A/N: Alright, I know it's been a while lmao. But I'm a double major and university moving all online has been… not great. Then Chadwick Boseman died, I rewrote this about 4 times with different villains and didn't like how any of them turned out, and then was all stressed because the horse tried to burn down the hospital, but now the horse is finally out of the hospital, so here we are with attempt #5.
I do continued to be asked about possible funding for my creative endeavors. Because FFN likes to censor certain site names, there is info in my bio if you are interested.
No tissues required today, just a bunch of shenanigans! :)
Danny loved his job, he really did.
But after another text from Harley– she'd been sending him memes and funny screenshots all day– he wondered again how this had managed to become his new norm. With an amused yet exasperated sigh, Danny picked up his phone and absentmindedly pressed in his keycode to open his messaging app.
DannyPhantom: you do realize i still have to work, right? not all fun and games out here
ClownQween: you're working with us so of course it's all fun n games!
DannyPhantom: Harley, you robbed a STORE for your wisher
ClownQween: like i said
ClownQueen: fun ;)
Danny rolled his eyes and set his phone back down so he could return to staring at the screen before him. He'd been at his desk and going through a list of calls and messages for the past few hours. Different donors and companies all were pledging donations, sponsorships and discounts to World of Wishes and any of its wishers. Thanks to time zones, with each series of responses he sent out, it seemed a new batch had already flooded his inbox.
It was sort of nice, really. In recent weeks, he hadn't been able to come in as often as normal, thanks to the majority of his cases being far from usual. He'd been able to respond to some messages while working from home, but the office provided a lack of distractions and a quiet space. Besides, some donors and companies only picked up the phone for known business numbers, and some Danny didn't want to even deal with until he was at work.
He already brought enough work home with him, seeing as it had quite literally become his roommates.
The more time sensitive messages were dealt with first. Helping assign cases to other members, responding to offers from businesses to coordinate some large scale traditional wishes, such as family trips to amusement parks. He'd formed professional relationships with these companies before, so it was the reason he was continuing to be the person of contact involved.
After that, he moved onto spam. Danny had been getting messages addressed to "The Villain Wrangler" more and more frequently: requests from news organizations– both legit and tabloid– and even some from the same companies that fulfill wishes for World of Wishes, asking if he would put them in contact with some of the more "personable" villains. The one he was currently reading through was even asking if he was authorized on their behalf to sign a contract to allow branding with their name and image.
Danny sighed. He had no idea this would happen when he first sought out Ivy. In moments like these, with him sitting at his desk in the quiet evening office activity, it could be a lot to handle. It wasn't like there was a manual on how to be a "Villain Wrangler."
Or at least there wasn't any manual that he knew of. At this point, he wouldn't be surprised at all if one of the Batbrats had whipped up something like that.
One foot in front of the other seemed to be the best and only way to counter each new obstacle this title threw at him though. He picked up his phone again and hit the call button under Harley's name. The sooner he dealt with this message, the sooner he could move on to the others.
Luckily for him, Harley picked up almost immediately. "Hey, Harls. Do you give me permission to sign a contract allowing for 'Harley Quinn's Super Quencher fruit punch?"
Danny's brow furrows at the staticky sounds through the call. "What're you up to? Everything alright?"
"Oh, yeah! Just out walking the hyenas!"
That was unexpected. "Excuse me, did you just say hyenas?"
"Well, I can't keep them in your apartment. I read the lease's rules!"
Danny didn't know whether to laugh or sigh defeatedly. "Uh… have fun? Pet them for me."
She gasped dramatically. "Of course I will! Now," there was a pause as she hissed something away from the microphone, "what was this about? A fruit punch named after me?" A high-pitched yipping chimed in somewhere in the background, and Harley shushed them loudly. "What if it tastes bad?"
"I'm sure if you want to give the go ahead, they'll let you taste-test it," He joked, running his fingers through his hair. "You know what? I'll let you contact them yourself."
"Aw, but you said–!"
"I'm not your manager, Harley," Danny finally gave in and laughed at her whine. "But I'm sure they'll love to get a direct call from the 'Clown Queen of Gotham.'"
Another gasp. "Ooo, I'm gonna steal that from you, if ya don't mind. How'd you come up with it?"
Danny shrugged as he jotted down the company's information on a sticky note. "It was your contact name in my phone when it was given to me, so alas, I cannot take the credit."
"Waaaaait, so I've gotta give a 'thank you' basket to the Batbrats?" Harley complained.
"Tell them I say hello," Danny teased.
"Hmph! Selina can do that for both of us," Harley huffed and hung up.
One down, several dozen more to go. Hopefully there'd still be take-out spots open nearby by the time he finished.
In fact, there was a well-known pizza joint that filled to-go orders until midnight just down the block from Danny's work. While it wasn't nearly that late, Gotham's nightlife was already up and active under the cover of evening darkness. The trip home wasn't very far, but Danny was a seasoned resident, as most of the locals were. He made sure to stick to brightly lit and busy roads as he walked back to his apartment with his precious cargo: two large pizzas, one half-pepperoni and half-"everything," and the other half-cheese and half-vegetarian. (He'd learned from past pizza mistakes that it was easier to have separate options for everyone.)
There was one area he couldn't avoid on his route, though. It'd been the spot of a battle a few months ago– between whom, he couldn't remember at this point – and the lights abruptly dimmed upon entering that section of the street. Gotham was full of areas like that. So many neighborhoods played host to nightly shenanigans and never were entirely repaired due to the high corruption levels in the city and the sheer amount of damage that occurred.
Well. It wasn't perfect, but it was home.
That said… Danny should've known what would happen when he paused after hearing a commotion coming from a side alleyway.
Of course he would immediately be grabbed from behind and jerked backwards, dropping the two boxes onto the cold pavement in the process.
Gotham was a cruel mistress.
"Huh," Danny said, blankly staring at the sword gleaming at his throat. This certainly was not on his list of possibilities for how today would go. Movement in his peripheral caught his attention just in time to see a pair of figures drop down from above– a rooftop, or maybe a fire escape? He didn't dwell on it– and rushed towards him and his attacker.
"Too afraid to take us on alone?" One of them snapped.
Danny closed his eyes and tried to withhold his groan of despair. Who in the universe did he piss off to end up in this mess?
The man behind Danny huffed. "You're going to let me and this civilian go off on our way, unfollowed," he ordered firmly.
Waitwaitwait. Danny's thoughts stuttered to a halt. He recognized that voice.
"Hold on jus' a sec– Deathstroke?" He asked incredulously, doing his best to remain motionless despite wanting to turn around and see for himself.
The sword held against him didn't flinch, but one of the newcomers did as they finally stepped out of the shadows. "Oh fuck, Danny?" From the shock of blonde hair flowing from underneath the bat-shaped cowl, he knew he was looking at Stephanie.
"Danny Johnson?" The man behind him asked, clear surprise evident in his voice. The weapon finally dropped and the grip on Danny vanished, allowing him to stumble forward slightly and look around. He'd been right; it indeed was the assassin, albeit his trademark mask was slashed above his left eye, his darker red blood staining the lighter color of the fabric. No wonder the man hadn't been able to immediately recognize him; his vision was definitely not at 100% at the moment.
"Hey," Danny replied lamely, offering a weak wave as the adrenaline rush began to recede, leaving him a bit lightheaded. He crouched down to stabilize himself, only to notice something at his feet. "Oh." He frowned in disappointment. "You made me drop my pizzas."
"Of all the civvies to get involved, how is it you?" That was Red Robin coming up to flank Stepha– right, she was Spoiler at the moment.
(Yeah, yeah, so what if he knew Red Robin's actual name was Tim. Sue him for holding a little bit of a grudge.)
Red Robin's eyes narrowed at him slightly, which Danny could tell by the crease that formed in his domino mask. "What the hell are you even doing here?"
Danny met him with an equally unimpressed glare. "Oi, respect your elders. All I was doing was walking home. But, good question…" He paused and looked at the trio of supers with a cautious eye. "What are you all even doing?"
Danny could've cut the answering silence with one of Slade's overgrown knives before one of the three finally spoke up.
"It's not what it looks like?" Spoiler offered, her voice rising as she continued with her statement, knowing it was a weak attempt.
"It looks like you're fighting," Danny deadpanned, raising his eyebrow in a silent dare for her to come up with another explanation.
"...okay, then it's exactly what it looks like."
"Uh huh," Danny nodded slowly and skeptically, but what could he do? As familiar as he'd become with this underworld, sometimes the realities of its routine activities didn't hit him until he was staring at it head on. "Well… have fun with that," he shrugged off, trying to remain as impartial as possible. He didn't know what was going on, but he certainly didn't want to be around to get any more involved. "I'ma just... get my pizzas and walk away."
"Good plan, Johnson."
Danny nearly jumped at Deathstroke's unexpected growl, but tried to recover by giving two hopefully-reassuring thumbs up as he carefully crouched to grab the pair of pizzas. He did his best not to turn his back on either party as he moved, as if they were wolves and he was only a helpless deer. Alright, maybe not that bad– a deer with antlers: so with some defense, but one that would largely fail against the present company if he got caught in the crossfire again.
"Don't tell the others about this," Tim muttered.
Danny rolled his eyes as he started to back away down the sidewalk on his original path. "We are on a public street so I'm sure this is already trending on a dozen different sites, so on that note, please refrain from killing each other while you're being livestreamed."
"No promises!" Spoiler called after him.
Danny gave her a mocking salute before he spun on his heel and continued walking away, now that he was at a safe distance.
At least they waited until his back was turned to resume their skirmish. He did appreciate the plausible deniability.
"Danny, is it going to be a recurring trend for you to go viral every time you leave the apartment?"
Danny met Selina's amused grin with feigned surprise as he locked the front door behind him. "How could I possibly go viral for indulging in a bit of night-time birdwatching?"
"Too bad you didn't call animal control," Ivy's drawl came from the kitchen, so Danny headed in her direction to finally set the boxes down. She turned away from filling her wine glass to open the topmost box as Danny slipped behind her and stole the drink for himself. "What'd you do to the pizzas, juggle them?!"
"Before or after I almost became a shish kebab on a sword?" Danny mumbled into his glass as he watched Ivy place the slices of Harley's 'everything pizza' into containers and then stack them in the fridge. The blonde was probably still out with her hyenas for all he knew (which he didn't, because plausible deniability was a splendid thing).
"Don't be ridiculous," Selina brushed him off as she sauntered in and plucked a slice of cheese pizza from one of the open boxes. "Shish kebabing you would be too slow for Slade. He's all about efficiency when it's not personal."
"Thanks, Selina. I feel so much better," he sassed back before sighing. "How bad is it?" It was better to know sooner rather than later if he needed to run damage control.
"Not bad," Ivy admitted. "They're officially not sure it's you– the closest cell phone video was still a bit grainy– but everyone's seemed to jump onto the idea." She pointed her slice of pizza at him as she laughed. "I think we've just found your superpower!"
"What, perfect PR?" Danny's first instinct was to scoff at the suggestion, but then he merely shrugged it off. "Could be worse."
"Next time I'm detained, you'll be my one phone call so you can send some of that 'perfect PR' my way," Selina smirked and nudged him teasingly after he rolled his eyes.
"Anddd it just got worse."