Like Breathing
By Evilevergreen

Summary: Ghost hunting for someone like Valerie, who had done it for so long, was like second nature, it was almost like breathing. So what do you do, when someone comes into your life and takes your breath away? (Sequel to Heartbeat)


Posted: January 17, 2006

Chapter One: Aftermath

"I love you, Valerie," Danny smiled sweetly down at her, his blue eyes sparkling in the moonlight as they danced to the soft music playing in their living room.

"I love you too, Danny," she responded, her smile just as bright.

His expression slightly faltered. "Through anything?" he whispered.

"Through it all," she promised before tilting her head up and sealing it with a kiss.

"Valerie, sweetie, time to go," the young girl, twenty-two years of age, thoughts were broken as she heard her father's voice. He was carrying the last box they had packed up. She was moving out of the apartment she had once shared with her ex-boyfriend Danny Fenton.

"Okay, dad, I'm coming," she told him as she took one last look at the place she had once called home. She sighed silently as she placed her hand on her stomach. There were so many memories here, some good, some bad, and one she longed to forget. . .

Valerie closed the door behind her and locked it for the final time before going downstairs and giving the key to the owner. The owner was a sweet, little old lady, who had always been kind to her. "I'm going to miss you two kids around here. You were the happiest couple I had ever seen," the owner told her as Valerie placed the key in her hand.

"Thank you, Miss Alice." Valerie dropped her gaze, not really knowing why.

"Good luck, honey," Miss Alice told her with an encouraging smile.

Valerie thanked her again before heading out the door to meet up with her father. She climbed into the passenger side of the truck that they had rented for the day and road in silence as they made their way across town to the small house that he now owned.

At the end of the day, Valerie sat down on her bed in her new room and looked out the window. Her shoulders slumped over as she realized she had no idea what she was going to do. She was in her last year of college and was struggling through her major in Business; she was holding down a job at Sears, in one of the departments on the top floor, and on top of that, she was pregnant with a child she couldn't afford and as of recently, didn't want.

She had found out when she had gone to the doctor's office, a few days after breaking up with Danny, that she had already entered into her second trimester and that it was too late to terminated the pregnancy. She went back to her apartment that night and cried until she fell asleep.

Valerie sighed as her hand went to play with the necklace around her neck. On the chain held an engagement ring that Danny had given to her after finding out about the baby. He told her that it was a family heirloom that had belonged to his great great grandmother.

"Come on now," he had begun, after discovering the surprised look on her face as he slipped it on her finger. "Did you really think I wasn't going to marry you after I knocked you up?" he had asked her playfully.

She smiled at the memory, but it soon faded away as she took off the piece of jewelry, telling herself that she would mail it to him in the morning. She knew she had no right to keep it, being the one that broke things off. Only if he had told her sooner that he was the Phantom. . . Valerie shook her head, she knew it wouldn't have made a difference. She knew their breakup would have just been sooner.

"Valerie," came her father's voice from the doorway. "It's time for dinner." Valerie only nodded her head to indicate that she had hear him. Damon frowned as he looked at the back on his sadden daughter. He then walked into the room and sat down beside her. "Sweetie," he began softly. "You've been mighty quiet all day. Don't you think you'd feel a lot better, if you told me what happened?" he asked. "Why you and Danny broke up." But she said nothing. "Just talk to me, Valerie," he pleaded.

"I'm pregnant," she got straight to the point as she turned her head and looked her father in his eyes for the first time that day. "About fifteen weeks."

Damon eyes widened for a moment in surprise of the news. He sat silently as Valerie continued to look at him, waiting for him to say anything. "And Danny knew this?" he finally asked. Valerie nodded as she lowered her head and closed her eyes. Damon grew angry. "He left you pregnant?" he asked, thinking that didn't sound like the Fenton boy.

"No," she whispered. "I kicked him out."

"Why?" Damon needed to know.

"Because he's- and what I do- it just can't. . ." she trailed off. "It's complicated."

Damon reached out and rubbed her back. "It's going to be alright. You can tell me in your own time. Plus, you know, I'll help however I can. You and the bab-"

"I'm not keeping the baby!" she spat angrily, suddenly standing up. "I refused to watch it grow up to be like him!"

Damon looked at her curiously as he stood up slowly. "What do you mean by that?" he asked her, his brow furrowed. "What did Danny do?"

"Nothing," she responded quickly, inwardly cursing at herself for saying too much all ready. "I didn't mean anything by it." She then tried putting on a smile, knowing her father would see right through it. "You said dinner was done right? Well, we don't want it to get cold." She then walked passed her father who looked at her with a worried expression on his face.

OoOoO

After dinner and a very intense conversation with her father, which included adoption and a father's right, Valerie found herself in her room. She had upset her father, by telling him that she didn't wish for Danny's name to be on the birth certificate. She didn't want the child to be able to find Danny if he or she wanted to find their birth parents when they came of age. She knew as soon as she had said it, she had said the wrong thing.

Valerie's mother died when she was a year old. Her father's name wasn't originally on her birth certificate, due to a mistake by the hospital. The mistake went unnoticed until her mother's deaths. Her mother's family never approved of Damon, because he never seemed to be there for his small family, and so they fought for custody of Valerie, using the fact that he was never named as her father on the certificate as a foundation.

It also worked against Damon that Valerie was living with her grandparents, because they wouldn't allow him the blood test that he wanted. And he wasn't able to get a blood test until four years later when I judge ordered it. Damon Gray had fought tooth and nail for his daughter and had lost years with her he could never get back, and though he had no idea about Valerie and Danny's situation, it was struggle he would never wish on any decent man.

Back in her room, Valerie stood before her vanity mirror. She closed her eyes and when she opened them she donned her Ghosthunter 2.0 suit. It had been years since she had worn it, the stress it caused on her body when she was younger was more than she could take. She imagined she wasn't strong enough for it, for back in the tenth grade it had nearly killed her when it overheat after a gruesome fight with Skulker. Though she had loved the suit and all the new weapons that came with it, she didn't want to take the change of overheating again. So she had called Vlad Masters telling him she had wanted a new suit, he had welcomed his prodigy back with open arms and sent her a new suit by the next morning with the improvements she had requested.

She had seen the way the Phantom. . . Valerie sighed. She had seen the way Danny had taken out her last suit and knew the material had to be stronger to withstand his most powerful blast. Valerie looked back down at her suit and then back at her reflection. She had once said, she would give this up for him, it was why she didn't put up much of a fight when he had asked her to get rid of her gear. She wouldn't have said it then, but she thought she would finally be able to settle down, raise a family, be normal, but that just didn't look to be in her future.

Valerie then shook her head as she realized she still wasn't ready for this suit and so changed back to her normal clothes before picking up the phone and dialing ten numbers. "Hello, Mr. Masters?" she spoke softly.

"Aw," he sounded pleased. "If it isn't the young Miss Valerie Gray. What can I do for you this evening?" he asked her.

"Um," she began nervously. She felt a bit stupid. "I'm calling for a new suit."

"What happened to your last one?" he asked.

"Danny hide it from me," she explained.

"How is dear Daniel?"

"I wouldn't know. We broke up." Valerie sat down. "Mr. Masters, brace yourself," she warned him. "But Danny is the Phantom."

"No, not Daniel," he said in that way that always made her think he was mocking her. . . but that was ridiculous.

"Yes," she confirmed. "He's a- a," she tried to remember the word he used. "A halfa," she said the word as if it were foul tasting within her mouth. "He told me, showed me himself."

"And how do you feel about this," he placed his words carefully.

"I feel like kicking his ass," she told him.

"You'll have your new suit and jet sled by the morning," he informed her.

"No," she said quickly before he could hang up the phone. "It doesn't have to be that quickly," she told him.

"Then when would you like it?" he asked curiously.

"In about seven months. . . after my baby is due," she explained softly.

There was a moment's pause from his end. "I understand."

"Thank you, Mr. Masters."

"No, no dear child. Call me Uncle Vlad."

"Thank you. . . Uncle Vlad."

To Be Continued. . .


A/N: Did I say something about not posting this story until I was done with one of my other ones? Oh well, I'm sure a few people knew that wasn't going to happen, because if I type it, I'm posting it.

Plus, I hope you guys appreciate who I pair her off with while she's dealing with her baby daddy (lol). I honestly had to flip a coin to choose between two people.