Danny could still remember it like it was yesterday, as he woke up to find his live in girlfriend of two years, Valerie, not by his side as he slept. He called out for her, thinking maybe she was in the living room or the kitchen. So when he got no reply, he lazily got out of bed and looked around the apartment they shared. She wasn't home, which he thought was strange as he looked at the clock on the wall and saw that it was only little past eight.
It was a little after noon, when Danny received a call about having to come in on his day off. He was almost out the door when Valerie came walking through it. He kissed her forehead and told her he would see her later in the day. He was too much in a hurry to notice the look on her face as he left.
When he had arrived home, late into the night, he was surprised to see Valerie waiting up for him. "What's wrong?" he had asked as she stood up and walked over to him.
"Danny, we need to talk," she told him in a little voice. "I think you may want to sit down."
Danny frowned, those weren't the kind of words a man wanted to come home to as he remembered the last time he had heard those words. They had come from Sam before she told him that she and Tucker were in love and that she was leaving him for his best friend.
So as he allowed Valerie to guide him over to the couch, every worst case scenario ran through his head. And Valerie wasn't making him feel any better, sitting in front of him on the coffee table as she avoided eye contact with him. "What is it?" he asked as he looked down at her hands which were tugging at the end of her shirt nervously.
"I'm pregnant," she whispered.
"What?" Danny didn't know how his voice sounded to her, but it must not have been pleasant as he watched her cringe at his response.
Valerie, finding courage, finally looked over into Danny's eyes. "I'm pregnant," she repeated, but Danny said nothing this time as he only stared at her. Valerie sighed. "You're not happy, are you?" she asked him. "Dammit, I knew it," she said to herself as she stood up and started to walk away.
"Val, that's not it," he told her as he stood up and followed her.
She turned around curiously. "It's not?"
"No," he shook his head and pulled her into his arms, a smile growing on his face. "You have no idea how happy I am," he told her, relief evident in his voice.
"But Danny, you know very well we can't afford a child right now," she voiced her concerns. "We're barely making ends meet now."
Danny's response was slidding down to his knees as he looked up at her. "We'll make it work," he promised her before slightly lifting her shirt and kissing her belly. "Okay?" Valerie smiled at him, nodding her head to agree.
"Now there's something I need to talk to you about," he told her, getting back to his feet. She looked asking of him. Danny then told her in a serious voice, "Stop your ghost hunting."
Valerie's eyes went a bit wide for a moment, but understood where he was coming from and so reluctantly nodded her head.
"And I'm getting rid of your ghost gear," as Valerie heard the words she opened her mouth to protest, but Danny never gave her the chance. "Don't argue with me on this. I just don't want you to be tempted."
"Fine," she agreed for the third time, rolling her eyes as she crossed her arms over her chest. "Next you'll be saying you want me barefooted and in the kitchen."
Danny laughed as he kissed her forehead. "Don't be ridiculous, you know you can't cook." He then told her that it was late and that she needed her rest. Valerie smiled at him, he always had her best interest at heart.
Valerie had been pregnant for about three months and she had gone to meet with her doctor about a few things. Danny would have gone with her, but other matters had come up. When he arrived home, he fell back on to the couch, wiped out from his ghost hunting. "I'm getting to old for this," he said to himself, closing his eyes.
He never realized how much of a load Valerie had taken on ghost hunting, but now that she was no longer doing it, Danny felt like he was working double shifts. He was almost asleep when he heard the keys in the door. He sat up straight as Valerie walked through. "How was it?" he asked with a smile on his face which slowly faded when he saw her red eyes. She had been crying.
"Val?" he shot up from his seat and would have gone to her, but before he could she had already had her arms thrown around his neck. "Sweetie, what's wrong?" he asked her as he wrapped his arms around her. Dread than felt his heart as he asked slowly, "Is it the baby?" At his words, Valerie began to sob loudly. "No," Danny shook his head back and forth as he lowered the both of them to the couch. "No."
"There's something wrong," she told him, hanging onto him as if her life depended on it.
"What is it?" he asked as she finally pulled away to look at him.
She shook her head from side to side. "It's strange," she began wiping away her tears. "The baby doesn't have a heartbeat."
Danny's face fell as his hand went to her stomach. "You mean we lost the baby?"
Valerie shook her head again. "No," she licked her lips as she tried to explain. "It had one, but than it just stopped, but it was still moving as if it were alive." Valerie put her hands on top of Danny's. "The doctors couldn't explain it and- and I'm scared," she admitted. "They want me to terminate the pregnancy."
Danny never heard her last statement as he stared down at her belly. Why had it not occurred to him before? He was half ghost, how could he honestly have thought, something like that couldn't be passed down to his children? "Danny?" Valerie whispered as she realized he was off in his own world.
Danny looked back up into her eyes. He had been keeping it secret for so long, that it was a part of who he was, but she was scared, and she deserved the truth. "There's nothing wrong with the baby," he told her.
"But the doctors-"
"Have never had to deal with a halfa."
"A what?" Valerie looked at him oddly.
"A halfa," he repeated. "Some one who is half human and-" he told a deep breath "-half ghost."
"Excuse me?" Valerie looked at him like he was out of his mind. She put her hand on his forehead. "Maybe you need to go lay down. Let it just sink in."
"Val," he lowered her hand. "I'm not losing it. I'm just trying to tell you something important," he clarified. "This baby is going to be part ghost," he told her loudly, upset that she wasn't understanding.
Valerie just looked at him in disbelief, but then remembered that he came from a home of ghost hunters, and so thought maybe he knew something that she didn't. "Is it because of my ghost hunting? Is that why you wanted me to stop? Are they able to do something to unborn children?" she asked frantically before standing up angrily. "Dammit! I'll hunt them all down!" she yelled. "I'll make each and every one of them pay. They'll regret the day they messed with Valerie Gray!"
"Will you hunt down you're own child!" Danny asked angrily as he too stood up. "Because he or she will be a ghost too! Will you hunt down someone you're suppose to love and protect!"
Valerie's features softened as he finished yelling. Her hand went back to her stomach. "I'm sorry, Danny, but please understand, we can't keep this child." Tears started to run down her face. "I promise that next time-"
"If you get rid of this child, Valerie, there will be no next time," he threatened.
"Danny, there will be," she tried to smile. "I promised next time that I'll be more careful. I won't let any of those filthy ghosts come near."
"And what about me?" Danny asked before he could think about what he was saying.
"I- I don't understand," she frowned.
"You act as if it's some kind of disease our child has caught, but it's not. It's who they will be! It's what they would all be."
Valerie took a step back. "Danny, what are you talking about?"
"Look at me, Valerie," he took a step closer. "I mean really look at me. Don't I remind you of anyone? Don't I look like someone else you know?" he asked her, tears unknowingly falling down his own face.
"Answer me, dammit! Who do I look like? Who do I sound like?"
"Danny, please, you're scaring me," she pleaded.
"You don't have an answer? Then let me provide one," he said as he walked his way over to her, going into his ghost form as his heart stopped in his chest. "Congratulations. . . it's a ghost," he said mockingly.
"No, this is a trick. Where is my Danny? What did you do with my Danny!" she tried to move, but found she had walked herself into a corner as her rival blocked her way.
"I am your Danny," he told her. "This has always been me. Now you need to accept this. You need to finally accept who I am."
"No!" yelled as she pushed him away. "Get off me!" She ran passed him and grabbed her purse sitting on the coffee table. "This is what you wanted all along, didn't you? You wanted to trick me. You wanted to make me love you and have your child! I bet you thought it would change me. Make me soft towards you because you were the father of my child. Well, I got news for you, Ghost, I never go back on my word. When I get rid of this abomination, I'm going to hunt you down and make you pay. I may not have my gear - I was foolish enough to let you hide them from me - but know that I'm not defenseless. . . nor stupid." She pulled out a small ecto-ray gun from her purse. "Get out!"
Danny face was saddened as he heard her words. "Val, baby," he began gently as he took a step towards her. "There was no trick. I love-"
"Get out!" she yelled before he could finish his statement. "And don't come back," she said softly. "I'll pack up your things and dropped them off at your parents. Don't worry, I'll make up some lie, because I'm sure you haven't told them either," she paused. "Just don't come back."
"Is this really how you want things to end?" he asked, but got nothing but a stern look from her as he continued looking down the barrel of her weapon. "Fine," he frowned, taking a step back. "But if I see you in your ghost gear before that baby is due, I'll consider you a murderer, and I won't hold back like I've been doing for years."
"You don't have to hold back when it comes to me. I can handle my own. Now out," she demanded. A moment later he disappeared before her eyes and she knew he was gone. Valerie immediately broke down as she dropped her gun to the floor and placed both of her hands on her stomach. She fell to her knees as she continued to cry, not believing the man she had loved for years had been her enemy in disguise. "I loved you, Danny," she said through her sobs.
Danny had gone intangible, but had not left the room. And as Valerie crumpled to the ground before him he placed his hand over his heart and was glad that it had stopped when he had turned ghost, because he knew if he hadn't, at this moment his heart would have broken and never been able to beat again.
A/N: 1-23-06: The sequel, "Like Breathing" is now up. Enjoy!