Danny said. "I should've let you know I wouldn't be able to make it."
There goes that damn nobility again. It was one of his greatest qualities but it could get really annoying at times.
Before he could say anything else, Bonnie held up a finger and put it against his lips. "We get it, Danny. You shouldn't have to apologize for that. I admit I was a bit mad that you couldn't answer my texts but I can't really blame you. Just try to keep us in the loop, okay?"
"Now that we've got all that stuff out of the way." Tara jumped in, looking at him expectantly with her arms on her hips. Danny gave her a blank stare as she wiggled her eyebrows.
"Don't 'what' me! How did the date go? We need details!"
Bonnie tried not to look too interested in the answer to that question and tried to remain aloof despite her burning curiosity. She tried to ignore the mounting dread she'd been feeling the entire time they've been away. Did Danny have feelings for Monique? Where did the pair go after they left? Did they go on another date while they were away? She needed to know and yet was too afraid of finding out.
His conflicted expression wasn't a good sign in her opinion. "About that…"
The trio turned to see Josh Mankey approaching their little group. Bonnie's attention was drawn straight to the big shiner on his face. "What happened to you?"
"Had a little accident at work the other day. No big deal." Josh casually shrugged. "You should see the other guy."
Bonnie didn't miss how Danny tensed beside her. She glanced down to see his hands shoved into his pockets but they were clenched tightly into fists. What's gotten into him all of a sudden?
"Anyways, I remembered how you guys were wanting to try out the Italian place I worked in so I snagged a few of these for you." Josh handed them each a coupon. "It's not much but it beats paying full price am I right?"
At this point, Bonnie was only paying half attention to the blonde artist. To her side, Danny was trying to get his breathing under control but they still came out as shaky breaths. His eyes were scrutinizing Josh with an intensity that bewildered her. She couldn't exactly pinpoint what he was thinking but one thing was for sure, she hadn't seen him this distressed in a long time.
Josh picked up on his sudden shift in attitude as well. "You feeling alright dude?"
"Yeah, might just be a little under the weather." Danny said, but the excuse was obvious and his tone was cold.
"Well…okay." Josh said, noticing the sudden awkwardness. Tara was also giving Danny an odd look. "Get better man. Just to let you guys know, those things expire in two weeks so better use them fast."
"You bet. We were actually planning on dropping by this week." Bonnie said, hopefully defusing any tension but the mood was already shot to hell. "Anyway, we should go. Bell's about to ring any minute."
"Catch you guys later then." Josh said, raising a fist but to everyone's surprise, Danny didn't respond the way he usually did. Josh lowered it in disappointment but Danny refused to meet his eye as he walked off to his next classroom. The guy must've been just as confused as the two girls but was willing to give the raven-haired teen some space.
"Danny, is everything-?"
"We should get to class."
He didn't wait for them as he began heading in the opposite direction from Josh. The two girls shared a worried glance and wordlessly followed, keeping a few paces behind. Obviously, something major went down while they were away and somehow it involved their new friend Josh but the guy seemed oblivious to any offence he might have done.
It was only then that she finally realized the emotion she couldn't pinpoint earlier. She'd seen it before and Danny now radiated it in waves.
Two months ago…
Josh crossed his arms as he glared out into the surrounding woods next to the ski lodge. All the guests and students had been advised to stay indoors while the Fentons went out to investigate the disturbance. He also saw Kim spring into action as she commandeered a snow mobile before heading deeper into the woods.
Even now, high up in the cold mountains, those ghosts continued to hound him. They were everywhere lately and he'd finally seen one up close when that lunch lady ghost appeared at school. He shouldn't have been surprised that there would be some lurking around up here as well.
They were like rats.
A plague on this world that needed to be wiped out.
Josh couldn't help but wonder if he was up here too. The bastard who crippled his father and plunged his parents into debt.
"You know, it's not safe to be outside at the moment." A voice spoke up from behind him. Josh glanced back and saw that it was that rich guy Mr. Fenton was harassing. "While I trust my…former colleagues to deal with the situation, I think it would be best to not to leave it up to chance, hmm?"
"I'm not afraid of ghosts." Josh spat angrily.
"Such anger. My apologies, I didn't mean to pry." The billionaire stepped up beside him but kept a respectable distance. "Am I right to assume that you've encountered a few of these specters before?"
Josh only grunted in affirmation but nothing more. He wasn't in the mood for small talk with some stranger but the man was persistent, he'll give him that.
"Tell me dear boy and forgive a man's curiosity but what would you do if given the opportunity to…stand on even footing with these ghosts?"
Were all billionaires this nosey? Whatever, not like it'll ever happen but if he did…
"I'd hunt every last one of them down and make sure they stay dead the second time around."
If Josh hadn't been so absorbed in his furious thoughts and glanced just a little to the left, he might've noticed the sinister glint in the man's eye. "Interesting."
Done. Went a little heavy on familial themes this chapter a bit because plot demands it. And so there we have it, Red Hunter Origins. At least the one for my little universe. I've always thought Valerie's motivations were a bit…shallow? I get it because it's only a kid's show and losing your house and job would be awful indeed but I don't know to me it doesn't scream "I'll kill all of you for this." Also, I know I never explicitly made any mention of Josh during the Ski trip chapters but I thought that would be a dead giveaway and I figured it was a school trip so why wouldn't he be there? Anyway hope you guys liked the direction I took with this.
So that's the Red Hunter Arc down and now a new one begins. Hint: It features one of my favorite DP villains of all time. A certain master of all technology.
Until then, Happy Halloween!